Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The No-Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting ~ a review

Several  months ago I was approached by a publisher asking if I would review a book on my blog. The book is Kate Blincoe's The No-Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting. The publisher had come across this blog as it is listed on the Green Parent's magazine's website as one of their favorite blogs (thank you very much!)

Although life is so full and busy here and I barely have time to read, this is a wonderful book to pick up and put down. The whole family really enjoyed it.
Kate Blincoe breaks down green parenting into a number of chapters. I will briefly review each one here:
Learn and play naturally~ This is all about keeping play green in your house. It talks about the consumption of toys and play items. This is a topic I feel very strongly about and over laps with my own work making waldorf dolls. Obviously some kinds of toys are more harmful to the environment than others.The book gives fantastic alternative suggestions to filling your child's toy box with factory produced, plastic battery toys. It suggests choosing play things that are made from sustainable materials, or even simply buying second hand or accepting handed down toys, saving a lot of natural resources and landfill space.
Rebe's homemade rocket, hours of fun making it, hours of fun playing with it

 Of course letting children make their own toys is a great way to save the environment as well as giving them a fantastic creative outlet. I still maintain that a sellotape dispenser is one of the best gifts you can give someone age 4+. This chapter also encourages the joys of playing in nature and offers some wonderful suggestions to get your little ones outside to enjoy the playful and wonderful natural world around them.

Your green nest~ I loved this chapter, it offers a host of simple ways that you can green your home without feeling that you have to invest vast sums of money in building a wind turbine or some such. Suggestions such as natural (and inexpensive) cleaning products and making/ upcycling your own clothes (yes yes) as well as a host of energy saving tips are brilliant and practical ways that you can have a greener home (and save a lot of money too).

we buy organic when we can, if there is an organic option then that is what we choose
Can I eat it now~ Often when we think about being green we think of the material possessions that we have and want around us, but of course the food we consume: where it comes from and how it is farmed is just as important. This was a really thought provoking chapter, and it has made me think again about our food choices. Of course breastfeeding is the most green way to feed Ena, but growing our own, seasonal shopping and not being wasteful are all things that have been brought back to the forefront of our minds.

gorgeous rosehip syrup, packed with vitamin C and free!
Hunter-Gatherer ~ How timely this chapter is, the world around us is bountiful with free food and we have been enjoying finding and eating the delicious treats the hedgerows and woods have to offer. There are brilliant recipe suggestions for every season in this chapter and foraging tips and advice. We have already made rosehip syrup, which the kids love on their porridge in the mornings and we will definitely be trying the nettle muffins too!

pre-fold cloth nappies drying on the line
Body Talk ~ this chapter was a wonderful confirmation that the way we approach our bodies is pretty green. It talks of cloth nappies (which we use exclusively) and wipes. I liked that the approach to this and all subjects in the book was gentle, and the author herself admitted that she didn't get on with cloth nappies. There are some more great ideas for natural treatments of minor ailments, and green alternatives to chemical laden bathroom and laundry products.

Little green fingers ~ gorgeous gardening ideas about growing your own, minding garden wildlife and practical ways to build a bug hotel.

How Nature can nurture your family ~ this is one of the most important chapters in the book I think. It is about getting our families out into nature. It lists ways we can engage ourselves and our children in the natural world around us. The bottom line is that for future generations to want to save our planet, we need them to care about it and love it and this will only happen if they spend time, happy time there as children.

Green celebrations ~ I thought this was a lovely chapter to be included and gave some wonderful suggestions about opting out of the mass produced, wasteful nonsense that is aggressively marketed to us as the way to celebrate. The alternatives suggested by Kate are simple, home made and thoughtful and will definitely add a special magic to any celebration.

Over all the book is a wonderful read, it has beautiful illustrations and photographs that the children have really enjoyed looking at.
Garry loved this book too, he liked that it was affirming everything that we do, the small little efforts that we make.
We also really liked that it was in no way preacher-y, I never felt that I was failing or felt judged when I was reading this book. It is not about what we are doing wrong, rather it suggests a million little ways that we can do it right, that we can be greener without too much effort, cost and ways that bring the family together and that are fun.
For me the most important message was about love and respect for nature. Having solar panels on our rooves and an amazing eco car that only drives on waste bio oil is good going, but not realistic for most and is also arguably not as important as teaching the next generation about loving the world around us, understanding the impact our choices have and trying in lots of small ways to be greener.
I highly recommend it, you can purchase a copy of the book here or here.
Happy reading and happy greening :-)

Friday, October 9, 2015

autumn everyday

local, organic apples from a friend
The days are flying by. A blur of school and work and really quite sleepless nights.
Ena is teething, she is growing and changing so much. Ready to start tasting food, coming into herself firmly. There are things she loves; trees, her doll, her brothers and sister. She is so interested in the world, the sights, smells and sounds. All of this is much more interesting than being on the boob, making what she eats in the day very little so she is making up for it at night. Mostly we co-sleep, most evenings I have her in my arms or Garry puts her in the sling and takes her for walks. It can be tough at times, there is little time for anything and life marches on at it's relentless pace. How I wish there was a pause button. When we could all just be still, take a few hours to do nothing, but we don't and so we must notice the small moments or life will just march past without us even being aware of what this life is. And anyway that is where the beauty of life is anyway, in the small moments.
watching the cobbler mend Joa shoes

kids cook saturday Pizza made by Rebe

a visit to the model railway

beautiful Ena

evening chores

bedtime story

baking with floppsy

autumn branches and acorns in bottles

crafting with friends for a new arrival

nettles en croute

Garry's Birthday ~ the big three three

birthday mayhem
birthday table

elvis gifts

cake from work

henrietta, sammy and ning

the first egg
Last week we celebrated Garry's Birthday. Each year he celebrates being 33 and this year was a particularly big 33rd Birthday.
He started the day  with presents in bed brought to him with much excitement and fanfare by the children. They had used their pocket money to buy things that they know he likes, a teddy, biscuits and beer.
Benny in particular was so proud of his present. It was the first time he had bought something for someone else and he had been dying to give his present for weeks. It was delightful.
The rest of the morning passed as normal with school and physio appointments. When the kids cam home from school again we set the birthday table and birthday mayhem ensued, with champagne, donuts and more gifts. Garry was delighted and happy and felt very loved and special.
We made a feast of a dinner and desert then headed down to the beach with some friends of ours for some beers and a bonfire. The sky burned red as the sun went down and then to our utter delight and awe a blood moon rose over the horizon. A huge, wonderful supermoon. It was incredible and left us reeling until the next day.
Later that week work had a little surprise celebration for him. Ena and I called in and the staff had arranged a cake and several beers were drank with his boss and workmates. We hopped into the van and I drove us home with a big bunch of balloons tied onto the roof merrily popping all the way.
When we got home I showed him the present that his great friends had brought for him while he had been at work...4 beautiful point of lay pullets for his hen house. With his work uniform still on he set to work securing the hen house and getting to know them . Work well done as he was rewarded with our first egg the next morning.
He had not even finished sorting out the hens when his buddies called for to take him out and surprised him with a trip to Kinsale where they had tapas and many drinks and a lot of fun, and his final (and much needed) gift for the week was a day off from work the next day!
He had a great time and I think he really felt celebrated and loved.
Happy Birthday Darling xx