A Moment of Jen
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Friday, December 12, 2003
posted by Jen at 12/12/2003 11:07:00 PM

A reader writes -- presumably with a straight face -- now that you're an old hand at motherhood, what products do you recommend? What couldn't you live without? What do you wish you hadn't spent your money on?

So, herewith, my New Mom Product Reviews, which I offer with the following caveat: I am a city Mom, which is different from being a suburban/rural Mom, in terms of strollers, carseats and the like. Lucy and I walk most everywhere, which means I don't have to worry so much about whether a stroller is light and portable enough to go in and out of the car. and I do have to worry about carrying things home from the drugstore/grocery store.

Okay. Here goes.

The most important thing I bought was a copy of BABY BARGAINS. It's a Consumer Reports-style, warts-and-all critique of everything you could ever need for a new baby. Best of all, they'll even tell you about the stuff you don't need. Their website is here, and most of what you'll read about below was bought on that book's say-so.


Lucy's first stroller was a Kolcraft Snap n' Go, which I cannot say enough nice things about. It's affordable (less than sixty bucks). It's light and it's portable (one-handed fold leaves it almost flat). It has a comfy padded handlebar and was fairly maneuverable and easy to push. Best of all, it's got a big huge honking basket for all the stuff you will be toting around for the first three months in the unlikely but not nonexistent event that your child will require it. (By the time your baby hits six months, your diaper bag will contain the following: diaper. Wipes. Ointment. Emergency spare onesie. Emergency spare pacifier. Foodstuffs. That's it).

The Kolcraft Snap n' Go would have served her perfectly for probably her first six months, except we didn't love our Graco Snug Ride carseat. It came highly rated in terms of safey and comfort, and had a very generous, easily adjustable umbrella, but no matter what we did, how we tilted it, or added extra head support in the form of foam inserts, rolled blankets and the like, Lucy would frequently end up falling asleep with her neck pitched forward and her head dangling over her chest. It never seemed to bother her, but it looked very uncomfortable to her parents. The Evenflo seats aren't as highly regarded by the Baby Bargains people, but they seem to offer a more reclined position for newborns than the Graco seats. If I had to do it over, Lucy's First Stroller would be the Snap 'n Go with some other, better carseat.

"She can't lie down flat?" my mother asked, upon viewing our carseat/Snap N Go combo. "What if she wants to take a nap?" Thus guilted, we went in search of a pram-style stroller that would permit a full recline. Three hundred dollars later, we had the Peg Perego Venezia. Yes, it reclines. Very comfortable for the baby. You can put its thang down, flip it and reverse it to go from baby-facing-you to baby-facing-world. It's thickly padded and comes with a zippered boot for cold weather.

On the down side, this stroller also weighs a ton, is hard to fold, is about as maneuverable as a tank, has a wee, inaccessible basket, and will leave you hunched like an osteoporitic granny if you're taller than five three.

If I had it to do over, I'd skip this stroller and move right from my souped-up Snap N Go to...

The Maclaren Techno. It's superlight. It's zippy and maneuverable. It has three positions, one of which offers an almost-flat recline. It has no basket to speak of, but I've had no problem slinging my little diaper bag and bags of groceries over the handlebars (you just have to be careful never to take your hands off the stroller, or heavy bags can pull it over backwards). Best of all, it's on sale, big time, at Amazon.

It's not as padded and cozy as the Peg Perego, but we bought an attachable fleece stroller blanket at One Step Ahead. That, plus a snowsuit, has kept Lu warm on cold days.

Finally, for cold, snowy days when no stroller's going to make it over the icy, slushy sidewalks, or when Mom wants more of a workout than pushing a stroller provides, there's the Baby Backpack, which I absolutely love (and I think Lucy digs it, too -- she always seems very happy riding high).

(Also, if you're a new mom-to-be, and you want to seriously freak out, take a look at this. Yikes)

High Chair: the Peg Perego Prima Pappa. Easy to wipe, easy to roll, folds flat. Love it, except for the straps, which are very hard to keep clean.

Clothes. The vast majority of Lu's everyday stuff comes from Old Navy. It's cute, it's affordable, the performance fleece is warm and wonderful for winter, and they change their stock frequently, so that every few weeks you can buy your baby an entirely new wardrobe.

Not that you should, of course. Not that I'm recommending it.

We also get lots of stuff from Target -- again, cute, fits well, not so expensive that you're tearing your hair out once your little darling has smeared her cute sweater with sweet potatoes.

We do our share of shopping at Baby Gap, but I've found that their stuff tends to run small -- Lu's already getting too tall for the six-to-twelve-month sizes -- and sometimes the quality's not great (the baby blankets we got there pilled after their tenth trip through the washing machine....and yes, you'll be washing your baby blankets way more than that).

Pricier but better are onesies, blankets, and pajamas from babystyle.com. Nice colors (chocolate brown? Violet? You got it!), great quality cotton. Expensive, but durability makes up for it.

And finally, the stuff I could have lived without....

The baby sling. I was all about that attachment parenting stuff, and was so enraptured with the idea that I'd wear my baby around the house that I had three different slings before Lucy was born. At which point I discovered that little girlfriend hates riding in a sling. Any sling at all. Facing in, facing out, lying sideways....she hates it, as much as she loves her backpack. My advice -- borrow a sling and/or a backpack if you can, and figure out which you and your baby are most comfortable with before you commit.

Robeez. I know many of you all swear by these supercute little leather slippery things. Lucy can kick them off with one disdainful flick of her ankle.

More to come.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2003
posted by Jen at 12/10/2003 11:06:00 PM

Lucy is seven months old today.


Here is what I can report on her development.

1. More hair. Light brown. Looks blond in the sunshine. Seems to be on the wavy side. She still also has her little bald spot, smack in the middle of the back of her head. It's perfectly round. Like a crop circle. And beneath it is the last remaining lock of the dark-brown hair she was born with. Which looks like a baby mullet.

2. Lots of babbling. Goo goos, ga gas, la la las, and a noise that sounds like Ernie on Sesame Street laughing (khee hee hee!)

3. Evidence of rudimentary sense of humor. The other morning, we were in bed, and I said, "Lucy, someone in this bed has a VERY WET DIAPER." I looked at her, letting the pause stretch out. "And I don't wear diapers!" She cracked up. It was tres cute.

4. Food preferences. Likes: oatmeal, Cheerios, bananas. Dislikes: the sweet potato/turkey combo I tried to feed her tonight. Is neutral on: almost everything else.

5. Increased wriggliness. Especially on the changing table. But no crawling yet, although she's started doing this revving-up thing, where she'll rock back and forth on her hands and feed like she's gathering momentum for takeoff. Then she'll get tired and collapse onto the floor with her cheek on the carpet, and close her eyes and give a small, exhausted sigh. Also very cute.

Lucy experienced her first snow over the weekend, and I think she's a fan. Because the sidewalks hadn't been shoveled and were not stroller friendly, I put her into her backpack and carried her around the city. She does this humming thing while we walk -- "mmm mmm mmm" with each step I take -- and then she falls asleep, slumped over sideways on my shoulder.
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Tuesday, December 09, 2003
posted by Jen at 12/09/2003 09:13:00 AM

Check me out....I won something!

Over the summer I got the news that I'd been chosen as one of Jewish Woman International's Women to Watch.

Yesterday, Adam and Lucy and I spent the day in Washington, D.C., for the awards ceremony and symposium. It was an amazing afternoon, in large part because of the achievements of the other honorees -- a very high-powered group.

There was a woman about my age who founded a national organization that pairs up young Jewish women who have breast cancer .... and a woman whose book tells the story of her son's murder by terrorists.

Needless to say, I felt like the underachieving little sister in that kind of company. But I think I managed to hold my own during the symposium (although Adam says I should never again have to answer a question right after a woman who's lost a child).

The crowd was warm and friendly and funny and had many nice things to say about my books and, far more importantly, about Lucy's behavior and sass little outfit (Hanna Anderson polka dots!)

And the girl behaved admirably during the luncheon, although the night before, not so much.

She'd be lying in her crib, babbling -- "La la ta da bla da." And then she'd stop. And Adam and I would start drifitng off to sleep, and just as we were dozing, she'd start up again -- "Da da da da ta ga kheee...." Like, "Oh, yeah, and I forgot to tell you...."

Funny stuff.

And, like I said, I won something!

The Jewish Woman of the Year comes along with an actual award, a pyramid-shaped glass structure with a beautiful illustration of Miriam and her handmaidens dancing.

It's sitting proudly on my bookcase, and I am resisting temptation to refer to it as the Jewie.
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