Category Archives: shopping

Why It’s Never Appropriate to Interrupt a Breastfeeding Mother

There’s not much not to love about Target. It’s my go-to one-stop shop for everything from diapers to anti-mom jeans for $14. But this morning as I was trolling through my news feeds I found one thing not to like: It’s seemingly inconsistent policies on how to handle breastfeeding mommies.

So, today’s news story has a familiar plot line: Breastfeeding mommy starts nursing in the store. Store employees ask mommy to do something–cover up, move to a different location, or stop breastfeeding all together–out of a so-called respect for their other customers. But rather than just rant to her friends about it, the most-recently offended momma is mobilizing other mommas from around the country for a flash-mob nurse-in at Target stores next Wednesday, Dec. 28.

But what I want to know is what employee actually wants to be the person who says something to a breastfeeding mom about what’s appropriate and what’s not when it comes to breastfeeding? Let’s just ignore the fact that breastfeeding in public is a protected right. There have got to other disciplinary or corrective measures for employees to take that would ultimately be more beneficial to the store than harrassing a breastfeeding mother. What about teen shoplifters? They probably need to be followed around. Or what about the weirdos who trash the family restroom? That certainly could be better monitored. I just don’t get why it would even cross someone’s mind to even interrupt a breastfeeding mother. Obviously she’s cool and comfortable with whatever she’s doing, wherever she’s doing it, so just leave her alone.

Seriously, how disruptive could a nursing mother actually be in a Target store? The only people who really linger around, hitting every department and cruising up and down every aisle are moms. I’d venture a guess that the rest of the shopping population goes into Target knowing pretty much what s/he wants, picking up a few impulse buys along the way. Those people are in and out of there in like 20 minutes whereas a mom might spend a good 45 minutes checking stuff out. So, again, why would you even bother saying anything to a nursing mom? Chances are she’s there at least once a week and has spent at least $50 bucks at every pass.

I’ve been trying to figure out if there’s any time that it’s appropriate for someone to engage in a conversation with a nursing mom. Other than for health and safety reasons–hey, lady, that’s going to fall onyour kid’s head!–I can only find one. And that’s to inform, not suggest, a mom that the establishment has a nursing lounge. And I don’t mean a back supply closet with a folding metal chair; I’m talking about a proper nursing lounge à la Nordstroms, where there are comfy chairs and a changing table.

And for those mommas who haven’t made great use out of the mothers’ lounges at Nordstroms yet, here’s what you can expect:

Obviously this is a little plush for your local Target, but I think a scaled-down version would be a fantastic idea. And could there be a better opportunity to showcase some of the products the retailer sells than to have Target for Home furniture in a setting like this? And as far as maintaining the facility, it could be as simple as getting a key from the service desk. Let’s just hope that Target management can recognize an opportunity to turn a bad publicity event into an opportunity to better serve a core customer.

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Filed under breastfeeding, daily life, feeding, infants, lactation, shopping

For the Budding Gourmet

One thing that I love about my mommy friends is how supportive they’ve been of my endeavor to raise my child bilingual. They’ve gifted baby a number of French baby books, flashcards, and alphabet block sets, all to help me not only entertain but teach him. But today I want to put a little spotlight on one particular gift item because I think not only is it functional and fun but it’s so darn cute.

One of my oldest and dearest mommy friends gave this Williams-Sonoma baby dining set to us this summer:

I would say that my kid eats off of this adorable, completely dishwasher safe, melamine tray every day, if he really ate much. But luckily there are these animaux hiding out underneath his meals, because that’s pretty much the only way I get him to even push his food around the plate. I’m not sure I’m doing so well when he points to the chat and says gato, though.

But even better was when I opened a package from my mom this week to find this:

Now he has toute la collection and can be très chic the next time he’s dining high-chair bistro style.

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Three Fun and Fabulous Finds

Last weekend, I attempted to be an uber cool, multicultural mother and take baby to a Finnish puppet show that was being put on as part of D.C.’s Euro Kids Festival. Like a well-behaved parent, I pre-registered for the event and then tucked myself in early so I could get up on a Saturday at 6:30am to make sure everyone got showered, dressed, and fed (or in my case caffeinated) before hitting the metro by 9am. Despite my greatest efforts, it was a complete failure.

We arrived 15 minutes early, anticipating a crowd, which there was, only to be told that the show had already started. Apparently, the time had been incorrectly posted on the Web site. And despite there being empty seats, the puppeteer had asked that no one be admitted late, so we were turned away. Seems to me that it might have made more sense for the folks who arrived early to wait rather than the folks who were arriving later thanks to a misprint miss the whole show, but what do I know about these things. I assure you that there were a number of meltdowns as the children were informed that the Lapland puppet show was no longer in the cards.

Fortunately the show was taking place at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, which is just a few blocks from wonderful Eastern Market. It’s been ages since I’d been to the market, which most often gets passed over by tourists for the more well known sights. But in my book, it’s one of the most fun, “locals” thing to do in our nation’s capital. The quality of the crafts and wares are quite good–there’s always furniture I want to buy–the food hall is an utterly delicious throwback, and the neighbor itself is teeming with cute shops and nice brunch spots, especially when the weather is cooperative.

As I was checking out the various vendors, there were three from which any mom would have trouble resisting an impulse buy:

No strings attached puppets. I was a mom on a mission for puppets, so when I couldn’t get the Finnish kind, I opted for the finger variety. I remembered buying some of these a few years ago for a few of my nieces and nephews, but I had totally forgotten about them. They’re all handmade and some of the little detailing, especially on the sheep and the (or least what I think is a) llama, is so sweet. (From left to right, I bought a sheep, horse, zebra, pig, and llama.) About the only bargain I could get from the seller was if I bought 10 (at $2/a puppet), he’d give me one for free. I figured they’d make great wee one gifts sooner or later.

Classic wheels. Well, to be more accurate, it was actually labeled an SUV, which made me crack a half a smile. But these vehicles are big, blocky, bright, and well built. (Really, you wouldn’t believe how nicely they roll.) And the little people that pop in and out are too cute. The guy selling them tried to give me a line of bologna about how there’s a Montessori ethic behind the design; supposedly as kids learn to pull out the people, they’re unknowingly practicing to hold a pencil. Seems a bit of stretch, but, hey, whatever sells. The variety of vehicles was fairly wide, as well; in addition to SUVs, there were cars, helicopters, dump trucks, and even a super adorable whale that wee ones could drag behind them by a string. And the value was decent. I only bought one, so it was $7, but that still was a pretty good deal. I love Fat Brain Toys, but the most similar wooden car the company offered was retailing at $17.

New and oh-so-necessary nursery decor. I saw these modern yet crafty pillows and immediately wanted to design a nursery based on the Mirasa‘s color palette. The colors–squash, tangerine, sage, and turquoise–are wonderfully warm and sunny yet soft and make for cheery combinations when paired. Plus the design sensibility while contemporary still maintains a childhood charm. Love, love, love these products, all of which are handmade in India out of organic cotton. And the bonus: The onesies are just as adorable as the pillows. I just wished my wee one was still wee enough to wear them.

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Filed under baby boutiques, baby clothes, baby gear, shopping, toys

Revenge of the Mom Jeans

Yesterday I got a promotional e-mail from American Eagle about a program that they are running called Old Jeans, New Hope. The idea is that the company is asking people to bring old, worn out jeans to any American Eagle store for recycling; the jeans are then turned into insulation for homes in communities in need. In exchange for a denim donation, people will receive 20% off store purchases.

Although I think this is a great recycling program, the program promotion reminded me of a post I’d been meaning to write for awhile now on my new favorite jeans.

Between being a mom to a toddler and working from home, I nearly live in jeans. Consequently, I own a lot of pairs of jeans. I’ve bought more expensive brands like 7 For All Mankind and also really cheap kinds like the Mossimo junior jeans I picked up at Target for less than $14 this past summer. Although when you find a great pair of jeans, they most often are worth whatever they cost–7’s for example really do make anyone’s butt look good–I do kind of get off on finding deals on less expensive jeans that fit just as well as the pricier pairs.

My latest find was at American Eagle. I don’t usually shop at American Eagle, mainly because in my head it’s in the same category as Abercrombie & Fitch. And frankly, I’m too old for how short the shorts are, if you know what I mean. But I had a twenty-something friend visiting from France who just loves American-style clothes and she wanted to do some shopping at American Eagle, so I went with her to the store.

I had been wanting a new pair of dark wash jeans and they had about a gazillion pairs on display. At the time I visited, the store was running a promotion where all jeans were around $25. So, I figured why not try a few pairs on. Never having tried on AE jeans before, I didn’t know what I needed or even wanted in terms of style and size, so the sales associate grabbed about five different styles for me in what she estimated was my size.

I kid you not, I have never tried on five pairs of jeans and had them all fit really well. There was no gapping in the waist above the derriere region and there wasn’t four inches of excess material drowning my ankles. And the pockets were big and sat low, just the thing for minimizing assets. The fits were so good I debated buying all five pairs–I mean, really, when you find good jeans you just have to buy them. But then I decided that was a little excessive since I had just scored on some Target jeans a couple months prior. So, I talked myself into just buying two pairs. But which ones?

Making Moms Look Good

I was well stocked in the skinny jean department, so I had tried on the Slim Boot, Original Boot, Hipster Flare, Favorite Boyfriend, and Artist styles. After trying every single pair on at least two more times to determine what was a good versus great fit, I finally decided on the Favorite Boyfriend and Artist jeans. As you might imagine, the Favorite Boyfriend are a bit more relaxed, although they are pretty low rise, and the Artist have a little bit of a trouser twist on the classic jean.

About the only drawback I’ve found after wearing one of those pairs probably four or five days out of the week is that I think I would’ve maybe gotten a size smaller. The denim is kind of light and soft, which I like, but it also means that it sort of stretches out after a few wears, especially with all the bending and running I do chasing a toddler around all day. But that can be said for a lot of jeans, so I don’t know that I would really categorize it as a negative for these jeans.

And I’m definitely not the only mom who’s fallen in love with AE jeans. I was recently stocking up on some makeup in a department store when one of the sales reps at a nearby counter came up to me and asked, “Are those American Eagle Artist cut jeans?” Turns out that mother of two also recently purchased a few pairs and was loving that she got a whole lot of mom jean for the money.

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Filed under fashion and style, mom style, moms, shopping, stay-at-home moms, working mom

Breaking the Mom Market Wide Open

If Target was a type of fast food chain, I would be categorized as heavy user. Part of it for me is the convenience. (When I’m home, the store is a quick 10  minute stroller from house and also in the same building as my gym.) But part of the attraction is the fact that whoever it is who does Target’s buying completely knows me, where I am in my life, what I want versus what I necessarily need, and what I am willing to spend.

I can hardly think of a better example than today, when I stopped by the greeting card aisle to pick up something for my sister’s upcoming shower. Forget birthdays, gets wells, new babies, and condolences. Move over graduation, housewarming, and pet death. Turns out there is now a whole greeting card section section dedicated to desperate moms. That’s right, there is a whole segment of the buying population that is comprised of moms willing to spend nearly $4 for a card to send to another mom that basically says something like, “Sorry that your kids are, in one way or another, making your life fall apart.”

This particular incarnation spoke to me:

The front of the card

 

The inside of the card

Doesn’t that just say it all? I feel like I need to send this to every mommy friend I know.

I can’t help but be fascinated with the micro segmentation that’s going on here. It’s brilliant. It’s so much more than female, aged 25 to 34. This actually pinpoints an emotional stage in my life as a mommy and completely capitalizes on it. Again, brilliant.

Interesting enough, I had stumbled across another great example of this kind of niche mom marketing as I popped into the Old Navy before my last Target run. First, I noticed that they had traded their navy blue, mesh shopping bags in for full-on shopping carts with child seats in the front. (Thank you.) Second, I noticed that they had put a pint-sized table with matching chairs at the entrance to the dressing room and left a pile of coloring books and crayons on the table. Way to know your customer, Old Navy. Seriously, who is going to take the time to try stuff on when her kid, or kids, is on the brink of a meltdown?

All this rambling to say that, as a mom, I appreciate when stores actually show in one way or another that they understand what I like and value at this stage in my life. After all, it’s moms that really control the purse strings.

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Filed under baby gear, daily life, moms, shopping

My Babycham Babe

As a mom, I’m often so busy going about the stuff of my life that I don’t really think about what I must look like while I’m doing it. It’s only ever so often that I get a chance to step outside myself for just a second to see what other people see. When those, shall we say, opportunities, arise, it’s a coin toss as to whether I get a second to be proud of myself because, hey, I’m doing okay, or be utterly mortified.

Life presented me with one of those moments today. I took baby onto one of the local military bases to get get his scheduled check up. Since the clinic was right next to the commissary, the on-post grocery store, I decided I should stock up on a few eats for the weekend. The post exchange was about a block down the road, so I then decided to stop there to pick up a few random items–children’s vitamins and anti-wrinkle cream. (That right there says a lot.) The gas station was another block down, so I decided I should fill up the truck because gas was $0.11 cheaper on post. And the Class Six, the post liquor store, was next to the gas station, so I decided that I should probably stock up on a few summer beverages to get me through this nice heat wave we’re having. I was imagining that there would be nothing better after a long day of hard work to cool off with a delicious vodka tonic later that evening.

So because motherhood is the ultimate quest for efficiency, I decided if I was at the Class Six, I should just stock up because I wasn’t sure when I was going to be on post again. So, into the cart went the bottle of vodka. I turned the aisle and a box of Coronas looked really good given the 98 degree temps outside. And I might as well stock up on some refreshing white wine; all I had in the house was some red plus my mother-in-law is coming to town and she only drinks white. So, into my cart went 12 bottles of white wine. (There’s a 10% discount when you buy a case of wine.)

So, as I’m checking out I see a young soldier and his dad stocking up for what was clearly a graduation party. And I hear the dad say, “Look, at that cute baby.”

In that second, I turned to take in the scene. Yup, I was that woman who had her infant in a liquor store with a cart full of booze at 10:30am. And thus why today my kid is the Babycham Babe.

Babycham mascot

(As an aside, for anyone who doesn’t recognize the Babycham reference, here’s your Mad Men trivia. It was a light sparkling perry, essentially a hard cider made from pears and named after a Jamaican dancehall artist, that was marketed and sold in England in the 1960s and 1970s. The thing that is notable about the lively cocktail is that it’s really the first adult beverage marketed specifically to women.)

But to get back to the story…

I was completely embarrassed as I was waiting in the checkout line. And of course, my kid was babbling away, smiling at people, being totally cute, and otherwise drawing lots of attention to the fact that I was “that” mother. I half debated casually mentioning to the cashier that I was planning on having a barbecue this weekend so I wouldn’t feel so awkward and look so conspicuous. But I knew I couldn’t lie well enough to make the story believable.

In all reality, there was nothing wrong with what I did. I’m sure I wasn’t the only mother to drag her kids into the liquor store that day. I mean, when you’re on your own to run all the household errands, there’s no way to avoid taking your kid into the liquor store with you whenever it is that you have time to actually make the stop.

But I definitely get a totally awkward feeling whenever I buy booze with baby. I feel like every cashier is looking at my purchase and thinking, “Man, she probably needs that bottle of wine after the day she’s had. That kid must be a handful.” In reality, the exact opposite is true. Things are usually rather under control by 7pm every night and there’s little I like doing more than sitting out on my back deck with my glass of wine, throwing the ball for the dog and watching the lightning bugs come out. I feel like I can breathe again after what inevitably was a busy and somewhat stressful day.

But that awkward feeling is the exact reason I often buy box o’wine. Some of my friends think I’m crazy, but there are a lot of pluses to box o’wine. (And I’m seriously not alone; there’s even a Facebook page for people who feel similarly.)

First, it’s really come a long way from my college Franzia days. It’s actually not that bad. Maybe I wouldn’t serve it for a dinner party, but for me, when I’m by myself, it definitely will suffice.

But the second reason is probably the real reason I buy it. Unless I get a chance to get on post to get to the Class Six to do some bulk buying, most of my booze purchases are done at Target, as I’m swinging to pick up more diapers, Swiffer pads, and Milk Bone Minis. (My life in six words or less.) And most often I’m on foot, so I’m limited by the size of the basket underneath my stroller as to what I can buy and get home.

In a typical Target box o’wine, there are supposedly four bottles. So, one cardboard cube will not only last me quite a while, but it fits conveniently under my stroller, is a heck of a lot lighter than four glass bottles, and also elicits none of the telltale clanking around that four bottles make as I’m wheeling through Target at 10:00am.

And of course, the box o’wine is a safer alternative to glass bottles. Point in case was my experience today. After the major effort I made to stock up on pretty much any kind of booze that our current heatwave may make me thirst for, I found my dreams of a refreshing vodka tonic this evening completely shattered. Literally. As I was unloading the car, the bag with the vodka broke, dropping the yet-to-be-opened bottle right onto my patio stone, and smashing it into a gazillion blue slivers of glass. Luckily I had stocked up on wine because when life gave me chards, I still had chardonnay.

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Filed under babies, booze, daily life, shopping

Bananas for Baby Boutiques

I’m obsessed with baby boutiques. I can’t bear to walk past one and not go in, even if you can tell by the window display that it’s a not-so-good one. In fact, I think my new dream job is owning and running a successful (that being a key word) baby boutique in some charming town or neighborhood–and I have zero retail experience.

But all the same, I like to look at the way different owners stock, merchandise, and decorate. I make mental notes and file them away in my head for the next time I’ll need a fun and creative idea or solution of my own. And do I need to mention how off-the-charts cute some of the outfits are? Beautiful fabrics, sweet stitching detail, unique and modern designs.

But the one thing I notice over and over again is that even in the most beautiful or unusual baby boutiques, you’d better hope you’re shopping for a little girl because your selection of cute stuff is going to be more limited for little boys. I guess in a way I can see why; sweet dresses in gorgeous patterns with ribbons, lace, or other dainty details are by their nature more magnetic than say a pair of overalls or a jumper. But all the same, it seems as though mommies should be able to choose from something more than cargo pants and jeans for their little bundles of boys.

So, when I go into baby shops, I play a little game with myself and go in search of the cutest or cleverest outfit I can find for a little boy. If I find more than one, I consider it the measure of an exceptional baby shop. So, here’s what I dug up during my last trip to South Carolina, where I got a chance to pop into some shops in both Charleston and Beaufort.

sugar snap pea/charleston, s.c.
When it comes to baby boutiques, it’s all about the window display. And the one at sugar snap pea worked it’s charm and instantly pulled me and my mother-in-law inside. And if that didn’t do it, I fell in love with the “Stroller Parking” sign next to two parking meters painted on the wall.

The way I would describe the shop would be to say that if you’re a mommy who loves the aden + anais brand, you know the company that makes all those very sheer, breathable muslim baby sleepers and swaddlers, you’d fall

Romper by Feather Baby

in love with this store. You could feel good about buying anything in the store because not only was it cute but nearly everything in there, from the bath towels to the wooden toys, had some sustainable twist.

Of course, none of this stuff comes cheap, as is the case in most baby boutiques. However, I decided if I was going to splurge and make a purchase, I probably would’ve chosen something from the selection of either Egg Baby or Feather Baby lines. I’m naturally drawn to bold prints, so I like the graphic nature of the clothing and I love that it is oh so soft as well.

T-shirt by Egg Baby

But the thing I think I like best is that while the clothes are what I would call cool and hip, they are age appropriate designs. That’s sort of a big thing for me because in my book, babies are supposed to look like babies, not Mini Mes.

The one drawback is that, unfortunately, the Egg Baby Web site does none of its clothing justice, as what I saw (and pawed) in the store was much more interesting than what they’re advertising online.

kids on king/charleston, s.c.
I would imagine that this is one of the go-to places in Charleston to get more formal clothes for wee ones who might be making a guest appearance at a wedding or fancy holiday party. I could hardly believe the selection of seersucker suits and shorts, linen rompers, retro baby bubble suits, and the like. The store also carried the requisite knee socks and saddle shoes. Of course these are all things my husband made me swear that I would never make our kid wear but that I am now eying given that my sister is getting married in August. (Lucky for me that this place ships!)

Once again, the shop’s Web site doesn’t do its inventory much justice, but I

Shortalls by Bailey Boys (side 1)

just want to make a note of one particularly clever outfit that I came across as I was fingering the racks. Given my love of stripes, dots, and checks, I was immediately drawn to a few racks of gingham shortalls, all from a variety of companies–Zuccini, Glorimont, Bailey Boys, etc. They came in a whole bunch of colors and had sweet embroidered designs on them–crabs, sailboats, trains, etc. I picked one up only to love it more when I realized it was reversible.

For someone who travels a lot with a baby and , therefore, agonizes over every thing that goes into the suitcase, a two-in-one outfit is pure genius. Not only is it space conscious, but it also makes that

Shortalls by Bailey Boys (side 2)

$50+ price tag seem more palatable knowing it’s really two outfits and not just one for the price.

My favorite was definitely the green gingham check with the trains that reversed to a red gingham check with a submarine by the Bailey Boys. I’m not sure you how trains and subs go together, but either side would be so adorable on a baby boy that I guess it doesn’t matter.

doodlebugs/ beaufort, s.c.
This was an unexpected stop during a coffee-and-bagel break in downtown Beaufort, but I’m glad I went in because the shop had some cute things, especially for girls. In fact, there wasn’t a lot I wouldn’t have bought if I had a little girl. But the selection for baby boys was narrow to say the least. At one point, I pulled out a cute t-shirt with cars on it and was looking for something to go with it, such as some shorts or a light sweater. My choices were rainbow or rainbow. I even asked the salesgirl if she thought the items were a little too un-boyish in her opinion. “I wouldn’t buy that for a boy, I don’t think. Especially the cardigan,” she say. Okay, then, I won’t.

But as I was walking out of the store, a small triangle of green gingham caught my eye and I walked over to it. There I found an adorable shortall–or romper or jon jon or jumper or whatever else anyone calls it–with a small alligator embroidered on the chest and two big green button along the beltline, almost sailor style. The tag said it was a Baxter and Beatrice product, but I’ve had a hard time locating it online. But for as much as I loved it, the largest size they had was 12 months and that just won’t do for baby; he’s just growing too fast.

So, while my boutique browsing led to no purchases, it was fun to look and see what’s out there. And it was good to find out that I have a few go-to sources if baby needs that seersucker suit and saddle shoes for the wedding after all.

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Filed under babies, baby boutiques, baby clothes, baby gear, infants, shopping