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    Entries in consumerism (3)


    thrifty sunday: monday

    Everyone knows that the Sunday preceding Labor Day is actually a bonus Saturday, and Labor Day is the official Sunday. Right? Then, we all just collectively agree to skip Monday which nobody likes anyway and move right on to Tuesday: homely but pleasant-enough. GREAT. In that case, I am not late in posting these recent thrift store scores. 

    LEGWARMERS! $1.99 and so, so long and toasty. Am I a fool for purchasing leg warmers when it's in the 70s and the weather is finally nice enough to wear tanktops? No, because the Bellingham summer is cruel and will turn on us before we know it, leaving our shins chilly and our spirits (and everything else) dampened. Or, I should say, YOUR shins will be left chilly, because I bought these legwarmers. 


    A matching hat! $1.99. All wool and oh, that pom! It's almost as big as my head. Long winter hair begs for a tight little cap with a giant pom pom, and about the time this hat becomes useful I'll need something to compete with my belly for roundness. I'm into anything aprés ski, though in fairness, in the context of my life, it would be...avant ski? Because I don't ski. 

    A yard of totally awesome knit fabric! $4.99. I'm not sure why this was so expensive, but they must've known some sucker would come along with visions of torturing her children à la the Von Trapp family or these people (who are lovely, I'm sure, and certainly have adorable kids). Nevermind the cat hair.

    A teensy little get-up, $1.99. The embroidered train, the ingenious zipper crotch, the miraculously soft acrylic knit, the matching bonnet-y hat from way back when people didn't think bonnets were too girly and babies still looked like babies and weren't squeezed into size 0-3 month jeans: I love it all. A girl will wear this if we have one, because if she follows the precedent set by her brother, everyone will think she's a boy anyway for the first year of her life. (People: "What's her name?" Me: "George." People: "Girl George?" Me: "Really? That's the most plausible conclusion?")

    Also, this weekend, we bought a television. For the living room. I swore I'd never do it, but here we are, living the American dream. It was decidedly un-thrifty, so I'll spare you the price, but now we can have Oscars parties (first: start watching the Oscars. Or any major motion pictures.) and my kid can turn into one of those I previously scoffed at when, at places like the aquarium, they can only liken what they see to Finding Nemo. Happy Labor Day! 



    We bought so much junk we didn't end up using when I was pregnant with George.  (Incidentally, I promise not every post from now 'til February is going to begin with "...when I was pregnant with George" though my recent track record may lead you to believe otherwise.) I've previously said that I feel prepared for this new kid, and, mostly, I do. That doesn't stop me from buying a few pieces of clothing at consignment shops -- retail-related fun has to be had somewhere -- or sewing some diaper covers, but really and truly, I consider us covered. That is, with a handful of exceptions, all of which are owed to experience. 

    Cute newborn George who needed about 25% of what we bought him

    We have some stuff I plan to use in a different capacity, such as:

    • The Kanoe baby hammock. Really cool, nice looking, but George hated it. I'd love to put it up in the living room as a hang-out spot with no expectation that anyone will sleep in it. Then, if napping happens there, it'll be a pleasant surprise. 
    • The changing table. It was an amazing re-store score: a metal cabinet that we repainted the perfect yellow, re-topped and have used and loved, but it takes up a lot of room. Room that we don't have to spare. It may find a new life as a station for Nathan's Etsy stuff, or...something.

    But there are also some things I'd like to get to make our lives just a little easier, such as:

    • An amber teething necklace. I kept meaning to buy one for George, who began teething at three months, popped his first two teeth at four months and didn't stop until he had a full mouth at 11 months old. We had good luck with breastmilk popsicles and Hyland's teething tablets, but there was still some discomfort that I'd like to try relieving naturally with another kid. Plus, those necklaces are just so cute.
    • An honest-to-goodness contoured changing pad to stick on the ubiquitous EXPEDIT bookshelf that now houses toys and books. There's currently lots of...ephemera on the top. My plan is to get a hanging closet organizer to attach to the rack we installed, buy some baskets and keep diapers in that. Tucked in the corner, close at hand, and freeing up about eight square feet of floor space.
    • A double stroller. Babywearing worked wonders for us, and it goes without saying that I intend to wear this baby, too. I never thought I'd find a stroller indispensible, but in a town where walking is so doable, ours has made a big difference. Snobbery about strollers is a ridiculous and regrettable quality in a person; nevertheless, I am a terrible stroller snob. Extra hilarious when one is simultaneously poor and idiotic about strollers.
    • Sophie. All the other kids had one, and George chewed every Sophie he could get his grubby little mits on. We should probably spring for our own this time.
    • The No-Cry Sleep Solution. I've heard this recommended by so many parents, and I'd love to try for a sleeping situation -- even if only for naps -- that allows for sleep-time separation. For George's first year, he was only able to fall asleep while nursing and stay asleep at my side. I watched a lot of TV. Pretty sure my time could've been better spent. 

    Not too shabby, huh? Just five things, made even more bearable by the myriad I'll undoubtedly get rid of when pulling George's baby stuff out of storage. Does this mean I won't break down and buy one of those natural rubber pacifiers that look so mid-century Scandinavian-perfect? Or a fancy snotsucker to replace the dreaded teal bulb? No. I'm still an easy target. But looking at such a small list of what I generously consider to be "needs" is certainly a load off my mind, and the family's bank account. 

    What, if anything, did you buy when you added to your family?




    step away from the amazon list

    Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

    This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


    When you're pregnant, especially when you're pregnant with your first child, you're the world's most vulnerable consumer. You're a target for retailers, purveyors of all things teensy, pink and blue (and green -- with frogs -- if you're the sort of spoilsport who chooses to deny your baby shower attendees the personal fulfillment that comes with knowing whether to buy the onesie that reads Daddy's Little #1 All-Star Football Champion or the onesie with puffed sleeves and a glittery ADORABLE! applique). You have nearly ten months to daydream about the person you'll be meeting, and you want to make them happy. You want to make them so deliriously happy that you, poor daydreamy pregnant lady, will take "advice" from a website that suggests things you might like to purchase, you know, out of the goodness of its heart. Because It just wants to help.


    7 month pregnant, summertime me

    Preparing for a first baby is kind of like getting ready to welcome an exchange student: you can run all over town looking for Vegemite, hang up Australian flags and learn the most current slang, but odds are the kid will just want to take a nap and hang out with some nice people. I'm the first to admit that I fell prey to the buy-this-now mentality of preparing for parenthood. I wanted my bases covered, and who was I to argue with Pregnancy magazine, or that person's "must have" list, or the people I knew who already had kids? If someone had told me that all my kid really needed was an attentive, loving, present parent, a place to sleep and some diapers, I'd have been skeptical but grateful. Well, if I had it to do over again, here's what I wouldn't buy, and what I would.

    I Would NOT Buy:

    1. A bumbo. There's a reason babies that age can't sit up. Give it... like, a week and a half, oh wait? He's sitting up. Now he's walking. Just let the kid roll around for awhile and be developmentally appropriate!

    2. A bouncer. George hated it. He was not impressed by the "mid-century modern styling" or iPod dock. I wanted to hold my baby, and he wanted to be held. Nature's bounciest bouncer is a walking mama whose milk's just come in. I don't come with an iPod dock, but my rendition of A Bushel and a Peck is not too shabby.

    3. An infant car seat. We didn't -- just went straight for the convertible -- and never wished we had one of what we lovingly call "the buckets." When we went to a restaurant, we held George so he could be a part of the action and nurse if he wanted, while we ate. At the store, he was strapped to mama or papa. No flat head, no giant contraptions to accommodate in small eateries. 

    4. Any baby food making supplies. I got a food mill and special baby-stomach-portion-sized silicone freezer trays that were glorified ice cube trays at four times the price of the ones meant for water. You know what works for mushing up food? Forks. Your fingers. Popping something on the stove to steam or in the microwave to soften doesn't take long, and if my kid is freaking out, Ican'twait hungry, I should've been paying better attention to his cues. 

    5. Toys. You'll get hand-me-downs and gifts, and unless something really speaks to you like George's Waldorf teether doll (hates it) did to me, you don't need to buy it. If you know any older babies, see what they gravitate toward. See if yours takes an interest in anything, and if you can find something similar at a consignment or second hand shop.

    6. Brand new parenting books. With the exception of the Sears' Baby Book, I don't need to own any of the books I've bought. Borrow from the library, or, if you're a bibliophile like I am, check thrift store shelves for deals. 

    7. A separate sleep space (crib, hammock, pack & play). It saves money, and it's nice to sleep with your family. It also makes breastfeeding easier, and the store will still be there if, after the baby's born, he turns out to be one of those have-to-sleep-alone types. 

    8. Shoes. Why did I buy shoes? They were just so cute. Those tiny Adidas still call to me. They call, "we cost $30 and never fit your kid!" 

    9. "Normal" clothes. If I think about my ideal wardrobe, it would consist of things with elastic waist bands, made of the softest knit imaginable. Socks that don't leave marks on my calves. Shirts that don't bunch up at my armpits or pull across my back. Nothing that gives me a muffintop. Nothing uncomfortable, ever. Then, still, people would somehow always think I looked completely precious. Babies have that last bit covered, so don't try to stuff their little bellies into jeans no matter how cute they are or what a great clearance sale Gap is having. 

    10. Fancy cloth diapers. Don't get me wrong, here: I LOVE cloth diapers. Constantly buying things for someone to crap into would be unbearable for me. But, I bought a giant stash of Bumgenius at $16something a pop only to discover after a few months of use that -- for US -- they leak, don't fit that well and get stinky no matter how diligently I strip them or painstakingly I make my own detergent. The prefolds and consignment shop covers, however, that total around $4 per set are reliable workhorses.

    gratuitous newborn cuteness

    Now, onto the positive. DO Buy:

    1. An Ergo. Baby wearing saved my relationship with my son. He wanted to be in my arms at all times, and I was a frustrated, tired mama who could get nothing done between hourly, 30-45 minute-long feedings. George learned to sleep in the Ergo and it was like having a new lease on life. 

    2. A king sized bed. We didn't originally intend to co-sleep, but clingy daytime George didn't turn independent once the clock struck nine PM. We tried to make our double bed work until tax season made a new mattress a possibility. Every night when we all snuggle into bed, it still feels like a luxury.

    3. Our highchair. It's small enough to fit in our little kitchen, is all wood and inoffensive. It was also $60 (take that, Stokke). It converts into a little chair and table, and I love to imagine toddler George sitting there, helping himself. 

    4. Cloth diapers. Just not the fancy ones.

    5. A sling for papa. One he will actually wear. Nathan was able to bond with George by wearing him, and it's still their special, sure-fire nap time spot. 

    6. Dr. Sears' Baby Book. Even though some of my friends were attached parents, I felt awash in unsolicited, unhelpful advice when my baby was pegged as "needy," "fussy" or "high-maintenance." When I found Dr. Sears, and read that it was OKAY to sleep with my baby, GOOD to feed him when he seemed hungry rather than on a schedule, HEALTHY to keep him close by wearing him, it felt nothing short of revolutionary. Dr. and Martha Sears have solved so many of my "problems" just by encouraging me to follow my instincts to provide loving care to my child. 

    7. An iPod or Kindle or something to entertain you. Gazing at your beautiful newborn is great for awhile, but when you're nursing for eight hours a day, you need something to do so you're not frustrated, trying to hurry him up. 

    8. Good quality toiletries: body wash/shampoo, diaper cream and massage oil. Don't skimp on the products that go on your naked baby. 

    9. A few pretty, functional mobiles. I made ours, and the black, white and gray one that hung over George's changing table for the first few months was the first thing he smiled at.

    10. Nice nursing bras that fit you. Get fitted by a professional at Nordstrom or a local lingerie shop (NOT Victoria's Secret). Don't underestimate the difference this can make in your day to day. 

    magical Ergo

    We made a lot of mistakes and continue to buy things we don't need, but I hope these top and bottom ten lists help someone avoid the "Amazon recommends" trap that is so easy to trip right into when your eyes are starry and nine months seems forever away. 


    Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

    Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: