Loved Hearing This from a Sweet Old Lady

Being a stay at home mom has its perks. One of my favorite things is being able to run errands during the week when it’s less crowded, which is especially nice during the holiday season.

One of our errands this week brought us (me and my four year old son) to the post office. I don’t know what it is about the post office, but my kids do not like it and tend to behave badly there. I thought that by going there early in the day with only my son that it would be better this time.

Starting out positive, I let him push the buttons to open the doors. Immediately when we walked in the door he started whining.

“I want to go home!” he started.

“C’mon, honey, the wait is not long at all. Let’s look at this Charlie Brown packaging over here. Where’s Snoopy?” I offered, trying to keep him somewhat entertained.

He wasn’t buying it….any of it! Fortunately, the wait was quite short, and the postal employee was very kind and understanding. She offered to give me a candy cane for him, but I said I didn’t want to reward his whiny behavior.

“I want to leave now,” my son repeated.

Just as I was finishing up at the counter, a sweet old lady comes up behind me and says,

“Don’t worry. I have an 81 year old at home that still does that!”

I laughed, agreeing, “Well, they can be grumpy at any age, right?!” It was awesome!

This is not the first time that an elderly woman has brightened my day while running errands with kids. I wrote about another time, when my kids were much younger, here.

Shopping Victory – One Awesome Pricing Strategy

I have been saving a receipt for almost ONE entire year. Being the bargain shopper that I am, this Kohl’s receipt is a sign of my finest shopping victory. Just look at the Total Saved below:

Receipt from Kohl's from saving a LOT of money in one trip

Super Shopping Savings!

That’s right – I spent $50.45 and SAVED $253.98! I mostly purchased winter clearance girls’ clothing with some pieces costing around $1.00 after using my 30% off coupon and Kohl’s charge. I even earned $10 Kohl’s cash to spend on another visit to the store, only adding to my savings.

This pricing strategy is genius.

It feeds into my own thrill of saving and bargain hunting and encourages me to return to the store with additional offers (Kohl’s Cash) and other savings events throughout the year for Kohl’s credit cardholders. I had another receipt where I also surpassed the $200 level in total amount saved – also from around this same time last year.

I enjoy receiving the coupons every two months or so, when I have to peel of the sticker to reveal my savings.  It’s like a lottery ticket, except my cash is going to Kohl’s when I shop there!  This plays nicely into their tagline, “It’s like getting paid to shop.”

Their marketing strategy is a bulls-eye with me, and it’s no surprise, as Kohl’s caters to the middle of the market (it is not an upscale department store nor a mass merchandiser), making money-savvy moms a main target market.  I’ve remained a loyal customer for many years and am planning a return trip with my newly received 20% off savings coupon.

Disclaimer: these views are purely my own and no cash was received to write this post.  To clarify, no monies have EVER been received for writing Go Mama O.

Do you have a favorite store that really does a great job on promotion?  Are you a coupon-cutter, bargain hunter too?  Nothing beats the winter blahs for me like bargain hunting every so often.  Stay warm & shop online as needed!  Cheers!

Do you buy your own “Santa” gifts?

As the primary shopper in the house, I was tempted to be my own “Santa” this year, and I guess I sort of was.  There is one present under the tree that I bought for myself online and wrapped up, saying it’s from Santa.

This concept is not new.  My mom and mother-in-law have been known to buy presents from themselves and pass them off as being from either Santa or their dear spouse. It was only a matter of time for this tradition to come down to my generation.

As I wrote about last Christmas in The Joy of Giving and Feigning Joy of Receiving, I am not overly into receiving gifts, nor giving out gift ideas for myself. I enjoy giving presents much more. Above everything else, I value the time and experience with loved ones over the holidays. Last Christmas I didn’t give Daddy O. the best kind of guidance, so I was horrible at graciously receiving gifts from him.  To his defense he bought me the eye shadow color that the store employee gave him.  It was labeled “sea grass” instead of “sweet grass” like I had written down.  C’mon Aveda, get some more distinct makeup color names to help us out!

In hindsight (emphasis on HIND), I was genuinely thankful for the mannish-looking padded bike shorts that he gifted me last Christmas.  For a picture of me in said bike shorts and my delayed thank you, see this post from summer.

While out shopping for presents this year, I ended up buying some new pants for work (including jeans!), so I offered these items as gift options for Daddy O. or Santa to give to me.  He declined.  I strategically left magazines open to pages and put X’s by items I liked, so there could be zero confusion as to what I had on my list.  I caught the UPS shipment the other day, and I think Daddy O. successfully listened to my obvious prompts.

Now I just need to properly smile, say thank you, and simply enjoy the time with my dear family this Christmas.  I’ll let you know how I do!

Do you buy your own Santa gifts?  How do you share gift ideas to make shopping easier?

Jeans Day Everyday!

The wonderful small business for which I work part-time has adopted a casual work attire policy.  It literally can be jeans day everyday – except when there is a customer meeting.  This is great, right?!  It IS quite lovely and easy to throw on a pair of jeans and a nice top on mornings when I head out the door for work.

However, having been accustomed to business professional dress (wearing suits almost everyday), I’m struggling to put together work-appropriate jeans-wear that couldn’t also be worn to a bar for going-out.  I’m not a huge fan of skinny jeans, which also happen to be my date-night jeans.  Other pairs of jeans are part of my “mom wear” on my work from home as a full time parent days. I hope they don’t look too much like Mom Jeans!

Similar to mom jeans, a few months back I wrote about my “mom bob.” While I LOVE being a mom, I don’t want to have a hairstyle or clothes that immediately scream MOM. As a 30-something mom, I feel stuck in a fashion rut.  I can’t dress like a 20 year old, though I’m not ready for the cat applique sweatshirts either.  Plus shopping with a toddler and pre-schooler in tow is not exactly enjoyable, so I avoid it at almost all costs, just wearing what I have in my closet.

Maybe I need to upgrade a few pieces. Maybe I’m not digging the skinny jeans and flowy tunics that remind me of too much of maternity wear. Maybe I need to consider shopping in different stores. Maybe I need to just wear yoga pants and throw my hair in a pony tail and hope that What Not to Wear is secretly watching me. I totally understand why moms are helped by that show so often because it’s so easy to put everyone else in your family first, leaving your appearance and clothes much lower on the priority list.

Any advice dear readers / blogosphere?  Do I need to search Pinterest for outfit inspiration?  What casual work attire do you think works best?

4 Years Later – Baby Gear that Held Up!

After celebrating my daughter’s fourth birthday and son’s second birthday, I thought it would be fun to follow up and share what baby gear has withstood the test of time!  I’m editing my favorite baby gear list with comments in italics below.

  1.  Burp cloths…they go fast!!  Basic Gerber 3 ply diaper cloths can double as burp cloths.  Don’t go for thin ones…they don’t last!  We now use some cheap burp cloths as blankets for dolls or cleaning rags!  The good ones that were made for me could take a few more spit-ups!
  2. Onesies – plain white short sleeve ones can go under anything – anytime of year.  The side wrap shirts work great for when they are first born and have their belly button stump. I liked Carter’s brand better than Gerber. Gerber seemed to run small.  Target brand clothes seems to run small.  I really notice that Gymboree clothes seems to be a better quality and sizes are more generous, so we’ve gotten more wear out of that brand. 
  3. Sony Baby Call monitor – basic sound monitor around $40 Still working great today!
  4. Miracle blanket was great for swaddling. Swaddling really worked well for our kiddos, and it was easy to layer stuff over the swaddle, such as a blanket sleeper or other blankets.  We needed layers in Wisconsin winters! Packed away or passed along for another baby to use.
  5. Sleep sacks – just nice & easy for bed time and night time diaper changes.  We used these more when our babies grew out of being swaddled. Though they make larger sizes, we stopped using these as kids were closer to one.  They both love their blankets for snuggling!
  6. Pack N Play – we liked our Graco one – no canopy on top, but a rather basic model. Still in use as my 2 year old loves it!  He’s getting pretty big for it though, so it may be time for a sleeping bag.
  7. Feeding Medela Pump in Style breast pump and Medela bottles (both small & larger bottles for when they get older). I also used the Medela plastic storage bags for freezing breastmilk. Dr. Brown’s bottles are also nice.  Pump worked great for both kids.
  8. Easy to fold up strollerCity Mini.  I bought this when #1 was outgrowing her infant seat & basic wire frame stroller. I felt like I was going to throw out my back with some of the other strollers out there!!  The City Mini also has an attachment kit for using with the infant car seat (which we probably SHOULD have done from the start, but we didn’t know). We also ended up buying a cheap umbrella stroller for traveling and now a double Graco stroller. We probably have WAY too many strollers. We still use this stroller – mostly for my two year old, though sometimes the four year old will want a ride too. We also use the Graco DuoGlider, but it gets heavy with both kids riding in it.  It wasn’t very expensive, but it works! Using the wagon or just making the kids walk is nice too. Any way to burn off all of the energy they have is always good!
  9. Some playthings – activity mat for tummy time, baby vibrating seat, jumparoo, exersaucer.  You do not need all, nor will every baby like them all.  I shared with my sister (bouncer, swing) and ended up borrowing an exersaucer from a friend.  The vibrating seat or bouncers are great when they are really little.  I’d pop Baby O in it & bring her / him in the bathroom, so I could shower.  We did use the jump-a-roo some when they hit about 3 months old. Some other people also swear by a baby swing, but my babies didn’t really like them. We also put down quilts that we received as gifts & toys on the floor for tummy time. My son admittedly spent too much time in the Rock ‘N Play sleeper, and favored sleeping on the same side of his head (while on his back), and this contributed to the shape of his head – FLAT!  We spent $$$ on the Doc-Band helmet and therapy, so the growth could be properly controlled (trying to fill in the flat spots).  This may be a future blog post all in itself.  Bottom line – these seats can really mess up your baby’s head shape, so use in moderation!
  10. Boppy pillow & covers– great for nursing & propping baby up for tummy time / sitting on floor, etc. Loved it! Worked great for both kids.
  11. Baby Bjorn front carrier – I bought mine on Craig’s list for $15.  This carrier worked really well for us.  I had a sling style, but didn’t use that much the 2nd time around. Everything is a LOT cheaper second hand, so you may want to consider going that route post-baby shower(s). I remember making cookies with little brother napping in the Baby Bjorn while I decorated them with big sister.
  12. Bumpkins bibs – great to throw in laundry or clean when you’re washing dishes. Some of our 4 year old bibs are still around and are used – if I can get the kids to wear them!
  13. Playtex sippy cups, Nuby sippy cup with handles that detaches & converts to regular cup – The Nuby sippy has been chewed through, but the Playtex brand has lasted well.
  14. Sassy plates with covers have been nice – still being used!
  15. JuJu-Be Diaper Bag – I really liked the messenger bag style.  I forget what it was called…but it wasn’t the SUPER large one.  It has lasted almost 3 years now, so it was worth getting a nice one. One friend joked that it cost so much that it SHOULD have been able to change the baby’s diaper by itself. Ha ha! Check out bags in stores & see what they feel like.  You carry around your diaper bag a LOT, so make sure you like it.  This bag is DURABLE!  We still use it (though I also just throw a diaper and small wipes container in my own purse now that only one child is in diapers.
  16. High chair that straps onto regular chair (we had a Fisher Price reclining one for when she first started eating, but she grew out of it – a.k.a refused to sit in it, so we now have a Safety 1st seat from Target). We now use two basic booster seats with straps on our regular kitchen chairs.
  17. Car seats – we had the Graco infant seat, very highly rated, but can sure get heavy!! We bought the Brittax Roundabout Convertible Seat and Evenflo Titan Convertible seat.  The Evenflo is cheaper, but is okay.  The straps don’t get twisted in the Brittax one, so I’d recommend that one.
  18. Toys – both of my kids loved stacking cups (still do) and knocking them over. Shape sorters were a big hit too. We recently brought out baby toys when we had a baby visit, and they kids had fun playing with them again.  Rotating toys is the best advice!

Never really used / Didn’t last

  • Infant sleeping wedge (only used a few times)
  • Cute character cool mist humidifier (probably our fault for not cleaning it out well enough…got mold in it, so we pitched it for a basic Vick’s model that is easy to clean with an easy to replace filter)
  • Squirt bath toys – you cannot get all of the water out of these, so they end up getting gross & moldy
  • Baby washcloths – these were cheap and flimsy.  Many of them have fallen apart or have holes in them.  We should have just used our own wash cloths.

Is there anything else that you liked or really DIDN’T like?  Please share in the comments section.  Thanks for helping out new moms with your recommendations.

These related posts are good to check out too: