Sick and tired already?


Welcome to the first day of The Pukeko Patch’s NaBloPoMo posts.

It is a highly inauspicious start, following the contraction of some random cold and cough by Master Oh Waily on Sunday, and the subsequent contraction of it by Miss Oh Waily yesterday.  As the senior Oh Waily at home right now, I am dutifully awaiting my turn for the miserable sniffles and scratchy throat to arrive.  My best guess is either tomorrow evening or Thursday morning.

In the meantime I am very grateful that we can be flexible around our home educating when such things happen; and happen this past six months they most certainly have.  I cannot remember a year where we have continuously cycled from well, to ill, to well again, only to have a few weeks respite before repeating the process all over again.

We are all heartily sick and tired of it – both literally and figuratively.

In the meantime, what are we to do when we have the weak, feeble, tired bodies, scratchy throats and sniffy noses?
We read.

Well.  I read.  They listen.

Today we managed to breeze through our week’s worth of history readings and have arrived in Rome.  I did our week’s art readings too and the kids drew their version of Romulus, Remus and the Wolf.  I’ll post photographs later in the week, if I’m not laid low as I suspect may be the case.

We watched the first part of a German documentary about Alexander the Great, which we picked up from Curiosity Stream, and will probably watch the second part tomorrow.  It fitted in quite well with the end of our time in Greece.


tlotrgwOur literature reading for this week is more of The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards, which we have been doing as a bit of bedtime reading over the past week to create some spare time during the day to spend on other things.  The kids seem to be enjoying it, but it hasn’t been as gripping as some of the earlier books.  To be fair, though, we have only just finished the first part and the real adventure is yet to begin.

I will see if I can get a review out of the kids once we have finished it in a couple of weeks.

In addition to this, we also read a number of poems involving wind which led to discussions about the different sorts of imagery the poets chose.  It was really good to see them thinking about and recognising the connections.

And that ends a pretty run-of-the-mill day around The Patch.  The only thing missing today was our regular swimming lessons, which fell victim to the colds as well.

Tomorrow will probably follow a similar pattern, depending on what sort of grip the cold gets on the Oh Waily kids (and if it starts in on me).
See you then.


Herding elephants…

Let’s start off this blog post by pointing out the elephant in the room …. GUILT.

Lots and lots of guilt.  Attached to the idea that I should be taking time out for myself.
Who is this crazy woman?

I figure I’m a pretty normal sort of person most of the time, but when it comes to what goes on in my head when I bump up against the burn-out wall?  Well, let’s just say it’s not that pretty and it’s not that normal.  If you consider normal to mean that you value yourself as much as you value others.   Interestingly, no one else around me seems to think I’m less valuable in terms of needing time off than them.  They all actively encourage me, but there’s a nasty little gremlin in my head that tells me… they’re my priority and it’s my job to be educating them or looking after them 24/7.
Okay, so maybe I am crazy after all.

In fairness, I’m now a recovering crazy person.
The realisation that one of the best ways kids learn is by seeing behaviour modelled for them was a nasty moment for me.  The idea that it’s not an ‘either them or me’ situation also took a while to bed in.  But now I get it.  I need the time for my own benefit, my family’s benefit and as an important life-lesson for my kids. They need to see that their Mum values herself, and that she looks after herself.  I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking this is the right way to go about being a parent.  So now I have an extra incentive – I’m teaching them a life skill just like I did with brushing their teeth and making food.

So, what does a struggling, recovering, guilt-laden parent do for self-care?  Well, whatever flicks your switch, even if It needs to be a small thing to start off with.

I instigated a daily walk with my kids.  I’m the sort of person who needs to get out in the sunlight as often as possible, especially through winter, in order to feel good.  The walks get us all out in the fresh air, with a light amount of exercise thrown in.  When the time permits I try and do really long walks on my own, but they are still a rarity. I’m a work in progress and as my kids grow up I’m hopeful of making these walks longer and with a little more speed to them.

I indulge my creativity whenever I can.  I take photographs, either out on my own, or if I can’t get free time to myself – with my kids.  It isn’t always possible to have time to myself, and sometimes the guilt of taking big chunks of time out of our weekends makes it hard.  So I compromise.  We take a family field trip and as part of that I make sure the camera comes out and that I sneak my creativity in to my day that way.

I write whenever I can too.  Blogging is a great outlet for me and can be crammed in to a spare hour or so.  Often I write book reviews as a way of combining two things I love to do.  And there’s nothing quite like the bliss of going to the library on my own, to browse quietly and without distraction.  The urge to rush through the process and head home quickly still strikes every now and then, but it is getting better.  And on my good days (read: feeling less guilty) I even indulge in finding a cafe for an added treat.

I still have hurdles to climb – like getting fit and eating better.  But at least I’m finally on the road to better self-care, and like I’m always telling my kids – mastery comes from practice, so practice I will.

Edited to add:

Every now and then the hurdles get pretty big, and sometimes the best self-care is to take a guilt-free break.  It’s pretty hard to face that sort of decision when your inner driving force is all about working for the betterment of others.  But that’s where we sometimes need to go.  Self first, others second.  Only then can we hope to keep giving our best efforts to those around us.

It’s also a bit of an ego issue, albeit a subconscious one and not related to a narcissistic temperament.  They need me to always be available.  Things will fall apart if I’m not the one doing and organising and driving us forward.  Well, guess what sunshine?  The world doesn’t stop when you take some time out.  In fact, it might just be the perfect thing for everyone if you stopped trying to be in control of everything.  Maybe they will learn to take control.  Maybe they can be self-organising.  Maybe they will learn to step up to the plate when they need to.  If you don’t give them the space to try, then they and you will certainly never find out if it is possible.

Take the break.  Fill your bucket with fun, creative, healthy adventures to re-invigorate yourself.  Let those around you step up for themselves; let them stretch their abilities and grow as people.  You are, in fact, doing the opposite of being selfish – you are empowering others.

Go on.

Do it!

The weather strikes again…

get-well-soon-funny-dogWhy, yes we are Mr Dog, thanks for asking.

Well so far Miss Oh is.  She woke up this morning sniffling and with a sore tummy which has developed into a full scale cold.

I suspect it won’t be long before the rest of us manage to catch it and start to look and feel like our canine friend in the picture.

Today, the only thing going on at the Patch has been snuggling up, keeping warm and resting.  And that’s all there’s likely to be tomorrow too.   Possibly the day after that too…. and you get the picture.  We’ll be keeping everything low key until this passes along.

Until then, I’ll do a bit of reading and write about that instead, eh?  Yeah, right!?!

Everyday on Wednesday, Think about my baby

The Oh Waily household had a bit of a role reversal today.  Mr Oh took the day off work and spent it with the kids, thus creating enough quiet time for me to do some real world work.
Otherwise known as getting on with creating our new work website.

So while I tipped and tapped; cursed and curated my way through a few solitary hours, the rest of the Oh Waily family headed up the coast to a PYO market garden.  By way of Facebook, I had the heads up that the strawberry patch was going to be open for picking today and tomorrow, so suggested a fun day out with a bit of a purpose.

Miss Oh loves strawberries so it was a complete no-brainer as far as she was concerned.  Master Oh, not so much.  He went, he picked, he had a good time.  Whether we can convince him to eat one of the juicy, smelly (in a super-yummy way), huge strawberries… well, let’s just say… we’ll see.



Yesterday’s blog title was from “Tuesday Afternoon” by The Moody Blues.
Today’s is from yet another song.

Real life physics

Today the Oh Waily kids had a real life physics lesson courtesy of one of the local play parks.
It’s hard work balancing the scales when you don’t weigh the same amount.
And it’s great work for them trying to figure out how to keep the momentum going… mostly, in the end, they chose to utilise “Mummy-Power”.   This made it a phys ed class for ALL of us.

It's hard work balancing the scales when you don't weigh the same amount. #homeschool #physicslesson #reallife #thepukekopatch
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Adventurous eating

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 6.25.19 pmI’ve been a long-time reader of Jo Ebisujima’s blog, in it’s various incarnations.  I was first attracted by her Montessori posts and then just continued to hang around as she evolved and became a full-on entrepreneur through her My Organised Chaos work.  I’ve also posted about that before too, since I was lucky enough to be an early participant in her online courses.

Well, just recently we’ve seen that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree in the Ebisujima household with the young master taking to doing his own inspirational work.  This time producing short videos to inspire other kids to give adventurous eating a go.

In a snappily named channel “Ebi-kun Eats” you can follow along as he downs a variety of foods.
I’ve subscribed us up and I’m going to be ensuring encouraging the Oh Waily kids to watch his new videos as he does them.  Who knows?  My two may be inspired to get past the look or smell of a new food in order to actually try it as a result.

Mount Kaukau walk

Today, on the invitation of a friend, my two small people and I took a long uphill walk to the top of Mount Kaukau.
And what a walk it was.  It’s roughly 2-3 kilometres in length but will take you to 445m above sea level in an hour or so.  I have no idea how long it took to get to the summit, I just know that I am:
a) unfit;
b) unfit;
c) very unfit.

I also note that I will be unable to get out of bed tomorrow or walk more than a few paces.  The amount of steps and steep inclines will guarantee that sitting will be uncomfortable for days to come, and my thighs will be protesting their misuse on the downhill slopes.  I was tail-end Charlie for the entire walk uphill… even after the small children in our group.  Frankly, I was stuffed.

In a first, however, Master Oh Waily led the way.  So keen was he, apparently, that he regularly disappeared out of view of his lagging and feeble mother.  I suspect he was out of view of most of us for quite a bit of the time it took to get to the top.  This is the same boy that would complain bitterly about walking around our neighbourhood (on the flat) and any attempt by me to get him to go for bush walks nearly always ended with me carrying him at some point.  In light of other developmental changes (which I will probably blog about soonish) in him, perhaps this is another small milestone ticking over.  He also led the way downhill, not quite so far ahead this time and often with me.  At least on the downhill I was able to keep up with everyone.

The walk, leg- and bum-killing as it was for the unfit, has a brilliant payoff at the end.  Stunning views of the city, harbour, north and across to the South Island too.  Very well worth all of the discomfort (for those of us who were discomforted).

Here are a couple of snaps taken with my phone at the top.

At the top

Master Oh with central Wellington in the background


At the top too

Miss Oh with central Wellington in the background

They did a fantastic job of the whole walk. I’m very proud of them, despite Miss Oh’s merciless teasing at being the slowest of the slowpokes.

In the process of the walk we saw lots of neat locals – tuis by the dozen, some wood pigeons and on one of my many rest-stops I was joined by a small bird that may have been a wax-eye or perhaps it was a bellbird – hard to tell as it was doing it’s best to stay hidden behind some large leaves in the nearby tree.  And the piece de resistance, on the way back down the hill, we came across a kaka ripping away at the bark of a tree.  According to what I’ve read since coming home, it’s possible he was using that very pointy beak to get at the tree’s sap.  See what you think.
Thanks to Mel for sending through the video. 🙂

The crazies

Yes, we most definitely have them in this household.
Crazy kids.  Physically adventurous kids – each in their own way.

Here’s how we do physical education while on holiday.  Although I do tend to think that Mr Oh Waily gets the hardest workout from this.

As you can see Master Oh Waily isn’t fond of water in his eyes or up his nose, but he does a remarkable job of hanging on to his pool noodle just the same.  As for his sister, I think she just wants to be SuperGirl.  (She already is, of course, just without the power of flight.)


There is a definite love of the water in the Oh Waily family.

p.s. We’re glad to have all of our subscribers back with us. Thank you to the lovely WordPress staff for their assistance in that final piece of the blog migration.

Integrated Learning

I am about a third of the way through creating our first exemption application and it has been going well.  That is to say, it is going well now that I have managed to overcome a rather large dose of writer’s block.
Part of the issue is how to explain that, from our perspective, most of our learning is done in an integrated way.  Certainly we use single focus resources like Reading Eggs or My Pals Are Here! for learning to read and for guidance on age-appropriate maths skills, but for the most part opportunities for learning do not come pre-packaged in a ‘subject-specific’ way.  Take for example our walk yesterday.

We walked along a part of the Hutt River Trail.  On this part we walked from a little inlet by the river, along the stopbank, through a golf club and almost right to the river mouth.  In this two hour walk (we stopped for fluffies at the halfway point) and play we were able to learn and do a whole bunch of stuff.

Physical education
– the kids got a decent walk and a run in the playground.

– talking about the different aspects of golf including terminology used in the game and the environment it is played in.  (Also chatting to a couple of golfers.)

– I pre-prepared a checklist of things to find or look for on the walk.
(Miss Oh Waily has discovered a liking for the tick mark.)

Nature (Science)
– we saw a total of seven different sorts of non-garden birds including mallards, white-faced herons, little shag, yellowhammer, chaffinch, southern black backed gulls (adults & juveniles), and canada geese.

Technology (and Research skills)
– to ensure that we identified the different birds correctly we used an online encyclopaedia of New Zealand birds to help us.  We used the photographs that I took while we walked to do so.  When Miss Oh is a little older I may *gasp* even let her use my new camera when we walk, since she asks to do so regularly.
For the record, the site we used is New Zealand Birds Online.

So as you can see a good chunk of our learning experiences are integrated.  How can you possibly timetable that out, which is one of the apparent* pushes for more information from applicants?  We walked for two hours, how much of that do I apportion to the various aspects of our learning experience?  It is a puzzle.

Anyway, I shall continue on with the exemption writing.  I’m hoping to have the first draft all wrapped up this weekend, quiet time and kids willing.  But today I shall leave you with some images of our native fauna from yesterday’s walk.
Click through for bigger images – the small birds will need you to since they don’t like it when we get too close.



White-faced herons

Duck Squad

On the Stopbank II

On the Stopbank

* please note:  I have had no contact with the local MoE office, so this is simply what I am hearing of other people’s experiences and may not be a complete reflection of the situation.

Down time

What happens when your mojo deserts you?
How do you recharge yourself and get back on the right track?

I’d love to know what you do.  Right now I’m in a slump and I could do with some ideas and a cheerleader or two who has been here.  I understand that by the time the end of the year rolls around everyone is starting to feel the need to slow down, take a break and get back some of their energy.  I guess that this might be partly my problem.  But I think there’s a little more to my missing mojo.

This year has been host to the most time that I have had to solo parent two children* without a really good support network to let me have time off.  I don’t think a month has gone by when Mr Oh Waily hasn’t been away for at least a week of it, if not more.   As well as this, up until the end of October I was regularly running three times a week when I was hit with an injury.  Since then there has been minimal exercise carried out, a once a week weights & core routine with a PT has been it.

Adding to these external issues, is my lack of continuous forward planning.  Despite having some great tools, courtesy of Jo’s My Organised Chaos course, I have failed in recent weeks to set aside time each week for planning and getting things set out.  I have also found myself wandering away from my original Montessori leanings and focusing more on the “schoolish” formal teaching for Miss Oh Waily.

So in a nutshell here are my issues:

  1. Tired, run-down parent.
  2. Lack of implementation of planning time.
  3. Excess focus on Miss Oh Waily’s formal learning**.
  4. Not enough focus on Master Oh Waily’s learning^.

My intended solutions (so far):

  1. Start exercising again.^^  This will bring the biggest reward.
  2. Set aside a specific time each week to plan for the next week.
  3. Re-read Tim Seldin’s How to Raise an Amazing Child to remind myself of why I want this for my kids.
  4. Read the ebook Montessori At Home that I have just purchased to reinvigorate my activity creations.
  5. Find a babysitter so I can get some time off to be me and not Mum for a little while.

Now it’s down to implementation.  Any other suggestions that work for you?

* My hat goes off to those solo parents who do this all year round.  You have my complete admiration.

**  It’s a thing about her turning 5, I’m sure of it.  A little switch has gone off in my brain telling me I need to be “schooling” her now.  😦

^ He is learning by osmosis mostly at the moment.

^^  I plan to try out my achilles heel when we return from visiting family after Christmas.  If it holds up I will start back on my running.  If it shows signs of being uncooperative I will look into going swimming as an alternative.