Archive for the ‘Products’ Category

Batteries Not Included

Yesterday I removed the batteries from my kids’ toys. I also hid little Fred’s favorite toy, a ball popper that I’ve been listening to almost non-stop for the past 6+ months.

Why, you ask?

First, a bit of background. I’m a member of Generation X, which means that I am supposed to be as cynical as they come. Much of my personal cynicism focuses on what the world tries to sell me, so I am particularly cynical of any advertisement. I don’t believe a thing that marketers tell me, regardless of whether they are selling a product or a service, luxury or charitable, frivolous or meaningful. (Take THAT, you evil marketers, you!!)

Gen Xers are supposedly reactionary as well, rebelling against what they believe was wrong about their own childhoods, and it’s fair to say that this applies to me. My parents let me watch loads of TV as a kid. While I don’t think this ruined me, I find that I’ve developed a strong aversion to TV. Add this to my cynicism of advertising, and it makes sense that I tap the Hatorade punch when I think about television. So when I had Ginger, perhaps you can understand why I vowed that she would not watch TV for as long as I could prevent it.

(Incidentally, I’m no puritan on this point as to myself. On any given day, during the kids’ nap time, you can find me watching a TiVo’ed episode of House while drinking a Diet Dr. Pepper and eating some Splenda-sweetened processed food while also surfing the internet. Apparently my goal is to rot my brain from within and without).

Somewhere in the stridency of my Ludditian rejection of TV, I also developed an aversion to toys that bleep, buzz, play music, talk to you, and otherwise make noise. I’m a fan of the basics: wooden blocks, Legos, pretend food that can be used in a pretend kitchen, etc.

I had a vague recollection of reading somewhere that TV and those noisy toys weren’t great for kids, but frankly, I just assumed that this was my Parental Sticking Point. We all have them, those issues that for whatever reason become our obssession. Some parents don’t let their kids play on public playgrounds or swim in public pools. Some don’t let their kids drink soda. Some don’t let their kids wear any clothing associated with Barney. My true PSP was supposedly “educational” toys and TV.

Crazy, right? What parent doesn’t love a blinking toy that keeps their kid happy and occupied? And really, what harm could such toys and a little TV do? But in a sweet stroke of serendipity, I had spawned a child that just didn’t care about noisy toys or television. Ginger simply showed no interest.

Well, except for that stupid ball popper, which even she couldn’t resist. Nevertheless, she made my job easy.

Then along came Fred, in all his high-maintenance, almost-but-not-quite-colicky, don’t-you-dare-put-me-down-or-I-will-scream glory. Around the age of 4 months, it became clear that one thing would allow me to set this child down long enough to run to the bathroom or (heaven forbid) take a shower: noisy, blinking toys. So I acquiesced. And the noisy, blinking toys accumulated.

I didn’t buy them, but I no longer shoved the ones we received as gifts into dark hiding spaces in our basement, secretly hoping that rats would cart them off as food.

And miracle of miracles, I reclaimed a modicum of sanity while Fred would go upwards of 45 minutes at a time entertaining himself with these stupid toys. I felt conflicted, but I was enjoying my freedom too much to do anything about it.

I also caved (or as I prefer to think of it, compromised) on another issue: TV. You see, GrumpyDaddy loves TV. He works very long hours and wants to plop down and enjoy some brain candy in his rare down time. I can’t blame him for this, but I also can’t spent my entire weekend trying to keep the kids away from their father to keep them from seeing TV. On the weekends, little Ginger loves to crawl into his lap. She would gladly listen to him read to her, but since he watches TV, that’s what she ends up doing.

I had always planned to teach our kids at least one foreign language and after much research (and to my great chagrin) found that a certain set of highly acclaimed DVDs appeared to be the best way to do this short of taking a class. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone: I bought the DVDs for Christmas and instructed GrumpyDaddy to watch these instead of whatever other garbage he was watching. That way he doesn’t have to hear me chastize him about letting Ginger watch TV and Ginger is (hopefully) learning some French and Spanish.

Well, I’ve found my roots again. First I read Buy Buy Baby, and then Parenting, Inc.. These books are similar in theme, although the former focuses more on the perils of TV exposure (and specifically, those Baby Einstein/Genius/children’s programming DVDs and shows) while the latter focuses on broader marketing tactics to parents for all sorts of baby products.

One purpose of both books is to expose, or at least describe, how parents get sold on the idea that if their little snowflake isn’t doing calculus by age 3, she is doomed to be a stupid, worthless loser, and probably will wear funny clothes and eat her own boogers.

I guarantee that you cannot read these books without having at least one head-shaking, what-the-hell-are-we-doing-to-our-kids moment. They are fascinating, frustrating, and rage-inducing. In other words, perfect to relax you right before going to bed.

For me, the most salient point of both books was the fact that all scientific studies done on the developing brain show that (1) creative play is the single best way for a child’s brain to develop; and (2) “learning” toys, as well as TV of any kind, even supposed “educational” TV, stifle a child’s creativity and possibly even harm children’s cognitive development.

Gosh, that earns a bit fat “Boooooo!” from me.

So yesterday, in a fit of pique, I removed the batteries from all of my kids’ toys, save for little Fred’s current favorite toy, a bongo drum that plays music when struck. I can’t deprive the kid completely, right? But I want my kids to use their imaginations while playing with their toys, rather than letting the toys do the work for them.

I also have cut back on how much of the foreign language DVDs Ginger can watch, even though we just got them a week ago. She will survive not watching them every day, and certainly will survive watching only 10-15 minutes on any given day.

So we shall see how my little experiment goes. I have no doubt that Ginger will survive. Fred is the X factor. I will include updates in future posts.


I Was Denied A Free Diet Dr. Pepper And (Barely) Lived To Tell About It

I’ve been posting less because I’m sick as a dog and have been hiding from my children so I haven’t been witness to their usual shenanigans. Not acting like a mom = nothing to blog about.

I will, however, make note of one recent event that has scarred me for life.

I am a huge Diet Dr. Pepper fan. I mean huge. The craving started during my second pregnancy and has never gone away.

(Want to hear something really weird? I’ve met at least 3 other women who say they developed the same craving during their pregnancies. I became suspicious and actually Googled “Dr. Pepper addiction” and “Dr. Pepper craving” to see if I could find some conspiracy theories, but alas, neither Oliver Stone nor any of those “I was abducted by an alien” people has yet turned their attention to this matter).

Anyway, I pack the kids up and make several trips a week to Target because it is the only place in the vicinity of my home at which I can get DDP on tap, and the only thing better than a DDP is a DDP in fountain soda form. Something about that extra fizz just makes it taste better.

I buy the extra large size and meander around the store with my kids, pretending to need to buy things while enjoying my drink and building a good caffeine buzz. I walk long enough to drain my cup and get a refill. After that, I permit myself to leave. The caffeine buzz usually carries me through the next several hours and not only makes parenting seem tolerable, but downright enjoyable.

So back in May, Dr. Pepper made some weird promise about offering everyone a free Dr. Pepper if Guns N’ Roses released an album in 2008. Why anyone cares about GnR anymore is beyond me, but as far as I’m concerned, a free Dr. Pepper is sort of like the world’s best orgasm with a dollop of chocolate on top – unnecessary, but goodness, am I grateful.

Well, GnR announces in October that it will release its new album before the year ends, and Dr. Pepper says it will honor its promise and give out a coupon to anyone who can access its website or contact the company through its toll-free number on November 24, 2008.

I think you know how this is going to end. The website was an unreachable mess, and the toll-free number was busy every single time I called.

So I, the World’s Biggest Diet Dr. Pepper Fan, who have spent a small fortune on that liquid gold, did not get a coupon for a free soda. And I swear it made me just a bit sicker.

The Fates Are Messing With Me

Only hours after I posted my rant about Diaper Doublers, I received the following email on my moms’ club distribution list:

This might be a helpful tip to any moms whose diaper-clad babies or
toddlers saturate their diapers. [My son] was always waking up with wet
pajamas each morning until we discovered Diaper Doublers. It
essentially looks like a maxipad… it’s an insert for any diaper to
add an extra layer of absorbency. You can find them in the diaper
section of Toys R Us or Babies R Us, in a light blue and pink package.
At $2.99 for a package of 30, it’s a much cheaper option that the
specialty overnight diapers.

You know, just in case any mom out there might not know and wanted to jump into the bloody fracas over snagging the last few existing packages. Which, as you know from yesterday’s post, don’t really exist.

I responded to all that the product had actually been discontinued, which is true. I thought of adding that Diaper Doublers have been found to be toxic to anyone under the age of 96 and who didn’t speak a form of Ubykh, but I talked myself down from the ledge.

What Do Giant Maxi-Pads And Sasquatch Have In Common?

Let me introduce you to my ongoing hunt for the elusive “diaper doubler.” Are you familiar with diaper doublers? They are a fabulous little item that costs mere pennies a piece but can save a family trillions of dollars in laundry expenses. OK, perhaps I exaggerate the savings. But not by much.

Basically, DDs are like giant maxi-pads that you put in your child’s diaper to help absorb more, er, “liquid” so that you don’t need to change the diaper as often. I’m not kidding. Giant maxi-pads. I use them in Ginger’s diaper at night so that she can whiz to her heart’s content, puff her diaper up to the size of Texas, and not leak. No leaks = less laundry.

DDs come in cloth and disposable. Despite my green tendencies, and yes, I have them, I use the disposable ones. Please hold your hate mail because this will help offset my environmental sin: the disposable ones that I use have been discontinued.

Well goodness, we may be getting that pool we’ve always after all. Too bad it will be in Ginger’s crib.

So to avoid the structural damage to our house sure to be caused by having my darling angel wear normal diapers at night, my goal in life now is to buy DDs whenever I can find them at my local Babies R Us (“BRU”) while they are still available because I don’t see Ginger being potty-trained anytime in the next half-century.

Yes, my life is now focused on collecting giant maxi-pads. My parents must be so proud.

Well, it turns out that hording DDs is not an easy thing to do because apparently half the free world lines up at night in front of stores that stock DDs to buy them the moment the store opens. Ask your average 30-something SAHM whether she wants one child-free day with unlimited alcohol, a beach, a trashy novel, and a hunky servant named Luis to slather her with sunscreen every couple of hours, or a package of diaper doublers, and odds are she’ll opt for the DDs. Yeah, they’re that good. Why these suckers are being discontinued is beyond me because the manufacturer must be rolling in dough.

So recently I called my local BRU and was told that they had eight packages in stock. EIGHT! At 30 DDs per package, that’s 852.47 and 2/3 pi DDs total (my wild enthusiasm might be skewing my math a bit), which means that I don’t have to potty-train Ginger until she is 24! Jackpot!

GrumpyMomma (trying to sound cool, calm, and collected): can you hold them in my name until I got to the store to pick them up?

BRU sales clerk: Yes. Yes, we can.

GrumpyMomma: {doing happy dance and waving my hands in the a-yer like I just don’t ca-yer}.

So I load the kids up, which itself is an adventure, trek over to BRU and proceed to be sent all over the store in search of the elusive DDs. I ask several people for help and finally someone who seems to have some authority disappears into the back of the store.

A full half hour after I originally arrived at the store, she emerges to tell me that (1) they have nothing being held in my name; (2) they have no DDs in stock; and (3) they have no label on their shelving for any DDs so she doesn’t even know if they sell them anymore. Oh, and did I know they are being discontinued?

Talk about an Al Capone’s Vault moment.

After I stopped banging my head on the counter and corralled my kids, who at this point had practically set up residence in the furniture department because everyone knows that asking children to wait patiently for anything is like asking the sun to rise in the west, I posed the obvious question: how, over the course of a short period of time, did the store go from having 8 packages in stock to not carrying the product at all?

The employee simply looked at me and said, “I’m sorry.”

The thoughts going through my head at that moment are unprintable in this relatively family-friendly forum.

So my hunt continues. Occasionally I hear rumors of a DD sighting, but I no longer believe them. Sometimes I wonder if they never existed to begin with and I simply made them up in my desperate-for-less-laundry SAHM brain. If anyone has a photo of an unopened package, I’d love to see it because while The Truth might be Out There, the giant maxi-pads aren’t.