Sunday, January 30, 2011

Jesus in a spaceship

My son started at the local school this September. 95% of Irish schools are Catholic. Irish schools have a required 30 minutes daily religious instruction.

However, we are not religious.

How will this work we wonder...

And so today, a conversation started in our house.

"Who lives there?" I asked "Jesus?" I can't remember exactly where this place was we were talking about, but I was being playful.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Joy Pockets

unpacked boxes
our wedding cherry tree planted out in our own garden - 7 years later!
purple tights
Spring energy
blogging joy pockets
mini morning mindfulness practice
my children dressed up as pants superheroes
an Amazon basket full of goodies
finding my old University essays
baby blowing raspberries on my belly
a date for one with a box of Milk Tray
clear communication

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Until the Light of Morning – CD review

"I have just come downstairs from singing my children to sleep. What a wonderful experience. No fighting or tears, just two sweaty little bodies gradually growing limper in my arms as slumber and song intertwined and lulled them, my words perhaps painting the start of their dreams.

"Bedtime here is usually books and cuddles, sometimes a CD. Perhaps ours is the first generation not to soothe our children to sleep with song. We have so many other options. And so can forget the power and the simplicity of our mother voices, singing the songs of our ancestors, passing on melody and words to the next generation."

So started my winter Dreaming Aloud column in JUNO  (for the full article see below). For regular readers of this blog you will know that sleep is a MAJOR issue in this house. Getting to sleep is no joke... nor staying asleep! Last night was a perfect example, you would need fingers and toes both to count the amount of wakings we had. Today mama and papa bear are distinctly grizzly.

So I was delighted when soon after sharing my love of lullabies a wonderful new CD of lullabies arrived on my doorstep. No Twinkle, Twinkle, or Lavender's Blue here, thank God. We have paid our penance for unknown crimes committed in past lives, and played our numerous standard lullaby CDs to death - even the funky Elvis-style version of There Was a Crooked Man.  I am very sorry to report that they are now all too scratched to listen to. Ah well! They are no longer needed. There is a new kid on the block!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The lost art of lullaby

I have just come downstairs from singing my children to sleep. What a wonderful experience. No fighting or tears, just two sweaty little bodies gradually growing limper in my arms as slumber and song intertwined and lulled them, my words perhaps painting the start of their dreams.

Bedtime here is usually books and cuddles, sometimes a CD. Perhaps ours is the first generation not to soothe our children to sleep with song. We have so many other options. And so can forget the power and the simplicity of our mother voices, singing the songs of our ancestors, passing on melody and words to the next generation.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I see you baby!

I write very few gloating mama posts. In general one's pride in one's own children does not translate well to others. But I cannot resist...

Baby Ash is ten and a half months old. It seems every day we have a new achievement to cheer about in our house. Each day a new example of her finding her own ability to interact with the things of the earth and her fellow humans. Each interaction is an assertion that she is her own person. And each is accompanied by the most wonderful grin of accomplishment. Some are "normal" milestones: walking, first word, though no parent takes these for granted. And some are "special", like learning to throw a paper airplane after watching her brother and sister do it. Every milestone for our babies feels like an achievement for us parents too. We have kept them fed and safe so that they might grow. We have weathered the tumultuous first months where life is a blur and the purpose of it all seems far from our grasp. Our helpless baby, whose tiny toes we counted for the first time, mere months ago, is growing up. We are all delighting in her burgeoning personhood.

Joy Pockets

mud between my fingers
my baby walking around the garden for the first time in delight
a very popular blog posting
vietnamese pork stew
pregnant friends 
my dancing girls
the election being called - and Brian Cowen (Irish Premier) finally realising he is persona non grata
special books
plum wine spritzers
a really helpful husband
looking forward to seeing Laura

Saturday, January 22, 2011

YES! A big shout out

I have just come across a new idea right up my street in YES! magazine  which author Chuck Collins, a senior researcher at the US Institute for Policy Studies, refers to as Common Security Clubs. Those who have been interested in my Transition Family posts and this week's Radical Homemaker's week, will be into this.

I have only just discovered this US publication and am just about to subscribe. At the moment US readers can get a free sample issue. International readers can sign up for a free weekly newsletter with a selection of articles to get a flavour of it.

YES! Magazine deals with peace and justice, the new economy, people power, planet, happiness. It states its purpose as:

2010 yes magazine covers
  • Reframing issues and outlining a path forward;
  • Giving a voice to the people who are making change;
  • Offering resources to use and pass along

Disclaimer:I have no connections to this publication, nor am receiving anything from them in exchange!

If you liked this...Why not read....

My Transition Family Series

Friday, January 21, 2011

Radical Homemakers (4) Some niggling issues

Wherever there are radical ideas there are nay sayers and vituperative opposition. Radical Homemakers is not for everyone. This goes without saying. Not everyone aspires to living on less, environmental sustainability, doing instead of buying. But no one is saying you have to. I take issue with those who claim that writers like Hayes, and those of us who chose to stay at home to raise young children are putting feminism back, or that those who desire to make their own jam are trying to live back in the 1750s, rejecting the whole of the modern world. The way we live now, that society currently deems "normal" is not sustainable, nor acheivable for the majority of the world's population. Radical Homemakers are exploring a different way, looking both backwards and forwards, and putting human and ecological values before consumerism. This I wholeheartedly support and endorse.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Radical Homemaking Week (3): Dispelling the Myth of Self Sufficiency

Many of us who hark after a "simpler" life have grand visions of "self sufficiency". My secret mental tick list includes:

*Growing and preserving all our own fruit and veg
*Home cooking all our own food
*Filling our house with handmade craft
*Having chickens...and a couple of pigs...and maybe a cow, do we have room for a cow?
*Making my own soap and herbal teas and creams and lotions and potions and candles...
*Sewing at least some of our own clothes, and patchwork quilts...
*In an ideal world community/ home schooling and perfectly raising 3 wonderful kiddies in an attachment parenting, Steiner influenced, celebrate every tiny festival way
*Running a community bookshop/ a way of earning a living from all my book reading and cake baking
*Writing a few best-selling books on transition living, women's circles...which you'd all buy, right?
*Editing a groundbreaking journal or magazine
*Having a spotless house and weed-free, colour-coordinated flower beds
My husband adds making our own beer,wine and cider, willow weaving, energy self sufficiency, knitting jumpers and making our own artwork and furniture to the list.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Radical Homemakers (2) Value beyond Money

If our freedom is tied to the ability to buy what we need, then we are not independent at all.
Radical Homemakers

My time is a precious commodity. I have never been willing to take on a career which ruled my life, though the necessity to earn some part of a living is always there. Instead I prefer, as much as possible, to invest my time in my life, and to save, rather than spend money first. Rather than earn a big salary, only to pay other people to do the tasks that I can't because I'm working...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Radical Homemaking Week: (1) Beyond Housewives and Feminism

Welcome to Radical Homemaking week here at Dreaming Aloud! For an introduction to the Radical Homemakers book see here...

IS THIS IT? I wrote in my journal a few weeks back, after weeks of being housebound with a sick family and icy roads. Endless cooking, cleaning, tidying, more tidying and yet more tidying with little other distraction had taken their toll. I'M A $@*#£! HOUSEWIFE!

I have nothing against housewives: I just never intended to be one. For good reason: I am a TERRIBLE housewife (see here and here). I cultivate cobwebs and laundry mountains in my home with as great success as the courgettes and coriander I grow in my garden. I try to breathe mindfully whilst I do "my duties", rather than fuming against my family, my husband and biology. I would not class my domestic skills (except cooking) anywhere in my top twenty of "things I'm good at". They don't come naturally. I don't enjoy them. In fact, often I feel like I would rather gnaw off my own arm than empty the dishwasher or tidy the toys for the umpteenth time today.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Radical Homemaking Week: Welcome!

I want to write about Radical Homemakers the book and radical homemaking in my own life. But it's so big! I don't know where to start. So I think this will be Radical Homemaking week here at Dreaming Aloud...

Part 1: Beyond Feminism and Housewives will be coming to a computer screen near you shortly!

What is Radical Homemakers?  See here for last week's introduction...

Joy Pockets

BBC Radio 4 - almost all of it
spring in the air - even though it's mid January
Saturday Pizzas
good friends
stormy nights
baths with my husband
cheeky baby smiles
2 year old cat dances
a boy who can't stop eating
a functioning car battery
reading the papers in bed

My children's joy pockets...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Life Affirming Luncheon

Saturday Pizzas. These two words sum up why I love to live here. Locally produced, organic, well-cooked food, served up with lashings of community spirit, in a funky cafe, overlooking gorgeous gardens and the sea on the horizon. Only five minutes walk from the Pink House. Fifteen if the kids are walking and remarking on every feather and plant in the hedgerow. Good food, good friends, family friendly. Bliss.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Book review: Radical Homemakers


That's what I think. With every page that I read. YES! That's me! That's why we're doing it! That's who we are! That's how we live! It has reconfirmed our life path, our journey, our motivation, our daily choices to me.

The back blurb reads..."Radical Homemakers uncovers a hidden revolution quietly taking hold across the United States. It is the story of pioneering men and women who are redefining feminism and the good life by adhering to simple principles of ecological sustainability, social justice, community engagement and family well-being. It explores the values, skills, motivations, accomplishments, power, challenges, joy and creative fulfillment of Americans who are endeavoring to change the world by first reclaiming control of home and hearth."

Breastfeeding - No hardlines here...just plenty of soft curves!

As regular readers and good friends know, the one thing you don't find here is hardlines, or heavy dogma. Lots of ranting, and U turns and experiments and latest passions. A pretty hop and skip over the picket fence and back which divides the mainstream and alternative worlds, equally flummoxing and enraging both sides.

Today's Guardian article is a case in point. It reports on fresh scientific evidence which contradict WHO advice, announcing that six months of exclusive breastfeeding is NOT the optimal approach to babycare now, and that infants need other foods from four months.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dancing girls

The sun is shining. "Let's go out for a walk," I suggest.
"Don't wanna go out, mum!" my older daughter insists.
"We can go and see the chickens, and the pigs," I wheedle.
"Don't wanna go!" The tone is being ramped up. I cannot face another tantrum. We have been through too many these past few days. My nerves are raw. But still we have been cooped up in the house for weeks with illness. I need to get some exercise. I need to move my body, get my heart pumping, tone my muscles, feel alive. And then the penny drops. I go over to the stereo in the children's room. It is used solely for story tapes and lullabies. I put on Bruce Springstein's glorious folksy Seeger Sessions. I love this CD. My kids LOVE this CD. It just HAS to be danced to.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Watchful Buddha Boy

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children

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 the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


"The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:
A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive.
To him...
a touch is a blow,
a sound is a noise,
a misfortune is a tragedy,
a joy is an ecstasy,
a friend is a lover,
a lover is a god,
and failure is death.”

-Pearl S. Buck

I remember being seven months pregnant and worried that my unborn son might be deaf. I had been to a drumming workshop, and rather than leaping around to the rhythm, as all the books said he should, my normally active baby was deathly still.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Community and family values

Many alternative types struggle with the integration issue. For some it is a constant worry, others don't bat an eyelid. Newer parents can be especially militant: this is my child, I'm doing it my way. Hang your traditions, we have a better way. We only want wholemeal flour, wooden toys and certainly no sugar or TV...

How can we live our values without alienating those we love? For what do we gain if we achieve our values but lose our families, friends and communities? Where should the compromise be? Children can be a battle ground amongst the traditional or mainstream ways of doing things and the alternative. My concern is that in trying to kick hard against what we as parents do not agree with, we risk isolating and confusing our children. We have acquired our values though our lives, and so whilst we can make choices for ourselves and how we live, how much should we impose "our way" on them?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Doctor's orders

Laydeez and gentlemen, may I present you with......
Drum roll pleeze...........
The words of my new hero, DR Tom Smith...
"Don't diet too much: being slightly overweight is good for you."
Yes you heard it right.We is allowed to be a little chubby!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Keeping inside the lines: Why colouring in dominates early years education and what we can do about it...

WHY HAS COLOURING in taken over education? As a secondary level teacher myself, I was shocked when my son started school this September. His homework – homework, on the first night of Junior Infants! – was to colour in a snake. On the back of the sheet was an almost identical snake that he had coloured that day at school. This has continued as the weeks have gone past. “What did you do in school today?” I ask. “Colouring in,” comes the reply. And what's for homework? Let me guess...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mindful consumption

Is sugar a drug?

There are those who would have you believe that it is as dangerous as crack cocaine. I have seen vitriolic online debates where people refer to it as a poison, and that they would rather feed rat poison to their child than sugar. I am sceptical. But I also know how powerful it is. I eat, we in this family, eat far more sugar than we need or is good for us. And when we're sick it seems to be the only thing we're capable of eating.


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