Over the last few weeks...




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“The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Flap those little wings

Today I waved my baby off to camp. And fiercely blinked through my smile while she watched my eyes carefully for telltale signs of weakness. As parents, we managed to hold it together until she shooed us away in a surge of impatient independance and we stood there, looking at each other in that vacuum of loss. The one where you spend every waking (and non waking) ounce of love, energy and worth on ensuring that our young ones are safe, cared for and becoming everything they need to be. The logical steps of this progression of growth are times away from the nest and every sensible thought acknowledges this. However, the heart strings are pulled as you wish you weren't feeling the loss of their littleness and presence and you fight the parental urge to be a fly on the wall in their days away. We will not hear from her for three more days unless something is wrong and in the meantime, jolly along the lonely one who is keenly missing her big sis. So we're letting her go cheerfully and celebrating the fact that she was keen and fizzing to start the adventure and not dragging her feet.

It has begun in earnest.

This push-me-pull-you of parenting.

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A Day at Sea

Being invited by generous friends to join them for a day at sea was a surprising treat for the girls. They were quite fascinated by the journey and were incredibly enriched by the experience.

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A weekend outing

We walked a little bit in the beautiful grounds around the Chelsea Sugar Factory, watched the swallows dip and bob and enjoyed the views of our lovely city. Then we drove to a charmingly rustic convenience store to buy icecreams. Then we washed the car and carseat on account of the fact that Mishal not only wore her icecream, but managed to get it everywhere!

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Early onset of the terrible twos


This little blossom, today alone, has

1. Puked secretly down several stairs. And then neglected to show any signs of feeling ill, apart from a filthy mood, so the horrible mess congealed and...well....and I'll just leave it at that.

2. Stealthily opened guest bathroom cupboard, removed a roll of toilet paper and deposited it neatly into toilet bowl. Also neglected to show signs of guilt so this was left for hours before a surprised sibling fished it out.

3. Smeared and patted sunscreen over the tv.

4. Stole my palette of eye shadows and dropped the entire box onto the bathroom floor. Then she threw the hand mirror down after it - lets just say that I won't be able to gaze at myself in that splintered mess while trying to apply my crumbled eye colour.
5. And my personal favourite: she found a floor rag in the laundry waiting to be washed and dipped it into the bowl of cat's water...and sucked it repeatedly. Also neglected to make any sound so remained caught in this fascinating pastime for several minutes before I happened upon her.
Wow. Parenting is so much FUN.

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So, we are drawing to the end of our endless days of summer boredom homeschooling. If you asked me to summarize the last four months I would probably gaze at you slack-jawed with incomprehension, and struggle to string together a sentence of sensible words.

A couple of days ago I took the two big girls off on a movie outing to farewell our relaxed and home-based life as they head off to school on Wednesday. On the way there I begin to prepare them for the sensitive and traumatic transition ahead of them as they adjust to the concept of leaving the nest so to speak, after 4 months of being at home.

I turn down the stereo and launch into "Kind (and misjudged) Mothering Episode Number 45298793459873445487".
"So my Girlies, it's the end of our time together huh?" I say softly, aware of the pangs of loss and regret that will hit in earnest in a few days as they connect once more with a world beyond the borders of our home, but wanting to give them a chance to grieve and talk about the change.

"Thank Goodness!" they yell. "At last!" Whoops of excitement and relief fill the car. "I can't wait!"

The little darlings.

If only they knew. My knuckles whitened on the steering wheel and I gulped at how this whole parenting lark is so far beyond the confines of my control.

In all honesty, it hasn't really been homeschooling as we knew pretty early on in the piece that we would send them to the school on the corner, fortunately before I purchased curriculum. The closest we got to home-education was a flimsy flicker of Unschooling and letting the girls decipher their own interests. I reckon it is an amazing approach...especially if you have say, 4-12 kids and live on a Mediterranean island teeming with wildlife and a community of elderly and interested contributors to your offspring's journey into adulthood (a la Gerald Durrell). And have no television. They would rise to chase the sun and fall asleep with dust in their hair, exhausted and happy. Learning would be all around them in nature and creation, there for the taking.
It's safe to say that Gerald Durrell would have survived 3.5 seconds in our current environment of Camp Rock and toasted cheese, staid libraries offering trashy pre-teen paperbacks about preppy 'spies' or puppy fairies and toys that require no input from the imagination. The closest thing they come to wildlife is watching me change the flea collars on our fat, docile cats or the odd daddy long legs dancing in a corner.

I am digesting the fact that we are not providing the richness of experience that both Greg and I lived as children. On the other hand I am amazed at what fantastic opportunities they have ahead of them and therein see-saw the collision of my background and my children's future. I get sideswiped by the monumental task of moulding sweet natured children in a world of snipey greed and self centeredness. Just being young, unself-conscious kids is a non-existent trend. There are probably not many places left in the western world where children can just be children. Instead they are armed with information, technology-bristling experiences because we ourselves as adults are living super-charged turbo lives that have no space for simplistic time. I am guilty and confess to harbouring a sliver of bizarre pining for the weighty comfort of the third world. But in my defense, a childhood spent staring at ant tracks under an arc of endless African sky, breathing deep the acrid puff of woodsmoke on the wind each dusk, jumping to the crack and pop of msasa pods bursting to the dust and frolicking in blackjacks and long grass has resulted in my niggling suspicion that the streamlined environment we live in now is slickly reminiscent of a fish bowl. Sometimes the Nemo in me just wants to get back into the open sea.

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