5 Reasons Why Walmart’s Online Grocery Shopping is My New Everything

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I know, right? It’s so big. And boxy. But when you live in rural North Carolina, a trip to “the Walmart” is as much a part of your week as going to the post office… or the ABC Store. It may not be as white and shiny as Target, with its “affordable” lines of clothing from high-end designers. The lighting may be depressing, some of the clientele might be equally depressing, and you can’t find specialty items like hemp hearts…

Wait, I had a point. Oh yes. Their new online grocery shopping! If you like the idea of Walmart’s prices, but the idea of going into Walmart depresses the crap out of you or stresses you out to no end, this is the perfect solution. It has changed my life. Let me count the ways:

  1. It saves time. It takes some time to pick out my items online, but nowhere near as much time as it does to walk through the aisles at the store. Especially considering I usually have a kid or two in tow, which leads me to my second point.
  2. It saves my sanity. My 2-year-old daughter can Houdini her way out of any shopping cart seatbelt, so it’s no surprise that she won’t stand right beside me quietly while I compare prices on pasta. I can pick out my items from the comfort of my couch rather than picking up every item she pulls off the shelves as we go. This reason alone is enough to shop online.
  3. No impulse shopping. I admit it. I’m the one who walks by the displays right before checkout and has to have that Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo DVD for 4.99 (true story). And what’s that? Lip balm in a cute ball-shape container? Yes, please!
  4. Two words: Savings Catcher. This feature of the Walmart app finds out if an item you bought is being sold elsewhere for less and puts the difference on a gift card for you. So if you buy Silk Almond Milk at Walmart for $2.98, but it’s on sale at Harris Teeter for $2.50, the Savings Catcher will “catch” that and pocket the 0.48 for you. All you have to do is enter the TC# from each receipt into the app, and let it do the rest. It’s literally mindless and it adds up. This is something you can use whether you shop online or in-store, but I just discovered it and am pretty obsessed.
  5. It’s free! Yes, I know Publix has free online grocery shopping, too. But the closest Publix to my house is 45 minutes away and it’s not quite budget friendly enough to be the go-to store for my weekly basics.

I admit I was concerned about the produce, but I couldn’t have picked out a better bunch of bananas myself. All of this being said, the one thing that kills me is that I can’t use my own shopping bags. But I’m hanging onto the hope that following this whole hand sanitizer ban, the EPA will find that plastic bags are actually good for the planet. In the meantime, reusing and recycling alleviates my conscience enough (oh, the things you can make with plarn).

If you want to try it, use this link. You’ll save $10, and so will I.

 

 

How to Pick Up a Babysitter

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Dave and I started dating in college, so I hadn’t been “out there” since before cell phones. Cell phones, people. I’ve had to bring my game out for friend dating, but what happens once you make friends is that you want to go out with them. Without kids.

If you don’t have parents in the area to watch your kids, or if you’ve decided the push/pull of passive-aggressiveness and guilt that comes with it isn’t worth it, you’ve got to find a babysitter.

Asking a friend for the name of their babysitter is like asking a serial killer where he keeps his victims. They’re not going to give that shit up without a fight — some things are too sacred. My mom still talks with contempt in her voice about how our neighbors stole our best babysitter from us, only to leave us with her less responsible sister, Julie, who would throw parties at our house while they were out. Julie would tell my sister and I we were playing hide and seek, and then never seek us. She bribed me with a giant stuffed Jokey Smurf. (I was four, and an easy target.)

So when my daughter’s preschool teacher introduced me to Sarah*, I didn’t waste any time. Here’s how I picked up my babysitter — and how you can, too — in 4 swift steps:

  1. Assess your surroundings. Where are you meeting her? I was meeting Sarah on the playground at my son’s elementary school where she works with the after school program. This tells me already that she has experience with kids. If I were meeting her in a bar, at 1am, I might be a tad more wary.
  2. Lay it all out there. This isn’t a potential new friend, so you don’t have to play it cool. Don’t be afraid to let her know how much you want her. But also let her know upfront what she’s in for. If she gets to your house to find out you have 3 dogs and she’s allergic to dogs, there goes your babysitter and your evening.
  3. Exchange contact info. Don’t put it off, saying, “Oh, I’m running late so I’ll get your number from X later.” Later will turn into never.
  4. Set a time to follow up. If you don’t have a specific date in mind for the first babysitting gig, tell her. That way she won’t wonder why she’s not hearing from you. If you do, go ahead and get it in both of your calendars. Really good babysitters are in super high demand — Abbie’s preschool teacher is booked with babysitting, dogsitting and housesitting jobs through the fall!

Now it’s up to you whether or not you want to talk money right away. For me, unless she says she charges $20 an hour for two kids, there’s not much she’s going to say that’s going to turn me off. We are REALLY in need of some nights out with and without friends, but DEFINITELY without kids. I’d rather lure her to the house first where there’s no turning back and then negotiate the rate. That being said, we also make sure to tip really well, especially the first few times, to make sure she knows how much we appreciate her and to gain her loyalty.

So we now have a great babysitter and I’m so excited I can’t stand it! It’s like how I felt when I found my first true friend after college, but the next level. I’m not sure what’s after this… I’m sure whatever it is will make me feel even older. Perhaps it will lead to a, “How I Found the Perfect Plastic Surgeon” post. But then you’d know I had work done, which of course I’d never do.

*I’ve changed the name of my sitter to protect her privacy and also to keep you from stealing her.

20 Thousand Questions: The Real Kids’ Travel Game

You’ve gotta love the curious minds of kindergartners. But the questions, my God, the fucking questions. Kids are so cute. They’re so precocious. Until you’re stuck in the car with one for 8 hours and sticking to your guns with your “I didn’t have an iPad when I was your age, I just looked out the window” crap.

Jed’s questions go from smart and philosophical:

  • What’s the goverment?
  • What does it mean to judge?

To strange and downright disturbing:

  • Do raccoons lose teeth and if they do, does the tooth fairy visit them?
  • Why is it illegal to dig up dead bodies?

It’s like having Carlton Blanchard (Wings) buckled up in your backseat:

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“Why do they call them handcuffs if you wear them on your wrists?”

“If the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, what do you suppose a doorknob would feel like?”

“If they were to carpet the state of Florida, how long would it take to vacuum it?”

“If dogs don’t sweat, then what are their armpits for???”

“Geez Louise, for the love of Mike, for Pete’s sake; Who are these people?

I’ve tried the “answering his question with a question” tactic when I don’t know how else to respond: “I don’t know Jed, do you think the tooth fairy visits raccoons?”

But some things you can’t leave to chance.

Me: “Digging up dead bodies is wrong, Jed. It’s just wrong.”

Jed: “But why?”

Me: “It just is. Doesn’t it just seem wrong to you?”

Jed: “Um, well –”

Me: “Yes! The answer is ‘yes!'”

What are some of the most shocking questions your kids have asked you? Have you been stumped or simply stunned?

What Nobody Tells You About Hannukah

For nine out of 10 Americans, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Whether you’re Christian or not, Christmas is a big freakin’ deal. Even the buggiest of bah-humbuggers can’t escape the incessant ringing of the Salvation Army bells and the red Starbucks cup fiasco in their social media feeds.

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But here’s what almost 10 out of 10 Americans don’t know: Hannukah is NOT a big deal.

Because it runs in tandem with Santa’s reindeer, many think that this Jewish holiday must hold a great deal of importance. But truth be told, it’s not even in the Hebrew bible. Historically, Jews gave and received gifts on a spring holiday called Purim. The story of Hannukah, which comes from the book of Maccabees, is a minor Jewish holiday at best. And don’t get me started on the Maccabees. How bummed was I to find out only recently that the heroes of our Hannukah story were equivalent to modern day religious terrorists?

And then there’s the oil that was supposed to burn for one day but miraculously burns for eight days, hence the eight nights of presents (the part most folks are familiar with). As a child, I felt smug to have a holiday that lasted longer than Christmas and milked more gifts out of my family. As a parent, I’m glad my children have a reason to get gifts at a time of year when they would otherwise feel left out. But truth be told, Hannukah is not the Jewish Christmas. If you’re not a kid or don’t have kids, then Hannukah is hardly a holiday at all. It amazes me how businesses try to capitalize on such a trivial holiday, even making Hannukah toys for dogs (which of course, I can’t help but buy every year, they’re too funny!).

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Our big holidays are known as the High Holy Days: Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). They are nowhere near as fun as Christmas and Easter. No candy or presents. No bunnies or fat, jolly white guys (unless you count the sweaty dude in the third row at temple). Kids can miss school — they are excused absences, but absences nonetheless. And for what? To sit in services all day wearing itchy tights and neckties, followed by more sitting around the family dinner table (in Yom Kippur’s case, after a day of fasting). It’s arguable that being in school is more fun than sitting through a two-hour guilt-ridden sermon about why you should come to temple for more than just two days a year for the holidays.

So if you accidentally wish me a Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays, don’t feel bad. Or if you wonder why I might not travel to spend Hannukah with my family, you can stop wondering. Have a very Merry Christmas, and don’t worry about us. We have our Chinese food on Christmas Eve, and our movies on Christmas Day, and we love it.

Our ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Paci Policy and Slacking on Child No. 2

For the first six months of my first child’s life, if he dropped a pacifier, I wouldn’t put it back in his mouth without washing it in hot water with soap or sterilizing it in the microwave in one of those plastic doohickies that came with the paci pack.

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My friend Ashley saw me do this once and had to stifle her laughter. Her daughter was almost a year older than my son and had been there, done that. She had crossed the germ threshold, and little did I know, I was about a month away from doing the same.

With the first child, and especially in the first few months, you do everything They tell you to do — They being doctors, family, friends, the people who write package directions, and of course, The Internet. It’s like the first few weeks of your first semester at college. You don’t know your professors well enough to know what you can and can’t get away with, so you actually do all of the assigned work until you have the ins and outs of each class figured out. But once you gain confidence and find your rhythm as a new student — or in this case a new mom — you can figure out which shortcuts, tips and tricks you’re comfortable using. They become a second-hand source and you begin to go with your gut.

It’s amazing how slippery a slope can become once it’s covered with your guts. One minute you’re washing  a pacifier 14 times a day, and the next you’re cheering inwardly when the same pacifier lands “right side up” on the sidewalk before popping it back into baby’s mouth, hoping no one is watching but not really caring either way.

At home, pacifiers pop in and out of our lives like bubbles. One minute, there’s four or five floating around and then — poof! — they’re gone. And right when I give up and go out and buy more, the old ones resurface. But sometimes they reappear in a most unsettling place: baby’s mouth. I will put Abbie in the gated play area while I’m making breakfast, and when I come back to pick her up and put her in her high chair, she’s sporting a yellow pacifier with a graphic of a hipster giraffe wearing nerdy glasses that I haven’t seen in weeks. Was it under the couch covered in lint? Hidden in the bottom of the toy bin amid stray dog hairs and lovey fuzz? I don’t want to know and thankfully Abbie can’t tell me. We have an understanding that way. The fact is, it’s been in her mouth for at least three minutes and the damage has been done.

With child number two, I haven’t relaxed into a total state of apathy. I do bathe, feed, and clothe her, and even wash her pacifiers on a regular basis. When I’m not sure if something is chocolate or poop, I still smell it rather than lick it. Although I do feel that Abbie has missed out on a few things being the youngest. With Jed, my first, I documented everything. I kept a private blog for close friends and family updating them on his milestones and favorite things. I thought everyone slacked on their second child until I was looking through a box my parents gave me after a recent move that included my baby book. I am a second child and my mom recorded everything. This “word about me from Mom” part was the sweetest. I don’t think anyone has said such nice things about me since:

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Here’s a few words about Abbie from her mom at 14 months:

She adores her big brother and loves blowing kisses, even to the baby on the Huggies box. Her favorite toys are her dolls (her “babies”), cars, books, and anything that plays music. The girl LOVES to dance. If there’s a melody in an insurance commercial, she’s dancing to it. She doesn’t like fruit, but loves meat, veggies, and enjoyed her first mac-n-cheese so much that she sang and clapped between bites. She babbles like nobody’s business and has “Abbie speak” for Jed, doggies, and pointing and asking what things are. And every now and then (but never when I want to show her off) she says “hi” and “bye.” Jed says he doesn’t need any of his own toys in the playroom because she is his favorite toy:) He lives to make her laugh.

So when Abbie gets older and she gets her box of things from me, I can print out a copy of this post to go with all of her straight A report cards, awards, chastity belt, and such.

The ‘Charlie and Lola’ Dinner for Picky Eaters

My son and I both love the Charlie and Lola books by Lauren Child. He giggles at the silly things that Lola does, while I love the mixed media illustrations (and the excuse to use my bad British accent when reading aloud).

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The one that gets reread the most in our house — because it’s the only one we own — is I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato. As you could guess, it’s about being a picky eater, something most every parent faces. (If you’re a parent and you don’t have this problem, keep it to yourself or everyone else will secretly loathe you. No one wants to hear about how your kid prefers edamame to ice cream.)

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In the book, Lola’s older brother Charlie cleverly tricks her into eating the foods she hates most: “Oh this isn’t mashed potato. People often think that but no, this is cloud fluff from the pointiest peak of Mount Fuji.”

When we first started reading this book, Jed wasn’t eating half of the foods on Lola’s No Fly List. That’s when I suggested that we have a “Charlie and Lola dinner” one night.

Clockwise from top left: Orange twiglets from Jupiter, moonsquirters,  ocean nibbles from the supermarket under the sea, cloud fluff, and green drops from Greenland (middle).
Clockwise from top left: Orange twiglets from Jupiter, moonsquirters, ocean nibbles from the supermarket under the sea, cloud fluff, and green drops from Greenland (middle).

It was a total hit. For the first time ever, Jed ate all of his moonsquirters, orange twiglets, green drops, and cloud fluff (ocean nibbles are an easy sell in our house, but for the record he ate all of those, too).

There’s no recipe to share for this one — it’s just that easy.

Have you tricked your picky eater into trying (and even liking) new foods? Please share!

Father’s Day Craft — It’s Not Too Late!

It’s so great having a dad in your life who’s a cliche. There are so many more Father’s Day craft ideas out there when Dad loves fishing or golfing as opposed to say, handcuff collecting.

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Love might even be an understatement when it comes to my husband‘s relationship with fly fishing. So when it came to Father’s Day, I knew the only thing that would make him happy would be a day on the water. That, and an adorable handmade, heart-made gift from the two greatest little people in our lives:

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Thank you, Pinterest!

MOM: 1, HALLMARK: 0

This Is the Most F-ed Up Toy I’ve Ever Seen

So I’m perusing Zulily for some clothes for my daughter, and see a sale called “All About the Human Body — for budding biologists.” My son loves science, so I had to take a look. Amidst the expected puzzles, models, and books — for children — there was this:

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That’s a plush fetus. Which is f-ed up enough, but then when you squeeze it, it makes a heartbeat sound. It’s marketed as a “fun gift idea for expectant parents.” I’d kill to be a fly on the wall at the baby shower where a mom-to-be unwraps this.

It turns out the company behind this, Giantmicrobes, makes a whole series of larger than life microbial designs. What started out as educational toys have also apparently become gag gifts for med students among other things.

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Let’s play a game called “Can you spot the herpes?”

 

Some of their best sellers include Swine Flu, Salmonella, and Herpes. So now you can give Herpes to your children. Okay, that’s kind of funny. My birthday’s coming up next month, and in case you’re wondering, I do NOT want a fat cell (got enough of those already):

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Or cancer.

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Is ‘Mompreneur’ a Bad Word?

image-2-1Earlier today, I fell into a stream-of-consciousness-like click hole on Facebook, during which I discovered Bump Water. The vitamin-fortified, flavored water designed for moms-to-be was created by two women entrepreneurs in Brooklyn (one of whom is married to a guy who lived in my neighborhood growing up, hence the six degrees of Facebook).

My first thought after checking out the Bump Water website was, “Shit, I wish I had known about this when I was pregnant,” followed by an involuntary twinge of jealousy for not having thought of this myself. My second thought, after perusing their press coverage and seeing outlets like the New York Post call them “mompreneurs,” was, “Blurg,” followed by a self-righteous, guttural harumph. 

I don’t know why, but the term “mompreneur” just irks me. Wait, I do know why. It just sounds condescending. Why isn’t Bill Gates called a dadpreneur? Or why isn’t a mom who is a cancer doctor called a momoncologist? I can only imagine that a female doctor would find that term insulting just as I’m insulted for women who are launching their own businesses (not an easy feat), and because they happen to be moms, are puffy painted as bored housewives who needed a hobby to keep them busy.

Then I started to wonder, am I the only one who feels this way? So I did what any person would do: I Googled it. In searching for “mompreneur condescending,” I found that I wasn’t alone. But what surprised me most was discovering that there’s an anti-anti-mompreneur movement.

Marika Jeziorek of Mom’s 2-Hour Work Day says, “By arguing ‘mompreneur’ is a negative word, you are reinforcing the negative connotation of ‘mom,’ and are thus not improving the status of women, but are rather pushing women to be ashamed and embarrassed of being mothers.”

I don’t believe by being anti-mompreneur that I’m bolstering a negative image for the word “mom,” but I do believe that whether or not you are a mother should have no bearing on your professional accomplishments. Should a mom who launches a product be seen in a different light than a business woman who doesn’t have children? Yes, moms are busy and have a lot to balance in their lives, but so do all women, and in fact, all people.

I remember when I was in my 20s and first started a blog. It was mommy blogger madness (another term that drives me crazy). All of these mommy bloggers were able to join with other mommy bloggers in special groups with spiffy blog badges … and I felt left out. Did being a mom mean that their opinions on a certain dishwashing liquid or beauty balm was more valid than mine? Why did companies pay moms to go all over the country (and the world) to try out their products and services? What if I didn’t want to — or couldn’t — become a mom? Would I feel permanently ostracized from these blogospheric and societal privileges? So, on the other side of the mompreneur coin, there’s that.

What do you think of the term mompreneur? Are you for it or against it?

A Mom’s Truthful Snow Day Experience in Two Texts

Across the country, moms and dads have been cooped up with their kids this week in what seems like an endless string of snow days. Fellow parents can attest that these frosty furloughs from our daily routines aren’t all rosy cheeks and hot chocolate. Sure, I “like” Facebook posts of friends’ kids out in the snow with their frozen snot mustaches atop chattering blue lips, but I relate more to the on-the-verge cries for help. When you have no physical contact with anyone over the age of nine for days on end, it’s a slippery slope from Norman Rockwell to Norman Bates.

One of my dearest friends summed it up best in a text she sent me yesterday. I give you her three stages of snow days:

Going on day 5 of snow day.

Day 1 = play in snow, hot cocoa

Day 2 = baking and crafts

Day 4 = Son on his Kindle all day while I get drunk and binge watch Veep

I haven’t left the house since Monday morning (it is now Friday). We live on a private mountain road that my husband can barely get up and down in his truck right now so my Leaf can just forget it. This means that while I’ve been housebound, he’s been able to escape. Yesterday at 3pm, I texted the following list of requested items from the outside world:

  1. milk
  2. a good bottle of red wine
  3. a deck of cards*
  4. Rock’em Sock’em Robots

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* I was teaching Jed to play black jack and we quite literally weren’t playing with a full deck.

If I were a rock star, I think I would make one hell of a rider list.