I’m a Totsy Mom!

As if I haven’t committed myself to enough already (new business, new Chicago Parent blog ((details forthcoming)), I was asked this past Fall to be a “Totsy Mom.” If you don’t know, Totsy is one of the hottest deal sites on the web for clothing, products, goods for moms and kids. They have daily sales, much like Gilt Groupe and the brands they have deals on are ridiculous — Schoenhut, Melissa and Doug, Kidorable, American Apparel — just to name a few.

I usually don’t sign up for things like this. I rarely attach myself to a brand, product. I have done some branded posts lately, but those were mainly for WORK…

However, something about Totsy felt right to me. For one, I like to shop. A lot. And I like to shop bargains. Totsy is bargain shopping for your kids (and some for yourself) at it’s finest. Alright, it helps that I’m getting some Totsy credits to use each month for posting deals about their brands and deals. I might even have some specials for you, my fine readers!

So, I’m here to try being a Totsy Mom for awhile. I hope you’re all cool with that and come along for a fine, shopping ride.

Yes, I am being compensated in Totsy credit for posting on my site a couple times a month about Totsy + hang out with them on Twitter and Facebook.

Bad Halloween Costumes for Kids (and their parents), 2nd edition

Figuring out Halloween costumes for the kids this year was uber-boring for me. My eldest proclaimed after about one minute of thinking about it that he’d like to be Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears. We didn’t even get to look at any of the superhero or Star Wars or Buzz Lightyear costumes I was hoping he’d be interested in wearing.

The baby, I decided was either going to be the Bears’ mascot or something really cute, possibly uncomfortable and most certainly hot to wear. After finding nothing online that resembled a Chicago Bear (or even a cute bear), I settled on this $17 giraffe costume from Old Navy. Because nothing says hot, fuzzy and potentially uncomfortable like being a poofy giraffe.

And so, because I wrapped up our Halloween costume shopping early last month, I need some Halloween diversion. Good thing 2010 brought with it not only stifling hot for Fall temperatures, but also another round of awful, how can you dress your child in this Halloween costumes. Thank you catalogues. And creepy websites. Herewith, my picks for the worst Halloween costumes of 2010.

Avatar may have won a lot of Oscars, but the costume replicas would win Rotten Tomatoes. (photo courtesy of halloweencostumes4kids.com)

Last year’s Baby Elvis costume only superseded by this year’s adult version…

… and his platform shoe …

… and for his later years… Plus Sized Elvis. (photos courtesy of costumesupercenter.com)

But what I really wish I had bought for the big man this year was this:

He’s hot, he’s bright, he burns for eight days, he’d fit right in at the Day School … he’s… MENORAH MAN! (photo courtesy of costumesupercenter.com)

Ah, maybe I’ll save that for Purim.

What’s hip vs. what’s not: a look at fashion on Barney & Friends

I learned today that Cookie magazine hired The Sartorialist to document fashionable toddlers.  The Sartorialist, as I’ve found out, is a popular fashion blogger from New York who “documents every day adult style-setters from New York to Milan.”  His page for Cookie, The Sartorialist Jr., will capture “junior style innovators” so we can see how the hippest kids dress.  This sounds like good timing to me.  You see, as part of my new getting ready in the morning routine for work, I let my son indulge in a few minutes (or more) of TV watching.  Kill me, I need to shower.  Our show of choice is usually Barney & Friends.  What can I say?  My son has gone the way of the purple dinosaur from hell.  But the content of the show seems educational, the songs are cute enough and the kids have talent.  It’s all midly tolerable except for one thing: the fashion.  It’s like watching a kiddie version of Glamour Do’s and Don’ts list. 

Somewhere between “I love you, you love me,” I think the children’s stylists went color blind.  Or maybe it’s that their hair shears went the way of Britney (crazy.)  I don’t know.  But what I’m pretty sure of is that The Sartorialist doesn’t visit these parts.  And as a mildy-fashionable mom trying to find fashion icons for my son in the wee hours of the morning, this task is looking daunting.  Maybe it’s my fault that I let him watch Barney, but I see that smile and I can’t resist.  So I’m left with a few questions.  Why is there such a disconnect between Barney and Cookie?  How is it that this venerable bert.jpgshow can be THAT removed from fashion reality?  Television stylists of the world: aren’t there entry-level stylist jobs available on Barney? (I’m not saying we need Rachel Zoe.)  Are the perks not good enough?  C’mon, even Bert can make neon look cool (although he could really use an eyebrow wax.)

“Grandma, thanks for resizing your mumu for me.”

I’m not saying that these kids should look like Bratz dolls.  But they also shouldn’t look like they are channeling The Brady Bunch (When I showed these photos to my husband he assumed they were from 1992.  Oh, how wrong he was.  2005 to be exact.)  Maybe the kids picked out their own clothes, which is fine, but then I think we need a disclaimer saying so.

“But mom, you said leggings were in.”

If you’ve read this far, you probably think (a) I have more money than Gwenyth to dress my child, (b) I’m incredibly shallow, or (c) I need a hobby. While (b) is true at times (I like to shop, what can I say), I don’t have time for (c), sorry.  But I am definitely not Gwenyth.  I am just a mom who wants to understand why stylists still think it’s ok to cut a boy’s hair like a female figure skater from the 1970s. 

dorothy.jpg

“Junior, meet Dorothy Hamill, hair icon.”

I don’t think kiddie fashion needs to be expensive (I typically get my son’s gear at Target, Old Navy on sale or local boutiques when they have their clearances), but shouldn’t it be current?  Is it too much to ask that a child’s pants don’t look like 1960s wallpaper threw up on them?

“I don’t know why somebody made me wear this.”

My point is, I guess, if I have to watch this stuff because my son likes it, I’d like to get at least a few fashion tips in the process.  The good news is that I can always just close my eyes and listen to the music.  But that’s so not as educational.

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How to play sick in my house

Like all moms, I try hard not to get sick.  Unfortunately, I think the odds are now stacked against me worse than ever before.  I live in Chicago, have a 9-month old son, I’m running on less sleep than ever, and everyone is getting sick.  operation2.jpgAlready this year, my husband has had the flu and my son is getting over his first cold. The “old” me would have avoided all of these ailments completely.  The “new” me must be more strategic in order to avoid getting ill. That’s why, I’ve decided, if you are an adult (I’ll be generous, over 21) and are going to come over to my house to visit me and my child, you must play by my new set of “sick rules.”

Rule #1: If you are married to me and cannot get out of bed because you don’t feel well, you are not allowed to ask me why the baby is crying or why for so long.

Rule #2: If you are a visitor staying overnight, you should not announce when you walk in the door, “Dad has a cold, but he’s not contagious.”

Rule #3: If I ask you to wash your hands before you handle my son because I fear you might be ill, you are not allowed to complain about the scent of hand soap I have in my kitchen.

Rule #4:  No comments allowed on my son’s snotty nose unless you are willing to dispense OCEAN for Kids Saline Nasal Spray twice to each of his nostrils 4 times a day. Have fun.

Rule #5: None of these rules apply to me. I’m the mom.  

Now cross your fingers everyone follows these guidelines. I have to go into the office tomorrow.

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Aquaphor as under-eye cream

I’ve been using Aquaphor for years as a lip balm, but an NMF tipped me off to another great use for the ointment – eye cream.  It’s goopy constitution will nourish and protect your delicate under eyes just as it does your baby’s bum.  I’ve been trying it for the past few nights, and I can already tell that my under eyes are less swollen and red. Ahh… goodbye fancy eye cream, hello Aquaphor.

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The medicine of who?

My friend tipped me off to the next offender in a series of companies that sell to parents with unwise marketing-speak. The company is the maker of many allergy, flu and cold remedies – Triaminic.  But this one is so blatantly obvious that I think it may take the cake of unwise marketing.  Apparently, Triaminic seems to think that moms are in charge of the medicinal needs of their children.  Come on, their tag line “The Medicine of Motherhood,” says so.

Even the sickly sweet cartoon of a baby elephant latching onto its mom on the front page of their website shows who they think runs the snotty nose and watery eye show in the house.  To their little credit, they do try to make a case for EEOP (that’s Exaggerated-attempt to Equal Opportunity Parent) on the same page.  As seen in the “For Parents” section of the site:  

“Moms and Dads can explore the Parents’ area to access useful information to help you care for your family. Get in touch with a Triaminic® expert in the Triaminic Clinic® to learn more about special offers and events.”

That is not enough to please this mom.  ‘Scuse me while I decongest myself. 

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The end of my morning routine as I know it

My days of being a fashionable working mom may be over soon.  Why, you ask? I can only answer it with one word: mobility.  Yes, my son’s days of being immobile are coming to a screeching halt.  To some, this may be a welcome sign that your baby is moving up in the world.  To me, it raises the dreaded question: NOW, how am I going to get dressed for work in the morning?

Back when I started working, my morning routine was a breeze.  I’d stick my son in the bouncy seat (can’t describe my love for that invention), shower, dry my hair, put on my makeup, get dressed, and he’d still be sitting there, smiling, in his chair, watching the starfish turn and turn.  This morning though, I realized that my steady routine was slowly slipping through my newly-moisturized hands.  

It went something like this: Son sits in bouncy seat for 5 minutes while I shower (I confess, I didn’t wash my hair, but wore a cute headband), and towel dry.  Son needs to get out of seat, now! Take son out of seat and scurry to my closet for anything that matches.  Run back to bathroom where son has managed to hit head on cold tile floor when rolling over (ouch!).  I sit him up and prop his back with a Boppy pillow (another one of my favorite inventions).  I’m good for another 10 minutes. Brush my teeth, put on my mom makeup (love the foundation stick!) but I’m not finished.  I have not accessorized yet.  But son cannot wait for me to pick out the perfect matching earrings.  He needs to be picked up, now!  Pick up son and walk to closet where I find something to doll up my droll outfit.  Now son wants to get down, now!  But I don’t have shoes on.  Prop son up in closet while trying on various shoes that will not kill my feet all day.  Son wants to play, now! How do I have time to play when I need to pack up my purse and wolf down a banana before I get in the car? 

But just then my answer to how I will get dressed in the morning is at the door.  Nanny arrives, and I can assume my fashionable working mom position once again.  If only I can get to work on time.

Black Friday Sales

I was at the mall on Wednesday (I refuse to go on the Friday after Thanksgiving) and wanted to share two stores with things on sale for us, if you dare:

Banana Republic– has a plethora of great looking headwraps and headbands.  I scored a brown silk one for $12.99.

Janie and Jack– having a tremendous sale on baby clothes.  Love their sweats for little boys.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Who drives baby?

Apparently Gerber is not alone in writing silly gender specific copy for their baby products.  Second in my series of companies who don’t know who their target audience is is Britax, maker of world-class baby car seats.  As my husband (yes, he gets involved in baby related tasks, shocker!) was installing our new Britax Decathalon (Onyx fabric) car seat, I walked out to check in on his progress.  It was then that of course, I read the outside of the car seat package (written in what had to be 80 pt. font) where Britax explains the benefits of their car seat (Safety! Fashion! Convenience!). But it was the “Convenience” category copy that really caught my eye. Here’s what it said:

“Moms around the world love Britax seats because they’re easy to install correctly (it took 30 minutes find the LATCH cords), and they have great features like one-hand adjustment (?) belt holders (??), built in lockoffs (??!!!??), belly pads (this one made me laugh) and more.”

For starters is the obvious- “MOMS” around the world love Britax? Britax, do dads not drive baby around? But second, and probably more important, is the notion that they actually believe that a mom reads and understands what a “lockoff” is and that is the main reason we bought the seat.  Copywriters: want to know the reason I bought this particular model seat? A few of my NMFs have it and love it.  It was all about the word of mouth.  I didn’t read the copy on the package (who has time?) to know that this was a good and safe seat. I talked to the most important marketer- another mom.
Lesson for Britax- maybe it’s time to find new copywriters.
 

Slingshot

Check out this interesting idea- a “Mamaponcho” to cover you and your baby in a sling.  Conceptually, I like it- I mean, baby can get cold in the Bjorn in the winter. It’s midly fashionable (although I really would only get it in black).  As far as slings go, I like the Peanut Shell. It comes in awesome, fashionable patterns and is very comfortable. A life saver when my son was born.