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Archive for the ‘Kvetchitude’ Category

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A few Fridays ago I was in Macy’s. That was the second day of November, in case your memory’s as bad as mine.

Lots of things bugged me while I was in there, but primarily I was pissed about the Christmas decorations. It’s too early. I know why the retailers do it, but I just hate it. Maybe it’s because I worked in advertising for so long, or because I worked retail one Christmas season.

To make matters worse, this year’s slogan at Macy’s is “Believe,” which made me think, “in what? Spending money?” Additionally, I thought, “Gag me.”

Here’s the other stuff that perturbed me:

– Passing the men’s cologne counter is like eating soap.

– It is not possible to pick a tie in under half an hour because there are at least 80 shades of each color and pattern variation.

– All the cosmetic counter claims are bullshit.

– It is mean to sell $500 purses in the Midwest.

You know what’s cool, though? There’s an iPod vending machine in Macy’s now.

Also cool: Nordstrom doesn’t put up Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. Maybe I’ll start entering the mall through there instead.

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Getting out the Vote

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I made a face as I was leaving my polling place yesterday morning. I couldn’t help it. Even though I had arrived ten minutes before the doors opened and was only about 15th in line, it took a full half hour for me to get verified and ready to vote. And when I turned from the table where I’d just signed my name and initialed my signature (?!), I had to wait for someone to get up from one of about 15 seats before I could fill out my ballot.

One of the election workers saw my grimace and asked me what was wrong. I said, “I know it’s not your fault, and I appreciate your service, but it seems like the system is designed to discourage people from voting.” She was sympathetic, though obviously powerless to change things on the spot. But it got me thinking: what needs to change in order for voting to be not quite such a gigantic hassle?

Here are some ideas:

– Issue permanent voter ID cards with electronic strips carrying information about the voter, eliminating the need to wait for hours while IDs are manually checked.
– Use portable electronic voting machines and set them up at churches, schools, and community centers not just on Election Day, but well beforehand.
– Require candidates to stop campaigning a few weeks prior to the election.
– Let people vote for at least a month prior to election day.

Does this sound crazy to you? Then consider this: in India, the world’s largest democracy, with a population of over 1 billion people, that’s pretty much how it works. India, people. A Third World country.

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So comforting, the well-stocked diaper needs shelf.

When a mother of three told me about Amazon Mom , I was ecstatic. Diapers, wipes and formula delivered to my door? On a set schedule so I don’t have to remember and never run out? At a 20% discount? Surely I’ve died and gone to heaven.

I’ll admit, it was fabulous in those hazy early days when I could barely function. But here’s the deal: No matter how well you plan, you end up with dozens of diapers in the size your baby grew out of overnight. Also, it’s really just a ploy to gin up Amazon Prime subscribers. (For the uninitiated, this is a program that gives you shipping benefits — faster, cheaper, etc. — and it’s $79 a year.)

Here’s how it works: For the first three months, if you’ve never had Amazon Prime and meet whatever other criteria they secretly set, you get a free three-month Amazon Prime trial membership when you join Amazon Mom (for which there is no fee). This also gets you the 20% discount. (Without Amazon Prime membership, the discount is a measly 5%.) They tell you that all of your purchases, including baby-related ones, count toward earning future months of Amazon Prime membership. You figure, hell, with all the diapers I’ll be buying, I will be an Amazon Prime member for decades to come!

Then you subscribe to monthly deliveries of baby stuff, though not all sizes and amounts are available. So if you want only 32 Size 2 Pampers Swaddlers because you think the baby is just about to bust out of that size, tough nuts — it’s 264 or no discount, babe! On the plus side, there is a set monthly delivery date for all your stuff, and they send you e-mails when they’re about to ship things so you can make changes or cancel an order.

At this point, my Amazon Prime free trial membership has expired, and kvetching about it to Amazon to get it reinstated is very low on my priority list. Meanwhile, it’s been fun playing Diaper Fairy (i.e., giving away the outgrown diapers), but also frustrating. I feel like I’ve been forced to buy more than I need. And while we’re not on a super-tight budget, I do try not to be stupid with our money.

So I’m using the service for formula and wipes and Diaper Genie refills, but being very wary with the diaper orders — in fact I just cancelled my standing Pampers order yesterday. And having tested them and done the math, I know that Target diapers do the same thing as Pampers.

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Washing Instructions

Welcome back to Kvetchy Wednesday. Today we will be discussing laundry, specifically: The Heartbreak of Footie PJs.

I only recently began reading the washing instructions on the things, because, well, why would I need to? But the kid seemed to be growing out of them in a matter of weeks, even though he couldn’t possibly be getting bigger that quickly. I mean, 8 months old, and already outgrowing his size 9-month PJs? He’s long-legged like his daddy, but come on! Using the round thing on top of my neck, I deduced that they might be shrinking. Hm.

So this is the deal, from one of the latest batches of PJs:

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Inside out?! Really? No. Cold gentle cycle?! Not happening. Anyway. I have been boiling those things and then baking them, comparatively speaking. No wonder they’ve been shriveling up like the feet of the Wicked Witch of the West after Dorothy’s house fell on her. Or was it East? Because the house fell on the sister of the remaining wicked witch, right? East. I’m pretty sure it was East.

But I digress.

Here’s what I’m doing now, even though it seems ridiculous that I should have to: Cold water wash, line dry. On big people hangers, because that’s cuter. Here’s proof:

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Hopefully this will prevent me from having to buy him new PJs every two months. In all honesty, that isn’t a huge hardship, because: FOOTIE PJs! SO CUTE! AND I CAN BUY THEM ONLINE WHILE I’M IN MY PJs! THAT’S SO META! But it’s starting to bug me from a “needless spending” POV, and I don’t think anyone wants to read a Kvetchy Wednesday post about that. Boring!

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Certain baby-related items seem designed expressly to irritate older moms such as myself. Consider, if you will, this Dr. Brown’s bottle:

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Perhaps you’ve noticed that the numbers are drawn on with a Sharpie. Well done. And perhaps you know that Dr. Brown’s bottles are very popular for their claim of reducing colic. I like them because they prevent my baby from chugging his meals and then returning a large portion thereof to my clothing, his clothing, and sometimes, the floor.

But the only volume markings are tiny, and stamped into the plastic. Embossed, if you will, like a fancy piece of stationery. Great for fancy people, useless for old coots such as myself. I mean, really:

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Non-parents may be confused by this point, so let me enlighten you: In the early days of babydom you care very much about how much your baby is eating. You’re also getting up to feed your squirmy bundle a few times a night and trying to keep the lights low so said bundle will drift back to sleep quickly and peacefully. Even if your eyes aren’t a bit older, you can’t see those numbers unless you turn on a bright light, and trust me, you don’t want to do that at 3 a.m.

So, Dr. Brown, congrats: You win this week’s Appalling Design Award. You clearly care about good design, but why couldn’t you take that extra step and print the damn numbers on the bottle with, oh, I don’t know, ink?

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Choice Paralysis

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Yesterday I posted this photo on Facebook with the caption, “Overwhelming and obscene.” I’d gone to my local Target for this and that, which as usual included something for the wee one. He’s been on solids for a good six weeks now, so I thought I’d cruise the feeding aisle for a glimpse at the future. And then I was greeted by the spectacle above.

Sippy cups. Cups with built-in straws. Snap-on lids. Screw-on lids. The inevitable licensed characters. Rubberized grips. Insulated models. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but it was so overwhelming to me that all I could do was shake my head, take the photo and move on.

Why? Why are there so many brands and styles of sippy cups that contemplating which one to buy requires an investigative effort? And not that it’s directly related, but why do we have so many choices of ways to give our kids milk when so many kids go hungry every day, around the corner and around the world?

Later, the comments came trickling in: Choose wisely. They all leak. Welcome to sippy cup hell.

Great. Good to know my choice won’t really matter in the end.

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Okay, friends, you’re about to find out why I have a category called “kvetchitude.”

The baby is teething. For real this time. I can feel his little chompers poking through his gums and everything. It’s an exciting milestone, but there’s a cost: pain and skipped naps, leading to a miserable little boy and a sad mama.

Previously, I’d given him Tylenol for pain but had heard that Ibuprofen was better for teething, so I tried it yesterday, with poor results. I’d heard that you could alternate the two medications if needed, so I called the pediatrician’s office like a responsible parent to find out what they recommend.

Quoth the nurse: “Teething pain is overrated.”

Let’s start with the verbal typo. She didn’t mean that teething pain is less awesome than everyone says it is. She meant that it’s not as bad as you think it is, you silly parent, you.

Right, because the fact that my baby has his hand jammed in his mouth 24/7 and can’t nap for longer than 30 minutes without some kind of analgesic in his system means the pain is purely psychological. Because, you know, seven-month-old babies do that. They get themselves all convinced they’re in pain and then — here’s the crazy part — they actually believe it! They start to behave as if they’re in pain!

Then the nurse, who was in fact trying to be helpful, said that this “not so bad” stance is the official position of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Ah. Good to know. Seriously — I mean, if I know you’re toeing the party line, it’s much easier for me, because I know that you’re merely saying what you’re required to say, not necessarily what is true or most helpful.

She also said that if he needs pain relief around the clock, he should be brought in. Fair enough. And that ibuprofen is hard on little tummies, just like it’s hard on big tummies. All good points. Thank you very much.

So last night, my baby, who sleeps through the night 98% of the time, woke up with phantom pain and tried to convince me that he was experiencing real pain. That clever little manipulator. He put on such a good show, though, what with the fake tears and all, that caved I gave him Tylenol.

And then he went back to sleep.

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