Saturday, April 29, 2006

Mutsy Week on Daddy Types!

Daddy Types blog gives the fantabulous Mutsy some well-deserved airtime usually reserved for the better-known Quinny and Bugaboo with Mutsy Week:

Crown Prince Haakon Of Norway Drives A Mutsy!!

Mutsy: Hold The Mutsaert

Mutsy, Michael Schumacher, & Maneuverability

I Forgot To Tell You: There's No Thursday In Mutsy Week

Mutsy Mutsy Spider Is Waiting To Come Out

Our Mutsy is still out rolling across the plains of Texas, or at least the walking trails of Coppell. Peanut still fits perfectly in her comfortable SUV ride. The duffle bag kept her warm during the brief and occassionally chilly winter and the hood helps to keep the sun out of her eyes. I often flip her around mid-trip so she's turned away from the sun - the peek-a-boo window at the top let's me make sure that her stuffed animal remains along for the entire ride.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Oh Lordi - the debates a Eurovision entry can cause!

At least Lordi is caused a bit more excitement than Jari!

From the New York Times
They have eight-foot retractable latex Satan wings, sing hits like "Chainsaw Buffet" and blow up slabs of smoking meat on stage. So members of the band Lordi expected a reaction when they beat a crooner of love ballads to represent Finland at the Eurovision song contest in Athens, the competition that was the springboard for Abba and Celine Dion.

But the heavy-metal monster band did not imagine a national identity crisis.

Peanut Goes to the Movies; Mama almost gets to watch 'Friends with Money'

It was the first time I'd been to a movie since Peanut was born! We went to the Cry Baby Matinee at the Angelika Theaters at the Shops at Legacy.

Dr. Baby Proofer was on hand before the movie to answer questions about making your home safer and to promote his home baby proofing business.

There were about 40 moms and babies from infants to toddlers. Everyone looked prepared with their strollers, baby car seats, Bumbos, pack&plays and baby blankets. A changing table was available on the sidelines. Our group with strollers grabbed the middle level where there was lots of space for active ones to crawl and walk around in.

Once the movie began, they only ran 3 movie trailers - thank goodness! I thought we'd better get on with it since Peanut was not about to sit still for a movied PLUS 20 minutes of pre-show commericals. They kept the lights pretty low and the sound was reasonable.

Peanut was fascinated by the screen for about 20 mins. She sat in my laps nibbling, yes, CHEERIOS, apple slices and her veggie/pasta mix. Then, that was it, she wanted to explore. We spent the rest of the time mostly going up and down and up and down and up and down the stairs in the theater. I was working up quite a sweat! Peanut had a great time and occassionally I caught glimpses of the movie - at least enough to follow along. Someone did have to tell me how it ended as Peanut was cruising up and down one of the side corridors.

I wish I would have gone MONTHS ago when she was an infant and would most likely have slept!!

Another option is Reel Moms at Loews for more mainstream movies.

And for mamas in Helsinki, there is BabyBio

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Could Peanut's Mom be the next Avon, Tupperware, Southern Home Living, MaryKay, etc, etc Lady?

Probably not, but the thought has crossed my mind. Now thinking back on it, I'm not sure where I thought I'd get the time or energy for something like that.

I put out a few posts on some mother discussion boards and the answers to my question about such a business were either:
  • A. Yes, you too can do it. Thanks to my job with X, I was able to make enough money to stay at home with my dear son/daughter. Just get in touch with me and I'll help get you started!
  • B. I have just recently escaped the clutches of such an cult, i mean organization - don't do it. You won't earn any money, you'll spend more than you make on inventory, you'll feel humilated as you try to schlep your wares, only your friends and family will buy from you out of pity, etc, etc.
One person pointed me to The Pinking Shears organization, a sort of rehab for ex-KayBots and other MLM (multi-level marketing) survivors as some called themselves, for a peek behind the scenes.

For anyone contemplating starting such a business, a few hints that people did share with me:
> think about the product and the possibility for repeat purchases - is the product a consumable people will need to restock frequently? Tupperware, for example, is probably a one time buy and then you're constantly looking for new customers.
> consider the competition out there - other MaryKay, etc, consultants as well as eBay and other online websites through which most everything is available nowadays
> watch for what you will have to invest in inventory and the 'start up kit'
> it seems 'pajama parties' are the hottest ones going - sales consultants tastefully present lingerie along with sex toys, vidoes and other bedroom accessories and advice.

Gossip and provocative photo free check out lanes at the grocery store?

From the Helsingin Sanomat online edition:
The Ombudsman for Children in Finland Maria Kaisa Aula does not want the tabloid newsstand fliers to decorate the check-out counters of shops. The idea of the flier-free counters originates from parents, who have contacted the ombudsman's office.

There have, however, been a number of complaints more recently at stories run by the tabloids, either with graphic pictures or questionable celebrity subjects.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

It was 100F at 7:00 pm last night

Yeah - its hot in Texas! Though locals keep trying to convince us that its usually not like this in April already. I'm not so sure.

We still won't complain though. Its sunny, flowers are blooming, bird tweeter greets us every morning and the AC is on. Even Peanut's Dad, a well-known "hot head", claims that it doesn't feel so hot :-)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter Egg 'Scramble'

Peanut had her first Texas Easter this weekend.

We went (or tried to get to) the Coppell City Easter Egg Hunt, but mama was a bit slow and so our timing was bad. The hunt was scheduled to begin at 11.00 am; we were madly looking for parking at 10 'till. All the spaces at the park and rec center were full and there were some very anxious looking parents cruising up and down the street. At one point, there were three cars trying to make the same turn - no one was giving way. I'm sure these are all polite drivers on any other day, but the Hunt was soon to start!!!

In the end, we missed the o-4 age group hunt, but fortunately some friends shared their booty with us.

We stayed around to watch the next age groups. Now, there wasn't really any 'hunting' per se since the event took place on a softball field. That's right, a field of grass with no bushes, trees, etc. A gator truck rode around the field and three men in the back shoveled out handfuls of candy and plastic eggs until the field was dotted with them. Then, a whistle blew and children trampled over one another to grab up the goodies. It took the oldest age group all of 2 - 3 minutes to clear the field :-)

Over in Finland, Easter is celebrated with a number of traditions.

Mammi (that's a with an umlaut) and pasha are the main dishes I remember. Peanut's papa was actually a mammi fan while I really enjoyed the rich, creamy pasha.

As a child, we would plant grass seeds in a small container indoors before Easter. On Easter morning, the chocolate eggs, jellybeans and little chickies would be hidden among the blades.

In many parts of the country, its still popular with children to dress up as witches (the girls at least) and take pussy willow branches decorated with feathers to your neighbors. You wish them good health for the coming year and in return, recieve some treats, somewhat in a Halloween style. In the four years, I was in Finland, we only ever had one child come by our apartment. It was the one year I had no candy!! Poor girl had to make do with some cookies I luckily had in the cabinet :-)

Monday, April 03, 2006

The KELA Box - one year later

Peanut's birthday is approaching! Our little one is nearly a year old -- and so is her mama's blog :-)

Looking back, we are both much wiser, calmer and confident in our parenting. Peanut is just amazing - a year has brought so many changes and so much growth.

And, our KELA box (the baby starter kit given by the State government to all new mother's in Finland - though it means so much more) has been with us through it all, starting out as Peanut's first bed. Where is it now you wonder? Stacked up on other boxes in Peanut's closet, filling up with clothes that too small and toys that are no longer interesting. Unfortunately, we lost the lid in the move (though the rough&tough packers in Helsinki did take an extra moment to ask me if I wanted to bring it - mind you, they did not ask about ANYTHING else in the whole apartment!!)

What about the contents? Let's take a quick look.

Still in use today:
  • cloth diapers - as sunshade on Peanut's stroller and washclothes
  • bath towel with hood - best towel we have, still fits Peanut, soft!
  • bib - lightweight yet water resistent (not quite proof) , good for meals on the go
  • 'changing cloth' - not sure what the material is, but its water proof on one side, we use it for diaper changes on our bed
  • hair brush
  • nail clippers
  • book
  • rattle - good for teething and shaking
  • the Box - for storage
Very useful:
  • the diapers
  • bedding - mattress, sheet and blanket fit the box perfectly
  • thermometer for bath - unfortunately we lost it during the summer
  • Baby guides - I used the breastfeeding guide the most
  • some of the clothes though I almost took the size 60 out too late. I was a bit surprised at the poor quality of the buttons (came off in the wash) and how much they shrank in dryer (OK, they were cotton so probably not that big of a surprise). Peanut used the bodysuits with legs and one-piece crawler outfit the most.
  • woolen socks
  • And we also used up the sanitary napkins, breast pads and condoms (this year they've also added a lubricant - luckily new moms)
  • What I thought was the sleeping bag or travel playblanket, but really was a stroller bag to keep baby warm -- we had two of these. I used them as playblankets on the floor until Peanut got too big.
  • Baby lotion

We didn't use:
  • the winter outerwear outfit + hat, gloves, etc - since we were moving to Texas, I donated this to children in the Baltics
  • lighter outerwear outfit - ditto
  • hats - ditto, plus Peanut hated hats as an infant
  • wrap-around body suit - too difficult with all the little strings
And for those out shopping, here's a list of what to buy.

Concerns about poverty's impact on children in Finland

Finland is a country of some 4 million people, so news that 100,000 children are living below the poverty line (though I'm not sure what the 'poverty line' measure is) catches the attention of many. A lively discussion carried out on the Finland for Thought blog.

In a socialist country, the biggest concern is how being economically underprivileged negatively impacts the future of these children:

Children and the youth are evermore clearly divided into the offspring of the well-off and the poor, claims professor Veli-Matti Ritakallio from the University of Turku

Today, 100,000 Finnish children live below the poverty line. The situation for families dependent on subsistence support has worsened in the past ten years. A person on subsistence support has to get by with 11 euros per day.
This trend also holds in the US. Sure, there is the 'American Dream' and the belief that if you do your best, it is possible to improve yourself. Yes, I do believe it is, but you are certainly starting with a major handicap if you are not economically well off.

"Shocking" Research: New moms in the U.S. need more support, time off

New research in the US finds:

"This study highlights the need for ongoing rest and recovery beyond four to six weeks postpartum, and the need for more support for women," said study author Pat McGovern, an associate professor in the division of environmental health sciences at the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota.

"Moms that have just delivered have a great need for support. In other parts of the world, help for new moms and maternity leave is more generous than in this country," said Dr. Nicholas Klein, director of obstetrics and gynecology at Nyack Hospital in Nyack, N.Y.

Under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), women who work for companies with more than 50 employees can take 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave for the birth of a child, explained McGovern.