We ended the last Rivers update with a flurry of activity and life continued that way for a few weeks...
We ended the last Rivers update with a flurry of activity and life continued that way for a few weeks more.
Then things started to change and suddenly everything was and continues to be different. No more plans for Europe, no more friend’s houses or school as we knew it. And the closures. Swimming pools, beaches, playgrounds, restaurants, and even park benches closed.
However, one vital thing remained open for business. The vast and infinite landscape of imagination. The girls can play and play endlessly. They do not require external props or environments to engage their imaginations. We’ve just had two weeks holiday, our Easter or Autumn break, and it was like two-weeks of one big play in imagination-land. There have been many forts/dens/tents that morph into boats/cars/trains, many renditions of both Frozen plots, a few days of ‘camping’ and snow sports, and numerous musical productions with original scores. Playing school, doctor, and birthday, are also favorites that feature occasionally.
The girls, being both natural introverts have enjoyed the holidays. Home with both parents full time is a dream come true. Neither have showed any discomfort to the new circumstance, save missing their Canberran Grandparents. Easter was especially exciting. Chocolate! Indira was especially chuffed that the Easter Bunny knew what kind of books she liked! I’m not sure why we are ‘doing’ Easter, I guess I can’t resist the joy…. and the chocolate! It is a little confusing though: bunnies and eggs being symbols of fertility, the colour palate, and usual menu all say Spring! However, here our days are getting colder and shorter, some leaves fall, and our weekly local produce contains Autumn foods: apples, grapes and root vegetables: carrots, squash, pumpkin and sweet potato.
While homeschooling I learned from Indira’s materials the Aboriginal seasons. This one in D’harawal Country is called Marrai’gang (wet becoming cool). We learned that when the lilly pillys start to fall, it is time to begin the yearly trek to the coastal areas. Not exactly a tradition we can recreate so are on the lookout for other Southern Hemisphere ideas to incorporate in our seasonal festivities. Here was our Easter – a hunt, video call and gifts from Grandma & Grandad, craft, and family nature hike to walk off the chocolate.
We still have our wild spaces. We are so fortunate to live where we do, near an abundance of natural spaces. So many forest hikes and quiet deserted beaches mean we can continue to explore the outdoor. Although the girls would be happy to stay home endlessly, we get them out at least every other day. Everytime we hike to the ocean, the girls gradually take off all their clothes until they are running about in their birthday suits.
Our connection to nature has fuels home projects. On a hike or bike ride we take photos of the nature we see: trees, flowers, spiders, lizards, birds. At home we print them and turn them into books. For play they can be coloured and for homeschool we learn about what we’ve taken images of and label each correctly. This has turned into learning about spiders and other wildlife. Indira seems to know a lot about dangerous spiders, snakes, Bogong moths, and the Pygmy possum. And now molecular theory – Nic explained this to her the other day unknown to me. During a walk we spotted a large yellow caterpillar and Indira let me know that molecules were dancing inside her just like the caterpillar and one day, her molecules might also dance as a butterfly.
We’ve done a mix of homeschool and attendance at the girls school where numbers have drastically reduced. Indira has been thriving. At school, her teachers comment how confident and engaged she is – and at home I notice she’s more energetic and resilient. She has been loving the lower numbers at school, for her it’s perfect. She also enjoys homeschool – following the routines of school and engaging in the lessons shared virtually.
In this last image Indira is making a story book that will pass through the children in her Kindergarten class. It starts with Alligators singing in a shop and happily we had alligators in a research book to get the likeness right.
Writing is Indira’s newest love. She is constantly writing: while watching the sunrise in the morning she writes down the colours she sees. While reading she writes down the words she hears and sees. While out in the world, equipped with a notebook she writes down what she sees. She writes notes and poems and stories. She copies words from books and letters and signs. It’s still a bit tricky to read her writing as she is sounding out letters and is still learning to put ‘a finger space’ between groups of letters to make words. Right this minute she is writing a menu for a play cafe and I can hear her vocalising the sounds. ‘Pah, ee, N, Tt’ Peanut? Indira likes to talk about the sounds, how ‘e’ and ‘i’ sound similar and sometimes ‘e’ and ‘y.’ All this sounding and writing has encouraged her reading as she has started to sound words and read them. She is an excellent storyteller – reading books from memory, she uses voices, suspense, and humour. Eleanor is a willing audience and so am I, Grandma Susan on Facetime and her friend Esther read to each other using Whatsapp.
Eleanor may follow her sister’s lead but she is in every way her own personality. I love watching her confident independence and what a storyteller! She made up a story at the dinner table the other evening about a shopkeeper at the ‘google-eye shop’ telling her she was being too silly by wiggling too much in the shop. Turns out the shop was in the middle of the ocean frequented by mermaids. This story then turned into a game in which everyone had to take a turn making up and sharing a story! One of my favorite things lately is having a midday cuddle with Eleanor. She’s gone back to taking a little nap and I happily join her. Probably my last chance to cuddle so close to my youngest as they are both growing so quickly!
From our family to yours we wish you all the best and hope to see you soon! xo