Prose for Thought – Halloween

Halloween last year was as it should be – in the northern hemisphere, in autumn (albeit living in Santa Barbara, California, wasn’t quite the northern hemisphere type of Halloween I remembered from my apple bobbing youth growing up in England, UK).

It was lovely to be living somewhere where pumpkins were plentiful (as we experienced in our visit to Avila Valley Barn) and the celebrations were very much embraced by all, in a fun, inviting and friendly way (as mentioned within this post I wrote, reflecting on the week that we experienced ‘Halloween’ – USA style – amongst many other moments to love and be thankful for).

This year we are back in the southern hemisphere – where Halloween has lost touch with its historic roots and seasonal ties – nevertheless, it’s fun – for the children who insist on it (and apple bobbing in spring is a lot more comfortable in a warmer climate!).

Apple bobbing, spring style!

Apple bobbing, spring style!

When my children, all born in New Zealand, first started to ask about Halloween – and asked to ‘celebrate’ – in Spring – I was really ‘bah humbug’ about it. Over the years I’ve mellowed and decided to go with it and let them enjoy dressing up and decorating the house a little (or the garden – if it’s a sunshine, blue sky, spring day – light till nearly 8pm!).

The children now join in with ‘trick or treat’ – which has become a friendly community event in our local suburb, in Wellington, New Zealand. Householders that wish to partake put up a sign on their mailbox (all the mailboxes are at the end of the driveway, not on the door – as in the UK) and the children learn to only knock on the doors that are participating.

Welcome trick or treaters

The whole day of Halloween has been a ton of fun; making ghosts to hang from the trees and adorning the garden in cobwebs. We made green jelly, with spiders in the mix, and had lots of fun creating a ‘Stamylongnose’ cat mask / box (Minecraft fans will understand!) – which the wonderful man of our house wore for the trick and treat rounds!!

Our oldest daughter was, of course (at age 11) too ‘cool’ to go trick or treating with Mum or Dad chaperoning – but headed out in our friendly neighbourhood with a friend (well, Mum was wearing a Dr. Who ‘Fez’ and Dad looked like a strange cat!).

The  man of the house / Stampylongnose!

The man of the house / Stampylongnose!

Meanwhile, my hubby and I accompanied our four and eight year old, along with our lovely next door neighbour’s son, along a local street – where the views were as captivating as the costumes and treats!! We bumped into some old friends and neighbourhood acquaintances, we hooked up a couple of BBQ’s for the upcoming summer season, and felt a little more ‘at home’ – all positive stuff, just four weeks after landing back in New Zealand (feels like a lot longer!).

Views on Wellington's south coast!

A fun evening, which topped off a good day (which included our four year old having her  immunisations – no tears – amazing lass – she even inspired the staff on reception to make tissue paper ghosts!). I even got my eight year old to her softball practice in time (nearly forgot about it – owing to having so much fun apple bobbing and spraying my offspring with the hosepipe!) – and never mind the fact my face was covered in glitter paint from painting up the ‘Stampylongnose’ box mask!!

To finish up, here’s a poem from my eight year old daughter for Halloween (she’s a home schooler – so I try to tie in some learning every day…!):-

Halloween is fun, dressing up in costumes,
Around the world it’s celebrated,
Lots of fun for everyone.
Laughter, tricks and treats,
Oh my gosh!’ Lots of scares,
Watch out for monsters under the stairs…
Eyeballs floating in bloody cauldrons,
Evil witches on their broom-sticks,
Now it’s time, to say goodbye, ‘Rah!!’

Hope you have a happy and safe Halloween (or festival of the lights / Beltane – depending on where you are in the world and how you feel about this seasonal festivity – that really ought to be stuck in the autumn!! Just saying…!).

Love and peace x

____________________________

Joining in with…

Prose for Thought

and

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Posted in Art, Country Kids, Lifestyle, Poetry, Seasons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Photo Gallery | Light

A sunset on a Saturday, at beautiful Princess Bay, on Wellington’s South Coast.

The gift of light, in all its entirety – from dawn to dusk and every filtered stream in-between.

Princess Bay sunset

The luminescent glow of light, reflected off the greenest canopy, in the New Zealand bush.

New Zealand bush

Light filtering through the canopy, to shine on a grove of serenity, in a sanctuary only minutes from New Zealand’s capital city – Wellington.

Taken at Zealandian, Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellington

My shadow, lit up by the setting sun, in a moment when I needed to be alone (not that I really acknowledged that need – until I was there).

My shadow and I

I’m forever needing a gentle (or sometimes forceful!) push to get away from the house. Hubby is thankfully good at encouraging me out. As soon as I’m there, on the rugged south coast, my mind is free to be with the rhythm of  the tide and I realise how much I need to take these moments of alone time.

Sweet coastal air and light that heals (though sometimes the air isn’t so sweet; but torturously biting, whipping up sea spray and sand, tangling knots in my hair and taking my breath away, leaving my eyes barely able to open to see the light!).

But, in this one moment, with my shadow, the air was peaceful and calm and I was able to envisage the light – as it left Aotearoa to start its journey to the otherwise of the world.

I thought of family and friends in the northern hemisphere, waiting for the light of sunrise to greet their day.

Their days are shorter now, as winter approaches, but I wish them days of crisp, bright sunshine, to lift them up when the darker days weigh heavy.

Houghton Bay, Wellington

My heart soars in the light of the setting sun – just for a moment, like a ribbon caught in the breath of the sea-breeze, riding on a driftwood tree.

My feet forget the earth that grounds them, rooted as they are – on a mound of pebbles and Paua shells.

I let all my thoughts go – just for a moment – and took in the last of the light, letting it fill every part of me; until I was washed clean with an overwhelming feeling of peace.

Light fading over Island Bay

 _______________________________________

Linking up with Tara of Sticky Fingers blog – and fellow bloggers that love to capture life through their photographs -
Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

 

Posted in Photo Gallery | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Loving having our creative space back!

There’s a room in our home that I’ve always loved, ever since we first bought the house – back in 2006. It’s the laundry room, off the back of the garage, and is a sun magnet in the afternoon. It’s a large room and a space I’ve always filled with paint, paper and craft materials (besides the laundry!). My daughters have grown up having this special space to be creative in. I haven’t worried about paint spills and marks on the walls. This is a space for them to not worry about mess, but to let their creativity explode!

When we got home from California, just over a fortnight ago, this space was littered with ‘stuff’ and has finally been cleared and restocked with some creative supplies.

Here’s a few photographs I’ve taken this week, reflecting the creativity that has started to flow freely again…

Alice's mask, Nether Star & paintings

I love this ‘Frozen’ art piece my four and eight year old worked on together…

Sophie & Alice work on a Frozen piece

Rockets and bubbles, anything goes…

Sophie's rocket and bubble painting

The other ‘art station’ I’m not in a hurry to part with (though to anyone visiting it looks like a worn coffee table that needs a sand down and a polish) is this table in our living room. It’s the perfect size and height for children. This table has seen copious drawings and artworks come to completion and taken a ton of glitter into it’s carved out markings over the years too! It’s been the home of puzzles and train sets, board games and tea parties.

Last night our youngest draw an ‘Ender Dragon’ and showed us her impression of a dragon, before asking us to send it to Dan of ‘The Diamond Minecart’!

Ender Dragon

Yes, it’s great to be home and have our creative space back. Love it!

Mini creations to the max!

____________________________

Linking up with the ‘Mini Creations’ Wednesday Linky, explained by the ‘Kid GL Loves‘ as thus…

a very straightforward photo linky… so you can keep a record of the things your kids have done so you can remember them and not feel guilty when you throw them away!”

Mini Creations
Posted in Art, Learning & growing | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

A magic moment at the city gallery in Wellington

An inspiring home-school, Mum, friend invited my two younger children and I to a shadow workshop at the City Gallery in Wellington last week.

Silhouettes

It was the perfect distraction from the troubled start to our week (I’ll get around to the ‘magic moment’ alluded to in the title of this post after a slight detour…!).

Our eight year old said she’d give the local school a go – and headed off for the day full of excitement, mixed with a dose of nerves. She lasted the day – but came home with a stomach full of anxiety.

A class of 32 children and an overwhelming lunch time; seeing hundreds of children in one place, witnessing a fight, seeing younger children being pushed over, and little apparent adult supervision, left her with a deep feeling of woe. She came home saying she felt scared to move in class. She is a girl of constant motion. She cartwheels at home when she’s working out a maths problem. Movement helps her learn. She talks all day and asks endless questions. It was quickly apparent that school wasn’t the right fit – at least not yet.

So, in the background to the magic moment (I’m getting around to it very soon!), there has been a lot of thought and discussion between dear hubby and I as to the next best course of action for our free-spirited eight year old. In a nut shell, we’ve decided we’ll carry on home educating, as we have done (apart from two terms when she was five), for the foreseeable future, but will look at possibly integrating her into the private girls school, that her older sister attends, in the future – when the time is right.

Phew! Now, on to that ‘magic moment‘!

We arrived at the City Gallery running a few minutes late, but were relieved to see a group standing outside that we recognised. We were led into the gallery by a wonderful art educator, who introduced us to the exhibitions and facilitated the workshop.

I recognised a few faces from our homeschooling time before we’d left Wellington to live in California. It was really heart warming to feel so welcome and at ease. The mixed ages of children, along with parents, all blended in comfortable harmony. It struck me how here was a group of very unique individuals drawn together by their common interest – or need – to walk a different path in seeking out learning opportunities for their children.

After a brief introduction we followed the gallery educator’s torch light into an installation by William Kentridge: The Refusal of Time.

Initially, we gathered in one corner of the room, allowing our eyes and ears to adjust to the dimmed lighting, mixed with the rhythmical sound of a metronome, which was also projected visually on a wall. In the room there was also a wooden, mechanical structure that moved continually, creating a background sound and making its own shadow on the walls around us. Three of the four walls came alive with images and animations.

After we’d adjusted to the surroundings, we walked into the centre of the room and sat down to feel the exhibition unravel around us. It was a very sensory experience. My eight year old daughter noticed the same images were appearing on the three walls, but at different times, and the last segment of the installation was like a visual projection of sound, with string coming unravelled and travelling along the wall.

As the exhibition came to an end we left the installation feeling creatively pumped and ready for our workshop.

After a brief introduction from the art educator the children got busy with paper, string, sticks and tape to transform their bodies into interesting shapes, before walking behind a screen and creating the most amazing silhouettes.

My four year old daughter asked me to cut out words and symbols so she could be a ‘Queen of Love’ with a special message for a friend she’d had to bid farewell, when we left California. A magic moment indeed – and one which I quickly shared with my friend in California and made sure the message of love was passed onto her son.

Shadow workshop

I took a few photographs and footage with my phone camera, in a hurried attempt to capture the moment. The children all worked together, marching in time to the music, in a procession of silhouettes; transformed into birds, kings and queens, warriors and explorers.

They looked incredible and it was magic to see the wide mix of ages working together (one of the aspects of the home schooling community I love).



Posted in Anxiety, Education, Learning & growing, Life in action - Videos | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five outdoor family loves in Wellington from the past fortnight…

We’ve been back in Wellington, New Zealand, a fortnight and are quickly reacquainting ourselves with favourite haunts. The weather has mostly been conducive to outdoor activities and our children are loving playing with their friends.

Here’s five outdoor favourites from the last fortnight…

1. Rock pooling, climbing and beach play at Scorching Bay beach.

This gorgeous gem of a place, on the Miramar Peninsula, with the delightful ‘Scorch-o-rama Cafe’ overlooking the beach, is stunning. My four and eight year old daughters spent a lovely time climbing up and over the rocks, exploring a little cave, examining shells and life in the rock pools (spotting two crabs and some little fish). The soft, yellow sand of the beach then attracted them to build castles (and destroy them just as quickly!), whilst I dipped my toes in the icy spring water and admired the incredible scenery.

Scorching Bay, Wellington2. Bush walks in the lush, green Town Belt of Wellington.

Wellington’s Town Belt is public land, extending for 425ha, and accessible from a number of points around the city. The land offers the feeling of being miles from city life, without having to leave town.

We are fortunate to have a part of the town-belt close to where we live. It’s magic to step into the bush and be at one with nature and the native bird life. On this visit I returned with my pockets stuffed with ‘nature treasures’, bestowed upon me by my four year old, from skeleton leaves and wild flowers, to sticks and ‘special’ stones.

Houghton Valley town belt, Wellington3. Running around at Lyall Bay beach

We are fortunate to live near some gorgeous bays and beaches. Lyall Bay is a real community hub and there’s always something going on. When the tide is out the sand begs to be drawn and ran on. We popped down one sunshine evening and I joined the children in doing cartwheels, handstands and spinning my four year old around until we both collapsed in a dizzy pile.

Lyall Bay Beach

The wide promenade near the beach is great for children to practice their wheel skills and a small playground makes for fun, whilst the grown-ups enjoy a really decent coffee from the local Maranui Cafe!

Lyall Bay, Wellington4. Visiting Wellington Zoo

We have always loved visiting this wonderful zoo, set on a hilly landscape overlooking the city, just a short drive from our home (or a walk of just over half an hour). Its tag line is ‘the best little zoo in the world’ and over the past decade we’ve seen it transformed from a zoo of the past to a zoo of the future, with its focus on conservation, education and ecological enclosures that are naturally landscaped to make the animals feel comfortable.

Wellington Zoo

We loved the new ‘Neighbours’ walk through exhibition – where we found the kangaroos hanging out watching the children ‘jumping like kangaroos’ on the trampoline!

We also loved seeing the Caracals, a recent addition to the zoo. We all had fun being small cats with big ears for a moment – and hiding in the ‘grass’… boo!

Kangaroos and wild cats

5. Playing at one of Wellington’s many playgrounds

There’s well over 100 playgrounds in the Wellington region, all of top notch quality. This past fortnight we’ve visited the playgrounds in Houghton Valley, Lyall Bay, Island Bay and Central Park (Brooklyn). One of our favourite, especially on a summery evening, is the playground at Island Bay, with its giant slide, wooden boat and lookout, swings, see-saws, climbing frames and a play area for younger children too.

Shoreline Park & Playground, Island Bay, WellingtonIt’s so wonderful to be back home. Our oldest daughter is delighted to be back at school with her friends and has slotted straight back into her routines, whilst our younger two are learning from home and enjoying playing with our neighbours. The garden is keeping them busy too, with plenty of spring planting to do!

________________________

Linking up with…

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Posted in Country Kids, Playgrounds & Parks | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Autumn | The Photo Gallery

Fall Santa Barbara 2014

Our last month in Santa Barbara, California, coincided with the start of the ‘Fall’ season (though the temperatures and local foliage were hardly indicators of autumnal weather!).

With only weeks left, before our return to Wellington, New Zealand, (just in time for spring) I definitely felt the need to indulge in some autumnal fair before bidding farewell to California. Thankfully, I had a very good friend (along with her delightful sister) who were more than happy to lead me astray…

and so, I found myself one lovely autumnal evening, in sunny California, enjoying the culinary delights on offer at the ‘Santa Barbara Public Market‘.

It was an evening of red wine to linger over, sweet treats and seasonal bouquets of flowers to delight over – combined with the most wonderful conversation and lots of laughter (sigh, now I’m feeling slightly nostalgic and missing my dear friend).

Now, back to reality and life in New Zealand – planting my spring vegetables in the garden (it’s going to take my mind and body a little while to adjust – all in good time x).

___________________________

Linking up with lovely bloggers on the theme of ‘Autumn’ over at ‘Sticky Fingers blog‘ for the weekly ‘Photo Gallery’.

Posted in California Adventures, Photo Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment