Archive for the ‘Mothering’ Category

Product Review: Rockabye Baby! Music

October 13, 2009

queenLullaby Renditions of Queen and Aerosmith
Retail Price: $16.98

When my preschooler was first born, a friend gave us a gift certificate to one of those ultra-hip, urban baby boutiques.  The store was filled with little baby rocker T’s and things of the sort, and that’s where I stumbled across the Rockabye Baby! albums.  After that my newborn fell asleep almost every night listening to Lullabye Renditions of Metallica (rawk) and then Lullaby Renditions of Nirvana in later months.  Then, I bought a Rockabye Baby! album for every newly pregnant couple in our circle.  A little known fact about The Feminist Shopper is that I was a career musician for much of my 20’s.  I made records, toured, and did radio and television spots (this is actually how Mr. Feminist Shopper and I first met.)  Rock ‘n’ Roll was my life before the wee ones came along, so I thought a baby version of rock music was the sweetest thing I’d ever seen.  The Rockabye Baby! series has dozens of artists to delight the whole rocker family –  from the Beatles, to AC/DC, to The Cure, to No Doubt!

Recently I got my hands on two of the latest releases; Lullaby Renditions of Queen and Lullaby Renditions of Aerosmith.  Both of these records are beautifully reflective of the melody and movement created by the original artists.  In my opinion, the Queen record is more melody-centric, while the Aerosmith record is more percussive, which represents each artists’ work quite well.  The Aerosmith record sounds like something you’d hear in a relaxing day-spa, while the Queen record sounds like the way Freddie Mercury might have imagined these songs in the deepest recesses of his imagination.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” was just begging to be turned into a lullaby.  When I listened to Rockabye Baby’s version of this Queen classic, I was immediately hit with how well this song fit into this format.  My children took to this track immediately saying “I love this song!” and swaying along to the music.  (Well, Mommy did buy Daddy the entire Queen catalog for Christmas two years ago, so the children have heard Queen songs about a million times now.)

aerosmithListening to the Aerosmith rendition I couldn’t help but think  that I was happy to have a P.G. version of some of my favorite Aerosmith hits.  Rockabye Baby! provides a way to enjoy some of your favorite songs with your little rocker, minus the infamously racy lyrics of tunes like “Rag Doll” and “Walk This Way.”  The tots have plenty of time to figure out what Steven Tyler meant by “Hey diddle diddle with your kitty in the middle” when they’re old enough to put on their own concert T.  As an added bonus for Aerosmith fans, Lullaby Renditions of Aerosmith features liner notes by Steven Tyler himself!  Visit the website and you can hear song clips of every track in their collection!

Half the fun in the Rockabye Baby! collection is hearing how they managed to turn your favorite music into pure, peaceful lullabies.  The other half the fun is watching your baby after they’ve been lulled into slumber by the melodies of some of the greatest artists of our day.

Check out the full Rockabye Baby! catalogue at their website, and “Dream On.”

~TFS

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Wanna win a Lullaby Rendition of your favorite artist?  You’re in luck!  One lucky TFS reader will win a Digital Download so you can choose your favorite artist from the Rockabye Baby! Collection.  There are three ways to enter:

  1. Leave a comment below telling us about your little rocker.
  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: Rockabye Baby! Review & Giveaway @feministshopper http://www.thefeministshopper.com #tfsrbbreview

You can enter once per method (so that’s four total chances to win.)  Contest ends on Tuesday, October 27th at Midnight CST and the winner will be notified shortly thereafter.  Contest open to All! Void where prohibited, and all that jazz.  One winner will be drawn at random from all the entries.  Good luck!

WINNER! Congrats to Kristen from BirthingBeautifulIdeas.com for winning this contest!  Keep reading The Feminist Shopper for more chances to win great prizes.

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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: Thirsties Cloth Diapers & Inserts

June 23, 2009

thirsties-cover-ocean-doublersDiaper Covers V2.0
Retail Price: $11.50 USD

Fab Doublers 3-pack
Retail Price: $6.00 USD

When a friend asked for cloth diapers for a shower gift, I thought she was crazy.  I had never heard of such a thing in this day and age.  But then as I slipped into more of an eco-conscious mothering role, I started to meet a lot of parents and babies utilizing cloth diapering, and it stopped seeming like such a far-out thing to do.  I couldn’t help but notice that cloth diapered baby bums are just simply adorable, and of course there’s the whole good-for-the-planet aspect.  Buying disposables wasn’t putting too big of a dent in our budget, but I figured saving money there couldn’t hurt.

So, like a Thinking Woman, I started doing my research, and tried to figure out where to get started with this cloth craziness.  It all seemed so complicated to me.  What do I need?  How many do I need?  Boy, this seems really expensive to get started!  What if I hate it?!  I posted a frustrated blog entry asking for someone to please send me a single button that said “here-is-everything-you-need-to-get-started-with-cloth-diapering.”  Of course, that was sarcasm, and I had no idea such a button actually existed – until I found Mom’s Milk Boutique and their full line of cloth diapering packages.  Now all we had to do was pick the brand we wanted to try.

The husband and I read every review we could find, took advice from some friends, and ultimately decided to buy the Prefolds Starter Pack, which comes with 2 Thirsties V2.0 Covers, 12 Chinese Pre-folds, and one Snappi.  Seven months later I’m thrilled to say that we love our diaper system, and we only wish we had started sooner.  We have never once had a leak with these diapers – not even overnight!  They are made with a special double leg gusset that keeps messes contained.

I loved the diapers so much that I went back to Mom’s Milk Boutique and bought more Thirsties covers, a couple of Thirsties All-In-Ones, and a few packs of the Thirsties Fab Doublers.  I originally bought the Doublers for overnight, but soon I started using them in every diaper because (I feel that) it makes cleanup a little easier, and it helps prevent diaper rash by wicking wetness away from baby’s skin.  I like the All-In-Ones for trips out of the house when I need an especially high-speed diaper change, but when we’re at home I’m perfectly happy with the Prefold system.

I use the covers on both of my sons, who, despite being 1 year old and 3 yrs old, both wear the same size clothing.  They have completely opposite body types; the younger one is built like a short, stocky football player, and the older one built like a tall, lanky basketball player.  But, despite their differences, the same Thirsties cover works perfectly on both of them.  I thank the velcro for this, because it makes the diaper fully adjustable, and has the added benefit of being quicker on and off than snaps would be. 

I went from thinking “Cloth diapering is cuckoo” to thinking “Wow! Cloth diapering is fun!/economical!/easy!”  It helps that the system we chose worked so well for us.  If I had leaks or the diapers were difficult to put on, I may not have stuck with it.  But our Thirsties did the trick.

If you’re thinking of trying out cloth diapering for yourself but have no idea what brand might work for you, I would recommend the MMB “Trial Program.”  With this program, for less than the cost of a pack of disposable diapers, you can test drive a huge selection of cloth diapers.  At the end of the 30 days, you can either keep what you like and purchase them, or send them back, and either way a Free wetbag is yours to keep!  Mom’s Milk Boutique offers free shipping on every item too!  Once you decide what you like, visit Diaper Package deals, or choose your diapers and accessories ala carte.  They have a huge selection of baby and mama items, plus most of the products have consumer reviews (which is what helps me make my decision about almost everything I buy.)  To me, the starter packs and trial programs that Mom’s Milk Boutique offers are like “Cloth Diapering for Dummies” – which is exactly what I needed to get started.

In fact, I actually have Mom’s Milk Boutique booked-marked and titled “THE Place for Cloth Diapers.”  When I need a few more Thirsties covers or other cloth items, I head straight there!

~TFS

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Wanna try Thirsties for yourself?  You’re in luck!  One lucky TFS reader will win an all new Thirsties DUO Wrap, along with a Thirsties Fab Doubler courtesy of Mom’s Milk Boutique! 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 #tfstcdreview

You can enter once per method (so that’s three entries total.)  Contest ends on Sunday, June 28th 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 Jen H. from Indiana 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