Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Don't click on anything underlined!

I am so sorry that this has happened.  Obviously I don't have quite the right protection on my computer, but my posts are being tainted by links to all sorts of things.  I appreciate your patientce as I attempt to fix this.

Spring Equinox 2014

I think that Spring Equinox or Ostara is one of my favourite holidays.  I love this time of year, which is full of spring bulbs, spring breezes and the promise of good times ahead.  Even the preparation of cleaning and clearing out are enjoyable.  I do think it is still important to take time for reflection during all of this busy work at this time of year.  It is also a call to meditation or prayer.

This year we kept it simple.  We have so much going on with the Lent De-cluttering challenge and preparing the garden, etc. that the actual holiday doesn't need much more to mark it.  This is a great time to decorate and eat eggs.  The kids got some chocolate eggs too.  We usually decorate baskets and have little gifts of eggs, chocolate bunnies etc.  But since we are trying to clear out a bit it seemed best to skip that this year. 

Some more ideas to celebrate Ostara:

  • Research age appropriate tales of the Goddess Ostara, stories of about hares, or spring time.
  • Plant "magic" jelly beans in the ground.  The next day the kids will find lollipops growing.
  • Write down some of the things that you would like to give up or leave behind.  Burn these offerings (safely of course).
  • Sow seeds (some of the seeds Brigid blessed at Imbolc) and plant fruit trees.
  • Create a family prayer or poem to the Goddess of Spring

Happy Spring!!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Lent De-Cluttering Challenge Weekly Update, Week 1

It is amazing how quickly the time goes when you have the flu---not.  And nothing makes you feel worse than sitting around not being able to do things that you really want to do.  Cleaning, de-cluttering.  Who would have thought? But I was itching to be up and clearing things out while I was hot with fever, and moaning with a sore throat.  I became ill last Sunday morning and I am still suffering.

It is a good thing that last Saturday I managed to gather 40 items to get rid of AND do 40 minutes weeding in the garden.  When I woke up on Sunday I was tempted to keep going in the garden despite the fact that I was meant to take Sundays "off."  But the fever soon took care of that.  Despite being ill, over the course of the week I actually managed to do quite a bit.  So while I don't know how many items I threw out exactly, I know it is a good number. This includes some clothes which were not good enough for donation or my rag rug (some involved in a dog poo incident---don't ask!).  And I have gathered two boxes plus of things to donate.

I have also sorted the spice shelf and threw out about ten items.  Sorting my toiletries got rid of a few more.  I received a small bag of handmedowns last week.  So I could pass on four pairs of boots, and a few t-shirts too.  I am not counting the fact that some items came in the house, because having the flu should mean I can be more lenient after all.

While I was quite disappointed to be so sick as I began this project I am not all that surprised.  There are those who believe a fever is a way of killing off some element of negativity from the past, a type of cleansing.  And if there is anything that needs doing when you are de-cluttering it is that.  Releasing the emotional need to hold on to things.  In fact it is remarkable just how many objects I have accidently ruined or that have broken, become worn out, and useless over the last few days.  Clothes suddenly tearing, toys found broken, as if my stuff is trying to get up and leave my home.  (When I start just clearing off every bookcase please call for professional help).

Friday, 7 March 2014

Lenten De-cluttering Challenge 2014 #3

Day three.  And although I have not had chocolate or sweets all day, I am feeling a bit discouraged.  I puttered around the house tidying up a bit of each room and the place still looks awful.  You could just about phone one of those shows where they send in a dozen people to clear the place out while the TV host and householder argue.  And I am wondering if maybe I am discouraged because I am detoxing from years of sweets and chocolate.
I have sorted the mess from the top of my dresser and got rid of quite a few papers, toiletries, general rubbish and boxed up more donations  I think I am well over 40 items.  My room still has a few boxes hiding under the bed, but they will have to live there for considerable time I think.  I still have a lot to do in my bedroom really, but I wanted to make sure I spent some time with the kids too. 
It is early days and I am sure that things will look a better next week.  When I need some extra encouragement I call on Archangel Jophiel to help me out.  Jophiel is the angel of art, beauty and decorating your home.  Spending a few minutes meditating with Jophiel helps calm and renews my sense of purpose.


What does de-cluttering have to do with Jesus's sacrifice for us?
What am I expecting from this task?
Does the clutter influence my mood or does my mood create clutter?
What do I gain by having clutter?

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Imbolc 2014

On the 2nd of February we celebrate Imbolc. I love Imbolc.  As a healer it is especially special as Brigid comes to bless healers at this time of year.  As Goddess of hearth (and blacksmiths) and home, what's not to love?  St. Bridget has the very same attributes. And although many pagans sites say that the Christians created a saint to replace the Goddess of the British Isles, there is actually quite a lot of information about St. Bridget and her amazing works.  So whether you are pagan or Christian or some mix of the two, there is a lot to celebrate on this day of the year.
There are some great ways to celebrate this holiday with kids.  And on Pinterest I have quite a few pins from around the world.  (Now how do I link them here, so you can jump from here to there?).  But this is how we spent Imbolc/Candlemass this year.
  • We made Brigid's Crosses out of pipecleaners
  • We visited the garden centre the day before to choose seed for our vegetable garden this year
  • We asked Brigid to bless our seeds (Dear Brigid, Bless these seeds so that they may grow to nourish us in Mind, Body and Spirit. Amen)
  • We created a blessing for the day (see below)
  • We spent the morning at our favourite spot at the River.  The river was high but we washed our faces with a splash of cold water.  How could you not feel great when sitting with such beauty?
  • Imbolc is a great time for cooking over the fire, and so we made a BBQ and made some bread over the fire as well.
  • The kids' father did all of this with us, so it was especially nice to have a family day together
  • I took some extra time to reflect and journal as this winter is leaving and spring is coming soon.
There are so many great ideas on how to honour this day, and in the interests of spending quality time with the kids we skipped a few that I had planned (such as making crescent moon biscuits).  I encourage people to look at Pinterest for more.

Come and bless us as we prepare to welcome spring.  Clear our homes, heal our ills, and awaken the fire in our hearts for the coming year.  Thank you for our rivers, our craft, and healing arts.  Thank you for blessing our family and our home.

Lent De-cluttering Challenge 2014 #2

I had these great plans to post about some of the prayers I am using to begin this season of de-cluttering. But I find that the best laid plans are always interrupted by my kids!
So as I was in the throws of researching de-cluttering and getting some inspiration from the Pope's Lenten message, my own son was suffering.  He came to me in near tears last evening asking about death and dying and we sat down for a good chat.
For weeks now I have worried over the TV he has been watching.  Although I have read loads about kids and TV, I have let my kids watch quite a lot of it.  My 7 year old has also chosen to use the living room as his bedroom.  He doesn't want to share with his 2 year old sister (who disturbs his sleep) and he really likes the novelty of the sofa bed.  But this does mean that when I want to watch Midsomer Murders or NCIS then he is often around and awake. 
Over the last couple of weeks he has been asking a lot of questions about death and especially how badly it would hurt to die from various violent acts (gun, knife, fire, etc.).  He also watches a lot of Scooby Doo and various vampire/wizard programmes on CBBC. 
So we had a good chat about death and heaven.  And we made a plan to give up mysteries (adult ones, and some kid ones) for Lent. 
Then we read a few of our favourite books including

The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside


Thank you, Angels by Doreen Virtue

This morning we dropped off our 40 items from yesterday and another 22 I gathered this morning.  I have gathered another 18+ items for the rubbish bin which goes out tonight.  (Including a filthy pair of trainers, but mostly wrappers and things from the car!). 

When you donate a pair of shoes, do you count it as one item or two?
Can we make time this week to finish our angel mailbox (more on that later)?
Day 2, no chocolate or sweets so far!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Lent 2014

Today marks the beginning of Lent.  It is always a special time of the year when we are contemplating endings and new beginnings.  I spend a lot of the winter months reflecting and journaling and planning.  I am a planner.  And typically just as I plan unrealistic New Year's Resolutions I also take on un-achievable Lenten tasks.
I usually decide to give up chocolate or all sweets and only last about two days.  In recent years I have been taking a different approach.  One which seems to be working a bit better.  I have been using Lent as a reminder to slow down, spend less, argue less, plant more, share more and take care of my health.  I take some extra time for prayer and meditation.  For dreaming, planning and growth.  You cannot necessarily measure these things on the scales or on a chart.  I can only consider them in my own heart.
I have made some tentative plans to give up chocolate and I am also doing some decluttering in preparation for some family coming to visit at Easter.  I have found a great idea on Pinterest  (sorry I really cannot find the website again despite much effort!) which suggested throwing out or donating 40 items each day for 40 days (skipping Sundays).  More on that  here.

I have found a few other blogs with great ideas for families at this time of year:

Welcome to my domestic monastery 


Catholic Icing

Wishing you and your family a blessed season.

Lenten De-cluttering Challenge 2014 #1

I have found this lovely idea which seems perfect for my family this year.  Give up 40 things for each of the 40 days of Lent (skipping Sundays).  The items can be thrown out, given away to friends or donated.  I came across the idea on Pinterest and I cannot find the website anywhere now, so I apologise to the blogger who suggested it.

The reason I think this would be so helpful for us this year is because we downsized to a small bungalow six months ago.  I still have loads of boxes in closets and in the halls.  We gave up lots of items already, but it still feels quite crowded in here.

I don't know that I have enough things to give up 40 items for 40 days.  So I might need to be creative with this one.  I feel like I am cheating a bit because I have a box of nearly 40 items sitting ready to bring to the charity shop.  So I am off to put a few more books and clothes in and I can pop it into the car ready to bring to the charity shop tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Space in a bottle

A variation of sea in a bottle, space in a bottle uses vinegar or distilled water mixed with black or blue paint.  Space confetti shapes and glitter make stars and planets.  Baby oil or vegetable oil tops it off.  The kids and even the grownups enjoyed making these.

Superheroes v. Aliens Party Food

The menu was quite simple:  Mini pizzas, Mini chicken satay, UFO cake with alien cupcakes and lime jelly with eyes

Seaside notecard

A quick thank you card for our hosts last summer.  Glue + sand + fabric + paper flag

Single Crunchy Mama post #1

I have neglected my blog for a loooong time.  It isn't that I haven't thought about my blog. I have even drafted long posts in various journals....but a series of technical problems, including computer breakdown, lack of internet and good old fashioned procrastination has kept us apart.

But I think that will change.  My two munchkins and I have moved to a new home.  We have a working (mostly) computer.  We have Internet.  All systems go. 

It is a good time for me really.  A new home in a new little village.  It has now been two years since my ex-partner officially moved out (2.5 years since we split).Thomas Moore says that it takes at least two years to get over a significant breakup---that anyone else who comes along is likely to be placed on a pedestal etc.  So, I have entered the "safety zone" where dating is concerned.  Not that I have time or energy for that!!

I spend my days unschooling with my kids J (7) and S (2).  S attends nursery a few hours per week.  We attend various home education groups each week.....but mostly we hang out at home: cooking, crafting, exploring....tripping over boxes of stuff we haven't unpacked yet (mostly because we don't have room for all of our things).  I am looking for work, looking to improve our healthy lifestyle, looking to decrease the nasty chemicals etc, and looking for love..(well not really looking as much as hoping it falls in my lap in between the playground and the grocery store, but it sounds romantic.)

Safety First

Call me a worrier, but I sometimes get nervous about what will happen to us if there is an emergency.  I was determined to go over some basic safety information with the kids this year.  We moved in to a new house not too long ago and we don't know many neighbours yet.  I don't expect much from my 2 year old, but I think that my 7 year old could do with practice making phone calls and summoning help if necessary.

There is a post going around the Internet which suggests that people place emergency information on their car seats.  Apparently emergency crews often find the driver hurt in an accident and no one can give basic information such as name, age, etc for the passengers. 

I decided to set myself  a few tasks for the new year:

1.  Important Numbers list.  I typed and laminated phone numbers to put by the main phone. Since my 7 year old doesn't use the phone much I had him practice reading the names, dialling numbers and also how to access these using my mobile phone.  We did a "fake" emergency to Daddy pretending he was 999.  I included numbers for emergency (999), my mobile, their father, my parents, the nursery, the childminder, and a neighbour they know.  Our address is there with the postcode in bold red letters.  I had my son practice the address as well.  The nice thing about this list is that I have the numbers handy and they are there for babysitters too.

2.  Emergency Contact List.  I typed and laminated this list which includes a "who lives here" section and an emergency contact list.  We have our names, date of birth, allergies, blood type etc.  I put large red crosses on the back to indicate they are to be used in emergencies.  One is hanging by the front door and one is taped in the car.  (I flipped them over so the cross is seen and not our personal information for all to see). 

3.  Emergency keys.  I have to keep my two doors locked because my 2 year old would happily run around the neighbourhood if I didn't. So I shrunk the emergency contact info and laminated it to make two 3"x4" cards.  One is with the spare front door key and one with the back door key.  I hung them so the 7 year old can reach them but the 2 year old cannot (she would take them to play with).

4.  Fire Safety.  We went over a few drills crawling around on the floor to stay below the "smoke."  We had a good look at the windows and decided which ones may or may not be safe to jump out of (we live in a bungalow).  We put smoke alarm testing on our calendar so we remember to do it.  When I moved in I wasn't; given the window key to one of the windows so I contacted the council (who owns it) about this.  Our local fire brigade gave me a lot of fire safety information and it suggests closing doors at night to help slow down a fire.  For instance if there is a fire in the kitchen having the kitchen and bedroom doors closed will help contain the fire for a short time while the smoke will still set off the alarm allowing you time to get out. We have a fire blanket in the kitchen and we take it outside when we have a BBQ.  We keep a bucket of water near the BBQ as well. 

5.  Practice Runs.  In addition to the phone calls above we had an emergency scenario where I pretended I fell, hurt my leg and couldn't walk.  We pre-arranged a script in which he runs to a neighbour to get some immediate adult help. 

I am glad that we did these and I am especially proud of my son for taking part.  I don't want to scare the kids too much (or turn them into worriers like me), but I think that the fun of play acting has also helped boost his confidence in a new neighbourhood. 

My son does some basic first aid with his scout troop and his father is a First Aider.  So we might practice some of these skills in the coming months just for fun.