Friday, November 27, 2015

Hello Fresh!

I'm the penny pinching one in this household. Kidlet doesn't know what a penny is, yet, and Karel...well, I love the guy but tracking spending is not his forte.  Suffice it to say, then, that when Hello Fresh debuted in the Netherlands two years ago I laughed and told the guys selling subscriptions to fuck off.  

This is because they charge €39.99 for a box of 3 meals for 2 people.  That's €13.33 per meal, €6.66 per serving, folks. And they don't even come over and do the dishes for you. For someone who typically drives down the cost of dinner to €2-3 per person, it's ridiculous.  

But if I were to be completely honest...I can't deny that I wasn't tempted. Setting asid
e time every day to go grocery shopping is a bit of a drag, and that goes double if Karel isn't home to babysit kidlet while I run out for a carton of milk. 

These sort of subscription-boxes have been popular on both sides of the Atlantic for a while, now: they're supposed to simplify your life (or at the very least, your grocery shopping) while providing a good, homemade meal for the cost of a Value Meal at McDonald's (yeah...the Value Meals where I live...aren't, exactly).  You get all the ingredients you need, pre-measured in the quantities for however many people you're cooking for (minus a few basics, like olive oil, flour, milk) and then you just follow the directions on the menu card.  In their perfect world, you'd get a box every week, but forty euros a week for 3 dinners is obscene by any standard except Parisians'.  Fortunately it's easy to log onto the website and tell them when you want a box delivered, and with Hello Fresh, you're only obligated to buy two boxes at full price.

The good news is that Hello Fresh, at least, has really big portions, which works out well because we're two adults and one hungry kidlet.  The four measly potatoes you get for a stamppot might not look like much, but add a package of saurkraut and a couple of sausages and you've got an all-out meal.  There are vegetarian options as well, and they're tasty, too.

The bad news is that you kinda-sorta-hafta know how to cook first before you can make anything really tasty with it. For our box last week, we had mackerel wraps, saurkraut stamppot, and a vegetarian lasagna.  None of these required any special skills to make, but I can imagine that, if you're not used to cooking it would be kind of daunting, especially when it comes to making a roux for the cheese sauce with the lasagna, or some of the fancier cooking things that are required of you.  You don't  need a lot of kitchen utensils, and the ones that are recommended are the sort of things that most people would have. But then again, there was a time when we didn't have a baking sheet.  That being said, the recipes do taste something splendid--it says a lot when a three-year-old will eat eggplant and spinach without whining. 

I'm still kind of divided on whether it's good value; I feel like if they'd drop the price to 30 or even 35 euros I'd probably get the boxes a lot more often.  I mean, things like fresh pasta and smoked mackerel aren't exactly cheap at the supermarket, either, and after the peace of mind afforded by three days of only having to shop for things like milk and cat food, I can definitely see the value in having someone else do the thinking for you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Getting help

It's no secret that kidlet is weird--the kid is great on long trips, for example, goes to bed without a problem most nights, loves olives and sunny-side-up eggs (but won't touch hard-boiled ones). But there's weird, and then there's worrying, and kidlet's particular brand of weirdness has had us mildly worried for a while. But it wasn't until I discovered that I'd have to register him for basischool next year that we decided to take the leap and have him independently assessed. Sending him to school next year when he's still using nonsense-words (in either language) just won't do.

And this is where the consultatiebureau really morphs from something merely very annoying to something that is a godsend, because all it took was one phone call, explaining what we've been observing, and someone came to our place, agreed that further assessments were needed, and an observer was placed in kidlet's peuterspeelzaal class to see if we were merely being overly-worried parents.

The observer, a licensed child development specialist, assured us that some of our worries would resolve themselves eventually, but some of our worries were justifiable ones and that it was a good thing that we'd called them. Early intervention can work wonders, but only if parents recognize that something is wrong, and  sometimes what's taken for granted as "of course it takes longer" can cross the line into an actual developmental delay, and the things that we should be worried about, according to the specialist, were straddling that line.

I'll admit, when I first had him, it was a PITA dragging a kidlet all the way to the consultatiebureau every month--even though we had a car by that point Karel was away more often than not, and I didn't get a bike again until last year, so that meant I either had to walk 40 minutes, or take a bus, beginning and ending my trip with a 15-minute walk. Suffice it to say that, while I was always glad for a healthy-baby report, it didn't always alleviate the peevishness from schlepping a kidlet around for almost an hour, just for people to tell me that everything was normal.  But they've been nothing but wonderful for us, outlining a plan of monitoring and interventions for the next six months that seems like a cross between .

For now, not much will change: kidlet will start seeing a speech therapist at the very least, and if there is space for him we'll increase his peuterspeelzaal time to three mornings a week. There was a recommendation that he attends a peutergym to allow him to move around in the ways that he seems to want to, and improve his kinesthetic awareness.  Hopefully this will be enough.