Wednesday, 27 May 2015

nature is a great teacher

 "We should not think of a child's experience in nature as an extracurricular activity, it should be thought of as vital to children's health and development."Richard Louv (Author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder)

Growing up in West Wales (see THIS and THIS post for a more visual idea), I am no stranger to nature. The saying 'being at one with nature' was very much a description of me as a child. Since getting married and moving to more built up towns, my need for exploring nature has never left me. Each place we have lived, I have tried to find a place which gave me that same freedom to walk and explore unspoilt countryside. I have been lucky enough to find little pockets not too far away from our house each time we have moved. This love of nature is something I am desperate to instil into our children. I hope that they can derive the same pleasure from discovering nature the way I was able to as a child.

Today has been a very satisfying day. I my soul feels thoroughly nourished. After running out of time yesterday, I had promised the kids that today we would visit the old park and footpaths we used to live next to at our old house. I was determined not to break that promise this morning, setting off at 9am with a backpack of supplies and the boot of the car rammed with bikes and wellies.

On the way we picked up Mamgu who'd decided she'd love to come along for a bit of fresh air and time with the kiddies. After arriving at the park, I was delighted to see it was totally empty and the sun was shining. The early start had paid off!

I watched proudly as they zoomed up and down the BMX track confidently on their bikes, totally amazed at how grown up they now seemed. 
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We played on the hills and in the park for a good little while, where both Aniah and Zak's imaginations made us chuckle (we had to drive to an 'animal shop' where they sold toys and mermaids).

Then we took to the woods to begin our exploration and nature hunt. I'd given the children a sheet each with various pictures of things they could try and find while we were out (something we did over a year ago  ).

It was brilliant watching them discover new plants, talking about what they could spot, what they recognised.








Nature is a parents best resource... there is no preparation involved, no clean up afterwards. You literally just let children 'be'. I could quite happily have stayed out there in the woods all day if it wasn't for the fact that the snacks I'd packed weren't enough to keep the hunger pangs away.









Moments like these make my heart sing. It's a bit like music for some people. It really speaks to their soul. Nature is something that 'speaks' to mine. I could visibly see the multiple aspects of learning that was happening throughout our little adventure. 'Why kids need Nature' is a really great article which has some really interesting nuggets of information.







Along our the journey there were several forks in the pathways. It was great fun letting the children choose which path we should take next.





I was a little sad to have to take the kids home, but after Aniah's grass cut (didn't know it could be so sharp!!) and Zak's more frequent requests for food I knew it was time. 

Once Zak's belly had been satisfied, the afternoon evolved into an equally pleasant experience. Aniah's snail (carefully transported from our woodland walk)got given a royal treatment and overloaded with healthy veg to eat.



We then had a closer look at some of the plants we had collected along the way and had a go at identifying some of their names using the trusty internet (I really must invest in some decent nature books)/ 


Sadly the buttercup lost all its petals as Aniah decided the snail - now named Lexi, MUST have them for her bed. 

We then made some nettle tea...


 With a good squeeze of honey, Zak thought his tea was yummy and even asked for more!!



I couldn't resist giving the kids a home-made tent in the garden and  reminiscing of days gone by where I used to make Indian tents with my brothers and sisters.

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We had a moment where we thought Lexi had made a break for it, but thankfully found her in a box Aniah had been playing in.

She's now safely tucked up in bed next to her new friend. Sadly tomorrow I think I will have to break the news to Aniah that we can't keep her forever.



Tuesday, 26 May 2015

life as we know it


That age old saying 'life goes on' is a good way of summarising the photos from the month of May. I'd love to stop time in order to eek out the joy of perfect moments for a bit longer, then  conversely speed up the clock to get through those heart achingly difficult moments other days. Unless someone has one of those clocks from 'Bernard's watch'... I resign myself to the fact that I must try and enjoy life for what it is, then look back and smile at these brief moments encapsulated through a photo or memory. Each one stirring inside me a portion of that pride, love, fatigue, joy, sadness once again.

Bennie seems to have inherited the same monkey-like climbing skill that both his older siblings have...


I'm not a morning person really, so most days I'm as crabby as they come. On the odd occasion however I look at these three and think - 'I'm one lucky girl'.


 Teaching is a rollercoaster job. There will be days that I hit rock bottom and I wonder why I ever thought I could cut it as a teacher. But then there are moments that those children make a comment or you see something click. It's then that you remember why you have the most awesome job.

Home improvements and decorating has now taken a bit of a back seat to 'life'... but the other day I impressed myself by doing a very symetrical wall display for my daughter's room. Normally I'm a bit bodge-it, but this aint so bad eh?
 

Aniah 'sing's in the kitchen with each dance move getting more and more bonkers.


I came home to find these deliciousely gorgeous flowers one day. Hot darn, that husband ticks the right boxes :)


Princess puzzle completed by Zak... wait no... not complete. ONE PIECE MISSING?!!! I dare you to find it!


He got stuck. I laughed and took a photo. Bad mummy.


When you're so tired you fall asleep mid-crawling.


Boys hard at work... 


Missy moo got to take 'Independent Izzy' home for being a super star in class and getting dressed really fast during PE. Big sigh of relief there (it's been an ongoing battle)



















Facebook status this day read - 'Breakfast in the Polland kitchen. Zak runs in from toilet starkers shouting "I want to be naked!". I spend 5 minutes chasing him down to put pants on. Meanwhile Bennie empties the dishwasher I've just been stacking. Aniah then comes to me with her cutting and sticking project and says, "look I've made you, but with no arms and legs". Yesterday this would have made me cry. Today my sense of humour is back thankfully.'








She lost her first tooth!!! 

Thankfully the tooth fairy remembered to stop by!
 

 

We got grass in the garden!! For two whole weeks we watered this area daily and had to keep telling the kids that no they couldn't play in it yet.


Aniah's 'seed of faith' is growing nicely (thanks Auntie Martha)


Bennie just LOVES playing outside...


She got a haircut after 2 years of no cutting! 

Aniah was a mermaid in her first class assembly...



I got to see my lovely childhood friend Rachel after 4 years...


Intercultural day, the kiddies dressed up in the clothes we brought back from Greece.


 Bennie is such a cutie. I just look at him and I just want to give him the biggest, squidgiest cuddle.

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Zak got his nails painted the other day when I was doing mine. He looked at them for a moment before deciding he didn't like it. 

Love how quiet our street is, the kids are really safe riding up and down it.



During our half term holiday the kids and I drew a map of the world. We talked about countries we'd visited, and a few other countries that we'd like to visit. 

 
Then we got the animals and they had a go at finding out which country they came from.


Gareth was in his element cutting the grass the other day. The kids spent several hours going around collecting all the grass cuttings and making a giant nest at the bottom of the garden...



We've enjoyed visiting local natianal trust places. Lots of space to explore and climb...




These babies are getting so big!!






Play dough fun ...


Really enjoyed spending some time with my lovely sister Bethany and her family. Love them to bits.

It's getting to that time of year where the men stand proudly around the BBQ and talk about 'man things'. This time we all got together for Daddy's 70th birthday (wow - can't believe he's that age!!)







All the grand children ...




The day we had a relay race in the garden...