Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Everyday superheroes : Super 'Pappy'


Welcome to the March 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Everyday Superheroes
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 talked about the remarkable people and characteristics that have touched their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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For my 4 year old a superhero is very much someone who saves others. So when he told me that 'Pappy' (his grand dad, my dad) had saved him I could just picture my 83 years old dad posing as Super Pappy, in cape and... well, tights. I'm sure DH won't thank me for putting that image in his head but never mind! The point is that it was really sweet.

The story was that we were on holidays in France while DH was still in the UK, working. We'd been to the beach in our London taxi.



Kids, granny, body boards, buckets, spades, all jumbled up at the back of the car, the children requiring of their grand mother to play games with them while she was trying her hardest to do so without being sick (she's a bit sensitive to travel sickness). Then I heard the tale telling flap flap flap flap of a flat tyre and stopped on the kerb of the road (thank goodness there was a kerb to stop on!).
Now, our taxi is a heavy car (more than 1 and a half tonne) with big, heavy wheels. I have had my share of shabby cars and I know how to change a tyre or check the oil. But on the Fairway Driver, with 4 children and a granny, on the side of a very busy, quite fast going road? I was pretty sure I wouldn't manage to do it. And I didn't have much faith either in my dad being able to do it to be honest.

I know you must be thinking, but if the grand dad was the hero of the story surely he did change the flat tyre in the end... Well, no. We called a recovery van (DH did, from England!) and started to wait after having spent already a little time faffing about, finding a recovery company, etc. The children were getting hungry and tired, worried too, so my dad offered to come in his car and take most of the children (except for my then 22 month old who would not have been happy to leave me) and my mum, back home.

So he came, the knight in slippers and Volkswagen Polo. The children, still in their swimming costumes, piled up happily in the smaller car with the promise of dinner when they arrived at my parents' house. And that's what prompted DS, later that night when I was putting him to bed and telling a story of his day, to add to the story 'And Pappy saved me!'.



That elevation of my dad to hero status took afterwards a different significance for me as he suffered a stroke in November. He lost the ability to use language (in speech or writing) and the mobility in his right hand. Knowing that his two passions in life are drawing (he's an artist by profession) and talking, it's been quite hard on him. He is very strong willed though and determined to recover what he's lost. He has become independent again in everyday life as soon as could be expected and he's now working hard at learning again how to communicate and use the fine motor skills of a right handed person (he has regained some movement in his right hand but he can't always feel if what he wants to grab and hold is actually in his hand).

That's hero's stuff, isn't it ?!

To finish the story of the flat tyre... DS had been saved by Super Pappy but the taxi was still in the ditch with its, as DS called it, 'black tyre'. The recovery van arrived and it appeared that I had been right : neither me nor my dad could have changed the tyre. As it is even the recovery guy couldn't do it at first! He'd been coming straight from wherever he was, with his standard tyre changing kit, but for the taxi he needed to go back to his workshop and get the lorry kit... Yes. So a bit of going to and fro followed. He dropped me (and DB) at my parents'. I put everyone to bed and was even lucky that DB went to sleep on the breast and allowed me to deposit her on the bed, just before the mechanic came back. We went back to where the taxi was (by then it was dark), he changed the tyre and I could finally drive back to my parents' (it turned out we had stopped only a few hundred yards from the town, where we could have parked the car on a proper parking space and walked home...) at the rather ungainly hour of 11.20 pm.

But... it was almost worth it for the story of Pappy the superhero in the end :)



***
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:
(This list will be updated by afternoon March 11 with all the carnival links.)
  • I Am A Super Hero — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she learned the hard way exactly what it means to be a real super hero and not a burned out shell of a human simply pretending to be one.
  • Quiet Heroics — Heroism doesn't have to be big and bold. Read how Jorje of Momma Jorje is a quiet hero…and how you probably are, too.
  • Not a Bang, but a Whisper {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about the different types of "superheroes," ones that come in with a bang and ones that come in with a whisper.
  • Silent courage of motherhood in rural Cambodia — Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings marvels at how rural Khmer women defy the odds in childbirth.
  • Super PappyMother Goutte's little boy met a superhero in checked slippers and Volkswagen Polo, his grand dad: Super Pappy!
  • An Open Letter to Batman — Kati at The Best Things challenges Batman to hold up his end of the deal, in the name of social justice, civic duty, and a little boy named Babe-O!
  • My Village — Kellie at Our Mindful Life reflects on the people who helped her to become her best self.
  • 5 Lessons My Kids Taught Me — Children are amazing teachers, when we only stop to listen. They remind us to choose happiness, to delight in the small things, to let go and forgive. There is so much we can learn from our children. Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a few of the lessons she's learned.
  • Could you use some superpowers? — Tat at Mum in search shares a fun activity to help you connect with your own superpowers.
  • Like Fire Engines — Tam at tinsenpup tells the story of the day she saw a surprising superhero lurking in the guise of her not entirely mild-mannered four-year-old daughter.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her list of Walker Warburg Syndrome Superheroes that have touched her life forever.
  • My Superhero of the Week: Nancy GallagherTribal Mama muses about the transcendent things her superhero mom has done.
  • My choice in natural birth does not make me a super hero — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, discusses her thoughts on her experience with the perception of natural birth and putting those mamas on a different level. Does giving birth naturally give cause for an extra pat on the back? No! All mamas, no matter how they birth, are superheroes.
  • Someone's Hero — Sometimes being a parent means pretending to be a grown-up, but it always means you are someone's hero. Read Mandy's lament at Living Peacefully with Children.
  • Growing into a Super Hero — Casey at Joyful Courage shares how owning our behavior and choosing to be a better parent, a better person, is an act of courage.
  • A Math Superhero — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes that her 7-year-old daughter's superhero is an MIT-trained mathematician.
  • It Starts With Truffula Trees And Tulips — Luschka of Diary of a First Child takes a hard look at the realities of her relationship with her mother, and through this post goes on a journey of discovery that ends in a surprise realisation for her.
  • We Don't Need an Excuse — Maria Kang (aka "Hot Mom") asks women #WhatsYourExcuse for not being in shape? Dionna at Code Name: Mama asks Hot Mom what her excuse is for not devoting her life to charity work, or fostering dozens of stray dogs each year, or advocating for the needs of others. Better yet, Code Name: Mama says, how about we realize that every woman has her own priorities. Focus on your own, and stop judging others for theirs.
  • It's not heroic when you're living it — Lauren at Hobo Mama knows from the inside that homeschooling does not take a hero, and that much of what we choose as parents is simply what works best for us.
  • Superheroes, princesses and preschoolers — Garry at Postilius discusses why his preschool-age son is not ready for comic book superheroes.
  • The Loving Parents of Children with Special Needs – Everyday Superheroes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares posts with resources for parents of children with special needs along with posts to help others know how to support parents of children with special needs.
  • Everyday Empathy — Mommy Giraffe of Little Green Giraffe shares why her secret superpower is everyday empathy.
  • The Simplicity of Being a Superhero — Ana at Panda & Ananaso explains what superheroes mean to her wise three-year-old.
  • My Father, The Hero — Fathers are pretty amazing; find out why Christine at The Erudite Mom thinks hers is the bees knees.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit...

Welcome to the February 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Fears This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about parenting fears.

I don't think that I had any particular fear linked to parenthood before I became myself a parent. Rather, I was in the blessed ignorance of the first learning stage : you don't know what you don't know.

Now ? Well, let me tell you a story...

This is actually a post I wrote a while ago and that was called 'The Pink Rabbit that Was'

When DDs 1 and 2 were small I regularly went through their stuff and gave to charity any toy that they had outgrown, didn't play with anymore or had never played with. That was the only way I could more or less keep on top of the mess.
These days I unfortunately don't do it often enough and I definitely can't keep on top of the mess. It would actually be more necessary than ever to declutter, the family having grown to 6 members and still living in a terraced, small victorian 3 beds cottage.

Anyway I used to do it and I was generally lucky in my choices, nothing got missed... until the fateful day when DD1 was about 5 and I gave away a very big, very pink soft toy rabbit that belonged to her and that she never played with anymore, only to discover that she actually LOVED it. It hit me during a parent-teacher evening at her school. She had written in her literacy exercise book that she was sad because she had lost her pink rabbit...

I felt wretched, drowned in guilt. I had caused her to be so sad that, at only 5, she had written about it!
I began a frantic search for the rabbit on ebay. I had given it via a collection bag so no hope to retrieve it from the charity shop. For weeks, months, I looked at hundred of posts for soft toys rabbits but not one looked close enough to the 'real' one for me. DH kept telling me that she would forget but she kept talking about it from time to time. Eventually I stopped looking and hoped she would indeed forget. By the way, I hadn't told her it was definitively gone, officially it was only 'lost'.

The time flew by as it does. DD1 still mentionned the pink rabbit occasionally and I would go onto ebay again. Suddenly my little girl was 9 and... still thinking about her rabbit (oh, the guilt for me!). I started looking again, not finding but thinking "I can barely remember what it exactely looked like. Will she?" Finally I found one that looked fairly like it and bought it. I put it on her bed and waited with bated breath.

She loved it. She did think it was the one from when she was small and she's really happy. At least she's happy although I'm still ridden with guilt.

And this is my biggest fear. That time it was a frenzy of decluttering and an unfortunate choice, and I could never have foreseen it would stay with her for so long. All that we do or say can carry such a weight with our children... It could be a harsh word, an unfair blame, anything. The pink rabbit has become a symbol of my biggest parenting fear: what if, one day, I made disappear and could never replace another 'pink rabbit' ?!?


*** Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo 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 (list will be final around 5pm PST February 11):
  • When Parents' Fears Escalate — If we didn't self-doubt, we probably wouldn't care enough about our children to struggle with understanding them. But how do we overcome self-doubt? Read advice from Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., guest posting today at Natural Parents Network.
  • What ifs of addiction — After seeing how addictions of adult children is badly hurting a family close to her heart, Hannah at HannahandHorn shares her fears for her own child.
  • Sharing My Joy — Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares her fear that others think she is judgmental because she makes alternative choices for her own family.
  • Building My Tribe Fearlessly — A meteorite hit Jaye Anne at Tribal Mama's family when she was seven years old. Read the story, how she feels about that now, and how she is building her tribe fearlessly.
  • Fear: Realized — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen shares how her fear of car accidents was realized and how she hopes to be able to use her efforts to overcome the remaining fears to help her children overcome their own.
  • I'm a Negligent Helicopter Parent — For Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow, the line between helicopter parenting and negligent parenting is not so cut and dried.
  • My Greatest Fear For My Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama admits that she has struggled with not allowing her fears to control her and how the reality of this was blown wide open when she became a mother.
  • Procactive Steps to Calm Parenting Fears — Every parent has certain fears related to dangerous situations, That Mama Gretchen shares ways she is preparing herself and her children for emergencies.
  • Homeschooling Fears – Will My Children Regret Being Homeschooled? — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares an interview with her now-adult children that answers a question she had throughout their homeschooling.
  • An Uneasy Truce — Homeschooler and recent convert to unschooling, Tam at tinsenpup shares just a few of the things she tries to keep in mind when fear and insecurity begin to take hold.
  • Fearing the worst, expecting the best — Tarana at Sand In My Toes writes about fears that come with parenting, and why we must overcome them.
  • Can I be the parent I want to be? — Amanda at Postilius confronts her struggle to peacefully parent a preschooler
  • Out of Mind, Out of Fear — How does Jorje of Momma Jorje deal with her pretty steep, long-term fears regarding her son's future?
  • I Don't Homeschool to Manage My Kids' Transcripts — One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama's fears of parenting is that she will get so caught up in the monotony, the details of homeschooling, the minutiae of everyday life, the routine of taking care of a household - that she will forget to actually be present in the moment with her children.
  • Beware! Single Mom Camping — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her first adventures as a single mom. She laughed, she cried, she faced her fears.
  • Parenting Fears And Reality Checks — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares her three biggest fears as a parent - that most parents share - looks at the reality behind these fears, and offers a few suggestions for enjoying parenting.
  • Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit...Mother Goutte tells us the story of a pink rabbit that disappeared, came back, and became the symbol of her worst parenting fear...
  • Roamingsustainablemum considers whether allowing your children freedom to explore the world safely is harder now than in the past.
  • Meeting my parenting fears head-on — Lauren at Hobo Mama had many fears before she became a parent. Learn how they all came true — and weren't anywhere near as scary as she'd thought.
  • Don't fear the tears — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger worried that letting her children cry when going to sleep was tantamount to the dreaded parenting moniker, CIO. She discusses what actually happened after those teary nights, and how she hopes these lessons can carry forward to future parenting opportunities.
  • Will I Still be a Good Mom? — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot worries about her mothering skills now that breastfeeding is no longer the top priority.
  • Pregnancy Fears: It Happened to My Sisters, It Will Happen to Me... — Kristen at Baby Giveaways Galore discusses the difficulties with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding that the women in her family have had and how she overcame them.
  • Fears — Meegs at A New Day talks about how her fears before parenting led to a better understanding of herself and her desires for her daughter.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

French cuisine...

I have been having quite a strange discussion on Twitter with the talented and very funny Jo Sandelson. It started with her latest post and a mention of Outnumbered and went onto eating hamsters, Guinea pigs and rats...

The Guinea pig part actually came from a real recipe that I have in a French recipe book published in 1950. I don't think that roast Guinea pig as Sunday lunch really 'caught' with French housewives ; I was just as surprised as the next non-eater of pets to find that recipe in my book.



Saying that... French people do like their rabbit, which I have never seen among any British butcher's ware or in any gourmet restaurant. I was myself quite partial to the rabbit stew my mother used to cook with red wine and mushrooms. I am going all misty eyed just thinking about it...

When we lived in Paris my mother used to go to a volailler (a butcher specialised in poultry) to by the cervelle that my brother liked as a little boy. Not my thing personally, I can't stand rubbery or floppy food. Although I used to eat snails at Christmas (that's festive French delicacies for you) but just because I loved the persillade (parsley and garlic butter) with which they were seasoned. Until I was old enough to realise that I could make the persillade and have it with something different. A whole childhood of being conned into eating slimy snails *sigh* ...

But, sorry to disappoint, I have never ever eaten frogs' legs and don't know anyone either who has.

I don't eat oysters, or Roquefort (blue cheese), didn't eat any strong cheese until I was at least 12 and only recently acquired a taste for foie gras. Believe me, coming from a family which half originated in the South West of France, with aunts making their own homemade foie gras, this was a major set back.

Talking of this part of the family, that's where the story about eating rat came from. Apparently one of my great great great, great... , aunts died during the siege of Paris because she refused to eat rat. Maybe not a story as funny as my grand dad's while he was working on a building site that involved tunnels. He and his fellow workmen used to hang their food from the ceiling to preserve it from the rats but they always found the rats had got at it no matter what! So one night they hid and waited. According to my grand dad they saw the rats giving each other a leg up to get to the food...!

Now my children... Although we go back to France regularly you can't help the fact that the food is ever so slightly different here. I mean, even if I made French dishes for every single meal, the ingredients are different. Sausages, minced beef, butter, milk, it's just not the same. So my children have a mixed Franco-British palate. When DD1 was only 3 years old we were on holidays in France and went to a bakery one morning. We thought it would be a treat to place our little one in front of all the enticing croissants, pains au chocolat, pains aux raisins, chaussons aux pommes, brioches... We asked her what she wanted and she said :

"I want a Chelsea Bun."



Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Staying the same : Security


Welcome to the January 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Stay the Same
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 talked about the continuity and constancy in their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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Staying the same :  I really struggled to find how to talk about that subject as, in the last few years, I didn't feel that things stayed the same. How could they with four children aged between 2 and 11 ?! There have been births, starting playgroup or school, learning to ride a bike, learning to swim, and loss (our fourth baby, stillborn at 32 weeks, like his big brother before him)... Only the other day I took my little boy in my arms and it struck me how quickly he was growing. And how he would soon have outgrown that sort of cuddles that you only give to small children, enveloping their whole body in your arms, like a memory of carrying them before birth...
But then, but then... When we first arrived in England it was a big change, lots of big changes: getting married, moving in a different country, buying a house. It was an adventure, after which we were going to go back to France.
But we've very much settled down. Settled in our village, our house. the children in the same school. Staying the same... And I wouldn't have had it any other way because, with losing two of our boys, we needed some things to stay the same. It gave us security, an anchor in the storm in a way. That's what staying the same is for me.
But lately we've been talking, albeit often jokingly, about change.
There are things that are not secure and don't stay the same, no matter how much you want them to... My dad had a stroke six weeks ago. I travelled back to France for a week end, bringing with me our youngest, 2 and leaving behind DH and the other three. It was a difficult week end!
I have a very dear friend who moved to France last Summer, in a nice, sunny area, a warm community too. Moving to such a place would be very tempting but would mean to move away from the security of our 'anchor' and make major changes. It would definitely be the anti thesis of Staying the Same!
Are we ready to not stay the same ?!




***
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:
(This list will be updated by afternoon January 14 with all the carnival links.)
  • The making of an artist — Some kids take longer than others to come into themselves, so you have to stick with them, as a parent, long after everyone else has given up, writes Douglas at Friendly Encounters.
  • Not Losing Yourself as a First Time Mom — Katie at All Natural Katie continues to stay true to herself after becoming a new mom.
  • Using Continuity to Help Change {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs from A New Day talks about how she is using continuity in certain areas of her life to help promote change and growth in others.
  • Staying the Same : Security — Life changes all the time with growing children but Mother Goutte realised that there are other ways to 'stay the same' and feel secure, maybe a bit too much so!
  • Harmony is What I'm AfterTribal Mama gushes about how constant change is really staying the same and staying the same brings powerful change.
  • A Primal Need For Order and Predictability – And How I Let That Go — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she overcame her primal need for order and predictability once her awareness shifted, opening her eyes to the impact this had on her young daughter. Take a short journey with Jennifer and she bares her soul, exposes her weaknesses and celebrates her new outlook and approach to living life, even in the face of total chaos.
  • Breastfeeding Before and After — Breastfeeding has come and gone, but Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow finds that her relationship with her son is still just the same and just as good.
  • A Real Job — Back in high school That Mama Gretchen had a simple, but worthwhile career aspiration and today she is living her dream … is it what you think?
  • Comfortingsustainablemum never thought she would want things always being the same, but she explains why it is exactly what her family wants and needs.
  • The Other Mums' and The Great IllusionMarija Smits reflects on the 'great big magic show of life' and wonders if it will continue to remain a constant in our lives.
  • Unschooling: Learning doesn't change when a child turns four — Charlotte at Winegums & Watermelons talks about the pressure of home education when everyone else's children are starting school.
  • Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband's military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness.
  • Keeping it "Normal" — Kellie at Our Mindful Life has moved several times in the last two years, while doing her best to keep things stable for her kids.
  • The Evolution Of Our Homeschool Journey — Angela at Earth Mama's World reflects on her homeschooling journey. Homeschooling is a constant in the life of her family but the way in which they learn has been an evolution.
  • Sneaking in Snuggles: Using Nurturing Touch with Older Children — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama's son was a toddler and preschooler, he was the most loving, affectionate kiddo ever. But during the course of his 5th year, he drastically reduced how often he showed affection. Dionna shares how she is mindfully nurturing moments of affection with her son.
  • Steady State — Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes a letter to her partner about his constancy through the rough sailing of parenting.
  • A Love You Can Depend On — Over at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, Jennifer has a sweet little poem reminding us where unconditional love really lies, so it can remain a constant for us and our children.
  • Same S#!*, Different Day — Struggling against the medical current can certainly get exhausting, especially as the hunt for answers drags on like it has for Jorje of Momma Jorje.
  • New Year, Still Me — Mommy Bee at Little Green Giraffe writes about how a year of change helped her rediscover something inside herself that had been the same all along.
  • One Little Word for 2014 — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs has decided to focus on making things this year, which is what she is loves, as long as she doesn't kill herself in the process.
  • The Beauty of Using Montessori Principles of Freedom and Consistency — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the continuity of her teaching, parenting, and grandparenting philosophy using a combination of freedom and consistency.
  • My Husband's MiniCrunchy Con Mom shares which of her sons looks more like her husband's baby pictures — and the answer might surprise you!
  • Growth Happens When You Aren't Looking — Lori at TEACH through Love is treasuring these fleeting moments of her daughter's early adolescence by embracing the NOW.
  • A New Reality Now - Poem — As Luschka from Diary of a First Child struggles to come to terms with the loss of her mother, she shares a simple poem, at a loss for more words to say.
  • Making a family bedroom — Lauren at Hobo Mama has decided to be intentional about her family's default cosleeping arrangements and find a way to keep everyone comfortable.
  • New Year, Same Constants — Ana at Panda & Ananaso takes a look at some of the things that will stay the same this year as a myriad of other changes come.
  • I Support You: Breastfeeding and Society — Despite how many strides we've taken to promote "breast is best," Amy at Natural Parents Network talks about how far we still have to go to normalize breastfeeding in our society.