Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Bounty Mutiny

Besides the fact that this has to be one of the most cleverly named campaigns I've ever heard of, I'm 100% behind the Bounty Mutiny. My own relationship with Bounty was far from spectacular. I signed up in a haze of new motherly excitement and originally thought it would be a great idea for the photos and birth details to automatically be sent out to friends and relatives. This would free my husband up from laboriously writing out text messages and instead allow him to help me important things. Like nappy changing.

So I signed up, and inputted my details. It was a week or two later when I looked into it more closely and realised that the email would also be a hard sell tactic to all recipients. So I tried to delete the email addresses and close the account. There were many hours of technical faults and error pages before I finally gave up. I'd read in the small print that if a mother changed her mind on the day, she only had to tell the photographer and the emails would not be sent out. Easy. Like labour, right? Although, as it turned out neither was all that straightforward. Though labour certainly didn't raise my blood pressure as much.

Within hours of the photographer having visited the ward (to be fair she was very nice) and after I'd asked her not once but THREE times NOT to send the emails out, we got call from my husband's grandmother. After the congratulations she apologised profusely and said she was so sorry but she wasn't going to be buying any of the pics we'd sent to her. 'What pics!' I roared down the phone. My cool had most certainly been lost by this point. It turned out Bounty had been very free and easy with my private details and I may as well have saved my breath.

Of course I complained (usually emails stabbed out on my phone during midnight feeds). Then when I didn't get a response I complained again. And then again. Eventually someone did get back to me but the email was so brief and dismissive I briefly started scheming on how feasible it was to send them regular instalments of my newborn's nappy contents.

After one more 'I'm not happy about this' email (during which my family members received another 'please buy a picture' email) I gave up. I really had other more important things to worry about at that stage.

And my experience is nothing. There are stories of reps on the maternity wards who are hounding parents whose babies are ill, in danger or have even died.

This isn't acceptable. And if your experience was anything like mine, I'd urge you to read more and tweet about it. It'll only change if enough of us share our experience.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

What to get for a birthday?

I recently checked my diary for upcoming birthday/anniversary/special occasions in February so I could try, just this once, to be organised and have thoughtful cards or presents ready.

I counted 18. And that's when I stopped counting. What happened? I used to have my family (immediate only) and a couple of friends. Now my friends have significant others - and these other halves have the gall to have birthdays too. And that's not all. Many of my friends also now have offspring, whose birthdays have also had to go in the diary. To make it worse, some of my friends have had more than one kid, though luckily those with three or more are usually too busy to be sociable so they're off the list.

I've tried everything to get this under control. If I find a good card, I buy it in bulk (people tend to be too polite - or forgetful - to let me know it's the third time running they've got the same card).

If I see the perfect gift for someone, I buy it. Even if their birthday has just been, I'll keep it for the following year. This does sometimes backfire though as I often forget about the gift, so panic around the birthday and  buy them something else, only to find the first gift a week later. My husband says this is part of my charm. And then he pops another pill.

So I'm always on the lookout for 'easy' gifts, those that are thoughtful with a personal touch. Notonthehighstreet is an excellent place to find quirky personal gifts, but if you don't have time to trawl their website, here is another idea. Send the birthday boy or girl a cake. Through the post.

No, I have not been smoking tea leaves again, this is a genuine suggestion. Baker Days have devised beautiful cakes for every occasion that can be easily and safely posted through your letterbox. Genius.
And besides the usual designs for birthdays, Mothers' Day and new homes, there are New Baby cakes, Retirement cakes, Graduation cakes and even Driving Test cakes (maybe wait until you're sure they've passed before you post this one off). There are also Valentine's Day cakes if Tiffany's sold out of bracelets?

I chose a Happy 1st Birthday cake for my friend's little girl. The box arrived the very next day - though I have to admit I didn't open it until the following day as at first I thought it was my contact lens delivery...

Once opened though it was far more exciting than anything from Specsavers. Inside was a lovely little tin containing the cake, beautifully decorated with my chosen jungle motif and a personal message for the little birthday madam. And a lovely finishing touch were the pack of balloons, candles and whistles. The cake was very well packed and in perfect condition. I did have my doubts about a cake being sent through the post, but the box is very sturdy and as it's in a tin too, is well protected.

The cake is not massive. It's meant to be enough for 3-4...maybe I'm greedy but for me it would be more like 2-3)... It's more of a token though and a lovely treat for the recipient - and one or two others if they're in the mood to share. Being just one year old, this particular little birthday girl didn't have much of a choice about sharing as she has an older sister who is canny when it comes to chocolate and sibling equality.

So for me, it's a no brainer. Who doesn't like cake? No one. Who doesn't have time or inspiration? Me. Who wants a birthday present in February? Fine, you're getting a cake. Hope you don't have a greedy postman.

The driving test cake - not as great as a new car but still...

*Baker Days sent me a cake for review purposes but the words and opinion are my own.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

A happy bunny (and then not so much)

When I was at primary school I had a friend who was Italian. Her life intrigued me. She was always tanned while even in the mid summer I would remain...let's call it 'ethereal'.

It seemed every time I was at her house they would  be having rabbit for supper. Seemed far more exotic than our own family's weekly roast chicken.
Her older brother was drop dead gorgeous and used to drink whole pints of milk from the fridge because he was 'working out'.
Her family used to talk loudly and animatedly to each other in a language I couldn't understand.
They had a jacuzzi (though I think this was more to do with the family's bank balance than them being Italian. Of course this immediately had me dreaming of mafia connections).
She attended Italian 'Saturday school' and even though she used to moan about it, it sounded fascinating and sophisticated - and I felt sure she was meeting loads of other gorgeous milk-guzzling, rabbit-munching Italian men and keeping them all to herself.

roast rabbit, bunny
She also received a bag of coal every year just after Christmas. Big lumps of black sooty stuff. That the two of us would munch happily on until our teeth were sore or we felt sick.  They were of course coal 'sweets' and a joke 'you've been bad' gift. Apparently, for the first few Christmases, her parents used to tell her it was real coal and once she'd apologised for any bad behaviour over the past year, they'd send a message to Father Christmas who would 'magic' it into something edible. Wily parents.

She told me that in traditional folklore, coal (or sweets if you've been good) are actually delivered by an old woman, Befana, who was hospitable to the Wise Men on their journey to Jesus. She declined the invitation to accompany them because (and this is according to Wikepedia) she was 'too busy with her housework'. Well, priorities and all that. But once they'd left (and presumably the dishwasher had been emptied and the Dyson put through its paces) she changed her mind and tried to catch up. Sadly, she couldn't find them so the poor women is still searching - but kindly remembers to pop in to Italian households on the 5th Jan to make judgement on little people's yearly behaviour.

I wish I could have had some of that coal at Christmas time. Perhaps it would have helped restore some peace in our house. I swear we got a changeling over the holidays and it's only in the past two days that the arms-flailing little dynamo, who required two fully grown adults to change her nappy, has been replaced by the pre-Christmas little angel I know so well.

Apparently it's the change in routine, and if that's true I'm seriously considering changing my ad hoc parenting style. Right now though I'm just happy to be able to get through each day without porridge on the walls and Sudocrem in my hair.

To January! May it be full of smiles and giggles.