Barefoot in High Heels

Archive for the ‘Works For Me Wednesday’ Category

I can’t wait to check out all the links on this week’s Works For Me Wednesday post.  It’s a themed edition — Toys Worth Buying. 

Well, considering I have a bunch of big, plastic-y toys (none of which I have bought personally!) that I do NOT want cluttering up my living room, I’m all for some good ideas.   And I have a few of my own. 

Here’s the thing.  Listen up aunts/uncles/grandparents/in-laws:  STOP BUYING THE PLASTIC BATTERY-OPERATED JUNK!  We had a birthday party for both of my girls this past weekend — one turned 3 and Baby turned 1 — and I swear the wrapping paper and cardboard boxes were just as fun as some of the toys!!  And, I’m all about creative play, imagination, art sets, no batteries needed.  So here are some good ideas from my own personal experience:

1.  Barefoot Books.  I know, I know, if you read this blog often, I can expound on how much I love Barefoot Books!  So much so that I started selling them last winter.  You can NOT go wrong.  And even better, if you’re buying for kids that are not your own, you never know what books are already in their library.  Since Barefoot isn’t as well-known as some of the big publishers, and WITHOUT LICENSED CHARACTERS (yay!), my guess is that MOST kids don’t already own any of these.  Check it out.  You WON’T be disappointed.

2.  Stacking/nesting blocks.  Two years ago I purchased a set that featured artwork from Eric Carle’s Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?   

ericcarleblocks

We.  Love.  This.  Toy.  I love that each side of the block features something different (an animal, a number, a touch/feel side, etc.  I love that it matches a book that we know.  And I love that the blocks are nesting, too, so they fit inside each other, and when put away don’t take up much room at all! 

3.  You can’t go wrong with some outdoor-fun toys.  As simple as it sounds, sidewalk chalk and big bubble machines or wands are a huge hit! 

4.  I’m buying one of these for my girls and my nephew this year:  Kids Busy Box.  How cool is this?  A whole set of arts & crafts supplies, complete with the glue, scissors, tape, felt, glitter, etc.  With instructions.  For me, who is woefully inadequate in the craft department, I have no more excuses when I shy away from crafts with the kids.  It’s all in here for you.  I can’t wait to try it!

5.  I bought my nephew a magazine subscription last year for his birthday.  His second birthday.  That’s right — there’s a few companies out there who cater to kids that young, but I chose the National Wildlife Federation and their Animal Baby magazine.  Every month he received a board book/magazine in the mail, and it was perfectly age-appropriate!  I want someone to buy this for my kids.  It’s educational, it’s fun to get mail, and you can throw it away recycle it when you’re finished.  No mess, no junk.   Love it.

6.  Now I’m not one for DVDs.  But I make an exception for one:  The Laurie Berkner Band.  My friend bought this for us when my daughter was 18 months old, and 18 months later, we still love it!  The 1/2 hour DVD is like a music video for a bunch of songs, and the kids will get up and dance.  The tunes are catchy, and the kids love it!  It’s great for a 30 minute diversion when I need to blog cook dinner.

7.  OK, OK, so I’ll add one brand of battery-operated toys here.  My daughter has really loved the Parents brand cell phone and the Parents microphone.  She sings her little heart out on her “stage” (the fireplace hearth) and she loves that she can record a snippet of her voice on both toys.  They’re small, they’re cheap, so again — they won’t take up much room!

8.  We also bought my 3-year-old a kitchen this year (but I spent about $35 instead of the uber-expensive sets.  I mean, it’s all pretend play — I don’t NEED the best out there.  She’d play with the $300 one the same way as the $35 one!).  We’ve had it for 2 weeks now and it’s a big hit.

So there you have it, folks.  Shop away.  But if I could offer some advice for you — wrap the gift in some fun shiny paper.  Because your kids will still probably have more fun with the wrapping and bows than what’s inside the package.  🙂

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Remember how excited you were to receive your first parenting magazines?  Never mind your growing belly and the fetal kicks and the maternity clothes, your first subscription somehow made it official;  You had joined the ranks of mom-hood and wanted everyone (and all the mailing lists to whom they sell your name) to know about it!

I grew a little weary of these magazines after the first year.  But of course I signed up again (for my FREE subscriptions — even better!) when I found out I was pregnant the second time.  Parents, Parenting, Baby Talk, American Baby . . . there was nothing I wouldn’t know about how to raise my child the best possible way!

There were some helpful tidbits, that’s for sure.  In fact, I still have the article taped on the inside of my cupboard about food ideas to start your baby on solids.  But the second go-around of reading these magazines cover-to-cover really got me frustrated.  They were ALL. THE. SAME!  How many times did I need to read articles like “Sleep Strategies for Your Toddler” or “Ten Tips for Picky Eaters” or “Questions You Need To Ask Your Pediatrician” or “Taming Those Tantrums.”  Even worse were the mom-centric features:  “New-Mom Makeovers” or “Five Ways to a More Fabulous You.”  They were almost insulting. 

I found an alternative.  And I love it.  I’m almost afraid to buy the newest copy because I know I’ll read it cover to cover, and I want to prolong the joy of reading.  (is that crazy?  Am I the only one who does this?)   BRAIN, CHILD MAGAZINE is the answer!!  The magazine for thinking mothers (their words, not mine, but I love them nonetheless).  ***edited to add:  I’m having trouble with some of my links here.  But their website is www.brainchildmag.com ***

Oh, Brain, Child!  *sigh*  Go to their website (www.brainchildmag.com)  to read a few of the articles online.  It’s such a tease, though, because you’ll really want to run and get your own copy to have access to the whole shebang.   One of the quotes on the homepage is “BRAIN,CHILD provides an appealing mix of humor, wit and intelligence.”   There are essays, here, people.  Essays.  And debates.  A few months ago it was about childhood vaccines, and the last issue was about raising children with your political values.   This time is about vegetarianism.  Sound a little too liberal for ya?  Sometimes.  But both sides of each debate I’ve read were so well-written, insightful and intelligent that if you don’t agree with them, you can at least respect their opinions and their well-thought-out stances. 

Essays, debates, and fiction — oh my!  Can you tell how much I love this magazine?  You can imagine my excitement when I checked the website recently and saw the new issue.  Borders, here I come!  Brain, Child is published quarterly, so each issue is awaited with much anticipation.  And, you won’t have the trouble of receiving another one before you’ve even finished last month’s copy (I know I’m not the only one who had stacks of the “other” parenting magazines that I breezed through because next month’s stash was arriving in the mail).

So there it is.  BRAIN, CHILD works for me!  For other Works For Me Wednesday tips, head over to Rocks in My Dryer at http://www.rocksinmydryer.typepad.com/

It’s Wednesday, which means another edition of Works For Me Wednesday from Rocks in My Dryer.

Today’s post will help you working nursing moms, or anyone who needs to use their breast pump without the comforts of privacy — a locked door, a private room, someone’s home, etc.

I work part-time in pharmaceutical sales, so I have no physical office space, unless you count my car, strewn with pens, empty water bottles, hair ties that my daughter likes to remove when she’s in her carseat, crumpled gas receipts, and plenty of baby toys and pacifiers.

So what to do when nature calls?  It’s lunchtime for Baby Girl, and I’m stuck in a parking lot?  Simple!  Pump in your car!!

And no, I’m not of the variety that hides in the backseat, hoping not to be seen behind tinted windows.  There’s a very simple solution that will leave you sitting right in the driver’s seat, pumping away, unbeknownst to passersby.

  • Tip 1:  Be sure to actually park your car.   I know this sounds obvious, but I know of a girl who used to pump (one side at a time) while she was driving down the expressway!!  No joke.  Crazy, but true.
  • Tip 2:  While I have pumped in a busy parking lot at Panera Bread, it’s usually a bit more comfortable to find a large parking lot and park a little ways away from other cars, just to ensure total discretion.  Don’t go TOO far away to a remote spot, because that could be creepy if some stranger walked by.  I like a little bit of safety in numbers.
  • Tip 3:  I usually wear a suit to work, so I already have a jacket on.  Sometimes I’ll wear a nursing tank underneath if I know I need to pump in my car — just for simplicity’s sake.  Take your jacket off and loosely put it on backwards — so the arms are in the opposite holes and the back of the jacket is covering your chest and stomach.  (If you’re not in a suit, just bring along a light jacket in the car with you to cover yourself.  Works just as well!)
  • You can now easily pump, and since you’re covered by the jacket, it’s very discreet and simple! 
  • You might need to peek once or twice to be sure you’ve got everything positioned properly, but I swear, it’s just about foolproof.   
  • Additional tips:  be sure you have either a car charger, a batter pack, and/or extra batteries, the cooler to store the milk, and all the necessary accoutrements BEFORE you turn on the machine!  Nothiing worse than finding out you forgot the bottles on the counter at home!  AND, stash a little burp cloth in your pump to cover your lap — I’ve too often gotten a drop of milk on a fresh-from-the-dry-cleaner skirt!

OK, now some of you might use a nursing cover instead of a jacket — that’s would work just as fine.  But since I never used a nursing cover, and the ones I see are usually of some garish fabric, it would seem to call more attention to myself.  The jacket??  Genius — as it looks like something I’d be wearing anyway.  And no one has gotten close enough to my car to even wonder what I’m doing.    (Versus the time I had to pump in the bathroom at a wedding recently, and some young girls said in the next stalls, “What is THAT noise?”  Of course, I answered wearily, “A breast pump,” while they nervously laughed.)

So THAT, my friends, is a tip that works for me.  I’m almost ready to hang up that pump and the nursing tanks, though — my 10 1/2-month-old is beginning to wean herself during the day.  I’m just waiting long enough so I can switch right to whole milk.  Good thing — I’m ready to wear my jackets the way they were intended, and spend my lunch hour in a restaurant instead of my car!  🙂

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, check out this site!

 

For those of you “in the know,” Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer has her weekly Works For Me Wednesday carnival, where bloggers post their helpful tips for everything from bathing a baby to quick and easy recipes to scheduling their kids’ activities — anything that helps make life a little easier.

Since I just started my blog (check out my intro post here), this is my very first Works For Me Wednesday (WFMW) post.  But today we’re playing the backwards version.  I post a problem and you, my helpful readers, try to give it your best shot to find a solution.

So here goes.  It’s about buying baby food.  The jars, the plastic tubs, whatever.  It’s a problem.  No, not an earth-shattering, save-the-world problem, but one that irks me nonetheless.  Here’s what I hate:

  • All the jars (and I mean LOTS of jars, because who wants to shop for this every few days??) are basically jumbled in my shopping cart.  No matter how I try to “organize” them, they end up in heaps and piles. 
  • Then, I take them one by one out of the cart to put on the conveyer belt during checkout.
  • They are then thrown carefully placed inside the plastic paper eco-friendly shopping bag, where they also end up a mess!

So here’s what I need . . . isn’t there a way to better carry all these jars?  It would sure save room in my shopping cart if they were in some sort of container, so I didn’t have to shove all the loose jars aside to fit in a gallon of chocolate skim milk, right? 

Some solutions I already know:

  • Make my own baby food instead.   I appreciate that sentiment, and kudos to you for doing it, but you needn’t bother with that comment, if that’s the solution.  I had lofty goals to make the baby food, but that went by the wayside.  I figure that I nurse my kids for at least a year, so there’s my “all-natural” food.
  • I suppose I could bring my own reusable bags, and at least the jumbles of baby food jars would be somewhat contained within the bag, instead of strewn all over the cart.  I’d still have to unload them one by one for the cashier.

But really, isn’t there a better and easier idea for organization??  Similar to a case of wine where the 12 bottles easily fit into the cardbox box carrying case?

Help!  And thanks in advance!  (And for you WFMW faithful readers, welcome to Barefoot in High Heels!  Take a look around and let me know what you think!)