Wednesday, 22 January 2014


Charlie has a fascination for statues. This seems to have begun after I took the boys to see the film 'Frozen' at the cinema a few weeks before Christmas; I think it started with the boys pretending they had been frozen into ice statues immediately after we left the cinema! Because they were all statues on the side of the road and weren't interested in getting into the car, I pretended that I was buying them from a statue shop, and then picked them up and strapped them into the car while they all maintained a statue pose! They all thought this was great fun, but something about it captured Charlie's imagination and he has been a statue at some point on almost every day since!

The statue game goes like this: Charlie will come to me and strike his statue pose (its always the same one) and hold up one of his hands to show me how much he costs. I then say how much I'd like to buy the statue, and pay an imaginary shop keeper for him. If I am with a particular friend, he likes us to pretend to squabble over who will buy him, and then eventually we decide to share him! After I have bought Charlie, he always turns into a baby saying "pretend the statue turns into your baby, and you love your baby!" Then we have some play where I am mummy and he is baby.

I have no idea how statues and babies are connected for Charlie, but I can see that he is thinking a lot about being a baby (or perhaps the fact that he is now growing up) at the moment. He likes to talk about being in my tummy and breastfeeding, he asks me about the things I did for him when he was a baby and we have looked through some baby photos together. Yesterday he drew a picture and told me that it showed me with he and Callum in my belly, and Oliver with he and Callum in his arms.

Last week I took the boys to our local cemetery where I knew there would be plenty of statues, and some Commonwealth War Graves that I thought Joseph would like to see. I remember walking around the same cemetery with my grandad and being fascinated by the big horse statue on one of the graves, and the statues surrounding it, and being told that they were the graves of a circus family.

Anyone who would like to read about the Sanger Family and their circus can make a start here.

The boys enjoyed the visit, but these statues didn't interest Charlie in quite the way I thought they might. Then, last Thursday lightening struck the thumb of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro! Oliver and I showed Charlie the BBC article, and he has been fascinated ever since! He has been asking all sorts of questions, and loves to pretend that he is Christ the Redeemer, I am the lightening striking his thumb and Oliver is the builder who repairs him! Yesterday we had a trip to the beach and took the boys to see the Lifeboat Man statue on our seafront, which is a memorial to a crew who were lost when a surfboat overturned in 1897 (more information here).

All across the beach and even beside the Lifeboat Man, Charlie was Christ the Redeemer!

Although I don't think I completely understand what Charlie's interest in statues is all about, I know that he loves stories and enjoys taking on characters and re-creating those stories, so when I explore statues with him, that will be the angle I take. He doesn't just like to be statues of course, he spends a good amount of time dressed as Superman, and loves to be Obi Wan Kinobe too!

There are lots of obvious things that Charlie is learning as a result of statues; he usually asks what material the statue is made from and we chat about why it may have tarnished or changed colour over time, we flew from home to Brazil on google maps to find Christ the Redeemer, we've looked at online news and there has been a lot of local history discussed around the Sanger graves and the Lifeboat Man. I can see though that there is so much more he is learning and experiencing that is not obvious to me and perhaps never will be. That doesn't matter. When Charlie asks me to strike him with lightening for the tenth time that day I know there is something wonderful going on inside of him, and I enjoy being a part of it. He is having a lot of fun, and where there is fun, learning thrives.


Thursday, 2 January 2014

Hello 2014!

Its a new year!

A few weeks ago I was reflecting to a friend that 2013 had been a bit of a 'nothing' year, and it felt as though it might just be the year that linked two others together. After we had chatted for a few minutes I could see that this isn't the case and while 2013 may not have been full of big exciting events it has been quietly important, and has consolidated many of the good things in our lives. It was our first full year of Unschooling, we have forged some lovely and supportive relationships with other Unschooling and Home Educating families, and we now have a full year and a half of experiencing how well Unschooling works for our family under our belts, and that feels really good!

Our sons are all a year older and things have shifted. We started 2013 with two toddlers, and I'm starting 2014 with the definite feeling that we now have three little boys! We stopped needing a buggy early last year and it became much easier for me to take the three of them out and about alone, meaning that a whole range of new possibilities opened up to us. Just before Christmas I spent a day in London with the boys while Oliver worked. We had a cable car ride, rode around on the DLR, visited the Cutty Sark and went down the river on a Clipper to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.

At the beginning of the year this wouldn't have seemed possible, but as the boys grow and shift so do the possibilities and opportunities for all of us. I performed in three theatrical productions between September and December, I can't imagine that this would have been possible a year earlier either. So, in January 2014 the big double buggy in the hallway has been replaced with scooters and bikes, and as much as I feel sad that a cherished era of their lives has passed, I can see the joy that lies ahead.

A life of natural learning has taken strong roots here over the past year, and one of the things I love most about Unschooling is that I can never predict in which direction interests will flow! This time last year life was all about Dinosaurs for Joseph and had been for some time, I even dedicated a blog to the subject (Day in, Day out...Dinosaurs!) At some point last year he developed an interest in WW2, and this has taken us in all sorts of fascinating directions! He loves aircraft and likes to see how they have changed and developed from WW1 to the Cold War and present, comparing their features and thinking about the type of campaigns they would have been best suited to. He enjoys watching documentaries about specific battles and campaigns, and has become very interested in the strategy of warfare. He appears to be a great problem solver and loves to think around and question issues and offer his own solutions, and role playing war scenarios gives him a brilliant opportunity to do this. Joseph's love of all things War-related deserves to be written about separately and I'll do that soon, its something that has provided the whole family with a great deal of fun!

Oh, and Oliver graduated the week before Christmas, which was a brilliant end to the year!

Oliver and I aren't the sort of people to make grand plans, so as it stands 2014 is pretty much a blank canvas! We have a wedding to look forward to in August, and Oliver is hoping to continue working towards his Walking Group Leader Award, which means we'll need to spend a fair bit of time in parts of the country that offer him the chance to practise his navigation skills! We'd like to spend a bit of time Youth Hosteling around the North of the country, and to do some camping, but we have no set plans. Callum and Charlie turn four this year and become 'school-aged', so we'll be looking forward to their first day of Unschooling in September! I have a few things I'd like to pursue for myself too, but I'll be working quietly on that for now.

I'm thinking all the boys' legs will grow a little bit longer this year, and they might walk (or scoot) a little faster, so I might lose a bit of the weight I've gained walking at the pace of two three year olds rather than power walking with a double buggy! I do recommend walking at the pace of a three year old fairly often though, I've discovered an awful lot that I've been missing, and it was worth the extra pounds!

Right now, I'm enjoying the end of Oliver's Christmas and New Year break, and all the food and drink we still have left! We've had a peaceful week and a half at home, being together and with the friends and family we love. When I'm at home playing with the boys and helping them explore the things they enjoy, I feel a deep sense of gratitude that when the Christmas break ends we're not atomised back to our 'usual' lives. We'll be sort of rolling into 2014; eating chocolate, enjoying our Christmas toys, playing on the PS3 and trying to make the most of each precious moment as it passes! :)