Tag Archives: shopping

The $40 Beer and Other Tall Tales

After the exciting New Year’s Eve that I had, the thing I was most look forward in 2012 was a first New Year’s brunch at  a relatively nice place. (Cloth napkins, please; that’s all I’m asking.) So, I made plans to meet up with my husband’s cousin, her husband, and their son who is also toddler aged. I figured if I couldn’t enjoy a night on the town, I could at least enjoy a couple of festive mimosa and an overpriced plate of eggs before strollering home for nap time.

New Year’s Day started out just great. Baby and I slept in, then we went to the gym, where he had a great time in the baby-sized ball pit and I had a less-than-great time sweating it out on the treadmill. We had a wonderful walk downtown to the restaurant, and luckily there was no ridiculous wait.

And that’s pretty much where the fun stopped.

I’ve been totally embarrassed by my child before. The incident that first jumps to mind is sitting in a financial planner’s office this fall. As we negotiated what to do with the 401K I needed to do something with following my layoff, my kid turned from a little boy into a goddamn monkey. He was literally climbing all over the guy’s leather chair, pulling documents off his desk, playing with a model car that was clearly not a toy, highlighting the wooden table in his office–you name it, he meddled in it. The crowning moment was when my child discovered the mini golf sculpture, replete with a real sand trap. Before I could sign my life’s savings over, my child had a fist full of sand and had chucked it across the guy’s office. And if I thought it couldn’t get any worse, my kid took a dump in his diaper that stunk up the place to the point where the financial planner had to open the office door and let some fresh air in.

If I thought that experience was humiliating, I had another thing coming at this brunch. We sat down, ordered a drink, and then placed our orders. I went for some mussels steamed in some beer-infused cream sauces with spicy sausage and a cold, crispy beer; I ordered baby some sliders to share with his cousin and fries. After about 15 minutes of playing with cars, whining started. And then I got angry face. And then the crying started.

In the span of the next 20 minutes, I pulled out a light saber (or thats what I call this toy that has a globe on a stick and when you press the button a bunch of lights spin around), fruit snacks, a toy phone, a toy remote, crayons, and raisins. But the crying wouldn’t stop. At this point, the best thing about the restaurant was that it was loud as hell and I don’t think the table next to us could hear my child fussing majorly over the din of other diners conversing and plates being cleared.

So, baby and I went hand in hand to the bathroom to check on the diaper situation. Turns out the diaper was not an issue. But the crying had turned into hysterics and I soon found myself three more times in the bathroom over the next 15 to 20 minutes. (Seriously how slow could this service be!) I tried everything–diaper change, timeout, pleading, and finally begging. I was starting to completely look my grip on the whole situation. I know it’s bad when family follows you into the bathroom to find out if you’re okay. (Ummm, no, but I can’t tell anyone just how close I am to completely losing it.)

After an eternity and a day, the food arrives. My child is absolutely sobbing. In the high chair. In my lap. Standing next to the table. He’s just a blubbering and snotty mess. I pull the plug.

I ask for the check and a couple of doggie bags. I shovel a couple of mussels into my gullet and whole-heartedly try to package up the rest of them with the intent to actually enjoy them when I get home. I get them all in the box and realize (1) the box is cardboard, so I’m going to end up with a soupy mess in my stroller despite the box inside the box packaging and (2) even if I could get a plastic bag to wrap up the box, the box still won’t close. So, I think I pretty much threw my hands in the air and got the funk out of there. My bill (with tip) was close to $40. The only thing I actually ingested was an Amstel Light.

Thank god I had a 45 minute walk home in 35-degree temperatures–after a $40 beer, no way in hell I was paying for a cab–because it took me that long to cool down. Honestly, I was furious. I wasn’t necessarily mad at my kid (although maybe I was a little bit), but I totally felt cheated out of not only $40 but a nice day with family. I mean, how often do I really get out? And it was brunch, for god’s sake!

I’m sure it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it was somehow, on that day, at that time, nearly devastating for me. Which is why I felt like not only the world’s worst mother but a total ass the next morning. I retrieve my child from his bed in the next morning to find his entire face crusted in a snot mask. He was clearly sick. And he had clearly been telling me the day before that he didn’t feel well. And I clearly all but cursed him out for acting up.

I can say with certainty that the idea of having to remove not just a but my hysterical child from public was a huge parental fear of mine. And it happened, despite my efforts to the contrary. (I just thank god it was with family and not my husband’s boss.) But I lived to see another day, if not another mussel.

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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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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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The Joys of In-Hospital Shopping

You’ve probably heard of in-flight shopping even if, like me, you’ve never purchased anything from the Sky Mall while traveling. But in-hospital shopping? Seriously? That was a new one for me until about a week ago.

I delivered baby at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. And my doctor was totally correct when he said it was a nice place to have a baby. You pretty much take a tour of some of the most expensive real estate in D.C. on your way to the hospital and then once admitted, you really do get pretty darn good care. About my biggest complaint was that the nurses kept forgetting to reload the hand sanitizer in my room, so if you were looking for a shot of the germ-killing gel, you had to walk out into the hallway, where there was another dispenser located right outside my room.

As part of the Sibley experience, new mommies get a lot of in-hospital support for breastfeeding. There’s a class new moms can attend every morning at 10:30 am with baby (I did) and you are going to see a lactation consultant at least once a day whether you like it or not (I loved it). Not to mention that you can call for a consultant on-demand, if you like. (I never had to do that because the consultants always seemed to have perfect timing; I was always nursing when they walked in.)

If you attend the class, which I totally recommend even if you, like me, took a pre-birth breastfeeding class, there’s a worksheet that you fill out where you identify your concerns, describe your breastfeeding experience to date, and also indicate whether you are interested in a fitting for a nursing bra. The consultants then work with you one-on-one on some of the issues you may be experiencing.

This personal attention was really an awesome service and a great follow-up to the class. These women (I apologize in advance if there were male lactation consultants on staff; I just didn’t see any) would come into your room and talk you through nursing. It’s sounds weird that you would appreciate a stranger touching your boobs, but I loved that they would take a good look at the latch and give me a thumbs up or thumbs down on it. If it wasn’t quite right, they’d help me adjust my position or the baby to improve the latch. Heck, they’d even look at your nipples and examine any hotspots and instruct you as to how to remedy them.

Honestly, I still have a bit of trouble with the latch on my right side–I think I’m just gimpy on that side for whatever reason–but I think I made darn good use of their expertise in the limited time that I had access to them. And as an added bonus, they are available for advice and help even after you leave the hospital. (That’s something on my growing to-do list if the baby will sleep long enough to let me.) Plus, they give you a sheet with a whole list of breastfeeding support centers and consultants in the D.C. area. (Not to worry, I’ll share that later, too.)

At any rate, to get back to the story, I had checked that I wanted to see someone about a fitting. Pre-baby, I was hesitant to go overboard on the nursing gear. I didn’t buy a super pump or nipple shields or anything like that. I bought one Gilligan & O’Malley nursing bra in black from Target, a tube of lanolin, a box of nursing pads, and a small package of Soothies by Lansinoh Gel Packs, which my friend Betsy swore by. And to be honest, I only bought the last three items because I had a discount coupon and wanted to try out Diapers.com to see if they were all they were cracked up to be. (They are.)

So, the morning of my discharge, in walks one of the lactation consultants to see about a fitting. I really wasn’t in the mood at that point–I just wanted to get out of Dodge–but I felt bad because I had indicated some interest and here she was, so I obliged. (Incidentally, I measured what she called a “full C or small D,” as if there was such a thing as a small D.)

She tells me she’s going to look to see what she’s got in my size–she had left her cart parked in the hallway–and returns seconds later with about six different packages, telling me she’s got every style in about six different colors.

I was really wanting a nursing tank, which I thought would be great for summer, so I immediately gravitated to that. I had checked out the selection at Target when I bought my regular nursing bra but had not purchased a tank, mainly because I was a bit freaked out by the style. The tanks at Target had the clip on the strap, but when you folded the front panel down, there were two holes for your boobs. I was so not digging that; it appeared a little too S&M for my tastes.

At any rate, the Bravado Designs tanks that she was peddling were so much more normal, so I decided to purchase two–one in a hot pink (shown here)

My First In-Hospital Purchase

and one in black (you can never go wrong with black). Although these were more expensive than than the Target variety, I still got them at a discount just for going to the breastfeeding class. And I think they were worth the money. Not only are there no cop-a-feel holes, but I feel like they are better constructed. They run a little bit longer–all the better to cover the post-postpartum pudge–are much more supportive–think more elastic than regular cotton–and come with a really nifty quick-release clasp that I

A Clasp I Can Actually Undo with One Hand

actually can undo and button up with one hand. The only thing is I wish I would’ve bought one size larger because when my boobs are really full, I feel a little constricted. But maybe that won’t be an issue a few more weeks down the road when things settle into a routine.

I also ended up buying a third nursing bra, one that the consultant had described as “not supportive but great for wearing around the house.” I

My Favorite Nursing Bra

absolutely love, love, love this nursing bra. The fabric is super soft, so it doesn’t irritate sensitive nipples and there are no clasps to fuss with; you just sort of pull down one side and you’re good to go. As the woman had said, it’s not super supportive, but I find that it’s holds me in pretty darn well. I mean, I wouldn’t go jogging in it, but I could definitely wear it under a shirt and go out in public without feeling indecent. In retrospect, I wish I

Stretchy + Soft = Super

would’ve bought two of these bad boys and only one of the nursing tanks. But I would rethink my color selection. I chose white because it looked clean and fresh, but a few lanolin application later and it’s stained. (The things that I wish I’d known about lanolin before I started applying it all the time.) So, to do it over again, I’d also choose black or brown or some other dark color.

My in-hospital shopping excursion had a grand total of about $106 for the three bras, which even though my husband rolled his eyes as I handed over my debit card, I thought it was fairly reasonable. Not as cheap as Target, but not ridiculously overpriced either.

At any rate, I thought this shopping experience was rather interesting and had a lot of potential to be expanded. Granted, you could also buy baby’s first portrait in the hospital also; I passed on that shopping opportunity because the brochure made all the babies look not so cute, so I figured it’d be a waste of money at the end of the day.

But it occurred to me that there were other things that I’m sure a lot of newly minted moms would buy from their hospital beds. I totally would’ve purchased a recovery care gift set, complete with mesh underoos, pain spray, and perineal ice packs, if the hospital had been selling them. And I know a couple of moms who thought that the little kimono style outfits that the babies are in during their hospital stay were not only cute but also super functional; given that a few of those outfits sneaked into their overnight bags when they went home, I’m sure there’s a market for selling them. Or even a baby care starter kit or a breastfeeding essentials kit, with products endorsed by the hospital, could be marketable.

Maybe by the next time I have a baby, there’ll be a whole catalog that I can peruse from my hospital bed.

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Filed under birthing, breastfeeding, hospital, moms, newbie parents, shopping