Tuesday, 30 August 2011

10 Things You Didn't Know About My Alter Ego

1930s Simple Glamour
In another life... I find myself thinking this more and more at the moment. I feel stuck, despondent, impatient, and thoroughly fed up. I'm tired of counting my blessings - I have many, yes, but right now they are not shining brightly enough for me. The world is grey and cold and I long for some of the erstwhile technicolor glory to come back to me... a sparkling Autumn day filled with orange leaves and clear blue skies; a bracing, windswept run along the coast, sandwiched between emerald, gold and slate; an inky, snow-swelled atmosphere embracing a cluster of silhouetted houses which twinkle out messages of their inner cosiness and joy.

In another life, I am a 1930s heroine who

  • Is always impeccably, yet effortlessly and simply, well dressed
  • Has gorgeous, long, glossy hair which can be easily put up into a range of styles
  • Sleeps in a large, comfortable bed with crisp, clean sheets and a soft, fluffy eiderdown - all of which is thoroughly aired daily (preferably in a strong mountain breeze)
  • Regularly "takes tea" with her lady friends and is much admired for her baking prowess
  • Secretly attends underground meetings of the intelligentsia and radicals
  • Drives an Austin Ruby or a Morgan
  • Despite my natural elegance, is known as a bit of a tomboy who likes to "muck in" with the boys and kids!
  • Has enough energy and vitality to undertake at least 90% of her tasks, projects and dreams with vigour and see them through
  • Lives modestly but well, travels extensively and as the mood takes, and can afford to be impetuous
  • Is a good, loyal and generous friend, hospitable to the nth degree and can be relied on for anything
So... anyone got a time machine?

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Zingy Chocolate Zillionaires (Raw!)

Chocolate Zillionaire's Shortbread
Made with raw chocolate, lemons, almonds and chia seeds!

I have been considering this voyage for a long time and now the time has come. With a few forays under my belt, I am accumulating supplies and techniques and am ready for an adventure... into raw food.

You might have heard of raw food elsewhere. Well, forget whatever you do and don't know about it for the moment and just enjoy the following recipe which I've been working on for a new project. Step into my kitchen for a sneaky peak at my secret recipes.... and get ready to salivate :)

Chocolate Shortbread Base
This base is ultra-genius because it doesn't require the use of a dehydrator, yet you still end up with a gorgeous crumbly, buttery shortbread base - not as crisp as its baked counterpart but darned fine nevertheless!
1 cup dried, pitted dates
1 tbsp cold-pressed oil, such as grapeseed (or any sweet, light-tasting oil)
1 1/4 cups ground almonds
1 tbsp cacao powder
Few drops vanilla extract (or vanilla seeds)
Pinch Himalayan pink crystal salt

Make a paste with the dates and oil by blending well in a liquidiser or hand-blender until smooth and creamy. Add all other ingredients and blend/mix together until a dough is formed, then press into a prepared tin or individual silicone moulds with your fingers. Chill until firm.

Zingy Zillionaire's Lemon Curd
The first version I made of this, I used the juice of 2 lemons and it was ultra-zingy. While I liked this, I know that many tastes prefer a slightly sweeter tang, so I've pared it down - but feel free to adjust to your own taste!

Chia seeds are little powerhouses of goodness, full of omega 3s, fibre, protein and minerals. They have a neutral flavour when raw and when soaked, produce a gelatinous mass which is excellent for making raw jams and jellies.
Zest and juice of 1 organic, unwaxed lemon
1 tbsp chia seeds, soaked in 1/4 cup water until gelatinous
1 heaped tbsp coconut oil/butter
2 tbsp cacao butter
1 tbsp agave syrup
1 tsp xylitol crystals (optional - gives it a more "sugary" sweetness)
Pinch Himalayan pink crystal salt
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (optional, for colour)

Gently melt cacao and coconut butters in a bain marie and blend together with rest of ingredients. Use turmeric as desired to achieve a nice yellow - or not if you don't mind the slightly pallid look ;) Spoon mixture over the set base(s) and chill until curd has set.

Raw Dark Chocolate Topping
4 tbsp cacao butter
4 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp agave syrup
Few drops vanilla extract

Gently melt the cacao butter in a bain marie and then whisk in the other ingredients till smooth. Spoon over the prepared base(s) and chill until set. Carefully turn out of the moulds/tins when set and serve with your favourite tea!

Et voilà, Raw chocolate zillionaire's shortbread :)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Where do Boat-Dwellers Go on Holiday?

To a yurt in the woods of course! In September we are off to Keveral Farm in Cornwall for 10 lovely days and I cannot wait. I'm sick to the back teeth of Summer hire boaters (no offence, but being at home on the boat every day it can seem like living next to a motorway!) and am simply longing to get 'into the woods' for some peace, quiet and hopefully, a whole lotta relaxation :)

Where are you guys going?

Friday, 19 August 2011

Outside the Checkbox: No Fixed Abode

When we first started travelling in our van back in 2008, it soon became apparent that people really struggled to categorise us. Otherwise middle class, well-educated, and both working in revered sectors - and yet living in a van (even "camper was stretching it a bit far as it was basically a souped-up old Renault Master). We didn't even have a fixed site to call our own, or a "proper home" to retire to when it all got too much. 

Well I could write a whole book on perceptions and stereotypes but what particularly amuses me are the reactions we've garnered over the years when we divulge we have no address.

"But how do you get post?" is my favourite query, usually accompanied by an expression more suited to news that martians have just landed. 

The fact is, I love not having an address. It lends a sense of anonymity and freedom: above all we don't have the dread of bills, official notices and junk mail dropping onto the door mat, for which I am endlessly grateful. 

Admittedly life on the boat provides a much easier solution to the issue, as we can appease people (or confuse them) with our mooring address. Some folks really don't like you not being able to give an address of some sort (it takes them out of their comfort zone) - and I'm not talking about people who want to send us birthday cards. So we give them the mooring address (where we may or may not be) and they're happy. Ish.

The other day I had to register with a doctor for the first time in a while and when I told the receptionist I couldn't receive mail at our mooring address, she stared at me and blustered "But what if we need to contact you urgently?". Er, phone me? And then, "What if we have to send you a hospital referral letter or something?", to which I just gaped at her completely nonplussed.

Our society has become so complacent, comfortable and myopic that we can't see beyond the ends of our own noses any more, and sometimes not even that!

What intrigues me most of all, though, is the utter hopelessness of our bureaucratic system in dealing with such a demographic as ours. We are, to all intents and purposes, "homeless", which is utterly bonkers.

The idea that you need an "address" to be a valid citizen of this country - regardless of how you otherwise contribute to society or to the economy etc etc - simply proves that we have a pretty crazy system in charge. And such a very British one at that - like having your status calculated from the car you drive or the clothes you wear. It makes me think of the Vernon family in Harry Potter. In which case, call me a witch any day (and your owl will find the boat if you want to send me a letter).

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Guest Post: The Living* Dead, by Father Earthly (aka Smellyhippy)

Night of The Living Dead
(* and the Living is touch and go)

Our daughter - Girl Earthly as she is known on these pages - is an insomniac. Our daughter wants to explore this amazing new world and isn't going to let a piffling thing called nighttime get in the way. Our daughter is teething. Our daughter suffers from indigestion, particularly after dark. Our daughter is struggling with separation anxiety. Our daughter is the most effective torture device since the Chinese Water device.

There's only one of those statements I can say with certainty is true. No matter what the genuine reasons for it, my wife and I, in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention, are being systematically reduced to quivering nervous wrecks. Yesterday I confessed to kidnapping Shergar.

Now everybody knows that children cause sleepness nights. After all, it's an all too common theme in all those Hollywood films, depicted in some comedic way as a perfectly attired couple appear at the door of their perfect nursery with perfectly dishevelled hair to show how tired they are. Believe me, it's not just the hair that doesn't get styled - I have to force myself to remember to put on a pair of trousers. I couldn't begin to tell you what style, cloth, or even colour they are. It's only by a process of elimination that I know they're mine - everybody else's would be too small. As to whether they go with the rest of my clothes, I couldn't say. I'm not even sure if I am wearing any other clothes. And I couldn't care less.

The list of things I couldn't care less about includes:

  • Whether I'm wearing clothes or not
  • Whether I've shaved this week or not
  • Whether I smell like a sewer or not
  • Being pleasant to people at work
  • Work
  • Eating healthily
  • Eating
These last two are huge for me. I've always had a healthy appetite, and I love to cook. Even now cooking is my escape. I'm an oxymoronical vegetarian Northener, so my dishes tend towards the hearty side - butternut squash lasagne, fagioli e veggie salsiccia, sweet potato, leek & brie pie with roast new potatoes - but these days I'm struggling to care whether I eat tofu & green vegetable green Thai curry with egg noodles and vegetable spring rolls or a Chicken & Mushroom Pot Noodle. God forbid my wife leaves me and the kids, for I'll go from being just "overweight" to "unable to fit through the bow doors". Importantly, the only thing that keeps me cooking good, wholesome(-ish) meals every night is a desire to see Mama Earthly get some nutrition into her. She's not only got the sleepness nights destroying her body, but Girl Earthly is a most voracious breastfeeder. While this has its benefits, it is also draining Mama Earthly of any vestiges of energy she may have left. And I see it as one of my responsibilities to refuel her every day, and that's not going to happen if I plonk down a hula hoop sandwich and a Mars bar.

Our household has been fractious recently, to say the least, with both of us unable to communicate to the best of our abilities through the fog of debilitating exhaustion. But, despite that, we're still both able to support each other in our basic needs. We are, in essence, each other's pacesetter, taking the strain when one is flagging, egging each other on through one more day (and night!). Sometimes this causes one of us to snap at the other, but our love for each other always wins through. That, and our shared camaraderie facing up to the common enemy!

There's more to it than that though. Helping somebody else, even somebody I'm contractually obligated to help (oh, I'll pay for that comment!), makes me feel good. Therefore, by cooking Mama Earthly a healthy meal I'm also helping myself. So I implore you; if you and your partner are suffering from a demonically light-sleeping offspring, find something, anything, that will assist your partner in their basic needs and stick to it religiously. They'll appreciate it, you'll appreciate it, and in turn baby will appreciate it. No matter how hard it is to find the energy and enthusiasm, you'll all benefit in the end. And if that doesn't convince you, remember this - Life may be excruciatingly painful now, but it will only be multiples worse if your partner slips into a coma brought on by exhaustion!

Thanks Father Earthly for ending on that backhanded positive note ;) And yes, you are rather wonderful and I would never cope without you.

You can find more of Father Earthly's musings (when he finds a spare moment or so) over on his blog. Do pop by and give him some love and encouragement :)

Plus, don't forget about our fabulous giveaway of gorgeous Green People goodies. Entry closes Friday so get in quick!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Giveaway! Green People & Organic Babies Goodies

Green People are offering you lucky readers a full size Moisturising Shampoo & Conditioner Kit AND some of their new Organic Babies Baby Oil No Scent - a fabulous mama-baba package that would retail for over £30. For your chance to win, scroll down to "How do I get me some?". Below is my review of all the products included in the giveaway.*
This giveaway is open to UK residents.

I love Green People skincare products, which are all-natural, all-organic and Fairtrade to boot. So I was thrilled to get the chance to review their lovely Moisture Shampoo & Conditioner and their new Organic Babies Baby Oil.

Green People was founded way back in 1994 by a mum who was looking for a way to clear up her daughter's eczema. After discovering that many of her daughter's allergies were being triggered by chemically-potent household and personal care products, she took action. "With a nursing background, knowledge of herbal medicine, and more than 11 years of experience within the pharmaceutical industry", Charlotte Vøhtz was well-placed to create what was to become one of the leading brands in natural, organic body care products in the UK.

From the Green People website:

"Green People are committed to offering products that are 100% natural, gentle, organic and highly effective.
None of our formulations or products are or ever have been tested on animals and most of our products are registered by the Vegan Society. All of our products are suitable for Vegetarians.
We believe that you have a fundamental right to know exactly what is contained in the products you are buying and therefore give full ingredient disclosure on all of our products."

Moisturising Shampoo & Conditioner
I have fine, wispy hair that has previously had highlights applied repeatedly and for the last year has been hennaed, so you can imagine how hard it is to find a shampoo & conditioner combo that really works to detangle my frazzled locks without leaving the rest of my hair limp and lank.

Until now I've tried umpteen types of conditioner in an attempt to save my tangled locks from turning into a bird's nest (particularly as I only brush my hair about 3 times a week these days!). It looks as if my search is over. Green People's Moisturising Shampoo teamed with their Moisturising Conditioner leave my hair beautifully tangle-free and hydrated yet full of bounce and life!

The shampoo is super-concentrated so a little goes a long way (and I have pretty long hair so this is a bonus!) and lathers up nicely without filling the shower with suds. Even on its own I suspect the shampoo would do wonders for most hair types, but mine does need the extra TLC of the moisture-rich conditioner.

Unlike most conditioners (particularly moisture-intensive ones), Green People's Moisturising Conditioner has a lovely non-greasy, almost creamy-gel-like consistency which feels lovely to put on and - more to the point - gets straight into those tangles to do its good work, rather than sitting greasily on top of your strands and simply feeling claggy. Massaged in well and through the dry ends, my bird's nest already feels much tamed without the need to get a comb out.

Rinsed out and dried as usual, I find I have beautiful tangle-free, well-hydrated and bouncy, glossy hair :)

Baby Oil No Scent
I have to say I'm not usually a great fan of baby oils, which tend to be pretty odious concoctions masked with some chemical perfume. I'd much rather use a base oil, such as almond on my baby's skin.

However, having the chance to try Organic Babies Baby Oil No Scent, I must say I'm more than pleasantly surprised. First of all, the ingredients list is just sublime - a gorgeous mixture of the best skin-loving, pure organic oils you can find:
Sunflower seed oil, sesame seed oil, evening primrose seed oil, rosehip fruit oil, elderberry seed oil, pomegranate seed oil.
Rightly so, given the ingredients, the oil claims that it is "suitable for children who may be prone to eczema and psoriasis". All those wonderful omegas!

Unfortunately my own skin just does not like oils - I've tried countless times. But I used this on boy Earthly where he has recently developed patches of eczema on the back of his knees.

The consistency is like any oil and so it's ingenious that comes in a handy pump dispenser rather than a bottle - much less messy! Rubbed between the palms and massaged into the skin, this is easily absorbed (if you don't use too much!) and the "No Scent" claim means of course that it doesn't have any powerful perfumed overtones, so you really feel like baby's skin is just getting the best.

The proof of the pudding? Boy Earthly's patches of eczema have cleared up after just one application!

Well done Green People for creating a truly gorgeous, natural skin tonic and remedy for our precious babies (and I daresay, a few Mums and Dads might be stealing some for their own skin too!).

The only downside to this lovely product is that it does not come with a cap for the pump top. This makes it difficult to put in a wash bag for travel, and means keeping it well out of baby's reach!

How do I get me some?
For your chance to win this fabulous trio of goodies, simply do both of the following:
  • Complete the statement "I would love a Green People Mum and Baby Goodie Pack because..." in the comments below AND
  • Head on over to Green People's Organic Babies Facebook page to "like" them, and tell me that you have done so in your comment.

Bonus Entries
Increase your chances of winning by:

  • Competition open to UK addresses
  • Please leave each entry as a separate comment
  • If you already follow/subscribe, please let me know
  • Remember to leave an email address/link in your comment so I can contact you if you win
A winner will be drawn using random.org on Saturday 20th August. Entries must be posted by Friday 19th August 23:59 BST.

* Disclosure: Green People sent me each of the three items above for review.
I only ever review and recommend items that I genuinely love and think you should know about.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Rules of Creativity: Learning to Create with the "Non-Creative"

Welcome to the August Carnival of Natural Parenting: Creating With Kids
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they make messes and masterpieces with children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


"Creativity is intelligence having fun." 
Albert Einstein 

As a haphazard kind of creative type myself, one of the things I looked forward to immensely as a new mum was the inevitable moments of messy play and crafty fun that I was sure would be a daily occurrence. Unfortunately boy Earthly had other ideas. I've written elsewhere about some of his personality traits, particularly as a baby, but suffice to say he was (and remains) a highly sensitive soul who likes things to be just so.

Whenever I tried to engage him in some painting or other crafty activity, he got just a teensy bit upset. And naturally, after a few such incidents, I got just a little upset too. I struggled so much to connect with this little person who simply wanted to sit and organise his crayons rather than attempt some wild scribbles; to sieve earth repeatedly through his fingers rather than digging pits and burying seeds; to refuse point-blank to put his hands anywhere near a tray of paint. Who was this little person and where did he come from?!

When he was a few months old, we were overjoyed to find that he really enjoyed one activity in particular: baking. I guess it appeals to his sense of order and method (despite us being completely haphazard in the kitchen as elsewhere, never measuring anything!) along with his great love of food of course. So we have managed a few baking sessions together, which is generally really good fun, right up until the point when the items need to go into the oven. He's learned recently that things need to "cook" but before now he seemed to think we were just denying him a lovely treat by putting it away!

Such is his love of baking (and eating) that when I tried to get both kids involved in a footprint plaque for Father's Day, boy Earthly screamed the place down when I attempted to get him to make his mark. And when I went to press his sister's foot into the clay, it elicited the same reaction. Having seen me rolling out this brown, dough-like stuff, he seemed to think we were making cookies or something and naturally got quite upset about the abuse of said cookie dough!

Kids are such great teachers. They teach us (if we allow them) to remain open minded. Before boy Earthly came along I rather scorned those who couldn't live with abandon and just have a stab at something, even if they'd never tried it before. I laughed at my mum for measuring pasta, and failed to understand people who followed recipes. But with my little boy's apparent orderliness I have had to swallow my judgment and learn anew about different approaches to creativity.

I know many, many people who believe they are "not the creative sort" because they do not naturally fall into that subset of personalities who are comfortable playing with possibilities. But the last thing I want is for my little boy to believe himself limited - or for anyone else to believe it either. Here's the thing, people. ANYone can be creative (seen Ratatouille?!). It's just a matter of different approaches. While some people may have an innate ability to absorb the 'rules' in order to bend them, others have to really work at it and explore, examine and extrapolate. The role as educator (and therefore my role as a mum) is to allow the freedom in which to do this. For creativity, in essence, is play. And play cannot be forced!

So whilst I watch my son methodically passing water between his measuring cups in the bath (over and over and over and over), I must remember this: in his explorations (however mundane they may seem to me) he is still learning. And quite often the things he finds out are in fact, quite new to us as adults. Like figuring out how to open child safety caps (before he learned that caps usually just unscrew). So given that freedom, and a little exposure to different possibilities, I hope that he will find his creative self and be both comfortable and confident with it. It's a good lesson for all of us - particularly those of you who feel they "aren't the creative type" - to let go, have a go and HAVE FUN!

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
  • Family Draw Time Art ShowKate Wicker shares art (and inspiration!) from her family's cherished tradition of family draw time.
  • The Rules of Creativity: Learning to Create with the "Non-Creative" — Zoe at Give an Earthly shares how she learned to accept her "non-creative" child and claims that anyone, child or adult, can be creative given the right handling and environment.
  • Creating With Kids: 4 Ways That Work For Us — See how Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings nurtures creativity with her kids through craft projects, outdoor creative play, celebrating the creative process, and setting up "little spaces of beauty."
  • Creating memories, not things — Mrs. Green from Little Green Blog reflects on life with a ten year old and how 'creating together' has evolved from 'things' to memories.
  • The Gift of Creation — It may be hot, but Kellie at Our Mindful Life is already thinking about winter.
  • Hidden Talents — Sylvia at MaMammalia describes how providing the opportunity for creativity sometimes means learning to look for hidden talents in unusual places.
  • Creating Joy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she and her one year-old son create joy for their community.
  • How to do Crafts with Kids — Gaby from Tmuffin guest posts at Natural Parents Network and describes how to keep things simple when doing crafts with kids for magical (easy-to-clean, and tantrum-free) results.
  • Sugar & Spice & Baking on the Kitchen Floor — Carrie at Love Notes Mama enjoys making a mess in the kitchen with her daughter.
  • Young Scientist Makes Purple Potion — Hannah at Wild Parenting loves being a lab assistant for the young scientist in her life.
  • Making a butterfly house — Lauren at Hobo Mama demonstrates the proper way to build a wooden butterfly house with a preschooler.
  • Nurturing Creativity — Amyables at Toddler In Tow shares the enjoyment she feels in nurturing the creativity of her children.
  • Home School Music - Sparking A New Generation Of Musicians — Based on her musical background, Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she creates with and teaches music to her children.
  • Creating (im)perfectly TogetherMudpiemama shares some of the highlights of a summer spent building everything from ships to hoops but most of a lesson on letting go of perfection.
  • Family Soccer Kick Around — When her children wanted to play soccer, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children helped organize something that would work for her family.
  • Creating Memories Together on Skype — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how you can create memories online with adult children or anyone who lives in another city or country.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Top 5 Places I've Breastfed

We've all done it - when you have a breastfed baby you often just have to "whip them out" regardless of time or place or propriety. Well, in no particular order, here are my top 5 :)
1. On a freezing cold market stall in November, with the trader behind me giving me pretty funny looks. Afterwards another (also male) trader "congratulated" me and told me not to take any notice of the guy with his eyes on stalks.
2. At the top of a hill in the snow, on a break from sledging, and standing up as it was too cold/wet to sit down anywhere!
3. Ahem, during. Well she needed fed! Interesting experience ;)
4. At a wedding reception with a table full of strangers (including one gawky teen) and in a dress that required me baring the whole of one side of my chest (underneath a wrap of course!).
5. During a 1-day pasta making course, whilst my class mates learned the art of creating funky and fabulous shapes withe the pasta dough. So I still can't make interesting pasta ...!
And you? Go on, I've shared!


I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!
You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.

(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

5 Things I Love About Breastfeeding

I may have said in previous posts (I can't remember) that I am not exactly a keen breastfeeder. I have certainly uttered the "h" word in relation to breastfeeding on more than one occasion - usually at 6am after a broken night's sleep and having spent the last 3 hours fighting for some bed space as well as some peace and quiet to close my own eyes and make some kind of job of replenishing my knackered body and empty milk ducts.

However, despite all this, I wouldn't have it any other way (well other than somehow sharing the task with hubby - I have it on good authority that partners can (and have been known to, somehow!) start producing milk for their offspring. How unbelievably and awesomely helpful would that be? 

In the meantime, here are 5 reasons why I love - yes love - breastfeeding:
1. I get a real kick out of knowing that I, and I alone (until solids are introduced) am responsible for my baby's growth and health. That is pretty darned awesome!
2. It's so easy! Oh yes, I've had my fair share of problems, from thrush to cracked and itchy nipples, and as already half-mentioned, I'm not so good at sharing my body and its personal space bubble every nano-second of the day. But if baby's hungry, anytime and anywhere, all I have to do is take my bra strap down and let her find a nipple: no sterilising, no bottles, no bags to carry lots of equipment when we go out, no having to decide which formula seems the best and healthiest choice, no warming necessary... I am ultimately lazy, and so for me, breast wins hands down!
3. I love the snuggling. Oh I know you can cuddle with a bottle too, but there's something so intimate and primal about baby nuzzling into your breast, her tiny mouth pouted and searching for the nipple - and finally, latching on and sucking contentedly away.
4. This is utterly vain, but it drops the post-pregnancy baby weight off fast! By 6 months post-birth for both my babies, I'd got back to my pre-pregnancy size and weight. If I hadn't breastfed I would have really struggled to shift that extra weight.
5. Father Earthly says "it's cheap"! Not free, because I have to eat more to keep up with the demand (including a lactating multivitamin), but certainly a lot cheaper than having to invest in bottles (though we did have some for expressing with boy Earthly - didn't bother this time round) and cartons of formula. Gotta love a bit of money-saving!
What do you love about breastfeeding?

Monday, 1 August 2011

The No-Sleep Sleep Update

I promised an update on the no-sleep monster situation. Well, the joint putting-to-bed thing has really worked. She typically settles down within 10 mins of us doing this and we can often steal away to forage for our dinner within half an hour.

Not always though. Some nights she is just determined to stay up late, share our dinner, spend several hours not wanting to sleep and then the rest of the night fractious with tummy ache...

But on the good nights, it works beautifully. She will sleep for anywhere between 1 and 3 hours generally before waking for a feed. And the last few nights she has let me put her back in her hammock, which gives us some much needed rest and space! Don't get me wrong, I am all for co-sleeping, but it just doesn't work with Girl Earthly. We are all much more settled in our own beds.

However - and this is the biggie - around 2-3am Girl Earthly wakes up and wants to party. Seriously. We try everything to settle her but she simply won't have it. She can easily keep this up till 5 or 6am, at which point her brother wakes up for the day. This has been happening every night and it's killing us.

My frustrations with all of this mainly stem from my inability to understand what is going on with her: if we put her to bed earlier or later it makes no difference. Her routine has essentially not changed - she still has the same cues. And despite the odd sleep-deprived explosion we are being unbelievably patient with her. But this has to stop. Somehow.

Father Earthly and I would love to hear your solutions!!

Narrowboat Living Top Ten

Inspired by Boat Wife's Motherboard Top Ten, I've wanted to write a post about boat living for a while. Recently I've been really struggling on board and have on more than one occasion expostulated "I want to live in a house!" along with a tirade on the myriad problems our water-borne home poses to any kind of sane living. So I thought I should write a "positive" top ten, but then realised that that may not give you much of a real idea about our day to day experiences - so here's a compromise, a well-balanced top ten: five good, five bad!

1. There's not much privacy on a narrowboat (especially on our mooring which is part of a World Heritage Site!). And people are pretty darned nosy sometimes!!
2. We have no garden or land of our own (other than the bit of towpath we're moored to, unofficially, where we can store wood and bikes, and have a few plants etc. So nowhere to decant the kids to easily on a good day unless really well supervised (which is pretty exhausting with a toddler). And nowhere for me to read a good book in the sun in peace :)
3. More than other boaters, we struggle for services as we have none installed yet. So we fill up several 5 litre water bottles every day from the BW water point and empty our cassette loo and have showers at a BW service block about 20mins drive away. We take our own rubbish and recycling to our nearest recycling centre, also about 20 mins drive.
4. Every space is multi-purpose, particularly at the moment whilst we're building, so our bedroom is also the playroom and "lounge" once the bed has been turned into a sofa; the dining area is also our "office" and everything else just has to fit in where it can! As you can imagine, this can be pretty chaotic...
5.  Life is pretty physical and exhausting sometimes and as yet we have no "haven" like a permanent bedroom to retreat to when we feel ill or knackered or just need to mentally and physically shut the door on things for half an hour.
1. We own our house (though we are paying off a small loan for it) and so are (a) not tied to a mortgage for the next 30 years and (b) don't have to put up with "inspections" and other hassles from rental agencies.
2. We don't get post, which I see as a bonus as we needn't put up with tonnes of junkmail, bills and nasty letters from your electricity supplier threatening to cut you off. We simply get any important mail delivered to a c/o address.
3. On that point, we have no service bills, just our licence and mooring fees to think about. We buy our own gas and generate our own electricity.
4. Having to create/look after/buy/collect/dispose of our own services and used items really makes us much more aware and frugal as consumers. On average we use about 20-30 litres of water a day, have a shower 2-3 times a week and try to keep our washing to a minimum (which is easier said than done with kids and our lifestyle). We get a vegbox delivered to our boat and try to make trips to the supermarket as rare as possible (particularly as we can get a lot of what we need locally).
5. We can move our house! We have plans to travel much of the South West network and would love to go to the Fens, but we do need to find a few spare weeks or months!

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