That lady said my kids were wild and unruly!

dundeemarmalade:

I love that when the memory of other’s words are painful it can be for two clear, simple reasons – oh, how this speaks to my condition! I’d love to say I’ve found my own way of dealing with all those unpleasant encounters with the judgey-pants-wearing Ladies of a Certain Age who seem to take particular delight in mean-spirited interjections. I’m working on it still, and will keep Joanna’s thoughts in mind for the future!

Originally posted on Parenting Energies:

20140411-100543.jpg
This is what happened. I took my boys (4yo and 1yo) to the supermarket – very brave, I know. You already know how I feel about the supermarket, and our food/shopping ethics … And yet today I felt drawn there as an adventure. 4yo was superb, sitting in the trolley the whole time, rarely saying a word. 1yo was on foot, trotting backwards and forwards pointing his quirky little 1-finger point, waving, talking and charming. I grabbed them hot chicken winglets on the way in, dissapointed when I opened the box to find bright orange crumbed nuggets. Colours, additives, a big experience for any 1yo. Anyway he ate them up and got more and more excited and enthusiastic about running away from me.

I soon had a trolley full of nappy boxes, tinned tomatoes, pasta and frozen seafood, and both boys were out on floor to walk. Payment done, supermarket…

View original 1,021 more words

Fitmums the choir – enjoyment and mastery in action!

fitmums the choir

I’m still rejoicing in the memories of this weekend’s inaugural Fitmums The Choir concert – after only 11 weeks of rehearsals Fitmums and Friends presented a concert of songs and music to a packed house of over 250.  From the first rehearsal it was clear that we had real spirit as a group of singers, just as we do in our regular running groups.  As the weeks went on, words were learnt and parts devised for the men, altos and sopranos – a challenge that the newbies more than met – and our sound got bigger and better.  With the support of our wonderful conductor and musical director, fitmums rehearsaland the patience of our talented accompanist we put together a varied half hour programme – not bad for a group with only a few experienced singers.

There was a starring role for our Fitmums Juniors – including my own DD1, who came to every rehearsal with me, learnt all the words before me and managed to stay on stage despite her dreadful nerves and chronic shyness.  The whole thing has been so positive for her – although I think she found the experience of performing a bit emotionally overwhelming.  And as is typical for her, any emotional intensity results in both shutting down (she won’t talk about it at all) and stressing out – she went home in tears, sobbing her heart out because I wasn’t going straight home with her and the rest of the family.

Just as with other things we’ve done together, I’m left feeling more than a little confused.  Was I right to encourage her to join in – it didn’t take much encouragement and I gave her easy ways out of it up to the last moment?  Are these intense experiences just too much? Will it ever get easier?  I suppose this is all a giant “is this normal” question, based on our years of trying to make her being-in-the-world a bit easier.

As part of this, we’ve been working through the strategies in “Coping with an Anxious or Depressed Child”, focusing particularly on Mastery and Enjoyment – doing things you’re good at and that you enjoy as a way of making yourself feel better.  Make sense, huh?

DD1 loves singing, loves doing things with me, and enjoys hanging out with Fitmums, so it seemed like a good idea at the time!  I guess we have to trust our instincts with this kind of thing.  It’s hard though, to encourage her to reach out to into the world, to “breathe out” and engage with life.

But I’m convinced that even if it is quite full-on for her to do things like this (let’s face it, it was a big ask for most of the grown-ups involved!) it’s only by being out in the world that she will ever come to enjoy it.  And being surrounded by a bunch of determined and supportive adults (who give their time, love and energy to the Fitmums community) has to be as good as any place to stand in the spotlight, feel the fear and sing out anyway!

Something for the (kids’) weekend – good value and good values!

If your little darlings are anything like mine, nearly every weekend features at least one moment like this:

“I’m boooooooored…  weekend box

There’s nothing to doooooooo…

I wanna watch telleeeeeeeeeee”.

Given that I’m very conscious about the amount of screen-time both my girls get, I rarely give in to their pleas – but when I’ve got my hands full with Other Things, it can be hard to resist.  Enter, stage left, the Weekend Box Club – saviour of sanity, bringer of surprises, keeper-quiet of children aged 3 – 8.

Our first weeweekend boxkend box arrived looking very intriguing – pretty box, lots to look out but a little tricky to get into it without destroying it.  Oops.  Bad mama.

Once opened, the box revealed a collection of brightly coloured packets and instruction sheets.  These give us Something to Make, Something to Do, Something to Explore, and Something Green – in our box we had a spring-themed rocking bird, some spicy spinach pumpkins, a Pot o’Gold Game (national stereotyping, anyone? ;-)), and an activity exploring sounds and vibrations.  We also found some small stickers to reward each completed activity (but we couldn’t find one for completing the whole box – which means we can’t add it to the “I’ve finished six weekend boxes” certificate that we also found), and the top of the box can also be coloured in as a completion certificate.

dora exploresNeedless to say, with all these pretty packets to open DD1 was straight in, and chose the sound exploration activity.  We needed to watch a youtube video for detailed instructions on making our “robot voice box” from the straws and balloons supplied – a QR code might have helped here, and could be easily added to the instructions, I’d have thought – which worked really well.  I don’t know who was more surprised when our contraption actually made some very loud and surprising noises!

We haven’t yet had time to explore all the other packets, but I’m very glad that we have them to hand for the inevitable “I’m booooored” moments that will crop up over the next few weeks: each of the packets and instruction sheets is self-contained, so I can dish them out to her without needing to spend ages running around amassing bits and pieces.  And the individual projects are about right for her ability level – absorbing but not too difficult for her to start doing independently.  I would definitely consider getting regular deliveries, especially over the holidays:  fortnightly deliveries would be perfect for us, and at only £7.50 a box it’s a good value solution too.

I’m pleased to that there is an alternative to the cheap-and-cheerful, plasticky “craft” stuff that is directed at families looking for practical, at-home entertainment for their children.  Everything in the box can be recycled, and is sustainably packaged and resourced, with at least 95% of the contents made from recycled materials.  I’ve bookmarked their page for gift subscriptions too – a perfect solution for my many nephews’ and nieces’ birthdays, with 3, 6 and 12 month gift subscriptions available too.

If you’d like to try one out with your family, you can get your first box absolutely free using this the code KATE154 at www.weekendboxclub.com

I’d love to know what you think of the idea!

Disclosure:  This post is a review of products I was sent for free, and all opinions expressed within it are my own.

Lindy Hop Adventures

My dear husband celebrated his birthday at the end of January – a dismal time for a party. It’s always a bit of a challenge to find something interesting to do. I had long been planning to do something dance-y; he was surprisingly willingly to watch last year’s Strictly with our DD1 – her special weekend treat – and I have treasured memories of our dancing/festival years pre-children. It’s not something we get to do very much these days; in fact, just being on our own together out of the house isn’t something we get to do very much these days. So our birthdays are an important focus for some much-needed grown-up time together.

Anyway, back to the dancing…

Having checked out the options for adults’ dance classes in the evenings, I decided that we should have a go a Kingston Swing‘s Monday evening Lindyhop; we didn’t need special shoes or clothes, could just turn up and dance, and they seemed friendly and informal (no perma-tans and stick-on smiles here!).

My nerves were tapping out a mighty rhythm when we eventually set off for our evening adventure – I’d kept DH in the dark about my plans – but I needn’t have worried. Despite both of us being a bit nonplussed to start with within minutes we were being taught some simple steps and moves by two lovely (and scarily young) teachers. Although I struggled with being a suitably passive “follower” we both felt like we’d had a breath of fresh air and the chance to use part of our brains and bodies that doesn’t get much of a look in these days. It would be great if we could go back again – I must find out what day my birthday falls on this year!

A journey of temperaments

Some of our recent adventures in Steiner-Waldorf land have brought the issues of Temperaments to the fore. As an arch-sceptic, I’m always very wary of rigid typologies, and see them more as a tool for further thinking rather than as a gospel by which to live.

The issue of temperaments in Steiner-Waldorf school culture is not one of the most visible in the whole crunchy, Steinery culture.  It tends to crop up a fair way down the line of anybody’s engagement with general Steiner-Waldorf discourse – DH (who was Steiner schooled a fair bit) is familiar with it only in the loosest sense.

But it is something that has cropped up from time to time in my reading and I wanted to find out more, especially when it came to finding more positive ways to relate to the different personalities in our family.

As our daughters grow up their different temperaments and characteristics have proved challenging, drawing far more energy out of me than I would ever have expected. Some weeks it is all I can do just to keep things ticking over on the most basic level. So when I stumbled across  Temperaments and the Adult-Child Relationship while putting a few books onto my phone’s e-reader app (my handbag is cluttered enough without lugging books around on the off-chance that I actually get to read something for 45 seconds). It sat there on my virtual bookshelf for several months while I slowly and deliciously worked my way through Buddhism for Mothers – itself one of the best parenting books I have ever read – before starting it in the New Year.

Temperaments is an easy read, although tricky to navigate on my phone.   Reading it has stimulated a great deal of discussion with DH, and generated some surprising insights, many of which have had a positive effect on the whole-family dynamic. We’re relating better, more gently and with more compassion than we have for years; having tools to explore each other’s quirks and characteristics while appreciating our different strengths and delights has been great.

As part of the whole temperamental discussion we’ve enjoyed listening to some content from /insert link here/ – this is the first of a series of blog posts discussing the temperaments, which will develop as my understanding of them grows. I’ll leave this one here for now, as I’m off to do some more reading…

Crackers – just mad about them!

In my other guise, I’m a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator – I run a separate blog for this work – and this weekend I’m hosting a wreath making workshop.  I’mburlap wreath hoping to have eight crafty women and girls in our new day room/sitting room, making a beautiful Spring-bright burlap and blooms wreath.

crackersI’ve been thinking about refreshments for my paying guests, and as well as some of my usual brownies, I’m going to make a massive batch of SouleMama‘s amaaaaazing crackers with a selection of toppings.  Plain sea salt is our current favourite, but I’m going to try chilli and parmesan, oregano and olive oil, and maybe do some with some goats’ cheese in too.  What combinations would you try?

When I make a batch of crackers they usually get eaten with hours, so I’m going to have to keep these under close guard (and resist temptation myself!).

Yarning along with Small Things

I managed to fiyarn along wk com 24-02nish this First Coat by Debbie Bliss (my go to baby knits solution – patterns always seem to work out despite my iffy tensioning), made in leftover balls of artesano inca cloud/mist. Let’s hope it still fits the intended recipient…

Next onto the needles is some gorgeous British Breeds Bluefaced Leicester DK; I’m making a hat for me, as seen a couple of week’s ago in one of Ginny’s lovely Yarn Along posts.

What’s on your needles today?