Off the wagon

Buy Nothing Challenge - April 2008

 

  

Forgive me readers for I have sinned. I’ve flunked the challenge – big time.

 

Earlier in the week all was going well. I was feeling virtuous. I had bought some pants and some tops for Munchkin, but they were second hand and absolutely necessary given the change in weather. I was looking forward to reporting in today with a clean conscience.

 

But then I saw this beautiful Happy Birthday Banner at Waldorf Mama.

 

Banner

photocredit: waldorfmama.blogspot.com 

 

And then I decided I had to order one. Given the shipping delay, Bluebird Baby’s waiting list and the fact that the NZ/US exchange rate is at an all time high I decided to throw the challenge aside and order one. Its not necessary. Its going to come all the way from the US. But its so so beautiful and will become a family treasure I know.

 

And then the home phone broke.  I work from home, I need a phone. And – despite my own personal mission not to buy anything made in China (unless its second hand) – it seemed impossible to buy a phone not made in China. And second hand phones take too long to get.

 

And then an online friend said she had sourced some great fabric and was making little girls trousers if anyone was interested. I was. I ordered two. I was out of good excuses here – they were cute. I love WAHM made stuff. I was only going to buy them on May 1.

 

So I think I’m officially ‘off the wagon’.

 

Lets see if I can do better this week.

April 13, 2008 at 7:25 am 5 comments

Fair Enough

 Fair Trade

 

 

On National Radio this week I heard an interview about human trafficking and the growth in human slavery across the world. Disturbing, appalling, sobering stuff. It has stuck with me all week and I felt I had to make some comment on it.

 

So many everyday products may well have been produced with some elements of slave labour. Without Fair Trade certification, any product from the developing world is suspect – even our cell phones and lap tops.

 

However, the interviewee specifically mentioned that the tea, coffee, chocolate, and to some extent sugar industries are rife with human slavery. One of the most important things we can do is buy fair trade brands like Scarborough Fair and Trade Aid. 

 

We are all very price driven, and its certainly no different here at Domestically Blissed where I talk regularly about our ‘budget of doom’. But if saving a few cents means that your coffee could be made by slave labour, then we are hardly any better than the human traffickers themselves.

 

To learn more about Fair Trade visit the international fair trade labeling organisation .You can also listen to the interview that I heard by following this link and selecting the interview marked “World’s Fasted Growing Crime”

April 11, 2008 at 7:23 am 2 comments

Baby Stuff I Love

 

When it comes to buying baby stuff, it really is a jungle out there. There are just so many gorgeous things to choose from. I was helping a newly pregnant friend put together her baby shopping list this week, which got me thinking about all the things that may be slightly outside the mainstream but that I think every new parent should have.

 

As an aside, for those of you that are interested, I found this great article on the Waldorf approach to newborn baby care.

 

So just for fun, here are my top picks for crunchy new baby essentials.

 
 Bedding

gogo

photocredit: www.merinokids.com

Firstly, may I recommend a hammock rather than a cot. Its ideal if you are intending to co-sleep as it gives a baby somewhere safe to sleep for naps, and is a perfect alternative to a port a cot as you can hang it from any door frame. Naturesway hammocks accommodate babies well past 1 year, so you will get great use out of it.

I also have to mention the wonderful merino GoGo bags – you can see from the photo how beautiful they are. Its a real shame they are now made in China, but they are exceptional quality and I really haven’t found another sleeping bag that comes even close.

Out and About

Photobucket

photocredit: dulceandzoet.co.nz

Whether you are AP minded or not, a sling  is a blessing not to be under-rated. I love my DulceandZoet sling, but I suggest you try to get in contact with a local babywearing group to see different slings in action. In New Zealand, check out www.slingbabies.co.nz. Intenational groups are listed at www.thebabywearer.com.

Even devout baby wearers usually end up with a pushchair.  If you are looking at pushchairs, give serious consideration to a Mountain Buggy. Made in clean green New Zealand, they have a great range of options for attaching bassinets, car seats, toddler seats, and they stand by their product even years down the track. We have a second hand ‘Terrain’ model, and I’m totally in love with it.

Toys and Things

floomat
photocredit:www.tagyourbaby.co.nz

I have to confess we bought a rather revolting Tiny Love baby activity gym – where the baby lies on her back and looks at dangling synthentic fleece toys. I think it was a contributing factor to Munchkin’s very flat head which took months to come right.

But if I knew then what I knew now, I would have chosen one of these taggy floor mats from TagYourBaby.  It might be made of a synthetic material but this is one case where I don’t mind – little babies spill a lot, so polar fleece does come into its own for a playmat.

You can buy some very beautiful wooden and cloth toys appropriate for little babies. They will quickly start putting things in their mouth, so natural and preferably organic materials will be so much nicer.

Baby Care

Photobucket
photocredit:www.babynecklace.co.nz

Its very anthroposophical to like Weleda products for baby, but that aside they really are lovely . I am a big fan of the calendula nappy hange cream. I also love the smell of ecostore baby products, especially their divine baby bath. And once baby starts teething, I think an amber teething necklace is a worthwhile investment.

Clothing

I really do feel that wherever possible newborns should be dressed in organic cotton – here’s some of the reasons why. It is expensive, but its one place that I think it is necessary. Second hand organic baby clothing has fantastic resale value on eEbay and TradeMe so if you think of it that way its not actually that costly!

For little ones, all-in-ones that snap all the way up the front are the easiest things to get baby in and out of. In colder weather add a cotton or wool singlet underneath, and a pure wool cardigan and hat for outings, you’ll be set for most weather.

While many people will advise you not to buy too many clothes in newborn sizes, you willeasily go through three changes of clothes a day. You don’t want to get stuck in the middle of the night with nothing to change baby into! 

Nappies

I could write a whole post just on cloth nappies (OK, OK cloth diapers for those of you in the USA).  The best advice I can give you is to find your local ‘nappy network’ – I know there are online cloth nappy communities in New Zealand, Australia, UK and US – and probably elsewhere as well.

My top pick for a little baby is a simple prefold and cover system. I love  bamboo prefolds (I use the double layered bamboo inserts – they are perfect as prefolds. For covers, wool is hard to beat. Its breathable, incredibly waterproof, and a lovely natural fibre to use. Its just a little more work than PUL but really, not as much as you would think. These are my favourite wool covers because they are just so pretty.  

I found the most useful information I found on cloth nappies came from the fabulous Snazzipants website. In particular, for newborns they say that “we usually recommend that to stay sane with your first new baby, you use disposables for the first couple of weeks. New babies are really small, and if you are going to have a fit issue, you are going to have it right at the beginning when your baby has teeny tiny chicken legs. And very explosive poo. Not the best mix!”

There is tonnes of cloth nappy information out there, and it can all be a bit confusing. But its only because they are so cute and so much fun – really, they are actually very easy to use.

I’d love to know what your favourite baby things are, so please leave a comment with any ideas that you have.

For more Works for Me Wednesday head over to http://rocksinmydryer.typepad.com
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 8, 2008 at 7:33 pm 5 comments

Autumn

Summer is officially over here, with the end of daylight savings. I have to admit to being a complete grinch about daylight savings. I hate the idea of arbitrarily changing time. I hate feeling mildly jetlagged for a few days afterwards. I hate the hassle of changing the clocks around the house. And now I have a little one I hate trying to get to ‘spring forward’ or ‘fall back’.

Well, with that off my chest I thought I would share my confessions on the buy nothing challenge. With the weather suddenly colder, Munchkin’s wardrobe is badly equipped. I pulled down her winter clothes from last year, and thankfully one woolen cardigan and one woolen vest still fit.

Anemone

I bought this gorgeous top from Anenome prior to the challenge, but it still leaves us seriously short for cold days.

So under the ‘emergency’ instructions from Crunchy Chicken I am endeavouring to buy second hand. I bought one little top last night on TradeMe (Ebay NZ), and have a few other things on my watchlist. I think a few winter basics count as essentials surely!

On a completely different note, I also came across this wonderful looking ‘anthroposophical day nursery’. Anthromama mentioned it to me and it certainly looks like something extremely special. Sadly its about 6 hours away from us, but I found their website fascinating. To me, if you have to put your child into a daycare situation, this is the ideal. Biodynamic meals. Individual care for tiny ones. Plenty of space. A beautiful garden. Steiner’s indications in action. Of course, if you object to being told what nappies to buy and what bottles to use it might not be your cup of tea.

From their website “It is surely every child’s right to grow up in a garden filled with flowers and herbs, vegetables and fruits, where they feel the grass under their feet and are surrounded by the beauty of nature’s creations. The awe of a sunflower towering above them, or the sound of mother hen chortling to her bevy of chickens, are experiences that can only enhance and strengthen the sense of life as well as the child’s relationship to the natural world”

Wishing you all a wonderful week.

April 6, 2008 at 9:11 am 5 comments

Material Girl

I hate to think of myself as materialistic, but I am a spender. A fritterer. A waster of money, time and energy finding new fripperty to spend my money on. 

Its been three days of enforced frugality on this buy nothing challenge, and I can’t say I’m enjoying it.

I am savouring the enjoyment of the last few things I bought prior to my decision to reign in my inner Material girl, and thought I would share with you some of my treasures.

 

Firstly, Munchkin’s first Waldorf doll. If I was more Steiner-fied I would have made it, but she would probably be 16 before she got one. Isn’t she beautiful?

PhotobucketThen at the craft markets I bought one of these cute pots, with what looks like a very resilient cactus planted in it. I have a terribly black thumb but it doesn’t stop me buying plants. I’m sure that’s some kind of abuse to plant-kind.

plant

And I have to share with you the illustrations with you from Gerda Muller’s Autumn. They are so lovely. It is a beautiful book to own.


autumn

I fear it is going to be a long month.

April 4, 2008 at 9:20 am 4 comments

Let it wait – Steiner schools and delayed academics

Anemone

photocredit: anemonecrafts  My copy of You Are Your Child’s First Teacher is due back at the library on Monday, so I’ve been busily re-reading it. As soon as a second hand copy comes up I’ll be jumping to buy it – it is such a wonderful resource. One of my favourite chapters is on cognitive development and early childhood education.

One of the things people often struggle with about Waldorf schools is the delayed academics, in particular not teaching reading until the age of seven.  As Baldwin-Darcy says ‘there is tremendous pressure in our society to teach reading, writing and math to children at an increasingly early age’. 

 Parents I know delight when their three year olds love books and start to recognize words. Understandably, we are all so proud of our children, we want them to achieve. But what are they achieving? 

Little children can copy at a rote level, but they’re probably not using the (neurological) circuits which will connect with meaning. Let it wait. Children of this age should not be sitting at desks, doing academic tasks. Get their busy brains out doing and learning, not practicing lower level skills” Jane Healy – Your Child’s Growing Mind 

In fact, there is no evidence that early academics has any long term benefits at all –  despite not being taught to read before the age of seven, by age nine Waldorf /Steiner educated kids are achieving just as well academically. 

Baldwin-Darcy describes a typical Steiner kindergarten (for 3-6 year olds). The days activities include story time, snack time, arts and crafts, a movement and singing circle, and lots of free play, usually outside.  Rather than copying letters and struggling with maths, these five and six year olds are crafting animals out of beeswax, making bread, digging in the sandpit, singing songs, running, exploring, having fun. Of course they are learning, but the three ‘r’s are not the focus here.  

Reading this made me think of what delayed academics might have meant for some people I know who hated school. Right from day one, they struggled with reading, hated sitting still. Right from day one, they were labeled as ‘struggling’. Meetings were held with their parents. Extra tuition was sought. By the time they were seven, about the age that Steiner kids are just starting more structured lessons, these children were convinced they were dumb.  

One man I spoke to said ‘class-room – dumb. after school tuition – dumber. Reading recovery programme – dumbest’.   I loved school. I loved writing, I loved reading, and I shied away from anything artistic or physical. I was not the ideal Steiner child. I wonder if a Steiner/Waldorf school would have made me a more balanced person – rather than being labeled as an ‘academic’ sort of child at the tender age of 4. Perhaps more physical play, more singing, more painting and crafting would simply have been more fun, more healthy than reading chapter books at 6. I don’t know.

So why do we push our children so hard? Is it from pride – that we want our little Munchkins to prove how clever they are? It is from fear – that if they don’t start early they will never catch up? Is it because we think that’s what good parents do – after all every mainstream parenting magazine has ads from Leapfrog and Fisher Price encouraging us to buy their ‘educational’ toys. I suspect it’s a little bit of all of these things – a symptom of our middle class neurosis.

April 3, 2008 at 4:32 am 7 comments

Buy Nothing Challenge

Buy Nothing Challenge - April 2008

A buy nothing challenge for the whole month is exactly what I need. My inner material girl has been sneaking out of late, and over the weekend I did a little too much splurging.

So when Crunchy Chicken announced that April would be the month of the buy nothing challenge I knew this was cosmic karma trying to tell me something. 

I am what you might call a ‘fritterer’ when it comes to money. I very rarely spend more than $20-$30 on anything, but I regularly spend less that than. TradeMe (New Zealand’s answer to Ebay) is particularly viscious for the budget, I seem to have an itchy bidding finger.

I kid myself that what I buy is OK – because its second hand or fair trade or made in New Zealand or out of natural materials. But its all still stuff, and its cluttering up my very small house all the same.

So for the month of April its a consumer freeze-out, except for food, petrol, utilities etc. And my daily cup of coffee – I’m sure that isn’t in the spirit of the challeng but a girls gotta function in the morning right? So, its only 30 days. It should be easy right – well lets see!

I plan to keep a note on what I WANT to buy, and then see come May what I still think I need. Already I have this divive pair of made-in-NZ-ttrousers for Munchkin on the list. http://www.littlemissandlittlemister.co.nz/show_item_detail.php?id=587

Aren’t they gorgeous? Lets see if I can get through the month – I’ll keep you posted.  

April 1, 2008 at 11:39 pm 1 comment

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