Sunday, 26 August 2012

Woodstock in Glasgow

Sometimes, a perfect day comes along without much warning.

What can be better than to spend it with your cousins, rocking and dancing along to live music, running wild around a wood workshop, helping yourself to a table of sweets and sausages from the barbecue, playing giant yenga, making tables into pretend bunk beds to sleep in, and hoping to win a raffle prize - "this is the best day ever". Well, if you say so, it probably is.

Woodstock was Glasgow Wood Recycling's summer sale event. The organisation is a social enterprise that recycles wood into beautiful hand crafted items, such as raised beds, bird houses, furniture or anything else you can make from wood. It provides woodwork training and volunteering opportunity while using sustainable resources. And man, they know how to throw a party! It was fun for all of us, for me simply because I love wood and spending a day surrounded by it in itself can't be a bad thing. Having a dedicated and totally lovely bunch of people organising such a great event made it all the more worthwhile. And the kids, they had a ball.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

A trip to the zoo

The priceless realisation on the face of a 23 month old that her dress had a lot in common with one of the animals that she encountered for the first time, an animal that so far was called "Pferd" (horse) when she came across it in books. No longer. It is now firmly a zebra.

She couldn't get enough of them.

The excitement knew no ends when she met the bamblibears (aka panda bears). They're black and white too.

At night, she slept with the mask.

Oh to be a almost two again and discover the world for the very first time.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Bilingual breeze

It's been a while that I've blogged about our bilingual journey and for a while now I had meant to explore how Snowflake is getting on, especially in comparison with Cubling.

My learning from Cubling was that the minority language develops in direct relation to exposure and relevance. Which initially meant almost only passive bilingualism. Once this was turned around to an ability to speak fluently in German, things got much easier and I can now even relax and speak English to her in the company of English speakers who may find our German interchange a tad rude.

With Snowflake, the cards were a bit better - I had a longer maternity leave period and managed to work only 3 days a week until she turns 2. So her exposure to German was greater than it had been for Cubling. It also felt normal and natural to speak German to her: with Cubling I felt initially very strange speaking German to her, because really I spoke English all the time unless I was teaching German - and with Cubling I was mum not teacher, I had to get used to speaking German in Scotland. All of this has been overcome and I never caught myself speaking English with Snowflake, quite the contrary, I catch myself speaking German with other kids, as if speaking German is my default for speaking with children! (not sure what those children make of it...)

The best development ever has to be that Cubling speaks German with Snowflake. Initially I told her that Snowflake would only understand German, and magically, this worked! Of course, Cubling has figured out by now that this is not the case and that her little sister understands and speaks both, but she still mainly speaks German to her. This effectively introduces a) a motivation for her to speak German b) an additional context for speaking German (little sister copies big sister in everything) and c) additional language input. My older girl is most definitely my glamorous assistant.

In effect this means that I'm much more relaxed - on the one hand I don't have to remind myself to speak German only, this has become natural. On the other hand, I do commit big no nos of the OPOL (one parent one language) approach, when I read English books or use a good few English words in my own German (I'm lazy that way).

As for Snowflake, she's so far been as close to being a balanced bilingual as can be for an almost 2 year old. She is not an early bird as far as language development is concerned, but the language she does have is almost parallel. She has a definite awareness of two words for the same thing and will use it mostly correctly with me, her sister or the English speakers in her life. She'll ask for water and then change to Wasser when I don't respond, or even start out with Wasser. Her active language is comparable in both languages, while her older sister stagnated in German and went off in English. She also seems to code switch easily, while Cubling would tend to mix the languages more, especially when she tried to speak German.

As they are very different in temperament and personality I do attribute some of the differences to their relevant personalities, but the largest part must be that Snowflake is exposed to more and more meaningful German. What was a struggle with the firstborn, now seems a breeze now with the younger sibling. Long may it last!

This post is part of the Bilingual Carnival and I'll post a link to the host at Bringing up Baby Bilingual once this is life. Check out the other posts if you have an interest in raising children bilingually, whichever the language pair.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Lip tie

I'm raging mad.
Today I found out about a condition in babies which can cause a poor latch when feeding, and lead to serious difficulties with breastfeeding. It's called upper lip tie. Like tongue tie, it can mess up latch and lead to poor milk tranfer, lack of weight gain in baby, pain for mum and suffering for both.

Guess what, both of my girls have it. The severe type at that. That's the one where the tie goes from in the middle of the top front teeth to the upper lip.

Now, when I was a new mum, breastfeeding wasn't at all off to a good start. I really struggled, and having had a good friend who was also a health visitor and had drummed into me to get support for every.single.feed in hospital, I sought support. Midwives, volunteers, health visitors, support groups, online forums, books. I did it all. And still I was in agonising pain for 8 weeks, and still my baby never seemed satisfied. I have pictures of her with eyes so tired of crying, crying that was put down to colic. I had to call Crysis even, I didn't know what to do anymore. We had days where she cried for hours and nothing would soothe her. At 12 weeks I caved in and supplemented with formula, I could not see my baby be hungry any longer.

At no point was tongue tie/lip tie mentioned or indeed checked. I only found out about tongue tie when my second was born. And only now, I found out about lip tie.

Lip tie does not necessarily lead to difficulties breastfeeding, but it may because it can restrict the movement of the mouth and lead to a shallow latch, which in turn means milking the breast doesn't work so well. I had no major issues with my younger girl, she fed frequently and was also slowish gaining weight but she was always happy after feeds and clearly not going hungry. There was also clearly a lot of output the other end. As for me, I had no pain or soreness at all with her. Both have the exact same severity of lip tie -so in one case it made life really difficult, in the other it didn't have an impact (though I wonder if it may have had an impact on her reluctance to take to solids).

So in this anger at the omission of the medical profession to look my baby in the mouth instead of praising how well I was doing and ignoring the obvious signs of something not being right (my instinct had always told me, but I didn't know the tell tale signs of insufficient milk transfer then), here's my shout out to anyone who ever struggles with breastfeeding: read up on tongue ties and lip ties, and how to remedy. It might be what's wrong and it often goes undiagnosed. The snip is quick and easy.

I'm angry that I was sent to baby massage class to help with the colic (or improve my bonding with baby), rather than remedy what was really wrong. There was lack of output the other end, a baby who looked forever tired and kept falling asleep at the breast but who would never stop suckling because she wasn't full. I nursed 12 out of 24 hours for 6 months. I was exhausted. I was in pain. I told so many people and nobody, yes, nobody took it seriously.

What is beyond me is why babies aren't check as a matter of course. It only takes a minute, and can avoid months of suffering.

Postscript: Here are some of the best resources on lip tie I found online. Lip tie doesn't have to mean difficulties with latch, but it can, especially because it can come hand in hand with a posterior tongue tie (which is hard to spot and often overlooked).

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Review: Hello Canvas

I tried to make the most of my last months of relative freedom, before my work hours are increased and I'll have less time to spend on my hobbies. If you've been following my blog, you'll know that I signed up for two Capturing Childhood photography e-courses, which were great in so many ways. I now have an idea of what makes a good photo rather than leaving it to chance and hoping for the best. In the second course I took charge of my camera with the result that I'm now mostly shooting in full manual. Now I only need a course on how to get my 5 year old to let me take her photo...(this topic was covered, but my technique isn't refined enough yet).

Amongst other things, the Collect the Moments course inspired me to look into how to display my best shots, having played around with photo calendars and photo books already. Enter Hello Canvas with an offer to get me a photo onto canvas for review. There couldn't have been a better timing!

So off I sent my photo and within less than a week (the turnaround time is 3 working days), the canvas arrived in it's full glory. The colours came out exactly as I'd hoped for, and there's real sharpness in the image. Unlike another canvas I'd reviewed before, this one had the photo continue at the sides, which I prefer. We've found a perfect space for it and it was also easy to hang up because it's actually quite light and easy to handle in spite of the size.

I had a look at the prices for canvas print and they are very competitive and only beaten by other companies with special offers. The pricing structure is clear and there are optional extras and effects available too, shipping is free and there's a choice of full colour, black and white and sepia prints free of charge.

Here's a quick rundown of what I thought:
Quality: 10/10
Speed of delivery: 10/10
Communication: 10/10
Value for money: 8/10

I'm trying hard to find something that could be better, but I have to say I can't. It's a great way to display your favourite shots in a special way.

You can follow HelloCanvas on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: I received a canvas print for this review.

Owls everywhere

If there's one thing that's finally a bit organised in my life, it's my knitting basket. I know, this does not tell great tales of organisation but there's considerable satisfaction in knowing that I have enough projects at different stages on my needles that I can just pick something up, knit in the car, or knit in front of the tv. Those projects at the stockinette stitch phase are the ones for car journeys (I can't read patterns or I'll get motion sick) or subtitled films. You know, one of our treats is getting rented DVDs of obscure art house films and watch them at the weekend. Much more convenient and cheaper than hiring a babysitter to go to the cinema. And as I can't be bothered to get the log in details to add to our wish list, I get kind of landed with whatever hubby puts on. This is generally ok, but I must say he has a tendency of going going for foreign language films, which is a bit of a nuisance when you're trying to knit while watching a film. I know, I know, this is blasphemy from the mouth of a foreign national, linguist and bilingualism promoter, but it has to be said, subtitled films get seriously into the way of my knitting. Maybe I should establish a rule that we can only watch German or Spanish art house films and Texan films are out too, sorry L, I may understand you no worries but those southern US films... Also, I may have had years of French tuition but still can't understand a word of French films, as if French is a code that is beyond me to crack. Let's not even go into all the other languages.

So, having an organised knitting basket means more knitting gets done. Simple projects for car journeys and subtitled films, more complex patterns for nice, preferably northern British or German films. Or films I'm totally not interested in (which does happen, perhaps because I don't exactly contribute to the wish list).

The nice side effect is that I'm making progress on quite a few projects, some are even big ones (adult size) or small ones with really small needles (everything smaller than 4mm is classed as really small needles, because not so long ago I vowed I'd never knit with anything smaller as it just took me too long).

In case you're still with me and wonder why I'm rambling on about such minutiae of the knitting basket, worry not, I won't bore you much longer. Here's the latest instalment of one of my favourite patterns, owlet. It was knitted in between my other 3 projects as I found out about a certain girl's 4th birthday being just around the corner and something quick had to be whipped up. I like it because there's minimal finishing and it knits up quickly, with a nice unisex yet cute design that is timeless. This one was knit with Rowan felted tweed DK which is not the recommended yarn weight at all, but I just knew this one was the right yarn, so I doubled it (still not really heavy enough) and hoped for the best. Knit in 3-4 years but for a girl who is a small 4 year old, so I'm pretty sure it'll be just right for the winter. I love the yarn, it looks so cosy and warm. I have almost enough for another one...

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The one where she starts school

I debated whether to post about her first day at school or not and then thought that if I don't mark this occasion, it would look odd and that however ambivalent my thoughts are, they really should go right here.

On the surface, things went really well. The nursery staff kept going on about how ready she is for school, how she'll do amazingly. Of course this is nice and reassuring. It doesn't change the fact though that starting school at 5 (Snowflake will be even younger) is an uncomfortable territory for me.

Yes, she was bored with nursery. The last couple of months were a struggle to motivate her to go at all, and the same applied to the forest kindergarten. She was keen to start school, for the sake of something new and different. A new challenge for sure.

However, I know my child. Some call her lively, other boisterous, my dad calls her a Powerkind, I quite like Firecracker myself. She is ever full of energy. This wonderful girl of mine does not ever feel tired. She just feels even more energetic and keeps going until she collapses. She will go from one thing to the next, life's too short to stay in one place for too long. She always runs, often climbs and jumps, balances 8 feet up in the air and makes my heart miss many beats when I know she is going higher and higher while having reached her extra speed mode (when other children would be tired) and I know an accident is immanent. She babbles incessantly, often in a made up language and always at full volume. She will knock on anyone's door and want to come in, search your every drawer and nook. She has no understanding that you may not want to spend time with her, or that other people's houses are their, not her, castles. Her first question in the morning is "where are we going today?" and her last question at night is "Where are we going tomorrow?". Just being at home is not an option, she lives life in the fast lane. She demands full attention and will not take being ignored for an answer but keep asking for a response until she gets it. She does all of this with an infectious smile and a determination which is rather something.

I can't see this child sat at a desk for most of the day. Sorry, I really can't. They say the teachers will work with her, keep her busy. But how can teachers give individual attention to 30 in a class? Above all, will she enjoy school?

We've kept it positive of course and made it special without pressure. She went with a gleam, she is so proud to be a school girl and to wear a uniform. She is confident in her reservedness in groups and declared she would not speak in front of the class on her first day, but maybe on her second or third, instead she'd watch and observe. I love her confident shyness, her awareness and ease. She will find friends even though she demands her friends to be best friends with her and only her, she doesn't want to be second best and can be oh so hurt if her best friend, her self declared twin, plays more with another child than her.

When she came home she was full of stories. Yet she also remarked how she never got time to play properly. I didn't bring it over me to say that there won't be much play at school. That this is it. "Am I going again tomorrow?" yes. You'll be going every day of the week. For 12 long years.

I have no idea how long the enthusiasm will last. I hope for the best. And wouldn't be all too surprised if it waned by the time she'll go full days. But today I'm both proud and sad that she refused to hold my hand as she walked to school, and she asked me to leave as soon as she'd found her seat. Proud that I know that she'll take on the world in her stride and sad that I've lost a part of her to the world.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Can you kit your child out for school on £80?

Cubling will be starting school in, ahem, 3 days time. Which means that we had to embark on this school uniform business, which to me is new territory as I didn't go to school in the UK and there were no school uniforms in Germany. It was daunting to say the least and I felt a tiny bit lost and aimless when I went into this experience having no idea what is needed, how much of it and where to get the best bargains. After having done it (and having made some mistakes), I'm sure I'll do better next time.

Most Wanted, the lifestyle magazine of has set me the challenge to source a full back to school kit on the high street for under £80. That's a challenge I'm really keen to take (I'm pretty sure I went over!), and maybe there are some useful ideas for those of you down south who are still doing the back to school shop.

I started out with a list of items from my daughter's school website and the recommendation of a specialised shop. We headed there first, because there were some pieces which had logos on them and I wanted to make sure we got them from this shop. Unfortunately, something got lost in translation and I walked out with a pinafore costing £15 but no logo wear (and no information as to which items actually have the school logo), and a tie for £3.50. Eventually I found out that it was the jumper and the polo shirts - I'd bought the latter already so added 2 jumpers to the bill at £9 each. Well, at least I supported a local shop with my purchase. Another specialist shop had a 10% off week but we didn't manage to take advantage of it, so I could have saved £2.

We were lucky to walk into a 25% off all clothing sale at Sainsbury's and I jumped at the opportunity. However, I wasn't the only one so there wasn't an awful lot left in the correct size. I did buy a set of 2 blouses (£2), 2 skirts (£3.75 and £4.50) and a pack of 3 polo shirts (£2.25).

Next up was Tesco, which wasn't as cheap full price, but still pretty cheap in comparison to other shops. I bought a two pairs of trousers (£3 each) and a cardigan (£3). While the price tag was great, the material wasn't in part and I really don't like the feel of the trousers and the cardigan. If you shop at Tesco's a lot, you can get double your value from your clubcard vouchers.

Finally we went on the "get all the rest" mission, with a visit to Clarks for shoes. While this totally burst our budget, I was keen to get decent shoes that would last daily wear. We got a pair of normal shoes (£34), and plimsoles (£9). A quick visit to M&S got us another pinafore (£6), and a school bag (£12). While this was not the cheapest deal, I knew I could take the gear back if not needed and I have to say that the feel of the clothes was much better than those bought at Tesco's.

Pencil case and notebook had been given as presents and we're still to get a water bottle which I've seen from £2.99.

There was talk of a blazer, however it is not listed as part of the school uniform. While they can cost £60, I have seen blazers for £15 in some supermarkets, so it's doable on a budget. Still, if you add shoes and blazer there's hardly any money left to get the rest. School uniform definitely is an expense on the family pocket, although hopefully it will mean less money is spent on other clothes.

As part of my attempt to live more sustainably, I had tried to get some back to school clothes second hand. I wasn't very lucky sourcing anything second hand. I trailed all our local charity shops but they just shook their heads, arguing that as the items were cheap in supermarket chains, there was no market for second hand. This is a real shame and once again demonstrates how we have become a throwaway society and don't value resources. If the gear is still ok, I don't see why they wouldn't be good enough to use again. Apparently there is one charity shop that specialises in children's wear and back to school wear, and it's located in Uddingston (which I decided was too far for us).

So, I could have kept the budget lower and my top tips are:
- shop for cheaper shoes. I'm sure there are plimsoles for £2.50 in some shops, and supermarket shoes are cheaper too. I have been bitten on quality before and decided to splash out as there's no use saving on shoes if you have to buy a second pair a month later. (£22 saving)
- Don't buy clothes from specialist shops (£9 saving)
- Plan your shop: look out for the best deal and don't get more than you need (£5-£20 saving)
- Keep an eye out for special offer days, I'm sure every shop will have these at some point during the summer holidays

- Know what you need and stick to it - I'm sure 2 pinafores, 2 skirts and 2 trousers are totally overdoing it. We have no dress because the school colour is blue and Cubling point blank refused. I'm sure I'll shop more wisely next year when I know exactly what gets worn and what is needed.
- Set time aside to research or source second hand - because I shopped with 2 kids I often just went for whatever I saw first rather than consider the price. Also if I had had more time I'd have trailed ebay for second hand stuff. There is a lot on right now, so you may still grab yourself a bargain, and that's where you can get a good deal especially on the more expensive items.

What we spent:
pinafores: £21
skirts: £8.25
trousers: £6
blouses: £2
polo shirst: £2.25
cardigan: £3
jumpers: £18
tie: £3.50

bag: £12
shoes: £43
= £119 - £36 potential saving if I'd shopped with a budget in mind: £83. So it is almost possible to shop with a £80 budget, but I have a feeling you'll have to compromise on shoes, and have a hawk's eye for special deals, plus a lot of determination to spot those bargains! Do you have any tips that I missed out on?

Full disclosure: I received £80 to spend on schoolwear as a research project from for this article. It was a great opportunity to try and see if I can kit out my daugher on a budge. All contents and views are mine and specific links are not sponsored but are items we actually bought. The decision to buy these was entirely mine.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Wondrous Weaning

My kids may be well past their weaning ages, but if there's one thing I remember vividly it's that weaning was a daunting mountain for me as a first time mum and that the information out there wasn't really in line with what I was looking for. I was concerned with low weight gain, and when presented with having to prepare purees, there was a whole range of vegetables that I'd never cooked in my life. As an almost vegetarian household I also had to make decisions about if, how and when to introduce meat to my child's diet. I remember the patchy information provided by the health visitor team, which effectively presented us with leaflets and 3 purees of varying consistency, and gave an opportunity to buy a masher and puree tool at discount prices.

I'm much more relaxed this time around, but weaning was still a worry. By now I'd heard of baby led weaning and when Snowflake refused the spoon, I didn't worry and just let her eat whatever I was having. She didn't eat much and still doesn't, but she delights in food now and gets utterly excited about the announcement of "dinner time".

In a way I felt a bit let down both times around with the support available at this critical time in a baby's life.
Put it into context, we are experiencing an explosion of childhood obesity, with 30% of primary aged children in Scotland being overweight or obese. It's not just about kids being a bit heavier than they should, obesity leads to shorter lives, and these short lives are not as fun filled (with a family history of obesity and obesity related illnesses, I know this all too well).

So it strikes me that a bit of support and information that makes sense at this crucial stage might be a good idea. I did a bit of research on what's been proven to be the good and the bad in weaning for later life health and found out some interesting facts that even after 5 1/2 years of being a mum were new to me.

The risk of obesity and overweight is increased significantly if a baby is breastfed for less than 4 weeks AND solids are introduced before 16 weeks. This increases the risk of obesity a staggering 6 times. There is also an increased risk of obesity if a baby is formula fed AND solids are introduced after 6 months, though not as pronounced. So for the formula fed infant it's important that solids are introduced no earlier than 17 weeks and no later than 26 weeks. For breastfed babies, there is no significant increase of obesity risk depending on when solids are introduced.

Now we all know the guidelines to introduce solids no earlier than 17 weeks but ideally no earlier than 6 months. However, a whopping 51% of infants in the UK are introduced to solids before they are 16 weeks (this statistic is quite recent, Bolling et al.: 2007). This means that half of our children are put at a six fold risk of obesity from when they are not even 4 months old.

Then there's the interesting subject of protein. I won't go into the details because you'll just get all bored on me, but the bottom line is that a weaning diet rich in protein significantly increases the risk of obesity and overweight. Protein would be dairy and meat. So a diet rich in Carbohydrates is much better, and it's important to keep protein intake below carbs intake (= too much cow's milk can be bad): "Children who were overweight at 5yrs consumed significantly higher protein as a percentage of energy than non overweight children." (Scaglioni et al.: 2000)

Third up is earliest weight gain - which may be linked to protein intake. Infants who cross growth centiles upwards are hat significantly higher risk of obesity and overweight. This is particularly prominent in the first weeks of life, but the effect carries on through the first year: "Emerging evidence therefore strongly supports the first few post-natal weeks as a critical window for programming long-term health in both humans and animals" (Singhal/Lanigan: 2007). Researches aren't clear what causes this upward movement, and as it's observed mainly in formula fed infants, it may be something to do with formula being too rich in protein (although there are another few suggested causes, such as breast milk ingredients keeping insulin receptors happy and formula fed babies not being able to fully self regulate food intake). Anyeay, I wish I'd known this one earlier, it would have spared me all the worry of both my girls moving downwards on their percentiles... All I was concerned about was to get them up as high as I could, and I'm sure this is an instinct most parents share.

I also looked into the approach to weaning and how this may make a difference. There is one small study that indicates that spoon fed babies tend to be at higher risk of obesity than infants who feed themselves (baby led weaning). However the study is so small and the difference between the groups not big enough to allow for any conclusions. At the same time, the results, even if limited, indicate that baby led infants choose carbohydrate rich foods above protein rich foods which may indicate that they make food choices which are healthier for them.

So the bottom line is that it's most important to ensure solids are not introduced before 17 weeks and that most of the energy of the weaning diet comes from carbohydrates and not from protein. For formula fed babies, it's better to introduce solids before 6 months (but no earlier than 17 weeks), while for breastfed babies it doesn't matter.

1.Rebecca Kendall. Weaning: Risk Factors for the Development of Overweight and Obesity in Childhood - A Systematic Review (2011)
2. A. Singhal and J. Lanigan. Breastfeeding, early growth and later obesity (2007)
3. Susanna Huh. "Timing of Solid Food Introduction and Risk of Obesity in Preschool-Aged Children" (2011)
4. E. Townsend and NJ Pitchford. "Baby knows best? The impact of weaning style on food preferences and body mass index in early childhood in a case-controlled sample (2012)

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Glorious Waste

Last night I lay awake. Even after 2 children who won't sleep through the night, this is a very rare occurrence. My head full of worries, worries for my children's future and if they'll have to bear the brunt of our and the past generations' mistakes.

Meanwhile the world just parties on as if nothing was at odds.

I don't think I've felt as alienated as I did last night ever before. The feeling that people, when sharing my worries, will label me as a nutcase, dismiss my concerns. Of course it didn't come out of the blue, even if it felt like it. I had a conversation by Skype with a very open dismissiveness about my resolve to avoid air travel at all costs. It must have stuck. And let the images of my girls having to deal with a world going to pieces keep me awake.

I know that my personal choice to avoid air travel is a drop in the ocean as long as businesses require their employees to travel. It's a drop as long as air travel doesn't carry its actual cost. It's the only thing I can do though.

Ever since I read this feature, my positive outlook as been tweaked to one of impatience at this world that won't change its way. The way we saw off the branch we are sitting on, like a slapstick joke courtesy of Laurel and Hardie (and they always come out alright at the end, don't they?).

Last night I had visions of the end of the world. I had them before, but this time they seem around the corner. There is a sense of urgency and not knowing how to deal with a wider world that is ignoring the signs and refusing to act on them. So the ice sheets keep melting, the rain keeps pouring, migrations and food shortages, and yes, the end of the world as we know it may descend upon my beautiful and innocent girls who had nothing to do with this situation we're in. The world is out of sync and we all pretend we'll come up with a solution in time.

Enters National Zero Waste Week and a bunch of inspirational folk. Just what the doctor ordered in times of doom and gloom.
I remember three years ago when I first heard of Zero Waste how I thought, surely that's a euphemism for something. Ahem, no it isn't. There are families out there who manage to produce just 100g of rubbish a week.

I don't pretend I'm one of them - far from it. But it has made me think that maybe, just maybe, half a bin of rubbish per fortnight isn't needed (and I know that's little compared to others, considering we're a family of 4). It has also made me think about the bigger picture. While consumer action is nice, political action is better. What use is it that I compost my banana skins when the compostable bin at Hampden Park is filled with plastic cups? Wouldn't it be easier if there were no plastic cups? How about the big supermarkets offering package free food and launching an advertising campaign to bring your own tub?

20 years ago I was introduced to the problem. The problem is bigger now than it was there. With all my efforts to live more sustainably, even I use up far too many resources of this planet. If everyone lived like me, we'd need 3 planets, and it's no consolation whatsoever that the UK average is something like 4.2. It's not good enough.

I may not have the answers or my answers may be wrong, yet considering that all anyone can do is change their own behaviour, this is my own plan of action for Zero Waste Week - one more thing:

1. revamp my food storage system so that bulk buying and package free buying becomes easier
2. buy at the only shop where you can fill your own tubs (Whole Foods Glasgow) or at market
3. take on to recycle all that can be recycled at work

You can be part of Zero Waste Week too. You don't have to go totally zero waste - it takes years to get there but the beauty is that once you start with one little thing, it leads to a chain reaction and before you know it, you'll have halved your waste and buy with more awareness. It's easy to start with taking your own bags or trying to avoid packaging whenever possible. You may even ditch that shampoo and shower gel (but worry not, you don't have to if that's just one step to far!) Zero Waste Week is for everyone. So why not sign up and do one more thing, just a little one, and together it will make a difference and go from drop in the ocean to a tidal wave. You'll make my day too!

WEB – Leave a comment on the My Zero Waste website pledge page

FACEBOOK – Join the zero waste facebook page and check out the events page where almot 300 people are already signed up and sharing their advice!

TWITTER – Use the twitter hashtags #onemorething and #nzww and follow My Zero Waste.
f you run your own website, feel free to grab the code to proudly display your own banner in support of the week.

This summer's fun

If even your husband notices that I haven't blogged in a while, things must be quiet on the blogging front. Well, they're not really because there's this other little blog of mine that did get some attention. But it's true, I've been busy with other stuff. Sometimes I even wonder how I ever managed to produce a post every other day.

So this is what I've been up to:

Knitting. I have 4 projects on my needles, which is unheard of. One is even BIG.

Taking photos. I'm doing the Manual Overdrive e-course, which has kind of finished but I'm still working my way through this new language that manual settings on a DSLR bring with you. I've had a lightbulb moment and have totally changed the way I take photos - technically that is; I still very much take the same kind of photos composition wise, but I'm moving towards having the focus where I want it, the exposure how I want it, and the colours as I see them. I've learned a lot about spot metering and how metering and focus are two entirely different things (who'd have thunk) and that back button focus is my new best friends. There's lots of servo going on because those kids of mine never stand still and evaluative metering will sure please some work colleagues of mine (one of whom is lucky enough to be on the course too). As you can see, nobody can put me in the corner with all those fancy camera terms now! I'm even almost ready to give Lightroom a second chance.

Doing fun stuff with the kids. Making the most of the precious days before Cubling starts school and is institutionalised. I have this strange urge to make sure that she gets to know my version of the world before all is lost and she'll do what the teachers tell her (of course she already does and no, she has no interest in learning how to knit). We have done so much stuff that today I just had to take time out and just relax at home. That was nice.

Buying school uniforms. It's not an easy task if you've never had to wear one yourself.

Dealing with the pitfalls of everyday life. Like a broken washing machine. For anyone reading this who doesn't have kids, it's a MAJOR crisis if your washing machine breaks. I do a wash a day, roughly, and there's stinking cloth nappies in the nappy bucket. I need a washing machine engineer hero.

Work. Not one to be underestimated - it's quietish at the moment but the problem with me is that if work is quiet I come up with stuff that creates more work. Like new programme ideas. I love that kind of stuff and it was totally amazing how one day of not having anything useful to do turned into a creative outburst, while now this needs followed up by the grinding of pulling research together and making a strong case (which I still enjoy very much, just that there's my normal job to do too).

Bumpy Jacket in progress, pattern by Fawn Pea. I did not intentionally try and copy her colour scheme, however it's interesting that 2 out of my 3 projects are in teal.

On the Waverley Pedal Steamer, watching a bungy jumper doing a bungy jump on the Clydebank Titan.

Olympic football in Glasgow - Japan v Spain. I like the Japanese goalie's outfit. How lucky are we, we walked there. And yes, I took this photo, we were really rather close. Snowflake is definitely destined to become a 10 k runner as she was being tough competition running in circles around our living room coffee table. She also quite likes a new discipline which is called sitting on a balloon and falling off it with hysterical laughter.



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