No Poo, Thrifty

No Poo: 20 Surprising Results of Giving Up Shampoo

18 November, 2014

I was lying in the bath the other night, immersing my hair in the hot water (not as relaxing as it sounds- I’m a mother, you know? I had an 18 month old sitting on my tummy face planting on to my boobs and a four year old up the other end balancing rubber ducks on my knees) when it occurred to me that my hair is taking a really long time to get soaked through.

Like water off a ducks back, it was taking almost half a minute to penetrate my hair shafts. I concluded it is because my hair is so strong and healthy now, each strand so perfectly encased with magnificent sebum, that it was protecting itself against the elements…My hair  has become the elite samurai warrior of hair.

It made me wonder about all the extra, often unexpected results of giving up shampoo. I asked on my Facebook page what people have discovered their hair doing since going No Poo, and I loved hearing all the curious side effects…Giving up shampoo - unexpected benefits

One thing people don’t expect is that No Poo will actually make their hair 10 million times better (I actually did the maths, of course) than when they were using an expensive shampoo:

Soft Hair
“Soft as butter” Megan

“My hairdresser commented on how incredibly soft it was.” Katherine

“I have soft, strong non oily hair.” Helen

Voluminous Hair
“My hair is getting thicker and voluminous without the chemical cocktail of shampoo.” Ayse

“I’m finding my hair is thicker” Katherine

“The thickness and volume is great and I find my hair not only is harder to wet but also takes longer to dry.” Kathy

“I went No Poo at the start of Sept and my hair is so much softer and has heaps more body than it had previously. It was always limp and flyaway before so… WooHoo!” Janine

“Just lately my hairdresser told me she had thinned out the sides a bit (I have short hair). NEVER happened before.” Magdelene

Manageable Hair
“Became easier to manage and stopped depositing itself all over furniture/clothes/bedding. ” Ella

Shiny Hair
“I switched from shampoo to baking soda about a month ago and my hair is healthy and shinier than ever.” Laura

“Hair is long, thick and shiny.” Heather

“I switched from shampoo to baking soda about a month ago and my hair is healthy and shinier than ever!” Laura G

Vibrant Hair
 “I also think my natural color is more vibrant.” Bree

Hair is growing like fury
“My hair is growing like fury! ” Heather

“I think I am actually growing more hair?” Molly

People are discovering their hair actually changes, in texture and shape – often times into exactly the hair they want. Personally, I have always had hair as straight an limp as an arrow. A few months after giving up shampoo it got the most lovely wave. HURRAH!

Straight Hair
“My hair is straight! It’s always been unruly and wavy but now I don’t need to use straighteners ever.” Charlotte

Curly Hair
“No need for product to emphasise curls…love it!” Megan

Tangle Free Hair
“I find my hair is incredibly easy to brush all the time, no matter what i’ve done with it!” Rebecca

I found quite quickly that giving up shampoo had enormous benefits for my skin. Spots I have had my whole life, on my face and shoulders disappeared:

Goodbye Acne
“I stopped using shampoo about 3 months ago and I also decided to stop washing my face with anything too. I’ve suffered from acne most of my life and although it’s been a lot less severe as I’ve got older, and since I’ve had children, my skin is truly the best it’s been for a very long time (people have commented on it – even my Mum, so it must be true!!)” Maddie

Goodbye Eczema
“My husband and son both had eczema but since our whole family of 5 has gone poo free they no longer have eczema!!” Bree

Goodbye Warts
“I had a wart on my finger for at least 4 years. Within two weeks of using baking soda instead of shampoo the wart completely disappeared!” Charly

Goodbye Styling Products
“I love the ‘stiffness’ and volume of my hair with no poo, it’s what I used to have to use 2 or 3 diff products for.. (Wax, mattifying powder, and hairspray..) Now it’s just my natural state.. SO stoked to discover my desire for that texture wasn’t stupid- it was exactly how my hairs meant to be.” Maryanne

Goodbye Cluttered Shelves
“My unexpected side effect has been a new obsession with the labels of beauty products, I’m running everything down and switching to coconut oil and bicarb combos. So the bathroom clutter is disappearing too!” Heather

Goodbye Itchy Scalp
“I was getting an itchy scalp with normal shampoo since going poo free my scalp is itch free and my hair feels lighter and just more healthy” Bree

Goodbye Flaky Scalp
“No more dry patches on my scalp!” Molly

“I have significantly less dandruff and my hair looks less dull.” Caitrin

(Hello, Flaky Scalp)
“Why am I getting dandruff for the first time in my life?” Sarah (A few people also mentioned getting dandruff so I did ought to mention it! It is quite common in transition, as the scalp gets used to not being assaulted by toxins! I cover this in Happy Hair - I suggest using a rosemary herb tea amongst other things.

And then there is the sense that being shampoo-free is one way we can step more lightly on the earth. I am sure the No Poo movement is part of a wider, ecological movement:

Hello Eco Warrior Credentials
“I am thrilled at minimising all the plastic packaging that store bought hair products are contained in.” Ella

Hello Festival Happiness
“I’ve been shampoo free for about 4 years now, and just love that my hair always looks great! Go to a 8 day festival – no worries, hair looks same as ever!”  Jessica

Do you have any other unexpected side effects from giving up shampoo? Would love to hear from you. 

PS If you are thinking about giving up shampoo do check out my super thrifty book – it has everything you might possibly need to know about beginning this journey!

Thrifty

20 Amazing Second Hand Gift Ideas

11 November, 2014

When I was a teenager the BIGGEST insult you could hurl at someone was to say they got their clothes from Oxfam. Seriously, I lived in fear that someone would discover it was my favourite shop. HAHAHA. I used to sneak in so furtively, glancing around to make sure no one saw me enter, coat pulled up around my face. And then I’d say I found my vintage Lee flares at Miss Selfridge.

And now, here I am… the proudest Oxfam lover on the planet. It is genuinely one of the things I miss the most about living in NZ! (Also, like, my family…) Oxfam Online especially is one of the best places to buy vintage these days. The money goes to support incredible projects in the developing world AND you get a bargainous bit of antiquity.

Sheesh, if they had Oxfam Online when I was younger there would have been absolutely no need for me to don that big nose and moustache disguise just to go shopping.

Imagine how much less strain on the earth Christmas would be if we could whole heartedly embrace second hand gifts, eh? WELL…. to help things along I have sacrificially spent the entire morning on the Oxfam shop looking at every beautiful vintage item on there…. and here are my top picks. Beautiful Secondhand Gifts from Oxfam

HOME
1- Mix and Match Crockery – like this beautiful Minton Bone China Plate… So many lovely tea cups and saucers when you hit up the excellent search function.
2- Hand Crocheted Blankets – such an array of colours.. this one is my fave
IMG_1259.JPG
3A perfect small vintage tin… I have a collection of these sitting idly on my shelf. I fondle them.
4- Antique Kitchen Ware – HEllO, these scales….
5- Retro Picnic Ware – odds and ends of yellow melamine? Yes, please! *dies of love* (It has taken me forever to build up our little collection of melamine…)

BOOKS
6- Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches - the perfect book for the crafter in your life
7- The complete book of Kites and Kite flying. They have a huge selection of hobby books for kids too.
8- They have every kind of vintage penguin edition, in good nick too, for a total bargain. Absolute classic pressie…

WEAR
9- They have a tremendous collection of vintage dresses for the more flush of you. This one is a 1950’s, hand embroidered frock. I am a bit in love with it.
10- Not all their retro gear is dear though. I spotted this INSANELY AWESOME retro jacket and it is a snip! Oxfam Vintage Jacket
11- The yellow jacket pictured is a vintage jacket from their Pop Art Pallete section. Search “Pop Art Palette” for some of the most glorious, fairly reasonably priced, colourful wears you’ve ever clapped your eyes on.
12- They also have lots of modestly price retro- style very glam evening wear…. *dreams of having an occasion to wear this*
13- And an absurd array of fun festive jumpers if you are deciding to jump on that marvellous wagon this Christmas.

(Oh rats, now I have basically just begun browsing the whole shop for things I love… Ahem. Let me get back to the gift guide for YOU.)

CHILDREN
14- The children won’t care if a toy is vintage of not- but you get the satisfaction of giving a styley, eco gift!! See this cool, colourful retro pack of Dominoes (you could take it to the next level and turn them into fridge magnets with this guide….)
15- Hi there, fun, vintage jigsaw!
16- Sweet and dreamy (and only one or two that look a bit terrifying) vintage dolls…
17- They have a crazily adorable stash of children’s vintage wear too

HARD TO BUY FOR
18 – Browse their Ephemera category for such joyous finds as a vintage train whistle, vintage binoculars and ancient postcards
19- Vintage gloves are always a winner, you know it.
20- This last one is not vintage but deserves a mention as a brilliant pressie for the person that needs nothing more – particularly for people you need to buy a gift for but don’t know very well. Oxfam Unwrapped takes your money and gives an often life saving gift for someone who needs it very much.

PHEW! What an arduous morning, browsing their website and falling in love over and over.

If you are trying to do Christmas in a more ethical way this year please check out these links:
The London Fair Christmas Fayre – happening on Saturday November 29th on Oxford Street. Millions of eco and fair trade gifts under one roof.
Sacraparental’s awesomely awesome guide to world-changing gifts. So many ideas. (Also, a kind of Christian intro…)
My guide for non-toy alternatives, crowdsourced by readers, these are the most creative ideas for not buying more stuff!

Proudly partnering with Oxfam through Affiliate Links.

Featured, Parenting

Living the dream- two parents, four boys, one bus and the whole of New Zealand for the rest of their lives

6 November, 2014

We are hitchhiking on someone else’s dream at the moment. Friends we met at the very start of this year, when we were just a few weeks on this fair New Zealand soil, at the unschooling retreat in Foxton. (Going to that retreat was one of the best things we could have done, arriving new here. We made so many fast friends and felt like part of an instant tribe. We held the third unschooling retreat just down the road from our yurt last weekend- 120 unschoolers in the mountains…. Awesomeness.)

Anyway, just one of these families happened to be travelling around the country in a bus. Kind of like us at the time, but with double the children and with indefinite travelling plans, where as we were basically on a hunt for a spot to furrow down our wandering roots.

We kept connecting with Us In A Bus (it’s not actually their surname but you wouldn’t know it to hear us refer to them) through the year and on Monday we began a little holiday with them, our buses united on the road once again.

IMG_1258.JPGWe are having a bit of a lush time … Totally buzzing out on their nomadic lifestyle. It is helping us recall our hoon around Europe last year (I’m remembering swimming in lakes beneath beautiful sunsets and Tim is remembering banging his head a lot and not having anywhere to do a poo.)

I love Ange and Hamish’s dream, I am totally loving sneaking in with it for a bit. It is a dream fuelled by Lego, sand castles and espresso.

They had safe jobs, a house in a nice town, four happy boys. And then they bought a bus, and began roaming NZ, playing and learning together. Soon they discovered they loved it and sold their house, establishing the bus and the road as their only home. And now they are all happy.

Ange was explaining this morning the rut she felt stuck in before. Tied to a mortgage, no time for fulfilment.

It was when their youngest child was one, after a bout of health issues, that Ange realised that the isolation she felt was having a serious impact on her sanity. They realised that something had to change, if not everything. At that moment they began planning a path out. It took them a year but now they have the life Ange has always imagined was possible for them.

IMG_1256.JPG
Hamish, Ange, Will, Ethan, Micah and Arlo in a gondola (the word gondola totally cracks me up. Maybe because it reminds me of the word gonads.)

Ange describes wanting a community to bring their kids up with, and somehow, through the freedom of life on the road, they are discovering this. Communing with families all over the country.

They have found places to stay through online networks (like home education Facebook groups) and friends of friends of friends. Sometimes staying a night, sometimes two months if everyone is enjoying themselves.
They’ve had hitch hikers having a sleepover in their (tiny) lounge and have rolled out an extra bed for a visit from Nana.

The boys build stuff and play board games and draw and read and climb and dig and explore, Ange and Hamish taking it in turns to either play or work, running their online businesses with their excellent mobile internet and solar power.

Ange is the driver of their eleven metre beast, wrapping it around some of New Zealand’s gnarliest bends, and Hamish is in charge of meals with each boy choosing a favourite dinner to eat once a week.

In some ways their life is like every other large family’s- they eat around 5:30 each night, time is spent helping the boys navigate tussles, there can never be too many stories read to them, or enough biscuits.

But in other ways it is completely and utterly different. They are free to go wherever they want, they are together all day and all night, they learn from whatever it is they happen to be experiencing.

IMG_1257-3.JPG
Last night we parked up on a magnificent beach, putting our buses nose to nose. Right now I am typing this up, looking at the rain thrashing the window and the sun trying to zap the ocean but failing.

The school bus has just driven into the bay, tooting it’s horn frantically, as if trying to round us all up.

But the classroom isn’t for these boys. They are too busy playing for that…

It isn’t everyone’s dream- it is theirs and they have found a way to live it.

And for a little bit, we are living it with them.

Well… drinking their coffee and using their whizzy internet, at least.

Ps You can virtually hitchhike with them via their Us In A Bus blog and their Us In A Bus Instagram and their Facebook.

Attachment parenting, Breastfeeding, Featured, Parenting

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

30 October, 2014

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!)

Natural Term Breastfeeding Extended Tandem

Natural Term Breastfeeding Extended Tandem

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…

Natural Term Breastfeeding Extended Tandem

Natural Term Breastfeeding Extended Tandem

And yet.

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.

Featured, Parenting

Urge (allowing our children’s yearnings to bloom)

27 October, 2014

“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.

Thrifty

BEFORE! AFTER! Natural Beauty Experiments and the Beauty Myth

24 October, 2014

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…

Parenting

In a gentle way, we can shake the whole world

21 October, 2014

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…

Activism

A is for Activist (Raising Radicals)

17 October, 2014

“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

Featured, yurt life

Yurt Life: Step into our bedroom *waggles eyebrows*

15 October, 2014

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.

Craftiness, Featured, Thrifty

DIY Paint Dipped Utensils (reclaiming Wooden Spoons)

10 October, 2014

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