Goddess of Domesticity

I got up this morning on a mission. I had planned it out – a baking day! With some bits and pieces inbetween baking and washing up. And I have to say, I got shit done! Mission complete!

Budge up Nigella, I got this! By 10am  I was showered, beds were stripped, a loaf was already baked and cooling on a wire rack whilst the 2nd tray was in the oven. Dishes were washed and re-used, repeatedly. Over the course of the next few hours floors were swept and rugs hoovered. 5 different baked goods were lovingly created and sampled (for the purposes of quality control of course). I finished reading my library book, I’m actually sitting writing an inpromptu  blog post! I am a one woman wonder today. Not in a smug, “get me” kinda way you understand, as I have actually astonished myself. Like proper gobsmacked! I am also, however, bloody knackered and can see a bubble bath in my very near future.

This baking bonanza was due to a combination of needing to use up different ingredients in the cupboard and an effort to try and save some pennies. I have been tracking our expenditure and the almost daily “what do we have for a cup of tea?” which results in, more often than not, nipping to Tesco to get “bad stuff” ie cookies or muffins or other such delights that never see the dawn of a new day, has created quite the dent in the old cash flow.  I am convinced if Hubby or I were cut open, we would bleed pure Scottish Blend with a dash of milk, such is our tea habit.

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However, these daily jaunts to acquire the necessary tea companions are now consigned to history. I have made enough today to last until next weeks Baking Day (am totally going to make this a thing coz its fun AND I got my house clean to boot!)

On the menu today was an Oat & Linseed Loaf (out a packet coz bread and me don’t often fair very well, unless its a banana loaf), Fearne Cotton’s Carrot Cake Tray Bake from her new book, Cook. Eat. Love. (it is so moist and delicious. I can assure you that it will NEVER last the 5 days she says it will keep for), Chocolate Chip cookies, which, well, sort of spreeeeaaaad out….they still tasted good, Oat & Raisin muffins and then made pizza dough for our tea tonight.

And with that, Baking Day comes to a close. All thats left to do is put the clean sheets on the beds and turn in for an early night, after aforementioned bubble bath of course. And a cuppa.

Lx
*Affiliated link*

 

A Home Education Notebook ~ Review

A Home Education Notebook … to encourage & inspire  Ross Mountney

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My well read copy…

published by Bird’s Nest Books in 2016

This book review is long overdue.  I first read it a year ago, once more since and have dipped in and out of it too. Plus, I lent it to a friend who also devoured it cover to cover then dipped in and out as the need arose.

Rose Mountney, former school teacher, removed her primary aged children from the educational system and embarked upon their home education journey.  Both of her daughters, now in their 20’s are successful in their chosen career paths following college and university, having never returned to school.

Armed with this knowledge and a title that proposes to encourage and inspire, I had very high hopes for this book. I am delighted to say it delivered and more.

The book contains 211 pages within its very tactile cover.  It opens with a warm introduction asking if we have lost the plot and offering comforting advice from the get-go. Advice and acknowledgement of fears (or “wobbles” as the technical term used in Home Ed circles) that only someone who knows what you’re going through can offer.  Ross states clearly that this is not a “How to…” guide but help to

“bring you back to your core intentions when you’re wobbling.  And give you some company and encouragement until you get there”

There are 52 chapters, each around 4 pages long, tackling every conceivable wobble we, as home educators, face.  Before reading, I thought about my own personal wobbles and gratefully found they were all addressed in the coming chapters. Topics such as : I’m not a qualified teacher, keeping records, screen time, curriculum, control, doing it wrong, tests, failure and does it actually work long term.

Each and every concern is alleviated with practical common sense advice and a good dose of personal experience and anecdotes told with humour.  She squashes all home education myths, deftly knocking them on the head like a pro whack-a-mole player (if there is such a thing…) myths like the S word (socialisation) or about HE kids turning out weird. It is incredibly heartening to know that we are not alone in feeling our wobbles, that it is OK and there is support  – this book offers so much support from the wisdom of Ross’s own experiences.

The book closes with a list of final tips and words of encouragement. I finished book thoroughly enthused and raring to go!

Who should read this book? It is perfect for anyone interested in going down the home education route, new home-edders, experienced home-edders, concerned family members who worry for their grandchildren/nieces/nephews etc who are home educating, teachers and other education professionals who disagree with home education, all Local Authority personnel whose remit includes the Home Ed community, anyone who reads an article on home education in the newspaper or online and is compelled to write a comment from a place of ignorance, for any parent whose child(ren) is in school and they didn’t know there was an alternative and anyone who thinks HE is wrong and the only way to educate children is in school. Feel free to add any others I may have missed from the list.

This is one book that I know I will refer to time and time again, safe in the knowledge that it will restore calm, remind me of why we are on the HE path and encourage me to keep going.

A brilliant book written from a place of love and passion for home education, whilst wearing the been there done that t-shirt and served with a hot mug of tea and a hug when you need it.

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Does a Home Education Notebook encourage and inspire? Absolutely yes!

Book available from Bird’s Nest Books for £12.99

(or on Amazon via my affiliated link)

Lx

Peace & Love To Ourselves

Self-care. There’s that word that keeps popping up everywhere, like 2017’s “hygge“.  But like hygge, it’s more than just a buzz word.  Self-care is not self-ish or self-indulgent, it is self respect, self preservation and a huge part of self love.

This particular post has been in progress for a wee while now in various guises and themes, but each version consistently pointed to the same key message :

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It is vital for our own health & well-being as well as for that of those who depend upon us too. Remember the inflight instructions to ensure you put on your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else? This nugget of advice applies to many areas of our lives, not just when we are heading off on holiday.

While I am perfectly sure that we are all aware of how important it is to look after ourselves, I wonder how many of us actually take heed.  There are numerous obstacles to taking the necessary care of ourselves other than the basics.  Obstacles such as

  • guilt – I suffer from this – and it’s guilt placed on our shoulder from ourselves not from our children/partners/ careers (well, maybe your career, depending upon your boss…),
  • other people’s opinions, our own opinions and inner critics,
  • lack of time,
  • lack of finances,
  • prioritising other “things” over self-care in deliberate self sabotage for any of the aforementioned obstacles,
  • prioritising the care of others over ourselves, particularly children/partners/ other dependents/ employers,
  • the feeling of “I can do it all”/”I’m managing fine” as proof of no need to pander to indulgences,
  • not believing we are worthy of what we perceive self-care to be,
  • exhaustion
  • the social media vortex

We need to address these barriers and obstacles, because if we don’t how can we properly look after ourselves and meet all of our needs?. If we are meeting everyone else’s needs while sacrificing our own, what good is that to anyone? None, that’s what!

Over the past few months that I have been concentrating on and researching self-care for me, I noticed reoccurring patterns and themes, which I have categorised into 4 areas, which are separate yet all overlap with one another :

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and will blog on each on individually (or else you will be here all day reading!) looking at what they mean and how we can incorporate them into our everyday lives and over come those pesky barriers that stop us from living our best life in optimum condition.

In the mean time, while we are all peace and love and (((hugs))) for our friends and family, how about we extend those feelings and words of wisdom to ourselves. We’re worth it.

Lx

School’s Out For Summer

The Scottish academic year ended this week, along with it, (A)’s second year of Home Education. If he were in mainstream school, he would have completed Primary 2. I started looking at this past year with a flash back to this time last year when we were at the end of our first official year HE-ing. It was a fun wee trip down memory lane as well as encouraging to see how far we have both come.

We don’t have to follow any curriculum or prescribed list of arbitrary targets set by anyone, official or otherwise; I very much follow (A)’s interests and encourage him to do the best he can.  I do, however, like to have something to work towards so that we are not just aimlessly pinballing about, achieving nothing. So I put together a small list of goals I thought were sensible and “age appropriate” life skills.  The main focus of learning was very much still through playing and seeing his friends.  The list was deliberately left vague in terms of detailed outcomes, ie level of maths reached or what “improved handwritting” should look like, and I didn’t detail HOW these goals were going to be achieved.  But achieved they were – even if 2 of them were only confirmed with a tick, last week!

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Yes, I know I spelled “analogue” incorrectly…

This year has taken us in many directions and discovering new interests and reviving old ones, such as dinosaurs which fell from favour last year, being replaced by Pokemon, to coming back again as the Pokemon interest has waned. Thank goodness! I’m done trying to catch ’em all! Although Pokemon Go was a fabulous tool for helping in good old fashioned mental arithmetic, and we also learned that Pokemon is actually Japanese for Pocket Monster;  English words are often shortened and conjoined to make a new “Japanese” words.

Projects started this year were about the Ice Age and the Vikings, both of which allowed for opportunities to improve writing and researching, making and crafting. Death unfortunately was a recurring theme this year, but he took it all in his stride, asking questions and trying to understand, as well as holding 2 animal funerals with his friends – one for a seal they found washed up on the beach (called Leo) and the other for a charred frog found in the fire pit at the woods (called Toast). Science experiments, cooking and baking have been enthusiastically trialled – with varying degrees of success. He created his own recipe for Frozen Berry Bread, which, despite my skepticism upon seeing the sludge before it went in the oven, was delicious.

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The biggest growth I have seen in (A) has been in his belief in justice and in own convictions. His debate game is strong!!! If he is not a politician or journalist it will not be through lack of skill!  This is particularly evident with sticking up for or defending his friends if he feels they have been wronged.

Moving in to “Primary 3”  after the summer holidays, I am feeling that we need to start introducing a little more structure into our days with more focus on the topics being studied. We have started discussing what that will look like and (A) is keen to get cracking. So in following his enthusiasm, it’s back to Khan Academy we go, and more maths.

Happy holidays

Lx

 

39 Years Young

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This past week saw this Gemini celebrate her 39th wander around the sun, and this year I find myself looking forward to the next, more than I ever have.  Not because I am wishing my life away, but because this is the end of an era – next year I’m 40!

I consider 40 to be the next chapter in this life, with an overlap between the “mother”  and the “wild woman”.  The Mother phase is coming to and end from the point of view that I am done with the actual birthing of little humans and focusing instead on the raising of my wild one, but it is not over completely as I have many projects yet to birth. The Wild Woman knows who she is and is unapologetic for that. I trust myself and am accepting of who I am  and of what I have achieved/done (not all with pride or without regret, but with acceptance nonetheless).  There remains parts of me that continue to be a work in progress; things I want to achieve and accomplish or release and so I’ve compiled me a bucket list! The deadline for which is June 2018.

Whilst I believe that we are never too old or too late to do what or be who we want, and 40 is an arbitrary age, I have a strong desire to leave this decade, or era, with my list complete, and ready to leap into the next.

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Looking back at 2 old blog posts from my 36th and 37th birthdays and reflecting on where I was 2 and 3 years ago, its satisfying to see how I have grown in that short time *note that I didn’t say, matured*…

This particular birthday was spent camping over the weekend with our home-ed tribe, which could only be described as wild, free range and feral ( and that was just the kids). One of my friends brought along THE biggest birthday cake to celebrate.  My husband gifted me with a gorgeous silver necklace, which was made to my design by a local jeweller, using my silver (old jewellery) and moonstones. It is perfect. The weekend ended in the best possible way: dirty, messy, happy and scented by campfire just before a relaxing and long soak in a luscious bath. I could not ask for more.

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Now, time to hit that bucket list!

Lx

 

Who are you?

Who are you?

The real deep down you.

Do you know or even remember?

The you, you are in your mind that’s your authentic you, rather than the you that’s projected (the one you’ve been told you should be).

Maybe you know who you are and are completely comfy in yourself.  Maybe you know who you are but keep certain bits hidden because of fear or shame or because that’s not the you you are supposed to be.

Who am I?  Well, that very much depends upon when you ask.  If you read my bio page there is a whole list of different labels identifying me, but that list is very 1 dimensional.  It doesn’t really mean anything, does it?

I could add to that list of labels and try to take it a bit deeper with additional info such as astrological details : Gemini, Leo rising with Libra moon sign, born in the year of the Horse (Chinese Zodiac) and am both an Oak and a Wren (Celtic Zodiac). If turn to the tarot, my birth card tells me that I am the High Priestess. So, any clearer as to who I am? Nope, thought not.

And that’s OK. We are not our labels and we don’t have to define ourselves to anyone.  Besides, the more we learn, be it about life or ourselves, the more we evolve and grow and I suppose, change. A good few years ago now, a friend said to me “You’ve changed.” I disagreed with the “change” part as I didn’t think I had actually changed as such, more remembered and then sought out more to learn to expand my knowledge and understanding. I was pleased she had noticed. However, the comment was not meant as a compliment.

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I find myself returning to this “you’ve changed” comment (complete with the visual in my head of her facial expression) time and time again. I am not the same person I was 5/10/15/20 years ago, and I very much doubt that I will be the same person in 5 years time – and thank goodness for that. I don’t want to remain unchanged and stagnant. The only thing  growing in stagnation is toxicity.

Our blueprint of who we are lies unchanged underneath all the crap we have accumulated since childhood through our teens, twenties, thirties and beyond to today and, as we find out new things, try out new ideas, discover what we like/dislike, our journey to who we are really, gets both closer and further away from that blueprint.

Knowing who we are also requires knowing, embracing/ releasing and accepting our shadow self. The bits we don’t like, or cause us pain. It’s all part of our make up. For instance, I know I am too much for some people, I verbally overcompensate when I’m nervous, I am incredibly judgemental and have obnoxious tendencies,  a complete pain in the arse and a bit of a show off with a drink, yet confrontation averse and really hard on myself, to the point of hating myself, when situations come up, comments are made and I don’t so anything at the time.  It is an absolute truth that just because I didn’t react to a particular situation does not mean I didn’t notice. I may forgive, but I certainly don’t forget. I’m a fucking elephant! (can you hear the anger and bitterness there?)

It’s certainly an interesting journey, this thing we call life, unravelling who we are and who we have come to be.  It can be difficult to look at why we are the way we are and identifying the roots of certain characteristics or traits. Cringing and feeling shame or embarrassment at our previous actions or mistakes is part of this undertaking. We can’t change the past, it helped shape who we are today, but it doesn’t define us. Inorder to move on, we have to face the past, acknowledge it, feel the feels and let it go. Faaaar easier said than done. I know!  But it’s a vital step if knowing yourself wholly is important to you.

The part I struggle with the most, is being my authentic self with others. Depending on whose company I am in, will depend on which part of me is out in the open. I guess part of it is trust. Being honest and true – it’s the people/parent pleaser in me – regardless of the outcome. I worry about offending others or not being taken seriously or being misunderstood.  I am really trying to take on the advice that other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.  That is the challenge.  But I’m getting there.

So, do you know who you are? That’s none of my business.

Be true to you, not anyone else.

Lx

To Smack or Not to Smack

Is that still even a question?

Well, yes it is – and is now up for discussion in the Scottish Parliament.  John Finnie MSP has proposed a bill to ban the smacking of children in Scotland: “to give children equal protection from assault by prohibiting the physical punishment of children by parents and others caring for or in charge of children”.

How do you feel about this? It is sure to raise many an eyebrow, defenses and justifications.

The bill is not to criminalise parents, but to protect children.

Were you smacked as a child and now hold the belief that “well, I was smacked as a child and it never did me any harm”?

What if I told you, that the fact you believe that it is OK to physically strike a child means that you did NOT turn out OK? How does that make you feel?

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This is not a post to shame anyone. Honestly, I am not here to criticise your parenting or judge you. The aim of this post is to challenge you and your beliefs.  I can do that because I used to hold the very same belief that I turned out fine.

The truth of the matter is, I did not turn out fine.  I wasn’t smacked often but I was smacked, and I remember them.  I don’t hold it against my parents, it was the 80’s/90’s – it was the norm, it was how children had been punished for generations. And, by all accounts, we got off lighter than some other kids I knew.  As a result, I thought that a smack never did any harm, that children pushed their parents to the limit, they had to respect their elders etc etc.  It was how I was raised and I never thought to question it.

Until I did.  I questioned everything about it and drew a very different conclusion.  No-one has the right or permission to either lift a hand, or to threaten any kind of physical punishment, to my child. Ever.

I 100% do not condone smacking.

I do however, understand why some people do.  And for some, the guilt and shame that follows.  I don’t understand those who smack a child then demand that the child apologizes to the adult.  That is batshit crazy and absurd from every angle, serving only to soothe the ego of the smacker.

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Since 1979 when Sweden banned corporal punishment of children, a further 51 countries have joined them. Scotland could be 53rd country to ban smacking of children

If you think it’s fine to “tap” a child’s hand or bottom or back of the legs, please pause for a moment and consider the following :

  • What would you do if your partner “tapped” you? Not hard (in their opinion) but because you pushed them to the end of their frustration and they lost control.  If you told your friend(s) that your partner hit you, you would probably get a tirade of angry advice including  recommendations to leave him/her, report it to the police, offer of a couch to stay at theirs etc etc. Why? Because that’s domestic violence.
  • Smacking teaches respect. Does it? Does it really? Go back to the example above. Would you respect your partner if they slapped you? Even “just once”? Of course you wouldn’t. You may fear them, yes, but certainly not respect them.  Fear and respect are not interchangeable.
  • Children need to respect their elders. Why? Do elders respect the children? Its a 2 way street, is it not? “Do as I say or else you’ll get a smack”.   The threat of physical punishment may achieve the desired act of obedience from the child, but there is not one drop of respect in this exchange, in either direction.
  • Children need discipline. Yes they do – we all do. We need to be disciplined in self control and restraint. Physical punishment is not demonstrative of self control and restraint, quite the opposite in fact.
  • In the work place, 2 employees get into a brawl. Would the employer be justified in breaking up the fight and then strike both employees (or the one who started it) for fighting? Of course not! So why, when 2 siblings are fighting, is it OK for a parent to break up the fight and then smack one or both siblings for fighting? It is a complete nonsensical double standard is it not?
  • “When someone hits you, make sure you hit them back and hit them harder!” How many times were we taught that when young, or taught our own kids the same message. Say an adult smacks the child, what would that adult do if that same child were to heed the advice and hit them back? Would the adult strike the child again? Bellow at the kid for disrespecting their elders?  Who knows…
  • I spent 5 years teaching my very physical son, that violence is never the answer and that he must never hit his friends (or anyone) when he was upset or angry. What impact would one smack have on him, if he was to be struck by an adult? It would completely unravel all my work/his understanding and send a confused message.

Am I changing your mind yet? Is there still a distinction between assault and justifiable assault because the victim is a minor?

What do kids who are smacked do instead :

  • They turn into little parent pleasers. Scared or wary of challenging their parents or other adults. When they themselves become adults, this uncomfortable notion of challenging “superiors” remains and causes self doubt and untold frustration.
  • As smacking causes fear rather than respect, they become sneaky, and are very careful not to get caught doing anything they think may result in a smack.
  • They live what they learn; smacking is normalised and accepted unquestioningly and the cycle repeated
  • They learn to act first think last. It’s fine to lash out when pissed off or buttons are pushed, become bullies, or
  • turn inwards and become fearful. Not trusting themselves, their instincts or convictions.
  • There is a break down in the relationship between the child and the adult, and is not always repairable

Alternatives to smacking are plentiful, but it starts with the adult accepting that THEY need to change their attitude and mind set first. The internet is awash with alternatives to smacking – if you struggle with what to do instead of smacking, search Google! Seriously!

How can I talk about the effects of smacking on children? Because I speak from my own experience and how I have challenged my own beliefs.

Are you ready to face and challenge yours?

Lx

The details of the proposed bill are as follows:

http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/104602.aspx

http://www.parliament.scot/S5MembersBills/John_Finnie_Final_Consultation_Document_pdf.pdf

The Public Consultation is open NOW until 4th August 2017 –  please complete it here :

http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/ChildrenEqualProtectionAssault/