Thursday, 24 February 2011

I'm busy knitting my own tofu over here.

At 2.5 and nearly 4 years old, my children already know which things go in the compost bin, and which recyclables go in which of our assortment of recycling bins. Mini tecchies that they are, they’ve even made it past the Litter-sorting level on the Bob the Builder Nintendo DS game with flying colours. 
Bob the Builder DS game - recycling!

Patting myself on the back for a job well done, I popped some clothes in the tumble dryer and sauntered back (in a t-shirt of course) to my computer. Having left it on standby all night, I didn’t have to waste any time at all waiting for it to boot up.

Somewhere in the back of my mind there is a niggling thought that maybe I should be doing something more…

Mum buying Sainsburys Energy w British Gas Solar Panels with her weekly shop
As luck would have it, an intriguing email invitation had popped up in my inbox (while I was boiling a kettle full of water for my one cup of tea)... it was a special event to talk about making sustainable living a reality for families like mine, and a celebration of the new partnership between Sainsburys and British Gas. It was to take place at Walnut, a lovely little sustainable restaurant in West Hampstead, London, with a handful of other parent bloggers.

I said yes, of course (who could resist their menu!), and later that week found myself pulling up to the venue…. in a Toyota Prius, no less.
Parent bloggers at Sainsburys Energy event at Walnut, West Hampstead (that's me on far left)

Aside from a mouth-watering pan-fried welsh lamb fillet on a coriander and aubergine caviar, the highlight of the event was a talk by eco pundit Lucy Siegle. Far from the dry energy savings talk I was expecting, Lucy spoke to us with passion and humour about a shift of consciousness in our environmental awareness.

Lucy Siegle and a blogger-in-training
I was struck by how she used the terms ‘sustainable living’ and ‘ethical living’ interchangeably. As parents of young children, it’s natural to think about their futures – so we focus on helping them with their phonics or maths homework, and spend hours poring over each school prospectus. But what sort of future will it be if we use up our planet’s resources before they even grow up? Green living, says Lucy Siegle, isn’t a knit-your-own-tofu sort of thing - it’s a social responsibility.

And so, inspired by Lucy’s enthusiasm and impressed by Sainsbury’s commitment to sustainable and ethical living, I’ve unplugged my phone charger, popped on a jumper, and booked myself a Home Energy Assessment.

In fact I’ve even written all about the new Sainsburys Energy in partnership with British Gas over on my website including a wee mention of the 10,000 bonus nectar points you could earn. Click here to have a look!

Friday, 18 February 2011

The Gruffalo according to Danger Boy

I just came across this saved AudioBoo on my phone - it's of Danger Boy at age 2 (and a bit) telling the story of The Gruffalo and then laughing like a maniac at his own joke....


Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Language Development a la Gordon Ramsay

I should first warn you, this is going to be incredibly dull to anyone who isn't my mother, or who isn't as fascinated by language development as I am. If you're just after a quick laugh, scroll through all the brainy stuff and skip right to the bottom.

I studied linguistics for a little while at college and learned all about fricatives and the difference between a dialect and a creole... but nothing prepared me for watching a toddler pick up 50 new words a day and use them perfectly in context. Ever since Mads spoke her first word, I've been making a note of some of the words and phrases she's used, and Danger Boy's growing vocabulary is being added to the records too, though quite a bit more sporadically I must confess.


Mads was always great with language, with about 90 clearly recogniseable English and French words by the time she was 16 months old. At the start of 2010, around 2.5 years old, she was coming out with brilliant little phrases like -
"Oh my goodness"
"He is a gentleman and she is a lady. Gentleman. Elli, say Gentleman."
"I'm just a bit busy, mummy, give me a second."

By mid 2010 she was using language to entertain us, to express her anger, and to try her hand at parenting her parents:

"I went and peeked at Elli while he was sleeping and i thought it was a little angel sleeping there!"
"You're not my friend!" (to me)
"If you say that to me I will not give you a sticker." (also to me - d'oh!)

At the end of 2010, her use of language hadn't changed much, but the nuance made her seem more like a 10 year old than a 3.5 year old to me. I am biased of course.
"Elli, you're my sweet little boy, aren't you? What a handsome fellow you are, my little guy!"

Danger Boy

He said "mummy" for the very first time on January 27th 2010, instead of "mama". His other words at that age (about 17 months) included car, bubble, duck, dragon (daga), turtle (toh-tol), tiger, animal (ammol), kitten (titten), mouse, house, apple (appol), banana (nana), milk (malk), cake, biscuit (bisk), chair, purple (popol), down, and he pronounce Dog like he grew up in the east end.  he made loads of hilarious animal noises, including fish, pig, lion, and rabbit. His favourite word was NO!

At 17 months he had also just started putting words together, like "cheese pasta" (chee-asta) and "get down".

His best party trick by far was a perfect impression of Snoop Dogg in Drop It Like It's Hot, after which he would shout "NEIGH!!!" as loud as he could.

He was starting to be able to sing the alphabet, but in a rather limited form - "A B B B B B B, A B B B B B B".

By mid-2010, Danger Boy was quickly picking up new words, though much more slowly than the girls around him, I suspect because Mads just couldn't help speaking on his behalf. He was most commonly heard shouting:
"Shoo mummy! Go way mummy! Only daddy!" much to my dismay. Although on Saturday mornings I certainly didn't complain!

At the end of 2010, his language was starting to develop at an incredible pace. In the space of about a month, he went from saying a few words joined together, and singing songs learned by rote, to constructing full sentences.
"Mummy, I want to make my dinosaur puzzles. I need some help. Can you come help me please mummy?"
"I don't like it tomatoes. I give my tomatoes to Mads, okay mummy?"
and the classic:
"I don't want anyone to help me. I do it all by myself."

And now, a year after he first said mummy in his sweet little voice, he's made the biggest transition of all, pronouncing most of his letters carefully and enunciating beautifully (when he's up to it).

So what does he choose to say, with his silly little grin and fluffy chick hair?

"F*cking sh*t".

Oh bugger.