Archive for category shopping

All aboard!

The other night, I complained to Jeff that my computer was running a little slow.  I mentioned that the thousands of photos that I’ve been taking lately might be the cause and that maybe I’d need an external hardrive to remedy this simple, techy malady.

The next day, my very thoughtful husband spent his lunchbreak persuing, geekily I might add, Costco for said remedy. Jeff found this handy dandy Hitachi hardrive that’s water and shock resistant, because you know, day-to-day with our 2 year old daredevil is as chaotic as a white water rafting excursion, except with lots of milk, cereal and toys to wade through. I bet they weren’t targeting this device for a work at home mom, though? But it’s genius!

After finding this ideal hardrive, Jeff, who normally has an aversion to shopping unless there are food samples involved, took a whirl around the rest of Costco.  He found his way to the toy section, which, as he described, looked as though they just put out their bounty of oversized boxes filled with glorious Christmas toys.  And dudes, it’s Costco, so you know there must have been awesomeness involved.

And when he wasn’t looking, just like true love, Jeff found it.  He found THE most gigantic toy one could buy their toddler. 

Have I ever mentioned that we just so happen to live in a small city apartment? 

The enormous box, the size of a standard door and weight of a walrus, enclosed not just one giant toy, but an oversized table, trundle and 100 pieces.  I personally think they forgot several zeros.  There has to be a million tiny pieces!  But alas, we now own a Kid Kraft Metropolis Table and Train Set.

So, you guessed it, I was reluctant about the size of this toy.  When Jeff first emailed me about it, I assumed he was thinking of Christmas.  I mean, WHERE WOULD WE PUT this metropolis you speak of?

But once I heard and saw Jeff’s excitement; how could I say no?

That night, Jeff stayed up until 2am setting up the metropolis and its table and trundle.  “I want to set it all up so that he wakes up to it.”

It’s oh so awesome.

That next morning, my two guys, with their matching disheveled hair and shirtless chests, hobbled to our living room and played with the intertwined tracks and brand new trains.  Jack and Jeff, on either corner of the table, studied every single acoutrement—all one million of them.  They giggled in unison like little school girls!


So, I can’t move as freely in our living space anymore, and with all these damn toys cramping my style, I don’t have the Pottery Barn-esque feel either (or anything for that matter!)  But when I saw the pure happiness and sense of contentment from both of their faces, just from this enormous trainset that I didn’t want in the first place, clearly, that other stuff doesn’t matter.

Those early morning smiles and laughs: they are what matter.

That morning, Jeff reminded me of Ricky Schroeder riding on his ride-on train in the opening credits of Silver Spoons.  Jack was definitely Alfonso Robeiro doing his happy dance.  Oh wait, wrong show :)

You’re probably all like, it’s just trainset!  I know, right?  But this, my friends, is so much more…

Jack's train set and table
Above Jack’s crib, I had wall words made to decorate his closet/nursery.  It reads: “From small beginnings come great things.”  It’s so hard to believe that it’s already been two years ago when we welcomed our little buddy and embarked on that small beginning. 
stroller 013
This giant trainset might take up too much space in our little living room for right now, but according to our mantra, Jeff had the foresight to pick this fun birthday gift because, undoubtedly, we’re just prepping for all that greatness and space that’s sure to follow.

As Jack would say, choo choo all aboard!

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Float on

Our house is in complete disarray: summer clothes are piled on top of one another, flip flops stacked in the corner and all the sunblock is bagged up.

Nope, we’re not putting our summer gear away just yet.  Actually, while everyone is busy buying sweaters and boots for the new school year, we’re packing up for our summer vacation.  And people, we can’t wait!!!!  It’s been a long and super busy summer!

In addition to orchestrating the shopping and packing for the three of us, I’ve been working on scheduled posts for NKT on top of doing some Matron of Honor tasks for my cousin, Kris’ wedding—the main reason we’re all trekking to Hawaii again!  Oh, but that’s not all, during our super busy week of vacation, I have quite a few family-friendly Hawaii story ideas that I plan to compose.  That’s right, in the midst of all the wedding fun and family craziness, I’ll try to drag Jeff, Jack and any other family member along to check out the latest restaurants and sites in Oahu, all in the name of my writing pursuits.  Tough life, I know.

So, we’ll see what we’ll have time for, because, y’know, the main objective is celebrating my cousin’s wedding and then of course, reeeelaxing!

With plenty of beach time and pool time in mind, we got him a floatsuit, which is very similar to what his cousins had when they were little.  Not only are we excited, but so is our water-loving buddy! haha.

Jack's floatsuit

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New Shoes

One of the best parts of going back to school was always the shopping sprees, specifically, the ones where we’d get new shoes.

After getting my new Nikes, I’d admire my pretty pink Swoosh and that white suede that would eventually turn to gray from wearing them for 9 months-straight.

My mom always joked that my younger brother would sleep WITH his new shoes, as if they were teddy bears.  My other brother, he probably did the same.

I love the kids who were always convinced that their shoes would make them run faster or jump higher, in a very Michael Jordan-esque way.

I’m sure we all did something with our new shoes.

But new shoes, y’know, double as the most perfect tap shoes, too.

I have to say, I always did the exact same thing with my new dress shoes—usually the patent white Mary Janes.  But I usually had pants on.  And didn’t dance on top of my potty that doubles as a bench.  Or seek applause.

He might not be going to school just yet, but I have a feeling he’ll be quite the ham for our family trip to Hawaii. This, my friends, is more proof that this kid is an equal mix of Jeff and me.  AND that perhaps more noticeably, that we definitely have a future performer on our hands.

Maybe a Mistizo Billy Elliot?

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Pearls of wisdom, the vacation edition

From our recent vacation, we came away not only with a mountain of toys, but also many more pearls of wisdom.  (chuckle)
So instead of another long, drawn-out post about all the happenings, I thought these thoughts deserved bullet points.

1.  When there was only 2 of us, there was never enough time to do/see everything we wanted.  With 3 of us, we don’t even have time to THINK about all those things, never mind actually do them.
2.  You know those little kiddie luggage that say, “visiting Grandma and Grandpa,”  I’m going to get one and cross it out and write: “Going to Lolo and Lola’s.  What Jackson wants, Jackson gets.”
3.  In all seriousness, sleeping in is bliss.  An extra 2 sets of hands is even more bliss.
4.  All that sleeping bliss on vacation translates into interrupted toddler sleeping pattern post-vacation.  Bliss was shortlived–we’re BACK to square one in the sleeping through the night crusade. (sigh)
5.  Once upon a time, when we visited home, we hit many bars in a weekend.  In 2 weeks, we saw 2 bars, for less than 2 hours each.  If New Year’s Eve was really reserved for amateurs, these old partying vets stayed in pjs–by choice.  Funny how times change.
6.  Watching the kid interact with his grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousin induced fuzzy feelings and painted-on grins.
Jack learned a new “trick.”  He would grab any unsuspecting person by a singular finger to drag them to the next room to do something mommy usually outlawed.  More fuzzy feelings.
7.  Speaking of fuzzy feelings, my brother introduced us to Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka.  Mmmm vodka.  mmmm sweet tea.  Sweet Tea Vodka is delicious, just ask my husband.
8.  Even after all these years of living away, like all most of our old haunts, our favorite Mexican restaurant never gets old.  I think we ate there 4 different times while we were home.  Wondering if they deliver to Hoboken, NJ.  (It’s so ironic that we both worked [and reconnected] at a now-defunct Mexican restaurant chain)
9.  Trading in our old car for the new was a lot of work.  God bless Jeff for doing the grunt work and for dad’s help, too!
10.  Contrary to what many believe, our new sedan IS much more spacious than a small SUV and much more fuel efficient–to the tune of 28 mpg vs.19.  Big difference for a family that can easily burn through 100k miles in 4 years.
10.  Needless to say, good times with family and friends rock, but getting back to our regular routine is healthy.
11.  As hard as it is to say good bye, it makes going back home for a visit that much more special.
12.  Unpacking after said long trip is impossible.  (Wondering if I could keep bags packed until next visit.)

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Ice, Ice, Baby

We had a very nice weekend, hope everyone did as well.  We enjoyed the snow on Friday, but ended up staying indoors since it was so icy.  stomping inWe discovered that when it rains/sleets in between snow, it leaves a much harder snow on the ground that's almost as solid as ice.  Jack's little footprints stayed above the snow, that's how packed it was!  Still, it was fun to explore at the park for a few minutes.  It's just as cold today, if not colder, and the forecast is predicting the potential of a white Christmas here in the NYC area.  brrrrrr!</p> <p>Besides all the weekend fun, it's 2 days before Christmas, we leave tomorrow and I still have to pack, bake, wrap and clean...but Jack and I are braving the frigid temps to head into the city anyway.  <a href=

On Saturday, we took advantage of our Jack-alarm that goes off at 5am and bundled up to shop for last minute odds and ends before the rest of the crazies did the same thing.  The mall at 7am isn’t so bad when you’re one of 3 people walking around!  Saturday brought more sunshine, so we attempted to play in the snow. It was fun, but shortlived!

It’s 2 days before Christmas, we leave tomorrow, and I still have to pack, wrap, bake and clean, bI'm getting it!ut Jack and I are about to bundle up to head into the City, all in the name of my writing projects. Via Big City Moms, I was invited to attend a lunch to give input on Born Free 2009 product line.  Since we’re big fans of Born Free and I thought this info would generate helpful stories for this blog, my new blog and perhaps other stories, I couldn’t pass up the great opportunity—even if it means trekking through this cold with a kid.

I love the fact that I finally have the flexibility to take on projects that I’m passionate about; I can’t wait to take on even more inteesting projects in 2009.   Feedback and the full story later this week.

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Daily deals

I’ve been meaning to share these as I get them, but I always forget and get caught up with other things.  Anyway, for those of you that still have to buy gifts for kiddies on your list, Toys ‘R Us is having a sale on select Hasbro toys, and they’re goooood!  So, get some goodies while you can!   That huge Triceratops that I’ve seen in the stores is even on sale!   Check it out here.

They also have daily coupons to be used In-Store only.  Check out today’s daily coupon here.

Happy shopping!

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Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

For a few days now, many of my overachieving friends on Facebook and the like have been posting (and pondering) about decorating their Christmas trees. Now, normally, I’d be over the moon about decorating early, but this year, I can barely even wrap my brain around brining or not brining our turkey!

Christmas tree 2006

I’m all about focusing on Thanksgiving before  strategizing the whole Christmas decorating extravaganza. This year will be quite tricky with decorating, considering the amount of toys that occupy our already crowded space. However, once we put away all the turkey leftovers, I’ll be on to the next task at hand. By Friday evening, I imagine we’ll be playing Tetris with our furniture and kid paraphernalia to make room for the lovely greenery.

In years past, I’ve been very Monica from Friends about the tree. For no good reason, I’m pretty particular about the tree and decorations. It’s not over the top or anything, I just like the decorations a certain way!  We insist on getting a real tree, even with all the needles and upkeep.  And when I say WE, I mean me. Poor Jeff is the one that lugs the tree up and down our steep steps, all in the name of Christmas decor!
In terms of theme, I try to color coordinate jewel tones and keep it modern. I have lots of disco balls and similar sparkly ornaments. We have a smaller optical lighted tree that I’ve reserved as the “kid” tree, since I’m so anal about the big tree. I hope Jack will get a kick out of having his own place for all the kiddie ornaments (read: unbreakable) and school crafted goodies in the future! I’ve gotten most of our Christmas decorations from those Target after-Christmas clearance sales, so we’ve got enough lights and decorations to make even Clark Griswold wince. In the past, we reserved the decorations only for our main living space. But since I have a little more time on my hands (not really,) I’m going to try to decorate the entire place.
And yes, we live in a 1br apartment. We City folk have to be resourceful when it comes to space.
We don’t have any major traditions as far as decorating goes. But once we transition to a bigger home out in the ‘burbs one day, I hope we can start more traditions of our own.

Sponsors: Day Ten Blog Party Question is Brought to you by Organic Blankees, Huddy Buddy, and Baby Legs.

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‘Tis the season…for shopping

It’s day 3 of the blog party, which is sponsored by Appledonia, Hippos Toes and My Bag

Today’s questions are, When do you start Christmas shopping?  How do you budget for Christmas?  Do you stick to your budget?

Shopping is perhaps both my favorite and least favorite part of the whole holiday season.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the commercialism of this season, especially when shopping is involved.

This year, we started our Christmas shopping over the summer–the earliest we’ve ever started!  I’m usually one of the poor schleps finishing up last minute shopping ON Christmas Eve, but not this year!  We made it a point to pick up various gifts when we saw them, so that we’d be well-prepared this year.  Actually, before I left my job to freelance full time, I made it a point to pick up a good portion of gifts since we knew freelancing income is very unpredictable.  And just my luck, on Columbus Day weekend last month, I happened to stumble upon the monster of all sales at my favorite outlet mall.  Talk about good timing–I scored bags and bags of awesome presents for 75% off the sale price!  That said, I’m so excited that almost all of my shopping is done for extended family!

As for budgeting, I always aim to spend a certain amount on each person.  They're not all mineLike many people, I make my list, scour the sale papers, sale racks and outlet malls and stick to it.  I never, ever buy anything unless it is on sale.  If it’s not on sale, clearly I don’t need it :)   In years past, my girlfriend and I always hit the Black Friday sales.  My perspective on enduring that craziness has always been, if I could withstand the sanity of Penn Station at rush hour, I can stomach the craziness of Black Friday.  If you have a plan and can deal with crowds, it’s totally worth the deals.

For the most part, we definitely stick to our budget.  Because Christmas is more of a religious and family celebration for us, we definitely aren’t one of the families that focuses too much on the material aspect of it all.  I can’t say we go overboard.  As much as I love giving gifts, I try very hard to focus on being practical and as minimalist as possible.  Gifts are nice, yes, but neither of us grew up receiving mounds of toys/gifts for the holidays.  So even as tempting as it is to buy all the fun stuff we see, that’s not what the holidays are about.

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Mama Likey: Baby Mum-Mum

I just wanted to emerge through this ridiculous pile of papers that, sadly, is to blame for my continued absence this week.
Happy Friday, all! It’s supposed to be a scorcher in our area this weekend. It’s not even officially summer yet and we’ll have our ACs on high, for sure. Let’s just hope my flammable husband or the equally combustible heatbox baby both stay cool. I hope everyone else stays cool, where ever you may be!

Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve done a product review, so I thought I’d take the chance to free my mind from my “real” writing and discuss something yummy.
While we were home the other weekend, one of my girlfriends came over to visit with her baby. Jack and Gavin are typically in similar developmental categories. And so, Tanya and I love to share with each other new finds. When Jack wasn’t trying to shake Gavin out of his carrier or pummel him with kissies , he was snatching poor Gav’s snack out of his hand. (Crikey. Sorry, buddy! We’re working on our social skills.)

I noticed the snack was something I’d never really seen before. Its white packaging resembled something I probably would have found at our local Japanese grocery store. It was small, flat and portable, somewhat similar to a shorter version of a fruit roll up package. When Tanya opened the package up for Gavin, it was an interesting snack that looked like a flat, airy half of a Milano Cookie (minus the chocolate) or cracker-like surfboard. “It’s a rice rusk and he loves it.” she told me. She went on to tell me that she found the package at a store we no longer frequent.

But lo and behold, last weekend, when we went to our neighborhood organic grocery store, I found a green box–vegetable flavor–that looked strikingly similar to Gavin’s snack! sweet!


After we picked up diapers, some fruit and cereal, Jack and I started the walk home. Since it was just about time for a mid morning snack, I pulled out the Mum-Mum rice rusks to entertain him for the 20 minute walk. I normally don’t let him eat in his stroller because, well, he likes to make art out of it. But thankfully, it was virtually impossible for him to paint any new masterpieces with his snack because 1) the rick rusk was practically crumb-less and not mushy like other teething biscuits 2) he devoured the rusk in the blink of an eye.

I knew it had to be a good if the snack since it had a mom-friend’s approval. But even better, it has the kids stamp of approval, too!

As I’m trying to foster positive eating habits, in hopes our kid won’t inherit my horrible sweet tooth and snack addiction, I try to stay away from all those big brand, markety snack-pack for babies and kids. {We’ll package this product all pretty and convenient for you and charge double or triple than what you can get on another aisle.} For the most part, I consider it consumer brainwash. I have a hard time paying extra for convenience when in most cases, that convenience is the antithesis of being green. So, I tend to pack a banana (best snack ever since it has it’s OWN natural packaging!) or whatever frozen fruit we have onhand.

Back to the Mum Mum rice rusk. The company originates from Taiwan and has permeated to other asian countries. Their presence in the U.S. and Canada seems fairly new, but I think they’ll do well against the big name baby brands–especially at the inexpensive price tag. A box of Baby Mum-Mum rice rusk runs about $2, and that’s here in northern NJ. Like I mentioned before, we bought ours from our local organic store, but I also saw them at a gourmet grocery store and at Whole Foods for about the same price.

The ingredient list is as follows: Japonica Rice, Sugar, Skim Milk Powder, Salt

the company touts the mum-mums as

  • dissolving easily
  • no artificial colors or vlavors
  • no preservatives
  • wheat, egg and peanut free
  • cholesterol free
  • baked, low in fat & no trans fat
  • no added fats or oils

The downside, to me, is the excess packaging. Two rice rusks are paired and packaged as individual snacks. As convenient as it is, I could do without the individual packaging. Other than that, the mum-mums don’t offer much sustenance. But from experience, I can tell you, they’re great as a time-killing distraction for a bored baby or a great way to keep them occupied until meal time. Considering these are the only snack that Jack can feed himself without destroying his clothes in the process, I consider them a mainstay in our diaper bag.
They also offer Toddler Mum-Mum, SuperSlim Brown Rice Crisps, SuperSlim Rice Crisps and Rice Crisps.

Like I playfully chant to Jack, “yum yum for the bum bum.”

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Baby dancing, flower-killing and memory making

Today’s one of those two handed umbrella-wielding days. The one handed umbrella grip just isn’t enough to stay upright in this wind and rain! What a contrast from the flip flop-gorgeous weather we this past weekend. The weekend was so lovely, it was one of those weekends that I didn’t want to end.

I'm a flower killerThis weekend was productive and memorable, with many thanks to my thoughtful husband and son. We spent much of Saturday doing the usual errands and chores. While Jack and I were hitting Target and the grocery store, Jeff, apparently, was out doing some shopping of his own. Jeff, like most husbands, is NOT a shopper. It meant the world to me that he was out and about shopping at my expense. Once we reconvened at home, Jeff brought home a nice bouquet of hydrangeas, which, surprise, I killed within the same day. (Don’t ask me how I killed fresh cut flowers, but I did it!)
We went out and picked up Jack’s convertible car seat since he has officially surpassed the weight limit for his infant seat. And since we were out west, we popped in to visit our friends and to do a little “browsing.”

Sunday was fun day for us. While our Sunday wasn’t the same as Sunday Funday that you debaucherous youngsters like to call it these days. Our version of Sunday fun day was so much fun. The day started out with cards and gifts too (thank you to friends and family for thinking of me. Two or three cards are actually missing from this pic! I’ll have to take an updated picture for my own records). Jack, btw, was a fan of the singing card that Jeff got me. He does his little dance where he waves his arms like he’s a bird and grooves his little body while he’s sitting on the floor–the same one he does any time he hears music!

Aside from the cards, Jack (actually Jeff) bought me this really wonderful cubby container from this awesome local vintage/antique store. Not sure if anyone appreciates eclective finds like we do, but this thing is so cool! There’s a story behind it that I’m sure Jeff could tell much more accurately, but basically, it looks like a card catalog drawer, which was actually a drawer from a local electronics(?) company that has since relocated. cards and my giftThe drawers took up an entire wall and contained various bolts and tools and the like. My specific drawer has a pull-looking thing on the front which once indicated the enclosed contents. It’s painted a very 70′s burnt sienna hue, which Jeff says he’d like to sand and repaint, just to be safe. Since it looks like a card catalog, Jeff suggested that I could store Jack’s books and such inside. But quite honestly, Jack has so many books, he needs an entire wall of shelves. So, I think I’ll use my drawer to contain memories, or rather, hard copies of pictures, cards or whatever else that I’d like to scrapbook at a later date. And how cool is it that not only is it a green gift, but it also has its own charm and history that I can take with me. In the future, I can totally see it in my craft room/office. But for now, it’ll look perfect on my shelving area. As someone who has journaled and made scrapbooks before it became a multi-million dollar industry, my little drawer is so ‘me!’ My boys help with the memory-making, but it’s my unspoken role to actually collect and preserve them.
In addition to the cards and vintage gift, Jeff got some wonderful seats to the Mets game for yesterday’s game! What a fun time that was! Separate post and pictures to come :)

I hope everyone’s Mother’s day was just as beautiful!

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