Until they are done (Breastfeeding a four year old & an 18 month old)

Ah, breastfeeding. Just me and my little one… and my big one… and a small pink babushka doll… half a chewed orange… an awkward pair of fairy wings… and a small bunch of wild flowers.

I never expected such a crowd.

Yet here we are!

*smiles brightly*

It’s not often we all squeeze up together like this. Early on in my tandem breastfeeding experience I decided that three of us at once was too tricky for me to handle. (In one sense “tandem” is a good word- it brings to mind the gargantuan effort of tandem parachuting – a wild enough thing without another person tangled around you. But in another sense, it doesn’t quite do, as there are more than two involved. There are three of us trying to get our heads/ lips around this. I think “triptych breastfeeding” better captures the ungainly mechanisms of it all!)

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18 month old Juno is in the stage of breastfeeding that makes me think that the whole “grass is greener” part of human nature begins early. She takes a few gulps on one side, then pats the other as if to test the waters, then moves over to the other one.
She isn’t quite at the inanimate objects sharing her milk stage (that began with Ramona at two, nursing a micromachine…) but she will often bring some kind of contribution. The marmite toast she is halfway through or a bit of lego she can’t leave behind.
Juno is restless… always on the go, climbing and discovering… when she snuggles in for Mummy Milk it is one of the few moments of stillness in her day. Her eyes flicker vacantly at the sky or our ceiling, I can almost see her processing all that has gone before. I watch her watching her own little show reel. And then the eye lids droop and sleep stills her body.

Ramona will be four in two weeks… and as we approach her birthday I wonder if we are approaching her weaning. Some weeks she doesn’t have a drop of my milk. Most nights she will fall asleep during a story, or just snuggled against my side while I give Juno milk. I guess we have been on the world’s slowest weaning journey over the last year… creeping down at Ramona’s pace, soon to be done.

When I bring the topic up she vehemently declares she isn’t finished with it… “I’m going to have Mummy Milk ‘till I am FIFTEEN!” (Ah.. . the internet’s worst nightmare.) She still sees breastfeeding as her greatest comfort.

People say that mothers breastfeed for a long time for their own sakes… because they can’t let go of their children. You only need to breastfeed through a pregnancy to realise this isn’t the case… I never quite got over the weird physical feeling of breastfeeding Ramona while I was pregnant.

We are touched out, have things to do, no time to sit and watch eye lids flicker, no room on our laps for a babushka…

And yet.
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I never imagined to still be nursing Ramona at four. But there are one million things I never imagined I’d do as a parent… yet have found myself embracing them when it appears apparent that this road is for us. (Every family has their own paths to take… and it is often the children who grab your hand and reveal it, don’t you reckon?) If you detect any lactating smuggery in this post… please don’t. I understand that for all sorts of reasons this path isn’t for all…. and it has been a rocky one for us at times. (*clumsily inserts all the journey metaphors*

It is pretty special to be meeting Ramona and Juno in a place that mothers in ancient and modern cultures across the world have met for millennia.

(On a rocking chair set in long grass. Hehe.)

Tim took three snaps and at first I didn’t like them one bit. I was so stern in the first! Like a Victorian teacher! But… I’m growing to like the fierceness. My expression is the courage of every parent to walk the way their children beckon.

And the second one…. it seems so immodest, with my spilling breasts. And then, I remembered that that is the accusation pointed at nursing mothers constantly. I’m not going to point it at myself. Breastfeeding can be a bit messy and gaping and vulnerable… but pfft, so is love. That is the world’s sexualisation issues. Not mine or my child’s.

So, there we are. The three of us… and the rest. Just breastfeeding until they aren’t any more.

Posted in Attachment parenting, Breastfeeding, Parenting | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Urge (allowing our children’s yearnings to bloom)

“I’d love it if you didn’t climb up the side of yurt, Ramona. I’m worried that it isn’t strong enough and that the wood might break.”

She looks me in the eye, defiance pulsing out of her, she reaches out and grips onto the wood. Without breaking eye contact she pulls herself up….

It is one of the most frustrating parental moments. It feels as if they are setting out to push your buttons… but what if they aren’t?

What if they simply have an urge that they can’t resist? And they maintain eye contact in order to test if they can retain their connection with you (the number one priority of any young child – critically essential for survival) whilst following up the call of their heart?

Schemas

Schemas are “a fancy word for the urges that children have to do things like climb, throw things and hide in small places. 

They are the building blocks for the brain, repeated behaviour that in turn forge connections in the brain, patterns of unfolding, learning and growth.

Schemas are such an important part in every child’s development that they are covered in training for anyone in the business of care and education of young children – yet not too many parents seem to know about these natural,uncontrollable and totally necessary urges that all children have.”

(read more on Schemas on the fabulous Nature Play site where this quote is from)

or The Call of Their hearts

I have been thinking about schemas a lot recently… the inner urges of a child. Is it too much to describe it as “the call of their heart?” I don’t think so… in fact, I think it is good thing to describe it so… as I believe these inner urges are the thing we as adults experience as that- the beating of our being drawing us towards something. The call to spend time with someone, to change our job, to follow up art.

I’m sure that happiness, for adults, is intimately related to their ability to listen to themselves, to trust themselves, to follow up on those inner yearnings.

And a happy person is a delight to be around. They don’t play out their insecurities on their friends. They don’t second guess motives, or act out of guilt. They respect other people’s decisions and trust them.

So… it could be said…that creating happy people is one of the greatest gifts we could give the world. In fact, I’m going to say it:

Urges look like disrespect sometimes – but allowing the fulfillment of an urge nurtures respect

The amount of times I have heard grownups talk about how important it is to bring children up to respect other people and things could not be added up using my daughter’s colourful vintage abacus. (It’s loads of times.)

It is sort of the unanimous thing, amongst all parenting types. A ground rule. Respecting people and stuff.

Sometimes when children can’t resist this yearning, it looks like disrespect. Let’s stop seeing it that way. Let’s simply say respect has nothing to do with it right here, in childhood.

But let’s say that a children brought up to follow their instincts and to be true to themselves is going to be a PLEASURE in society. Let’s say they might just be one of the most respectful adults out there.

I am pretty sure of that.

If we respect their drive and their desires now, if we protect their right to access what they hope for, they will grow up to respect others and to defend the rights of others.Urge- allowing children to follow thier yearnings

There are small, subtleties involved in allowing children to fulfill their urges, which are sometimes missed.

Like, the conversation that goes “This vase is really important to Hilary. She is worried about it breaking. I hear that you want to hold it. How about we hold it on the rug, so that if it slips, it won’t break?”

and the quiet, murmured one that goes “You are angry. You want to hurt him. I’m not going to let you hurt him. I see you want to hurt him. We will have to find another way for you to feel your anger.” (Because yes, I am an urge-enabler but harming people is never, ever okay.)

And the dance with objects, on this shelf and that shelf, when we can’t find another way… “You really can’t stop flicking these switches huh? But Uncle Les is worried about this radio. I’m going to place it in a cupboard. Now let’s find another switch we can flick…”

Before I had children, I thought I would be someone who wanted to children to understand simply Not To Touch. I’d leave my house exactly as it is… but now I want a YES environment for my children. I want them to have the mindset that the world can be an inviting, and welcome, beautiful place of curiosities and wonder.

I know that a lot of people would think I was a permissive parent. I hate the unconsciousness that comes with that phrase! I have read and read and thought and thought and I feel that letting go of a lot of control is the very best thing for my children.

While I seek to say YES as much as I can, these little conversations that happen are the nuances between being permissive and giving freedom for urges to flourish.

It’s him or me! Whose needs are more important, huh?! Huh?

If we step out of a “control mindset” (read Teresa Brett for more on this!) we encounter a situation where a parent’s needs and a child’s needs aren’t always in conflict. There doesn’t have to be a constant tug of war between what a child desires and our own desires as an adult.

Sometimes though…. There is. My child wants another pancake shaped like a dinosaur. I’ve just cooked ten. I’m tired and slothed out on the sofa. My need involves sitting down for a tick…

I do want to meet my needs as a parent. I am not willing to burn out.

BUT… soon enough my child won’t want me making pancakes… Once my child is a bit older, I have the whole rest of my life to sloth about. When I am 93, sitting for my ninth hour on the same sofa with Countdown on the telly I am going to WISH I spent more time making dinosaur pancakes. I’m so sure of it.

And also…. There is a thing about who is more able to get their needs met. Who is, in this partnership between parent and child? It is me of course. I am the one with access to the resources, the one who can articulate what is going on for me, I can get up and do this, and act on that.

My child however, is bound by her own abilities and my ability to support her getting her needs met.
Urge- letting a child's inner yearnings flourish(autonomously making paint with beetroot and flour)

And also, sometimes, they want to push our buttons…

I began this post by suggesting our children’s inner drive isn’t a push on our buttons. Then I remembered a story told by Larry Cohen, of Playful Parent fame. He had a couple sitting on his couch for a parenting consultation, they were desrcribing how their child was very aggressive, often used to punch them and strike out. He observed this mum and dad, they were just OOZING peace. There words were kind, considered, they were almost sleepy with mindfulness. He looked at them and said “Well, no wonder! She has to be angry for all three of you!”

Sometimes our children DO want a reaction. They dig and dig until they find us. The real us. The one that says OUCH when poked.

It is a strange thing…. Because of course, being a free, content, open, YES parent is a wonderful thing to be… but it is equally important to be an authentic one. When we say YES to an urge, we need to do it joyfully. And if we can’t do it joyfully, we have the opportunity to discover in our selves why not.

And, every parenting moment of angst is a chance to step back for a few seconds, to breathe, to consider the space we are in, what we are going to speak out from… but then sometimes our children need to see us in pain, in frustration, in anger…. Sometimes. Not in a contrived way… in an authentic kind of a way.

They see us then. And they know big feelings are okay, even in adults.

(This is good, because I get those big feelings regularly…)

Let’s bring our children up to be happy, not successful

Argh, that doesn’t sound quite right. I believe that happy = success. Why try and bring children up to be successful in a world that is, frankly, quite unjust? If they fit well within this kind of society than I feel I have possibly done a bit of a rubbish job.

Where as, if they can find contentment and peace- then I will be high fiving my husband about our parenting skills! If they are challenging society’s norms and measure by following their hearts, then I will be feeling like the challenges that came in their childhood of giving freedom to these urges was worth it.

Forget the lessons, the manners, the social norms; they will learn these in time, if they see a need for them.

Make happiness the goal. For your child right now, and for the adult they will become.

Give freedom to their yearnings. Defend their urges.

Posted in Parenting | 8 Comments

BEFORE! AFTER! Natural Beauty Experiments and the Beauty Myth

I’m not going to lie to you. It IS a bit weird doing beauty experiments for Cosmo. Everytime I come to write them up I have to check within myself- is this true to what I think and feel about beauty?

Here are some things I think about beauty:

1- I had the fortune to be bought up by a mother immensely sensible about beauty. I grew up knowing beauty was a jitterry, rickety thing, to not ever put much store by it.

2- I went through the usual fashion obsessed teenage years. (By “fashion” I mean “awful neon flares”) But even when I was 16 I was uncomfortable with people needing me to be pretty. I once turned to a handsome boyfriend, my top teeth repulsively smothered in melted chocolate, and said “‘Ello Darling” in a grunty voice- he looked at me disdainfully and said “Don’t do that.” He got the heave ho that very day, I tell you.

3- I can go weeks and weeks without a dash of make up, without even looking in the mirror. Sometimes the best I can do is wipe a kid’s snot out of my fringe. I can be *that* unbothered.

4- Yet, when I have just hennaed my hair, or slapped on some blusher and mascara, I look in the mirror and go WAHEY! And it gives me a sort of grace and confidence for the day ahead that I am grateful for.  I need it sometimes.

5- I try really hard to celebrate difference. My daughter’s play with my tummy, tracing the large tear shaped stretch mark I have around my belly button, courtesy of growing two babies in my womb. Ramona says “Your tummy is baggy, mummy!” And I say “It is baggy! And beautiful! I carried you in there, and this shape is to remind me of how mysterious and magnificent my body is.”

6- I feel genuinely upset that our world has such a strict measure of beauty. When I turned on my computer to see some stuff about Renee Zellweger I was pretty much exactly like this:Renee Zellweger Tweet And, it is so weird, because on one level I want to be like “As long as she is happy” and “We should have nothing to say about her face” but on another level I feel creaky hearted about it. I thought she was absolutely stunning before, with her gorgeous ethereal eyes. She is still stunning, but she is Hollywood stunning and I am sad.

7- I definitely do not want to contribute to this kind of intolerant, cage like beauty myth, that requires people to do things to themselves.

8- But I *do* want to investigate options that can help people look in the mirror and say WAHEY in a way that takes in their whole health (i.e – minus the heavy metals) and in a way that respects our precious and beautiful earth.

Bearing all this in mind…. I have done a couple of experiments in the last month with two items.

Ozone Gel 
I have begun using ozone for everything. On my teeth, wounds, sore spots. I feel like I could almost become an ambassador for it.Here I used it for wrinkles. I like to think I am going to grow old with pleasure. I am not ashamed of my laughter lines, and I like to think I will love them more as I grow with them. But there may come a time when I DO care and I’d like to be equipped to smooth them out a little in an uninvasive, easy way.  Read all about it (and the pre-wedding cyst I got on my face) here.Ozone Gel Before After wrinkles

 

Oil pulling with coconut oil (I buy my organic virgin coconut oil in bulk- which you can here too, through my affiliate link, if you like!) I use coconut oil for EVERYTHING. Deodorant, detangler, moisturiser, eye make up remover, now- a natural teeth whitener. (In fact, take a squizz at my post 12 beauty uses for 2 ingredients…) I have now incorporated it into my weekly rhythm as a way of avoiding expensive dental work. I’ve been looking into how I can heal my teeth, and my daughter’s weak teeth, naturally and I am adamant this is going to play an important role in this. Read all about it, and that time a mate had a bit of confetti in his teeth for a month, here.
Oil Pulling for teeth whitening

I hope theses experiments don’t make you feel you *should* do something about wrinkles or yellowing teeth. Just that you *can.*

Mostly, I’d like this post to make you take a moment to think about beauty. Can you find yourself to be beautiful? I think we must learn to love ourselves. To do health, fitness and beauty things for ourselves and not others.  To take a leaf from the United States of Schmaltz and learn self-love. (No offense, my American Readers. I love how you challenge our stiff, self hating, upper lip.)

“A consequence of female self-love is that the woman grows convinced of social worth. Her love for her body will be unqualified, which is the basis of female identification. If a woman loves her own body, she doesn’t grudge what other women do with theirs; if she loves femaleness, she champions its rights.”

(This whole post is me trying to weld together my excitement about spreading the word of natural beauty through Cosmo and my belief in Naomi Wolf’s Beauty Myth…) Beauty Myth

Discover your beauty…

Posted in Thrifty | 6 Comments

In a gentle way, we can shake the whole world

Here I was, sitting at the playground while Juno and Ramona hang off the rusty roundabout, all ready to write about how a one legged Barbie has infiltrated our lives when my husband reads out a BBC headline:

Violence kills a child every five minutes- the majority not in war zones.

And my fingers are struck numb and dumb.

About our Barbie, at least.

My mind shot immediately to a quote I’d read by local child right’s hero Pennie Brownlee just this day- about how we need to completely overhaul our perception of children.

I read the articles about Unicef’s report with these words ringing through my mind. There is an enormous number of children growing up in violent homes- how much can changing our perception of children change the experience of childhood?

Here in Thames, NZ, Pennie and a small team have been teaching respectful parenting courses for several years- and I’m sure- I am so sure!- there is a palpably different parenting culture here. It is apparent at tots groups, in the kindergarten, here at the playground. There is just *that* much more respect for children. I’m sure of it.

New Zealand is one of the 41 countries that have laws about violence against children- although absurdly this government has made noises about reversing it, and surveys seem to show 50% support for this.

The law came in in 2007- probably one of the most controversial laws implemented in recent years. It basically made smacking a crime. Which, if you consider children as being real people with real rights, makes real sense- but very few other countries are willing to go there. Now, this wasn’t a case of just awesome old New Zealand generally just being awesome: great beaches, inventive personalities, relaxed working environs, anti smacking bills! Not at all, actually the statistic on child abuse here are dire, truly dire. They really HAD to do something about being one of the worst OECD countries for child abuse.

I hosted an event earlier in this year with the politician that made that law happen, Sue Bradford, and I was convinced by her report on the difference it had made to the lives of children here. There had been an increase in reporting of child abuse, and nearly every incidence of abuse reported was serious. (It is often suggested that laws like this will put gentle parents who non thinkingly give a violent shake when their child runs across the road in prison- NZ shows this simply isn’t the case.)

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I believe that we can build a world where childhood can be free from violence- where children don’t grow up in fear. We all have a role to play in that- by respecting the children in our lives, recognising their rights and defending them. Family life is far less violent now than it has been in history- we can be encouraged that culture does evolve, albeit slowly. Paradigms and perceptions do shift. Heck, it used to be commonplace to leave babies deemed to weak or sensitive on a hillside. (Read Robin Grille’s Parenting for a Peaceful World for more on this.) We can change the culture of parenting and the experience of childhood.

And when we, as parents and teachers and neighbours and grandparents, are willing to consider children as rights holders, then their right to safety and security might be written into law. The UK has signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child – but as yet have no anti-smacking policy.

We need these laws, absolutely, but we need a cultural shift too. And we can herald that.

It’s easy to feel immensely hopeless and unendingly helpless, reading about the violence bleeding into so many children’s lives. Children dying this very day. I want to hold a minutes silence for them in my heart.

I guess I want that silence to somehow warm a kernel of hope. To set my parental feet in the ways of non violence, and gentleness, and respect. To hold tight onto what history shows us about change. We can only do a little bit, but we should do it, and we will see few moments the ripples that can make across the world.

Here are some other words from Pennie, to finish my sort of inspo-rant:

“Here in New Zealand, when enough of us begin to change the way we behave with babies and children, we can look forward to climbing up from our dismal position of last on the table of OECD countries for child abuse, neglect and fatalities. I look forward to that day with all my heart.”

Oh, yes! Let’s herald that day. Let’s increase the minutes on that statistic until it’s a statistic that doesn’t exist anymore.

.

IMG_1239.PNGWe are out to change the world for our children, for all children.

One legged Barbie can get her rant (non-inspo variety) on this blog another day…

Posted in Parenting | Tagged | 16 Comments

A is for Activist (Raising Radicals)

“Hip hop hooray! Tom and Arthur are getting ready for their wedding!” A classic theme for our doll play; getting married. Everyone is getting married these days for Ramona. It is all about the marriage. (Even the biscuits tie the knot before she eats them.) I slip the gay dad’s union in without Ramona batting an eye lid. I figure it is our role to balance out any limiting and exclusive social conventions through our play, right? We tackle all sorts of progressive stuff with those dolls.

It’s a bit of a tightrope. As all of these parenting acts are. How do we guide children into open mindedness? How do we instill a status quo challenging inquisitiveness? Must we? Should we?

I have always thought my role was to raise radicals. We attend peace and environmental marches with gusto. I try and tackle any “isms” that dare cast their shadow upon our lives.

But I’m beginning to think that the biggest thing I can do is simply give our children the space to be who they are, to find what they are naturally drawn to. To allow them to question everything, to be authentic.  To trust themselves, to respect themselves. I think these things are perhaps the foundations that every radical stands upon. Less then what I do with them. Do you know what I mean?

I do think we can nurture a questioning environment. And I thank books for helping me do this. The girls were recently giving A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara. (Actually, they were given it by Thalia of Sacraparental.com, not Innosanto. Thalia wrote 6 Ways Children Can Change the World this week, which I found quite thought provoking!) A is for activism (Raising radicals)SAMSUNG CSCActivist Hands SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC  It is a brilliant little book – one that every kid should have upon their shelves.  Imagine a world where words like “feminist” and “grassroots” and “abolitionist” are a part of every child’s vocab.

(How is it that children manage to pick up swears so easily? Rather than classic human rights lingo, huh?)

We also hunt out the books recommended by a Mighty Girl…

We have an open door policy with books (although, you know I sometimes can’t help myself tweaking boy knights into girl knights) but I try really hard to bring in stories that nurture a perspective that includes and celebrates difference and diversity and action.

And I’m trying largely to trust that the way of being with our children is as much as important as what we do with our children, if we really care about raising radicals. It isn’t wholly necessary to represent the rights of homosexual people in every doll game, y’know?

And I’m also trying to come to terms with not raising a radical! To just love whomever they are, and whatever they love.

And mostly, I’m trying to put my own adult privilege under the microscope and attend to my own inner urges to control. Because our world will only ever become more equal if each child understands that power shouldn’t be used over another person.

As the ever challenging Teresa Brett puts it, in Parenting for Social Change:parenting for social change
Would love to hear from your radical family!

A is for Activist is available from here from the Book Depository - currently discounted on there and with free delivery, whoopville!- or ask your local independent to stock it!

This blog is for Blog Action Day 2014! Do check out all the blogs that have joined in today, and my previous year’s contributions:

Landgrabs- where roots and rights count for nothing

Occupy London- a glimpse of utopia

Posted in Activism | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Yurt Life: Step into our bedroom *waggles eyebrows*

Really, it isn’t like that. Despite now looking like a harem our bedroom is pretty much asexual at the moment. It is our family bed, all four of us sleep there. So when it is time to put on our “business socks” we find somewhere more exciting.

(WOAH! Possibly crossed the how-much-intimacy-on-blog line there…) colourful family bed in yurt

So yeah. The harem look. Ramona has recently been saying that she doesn’t like the yurt. She wants a house with walls and better toys. I find it a little bit sad as I’m wondering if she has already picked up on what is “normal” and it is appealing to her. Or perhaps it is just a yearning for something different to what she has. I guess there are kids out there who live in a house with walls and would rather live in a Mongolian tent, right?

In an effort to help her love it more I spent the afternoon turning it into a magical place of dreams.Family bed in yurt

(Hmmm, yes, for some reason it seems like my brain decided that the answer to “I’d like to sleep somewhere more normal” was to make it even crazier. Gah. Brain.)

Tim found this bed, made of beautiful native timber, on Ebay for £150 (well, $300 NZ), beautiful condition mattress included. We waited for ages for something big enough to come up and then we got this AMAZING bargain. It is absolutely behemothic. Nice one, Tim. I’ve never been opposed to sleeping on a second hand bed, really.

It is super bouncy too, which the girls love.

These whimsical decorations have also hidden half completed craft projects, or projects that never quite worked out.
Yurt Bed
Like this bathroom mat. Made out of plaited tee shirt yarn, made from old shirts. It was going to be an absolute BARGAIN rug. You would have been astounded. But then when I went to sew it, I couldn’t make it flat and then it turned into a bowl. What the? Anyway, the plaits add a nice touch. I was going to cut the basket bit off but Ramona wanted to keep it as a nest.
Family Bed Yurt Bird Nest
So I put a couple of mod podge – retro fabric birds in it.

And I do love this. Although I’m not sure what it is. But it was fun to make, kind of woven wool. I was going to be make loads and then lost interest. Might still get round to it. Bright wool spiral decoration

At the end of me snapping away, Juno wanted to climb on the bed and read a book. Oh yeah, she knows what people like to see…
Beautiful Family Bed in a yurt

“Let her sleep, for tomorrow she will move mountains” I have loved this quote for so long, having liked it on Pinterest last year sometime. (Had to repin as couldn’t find it…) I painted one for my niece and felt it was time to do one for our own daughters. I changed it a little, to be plural. (Are you on Pinterest? Come and say hi!)
Let them Sleep - kid's bedroom painting
Tim had a bit of a laugh though, as it doesn’t seem obvious that the girls sleep here. It is as if we WELL rate ourselves. Don’t wake us up! We are going to change the world tomorrow! Like sleepy Gandhis.

But, maybe it is okay, if you think “moving mountains” is just living a loving life, being kind, being brave in your own way, finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. I think that is where most of the world-changing comes from….

So there it is, a peek at our colourful, harem like yet hermaphrodite, graveyard of failed crafts, Family Bed.

Posted in yurt life | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

DIY Paint Dipped Utensils (reclaiming Wooden Spoons)

I have experimented with painting the handles of cutlery in the past, it was fun, if a little time consuming. When I saw paint-dipped wooden spoons in a fancy shop last week selling for £10 EACH I felt it was time for another batch. This time I thought harder about the pallette I wanted, used large wooden implements instead of cutlery, and, crucially, dipped, instead of brushed.

This idea is ever so slightly old now. But, whatevs, I LOVE IT! Such a cool way of reclaiming those millions of wooden utensils in charity shops and they make a brilliant gift. (Eh, Jo? *stares at sister* Oh, yeah, I didn’t mention that they were second hand spoons eh. I REALLY cleaned them- read on…)Paint Dipped Wooden Spoons

Picking up wooden spoons from a charity shop in order to use them in your own kitchen isn’t just for the brave of heart. There is no need to be cowed by someone else’s bolognaise sauce stains. Let me hold your hand while we deal to someone elses food remnants.

For this you will need:
Old wooden spoons/ spatulas
Fine Sandpaper
Paints
Test tube or something a similar size you can dip into.
Pegs and rope for hanging
Oil

Steps:
Start by giving all the spoons a soak and a wash. If only for your state of mind.
When they are dry again giving them a good sanding. You should be able to get down to a fresh layer of wooden. You can also rub out any digs and splinters. After a rub down they will look almost new!

Smear some olive oil over them – this oil will just stain them enough to bring out their natural colours. Don’t they look beauty?!

Now mix up your colours and fill a test tube with your paint. (I used one of those thin plastic tubes that an orchid stem came in.) Dip your handle in then peg it on a line to dry. Once it is mostly dry dip again. I did three dips and was really happy with it.

The dipping makes a massive difference compared to just brushing the paint on as I did last time. I didn’t want to dip as I felt it was a waste of paint and as you know, I’m a cheapskate. But by the time I had poured the paint back into their pots after dipping, I’d only used a small bit.  *high fives all the penny pinchers out there*

Extra Tip: I got tiny pots of paint from the hardware shop that had been marked down to £1 each, just odds and ends. Rummaging through them, although it looked like a weird selection of colours altogether, actually revealed some wicked combinations. This paint was so cheap and so vibrant. And I am just all about the grey, bright yellow and mustard combo. (Remember the DIY floor of our bus? Same palette! What a bore… )

Taping the cut off point: You can also add tape around where you want your paint to stop. I did this on some, but be really careful about taking your tape off. The paint will be so thick that it might peel off a little bit with your paint. I kind of like the diagonal edge of not using tape.

Yeah, so anyway, family and friends. You’ll be getting some spoons for Christmas. Oh yeah!

Secondhand wooden utensils craft

Posted in Craftiness, Thrifty | 3 Comments

Healthy Hair and Baking Soda (How, Why and When to use it- and when to step away)

One of the biggest questions I get asked these days about giving up shampoo is about whether Baking Soda (or Bicarbonate of Soda) will destroy your hair. This is a big deal as it shows me that the world has moved WAY past the “Does it smell?” stage, which lasted about seventeen million years. (The stage, not the smell! Pahaha.) Now people have accepted that No Poo is officially A Thing and are getting down to the nitty gritty about what to use. AWESOME, WORLD! Go us!

However, it is also a big deal as it tells me that people haven’t read my book. WHAT? WHY? IT IS LIKE TWO QUID AND EXPLAINS EVERYTHING, I mean EVERYTHING about No Poo and Baking Soda and what to use and why and the ins and outs of all the alternatives without being confucius. Read my book and you will be the President of No Poo University. Actually, can I be president? You can be the librarian.

Oh. Am I being a little, erm, intense?

*does a distracting hula dance* Look, I’m still fun, see, woowheee hoopla doopla!!Use bicarbonate of soda for healthy hair

Why Bicarbonate of Soda?
Bicarbonate of Soda/ Baking Soda is the first alternative people who stop using shampoo turn to. This is because the mechanism between this ingredient and your hair is pure and simple. Baking soda effectively turns the glorious protective sebum of your hair (the bit that makes it looks greasey!) into soap. Sometimes when you use Baking Soda you can feel a slipperiness all over your hair- this is the soapification in process. It is also the cheapest alternative (apart from water) you can use, costing about 2 pence per application.

How do I use it?
The internet is chockablock with the wrong information about this. Even my own blog has been there with the inaccurate info, when I was first starting out. This is because you use different amounts of bicarb at different times. To start off with you are really trying to strip out your hair of all the silicones piled upon each hair shaft- stuff inherent to most commercial shampoos. You will need something close to a heaped table spoon of bicarb stirred into a cup of water and then poured onto it every section of your hair. You will leave it on for one minute, massaging it through. You will need to do this kind of wash at least 3-4 times at the start of your No Poo journey. Once you start heading through the transition stage you will gradually decrease the amount you use. Once you are through transition you will be using just 1/2 teaspoon in half a glass of water and it will be making your hair as clean as it was at the start. This is because your hair is clear of extras and the bicarbonate of soda is working straight on your sebum.

What will it do to my hair?
A successful bicarbonate of soda wash will firstly make your hair SQUEAK with cleanliness as you rinse it off. Your hair will then be shiny, bright, and light. And gradually, as your hair gets more and more used to it, it will become less greasy. You will soon be able to go a week, possibly two weeks, even three weeks without using anything on your hair apart from water.how to use baking soda for happy shiny healthy hair

If it is dull, waxy, heavy, flywaway or brittle then read on….

Why might it be bad for my hair?
There are a few blogposts out there where No Poo-ers have suggested that Bicarbonate of soda have destroyed their hair. This is a bit of a bummer as I think as an entry No Poo ingredient Bicarbonate of Soda is the absolute business. (I literally buy it in bulk and use it for EVERYTHING! From deodorant to cleaning.) It is very hard to get wrong (unlike the egg, with which even the most die hard No Pooer has had a catastrophe with) and really truly gives a good clean up to every head of hair, particularly dealing with the waxiness of transition.

Once you understand the science of No Poo (Gosh darn, I wish there was a simple and comprehensive guide to the chemistry of No Poo! Oh wait! What is THIS?!) it is easy to see that using too much bicarbonate of soda will strip your hair of all of its sebum and the only place that will take your hair is to the Unstoppable Ferris Wheel of Grease Over Production – the very thing we are all trying to leave behind us. If you remove your sebum this effectively frequently your hair will keep producing too much sebum to replace it. Damaging the equilibrium of your hair this way will make it dry and brittle on the ends and heavy at the top.

Avoid the damaging nature of baking soda by:

  • Just as you are trying to INCREASE the amount of days in between washes you should try and DECREASE the amount of Baking Soda you use. If you are already through transition and are using anything more than one teaspoon in a cup of water once a week than I’d suggest you are using too much.
  • Use 1/4 teaspoon – 1 teaspoon for one wash and then use an alternative for your next wash. Ideally something with incredibly nourishing elements such as an egg.
  • Rinse the absolute HECK out of it. Left over BS in your hair will feel grim
  • Every month or so you should so a moisturising head mask – either with heated coconut oil, or a mashed up banana or a mashed up avocado.
  • If you have long hair you need to also use something acidic on your ends in order to smooth down the cuticle layer of your hair shaft. A spoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water sprinkled through the ends of your hair and rinsed off will do this. (This will solve flyaways too.)
  • Try to nail the water only wash. Use steaming hot water to massage into your scalp, scrubbing out the sebum down through your hair shaft to the very ends of your hair. Then scoot your hair under a cold rinse. The colder the better. Hollering allowed. Towel dry – hefty rubbing also helps. Use a water wash instead of another baking soda wash.
  • If your hair is waxy be assured this is a natural part of transition. There comes a point when not even BS can shift the wax. For this you need the super sonic combo of egg, lemon and white vinegar – a mask that will hit reset for your hair, shifting all the wax. YESSSS!

I hope this has answered all the questions out there about using Baking Soda for happy, healthy hair. Now BUY MY BOOK GODDAMIT.

I jest, I jest. But if you WOULD like to become an expert on your own hair please consider it. All the recipes mentioned briefly here- the conditioning masks, hot oil treatments and Wax Tackling egg combo are in there. As well as suggestions for dry shampoos and loads of tips about getting through transition. It is designed to be a reference point for all the tricky stages of your No Poo journey. It is available here in every country and currency and it downloads on to all computers, Kindles and E-readers and is also ready to print, if you like something in your hands.  All for a couple of bucks.No Poo Guide Transitional period

Posted in No Poo, Thrifty | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Words every new parent needs to hear

I was once asked by a friend, Catherine, what words I think every new parent needs to hear. I thought I had it down with:

Be prepared, for a good few years, to never tear a piece of toilet paper off an intact roll. From one to four, unwinding toilet paper will be your child’s hobby and life passion. Start convincing yourself now that loo roll on the roll is overrated and you will face the toddler years triumphantly.

But then she told me she wanted to put my message in an e-bundle filled with messages from authors, poets and artists.

And I thought I’d have another crack.

I wrote a piece called “Changing the world – whilst changing nappies” and it is about being persuaded by Gandhi that good parenting is the most important task we can do if we care about creating a fair, just and beautiful society.

(I see your Loo Roll and I raise you GANDHI.)

I write “When we raise our children gently, with compassion and kindness, they will multiply that goodness and pass it on. When we stand back and allow them to grow in autonomy, we are raising people who will question injustice. When we nurture attachment we are encouraging fearlessness. When we treat our tiniest babies with the utmost respect we are ensuring they will tread with respect in the future. When we love our kids with abandon, in turn they too will love others.”

My article went in to this bundle, the New Mama Pack, and became part of the most INCREDIBLE resource for new mothers in that most vulnerable, and courageous, fourth trimester. (The fourth trimester is that three month period straight after birth when most mammal babies are still in utero but because humans have to get out of their bed to release their inconceivably pressured and tiny bladder at night we get our new tikes early.) The babies are new, the mums are new, and there is a massive need for support. The New Mama pack is a whole tribe of Mamas welcoming the newness and holding your hand with songs, videos, articles, ebooks. It is some of the most creative mums out there articulating the words they think every new parent needs whispered in their ears…Breastfeeding Ramona
(Ramona and I in all our messy, jumbled, unshowered-but-at-least-I’m-out-of-PJs- newness!)

I am STOKED to let you know that for 72 hours there is a MAHOOOSIVE SALE! It has gone from £290 to £29 and it is only available for two more days. If you are a new mum DELVE ON IN, or if you have a friend about to give birth, please consider this as a baby shower present. (Infinitely better than yet another pair of booties. Yes, those teeny weeny booties make you want to die of cute but they will FIT FOR A DAY.)
sale
Click here to purchase this e-bundle through my affiliate link at this whoppingly discounted price (sale lasts until Friday…)

And here is another little bit from my own article, words from Mother Teresa. Words that I want to scribble on to every new mum’s palm so they grab her eyes as she wearily sits down for the fifty millionth feed of the day…

“Following her address a member of the audience stood and asked “You’ve done so much to make the world a better place, what can we do?” He clearly wanted to assist her work. Mother Theresa smiled and said simply “Love your children.” The questioner seemed perplexed and was about to speak again when Mother Theresa raised her hand. “There are other things you can do,” She said, “But that is the best. Love your children as much as you can. Love your children. That is the best.”

What words do you want every new mum to hear?

Posted in Parenting | 2 Comments

Oi, Beetroot Face! Homemade, Natural Blusher

In my latest experiment for Cosmo I’ve tackled something I’ve wanted to do for a while- Beetroot Rouge! Yep, a quick, easy, natural homemade blusher using my absolute FAVE root vegetable. Homemade Natural Rouge - Beetroot Blusher

It was SO MUCH fun and effective.

You will need:

A small vestibule (I used a vintage tobacco tin, obviously)

A whole, fresh beetroot sliced very thinly

An oven or dehydrator

A coffee grinder or nut/grain mill

No children (for some reason they are intrigued with these little mounds of bright pink dust and think playing with it is just as much fun as I think it is, pah!)

Get the How To and the results right here…diy beetroot blusher

Posted in Thrifty | 3 Comments