Thursday, May 31, 2012

Clean up your ROOM!

Oh my gosh... the words still ring in my ears. Clean your room! Blurg... my room was notoriously shocking. My cupboard had a serious case of bulimia and continually threw out all its contents, my floor was carpet so I remembered vaguely.... and to top it off, I was a collector.  And never chucked anything out ( still a big thing for me!).
I have now got a bad case of de ja vu as now my three children own the messiest rooms ever. Jumeirah is not too bad, just collects random things and keeps them all through her bedroom, but the other two are just ridiculous in getting out everything they own and then walking away from it.
I cant count the number of times Ive trod on lego in the middle of the night and had to silently howl and curse the blasted things...
And so today, I decided to get them to clean their rooms and uttered the words " You two! Clean your room!" and I watched them giggle and run off into the bedroom ruins.

I began to do the kitchen, listening to the noise of two children who were very much NOT cleaning the room.

When I walked in, I asked them why they werent doing anything.... and I realised that if  I was them, I would have no clue where to start.
Now, I am a lister. I create lists just to cross things off them :) It gives me sense of achievement knowing Ive completed little things and ticked them off. It seems to make the tasks easier to do and not so BIG.  And so, I talked to them about doing a little bit at a time, step by step. I gave them a task to do and they had to complete it. And little by little, the room began to show some resemblance of a normal dwelling area rather than a pigsty.

As I did each job alongside them, I took a photo of each job they had done with a plan in mind.
Once we had finished, I began to make them a photo board of how to clean their room for next time.

Now, once a week, Im going to encourage them to follow the steps and clean their room themselves.  They can pick a list each, and start ticking the jobs off. Once broken into parts, this task will be so much less daunting and so much more possible for them to do :)

List One:
 Clothes in the basket
 Hang bag on the door
 Books in the box


List Two:
Make your bed
Put your Friends on your bed neatly
Cars in the cars box

Im going to laminate the two lists, and hang them in their room. Hopefully it will work!
Will let you know how it goes ;)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

learning navigation

Our life, so it seems, has lots of car travel in it. To and from school, to and from preschool, music, swimming, piano... it seems not long after I hang up my keys that I am reaching for them again. BRING ON THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS I SAY!

Whilst in the car, my kids have always made up games. Eye spy, number plate games,  pick the colour car have all been favourites. Recently we have come up with more games, some that are sneakily teaching them some awesome things.

Yesterday, as Jared, Amahli and I travelled home from the library, I asked him if he could get us to our house. We talked about what was left and right and he assured me he could do it and giggled at the thought of being "king of the car".

And so we took off. He began really well,  starting with leading us in a particular route home ( Port is a pretty small place, we have a few different ways to get home but pretty much all roads lead there... eventually) and I was fairly confident that he knew exactly where he was going.

It was raining so vision was a bit blurred. I continued to get him to use the words left and right in his directions for me. Suddenly, about 10 minutes into our trip home he tells me to turn right around the roundabout and turn around. A couple of times I asked him if this was what he wanted, and he was adamant that he was going the right way. "Trust me Mum!" And so I turned around headed in the direction he told me to go. Considering I didnt really have anywhere to be, I figured we had time :)

Very quickly he picked up the left and right directions and soon had me on a different path to home, one that is actually my favourite as it leads us past all the beaches ( we pass 5 on our way home on this route). Its not one we go on very often, its a longer route and a slower one, but quite obviously he knew it as his favourite too.

When we hit our driveway, he exclaimed " Mum! I DID IT! I got us home!"
This whole adventure, something so easy and not a great deal, let this little guy learn so much in such a  simple way.

This experience showed:

Left and right ( HUGE considering his mother still holds up her hand to see which one makes an "L" shape)

Practising memory recall

Increases awareness of his environment

Adds to self confidence, self esteem and sense of pride.

All of that in a simple trip  home :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

letter recognition

Busy weekend here... two baby shoots ( one 4 month old, one 14 day old... SO CUTE!), gorgeous day at the markets, a birthday party to attend... it seems to go so fast!

Today I wanted to do some letter recognition with Jared. He doesnt seem to know many letters at all, and more the point, he actually doesnt really care. But I want to give him a good start to school next year so I do thing with him that involved identifying letters without it seeming like a complete teachery lessony thing.
He and Amahli were playing with the letters that Jumeirah had out yesterday and were having a great time trying to guess what they were. I asked him to pick out a letter and tell me what it was ( deep down thinking he was never going to get it right unless it was an " R" which is calls "an RRRR like a pirate")
He picked out a T. Nope, didnt get that one ( unless you count, " its a cross like Jesus was on!" )

So he tried another one. A. Nope not real sure on that one either.

I went to walk away and leave them play, a bit flustered that he seems to get it sometimes and not other times, when he picks out a Z. Which is labels correctly.
" ok then, can you think of something that begins with Z?" I ask, thinking that he wont be able to get it.
" A zebra" comes the reply.
"Ok..... ( Im beginning to get that feeling that I am underestimating him, yet again), can you paint me a zebra then?"

And so he does. Complete with feet :) And with some help, ( he copied from my writing) he writes the word Zebra.

And yet again, my little guy teaches me to STOP underestimating him, that he knows more than he lest on, and that next year at school, he really WILL BE FINE :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

cutting circles kandinsky style.. again!

Nearly 3 years ago, Jumeirah and I started talking about the artist Kandinsky. We talked about one particular artwork he did that was all circles and we created some art pieces using cut circles of different sizes. Today, I gave Jared the same activity. I had traced the circles out, and gave him scissors to cut them out.

Stupidly, I grossly underestimated him, again. I wasnt sure he was going to be able to cut them all out, thinking he'd give up after cutting out 3. But he didnt. I didnt think he'd be able to cut the circle shape out much at all. But he did :) All but one, which had a few flat corners to which he said " its ok Mum, its a hexagon (!) instead".
I then gave him the task of sorting out the shapes and colours into correct sizes, and then to group them into three piles of different size and colour. He was able to do all of this and more to the point, he was excited that he was totally capable of doing this.

I asked him to glue them down, and we stood back and admired his handiwork :)

This kid surprises me more and more each day. I am so lovin this amazing little guy.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

learning life lessons... from your kids

The story of Thomas.

Ive wanted to write this blog post since it happened but as I mulled it over in my head, it sounded kinda dumb. But this blog isnt just for you... its also for the three beautiful people I helped to create that make this blog what it is. SO! Im writing this for Jumeirah today, but also to show you just how incredible those lessons from your kids can be.

A few blog posts ago I wrote how Jumeirahs beloved bird flew from my shoulder and went missing.
I had to tell her straight after school. I watched in absolute gut wrenching pain as she crumpled to the floor and wailed.

I prayed with her... that God would bring him back. But I also prayed that God would keep him safe, knowing that sometimes God doesnt answer prayer like we would want Him to. Its a tough lesson, one Im still struggling with. Its not a lesson I wanted to have to teach my 7 yr old just yet. She seemed ok with all of what was going on once she had passed that initial shock.

She came to me and told me it wasnt my fault, and that she forgave me. Even though it was my fault and I didnt forgive myself. She had no anger, no blame, no anger to me or to what had happened.
If it was me, I would have gotten cranky, ranted because of something that could have been avoided so easily. She didnt. Not once.

On Wednesday, he'd been missing for a whole day and two whole nights ( one of which rained) but I told her he could still be ok, not holding  out any hope of him being ok. In the afternoon, I had made her some posters to put up around our streets, showing who he was and that he was missed.
The last poster I put up was slightly further than I was going to post but I have one left.
A man came out of his house and asked what we were doing ( I thought he was going to be cranky cos you arent supposed to post up flyers) and I told him we had lost a bird. He went to get his wife who came out to talk to us.
She claimed to have seen Thomas that morning ( 8 hours earlier) in an adjcent street on the lawn. And so we raced around the street, up and down and in everybodys garden looking for him. If he had been there this morning, he was long gone now. I knocked on two houses, both had seen no sign of him.

At this point, Im sorry to say, I got incredibly cranky at God. Frustrated that, as we had finally begun the process of realising Thomas was gone and moving on from that, we were given impossible hope. So so mad as I watched my beautiful girl cry all over again thinking he would still be there and wasnt. And hurt because again I went through that horrible pain of totally hurting her.

An hour later we went home and waited for daddy. He went and did another lap of the street he was seen in without any luck.

Later that evening as I was preparing dinner, I "felt" I should go do one more lap. It was dark and pointless but the feeling wouldnt let up. So I left the gang and jumped in the car for one final fruitless lap.
I ranted at God, telling Him that I understood He had lessons to teach but to give hope when it wasnt going to happen was just plain mean. I couldnt find the bird anywhere in the street and turned to drive home.
Leaving the street, I was stopped. I again felt I should knock on one more door. Annoyed,  I got out and knocked. And older man anwered and I apologised for annoying him but had he seen a small cockatiel, possible anytime between monday afternoon and wednesday night?

His response: " Yes"

Shocked I asked him "really?" and still he replied "yes".

He told me he has found a little bird on his driveway that afternoon and found him very tame and amde for him a makeshift cage from an overturned washing basket and went to ring the radio station to say they'd found an obviously pet bird.
Once he had made the call ( not a station I listen to) he came out to find butcher birds had ripped apart the basket, and Thomas trying to escape their attack. He flew down the street and into a tree.
The man and his wife ran down to see if they could help him, and pulling a branch away from a tree, Thomas fell into his wifes arms.

They took him home, made another cage in their garage and closed the door. The time this happened was 4.30pm, right when we were posting up signs.

I thanked him profusely, all the while meekly looking heavenward and apologising my heart out.

I got home with this little bird to a child who just fell on him in absolute wonder and joy.

The following day, I was thinking again about what I would have said to her if she'd been the one that lost him.... things like " Dont take him outside again" , or " be more careful"... not terribly harsh things but warnings of things that could happen again.

AS I dropped her at school, she turned to me and said " Mum would you mind not taking Thomas outside today? I think he'll need a rest" and I  was again rendered speechless. How does this incredible child at only 7 give me that kind of Grace? From the start the the happy finish she showed me what it was like to be completely forgiven, to be loved when she was hurting, and true humbling grace given without any motive or hesitation.

I was completely floored by her and the lessons she taught, most of which she will never really understand.
And I learnt that God does sometimes answer prayer the way we think and to never let go of that faith in Him.

I know if seems a fairly simple, not that exciting story but thats ok :) I learnt so much from it I really cant put it into words. I hope that you have moments like this too ( well hopefully not quite like this) where you can see just how amazing kids can be, and how God can teach you the biggest lessons from the hardest of challenges. And the lessons continue... over the weekend we went and took down all the posters, with each one thanking God for his awesomeness.We came to one poster and found a note written by a child at Jumeirahs school ( an old kindy friend, not one she currently playes with).
And it says: Im watching your bird Jumeirah. I will try to find it. Dont worry! By rachel.

Kids just know exactly what to say, from the deepest pure parts of a heart, to totally help someone in need.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

toy adventures

( still havent finished my other story yet.. its coming!)

All week Ive had troubles trying to get photos on here... finally today its being agreeable!

Over the weekend, Jumeirah had a project for school to do. It was to take class cameleon ( toy one) on an adventure to a wet or dry place and talk about it.
So, sunday afternoon, Jared, Jumeirah, Cam the cameleon and me went on an adventure.
Jumeirah wasnt overly keen, until she could see the plans in my eyes and then she was curious as the what I had in store.

We went down to the end of our street where there is a boardwalk and a paper bark forest. Its a beautiful spot and the perfect place to explore a wet land.
So I showed Jumeirah how we could use cam as though he were real.... and away it went.


He got into trees, raced off ahead of us, found his reflection in the water, pondered what a wet land was like, sat in the cool of the trees... we had a blast wondering what it would be like to actually be an animal in a rainforest.

Cam racing off...

Cam pondering life in a tree....

I totally would recommend this cute fun idea. It really opens up a new world when you look at things through the eyes of a toy :)

Checking out his reflection...

When we got home I was informed that LOTS of others of our stuffed friends ( of the toy variety) were keen to have their own adventures so we are planning a book to make about each of them :)

Friday, May 4, 2012

treasure bags

Wow what a week we've had!! I have much to write about the lessons we've learnt this week but Ill fill you in tomorrow when I have more time :)

At the end of our rainy week last week, Jumeirah was desperate to go out. She'd convinced me to take them to the beach to do what they love to do best " treasure hunting". But at the last moment as we were buckling up in the car, the heavens opened so much that we couldnt even get out of the street.
Not to be dismayed, Jumeirah came up with the great idea of making our own treasure bags for the beach so that when the rain let up a bit we could go test them out and collect some cool things. I was well keen as it meant that my pockets wouldnt be full of sand and treasures!!

So I gave her some fabric and she set off with two little helpers and a head full of designs.

Once she had finished her drawings, we picked some fabrics and got out the sewing machine and began to turn them into the cutest little treasure bags :)

Whoops... Jumeirahs design may have accidentally been added wrong... she didnt mind it was upside down :)

So awesome to have a little creative brain following me up. LOVE it :)