Parenthood, Shopping, Stuff

Baby Box vs Bounty

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In Finland every expectant mother receives a Baby Box, for free. No matter how much they earn. Above is the 2012-2013 baby box and contents. It’s full of everything you need for the first 6 months of your baby’s life. The box itself doubles as a moses basket and it even comes with a mattress to make that a viable proposition as well as a sleeping bag and snow suit. For full contents you can see the website. Of course not every mother needs the box, you can opt for a €140 grant instead (the box and contents is worth about €200)

Tastefully selected, there is a real push from companies to supply (imagine the size of the orders!) so it obviously costs the government much less than it would cost each family to purchase all items separately.

As well as being down right handy, the box also is a huge stress reliever for new parents. No panic over what do I need to buy and how much? Have I forgotten something vital? No pouring over stupid lists in magazines which tell you invariably that you simply cannot cope without a baby wipes warmer or some other ridiculous piece of useless kit. You simply open your box and there it is.

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So, let’s look at Britain. Here we have the Bounty pack.

On your first midwife visit you receive your first pack – thereby highlighting it’s legitimacy and importance. You’re told that the plastic sleeve is the perfect size for your folder of medical notes to stop it getting wet, like it was meant to be. Inside you find all sorts of bits of information. Here’s my latest first Bounty pack –

Inside was the following

– NHS Scotland leaflet on Whooping Cough
– photocopy of Unicef leaflet “Feeding Your New Baby”
– NHS leaflet (photocopy) “A guide to your baby’s movements during pregnancy”
– NHS Scotland booklet “Off to a good start” about breastfeeding
– NHS DVD “from bump to breastfeeding”
– Money Advice Service booklet “Having a baby”
– Money Advice Service booklet “Parent’s guide to money”
– business card for Tommy’s PregnancyLine (talk to a midwife)

So far, so good (although there are other options for feeding which a new mum might need information on)

But, here’s the rest

– form to complete to take in to a select number of stores to pick up my next Bounty pack
– Cussons stretch mark cream sample and 30p off voucher (stretch mark creams are not proven to do anything)
– advertising from Family Investments
– advertising from Ocado – £20 off first shop over £80
– voucher from photobox – free prints or 1 free poster print
– advertising from Sainsbury’s for £15 off first online shop (ie doesn’t apply to me)
– strange card for framing your scan pic from Bepanthen
– advertising from mamabloom.com
– advertising from 24studio.co.uk
– voucher for £1.50 off pregnancy vitamins
– magnet for the fridge with list of foods to avoid, although confusingly looks like foods to eat
– form to join the Bounty club
– Bounty magazine

So, an awful lot of useless stuff mixed in with some actually quite important stuff and only one pathetic sample for a product that is not scientifically proven to do anything at all.

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Today I took in the form to pick up the second Bounty pack. This pack is much much thicker so hopefully has some more useful things inside.

– sample of fairy washing powder
– sample of simple hydrating light moisturiser
– sample of sudocrem (I’m allergic to it!)
– sample of Tena liner
– newborn size baby towel with 2 x persil washing liquid samples and 2 x comfort fabric softener samples and vouchers off full priced products (impressed, this wasn’t in my pack for Katja)
– ovaltine sample (hot chocolate drink)
– advertising from Dettol sealed in a plastic bag to make it look like a sample
– card from bliss re premature baby support
– ocado, photobox, sainsburys advertising as before
– advert from 24ace.co.uk – looks just as dodgy as the 24studio.co.uk one
– catalogue from Babies R Us
– catalogue from Anglecare
– catalogue from Fisher-Price
– voucher for a free rattle providing you join the Fisher Price club (free)
– Bounty magazine

So, another bag largely full of useless, although admittedly better than the first for samples this one is woefully short on actual information.

Apparently Asda gives additional samples with the packs, but I was unable to locate an Asda that I could get to that had stock and after two months gave up and collected mine from Boots.

I can’t help wondering how many people actually use all those silly advertising things. Surely companies like Sainsbury’s would be better off including a sample of one of the body suits (which are actually very good). I’m impressed by the Persil/Comfort inclusion, but it’s pathetic compared to Finland!

Anyway, I thought other new mums might be interested in seeing what you get when you sign up to the horror of Bounty!

Craft, Parenthood

Learning to Craft

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When I saw the tweet from one of my friends who owns an LYS here in Edinburgh asking if anyone could teach cross stitch I thought, well why not? Granted it had been years since I last did any cross stitch, but I used to do a fair amount of it – I even found my alternative name spelling via a cross stitch book! (a post about that in the near future)

And so I met the lovely lady in a local quiet pub. She had brought along her project and I had brought some 14 count Aida cloth so that I could demonstrate. At the end of the almost 2 hours she was cross stitching competently, although still unsure of her abilities she can certainly perform the stitches and the back of her work was neat.

But that’s not what this post is actually about. This post is a result of the general conversations that we had in that session, conversations that made me realise just how amazingly lucky I have been.

You see, craft has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Mum would always include something crafty in our Christmas gifts, never made a fuss about it, just had the stitching kit or model or painting kit there. Part of Christmas was always starting a new project.

My paternal grandmother, was always crafting as well. I have a couple of pieces that she made that were framed by my grandfather and I have some happy memories of her helping me to complete the tapestry kit I had gotten for Christmas one year. I thought it was the most perfect piece of tapestry work ever completed, it was only many years later that I realised just how many mistakes there were!

Grandad made more than just frames, I remember “helping” him to design the brake system for my billy cart. I also remember the day that I decided that all I wanted in the whole world was a circular skirt. Mum helped me find fabric and then she set up the machine and left me to it. I figured the rest out myself with the occasional suggestion for improvement from Mum.

And that I think was a key. I was always encouraged to have a go and to figure things out and then when I needed help it was there for me, but Mum never would have done it for me and I don’t recall anyone ever telling me that I couldn’t do something. The day I came home from school and announced that I wanted to learn to tat, Mum said she’d found it impossible but she never for a moment made me feel that I wouldn’t be able to do it. She handed me her shuttle and thread and then later gave me money to get pattern books and more threads once I’d taught myself the flip.

I was lucky in that by crafting from such a young age I was able to draw on skills learnt whenever I picked up a new craft, which in turn made it easier to learn those. The result of all of this is not only a lifelong love affair with making stuff, but also a good grounding in how to follow instructions, how to pay attention to what I’m doing so that I can undo it, and also an innate belief in my own abilities to pick up anything that I want to and not just craft. If I’ve ever had difficulty with a craft I’ve just put it down and come back to it later, I’ve never ever for a moment considered that I was too stupid to understand, it was always a case of not the right time.

And this belief in my own abilities to do stuff and to figure stuff out is what allowed me to move to the other side of the world before Facebook existed. It also allowed me to have friends and contacts all over the world and gave me an appreciation of cultures that would be hard to get from just reading books. Crafting also gives you an appreciation for the journey, it’s as much about the process as it is about the end result – you learn to stop and smell the roses and to appreciate the details.

Of course I was lucky enough to have patient teachers who allowed me to explore and make mistakes. The worst thing you can do with a student who is having trouble “getting it” is to tell that person that it’s their fault – if you know your stuff you should be able to re-explain from a different perspective and help that person to understand what they need to do. And then there’s YouTube. On one hand it’s brilliant as it gives access to so many instructional videos, but then again there’s so many really bad ones too – another post coming up soon on that topic!

Anyway, I’m looking forward to teaching Katja to do all sorts of crafts, and looking forward to the self confidence that this will give her, not to mention the future filled with beautiful things, self-reliance and amazing friends and maybe even a career if that’s what she wants.

Craft, Knitting, Parenthood, Tatting

Next Project is Picked!

That went a lot faster than I thought it would – yes, I’ve managed to pick my next project. In fact I think I’ve picked my next two projects. This is a huge achievement, normally it takes me a week to pick a project, not a day. I tend to umm and ahh about which yarn, which colour, what pattern and then go around and around in circles for ages. I’ve been wanting to do cushion covers for months now and finally I’ve settled on a yarn/colourway which I’ll need to order. Haven’t worked out the pattern yet!

After going through pretty much every beret pattern on Ravelry I’ve settled on Frukttradgard by Melissa LaBarre. It has the lacy prettyness that I am always drawn to, but with the added bonus of it being in the right yarn weight (roughly) and having a good number of projects with positive notes. For those who can’t see it or who don’t want to follow the links here’s the pattern image and the yarn I’m planning on making it in:

That yarn is absolutely divine – it’s 50% Merino wool, 10% silk and 40% possum. It is so amazingly soft and warm. Unfortunately the possum is harvested after the animals have been culled and so this yarn is a by-product of pest control processes in New Zealand. It’s not a nice thing to have to cull pests, but with New Zealand’s fauna being even more crazily endangered than Australia’s I fully understand. It’s a nice thing that we can at least use the product and so not let these guys go to waste.

And as for the next project after that – it will be crochet but more details when we get there (yes, I’m likely to change my mind!).

I met another Aussie at knitting last night. Jen is doing her own show at the Fringe Festival and decided to join us. Always great to be able to talk about home and to hear the accent as well. I do often wonder if I sound like that! Part of me kinda hopes I do, at least a little. I also designed a new tatting piece, which is currently blocking. I’m quite excited about it but I shall tell you all about it in another post very very soon.

So far I’ve been to the last 3 Thursday knitting nights. It’s getting to be quite a nice routine that we have going on. Christian comes home from work a little earlier so that he can take Katja and I can have some me-time. We are so lucky that he has the ability to control his day like that and bottle-feeding certainly gives us a lot of freedom. Christian also looks forward to his Daddy time with Katja which is lovely.

And talking about Katja (which I know I will do an awful lot, but then I’m not forcing you to read am I?) one of the things we wanted to buy before she came along was a baby monitor, but being all frugal we opted instead for a security webcam. For £50 our little unit can be controlled by our PCs so we can tilt and pan as we like. It works with infra-red so no need to keep lights on, has audio and you can also set it up to transmit so that the family in Australia can log on and see what the Munchkin is up to.

We decided not to set up that last feature, even though it’s a big part of the £200 “proper” baby monitors. Katja is sleeping in our room as per the SIDS recommendations, the idea of others being able to log in and move the camera around our bedroom is a bit freaky. Still, as a basic baby monitor it works very well and it is nice to be able to peek at her as she sleeps. When we nolonger want a baby monitor we’ll be able to use it as a security camera – you can set it up to email you if it detects movement.

So to end today’s post here’s Katja sleeping “soundly”.

Parenthood, Travel

Eine kleine deutsche Maus

First passport

Katja certainly is the international baby. She’s Scottish on account of her place of birth, British also on account of place of birth but also through descent from her Mum, Australian through descent from her Mum and German through descent from her Dad. So you’d think with all of these options getting a passport turned around in a hurry would be a piece of cake, right?

Not so fast!

Scotland doesn’t give passports – Scottish = British, at least at the moment. This may change if Scotland votes for independence, but I doubt they’ll do that.

Australia – we have to first apply to have her citizenship recognised (£80 1-4 weeks processing time) before we can the apply for the passport itself (£85). Turn around time of 10-15 working days unless you pay for priority 2 day turnaround at £65

United Kingdom – application costs £54 and takes a minimum of 6 weeks. Fast track is a 1 week turn around but you’ll pay another £50

Germany – £32 and we were issued with a temporary passport within an hour. A note was attached to the effect that her name is undetermined, we need to fill in some more paperwork when we get to Germany and will get her a German birth certificate as they don’t have to recognise the British one(!) Talk about German efficiency!

So, there we have it – our little girl’s first passport is her German one and we’re off to see her German grandparents, great-grandmother and uncle.

Secret smiles