Friday, October 31

Friday Fact

Viral Marketing

Definition: Any orchestrated word-of-mouth marketing, including the practice of using children to advertise products to their friends.

• Adult marketers sometimes enter chat rooms frequented by children in order to promote new products, movies, or television shows.

• Marketers use popular kids, often giving them free merchandise, to market products to other children.

• One marketing company, the Girl’s Intelligence Agency, specializes in slumber parties that are used to market products to girls.

...

calculating baby's age

I've calculated the little wildflower's age by lunar months up till now. This means that as she was born on a Thursday, every Thursday is another week. So every 28 days is another month. You with me?

I've been googling and reading similar discussions out there. Most centre on what you say to people - weeks or months. But that wasn't my confusion. I say months, but calculate by week.

I would have had her at 7 months yesterday; being 28 weeks. But she was born on the 17th, so I will now revert to calendar months. Making her 7 months old 17th November. That's a whole 2.5 weeks away! It's a little weird.

But it seems most people, including doctors, stop calculating by weeks quite early - as early as 3 months. But for a baby at this age, a couple of weeks makes a difference developmentally.

I find it surprising that there isn't a rule to go by, or at least guidelines or even common practice. Especially for something so integral to developmental goals. The few baby books I have make no mention of this.

Anyway, I've decided that after 6mths we can go by the calendar.

I'm interested to know how you did/do it. And at what age you switched over. Or what your friends/family did.


Thursday, October 30

don't turn back the clock

If you haven't come across the latest thing doing the blogosphere rounds, then you have to give this a try. Especially if you're a mother whose time to herself is precious and very limited.

So this is me as a 1952 dame. You know, after my father cut off my waist-long hair, I think I sported this hairdo for a year or so.



1954. This is just not okay folks.


1960: children, please pay attention! I'm not one of those photogenic folks. I really don't need the assistance of such programs.


1978: you know, I think I could pull this one off.


And the real me...with the wildflower.


the gifted label

Christine at The Thinking Mother recently shared an article about gifted children in the school system. The article uses cheetah and zoo analogies to describe these children's schooling circumstances.

The gist of it is that school's are like zoos, stifling our children. And that the gifted child is like a cheetah - needing specific conditions to run at full speed. Since the zoo/school cannot provide optimal conditions, the gifted child will be lost in the sea of other children. The confinement of the system does not allow the child to spread his/her wings. Or to follow the author's analogy - to get to full speed.


Part of what I commented to Christine:

Although giftedness is certainly an issue in the school system, I find that the discussion is limited. In my view, ALL children require more individual attention, but for differing reasons - gifted, creative, non-academic, an 'average' child forgotten amongst the rabble.
I just feel that too much attention is given to giftedness, when there are other children in the system that really need help. Although I do understand that it's a reaction to the extensive attention of poor learners, I also believe that it's an indicator of our times - wanting the super child. Much like tryng to be supermoms. I feel that we need to move beyond this now.


I also said that I was highly dubious about the belief that, "if a child teaches herself Greek at age five [etc] we can safely assume that this child is a highly gifted child". But that's another discussion.


Wednesday, October 29

Matthau lives

Extra, extra, read all about it... Mathau takes refuge in remote mountain village!!



This is the man we bought the land from and our closest neighbour.


house shots (i)



1- workshop before. The man we bought the land from was born here, so was his father. We call it the workshop as he was using it as such.

2- the workshop, during. He asked us to keep it, semtimental reasons. So we are building the house against it and creating a doorway. But it needs total renovation.

3 - the view towards what will be the entrance. That's our neighbour's roof on the right. And the well centre bottom.

4 - the view towards the back. What we'll see from our future kitchen. It'll do me.


Tuesday, October 28

sleep... slight improvement

Wracking my sleep-deprived brain for solutions to this horrendous sleep deprivation, I decided to move the little wildflower back into her crib. It's open on one side and is right up against my bed. So it's like co-sleeping - she's only 1/2 an arm's length away - except she has her own space, and I mine.

What this means is that I won't be waking her with my movements. The previous night I didn't sleep at all, and only managed light dosing. I was a wreck yesterday. Friends can't believe I'm still functional. Neither can I. I admit, I wish I had more support. A wreck is no exaggeration for emphasis.

Anyway, it helped. She still woke many times, but at least every time I needed to move or get up, I didn't wake her as well.

I managed

a


whole


3hrs


of sleep.

It's something folks. It's an improvement, and that's a good direction to go in.

Tuesday's Words

The child
is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
A hundred always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.
The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and Christmas.
They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.


Loris Malaguzzi

Translated from the Italian by Lella Gandini


photo: www.easyaupair.com

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Monday, October 27

Poineer week

Crunchy Chicken's current challenge is to live like Little House on the Prarie. No, not saccharin sweet moments, but going rustic. The challenge is to do it for a week - Nov 3rd to 10th.

It includes:

1. Make all our meals from scratch.

No problem. I do this 90% of the time, with occassional pick-ups from the local bakery.

Of course, what with the little wildflower not sleeping well, I might regret this. Hey, cheese on toast is from scratch, right?

But yes, this includes bread. I love homemade bread and have gotten out of the habit living in the apartment for now and having the baby.

2.Keep your energy usage low
Easy. Hubby is thrifty. Except he's terrible about leaving the telly on. Will work on that.
3. Conserve water.
Do it already.

4. Walk as much as possible.
Do it already.

5. Rethink our entertainment.
This means less TV (see point 2) and more.... scrabble, shadow puppets, talking to one another, and other dangerous pursuits.

6. Watch our wallet
Meaning spend the minimum and even buy nothing. (See point 2) And of course this fits well with my compacting challenge.

Sunday, October 26

house & hog


The old barn is coming down, stone by back-breaking stone (that's DIY Dad's back). I feel a little sad seeing it dismantled. It's not like we were life-long friends, I've only known it for a year. But it had such a rustic charm to it, and it had served a few generations of one family.

But when you're homesteading, you don't have the luxury of keeping old stone barns simply for their charm. I am more saddened at having to lose a very old grapevine.
So the stone will be used for the house we're building. In fact, the stonemason should be starting as soon as the stone is ready for him.


Remember the wild boars scrounging on our land? Well, it's hunting season up in these parts and a group of hunters literally stumbled upon our land (the fencing and stonewalling isn't up yet) with their kill. It's look like Barry the Boar won't be scrounging anymore.

Note: this isn't sport hunting, the men will feed their families.
Still, we're softies when it comes to any animal. It was a clean kill at least.



Ah, mountain village life...

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Saturday, October 25

Green Meme #1

I'm not really a meme person (ok, I admit I'm a quiz junkie). Not because I dislike them, but simply because I have too many thoughts in my head that I want to blog about and my blogging space is thereby limited. Basically, I talk too much.

But I admit I end up reading personal memes. That is, memes that tell me something about the blogger. I wanted to know about my fellow green bloggers so I considered coming up with a green meme. In fact a green meme system that will hopefully become community driven.

So here's the first meme.

Guidelines:
1) Link to Green Meme Bloggers.
2) Link to whoever tagged you.
3) Include meme number
4) Include these guidelines in your post
5) Answer questions
6) Tag 3 other green bloggers.


Green Meme #1


1) Name two motivations for being green?

I dislike waste and ugliness. Nevermind the extreme green measures some of us take, just not using plastic bags makes for cleaner environments. It just seems really lazy to not be green in some areas.
I am saddened by cruelty. Many of our choices impact on animals. Have you seen what they find out in the middle of the oceans? Sea birds choking on toothbrushes. That's just plain crazy to me.

2) Name 2 eco-UNfriendly items you refuse to give up?
The family car. I walk whenever possible, but some places are just too far. We do aim for smaller cars.

Bottled water. I know, I know. But the water here isn't of a good quality.

3) Are you at peace with or do you feel guilty about number 2?

I'm okay with the car. I'm not okay with the water, but I know it's a health issue so I don't beat myself up about it.

4) What are you willing to change but feel unable to/stuck with/unsure how to go about it?

The bottled water! I think that on our new homestead I'll be able to boil the well water during the winter because the wood oven will always be on. And we have a spring nearby from which I could collect water. We'll see how that goes.

5) Do you know your carbon footprint for your home? If so, is it larger/smaller than your national average? (http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx)
Yep. It's VERY much smaller than the national average

6) What's eco-frustrating and/or eco-fantastic about where you live?
Oh boy, where do I begin? Living in an Eastern European country, the biggest problem is probably the lack of any recycling system in place. What makes it really frustrating is that the recycling bins around town seem to be for tourist impressions only. We've seen them empty the bottles and paper into ordinary garbage trucks along with the rest of the trash.

On the positive side, they are aiming at an eco-state. They know the small country relies on tourism and the best thing going for it is the wild beauty. I'm relying on the political and economic greed to see this through.

7) Do you eat local/organic/vegetarian/forage/grow your own?

I used to be vegan but my body needs meat (high protein to be exact) to feel right. I forgae and wildcraft, grow my own as much as possible, and buy local produce.

8) What do you personally find the most challenging in being green?

Travelling is a tough one. I know the impact flights have on global pollution, but travellig is very important to us. I feel guilty about it because it's a luxury and not necessary. But I travel to connect to and learn from other cultures, and this is something vital to who I am.

9) Do you have a green confession?

Okay, here goes. Most of my friends and blogger buddies are surprised to learn that I use disposable diapers. *hangs head in shame*. Well, I use them only 30% of the time. The rest of the time it's cloth diapers. Mostly it's because of water issues where we live, partly because I don't have enough of them, and I confess that a little is for convenience.

10) Do you have the support of family and/or friends?

I think seeing the ugliness of dumped roadside garbage and animals suffering has made the difference in gaining the Mr's support.

I find that friends struggle with it, albeit quietly (mostly). I feel that people get very defensive about their own choices, or frustrated with me because I choose not to partake in something because I find it too eco-unfriendly. I never preach and leave people to their own choices, but people tend to feel more comfortable around others who are like themselves.

I'm tagging:
Michelle at theadventuresofsupermom, Lisa at The Tardy Homemaker, Docwitch at The Dark Side of the Broom, and heck, as it's the first meme, I'll add a new find, Marcy at life is good.

Melt-in-My-Mouth Peanut Butter Cookies

Yes, that's right, it's melt in my mouth, I ain't sharing.

WARNING: experimental hit-n-miss baker alert

These are my all-time favourite peanut butter cookies (or biscuit as we say in UK). And they are very easy to make. I eat much too many of them, and because they are the melt-in-your-mouth kind (rather than the chewy kind) it means they taste good about 2 minutes from the oven (I'm the worst at waiting for cookies to cool). In fact, I think they are at their tastiest when warm.

Besides being gorgeous (no humility, tsk) they don't require egg. That's great for when there isn't an egg in the house and you want cookies, and vegetarians/vegans can adjust this easily with veggie margarine and soy milk.

These are very easy and just the cookie for when guests with children are popping round unexpectedly.

Melt-in-My-Mouth Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes about 18 (tbsp size)

1/2 cup butter (room temp/soft)
1 c. muscovado sugar (this is just divine fudginess, trust me. This is the key ingredient. But any brown sugar will do.)
2 1/2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla (optional but it makes a taste-bud difference)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

Cream together the butter, sugar, milk and vanilla, really well. I just use a wooden spoon.
Mix in the peanut butter.
Add the dry ingredients (that you've pre-mixed), and mix until just mixed.
Drop teaspoonfuls or tablespoonfuls onto a cookie sheet.
Press down with your fingers.
Bake at 350F/170C degrees for 10-12 minutes.


These are very sweet, but 4-5 does me 1-2 does you nicely with a glass of milk.

I don't even pretend to present these as healthy or green. Desserts, cakes, cookies, etc, are one area I throw caution to the wind. However, if I'm going to have cookies, I'd rather make them at home for the homesteady aspect, the kid-friendly aspect, and reducing the wasteful packaging of supermarket products. It also means I can hand-pick fairtrade and organic ingredients.

Phht, DIY Dad admits he prefers my choc-chip ones. More for me, I say.

Enjoy your weekend.

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Friday, October 24

Friday Find

Oh this is just so wonderfully creative and useful and inspiring [insert various enthusiastic adjectives].

I think that almost every creative/homeschooling parent has, when reading to their little one, thought, "I could write something just as good/better than this".
DIY Dad says this often..... I'm not convinced.

I know of some mummy bloggers who construct stories in Word - boring for them and their kids. But here's a wonderful alternative where you use an easy wizard with clipart and animation and lots of editing possibilities. Of course, the storyline is your own, but now you can make your ideas come alive, so to speak.

There's a nice and easy demo to check out at Big Universe

You can also just read other people's creations. here is my pick for today:

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Thursday, October 23

it's all in the head

After three weeks of tortuous night sleeps with my little wildflower, I've now experienced two nights of total hell. The previous night, I couldn't even bring myself to get up and walk her back to sleep, which she's required every night a least once. I lay there with her on my chest and rocked like an idiot. By some fortune she made do with that and eventually drifted off.

The hell is that she's currently waking me every hour. I probably manage about 30mins sleep and then she wakes me. Sometimes she wants water, then it's milk time, and many other times she's just restless. And these last weeks she's begun to wake fully at least once a night. This entails an average of 1.5 hours between waking and falling back to sleep.


I feel superficial when I tell those who ask how I am that I'm tired. Tired doesn't even begin to cut it. I felt tired as an insomniac.

Co-sleeping at least makes this easier, gawd, if I can use such a word for this experience. But it does mean I only need to reach out the slightest and she's in my in arms.
(that's not me in the photo - I don't wear orange)


I'm annoyingly philosophical about these things, so I just experience it all in The Moment. But now my body is reaching it's limit. Today my head feels like it'll split in two. I even dosed off in the car once yesterday - on a 20 minute drive! But the sad part was breaking into tears at the sheer exhaustion of it all.

Mum's across forums and blogs tell me it'll pass, it's normal, and so forth. Oh, my favourite, sleep when baby sleeps. I would, if I could, but I can't.
But as an intuitive parent, something just hasn't felt quite right. Hubby (who prefers not to wake during the night) says she's simply taken after me - an insomniac.

Then on one forum a mother mentioned getting chiropractic treatment for her 7mth old son, and that his sleep improved after it. Earthenwitch mentioned cranial sacral therapy for her little one. Hmmm... how interesting to read such a thing in the space of two days.

I remember discussing CS therapy back when I was studying reflexology. I even recall now how I heard several stories about the benefits to children and even very young babies. Apparently it's so gentle it can be performed on a newborn right after birth.

So in my sleep-deprived state, there I was googleing cranial sacral therapy for sleep disorders. I stumbled across a page written by a therapist where she went into details about what to look for in a baby. Bloody hell, it's like she was describing our little wildflower.


Inter cranial membranes that surround the brain may also be restricted or compressed, causing cranial bones to be misaligned which causes many painful and disruptive symptoms within the whole body.
Causes of intercranial pressure may be due to; In utero pressure of fetus in positions where they are unable to move, C-section delivery, Head shape, due to genetics or birth experience...
http://www.bridgebodyalchemy.com/articles.html

The circumstances that I included above are mine/ours.



that's not the little wildflower

These pressures can cause a number of problems for children such as:
  • Emotional and physical stress, including angry, distraught, unsettled children.
  • Sleep disorders
  • Poor co-ordination and poor concentration.
  • Head banging and tantrums
  • Inappropriate social behaviours such as hitting, biting, screaming
  • Earaches
  • Sinus problems
  • A weakened immune system, more susceptible to illnesses
  • Poor social skills
  • Asthma and respiratory problems
  • Poor reflexes and inability to crawl properly or go through developmental movements that help to balance and co-ordinate intellectual, social and motor skills.
  • Learning disabilities
  • Teeth grinding
  • Autistic behaviours
  • Attention deficit and hyperactivity, etc.

Hubby slowly looked up from his newspaper football news suddenly perked up and asked, "So, do we go back to England afterall?"

We had tentatively planned to visit family in January, but the cost of the flights is too much for us at this time, what with building the homestead.

But now we have a new, and best ever, incentive.

My friend Mrs Maple Leaf suggested going straight to the local airport's website and going through all the airlines for the best price. So, that's what I'll do after I stop talking to all of you.

Fingers crossed the treatment is somewhere in the ball park of our mesely budget.

...

Wednesday, October 22

Compacting

Compacting is the idea of not buying anything new (consumables aside) for a specified time. I've been doing this for a year now but only recently discovered online groups commited to these challenges.

So I thought I'll join in to keep me inspired and perhaps even inspire others by spreading the word. Also, my efforts were informal and I did buy some new items. But joining with a pledge will have me more determined to recycle, reuse, freecycle, barter, borrow, steal, mend, make.

Now before you nod your head in support, but shake your head violently at the thought of participating, let me put at least one of your worries to rest.

One aspect of this initiative that I appreciate is that it follows my own non-extremist mindset. The pledge to not buy new allows each pledger to include their own exemptions. Each to their own. Your conscience, comfort levels, willingness, needs, wants, etc, direct your efforts.

There's even an 'oops' button for any slips. The idea is to make an attempt, and to support one another, not to enforce some stringent ideal.

So, my own pledge:

In the interest of green living, I pledge to not buy new for 12 months. I feel that not buying new products is one of the biggest impacts I can make as an eco-consumer. There are so many wonderful green, organic, and ethical products out there, but let's face it, they still have had to be produced.

Just not buying will reduce the eco-load on my earth, my immediate environment, my purse, and my uncluttered home.

I have not bought new for 3 months now, let's say August 1st for official purposes, so have 9 months to go. Although as we will going to a real homestead in 6 months, I hope that this pledge will be even easier to accomplish and continue (even if a little looser) indefintely.

I have bartered and been given so many baby items and haven't bought any new clothes for a year already.

My exemptions include; most birthday presents. Where I live I don't have the luxury of charity/2nd-hand shops. Although I will not buy new when I can.
Baby items I deem essential (teething ring, etc).
Necessary homesteading equipment to get us started.

Find out more at We Don't Buy It and at The Compact.









Are you a regular visitor here, or totally new? Let others know about your compacting efforts, by linking to your compacting pledge post.
I will update on my misadventures monthly and hope you will join me in sharing the same.




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Tuesday, October 21

Tuesday's Words

Some frivolous fun. The mom song:





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Monday, October 20

Reverse trick-or-treat this Halloween

In a recent post I blogged about child slavery in the cocoa industry. Halloween is a notorius time for the handing out of 'treats'.

I came across a wonderful initiative at global exchange.

Thousands of groups of Trick-or-Treaters in the United States and Canada will unite to help transform the international cocoa industry to:
END poverty in cocoa farming communities
END forced/abusive child labor in the cocoa fields
PROMOTE Fair Trade
PROTECT the environment

A pleasant surprise will greet nearly a quarter million people distributing candy at their door, when youth reverse the Halloween tradition to hand adults a sample of Fair Trade chocolate.

The chocolate will be accompanied by a card informing recipients of poverty and child labor problems in the cocoa industry, affecting mainstream candy enjoyed at Halloween and around the year, and how Fair Trade certified chocolate provides a solution.

Parents of last year's youngest participants raved about how Reverse Trick-or-Treating transformed Halloween into a meaningful event when youthful activists can give back to their neighbors and to cocoa growing communities.


Unfortunately, the deadline to order the chocolate and cards was October 13. But don't let that stop you if you're interested.

Even buying some fairly traded or organic chocolate to hand out as treats yourself.

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Saturday, October 18

chocolate's bigger price

I love chocolate. Love, Love, LOVE it. Okay, will breeeeathe now.
I'm typing this and gorging eating some (Green & Black's) right now.

And we know our children love it too.

How many of us parents realise that not all chocolate, in fact, much of it, is harvested at the cost of many childhoods?

The Ivory Coast is the world's largest producer and exporter of cocoa, supplying 46% of the world cocoa production. West Africa, collectively supply nearly 80% of the world cocoa. Large chocolate producers such as Cadbury, Hershey's, and Nestle buy cocoa at commodities exchanges where Ivorian cocoa is mixed with other cocoa, as reported in a study by Oxfam.

Slave traders are trafficking boys ranging from the age of 12 to 16 from their home countries and are selling them to cocoa farmers. They work on small farms across the country, harvesting the cocoa beans day and night, under inhumane conditions.

There are about 600,000 cocoa farms in Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). Estimates of the number of children forced to work as slaves on these farms are as high as 15,000. In addition to the very illegality of trafficking and hiring children workers, the implicated cocoa farmers subject the children to inhuman living conditions. Besides overworking them, the farmers do not pay the children nor feed them properly-often times they are allowed to eat corn paste as their only meal. The denigration also includes locking the children up at night to prevent escape.

The effect of being sold into slave labor has the obvious physical scars from the constant beatings the children receive, their inhumane living conditions, and the practical starvation that the farmers impose on them. However, the effects of slavery do not merely affect the physical well-being of the children. They also suffer from emotional scars. Psychologists say that children subjected to slave labor are irrevocably changed. "Being a slave is often a process of systematic destruction of a person's mind, body, and spirit."

The horrendous conditions under which children must toil on the cocoa farms are even more jarring when the facts are juxtaposed with the idea that much of this cocoa will ultimately end up producing something that most people associate with happiness and pleasure
american university



Your best bet is to buy Fair Trade chocolate that has the legitimate fair trade mark:

Also, the Ivory Coast doesn't produce organic beans (as far as I can determine), so organic chocolate is a 2nd option.

We, as consumers, have a power. Your chocolate recipe shouldn't be tainted with the pains of child slaves.

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Friday, October 17

Friday Find

In the spirit of this week's blog action day focus - poverty - I've found this very nice application for Facebook users.

In my BAD post I listed free donation sites. This application allows you to give directly from your profile page.

Ripple is way of donating to charity without using any money.

You essentially view an ad from our sponsors. 100% of the money for the ad you view goes to charity. What Ripple has done is sign up internet advertisers as sponsors. When you view an ad from these sponsors, the money for that ad goes to charity..100% of it!


And if you don't have Facebook or don't want to add the application, you can 'give' by going through the button below.


Give Food


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Thursday, October 16

the circus is in town

...and a friend visited with her 2yr-old little man. He was delighted and she remarked that the visit was worth it just to see his face. I understand that. Sometimes, in thinking of our little saplings solely, we forget the rest of the forest. If you're a parent, how often have you forgotten yourself?!

But then, Ms Maple Leaf went home, recalled the sights, and gave the whole thing some serious thought.

She considered the large elephants in shackles, about llamas, camels, and other animals in cages, about giving her money to people who kept animals in such a way. And she was saddened, then annoyed, and then just plain angry.

Me, I'm an animal lover and someone aware of such issues, so when I saw the circus tent my heart immediately tightened at the thought of the animals in there. It's more than just being an 'animal lover', it's about being wholly present and connected to all of nature. True connection can never place issues in little boxes of 'animals', 'environment', 'consumer choices', and then justify our bad choices.

All of life is a web - one pull affects it all.

In ignorance we may find animal performances entertainment. I know my mother took us to travelling circuses and I have vague memories of enjoying them a great deal. She didn't know any better, we were just kids.

But in awareness and compassion, there is nothing entertaining about an animal being made to perform unnatural acts for our amusement.

Circus animals live in confined spaces, are unable to exhibit normal behaviours, are made to perform unnatural behaviours, are often treated cruelly, are neglected, and many go insane from confinement and lack of stimulation.

I can find no justifcation for it, none.



Don't allow the sparkly lights and fun music to blind you to the reality. And don't feel you need to chain yourself across the tent entrance. Although I support that if you do, if nothing else, we can boycott them. Just don't go, don't give your money to the owners. It's something.



I had tried to keep it together. But every thought of what these animals endure, and every thought of how many of us are ignorant, and every thought of how many of us just don't care anyway, brought me to tears.

I told my lovely friend, "don't feel guilty. We do what we know, and when we know better, we do better". Now she knows and will not visit one again.

My little wildflower will never step into a circus. She will see the animals in their natural habitat or on National Geographic, and perhaps in a highly regulated and ethical zoo or safari park. When she's emotionally old enough, she'll learn the truth of our human 'progress'.

more info here

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Wednesday, October 15

My Blog Action Day post

I stay clear of politics, mostly because that is not an interest of mine, and partly because there are infinite number of better writers on the subject. But it's blog action day, and it's mainly about poverty, so rants are acceptable today...

As a parenting blogger, I want to focus on the children around the world.

Just how is it humanly possible to be so rich as nations and yet have so many thousands of children around the world dying a slow death because they haven't enough to eat?

Here is one reason I can think of:

World military expenditure in 2006 is estimated to have reached $1204 billion in current dollars.
The additional cost in current dollars required to achieve water and sanitation for the entire world is around $9 billion.

Yes, that's the entire world.



If a government can keep its people in a state of fear, by convincing them that other nations are simply waiting to attack, they will succeed in spending billions on defence, without any protest from the masses.

I remember watching Bowling for Columbine, and what stood out for me was this state of fear under which Americans seem to live.

Around the world, some 26,500 children die every day.
Number of children in the world: 2.2 billion
Number in poverty: 1 billion (every second child)

Are you okay with that? Do those large numbers numb us into complacency? Watch videos such as the one I posted a few days ago, where you can see individual children in their pain. We need to do this, so that we aren't blinded by the snow of statistics.

That is equivalent to 1 child dying every 3 seconds. How many little lives have ended as you've read this post?



How can so many Americans spend so much time honouring the dead from Sep 11, but turn their backs on those dying now, every single day?

It seems like a world of blockbusters. Where a phenomenal disaster on your own footstep warrants attention. But the slow undramatic deaths of little children on the other side of the world just isn't inspiring enough. The above statistic, equivalent to an Iraq-scale death toll every 15–36 days, is not news-worthy.

And fear is the job of governments - make the people believe their personal freedom is really at stake, that war is essential, that anything less is unpatriotic, and they have your cash.

10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (same as the child population in France, Germany, Greece and Italy)

We can't ignore this just because it lacks the drama of hurricanes or terrorist attacks. We can't believe ourselves to be good people of we remain in our comfort zones of only local community and only national issues, and silent on the rest of the world's pain.

“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people,”
Martin Luther King Jr.




Please don't remain silent and in apathy.

endchildpoverty.org.uk
national center for children in poverty
compasion international
world vision
oxfam get involved

Are you of low-income? You can still donate via internet free incentives:

free rice
the hunger site
Indian hunger site

And if you're the kind of person that is really active on these issues, consider letting your government know that you're not okay with military expenditure.

Other active options:
Habitat for Humanity
Holt International

And something poverty driven:
Gulu Walk

Tuesday, October 14

presence

It's not like me to go for new-agey books, yet I found myself purchasing and reading Tolle's A New Earth.

Being present is the foundation for the book. His chapter entitled 'conscious parenting' obviously piqued my interest. It's a term I've been using about my parenting style.

His most important point is that we should let go of thinking we know best for our children and simply give them the space to just be.

As a conscious and attachment parent, I realise that I'm very present for my little wildflower. But I got to thinking how it's during the really challenging times that profoundly impact my baby.

This last week's night sleeping has been absolutely horrendous. Two nights ago she woke me every single hour! Sometimes just moving a lot, sometimes waking up totally, and sometimes wanting cuddles or walking about.

I was trying to get her back to sleep, when I started to ponder about presence (yeah, I'm weirdly philosophical like that, thinking at 3am).

Instead of trying to get her to do anything, instead of thinking about recent lack of sleep, or how horrible I was going to feel tomorrow, I let it all go. I just existed in the present moment. That's all there really is. Yesterday is gone and morning won't exist until it's already here.

It's not about being a super mother, a martyr, or highly enlightened. It's about accepting reality as it is. It's about surrendering to the only truth - the moment right now.

So under the light of a full moon, between floor shadows and cool night breezes, we cuddled, hummed, strolled, and I tried not to bump into every conceivable object danced to the sounds of night.

I think that this is the best I can give her - my presence in the most challenging moments.

Blog Action Day 2008

Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers to post about the same issue on the same day. The aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.


This year's Blog Action Day's focus is poverty.




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Friday, October 10

Friday Find: handmade choices

Some etsy items I've come across.



Make learning the letters fun for your little one. A Montessori-like tactile experience. Handmade but not specifically eco-friendly.
MiChiMa










Baby boy hat made from 100% organic cotton yarn.
adriennekinsella















These little "gym shoes" are very light-weight and perfect for your dapper baby boy. These booties are made from vintage tweed* from an old haberdashery and accented with brown leather.
MiaJoie










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Wednesday, October 8

So much waste


Every year in the UK we throw away a staggering one third of all the food we buy. This is something that niggles my hubby and I. We can't stand seeing the waste from restaurants. But it's the waste from our homes that really piles up - figuratively and literally. And it's the one we can do something about.

Love Food Hate Waste – a campaign from WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) – highlights the fact that wasted food is a waste of money and a major contributor to climate change. And the most frustrating thing is that most of what we throw away could have been eaten – it's not just peelings, teabags and bones. The website provides delicious recipes to make the most of the food in our fruit bowl, fridge and cupboards, handy hints for storing food, surprising facts on what can be frozen and much more... there is something for everyone, whether you are a keen cook and organiser or more spontaneous.

Visit Love Food Hate Waste for more ways to love food and reduce our food waste.

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gathering the hips

Rosehips are ready for harvesting when they let you know and/or when the very first frost visits. But don't wait for the frost if you sense they are ready.

If you're gathering for health purposes (for their high Vitamin C and other antioxidant content, as well as maltic acid) then you want them somewhere between orange and deep red. Too light and they're not ready, too dark and they're still usable but have begun to lose their VitC. Pressable (is that a word?) is good, squishy not good. Once they're picked, they begin losing their potency.

I've been told that the dog rose contains the most VitC and that the Rosa rugosa variety makes for the best tasting.

And of course, don't harvest hips where they could have been sprayed.

A very helpful slideshow of rosehip varieties:




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Tuesday, October 7

The Ovum Factor

The Ovum Factor - book review

On a purely fiction sense, The Ovum Factor, by Marvin L. Zimmerman, can be a fun read. My husband read it as well. He enjoys books such as American Psycho and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, as well as the sports pages. I enjoy Umberto Eco and many 19th Century classics. So for me, it was rather old hat – been there, read that. The characters were neither original nor fascinating. The plot began well enough, almost slowed into a catatonic pace, and then picked up magnificently at the end. The writing style is passable but will not inspire avid readers. I had a very strong dislike of Zimmerman’s attempts at authenticity. Apparently he travelled to all/most of the places in his novel (including the Amazon) to provide vivid and truthful accounts, but these were often over-worked and read more like travel journalism.

However, for those with less literary expectations and who enjoy a good yarn, this isn’t too bad a read. An unfulfilled investment banker finds himself enmeshed in a world of cutting-edge neuroscience, global travel, and humanity’s ultimate survival! The plot is a trek through the challenge of, and the various obstacles to, finding a plant, and thereby a molecule, that will fast-pace humanity’s intelligence. The hope is that - in the right hands - these humans will discover the solution to the planet’s eco-dilemma. (Villain dressed in black seizing said molecule anyone?)



Now, on an eco-conscious level, the story poses problems for me. It suggests that the only means to survival of our species and planet is by way of some type of spiritual intervention. That is, without it, all is hopeless. The protagonist acts not so much on his eco-conscience but on his belief that he is fated to be involved in the endeavour. And the solution, aforementioned molecule, is practically a holy grail.

Nothing wrong with that at all, I enjoy stories with spiritual overtones as I’m a spiritual person myself. However, as a self-proclaimed eco-thriller, the novel’s thrust is humanity’s eco-impact. I feel the spotlight should be shed on our obligations and what we are going to do to fix what we’ve created. Not on hoping for some type of salvation. To be fair, the molecule is to increase the evolution of humanity’s intelligence, which we can then work out what it is we need to do. Yet, on closer inspection, this is a magical or miracle we hope for, rather than what is possible right now using the intelligence we have now. Rather than you and me making a change right now, let’s hope for someone else, hopefully someone ‘magical’ or superhuman, to fix it for us.

Yep, as a yarn it’s not bad. As an eco-consciousness raising book, it could prove great for someone very new to the whole field and perhaps in propel changes. For me, already eco-aware, it needs a totally different angle to inspire true hope within me.

Here’s hoping Zimmerman’s next novel challenges us on a more personal level.

Monday, October 6

Garden: Rosehips

It's been a few days since I was able to visit our land. (only a few more months...) It was a pleasant surprise to see their faces.



How lovely they look, all wildly entwined amongst shrubs and trees, reaching for the sun.

I wait for them to suggest how we can enjoy each other this season.

Sunday, October 5

Subjectivity

For many of us tradional herbalists, loving weeds is as natural as loving any other green friend. But for many others, the word 'weed' still has negative connotations, and too many gardeners view them as enemies to their plot.

For those readers today who are like the latter, here are a few good things about weeds that you may never have considered.
  • They bring minerals, especially those which have been depleted, up to the topsoil and make them available to other plants.
  • They are good indicators of the condition of the soil condition. Certain weeds appear when certain deficiencies occur.
  • As companion crops they enable other plants to get their roots to otherwise unavailable important nutrients.
  • Weeds make for good food, for us as well as for many animals. We forget that many weeds can be cooked and eaten similar to many vegetables.
  • Weeds have healing properties. Many weeds work like herbs and other plants that are considered to have medicinal porperties.
  • Remember, ‘weeds’ is just a term coined by humans to describe plants that are vigorous, hard to eradicate and control. Isn’t that something to admire?
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Saturday, October 4

My day of birth

I was going to write a philosophical post on turning 38. The problem is, that I don't have a problem with it. Nor is it an issue, exciting, a milestone, blah, blah.

So I'll just say - how nice to still be here.

And as I re-read that sentence, I realise that at 12:15am and with a baby that will be up by 2am for a feed, I shouldn't still be here!

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World Animal Day

World Animal Day was started in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species. Since then it has grown to encompass all kinds of animal life and is widely celebrated in countries throughout the world. October 4 was chosen as World Animal Day as it is the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

MISSION STATEMENT - WORLD ANIMAL DAY

  • To celebrate animal life in all its forms
  • To celebrate humankind’s relationship with the animal kingdom
  • To acknowledge the diverse roles that animals play in our lives –
    from being our companions, supporting and helping us, to bringing a sense of
    wonder into our lives
  • To acknowledge and be thankful for the way in which
    animals enrich our lives
Go to the KidsZone for fun and games.

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Thursday, October 2

Sensing Autumn

Today I not only smelt Autumn, I was engulfed by her essence. I have felt the introspective mood emerging a couple of days after the equinox. Now I taste it in the wind, see it in the hardened slap of the waves and hear it in the underfoot crinkle of fallen oak leaves.

"It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day; the sky was clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always associate with the idea of abundance.
The forests had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple,
and scarlet."

Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow


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