Thursday, 25 August 2011

Looking back

The relative silence on this spaces says it all. I'm back at work and there's little time left between racing between home, nurseries, work and back, between dressing, feeding, cleaning little ones, cooking, keeping the house in some acceptable state that isn't a health hazard, work, and knitting to keep sane. Still, I'd like to look back on the last year.

A year of maternity leave, apart from the obvious past times of wiping bums, providing constant food and drink for children, trying to not fall over toys while holding baby (I might have tripped once), and trying to keep the nerves from snapping, also was an opportunity to try out a few new things and change things that I'd been half thinking about but never quite managed to follow through in the daily race.

The time went quickly, and there still is a lot on my wish list. And so there should be, because where does motivation come from if you've done everything you hoped for already?
I even had a plan for the year. And pledged to live as sustainably as possible. So where am I at more than half way through this year?

- I buy much more local produce and avoid packaging where I can, without compromising on convenience. This means that we get a local veggie bag, that I check for all fruit and veg that they aren't imported from outside Europe (with the exception of those that have to be imported, like avocado, sweet potato and other convenient baby food). I've also added some recipies to my repertoire thus reducing my heavy reliance on frozen ready made vegetarian meals. Although the latter might be out of the window simply because there's not enough time to cook from scratch. I'm using shopping bags and combine trips with the car.
- We didn't get chickens. I'm still in two minds about it - as our garden is anything but chicken proof and very small too, if we were to get chickens, they couldn't possibly be free range. With a run we'd seriously compromise on play area, and then there's the issue of maybe in future growing more veg where there is grass just now (and where the chickens would run about). So while 4 year old and I are still more than keen on the idea of having our eggs for breakfast from the chicken coop, for the moment it is stalled (or filed if you ask another member of the household ;))
- We explored solar energy and decided that it's not a sensible priority for us just now. Instead we learned that insulating and keeping heat in is the best first step, followed by renewing our roof and adding some insulation to it. The latter is great in theory but obviously a big gulp in practice, so will it happen this year? I'm not so sure. We got our loft insulated and are monitoring our energy use. The computer / router is no longer on all day. Our monthly energy bill has halved in this year, though this is partly due to overpaying. Still, it is low.
-On my pledge to make presents rather than buy - well, I did as well as you could expect. No, I didn't manage to not buy anything but I tried to stay clear of disposable plastic stuff, and I made as much by hand as I could. I'm not sure if it was always appreciated and it does hurt more if a present you spent days making isn't appreciated compared to something you didn't think about much when buying it in a shop in the space of a few seconds.
-I also pledged to make cards rather than buy them. So far so good, though some people went without because I didn't manage. Sorry.
-I didn't buy a new gadget this year. So far anyway. But I bought lots of yarn, but that's kinda ok, isn't it? Yarn doesn't count, right?
-I reduced my air travel by about half. It's still half of my total annual carbon footprint. Gulp.
-I grew more food than before, though I'm still rather rubbish at it. My compost bin is back in action and the slugs are having a feast in it. Should I be worried about this? Cubling and I are quite in awe about the size of those slugs, so at least we're having fun.
-Then there was the consideration of downshifiting properly. And the decision that no, I won't quit my job and that I'd probably not be a good homeschooler or stay at home mum in general.
-There were two new projects that give me a lot of pleasure, selling Barefoot Books and the Nature Kids website. Time will tell where they lead, for now it's a bit of fun on the side that I don't really have time for but love doing anyway.
-I didn't manage to declutter properly, letting go of stuff is just really hard and seems counter-intuitive if you try not to waste. I cannot manage to let go of books at all, and I really don't know why we have these mountains of CDs when they're all ripped into MP3s and onto hard drives. Well I know - because we're still only actually listening to real CDs.
-There were two courses I attended, one on reducing one's carbon footprint and one on foraging. There were many more I wanted to go to and many more coming up. Willow weaving and upcycling are on my wish list right now (and I've come across living willow fences which are just wonderful, I wants them!)

So, my plans for the rest of the year are to get the house up to scratch a bit. It'll be a real challenge with all else that is happening. I'm not holding my breath but it's better to have an ambitious plan than no plan at all. And there's rather a lot of knitting going on with a new wave of babies to welcome into this world. And winter babies need something cozy, n'est ce pas?

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