Baby Shopping – hits and misses

While trawling through my old posts (yes I am my own biggest fan), I re-read my pre-baby thoughts on shopping for baby here and thought I’d update on what actually happened once a real, live baby was introduced.

 

Car Seat:  

I said: we’d get a Safe’n’Sound Platinum AHR Air Cushion Tilt’n’Adjust.

What happened: we did buy this seat and were most gratified when the installation guy said it was the best on the market. However … I felt the seat was a little loose. I took it to another installer, Baby On Board who operate out of Baby Bunting stores, and that installer confirmed that there was 10cm of slack in the seatbelt! After correct re-installation and then re-re-installation when we got a new car (and another check over when I accidentally undid the seat, Buzz re-installed it and I wanted it properly checked by a professional), I am very happy to recommend Baby On Board who on each of the three occasions I’ve dealt with them have been friendly and professional, as well as very helpful and happy to share advice. 

The seat itself has been easy to use, comfortable for Alice who routinely falls asleep in hers, and I like that at 8 months, about 10kg and well over 70cm, there is still a lot of room before I have to turn her from rear to forward facing. 

Verdict: Winner winner (faux) chicken dinner. 

 

Pram:

I said: I wanted a Bugaboo Cameleon and was stoked to have scored a brand new but second hand one on Gumtree. 

What happened: Well. Serve me right to trying to cut corners. After using the Gumtree pram for a couple of months I began to get suspicious about its authenticity. After some investigative work and contact with Bugaboo it was confirmed that we’d tripped over ourselves to buy a fake – and no cheap fake at that. I was furious not only to have been taken for a ride (excuse the pun) but also that I’d been pushing around my baby in an untested pram for months. It also galled me no end that I don’t really have any recourse short of fronting up to the house where we picked the pram up from and shouting obscenities. 

On the bright side, when we went to replace El Fake-O we were able to get a third generation Cameleon and it is love. It’s really a fantastic pram and worth every cent. It’s smooth, light, versatile and turns on a dime, as well as allowing a lot of customisation and accessorising which are absolutely critical factors (yes?). 

Verdict: six of one and half a dozen of the other. Embarrassed to be fooled but thrilled with the real deal. 

 

Baby carrier:

I said: we’d get the ErgoBaby Sports carrier. Well we did. Eventually. We actually bought the Stokke baby carrier first because I liked its set up. What a fail! It was virtually impossible to get on by yourself due to a confusing number of carabiners and clips, and we never even wore it out of the house. What did we get when we realised it didn’t suit any of us? The ErgoBaby Sports Carrier. And the Ergo was a dream. In her early days Alice rejected any form of transportation that didn’t involve her being held, and the Ergo was an absolute lifesaver in getting out and about. I’d use the pram as a shopping trolley while I enjoyed a regular three solid hours of sleep to her snuggled against my chest. We’ll definitely be using it next time, or perhaps even moving to a Manduca as you don’t have to wear an infant insert with them, and I found the Ergo’s ‘Heart to Heart’ infant insert really quite hot and sweaty over the summer months. Either way, these soft-structured carriers are a godsend and one of our best purchases. 

Verdict: We should have trusted our first instinct, which proved to be correct. Now stuck with almost unused and very expensive Stokke carrier, but are confident and enthusiastic baby wearers. 

 

Bassinet:

I said: we’d buy the Boori Madison as one of only two bassinets that passed Choice magazine’s testing, in lieu of any actual standards, and planned to have Alice in our room for at least six months. 

What happened: the bassinet was a great buy, it was just that Alice resisted being put in it with all her little being. It also didn’t last as long as we expected as Alice started getting too big for it by about 4 months, and although I was going to try to keep her in it for as long as possible at night while introducing the cot for day naps, she ended up sleeping better in her cot in her own room away from our snoring, turning over, animals moving and other nocturnal annoyances. We bought a baby monitor to help ease the difficulty of not having her by our sides over night. 

Verdict: Necessary but not useful for as long as we thought. Currently on loan to a friend. 

 

High Chair:
I said: we’d buy the Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair as it facilitated children sitting up at the table and would last for years. 

What happened: The Tripp Trapp is lovely and will indeed be used for years. However even though we thought we wanted Alice pulled right up to the dining table, the Tripp Trapp positioned her too low and, without the option of a clip-on tray, meant she couldn’t see or manipulate the food on the table. We had to replace it with a Baby Bud for the time being (see below). 

Verdict: 60% fail, 40% pass. The chair is lovely but currently not suitable. I also resented having to buy the baby attachment and cushion in the end as it just felt like spending more and more money on things that should have been standard. 

 

Bumbo:

I said: Bumbos were the cutest thing I’d ever seen. 

What happened: Bumbos are great if your baby doesn’t have deliciously rotund thighs. Mine does, and by the time she could sit up in it her legs were too big for its piddling thigh holes and the Bumbo would lift up still attached to her bottom when I picked her up. We ended up getting a Mamas and Papas Baby Bud which has leg holes more suited to the sturdy-thighed lass, and which can be used both by older children and strapped to a dining chair as a high chair, which it is. 

Verdict: Fail. Great product but unsuitable for our bubba. However we are very happy with the Baby Bud which is much more versatile item anyway, and I was able to sell the Bumbo. 

 

So, all up a collection of passes with flying colours, dismal failures and shoulda-coulda-wouldas. In the end we have everything that works for us, and some of those things we wouldn’t have known until we’d met our baby. Some overly-enthusiastic early purchasing might be to blame for some misadventures, but overall we have things that work and will be re-used.

 

Work. Wardrobe. Winter.

Today was a day in which our very unlovely front ‘garden’ lived up to its very apt nickname of The Somme. Buckets of mud slip-sliding across chewed up turf really set the scene for a sortie in to Chaddy, along with a baby really quite cross about being strapped down in her chariot.

Alice is 8 months old. She commando crawls, she high fives, she feeds herself, she understands her name and ‘up’ and ‘Dadda’ and ‘tickle’, and plays peekaboo in various forms. Delightful as she is, every achievement and milestone is a reminder that I have to go back to work. Some days I feel a bit misty-eyed about speaking with adults, having a coffee and using my brain all without the constant physical wrangling and half-diverted attention necessitated by motherhood, but other days I plot and scheme about how to stay home with my munchy-munchkin forever (but also how to earn exactly the same income as if I were working full-time. Too much to ask?).

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I think we look a little alike here!

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Not the most flattering angle, or the best styled hair (either of us) – but the giggles were superb!

Today, a grim and rainy Friday where I had absolutely nothing to do except trawl the bright shiny shops, epitomised this push-me, pull-you existence. Nowhere to be and nothing to do except window shop, drink coffee and chat to Alice – I will definitely be a SAHM forever! Distracting a screeching child in changerooms, leaving shops with items unpurchased to avoid a meltdown, walking and walking and walking once she was asleep just to keep her down despite having no more change for coffee and having missed lunch hours ago – I will definitely go back to work!

A half-formed idea of buying some new work clothes pushed me into shops I haven’t visited for quite some time. Post-honeymoon, our house purchase and renovation (and the daily takeaway and alcohol that accompanied it) and pregnancy meant that my work wardrobe undertook rapid and massive changes, and although I have shamefully reverted to regularly wearing some tops I wore whilst pregnant, I refuse to return to work in my horrible Target pregnancy pants. Despite the terror that a full-length changeroom mirror now elicits in me I thought some nice new things might take some of the sting out of the mental countdown I’ve now begun until I have to obey the alarm clock and cram myself on to a train before sitting static all day, away from my baby and without the cheeky option of a quick bit of ‘Location Location Location’ in the afternoon. But that requires trying things on.

Let’s just say that while I tra-la-la-ed my way through pregnancy convinced that my compact bump reflected minimal weight gain, my body was sneakily and steadily spiriting away every single surplus calorie and distributing it in places I wouldn’t notice while I was focussed on my belly. And let’s just also say that post-pregnancy the 500 or so extra calories a day that breastfeeding burns have not even brought to me break-even point. Hence, my horror of mirrors and terror of trousers.

Anyway, I found two tops, a cardigan and a pair of 7/8 pants which will work well with what still fits me from Ye Olde Days, along with some clothes that have been shared between my sister and I over several years. Along with some shiny shoes and practical flats, these will do for the two days a week I will return to work from October to January, and the three days thereafter.

I’m ready to work, almost. I’m not ready to leave her. However even being able to turn these thoughts over in my mind is a reflection of the privilege of being able to stay home for a whole year, thanks to a generous maternity leave policy, the Paid Parental Leave scheme, and a steady income. Work seems like just yesterday but a different country.

The countdown’s on. So much to get ready – most of it mental. But some of it materialistic.

Today:

We went to Chadstone to pick up a repaired necklace, and had a look through shops for clothes. You really didn’t like being stuck in changerooms! You had one breastfeed, a snack and a play before falling asleep. It was a good day to be inside and you enjoyed sitting up like a big girl in your pram and watching everything around you.

We are waiting for Ellie’s baby who was due five days ago and Heloise’s son who was due yesterday. We have recently welcomed Stacey and Jarrod’s Gabrielle Rose and Sarah and Dre’s Grace Ilaria (continuing the naming similarities!).

I’ve stopped recording your sleeps but after a rough patch due to teeth you are settling more easily, around 9:30pm, and waking around 8am with perhaps one or two quick resettles in the evening as you roll over (sometimes you’re not even awake), and usually one feed overnight.

At 8 months, Alice:

  • Weighs about 10kg and is about 72cm long.
  • Wears 0 clothes but is edging in to some 1s for width.
  • Has 7 teeth – 4 on top and 3 underneath. Teething has been marked only by disrupted sleep (what’s new?!). She teethed 7 teeth in 10 weeks!
  • Started solids at exactly 6 months and is a little dynamo. She has tried absolutely everything put in front of her and even though not much of it makes it to her tummy, she investigates and explores and enjoys it all. She likes to use a spoon herself and won’t let anyone feed her. Still can’t sip from any kind of cup though!
  • Has Mumma’s mouth, nose and chin; Dadda’s eyes, eyebrows, forehead and face shape.
  • Has started to grow more hair.
  • Has started swimming lessons with Dadda and mothers’ group and is getting braver in the water.
  • Can commando crawl and does lots of rocking on all fours. She has been sitting for quite a long time and is really quite speedy as she wriggles around.
  • Is a happy and giggling baby. She now knows what it means when something is taken away from her though and seems set to be a good whinger.
  • Is practicing spending more time with Grandma and Grandpa.
  • Loves singing and has a definite sing-song voice of her own.
  • Babbles a lot and is starting to say Da-da more to Dadda.
  • Understands her name, ‘up’, ‘tickle’, ‘boobie’ (no surprise), and we think ‘Dadda’.
  • Shakes her head to ‘nononono’. She high fives, is learning to wave, and has just started handing me her spoon when I say ‘more’.
  • Is not yet pulling to standing but hasn’t really had much opportunity.
  • Likes a late bed time, but also sleeping in.
  • Is still called Allie by Grandma, and Honeybun, Bunny, Munchkin, Munchy and mostly Bubba.

After eight months, Mummy and Daddy:

  • Just think Alice is delightful and are so proud of her.
  • Are getting more sleep. A solid night is a thing of distant memory.
  • Are looking forward to their wedding anniversary dinner but have booked a restaurant very close by in case of another emergency return call!

Alice’s nursery

I can finally show the other ‘project’ I’ve been tinkering away on! I couldn’t share any pictures of Alice’s nursery before she came along because we had some special items that we couldn’t put out to finish it off until she arrived – those items being pink! We found out that our Bunny was a girl at the 20 week scan, but chose not to tell anybody that we found out. We just wanted to keep a little something about our baby to ourselves which I’m glad we did, but it did complicate some things! Apologies to all those we lied to … it wasn’t easy!

Here is her door …

Welcome to Alice's room!

Welcome to Alice’s room!

I bought the Beatrix Potter letters from Peter’s of Kensington and then mounted them to a canvas … well actually Buzz was in charge of the gluing and I directed. This is the extent of my crafting ability!

Room layout

Alice’s Expedit. On the top are a set of prints from Etsy that were the very first things I bought from her nursery, along with some special items including the Steiff bear that my sister brought her back from Hamley’s in London and the measuring tape used to measure and record her statistics straight after birth. Above the Expedit are some Martha Stewart paper chains from her baby shower.

I love a good Exedit!

The Expedit contains a lot of my own baby toys and books, as well as the lovely gifts we have received for her. I keep her blankets in a storage cube (and I do not recommend these horrible plastic ones from IKEA – they are a nightmare to assemble and caused a few injuries in the process!).

Some special items:

Top row, second cube from left: Alice’s Daddy chose this print on our honeymoon in San Francisco from an artist at a street festival. At the same time I chose a print of a little girl with dark hair and blue eyes, and when I bought it I told Buzz that this was our daughter. It disappeared when we moved house, making way for the real little girl to arrive. In front of that print is a modern Beatrix Potter book given to me by my aunt called “Rabbit Organises Everything”: too perfect!

Second top row: Books! The most wonderful things in the world. I thoroughly believe that children should be swamped in books. So many of my own are here, and new editions that I’ve bought for her: Anatole the Mouse, Ricki Ticki Tembo, Edward Ardizzone books, Peepo, Madeline.

Alice's Expedit

On the top of the Expedit is my childhood print of the Snow Queen, which fascinated me no end with its ethereal queen and her gossamer dress; a little shoe I wore ; Alice’s birth card; and an owl which is too pretty to be a doorstop as intended (I stalked PoK for months until they got this owl back in stock).

On top of the Expedit

On the other side are the most special of my toys. On top are my teddies: Big Ted, a handmade bear; my number one Ted, given to me by my grandma when I was born; and Little Ted, an antique with glass eyes who my Dad bought for me at an antiques fair at the Camberwell Civic Centre when I must have been about five. In the cube underneath are my Humty, Ollyfump (bought by my Dad before I was born), and Yangzom, a doll given to me by His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s sister, Jetsun Pema-la, when we were in India when I was 2. I named her after my ‘Tibetan mother’.

My bears

Here is the reading corner, with my grandma’s TV chair re-upholstered and re-sprung. I love the fabric and even more love how a piece of furniture that I associate so strongly with her has been given a brand new dose of love and will be used by her great-granddaughter. On the floor next to the chair is Barkly, my wooden dog, who has been dragged around hither and thither. Penny the Penguin sits on the side table, bought by us in Sorrento while on holiday.

Our reading chair

Above the reading chair are decals chosen by Alice’s Daddy from 41 Orchard (does anyone else look at a lot of nursery decals and feel a bit sick at the overload of princessy-ness or, in the more hipster stores, owls?), and a print from Etsy (framed in a Target frame – bargain!). I love the sentiment.

Print from Etsy

Alice’s Boori cot was given to us by our ex-neighbour, so is well-loved and teeth-marked but still sturdy! Her pram (a Bugaboo Cameleon that we bought from gumtree.com in as-new condition for 2/3 of the price- score!) is also parked in here (the blanky in it is from here – I totally adore these florals).

Cot

Above the cot are decorations that reflect the same on the other side. The other half of the decal perches above the cot, and an Etsy print with matching font in the same frame heads the bed. The fishy mobile is mine from when I was a child and I love the glassy tinkle it makes in the breeze.

Print from Etsy

Alice won’t use her cot until she’s bigger, so until then it houses some toys including a big bear dressed in a footy jumper that was hand-knitted by Buzz’s aunt in the same pattern she knitted for him when he was born (and yes, I have allowed her to barrack for Daddy’s team), a giraffe from Buzz’s parents, and a bunny from my work colleagues. The teal and white chevron blanket was also knitted by Buzz’s aunt and is just gorgeous. The multi-coloured chevron minky is also from Etsy. The ‘Love’ cushion was handmade for me many years ago by my dear friend Zoe, whose latest venture, Beetle Bug Sleepwear, is utterly adorable handmade children’s sleepwear.

Special toys and bedding

The Boori changetable was a real find on eBay, in almost brand new condition and I was the only bidder. I stalked eBay for weeks waiting for the right thing that wasn’t going to go for a bomb. Who knew furniture that is designed to have babies poo on it would be so expensive?!

The tallboy was a Boori second (a couple of tiny dents!) and holds most of her clothes. The rest are in the cupboard just peeking in in the corner of the picture. A small library of books on birth and parenting are waiting for me to read them … or not.

Tallboy and change table

Over the changetable are Martha Stewart lanterns from the baby shower, and a print (Etsy again) that we displayed at our wedding with lyrics from The Pixies’ classic “La La Love You”. We sing this to each other – sometimes seriously but mostly tongue in cheek!

We also have displayed a little book called “I Like You” which is a poem by Sandol Stoddard Warburg, an excerpt of which was read by my friends during our wedding ceremony. A wedding photo and a beautiful framed print given to us by friends are also on display.

Lanterns over the change table

Naturally Alice couldn’t care less about any of this. Her world at the moment is cuddles, boobies and sleeping, which is all she is meant to do. When she is bigger I want her room to be her own space where she can learn to control her environment, explore whatever she wants, feel safe and have lots and lots of things to do. As much as I have loved making a room full of my memories and lovely things, I want it to become full of her own memories and things she likes. I just hope she keeps it a little bit clean!

The Laguiole silliness continues.

Last year I wrote about my sunshiney Laguiole-style cutlery, and had a very interesting conversation with reader Christine about the naming, provenance and trademark issues surrounding the Laguiole flatware heritage. It appeared that the ‘original’ Forge de Laguiole was never trademarked, and every other branded Laguiole-style flatware such as Jean Dubost at one end and Debutante at the other was a bit of a knock-off regardless of differences in quality.

Annnnnnyway … I saw this article yesterday (I hesitate to add that I do not habitually read the Herald-Scum; I saw it in Mx which is a much high quality publication ROTFLMAO hahaha) and the upshot is that apparently everything labelled Laguiole has been trademarked and it’s all even more confusing and silly than we imagined.

Key points include:

  • “Under the terms of the brand’s registration, anyone can use the name Laguiole for knives …”.
  • “The court ruled that … Laguiole knives had become a generic product not necessarily linked to a particular place.”

I am just going to keep buying flatware that I like the look of seeing as it’s all dubious anyway!

 

From the Herald-Sun:

French village renounces knife name

by: Emmy Varley

From: AAP

September 30, 2012 2:49PM

 

RESIDENTS of Laguiole, a village synonymous with the manufacture of France’s most famous knives, have symbolically “unnamed” the place in protest against losing control of the name.

The villagers are furious that the name Laguiole has passed into the hands of an entrepreneur who allows it to be used to sell made-in-China knives and barbecues.

To the cheers of about 200 locals, mayor Vincent Alazard pulled down a sign at the entrance to the village in the Aveyron region of southwestern France.

“Our name no longer belongs to us, so what do you want us to do with this sign?” the mayor asked the assembled protesters. “We are going to take it to Paris and give it to those who have taken it away from us.”

The village this month lost a legal battle to reclaim rights to the name from businessman Gilbert Szajner, who registered Laguiole as a trademark in 1993 and has since licensed its use for products including clothes, table and bed linen, lighters and barbecues, as well as the cutlery which originally made its name.

Under the terms of the brand’s registration, anyone can use the name Laguiole for knives but the villagers would have to pay Szajner if they want to diversify and produce any other products under that name.

“The word Laguiole has been kidnapped, it has been stolen from us,” said Michel Bras, owner of the village’s Michelin three-star restaurant.

“It is very easy to ride on the backs of people who made sacrifices, who made the most of what little they had, to establish the name of this area.

“These people have been swindled by someone who does not know the place.”

The local council attempted unsuccessfully to persuade a Paris court to annul the trademark registered by Szajner on the grounds that his use of it could confuse consumers about the origin of products.

The court ruled that the name of the village was not sufficiently well known to constitute a de facto marque and that Laguiole knives had become a generic product not necessarily linked to a particular place.

An appeal is being planned.

Meanwhile, local officials hope to persuade the government to pass a law protecting village names and to create a wine-style system of labelling manufactured products by their origin.

Oh no she didn’t.

Oh yes she did.

When she actually just popped out to Big W to get a stray security tag removed from a boring breastfeeding singlet.

Jason Wu for Melissa ‘Jean’ in navy.

Linky . See how it looks like grosgrain?

Actually quite a lot more nude than beige in real life.

And if The Bunny turns out to be a girl, she’s getting a pair of these ASAP:

Operation Pick-Me-Up: outerwear

One of the challenges of pregnancy for me has been finding clothes that are work-appropriate, comfortable, stylish, and that are not so loose and baggy that they disguise the bump too well and make me look just a bit porky. I don’t think that I can honestly say that I’ve achieved a work wardrobe that achieves all of these things; while I have been fond of my range of long-sleeved lycra-mix tops from Ripe Maternity, I have been frustrated and despairing over the limited range of work pants. Two identical pairs of el crappo black pants from Target and a billowing pair of grey stripey ones from Ripe have tided me over but I have never felt that they flattered me or looked smart. In fact I have frequently felt like a clown.

Thank heavens for those tops! But all good things must come to an end and those five tops have been on weekly rotation for a number of months now, and while they are still going strong quality-wise, I am hopelessly bored by them and am looking forward to spring being sprung and getting in to something brighter and lighter.

I started my search at Ripe again and although the spring catalogue looks promising, there was little in store to tempt me. I was looking for tops that would do some or all of a number of things: take me through the rapid expansion of the third trimester; be appropriate for the post-birth period; and hopefully be breastfeeding-friendly. What frustrated me about the Ripe nursing selection was that they were mostly lycra-mix, clingy and fitted, which is fine when you have a nice firm bump out in front but less so once that bump has deflated.

I realised that post-birth it will be high summer and I will be unfit, well above fighting weight, probably quite soft and wobbly around the middle, requiring ready access to my boobs, and above all needing to avoid wasting time feeling self-conscious about the aforementioned factors so that I can focus on the Bunny. I needed a selection of loose, flowing tops with front access.

(I did pick up this singlet in navy/white and grey/white stripes from Ripe though for an all-in-one singlet nursing top:)

I ventured into Sussan on a rare lunchtime out of the office knowing that the clothes there tend to be generously-sized (bump city) and lean towards the style I was looking for.

Bonanza! I walked out with:

This scalloped lace singlet doesn’t give boob access and probably won’t accommodate a full-term bump, but it’s quite cute and post-birth the heavier front will provide some helpful texture.

This top is a bit more peasanty that I’d usually go for but I’m a sucker for navy and its boobage access is excellent.

This T-shirt isn’t feeding-friendly but it’s loose, comfy, non-crush and it also comes in an emerald that might be coming home soon.

I also bought another peasant-style top in a white and emerald Ikat print with tiny little pompoms on the hem, like the white one below. Although I’m a fan of loose tops I didn’t think that the more tribal print was typically ‘me’, although Buzz thought it was exactly like what I’d normally choose which makes me think that my style is interpreted somewhat differently from what I think it is. Hey ho.

I was pleased with how easily I found a number of tops and even if they’re not what I’d usually go for, they tick all the most important boxes for the next few months. There were in fact even more things that I think deserve another look, and I’ll go back for the second run soon. I feel quite relieved that with the sun shining more and my belly about to enter a rapid growth phase, I have some new things to make me feel like I match the weather.