Sunday, 11 March 2018

Happy Mothers Day

My mother is pretty awesome.

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It's really only since I have been a mother myself that I have gained an insight into exactly how awesome my own mother is.

I have always been thankful for everything she has given me, my ethics, my faith, my passion for the environment, my resilience, my self-confidence, and everything else that I am because of her.  

She would take us to local farm shops to buy us fresh organic vegetables.  She set up a wholefoods co-operative from her home so we could eat the best food she could get hold of.  My mum always put us first paying for dance lessons, gymnastics, instrument lessons, and all the clubs and groups you could imagine, driving us here there and everywhere for lessons, exams and shows because she wanted us to have as many experiences as possible.  She took us to church every week, nurturing our faith and helping us to become part of the family of Christ.  When I suffered terribly with eczema she explored every alternative therapy possible and paid for Chiropractor visits when I suffered from back pain. My mum always encouraged me to give things a try and always do my best.  She always encouraged me in school, helping me through my tears with late night maths homework, reading through my endless stories and marveling at my drawings and painting.  She can knit, sew, do macrame, cross stitch, she made all my dance costumes, she is basically the embodiment of a supermum.

My mum was the ultimate imperfectly natural mama,  She was always makeup free, never ashamed of her body hair, wasn't one for deodorant of perfume and thriftily bought almost all her clothes from charity shops, she also breastfed all of us and cooked virtually all our meals from scratch (including an array of puddings most nights if memory serves me correctly).  She grew her own veg on her allotment, baked her own bread and dreamed of living a self sufficient life, with bookshelves filled with gardening books, recipe books and John Seymour self sufficiency guides. She was a full time mum but if never occurred to me to think I couldn't be anything I ever wanted.

Even now my mum continues to inspire me, she hasn't stopped or slowed down like some parents her age, she still works, volunteers, makes, and continues to learn new skills and gain more knowledge in all aspects of life. 

It is only since becoming a mother myself I can look back in awe at my mum, a mum of four, who would take us all round the supermarket and not lose her shit.  I do all my shopping online because the thought of taking even three children round Sainsburys is just too much!  She never doubted her abilities, never sat weeping that she was doing it all wrong, there was no Facebook in the 80s and 90s to vent, rant or ask for advice. And yet we all four of us turned out pretty damn good even if I do say so myself. She absolutely did her best for us with the information that was available at the time. 

She gave me the confidence to do things differently than everyone else, she taught me to swim against the tide and to stand strong and tall in the face of criticism of your beliefs.  She taught me that it was ok to do the opposite of what everyone else was doing if you believed it was the right things to do.  It is because of this that I have chosen to parent the way I do, natural term breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing,  home educating, gentle parenting with non-punitive discipline.  It is because of her that I have perused a vegan lifestyle, trying to live the creative life and moving towards a more sustainable, self sufficient lifestyle.  She didn't necessarily do all off these things herself (though I strongly believe that she probably would have given the luxury of access to the information about gentle parenting etc that I have,) but it is because of her, and not, as many might assume, in spite of her that I have. 

So I want to say thank you mum, I am me because of you. 

Friday, 23 February 2018

Gentle Parenting Retreat 2018 - Your questions answered

It occurred to be recently that there may be a few unanswered questions about the Gentle Parenting Retreat 2018 that people might have so I have put together this little list of potential questions to help you understand what the retreat is all about and maybe encourage you to take this opportunity for a day of self care:

What's the Gentle Parenting thing all about?

I have called this retreat a "Gentle Parenting Retreat" because I want all the mamas there to have common ground between them.  It's such an important part of our lives and it is what has brought many of us who already know each other together, so it makes sense for this common ground to unite us on this day of community and sisterhood.  Gentle parenting describes a way of parenting that leads with kindness, gentleness and understanding. Gentle parents try to meet their children's needs through keeping their babies close, listening to them and responding to their needs, because of this they tend to lean towards attachment parenting techniques such as co-sleeping and baby wearing (but not always), and they discipline through connection rather than exclusion or punishments. All mamas who relate to these techniques would be welcome at the retreat, and any mamas open to the gentle parenting philosophy and would like to move towards this approach would also be very welcome.

Do I have to be arty, creative or be able to draw?

There is absolutely no need to be arty or have any art skills whatsoever to take part in this retreat.  Many of us have bad memories of school art lessons which have sadly tainted our feelings towards creative activities.  As women we are inherently creative beings, we have the ability to create life and by embracing this side that is part of us all, we can feel more fulfilled, relaxed and empowered. The piece you create at the retreat is just yours; you don't have to show anyone, you won't be graded, it won't be exhibited. You will be invited to share your piece with the group but there is no obligation to do this if you don't want to.

It sounds a bit hippy-ish and New Age which I am not into, does that mean the retreat isn't for me?

Not at all. There is no religious element to this retreat.  The guided meditations are not to do with emptying your mind or communicating with God or the Universe (though you can incorporate this element if you want to), they are about relaxation and exploring your inner world. This retreat is suitable for anyone of any faith or none at all.  You don't have to wear tie-dye, do yoga, be vegan or love unicorns, though if you do, that's awesome too!

It sounds like you all know each other, will it be weird for me if I don't?

It's true that some of us who are attending the retreat may already know each other, however there are people coming who don't know everyone so you won't be alone if you don't already have friends in the group. What's more, we are a very friendly bunch, everyone coming is very welcoming and kind and you are sure to leave with friends even if you arrive without any!

I am on a budget, how can I justify the price?

By making self care a priority.  Self care IS important and your £54 isn't just about having one day away from your children; the benefits you will gain from this day will carry through into the year ahead and will enhance your family life.  The price is competitive compared to similar day long retreats and includes:  the use of the beautiful Renewal Centre and all its facilities from 9.30 till 4.00, a delicious lunch with drinks, teas and coffees and snacks and afternoon tea, the morning creative workshop with all art materials provided and the afternoon vision board workshop with materials provided.  Take a moment to think about what else you might spend this amount of money on and the value you get from those things, for me the value of this day long retreat is certainly on a par with or more than a meal out, a massage, a hair cut or spa day.

If you would like to come to this retreat but you feel cost is a barrier to you, please do get in touch.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Number Hop Activity

I've teamed up with to bring you another fun learning activity for your little ones.

This activity great for exercising growing muscles and will also help your child learn their numbers.  Balance and co-ordination will also be put to the test as they make their way from number to number.

As we currently have an Arctic theme in our home ed at the moment I used the idea of hopping from ice burg to ice burg, but you could do the leap from theme that suggested to me.

Here are their instructions for the activity, then I will share with you how I adapted this idea for my own children:

Preschool Math Activities:  Number Leap Frog
What you need:
  • 20 sheets of varying colour of construction paper or white sheets of paper for the ice burg hop.
  • 1 black marker.

What you do:

  1. Help your child set out the sheets of construction paper on a flat surface.
  2. Then, using the black marker, let your child draw a number on each card (the numbers 1-20, one per card).
  3. Next, help her place the cards on the ground in a line, about a foot apart. You could do variations such as placing the cards counting up, counting down, even numbers, or odd numbers.
  4. To play the game, your child should stand at one end of the number line.
  5. Call out, “HOP.”
  6. Encourage your child to hop onto the nearest lily pad and call out the number.
  7. She wins when she makes it to the end of the line, having successfully called out all of the numbers.
Number Leap Frog is a great way to build a strong math foundation for future learning. Not to mention it's a silly and fun way to get lots of exercise and keep those minds and bodies active! 
We adapted this idea to our Arctic theme by using white sheets of paper as "ice burgs".  We played by rolling a die and Boris had to identify the number on the die, then translate that to the written numbers on the "ice burgs".  He had to hop in random directions, sometimes far, sometimes near to get to the right number.  He then had a go at writing some random numbers of his own onto more sheets of paper then insisted that I do the ice burg hop!
It was a fun activity and great for helping to learn number identification.  I felt like I could have extended the idea by using two dice and getting Boris to add the numbers together.

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Let me know if you have a go at this idea, I would love to see how you make it work for your children. 

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Distraction Vs Immersion

Well hello 2018, we didn't get off on the right foot did we.  Let's start again!

Let me explain; The house of mama began this year with a two night stay in the high dependency unit of our local hospital for our four year old, beginning on New Years eve 2017 (which I spent alone, cleaning the oven).  It was an incredibly worrying, upsetting and stressful time and I am unspeakably glad it's over.

It was most certainly not the start to the year I had in mind. My plans were for an evening of relaxing, drinking some rose with my husband, and watching Jools Holland.  Followed by a weeks of sorting and tidying the house, clearing out junk, planning our home ed year and filling in my shining life workbook (which is actually just a notebook where I am answering the questions from last years workbook because #onabudget).  The reality was quite different and something I'd sooner forget.  Therefore New Year has officially started this week for me and was precursed by a wonderful "Word of The Year" Workshop run by my lovely friend Vicki from

I've been choosing a word of the year for about five years now, but it's only really properly informed my year since I began the Shining Life programme by Leonie Dawson, because with her workbook I was able to delve deeper into the hows and whys or word-of-the-year.  This will be my third year. I have found it a really useful and inspiring tool to help me focus on how I want my year to unfold, how I want to feel and what I want my year to look like.

When I looked back over the past year I realised I felt like it had gone really really quickly and I had blinked one to many times and missed it.  I feel like the past year has been filled with distraction.  I have constantly distracted myself from real life by looking on social media, rading books or simply hiding away in the kitchen, at every possible moment.  And I don't want to look back over my year, over my life; and think that I wasted it all on Facebook.

I really felt like I wanted next year to be a year of being present, living more in the moment and really immersing myself in life.  Home ed life, home life, family life, spiritual life...  I wanted to feel like I am fully experiencing everything the year has to bring; to touch, taste, smell, hear and feel absolutely everything, so I end the year full of wonderful memories.

For these reasons and more that I won't bore you with I have chosen the word IMMERSE for my word of the year.

(My rather crinkles word-of-the-year art that I did at Vicki's workshop!)

I want to be fully immersed in life in 2018 not distracted from it.

It will be interesting to see how the year goes because right now it feels a bit like wading through mud.  I haven't shaken the feelings of sadness surrounding my little boy's awful hospital stay and I am struggling to find my rhythm. It's difficult as a full time, home educating mama to feel any sense of beginning and end, any sense of a task completed, of a job well done because everything is a constant cycle and I am almost always wanted and needed for the next task.  From laundry to cooking meals to ferrying children to different places and trying to squeeze in house work, my life is not my own at the moment and nothing feels like it's going my way.  Right now my immersion feels more like drowning than the involvement and engrossment I had in mind.

According the the antonym to Immersion is Surrender.  This feels particularly poignant at the moment.  Surrendering to life as I know it is all I can do right now.  I have the choice to either surrender to the messy, chaotic majesty of this wonderful life or I can try to fight it and end up drowning, because no amount of fighting or running away is going to change things.  I can only surrender and get on with it. But one thing is for sure, I won't be distracting myself from it any longer because I don't want to miss it.  As hard as it is someday (everyday at the moment) this is my one glorious, cluttered, manic life and I'm diving right in.