Oct 28, 2014

Still home educating...but travelling too


Hello dearest reader...

This poor blog has been very much left to its own devices for - wow - a long time! These days the Mansted Family Project is in overseas travelling mode. You can see what we are up to at our new blog Hungry Heads which is all about our educational family travel. Home school with wings really.

I put together Hungry Heads for the same reason Mansted Family Project came about: to satisfy other people's curiousity about what we get up to. So Hungry Heads is about gifted kids travelling and using the wonderful wide world as a classroom and play space. Come and check us out!

Naturally we are now on twitter and instagram and even facebook.

Come on the journey with us!

PS Our eldest daughter Imogen is putting together her own writing blog as a collection point for her musings over the last few years. Come and have a look...

Aug 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Baby!


July has just turned 7 and after one abandoned party attempt (thanks tonsillitis ; ) we got together most of the usual crew of families and kids to help us celebrate. Her fave book series at the moment is Harry Potter - presently at the 3rd book - so naturally this was her chosen theme... (even though we have done a HP party before...)


I found a wonderful free printable invite from Colleen at Sweet and Simple - thanks Colleen! We made HP inspired collage crafty bookmarks (which I laminated) for the party take-home bags which included the list of the series' book titles on the back.


We sorted the kids into house teams using a sorting hat using audio files that announced the house choice...


we played broomstick relays...


ate chocolate frogs in a race where the prize was...ahem, the chocolate frog


gave crazy prizes...


ran a gumboot relay because we could...


built Hagrid's Hut together out of pear prunings...


then sat in there for a HP trivia quiz...


swung at piƱata...


swung at it a little more...


and ate cake (see below)...


After we all had lunch together and then popped on a movie for the kids (not HP as it turned out) the Birthday Girl said it was "The Best Birrthday Party Ever" which was good to hear as once the last family drove off into the twilight we all collapsed tired and happy at the end of it!

Speaking of best ever...

Best ever, top reviewed, most delicious, almost healthy gluten free cake!
It has been one year since we all kicked the horrible gluten habit and in case you have ever wondered how to hold a 7 year old's party without mysterious white powder (that is, the strange combination that is gluten free pre-packaged flour mixes) here is my recipe for the best ever, most delicious wheat-free, gluten-free delicious chocolate cake (scale it up and down as needed):

Chocolate almond cake

5 free range organic eggs
200g butter
200g raw sugar
200g good dark chocolate
200g ground almonds (blanched is best)
2 tablespoons of coconut flour (optional)

Preheat oven to 175 celsius (350 F.) Grease then line your tin with silicon paper.
Place chocolate and butter together in a saucepan over low heat, stir to melt.
Add almond and coconut flour to the chocolate butter. Mix well. Leave to cool for 5 minutes.



Separate 4 of the eggs and put the whites in their own mixing bowl. Take the remaining whole egg and mix with the 4 yolks. Add the raw sugar. Mix well until smooth and frothy.


Stir together the yolk and sugar mix with chocolate mixture.


Beat the remaining 4 egg whites until stiff (I use a whisk attachment in my Kitchen Aid mixmaster). 

Using a metal spoon, stir whites through the chocolate mix. Mix til it has a uniform colour - though little specks of whites are fine - try not to over mix as you will lose the air in the batter. (note - photo shows half-way through the mixing).


Pour into a greased non-stick spring form tin (line base with silicone paper) and bake at 175c  (350 F.) for 45 minutes. Check 5 minutes before time is up to make sure it isn't already cooked through. Top should be firm and not gooey. See my skewer holes? That is how I tested this monster sized cake - usually a little push on the top will let you know...



This isn't a wheat-like fluffy cotton wool cake, but has a lovely light texture, with a slight crust on top. Delicious! Serve leftovers warm with granache made with melted dark chocolate and fresh pure cream stirred through.

Yum. Which reminds me...must go and get some leftovers out of the freezer to warm up for dessert : )



Aug 3, 2012

Cranky pants



Some days are hard. Sometimes my limited store of patience gets burned up too quickly and I am left suddenly hot and cranky and wondering "Where did this come from?"


Some days it is hard to be a happy mama. Mothering isn't always smooth - nor is it always easy to be a happy wife. Sometimes it feels like everyone in the family is just_not_listening_to_me.


Today is one of those days. I lost my cool - I've got "the poops". I have failed in my anger management.


Do you ever have days like that?


The old pleasure of expressing anger
I actually find it quite difficult these days to be angry - really in the moment volcano erupting angry - as I used to sometimes get (long before husband and kids). That youthful rush when that annoying person in the office finally goes too far and you feel yourself sliding into justified red-faced indignation and you snarl the perfect biting comeuppance...that can actually feel good in that moment of release...


Anger and parenting
But feeling and expressing anger as a parent? 


That is tough for me, and probably for you too. I don't feel I can allow myself the self-indulgence of it. When I do yell, I immediately feel like a horrible person and try to pack all of those scary feelings back away. 


It truly breaks my heart to see my child's face crumple when I have gone too far and yelled. 


And over the years of being a parent I have learnt the important balm of saying "sorry" for losing my temper - again, this is very different to saying sorry to an adult IYKWIM. Something along the lines of "I was wrong to yell, but this is what I was feeling...I am sorry for yelling at you. Why don't we clean this up together."


To be clear, I do think anger is a legitimate emotion: I think it is important for kids to see that parents have big feelings too; and sometimes anger is the absolutely most appropriate response to a given situation.


But I also think it is just too easy to jump into anger when you are parenting very intense kids or in an intense situation (such as homeschooling). You need to give yourself a little breathing room to feel it, then decide what to do.


Hitting is not a healthy expression of anger
This is why we don't smack our kids: I was hit as a child - and I could feel all that anger come flowing from my parent into me as a punishment and a shaming. 


You know that distress of watching one of your children hit another child. The hypocrisy of then using that same method to discipline your child...I just can't do that. But I have certainly yelled - and have always regretted it.


There are better ways to deal with anger when you feel it than to pass it on to your child. 


So, today I am asking myself...
What is going on with me? Do I just need a break?


Hold on, then deal with it
So, I (mostly) hold on to it. Try to keep the sorry-for-myself tears in until the door closes and the rest of the family are out for the rest of the day. 


Thank goodness it is "homeschool park day" today and I can be here alone.


And instead of my inside melodramatic voice complaining endlessly about all of the horrible choices I have made for myself while I struggle not to be a cranky pants all morning (ahem...this is NOT a very clearheaded or reasonable voice you understand) I finally get the chance to sniffle and sigh and moon about when the family has gone out. To tap out a slightly sooky blog post...


Give it time
Being alone in a quiet house does wonders.

Ok. Now it's time to put the hot water on for a pretty cup of tea and to find the last two almond peanut-butter biscuits in the house to put on a pretty plate and...actually, I think is going to be alright after all. 


Quality time to look after me -  just me - for a few hours. 


You know, I think all parents need a bit of that kind of quality time.




(Oooh, might use the chance of this free time to laminate some long overdue timeline pics and then watch some "just for mum tv" : )


What makes you feel better when you have been a cranky pants?



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