Spring has been incredibly kind to us in Dubbo this year. It has been luxuriously long with abundant rain and warm days. I have learned to dread the sudden transition from winter to summer. The last few years frosts have suddenly been replaced by scorching drought. This gentle weather is a welcome anomaly. The garden is thriving and it is lovely to be outside all the time.
I planted this mulberry tree about 18 months ago. I chose it in the hope that one day it will be a large, hardy shade tree. I'd love the boys to be able to climb it. I look forward to raising silk worms on its leaves. I am especially looking forward to enormous harvests of berries!
Much to our excitement our little mulberry tree is producing it's first crop of berries. Not only berries but the joy of picking them! Since showing Bear and Fox that the berries are edible it is vanishingly rare to see a plump black mulberry - they are plucked and gobbled up in the blink of an eye. Even the little pink ones have been disappearing. They are very sour but apparently they are still delicious.
The boys can't wait to get out there every morning to search among the leaves. There's nothing so fulfilling than finding your own morning tea and helping yourself to it. Fox calls them "Happies"!
We find ourselves stuck at home again with another minor contagious illness. I feel so worn down by being confined within these same walls. Tidying up the same few rooms after my little whirlwinds is particularly demoralising. So we decided to plant some tomatoes...
As soon as the children had been wrestled out of their pyjamas we headed out to buy some supplies.... and visit the pet shop... (just for fun)
Then we're ready to work when we get home. Fox knows exactly what to do with a big bag of rocks and an empty pot. At 17 months he is very interested in putting things where they are supposed to go, at transferring little objects and in repeating the same thing over and over again. He was very happy with this work while Bear and I moved on with the next steps in a second pot.
At 3 Bear can follow instructions and he can follow a sequence of steps. He helped me add the layer of scoria, then cut and lay the fabric then add the potting mix.
He still enjoys doing things over and over again. So they happily worked together most of the morning while I was able to hang out the washing and do some weeding.
Finally time to plant and water...
... and wait for some delicious tomatoes to eat!
With winter come viruses. We have had the inevitable succession of runny noses, coughs and rashes that accompany big groups of small children. We've been spending some extra time at home when we're snotty to keep the bugs to ourselves. It's starting to feel like we're home more often than not!
When we're at home we miss the company of our friends. We miss the change of scenery too. We can start to feel frustrated with each other and cooped up at home. Visiting the chooks is a fun change in our routine that gets us out of the house.
The boys don't get to visit the chickens very often because we usually don't have time. They love to explore this different area and come up with new games to play. Fox loves to open and close the gate for the chickens over and over again. He checks for eggs and scoops pellets into the feeder. When he runs out of inspiration he copies his big brother.
Bear looks for the sneaky pets that are always hiding close by. He imagines race tracks or train tracks to drive along. He flaps his shadow wings and picks oranges to bring home for a picnic.
I'm incredibly thankful that despite these viruses the boys have stayed generally well. They get tired and need extra reassurance (and regular neurofen). I know other families suffer much more over winter from these same bugs.
Winter is beautiful in Dubbo. The days are sunny and mild. The nights are cold and frosty. It rains often and the garden grows. It's such a pleasure to be outside working and there is plenty to do.
One of our big winter jobs is pruning. It's easy and relaxing and there's plenty to share with an eager little worker.
Bear has his own tiny secateurs. They are real and sharp and prune beautifully. They are marketed to adults with small hands. I found them in a regular hardware shop.
They are small enough for him to use comfortably with one hand and with lots of practice he is now strong and coordinated enough to use adults sized secateurs. (Which is helpful when his little ones are accidentally misplaced!).
Allowing Bear to prune with real secateurs at 3 years old does make me nervous. He could cut himself badly. For that reason we prune side by side so I can correct him when necessary and reinforce that this work and not play.
For Bear to be able to work he needs tools that won't frustrate him. He knows that they are tools and not toys and treats them with care. Pruning is one of my favourite jobs because Bear seems to love it as much as I do.
My big brother Bear can water the strawberries.
He gets a watering can from the shelf.
He fills it with water at the tap.
He caries it carefully with two hands...
... to water the strawberries.
I'm going to have a go Mum - there's a watering can for me!
I can do it too!
I was planning to wait until the weather cooled down before doing hard physical work in the garden. It turned out I was too excited to wait!
Although it is technically autumn the temperature has stubbornly risen to 35 degrees everyday for over 3 weeks now. It is stifling. I am impatient for a cool change. Every morning I open up weatherzone hoping for a prophesy of rain or a day below 30 degrees. Nothing. Just hot blue skies ahead.
However the delivery of an enormous load of mulch has given us all renewed energy!
It is helping us imagine the cooler months to come and to dream of planting and watching things grow.
Despite the heat working outside with my favourite people is refreshing. It is my favourite thing to do at the end of a frustrating day. It is amazing the way physical exhaustion seems to cure emotional exhaustion.
Bear loves being a part of his family's work. . He has had a lot of practice with his wheelbarrow and his shovel. He's an enthusiastic and effective worker. He is tireless! He chatters the whole time about: "All working sooo much hard!!", "pushing heavy wheelbarrow - need two hands!!", "lifting big scoop!!".
We work in the mornings too. There is plenty for us to do. We're starting by filling all the holes, lining paths, covering up the dust and smothering the weeds.
We have not managed to keep the grass alive. We're working on some more climate compatible alternatives!
Fox is able to join us now that there is somewhere soft and clean for him to play.
One of my goals for the yard has been to have an area for a baby to crawl safely and comfortably. I want the youngest member of our family to feel at home. I want Fox to feel that the yard belongs to him as well.
We're back! Hello!!
It's been a long time since I've posted. Holidays have come to an end. We're settling into a new routine and I'd love to share some things we've been doing at home.
We've been working in the garden!
Working in the garden with Bear is something I find easy and fun! It is something that comes naturally to me. It takes no effort to prepare and it engages Bear straight away. It is the cure for the anxiety I feel about all the Montessori things I am not doing! Seeing Bear peacefully at work watering strawberries or dead-heading daisies reassures me that we're doing ok.
The garden is a place where we can both do meaningful work side by side. We can take our time. We can choose our work.
It is a place where Bear can learn unconsciously and I can teach spontaneously. We talk about roots and leaves. We learn the names of plants. We watch things grow and ripen. We use all sorts of tools - rakes, secateurs, shears, shovels, watering cans, wheel barrows... We make compost. We apply mulch. We collect worm tea. We prune.
It is a place where Bear can be free and independent.
I get the boys outside as soon as they've finished breakfast because it is still so hot during the day. It is not long before the sun forces us to retreat indoors. The earlier we get out the longer we get to play.
Fox joins us for a while before he goes down for a sleep. Unlike Bear and myself he does not feel at home in the garden. Although he can crawl very well he doesn't like me to be out of his reach. He likes me to sit with him in the sandpit. Or he stands next to me while I'm weeding with a hand on my shoulder. I'm sure it won't be long before he too is comfortable and confident.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - our garden is a mess!! It is a work in progress. It is a long way from what I dream of it being. But I think that's part of the reason why we love it so much. There is so much for us all to do. We get to watch it taking shape. We all get to learn and explore along the way.
"It is really marvellous that man's movements are not limited and fixed, but that he can control them... So we might say that his characteristic is universal versatility, but there is one condition: he must construct them himself. he must work and create by will, and repeat the exercises for co-ordination sub-consciously as to their purpose, but voluntarily as to his initiative. So he can conquer all." Maria Montessori. The Absorbent Mind. p207
Bear, Fox and I love being out in the yard together. We spend so much of our time outside. I'm usually doing laundry or gardening while Bear is coming up with wild ways to push his little body to its physical limits. Fox does his tummy time, watches and chats with us.
I have great big dreams for a yard that is magical and inspiring for Bear and Fox. I have so many ideas in my head of the components I want our yard to include. My ideas are constantly expanding and becoming more elaborate. I see something amazing and want to incorporate it. We have so much space we really could have a bit of everything.
Alas our yard is so far from the dream!
Thankfully Bear doesn't seem to mind. He has managed to find all sorts of adventure in our mess of a yard...
... he races over the fencing as fast and as noisily as he can...
... he scales the mountain of dirt to reach the very summit...
... he tears along the bike track at top speed...
... he climbs to dizzying heights to spy on his cats up on the roof...
... he moves load after load of picked flowers to make our gardens beautiful....
... and he's working on his tennis strokes.
Fox can't wait to be his little side-kick! I hope that when he's out there too there'll be even more adventure to discover.
We've just been to Cockington Green!
A family birthday party took us to Canberra and we had a spare Saturday morning. I wanted to take Bear to Cockington Green. I remembered visiting as a child after reading the Borrowers with my dad. I remember it being magical. My expectations were so high... and I was not disappointed!
There are tiny houses with tiny front yards. There are tiny trees and tiny gardens.
There are tiny public transport systems...
... and tiny council services...
... and tiny road works!
Bear was enchanted. So was I!
It was a perfect place to spend the morning exploring and picnicking.
I wish I could visit every day but we only had one lovely morning to soak it all up. I can't recommend this special garden highly enough! I hope you've all been to Cockington Green!
My name is Vicky I am wife to Ranger and mum to two boys - Bear (2) and Fox (8 months). Somehow I stumbled across Montessori and now my goal is to raise and educate my children with a Montessori philosophy in country NSW Australia.