Friday, October 7, 2011

Fun in the hills...

Well after our very busy and adventurous weekend we settled back into school on Monday with much reluctance, especially getting to school.....At times this is quite a physical battle .....literally dragging children out of bed!! Something I never thought I would have to do with children that previously never slept in past 6.30am !!
Fortunately Malachy's lovely little Steiner kindy had organized an excursion to my landlady's  olive farm and they invited Gabby and Spencer along too. It was yet another beautiful sunny autumn day, as we arrived to Falampa (an olive farm that Paola and Erico started 30 years ago when Erico decided to quit the corporate world) to the warm embrace of Paola and a delicious morning tea of organic delights, which my children devoured!! After we polished off every crumb of food we wandered through the olive trees testing the trees for their climbing qualities..all proving to be of fine standard for 2-6 year old tree climbing experience.....As we continued to literally skip through the olive trees we approached the pine forrest. Here some of the older kids, gabby and aurora climbed with adoration the se beautiful old majestic beauties whilst the littlies collected enough pine cones to keep Paolas fireplace sufficiently fueled for the entire winter! We continued to wander through the forrest, along the creek and an open grassy meadow.  On further inspection this was one of natures precious gardens with a abundance of edible herbs, mint, thyme, borage, comfrey, and an assortment of green leafy edible plants....those of you that know me know that this discovery was a highlight for me, picking these native -wild growing plants. Needless to say this seemed like the perfect place to set up our picnic where the kindy teacher offered up her freshly made arancini balls, pesto and carrot again all organic and delicious!!!
After our bellies were filled we retreated back up to Paola’s villa and spent the afternoon chatting and cooking..... A glorious day!!!

Back to school again yesterday but we had the excitement of anticipation of a weekend of more fun. I recently met an english lady at the health food shop and we got talking .....before I knew it we were invited to her place for a swim and some dinner. I jumped at the opportunity, social connection is so important to me especially when so far away from home... So, shortly after school pick up we headed to the mountains, about 30 mins out of Lucca in a beautiful area Capella, we drove up and up and up! Until finally we reached this beautifully restored villa rustico. With all the warm charm a family home could contain, with evidence of a playful spirit. As soon as we arrived the kids took off outdoors once again ready to make more discoveries, with their two new friends Anna 7, zara 9. When they finally decided to actually enter the house they were welcomed to the smell of an alluring apple tea cake... As it happens the mother of the family is also celiac so everything on the menu was Gluten free :-) after scoffing down the cake, in very anti Italian style the kids went for a swim (if they were Italian – swimming so soon after eating would have meant certain death)  the view from the pool was spectacular with the delightful edition of mosaic sea creatures at the bottom of the pool and a wooden diving platform the kids were in heaven once again. After the freezing bathers thawed out in the house they settled down to a cartoon whilst dinner was prepared and adults was a truly lovely evening.... Then it was time to go and I was determined to show my gratitude…. But…. unfortunately this was interrupted by my 6 year old protesting to stay, this started playfully by running away, then rapidly developed into the most difficult physical and verbal protests I have ever encountered with my children. It was like she was possessed!!! She was dragged to the car kicking and screaming. The man of the house, Chris, with all his might physically held her in the car whilst I whisked around to the drivers side…. I had to then hold both her arms with my right arm whilst my left arm fumbled starting the car, maneuvering the car a 5 point turn all whilst gabby remained in a hysterical state demanding to stay, threatening to jump out….i managed to pull away but Gabby’s state remained consistent! I only got about 200m down the road and she slipped out of my grasped and opened the door to try to jump down a VERY sheer cliff…which I then almost swerved down with the car!!!!! That was enough!!! I had tried talking calmly, I had tried being firm, I had tried yelling, I had tried screaming!!! Nothing worked!!! I reduced myself to a cold hard slap across her face! She had been trapped in her own wrath of tiredness, frustration, disappointment and terror for long enough and needed an abrupt jolt out of it. I was pushed ...literally to the edge of cliff….As soon as my hand met her cheek…..the terror was broken and silence finally fell upon us….. All of a sudden I realized  my body was trembling, my breath panting, my heart racing….I was a mess I was exhausted!!! With the abrupt silence that had fallen upon us, I only had the energy for a short lecture…. once I caught my breath… “that is enough!!!!!!!…that behavior is completely and utterly deplorable, disgraceful and unacceptable…. Don’t you dare utter a sound until tomorrow morning, at which time you will get up, get dressed and appologise….!”

On reflection, I think for Gabby this is a tough experience. She spends all day at school trying to understand her teachers, her peers… she is desperate to make friends and not understanding them is so incredibly frustrating. She is most of the time a gem and I probably take advantage of her helpful nature… Last night we had so much fun especially Gabby --- every thing gluten free (completely included), conversation completely English (complete comprehension), warm kind family… she finally found complete comfort and relaxation and going home represented going back to school and the frustrations and discomfort in her life.  Yes this is tough, but I remain hopeful that this will remain a learning growing experience for the children….time will tell.
This morning Gabby did get up… get dressed…. apologised and rode her bike to school without complaint…it’s amazing what a new day can bring!
 Literally skipping through the olive grove :-)
 Admiring the view and open spaces ...
 Picking pine cones....

 pine forrest ...
 busy boys - shifting and collecting big logs
 preparing for the dive...

 not bad for a thurday afternoon play date :-)

View from Capella

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