Sunday, 31 July 2011

GOING GREEN, BEING HEALTHIER

Posts like this and this make me want to cry. Seriously. I mean, reading about things people do that I have been forever procrastinating about makes me want to cry.

They make it seem so easy! Years ago, when I became a mom, I promised myself I was going to be the best mom ever. I wanted my child to have the best life ever, and in that I don’t mean in having it all, but as in having a eco-friendly childhood.

I started by breastfeeding her which meant no artificial milk therefore no artificial packaging to dispose of later on. And girl! Did I receive lectures from left, right and centre about how foolish it was to breastfeed.

“You‘ll spoil your boobs, you‘re still young, they‘ll droop…..” (Well d’oh! What did you think they were created for?)

“Breast milk doesn’t really provide all the necessary nutrients a growing child needs” (are you kidding me? The composition of human breast milk changes with time, contents change to meet the growing need of the child, even the colour that is creamy in the first months takes on a pale blue-ish colour with time….and I should know I breastfed the rugrat for four years! And the first time we ever had to treat an aliment was AFTER weaning her. THAT was not coincidence! Do the research).

I didn’t do the cloth diaper thing although for the life of me, I’m not sure why not. Breastfed babies’ poop doesn’t smell like 'normal' poop so it wouldn’t have been as offensive to wash cloth diapers.

I used a stroller for her until she started walking sometime at 18 months, then we walked everywhere. I’d pass by mothers pushing four year olds, even five and six year olds on strollers and they’d give me that ‘you-mean-mother-look-at-that-poor-child-walking’ look. Some of my friends said I was stretching it too far, but I have often asked, too far for whom? For starters, my kid loved the walks. She hated being strapped to a stroller. She liked to run, liked to touch things, liked to feel her environment and so I let her.

I didn’t feed her soda. Now that was not intentional. I don’t drink much soda myself, so I never had any at home. The first time she tasted one was at the age of four, at a friend’s house and she made a face and didn’t like it. They thought it was odd because it was ‘sweet and all kids love sweet things’, then they were shocked when I told them it was her first time ever, tasting the stuff. She still is not very keen on soda, although she loves decaf iced tea, now I don’t know (and this is sincerely ignorance), if tea is a better option to soda, for a child.

Anyway, These above are the only ‘green’ things I have done for my child so far. I have fed her loads of junk food for lack creativity in the kitchen. Every time I buy a happy meal, I feel a tinge of guilt and tell myself at least she got a toy from it, but think of all the waste accumulated by the packaging alone!

I have been working on a list of simple ways I can incorporate into my daily living to build green awareness and healthy living for my child and hopefully help her help me make our lives more green and healthy. The sad thing is, I don't know anyone here in Italy (or know any group of people) that think this is important. Of course I don't want to hold unto that as an excuse not to be more responsible.

When I think how much there is to do and how left behind I am, it feels hopeless to even start because at the back of my mind I keep thinking, where do I start and what difference will it make anyway? But one step at a time right? And we shall begin by eating right and minding what we shop for and the unneccessary waste…..more to follow…..

Monday, 11 July 2011

An Apartment at Last!

It’s been 7 horrifying months but I finally found a flat that I like and it has enough room to house me, my child and a guest if I so wish. It was not an easy road to travel but I would say it is very worth it. When I started out months ago to look for a better flat than the rat hole I was living in, I had no idea whatsoever what awaited me. I wrote the start of it here.

Basically it had been more or less the same experience repeated. Friends had told me along the way to report the matter to the authorities as it was illegal to deny a person accommodation on the bases of race, especially if the person in question meets the requirements of the renter (is there any such word?) . I didn’t for the simple fact that I didn’t want to put myself out there as that disagreeable person and ruin my chances of eventually finding a place I liked.

My landlord of course knowing my situation banked on my desperation and kept making outrageous changes to my contract that literally made him richer, by milking me and avoiding tax. I didn’t like it one bit, but with a child that trusts and depends on me to provide and protect her, I didn’t think it was my place to pull the rug from under him just yet.

Eventually my frustration was becoming even more noticeable at work and I had a long talk with my boss who decided to step in and help out. Long story short, I found a real estate agent that were willing to trust me enough (based on my boss’s recommendation) and find me a flat. You’d think that should end it.

I was given a few choices, I fell in love with the third flat and told them I would take it. My daughter was excited at the prospect of so much space and room enough to actually run indoors. Even before we finished the viewing, she was suggesting we drove by the dog shelter and get one now that we have so much room. Good thing I don’t operate on the whim of a child.

As we were heading out of the building with the real estate agent, an elderly man stepped out of an apartment and asked her who we were and she explained to him who, he then started questioning her about the ‘credentials and reliability of this foreigner’s documents’. Apparently they didn’t want to have a coloured person for a neighbour.

She spent the next 15 minutes convincing him that they had checked me out and I was cleared….and they have indeed. I had to show proof that I had no criminal records and that I had steady employment and money in the bank (Thank goodness my mother had sent me some money just a couple of months ago so it gave my bank account a facelift at the right time!)

We spent the next couple of weeks attempting meetings to convince other tenants and flat owners from the building that I was harmless. In the end, I decided I was through being humiliated like that, especially since I would be paying rent if I got the flat anyway, it wasn’t going to be for free.

I told the agent I wanted to move on and wanted my deposit back since they didn’t meet my request as our contract stated (I had paid them 1,008 EUR for their service alone!!). One of the workers there told me if I went to another agent then I would lose my money (I had 3 days to get out of my old flat!) So I gave her those three days to find me a place I like or else she would not only refund my money but pay for hotel for whatever period I stay until I find an alternative.

Long story short, a flat they had offered me a couple weeks before for a monthly rent of 850 EUR, for some reason was available for 620 EUR….so I took it (wouldn’t you?).

It’s totally empty so I shall be decorating. I’ll blog about it with photos.. The good thing though is I have a contract that covers me for the next 8 years.