No Poo

Happy Hair Detox E-course – Discover beautiful, clean, shampoo-free hair

20 May, 2015

For almost every person that tells me “My hair has been AMAZING since giving up shampoo” there is someone that will tell me that they had to give up – they simply couldn’t hack the detox period.

Since launching my ebook about giving up shampoo I have been ruminating on how best I can help people through this most tricky phase – I truly believe that, with the right motivation and support team ANYONE can give up shampoo, and eventually, discover gorgeous locks.

As of TODAY I have turned teacher and cheerleader, with my brand spanking new ecourse, Happy Hair Detox. 

Consider me like a mixture of the best boyfriend in the world and Oprah Winfrey – here to stroke your hair and point out your magnificent beauty whilst also giving you lots of helpful information and inspirational wisdom.

****Sign up today to make use of this huge discount for Lulastic readers****

Let me hold your hand through your hair detox and transition to “No Poo” with this series of online classes (55 minutes worth) and downloadable, interactive worksheets and a moderated peer to peer support forum. From the moment you hit “purchase” you can begin this course, or you can take one unit every 3 days to see you through the most intense part of transition.

Unit One – Introduction and reasons for giving up shampoo
Unit Two – Healthy alternatives to shampoo
Unit Three – Healthy alternatives to conditioner
Unit Four – Top Tips for getting through your detox period
Unit Five – The science of No Poo and the structure of your hair
Unit Six – What is behind the label of your shampoo bottle?
Unit Seven – Trouble shooting common problems
*BONUS*
Unit Eight – Caring for your hair long term – Heat and Chemical free styling

For one week only I have a $10 off code for Lulastic readers WHOOP WHOOP – please use this link to sign up with that.

Happy Hair Detox EcourseI’m pretty much as excited as one can be right now! I’d love you to join me in class!

 

Bombaround, writing, yurt life

How to travel around Europe with your family

18 May, 2015

So, you want to travel around Europe with your family? Perhaps in a campervan? Or camping?

Good luck with that!

Hahaha. Oooh, I jest, I jest.

Two years ago we sold our house in London, and most of our possessions. We packed up our troubles in an old kitbag, and hooned off in a cool little VW campervan called Betty, to bury them beneath the sea. (Ideally the Adriatic sea… off the coast of Croatia.) After an agonising wait for our baby’s first passport and other hiccups, we were finally on the road. The woes of being very unorganised people. How we get through every day, let alone go on epic adventures, is QUITE a mystery.

I can hand on heart say that those months travelling around Europe with my husband, a three year old called Ramona and a baby called Juno held some of the most special, universe-exploding-with-joy moments I have ever encountered in my thirty years.Family Travel Camping Europe

(It also induced several poke-my-eyes-out-with-my-toothbrush moments of stress and agony too, but more about that later. Some troubles just won’t be buried.)

Our adventure sent us through France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia and Spain…. ending up in a flight to New Zealand to begin a different sort of life as farmers. (Yeah, weird eh. We actually bought a cow yesterday. I don’t so much do the farming as writing about it and eating the food that grows.)

I have been writing this post in my head since the day that trip ended. I wanted to put together something really useful, to help people take this dream of travelling around Europe with their family, and make it a reality. So this is pretty long, and pretty comprehensive. Here are practical tips, links to much more detail, websites we relied on, and our ultimate trip highlights.How to plan a family adventure around europe

So, you want to travel around Europe with your family? This is for you.

Things you will need:

Money.
(yeah, I know. duh.) It says a lot that the cost of our first night camping in our campervan on our Great Journey blew our brains. £25! We tossed and turned all night wondering how one earth we were going to manage £25 everyday for accommodation for 5 months! How little research we did before we left! Laughable really. So, if you are going to camp in campsites, plan in a good wack for accommodation. And have masses of money. For us, we decided to free camp. And that decision led to almost entirely free accommodation for 5 months and lots of adventure.

Time.
We spent our first 3 weeks on a total mish- buzzing from place to place “Having An Adventure, Really, Arent We?!” and almost went insane. Aim to spend lots of time in places, meandering, getting to know little villages and rivers, and it will be a lot more pleasant for all of you! Especially for the children. Family Travel Camping Europe

Loose ethics (1) – wifi at Mcdonalds. We were so surprised that there wasn’t wifi all over Europe. You could get it at £25 a night campsites… but there was none free anywhere else. Apart from Mcdonalds. I had successfully avoided Maccas for two decades before we went to Europe. But when we discovered their free and fast wifi, we were sucked in. With a side order of fries. Once we got to Spain we managed to get our heads around buying a SIM card and having a special short term deal. We genuinely couldn’t work this out in the other places!

Loose ethics (2) – compromising on food ethics/ health. When we are settled we try and eat mostly organic. We found this really hard to do whilst we were travelling. In France they had good, obvious “bio” options, but we struggled to maintain our commitment to that, and also general awesome nutrition, over the five months. It could be done though, with much more effort put in to the food side of things. But we didn’t prioritise it. I do regret this a little, as I think Juno’s dental health was impacted by me mostly eating bread and foraged figs whilst breastfeeding. But I raise it in order to say that there are some things, whilst constantly on the move, that are tricky to work out. And there does need to be a little compromise, I think.

Fearlessness – or exceptional organizational skills. Our courage increased as we went. We became better and better at turning up at place expecting to find somewhere good to sleep. We tried hard to always arrive at a place in the daytime so we could suss everything out well once we were there. Alternatively, you could plan ahead. We are not good planners at the best of times, and when it required so much time in Old Macdonald using up there wifi, we basically stopped planning anything.

An open heart. The absolute best thing about travelling is the random things you end up doing. But you do need to have an open heart for this. I guess if you are planning a trip of this kind, then you have it. Say yes when an old granny offers you some cherries, invite another family on the campsite up to the café for chips, ask locals for the good swimming spots and ALWAYS skinny dip at the Playas Nudista. After taking a punt and asking another family out for dinner they became our fast and firm friends and we met up with them several times over our adventure- we celebrated two birthdays with them.

Suspended hygiene. The truth is, if you are doing a lot of swimming, you don’t need to shower. And if you are free camping, showering and doing laundry and all those things can be a bit tricky. RELISH the freedom of being a bit smelly and read up on all the reasons a bit of bacteria is so good for us. Hehe. Honestly though, we were probably swimming two times a day, for most of the trip. If you are not a big swimming family – you might need to suck it up and stay at camp sites more often. (But do also read this post: Do Children Need a Daily Bath- 8 Reasons To Stop Washing So Much.)

Family Travel Camping EuropeA hobby. Because travelling is best done at a snail’s pace it is really nice to have a little hobby to turn to. Sketching or writing poetry or taking photographs – these can help you see a place through a different lens. And they can pass the hours while your children bury each other endlessly in the sand. I learnt the ukulele while we were travelling around Europe and now I play and sing everyday.

A purpose
Before we left I did a bit of a shout out on my blog, asking for people’s suggestions of where to go. We decided to visit a few projects around the place that people had pointed us towards. Such as the Forest Kindegarten in Germany – read about their knives and stuff, if you like, and the Sunseed Eco Village in Spain (read about the hippy that laid a golden poo there.) We also did as much of the Wild Swimming France book as we could. This just adds a bit of a fun dynamic.

Amazing Insurance/ Breakdown Cover. Because if you have this, you CAN be a little bit fearless. And, you know, you might break down. Really seriously. Twice. *Ahem*Family Travel Camping Europe

Baby Wipes
They can clean ANYTHING! I’m not gonna lie to you, at least 3 times I did a day’s worth of dishes with a few baby wipes.

Audiotapes or mixtapes your friends make you for the journey. We tried to make the journeying quite pleasant, so rarely did more than 100 miles in a day. But you still clock up a lot of time on the road and having stories and new music from our friends was really cool.

Be prepared for:

All the emotions (1) – From your children
For the most part, our children were buzzing out on our own good vibes of freedom and happiness. However, our three year old did express a lot of emotion quite often. Sing goodbye as a ritual (we used to name each of the things we loved in each place, as I strummed away on the Uke) Give lots of time for goodbyes (oh- I have an AMAZING Guide to Helping Children Say Goodbye RIGHT HERE!) Find ways to incorporate your children’s wishes and aims – one of the families we travelled with had a family meeting every morning where everyone said what they wanted to do that day, and everyone’s ideas were respected equally. This could be quite a disempowering time for your little ones, unless you support a better alternative for them.

All the emotions (2) – From you
The highs! The lows! There is something about travelling that rips open your heart. At 4:30pm you’ll be sitting by a river with tears in your eyes because you are JUST SO HAPPY look at our angelic children and my dashing husband we are all perfectly content and we love each other so much! And then, inexplicably at 4:50pm, you’ll be like F*CK THIS SH*T WHAT ARE WE DOING LET’S GO HOME YOU B*STARDS

I think that having a lot of empty time makes you more attuned to your feelings. Emotions that you’ve perhaps tucked away neatly in order to carry out an orderly, systematic breakfast/work/mortgage/ dinner sort of life are suddenly given some space to pop out and yell BOO in your face.

Be prepared for it. And get good at mindfulness. Hehe. True though. We downloaded the app Yoga Studio and it SAVED THE DAY! (Tim and I aren’t naturally yoga-y, although we would like to be, we would rather eat chocolate and read Jack Reacher. But when you have lots of extra time it is quite do-able to fit in some mindfulness practice and did really help us.)

Country Guide
Here is a little whiz around the countries we went to, with particular reference to the camping situ….

France – France introduced us to wildcamping.  Staying by lakes and rivers, also almost every town has a free motorhome car park. We met lots of beautiful people doing this, all very respectful of the spots. France was such a breeze, a really wonderful intro to camping around Europe. In fact, we could easily spend three months in France alone.

Switzerland– the odd bit of free camping and absolute gobsmacking beauty. The stunning buildings and clear lakes and mountains. We fell in love with Bern all over again…. but pushed through quite quickly as everything was so dear and we did feel like we were chancing the free camping a lot. One night we accidentally stayed over in a Graveyard. We arrived in the dark thinking we had found a wonderful peaceful spot and in the morning realised it was a cemetery. OH! We zipped out of their pretty fast. Read more about our campervan bustling around France and Switzerland.

Germany– There was the odd bit of freecamping to be had in Germany, but not in the touristy spots – probably rightly so that the Black Forest should be protected by rangers. We did some cool things here in Germany and it is very easy to travel around with only your one pathetic language under your belt. Bit of a warning though, the German elderly are completely and utterly OBSESSED with your babies being cold. I am talking stopped-in-the-street-on-boiling-hot-days-every-single-day OBSESSED. Be prepared for them waking your baby by squeezing their bare feet and sternly saying KALT!KALT!

Italy – we stayed in campsites in Italy (mostly because we were broken down but also because we heard it was slightly unsafe) And we blew our budget somewhat on the incredible pizzas and pasta – this was absolutely the culinary highlight. It was an absolutely lovely place to be for the children – people literally call across the street “CIAO BELLA!” just to be kind and jolly to the children. If you do Venice- stay at the campsite over the water and get the boat in. Far cheaper and lovely way to do it. Read about how to do Italy and Venice hear. Also, another breakdown story. Eep.Family Travel Camping Europe

Croatia– Be warned, there is NO FREE CAMPING there. As a result of landmines in the past, they are very strict about not wandering/driving off the beaten path. Croatia was surprisingly expensive, not the tuppence-a-day place people remember it as, and there was a sort of tourist-weariness amongst the people there, they are still quite clearly recovering from a very tragic conflict. It still made it into our highlights, though. (Read on.)

Spain – if a lover of France is a Francophille is a lover of Spain a Spancophille? Sounds totally wrong, if you ask me. But I am now one! The freecamping around Spain was PERFECT. A real community. Read all about campervanning around Spain with your family, and a surboad and a caterpillar here.

Handy Websites:
There were two sites that we referred to on a weekly basis.
Wildcamping Forum – this was very important to us – so much good advice for travelling around the Uk and Europe in a campervan. Their Spain Forum was so helpful.

Trip Advisor – we had some lovely house-stays in Spain as a result of Trip Advisor. (Courtesy of our breakdown insurance….) If you stay 3+ nights in a place it can be super cheap. We relied on Trip Advisor a lot for restaurants and hotels and ideas for things to do.Family Travel Camping Europe

Highlights:

The national parks in Croatia were incredible, despite being very touristy. Well worth the visit. And the completely astonishing Croatian shoreline, azure ocean and islands. We didn’t really enjoy the vibe there (got to make your own fun, for the most part) or the food available to buy (don’t hate me, I am just being honest) but we loved foraging walnuts and figs all over the country and we fell head over heels with Dubrovnic and Split. In Love. Wouldn’t have missed them for the world. Read about flea markets in Split here.

Seville in December. What a wonderful place! We loved the cafes, the culture, the street art, the late night churros and hot chocolate, the general vibe. In fact- Spain. It is amazing! We LOVED how much they cherish children there, and how involved in all of life. We adooooooored being out on the town at midnight with all the children having fun!

The Black Forest, Germany. We were fortunate enough to make wonderful new friends in Frieberg and perhaps this tinted our time there. But we loved the wildness of the Black Forest, picking millions of tiny wild blueberries on walks to little lakes and buying smoked fish outside the Cathedral and chasing paper boats along the mini waterways.

Wild Swimming and the Children’s Festival in France. Some of the river swimming in the mountainous areas of France is out of this world. Shockingly cold but, injects YEARS of life into the weary bones of parents! We also went to Le Grand Bornand Bonheur des Mômes festival in the Alps –the biggest kids festival in Europe and what an inspiration! So much fun – an acre of wooden train set to build and a whole pasture filled with massive musical instruments made from random recycled rubbish – La Jardin Musicale.

Frequently asked questions:

How did the kids cope? Generally, I reckon if parents are happy, than kids are happy. We were all carried along in a spirit of nomadic freedom.  We prioritised their needs, planned travelling around sleeps and tried to park in places that they would thrive in. They LOVED having both parents around and the unstructured time.

What about stuff? We took waaaay too much stuff. Could have chucked half of it.  Pack your bags and then take half of it away! We also didn’t plan places for everything. The other family we roadtripped for a while with had a perfect place for everything. Do this, would you? It will help with the madness. 
Family Travel Camping Europe
What about baby paraphernalia? We didn’t have too much. We cosleep, so that was easy, and just had slings. And we are nappy free so Juno didn’t even have stacks of that. At night time she used to wear a Tena, hehehehehe… we rescued a massive stash of unused adult incontinence pads for the trip….

Argh, recalling everything is giving me a fluttering in my chest, and ants in my pants, and a desire to fling my clothes off and pretend my local seaside is a Playas Nudista.

What about your budget? When I say we were thrifty, I mean we were like, super cheapskate. We freecamped. We cooked almost EVERY MEAL apart from birthdays and special occasions with friends. (Well, apart from completely not resisting Italian carbs and Mcdonalds chips. Wifries.) A ferry trip, cover price to the Alhambra, and entry to Croatian national parks were probably the only activities that weren’t free. We chose walking and swimming and dossing over actual activities. We don’t feel we missed out at all- in my opinion theme parks look the same the world over. We lived on less than we lived on whilst in London, and made do on a mixture of savings and a tiny bit of income from my writing. Petrol and groceries were our two big costs.

Embrace the fear, race your kids along the shore, scrabble over the cliff to a waterfall, dig out your inner nomad and have a family adventure that will set your heart aflutter for a lifetime.

PS I hope that was helpful! If you have any other questions, please ask them in the comments and I imagine I will edit the extra questions and answers into this mahoosive post.Family Travel Camping Europe

yurt life

Life lately

1 May, 2015

I’ve got a toothache. It’s so painful it feels like Jack Reacher has taken a flying kick at my jaw with typical unexpected force, taking out all his betrayed-by-the-Army malice on my face (I, of course, then kung fu’d his ass and then we became friends, although not lovers despite his tendency to objectify and then fall for strong women. I am after all happily married.) I started the day treating it with arnica and a special tooth-pain mineral remedy and some cloves and then, after lunch, I sacked that off and moved on to the paracetamol, ibuprofen and codine so, basically, I’m totally out of it.

I thought it would be a good time to update you all on our life! *crazy smile*

The last time I did a personal post it was to let you know about how we bought this land in this beautiful spot by a river with our friends. We are still buzzing out on the fact. We get together and dream (taking notes and everything) about our plans there. We have also bought a new, even bigger, yurt, which is so enormous it can have a mezzanine floor! We will live in this yurt for years and years until the kids grow up and then we will build them a tree house each in the forest. And we’ll grow old in the yurt, but probably won’t be able to get up the mezzanine floor – so that could be a special place for our grandkids where they can scribble on the furniture without their arthritic Nana getting up in their grill about it. Go on Grandkids, get your crayons out.

Lulastic and the Hippyshake  - wild childhood - Kiwi parenting and lifestyle blog

Summer here was incredible. We had a visit from my folks – and in their precious few weeks in New Zealand Ramona taught herself how to swim! This gave us an extra boost of confidence in our journey of unschooling as we have been so hands off with Ramona in the water – just loving to see her play and have fun. And then one day she decided she wanted to swim, so she just started swimming. And the next day she was swimming the whole length of the pool. What a mighty and determined child she is, propelled along the water by vision and hope alone. When kids are motivated and ready to learn they can do ANYTHING! So cool.

We spent much of the summer with friends that were over from the UK, our old neighbours. We free camped in our buses and fished and dug great monsters in the sand.

Sadly, summer has taken a hike here in New Zealand, off on a voyage to the other hemisphere to bestow some long, warm evenings on my family and friends over there. (We will be following it in a couple of months- spending June- September over there. YAY!)

So it is a bit cold in our yurt at the moment. We are going to be with all the wool clothes we own on, and 3 feather duvets on top. Normally, if you have a fire, it is manageable but we haven’t installed ours as we are on the move.

Life Lately - Lulastic -  New Zealand Parenting Blog

We took a little holiday to a place called Raglan this week, it was windy and cold but spectacular! We visited some people we met for a few minutes at a festival and (fortunately, really, because imagine the awkwardness if not!) a tiny weeny mustard seed of friendship just bloomed. They live on the wild west coast and we clambered down through the native forest to the sea and chipped oysters off the rocks and slurped them down and got a hit of zinc that enlivened my very bones.

Lulastic - New Zealand Lifestyle Parenting Blog

Juno had a birthday at the weekend – can you BELIEVE SHE IS TWO?! As friends were running the London Marathon I was remembering my own marathon that was Juno’s birth. A marvel of emotions and strength and then a baby born! When you are growing a second baby you truly do wonder how on earth you can love a second baby as much as the first…. and then somehow the love you have expands and deepens and folds inside out and unravels and then when it is knitted back up it isn’t TWICE the size but TEN TIMES the size. It is a little bit like when I put our wool clothes on a hot wash by mistake, but the opposite.

(Psst – I did a new Youtube about bonding with your baby and attachment and things)

Ramona has begun going to a forest Kindergarten on Wednesdays – she is loving it and I am loving her excitement. They spend all day fossicking in the woods and Juno and I spend all day fossicking around the charity shops finding beauties like this….

Retro Typewriter

A third typewriter I don’t need, likely to get its letter jammed by children within 30 seconds and missing an ink ribbon but only £7! BAG IT!

I’ve been busting a gut on a super exciting project that is just in its final stages…. I cannae wait to reveal all! Hopefully next week.

Gosh, I sort of want to ask how YOU have been? Y’know, like, what is exciting for you? What’s going well? What is a bit hard at the moment? I feel like I know and like lots of you, and wish I knew some of you other more silent readers. Funny eh.

Hope you are finding the sparkle of presence in even the most mundane of stuff, and the magic in nature, and contentment in your everyday.

Nappyfree, Parenting

The most gentle, stress-free potty-training ever

23 April, 2015

This week something momentous happened. I packed up our cloth nappies and gave them away. Oh, how I relished that. I was like LATER LOSERS! Actually, I hope never to clap mine eyes on them ever again. I don’t hate our cloth nappies, in fact they have been IDEAL for what we have done with our little ones…. but they seem to be everywhere I look at all times, in the laundry, on the line, in piles. And we barely use them at all! The reason is that we have opted for no nappies, most of the time.

I also experienced that special sigh of relief reserved for parents whose child has become toilet-independent. This realisation has come slowly over the last couple of months.Just last week my husband said “Hey, Juno’s pretty much potty trained now, eh?”  Ah. Yes, yes, she is. In fact, we were along time noticing properly (or wanting to say the words aloud) sine around 21 months she was getting her wees and poos on target the majority of the time.

See, we have been practicing the most gentle, stress-free, quiet way to potty train ever: Nappy Free – ness. Hmm. Nappy Free -dom. Or just… Nappy- Free babies.Nappy free is stress free potty training!

I don’t even really know what you mean by Nappy-Free. It sounds kinda dangerous
If you think “Nappy-free” sounds dangerous try “elimination communication” HA! That sounds like we are raising talkative assassins. The best term for this kind of potty-training is “Born Ready” – I love it as it captures the fundamental belief that no living thing wants to lay a cable on themselves.

We witnessed this first hand when we tried to save a baby bird, fallen from the tree. It was a tiny, weeny speck of a thing, but even so after it had munched on a quarter of a teaspoon’s glob of food it would shuffle over, put its butt over the edge of the nest we had made for it, and squirt out a Number Two. Our children are born communicating with us about all of their needs- their need for touch, food, and their need to release their bladder. They will shuffle and squirm and squark, and if we respond they continue to communicate about it long after you’ve packed up the cloth nappies- until they are grown ups! (If they are anything like me, that is, for I do love a good poo story.)

How is Nappy Free gentle potty training?
People who practice Nappy Free just accept that regular visits to the loo/ holds over the potty are a part of everyday life. There is no song or dance to be made of it. It is something as common as drinking or eating. There are no bribes or reward charts, no punishments for accidents or shaming. This shaming thing is something I see all the time (no judgement, I know it can be frustrating when our children pee their pants and you’ve run out of spares and it was in a neighbour’s house and it was already a rubbish day) – an almost accepted part of teaching our children that weeing in their pants isn’t acceptable. Mu understanding of the culture within Nappy Free families is an unconditional style of parenting – no shame allowed, ever. Nappy Free families just do trips to the loo when it seems needed and don’t make a fuss when the wires of communication are a bit tangled and a poo ends up in a shoe. Families take it at the child’s own pace, listening to them and helping them until they are ready to be entirely toilet-independant.

It could be more respectful
Having said all that… I think it could be even even more respectful. It is common practice with Nappy-Free world to simply feel “in tune” with a baby and whip off their pants and urge them on if we are sure they need to go. I don’t think this is right. I think we need to potty our children with the utmost care and respectful touch and we need to allow a lot more space for consent. I think Nappy Free families could aim to always ask their babies, even newborns, if we can help them go, and if they clearly show they don’t want to we should leave them be- even if that ends up as wet pants. We need to prioritise them receiving the knowledge that they, not us, are the boss’s of their own body.

Is Nappy Free for everyone?
I’m not in the business of telling people what to do. I like to share stories of what we do but I believe each family needs to weigh things up and consider their family’s own delicate dance of needs and then decide! I do think there are principles of nappy free that will make for a much, much less stressful potty training for everyone. Things such as acknowledging when a baby is clearly doing a number – keep up the communication, respectfully. Don’t let them forget what it feels like to relieve themselves.  (It seems to be the case that children can lose the sensation.)  Give children a go when it seems like they want to but need some help. Model toilet use. Be child led. Avoid forcing and coercive tactics.

Take it off
But how does one begin such a thing! You know what they say: a journey of a thousand poos begins with one poo. Begin that journey today! It can begin with Day 1 for a newborn or with toddlers even. Here are a few tips:

  • Give your baby a go on the loo whenever you go. You modelling toilet use is the number one way they’ll pick it up!
  • This also makes a bit of a regular rhythm, and you will soon pick up their rhythm.
  • Create little points in the day that they can become used to going – before meals, after meals, before the car, after the car, before the buggy/wrap one getting out of the buggy/wrap.
  • Create a little sign that you begin doing whenever you talk about the potty.
  • Have potties lying around the house – sometimes the sign is them patting or going to the potty.
  • Thumbs up for “tree wees” – it is my experience that it is very natural for kids to wee outside. It might feel like an accident, but they might have gone outside just to wee!
  • Don’t get too into it. Hehe. Just relax. You’ll have heaps of us and downs, really awesome in-sync days and them days where teething pain interrupts the brain-bladder signalling and, well, you know: wee. Spend loads of time outside where misses don’t count.
  • Put nappies on if it helps you relax in between. We always had nappies on hand for when we were at someone elses house as we dodn’t want to be super stressing about getting wee on someone elses carpet. You’d think this would make for mix messages but it didn’t seem to. Both our girls were fine with or without nappies.

Do check out my friend Jenn’s new online classes, of Born Ready. The Born Ready website was basically my homepage when I first got into this!  She is the absolute GURU of nappy free and offers loads and loads of advice.  She also sells flaparaps– the perfect nappy/pants inbetweener for babies.

Real Nappies and Nappy-Free are mates
It is Real Nappy week this week and I wanted to take a moment to encourage all the cloth-bummed baby mammas and pappas to consider this gentle form of potty training. I know you, you and your gorgeous stash of nappy covers in every crazy pattern, your ever-so-slight addiction to animal print cloth nappies. Real Nappy lovers and Nappy-free lovers are cut from the same cloth – we care for our babies bums and our earth. And we are not afraid of poo.

Go for it, go on. Take it off and liberate your baby’s butt! Nappy Free = Stress Free Potty Training.

PS Read more Nappy Free tales from me here. 

Parenting, yurt life

Things messy people say

20 April, 2015

This goes out to all the parents constantly feeling the stab of lego beneath their socks, those who let their kids unroll the toilet paper because they’ve done the quick parental equation and have decided the mess the loo roll creates is worth the 20 minute’s peace, and to all the parents who have ever found half a long-lost apple languishing in the sofa cushions.. (To all the very tidy parents, like my very best friend from whose sparkly toilet I’d happily eat my lunch, I love you but you don’t need a shout out, Mr Muscle’s got your back.) 

Things messy people say:

1- I’m not naturally messy- but since becoming a mother…. 

2- Besides, creativity THRIVES in chaos!!

3- No really, studies.

4- And, y’know, it was EINSTEIN that said if a cluttered desk is sign of a cluttered mind, what is an EMPTY desk sign of? Ha!

5- *ding dong* Oh hello! Ah yes, we are just having a sort out…

6- Yes, sadly, a bomb DID hit.

7- A KID BOMB 

  boom shake shake shake the room

8- It’ s not so much a mess issue as a storage issue.

9- In fact, if we had good storage that would be a game changer, I tell you. 

10- Ah, look, here’s that bag of manky feathers the girls collected…. I’ll pop them somewhere safe for that time in the future when I’m gonna have to make an owl mask. 

11- I’m actually going to have a massive tidy in the morning.

12- *in the morning*  Ooh a beautiful day! LET’S PLAY!

13- I’ll just totally BLITZ the whole house once the kids are in bed.

14- *later* This book is genuinely BEGGING to be finished tonight.

15- Anyway, Einstein and all those geniuses were WELL messy. Proper filthy. So.

16- Doodidodidoo. I’ll just stick this in the bits n bobs drawer.  

17-I’m just not the kind of mum that wants to be tidying toys away from the kids all day, y know?

18- Arghhh. MORE LAUNDRY. WHERE DOES IT COME FROM? Where does it go? Where does it come from, Cotton Eye Joe? 

19- I’m sure our laundry basket has a spawn function. I’ll have to tell the girls to stop pushing that button. 

20- A clean house is sign of a wasted life. A clean house is sign of a wasted life. A clean house is sign of a wasted life. A clean house is sign of a wasted life.

21- I’ll just pop this random Thing on that shelf with all the other random Things. 

22- Gah! We have too many clothes! I’ll put them all in bags and take them to the charity shop!

23- After a cup of tea, I’ll do that. I shall. 

24- (Self-care, that’s called. Timely cups of tea and chocolate for mothers. The foundation of a stable family life.)

25- Ooh, but I can’t really give all this away because some of this stuff will be IDEAL for the dress up box. 

26- Or cowboy boots might make a comeback.

27- Or I might be invited to a Ukrainian Pop Stars from the Seventies fancy dress party and I will rue the day I got rid of this PERFECT shirt. 

28-  Lalala, I’ll just shove this enormous box full of Stuff into our storage, I mean spare, room.

29- And jam the door shut. 

30- And put this “ENTER AT YOUR OWN PERIL” sign on the door. 

31- And hope no one ever, ever looks in it. 

32- I mean, yes, I’m messy but not WEIRDLY so. I’m not exactly going to be on the news burrowing a tunnel out of my own mess! ha! Hahahaha! *panicked laugh*

33 – But seriously, as I always say, it might be a bit untidy, but it’s not dirty, like, unsafe

34 –  *googles* “basic level of hygiene”

35 – Right. So we won’t be getting a certificate.

36 – But the kids ARE alive, so hey! 

37- And while they are still with us it is positively futile to keep on top of their mess. 

38 – Although tomorrow I am absolutely definitely TRULY going to tidy. Tomorrow. 

No Poo

Shampoo Free Hair for 3 years – If you can’t eat it, don’t wash with it!

13 April, 2015

Oh, I had a lovely Saturday. I was at an environmental expo with my new workshop Happy Hair / Healthy Planet and basically spent the afternoon with a load of strangers feeling up my head, sticking their noses in my scalp and running their fingers through my locks. Oh yes! Surely if there is anything that can prove going Shampoo Free can give you healthy, shiny tresses it is getting up close and personal! I was pretty stoked that people actually went away and bought my ebook after rubbing my head like a genie – I have been selling stacks of them all weekend. YES!

Whilst cramming for my workshop I went even deeper into the chemicals present in our shampoo bottles and once again I was blown away by the fact that people wash in this unregulated carcinogenic concoction on a regular basis. If only people KNEW! And if only people realised they could stick those nasties in the bin, replace it with something from their kitchen and actually have BETTER, far, far, BETTER hair!

Well, I am on a mission now people>>>

Happy Hair/ Healthy Planet- on tour in the UK, NZ and USA!
I love writing, but I also love communicating face to face. Since finishing up my campaigning job with Oxfam, one of the things I have missed is the stream of workshops and presentations. I love meeting people and talking about stuff I am passionate about. So, why not start doing this with Happy Hair? My presentation involves looking inside the average shampoo bottle, all the alternatives, and the place of the No Poo movement within the wider, global environmental movement.

Happy Hair/ Healthy Planet will be on tour around NZ, the UK (in July, hoorah!) and San Francisco over the summer months.

Do you run an environmental centre or are you part of a group (such as W.I) that wants to host a workshop like this? I would love to work with you! Alternatively, please pass this on to any connections you have in those worlds! Get in touch through lulasticblog@gmail.comNoPoo hair
My Six Weekly Hair Cycle
I have been No-Poo for THREE years now- can you believe it? And I think I’ve just entered a new stage of lovely locks. (When I say “lovely” I mean “recently hacked at by  a massive pair of sewing scissors and unbrushed”)

I’ve begun doing a regular avocado or hot oil treatment and I think it has given my hair the gloss and softness that I realise I have been missing for a while. I realise I am in a sort of six weekly rhythm. I’ve come to believe that hair thrives when we mix it up and use a variety of ingredients.

Week 1 – Henna. Henna gives my hair a good old nourish and deep clean. I pack it on, stick a plastic bag on my head, followed by a scarf and then wander around for the afternoon acting as if I don’t look absolutely bonkers. I wash it out four hours later with cold water.

Ten days later….

1 tsp of baking soda in a cup of water, rinsed out with 1 tsp of ACV in a cup of water.

Ten days later….

I squish an avocado on my head and leave it for an hour. Then I rinse that out and slather an egg yolk on my head for 3 minutes- the only thing really effective at getting the avo oils out. Hair after this session is shiny-glorious-gloss-balls.

Ten days later….

A tsp of bentonite clay in a cup of water sloshed on and rinsed off, followed by a herb (lemonbalm or rosemary) rinse.

Ten days later…

We are back to the Henna and my six weekly rhythm pings on again.

NoPoo on Hippyshake TV
I thought I’d do a little Youtube about our family’s motto “If you can’t eat it, don’t wash with it!” but it sort of ended up as a bit of a farce when Juno started putting herbs in her ears. Anyway, here it is. You’ll probably die, crunching out to that wee lass and her determination with that lemonbalm.

PS I got this comment from a hairdresser about my ebook, how cool is that?! “I’m a hairdresser and I have tried everything to make my hair grow and be shiny and healthy, every product under the sun! I’m on holiday at the moment and my hair was duller and more brittle than ever! The only things from the book I had to hand was lemon juice and eggs, tried it and can’t believe how shiny and soft it feels from one wash and got rid of the grease build up! I am definitely going shampoo and conditioner free and will tell all my clients with the same problem about your book!”

Join the people discovering beautiful hair and lessening their environmental impact with help from Happy Hair – the definitive guide to giving up shampoo.

Parenting

Major ways I’m raising our second child differently to our first

7 April, 2015

We stayed up late the other night watching little videos we’d taken of our first daughter, Ramona, a few years ago. They were hidden deep in the caverns of our computer, buried under about 9 googleplex (the children’s current favourite number) of photos. We have so many photos that if we were to print them out I think we’d be able to stretch them to the moon and back, or we’d at least be able to bundle them into bricks and build ourselves a house.

Anyway, the films. Oh! How they made me BLUSH! I was absolutely criiiinging. It was so, SO obvious, in a way I hadn’t really processed, just how differently we are doing things with our second daughter, Juno. (There were also lots of really lovely ones – like this perfect example of that phantom breastfeeding thing babies do – once your nipple has left their mouth, they keep sucking. It is one of the loveliest things to look at in the world!)

I was trussing her about, waving her around, smooching her enormous cheeks, making her wave, making her stand, sitting her on my knee for Humpty Dumpty even though she was crying. I was having fun with her, almost like she was a prop or accessory to my–life-and-soul-of-the-party good time. And I wasn’t really treating her like a human at all.

It made me think of all the ways we have changed our parenting since having a second daughter. And the common theme to all of them is that we came to realise that even the tiniest babies are people – with unique feelings and important rights, with their own body to be respected and their own drive to be allowed to flourish.

It is so basic, but it took me such a long time to realise. I was a loving mum to Ramona, I ticked all the right attachment parenting boxes, but it wasn’t until she really showed me her bare face will, age 2, that I understood that she had had one all along. It was Ramona that paved the way for me to see Juno in the way that I did the second she was born. Juno turned up and her beautiful and glorious personhood was glowing out of her newborn folds of furry skin and baldness. I'm raising our second child differently to the first

Here are some examples of how differently this actually looks:

1- With Ramona we sat her up almost from the day she could hold her head up, we propped her and put her on her tummy and stood her on her big, rugby-player pins. Then I read about natural motor development and something clicked, so with Juno we tried to only ever put her in a position that she was able to get into by herself. So no tummy time, until she could roll, no sitting until she could pull herself to sitting. WHAT AN AMAZING JOURNEY!

The difference is that when they choose to do something, they are absolutely and utterly ready for it. It often means a different way round – crawling before sitting, for example- but they totally nail it. Juno crawled first and then sat a few days later and never, ever, ever tipped over.

This just fits in SO perfectly with the idea that children very often know what they are ready for, that they can be the lead on their own development and learning. It is awesome.

2- With Ramona I had quite strong senses of what she should and shouldn’t play with, where she should go, what she should be doing. Age six months for example, I had no worries about taking something straight out of her hands with no warning, or distracting her from something she was enjoying just so I could admire her cute face, or pulling her out of the way of something I didn’t want her going near. With Juno we hang back A LOT more. If we do need to take something away from her, mostly we simply ask for it, and she has tended to hand it over… but by and large we’ve just been able to let her go for it, and to REALLY let her get into it.

3- With Ramona, we had very little respect for the idea that her body was her own, we were convinced we were in charge of her body. We’d pick her up and plop her down and put a jumper on her and take a hat off her and wipe her nose and yank a nappy on. We have tried really hard to not do this with Juno. If ever we want to interact with Juno’s body, we ask permission first, even waiting for an invitation as a very small baby- such as the lift of a pelvis to change a nappy (Juno fully did this!) or extended, open arms from a 6 month old when we ask if we can pick her up.

4- We found Elimination Communication when Ramona was 3 months old and within a few days we saw it to be the way forward. With Juno it began on her very first day, when she was wriggling and distressed and Tim offered her the potty and she pooed and weed straight into it! Brilliant! However, with Juno we tried a lot harder to respect the fact that her body was her body, not insisting on her going if we felt she needed it (with Ramona we were like “C’mon, love, we can SEE you need to go!”) and we tried really hard not to interrupt bowl movements once they had begun, out of respect. We had no qualms about moving Ramona about mid-poo, to get her on the loo.I'm raising my second child differently to my first

I was introduced to a lot of this via Pennie Brownlee and Clare of the Pikler Collection – through the concept of Natural Gross Motor Development. It sounds a bit technical, but ooh look here is a simple introduction to exactly WHAT that is!!! *brand new vlog alert*

I was speaking to someone about all of this and they were like “WHAT! HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW ALL OF THIS STUFF?! EVERY ONE IN THE WORLD KNOWS THIS!” And I was kinda like… well… we can’t know everything, all at once! I really didn’t know many people doing this in London. All the connecting, attachment stuff just blossomed naturally but the standing back and giving full respect to babies didn’t happen instinctively or me at all.

We can only parent with the knowledge we have to hand right now, don’t you think?

Of course, parenting IS the most world-changing job ever so therefore we should take it seriously and take our open minds and find stuff out and make conscious decisions.

But still, even the President of the Post-Graduate School of Parenting doesn’t know every one of the good and beautiful ways we can be with our children at the exact perfect time.

C.S Lewis, in the final Narnia book, says that we can only act according to the light revealed to us.

I love it, I love it for life and I love it for parenting. You can’t believe that and have many regrets, or have much judgment.

Have you changed your parenting much, from one child to another?

Keep in touch through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Green things

Thrifty and lovely Borage Face Mask Vlog

28 March, 2015

Just a quick one to point you in the direction of my new favourite thing via two different medium (CRUMBS! I must really bladdy lave it.)

‘Cos I did a wee experiment (by this I mean “little” in Scottish, as opposed to experimenting with wee.. although, frankly, I have read good things about that) with BORAGE and it was super duper SCRUMPTIOUS.

It is an annual herb, a gristly, thistly plant with a stunning, dainty flower. It used to be cultivated in many a garden but these days it is more commonly grown accidently, as a weed, rampant along train tracks and wastelands.

It has traditionally been a staple soup ingredient in many European countries – that is kind of obvious from its name, I think. Borage Soup. Served up by warty caricatures in Roald Dahl’s stories…

I’m on a mission to rebrand this weedy herb- to add some glamour to it. The incredible properties of borage are fit for more than sweaty bowls of soup. (Woah, actually, don’t mean to be a downer about soup. Soup rocks. I just feel a bit dubious about borage soup. What can I say, I must be very phonetically sensitive.)

Read the rest here on Cosmo.Homemade Borage Face Mask - before and after
(There WAS a difference honest – this photo was taken twenty minutes apart … I recognise there are lighting difference, however – BLAME THE SUN harrrhahahaha)

And, I recorded this marvellous experiment for my exciting new Youtube Channel

Do come on over and subscri–hiiiiiibe!

Parenting

Do children need a daily bath? 8 reasons to stop washing so much

23 March, 2015

Ramona has a blue scalp at the moment. I mean, entirely blue. Bright, glowing ocean blue. It happened last week, when a friend and I looked out the window to see both of our children with rainbow heads – every hair shaft stiff with thick, vibrant paint they’d discovered in a drawer. It looked cool, really punky. I felt like I got an almost-complete polaroid of what she might be like as a teen.

Anyway, baking soda and honey managed to get almost all the paint out of her hair, just not her scalp.

It doesn’t really look cool anymore (there’s a reason coloured scalps have never taken off, turns out) – it just sort of looks feral. It’s like reptile skin, weirdly host to beautiful, blonde hair.

I guess, if we washed everyday, the blue scalp might have dissapeared by now. But the thing is, we really don’t wash every day… I’m developing a pretty strong stance against daily baths, actually.

There are so many reasons children don’t need to bathe daily. If a quick dunk in the bath is a chore in your family read on and let liberation soak you through…

8 reasons to stop giving your children a bath

Ramona must have a thing for blue hair (this is a wig, hehe, not the paint!)

1- Baths aren’t a necessary “should”.  

Family life is hindered, rather than helped, by having a list of Things You Must Do. Brushing hair, having a bath, eating five vegetables- chuck your list out the window and find yourself BLOOMING with liberation!! We have enough things we REALLY have to do as parents- so let’s let go of the things that have ended up on an arbitrary “should” list. As my friend and parenting guru, Sue, says “Parents need to stop shoulding on themselves!” Hold tightly to the truly important things, and watch everything else just falls naturally into a hierarchy.

2- Cleanliness is overrated.

A fascinating Washington Post article mentions the role a bit of dirtiness can play in our healthiness:  “overly clean living can be bad for our immune systems, which need certain microbes and gut bacteria to function properly and to keep us healthy from the more dangerous pathogens.” Having a good healthy, uninterrupted layer of skin-plus-extras can actually promote health. So many families report skin conditions such as eczema dissapearing once they switch to a weekly rather than daily bath. 

3- Baths, if not forced, can be therapeutic.

The result of making sure baths are only ever autonomously chosen is that children take great pleasure in them. For our four year old, the bath is the place she retreats to when she needs to find calm or have some space. She can spend an hour in their just floating and singing- once she even fell asleep. (We are lucky to live in a tiny winy shack that Tim built next to our yurt so the bath is only ever a couple of metres away… Somehow it still has a cocoon like feel.)

4- Pheronomes.

Furry gnomes (as Tim and I call them) are actually a really important part of our instinct and our understanding of people. There has been a bit of work done on the role of pheremones in sexuality, but they have a role in all part of our lives. There is growing evidence that suggests these chemicals we release impact mother-infant recognition and bonding. So definitely don’t wash your newborn!

5- Forcing our kids to do anything interrupts the development of their intrinsic motivation.

I see one of my roles as a parent to protect some of the precious things my child was born with in order to cultivate her happiness now and ever more! I see so many unhappy people who live their lives according to other people’s rules and wishes. How harmonious the world would be if we were all able to trust our internal desires, and to be self determined. I won’t (I should say, we TRY NOT TO) make our daughters do anything because I am preserving their internal motivation. They shall be the conductors of their own symphony! 

6- Baths can be an actual activity, y’know.

BATHS CAN BE SO MUCH FUN! They count as an official activity in our house. We put food colouring in, and glow sticks, and paints. (Consider these if for some reason you really must help your child to bathe more.)

7- Regular bathing is a modern, newfangled thing.

You know, back in the day they’d bathe ONCE A YEAR, in May. Then they used to get married in June because they were still clean. I’m not really a traditionalist, but for this point I am. Daily bathing is basically like SnapChat… in the history of the world, it’ll be barely a blink of an eye. (Although…. a year…. pheweeeee…. that is SOME TIME. Don’t go that extreme, eh, friends. Just meet in the middle with “Whenever your children fancy one”…)

8- Lastly, and most importantly, they are not “yours” to put in the bath!

Give your child an amazing gift: the awareness that his body is HIS alone. Show her, by never making her do something with her body, that no one can do something to her without her consent. Sometimes we let “the hygiene myth” get in the way,  we allow it  to interrupt this crucial, protecting message. Let your child yelling “I am the boss of my body!!!” fill you with hope and happiness.

8 reasons to stop giving your children daily baths

____

So, having a child with a glowing, colourful scalp, who looks so clearly like they need a good dunk in the bath, has, over this last week, in a funny sort of a way, made me become more sure, confident, that daily baths are one less SHOULD families need in their lives. And if people think Ramona is some kind of lizard child walking amongst us, so be it. We all need a little more magic in our lives, eh?!

PS- Any other reasons you can add? I’d love to hear if you’ve ditched any other parenting shoulds! 

Attachment parenting, Breastfeeding, Parenting

100 Names for Breastfeeding

18 March, 2015

100 Names for Breastmilk

I am so excited about this post, I am sitting in a cafe using their rubbish (but existent) wifi beaming my face off. It has been such a pleasure pulling together all the names toddler have for breastfeeding out there. They cover different languages, most of them have been generated by the children themselves and a few have been passed down through generations. Some of them clearly come from similar meanings and then some of them are just totally wild. Olivia and Donald? Finky and Dumper? Unbridled imagination – (don’t crush it!!)

A child’s word for breastmilk and the act of feeding is very often one of their first, and often introduced into the family dictionary. It must feel pretty special for a child to have their own word, for something that is so important to them, taken on and used. How perfect to feel so valued and trusted and a part of things. I feel like this list symbolises some of that trust, and the trust inherent in the intimate breastfeeding relationship.

We live in a society where it is common to hear people say “I don’t mind breastfeeding- but as soon as a child is old enough to ask for it, then they are TOO OLD.”

This is a rebel anthology- declaring this position to be an untruth. The moment babies are born they find ways to ask for it, and the moment they find WORDS to ask for it is the doorway to a whole new amazing experience. Societies distaste for breastfeeding older children is totally misplaced- in fact,  *breaking news*, massive, longitudinal study just published seem to show that the longer a child is breastfed, the more “successful” she is. Let’s celebrate the connection, the emotional and physical needs that are met in breastfeeding, by revelling in this joyous list. MILKY BOOBIES, THE OTHER ONE: ROCK ON BREASTFEEDING TALKERS! You yell your milk cry across the room, go right ahead- show the world that it is normal and right and magnificent to be a breastfeeding child. what toddlers call breastmilk!

Commonalities
There were one or two variations on “mummy milk” present but without a doubt the one that came up over and over and over (ten times!) was “Other side”. This is funny and astonishing! It just shows how much our children tune in to everything from a youngest age. Obviously, we don’t tend to say “Milkies” throughout a nursing session but we far more frequently offer, during the act, “Other side?!” Brilliant.

Different Languages
Susu – Samoan word for milk/ breast (I am interested in the fact that Susu could be milk or breast? This doesn’t seem common?)
Maka- from the word Malako in Russian.
Leche – Spainish for milk
Lait- French for milk and Bord is French for other side.
Dudth is how the Hindi word for milk sounds.
Nyonya is remembered as Swahili slang.
Teta – Catalonion, for milk.

Stories
Here are a few of the accompanying stories…
Olivia and Donald: Lindsey explains “When he was 4 he started calling my boobs Olivia and Donald. Not really sure why. He’s a bit off the wall that one. “Olivia” was sometimes called “Big fat booby” due to the size discrepancy. Poor Donald wasn’t very popular…”
Dips: Abigail says “Because I had to undo the clip on my bra”
Feeju: Marnie “As in “Feed You””
Nulky nulky noo: Hanabee, “Her own poem dedicated to the joys of extended/ never ending breastfeeing.”
Booble: Mo says “This caused confusion one Christmas when we were looking at the wreath on the next door neighbour’s house and I said “That ones made of baubles!”

Big thanks to our brilliant Facebook community and Twitter peeps who collaborated and shared their lovely stories.

ALSO EXCITING: I AM ON YOUTUBE! AND HERE IS ONE OF MY FIRST VIDEOS:
You definitely didn’t think you could hack watching five minutes of someone breastfeeding their toddler, did you? Well, let’s just see if you can! I wanted to try and capture the frantic fun and mayhem involved with breastfeeding older children. I hit record and got it in five minutes straight off. Pahahaha. Breaking for a book. Yelling. All the laughter. Animal sounds. Hands up nostrils. Chest pummelling. It’s all there. Come and find me and subscribe on Youtube as I hope to be giving it a good bash this year.

Hehe, all the fun, eh.

Thank you for taking part in this breastfeeding anthology. If you missed out it isn’t too late- add it in the comments 😀

PS – If you like this post share it all about – play a little part in normalising breastfeeding… !