Just how DO you buy ethically without spending loads of dosh?

Every so often on this blog I get to work with companies that I am one hundred million per cent behind*. (Yes, yes one hundred million doesn’t exist, bla de bla *yawn*)

I am well excited to be introducing you to Muddy Carrot. They are the answer to the title’s question! They are a family team -run from their kitchen table- and they work hard to source the most creative and ethical products out there. I love any company that makes ethical shopping easier because, flip, we don’t need any more barriers in the way, that is for sure. I ESPECIALLY love a company that have a range of green AND affordable products.

What a salve it is, in a week where a factory worker stiches a cry for help in the label of a dress, to discover a company where the products stocked have the actual aim of healing the world, rather than destroying it.

Let me point out some of my favourite bits and pieces- please do bookmark this page for your Christmas shopping (ARGH! I JUST SAID CHRISTMAS!) as I reckon you could nip on here and nail your stocking shopping in just a few clicks.

1. Heavenly Hedgerows

The Heavenly Hedgerows range combines my two favourite things- foraging and eating. (I am a frugal glutton, pahahaha.)

“Heavenly Hedgerows was born of a love of foraging for wild food, inspired by a free-range New Zealand childhood and the delights of the West Country’s bountiful seasons. We hand-pick all our key ingredients from local hedgerows and prepare and bottle them in small batches in our farmhouse. We are passionate about good quality, locally produced food. From jellies and jams, West Country Honey, to delicious liqueurs – all our products are made from wild fruits and berries, hand picked by us and made in our farmhouse in Keynsham.”

The Bramble Vodka and Lavender Jelly would make ideal small, quirky gifts. Lavender-Jelly

2. Granny Marmalade
How many different kinds of marmalade are possible, do you think? Muddy Carrot stock three kinds – three-fruit with cinnamon, orange, lemon and ginger, and three-fruit marmalade.

3. The Harrogate Cake Co.
One day, I’d like to receive a cake in the post. That would be the very best day of my life. Each cake here is made in the Harrogate Bakery by hand and every once can be FREELY parcelled up and delivered to your favourite person on a special day. Order a tea loaf for a chum and then turn up that afternoon… “Oooh, what is this? Cake? Oh, I mustn’t. Okay, I will…”ethical cake

4. Cyril’s Soap Shed
A beauty range of handmade goats milk soaps – there is a number for everyone here. Bust out some of this gardeners soap for the weed wacker in your life and they will love you FOREVER. (Money can’t buy you love, eh? Whatever, Beatles!)ethical soap

5. Little Travellers
Little Travellers is the most delightful range of jewellery and homeware made by AIDS victims. I love the large dark bead necklace, teaspoons, and this lush bracelet.ethical teaspoons

Quick! Pretend it’s Christmas and buy cake and jam and then forget that you did it and scoff it all for tea!

This post was in collaboration with Muddy Carrot- please check out my disclosure for more on that…

*Every so often I drop a link for people I am not completely and utterly behind too – I justify this compromise by telling myself that this is what allows me to mostly stay home with the kiddos and work on things like the Social Justice and Childhood Initiative etc. I will always disclose, never sneak a link in… But I don’t feel perfectly comfortable about it. It would be interesting to hear what you think about that – whether I should remain more idealist than realist in the administration of this here blog!!

Posted in Thrifty | 13 Comments

Do you wanna dye the chickens?

For several months now our household has been run to the soundtrack of Frozen. Rarely is a question ever simply posed, always it is sung Anna- styles to the tune of Do you Wanna Build A Snowman. (Please tell me we aren’t alone in this?)

Here are some of the things going on in our lives, brought to you through our favoured communication method… We are all especially adept at making any number of words magically, and majestically, fit to the ditty…

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Do you wanna vomit in this bucket?
Last week we travelled for two days to go to the winter NZ unschooling camp at the bottom of the North Island. What an incredible time we had. It really feels like a bit of a tribe. All these families who just love the idea of natural learning and consensual living. Unfortunately a bug swept through the camp and took out 100% of the children. There was spew EVERYWHERE. We were there for two vomit filled days… and then we spent two days travelling home- Juno vomming all the way. It says an awful lot that we still enjoyed ourselves.

Do you wanna pop some tags?
While we were down there we explored the town of Feilding which, I reckon, is THE BEST TOWN FOR POPPING TAGS IN THE WHOLE OF NZ!! We got so many wonderful things for just a few cents. And best of all they had a little homemade map showing where every secondhand shop was – why doesn’t every town have this, eh? Get on it, towns. Ramona has taken to singing Macklemore, but with a funny switch in of words…. she sings “I’m gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my bottom” PAAHAHA. What a comic.

Do you wanna wear your gum boots?
We have had some RAIN over the last few weeks. Real hoofing down, smashing onto the canopy of the yurt rain. Which has meant wellies have become a key fixture in our lives. In NZ welly boots are called gum boots and Juno is OBSESSED with her gum boots. She will happily put them on, take them off, put them on, take them off, put on Ramona’s taken them off, put on mummy’s, take them off, put on daddy’s, fall over and bosh her head, for half an hour.

Do you wanna dye the chickens?
I am a rubbish farmer. We are on such a steep learning curve and there is so much I don’t know about agriculture and this self-sufficent life. I feel like I keep doing ridiculous things. Last week when Ramona and I did the chicken run (each family takes two days a week to milk the cow, feed the hens and collect the eggs etc) I tipped our scraps out just as the chooks ran under the bucket. Within our scraps was a whole load of beetroots entrails that splatted right on the two white hens. They were instantly pink and stayed pink for a WEEK. Rock and Roll hens, eh?

Do you wanna blow your nose?
We all have colds. Snotty, hacking, eyeball aching colds. We are making the most of all the home-grown lemons and ginger and honey from the next door neighbour’s bees but, uggggh, we feel blah. We are having rough nights- Juno can’t breastfeed easily so cries a lot and we are all just tossing and turning. Tim snores when he has a cold and last night I am fairly sure it was his snoring that attracted a possum over – I woke up to hear a possum cackling away RIGHT NEXT TO MY HEAD – only a sheet of canvas between us. Rascal.

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Do you wanna build a house?
Over the last couple of months Tim has been building an extension on to the yurt. He has used recycled walls from other houses, old windows and other bits and bobs and it is all coming together. It is already making winter much, much easier than living in the yurt alone. It also means that we are happy where we are, on the farm, and that we are going to wait until something even better comes along before we move – like an actual, co-owning, intentional community something- or other. And this could be quite a while away. It is so nice to feel content and not in a hurry to get to the next thing. We haven’t had that for a while.

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You see? It doesn’t have to be a snowman…

Okaaay, byyyyyyyyye.

Posted in Bombaround, Parenting | 10 Comments

Such a typical boy!

I have the child that people use to make a point about how boys and girls are just *so* different, even as babies. “I hate to stereotype but my child is SUCH a typical boy! Completely different to my daughters!”

ME TOO! Look:

My child is unstoppable, a thundering, prowling, into- everything child.

My child is a clambering climber, and has always attempted to mount every piece of furniture in a room, even before crawling.

My child is so, so brave- falling down without a peep and getting straight back up to tackle the challenge again. Two bruises gracing the forehead just now.

My child loves to throw. Balls, ornaments, shoes, knickers, everything must be tested against gravity. Often thrown with force at my head.

My child is immensely strong- an item grabbed will never, ever be recovered from those intense, grasping fists.

My child is physically aggressive. I was given a small black eye when my kid was only 9 months old. My elder daughter cowers before her fisticuffs loving young sibling.

My child loves anything with wheels- zooming toy cars and trains about as if on some kind of advert for toy cars and trains.

My child is passionate about construction- building up towers and knocking them down (and throwing the blocks at people’s heads.)

My child even hides for a poo, and you KNOW boys always hide when they’ve got to do their business.

But you know what? My child is a girl.

Juno is so, so different to her older sister, Ramona. She exhibits so many of the behaviours and character traits associated with boys. Instead of proving the rule, she disproves it.

You know what? Children are different! They show different personalities not because of their gender but because they are different people!

It’s a funny thing, but people communicate with Juno in a much more masculinised way. Ramona was always Sweetie or Honey where as Juno is nearly always called Buddy, Lil Fella, even Brute by one particularly nice stranger. It’s almost as if people can’t reconcile this quite physical disposition with a little girl.

How about, instead of ring fencing certain behaviours go specific genders, we give freedom and space for our children to become whomever they are? Where instead of a subtle rejection of our son’s love of dolls, we welcome it as entirely natural. Where instead of being shocked at our daughter’s physicality, we give her ways to express it fully. Where we let research debunk gender myths, rather than allow anecdotes to perpetuate them .

We will eventually create a world where all character traits belong to all children, where they can follow their passions with gusto, and where not one child feels oppressed by someone else’s inaccurate expectations.

Bring that on.

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Have you ever addressed “typical boy/ girl” remarks? How has that gone? Any tips?

PS- This book, How Gender Myths are hurting our relationships, our children and our jobs, looks FASCINATING! And I really enjoyed this blog post from a mother of farting, naked girls!

Posted in Feminism, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Bowel Movements and Protest Movements- an update from the yurt

I bet you thought I’ve been a bit quiet about our family life recently due to some sort of new, principled stance about sharing our private news all over the internet? HA! I’m a blogger! I’ve merely been saving these intimate stories up for a far wider audience…

Here are two updates, covering children waving axes around, cracked eggs, more insects on more faces, bowel movements and protest movements…An update lulastic

A little excerpt from “It’s No Use Crying Over Cracked Eggs

Ramona will often come about with us on our farm chores. She climbs right up in to the coup to fetch the eggs from the chickens and hands them down to me. She’ll then carry one home in her hand, treating it like the precious cargo it is. There have been one or two smashed eggs in this process but they are just likely to be from one of us older ones. 

Last week my husband Tim insisted on carrying one home in his pocket.

Oh really, you will NEVER guess what happened next! Read on…

And here is the latest update, fresh this week, “Occupy Yurts” where I consider the difference between the stages on which Juno and Ramona learnt to walk- Juno, here at the organic farm in a remote corner of NZ, and Ramona in the midst of a protest camp at Occupy London…

Juno meanwhile has stumbled into leg confidence along rows of cabbages, across the wizened roots of mandarin trees and through paddocks of grass taller than her. She has far, far superior balance compared to that of her sister, whose feet only had to negotiate the flat, smooth paving stones of St Pauls, but she hasn’t had such a comprehensive introduction to capitalism.

Read on…

Posted in Parenting | Tagged | 2 Comments

DIY Peg Wonderwoman (because children need more female superheros)

I was putting together some materials into a jar for a little friend’s fifth birthday- it was to be a DIY Peg Doll. “Perhaps I’ll make it a DIY Peg Fairy Doll, or a DIY Peg Ballerina” I contemplated… followed immediately by “WHAT KIND OF FEMINIST AM I?!”

She shall be a SUPERHERO, my better self decreed. Because, yes, those pointy pins do naturally evoke pirouetting ballerinas and flying fairies, but they are also, clearly, the strong, mighty legs of a Wonderwoman – and I bet most five year old girls have quite enough fairies and princesses in their lives.DIY Superhero Peg Doll

I put in some fabrics and buttons and bottle tops and also a glow stick to snap (her magical sword, obviously.) I also drew up an Instruction sheet and folded that in and presented it in a nice little jar.DIY Superhero Peg Doll

Do I genuinely believe fairies and ballerinas and princesses are against equal rights for women? No. I like ‘em. Ramona spends most of each day as the “Pirate Princess” and I happily don a crown alongside her. I *do* think boys and girls will benefit however from a wider range of female characters in their lives. I *do* think that many toys are very limiting and offer only stereotyped versions of a female.

I welcome Legos decision to creative a female scientist. And I was happy to transform my peg into Wonderwoman, because if we want our girls to set their sights on being the head of CERN or Rescuing the World wearing Pants and a Cape these figures need to EXIST to them when they are small. They need to be able to touch and feel and play with them.

Behold! Peggy the Wonderwoman is here to save the day!

(She will begin by taking on that sexist Murdoch alongside the No More Page 3 campaign. Hehehe.)

Posted in Feminism | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Emotional Memory – explaining a child’s and a parent’s raw reactions

A few months ago, one of our last days in UK, the four of us rocked up to a park, eager to get some air after being stuck in a bit of gnarly traffic. It was a crazy windy day, perfect for kite flying. As we unfolded our kite our three year old daughter began to scream. She threw herself on the floor, thrashing about, her face purple, her arms and legs crashing onto the muddy grass. “PUT THE KITE AWAY” she screamed. “PUT IT AWAY AWAY AWAY AWAY” through heaving sobs.

We were astonished! We were at the park, one of her favourite places. And I was really excited about flying the kite. I’d been belting out Mary Poppins’ “Let’s go fly a kite! Up to the highest heights! LALALALALALALAAAAA!” all the way through the London traffic, to my whole family’s obvious delight.

We validated her rage and distress and then we, a bit reluctantly, folded the kite back up and put it away.

She calmed down, crying quietly. Once the kite was back in the van she cheered up and we got back to the important task of chasing each other around trees.

As I ran through the wild winds contemplating Ramona’s meltdown I was struck by the fact that the very last time the kite had been played with Tim had broken his ankle. It had gotten caught in a tree and as Tim leapt from the branch after untangling it, he fractured his bone. One of the kids in the garden had come to get me and as I ran out I just saw Tim flat on his back with pain – a rare, rare sight. Ramona was just standing there, flummoxed by her indestructible dad on the ground.

For Ramona, the kite holds a memory of her dad being hurt, disappearing into A and E for several hours and then hobbling about in a cast for a few weeks. Of course she didn’t want the kite out! Of course her way to communicate the trauma she felt was through an epic meltdown!

It is not often that our children’s big emotions can be so directly traced to a past memory, but over the last week I have become convinced that this possibly explains quite a few of the most random tantrums. Emotional Memory - explaining a parent's and a child's raw emotions
(Photos from before the kitegate!)

Emotional Memory in Children

Robin Grille is an author and psychologist with over 25 years experience and he spoke convincingly last week of the power of emotional memory. Our bodies and minds can hold on to trauma from many years ago and, without us even being able to recall the incident, we can have a huge reaction when something stirs that body memory within us. Cognitive neuroscientists have discovered that we have body memories even from birth, and it is possible that some of the intense emotions children experience could be linked to their entry into the world.

Sometimes it seems as if “tantrums” (that word seems quite disrespectful in light of all of this, eh?) are triggered by the most trivial, insignificant thing (i.e the Reasons my Son Is Crying meme) when there is a good chance the trivial thing has triggered a body memory of something big.

Of course, I also reckon some children are simply pissed off a lot of the time because they have so little say over their lives.

Emotional Memory for Parents
Traumatic memories of childhood also stay with us and inform our parenting. Do you ever find your self having a quite irrational, emotional response to your child’s behaviour? You find yourself triggered by their meltdowns, or mess, or their lack of appreciation? It is possible that that is because of memories of your own childhood are brought to the surface by your child.

During one seminar last week – “When Parent’s were children” – Robin had us all close our eyes and focus on the behaviour in our child that “triggers” us. We then imagined ourselves at that age and dwelt on what was going on for us at that time. It was incredible how, with a bit of help, we were able to see how much our own childhood impacts our parenting.

If we want to support our children through their own emotions, without our own baggage getting in the way, we need to take a look inside and find some healing for any childhood trauma we are carrying.

As Robin put it, we need to look out with one eye and in with the other.

There is also a possibility that we can’t cope with our child’s emotions because we are unsupported.
If I was unsupported as a parent I could easily have looked at Ramona’s kite-triggered meltdown in the park and taken a picture and sent it into Reasons My Son is Crying with the tag “We got the kite out at the park.”

We need to try and find a small tribe of parents who understand and can hold our hand through tricky spots. (Perhaps that it what the people involved in that meme are trying to do – but I’d argue it is very much at the expense of their children’s dignity.)Emotional Memory and a child's tantrums

Responding to a possible emotional memory

So, the next time your child goes for the nuclear reaction, welcome it (they are possibly working through past pain) and validate it (“You feel so angry, it is okay to feel angry.”) and give some space for your own feelings (“Is this bringing anything up?”) and find some support (be it a whisper in your friend’s ear “Eeek, this is a bit embarrassing but my child really needs me right now!” or a respectful recount of the incidence in a private Facebook forum – do you have one of these? I think they are very useful.)

I think awareness about the concept of “emotional memory” could be an incredible tool in enabling us to support our children through their emotional explosiveness and in stopping the baton of childhood trauma being passed from one generation to the next.

I’m fairly sure that experience with the kite in the park, as we held Ramona through her trauma, had a sort of healing effect on her. I hope so – we are going to a kite festival in a couple of weeks so we are going to find out! *nervous face*

(Mind you, me being unable to to refrain from skipping around the crowds singing Mary Poppins might set her up with another, altogether more traumatic, Emotional Memory.)

PS Come and connect with us on Facebook for more peaceful parenting and thrift blogging & discussion!

Posted in Attachment parenting, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Bitesize Inspiration for Peaceful Parenting

Friends, things are utterly bonkers about this place. Next week parenting author and speaker, Robin Grille, is coming to town and I am hosting FOUR events for parents, speakers and policymakers. I am currently up to my eyeballs in the hiring of table clothes and flower arrangements. (It is these silly, mundane tasks that I never think of until days before and they, well, they do mine headeth in.)

In an effort to inspire my “own self” (as Ramona says) I have dug out some of my absolute favourite quotes from Robin’s book, Parenting for a Peaceful World.

The organic basis of any individual’s will power comes from having been respectfully allowed, in these early years, one’s own rhythm around vital bodily functions such as toileting, feeding and sleeping. If the child is not excessively controlled around these functions, a strong sense of autonomy will be rooted in a healthy trust of her own body and internal biological rhythms.

peaceful parenting quote

This image is from Pennie Brownlee’s incredible Facebook page, Dance with me in the heart.

Might we, as parents, wonder at the astonishing emotional potency of our children — something that for most of us has been buried long ago. When a child defies us, resists and protests, she needs to be given some space to do so. Her self-confidence depends on being allowed this strength. She doesn’t need parental capitulation, just her freedom to express her feelings, and to be heard. When the focus is on listening and empathy, neither parent nor child need be the victor.

Peaceful Parenting Quote

The wellbeing of our own children can only be secured when the wellbeing of all other peoples’ children is also secure.

Peaceful Parenting quotes

World peace is not only an entirely attainable goal, it is a modest one. The conditions that would bring it about require but a small fraction of the effort and expense we devote to fighting wars and fighting crime. A continued social evolution is quite possible, but it depends entirely on our collected efforts to keep improving the emotional lives of children. Our commitment to children’s emotional health will ensure our rapid evolution toward a peaceful, just, sustainable and enjoyable existence for all of humanity.

What an awesome collection of quotes to get you through these tired old days of parenting the whole wide world, eh?!!

You can probably see now why I am so STOKED to be hosting these events. Hoorah! If you are in New Zealand it isn’t too late to come along to one of these events – see the listings here-  and please spread the word! 

Posted in Activism, Attachment parenting, Parenting | 2 Comments