Breastfeeding

The Weaning of a Breastfeeding Devotee

14 July, 2016

Last night I had a dream that my friend showed me her post breastfeeding boobs. She flipped one out of her bra and began unfolding it and unfolding it, like a magician pulling colourful scarves out of a top hat, until it stretched out as long as her arm. A flat, long, roll of breast. Knowingly, I stuck out my chin and nodded. She began folding it back into her bra, concertina like, matter of fact.

Five long years these boobs of mine have been in feeding action, and just now are they being retired from active, on-demand service. These days they make an appearance for an occasion, three times a day, for my three year old, Juno. And a tokenistic once a month for Ramona who is five. And I guess we will stick to this until Juno is ready for me to hold them a retirement party.

(I say “I guess” because you can only do what you can do, eh? I didn’t think I’d have to lead Juno into a three times a day habit, but it turns out, I just did. My body was beginning to revolt against the constant draw of resources.)

When I first suggested to Juno, about a month ago, that I would like to take breastfeeding down from a million times a day to three times a day she told me to “write it down.” I had to get my book and write it down, and then she made me tear it out and fold it into a tiny square and put it in my wallet. For her own reasons she was wanting this decision minuted and put in an important place.

It has mostly been a fraughtless weaning.  Just a couple of upset moments from Juno. One where she gave me an ultimatum;

“Either you give me booboo or you go to Pak N Save (that’s New Zealand’s budget supermarket) – you choose.

I don’t know where she picked up the idea of ultimatums, I was definitely cowed. I haaaaaate grocery shopping, and the kid knows it.

Breastfeeding and weaning a three year old

Ah, breastfeeding. What a sweet joy and complex act of motherhood! Source of new mama angst and bloodied nipples, source of immense feelgood body chemicals. Cause of public anger and humiliation, and personal pride and wholeness. Creator of massive, overflowing, up-to-your-chin boisterous breasts and also, eventually, of long, flat, fold-into-your-bra dried up glands.

It’s the start of goodbye, from two breastfeeding devotees.

***

I’ve written SO MUCH about breastfeeding over the years. For a while there it was all I went on about. Here is some stuff you might like.

Breastfeeding Older Children Together

Nursing in public and the breastfeeding pyramid scheme

Our experience of tandem breastfeeding

Nursing a micromachine

Me! Eat! Your boobies!

Breastfeeding in public as an act of public service

A Breastfeeding Poem

100 Names for Breastfeeding from around the world

Breastmilk is yummier than ice cream and funny things my kids say about breastfeeding

Breastfeeding in art

yurt life

Living in a Yurt – in the winter

7 July, 2016

We have had freezing temperatures in our valley over the last week and we have been asked every day what it is like living in a yurt in the depths of winter. I guess it is easier for people to get their heads around living in a yurt in the summer – it’s basically camping, right, and we all love camping?! But when there is frost on the ground?!

Well, it is beautiful.

And cold.

We have had a few major improvements around here that have made living in a yurt almost like living in a proper house. We feel so flash. All the mod cons. (Not quite all.)

Here is living in a yurt – winter edition:

Winter living in a yurt in NZWEATHER

I have seen photos of people living in a yurt – yurts the same brand as ours – in thick, metres deep snow. We don’t have snow, just MORE RAIN THAN YOU HAVE EVER SEEN.

Oh my golly. It rains here. Any rain going, it is here. Some days will be really sunny, and then at about 4pm a big grey cloud will just pass over and dump rain over us and then move on. As if the weather got a little notification *ping* you haven’t rained over Waitawheta yet.

It’s good for growing stuff, I guess. And the ducks are truly living their best lives. Way better than having no rain aye? You gotta look for positives.

Meanwhile we have to park at the bottom of the paddock cos the mud stops us going any further and trudge up to our place carrying the groceries, the lunch boxes, Ramona’s teddies and Juno’s skateboard and the big bag of stuff from the junk shop including a purple wig and a sombrero (the girls longing for a better day). Both Ramona and Juno have actually got stuck in the mud. And the other week we were exploring the bush and I leapt over a stream thinking to land in the mud on the otherside, it would be okay cos I was wearing wellies, but I SUNK TO MY THIGHS.

Over the last week it has reached freezing levels, which I haven’t really experienced in other parts of NZ that I’ve lived in. And it has been SO beautiful. Eyewateringly beautiful. Clear blue skies, mist covering the far paddocks, icey forest everywhere else. The girls careen out of bed into their warrm things and go around the farm collecting all the ice they can find into a jar, then they come back to the fire and through it on the top to see it explode into tiny balls. They can not get enough of that ice/fire combo.Living in a yurt in the winter time

FIRE BABY

So yeah, did you notice that? We have a fire! Took forever to get sorted but it has been a gamechanger. We sit around with stew on the top and jacket potatos in the oven bit feeling very pleased with ourselves. The fire also makes hot water, through a wetback system, so we can also have baths!!!! Sometimes the kids are in the bath for about 2.5 hours. I don’t think I will ever take hot water for granted again in my life.

We had about 1.5 months of winter living in a yurt and it was seriously sucky. Damp and cold. I felt like we were going to get really sick. The fire changed everything.

We did a mini-extreme makeover in order to plan the whole yurt interior around us sitting in front of the fire. Moved about the kitchen, put chairs in front. Such a winner. This is our winter yurt configuration. (See our summer yurt house here.)
Living in a yurt in the wintertime
IS IT WARM INSIDE THE YURT?

It is warm enough. We can get it really really toasty when we have the fire cranking, like strip off and play Dragon Fighters in the nick sort of toasty (the kids.) The yurt came with insulation developed by Nasa (basically the worlds biggest silver foil emergency blanket) and it works pretty well. We bank the fire at night and it is still going in the morning, but the temperature dips overnight to being cold. We really have to snuggle under the duvets and stay there until the yurt warms up again at 10am. (Just kidding, it warms up before that, I just like any excuse for lying in bed.)

HOUSTON WE HAVE WIFI

Yeah, woah. Can you believe it? The Vodafone technician came to our farm a few months ago and declared there was no way we could get online, ever. No options sorry. This valley destined to be wifi-less. It’s possible I had a little cry that day. I certainly went ahead and wrote a blogpost about it, one about broken dreams. Lol. So we had pretty much given up on the whole thing. I zip into town a few days a week to work at the library. We Skype my family once a year etc. And then our buddies told us about Vodafone’s Rural Broadband Wifi Box. It’s a box that gets you wifi and you can take it anywhere. So they bought theirs when they were visiting and oh yeah, check it out! Internet in the yurt! So we got our grubby hands on our own box. Pfft. Vodafone. Not even knowing how great your own product is. Moral of the story – don’t believe anyone ever about anything.

Right now Ramona and the neighbours are watching a flick, Juno is doing yoga with the ipad and I am just doing my blog thing. It’s like 2012 around here! We literally haven’t had internet at home for three years. And I am loving it. It will be interesting to see how it pans out – whether I will find it hard to be as present as I have been lately. Over the last few months, once I’ve come home from the library I am home, in body and mind. I wonder if I will feel the negatives of being able to get online so quickly, when so much of my work is online.

Certainly it isn’t exactly easy – we have to prop the box on a crate outside the window and put a Dora Dora the Explorer brolly over it to protect it from the elements. And it just goes on for small portions of the day, and only if the sun is shining….

ELECTRICITY

Despite buying new batteries for our solar system we still don’t have enough battery power to get us happily through a drizzly day. So at the moment we still have large periods where everything in the yurt, including fridge, has to go off. Over the coming weeks we are going to be trialling a hydropower set up in the stream that runs between our two homes. If we can pull that off that will be IMMENSE! We will have all you can eat electricity. I will be blogging my head off.Living in a yurt in the wintertime

LEARN AND PLAY

With the weather being as wet as it has been it has been a bit harder to be self contained on the farm. In the right mood the girls will get naked and dance on the deck with the rain pouring down, or we will rug up and play in the dripping forest.

These icy mornings 😍 we tend to go about with a spoon and a jar and collect all the ice we can just because you know, why not?

A photo posted by Lulastic & the Hippyshake (@lulasticblog) on

Or we will build awesome dens inside the yurt and have elaborate teddy bear picnics. But there have been lots of inside, going crazy days. I have realised that there is less of this crazymaking insideness in the city – there tends to be places where you can go with kids, museums or soft play or something. There is SO little here. Sometimes we drive into town and after we’ve spent 50 minutes in every charity shop, we go to the supermarket cos at least it is dry there. Spurning the yurt and its creature comforts to wander up supermarket aisles and challenge the girls to find prunes.

So we investigated stuff going on in the big town an hour’s drive away and there are loads of fun unschooling things. We have added in some of their indoorsy stuff to our calendar, we drive down for musical theatre and yoga and plan to go to this jumping thing.

Next week we have our first Outdoor Play in Nature and Learn Things happening, with the hopes it might one day be a fully fledged forest school. So, so excited about that.

Yep, living in a yurt in the winter is definitely do-able. Especially if you have a fire, wifi, and a town within driveable distance with more than a supermarket. Hehe. It has it’s fair share of ups and down, (anothe rpost about wining and loosing at yurt life here) and despite having mod cons, still a bit of teeth gritting.

Keep in touch on Instagram, or Facebook, if you like.

If you’ve missed our living in a yurt journey so far click through to see our journey of the last 6 months:

Keep tuned for the next installment! In the mean time, if you want to help your family fall in love with nature please check out my latest ebook, 30 Days of Rewilding (Amazon) or through my e-store here. “A manifesto for a life lived in nature” – The Telegraph. (You don’t have to be living in a yurt in NZ to like it!)

xx

Living in a yurt in the wi

Parenting, yurt life

The Endorphin Experiment (Week 2) – My Body is A Wonderland

30 June, 2016

Harrhahahaha. John Mayer, aye? I’m pretty sure he wasn’t singing that song to someone in order to celebrate their radical self love, but hey!

It’s the theme of this week’s Endorphin Experiment.

My body is AWESOME. Every single cell is capable of producing endorphins. My body is not in battle with my heart/soul/mind. I think I’ve spent so much of my life carrying around this subtle belief in the sinfulness of flesh and pleasure. Over the last few years I guess I have been exploring this idea that if my body is so capable of dishing up delights like babies and endorphins and laughter and orgasms and sneezes, perhaps it is not a bad, rascal of a thing? Perhaps my body is absolutely awesome.

Visceral

The older I get the more at home in my body I become. The more I am able to see the beauty in all its visceral twinges and desires and rustlings. My body produces feelgood chemicals. That is a window on God, right there.

There is a bit in The Endorphin Effect (William Bloom) where he speaks about being in a room full of meditative gurus. They are all up to their necks in Eastern spirituality and meditation and mindfulness, and he had just finished leading them in an intense session full of almost ecstatic body-mind connection. He asks them where they most feel that same sense of flow or bliss in their everyday lives. He was fully expecting them to say “in my daily yoga practice” and other intense spiritual practices, but instead they listed things like “stroking my cat” “riding my bike” “gardening”… It shocked him. And ended up being the thing that led him on a journey towards the biochemical experience of endorphins.

His work in life now is to help people access that experience of endorphins whenever they need it, not when they happen to be relaxed enough to feel it.

I feel like we can be so detached from these visceral pleasures. We are ashamed of them perhaps.But if we can tune into them, obey our senses, there is something really powerful there…. it reminded me of the start of Wild Geese by Mary Oliver.

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.”

Focusing our lives on being good does sometimes lead to more goodness in the world (Exhibit A – my Mama), and then sometimes it leads to piousness and burntoutness… I wonder if Mary Oliver and William Bloom are getting at the same thing – inner well being is a better key for unlocking the health and happiness of the world. (Or maybe I am putting a very bland interpretation on it, because of my need to put everything into my “we can build a fairer, kinder world!” narrative!!)

Bloom says “Real pleasure and happiness possess a relaxed flow that is generous to life and the surrounding community.”
Endorphin Experiment
Tension

We all have the endorphin maker! We are like giant Soda Stream Machines, fully able to inject that fizz at the touch of a button.

But the reason it comes upon us so stealthily and leaves so abruptly, (you know; you walk up a mountain at dawn and it’s like WHAM ENDORPHIN CENTRAL and then that feeling slips away and we are left with just a bleary eyed selfie of a foggy morning) and why it isn’t a common part of every day life (hands up who has experience bliss in the last 48 hours?) is because we carry around so much tension in our bodies that, biochemically, the endorphins get stuck. They can’t proceed on their buzz-giving sojourn. The physical pleasure of gardening or stroking the cat relaxes the body enough that the endorphins can be sent out. But we need to get rid of the body’s constant tension in order to let them really flow.

This week I am attempting to, whenever I gather that I am holding myself tensely, to just breath, to let my body relax in to itself. I have found myself constantly, body-rigidly returning to the state of the world… I wrote myself a Mindful post-Brexit Strategy to help with that. And it has really helped.

Week Two’s Exercise
I wrote lists last week of things I love, things that naturally release endorphins within me. Over the last week I have been shoehorning them into my life.

One of them was “dancing” – especially having a rinse out to some heavy, ear popping, bassy beats.

My dancing is kinda like… if you can imagine Napolean Dynamite, with both a little bit more emphasis on “interpretive dance” and also a great, unfounded, belief in my ability to “pop”…

So in no way does the release of endorphins have to do with skill level.

In order to go out dancing I had my first night away from the children, while Tim took them up to visit family. They had a great time, and we all know I did. But the whole day I was carrying this quiet, deep down sense of “this isn’t what good mothers do”… I felt kinda selfish, even though I had comprehensively justified the importance of this in my mind. Perhaps that is wholly natural for the first night away from your kids ever.

I had a great time, but I’ve been figuring out how I can get more of my List into my life WITH children. The list of things I want to do more of, things that flood my body with endorphins – sing, skate, dance.

They are all so bodily.

I feel like I’m just realising now how much a puritanical spirituality has made me reject these urges over the years.

I keep seeing skate parks and think this is totally something me and the girls could do together. I must order new bearings for my board. DONE. Just did it! See how this experiment is just SO WORKING. The Endorphin Experiment
I have been on a skateboard once in the last ten years…. WISH ME LUCK

Although… the “letting the feelgoods flood my system” when feeling stressed isn’t getting easier with practice… if anything it is losing its novel effect and I am carrying on without trying to get any better at the whole kinsthetic experience of endorphins. (This was Week 1’s endorphin exercise)

My mind is just a busy, busy, busy bee. I close my eyes to think about that peaceful, uninhibited memory on the mountain and WHOOOOSH I get “Must change the milk in the kefir/when is Brook’s birthday/must google how hard it is to own a horse/it’s so cute how Juno still says Yipstick instead of Lipstick I should write that down/why are my toes numb/is it bad that the girls never really eat breakfast?”

Really need to get better at that. Really hoping this experiment will help me with it.

So yep, there is week two. Some of you mentioned you might be getting on this endorphin boosting life too – tell me, how are you finding it?

Activism

A mindful post-Brexit strategy

27 June, 2016

What a few days. I have often felt tearful after an election. I feel like I am always backing the losers. I should be used to this stomach churning powerlessness. But it’s never been this intense. There has always been the distant hope of another chance, in four years time. There’s always been a story of a climate change fighting underdog winning an electorate, to balance out the UKIP success.

I’ve never seen such a blanket of despair settle over my friends. I had to sign out of Facebook as the collective raging misery was not a comfort but a sinkhole.

People are joking about moving out here but the political situation in NZ is also bereft. (NZ is becoming scarily, increasingly right wing, media is 100% owned, there is a gaping lack of coherent criticism of government, and progressives are opting out of the system.) 

How to navigate the post-Brexit world mindfully? What are the important things people who care can do now?


Self-Care

Look after yourself friends; you are precious. You are precious to the world, to your family, and your friends. You are valued and needed and you need to make a space to be kind to yourself. Your emotions have taken a battering. You feel betrayed and disconnected, you feel angry and sad.

Right now, this moment, you need to check yourself into your own well-being spa. People who believe in, and are working towards, a fair, just, kind world need to keep their brave hearts strong and whole. 

  • Spend time with friends. Laugh, dance, try and do harmonies to Green Day. Whatever it is you do together.
  • Write a letter to yourself, validating all the feelings you have. Tell yourself it is okay to feel this sad. Tell yourself it isn’t absurd to feel all this.
  • Drink and eat well. A lack of water actually makes you more meloncholic. Keep hydrated and eat comforting food full of goodness.
  • Rest. Don’t stay up all night reading social media and getting angry, that is not for you.
  • Write a list of the things you love to do and make a plan to do more of them. (I have just begun an unapoligetecally indulgent Endorphin Experiment as the world really needs happier people.)
  • Watch all the Carpool Karaokes you can find. Endorphins etc. James Corden is good for your self care.

Acceptance

The key here is to spend some time thinking about what we can influence and doing it, and thinking about what we can’t influence and accepting it. It sounds awful, to simply accept something so abysmal but it is possible. It is the way it is now. It has happened. You can’t actually change the results. When you feel the fact of that rushing up on you, try and still your mind. Don’t deny that rush of depressed  energy in your heart, just take a moment with it. I have been trying to say “There is only now” as a bit of a mantra to get me back into the now, rather than letting anguish take over.

Accepting the new now leads you on to something really important, as Eckhart Tolle says;

“With the simple act of surrender to the inevitability of the present moment, another energy comes.” 

(Eckhart Tolle is a really, REALLY good one to read, about accepting pain. If you can come to terms with the slightly strange language. I review his book The Power of Now here.)

The “other energy” that comes after acceptance could be all sorts of things. It might look like a perspective change, a tiny, quiet hopefulness, a sense of action, a decision to take a political role, it might be inspiration about how you can use your unique talent to alleviate poverty in your community.

Empathy for Leavers

Not all Leavers are right wing dicks. Some are. But lots are poor. Some wanted change. All were lied to. Some did it because they saw a new financial opportunity for the things they care about – social infrastructure, the NHS. Like I say, all were lied to.

Many were feeling disempowered and marginalised, and now they are discovering they still are. The only thing that could possibly change that at all is empathetic listening, or at the very least trying to see the best intentions of Leavers. Non Violent Communication has a lot to offer here; Leavers would have voted out of a desire to have their basic needs met. It is the ultimate human motivation and almost every action of ours eventually comes back to it. Can you still be angry with someone who voted because they wanted a secure roof over their head for their family?

(Forgive me, Non Violent Communication World, but I still feel perfectly okay about people directing anger towards Bojo.)

(These Ten Gentle Nudges from Craftivist Collective might help you keep your activism kind and empathetic!)

Neighbour Love

Something good can come out of this. We can steel ourselves more than ever for love. Those tiny little everyday things are so, so, so radical. Our weapons in the face of hate peddlers are smiling on the street at strangers, helping families up the stairs at the station with buggies and luggage, taking the bin out for our elderly neighbour, having an actual conversation at the til when we buy our paper from the corner shop, making friends with people who are not like us, inviting people new in the area over for tea, giving someone a seat at the bus stop, giving cans to the food bank. These are not pathetic, lowly actions. They are the antidote to the racist graffiti and anonymous shouted slurs and odious, divisive politics.

Hope Not Hate

Shivers, Hope Not Hate’s Campaign “Still Believe in Each Other” is a bit of a beacon right now.

Nick of Hope Not Hate says “One thing is sure. We cannot allow the toxic Referendum debate to spill over into local communities. Speaking to those from eastern and central Europe, and indeed other immigrants, over recent days it is clear that many are worried. They are uncertain about their future and concerned about a racist backlash”

Join Still Believe here.A post-Brexit strategy 

(Thanks to the Craftivist- Collective for the creative responses to our political dystopia.)

I keep selling up thinking about Jo Cox and this post-Brexit world. What would she want? She would want us believing we have more in common than ever before.

Raising a Hopeful, Justice Loving Generation

This is a long game. I’m not offering party political advice. But I do believe in everyday politics and I do believe that raising children respectfully and kindly is a political decision. The long game is about raising generations of children who will be inclusive, because they were not marginialised as kids, who will advocate for the voiceless, because they had their voice heard when they were small, who will love radically, because they experienced unconditional love in the home, who will value the dispossessed, the marginalised, the powerless, because they were once empowered by those who held more power.

Parenting = world change

Some stuff here on Empathetic parenting and how to raise a (world changing) rebel. I discuss prejudice against children in this post on adultism and you can check out all my posts on parenting this progressive way here.

~

We’ve been spending a bit of time lately with a hardcore activist, one with a wise, kind soul; he has been fighting mining for several decades and has been through the wringer. It has been inspiring talking with him about how to deal with the weariness and desparation felt when you feel powerless in the face of f*ckwittery politics. Something he said stayed with me, about how if you can remain composed whilst in the very depths, something beautiful can make an appearance.

“Composure in the depths ushers in a composition”

We don’t know what it sounds like yet but one day we will hear the melody and recognise where it came from.

Love and solidarity to you.

xx

Parenting, yurt life

The Endorphin Experiment (Week 1)

23 June, 2016

Yesterday morning after a night of insomnia, Ramona woke me up by stroking her finger from my forehead to the tip of my nose. I growled and turned my back on her. And then, coming to my senses more, awoken perhaps by the silence of her woundedness, but still with my eyes closed, I rolled back and whispered “Do it again, Ramona.” She did it again and this time I smiled and opened my eyes. She was smiling too and we stared into each others eyes until our smiles became laughs and we began to laugh so hard that we crunched our knees into our bellies and fell in towards each other, noses touching, breath swapping.

Our bodies were flooded with endorphins. We got out of bed, high as kites. Like, physiologically, truly high. Experiencing an effect similar to teens smoking in the bushes. It was the optimal way to wake. So much better than my grumpy normal.

That was the first day of my Endorphin Experiment.

I have been totally pulled in by William Bloom’s book The Endorphin Effect. It puts words (and science, and spirituality) to feelings that I’ve held to for a couple of years. It provides answers to why I think certain parenting practices are important, and to why certain things lead to well being, and it gives real grunt to the idea of mindfulness.

I feel like I have discovered something immensely simple that could have a huge impact on my family well being. 

I have become a bit of an endorphin evangelical over the last couple of weeks. So I thought I would make a bit of a experiment out of it! The whole give up shampoo thing began as a super casual experiment for this blog, and since became something really significant about my life, so (y’know, no pressure) I’ve decided to try it again. This time, instead of going for 100% natural hair care, I am going to practice flooding my body with 100% natural feelgood; endorphins.

I know that it sounds quite self indulgent. But I completely believe that if every person was happier, the whole world would be more peaceful. If we could tap more frequently into the contentment that our endorphins bring us, our decisions will be kinder, more generous, wiser even.

I am particularly interested in this idea as a parent. I am on a mission to not impact my kids with my stress and anger and inner turmoil. I am considering the possibility that our endorphins are intrinsically linked to our ability to parent well.

Eeep, I am beginning to sound a bit scary. A bit TOO into it.  Well look, it might all end up being a load of crap. That’s an experiment for you though isn’t it?

Week One Task

This week’s task was to make a list of all the things that make me happy. People, memories, activities, whatever. And then I had to find a way to bring them more into my life.

One of the ways of using this list is to tap into those things when feeling stressed. It suggests putting photos of events and people around and then turning to them to help you through a bad mood. Or feeling the negativity and then deciding to delve into a memory of when I was super calm and happy, and then try and hold onto that feeling and let it move through my body in a physical way.

I wrote out a few memories but the one I have found most powerful is one from a few years ago. Tim and I went snowboarding in France and would get up the mountain early and enjoy the slopes by ourselves, the sun yet to take its fierce position in the sky. My memory is of gliding free as a bird across untouched snow, a completely uninhibited whoop roaring unbidden from my mouth.

I am working on really letting that mountain memory flood my body, I think it takes some practice! 

I tried using a memory of Juno meeting me at the library after a day away from each other, what it felt like her to shower my face with delicate kisses, my eyelids, my hairline, my nose. At the time is was the most beautiful feeling but that memory didn’t serve the purpose for this task, it is too hard for me to seperate that feeling of happiness with the priviledge/ weight of responsibility as a mother. 

A few times this week I have felt a bubble of anxiety in my chest as I contemplate all the things I have to do, workwise, and around the home/farm. It is such a physical feeling, my heart thumping against my chest wall. Taking a few moments and remembering that feeling of freedom on the mountain has definitely prevented that bubble from taking over and becoming as big as it usually does. But I haven’t quite yet managed to physically feel the endorphins move around my body as Bloom suggests I might.
Over the next few weeks I am going to be trying out a few of the activities in the book, including this one, something I’ve always felt to be true, but am now dedicating myself to:

DO MORE OF WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY! Will keep you posted!Do more of what makes you happy.

 

Parenting

Parenting: All behaviour is communication

16 June, 2016

We went round to our friend’s house for dinner on Saturday. I had baked a chocolate cake using sweet potato instead of flour and it was looking SO AMAZING! I had decorated it with tiny delicate mandarin slices. I am not a baker in anyway, everything I’ve ever tried to bake has come out as kind of pancake. I was feeling sublimely chuffed.

So, get this.

When I hopped out of the car at the gate, our neighbours were there moving their bull into a paddock. (Hehe. Our friends these days.) I was out of the car for about three minutes.

When I got back in again Ramona, 5, had hopped in the front seat and WAS EATING THE CAKE!

SHE. WAS. EATING. THE. CAKE.

EATING IT! MY CHOCOLATE CAKE! WITH HER HANDS! PUTTING IN HER MOUTH!

ARGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, let’s cut a long story short.

I went apeshit.

Inside and out.

And I stewed for about 12 hours.

I was feeling like super UGH about it. About her eating it (are we bringing up a child with no respect??!!!) and about my reaction (I had a right to let her know I was upset, but I didn’t have to say I’M NOT SPEAKING TO YOU! In a sulk. I actually said that. ugh.) 

 I had a chat with a friend. And reflected for a day.

And then we took a course of action.

And do you know what it was?

 It was to seek out a way for Ramona to make more friends.

Because, deep down, I was aware that for a few weeks Ramona has been expressing a need to me. A need to connect with people her age, in the way she loves, in an equal manner (we have plenty of friends but not many that Ramona finds a sort of equilibrium with, do you know what I mean?)

And I honestly think that eating my chocolate cake was the culmination of her expressing that need.

Every behaviour, every misbehaviour, is communication from our children.

We get a chance to meet the need they are expressing, or punish them for expressing that need in a way that we didn’t like.

What is especially funny (erm, or not) is that the VERY DAY of CakeGate I had just published a brand new post all about not exploding and being empathetic with our kids over on Parent.co and had recorded a vlog about why we don’t punish, and why we aim for peaceful communicaiton with our kids.

UGH.

It didn’t occur to me that Ramona would eat that cake. We do generally have a fairly mutually respectful relationship. My mettle was tested and I failed initially. My meltdown wasn’t helped by Ramona piping up “You are mad now mummy but tomorrow morning you will say you are sorry!”

But then I didn’t fail! Ramona asked something of us with that behaviour, we took some time instead of acting punitively and then we stepped up.

We went along to an unschooling meet up in another town the next day, and another the next day, where there were no less than FIVE FEISTY FEMALE FIVE YEAR OLDS!!! And Ramona has been a ball of wonder and non-cake-eating delight since.

Argh. So there you go. Learning. ALWAYS LEARNING.

We went ahead and ate the cake. I didn’t mention it to my friends, I just recalled the story my mum told me of when my Nana was hosting a party and the cat got on the table moments before the guests arrived and ate half the cake. My Nana just picked out the worst bits and put a bit more cream on top. I did a Nana and budged my choccy cake all into the centre a bit. (*waves to friends* sorry guys, it was yum though aye?!)