Raising Elves

As wild as nature. Myself, parenting and natural remedies blog.

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Animal documentaries on Netflix

We love documentaries here and I often find alot of Elf’s questions are answered while watching them. I try to watch them first though, to make sure they are suitable for younglings.

Here is what is streaming on Netflix for World Animal Day today – an international day to mark the importance of animal rights and welfare.


This fascinating documentary examines the life of performing killer whale Tilikum, who has caused the deaths of several people while in captivity



Tyke Elephant Outlaw

A rogue elephant. A city paralyzed by fear. And a gruesome ending that’s forcing humans to ask some tough questions



Netflix Original Virunga

Rebels. Poachers. Oil companies. The endangered mountain gorilla has many enemies, and one friend: local park rangers



We’ve pushed nature out of our lives, eradicating entire species. But it’s not too late to turn back. 



Netflix Original Mission Blue

This documentary follows oceanographer Sylvia Earle’s campaign to save the world’s oceans from threats such as overfishing and toxic waste.



All streaming NOW on Netflix.

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Trauma, depression and children.

Thinking back, in conversation with others, about the phases my eldest has gone through, has spurred on a serious whirlwind style re-cap of the last five years since I became a mother.

At first, I was seeing it all in a self-centred way. Phrasing it like I was a victim (although sometimes it did feel that way, I fully admit it was/is a self absorbed, immature kind of way). How I labelled her third year the traumatising threes. Then I’d go on and think about how I did not even have those fantastic fours which was the pep talk to get me through those threes.

You’d swear she was a tyrant. Which she wasn’t. She was normal.

These days, I see snippets of who she is becoming and she is just so wholly beautiful my heart swells. She is nearly 5.5 now. Still whinge-y and wild but I’m so proud of her. She has come a long way, through social anxiety, intense shyness and of course, this tiny little person has lived through her mothers depression. A trauma of its own.

And it is this sudden realisation where I stop in my tracks. A big dead heavy STOP and my breath sucks in deep and I hold it for a long moment; only for it to slowly stutter out of my lungs as if there were clumps of earth in my trachea. The kitchen tears away from my psyche and suddenly I’m standing out on a dirt road in a bland desert. The twisted crunch of dry hard stones under my boots has a grating echo vibrating through my body. The air is hot and dry, suffocating. There is no wind. No sound. No leaves rustling. An empty void giving me the space for this realisation to take hold.




She is here five years and I was severely depressed for the first 2 years of her life and then (milder, thankfully) again after I had her sister.

There I was. So deeply stuck in my own crippling, heavy, world of depression that I never even took stock to measure how this little one was suffering too. I was so focused on my own surviving that I disassociated from hers.

Imagine coming into this world to a mother who fights daily, those thoughts that are trying to take her out of it.

I only heard it there recently, for the first time, a new narrator in my head.

It said ‘I want to be alive’.

What a smack that was. To hear, for the first time in… as long as I can remember, a new inner voice. One that actually wants to be alive.

That is intense, I know. In recent months I’ve been working to find the root of this and it seems to all fall back on the car accident I was in when I was ten. I had what some might call a near death experience. Or, well, a death experience. I just remember being sucked back into my mind and waking up, instantly alert, to give people my home phone number.

A fearful memory that subsequently has led me to teach my eldest my phone number, back when she was just aged three.

It’s since then that I’ve had this overriding feeling. Was it fear? Is that what suffocated my will to live? By live I mean to live, not just be alive. I’ve mastered staying alive through depression. I have never shared this aspect of depression with you before. That way of thinking lives on the shameful side of the depressive spectrum.

Really though, what I really came back with, was premature self consciousness. Self consciousness and an immature mind do not live well together; and I think that is what they mean when they say, ‘let kids be kids’. Leave them in their ignorance, for that is peace. I lost that peace, violently, when I was ten.

There are worse traumas; war, abuse, grief. So in one way I struck it lucky. On the other side of that coin, though, it was left for a long time because it was easy to dismiss once the physical healing took place. I never looked at it as a trauma. It was just something that happened. Once my physical body recovered and I started, as a coping mechanism, living as if a chameleon, it was easy to forget the psychological, emotional and spiritual trauma of the experience. It didn’t help that I never verbalised it. How could I? I came back into my body in survival mode. I didn’t trust life. I didn’t trust myself. I had lost faith. Everyone around me was clueless because my coping method is silence. Pretend everything is under control. Blend in.


The voice that says “I want to be alive” does not mean that I have been saying that I want to die all this time (although there have been times, during my darkest hours). I’ve just never wanted to live. It was like, staying alive was a battle enough, a burden. To actually LIVE always seemed out of reach and much of my living has revolved around the quest to be healed.

Finding the originating factor of the depression has been a blessing. I’ve been able to see that before that time, the accident, my hazy memories are happy, content and easy going. That who I was before the accident was a settled, secure child; well protected, loved and supported.

It is easy to blend in through childhood and adolescence because you’re busy. You’re busy being directed into adulthood by guiding hands. It is only when you become an adult that the shit hits the fan because, well, you are alone. No matter how much support you have, you are alone when navigating your inner world. Until then, you’ve been told what to think, what to feel or, more aptly, what not to feel; and what to be.

So there I was, lost in my inner world while this little one went on about her traumatising threes, ferocious fours and so on. Being born onto a depressive is a trauma. It is not war, or abuse or grief. Although, maybe grief lives there at times, especially in more severe lifelong cases.

They have a right to be angry, or insecure. Or both. It’s a good thing. When they stand up and fight. When they moan, scream and whine. It means they’re safe. They know they are loved. Coming from my perspective, it is the silence that is worrisome. Silence comes from fear.

 It is a natural process, those terrible twos, threes, fours, fives and beyond.

There is a whole person evolving inside this tiny being, trauma or not.

It is precious.

I am truly grateful for the honour to bear witness to it,

and to live for it too.



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On starting school

It’s like all the colours on the page.



You can’t see the wood from the trees.

You know that somewhere in there lives joy and excitement.

As much as there is fear and grief floating -homeless- through the air.

A little bit of terror.

But it’s just all the colours on the page.


Not an ounce of coordination or cooperation.

Just splat.

All the feelings.


Stomach swollen. Throat swollen. Ribs sore.

Tears falling.

Wet paint.





Colour gone. Grey-brown murky splots of splat.

And that is the state of the page, now.

For now.

And then things will calm down.

And we’ll throw that page out and start again.

One colour at a time.




Unsupervision, and a reason to look at your phone while your children are playing.

We arrived at the empty skate park at 9.30am.

The two year old achieves a new ‘first’ by climbing up the mound herself, scaling the fence on the (relatively) steep hill and succeeds in reaching the top of the high ramp and sliding down it with her sister. They get straight into a game of save me while I fall off the ramp complemented with a monster chasing child off of ramp finale.

I don’t cheer her or give her a gold medal and I don’t sit there with my stomach in my throat. Risky play is normal for us these days. Risky play is a decision I made a while ago when I decided to stop being so anxious and worried. I am going to enable my girls to take risks, trust their instincts, their bodies, their boundaries while building their strength and agility.

They do it well and of course we have bruises here and there. I also accept that sometimes serious incidents happen but I don’t believe hovering over them will prevent that.

Sometimes I’ll hover. Like when my squinchy two year old is walking across slim bars that stretches her legs and arms to the max.

I make a conscious effort to butt out unless I otherwise think or feel so.

I discern.

I know what my children are capable of and I expect that most parents and caregivers do too. Although I do recognise that everyone’s gut instinct may not hold the same strength, therefore I understand that some may not easily access the part of themselves that allows them a deeper sense of discernment. So, I don’t judge hovering parents. Whatever their reason, it’s none of my business.

Baring in mind that I have an extremely strong gut instinct, today, when I was comfortable that my two and five year old were body confident in their risky game, I switched on my phone and thoroughly enjoyed indulging in a very interesting article on one of my favourite topics.

When I finished the third article (because one always leads to another) I said to myself, now, that’s enough and I switched my phone off and put it away. To my surprise I found a man hovering around about 10 feet away from the mound that my girls were playing on. I had noticed him arriving a while before and bringing his own children into the playground.

Despite the fact that he had three children of his own, he left them in the playground to go hover around my kids and give me a body language lecture on what seemed some kind of criticism.

We made eye contact. He seemed surprised that I didn’t hang my head in shame, so I speculate. He turned around and shook his head at me while he walked off.

I laughed inside at two things, the fact that he didn’t have the guts to look me in the eye while he was shaking his head at me and the hypocrisy of this caregiver leaving his own children to climb around a playground unsupervised just to come and pointlessly stare at my two climbing from ten feet away. I don’t know, maybe he can jump ten feet in 0.5 seconds so that if one of my children had fallen he could have saved them. You never know.

Or, he left his own children unsupervised to stare at my children on my behalf so that I could read my articles. How kind.

Or, he is so pleased with his own parenting that when he sees another parent not parenting the way he thinks they should parent he likes to leave his own children unsupervised just so he can go over and shake his head at said failure of a parent.

Did I mention that he left his own children unsupervised so that he could come and supervise my children for me?

So, if there is one single (ok, satirical) reason to look at your phone in a playground it is this:

You might give another person the chance to feel so smug and wonderful about themselves. Although the smugness is a false sense of security, do you know what? A false sense of security is a good start. Fake it till you make it, as they say, and I’m a giver, I can’t help it. I bestoweth upon thee smugness. They can stand there looking at you, or glaring at you to the point that they can no longer see their own children. If they can’t see their own children, for just one moment, you are giving their children the opportunity to play unsupervised. To explore. To take risks. See how much you are giving to the world? Future leaders. Children with self confidence, intuition, self reliance, agility, freedom.

And that is not the only smugness going around. Look at me now, writing this. Smug as fuck because I don’t have a stick up my ass and my hardy kids have knees full of bruises. I read my out of date articles while I trust them to be kids and have fun and connect with their bodies and boundaries. And of all the things I get wrong I get this one thing right (and I get a lot wrong), so do you know what? Thank you.

Thank you, hovering man with what I think is a weird set of priorities. At a period in my parenting timeline when I have heard myself say ‘I am a shit mother’ more times than I can count, you have given me this one moment where I am confident enough to be happy with the decision I made that one time I consciously took my phone out to read articles while my young but capable children engaged in risky play involving uneven ground that contributes to their development in the most incredible of ways far beyond what any flat surfaced playground can offer¹. Thank you, over concerned citizen, for giving me the opportunity to support myself in reading something that made my brain feel temporarily alive whilst reminding myself that the dates on these articles are from 2015 and January 2016 and that is how many months I am behind in world news because I don’t spend enough time reading articles because I am busy committing myself to “conscious parenting” and general survival.

Read your articles. Close your eyes for ten seconds and breath in. Daydream. Meditate. Chat. Chill out. Read the magazine or stare at your shoes. Its ok to give your kids a little but of well discerned unsupervision sometimes. Its also ok to give other parents some well deserved unsupervison too.

Trust your instincts. Trust their instincts. Discern what you can entrust in them. Trust their abilities, do not judge them on the size of their bodies, their gender or their age.

They can do this, if you let them.

¹Preschool children who play among trees and rocks and who move over uneven ground develop stronger skills  in motor coordination, balance and agility than those who play on conventional playgrounds. (Fjørtoft.I(2004) Landscape as playscape: The effects of natural environments on children’s play and motor development. Children,Youth and Environments, 14(2),21-44.


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Back to School with MyNametag- Review

Elf is starting school this September.

I couldn’t tell you where the last five years have been. I’ve had two babies, two pregnancies, two post-pregnancies and really, only starting to feel like myself again in recent months.

I am coming out of the haze and into a new phase.

I simply can’t believe I am here, preparing my eldest for school, reading chapter books, listening to opinions and slowly but surely starting to realise that she will be okay. I can start to breathe and look back to myself again and make an attempt at finding balance.

I had started my back to school Pinterest board ages ago and had saved some iron on name tags with the intention of looking for some recommendations on which ones to go for.

My Nametag contacted me and asked me if I’d like to review their Mr Men &  Little Miss range.

The exact ones I was looking at. Yay!

Elf loves orange and the fact that Little Miss Fun was orange fit perfectly.

My Elf is a lot of fun.

She was delighted watching me iron the tags on to her new uniform but the real test was in washing them.

Would they last?


I wonder what she wants to be when she grows up this September.

Yes. They survived the wash.

Elf is delighted that there is a little bit of fun on her uniform. Every time she looks at the Little Miss Fun tag she smiles. I like to tell myself that it will be a nice start to her day seeing that as she puts her uniform on. A positive affirmation. A reminder that she’s a fun person to be around.

And of course they will find their way home if any part of her uniform gets lost as we have the phone number on it.

MyNametag.ie posted the labels the next day. Great service.

56 iron on labels cost €18.95 (incl postage).

I would definitely recommend them.

Do you have any back to school tips?


Every depression is valid

Sometimes it’s acute.

Sometimes it’s chronic.

Sometimes it’s severe.

Sometimes it’s mild.

Sometimes it’s just depression.

Sometimes it’s depression and anxiety and paranoia and ocd

maybe mania alternating with severe lethargy,

or suicidal ideation

or suicidal

and millions of other symptoms that there are no words for,

that have to be labelled as a condition beyond depression.

Sometimes it’s just depression.

Sometimes you can get out of bed, strap a smile on your face and nobody,

NOBODY, can guess what you are hiding.

Sometimes you just can’t hide it.

Or get out of bed.

Sometimes you’re nuts.

Sometimes you’re sane.

Sometimes you can’t control yourself.

Sometimes you can’t stop controlling yourself.

Sometimes you have it once.

Other times it doesn’t go away and is a chronic illness, you need to manage.

Depression is a wide, infinite, spectrum.

Every single experience is unique.

It’s genes, it’s receptors, it’s environment, it’s lifestyle, it’s trauma, or, it just is what it is.

No matter how severe, or mild it is,

whether you use prescriptions or exercise or counselling,

or everything.

Or nothing.

EVERY depression is valid.



My Random Musings


Wave Riding (when depression ends)

It’s no secret that life is tidal.

Up and down, back and forth.

Always moving, sometimes crashing.

Some of us handle it better than others.

Some are riding bigger waves.

But we’ve all had to learn to ride them.

Some are natural born wave-riders.

Others are swallowing buckets of salt water and barely reaching the surface for air.

Magnificents were born deep under the water but found their way out and won life over.

Then there were those of us who were born wave-riders but trauma set us back.


That is me. I was born upright, skimming those waves on fearless feet.

But I got hit.



By a car.

When I was ten.

I left my body.

I came back into it.


Fearful. With a hole inside of me.

When I recovered, I built myself a ship. So I could ride the waves of life, protected.

Although I was protected behind this hard steel shell. I was dry.

This ship floated from destination to destination,

I stayed dry while I watched others surf, and fall.

Then surf and thrive.

Inspired, I might have dived back in again.

Only to quickly swim back to ship because I’ve forgotten how.

Then after a while, you realise your life is stuck.

There you are, sitting on your empty ship, listening to the ominous creeks,

trying to remember,

when you used to be wet,

and alive.

So you work on a way to dive back in.

You tie a rope around your waist and dive in, only to pull yourself back up.

Unfinished business.

You keep trying. Waiting.

Waiting for the clouds to lift.

You experiment with chemistry to see if they’ll go away.

All kinds of tricks.

Everything. You try everything.

Sometimes, if you are lucky, you find the formula.

Sometimes there is no formula but you have to find a way to just ride the storms.

Bring your crazy to the ocean because those clouds are going nowhere.


When the depression lifts and you feel like your real self again…

It’s magic.

I’m ready to cut that rope and dive in.

To clear, fresh moments and cloudy aspirations.

Coming up for simple, deep breaths, for no reason.

Not to relax or unwind or to become mindful.

Just me right there, breathing that air, with no need for a reason.

Or an explanation.

Or a purpose.

Just being.


Of course, I have to start from the beginning.

I have to relearn everything- joy, peace, survival.

There I am, in the deep with unborn souls, babies, kids and the plenty of adults who,

like me,


For whatever reason.

My arms are weak but they keep going. Once I get afloat I’ll find it.

My wave.

And I’ll f*cking own it.

You will see me soon, at the shore, and we will ride alongside one another.

And I’ll realise that there is room for me on this Earth.

I have a place.

Then we’ll meet on the beach, light a fire, laugh.

We’ll look at the stars,

and I will feel the universe in my belly,


And for the first time, in a long time,

I will want to be alive.


Radical Face: Welcome Home