Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Flufftric System: How to Rate a Cloth Nappy

NightDaddy and I created a scale for rating cloth nappies. Because we're overly engaged fathers who do things like that.

There needs to be a decent way to compare these things. A standard metric.

The best rating is a 0 and the worst is a 30.

The 8 categories:


How well does the nappy fit your kid's bum?

0 Second skin.
1 Trim and neat
2 Bubble Butt
3 Red marks/Gaping
4 Shameful and Painful


How well does it work?

0 Bulletproof
1 No major issues, might not contain a poop explosion
2 A bit too loose/too tight/not enough absorbency
3 Leaks, leaks, leaks
4 Might as well be naked


How easy is it to use?

0 The baby could change itself
1 Sleep-deprivation poses no risk
2 A bit tricky at first
3 Fumble, fumble, fumble
4 Can't even tell which way is front


How fast does it dry?

0 Dry before it hits the line
1 Line dries in <5 hours
2 Reasonable
3 Hmmm this one's still damp
4 Lapped by faster drying nappies


How does it feel?

0 Made of angel feathers
1 Oh, that's niiiice
2 Meh, cloth is cloth
3 Scratchy/stiff/weird/pick your somewhat unpleasant adjective
4 Not on my baby's bottom!


How does the price match up with the quality of the product, manufacturing conditions and material costs?

0 The price is right
1 Acceptable
2 A bit too high, but decent on clearance/seconds
3 Too high / Too low
4 Either sewn with gold or by very tiny hands


How much do you fancy the way it looks?

1 Super cute
2 Nothing special
3 Unfortunate
4 Fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down


0 I have nothing more to add
1 There is some other minor flaw worth mentioning
2 The is some other major flaw worth mentioning

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Week of Fear

One of the privileges of being a native-only couple, is never needing to fear that your family will ever be torn apart and thrown across an ocean because a paper was mailed two days late.

On November 26th I sent the following e-mail to the Swedish Immigration Bureau (I've translated some of the words to English and put them in brackets):


I'm writing with questions in regard to beteckning [case] ########.

I gave birth to my daughter September 7th and was thus extremely sleep-deprived around the time that my uppehållstillstånd [residence permit] expired at the end of October. In that state, it was difficult to gather the necessary papers and I thought that as long as I mailed the application on the 29th (day of expiration) it was on time. I have a PhD position and my uppehållstillstånd [residence permit] was based on that. But since I now live with my partner and we have a child together, I chose to change the permission to be based on this relationship. I thought it would be possible to do this application online but it wasn't. The 29th was the very soonest I was able to mail the application after I realized I couldn't do it online.

I received a "mottagningskvitto" [receipt] and the beteckning [case] number. Also a request for more documents. I paid the fee and sent the extra documents. The mottagningskvitto [receipt] says that the application was received on October 31st.

Today I had a very unpleasant conversation with an angry woman at Försäkringskassan [the Social Security Administration]. She said that my child does not have the right to barnbidrag [monetary child benefits] because I do not have the right to live in Sweden because I filed my application late. 

I was in complete shock. I have lived in Sweden for 4 years. My entire life is here. My job. My partner. My child. My apartment. We depend on my förälderpenning [parental leave benefits] from my job while I am on parental leave. Now I am terrified that Försäkringskassan [the Social Security Administration]  is going to cut me off and that I won't be able to return to my job and that I'm going to be forced out of the country.  We were able to sort out the problem of the barnbidrag [monetary child benefits] because the child's second parent (my partner) is a Swedish citizen and is now finally registered as her second parent. But is it true that I don't have the right to stay here? I can send the new papers that show that my child is a Swedish citizen! 

I'm so full of fear and anxiety right now that my family is going to be torn apart and lose our income because I accidentally filed an application two days late. Please tell me that my family is safe and that everything is going to be okay.  

You can e-mail me or call me at ##########.


On December 6th, I received the following reply:

Dear [Name]
Thank you for your email.

An application for extension or a new permit should be handed in before the old one expires. The fact that you applied two days late will, however, not affect your application or your status in Sweden, since it’s only a very short delay from your part. As long as you have an open application you are allowed to live, work and study in Sweden.

Yours sincerly
[Case Worker Name]
The Customer Service
The Swedish Migration Board

I have to be honest, when chain gets yanked like this, it's hard not to feel like a dog. And not a well-loved dog, either. 12 days of terror. All because some angry woman at the social security administration shot off her ignorant mouth. We're still reeling. 


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas for 1st, 2nd and 3rd Generation Immigrant Family

"Babes, we're soon going to be the only flat on our block without stars in our windows. This is getting embarrassing." -DD

"Okay, I'll go get the stuff out of storage." -ND

While I was pregnant, I read Manju Kampur's "The Immigrant." The story of two immigrants from India in Canada struck a chord deep inside. My favorite passage described the immigrant experience of seeing double. She walks into an indoor Canadian market and looks around, but the memories of the open air Indian markets are imposed over scene as if she were seeing both at once. Not a week goes by that I do not share in this immigrant experience.

Walking through our neighborhood after dark, I take in the yellow paper stars and electric candles illuminating the windows and the single strands of white LEDs twined around balcony railings. As I walk, the American memories float up onto the street. Low flats, communal green spaces and neighborhood paths are laid over with a memory of brick bungalows with scrappy front yards and cracked sidewalks. Glowing plastic Santas, wooden nativity scenes and ropes upon ropes of bright rainbow lights dance in my mind, not tied to any place or time other than my hometown and my childhood.

All immigrants have a similar choice to make. Do I prop up a glowing Santa in our window? Frame it with rainbow lights, specially ordered from America? Add a nativity scene on the terrace?

"Do we have one of those candelabra thingies to put in the kitchen window? Or do we need to pick one up at ICA?" -DD

"A Luciastake?" -ND

"Is that what it's called? How do you spell that?" -DD

Night Daddy sits down to Google. Despite having grown up in Stockholm, he went to English school. Polish at home and English at school leads to moments just like this.

"No, it's called an adventsljusstake. All one word. And yes, we have one." -ND

Day Daddy sits down to Google.

"According to this the advent one has only four. That sounds right with the advent candle wreaths that I grew up with. What's the pyramidy 7 candle one called that everybody puts in their windows here? Oh. wait. Here's the Wiki entry. Apparently, it's 'julottestakar.' But I've never heard that." -DD

"No. Nobody calls it that. They're just called advent lights. Nobody cares about the number." -ND

"I saw some windows with these round ornament bobbles hanging on fish line. They looked really nice. I could hang some of those too." -DD

"Here's a package of gold ones and blue ones." -ND

"These aren't blue. They're black." -DD

"They're blue." -ND

"No. Look." -DD

"Huh." -ND

"You have black Christmas ornaments? I'm not hanging black ornaments in our window. I don't care how pretty they are. But the gold ones are nice." -DD

"Whatever, Babes. Here's the fishing line. I'm going to figure out the star lampshade thingies. I've never used them before." -ND

We might be Polish and American, but our little Piggelin is Swedish. Her home should reflect that. I hope one day, she will know that we tried.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Alvehamn Cloth Nappy Review (Tygblöja Recension)

A few weeks ago we went to a "Tygblöjemingel." In the UK I hear they're called "Nappuchinos." There's coffee, cake and parents with their cloth bum clad babies. At this particular meet-up, the hosts were hawking Alvehamn nappies (click here for English), a fabulous, relatively new Swedish brand. Night Daddy indulged in ordering a Christmas-y laminated minky cover and two super soft bamboo prefolds, one for daytime and a thicker one for nighttime use. 

The cover is one-size and our little Piggelin has just hit the starting size of 6 kilos. We snapped down the rise and tried it out. 

The nappy is super soft and easy to put on and take off. It fits her snugly and she seems comfortable. It is however quite bulky on a little 3 month old. The Alvehamn prefolds were plenty absorbent and worked great. However, after we had changed them out, the cover was still clean so we threw in one of our Sloomb prefolds. This unfortunately did not work out so great. It was a middle of the night change so it could have just not been fastened properly, but we woke up to soaked sheets. The pee had collected in the hole of the cover and spilled out one of the leg openings. This would not have happened with the Alvehamn prefolds as they are much bigger and thicker. But it means we can only use those or a fitted nappy underneath.

We ordered directly from a seller and the total for the cover plus the two prefolds and shipping was 303kr. This is... expensive. Prefolds are generally known for being on the cheaper end of the cloth nappy system spectrum, but not these. They're high quality materials and they work great, but an entire stash of Alvehamns bought new would carry a fairly hefty price tag. 

Not a fan of the bulk or the price, but we do like the materials and that it will fit her until she learns to use the potty on her own. And it is very pretty-- almost as pretty as our Piggelin! ;)