Archive for the ‘For The Ladies’ Category

Book Review: “This Little Mommy Stayed Home”

October 27, 2009

This Little Mommy Stayed Home, by Samanta WildeA Novel by Samantha Wilde
Retail Price: $15.00 USD

In this fresh, witty, and side-splitting novel, Samantha Wilde has effectively invented a character who embodies the delightfully depressing and hilariously humiliating rite of passage otherwise known as The First Year of Motherhood.  If you’ve ever been there, you will certainly identify with this author’s language and message.

It’s hard for me to write a review about this book because honestly I think you’d be better served by heading straight to Amazon, Indie Bound, or your local bookstore, snatching up this book, and reading it cover to cover immediately.  You can come back here and give me all kinds of credit for turning you this little gem, then we can giggle about all of our favorite lines.  When I first sat down with the book, I started highlighting passages that made me say “Oh my!  You just read mind!” However, by the time I was done there was so much highlighting throughout that it looked like I had done my doctoral dissertation on it.

The writing will make you think that Wilde may have secretly followed you around during your first year of motherhood, documenting every sleepless (and sexless) night.  How did she know?!  She must have spotted every diaper blowout, crying jag (you, not the baby), and every 1 lb bag of mini chocolate bars you consumed shortly thereafter.

But what about the things you only thought to yourself?  How does she know about those?  If you’re like me, you’ll start to fantasize that Wilde somehow intercepted your brainwaves and recorded each and every time you drifted into some paranoid delusion about the baby dying in some freak accident involving a spatula, a teething ring, or a rogue pillow that made its way into the crib.  How did Wilde know that you weren’t sleeping, not because the baby wouldn’t sleep necessarily, but because you laid awake on too many nights formulating a plan to outfit your entire home/car/life in bubble wrap because of something you saw on the news that day?  And how did she know you wanted to roll over and push your husband off the bed for the simple crime of being able to sleep while you couldn’t?

When so many of us become mothers, the experience is so life altering that we think we are the only women who have ever been affected this way.  Nobody could possibly understand what we’ve been through.  Our bodies have been stretched to ungodly proportions, and entire human beings were built inside.  Then we are expected to take them home and keep these little ticking time bombs alive.  You’d think they would hand out medals for that, but oddly, they don’t.   I suppose that’s because so many billions of other women who came before us successfully survived that which we are sure we are not going to survive.

And Wilde has been there too, you can bet on that.  It doesn’t matter if you are a stay-at-home-mom, a work-outside-the-home-mom, or some variation of the two, this book will make you chuckle.  No matter what you’ve felt before, other moms have felt it too, so pick up “This Little Mommy Stayed Home” and join all the other moms laughing away the mental stretch marks and sleep deprivation.

~TFS

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Wanna win your very own copy of “This Little Mommy Stayed Home?” You’re in luck!   One lucky TFS reader will win a copy courtesy of  the author herself.  There are three ways to enter:

  1. Leave a comment below telling us how you survived the first year of motherhood.  If you aren’t a mom yet, tell us a story of someone you know.
  2. Post a link to this review on your blog – then leave a comment with a link to your post. (this is worth TWO entries!)
  3. Tweet a link to this review as follows: “This Little Mommy Stayed Home” Book Giveaway @feministshopper http://www.thefeministshopper.com #tfstlmreview

You can enter once per method (so that’s four total chances to win.)  Contest ends on Wednesday, November 11th at Midnight CST and the winner will be notified shortly thereafter.  Void where prohibited, and all that jazz.  One winner will be drawn at random from all the entries.  Good luck!

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Product Review: AM Nursing Tankini

July 9, 2009

swimsuit_fullview3Front Twist Tankini in Black
Retail Price: $63.00 USD

When it comes to nursing apparel, it seems that many makers haven’t gotten the message that mothers can be very sexy.  I rarely bother purchasing any nursing wear because a lot of times all items on the rack looked like something my grandmother would wear.  I may be a nursing mother, but that doesn’t mean I’ve lost my edge.  In fact, I’d argue that nursing is one of the most beautiful expressions of womanhood, and so it should be celebrated with both form and function.

Thankfully some designers and retailers, like Annee Matthew and A Mother’s Boutique, agree with me on that one.  Matthew has designed a gorgeous, luxurious nursing tankini (pictured here worn by yours truly) that is just as beautiful as it is functional.  You’d never guess by looking at it that this hot little number is really designed to make discreet nursing, even in a swimsuit, a snap.  The nylon/spandex blend feels like silk against your skin, and has just the right amount of give to both accentuate and also support all your womanly curves.

swimsuit_backviewThe part that I really loved about this suit was that the bottoms tied on both sides, which makes for a perfect fit.  You won’t find any “muffin-top” here.  Thanks to a couple of babies in a couple of years, I have some residual padding hanging around that does not play well with most swim suit bottoms, but with a suit like this that ties, you can easily adjust it so that it’s comfortable and flattering. I will warn you that the bottoms are a bit on the skimpy side, but my husband was quite excited about that feature.  If you’re looking for extra coverage, you may want to go a size up.

The tankini also helps accentuate your curves while covering whatever little tummy issues may be causing you to shy away from a two-piece suit.  A Mom’s Boutique carries this item in both black and teal, along with a full line of beautiful, flattering, and functional swimwear, and their Christmas in July sale is going on right now!

I’m headed to Mexico with the family in two weeks, and I think I may live in my Annee Matthew Nursing Tankini the whole time I’m there.  Viva la Mother’s Boutique!

~TFS

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Wanna win this nursing swimsuit for yourself?  You’re in luck!  One lucky TFS reader will win this Annee Matthew Front Twist Nursing Tankini courtesy of A Mother’s Boutique!  There are three ways to enter:

  1. Leave a comment below telling us why you’d like nursing swimwear.
  2. Post a link to this review on your blog – then leave a comment with a link to your post.
  3. Tweet a link to this review as follows: Nursing Tankini Review & Giveaway @feministshopper http://bit.ly/eExmu #tfsamtreview

You can enter once per method (so that’s three entries total.)  Contest ends on Wednesday, July 15th at Midnight CST and the winner will be notified shortly thereafter.  Contest open to U.S. and Canada residents only.  Void where prohibited, and all that jazz.  One winner will be drawn at random from all the entries.  Good luck!

Product Review: PumpEase™ Pumping Bra

July 1, 2009

pumpeaseHandsfree Pumping Support Bra
Retail Price: $38 CAD

If you are a mother who works outside the house, chances are you are going to be pumping breastmilk at your job – a lot.  If you work a full time job, you’ll be pumping a few times a day, and maybe even adding some pumping sessions at night to keep your supply up.  Alternatively, if you’re a mother who is exclusively pumping (not feeding baby at breast), or pumping to donate milk, you’ll also be spending hours a day hooked up to the breast pump.  That is a lot of time spent holding plastic horns up to your chest.  If you have other kids to look after, or other things to do, you need your hands free.

Nothing made me hate pumping more than the feeling of being stuck for a half hour at a time, hands tied, unable to do anything else.  My arms got tired, and I grew bored of staring at the wall in front of me.  I had seen pumping bras at my local baby store, but they seemed so blandly utilitarian, and looked a bit too much like a corset for my feminist taste.

A month after I came back to work, I stumbled upon the PumpEase™ Handsfree Pumping Support Bra, and ordered one straight away.  The colors and styles really caught my eye, and the price put the product within reach.  I figure time is money, so if I could free up my hands to do more with my time, then the bra would pay for itself pretty quickly.

I was so thrilled when it arrived – finally, I was liberated!  The first thing I loved was that the bra so pretty – not that anyone would ever see it, but it still made me feel better, just like any pretty under garments would.  The second thing I loved was that it helped me go completely hands-free, leaving me to type emails, or read a book, even play cards with myself.  I had my hands back!  Maybe I had to pump breast milk every few hours, but that didn’t mean my life had to be put on hold for a half hour at a time.  I could be plenty productive at work while still providing the optimal nutrition for my child at home.

I also really loved how easy it was to put on and take off.  You just pull it around your chest,  fasten a few hooks, and you’re ready to go.  It was surprisingly secure.  The bra, combined with the suction of the breast pump, held full bottles of milk to my chest without any help from me.

After a year of pumping at work I’ve officially hung up the horns, but I’m sure I’ll be right back here pumping after my next baby, and when the time comes, I’m glad I have my PumpEase™ handy.  I couldn’t imagine pumping several times a day without it.  Thanks PumpEase™!

~TFS

FOR A LIMITED TIME: Get 10% off PumpEase™ Handsfree Pumping Support Bra with the coupon code FEMSHOP10 – now through July 15, 2009.

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Wanna win some handsfree support for yourself?  You’re in luck!  One lucky TFS reader will win a PumpEase™ Handsfree Pumping Support Bra of their very own!  There are three ways to enter:

  1. Leave a comment below.
  2. Post a link to this review on your blog – then leave a comment with a link to your post.
  3. Tweet a link to this review with the hashtag #tfsphfdreview

You can enter once per method (so that’s three entries total.)  Contest ends on Wednesday, July 8th at Midnight CST and the winner will be notified shortly thereafter.  Contest open to all so my international readers are welcome to enter!  Void where prohibited, and all that jazz.  One winner will be drawn at random from all the entries.  Good luck!

WINNER! Congrats to Carolyn from Washington DC for winning this contest!  Keep reading The Feminist Shopper for more chances to win great prizes.

Product Review: Happy Mama Spray by Earth Mama Angel Baby

June 8, 2009

Happy-Mama-Spray-lo-res

4 oz Aromatherapy Mist
Retail Price: $14.95 USD

My second son was born via a triumphant VBAC, and this product aided me on the journey toward that small miracle.  30 hours into my labor, the doc was getting impatient, and my plans for a vaginal birth were looking grim.  The staff wanted to throw in the towel and roll me off to the OR, and I was expending all the energy I had in the world to keep pushing toward my VBAC.  The whole room was filling up with anxiety and stress.  Then, like a ray of sun beaconing through the clouds, one of my favorite friends showed up at the hospital with a heart full of love and support, and bag full of Earth Mama Angel Baby products.

Within the hour after she arrived, my labor took a turn for the better.  I started dilating, fast, and soon I was deep in the throes of transition.  Throughout the most intense part of my labor, my friend misted Happy Mama Spray all around my bed, and each whiff made me feel more comforted.  The scrumptious aromatherapy properties of the product helped to shift the energy of the room from an out-and-out warzone into a more peaceful place for me to birth my baby.

I loved the spray so much that it became a staple in my postpartum recovery.  Any new mom knows that it’s easy to stay locked in your bedroom for days when your peanut is cluster feeding.  After a few days of ‘round the clock nursing, soon that once-romantic bedroom you conceived your little miracle in starts to smell like spit-up, baby poo, and Chinese takeout.   But when my bedroom started to develop the postpartum funk, I just misted it down with Happy Mama Spray, and the room was instantly transformed.  The stale smell of sleepless nights was replaced with a fresh, calming aroma that made me almost forget that the sheets needed changing – and so did the baby.

Now I use Happy Mama Spray anytime my room or my mood (or even my child’s mood) needs a little lift.  I’m also told that it’s great for pregnancy nausea.  Earth Mama Angel Baby carries a huge line of products to aid with pregnancy, labor, recovery, breastfeeding, baby care, and mama care too.  All their products are certified kosher, 100% organic, toxin-free, vegan, and clinically tested to be safe and worry-free.  Recently the Bolingbrook Adventist Hospital, which is just a few towns over from me, started using Earth Mama Angel Baby products in their newborn care, and now gives out free gift packs to all their new moms!

Check out their line of gift sets and give a mom you know some Earth Mama Angel Baby love today!

~TFS

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Wanna try Happy Mama Spray for yourself?  You’re in luck!  One lucky TFS reader will win a bottle of Happy Mama Spray along with a box of either Monthly Comfort Tea (for the postpartum moms) or Morning Wellness Tea (for the moms with buns in the oven.)  There are three ways to enter:

  1. Leave a comment below.
  2. Post a link to this review on your blog – then leave a comment with a link to your post.
  3. Tweet a link to this review with the hashtag #tfshmsreview

You can enter once per method (so that’s three entries total.)  Contest ends on Sunday, June 14th at Midnight CST and the winner will be notified shortly thereafter.  Contest open to U.S residents only.  Void where prohibited, and all that jazz.  One winner will be drawn at random from all the entries.  Good luck!

WINNER! Congrats to Andrea B. from Chicago IL for winning this contest!  Keep reading The Feminist Shopper for more chances to win great prizes.

Product Review: CatBird Baby Mei Tai Carrier

June 3, 2009

catbirdbaby_meitaiAsian-Style Baby Carrier
Retail Price: $90 USD

Between two kids, I’ve had my fair share of experience with baby-wearing devices.  When I was pregnant with my first son in 2006, we registered for the Infantino SlingRider.   I had never actually seen anyone do any baby wearing, but I liked the picture on the product in the store, and it seemed like a pretty good idea.  Well, the first time I put my brand new son in this carrier was the last time.  It folded him up like a taco, and I was terrified that he’d suffocate to death.  Honestly, I don’t know how anyone uses this for a small baby, and clearly the reviews on the product indicate that a lot of others agree with me.  So we returned that and bought the Evenflo Snugli which was basically the cheaper version of the Baby Bjorn.  Well, I hated that thing too.  It was terribly uncomfortable, and seemed to suspend baby from his crotch, rather than cradle him against my body.

After that I gave up on baby wearing for the time being.  I had no idea that other, more natural styles of baby wearing devices existed until my Mexican-born nanny started wearing our son around the house in a Rebozo.  I hadn’t seen that before, and before I got a chance to figure out where to get one of those, we moved away from her.  I didn’t see that type of thing again until my doula brought one over during one of her visits.  After my second son was born, with the Rebozo still on temporary loan, I tucked my 6-day-old in and went for a walk with my family.  I loved the concept, and wearing my baby close to me seemed very natural, but wasn’t totally sold on the style of the Rebozo.  However, it sparked my interest in finding other wraps or carriers that would keep my back from aching, and keep my baby comfy.  I searched around and settled on making myself a homemade version of the Moby Wrap.  I couldn’t afford the real thing at the time, and the fact that I could make a “no-sew” version for about $8 made it quite appealing to me.  It worked well when my son was small, and it’s a very comfortable carrier, but my rapidly growing son quickly became too heavy for it.   The search was back on. 

Six months later, on a whim, I decided to buy the cheap Jelly Bean sling I saw in Target.  Again – I liked the concept, but that product was ill-fitting, back breaking, and not made well.  So I returned that one, and made up my mind to get serious about finding the right carrier for us before both my sons were too big to bother.  I decided to head to Be By Baby in Chicago because they are the biggest “granola-mama” shop I know of in the city with the biggest selection of slings around.  I was excited to see that I could demo all the devices and that the sales staff was more than happy to help me try everything out.  I was originally thinking of a Ring-Sling, but because of the size of my son, the sales lady suggested either the Mei Tai or an Ergo carrier.  The husband and I both tried each of them on, with both my 32 lb toddler, and with my 25 lb infant.  It only took a few minutes for us to agree that the Mei Tai was the way to go.  It’s so dang comfortable, and we love that there are no buckles to adjust.  I’ve never seen another carrier that fits a small woman and a tall man so comfortably without any cumbersome adjusting.

So now we use our CatBird Baby Mei Tai so much that I’m even thinking of buying another one so we can each wear our boys at the same time.  This carrier supports children up to 40 lbs(!) which means we’ll be able to use this carrier for a lot longer than any other kind on the market.  When my boys are in it, they are content, safe, and have a great view.  I have worn them each all day downtown, for several hours at a time walking through the zoo, and on every trip we take to the store.  It even has a hood that can tie up to help support/shelter baby’s head when they fall asleep (which my younger son often does while being worn in this).  This product has become 100% integrated into our travel as a family.  We use this now more than either of our expensive strollers, and the product is so well-made that I see this lasting through the next several years.  Finally, the search for the perfect carrier for our family is over, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

~TFS

Product Review: Leachco Snoogle Pillow

June 1, 2009

Snoogle Original Total Body PillowOriginal Total Body Pillow
Retail Price: $50

Of all the things I’ve purchased in the last several years to help ease my transition into motherhood, this is, by far, one of the most useful.  Once your belly starts growing to such proportions that you can no longer find any comfortable position in bed, you start looking around for things to prop yourself up with.  First you think a few pillows will do the trick, but with all that new weight you’re sporting you can’t lay on one side for too long before your hip goes numb.  Then comes the invariable tossing and turning, which means you end up rearranging all those pillows every time you move.  And just then, when you’ve finally got yourself into what feels like a luxuriously comfortable position – you have to pee – so you have to haul yourself out of that position, waddle to the bathroom, and then back to the rearranging you go.  Oh, the joys of pregnancy.

So some brilliant person invented pregnancy pillows.  Thank you to whoever that was.  But I’m afraid not all pregnancy pillows are created the same.  I tried a few before I landed on this one (mostly because I’m cheap and I thought “What? $50 for a pillow! What a racket!”) and like with anything, you really get what you pay for.  For the same reason I won’t buy designer maternity clothes, I had a really hard time justifying the purchase of a pillow designed only to be used during the last few months of pregnancy. 

However, even if I had only used this pillow for three or four months, it would have been 110% worth it.  I wouldn’t spend a single night pregnant without this pillow now.  The only way I ever got any sleep was with this fluffy companion tucked in all my newly-formed nooks and crannies.  And as it turns out, this pillow is also hugely useful for breastfeeding too! 

I had such a hard time figuring out how to nurse laying on my side.  I couldn’t manage to get myself situated into a position that didn’t hurt my back or make my arm fall asleep.  It was getting so bad that I went to see an acupuncturist about the chronic back pains I was developing as a result of the nursing discomfort.  Then a friend told me I should buy a Snoogle because it was a great pillow to use while nursing on your side.  I said “I already have a Snoogle!  I had no idea I could use it for that too!  Score!”  So I pulled the Snoogle back out of storage, and I’ve been using it to breastfeed ever since.  It positions your body in just the right way for your baby to reach the goods, while supporting your back, hips and shoulders.  Plus, my husband would be lying if he said he hadn’t tried to snake it away from me on a few occasions.  It really is just a wonderful little sleep aid.  I think, in total, I’ve used this pillow on roughly 600 nights over the last few years.  Not bad for a $50 investment!

~TFS

Product Review: benetint by Benefit Cosmetics

May 27, 2009

benetint

rose-tinted lip & cheek stain
Retail Price: $28 USD

I know, I know – $28 for a bottle of blush?

Well, in my single-gal-twenties, I wouldn’t have batted a heavily mascaraed eyelash at paying $28 for a bottle of posh makeup that made me feel a little extra pretty.  Why Not?  Those were the days of Disposable Income, Baby!

But once I had a child, my income started going to disposable diapers, or otherwise became property of the baby.  So trust me, it’s an extremely rare occasion when this mama indulges in anything that cannot be used/worn/broken by the children.

But Benetint is the exception.  I’ve been using this product for years, and it is one of my staples.  First of all, it’s more versatile than your average blush.  This little bottle does double duty as both a lip stain and cheek blusher.  Second of all, while I can’t say what the manufacturer’s recommended shelf life is for this product, I can say that I have personally managed to hold on to bottles of Benetint for years.  Because this bottle packs a powerful little punch, and only a dab on each cheek or a swipe over the lips is necessary, the bottle lasts for-ev-er.

Many of us will “invest” $20 into a single cloth diaper with the justification that it will last for years.  Think of Benetint as the same sort of investment, except this one is just for you.  My husband gifted me a bottle for my 30th birthday, and here I am *ahem* a whole birthday later, and the bottle barely has a dent in in – and not for lack of trying!