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Showing posts with label gifts. Show all posts
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16 October 2017

Book Review: Feminist Icon Cross-Stitch: 30 Daring Designs to Celebrate Strong Women

www.runningpress.com/book/feminist-icon-cross-stitch/anna-fleiss/

As the days get shorter and the air gets crisper a lot of us start to move into homebody mode. Part of this for me usually means getting crafty. And that is why I was excited to get a copy of Feminist Icon Cross-Stitch: 30 Daring Designs to Celebrate Strong Women by Anna Fleiss & Lauren Mancuso.

The patterns are pretty easy, so if you have never done cross-stitch before, most of these are totally doable. And you can choose from bad ass ladies such as Frida, as seen on the cover, and Sojourner Truth, Billie Jean King, and Simone de Beauvoir. Each pattern comes with a quick bio of each icon too! So you're learning something while taking some self-care time to craft.

If you are new to cross stitch you might wonder, what do I do with them when I'm done? OMG! You can keep it simple and put them in a frame. Or you can get frames that are ornaments to hang on your Christmas or Yule tree. You can get hand towels with cross stitch fabric included so you can hang Cleopatra from your oven. The possibilities are endless. There are even patterns of some of our current feminist sayings like "Nevertheless She Persisted" and "The Future is Feminist".

Photo of inside cover & good sample of patterns
This is definitely a great gift idea too, because as the days get colder, the closer we get to gift giving season. And if you do office gift bags you must get this. Now to hit my fave craft store and get some new DMC floss.

Please purchase your own copy of Feminist Icon Cross-Stitch from Powells or Indiebound and support Viva la Feminista.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy as well as a swag tote bag from a publicist.

31 December 2016

Here's to 2017 in color


I asked friends on Facebook what word they want to carry into 2017 and this is what I made from their suggestions. Not everyone's word made it here, but I did my best.

And yes, I made you a black & white version to color for yourself.

Now let's go kick 2017's ass before it can do the same to us.

via GIPHY


via GIPHY


via GIPHY

29 November 2015

How does a feminist do CyberMonday?

My Poise Messenger Bag circa 2008. Still in use!
By supporting feminist work and buying from feminist-owned businesses. Here are some of my faves, please feel free to include your own in the comments!
I'll add more feminist outlets who will gladly take your money in exchange for goods as CyberMonday goes along!

06 May 2015

Last Minute Gifts for Mother's Day

Are you looking for last minute gifts for Mother's Day? Well I'm last minute blogging about it!

CARDS: Don't send the mother figure in your life a cheesy card from the drug store. No way! Send the radical woman in your life a radical Mamas Day card. I particularly love this one because my university's graduation falls often falls on Mother's Day as it does this year. These cards are awesome because you can send it to her via email, but the images are beautiful enough to print out and hand make a card.

GIFTS: You can refer to previous gift guides to get some ideas, but since this is last minute we need to think strategically.

Give the gift of Bitch Magazine! If your mama is a feminist and loves pop culture, she'll love Bitch magazine. Or if she can wait a bit, get her a print of the "Home & Away" issue. Maybe she needs some new coasters to rest her Manhattans?

Oh yeah, I am now on the board of Bitch Media, so I'll be asking you to donate, subscribe & buy their wares a lot more! WOO!

Another great idea is to gift mama with some gift cards to buy books from either IndieBound or Powells.

One last idea...donate. I'm sure your mama has an issue she is passionate about, a nonprofit that she educates others on or a school she volunteers for. So why not just donate to that organization in her name?

But don't underestimate the gifts like a day off, doing the laundry, gift certificate to her salon, manicure day or as a recent survey found - a meal out. Because in the end, all moms want is to hear "I love you" and feel like you notice all the work they do.



09 December 2014

2014 Holiday Feminist Gift Guide


It's that time of the year again!


As usual, I'm behind on my full book reviews, but here is a list of books I have read this year that should go on your gift list. Some are linked to their review, others to their publisher or author page. A reminder that if you click the link to buy from either Powells (P) or IndieBound (I), VLF gets a small cut from your purchase:
  • This is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education by Jose Vilson P | I
    • A challenging and honest look at our public education system through Vilson's own education journey and path to becoming a teacher-activist. 
  • What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know by Joan C. Williams and Rachel Dempsey P | I 
    • This is the book you need to read instead of "Lean In." Williams has studied women in the workforce for years. Academic work in everyday speak.
  • Rosie Revere, Engineer P | I 
    • A beautiful book about a girl who has amazing ideas and how she learns that fail is often the first step to success.
  • Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence edited by Lisa Factora-Borchers P | I
    • A painful, but loving collection of essays about sexual violence.  A slow read.
  • League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth by Mark Fainaru-Wada & Steve Fainaru P | I
    • An investigative look into concussions in the NFL and the NFL's attempt to hide the pain and injury that cause. 
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell P | I
    • This was a very uncomfortable tale of a young woman not ready to grow up and stand tall without her twin sister. It was a great read
  • It Runs in the Family by Frida Berrigan [not available at Powells or IndieBound]
    • Frida is the daughter of acclaimed peace activist Phil Berrigan. This book is part memoir of growing up in the peace movement and her journey as a mother. The biggest challenge in this book is that she is devoted to anti-capitalism and her judgement for those who do not adhere. It is uncomfortable, but in a good way. It will make you examine your choices. 
  • The Good Mother Myth by Avital Norman Nathman P | I
    • The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality looks to dismantle the myth of the “good mother” by sharing essays from women whose voices and stories are normally silenced or ignored within the mainstream narrative of motherhood.
  • MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood P | I
    • Personally, I'm still at the early part of the last book, but had to include the whole trilogy on this gift list.  
  •  Who Fears Death? by Nnedi Okorafor P | I
    • Another great vision of post-apocalyptic Earth, this tale occurs in Africa. A young woman with anger and power fights for her life. Okorafor writes in the tradition of Octavia Butler and Ursula K. LeGuin by interrogating gender roles and speculating on where humankind may lead.
  • Redefining Girly How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween by Melissa Atkins Wardy P | I
    •  One of my favorite parenting books..and not just because Melissa asked me to write a letter to the reader either. Ella is 11 and I have lost count of how many times I've been asked for advice on raising a strong and confident daughter. Not all my secrets are in Melissa's book, but until I get moving on my own parenting book, this will more than do.


Flipstir: I tried this baby out at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair and it was tough but a lot of fun. I did end up winning one for myself because I had one of the top times over the weekend. *YES* And because of that, I get to share with you a code for free shipping. CODE: SHAKESTIRSOLVE14

Catan Junior: Ella & I got a full game in at ChiTAG in about 30 minutes. Catan Junior is smaller and that makes the game go quicker. I know this is great for smaller kids who may lose interest in a longer game of Catan.

Sew Cool: This is definitely for the very junior DIY kids. I have no idea how it sews the felt-like material together, but I think it would be great for kids who are too young to have on a real sewing machine, but want to sew. You can see me in the collage above sewing a hamster pillow together. There was a line of kids who wanted to make their own pillows.

Family Challenge: This one was Ella's favorite. It has four types of questions, which include physical challenges, where it pits the kids versus the parents. We did note that in our home, that would pit Ella against two parents. But isn't that why we have only one? May the odds be our favor.

: If you are looking for a good game to help your kids with spatial skills, this is a great one for the younger set. You get cards with a design to build, a timer and blocks to build the design. Perhaps with competition will help make this game a family game, but Ella & I did think it was pretty easy. Then again, we didn't compete with the timer.


And some other ideas that fall under miscellaneous awesome gifts:

Bitch Magazine - Also check out the BitchMart full of feministy gifts
HipMama Magazine
Donate to their favorite charity! 

What other things are on your wish list?

23 December 2013

Review: EOS Hand Lotion & Lip Balm

A few years ago a weird looking lip balm was in the Blogher swag bag. I remember thinking, "This is too weird to take off." Cause who would want a lip balm that is shaped like a ball. You can't tuck that into your pocket!

Well, I was super wrong. According to Ella, my 10yo daughter, a lot of the girls at school have EOS lip balm. And well, I finally tried mine and fell in love. It's not too greasy, just enough moisture. I buy another line for my super chapped lip days, but my daily lip balm is EOS mint.

This is why I responded with a resounding "YES!" when I was asked if I wanted to do a review of their new line of hand lotion (that's me holding "fresh flowers").

Winter is tough on my body. My skin gets dry very easily and the fact that I adore hot showers doesn't help. I keep lotion in my office desk and in most of my bags. It's one of those items I am always on the hunt for the "perfect one."

EOS hand lotion is a great product.

First, the design. Opposite of its lip balm, the lotion is perfectly designed. See how it fits into my hand? Love that. It also fits into the back pocket of my jeans. JSYK, it is also the perfect size to prop up a smart phone. I carry enough stuff on a daily basis, I need my stuff to multi-task!

The lotion itself is not greasy and absorbs right into my hands. It's not super thick like lotions that are for super dry hands either. But what I really liked is that I didn't feel as if I needed to go back and reapply just an hour later.

EOS products are also free of animal products (except beeswax, lip balms do have that), paraben-free and gluten-free.

Either project would be a great last-minute stocking stuffer!

Disclaimer: I received two hand lotions for review. No further compensation was offered or accepted.

22 November 2013

2013 Feminist Gift Guide...a start

Goodness! The holiday season sneaked right up on me (AGAIN!) and sinceThanksgivukkah is next week (OMG!), I figured I should try to put up a few suggestions for last minute shoppers. And since the holiday season starts early, it will last long too. So...I'm going to start with a Pinterest board for the guide. I'll try to write a more traditional gift guide, but hey, maybe this is a Pinterest year. We shall see!

And also check out my previous Holiday Gift Guides



02 May 2013

Feminist Mother's Day Gift Guide

Yup, it's time for Mother's Day! And yes, you have that awesome lady in your life who is your mom, mom to your kids or just acts like your mom. Most moms I know just want a relaxing day, a hug, a kiss and maybe a trip to the spa. Don't buy into the ads that say you must buy her something sparkly and fancy*. But if you do want to get her something, why not something that will do more than just burn a hole in your wallet?


You can send all the fab mamas in your life an  e-card thanks to Strong Families

Peace

Since the origin of Mother's Day is as a day of peace, here are some great organizations working for peace. Donate to them and insert the Mother's Day Proclamation in the card to the mom in your life:

Support Mothers


What better way to say, "Thanks" than to support other moms? Heartland Alliance has "gifts" so you can support through child care or a new mom pack.



You can't go wrong with a gift from Heifer International. Bees...goats...rabbits...hens...pigs...sheep!

Give a gift to the mom in your life that will help another mom out.

Buy the mom in your life a book for her relaxing Sunday and you can support this mama's blog through Powells.

Gifts

Until May 12, 2013, Demeter Press is offering 40 percent off all Demeter Press titles (with the exception of Maternal Theory: Essential Readings [O'Reilly, ed.]),
plus five percent tax and free shipping. PDF Catalog.

To take advantage of this offer, please send order to:
aoreilly@yorku.ca by May 12, 2013



Sure you can head down to the local big box and grab a soothing candle...But won't the mom in your life relax even better knowing that the candle was purchased thru this social enterprise? Prosperity Candle trains women across the world how to make candles and how to be business owners. They work with women in their home country, but also with refugees who now live in the USA. I have never used one of these candles, but I know someone is going to go out and spend money on a fancy candle for Mother's Day, so why not buy one that makes a difference in the world?

International Rescue Committee has their Rescue Gifts store. IRC "responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives. At work in over 40 countries and 22 U.S. cities to restore safety, dignity and hope, the IRC leads the way from harm to home."

Also check out my 2011 Gift Guide for other ideas. 



* Don't get me wrong, I love sparkly and fancy. But the pressure most people get at Mother's Day is to hit the mall and bring something home in a cute box with a bow on it. Most moms I know just want a relaxing day to themselves and a yummy brunch with the family.

17 December 2012

2012 Holiday Gift Guide

A bit late for early bird shoppers, but just in time for those of us who are last minute shoppers or are so busy that the holidays sneak up on us every year. I sorted out my recommendations into three areas: giving, reading & playing. Now just think of that person you need to buy for and put them in one of those boxes. Please note that book links are affiliate links, meaning I make a few cents from your purchase.


GIVING
For me, giving is not just to charity in the traditional sense. I give money to nonprofits that produce independent media like Bitch Magazine (I'm a Honey Bee monthly giver) and CHIRP Radio.

Remember earlier this year when GOP men formed Team Rape and proved that they know nothing about how women's bodies work? Well, Our Bodies Ourselves have put together a IndieGoGo campaign (that ends soon!) to raise enough money to send a copy of OBOS to every member of Congress. 

While I am not a proponent of consumer philanthropy (for example: buying pink stuff for breast cancer research), there are some excellent non profits that also happen to sell items that are great for gift giving.
Of course my favorite organization to donate to is the Chicago Abortion Fund

READING

This is my current read...and it is amazing. A full review will come after the new year, but for now this is topping my gift guide reading section.

For the past few years Arizona has made the rest of the country go, "WTF?!" And Jeff Biggers (disclosure: I've shared the stage with Jeff) gets right into what the hell has been happening, why, who is doing it, and (I hope) what we can do about it. So far I've learned that the Arizona Tea Party likes to be the trailblazer for xenophobic laws in the USA, that it wants its cake (being part of the Union), but wants to eat it too (ignore Federal civil rights when it pleases them). Seriously, I'm on page 9 (what? classes just finished on Wednesday!) and I've already learned so much about an issue I thought I was keeping up on. Get yourself or that civil-rights-minded person on your gift list a copy at Powells or IndieBound.

 Most of us who grew up in the 80s have a favorite member of Duran Duran and John was mine. So when I heard he was releasing an autobiography I wrote to his publisher and pleaded for a review copy. And I got one...in the middle of the semester. Unfortunately I haven't even come close to finishing, but what I have read I like. It's not Bronte, but if you are looking for a fun read that will transport you to when you baked cakes on John, Simon, Andy, Nick and Roger's birthdays, this is it. If your mom is in her 40s or 50s, I bet she'll love this. Buy at Powells or IndieBound. The Duran Duran site has links to John reading from the book & interviews. Alas, I missed him when he was in Chicago!


Another book that I did not get a chance to finish, but looks good is "Marie Curie and Her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science's First Family" by Shelley Emling.

The first few chapters are intriguing looks into the lives of the Curie women. Pierre, Marie's husband died when the girls were young, leaving her a single mother at a time when that was hard enough, but to add on to her role as a trailblazing woman of science..goodness!

Get a copy at Powells or Indiebooks.
I reviewed this book earlier this year and highly recommend it for gift giving. I'm sure this isn't my cup of tea and I think that the main character is not as much wimpy as pouty and whiny, but from what I can tell, he usually gets a good lesson on what it means to be a good friend.

Get a copy at Powells or Indiebooks

Another book that I reviewed earlier this year that is perfect for gift giving.

I highly recommend this for a thank you gift to your daughter's Girl Scout troop leaders and volunteers. It was a joy to learn more about the woman who started this great organization. Also a great idea for older Girl Scouts, especially if they are starting to think the organization is not-so-cool anymore. 

Buy a copy at Powells or Indiebound.

Creativity Courage Cards is not a book. It is a deck of cards with inspirational thoughts. Yes, some will think these are cheesy and I would normally count myself part of that crowd. But given the circumstance I find myself in, working on a PhD, I find myself more and more questioning my ability to do anything at all, much less be creative. So having a deck of these babies on hand to flip to when needed is not a bad idea. I highly suggest getting these for someone in your life who is going through some tough times and might need a pick me up in their stocking.


PLAYING

Crossword Picante is from Levenger. It's a board game without the board where you make words using red or white colored tiles. The twist to this game is that you can spell words in English or Spanish. We played it at home and I thought it was fun. My husband & daughter didn't so much. Perhaps a family that was more bilingual (we're not strong on our writing skills in Spanish) would have more fun with this. The tiles are also a bit flimsy - made of foam rather than wooden like Scrabble or sturdy plastic.





ONE MORE IDEA!

Get someone a handmade bag from my bestie, Cinnamon's shop, Poise. She makes purses, clutches & messenger bags. I have owned a lot of bags and I am NOT good to bags. I over-stuff them all the time and somehow her bags stand up and last for years. The bag pictured is the same one my husband uses. Plenty-o-pockets!
You can also check out my previous gift guides for additional ideas.

03 May 2011

Viva la Feminista's Mother's Day Gift Guide

Yes indeed my friends, Mother's Day is almost upon us. I dunno about you, but my inbox is full of gift ideas that pique zero of my interest and my mother would had killed me if I had ever considered them for her. Times are tough for everyone, gas is pretty much $5 a gallon here in Chicago and well, does your mom (or the mother of your children) really need another coffee mug? Instead, I present to you a list of other things to give the mom in your life on Sunday:

* In a moment of self-promotion, there is the new Viva la Feminista Zazzle store! We even have a few things for the mom-to-be.

* Yoga: If she's anything like me, she doesn't schedule enough time for herself. Treat her to a session of yoga at your local studio. The one I adore is Sweet Pea's Studio. They even have a call for us women (mamas & non-mamas) who do too much. It's like they craft classes just for me!

* I know, I know, the mom in your life isn't a sports fan. Hear me now, believe me later. WNBA games are girls night out excuses. As long as she's up for nachos and beer (not sure what non-Chicago stadiums offer) and hanging with her BFFs, this will be fun. I've taken my fair share of non-sporty lady friends to games and seen them have fun. Just focus on the girl power of the moment. Ditto for roller derby.

* Does the mom in your life rock the air guitar and asks herself  "What Would Joan Jett Do?" Then get her hooked up with a weekend at Ladies Rock Camp. Oh yeah...it's like Girls Rock Camp, but for the ladies.

* You can also support moms in your community or around the globe with donations to her favorite mom-friendly charity. Ideas include: Chicago Foundation for Women and CARE. I'm sure there are plenty of places to support in your community! 

* For wise Latina moms, if you donate $75 to NHLI, you receive a NHLI t-shirt "This is what a wise Latinas looks like". Psst...there's a #wiselatinas daily shirt in the Viva la Feminista Zazzle store.

* If the mom in your life a pop culture junkie? Then get her a subscription to Bitch! There's also make/shift, Ms. and the classic, HipMama, to choose from.

* Mama = bookworm? A gift card to Powells or an indie bookstore. (don't fret, no affiliate links there)

* If the mom in your life really does want a new purse, jewelry or super cute hair accessory, try etsy first. Lots of awesome handmade stuff there from real people, not faceless corporations.

* And this is turning out to be quite an annual event. The folks at MomsRising have done it again with a customizable video celebrating kick ass moms. Yes, it's cheesy, but hey, moms like cheese!

Lastly, please do not underestimate the power of giving the mom in your life a day off. Announce one day that "It's your mom vacation day!" Grab the kids and head out the door. Or grab her purse and keys and kick her out. Let her decide. When I asked my friends on Twitter what they would like the most popular answer was exactly this, even if it was a rain check! Despite what the jewelry ads will try to tell you, most likely the mom in your life does not need another diamond or sparkly necklace. What she needs is a nap. Oras one friend said, "Scotch. Expensive scotch." Good luck!

Please leave other ideas in the comments!

20 December 2009

Last-minute giving that will warm your heart & support good causes

This was originally posted on the AWEARNESS blog.


Still trying to figure out what to give the people on your Christmas list? Did you forget to buy someone's Hanukkah present? Can't think of a good Solstice gift? Whatever your reason, there's a lot of gift-giving this time of year and the good ideas run out faster than you'd think! That's why I'm here to give you some out of the box ideas... Ones that might not show up in your mailbox from a direct mail ask. *drumroll*

For the girls in your life:

New Moon Magazine: As I wrote before, New Moon magazine is a great, girl-driven (girls write the stories and serve on the board) magazine that is an antidote to the magazines that drive parents crazy. If you purchase one membership any additional ones are 50% off! So get one for your daughter and her BFF so they can read and discuss.

For the women in your life:
Our Bodies, Ourselves: The folks behind the classic women's health handbook/encyclopedia aren't just churning out books for us to hand to our sisters, they are also blogging and advocating for our health care rights.

For our canine best friends:

Dachshund Rescue of North America: Two and a half years ago I made the mistake of saying "Sure.... let's go meet this dog." As soon as Annie looked up at us I knew she was a part of our family. She was rescued from a pound after her original owner either died or became too old to care for the doxie. Annie spent a few months in a foster home and the adoption fee we paid didn't come close to covering the expense of caring for Annie until she found us.

For the media junkies:
make/shift: This magazine creates and documents contemporary feminist culture and action by publishing journalism, critical analysis, and visual and text art. Made by an editorial collective committed to antiracist, transnational, and queer perspectives, make/shift embraces the multiple and shifting identities of feminist communities. I know, that's a mouthful and it is not an easy reading magazine. This is a gift suitable for that person in your life who you know wants to curl up with a cuppa and get lost in deep thought.

Women In Media & News: I have served on the board of this media organization for quite some time. It's a triple threat - quadruple if you count our executive director, who is writing a book on reality TV - that does media analysis, education and advocacy. WIMN is a small nonprofit that has big plans for 2010.

For the history buffs:
CWLU Herstory Fundraiser: Ever watch those TV shows about child stars grown up? Or reunion shows? Ever wonder what came of all those women's lib protests and demands? The Chicago Women's Liberation Union Herstory Project can tell you. To support their ongoing effort to maintain Chicago's local women's history, you can buy vintage posters, buttons and t-shirts.

There are ton of other places that I could list here for you to give money to or buy an item from. Hopefully if you don't send your cash to these places, they will spark that memory you have. Perhaps instead of make/shift you send your super cool aunt a subscription to Bitch? Or support a local no-kill animal organization?

So why not put some good causes on your holiday list this year? You can donate in the name of someone you'd typically buy a gift for, and everyone wins. No matter where you send your money, know that you'll be supporting some awesome work and for the most part, there will be nothing to wrap in wasteful glossy paper.

15 October 2008

What to Buy Wednesday – Dinner

wow...16 weeks of me giving y'all suggestions on things to buy mamas and babies? I can't believe I came up with all those suggestions. For reals.

Alas, this is my last regular suggestion for what to buy. If you've been reading regularly I've gotten pretty busy with other blogging & writing gigs, that something had to give. I hope that I've given you enough guidance that you can walk into the baby aisle and think, "What would V think? Is this really necessary?" Don't fret, if I get hit by inspiration, I'll post another suggestion.

So my last suggestion for something that a mom and her baby will NEED is a gift certificate for dinner. And yes, it really should be for some place that delivers.

This gift idea came from a couple who did this for us. After our daughter was born, they called us up and asked us what night we wanted dinner delivered and from where. Perhaps you know that your BFF loves Thai from that place down the street or you know she misses deep-dish pizza from Chicago now that she lives in Seattle. But at the very beginning dinner often gets lost in the shuffle. So pick up that phone or send an email and tell her, "Where do you want dinner from Thursday night?" Don't take no for an answer, if you can...

And honestly, ask her if she wants some company. Many people are scared to invite themselves over. If you're that good of a friend, she'll enjoy the company and if she's not in the mood, she'll be honest with ya.

Good luck out there, I know it's a jungle! If you ever have a question, just drop me a line.

Technorati tags: What to Buy Wednesday, motherhood, parenthood, gift

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Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded! And don't forget that I'm giving out goodies to a few select peeps who donate!

08 October 2008

What to Buy Wednesday – The Diaper Pail

Someone will tell you that you need some gadget that wraps your plastic disposable diaper in plastic thus mummifying your lil one's poop for eternity. Don't do it.

Now don't get me wrong. We did the disposable diaper...Pampers to be exact. But we didn't mummify our daughter's diapers either. We used a regular garbage can just like the one pictured and a can of Lysol spray. And for the most part, it worked. There were times when the diaper needed an immediate trip to the alley, but not too often.

So you can do it!

And if you're a gift giver, put the money towards something else. :)

And we do have some friends who decided to not do the disposable route with, I think, Fuzzi Bunz. They love it! Feel free to leave your suggestions for cloth diapers in the comments.

Technorati tags: What to Buy Wednesday, motherhood, parenthood, gift

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Don't forget that VLF is participating in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge. We already have one class funded, let's get that second one funded!

24 September 2008

What to Buy Wednesday – Baby monitors

Yup, those baby monitors are a must have. I don't think it matters if you get sound only or video, just get one. As much as your logical mind might think you don't need one, once that baby is home, you will find that you have a monitor growing from your hand.

I didn't watch "Friends" religiously but I recall that after Rachel had her baby that people were critical that after a few episodes the baby disappeared. Instead Rachel just walked around with a baby monitor in hand. I can only assume that Rachel's baby was a wonderful baby who actually slept without someone holding her. Unlike my daughter.

But seriously, you want that monitor in hand once you put the baby down so you can relax a bit, do the dishes, or watch "Project Runway" without straining to hear the rustle of the baby. Plus if you're like most young parents if you DON'T hear anything you run to the room to check on the lil one.

I live in a multi-unit building, so I actually ended up using the monitor to do things like go to the basement to pick up laundry, go upstairs to visit neighbors for a few minutes, or let the dog outside. So yes, I highly encourage the monitor for those of you with stairs and want to escape your own ears' hearing radius.

Technorati tags: What to Buy Wednesday, motherhood, parenthood, gift

17 September 2008

What to Buy Wednesday – Robe

I know what you're thinking, the robe is for the hospital. Well, yes, it is. If all goes well and a woman gives birth vaginally, she might only be in the hospital 2 nights. I rushed things (surprise!) and only spent one night. So having a nice robe is good to have when shuffling around the maternity ward and greeting loved ones.

BUT...once you get home you're gonna be spending a lot of time in that robe too.

For one, the first week or two you might not get out of your robe until lunchtime. And even after you get into a routine, you still might want to stay in your robe...Yes, after the kid arrives, you might find that comfy desire to stay in your robe, drink your tea or coffee, and enjoy those precious few minutes before everyone else wakes up.

Because you'll be spending some time in your robe, I suggest you get two. At least. And seriously, what is better than a nice warm fluffy robe straight from the dryer?

Technorati tags: What to Buy Wednesday, motherhood, parenthood, gift

10 September 2008

What to Buy Wednesday – Toys

Have you ever heard someone say that kids have more fun with the box than with the toy that came inside?

It's true.

I don't mean for you to get your newborn nothing but boxes, but just a warning that you don't need to buy a zillion toys. See I use to collect stuffed animals. It started out with a few things, then Poohbears, and then carnival winnings. Thus I had a huge collection of stuffed animals when my daughter was born so she didn't need too many additional ones...but she still got them.

While she does play with some of her toys, stuffed animals, and board games, I wouldn't even say half...ok, maybe half if we took my stuffed animals out of the picture. Her room is full of toys that she doesn't play with and I honestly don't have the strength to toss most of them...even Happy Meal toys.

So take it from me and go easy on the toys. Not only do I not believe that any toy on the market is going to make your kid get into Harvard, but the money you save on toys can go right into the college fund.

Technorati tags: What to Buy Wednesday, motherhood, parenthood, gift

03 September 2008

What to Buy Wednesday – The Diaper Bag

Here me now, believe me later...
DO NOT BUY A DIAPER BAG FOR ANYONE BUT YOURSELF!

The only person to pick out a diaper bag should be the person using it. Since most women do the caregiving in this egalitarian world, let's talk about that first.

Mamas-to-be...First, do you think you're going to carry around that cute purse AND a diaper bag? You can try, but I'll bet that you'll get tired of it and start throwing your wallet, keys, and other stuff in with the rattle, wipes, and butt cream. Make sure that the diaper bag has a section FOR YOU. I had a pretty simple bag, two open sections plus a middle zippered section that held the changing pad. Come to think of it, it was pretty much like my work bag now, except in the middle is now my laptop. Hmmm....

Anywho, when out shopping for a bag, empty your purse essentials in there and then see if you have enough room for baby stuff. Yeah, put your stuff in there first. Selfish? Maybe, but you're gonna be pissed if you're out and can't find lip balm.

For daddies there are man bags out there, but I haven't tested any of them and can't tell if they are worth it versus just taking the mommy purse stuff out of the bag. Any daddy baggers reading this?

For most of us parents, the diaper bag will be our constant companion for at least 2 years, so choose wisely. Then when you find it, put it on your registry.

Technorati tags: What to Buy Wednesday, motherhood, parenthood, gift

27 August 2008

What to Buy Wednesday – Books

I know I said I would be positive in this series, so I am going to say that I am POSITIVE that buying your youngling edu-tainment toys will not guarantee them a ticket to Harvard. Instead I urge you to focus on buying your future student books. Plain old books. Buy them a few of your favorites and some new ones for that bookcase you are setting up in the nursery. Start reading now and never stop reading to your kids.

Parenting has a wonderful article on giftedness (h/t Kim) that not just says that gifted kids are rare, but that we can't make them with drills, toys, and extra work:

"Gifted" has become one of the most tossed-about words in the parenting lexicon. Unfortunately -- sorry, but let's get this out of the way right up front -- it's also one of the most misused. The vast majority of children are not gifted. Only 2 to 5 percent of kids fit the bill, by various estimates. Of those, only one in 100 is considered highly gifted. Prodigies (those wunderkinds who read at 2 and go to college at 10) are rarer still -- like one to two in a million. And despite the boom in infant-stimulation techniques, educational DVDs, learning toys, and enrichment classes, those numbers haven't been increasing. You can't build giftedness; it's mostly built in.

My daughter starts kindergarten next week and yes, she's in a gifted program. But we didn't drill her, send her to classes, or pile her with edu-tainment toys. I'm not saying that because I'm proud of it, honestly I'm deathly afraid that my trust in expert advice is actually wrong and all the kids in her class will come reading Shakepeare due to all the things we didn't do. I know they won't be, but that's what the edu-tainment & Co's are working off of...fear.

Instead, I ask you to have faith in your kid and yourself as parents. I know, many of us don't have our parents close by or if we do, they might not understand this new world we are raising our kids in. We all want more for our kids, but sometimes less is more.

Technorati tags: What to Buy Wednesday, motherhood, parenthood, gift

20 August 2008

What to Buy Wednesday – Baby clothes

Well d'uh....of course you buy baby clothes!

What I want to stress is to focus buying baby clothes that aren't size 0-3 months. And even skimp on the 3-6 months ones too. Why? Because people like to buy itty bitty tiny baby clothes, socks, and shoes. People also love to gift you baby blankets, so don't go over board like we did.

It's also hard to believe when you're pregnant, but those first few months go by so fast and they grow so fast, well, before you know it, they are in the next size. Of course it's a rare bird (hint, hint friends & family of pregnant woman!) who buys an outfit for the lil one that is larger than six months.

So...if your budget is tight, focus on the larger sized items. Heck, you can always run out and grab a new pack of onesies.

Technorati tags: What to Buy Wednesday, motherhood, parenthood, gift

13 August 2008

What to Buy Wednesday – Our Bodies Ourselves *GIVEAWAY*

When I was pregnant I got two books, What to Expect When You Are Expecting and The Hipmama Survival Guide. While I hated WTE, I loved Hipmama, but was still unfulfilled. Both are such extremes and apparently I am dead in the center, ok left of center, but still.

Now Our Bodies Ourselves Pregnancy and Birth is more my pace.

I'll admit that I did not read each word in this book, but I feel that I did my due diligence. What OBOS's pregnancy book is is a book that combines the best of hipmama granola with honest medical advise. Yes, OBOS spends a lot of time talking about midwives and what an optimal birth would look like, but I never got the feeling that it was guilting me into having the "perfect" birth.

The tone is set at the very beginning on page 9:

When used appropriately, maternity care inerventions such as artifical inductions or labor, episiotomies, epidurals, and cesarean sections can improve health outcomes and even save lives. Yet far too often, these interventions are used routinely on healthy women who are at low risk for medical complications, despite clear scientific evidence that they are unnecessary, ineffective, and/or can cause harm."


Yes, it sounds contradictory and confusing - it is. Being pregnant & giving birth have so many 'what ifs' that is really is confusing and sometimes goes against all that you or your hippie midwife would normally do.

On pages 196-197, there is a brilliant chart on how far you want to go with medication during labor.
-10
What this means: I want no medication, even for a cesarean delivery. (An impossible extreme.)
Your partner, doula, nurse, or caregiver can help you by: Helping you gain a realistic understanding of risks and benefits of pain medications.

Even at -7 "I have a very strong desire for a natural birth, for personal gratification along with the benefits to my baby and my labor. I will be disappointed if I use medication." they suggest you plan for using medication. As someone who fell into -7, I never really planned on using medication. I left that decision up to my husband in the delivery room really. Perhaps if we had discussed it more, I wouldn't still be beating myself up over having meds.

My favorite part of the book also on page 9. It is a short list of questions to guide you in making informed choices. This chart is reminding you that this pregnancy is happening not to you, but that you are pregnant, you are in charge, you have agency, so act like it. Looking back on a pretty darn good pregnancy experience despite gestational diabetes, if my midwife had told me to eat seaweed each day, I would have. When you're pregnant that guilt of being pregnant consumes you and you rarely question your medical team's directives.

The book is in nice sections that allow you to read some, skip others, and save sections for later. The most touching section is on loss of a pregnancy or child as well as the section on prenatal testing and making a decision to continue or terminate the pregnancy.

Obviously, I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to get pregnant or newly pregnant. While it does have an excellent section on breast feeding, I'd suggest La Leche's book instead of OBOS if all you want is breastfeeding in. Perhaps La Leche's book will be for next week...

****GIVEAWAY****
I received this book from Our Bodies Ourselves themselves! Considering that I don't plan on getting preggers anytime soon (knock on wood everyone!) I am offering my copy up. Please note that while this copy is signed by the fabulous Judy Norsigian, it is signed to me.

So if you don't mind that your copy is signed "To Veronica"
Thanks to OBOS for offering a clean copy of OBOS Pregnancy and Birth. AND the winner will get to have it signed and personalized. So please leave a comment with your email and either your best advise for pregnant moms or your own question about pregnancy or motherhood. Hey, maybe you know another Veronica who just happens to be pregnant!

Deadline for entry is Tuesday, August 19, 2008.

You can purchase a copy at your local indie bookstore, , or Amazon. Please note...the Powell's and Amazon links benefit OBOS.

Technorati tags: What to Buy Wednesday, motherhood, parenthood, gift, Our Bodies Ourselves, pregnancy, book, book review, giveaway

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