Sunday, 1 December 2013

Not so harmonious baking...

Making bread is a very straightforward task, unless you have little helpers.... 

A toddler, who wants to take all the flour out of the mixer or bang on the mixer while operating... 

A preschooler, who attempts to add whole hazelnuts to the mixture, fix the mixer with the biggest kitchen knife or eat the yeast and the dough...

But the bread turned out just perfect...


Barefoot tree climbing

I do not cease to be amazed by children discovering the world around them... So simple and enjoyable...

Barefoot tree climbing on a very cold autumn morning...

Swimming in autumn leaves... 

Why adults don't do the same?

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Sharks, manta rays, giant squids, mud skippers... (Project I)

For weeks Mr A has been carrying around a handful of magazine cut-outs of ocean animals and all the nature books that have anything to do with Sea Life (Project I). We even borrowed a book about sharks from the library, which he refuses to return back.

                                       'This is MY shark book!' 

Some of our favourite books:
- Maurice Pledger: Sounds of the Wild, Ocean (Miss R loves this one too)

Since then, we have been pretend playing sea animals on a daily basis. Daddy is really god at that - it gets a bit loud at times, but Mr A  and Miss R absolutely love it. 

We also watched several episodes of Blue World by Jonathan Bird. These are great for children; each episode is only 10 min long, discusses one animal and does not seem to be too scary for my boy.

We visited the local pet shop, National Salife Birmingham and then built a sealife centre at home.


Mr A painted a whale shark and a manta ray (I should probably mention that painting activities only last for about 5 min and then he is off), while his little sister was happily munching on her art...


We made the Atlantic Ocean in a glass bowl... This process took so much patience and focus; he was trying to stack all the large stones into some sort of tower and it kept collapsing over and over again.


We sculpted numerous manta rays, lionfish, hammerhead sharks and squids... And ate some playdough...


I love how we are learning together. For example, I have never heard of a wobegong shark before.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Map reading

It all started on an afternoon trip to an arboretum. I was struggling to keep Mr A motivated, so I asked him to lead the way using a very simple map of the arboretum. He was adorable, as he was trying to act as an adult using very mature voice.  And he loved it...

'Mummy, we need to follow this yellow path. Then we will see a pond. And this is our street.'


Since then, I have been using very simple sketch maps when we go out and about. Sometimes we make the map together, so Mr A can help to decide either about what we will be doing together on a certain day or about trivial things such as the colour of symbols. For obvious reasons, I try to include a choice of different options on the map; for example a trip to the park or to the pond. 

I am trying to create a literacy rich environment at home and map reading just seems to be an hands-on extension to this. Mr A is able to recognise more or less all the letters of the alphabet now and actually loves spelling out the words or reading the numbers on the map.

Thursday, 7 November 2013


My children love music, especially Miss R. She moves to virtually any noise. 

We attend the Nick Cope's music sessions every now and then. The guy does a brilliant job keeping children entertained and parents sane. The atmosphere is so chilled out, children are allowed to jump around, babies crawl and nobody really minds if the little ones have a bite to eat. This sort of set up suits Mr A very well, as he would probably struggle to sit still. As for Miss R, she can remain attached to the guitar case for the entire hour. Shall I be worried :)

I am always testing which music makes them move, giggle, relax, sing,... We have been playing a lot of Putumayo music lately with our favourite probably being Putumayo Afro Latin Party and Putumayo World Playground. Putumayo have an amazing selection of music from all around the world.


I also tried some aboriginal Australian didgeridoo music the other day. Yet I didn't expect that both of my children would find didgeridoo music absolutely hilarious.  So, be it didgeridoo... and blowing into cardboard rolls...

Monday, 4 November 2013

My little girl...

My little girl doesn't wear white tights, glittery shoes and fluffy coats...

Her hair is rarely neat and tidy, and her fingernails aren't clean...

My little girl crawls in mud, eats sand, kisses puddles of water, paints her face and kneads playdough...

Her clothes are usually stained, her hair is tangled up and her fingernails reveal evidence of the most recent exploration...

But she is a happy little girl 

Monday, 21 October 2013

Handprints on the patio door

There is something immensely beautiful in children's play, rosy cheeks, muddy hands and handprints on the patio door...


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Feel the Summer Storm

It is late afternoon and both children are hot, sweaty and irritable. My dad seems to be equally annoyed with the heat as with the childrens' crying. We are hopefully inspecting the clouds slowly creeping from behind the hills. 

'We really need some rain!' exclaims my dad, sadly looking at the vegetables, which in past years were carefully tended by my mum. Her terminal illness has been lingering above us for months and I know that these words mean a lot more to him. He needs this cleansing effect of a summer storm, we all do...

An then, all of a sudden, almost unexpectedly dark clouds close the sky and the heaven opens, with thunder and a heavy downpour... 

Mr A strips himself naked and runs off into the rain, jumping madly and laughing. The expression on his face tells me that he loves the experience, loud thunder, heavy drops of rain on his body and puddles under his feet. Miss R seems intrigued by her brother and crawls into the rain, but quickly retreats back and is happy to play with a bucket of water.

I observe the children in their pure joy of feeling the summer storm. I long to join them, but I just sit there... Tears are pouring down my cheeks... The burden of my mum's illness is too heavy...

Saturday, 3 August 2013


A heavy burden fell off my shoulders. We managed to transfer my mum to a hospice

My heart was broken every time I visited her at the hospital. I don't even want to talk about it... I desperately wanted her to come home, yet she trusted that only the hospital can deal with her pain and nausea.  

Yes, she might be under the influence of high doses of morphine and yes, she is dying, but she is still a human being, who deserves all the kindness, love and warmth than anyone can spare. When welcomed to the hospice, her first words were: 'Here it feels like they haven't given up on me yet.'  Bless her heart.

I have been taking Miss R to all the visits. The little one  is always so blissfully engrossed in playing with whatever she finds around her; crawling in the grass in front of the hospital, playing with soil, picking up cigarette buds (yuck!), peeling off bark and putting pebbles in her mouth. 

My mum likes to see her even for those short minutes of consciousness, although the morphine is really taking all the emotions away. It saddens me that she will never be able to see my children grow up... Their giggles... Their cuddles... Their bumps and bruises... Their hand painted Christmas cards... 

Watching her grandchildren grow up was my mum's biggest dream and this has been brutally taken away. 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Up in the clouds

I have been playing Zach Sobiech's Clouds on repeat over the past weeks. And crying... a lot... mostly alone... 

I am struggling so much... 

Struggling to be the kindest daughter to my terminally ill mum who longs to come home, but trusts that only the hospital can help her...
Struggling to be the most supportive daughter to my helpless dad who feels completely lost without his wife being around...
Struggling to be the most understanding sister, to not judge how my brothers and sisters are dealing with their emotions...
Struggling to be the most loving mummy to my little ones who have found themselves abroad, away from their daddy, away from their home and surrounded by intensive sad emotions...

Mr A partially oblivious demands: 'Mummy, can you play the cloud song again?' Of course sweetheart, and perhaps we should talk about your grandma too...

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Touching moments

'This is the beginning of an end!' After weeks, these heavy words are still echoing in my confused head and I can still see the oncologist's expressionless face: 'There is nothing else we can do for your mother. Make sure she is comfortable and pain free.'

It feels like this is my mum's last visit at home... She want's to go back to hospital.  I am sitting in my parent's garden, paralysed, holding back tears, repeating to myself: 'You need to be strong! You need to be strong!'. My worst fears that I have been dealing with since I came to Slovenia came true. 

My mum is sitting on the bench, so weak, so skinny, so ill, so faded. Then Miss R crawls over to her and my mum helps her with the last of her strength to stand up. Miss R clings onto my mum's hand and gives her a big smile. Such a pure, precious moment that I will always treasure...


Thursday, 20 June 2013

I haven't been so scared in a while...

Yesterday was supposed to be the first day of our summer holiday in Slovenia... But it was the day that scared me, that shook my foundations, that left my head buzzing with endless questions... 

When speaking on Skype over the past weeks, I thought that my mum had been much weaker, paler and and was getting skinnier. But seeing her in real, it left me speechless... 

Is she dying???? How did we not notice sooner? Is it just me? Can my brothers and sisters see the same? Can my father see it? How did we ever find hope when we were told that she had stage 4 ovarian cancer?  Did the encouraging results of chemotherapy fooled us? Was she lying to us about the success? Is there a cure that can still save her? How do I convince her to go to the doctors? Who do I talk to?

It feels like I am going to be sick. I need to talk to someone. I need to talk to my sister...

The children sense all my emotions even if I try to hide them. The night was horrendous with both of them waking up on rotation and me not being able to fall asleep thinking about my mum. 

Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Hundred Languages of Children

It was one of those perfect peaceful spring days. I sat in the garden with my children, observing them immersed in exploring. I am always fascinated by their curiosity and ability to absorb the knowledge. 

A poem called The Hundred Languages of Children came to my mind. 

The Hundred Languages of Children (by Loris Malaguzzi, Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach)

The child is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
A hundred.
Always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling, of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.
The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and at Christmas.
They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.
And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.