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Archive for the ‘shop review’ Category

Even for a toddler, the Rocket is pretty small. Of course, this was of much consternation for me when she was younger and all of her problems felt like my fault even when no one explicitly said so (because how good are parents at feeling guilty, amirite?) and that I didn’t feed her enough or maybe I should stop stacking books on her head. At last check, she was in or below the bottom 3% of the population in regards to general length/weight/giganticity of head. But then I had the bright idea of seeing where I was on a graph, and after a lazy Google, it turns out that I am in the bottom 3% of height as well. Teach comes in at a nice round 50%, the Australian male average for height, but let’s face it, odds are not in the Rocket’s favour that she will be 6 foot 7. Though then at least someone could change the light bulbs in the bedroom without a chair.

Along with the maternal miniatureness she inherited was the bane of my existence: tiny feet. At 31, my feet are a size 5 and still aren’t big enough to fit into shoes at most shoe shops or even Target/Kmart unless I buy from the kid’s department. (Which I do. And which is cheaper, by the way.) It’s why I was never the person to squeal about shopping for footwear. It’s too depressing. So with the Rocket the size of your average ten month old at sixteen months, she can walk like a champ but it is goddamn impossible to find shoes for her. I’d always sighed over ads and people’s angst about shoes for kids. Who cares? I would think. Just buy sneakers! (You will understand here why I have never been a style icon.) Well, now that I’m a parent, I get it. Shoe shopping is a fucking pain in the arse, and apparently I’ll have to do it for her MORE THAN ONCE.

It was so hard to find shoes for her that met my fairly basic requirements that I am going to explain where I found them here, lest some other small-footed babyparent need this probably very obvious information.

My needs were:

1. Hard sole for running around in grass/damp.

2. Size 2.

And that was it. But lord, you’d think I was a diva with nineteen requirements for how I want water in my trailer with the amount of difficulty I had with it. But I tried. Where? LET ME TELL YOU MY TROUBLES, INTERNET.

1. Clarks. Upon the recommendation of some friends, this was the place to go for appropriate, long-wearing shoes. And they had very tough-looking shoes, albeit not pretty but who really cares? Well, sadly, they didn’t have them in a size 2, which wouldn’t have mattered anyway as they were SEVENTY FIVE FRICKING DOLLARS, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? FOR A SHOE THE SIZE OF MY HAND? A shoe made of chocolate would last about the same amount of time as it takes a kid to grow into a new size, and would cost like 10% of that AND I could eat them. I couldn’t even stifle a laugh, I just barked hysterically about it while pointing it out to Teach. Then we ran away.

2. Other proper kids shoes stores. (i.e. Betts, etc.) Still nothing with a hard sole under a size 4. Most of the shoes were still $60. Let’s be honest, there is no way I’m paying more for shoes for the Rocket than I’d pay for my own shoes. $60 is ridiculous, and Teach works full-time and I work part-time, so if it’s even out of our range it’s completely frightening for a significant part of the population.

3. Target/Kmart/Big W. All of these are useless for us 3%ers, as we are now known. (We, currently, being me and the Rocket, and she can’t talk yet or even type, so let’s face it, it’s just me.) Kmart starts at a 3, so comes out a clear winner, if not actually helpful at this time. I did buy her a pair of size 3 boots, which hang on to her calves like my size 6 boots do, but I think they restrict her ankles too much so I am not their biggest fan. Up until yesterday, they were The Best I Could Do, so she wore them anyway. (Target also start at a size 3, and I bought some fire engine ones for her in excitement, but she fell out of them after three steps, which isn’t entirely useful.)

4. Pumpkin Patch. Nope. Everything is cute, but hard soles start at a 4.

5. Zara. Unexpectedly, their shoes are super-cute, reasonably priced in comparison to Clarks, and start at what I estimate as a 3. (A European 18.) I hadn’t been able to get back with the Rocket in tow to try them on, but I’d like to – most were under $40, which is still a bit steep, but once you’re sick of looking it becomes quite reasonable, actually.

6. Your Friendly Asian Kids Shop. Let’s face it, a place I am likely to find stylish shoes is in Asian clothes/footwear shops, so it stands to reason that I could maybe find some in a kidswear store. My local favourite is one called HoneyBaby, which has the bonus of a Thomas the Tank Engine table for the Rocket to get into fistfights over. And lo, I found a hard-soled shoe that FITS, much to my delight, and to my HAPPIER DELIGHT, they are shoes that SQUEAK, so I can hear her wherever she is, AND they have SPIDER-MAN on them. Her face when she first put them on was one of the most lovely things I’ve seen, so, no regrets, but let’s face it, the flaws are a) Marvel are probably not getting paid for the use of the image on these five-dollar knockoffs, but mostly b) they are open-toed sandals. Great for summer (though please let her have grown out of them by then) but not so great in winter, when the grass is perpetually damp. But SO CLOSE. She wore these to a beachside playground during the school holidays and other kids went nuts for them.

7. Best and Less. SUCCESS. Oh my god, my face when I saw they had entire racks of hard-soled shoes that started at a 2 and soft-soled ones up to, I think, a 5. (Because surely the opposite problem happens too – bigger or older kids that can’t walk, which is totally normal.) And they had them in different colours and styles and well it was amazing. The Rocket, bless her very tiny cotton socks, loves trying on shoes (it is insufferable to mention it though because people will be all “LOL LADIES AMIRITE” no sir, no you are not) and was very tolerant of me putting all of them on her. And we found the perfect-fitting pair which were cute and they were, happy of happies, twelve dollars. And so I went to buy them, and by the time we got to the cash register the Rocket had taken her old shoes off and was offering them to me in exchange for her new ones, so, you know, a good sign. Sadly, they didn’t have any full sneakers in the “girl” rack – they were all mary janes, though at least with decent cover – but the “boy” side had heaps.

They are black, with many different colours of flower, so I can pretend they suit everything! But sadly, when you have a kid, you realise you must throw all accessory-matching out the window, and just be happy if every item doesn’t have chew marks on it. Though I’m hardly one to talk, as I buy one pair of Vans per year and wear them every day.

So if this problem pertains to you, go straight to Best and Less. Yes, it smells like over-laundered granny knickers, but it works. DO IT.

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As soon as you get too pregnant to fit into your normal clothes, you are doomed to a solid six months to two years of Difficulty Getting Dressed. And if, like me, dressing like a normal person was a struggle in the first place, that basically sucks. Pre-baby I didn’t wear any dresses apart from my school uniform until I was about twenty-four, thinking I looked stupid in them, until I went travelling to Japan in summer and all I had was jeans and sneakers and we walked everywhere and I realised: self, you are ridiculous. After that, I wore dresses in summer, and the rest of the year I existed purely in jeans, slip-on sneakers (because laces require time), and tank tops, t-shirts, or jumpers. Or all of the above. Then I got pregnant and UGH, everything was ruined. But here’s my brief advice for a basic wardrobe when you’re having a baby, if you are me. Stylish people may want to look elsewhere.

First, obviously, I needed jeans. I tried on many a pair but ultimately my favourites were from Jeanswest–I got two pairs, one in the size that fit when I was three months pregnant and one another size up (they were two for $100 at the time), which meant they lasted until I had the Rocket and then as I slowly downsized again. It took me six months after she was born until I fit back into my normal jeans. These were almost all I wore. They come in a variety of cuts and shades (more now than they did last year when I bought mine, so hooray!) I went for the dark blue because I look washed out in lighter blue and black is useless when you have a cat, unless you want to look like your pants are made of fur.

Then I needed some frocks. I picked up a few successful ones from the excellent ASOS, who ship free to Australia (they actually have an Australian warehouse now, too.) Above is the exact favourite black dress that I wore almost every day, just accessorising with brooches or necklaces or all those other things I no longer wear due to wanting my kid to retain her eyeballs. It’s less clingy in person (unless it’s a slightly different version this season.) These ones also look cute.

I also picked up a bajillion tank tops in a variety of colours from Giordano. (The website lists two colours, but instore they have them in all of the shades.) These fit perfectly until I was about eight months pregnant and imploded into a whale, and could barely fit in the car. (Target also have some nifty maternity tanks and t-shirts that then turn into nursing tops. They were great as tanks/t-shirts right up until birth, but I really cannot deal with the nursing angle. They just do not stay open around the boob. Frustrating. Perhaps I need double-sided tape.)

More excellent finds turned up at Mothercare, too–keep an eye out for their specials because the full-priced stuff, while ace, can be a bit eye-wateringly expensive for something you only wear for a few months. I had a voucher so I went a bit nuts–two frocks, two skirts, and bathers. Instore and online can have different stuff so check both if you can! I probably would have worn the above a whole bunch. Bathers were a great idea too, because swimming felt AMAZING. Mothercare had and has a tres cute selection.

I can’t offer advice on the bra front because I don’t think I ever got it quite right, what with them changing shape every time I lost eye contact with them, but Mothercare also has a big range, people who can measure you, and these cool two-packs that aren’t too expensive. Underwire doesn’t cut it when you’re pregnant, which is a bit sad for those people *cough* who wear push-up bras all the time, and who thus lose a cup size rather than gain one when I they have to start wearing normal bras.

Lastly, seriously, buy thongs. When you suddenly and alarmingly expand all over towards the end, you will be glad I said this.

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Next time I give sage advice, remind me to reread it. On Saturday we caught up for lunch and a movie with my friend Dani, who has endless tolerance for screaming babies (well, my screaming baby), and we decided to eat at High Tech Burrito* then go to the crying room at Hoyts Victoria Gardens to see Looper so I could show off how good the Rocket is at seeing movies, and how totally easy it is to be a parent. At 3:45pm. Which is the daytime. Which is not the Rocket’s naptime. (Her routine being, let’s face it, completely nonexistent.)

So I ordered a popcorn and a frozen Coke and put the Rocket between me and Teach with her favourite toys and concentrated on the intricacies of a time-travel film. Haha, I am joking. Instead the Rocket SCREAMED and then YELLED and did. not. let. up. Like it is not hard enough to follow these kind of films anyway, you try doing it with someone hollering in your ear and pulling your hair. Without subtitles. And I tried to calm her down and put her to sleep and play with her and eventually, because I am not very bright, I realised that she was not happy being told to be good in a dark room where she couldn’t see her rabbit and eat his foot. So I left. For the first time in my life, I walked out of a movie. THAT I WAS ENJOYING. Dani and Teach stayed behind (because movies, after all, are not cheap, and it was a good one) and as soon as I took the Rocket outside, she calmed right down and was a bundle of innocent merriment. Sigh.

So while Looper played upstairs, I took the Rocket to IKEA–because everywhere else was closed, but IKEA stays open until 7pm even on weekends–and we looked at toys and sat in chairs and dammit if she didn’t have the best time that ever happened, especially when I plonked her on a rocking horse and she looked around and beamed. And half of me was all, awwww, I made my daughter happy, and half of me was all but I wanted to see a movie, and eat popcorn, and pretend I can still do normal things.

But you can’t. Instead of seeing a movie, you go to IKEA and buy a squeaky carrot toy because your kid chews on it and it was only four dollars. And when you change her, just before you meet your friends again, she will pee on her socks. And by the time you are reunited with your frozen Coke, it will have melted. And you will sulk, because perspective vanishes when you are cranky, no? YES.

Anyway, Dani and Teach report that Looper was very good. And I learned that kids adore IKEA. And that you shouldn’t take your kid to the crying room in the daytime. And that if you whine about it enough, you will get hugs from your coworkers the next day, and one of them will buy you a comfort coffee, and your beloved will come meet you with a bunch of roses, because while missing out on a movie is nothing in the scheme of things, it’s a smack of reality and my friends are understanding and beautiful and I love them all.

~

* post not to come–this time, anyway–because I forgot to take pictures, forgot what I ordered, and got salsa on the baby.

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Much to the happiness of my family and the blind rage of anyone wanting to have a relaxing lunch in a shopping centre food court this fortnight, it’s now school holidays: day one. In celebration, we stayed up too late last night watching cartoons and then slept in this morning. Once we finally dragged ourselves from the bed and even made it into the shower and brushed our teeth, we set out to local super-toyshop Windmill, your destination for all the best and most educational toys around. We wanted some wooden toys for the Rocket as she seems to love them best, and Windmill also has a stack of great science gadgets and games, toys that show a diverse range of cultures instead of everyone being Whitey McWhitebread, and crayons and puppets and really just about anything you could want. Prices range from a couple of bucks to super-pricey gorgeous things but you’ll find something in your price range if you need a cool present. We scooped up some wooden blocks, a dog with a bell, and some emotion dice for Teach’s classroom for around thirty dollars all up.

 

After an exhausting half hour of excitedly showing each other toys and terrifying the baby with Ned Kelly hand-puppets, we were starved, and while Mont Albert has a pile of bakeries and milk bars and restaurants, the only real cafe setting is Caf-feine. It’s a pretty enough place and the service is lovely; in a surprise to no one, I ordered avocado and mushrooms on toast, and Teach ordered the gluten-free pasta (he’s not gluten free, but liked the sound of the flavours.)

Yeah, no amount of Instagram filtering will turn me into a good photographer. The Rocket is eating her new dog up in the corner; she is very good at cafes, though she will desperately try and stick her fingers in everything you’re eating. Look, I want desperately to love Caf-feine. It’s got wi-fi, a courtyard garden, piles of toys, and is within walking distance of my place. The people are friendly and they’ve got a flexible menu with gluten-free and vegetarian options. Unfortunately, the food itself has yet to floor me. It’s a kind of say-what-it-is menu, which means when you order something it doesn’t really come with a flavour kick. My mushrooms and avocado weren’t helped with spice or anything, though the mushrooms maybe had a hint of soy or something (something not-breakfast-y, though.) Teach’s pasta was pasta plus rocket, olives and sundried tomatoes, and nothing else, and he didn’t finish it. It’s not that the food is ghastly, it’s just uninspired, and if I was hungry and needed to be nearby I’d probably head up the road to the Balwyn shops and try out a cafe there (which I really should do.) Anyway, we got a can of coke from the milk bar afterwards then the Rocket howled on the way home, but now everyone is at home and the cat has helped knock over some of the new blocks so I’d say today was successful all up.

 

Windmill

591 Whitehorse Road
Mont Albert

9830 4336

(there are also stores in Hobart, Launceston and Adelaide)

It’s a bit crowded, but you can buy stuff online!

 

Caf-feine

597 Whitehorse Road

Surrey Hills

9830 2604

There’s a ramp up to the door, a decent amount of maneuvering space inside, and a toybox to play with. Service at a high counter. I didn’t use the bathroom, but the signage indicates there’s a disabled toilet out the back with the others.

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