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New Parent Recommendations

I had no idea about anything that I needed for a baby when I got pregnant. I didn’t have any younger brothers. Or sisters. Or cousins.

I had bought a few gifts for my friends when they had babies, but I bought directly off the registry and was pretty clueless.

And things change. When my crazy friend had her son, she had a special support contraption to help him stay on his side when he slept. Five or so years later, the recommendation was to have babies sleep on their backs instead.

When it came time to pick out items for my baby registry, I went with all the staples. I feel in love with some cutesy, expensive things. It always helps to remember that other people will be showering you with these things using their money, not yours.

One thing I fell for was the matching crib set. I found this super-cute woodland-creature themed set. Which was perfect, because my husband and I were waiting to find out if we were having a boy or a girl.

I believe I used giftcards to purchase the set of the matching crib sheet, comforter, bumpers, and dust ruffle. They were so cute to set up the crib with ahead of time. But they weren’t cheap.

Carter's Woodland Critters, or something like that...

Carter’s Woodland Critters, or something like that…

Waste of money. The dust ruffle became too much to bother with with frequent sheet changes (my son was a power pee-er). My husband banned the bumpers for fear my son would suffocate himself on them. The comforter is very stiff and not real good for a tiny baby. We use it now that my son M is a preschooler as a top blanket over something fuzzier.

In that same woodland design, we had also received the lamp, diaper holder, receiving blankets, basket, and fleece blanket, for which we have used all of them for varying degrees of time.

But the crib set. Man, there are better things to spend your money on. Things you would never even think about.

Like hearing protection.

“What?” you say.

Last year, when my son had just turned three, I wanted to take him (OK, really I just wanted to go) to a monster truck show. So, I went online, did lots of research, and ordered him a pair of hearing protection muff things.

They worked great for the monster truck show.

Watching Grave Digger

Watching Grave Digger

And for fireworks the next July.

Chicks did boys with hearing protection

Chicks did boys with hearing protection

And for dulling the sound of the yard blower and leaf vacuum last weekend.

No more crying when Daddy starts the leaf blower.

No more crying when Daddy starts the leaf blower.

For around $15, I was able to get something for my son that, while I don’t use it every day, when I do need it, stops him from being upset, having extra anxiety, crying, and possible hearing damage. Here is a link to the ones I ordered: 3M Peltor Junior Earmuff Blue #970239

Two tricks to this being useful:

1. You have to buy ear protection that fits.

I ordered mine off of Amazon.com, and I carefully read all the reviews for each model I was interested in to try to get the perfect size. Sometimes how the manufacturer describes it is not how it actually will fit your child.  Some are made for adults, some for teens, some for tiny babies.

If you shop for them in a hunting/sporting goods store, you might be able to try them on before you buy.

2. You have to predict when you will use them, and have them with you.

Some people are better at this than others. Pretty much, I am just obsessed with getting $15 worth of use out of them before my son outgrows them. So, I am always thinking, “Should I take his ear muffs with us?”

It might seem silly, but I know that if we wanted to go to a concert or something, we can just grab them and M and go.

I Don’t Know Jack

Jack the Lost Cat

Jack the Lost Cat

…but I wish that I knew Jack. I could totally use an extra $500 of non-reportable income right about now.

These posters showed up in my neighborhood a few weeks ago. My first impression is that someone must REALLY want this cat back. I imagine that it must have been some little girl’s treasured pet. This must be her parent’s attempt to cheer her up.

When the posters first appeared, I was impressed by the use of fancy neon posterboard, full color large photo, and lamination. These signs have been through several rainstorms. They are durable. Every corner in my neighborhood has several posted. These people must have some money. Most people would not go to so much effort to find a cat.

Then the $500 reward was added to the poster.

Then the cell number instructing you to “take a pic”.

Then they went around and hand-wrote his name on all the posters.

I now sometimes find myself outside yelling “Jack. Jack!” I want to find this stinking cat.  And I don’t even like cats.  It is just all about the benjamins.

The closest I have come to finding him was some fur that looked like it matched…squished in the middle of the road. I don’t think the family will pay for…

(wait for it)

…a flat Jack.

* I didn’t include the phone numbers, because I figured the family probably didn’t want it all over the Internet.  But, ya know, if you happen to live in lower Michigan and see him, I could hook you up with the contact info…for a small fee.

Camp

Posted on

Who in the hell would ever want to go to camp?

CAMP-no camping

I thought “camp” was something only people on TV shows did. Then in elementary school, there was this horrible torture they put us through. We were actually supposed to go door to door and talk to complete strangers to sell them crap to raise money to go to 5th grade camp.

What the f*ck!

I was an only child who never slept anywhere except at home (There were only two exceptions to that:

1. Flood of 1981

2. My mom’s hysterectomy

Both times I stayed at my gramma’s house. I was distrustful of strangers. (Still am.) Kids are taught to fear and stay away from strangers. And then you go and tell them to knock on strangers’ doors? You send them off to camp to be taken care of by strangers?

How is this alright?

It worked out in my favor. My mom didn’t want to do fundraisers anymore than I did. She didn’t have the money to send me to camp. I didn’t want to go.

There was a group of about five of us who did not go to 5th grade camp. The ones who went were gone for a whole week.

Do you know what it felt like to stay behind?

I FREAKIN’ LOVED IT!

It was a small class. We didn’t have to do real schoolwork because that would have made us ahead of all the other students. We got to do busy work, watch videos, do arts and crafts. On Friday, we got to go on a field trip to the Lenawee County Historical Museum. Some would say that was boring, but it was the highlight of the week for me.  I’m pretty sure we probably got to eat lunch at McDonald’s too.

All the other kids returned from camp, with stories about bugs and bats, rain and mud and cold. They told tales of a golden toilet seat being hung around people’s necks. They seemed genuinely happy about these things. Sickos.

I heard gossip that everyone who went to camp got a T-shirt that they were supposed to wear on a designated day. I must have seen one, because I knew that they were purple with gold lettering (our school colors). I happened to have a T-shirt from Sleeping Bear Dunes* that was the same shade of purple, with white lettering. I wore it that day. I did not stick out like a sore thumb as my fellow non-campers did. (I found a picture of me in that purple shirt.  But I have a mullet, so I am not going to post it here.  All those pictures need to be burned.)

Score one for me.

I believe having all the campers wear their shirts all on the same day was a horrible idea. It set apart the five of us who didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to go to camp. Isn’t school supposed to push you into conformity for your society? I don’t think the T-shirt thing would fly these days. Lodge a complaint about the school forcing kids to alienate their disadvantaged classmates, and I think the TV stations would jump all over that.

Just when I though that camp shit was done for good, 8th grade camp rolled around. This time the students were only to be gone for three days. I stayed behind. Again.

IT WAS THE BEST TIME EVER!

I think there were eight of us who didn’t go. Everyone’s reason was probably financial, but I definitely did not want to, even if we could have afforded it.

By then I had hit puberty. I was a raging ball of hormones. The cute “bad boy” I had a crush on stayed behind as well. I had plenty of time to flirt with him. The cute substitute teacher was in charge of us. We watched “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (that might be stretching the definition of ‘educational video’ just a little). I discovered that Keanu Reeves was cute!

I wonder, in retrospect, if I could have just skipped those days of school. How can the school system kidnap you to leave your home and live with your horrible enemies for a week? Can they really enforce the attendance policy if you are not down with that?

To this day, that school district is still tying “camp” to school. WTF? And think of when school is in session, and what the weather is like…in MICHIGAN! Spring and fall, it is always cold and rainy.

But the kids still go.

The school system fools the students and the parents into believing that paying money to live in inferior conditions is a good thing. Fun even.

HOW DO THEY KEEP FALLING FOR THIS?!

I am all for “camping.” Going out in a tent or RV to spend quality time with your family (including dogs). I enjoy doing a little rustic cooking and bonding in front of a fire almost as much as the next guy. Spending time in nature can be relaxing.

But paying to hang out with strangers and rough it? Having to do activities they dictate like Nazis?

No, I think not.

I considered having a kid to be a life experience that I should probably do, because I only live once.

Camp? Not so much.

* Sleeping Bear Dunes is my favorite attraction on the west coast of the northern lower peninsula of Michigan, near Traverse City.

What I Learned This Week – 1/27/13

This week I learned that if I don’t leave the house much, then I don’t spend much money. It makes for long, boring days, but at least I am not hanging out at Meijer just for something to do. Which then leads to unnecessary spending.

This week I also was reminded of something I already knew: If you go to the dollar store and say “Gosh, everything is only a dollar”, then you end up leaving with 20 items;P

A Little Pre-Christmas Depression For Everyone

“Religion and money are just the dumb things we use to plug up the hole in our hearts because we’re so afraid of dying.  But guess what?  We’re all going to die anyway.”

–Lorna (Katie  Holmes), in Broadway’s Dead Accounts.

From Entertainment Weekly, December 14, 2012

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