Tuesday, 30 June 2009
The excitement is not just about the Games themselves, mind you. It's all about the Commonwealth Games Legacy, a lasting, positive, and all encompassing change to Glasgow which will benefit this city and the whole of Scotland. The Games for the Common Wealth of Glasgow.
A tall order in times of recession of course.
So what does it take to make Glasgow a better place? What changes can we bring about in the next 5 years to improve life chances and make changes which are sustainable? I think about this a lot, and have certainly been inspired by the Commonwealth Orchards - but surely there must be more we can do?
So I asked a group of Parkhead children what they would want to see changed in the next 5 years. That's an eternity to them, the mere thought of being 15 in 2014 boggled their minds, and caused lots of giddyness, jumping about and silly faces. They had some excellent ideas though and we explored them, thanks to the input of Media Arts + Services Scotland, through 3D animation (which above all is great fun and combines traditional with modern media). The film will be forthcoming in a months time, but there's lots to show right now. They used pens, photo cameras, plasticine, scissors, paper, tape records, film cameras and computers to express their views.
security doors so the drunks don't pee in our close
renovate Tollcross Park play area so it's safe and attractive to use
get rid of all the litter in streets
have vehicles that can fly so the roads are not so busy
have cctv so we don't get attacked and can walk safely
build a sports centre (that's actually being done!)
Monday, 29 June 2009
One thing I haven't got sorted is a title.
The project is about Save the Children's work. It celebrates the Knit One Save One campaign (where hats were knitted to literally save children from dying in their first year of life). It's the 90th anniversary of the charity. It's a book of hat knitting/crotchet patterns. It celebrates Save the Children's work.
I need a snappy title around those themes. Suggestions can be left in the comment box and if I pick yours, I'll knit you or your child a beautiful hat as a prize, pattern taken from the book of course!
My initial ideas: feathers in your cap - a hat in time - saved by the hat
I'm sure someone can come up with something better?!
Sunday, 28 June 2009
Now that Recycle Week is drawing to it's end, it's time for a recap.
The pledge I took thanks to The Rubbish Diet's initiative and the uptake of the tag my many British Mummy Bloggers (this is how I found out about it rather than getting tagged directly) was not to take home any new plastic bags from shops. I thought it was a realistic pledge and one that I should have made years ago after lapsing since moving to the UK/Ireland from Germany 13 years ago.
My plan was to stick bags where-ever I thought I might need them and then all I needed to do was remember to take them. Easier said than done, bad habits take some time to get changed. I forgot my bags twice, when I went for a lunch break clothes shopping trip (that's how I clothes shop, in a half hour slot!) and when I went food shopping with Cubling. My concentration always lapses when she's around, which is understandable because how could you concentrate on anything but my one and only cutiepie (on bad days I'd say that taking my eyes off her for only one second may result in serious disaster). On the first count I failed good and proper, took a bag home and only realised my mistake a day later (oops), on the second count I bought a sturdy bag for life and realised how fabulous they are - 0.39 p and my whole shopping fitted into it, it didn't fall over backwards in the car and I didn't need to fear that handles would break and wine bottles smash.
It's been both a success and a failure. The success is that I've finally done something about not using so many plastic bags, the failure has shown me that really it takes looking at something with fresh eyes and a bit of commitment to identify where improvements can be made. So on the whole it's been a success of course, especially because I do hope to keep up the challenge in the future, but I'll still have to have a day without chocolate (right, that was wishful thinking as hubby just informed me. My forfit is to go A FULL WEEK WITHOUT CHOCOLATE. OMG!!!!!). Just as well, I think I ate a week's supply of chocolate this weekend. I may skip this Wednesday's weigh in...
Now I'm looking forward to reading the Recycle Week Carnival over at the Rubbish Diet, which should be up some time on Monday. Please join me in reading how everyone else got on and how we can take recycling beyond this week's attempts.
Saturday, 27 June 2009
It was always a dream of mine to have a garden. Maybe it's because I grew up without one, although my dad would make sure there were always plenty of colourfully blooming planting pots on our small balcony. We also rented an allotment not so far away when I was a child, and while I remember that gardening as such wasn't too attractive, I enjoyed running about with the boys who were the sons of the Turkish family we shared the big allotment with.
Then I got inspired by my friend Brigit's garden, and when a Glasgow friend introduced me to allotment gardening, I was all for it. If it hadn't been for the effort of getting there after work or at weekends. The constant battle with weeds and juggling too many things meant I never made the most of it. Instinctively I knew that the only garden I would look after properly would be one just outside my door. Of course it didn't help that Cubling initially thought nothing of being stood in her pram while I tried to do some digging. She didn't like not being carried full stop, never mind being sat in a pram without any movement at all.
So this is the second summer in our new home, our small but beautiful terraced suburban house. Still juggling too many things and not spending as much time gardening as I wish, but at least the big advantage is that it's right there. And it's a garden that won't punish me for inactivity. It was in good state when we moved in, and bit by bit it's becoming mine. Some plants bought last year, two raised beds (one planted), occasional trips to the gardening centre and surprise plant sales later, I'm starting to be ever so slightly proud of it.
And I realise that for some strange reason, I'm really into blue/purple blossoms. There's blue and purple all over, it all happened without plan or awareness, until somehow my garden is blue, and I'm loving it.
Friday, 26 June 2009
-Sunshine, BBQ/Birthday Party
-I joined a book group, first meeting on Monday and I'm on page 16 of the book. Oh dear. If anyone is asking, the book is Chinua Achebe - Things fall apart. I'm a fast reader and it's a short book, I should be able to do it if it weren't for the fab weather (I'm not complaining, really)
-tired. I've survived on about 6 hours/night sleep for 2 weeks, and it's showing
Update on recycle week: I failed. It was a stupid silly daft lack of concentration. I went clothes shopping. Somehow my no plastic bag pledge was all connected with food shopping, so when I went into a clothes shop I never even thought about taking a bag. And only realised my mistake a full day later. Oh dear. On the plus side, I was seriously running out of plastic bags so it will be reused good and proper. Other than that, no plastic bags picked up from any shops.
I'll be reading my book now. Enjoy the sunshine (if you're in Scotland ;) )
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
That's better mummy. (random comment on changing my clothes or shoes)
Bruecke Bahn! (when spotting a train bridge)
Truthahn! (to a weather cock on a tower - I didn't even know she knew the word)
Leuchtturm! (to a pylon...)
Leave me alone, no push me, I selbst! I do that! (whining starts because she can't manage) ... mummy helpen!
Cubling: My mummy! Daddy: yes this IS your mummy. Cubling: no, MY mummy.
Stop it mummy! Stop it doggy! Stop it xyz (substitute as appropriate)
Watch your fingers Dennis! (to the tiler working away at the tiles)
My Brust, milk. (points to her breast and giggles. No, not yet darling)
Mouse deep dark wood (randomly reciting the Gruffalo)
Mummy read book vor! (she can do separable verbs, even if the verb is half English)
I hier! I back! (just in case I hadn't noticed...)
Drive! (at traffic light) Oh, red Ampel. Warten. Green light. Drive!
I pullen (English word, German ending)
Elefantens (German word, and just to make sure we know it's a plural, lets add both German and English plural endings)
Clever boy mummy! (Nice to get praise for doing a wee on the loo)
Favourite past times: water painting everything, painting with real colours, watering plants, figuring out what a scooter is for, running away from mummy, watching Pocoyo, sleeping, trying to get dressed herself and getting us out of bed/dressed by pulling eyes open shouting WAKE! and bringing us clothes to put on, putting dolly to sleep in toy buggy by shuggling and singing twinkle twinkle little star, buying green top milk, kicking balls, swing parks and cousin's top notch playhouse. Pretending to mow the lawn and go shopping.
General enthusiasm about the world and its items. She can do colours (except red, which often still gets called green), count to 13 in English, to 10 in German, she'll pretend to spell, she can spot and name the number 6, spot a few other numbers without naming them, spot name S and O and A and i, distinguish between gross and klein when it comes to letters. And laptops are clearly meant for watching Mr Tumble and playing on the In the Nightgarden Website. Blogging? Checking emails? Stop it mummy! All done (closes lid).
Who can argue with a 27 month old?
Considering I had 2 really busy weeks (work - did I tell you I met the Secretary of State for Scotland this morning? update to follow soon - and Cubling taking her sense of independence and self and ownership one level up), I hope that 2 1/2 hours of total exercise will be complemented by constant mad chicken style pose (yoga masters watch out) to make up my 3 1/2 hour a week pledge. On the food front I've been good - lots of leaves, occasional tiny weeny cakes and a wee stress busting naughty day (read: chocolate) today. One big family meal. Admittedly, I've had a few glasses of red wine. My excuse: They were very much needed.
Monday, 22 June 2009
4. use the short cycle for general washing, which in our case is less than a quarter of the length of the full cycle.
And as a bonus,
11. put lids on pots while cooking. This really saves energy.
What are your top tips for recycling, saving energy and generally reducing your carbon footprint?
photo credit: how can I recycle this
Saturday, 20 June 2009
Recycling of course is the last in the line of the three R's, reduce, reuse, recycle.
So I had a look at the first R. As a quick exercise, I looked into my cupboard and fridge and considered which of the packaging was really superfluous and could be reduced by simple (!) changes in my lifestyle.
Lots of packaging is convenience, and like any working mum, convenience is important. This is why I shy away from the task of going entirely waste free for now. I can't see it (yet). Quite a lot of items are there to feed Cubling, so are recent packaging sins. However, there are items where convenience may be overrated. So here are the big non recyclable bin fillers that I can really do without:
- fruit shoot bottles. Yes, Cubling loves fruit shoot, and they are very convenient, right size for toddler hands and tummies, fun, reasonably healthy and mess free. I have 16 fruit shoot bottles in my cupboard. I don't have much cupboard space. Getting rid of them would be good for the environment and for my limited food storage space.
Solution: Squash plus normal toddler cups. It's cheaper, as mobile, the same stuff, and inconvenience factors is close to 0, especially as offset by not having to carry heavy packs of fruit shoots home. Of course I could also revert to water and milk only ...
Barrier: Peer pressure (when Cubling sees another toddler drink a fruit shoot, she wants one too). Could carry an old fruit shoot bottle and fill that for those occasions.
- yoghurt pots. I have two types, plain yoghurt in 500g tubs (not so bad) and the wee ones marketed at babies/toddlers with sugar and fruit flavour. The latter take up a lot of space, the tubs can't be recycled in our council area, and they are not as healthy as plain yoghurt
Solution: stop buying them. Just buy the plain stuff. If I'm really keen: get the yoghurt maker (yes I have one!!!) out and make yoghurt the handmade way, using the glass containers that come with the yoghurt maker which can be reused forever.
Barrier: none. Cubling doesn't mind which yoghurt she gets, she loves all yoghurts equally and would choose to live on a diet of yoghurt and chocolate if only I let her.
- broccoli florets wrapped in plastic foil. Onions, carrots, potatoes in plastic bags. Not a lot of rubbish but rubbish that is unnecessary. Every shop also has unwrapped broccoli etc.
Solution: pick unwrapped veg. No barriers (apart from price on occasions). Easy.
- fruit and veg tubs (e.g. mushroom, strawberries, tomatoes that all come in plastic containers).
Solution: for most of these there are choices in most shops. Go for loose mushrooms and tomatoes instead of tubs. I have no solution for the fruit. Only few shops will sell them in cardboard boxes and none I know sells them loose.
- toddler fruit pots: Cubling doesn't eat fruit, or rather, only in the pureed form (and that's a struggle most of the time too). So I have lots of plastic fruit pots in the cupboard, which I mix into porridge or give her with meals if she doesn't eat the veg.
Solution: cook and puree using reusable plastic containers.
Barriers: This requires extra time input to put into practice. Cubling may not like my homemade fruit puree because it's not as smooth and may taste differently.
Probably the hardest on this list to implement but worth a try.
- toddler snacks: lots of little bags in bigger bags (multipacks). Here's a tricky one. Cubling doesn't eat healthy snacks that have minimum packaging, so to get rid of those packs I have to try and change her eating habits first to go for less packaging. Again, there's a peer pressure problem. What I can do is reduce how often I grab a bag of snacks.
- Egg cartons: In my hometown, we recycle these by taking them to the market and refilling them with the next load of eggs. This is not offered around here. Hence no immediate solution.
- Jam jars etc: Can be reused for home made jam, or if like me, you don't get time to make any at this point in time, offer them on your local Freecycle network where there's always people desperate for extra jars for their jam making endeavours (as I once was).
So tell me, what's in your cupboard that you could get rid of with minor simple changes?
Thursday, 18 June 2009
Camera Obscura, a project by Street Level Photoworks. It was run at the famous Red Road high rise flats in Glasgow, once the highest dwellings in Europe. They are to be demolished over the next decade because nobody wants to live in them anymore. Currently, lots of asylum seekers are being housed in the flats - because they are empty and nobody else wants them. The flats are impressive, and with the influx of asylum seekers to them, more vibrant than in a long time. There's a real buzz going on there, they really aren't as bad as their fame, and I'll shed a tear or two when they'll be knocked down. Of course nobody wants to live in these monstrosities, so that reality needs to be faced. It's good though that there is an attempt to document the people behind the towers, their lives, their sense of home. Street Level Photoworks has lots of great community art projects, check them out - such as Mother of Purl, also based at Red Road.
My favourite Red Road anecdote: Once, when visiting someone at Red Road, I made the mistake of turning up when all the kids got home from school. With 30 floors, 2 lifts of which one was broken, it took me almost an hour to get a turn - and I jumped the queue (or was made to by a parent).
Remaining on the theme of home (which incidentally is the theme of this year's Scottish Refugee Week) is a little feature on what home means to refugees in Glasgow (and once you've watched the clip, there's more little clips to be chosen from which magically pop up. I particularly like them because I know some of the people in the clips):
Finally, there's a nice feature film also on the theme of home. Home is a non-profit film. Home has been made for you: share it! And act for the planet. Above all, enjoy it!!!
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Well, there's a week for everything, and most bypass me.
Now there are two causes close to my heart and it's clear I'm already late for cause one and won't do either of them the justice they deserve.
It's Refugee Week this week and Recycle Week next week.
As always, Refugee Week has a fabulous programme of events, even here in sunny Glasgow, because Glasgow signed a contract 8 years ago to have a significant number of asylum seekers dispersed to the land of deep fried mars bars, to give asylum seekers the unmissable experience of perpetual rain, misery, incomprehensible taxi drivers and deep fried everything food. Apparently, the Scots are welcoming people, so some asylum seekers who got refugee status didn't get the first possible train back to London once they could. So we actually have quite a vibrant refugee community (communities really, because refugees are rather diverse) in Glasgow. And a great programme of events for Refugee Week.
The following week, same first letter, and the mummy blogosphere has embraced Recycle Week, kickstarted by Karen who blogs on The Rubbish Diet. There's great pledges to be made on a website. And even though I haven't been tagged yet, I couldn't resist the rather ingenious idea of making a pledge and then tagging a few fellow bloggers to do the same. I struggled a bit with the selection of pledges which are a bit thinly spread, and to find something which was a challenge, but a realistic one at that (no way I won't produce rubbish for a day, however, I already recycle a lot as it is) - there was little question that it would have to be:
Reuse carrier bags when shopping. Above all, don't get new ones from the shops. If I don't do it for the full week, I'll not be able to eat chocolate for a day. Or maybe even a week, depending on how masochistic I decide to be.
Coming from the European champion of recycling (if nothing else), Germany, I've been primed in supporting recycling. Except for one area where I seriously lapsed in the past 13 years living in Ireland and the UK. When still in Germany, I never ever used a plastic bag. Now, I never ever not use a plastic bag. It's my big environmental vice. Admittedly, every carrier bag does get recycled in our household, as bin bags, nappy bags etc. When I order online, I go for the no bag option. But I still don't use bags for life or rucksacks for shopping. This is something that I should change and that I can change.
Recycling Week will feature on this blog with a few tips on how to be more environmentally friendly. It's not just about recycling, but also about trying not to consume so much, which at times is more important than throwing your cans into a different bin.
Talking about which: We have two bins, one for general waste and one for recycling waste. The latter, blue in colour, exists in other parts of Scotland. Strangely though, what goes in varies greatly from council to council. Now this is something that is rather annoying. Our blue bin takes plastic bottles (no caps), tins, cans, paper (no cardboard and no envelopes). That's it. Blue bins in other councils take more types of plastic and cardboard. As far as I can see, Glasgow City Council can improve on the percentage of waste recycled and it's beyond my ken why the biggest council of Scotland is unable to recycle the same types of materials that a tiny council such as Clackmannanshire can. Other than that, it's enfuriating that I have to check labels on blue bins everytime to make sure I recycle as much as I can and don't spoil the bin with something that doesn't belong there.
Moan over, watch this space for some practical green tips.
And I tag:
Brit in Bosnia
Are we nearly there yet mummy?
PhD in Parenting
refraining myself from tagging Irish Mummy on the Run (but consider yourself tagged if you have the time right now for this)
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Exercise: less than 2 hours on the Wii Fit (which is getting tougher the more exercise action I unlock, and I'm starting to enjoy it, so much so that curtains need to be drawn before I switch it on, just to avoid embarrassment with all our neighbours), one 30 min brisk walk at lunchtime. 20 mins cycling with Cubling to make it something of a workout. 60 mins of cycling to work. No jogging. Most of the exercise from Sunday to Wednesday, so I lapsed big time at the start of the week. However, the exercise I did do made me feel very good and much more positive about my shape. So I feel like my couch potatodom may get seriously challenged for the feel good factor alone.
Food: I didn't binge eat (I mention that because I actually do that far too much) but I had one fatty dinner out, one first birthday party dinner, 3 mummy and toddler gettogether (they equal cake) a work lunch (curry...) and on the remaining days I had something sweet and brown even if it really wasn't a lot. Add to that indulgence in pizza, never managing to just eat half. I've still not managed to eat raw food for lunch rather than sandwiches. At least most of my food was rich in fruit and veg which is good for changing my tastebuds.
Still I threw myself into one of my new pair of trousers and thanks to them being stretch, they are only slightly uncomfortable. Call it cheating. I'm keeping them.
Mondays at work are manic.
I'm love knitting (eats into exercise time, especially because baby for whom I'm knitting a blanket is inexorably moving on in weekcount and I'm panicking ever so slightly).
Goals for next week:
-stick to 30 mins of exercise a day - it's challenging enough, with increase of intensity.
-improve on food front. No cakes. Buy stuff to make salads over the weekend so it's ready on Mondays. Eat less and really cut out the fat.
-establish evening routine: exercise on the Wii Fit, then do knitting, TV and internet browsing. In fact, don't switch on laptop in the evenings (yeah right).
Now for the weigh in:
Starting weight: 164 lbs
Last week: 158 lbs
This week: 161
Pounds lost/gained: +3
How much to go: 11 lbs minimum, (17 lbs ideally)
I knew last week must have been a blip - you don't lose 6lbs in a week unless you eat nothing and exercise a lot.
Monday, 15 June 2009
Sunday, 14 June 2009
Something has been overlooked in the debate. And this is where I dare to chip in (of course I also went through a rather horrible and beautiful time breast feeding and touched the formula carton for the first time when Cubling was 12 weeks but that really is another story). Breastfeeding, or rather lack thereof, is linked to poverty (see this breastfeeding and poverty bloggers' carnival), social class and basic health. " poor mothers are less likely to breastfeed and this association remains after controlling for other factors. Also after controlling for other factors, cohabiting and lone mothers, lack of qualifications, being a young mother, having more than one child, being white and living outside England are all associated with significantly lower rates of breastfeeding." (source)
The reason why the "breast is best" message is pushed by the UK health services, government, local authorities and community planning partnerships is little different to the reasons that breast feeding is a life saver in developing countries. In the UK, low breast feeding rates are firmly linked to poverty. That's child poverty, inter-generational poverty, long term, people-can't-manage-to-get-out-of-it poverty. Poverty as persistent as we haven't seen it in a long time.
You see, the breast is best message is not actually aimed at us middle class mums, who are well informed and are able to make up our minds. Mums who, if they decide not to (or end up not being able to) breast feed, will make up for this with hundreds of other ways of being an excellent parent. It's also not meant to send us on a guilt trip if things don't work out. Actually, nobody cares what choices we middle class, secure in our little houses with two disposable incomes or one big one decide to do.
The "breast is best" message is aimed at people in the UK who live below the poverty line and in communities of multiple deprivation, where breast feeding rates are shockingly low, and where people move from not breast feeding to feeding their kids on junk food, causing obesity, health issues and the much quoted difference of 20 years of life expectancy between Shettleston in Glasgow's East End and Bearsden in Glasgow's North West. A life expectancy in the case of Shettleston which is similar to that of developing countries. And I'm not labelling these parents as bad parents, the reasons for this pattern are very complex.
So, government, local authorities, everyone really have looked into how to change this cycle of disadvantage. There are overall aims and objectives, and a vast number of indicators which serve to show that change is taking place. One of these indicators is breast feeding rates at 6-8 weeks postpartum, specifically for instance in aim 12 of the government's 2007 public service agreement to improve children's and young people's heath and well-being, as well as ESD indicator NI53, where breast feeding is linked to higher access of maternal services which in turn means that women who breast feed are more likely to access services. In turn, supporting breast feeding also provides an " impetus to enhance health and children's support services to mothers to sustain breastfeeding and thus give children a good start early in life."
Now I'm not arguing that you eradicate poverty by increasing breast feeding rates. That would be ridiculous and naive. However, if breast feeding rates go up, other stuff has happened which indicates that there are changes in behaviour which, along the line, means that people are enabled to get out of poverty, by themselves or by taking up help to get them there.
If breast feeding rates go up, this tells us a lot about the effectiveness of maternal support services. Again, I'm not talking about 100% breast feeding rates, but something which is better than the 13% in the area where I work for instance. The WABA (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action) 2005 Progress Report succinctly states that:
"Therefore, we believe that breastfeeding outcomes can be an indicator of a woman’s quality of life throughout childbearing. Does she get adequate food and rest, good health care, maternity protection at work? Is she free from violence and discrimination? Support for breastfeeding demands that we pay attention to the well-being of the woman behind the breasts." It's about supporting the woman, protecting her and enabling her to find suitable support. Where breastfeeding rates are low, this support may not be accessed. It is not about women who do access services and are doing reasonably after giving birth (and may or may not choose to breast feed or bottle feed).
That's why the breast is best message is necessary and in my opinion should continue to be pushed. If we're middle class mums who have had problems with breast feeding of a medical nature, a comfort nature or any other nature feel pushed a tad too hard, please get over it and look at the bigger picture. The UK has the lowest breast feeding rates in the EU, and one of the lowest child wellbeing rates, with one in 3 (please stop and read this stat again!!!) children growing up in poverty in the 5th richest country of the world. There is a link, even if it is a complex one, but if we want to be serious about ending this lamentable state of affairs, it's important to start pushing at all ends.
The breast is best message is one of many ends.
Friday, 12 June 2009
Of course I'm extremely happy for her. In fact, I'm more than extremely happy for her because she had a miscarriage last time around, at 11 weeks, just like me. And I knew how keen she was to have a second child. So I'm really and truly happy for her.
Just that I had to fight back tears since she told me. I'm not sure why.
It could be because she has the same week count as I would have had.
It could be the thought how she was one of the first people I told of my own
miscarriage, when she herself must have been 11 weeks, and very apprehensive. When I told her, as it was happening, it must have brought back memories, additional concerns and it also must have been hard for her to know she would have to tell me at some point that she is pregnant, with the same week count as I was.
Maybe it was because it is such a shame that we now cannot share being pregnant together, just as it was a shame that I'm no longer able to share being pregnant with my sister in law and so many other friends who are currently pregnant - I was looking forward to being pregnant with them, to share the journey.
Or it could be that it reminded me of my miscarriage, because she too had suffered one, as well as the hope for the future, that next time around all will be well, as it is for her now, maybe of her being a mirror of my own situation.
Possibly it was because all of these emotions just fell upon me all at once and without warning, and it was getting too much to make sense of there and then, to distinguish between joy and an acute feeling of what is lost.
I'm sure my friend was very aware of the delicate situation. I feel uncomfortable and guilty for not being able to communicate how immensely happy I actually am for her. That missed opportunity which makes me feel rather mad at myself, because really all she deserves is people feeling unreservedly happy for her.
Thursday, 11 June 2009
As threatened in my last post about my Save the Children 90th Anniversary Knitting / Crochet Hat Pattern Book, I went ahead and contacted pattern designers directly through Ravelry. I only contacted designers about patterns they offer for free, thinking that they would be more inclined to contribute to the project with no loss of earnings involved.
60 emails later, I've decided that this is enough for now. The feedback rate was roughly 1 in 3, so that I now have over 30 pattern donations (there are a few maybes and some people who still need to get back to me with the actual pattern). My target of 90 is madly unrealistic anyhow, so I've adjusted that to 33 hat patterns plus the few "other" patterns that I already had and don't want to discard. 3x3 is 9, so there's a vague connection to th 90th anniversary.
A few designers raised the issue with me that their patterns were free and they would not want them sold through an ebook. Fair point. I honestly never thought of this. Yet I also think that a book collating patterns is valuable for knitters, and thus adds value to the individual patterns, and also that not everyone is so internet savvy to be on Ravelry and benefit from the vastness of free patterns available. Even I only discovered it about a year ago, if that.
On the whole though, I'm happy for people not to contribute, and my 1 in 3 success rate is much better than I expected.
As promised, I'd like to showcase some of those fabulous people who were so generous as to donate their pattern to my rather idiosyncratic project.
Miss Knitta is reasonably new to knitting, having been sewing all her life. She was tought to knit by her then 10 year old cousin, which is just fabulous! Knitting to me is a craft which mostly gets passed down person to person, intergenerationally, and it's amazing to see it passed on from young to older as well as the usual opposite direction. Miss Knitta now designs both sewing patterns and knitting patterns, and is hooked on "creating fabric from string" as she aptly labels knitting.
Jackie Kelly blogs on The Complete Fabrication on her knitting adventures and more. She's been having a difficult time recently and I can empathise very much what she is going through and how hard it is to blog while something else takes up all your thoughts and yet is impossible to put into words because nothing you say will even start to ease the pain.
Finally for today, Rosi at The Soapy Knitter was so taken by my project that she offered to donate as many patterns as I wanted. Well, she's got 3 hat patterns, all of them awesome, so would I say no? Surely not. There's a wealth of stuff on her website which really you must see rather than me trying to put it into words.
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
Starting weight/last week's weight: 164 lbs
This week's weight: 158
left to lose: 8 (14 if I can manage)
I know you can't really lose 6 lbs in just a week. I think some of the weight I was carrying might have been due to my pregnancy and that my baseline measurement was distorted (I was VERY shocked about the baseline weight). I'm extremely pleased nonetheless.
Ok, so I committed to 30 mins of exercise a day. This is harder than I thought. I managed 2.5 hrs on the Wii Fit, 1 hour of Yoga, 30 mins of brisk walking and mumble mumble. That's in a week, not in a day. It was difficult fitting it all in. Cubling quite clearly objected to my Yoga idea and was still up upon my return. When asked why, she said "Cubling weint. Want living room. Bed - no. Mummy gucken, Fenster." This must be the first narrative she ever produced. All for mummy having the audacity of leaving the house before her bedtime.
Barriers to my exercise commitment:
-It's not easy getting a lunch break at work. There's constant problems that need solving or meetings overrunning. I tend to work through or go for food shopping if the fridge is gaping empty. If I exercise, I'll eat fast food because the fridge is empty. If I go food shopping to cook low calorie healthy stuff, I don't have time for exercise at lunch time.
-Two nights each week I spend away from home. It's harder to implement an exercise plan out of my comfort zone and when I also want to be sociable.Success 2:
I've eliminated ridiculous consumption of cake and chocolate, though still having the occasional taste of my favourite brown stuff. I've not binge eaten all week. I'm proud of that. My line manager tends to bring in little treats for team meetings. I'm bad at resisting temptation. On the whole though, success though I could do better, such as eat less.
Barriers to eating healthily:
-If I don't get a proper lunch break I'm frustrated, graze and eat more than planned.
-I don't get time to really prepare my salad, so still munching away on bread (though with healthy fillings).
The evening is a race against the clock trying to prepare dinner and getting Cubling to bed. Often, there's not enough time to cook up something nice and I grab a high calorie thingy from the freezer.
Improvement for next week:
Here's my motivation:
Tuesday, 9 June 2009
If it weren't so darn hard to actually deliver change.
So, you try and sometimes you see little changes and a light bulb switches on in you and some of the young people you work with.
One of these light bulbs is an initiative called Fire Reach. If you google it, you won't find much info. I found out about it through a fellow Common Purpose participant (that's a leadership training programme that I was sent on, rather strangely, because I'm not exactly senior management, but nevermind), who works for Strathclyde Fire and Rescue. A firefighter to you and me. It took me a couple of days to find the right person to find out more, but once I got his contact details, it was all go.
We've been working with 2 groups from a secondary school in the East End of Glasgow. For those amongst you not from Scotland, Glasgow East and Glasgow North are areas of multiple deprivation. Shettleston Man is the running term to describe this situation: life expectancy the lowest in the UK, high levels of substance abuse, teenage pregnancy rates, smoking and so on. I work in Shettleston, and the interesting bit is that in spite of the statistics, to me, Shettleston doesn't even appear too bad. There are people who are clearly not wealthy, but friendly and just, well, normal. I hate to think that they can expect to die before they are 60.
Back to the school. The two groups we work with are young people who show challenging behaviour and are at risk of exclusion. We've been working with them for a full school year now, in the form of one period a week of group work. There's only so much you can do in one period a week. These kids aren't bad. They simply don't think they are good. And nobody else thinks they are good. They've been told all their lives that they are worthless, have nothing to look forward to, can't achieve, won't pass exams, won't get a decent job, won't get picked for the football team you name it. They are normal teenagers, but with negativity streaming out of every pore. Negativity about themselves first and foremost, and only as a secondary symptom, negativity towards others. Each of them has another story, another nut to crack.
Fire Reach, as I got to know it, delivers a free course of 4 half days to young people who may be at risk of causing vandalism or other destructive behaviour. It tries to challenge this behaviour by giving positive role models, educating about consequences of such behaviour, and letting every young boy's dream come true: being a firefighter for two days.
There's more to it of course. The young people learn about basic first aid, how to get out of a house fire, how to locate a victim, how to keep themselves and their families safe. They get to try out the equipment of firefighters, find out what the "Rescue" in Fire and Rescue stands for and generally, how a fire station works.
It's all very interesting and fun. And it works. Every half day of the course, the first thing the young people do is agree some ground rules of respectful behaviour and then they put on the fire fighter uniform. As soon as they are in uniform, all the negative behaviour seems to leave the room. The kids are transformed. They work together, they participate, they listen, they have fun. They have, even if just a little bit, become firefighters who save people's life.
Maybe, just maybe, this experience will translate back into their lives, make them feel worthier and make them realise that they too have choices, opportunities and something positive to offer.
Fire Reach at Calton (Glasgow) Fire Station currently has availability for groups of young people to participate in Fire Reach courses during the summer months.
Photo credit (because I forgot to take my own camera yet again): didbygraham on flickr.
Sunday, 7 June 2009
Not that she wasn't rather impressed with the ponies, horses, donkeys, highland coos, pigs, llamas, sheep, ducks, geese, chickens, rabbits, or simply the dogs on the leashes of punters. To her, all of these are equally interesting.
Muiravonside Park is beautifully situated near Linlithgow, and the colours of May/June never cease to please my eyes. Meadows full of yellow buttercups, a landscape which switches on my hayfever worry, but then at the end of the day, I've been magically spared. There are plenty of walks through meadowland, along riversides, past parkland and farmland. A relaxing day with lots of space for toddlers to run about.
The Newparks farm offers lots of farm animals for toddlers to get close to, both indoors and outdoors, and just a little walk away there's a decent swing park. Well, it's more suitable for slightly older children, what with a shoot that Cubling was happy to climb up on but too scared to come down on. Picnic tables and a basic tea room complement the place. The tea room offers a small selection of basic food at affordable prices, enough for a light lunch, and with enough choice to satisfy the fussier toddler. Muiravonside Park offers enough to do for a half day outing, if you're into walking, i.e. if your child is a bit older than 2, it can even fill a full day.
To remain consistent, I forgot to take my camera yet again. So no photos, sorry, a real shame because it was a rather beautiful place.
Saturday, 6 June 2009
Until this week. We had about 15 minutes of incessant crying when she ran off out of sight just because she wanted to run off. As I retrieved her (against her will), she spotted a play area (for older kids, really not suitable for her) and her non-cooperation now focussed on wanting to play there, and nowhere else thank you very much. She cried all the way back, and all my efforts to ask her to stop crying (with the carrot of a much more exciting swing park) were in vain. We did let her play at that swing park, although maybe I should have stuck to my guns.
Next, at her cousin's house (who is no stranger to tantrums, but in between he's extremely smart, gentle and social) she started taking toys away from him, or overreact when he took a toy off her. Before, she would have cried and called for me to help her. The new bit is that she goes into attack mode. Nevermind that her cousin is 3 months older and physically much stronger than her. She knows he won't do her harm. So it's safe to kick, punch and throw herself on top of him. Fortunately, he takes it all with a giggle, as long as he ends up getting back the toy/book/teddy he had been playing with. Cubling, on the other hand, screams angry tears out of her cute eyes. (Cousin incidentally told his mummy later that her behaviour was "nicht schoen", which I then had to translate for my sil - this boy is picking up German quicker than speedy Gonzalez, and definitely quicker than my own wee girl).
For the first time then, we have to find a way to deal with behaviour which is not acceptable and needs to be channelled. So how to go about it? For now, Time Out has been introduced to the Cartside home. Shame really. I don't like it truth be told. I don't like having to tell my cutiepie off. So far, success has been that after 30 seconds of time out (she stays in the spot! I can't believe my eyes! It's beyond me why children won't just leave the "naughty step") she will calm down and behave appropriately again, and she seems to take the criticism of her behaviour in (only to repeat it two hours later of course). I hope that it'll work to channel her behaviour in the long run. I still need to work on reacting more calmly, because I do get slightly angry seeing her attack other children, especially my favourite nephew. If we want to work on anger management, I have to make sure not to feel angry myself, as it may show.
Come to think of the lead up to her tantrums, the main difference to her previous behaviour is that she's wanting to deal with the situation herself, rather than asking for my help. Similarly, she insists on independence in many situations now. Even her language mirrors this sudden awareness of the self, her personality and her wishes which are different from ours. For instance, one of her new phrases is: "No push me!" She uses it whenever cousin or other child comes closer than she likes (even without pushing) or when I try to encourage her to eat something that contains vegetables. It's hilarious, because she is oh so right. Yes, I'm pushing her. Not physically, but I am. She's sick of it. Wants her meat and bread y'know. Other phrases: "I no want it, milk". So she managed not to drink any milk yesterday. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how she doesn't dry up considering the pitiful quantities of liquid she consumes. Nevermind the issue of calcium which I can bypass by filling her up on yoghurt and cheese. I'm disgressing.
Another sign of her emerging self is that she's pushing the boundaries, by clearly doing something that she knows is a no no. Like trying to eat the sticky numbers at bathtime. Like threatening to throw herself off a banister. Or doing anything that I'd just told her not to while watching my reaction very closely. Crying to get her will and being very able to stop crying instantly if asked to do so in order to get what she wants.
I love this age. You can actually talk to the little ones and they understand. They may not follow what you say, but you know they understand. And more often than not, if all is explained, they do cooperate. If it isn't it demonstrates how they're making sense of this world, how their personality develops. Then there is so much happiness, there are so many hugs, kisses and cuddles which all make up big time for occasional tantrums and the kicking of beloved cousin.
It will be difficult to discipline. I know it's necessary, and boundaries need to be established. That's the hard bit that I don't really like. Cuddles and kisses all day would be so much nicer.
Thursday, 4 June 2009
Since I last posted about my project, I've had about 9 pattern donations, all obtained through posting on the designer group on Ravelry and submitting a call for submissions (with which I got help from a volunteer moderator at Ravelry). I didn't specify any particular type of pattern but most patterns were child related. Mhairi at Flavaknits helpfully suggested that knitters love themes and I've decided that the book will have a theme after all. As Save the Children ran an immensely successful campaign where people knitted baby hats (knit one save one) for the child survival campaign, it seemed appropriate that this them should be ... hats. Particularly because I will be able to use photographs of these knitted hats and their bearers for my project.
How surprised was I then that the first hat I picked as "oh, I'd love to have that pattern in my book" was by Amanda Soule of Soulemama, one of my favourite blogs. I really shouldn't be surprised, I love her creations, knitting or other. Stumbling over her did remind me though that it would be worthwhile checking all the other contributors blogs and websites and maybe doing the lemonade award properly, i.e. thanking them for their contribution with the award and linking to them. So, if you're creatively minded, watch this space.
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
So here's why I'm joining: when I spent a night at hospital for monitoring due to my recent miscarriage, I was asked for my weight. To be honest, I didn't know because I don't step on scales a lot. I gave them an estimate, of somewhere between 65 and 70 kg. While I had put on a bit of weight recently, I'd blamed it on being pregnant. That excuse is gone, I have trouble fitting into any clothes and I do not want to succumb to going up a dress size. However, what tipped me over when I checked up on my weight and discovered that I was closer to 75 kg than to 70 kg, nevermind my wishful thinking of 65kg.
That's 10kg more than I weighed 6 months after giving birth. It also means I'm officially overweight. So, my aim is to lose at least one stone, or 14 lbs, roughly 6.5 kg.
I waited a week with the start, simply to make sure I was well enough to go on a diet. So here's my baseline Wednesday Weigh In:
Starting weight this week: (weight) 164 lbs (this is approximate because my scales are not very precise, I'm somewhere between 163 and 165 lbs)
Pounds lost (or gained): 0
How many pounds left to lose: 14 (I wouldn't mind losing 20 actually...)
I have lost a lot of weight once before (about 5 stone in total over a year and a half), the secret to it was lots of jogging and other exercise, plus eating 5 portions of fruit and veg by lunchtime, while cutting out the chocolate and cakes. If I can get my act together and make myself a salad for lunch on working days, the pounds will drop.
There are reasons and excuses which led to the weight gain. Reasons: Laziness. Love for carbohydrates and chocolate. Jee, I love chocolate. I can no longer commute to work by bike because the office is now too far away. Excuses: for 22 months, Cubling would not settle at night without boobie, and that meant that there was no time for me to ever go for a jog during day light. Then, for the last 3 months, I didn't jog for fear of miscarriage (what good did that do...). So no more excuses. I'm addicted to browsing the internet rather than getting off my bum and doing stuff. I pledge to do 30 mins of exercise a day, either in the form of brisk walk/jog/exercise class at lunchtime or in the evening, or by playing the Wii Fit.
Let the weight loss begin.
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
Today was my much dreaded hospital appointment. It held another scan to check what happened to the 2.25cm blob that I hadn't miscarried yet. You see, if you miscarry and something is left, if it's less than 2cm, your miscarriage is considered complete. If it's bigger, an ERPC (Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception) is recommended.
It was very frustrating when I was told the last blob measured 2.25 cm. If you go through 6 hours of contractions and a bleed which makes you worry that you may pass out, you don't also want to have an operation on top of that. Of course I would never exactly fancy any type of operation, being much more on the squeamish than brave side of the scale.
After being told the risks of waiting for another week to see if the blob came off of its own accord, I did that, equipped with a course of antibiotics and painkillers. The painkillers remain untouched because I had no further pain.
And today, after a bit of a hickups (for the first time ever, I turned up too late for an appointment having made a wrong but very sticky mental note of the time) the scan revealed that while some tissue still remains, it's negligible and I'm officially discharged. I left the Early Pregnancy Assessment Service jumping for joy, the poor staff must have thought such behaviour rather strange for a woman who had recently miscarried.
Once again I can only praise the staff. They were so empathetic and supportive, it's unreal. They even offered for me to wait in a different room so I wouldn't see other women come out of the scan with a wee photo of their babies. I declined because I actually enjoy seeing scan photos. After all of the emotions of the past 2 weeks, I feel so happy for every mum to be who comes out of that room with good news. So I secretly peeked over to see some lovely bump babies. As the sonographer said, hopefully it won't be long before I may leave the EPAS with a scan photo of a healthy baby.
They also promised me to check if they can get me a photo of the 6 week old with no heartbeat to send to me. Somehow, I feel it would be good to have this.