Getting My Artsy Girls to Play Sports (Hint: It’s about the outfit and gear)

My daughters never liked team sports.  At 4, when I enrolled them in a kiddie soccer class they turned the goal upside down and declared it a spaceship, climbed on in and then proceeded to create a story about going to the moon that captivated the other kids and made it impossible for the 24 year-old coach to interest any of the kids in dribbling the ball through cones.  Needless to say, the other parents were not fans of my girls.

I realized quickly that team sports were just not my girls’ thing.  But keeping them active is important and we didn’t give up on finding sports that they would like and do well in.

Land sports – not for them.  But, luckily water is their thing.  Swimming, skiing, skating – if it involves some sort of water they are into it.

If it involves a uniform, costume or awesome gear then they are REALLY into it!  So, I was excited to head over to the new #RookieUSA store on Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side to check out all the fab clothes and shoes.  And while my girls are not land sport crazy, we are New Yorkers and we walk everywhere, so my girls live in sneakers – and having a giant selection is just what we need.  They also started tween spin this year and are in serious need of some cute workout shorts that won’t chafe.

I have also found that I need to canvas a new store without my daughters for the first visit – otherwise it’s a frenzy of “I need this.”  “I must have that.”  A little preparation goes a long way when guiding tween girls through a merchandise heaven.   And merch heaven it is…

I ended up getting these super soft and lightweight Nike shorts for my girls that are perfect for spinning, and a pair of fabulous purple Levis jeggings.  You can see the full photo spread on my Google + post

Purple and aqua – that’s how we roll in our house.

This is a seriously welcome addition to the Upper West Side – especially for the jeans and sneakers.  I have to add that the customer service was incredibly lovely too.  Not only did a saleswoman help me figure out the sizing (they really do need to post size charts for that Nike stuff) the cashier signed me for the rewards program and gave me the discount even though I couldn’t find my $20 coupon.  That really doesn’t happen in NYC.

Plus, it’s right next to Michaels – so after stocking up on sporty stuff I can feed my daughters’ artsy side with crafty goods galore, and then grab lunch at Whole Foods.  Perfect Upper West Side morning.

Check out RookieUSA on Twitter and Like them on Facebook so you can know when the online store launches!

Leave a comment below and tell me what sports your kid is into.  The first 5 commenters get a $20 Rookie USA gift card! 

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Rookie USA #CBias #SocialFabric

Finding Cyber Deals in an Instant This Holiday Season (and a giveaway)

One of the things that drives me crazy is the constant tab and window hopping I do to compare prices across websites.  There are sites that will aggregate an item across sites but I never have much luck with them.  Often they show wrong items in their search or don’t really find the best deals.  So this year I tried out a new browser extension called Drop Down Deals, which conveniently does exactly what it says: drops down a little teaser that tells you about deals, coupons and free shipping for the site you’re on.  Right there – no clicking away endlessly, Googling “free shipping” or any of the other time-consuming bargain hunting tactics that make cyber shopping a chore.

For example, if you went to Macys.com or BestBuy.com and these merchants currently had coupons or deals available, Drop Down Deals would pop up a small box in the corner of your computer screen to let you know.  When clicked, a menu will literally drop down to show you all the current coupons or deals or promotions for the site.  No freaking out wondering if there is a magical coupon out there that you missed.

They also have their own deals on the Drop Down Deals site and free shipping offers too.  To kick off this week of 5 Days of Deals they will be sharing exclusive deals to users through their site, facebook page and twitter.  One caveat, the browser extension only works on Firefox when on a Mac, though on most browsers on a PC, but you can follow on their site, facebook or twitter from anywhere.

To kick off the spirit of giving and getting a deal this holiday season I am hosting a giveaway for a fab nylon messenger bag to give to the techie in your life. (or the mom ’cause the nylon makes this a great diaper bag too!) After all, what’s more fun than cyber bargain hunting on the go?

To enter to win the messenger bag you must do one of the following actions:

1. Follow Drop Down Deals on Twitter: @DropDownDeals 
2. Like Drop Down Deals on FaceBook: Drop Down Deals
3. Google +1 Drop Down Deals page: Here
Happy Bargain Hunting!
The contest ends on 12/14/2011.  Winner will be chosen by random.org.  Open to all US Residents 21+.  Drop Down Deals is the sponsor of this giveaway and is responsible for all fulfillment, winner validation and shipping.  Beccarama is not responsible for prize fulfillment.
I was compensated for this post and the giveaway by Drop Down Deals.  But all opinions are my own, as always.

What’s In Your Friend’s Grocery Cart?

When I head to the grocery store I have a few lists – my mental list, my husband’s written down list of things he’s noticed we need, and lastly my subconscious list that gets triggered as I walk the aisles (or depending on how hungry and/or PMS I am the evil list that somehow throws the Mallomars into my cart).  My cart more or less always looks the same, filled with the basics that make up our family’s diet.  It never occurred to me that these items were unique, interesting or in any way different than anyone else’s.  But, a while back I went to Costco with a friend I don’t usually shop with and she looked in my cart and said, “Wow, we have totally different carts.  I would never buy any of that stuff.”  I looked in her cart and thought pretty much the same thing.

There we were – two very good friends, with fairly identical parenting approaches, the same political views, the same family backgrounds, even similar husbands and kids who adore each other, with two completely different grocery carts.  How different could they be?  Well, I’ve written before about my disdain for prepackaged, portioned snack food.  My friend is the queen of those items – it’s one of those short cuts that make her life easier so it makes sense for her.  She’s a big Vitamin Water drinker.  Me, not so much.  I am a vegetarian (though I eat fish so technically I’m a pescetarian).  So, my cart was full of clams and sardines for various pasta sauces, frozen wild salmon and shrimp and lobster salad.  Hers was full of chicken nuggets, canned pasta and soup.  We joke that my daughter is a fruititarian so I had enough fruit to open a farm stand.  She had applesauce and fruit snacks.  She likes one brand of turkey and yogurt; I like another.  Ditto for toilet paper, paper towels and bread.  I need dark chocolate and good balsamic vinegar in my pantry at all times.  She needs baby carrots and multi-grain chips and salsa.

The funniest thing about looking at our two different carts and cracking up is that the biggest, most obvious difference between us is that I cook almost every night and she doesn’t.  Her priority when shopping is to get the things for in between her children’s meals since a lot of nights they order in or go out and lunch is taken care of at school.  My priority is to fill up on staples and fill in on the fresh stuff so I don’t have to run to the market every day.  I’m looking at three meals a day, she’s usually only looking at one; and that’s breakfast.   But none of this had ever occurred to me until that day.

It’s a strange thing grocery shopping with a friend.  Unlike clothes shopping where you are helping each other out or asking opinions food shopping is very utilitarian and at the same time way more revealing.  So next time a girlfriend is going food shopping make it a date and I bet you’ll learn more about your friend and her family than you ever realized before.  (And if she’s one of those people who can buy bags of potato chips or giant boxes of Oreos and not eat them herself you may want to reconsider your friendship)

This post originally appeared on nycmomsblog

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Happy 100th Bday to….The Bra!

Well just when I thought my birthday party celebrations were over it turns out that today is the 100th birthday of the bra.  To celebrate I went to a fitting event for Wacoal.  I got a look at all of their incredibly well made and beautiful bras, and some of the incredibly well made practical bras (you know the ones that women actually wear!)  I also looked at the younger, flirtier line b.Tempt’d that has all the really lacy cute details.  I happen to love Wacoal ever since the brand really came through for me during and after my pregnancy when every other bra hurt, rubbed or otherwise drove me nuts.  I didn’t even buy pregnancy or nursing bras just went up a size, or two, or three with the regular Wacoal bras.

Aside from getting a lovely breakfast and seeing my fellow fab nycmoms bloggers, Nancy (fromhip2housewife,) and Amy (selfishmom), I got a complimentary bra fitting by one of the expert Wacoal fitters from Bloomingdales and a free bra (and then wrote down the style number for the other 2 I want to buy).  Did you know that you should have a professional bra fitting every two years?  Me neither.  Last time I got a real fitting was 7 years ago when I stopped breastfeeding.   Now here is the thing about being a woman that nobody tells you about when you’re growing up.  A lot of people you don’t really know are going to see you naked, half naked or in various states of undress way more than is true for men.  Men might strut around a locker room naked, but they do not have their private parts handled and examined on a regular basis like women do unless they are purposefully paying someone to do it.   And it’s not just because women go the gynecologist starting at a young age as opposed to men who don’t go the doctor for anything remotely as intrusive until they are decades older unless something has gone very wrong down there.

No, it’s the strange upkeep and everyday issues that send women into various states of undress.  Bikini wax?  We all know those paper panties are just there so both you and the waxer can pretend there’s some modesty involved in the process of a stranger applying hot wax in places you’ve never seen.  And then you have a baby and they send in the lactation consultant.  Nothing like having some woman manipulating your boobs every which way in order to optimize milk flow and latching positions.  And then there is the bra fitting,

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Mom in Toyland – Part 1 Playmobile and Madame Alexander

One of the best things about being a mom is your chance to reread your favorite childhood books and play with toys both old and new. But, one of the best things about being a mom blogger is getting to go the Toy Fair! Last week the Toy Fair hit New York at the Javits Center and I dropped off my daughters at The Westminster Dog Show with their grandmother (knew those pet allergies would come in handy) and headed to the fair to decide my own Best in Show.  First stops, Playmobile and Madame Alexander.

Certain companies evoke the kid in me like no other and Playmobile is one of them.  I had the big fort/camping set when I was little.  I am endlessly fascinated by incredible attention to detail that Playmobile executes in all their toys, the quality of the pieces that can be handed down over and over again, and way in which their toys facilitate imaginative play.  What caught my eye at the fair was their new school.  First of all it has such a pleasing, colorful, happy feel.  This is the school your kids wish they attended.  The details abound – a skeleton figure and microscope in the science lab, a working abacus on top of the real chalkboard for doing math, a little child bathroom and a Principal’s desk with a coffee pot.  Details, always about the details.  I immediately wanted to pick up the pieces and start playing.  It’s also fully fashioned all the way around like all Playmobile toys so that you could really get a bunch of kids playing with this at once – something I’m always looking at as a mom of twins.

One of my other favorite things about Playmobile is how their attention to the little things makes them great teaching tools too.

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Real Moms Never Pay Retail

Saletags

I grew up in Brooklyn way before hipster boutiques and cute home furnishings stores dotted the avenues.  Back in the 70′s and 80′s Brooklyn shopping was synonymous with one word – BARGAIN.  And finding those deals was a sport for my mom, brought to new highs when my grandmother visited from Michigan and the two of them piled us into the Volvo station wagon and headed into the depths of Brooklyn to the major discount emporiums like Century 21 and Aarons.  Stores with salesladies who wore heavy false eyelashes and would eye you up and down in the communal dressing room with a discerning Tim Gunn eye.  This was before the widespread prevalence of nationwide discounters like Marshalls and TJ Maxx, back when if you wanted to go to Loehmanns you hauled yourself up to the Bronx, not the nearest mall.

As if all of this bargain hunting wasn’t already in my genes I had an aunt who worked as an advertising and marketing executive at various major department stores (we’re talking Marshall Fields and Bergdorf Goodman).  So we enjoyed a family discount that made Neiman Marcus as affordable as Target.  Really.  As fun as this was it can really warp your perception of what things do – or at least should – cost.  After a childhood filled with heavily discounted designer clothing I find myself unwilling to pay retail for most anything – most of all my kids’ clothes.

Luckily the Internet has opened up a whole new world of bargain hunting.  It’s almost impossible to pay full price.  Sites like retailmenot.com, ebates.com, fatwallet.com, not to mention eBay and a basic google search yield myriads of discount codes.  And not just for buying on-line, but tons of deals and coupons for printing out at stores.  Of course living here in New York City also brings another big benefit and that is all of the fabulous sample sales where designers get rid of excess merchandise that is in the stores right now.  But the Internet has opened that treasure trove as well – sites like Hautelook.com, ideeli.com, and gilt.com can bring the sample sale frenzy right to your home.  Honestly, it’s almost too much for one bargain-hunting mom to handle.

The recession has made all of this discount searching cool and hip, but I began passing on my bargain finding skills to my daughters as soon as they could read.  They know how to find a Build-A-Bear coupon online or work an eBay auction like pros.  They know you don’t hit that submit button until you’ve searched for the promo code or at the very least free shipping.  And when it’s their allowance money on the line you better believe that they will use price comparison tools and coupon searching to put Suze Orman to shame.  Nature or nurture I’ll never know for sure.  But, one thing is certain, my daughters have caught the bargain-hunting bug, and like true New Yorkers they’ll never want to pay retail again.

This post originally appeared at nycmomsblog.com