Friday, 31 August 2012

....and ze winner is......

Well it just has to be....

scroll down.....

keep scrolling....

scroll a bit more....

scrollly wolly wooo......

a bit more than that....










Laura's comment tugged the most on my lil' heartstrings and I was enjoying the fact she gets a lot out of the blog. Knowing that people act on something I wrote here is sweet! I also like that the blog makes someone out there smile. Yay for that :-)

Thank you so so much for your kind comments, anonymous or named. I appreciate the pointers from you to nudge me in the direction of more posts that you like to read.

Laura I will need your address honey so I can send you some love in a Paula-designed package.

Have a great weekend everyone

Xx MF xX

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Keeping up with myself

I don't know about you, but I am an ideas person, a dreamer, a lover of fantastical ideas, of plans and dreams and schemes.

One thing I have realised about myself this past week or two is that I come up with more ideas and plans than I can follow through on.

And I feel guilty and sad and embarrassed all at once that I let people down getting swept away with ideas that don't always come to fruition.

"Let's meet up!"

"Let's do X, Y or Z"

Things that seem possible, achievable and fun to do at the time of suggestion.

Then life has it's own momentum and timings swing out of synch with my plans and days/ weeks / or even months roll by. Stuff comes up that I hadn't predicted or seen coming.

I so wish I could do every crazy thing I say I will do, when I say I will do it! I wish I didn't ever disappoint anyone.

Do you ever feel like this my dear reader friends? Or is it me that seems to reach for the stars all the time but seem to keep tripping over my own shoelaces?

Part of my brain hasn't caught up with the fact that I am a full-time mother to four boys and a dog. The logistics my life sneak up on me like a surprise letter in the post from a long lost relly. And yet what was I really expecting or thinking it would be like? I fall for the same damn trick every day!

I am still constantly surprised at being tired a lot, of not being able to fit everything into my day that my head can come up with, wondering why I am not superwoman every damn day. It's never as fast or easy in real life as it is in my head!

Till hubba hubba gets his work hours down to next to nothing, I'm a bit stuck.

So if I plan a plan with you, or dream a dream, or scheme a scheme. Bear with me my friend.

It'll happen.

Just maybe not as soon as I had hoped!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Win a motherfunkin' prize!

I can't quite believe that this blog is about to hit the 15,000 pageview mark! It surprises me that anyone reads it at all since I talk about such a mishy mashy variety of topics, in a random order!

I'm really truly grateful that you are here, reading this, whether you are totally new to the blog or a long-time addict.

In celebration of reaching this milestone, I am giving away some goodies which will be a lovely surprise treat in the post, should you be the winner!

I know it's naughty, keeping you in the dark but more fun and suspense, no?

So to win the competition you need to leave a message in the comments box, telling me what you get from reading the blog. Why you look forward to the next post. Has it changed your outlook or helped you to grow in some way?

I will choose a winner by next Friday.

With love and thanks for reading!

X x MF x X

Life of Pi.....lau

'When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.'

I recently read that quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti - a philosopher I really adore, and who always seems to speak the truth (in my eyes)

And it keeps swimming back into my sub-conscious over and over again.

Yann Martel's 'Life of Pi' comes to mind. The main character Pi wants to be closer to god but gets himself into a pickle with his elders by being a Hindu, Christian and Muslim simoultaneously. Big no no!  They all want him to choose just one faith and be true and devoted to it, but he rejects this concept because he loves them all.

And I have the same struggle committing myself solely to any particular religion or educational philosophy or absolute stance in so many areas of my life. Nailing my colours to a mast. My colours are all the shades of the rainbow. Does it make me wishy-washy? Half-baked? Dis-loyal? It can feel uncomfortable sometimes standing between worlds.
Like Pi, I see the wisdom and folly of different religions.
I feel the same about parenting and homeschooling nowadays.
Belonging to a sungular parenting camp has also never totally sat right with me. How you feed your baby, what type of nappies you use, whether you send your child to school or not, whether you vaccinate or not are none of my business. It is not for me to judge and yet so many parents do. There is so much judgement out there in the online world and I have done it sometimes myself. (To my shame) I think we all do.

Sometimes I wonder if even just simply being a homeschooler is potentially in itself an act of war or violence, in the way Jiddu suggests? Does it create a barrier between me and my neigbour? Can it create mutual suspision, snobbery, bigotry and division? In the same way that folks divide themselves by branding, by class, by their religious beliefs, does homeschooling separate us from those who go to school? How much do you really let your children mix with others outside your own cosy belief system?

In my younger days I was so passionate about homeschooling that I was more than happy to put down the school system at every opportunity. It's easy to get swept away with John Taylor Gatto and some of the other radical school haters.

And yet 'hate' it is. It is a form of hate and a form of violence to declare war on schooling, to declare war on parents of any camp, by even defining ourselves as a particular type of home educator, or parent, or whatever. Is it necessary for us to have to define ourselves in such exclusive ways?

I feel much more respectful of school these days and of parents who choose school for their children. I do not think them unkind or neglectful as I (to my shame) once did - an idea which is actually quite common amongst home educators. It's all too easy to get puffed up with our own sense of righteousness isn't it?

I know enough people from enough walks of life to see the beauty and multiple truths of beautiful, thoughtful, fantastic folks all walking different paths.

I am really glad that we are all so different.

I see the beauty in the words of  Rumi, Kahlil Gibran, Jesus, Mohammed, the Buddha, Krishnamurti and Einstein.  In the words of Nina Simone and Picasso. Bob Marley and Maya Angelou. So many people are inspiring and wise! Each holding a fragment of the wisdom of the whole - even you, dear reader.
I wrote an article once about people who inspired me - the list is of course longer....

My own ugly prejudices are not unique to me. We all have them. Rather than try to deny them - I am choosing to shine a light on them. Maybe by doing so, you will be inspired to look deeper into your own heart too.

And in an effort to be more peaceful, more equal, to find more common ground with others, I wonder how helpful it really is to define myself only in terms as a homeschooler or a mum or a wife or a doula? Even the fact of being a woman creates a line of separation. Yet I am a woman. I am a human. My beliefs are equal to yours. I am not better than you. You are not better than me. We are the same.

I was looking at different mandalas online in an attempt to define my statement of intent, of purpose, beyond the petty divisive beliefs that I, just like everyone, use to define my otherness from folks.

This is so lovely, so universal, and speaks of what I wish to hold dear in my life and how I want to live. It's based on the seven Hawaaian principles...

The world is what you think it is - Be aware
There are no limits - Be free
Energy flows where attention goes - Be focused
Now is the moment of Power - Be here now
To love is to be happy with - Be happy
All power comes from within - Be confident
Effectiveness is the meausure of truth - Be positive

Isn't that just beautiful?

Maybe it's possible to simoultaneously believe different things?
What do you think, dear reader?
Do you sit in the ivory tower of your own beliefs?
Is there more room for compassion and tolerance?


(Forgive the terrible pun in the title but a lot of friends call me Pilau!)

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Cheap as chips summer fun

I thought it'd be fun to put together a fun list of things to do with the kiddos that are absolutely free or cheap as chips for those boring days when nothing much is going on or you are waiting for payday....

Why not.....

Have a pillow fight
Make mud pies
Climb a tree
Make a camp out of bedsheets indoors or out
Rearrange the furniture
Blow bubbles and play games with them
Think up really stupid knock knock jokes 
Play thumb war
Reading a favourite story/comic/magazine.... with a packet of googly eyes to add to all the characters on the different pages. Makes it loads more fun!
Play 'it'
Play 'hide and seek'
Invent a play/song and perform it
Dress up in disguise/fancy dress or paint moustaches on everyone
Deface te local paper by drawing silly things on people/drawing captions
play tennis with a bat and ball that are not actually a bat or ball
Sew something
Paint your nails
Tye-dye something
Watch a ridiculous gameshow with the kids that you wouldn't normally watch
Send a postcard to someone
Learn how to do cartwheels/handstands/headstands
Learn to juggle
Go fruit-picking
Play cards
Learn another language
Make your own comic
Paint pebbles
See how long you can go three-legged with someone
Blindfold yourself and get to know your home environment better
Dance to music
Make bunting out of paper and string or bits of plastic bag or felt or fabric
Grow some seeds
Cut your hair
Try for a world record
Go to the library
Invent a new triple decker sandwich
Play marbles/tiddlywinks/shove ha'ppenny
Play charades
Go to a garden for the blind and soak up the scents and feel of the herbs and flowers
Fix something that's been broken for ages
Do some dusting/cleaning/tidying to really awesome music
Tame some chalk and go graffiti'ing
Create art in the park / on the beach / in the woods / on your pavement
Customise a boring top/bag/jumper/whatever
Try a new food
Skim pebbles
Play pooh-sticks
Fly paper aeroplanes
Play with cornflour and water
Do paper-maché
Knit ?Crochet something cool
Learn origami
Make your own playdough
Make friends with someone new
Strike up a conversation with someone about a really random or funny topic
Carve vegetables into musical instruments
Play the spoons/make a home-made orchestra out of random household things - bottles with varying amounts of water, stuff that rattles, stuff that has an interesting pitch or tone
Do some yoga or keep fit
Go barefoot somewhere you would normally wear shoes
Invent pseudonyms for the day or pretend to be spies
Treasure hunt!
Pamper yourself in a really simple way
Share a secret with a friend
Have a wheelbarrow race
Go for a bike-ride
Play with your pet
Play dots and squares
Play hangman
Play battleships
Paint something unusual
Go charity shopping for audiobooks or free movies from sunday papers - often just 10 or 20p!
Invite someone to play
Make pancakes
Play a practical joke that won't hurt anyone but cause a big laugh
Talk in a made-up language for an hour or two
Draw eyes on your chin and do upside down things
Take photos of stuff
Re-arrange nick-nacks / photos / your collection of postcards / whatever
Take up a pen-pal
Roll down a big hill
Have a TV? Computer/Mains electricity free day
Learn a poem off by heart
Learn/ practise playing an instrument
Tell someone you love them
Do a kind deed in secret
Read a book you wouldn't normally read
Make your own potions / creams / soap / bath bombs
Go birdwatching
Go people watching
Have a picnic
Sit under a tree
Compile lists
Listen to an audiobook
Listen to a random radio station - online stations are endless!
Care for someone
Listen to someone
Walk a different route from usual
Give someone a massage
Try a different brand
Build a home-made sandpit
Excavate a section of your garden and see what you find
Do bark/leaf rubbings
Burn joss sticks to change the vibe
Cut out pictures and do a collage
Make your own fuzzy felt
Make a board-game based on a favourite story the kids like
Count stuff
Swap chores
Make smoothies
Bake bread / biscuits / cake
Make a special card for a friend
Cook something in an original way
Play the Yes No game - ie first person to say yes or no loses
Sign a petition
Write to your favourite author/someone you admire and tell them why they are awesome
Sleep in the living room
Have ice-cream and cookies for breakfast
Draw a mandala
Go see some ponies in a field and feed them grass
Build a wild shelter from branches/ferns etc and sleep in it overnight
Sleep on the beach
Stay up all night
Play chess
Write a novel
Do karaoke
Go for a night walk
Teach yourself a new subject
Start a new hobby
Learn some knots
Do an experiment
Debate something controversial
Make ice-lollies
Learn to do wheelies
Have a sack race
Make jelly in moulds

Still reading?

Why not add to this list below in the comments box?

I'd love to hear your suggestions!


Thursday, 16 August 2012

science - mtv style

Just recently I made a pretty cool discovery whilst watching science vids on youtube, and whilst i'm not generally a fan of mtv style stuff, I'm prepared to make an exception for Mindblow as these are really educational lil' vids.

If you want to watch three minute episodes of mind-bogglingly fast totally random snippets of cutting- edge technological advances, Mindblow is your show! Japanese robotics, scientific advances, weird and wonderful inventions. Some of them are incredibly useful inventions some are just bonkers. Remember Tommorow's World? Ok well it's pretty much TW on steroids. With an american presenter.

Hence why we watch these in small doses. Kapisce?

Here's the full playlist for all the Mindblow episodes on youtube:

If the MindBlow episodes are a little too hectic for your taste, you may prefer one of the other videos from the same Vsauce peeps. Michael is trying to discover what the most precious and rare metal is in the whole world and does a bunch of cool experiments on his quest. We watched it today. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Introducing Big.....

Yep, she actually has that on her number plate - BIG 7593! 

Pete is chuffed 'cos he was born in '75 and passed his driving test in '93. 


Aint she a beaut?

She purrs like a cat.

She has butterflies on her right side.

She has a huuuuuge screen at the front.

She has a comfy sofa - with three seat belts on!

Two front seats that swivel!

She has a shower, a loo, a kitchen, a dinette and even a double bedroom!

And we didn't have to do any tree surgery to fit her in the drive - she juuuuuuust about fits with a centimeter to spare either side on the gate - a tight fit but we can do it!

* Gigantic, gigantic, gigantic, BIG BIG love! *

Monday, 13 August 2012

birthdays, holidays and travellin' days to come!

Wow. Life's been super busy and lots of happy things to report.

Where to begin?

Finn and Herbie loved their Multi-acticity holiday with PGL, doing all kinds of fun new activities - archery, high wires, canoeing, abseiling, and loads more. Both have come back and given it a 10/10, in spite of a few emotional moments for Herb! His lil' home-ed comfort zone was pushed and stretched like never before but he came out stronger and more positive, and more self-assured, in spite of saying half way through the week that he'd like to come home!

Whilst the older boys were away my in-laws lived in and had a few days with Indie and Alf, meaning that me and my man could go away somewhere for our anniversary. We had been looking into going somewhere over the Norfolk broads way, and ended up staying at the fabulous a holistic retreat near Acle. We spent a wonderful few days in a beautiful woodland, staying in a little wooden cabin, with a hot-tub in the garden to view the stars! Sitting in there whilst it rained, and reading stories from arabian nights aloud to each other whilst drinking wine and munching on curly-wurlies was pretty magic! We cycled, we road-tripped, we ate good food, got to rediscover each other and we talked and talked and talked and just mucked about and had a real giggle together, which was fantastic and much needed. The fella that runs the retreat is a lovely man with a kind heart and a switched on attitude, a real dude. We sat smoking rollies with him putting the universe to rights a few times, and he was super relaxed and open. Highly recommend a stay there if you're ever feeling frazzled!

When we came back it was the the night before the day before Indie's 7th birthday. Thursday was a day of baking cakes, and last-minute planning, ready for a trip to the marvellous Bewilderwood with dear friends. Indie really had a blast, the weather was kind to us, and all the grown ups had some special time together too :-) We were sad that a couple of friends couldn't make it at the last minute though- boo - we missed you! ( Promise to make more cake for you..... I have a new teapot!) X

I feel really lucky to have such beautiful friends.

Since then I've been on some Doula training in the Cotswolds with the gorgeous Rebecca Wright - she is so lovely and I would highly recommend her to all Doulas - a very gentle, wise, and grounded lady.

And within the space of seven days, we have realised a dream of ours which we didn't even know about. Tommorow, we are going to collect our new RV...... a 30ft Winnebago! 

She's our ticket to travelling with all the kids and dawgy dog, without doing anything as drastic as selling up, or moving or any of that. How did we not think of this before? And yet here we are. Ka-ping lightbulb moment to on our driveway in just seven days. 

I'm ridiculously excited!

Life is full of ups and downs huh? Some days/weeks/months are all uphill and haaaaard, and then zooooooooom - you are freewheeling, heart-pounding, feeling alive and flowing. Some phases can feel so dead-endy, like you're in a labyrinth going round and round in circles. Sometimes you wander into scary territory, then it's open roads, green lights and big blue skies.  Some days it's a big old mix up of both. Even on this very day, so full of excitement and expectation, some news of a friends daughter's scary brush with death was a moment of grief and horror. Every day brings new things - that's all we can ever guarantee. We cannot stand still, life flows on and on. 

And tommorow, is a new day.

Expect a gushy post and lots of pics of our new bus. Woohoo!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

a mama's love is s-t-r-e-t-c-h-y!

my big two are off without mumma, for seven whole nights... to have fun in the big wide world, my umbilical bungee ropes stretched very long! i feel the sweetness and pain of our geographical separation.

i know other mamas whose children are across seas, oceans, continents.... tonight they too are praying and wishing and dreaming and smiling and sighing - no matter where they are in the world or how old..... our babies are still just that.

here's a moment from my day that reminds me of beauty, of light, of the colours of the rainbow all around us, the shifting nature of stormy clouds, the god in all things, the precariousness of a bubble..... and the importance of being stretchy!

without stretch there would be no bubbles. no birth. no leaves. no petals. no bread. no run. no jump. no growy. no dancey dance. no yoga. no cats. no balloons. no sexy. no patience. no love.

stretching is gooooooooooooood!!!!!!!!

Supermama? Nah.

Flower infused, nature soaked, festi going, heart-warming times with friends and family aside, I'm realising the extent of just how un-nerved I have been feeling about how our future will play out, to a point that's reached a bit of a climax just in the last month in particular. My belief in myself and my self-confidence has been at a real low.

We are in MAJOR transition. Our whole future hangs in the balance still, whilst we wait for things to play out work-wise. It's been nail-biting. We're still not there yet. Pretty major loose ends flapping around everywhere. Unsettling. I am trying to be present, to breathe right, to eat right. But until it's truly all neat and tidy I feel on edge, nervous the whole thing could still crash down around us.

This has been the back-drop to family life with the kids, and we've all coped with it in different ways. I've been more emotional than ever,. I've been holding myself quite tight, and this fear has been trying to find a path out of my body. It's been stored as backaches, bellyaches, headaches. Dear friends have given me massages and tinctures, listening ears, flowers, praise and love but my own self-doubt and panic has been greater than all this at times. Hubba hubba has been a total rock. As ever.

I've been carrying a lot of guilt around that I don't feel super joyful about home educating and parenting just lately. As if this were the ultimate sin humanly possible. That it's not all rainbows and skipping and miracles all day every day. Truthfully, there have been a lot of days when I've felt so crumpled and deformed under the sense of shame and disappointment of not living up to an imagined and projected supermother standard, with days where I have felt unprepared, bewildered even, at how things sometimes pan out against my better wishes and intentions. Wanting so badly for each day to be productive and purposeful and everyone working really well together, but it's not always like that, and it confuses and annoys me and I start asking why? Why, when I am trying soooo hard? The truth is that instead of really enjoying the summer, a big part of me has been counting down the days, hours and minutes till Pete finishes work so I don't have to do this on my own any more. After ten years of solid full-time parenting I am feeling frazzled, dis-illusioned in some ways and just plain fried in some respects.Whatever they promise you on some blogs or shiny shiny homeschooling sites, homeschooling's f*cking hard work!

Thankfully the kids are turning out pretty nicely and happy, inspite of their tired mama

And I truly love them, with all of my frazzled heart. Not one of them is at fault in any way. I am simply exhausted. And in my own loving, fudging-along, deeply caring, slightly dysfunctional way, I think I am actually a bloody good mother. I know because my kids tell me every single day.  When I look back over the summer, I see I have pulled off a miracle. The kids are happy, whole, joyful and uniquely wonderful, even if they have driven me and each other batshit crazy at times.

Did I say that out loud? Oh well.