"Once your consciousness has been raised, it cannot be lowered"

My parenting journey, our home educating family and some other stuff here and there....

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Too busy

Busy people are commonly referred to as "juggling" the many different facets of their lives. Personally I prefer to think of plate spinning: I realise one area is being neglected and about to fall and have to go and give it a wiggle to get it going again. It's a challenge to keep them all spinning but it doesn't matter if some are going faster than others.

At the moment, I have too many plates! I just can't keep up. I'm going to consciously let this blog's plate drop to the ground for a few weeks so I can concentrate on everything else....sewing and doll making, making and gathering a few gifts for a (very scaled down) Christmas, de-cluttering (still...) and decorating the house, seeking information about moving, LLL, restoring my coffee tables, kindergarten stuff... tons to do. I'm trying to finish off lots of old projects before loads of new things kick in.

Right now I feel like even hoping to blog about life is just another thing on my frighteningly long task list.... but I'm really looking forward to sharing what we've been up to when things calm down a bit ;)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


The UK Government is trying to rush through a new Bill which will fundamentally change the role of the state in family life. It is contrary to European Human Rights Law and UK Law, and will put a size 13 foot in the door to having compulsory CRB checks and monitoring of parents. 

So many people I've spoken to have been supportive of the principle of Home Education, and almost awed by the degree of energy and dedication required to home educate. The energy I have for my children is being sapped by worrying about these proposed reforms, and desperately trying to understand the political process which might be the best way of showing disagreement with the bill. 

This e-petition will send a clear message to the government. It's so quick and easy to sign.  Please, please...everyone who is eligible to sign, please do....and let me concentrate on setting up the Kindergarten and educating our children ;)

Monday, 23 November 2009

Crazy Esme

Here is a selection of some of the totally bonkers names Esme has assigned her playmobil people/fairies over the last week or so:

Eddie (for a tiny wee playmobil dolly- don't really know why I found this funny, but I did. sorry to anyone called Eddie)
and, most bizarrely "sins of the sons". What??!

I loved hearing her compare her flat Northern vowel sounds with a friend who speaks "proper".

E: Uh
Z: Ah. ah...uh. You sound perfect saying "uh"
E: Uh...heheheh.

Just gorgeous.

There were tears at bedtime tonight, prompted by the book of Watership Down. Followed by many questions about the nature of mortality, reincarnation and where the first man came from. Just the exercise my tired brain needed at the end of a long day ;) cor I love her so much....

Thursday, 19 November 2009

All cluttered up

I've been de-cluttering since we moved into our home almost four years ago. I am doing really well, when I think about how it was. I must have got rid of at least two or three (full) rooms worth of "stuff". It is still something I always have to count as a job on my "to do" list, and I am getting sick of it now. I just want life to be sorted and tidy! I'm really, really looking forward to the day when I just have a "for the charity shop" basket in a corner somewhere. It'll be the only place there are things that no longer need to belong to us.

I don't really understand how I came to be in such a pickle with all this. I don't "collect" for the sake of it, or even to have a collection of something. Paper is my weakness I suppose. I save things- articles, pictures- that are inspirational, precious, informative. Oh, and there's my fabric stash ;-S Other than that I've really moved away from my old mindset where I'd keep things "just in case". I can chuck out just about anything now. In fact, I'm coming close to throwing away even the things I really value. Having stuff lying around is just reminding me how little time I have to do all the things I want to do with my inspiration, creativity and knowledge. It's irritating me. Aside from that, I really want to foster a sense of responsibility towards having (less) things in my children. I am striving to model this now.

I am all too aware that we need barely any of the things we have for the children. Though I am really so glad I have managed to completely avoid flashing battery eating tat, we still have more plastic (albeit vintage Fisher Price and Playmobil) than I would like. I would be perfectly happy to get rid of about 80% of the stuff they have. I have recently culled a lot of our soft toy population (ugh...why do even they make these things?), puzzles and Esme's "special things" by stealth. It was underhand, I fear. I now feel I'm stuck at a point where I can't really "magic away" too much more without discussing it with Es, and that's where I get stuck because she flat refuses to part with anything. I feel terrible stealing the things she has. She has the memory of an elephant and still asks where cuddly toys she was given as a baby are. I don't like to encourage clinging to stuff, but I can't completely disregard her. What to do?

All I know is that I feel nervous, as Christmas approaches, about the influx of more things that will have to be kept somewhere....we have so little space even for things that are practical or beautiful. I have tried to ask for only useful things, things we need, money towards experiences, less, or even no gifts. How nice it would be for everyone to have a Buy Nothing Christmas .

I also feel really nervous at the prospect of moving house, which will hopefully happen sometime in the next year or so. I just can't do another four years of making somewhere into a home. Hopefully all my hard work here will pay off and our moving boxes will just be full of bare necessities and love.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Pumpkin madness

We don't really "do" halloween that much here, but there has been a distinct shift towards celebration this year, with the accompanying hustle and bustle you might expect in the kitchen.

I chanced upon an episode of Jamie at home last week. After cooking a few Jamie recipes from Annie's blog recently (sweet and sour squash, sticky carrots), I was keen to watch, it's been ages since I saw him in action. I settled for the "pumpkins and squashes" programme. I'm glad I did, my corner shop had some fine specimens in stock...

I've always liked these beauties...good to eat in so many different ways. Jamie says just to cook the skin. Cool. I'm not sure if this is old hat and everyone else knows this already, but it was news to me and I was very excited! So, I went and got my pumpkin and started with some really easy and absolutely delicious muffins.

Now this is my first foray into blogging about food so forgive me if it's all a bit clunky and messy and my pics aren't great.

Pumpkin Muffins

400g squash or pumpkin, skin on
250g light soft brown sugar (Jamie used 400g but I couldn't bring myself to use that much...)
4 eggs
pinch salt
300g plain flour (I used wholemeal)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
handful of walnuts
175ml oil

Whizz up the squash or pumpkin as finely as possible in the food processor, add all the other ingredients, whizz up again. Fill the muffin tins 3/4 full, bake at 180c for 20 min, until brown. Leave to cool in tins for a few minutes and turn out. Mmmmmmmm! This makes 24 muffins, be warned you may want to eat that many...

Actually these were so good, I baked several batches to sell for charity at Esme's riding school, and to give to friends.

Then i decided to make some soup to take to a friend's Halloween party. Again, very easy but really tasty.

Pumpkin Soup

3kg pumpkin, skin on, cut into wedges
2 carrots, sliced roughly
few cloves garlic
red onion- 1 or 2
fresh rosemary
2 sticks celery
2 litres stock
olive oil

Heat olive oil in a big pan (this makes a lot of soup), add onion, celery....then carrots, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Chuck in the pumpkin. Sweat it for a bit then add stock and simmer for about 45 min until the pumpkin is absolutely obliterated. (About 6 minutes in a pressure cooker. Guess what's on my Christmas list!)

Blend it with a hand blender............

This bit was tricky for me as I managed to blow up my hand blender some time ago ;)

We enjoyed this with cheesy croutons

Fry some sage leave in hot olive oil to infuse it, then remove the sage. Dip some crispy/slightly hard bread in the oil, then grate cheese over it and pat into the bread on both sides. Fry in a dry pan for about 1 min on each side.

I still have the enormous pumpkin (pictured) left over so I'm going to make some more muffins, the sweet and sour dish from Annie and some more soup to freeze. I also fancy having a go at this ...but I still have all those pears from Jodrell Bank waiting to be made into chutney, and looking at that picture, I really need to scrub the grout....blush ;/

Anyway, thanks Jamie Oliver. After a looooooong break from watching TV I am going to be tuning into you more often.

And we had a great time at the party, with friends we haven't seen for ages. It was really good to reconnect. I miss you guys.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


This past week has been both terrifying and enriching.

We've always been pretty dreadful managing money, but I've really pulled my socks up over the summer and we're now super organised. In theory. However, this month has been a disaster beyond my imagination!...worse than when we tended towards gambling each month, wondering if we'd have enough.

Anyhow, miraculously, we seem to have managed to get by this last week with about £10 for food. I've been using stuff in the freezer and more store cupboard staples than I knew I had, but we've also not been short of fresh food. I find it quite remarkable that we haven't really gone short, in fact, we've eaten really well and it's not felt like we were scrimping and saving at all.

Obviously it's not sustainable! We are now really low on stocks of everything and it was only due to my stockpiling of washing powder and other expensive items that we managed in that respect. But it is heartening to realise that we can probably manage with less than we're used to, as yet another round of belt tightening needs to happen now.....

In sharp contrast to the scarcity of hard cash, we have been overwhelmed with generosity and an abundance of love from a really beautiful friend with a desire to share and give to us in a time when we needed support. This week could have been really stressful and unpleasant for us, but we were blessed with more than money could ever buy and it's really helped keep things in perspective. Thanks so much for everything Sue-Ann, I'm so grateful for your friendship. xx

We went to Jodrell Bank today, (just) to the arboretum. There's so much to see there. It was a repeat trip for us, we visited in the Summer and vowed to go every season to see the changes.

The autumn leaves were magnificent, and there was some interesting fungi about. The girls had a fabulous time climbing trees and pretending to be birds, with ferns for wings, and later, tails.

We had a picnic in the bird hide and just enjoyed being outdoors, it was incredibly mild.

Nature also gave us a treat today, an abundance of pears. We literally stumbled on them...all over the floor. They looked hard and not that appetising but the first bite gave a surprise- they were so soft, sweet and delicious with a fantastic texture. We brought a bagful home, very happy ;)


We're still in a time of big changes here, and there are many weird contradictions playing out in my life at the moment.

I'm really interested in the funny mixture of situations and states I'm finding myself in... exhausted/energised, motivated/lethargic, optimist/pessimist, joyous/terrified, clarity/confusion, euphoric/blue.......all these stresses and strains, forces at work. The bizarre physics of my inner life, too much to write about in one post!

I'm trying to be Buddhist about all this, and just notice these things in the moment and not get "stuck". I'm not finding this so hard as I'm a pretty intense person, and something usually comes along that can move me into a different place, be it for better or worse. I find my intensity an unsettling quality at the best of times....again, that's another post.

Despite all this turmoil I'm feeling pretty content, so I guess I must be getting better at letting go of my attachments. ;)

Monday, 12 October 2009

The Badman and the Balls up

The consultation on the Badman Review of Home Education is still running until 19th October. As all the questions are leading ones, beginning "Do you agree.." all you have to do is say NO to all 11 if you don't feel up to commenting or ranting. Please add your voice and help Home Edders stay free!

Complete online at 
www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations or download a response form and email it to
homeeducation.consultation@dcsf.gsi.gov.uk  Children can complete one each.

I attended a meeting last week with the Deputy Director of the Dept for Children Schools and Families, and I feel more worried about all this now than I did reading it all on paper...

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The times they are a'changin'....

Busy busy busy here: we've started our first forays into home education. Most of Esme's friends disappeared off to school at the start of September so we have been out and about getting into a new autonomous learning groove. I'm sometimes slightly resistant to change, but this transition is bringing a lot of excitement, fun and growth for us all. It's cool, as well as being unnerving and a bit scary for me at times.... The kids are loving it!

We had always considered home education as an option but it's still far from a mainstream choice here and it's tricky to go against the flow with something as "big" as education. Everyone seems to have an opinion about it, and their views are stronger when it concerns alternatives to conventional schooling. For most folks it seems to be a step too far along the continuum of "weird". Far "worse" than a baby peeing and pooing in a pot...hehe ;)

As the time for Esme to go to school was looming closer the (very good) Community Primary School here was looking fairly attractive, an easy option if I'm honest. Despite being less than half a mile from all the schools we applied to there were no places locally, all schools are oversubscribed and have massive waiting lists. A gross failure on the part of our Local Education Authority. The school we were eventually offered was a 2 hour round trip walking from our home, and it was only an OK school. Plus it was still a school, which was always something questionable in our minds. So our hand was forced really. I'm pleased it's worked out this way for now, I'm not sure we would've had the balls to try home education if a "decent" school place had been offered.

".....And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should"

It's feeling like all this is a definite move away from the baby stage of my children's lives. They really aren't babies any more. This new phase is making us branch out into a new community and become part of other groups away from our established "tribe"....who we found through La Leche League. Our snuggly, cosy babywearing days are feeling distant, toddler-lugging is a more accurate description of me carrying Magnus now. Breastfeeding in public can be hair raising as my shirt gets lifted and my little gymnast writhes at the nipple. ECing seems to have become potty trained. Just like that.

We are still ECing but it's so normal, so much part of life, and so similar now to completely potty trained that I can't really think of things to write about it now without it seeming slightly absurd.

I am so pleased to be meeting people who are aware of and interested in EC, and new ECers with tiny babies. It really does seem to be a growing trend. I feel so privileged to be able to talk about my experiences with people who get what it's all about. I love spreading the word generally, but there's something super satisfying about being really understood and being a guide.

So, a while back I said I was thinking about blogging on a more general theme, and I think the time has come for this to happen. Watch this space!......

Friday, 11 September 2009

Save the Mother Magazine

I am devastated to hear that the Mother Magazine is to go out of print on Monday, due to low subscription rates.

It's such an inspirational read, it's a joy to receive every time it plops onto the doormat. There might still be time to save it if people susbscribe now.


Monday, 7 September 2009

poco a poco

Well, my world did stop. In fact I sort of stopped it myself... I've been floored by a series of illnesses and minor ailments that have really made me take stock of how I have been living and the pressure I've been putting on myself. My body, it seems, is far more intelligent than my conscious mind. It'd had enough of me flogging it day after day and made me rest before I collapsed, or imploded, or something!

Over the last 6 weeks I've had a total spasm of my jaw- caused by night time tooth grinding or bruxism, a nasty lethargy "bug" thing, followed by sensitised nerves in my face and HORRIFIC moan and wince inducing toothache, also linked to tooth grinding. I'd go so far as to say it was the worst pain I've ever known, and I'm no wuss. This was followed by another dreadful cold/flu mucous fest and a general overwhelming sense of malaise. Now, I'm well aware it could be so, so much worse, but it's not been the greatest couple of months of my life....

I've been reflecting a lot about my sudden physical decline, and where I'm at generally. I've come to the conclusion that it's all mind over matter, and my mind was too darn strong. Despite me *thinking* I've been fairly relaxed and easy going I've actually been really stressed out and running on adrenaline for the last goodness knows how long, probably since Mags was born. I can see now that there have been a loads of stressful events piling up to trigger this physical anxiety. I saw an osteopath to deal with the acute jaw spasm who said "your whole system is very low, I'll give you a really deep treatment next time". Until then in my head I was completely robust, healthy and strong. In many ways I'm really grateful that she kicked that thought out of my head, or I'd have ended up really conking out sooner or later. I really hope I can find a spare £30 to go back for the follow up treatment soon ;(

Emotionally, I can also see that my confidence has taken a bit of a knock since M was born. Again, I hadn't really thought about it but now I look back I can see that despite being uber-assured in the ways I wanted to mother the new baby, I was, and still am in many respects, unsure of how to operate with the big one. My lack of corporeal zest since Magnus' arrival has undermined all the little "systems" I had going with Esme. I was never really aware of how much energy it took for things to be easy with her before M was born, which I suppose, is the same thing as not recognising what a bloomin good job I was doing. Typical.

Anyway, all these ruminations aside, things are getting better little by little. I am still absolutely knackered and recovering, and it doesn't take much for my internal alarm to register that I need to slow down at the moment. I can feel my strength, energy and confidence returning and I guess I just need to keep a lid on it and stop myself burning out again.

It's actually quite funny looking at my previous posts in the context of what I've just written. I can't believe I couldn't see this coming.....

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Chasing my tail...help me stop the World?!

I've got to get this little soap box rant out of my system, it's been weighing me down for weeks.

"Do what you've got to do...then do what you want to do". One of the good 'ol refrains I remember ringing out in our house when I was younger. (Hi Dad!) In the past I was a dreadful procrastinator and would pretty much always do exactly the reverse of what I was told. This meant I never did much but what I felt like. Ha, to think of it now! I've grown up a bit and realised recently that I've been inadvertently following Pops' sage advice.

These days I get a great deal of pleasure just doing the things that need doing. The main tasks I refer to are related to food (buying, preparing, cleaning up the mealtime debris!) and housework (washing, more washing, washing again, tidying up). However satisfying I find the act of "doing", the sticking point for me seems to be that if I ALWAYS do what I "have" to do, I would very rarely get to the stuff I want to do. Sometimes I just have to let some things (that should probably be done) slip, otherwise my sanity would really suffer.

The housework I do is pretty much the bare minimum I feel I can get away with, I must stress I am NOT ironing tea towels and knickers, or anything else for that matter. I would actually love to have more time to be able to be a "better" housekeeper, scrubbing my doorstep daily and washing windows week in week out. But even now, just scratching the surface of what my inner flylady would love to tick off the task list, I struggle to keep up. When I add the demands of my (very demanding) children to this, I begin to see why for weeks now I have had very little time to myself to.....ummmm....write here and do all the other things I'd like to do be doing. Things like yoga, sewing, my little art projects, tinkling at the piano, reading...it's a long list.

Marshall Rosenberg talks about re-phrasing the way we think about things we find unpleasant in terms of choice. So, instead of thinking "ugh....now I have to clean the kitchen" , I would think more along the lines of "I really want to do some yoga right now but the kitchen is a bomb site and I really need it to be clean in the morning so I can prepare breakfast peacefully and with ease, so now I am choosing to clean the kitchen".

For me, thinking in terms of choices like this does make it easier to accept the elements of repetition and drudgery in my life. It also validates me if I decide to choose NOT to do the tasks at hand. But it's also just an intellectual distinction! It doesn't change the fact my family needs feeding, or that there is crap everywhere and someone at some time, usually me, will have to sort it out. I can't compromise my standards when it comes to fresh, nutritious food, and I'm not prepared to walk about in stinky dirty clothes.....how could I? So is there really a choice? Unfortunately thinking differently doesn't magic up home help or make extra hours in the day.

So, I'm mostly doing what I have to do (happily), but I need a way of finding more time for things I'd really like to do. Any ideas?

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Alles gut....an update

Well, to my surprise Magnus sat himself on the potty today and did a wee. All by himself, at just under 15 months old. How cool is that?!

We've been in a good groove with EC for a while now. M obviously recognises the feeling of needing a wee and often performs a Jackson-esque crotch grab to show he's ready. He will also grunt "uh uh uh uh", especially if there's a bit more than just a wee on the way. He'll come to me and grab my legs making this noise to let me know he wants to go. I find it very sweet. Sometimes I am too distracted to "hear" him, for example if I'm cooking or engrossed in a conversation. He gets really cross with me, and I have a sense that I don't know what he wants. If I then miss a wee, I feel sorry that I wasn't tuned in and connected, when he was asking quite clearly. A good reminder to stay in the moment.

Still, he's been wearing his little pants or a cloth nappy with no outer and the washing pile is gratifyingly small, in the wet nappy/knickers and trouser department at least. Yay. I have to tote the proper potty with me though as he refuses the big toilet, being held over a bush/grate etc, unless he's really desperate. The little bowl is definitely retired. Night times are almost always dry. I usually catch a wee a few hours after he goes to bed and then he's dry 'til morning. I should probably say "'til we get up" as we have a very loose definition of morning in our house at the moment.

So, this will test my theory anyway. Speak about the good stuff and it all goes pear-shaped? We'll see. I wish it happened the other way round. Then I could moan about all my (fairly trivial) woes and they'd vanish into thin air for a while at least.

By the way, my leg is OK. The stitches didn't work so I still have the big gaping hole, but it does seem to be knitting back together slowly, from the bone up. I am pretty pleased to have honey dressings on it to keep it nice and moist, which really seem to be helping. I am a bit sick of having a plaster on my leg now though. It's not really an attractive accessory for Summer, although that seems to be over now so I'll just put my jeans back on ;)

Thursday, 28 May 2009


I have just seen this lovely article on the yoga of motherhood, and I really wanted to share it. It sits really well with me, and who and "where" i want to be. 

So much to do,
so much else to do.
What is important?
Let go.
Not enough sleep,
no time for you.
Lose yourself.
Can you slip into the current and 
let yourself flow?

from Mamayoga: Yoga for the First Six Weeks of Mothering—and Beyond 
By Kathleen Wiebe

Sunday, 24 May 2009

On the mend, on (the) edge

Thanks everyone for the healing vibes ;)
My leg is doing OK, I think.  I had the stitches out on Friday and it was mostly knitted together except for one bit where the hole was deepest. The nurse put on a wet dressing, which somewhat alarmingly, seems to have enlarged the gaping-ness of it.... Fingers crossed this is the right thing to be happening!

So, my recent brush with my blood, fat, skin and bone, and a degree of incapacity and pain, has really tuned me in to how fragile life is. And how a split second in time can change everything, for better or worse.

It's also changed the way I am dealing with the kids, in terms of risk and danger. Usually I leave 'em to it and deal with the (rare) accidents as they happen. People often comment how confident the children are when climbing, cycling, swimming and generally doing potentially injurious things. I usually feel it's because we' re not from the "Be careful!" school of thought. I want to foster confidence in them and allow them to trust their own judgement about their limits, I don't want to squash their sense of competence and adventure by constantly reminding them they might hurt themselves. 

Since falling, I have found myself feeling a lot more cautious and anxious about the children's safety. I've not been verbal about this with them. But I have found myself removing them, particularly M who climbs like a monkey, from situations where they could fall and damage themselves. I can't help visualising them harming themselves, which I never did before, and I don't seem to be able to turn off the caution just yet. Surprise surprise....we've had a fair bit of falling, bumps, bangs etc that probably wouldn't be happening if I didn't have this edge-y feeling going on.

I suppose it's natural to tune in to this worry, I just hope I can tune out soon too as I'm finding it pretty stressful feeling our world is unsafe and a threat to my little ones.  

Friday, 15 May 2009

The Age of Stupid.....gory story

Well, after writing about getting wiser I have done something pretty silly. 
My pictures are a bit graphic so look away now if you're squeamish!!

I was trying on my posh frocks last night whilst the kids were getting ready for bed. I need an outfit for a family wedding at the end of June, and was feeling pleased that a dress I already own looked and felt really good. So, I was merrily whistling away and putting my pink high heels back in the top of the wardrobe away from the small people when disaster struck. 

I was VERY, VERY foolishly standing on one of these. Hmmmm. See how sharp the feet look??!
Next thing I know the stool tips up, I fall and have an almighty pain in my right shin. I dive to the bed and howl and scream into the mattress. The bone throbbing, I think "that was a big bump, I'll get a cold flannel on it". Hop to the bathroom and flop onto the floor, lift pyjama bottoms to put cold compress on and nearly faint. There is a hole in my leg. 

I wasn't expecting that. Slight panic ensues. I feebly protest "it'll be fine". Joel says "nope. It's a hospital job. I think I can see bone". Great. I cry. A lot. I am VERY cross at myself. We still need to get the kids to bed. Anticipate hospital taking a few hours at the very least. My first night out since M was born!

A&E receptionist is lovely, I give my details calmly until she asks what I've done. Mentioning bone makes the tears roll down my cheeks in a most un-British fashion. No stiff upper lip here. Am quickly ushered through to minor injuries where a nice nurse rummages round in my leg  and assures me, very matter-of-fact, that it will be fine. At this point I dread being sent back to the waiting room. Thankfully she puts me on a bed to sort it out immediately. She numbs what little flesh is there and ferrets around again, to clean it out and see how deep it is. 

I feel huge surges of guilt for even thinking "OWWW". I've been reading Atonement and can't help my head being full WW2 and all the poor damaged people having shrapnel pulled out without a scrap of local anaesthetic (and after the horrors of France/Dunkirk). I told the nurse all this, she softened and said "it's a bit more than a razor nick though isn't it hon?". She informed me Joel was right and it was indeed right down to the bone. Then she oh so carefully, tenderly stitched me up, with my posh frock hemline in mind. Bless the NHS angels. Thank you so much Sister Julie.  

So seven stitches and about an hour later I was home. Unbelieveably quick service from the Manchester Royal Infirmary!! And a jolly good job since poor M woke 10 minutes after I left and was still screaming when I returned ;(

I'm not as sore as I thought I might be, at the moment. I anticipate it getting worse before better, it's still only just over 24 hrs since it happened. I know taking copious quantities of arnica has helped so far. Though I am stiff and swollen, and it's been aching a fair bit, I can walk and take the stairs slowly. I'm grateful: my tendons are intact, I didn't break a bone. 

After much berating I've mostly forgiven myself, but what a stupid thing to do!....

And, bizarrely, this happened to me 2 days after I was with my friend L when she fell and needed 1o stitches in her knee....get well soon L XXX 


Friday, 8 May 2009

EC and the Way

I realised yesterday that I've been in a happy little bubble for a long time. Comfortably cossetted amongst my trusty bunch of on-the-crispier-side-of-crunchy Mama friends, I've quite forgotten just how far from the mainstream practising EC is....

Myself and the said group of lovely friends are in the process of setting up a Natural Parenting Group, with support from a local SureStart centre.  Whilst trying to explain our (as yet slightly hazy) philosophy I mentioned ECing, and received a look of total bewilderment. The worker I was chatting to was very interested, if slightly stunned, and asked a lot of questions.  I realised that I've not really shared space with anyone in the real world of "normal" parenting for a while. I haven't deliberately withdrawn my family, I guess we're just really lucky to have a fair few like-minded mates. Anyway, it hadn't occurred to me that someone would never have heard of EC. Oh dear!...I really have had my head in the clouds....or perhaps the sand?!

Anyway, it was nice to be reminded of the real significance of my slightly leftfield parenting practices. Without wishing to sound superior, I think following an attached way of parenting, placing real value on peacefulness and respecting children is pretty pioneering compared to what I perceive as our cultural norm.

I also realised I've changed. Since I was first pregnant with M I've found it difficult to be overly concerned with the politics of parenting. Anything other than nesting and dealing with my brood has been too much for my poor sleep deprived brain to consider. But now it feels quite nice to have had my "passions" lie dormant. My opinions are more or less unchanged, but I've become softer, less ardent. I have no desire whatsoever to try and convert people to my way of thinking (did I ever?) or to justify my position.

Lao Tzu said:

"And so the wise
shape without cutting,
square without sawing,
true without forcing.
They are the light that does not shine." *

Dare I say it?
Perhaps, and it's a VERY BIG perhaps, I've become a wee bit wiser, in this respect at least: I'm not cutting, sawing or forcing. Now what, if anything, do I do instead?...

This was my roundabout way of saying that EC has shown me the Way. Again ;)

*Taken from Verse 58 - Living with Change 

Friday, 1 May 2009

Letting go

I thought I should say that things are *much* improved here, for now. M is using the potty- hurray! And my floors are as clean as they ever are, probably more so after the recent activities.

In my last post I mentioned really letting go of my attachment to M pooing somewhere "appropriate" and in a place of my choosing. Instead I decided to really go with his flow, and desire to poo all over the floor. I completely, willingly gave up trying to control the situation. It was a hard thing for me to do: my conditioned response to poo on the floor was "EEEEEW". I suspect most people would be the same.

Well, just giving M this space and freedom seems to have been what was needed to move that little phase on. Phew! I really wasn't that bothered about it happening once I decided I would stop fighting it, but I am glad it doesn't seem to be becoming a regular thing. I really had hoped it wouldn't be a long term solution.

I have also realised that, like his Dad, M really values his privacy and much prefers to go at home without company! E wasn't like this until very recently. Maybe it's a male/female toilet thing, which is a BIG debate topic in our house! I'm not going to get started on that one just now though....

Saturday, 25 April 2009


If EC is all about honouring communication, I am definitely still practising EC, despite having missed catching almost every single poo and wee for over a week now!

Poor M has had some vile tummy upset. The urge to poo kept taking him by surprise- a little and often, messy affair.  I quickly decided not to let him roam around with a nakey bum! I feel like I've washed more nappies in the last week than I have in the whole time since Esme was born! Good job we've had lovely weather and they've all been drying on the line. How on earth do people do full time nappying? I feel so awful scraping poo off his bum, and cleaning out the dirty nappies is not much fun either. 

Anyway, the tummy upset seems to have subsided but he flat refuses to go anywhere near his bucket now. I had been hoping we could stop using it and get him on a pot/the loo/something else: "So!" think I, optimistically, "this is an opportunity for change". 

However, M's choice of "something else" turns out to be the floor. He is quite clear that he doesn't want to be held, put on a potty, helped, moved or interfered with at all. Hence he has been wetting and pooing in his pants a lot, which he isn't that happy about either. If I take off his pants, he will happily "go" anywhere and everywhere, though he is smart enough to move away from it most of the time. In the Continuum Concept Jean Leidloff says the Yequana simply move the children out of the hut if they "sully" (what a great word!) the floor. Outside is not the most practical place to teach M to go, so I've just been showing him the potty and telling him that's "the place". 

Even though he's not wanting to sit for me, he does still grunt and shout for his nappy to come off when he needs to go, a small mercy. But I can't just let him crap on the floor everywhere. Or can I?....Tonight I trialled containing him in the bathroom, just letting him go where he wanted and picking up the poo and cleaning and disinfecting as he moved about....UGH. He seemed happy with this arrangement, but I am very far from pleased! Definitely not a solution for me. 

Ah, I really, really, really, really, really hope this passes soon. Bring on the next phase, PLEASE!
I suppose this is all my fault for saying I had nothing to write about....... 

Funny how they test us, i was just thinking how it might actually be getting a bit easier at long last.

Thursday, 16 April 2009


My enthusiasm for writing about EC is waning slightly. I feel the need to digress and muse on other things. Do I start another blog or just diversify my topics here? I don't know.... 

Back to (practical!) EC: it's going OK. not much more to say really. Actually, I think our communication is not quite tip top mostly due to my tiredness and general preoccupation with other things, mainly keeping up with Esme and my thoughts. On a day to day level I don't really register how tired I am, but the broken nights are definitely taking their toll. I find myself slipping into habitual grumpiness and it's been a real struggle to stay present lately. I can't help feeling a good night's sleep would help ;)

Esme is really growing up fast, it's scaring me. It's much more interesting than EC for me at the moment too. She lives in role play land and gets *very* upset if I get her persona mixed up, even more so if other people won't use her "real" (pretend) name. She has a talent for imitation, and we have a variety of accents being used daily, current favourites are her take on American and broad Lancashire. It makes her hollering slightly more amusing when it's delivered with Oscar-winning panache!

Lots going on in my head, I really haven't got the mental capacity to cope with all the thoughts zipping around right now! The best idea I've had is to resurrect my yoga practice and find some peace and stillness up there. I just have to do it now! I must have some energy stored somewhere to help me kick the lethargy. 

Well that's a bit random but never mind, that's the way life is sometimes innit?

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Good vibes

I just looked over my last few posts and really felt my lack of positive energy for the EC process coming through. 

Charndra commented on my last post, highlighting the need to enjoy the journey rather than looking to the destination, which I honestly think I do in my everyday life as an ECer. A miss is really not a big deal for me. However, looking back, my musings here don't come across that way. There's much talk of the practicalities and results of EC, and little of the joys! 

The very best thing about EC, without doubt, is knowing what your baby is saying to you. Having enough closeness and intimate knowledge of your child's desires to keep everything on an even keel, sort of pre-emptive parenting, is magical ;) Nothing to do with pants, potties, pee and poo really. Even when your child is on a potty strike, like M now, knowing that they are needing to go but definitely resisting for some reason or another, is important. So, never mind talking about "good EC" in terms of what I'm catching....I'll try and focus on how EC, or the knowledge and communication skills we have developed through EC, is shaping my little boy and our relationship now. 

M is really blossoming and reaching out to interact with everyone. Of course, he has been communicating with me since he was born. He's always been pretty social, but this last week or so has seen a definite surge of his energy going into new ways of making himself heard both with me and others. It's interesting that he's been poorly with a nasty virus of some sort and a high fever, and after the illness he's taken a huge leap forward. 

Some general examples. He suddenly seems to be signing a lot more, mainly to chat- remarking on the sky, birds, cats, diggers, being home. Verbally he is saying down, dog (doooh), grape, din din din (combined with  gestures towards food he would like!) and loads more. He joined in with a chorus of "down down down" at the right place when I played the Grand Old duke of York on the piano last week, recognising the tune immediately. He is following instructions and responding to complex questions: I asked him what he thought would happen next as he was watching the washing machine fill and he waved his arm round and round in a circle with a  big grin on his face. Sweet. He sometimes asks for the potty with his sign, and shakes or nods if you ask him if he wants to go. I usually know the answer, and he's not always truthful when I ask him! He sakes his head vigorously to show his lack of enthusiasm for things. 

I admit most of this interaction would be happening whether or not I'd ECd him. But I do honestly believe that his desire to communicate, and his confidence stem from having been listened to and respected from day one in every sense, including needing to go potty. 

Thursday, 26 March 2009


Well I was hoping to write about all things EC here, though I haven't been writing much at all lately. My most recent 3 week hiatus was because I haven't been wanting to post about good news...whenever I talk about or make any acknowledgement of "good" ECing it seems to go all wrong! I jinx it... 

Anyway, things have been going really well, I have washed virtually no nappies in the last couple of weeks and I was feeling pretty good about things. Not smug, I hasten to add! I was almost considering getting the little pants on M again soon. 

BUT now, even without talking about it, we've been missing loads of wees. Alas, I don't think he has enough trousers to risk the small undies just yet. I need his trousers to survive a while day or more, if possible when being worn by my messy eater, crawler, dirt explorer. Pee is just too risky when outer pants are such a precious commodity!

I was never expecting linear progress so it's not suprising to find we seem to be going backwards again now ;) hey ho....

I am also wondering how on earth I am ever going to get M to pee on a toilet. I think I will hold the bucket over the loo and see if that eases the transition at all. Outside is still the favourite place. Thank goodness spring is here and it's less chilly on his bum! 

Cake in the oven smelling mighty fine, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Adieu. 

Thursday, 26 February 2009

One, two....

...crap on my shoe. Oh what I'd do for a downstairs loo.

M is a bit constipated, he's been doing teeny weeny poos every time he's been on "the bucket". Most frustrating for him, I feel. It was my own lazy fault it got on my boots. I couldn't be bothered taking the bucket upstairs today and I left it on the stairs to take up later. It got knocked, by E I think. I noticed but thought everything was contained and rinsed it out. Later this evening I noticed a wee pebble of poo sitting at the bottom of the stairs. I laughed, no big deal. Then I moved my boots and got a finger full of turd ;( That'll teach me.

Apparently 30 minutes of stair climbing burns 150 calories. I was hoping I could justify scoffing some chocolate, but maybe not.

Friday, 20 February 2009


It usually happens that when I acknowledge something, or talk about it (NOT bragging!...) it cocks up what we've had going on, so I feel slightly reluctant to comment too much on our EC journey at the moment! Suffice to say, all is well ;)

I managed to pee M in the middle of IKEA today. It was less attention grabbing than breastfeeding him! He has a bit of a toilet aversion and prefers to go outside or on his little bowl. I had tried to get him to go on the loo but he wouldn't. I knew he needed a wee in the pot plant bit so I sat on the little kids stool by the play bit and he had a BIG wee. We seem quite attuned at the moment, it's lovely.

I really miss having this sense of closeness with my big-little girl, and wonder if and when I'll ever rediscover this with her. It's there in fleeting moments: when we cook and bake, snuggling, reading, painting, talking and holding hands when we walk, but far less predictable or constant than with M. I suppose that's what letting kids grow up is about to a certain extent, growing apart. Since M's been here it's been much harder to connect with her, and I sense I need to give more to her, make more effort to stay in tune. As M's first birthday approaches I feel more than a twinge of sadness when I think of it being whole year since I was totally hers. My sweet and lovely baby girl. 

Thursday, 12 February 2009

At last!...

....I update the blog! I have been distracted and engrossed in life the last few weeks but feel slightly disappointed in myself each time I steal a look at Sue Ann's page and the bit under my heading that says " 3 weeks ago..."

Not much to tell on the EC front. I have abandoned the little knickers for now as I was getting through too many pairs of trousers! Missing wees combined with a growth spurt on M's part meant I was running out of clothes for him. I've discovered that I can get away with not using a wrap on the cloth nappy which is a sort of cheat's way to do training pants I suppose. If I miss a big wee his pants do get wet so the incentive to get him pottied is definitely there, almost as powerful as with the knickers. But at the same time a little wee is not going to soak him, or me so I have a little more leeway. And it's nice to be able to check the state of the nappy without it being all sweaty and hard to get at.

Strike wise we seem to be over the poo thing, thank goodness. Still the occasional moment where I've been a little slow (read lazy and/or determined to read the paper without distraction on a Saturday morning...where's your Dad?) but more or less 100% clean. Phew. He is still resistant to actually sitting on the potty so I am still holding him on his bucket or over a potty. Actually, he is pretty resistant to that unless he has some fascinating and novel distraction, hence our phone stopped working due to dribble this week! ;) Not sure when or how I am going to get him on a "proper" receptacle but we'll figure that out later. A wee (and sometimes a poo) in the great outdoors is always a dead cert, no distraction required!

M is a most communicative little boy, bless him. He's been chatting away for a few months now..banana, Dada, Nana (for Mama) Eddy (for Esme), caaaat but he actually said "weeeeeeeeee" the other day which was brilliant. At 11 months he finally cut his first tooth, the upper left front one, on Monday. And he says, "eeeeeeeeeth. owwwwwwwww." points into my mouth and signs pain!

So what's been distracting me? Reading novels, making onion marmalade, baking muffins for J to take to work and share, and I admit it, watching the BBC iPlayer! Hey, it's winter and I've watched no telly for 4 years so a little light entertainment won't do me too much harm. I've been reflecting on what I've been watching with friends online and at LLL today so perhaps I will share some thoughts on what I've seen here soon. But not now or I won't have anything to say for another 3 weeks ;)

peace and love to everyone XXX

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Caught off guard

I take back everything I said about being more relaxed with the potty strike situation. Despite my best efforts to be cool like the Fonz, it's been tough the last week or so.

For some reason, after months of being clean, M suddenly decided he didn't want to poo on the pot ;( I knew he needed to go, offered him the pot and he arched his back off it, and made it quite clear he wanted to be on the floor. When I put him down (nappy free) he immediately, and unceremoniously dumped on the floor! He was also steathily depositing massive poos into his nappy, and seeming quite pleased about it. Oh nooooooo.

I cannot deny that I've felt uncomfortable with this situation. I'm usually pretty pleased to greet a poo on the pot but it's so different when it's in the pants. Anyway, after 4 consecutive days of messy bums it seems to have improved. BUT it was a stark reminder to stay relaxed and not be results focused.

I am still pondering why he might have done this. He's keeping me on my toes.
Anyway, he is so bloomin cute and funny, I can forgive him......

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

You can call me.....

Mrs Tiggywinkle!
We were doing really well with the little pants all weekend, then something changed when we hit Monday morning....

We were just about to head out to the park when I thought I'd stick a load of washing on to try and get on top of the housework. Whilst unloading the clean stuff, one of the paddle things in the drum came out with a pair of jeans ;/ The raw metal inside looked like it would shred any type of fabric the instant it came into contact with it. My heart sank as I gazed to the Everest like peaks of dirty laundry on my kitchen floor. Nooooooooooooo. It's just over 3 weeks since the warranty expired! PANTS!! (you got it Annie!)

So, I must have been carrying this anxious washerwoman vibe round with me that morning. I had, perhaps foolishly under the circumstances, decided to put M in his undies. Mistake. I managed to miss 3 wees: 3 extra pairs of wet pants *and* trousers to wash. And after M being dry all weekend ;( Poor wee man had no clean trousers at all, I had to go and buy some more!

I think it must've been a combination of my anxiety rubbing off on him, and the fact he was being back carried. As I mentioned before, I seem to be illiterate when it comes to reading his signals when he's on my back. Funny- he tells me, with a jiggle and a sign, when he's on my hip.

And my dirty laundry. Well add to this morning of non-ECing the fact the Esme fell into an enormous puddle of mud at the park, and caked every item of clothing in dirt so I had to drive her home naked from the waist down.....And then into another puddle again outside our house later in the day..... It was ridiculous!

Miraculously I have managed to wash it all. The washer manufacturer sent me the parts free of charge, a kind friend did a load for me and the laundrette was a convenient option of a dreary Tuesday when we had nowhere else to go! Machine is now fixed and merrily spinning the last load as I type..... Thank you for smiling on me universe!

Saturday, 10 January 2009


Hooray! I finally found some itsy-bitsy tiny little briefs for Magnus
Most of the shops seem to start their knickers for age 2-3, when most kids seems to start going on the potty. 18 months were the smallest I found so far and they were still too big for his wee bum. But today, I went to Boots to exchange some electronic tat M was given for Christmas and managed to buy 15 pairs of 12m pants for the bargain price of £3! (3 packs of 5 at £1 a pack, down from £4 each.) Result! 

So, the first thing I did when we got back was put them on, he seemed pretty pleased as far as I could tell, that is, he had a bit of a grope and then carried on as normal ;) Then we went out gathering food supplies. I sat him on a prefold/nappy wrap in the car seat, just in case. He was wriggling in the shop so when we got outside I just whipped his pants down and he peed in the car park, even though it was freezing! And then I just pulled them up again. It was so much easier than messing about getting a nappy on and off. Ah it sounds so daft writing it down but really, it was revolutionary after the struggle of doing a wee out and about up to now. He was dry til bedtime. 

I don't know if this may be the start of no nappies for us. Some ECers are *really* brave (in my book) and go nappy free from the start, but for me I couldn't take the risk of getting covered in wee all over my clothes, and wrap as I was wearing him constantly. Actually I found the signals harder to read when he was up on my back. 

In retrospect though, I wonder if a lot of the misses we have/had are because of the delay I might make helping Mags to go- it is a pain having to get a cloth nappy (we use Mother Ease) off/on again, especially when you're peeing a tiny baby who goes more often. If we are ever crazy enough to have any more babies maybe I will be brave from the start..... if not I may never know....

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

It's just a phase....

It's funny how little phases of behaviour seem so important when you're stuck in the middle of them, and then before you know it you've forgotten they ever even happened.

Like potty "strikes". I'd completely forgotten about the way Esme used to decide she absolutely *was not* going to go on the pot, despite both her and I knowing she really needed to. She'd communicate this by arching her back, crying, sometimes just getting off and bum shuffling away. I always found it a bit frustrating: it was hard to just go with it, when it meant there'd be a wet nappy or puddle on the floor seconds later. The "proper" behaviour would always come back, whether or not I got stressed and uptight about it.

Magnus has served a reminder of the potty strike for me throughout the tail end of 2008, though so far this year he is much less resistant to going (thank goodness!). Happy New Year by the way....

His strikes, pauses, whatever you want to call them, have differed from Esme's. Actually many other aspects of mothering him are very different to how I was with her, but I'll ramble if I try and go into that now... I think I've been a lot more laid back about losing the pottying groove, and also more creative. I discovered his refusal to wee on the travel "bowl" when out and about was indicative of his desire to go like a big boy on the real toilet ;) I've also found that he really likes having a distraction, wherever we are. For Esme this was always a book but Mags prefers something to hold and mess with when I'm holding him on the bucket. Perhaps this is a precursor to holding and messing with his willy when he's a bigger boy!

It's been less irritating for me to witness times when he's flat refused as I knew for certain it was definitely just a phase. And, our groove certainly seems to be back now. The wee man is going when he needs to, on the bowl, the loo, the bucket, in a bush.....wherever. He's also signing for his potty quite clearly and consistently, which is very helpful, and cute. Last night he was dry all night despite me being a bit lazy not taking him to the pot, which really surprised me.

I'm glad this phase of resistance seems to be passing. It's really been OK to go through it, but it's much nicer working together.