Parenting

In a gentle way, we can shake the whole world

21 October, 2014

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

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

And my fingers are struck numb and dumb.

About our Barbie, at least.

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_1238.PNG
I believe that we can build a world where childhood can be free from violence- where children don’t grow up in fear. We all have a role to play in that- by respecting the children in our lives, recognising their rights and defending them. Family life is far less violent now than it has been in history- we can be encouraged that culture does evolve, albeit slowly. Paradigms and perceptions do shift. Heck, it used to be commonplace to leave babies deemed to weak or sensitive on a hillside. (Read Robin Grille’s Parenting for a Peaceful World for more on this.) We can change the culture of parenting and the experience of childhood.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.

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

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

Activism

A is for Activist (Raising Radicals)

17 October, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Landgrabs- where roots and rights count for nothing

Occupy London- a glimpse of utopia

Featured, yurt life

Yurt Life: Step into our bedroom *waggles eyebrows*

15 October, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is super bouncy too, which the girls love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Craftiness, Featured, Thrifty

DIY Paint Dipped Utensils (reclaiming Wooden Spoons)

10 October, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secondhand wooden utensils craft

No Poo, Thrifty

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

6 October, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Avoid the damaging nature of baking soda by:

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

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

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

Parenting

Words every new parent needs to hear

1 October, 2014

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

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

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

And I thought I’d have another crack.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What words do you want every new mum to hear?

Thrifty

Oi, Beetroot Face! Homemade, Natural Blusher

29 September, 2014

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

It was SO MUCH fun and effective.

You will need:

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

A whole, fresh beetroot sliced very thinly

An oven or dehydrator

A coffee grinder or nut/grain mill

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

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

Activism

Let’s mobilise in hope and anger

24 September, 2014

Don’t mention the NZ election to me. Unless you want swears and tears.

I’m so mad. The main losers of this right wing party settling in for their third term, with a MAJORITY (62 seats!!!) are New Zealand’s poor people… And women … And children… And our conservation areas… Also, equality took a big hit… And climate change.

This government is especially terrible at acting like climate change is happening. For a country known for being “clean and green” it does a suspiciously large amount of fossil fuel pushing. And for a country whose very close Pacific neighbours are among the first experiencing the devastating consequences of rising sea levels RIGHT NOW, it buries it’s head in the sand far too much.

You would never know, from NZ’s media, that people here care about the climate. On Sunday, alongside millions of people all over the world, Kiwis rallied for a People’s Climate March. Stuff.co.nz covered the march in Brazil, the UK and Australia but failed to mention the gatherings in NZ. (Just like pretty much every NZ media outlet failed to let people know the extent of National’s deceit and corruption. Please, please, please read Hager’s Dirty Politics if you still feel an element of trust in this government. It leaves no room for doubt. National’s political gaming and duping of voters belongs in some Elizabethan backwater not this thriving, creative and intelligent society.)

I am going to be a pain in the lazy arse of NZ’s journos this year. If you are an NZer, could you do this too? A bit of civillian action to hold NZ media to account? Phone them up/ send an email/ write a comment. (I’ve done all three this week.) Let’s become a dog with a bone on this because if we can transform the bias media here we can transform the political landscape, I’m convinced.

Anyway, YAY, climate change rallies around the world! Just when you think no one cares about whole Islands getting washed over hundreds and thousands of people turn up in every major city across the world to show they really bloody do!climate change rally thames nz

We had a gathering of 200 (not to be sniffed at for a small town!) with beautiful protest artwork, awesome music and inspiring speakers.
climate change rally thames nz
(Not counting our National MP Scott Simpson who turned up for the photo opportunity -he won’t meet with constituents but wherever there is a camera, he will be found. He literally just used his few words to GLOAT about his party’s win – oh, and he managed to name “protest” as one of the negative forces of society. I also overheard a small kid ask him, quite innocently, if he “Kills trees” – his response was an immensely snide, juvenile and irresponsible “No, SHE does” – and he pointed at the Green Party politician, Catherine Delahunty. Who used her speech to big up the grassroots and to call for immediate action on climate change. Sort of how you’d want a speech at a climate change rally to go, y’know?)

Climate change is undoubtedly the biggest threat facing us at the moment. It should be the first priority of every government. And should govern the actions of every individual.

If we care about poverty and injustice we need to care about climate change. If we care about our future grandchildren, we need to call for action NOW. climate change rally thames nz

There were farmers and anarchists and children and Grandparents rallying in Thames on Sunday. Power to the people indeed. It is really these people, the people who will hold our leaders to account through protest, that give me hope.climate change rally thames nz

What Scott Simpson failed to remember when he called out protest as a negative thing was New Zealand’s astonishingly rich history of it. It was New Zealand who first gave women the vote as a result of their excellent mobilisation, it was New Zealand who played a part in taking the anti-apartheid movement to the next level when nuns and fans and salt-of-the-earth Kiwis disrupted rugby games by piling on the pitch and barricading gates when the South African team toured here in 1981 and Kiwi’s have courageously been taking to the seas for decades to protest climate-destroying nuclear and deep sea drilling. (Read the tragic story of the 1985 Rainbow Warrior and more recent expedition including 2013 former leader of the Greens Jeanette Fitzsimons.)

There is one good thing about having a corrupt, unjust and environment-hating government in power. Sometimes, under more progressive governments, the grassroots can get complacent. We saw a bit of this under Labour in the UK. But when the government persistently show contempt for its people we get mad and we mobilise. This election result has upset a lot of people, but let’s harness that emotion. Let’s protest like its the Eighties. Let’s gather, and plan, and march, and strategise. And there let hope be born.

Are you cross enough to mobilise? Tell me what you are thinking…

And did you attend a People’s Climate March? I’d love to hear about it..

PS, Er, yes, sorry. I realise I did go and “mention the election.” This post was intended to be quite a positive one. WHOOPS!!!

PPS Pictures by Bella Pacific Media

Parenting

Birthdays and baths and breastfeeding mermaids

19 September, 2014

I read this lovely post yesterday by Ruth. Just a simple, whimsical look at their bath time tradition. Reading it was like soaking in a hot bubble bath – just the soothing thing I needed. Most of my social media time this week has been taken up by the NZ election. I feel permanently angry and despairing about the media’s shocking bias towards National and the general population’s tendency to swallow it whole.

Reading Ruth’s post made me feel sorry for you lot, my lovely blog readers. You come on here and then I slap you you round the head with a rant about politics or parenting. Well out of order.

I thought I’d just give a little catch up on our lives – hoping some gentle musings might provide an antidote to all my ra-rah clamour.

So…

Tim has finished the yurt extension and installing some solar panels. We now sit in a little cabin add- on in the evenings, with the lights on, reading and talking and feeling properly smug and snug! It is only about 3m x 3m but we are absolutely stoked and are filling it up with treasure found in the local dump shop.
photo (1)

I turned 32 last week and for the third year in a row we went camping. This time last year we were broken down in Italy – can you BELEIVE that has been a year? This time we managed to not break down but we visited our most favourite place in NZ. You dig a whole on the beach and it feels with hot water from a deep spring (imaginatively called Hot Water Beach hehehe.) We made an epic pool and sat there until the tide came in and swept cold waves in amongst our spa.photo (3)

This is my breastfeeding mermaid look. Someone needs to design a nursing wetsuit, thanks. photo (2)

We are trying to be kind to ourselves. We’ve had a few disappointments/ hurts over the last couple of weeks. Somehow we manage to both internalise and externalise this by being mean to ourselves and grumpy each other. What is up with that? Warped I tell you. We are trying to go easy, seek out simple joys. We are lucky to have formed some deep and lovely friendships already here. If it wasn’t for our new friends this would have been a madly homesick kind of a week.

I have joined the library and am ravishing mountains of books. This is partly about being kind to myself but also because I read somewhere that the SINGLE thing a child needs to learn how to read is just lots of books and reading going on around them. No need to teach. It may happen much later, but it will happen. So bunkering down on the sofa with a good novel while the girls unravel loo rolls/ take every single tin out of the cupboard/ cover themselves in paint is very much a part of their education, thanks. (Any book recommendations HEARTILY received.)

Ramona keeps growing. (What is up with kids growing, eh?) Taking on new extreme challenges. I have always wondered about Ramona’s inability to jump. Perhaps it is a body memory of falling and breaking her leg when she was a baby, but she has never, ever been able to jump off things more than a foot high. However. This week she has begun to jump. Like, parkour styles. Off things bigger than her. Twice as high as her. Backwards. I just love the constant reminders from our children that we can keep our subtle encouragements to ourselves, they don’t need a push towards anything. They will get there, they will find their courage, in their own sweet time.

Juno, meanwhile, has been free running for about six months, stampeding through life. She is Sonic the Hedgehog but less blue. Christopher Wren with blocks. And she has begun saying “Uh Oh!” with stella comic timing.

That is us, for now. How are YOU?!

Treat yourself kindly, my friends. Read a book, take a bath, gobble chocolate.

(And Vote! Just don’t read your Facebook feed until Monday, when you can carry on pretending all your friends are as sensibly progressive as you. Teehee)

Activism

I’m not telling you how to vote, but…

15 September, 2014

It is voting season here in NZ. All the campaigns kicked off a couple of weeks ago and within days the rash of National (the right wing party currently running/ wrecking the country) billboards had been edited. One close to me used to have the Prime Minister saying “Working for New Zealand” now, with a little help, it reads “Twerking for New Zealand”. Excellent.

For the first time ever I have changed my vote. I have always been a Labour supporter. I could only ever see that my progressive, social justice loving vote would be most useful used for Labour.

This week however, I get to vote with full integrity and hope.

Thanks to New Zealand MMP system, our two votes count for far much more than in the UK. (My vote when I lived in central London counted for absolutely NOTHING. And the local Tory MP once sent our household THREE letters without stamps and I was charged postage – THE BLOODY CHEEK OF IT! Postage bandits!)

And I believe that if any country in the world could get a significant number of Green MP’s into parliament it is New Zealand. So that is it. The Greens have me hooked. I don’t want to sound like a party political broadcast but I feel the need to inspire conscientious non-voters, or the understandably apathetic about why they should use their vote for the Greens…

They are child friendly
They are, without a doubt, the most child-friendly party in the mix. It was Green MP Sue Bradford who bought in the bills that have changed the life of small kiwis more than any other bill. They banned smacking, they upped the youth minimum wage and they extended the amount of time female prisoners had with their new borns. And they have plans for so much more- their Number One principal in their policy document about kids states “Children and young people’s rights, needs and interests must be prioritised at all levels of political planning and policy-making to ensure positive outcomes for them.” They are a party that GET the fact that children are PEOPLE and deserve the accompanying human rights.vote green

They are future friendly
Despite having been a profesional climate change campaigner for many years, I realise that I have this “odd form of on-again-off-again ecological amnesia” that Naomi Klein spoke about in her beautiful (also long- get a cuppa) piece this weekend. I am in desperate need of people in government that are amnesia-proof. People that know how intrinsic the natural world is to our survival and our well being. I believe that the Greens are the only ones that are fundamentally committed to this. Some have slightly okay environmental ambitions and others- like National – seem completely opposed to the environment. Yesterday we all attended a protest at some extravagantly beautiful conservation land, the Karangahake Gorge, that National have just signed over to a big mining corp. They did it in the most underhand, corrupt way and it is just one of the many harbingers of the government’s contempt for this land and the people that live here. (I explained it to Ramona in terms of “pirates stealing gold” – which is basically is.)

A vote for the Greens is a vote for the future – not policies of the past.
no mining
(Glory, you can never know how many swears I have urged back under my fingernails whilst typing this bit.)

They are fairness friendly
Everyone knows the Greens are hot on environmental justice- but not everyone knows quite how hot they are on social justice. They are consistently on to it- poverty, gender, inequality, indigenous rights- their policies are robust and FAIR. It’s not just theory either- they have a co-leader principle (the party will always be led by one male and one female) and they have strong Maori representation. If you care about fairness, please do explore the Greens – I think you will find their policies the perfect combination of radical and realistic.

A progressive alliance
I used to do a bit of work with a policy wonk- one of the smartest people I know- and we were discussing the Greens. She said that the only thing stopping the Greens really is lack of experience. That with a few MP’s under their belt they could go on to be a serious challenger. It is absurd not to vote for the Greens because they have little experience on the shop floor- we need to help them get that experience so they can keep taking things to the next level.

The current NZ circumstances make a progressive alliance- say Greens, Labour, Mana/ Internet- ENTIRELY possible on Saturday. A vote for those is a vote for a change in government- the thing we really, really need. (I read Hager’s Dirty Politics over the weekend. Oh. My. Days. National and Shonky John Key have slunk lower than you thought possible. Read it, get fired up, vote.) In the last NZ election the difference between a left alliance and the munters we were landed with was literally a matter of a few thousand votes. Your vote counts, it counts, it counts!!

Some further stuff
I’m sharing with you the things that swung my vote, but I really don’t want to tell you how to use yours. Vote Compass is a really fascinating tool to help you figure out which parties align more closely to your values. I found it really interesting. It will help you make a more informed decision on Saturday.

Martyn Bradbury and the Daily Blog’s Progressive Voter Guide
You want a progressive government? Use your vote wisely.

Tune in to Dotcom’s Moment of Truth tonight for a potential twist and to get amped about pushing National out. We’ll be streaming on a bus outside the local library, using their free wifi, and having a radical little party!)

What do we want? A change in government! When do we want it? On Saturday!