What 278 days of Pokémon Go has taught me.

I got my first iPhone on Wednesday 2nd November 2016 and the first thing I did was download Pokémon Go. For the next 278 days I would play this game multiple times a day. Sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for hours and hours. Sometimes on my own, often with others. This morning I realised that I didn’t think about Pokémon at all yesterday for the first time since November last year.

 

This post is my love letter to Pokémon Go. A thank you and a look back on this crazy adventure.

Exploration

In my town, in my county and in my country I have explored so many new places thanks to those little digital creatures. It’s getting sort of ridiculous the amount of times I’ve said or thought ‘we wouldn’t know about this place if it wasn’t for PoGo!’

I have learnt that however well you think you know a place there is always more to discover. 

Social Anxiety

I have struggled with a few aspects of social anxiety for many years. The subconscious idea that everyone is watching me, the need to avoid crowds and a heart-beating, hands-shaking, stomach-dropping dread of talking to strangers.

It wasn’t an overnight fix but I’ve definitely noticed a change in my perception of the world while playing PoGo. Of course no one is watching you – everyone is the centre of their own universe! It helps to stand around awkwardly for a while (fighting gyms) or to walk past the same people multiple times (circling Pokéstops) to realise people don’t care what you’re doing and even if they do it doesn’t matter.

The need to avoid crowds stems from a fear of being jeered at. It’s happened before (to me and most women it seems :/) but just because some people do stupid stuff it doesn’t mean everyone is a jerk. I should be able to walk around without worrying about feeling uncomfortable, embarrassed, ashamed or objectified. I slowly but surely stopped turning around at the faintest sight of a gathering of people and started focusing on Pokémon Go in situations where my anxiety was flaring up. “They’re not looking at you, they don’t care, you’re fine. The Pokémon are more important than what they think anyway. Go get the Pikachu” or something along those lines. Finding a distraction from negative thoughts and assumptions is a great way for dealing with fear.

I’ve met so many new people while playing Pokémon Go. From the mum whose kids were concerned about me because I’d been standing against a fence with my coat over my head in the pouring rain (fighting a gym) for half an hour to the people I have fought multiple raids with and everyone in-between. It’s easier to talk to strangers when you already have a connection point, something you both like and it’s been brilliant to work on speaking to new people.

For helping me to work on all these things and for showing me that I’m braver than I think, I am eternally grateful to Pokémon Go.

Health

For 278 days I made an effort to explore the outdoors every single day. I left the house, even when I was ill, tired, upset or grumpy. In all weathers from bright sunshine to pouring rain to heavy snow, I went outside. I walked so much more, my body has definitely felt healthier and stronger in the last 9 months than ever before and Dougal (our dog) loves it too!

The mental clarity of fresh air and exercise can’t be beat. The hardest part of going for a walk is getting out the door, once you do it’s so much fun. Pokémon Go got me outside everyday, even when I didn’t feel like it.

I have learnt that exercise and the outdoors is not only amazing for my physical health, it has a big effect on my mental health too. 

Dougal and I have already been out this morning once again, fighting gyms, catching ‘mons and spinning stops. My streak may be over but the adventure is most certainly not! 

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Why am I vegan? (explained by other people)

My transition into a vegan lifestyle was slow and then all at once. It wasn’t long ago that I was telling people that I planned to be vegan ‘one day’ but right now I was just making little changes. That one day happened one day recently…

Multiple things happened at once and my eyes were opened. I exposed myself to the disturbing and dangerous way our society treats animals and the incredibly destructive impact this has on the planet. I made the necessary changes to my diet and am now eating far more delicious, fulfilling, nutritious and nourishing food. I am also constantly thinking about and researching where other things in my life come from so as to make a difference wherever possible, to not exploit and harm animals through my lifestyle and to reduce my negative impact on the planet.

I love finding quotes to inspire me and that resonate with me in all aspects of my life and so I’d thought I’d share some that I think best explain why I am vegan…

|| For Animals ||

“I was breastfeeding and I just remember having this moment, because I did drink milk during my pregnancy and I had this moment where I realised that cows don’t just produce milk all of the time. No, lactating cows produce milk for their young and I’d never thought about it until I was breastfeeding. Ah I just got goosebumps, seriously because the thought of someone taking my daughter’s milk away from her breaks my heart, like that’s my biggest fear. As a mother having that taken from your child and that’s exactly what I was doing to calves.” – Jinti Fell

“The main defense of carnism is denial, which is expressed largely through invisibility. The ideology itself is invisible and so are its victims. For instance, 1.2 billion farmed animals are slaughtered globally every week. So in one week more farmed animals are killed than the total number of people killed in all wars throughout history. But how many of these animals have you seen? Where are they? Approximately 98 percent of the meat, eggs and dairy we eat comes from animals who were raised in factory farms. Windowless sheds in remote locations that are virtually impossible to obtain access to. Yet, although these animals are treated as commodities, they are in fact sentient, intelligent individuals with lives that matter to them.” – Melanie Joy

“I do not see any reason why animals should be slaughtered to serve as human diet when there are so many substitutes. After all, man can live without meat. It is only some carnivorous animals that have to subsist on flesh. Killing animals for sport, for pleasure, for adventures, and for hides and furs is a phenomenon which is at once disgusting and distressing. There is no justification in indulging in such acts of brutality . . . Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to a man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not to die, so do other creatures.” – The Dalai Lama

|| For People ||

“I think that the oppression of animals is the gateway drug to oppressing humans because when a child is first told that the dog on his sofa is to be loved and cherished whereas the pig on his plate is to be abused, killed, dismembered, and eaten for food, that’s the first time that we instill the notion in a child’s mind that it is okay to discriminate between two living beings that basically look and seem alike, which is the basis of all forms of oppression, that you’re basically telling one living being that he can live and another that he must die.” – Alex Hershaft

“Veganism has given me a higher level of awareness and spirituality […] If you’re violent to yourself by putting things into your body that violate its spirit, it will be difficult not to perpetuate that onto someone else. […] There is a connection between how you live and how you treat others. It starts with the individual.” – Dexter Scott King

“It has been proven that there is enough food on earth to feed every last man, woman, and child. Yet, if this is the case, why do people around the world continue to starve? The answer to that question lies in large part with the production of animal-based foods, such as meat, dairy, and eggs. Even though there are enough plant-based foods grown to feed the entire human population, the majority of crops (including those grown in countries where people are starving) are fed to livestock for affluent nations, and since the amount of animal-based food produced by the farming industry is much less than the amount of plant food put into it, there is a “diminished return on the investment,” the food supply dwindles, and humans end up going hungry. […] Which of these two piles do you think would feed more people: the pile of meat that used to be [a cow’s] body, or the pile of food that went into creating and nourishing it? This is the stark equation that makes the animal farming industry so illogical and unsustainable.” – Michael Chatham

|| For my Conscience and Spirit ||

“Every day we engage in a behaviour that requires us to distort our thoughts, numb our feelings and act against our core values, and which enables a global atrocity that can make even the most stoic of us weep in sorrow. […] When I stopped eating animals I had a paradigm shift. In other words, I didn’t see different things, I saw the same things differently. Beef stew seemed no different than golden retriever stew. And everywhere I turned I saw people putting the bodies of dead animals into their mouth as though nothing at all were wrong. So I became very curious as to how rational caring people, like myself, could just stop thinking and feeling.” – Melanie Joy

Simon Amstell: “It’s difficult I think to think of yourself as an empathetic being if you are eating another being. We’re in a place still where people say ‘oh it’s delicious’. Whatever the thing that once was walking around and having it’s own inner life was, to say it’s just delicious, for that to be acceptable is a really strange thing isn’t it?! So if you have any kind of feeling like we should be doing less harm to others then that should include non-human animals. The only reason it wouldn’t include that is if you regard humans as the most important thing on the planet and every thing else being there to serve the human being.”

Russell Brand: “[…]What I think is interesting about what you’re saying about veganism now is that you’re saying that there’s a place that you reach in yourself spiritually where eating animals would become unacceptable to you along with other forms of cruelty, alongside other forms of ignorance.”

“Going plant-based is one of the best things you can do for your health and the wellness of animals everywhere, but you probably already knew that, right? You may already know that eating a plant-based diet is healthy, and that it’s better for the environment. Do you know some direct, specific benefits you may experience within the first week of eating a plant-based diet? [..] Eating in a way that promotes life naturally makes you happier. You’ll have a lighter outlook on life and just generally feel happier all the way around. This is a change many people don’t expect, yet one I hear the most about from everyone who takes on the challenge.” – Heather McClees

|| For my Health ||

“A vegetarian diet is associated with many health benefits because of its higher content of fiber, folic acid, vitamins C and E, potassium, magnesium, and many phytochemicals and a fat content that is more unsaturated. Compared with other vegetarian diets, vegan diets tend to contain less saturated fat and cholesterol and more dietary fiber. Vegans tend to be thinner, have lower serum cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, reducing their risk of heart disease.” – Winston J Craig

“Number one [of the three most surprising health benefits I’ve experienced] is potentially the most exciting to me because it’s just been the most beneficial I believe and that is increased life vitality. So I just have more energy, I’m more excited about life, I’m setting goals and actively working to trying to achieve them. I’m moving my body every single day, I have better mental clarity, I’m just more excited and more enthused and energized by life and I really do think that is directly related to changing my diet. I just think that now I’m no longer putting all this crap in, my body has more energy to experience life instead of using it’s time to just deal with all this junk.” – Jinti Fell

“You might even want to veer even closer to a plant-based diet to stave off [menstrual] pains. According to Gaither, “Some small studies have looked at implementing vegan or plant-based diets and have noted that those women employing these diet changes experienced decreased volume of menstrual flow and the pain that goes along with it. […] And when you’re avoiding animal fats, don’t forget about dairy. According to Parikh, “Dairy products contain arachadonic acid, which is a substance in your body that is converted into prostaglandins.” And as you know by now, prostaglandins are a big no-no if you don’t want pain during your period.” – Emily Monaco

|| For the Planet ||

“‘Agriculture is estimated to be the direct driver for around 80% of deforestation worldwide.’ […] The truth is, we’re not just destroying the forests in virtue of existing and taking up space for living, we’re destroying them due to specific, non-necessary habits found in the normalized Western diet and lifestyle. […] “A new report from FAO says livestock production is one of the major causes of the world’s most pressing environmental problems, including global warming, land degradation, air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity.” As if animal agriculture’s affects on the planet’s forests wasn’t harsh enough, the secondary and tertiary effects of its degradation can be felt not just by our plant life, but in the air we breathe and the water we drink.[…] Since well-planned vegan lifestyles are regarded as appropriate for all stages of the life-cycle […] we can say with some certainty that living without excessive reliance on animal agriculture is well within our grasp. Living without Earth’s life-sustaining forests, however, is much less possible.” – Ariel Garlow

Those are a few of the benefits I have discovered so far, thanks to a decision I am so happy to have made inspired by so many lovely people. A big thanks to all the people around the world spreading information and articulating it so much better than I could! Make sure to check out their articles and videos and share the love. Thanks so much for reading and have a beautiful day!

sophofbread’s Five Favourite Drinks

Hello all!

sophofbread here with a quick, thirst-inducing post about my five favourite drinks of the moment. It’s summer here so four cold and refreshing drinks and only a single warm and cozy one made it onto my list…

I couldn’t have chosen simpler drinks really! Two you just buy from the shop ready-made, one comes from the tap and the other two contain only three ingredients each. This list is in no particular order.

1) Earl Grey heated milk

‣ Soya Milk

‣ Earl Grey teabag

‣ Ground Cinnamon

I’m not sure what to call this one, I heard about it from one of Sadia’s videos (Pick Up Limes) but I don’t remember which one it was in or what she called it. To make it you simply heat the soya milk and mix it with the teabag and cinnamon. I leave the teabag in for about 5 minutes and then press it against the side of the mug to get as much earl grey flavour in as possible. The amount of cinnamon I put in varies and I never measure it, I just shake it upside down over the milk a few times. This a gorgeous evening drink to have cuddled up in a blanket.

2) Fruit Smoothie/Milkshake/Slushy

‣ Frozen Fruit (I used Co-Op ‘Frozen Summer Fruits’ which is raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants but you can use whatever)

‣ Soya Milk

‣ Chia Seeds

Not sure what to call this one either! It tastes like a smoothie but with a more slushy (thick, icy) consistency but it has milk in so milkshake? Blend together the 3 ingredients, again I don’t measure it out. Because the fruit is frozen the ice creates a really nice thick texture and makes the drink so cold and refreshing. Add as much soya milk as you want, it you don’t want it so thick add more soya milk and less fruit.

3) Innocent Super Smoothie Invigorate: kiwi, lime, matcha, wheatgrass & flax seeds

pteroturtle has loved Innocent smoothies for years but I only recently started trying them and this is by far my favourite flavour so far. It’s sweet, tasty and a perfect summer drink.

4) Pink Grapefruit Juice with bits

If I buy a fresh grapefruit I will often squeeze the juice into a cup so when I discovered they sell grapefruit juice at the shop I was very excited to try it and was not disappointed! This tastes like you’re eating a fresh grapefruit. Yummy.

5) Water

And finally…water! I have been trying to drink more water for years and go through phases of doing well. This summer though it’s going brilliantly so far. I fill up a bottle with tap water then leave it in the fridge so it’s cold. I should really have thought of it before but I drink way more water now I use a bottle rather than a glass. I can take it with me wherever I’m going and always have it on hand when I’m thirsty. I have noticed the healing effects of drinking more water, in the past the sun usually left me feeling sick and tired and (now obviously) I have realised that was because I wasn’t drinking enough water. Multiple days I’ve had a headache only to have it cured by drinking water. I feel less tired and more enthusiastic. Also I love the taste of cold fridge water! *this post is not sponsored by water 😉

Those are my five favourite drinks at the moment. What are yours? Thanks for reading and have a nice day.

 

Time: the best thing about home-education.

“If we experienced life through the eyes of a child, everything would be magical and extraordinary. Let our curiosity, adventure and wonder of life never end.” (Akiane Kramarik)

I left the school system to pursue my education elsewhere at the age of 11. I’m now 18 and so incredibly grateful to my parents for giving this home-education thing a try! I have gotten so much from being able to explore the world at my own pace with the people I choose to spend time with doing things we want to do. What do I value most about home-education and what it has given me? The short answer is ‘time’. The long answer is this blog post…

Picture, for a moment, a toddler or young child. Their minds are constantly evaluating and re-evaluating everything that is happening around them 24/7 even while they sleep. They are constantly learning, exploring, discovering and questioning. Almost everything is exciting to a 3 year old, hence the constant barrage of ‘Why?’ questions. The curiosity of a newly born human is incredible to experience. I am lucky enough to have 3 awesome younger siblings and many incredible cousins who are constantly reminding me (mostly un-intentionally!) the joy in right now. In the family I have long been known as ‘the baby whisperer’ and it’s not a surprise to anyone who knows me that I love spending time with babies and toddlers. They see the world so differently to us and it’s incredible to witness that.

“You’re never going to feel bad about your whole life if you loved people and you were curious.” (Hank Green)

Home-education has given me time to talk with my friends and family for hours, without the stress of being late for my next class. To discuss, debate, argue and laugh. Our conversations range from Pokemon to Politics to Minecraft to Philosophy and everything in between.

“Therasa May said the other day ‘What we need now is certainty!’ We don’t. We never need certainty. Knowledge is not certainty.” (Simon Critchley)

Home-education has given me time to think. To be a curious 3 year old again (that sounds weird haha). To find the infinite beauty in nature, to discover people that I look up to and want to learn from, to work out why I feel sad and what I can do to feel better, to think about the consequences of my actions, to process why I didn’t like what that person said to me yesterday, to discover things I love, to connect with the people around me, to chill out, to work hard, to spend all day on one project, to stop doing things I don’t like, to try new things, to value being and not just doing.

In the last seven years I have discovered so much about myself and the world around me. It’s hard, in our society, to take a step back and breathe. To question everything. To practice true, heart-breaking, overwhelming empathy and compassion. To learn about and consider the opposite opinion to your own and not feel anger and hatred but interest, consideration and respect. What could be more powerful than raising children who do just that?

“Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.” (William Martin)

Thinking about home education?

Once upon a time… we found ourselves contemplating the idea of home education.

For our family it was the first step of an amazing journey. With the benefit of hindsight, there really was no turning back for us. Home education had presented itself as an actual, real-life, legal and practical possibility and life would never be quite the same again.

At the time, things felt less clear. We began searching in earnest for anything we could find out about the subject and pondered long and hard about whether this ‘home ed’ lark really was such a great idea.

There are lots of fantastic resources out there with huge amounts of information; it can be difficult to know what to read first. Misconceptions about how home education has to be organised and what it will mean for your family are common.

So, to help sort out the facts from the fiction and to save you some leg-work (or keyboard-tapping), here is a short list of some of the best places to start finding out more about home education.

For a good overview of UK law and useful answers to the most frequently asked questions about home education, check out –

http://www.home-education.org.uk/faq-carers.htm

http://www.free-range-education.org.uk/FAQ.html

Both of these sites have useful templates for de-registration letters. If your child is registered at a school and you decide to home educate, you must inform the school that you wish your child to be removed from the register. These templates provide the legal wording that you’ll need.

https://rossmountney.wordpress.com/about-home-education/ also tackles some of those frequently asked questions and shares her insights around developing an educational philosophy.

http://edyourself.org/articles/FAQ.php Fiona’s site has extensive information on the legal issues surrounding home education and some interesting information about the numbers of children known to be home educated in different council areas.

Be aware that council staff across the country will have varying levels of knowledge and experience of home education and may adopt slightly different approaches when engaging with families. It is worth taking some time to read any policy documents issued by your local council; these should be easily accessible by visiting the website of the County Council where you live and searching ‘home education’.

If you are unsure of the website address or cannot locate any information about home education in your area, visit https://www.gov.uk/home-schooling-information-council and enter your postcode to be taken to the relevant page on your local council website.

Some council web pages and policy documents imply that there is a requirement to register with them in order to be allowed to home educate, this is not the case. If your child is not registered at a school then you don’t need to inform anyone of your decision. As a parent you have responsibility in law for your child’s education. But remember, if they are enrolled at a school, you must let that school, not the council, know that you would like to have your child’s name removed from the school register.

There are two charitable organisations that provide advice and support to families who are currently, or considering, home educating –

https://www.heas.org.uk/

https://www.educationotherwise.org/

Both of these organisations have free information and advice on their sites and membership options available, for a modest fee.

Finally, and most importantly, make contact with your local home education group. The families that I met, even before my children left school, were so lovely, welcoming and helpful. They generously gave up their time to chat on the telephone and over email, sharing their experiences and wisdom and acting as a sounding board as I processed all this new information. I was totally blown away by the parents and children, their kindness and their patience were immense (you know who you are, lovely people, and I am forever grateful!).

Make this a priority. Link up with home educating families, even if only online. They can be an invaluable source of advice, reassurance and friendship. Try an internet search for home education groups in your local town, area and region, there may be more than one that is geographically appropriate. Don’t forget the many national and international groups that will also provide great support and information. Many of these can be found on Yahoo Groups and, of course, there is always Facebook.

If you would like to share any other resources you have found helpful, or have any questions, please leave a comment down below. Wishing you well in your research and in your week.

 

 

 

Ask the home-ed heads : What are you reading at the moment?

Please note that the links on this page lead to Goodreads, not a retail site. We will not receive any financial reward if you click through, just some joy at having stirred your curiosity.

I love a good book recommendation and am always keen to hear what other people are reading. Let’s hope that’s the same for you because today I would like to share what we are currently reading. This could be a long one as no one in this family seems able to read just one book at a time!

mumlovesearlgrey –

Not that far into this yet, but enjoying it so far. I’m a big fan of maps and all things geographical, so am fascinated to learn more about how the physical has shaped the political.

Lovely short chapters brimming with wisdom on all things home-ed, beautiful! I just love her blog too.

Interesting, enjoyable and refreshing – explores how children that are home educated learn to read.

Aside from my slight unease at the word ‘teach’ in the title, I’ve found this to be an enchanting, yet unusual, introduction to Shakespeare’s work. The book identifies and explains key speeches within a number of plays and offers useful pointers on how to memorise them, intriguing stuff.

 

Plumblepie  –

We love reading these ‘Fact Cat’ books together and are working our way through all the series. We have enjoyed many of the science and history ones so far and are particularly looking forward to the habitats, animals and geography ones next.

I picked this one out at random, from the many Mr. Men books beside her pillow. She is happily working her way through this series too. She loves having them read to her by anyone and everyone in the family, but especially Dad – it’s a bit of a tradition – he read them to her big sisters and brother, and now it’s her turn.

Yet another one that is part of a series we are working our way through. The subtitle reads ‘A magical journey through five Monet masterpieces’. Lovely.

 

Pteroturtle –

A beautiful book we are reading together, whenever we can, snuggled up on the sofa, often with the plumblepie too.

Number 13 in the series. Pteroturtle loves this bear.

An audiobook – the entire series are on a permanent loop in this boy’s room, such joy!

 

artybaker –

Reading this one for a group read and a read-a-thon on Goodreads, along with sophofbread. I hear them chatting about this lots round the house at the moment.

One of her favourite books, she is currently annotating a copy and enjoying it one more time.

She’s a real Bate fan.

A classic Chinese science-fiction apparently, in audiobook format.

 

sophofbread –

Reading along with a group on Goodreads and artybaker too. This is a re-read and she tells me that she is enjoying it even more than the first time.

Studying this one for a course.

In audiobook format. I love this book and am looking forward to hearing her views on it.

We are buddy reading this one, a re-read for me and first time for sophofbread. The story of an extraordinary life told by the man himself – inspiring!

Another buddy read with me. Some interesting parts describing local wildlife and geology, some tedious parts and some shockingly outrageous parts so far!

 

Thanks for reading. Wishing you a wonderful week where you have lots of time to enjoy a good book. We would love to know what you’re reading at the moment, let us know in the comments below.

Learning, not teaching.

We have no pupils here.  Just three lovely young people and one particularly little person (who, of course, is also lovely).

But I just adore this quote and feel it sums up our approach to home education nicely.

Often when out and about during school hours a friendly stranger will ask, ‘No school today?’. When we explain that we home educate, sometimes they will ask the children if I teach them. This used to prompt a quizzical look from one or other of them but now they are used to it. Their response to the question varies.

Often it’s framed as more of a rhetorical question anyway, ‘Oh so your mum teaches you’, in which case they may just smile and nod or shrug their shoulders with a ‘Sort of’ type reply. Some days with some people they might be happy to enter in to a longer conversation explaining that we learn together in many different ways.

Some people may have a vision of me, standing up at the chalkboard we have in our dining-room, each morning starting class and offering long explanations of complicated maths concepts. In fact that does happen – the use of the chalkboard for explaining maths, that is, not the starting class bit! But only if someone requests it, and even then it’s actually more likely to be sophofbread that will take that role, she loves to cement her own learning by explaining it to the rest of us and there is usually someone willing to listen.

The truth is that home education, for us, is much more about facilitating learning than about teaching. We all learn so much from each other in so many ways, each and every day.

We love working on projects together, reading together, playing together and regaling each other with all the latest information about whatever is our current passion (apologies to our dear ArtyB, we know our enthusiasm for ‘Po Go’ can be a little wearing at times -SOB and MLEG x).  

My role is, not to teach, but to support my children with learning.

As Einstein so beautifully put it, providing the conditions in which they can learn.

Ensuring that their physical needs are met, they feel safe and secure in their home and have the resources and opportunities to explore the world in many different ways.

Offering them support and guidance to explore existing passions and strewing their paths with possibilities, options and chances for new and interesting directions of learning to open up.

Of course, I do love to share the benefit of my own experience and knowledge when it seems relevant (don’t we all?) but never with the assumption that it has more significance than that of their own.

The learning journey is a personal one for all of us and we can never really be sure of what someone else has learnt. Home education offers a wonderful opportunity to enjoy that journey together.