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Worthless Baby Product: The Medicine Pacifier

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

I’m sure that someone out there finds these products useful. They wouldn’t exist otherwise, right? I was excited to try the medicine pacis. We actually tried two different brands. We tried Munchkin’s The Medicator and Kidz Med’s Pacifier Medicine Dispenser. Cullen hates taking his daily antibiotic. It’s a giant struggle and takes more than one set of hands to hold his arms and legs, lean him back, dispense the medicine, wipe his chin, insert his (normal) pacifier to encourage him to swallow, and to cover your ears to avoid hearing damage from all the screaming. It’s awful. And we don’t even know how long we’re going to have to administer this stuff.

Cullen loves his pacifier, most of the time. We thought that a pacifier that could deliver medicine would be perfect for him! The products claim that the medicine is delivered to the back of the tongue, bypassing the taste buds making it more likely that the child will swallow. We did not find this to be the case. We tried each pacifier at least twice, and the results were the same. Each time was an abysmal failure. The best that we did was to get down less than half of the teaspoon of medicine with the Munchkin pacifier. The Kidz Med version had the plunger. I thought that might be better, but considering that he just kept spitting out the paci or taking it out with his hands or swatting at us when we tried to put it in his mouth, it was no better than the syringe method.

So…I think the medicine pacis are going to be tossed into the trash. We’re back to the old hold-him-down-and-shove-meds-into-his-mouth-with-the-syringe method. At least he forgives us quickly for the torture. I think I might be in the market for a toddler straight jacket (kidding!).

Emmaljunga Prams

Monday, August 24th, 2009

UPDATE 03/11/2011: This post was simply intended to show the beautiful stroller that came into my possession (and that we sold to benefit the National MS Society). This is not intended to be a stroller swap board, though you are welcome to leave your contact information in the comments. Note that you must include your email address in the body of the comment for it to be displayed on the page. I suggest that you check out the StrollerSWAP Yahoo group for all of your stroller swapping needs. If you want to see some pretty pictures of a (sold) Ringo from the late 80s/early 90s, read on…

We received a huge variety of donations with the over 50 families that donated to our National MS Society yard sale. Some donations were quite interesting. Perhaps the most interesting set of donations that we received were three Emmaljunga products – a Ringo stroller, a Kimi stroller, and a bassinet with stand. All of them were products from the late 80s and early 90s. It took a bit of research to find out what models that I had (and approximately what years that they were from). I found that there are quite a few people who are very excited about these strollers, which surprised me considering the age of them.

I got in touch with a variety of collectors – some who were using the strollers for their babies, some who just liked to collect them. Apparently, Emmaljunga is a very high end brand. I have no idea how much that they cost new considering that I have been able to find very little information about prices (nothing on new strollers). I saw one on ebay that was about 3 years old or so that was going for over $700. The two that I’m selling are still worth $60-150, and they are more than 15 years old! Emmaljunga no longer allows sales to the United States.

I posted a few photos onto the stroller board, and I got several responses about them, identifying the models and years. From this, I learned that the stroller pictured in this blog post is a fairly rare Ringo model from the early 90s. Just by posting a few quick photos, I had one person in Washington state who was very interested in purchasing the stroller and having it shipped to her. I had not even tried to market or sell them yet! I was thrilled that someone was interested in the stroller. Unfortunately, the stroller is huge and shipping it is a bit of a pain. Gabe painstakingly took it apart and packed it very nicely into a very large box. We are hoping that the shipping doesn’t cut too much into the profits for the National MS Society (since I agreed on a price that included shipping).

I asked Gabe to take some more photos of the stroller before he dismantled it, and as he did he learned that the stroller is really quite neat. It has many different ways that it can be configured (and the wheels had mechanisms that allowed it to pop off easily). He took several photos of the various configurations. It rolls very, very nicely, too. One of the enthusiasts on the board was talking about her Ringo and how she can go off-roading over tree stumps and uneven terrain with her stroller and the baby never feels a bump. I guess there’s something to be said for fancy strollers!

Overall, it has been an interesting journey. I have been intrigued by the stroller culture, amazed at how excited people have been getting, and have a bit of appreciation for the merchandise. Will our next baby be strolling around in an Emmaljunga stroller? Probably not! But he or she will probably be drooling if we encounter one on our walks!

Kids Exchange: Tips for consigning

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

I haven’t consigned any items yet, but I learned a few things from working and shopping the sale. Some of these tips are just guesses based on my observations.

Consigning

  • Securely tag your items: The shoppers are not going to be gentle with your items. Your merchandise may be buried under piles and piles of other items, so be sure that your tags are securely attached. Don’t just use safety pins to attach your tags to your clothing. Zip ties are more secure. While you’re at it, zip tie the clothing to the hanger as well. Many things that ended up in the “unwanted” bins did not make it back to the appropriate place quickly (or at all) due to missing hangers. The organizers of Kids Exchange didn’t provide us with extra hangers for such items, so we had to scrounge around for those.
  • Secure all pieces together: Whether you use zip ties, ziploc bags (making sure that the top is not only zipped but also taped completely shut), the original box (again, taped completely shut), or some other means, just be sure to secure all of your pieces. I can’t tell you how many random parts that I ran across while working and shopping. Your items aren’t going to sell as well if they are missing their pieces.
  • Use original packaging when possible: This may just be a personal preference. Gabe and I selected a few items that were likely identical to dozens of others with the exception that they were in their original boxes. We might have even paid a few dollars extra. We had to trust the tag when it said that the set was complete.
  • Be descriptive on the tag: Things like “complete set” or other information that isn’t obvious are helpful to the buyer, but you also want to be sure that your item gets properly categorized if it is misplaced during the sale. I don’t know for sure, but I think that the first thing that the “lost tags” person does is look through a box of spare tags that have been collected from around the building to see if they can match the item with the appropriate tag. Of course, if you’ve attached your tags securely, then you don’t need to worry about the tag getting lost. If your item is returned to the “unwanted items” section, then it really helps the sorters to return your item to the correct location if you write categorization information on the tag. This is especially important for clothing. Familiarize yourself with how they break down the categories. Generally, this is done by size, so write on the tag the correct size as well as whether it belongs in the girls or boys section. The people volunteering only care so much that your item makes it back to the right section, so make it as easy as possible on them. Your item has a better chance of selling if people can find it.
  • Familiarize yourself with the product groupings: Often an item could potentially belong to more than one place. It helps to find out which place is the most appropriate. For example, we found Little People items in the Little People section (as you would expect) as well as the Fisher Price section and various other sections like trains or animals. I’m guessing your good condition items would sell best in the section that best describes your item. Perhaps a strategy for selling a worse condition item would be to put it in a different category that still fits?? It’s probably best just to price it real cheap and put it in the proper place.
  • Price appropriately: We saw quite a few items on the 50% off day that were obviously not selling because of prices that were too high. It helps to know the going rate of what you are selling. I’m sure that there are websites out there to help you with this, in addition to checking prices on ebay or craigslist. Consignment prices are higher than yardsale prices.
  • Make sure your items are clean: This seems pretty obvious, but I can’t tell you how many items that I saw that looked grungy. Also, I highly recommend putting items like bedding into plastic bags (original linen packaging with the large, clear plastic zipper bags are perfect). When I was cleaning the linen section, it was impossible to tell whether some items were stained or just dirty from falling onto the dirty floor. I would recommend doing the same with soft fabric toys. You cannot expect that your item will not fall onto the floor, and that floor is extremely dirty.

    Please leave comments if you have other suggestions, especially if you have consigned at the sale in the past!

  • Kids Exchange: Tips for shopping

    Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

    While working the Kids Exchange sale in January as a volunteer, I learned a few things about both shopping and consigning. I thought I would post my amateur tips here for first timers. Stay tuned for the consigning tips…

    Shopping the Sale

    • Volunteer: In my limited experience, this seems to be the number one way to find the best deals. Volunteers are allowed to shop one day before the consignors as well as an hour early on the 50% day. This means considerably shorter lines and the best picks. I had people tell me that they waited in line over 2 hours. I never had to wait longer than 20 minutes during the volunteer time slots.

    • Consign 10 or more items: If you can’t volunteer, then consigning is probably the second best way to go. Even if you are volunteering, there are benefits to consigning. First of all, you get a preview of what is for sale. Many people scope out their finds while dropping off their items. If you don’t volunteer, then you get to shop a day early. The lines can still be long, but you still get a pretty good pick of the items. I wouldn’t be surprised if half of the items for sale are gone before the public sale starts. It’s insane.
    • Bring a shopping cart: They do have very limited shopping carts available, but you are not guaranteed to be able to get one. Bring something that will suffice. I have seen people with strollers (for the loot, not the baby!), wagons, homemade clothing racks made out of PVC pipes attached to wagons, personal shopping carts, big plastic bins on wheels, etc. I made this mistake when I went to the sale last summer, but I was fortunately with someone who knew the ropes.
    • Be prepared to be there a while: Lines can potentially be long, but shopping the sale also takes some time. It’s very overwhelming. You’ll want some time and energy to sift through piles of toys and racks of clothing. Bring a snack. Bring bottles and food for the kids (or leave the kids with a sitter). Wear comfy shoes.
    • Have a plan: Kids Exchange is huge, so you will want to make a list of things you want to buy. I found it easier to attack the larger items and specific items first, then things like toys, then clothing last. It helps to know the regular prices on things so you know whether you’re getting a good deal.
    • Don’t buy items that are not 50% off on the last day: I guess that there would be exceptions to this one, but we made a point of not buying anything that wasn’t 50% off on the last day. The items are extremely picked over by this point, and it makes sense that either something is wrong with the item or it is overpriced. Sure, things can get misplaced or buried, but as a general rule, there was a reason that hundreds of others passed on that particular item.

    Kids Exchange: My Volunteer Experiences

    Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

    I decided to volunteer for the recent Kids Exchange sale after hearing that it is the absolutely best way to shop the sale. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to swing a 5 hour shift since I can’t usually be away from Maddie for 6 hours (once you factor in travel time, arriving early for the shift, etc). When I signed up to volunteer, I had a hard time envisioning what Maddie’s schedule would be like in a few months. It wasn’t that long ago that I could easily plan months in advance, but things have certainly changed. Life is way more unpredictable now! With Maddie’s nursing schedule, I thought that it would be easiest to volunteer for one of their split shifts.

    Most of the volunteer slots are one 5-hour shift, but they had a few special split shifts. Mine was a 3-hour shift on Thursday night, during the consignor’s sale, and a 2-hour shift on Sunday at the end of the 50% off sale. They are very adament about not making changes or cancelling your shift except in the case of emergencies and unavoidable schedule conflicts. In the days leading up to the sale, I was regretting my decision to volunteer! We spent more money than we should have at Christmas, so we have been watching our expenses closely and are not in a money spending mode. We weren’t sure what we needed to buy for Maddie as she has plenty of toys, and she is set for clothing for now. She did not, however, have anything for the Spring or Summer. The January sale has only Spring and Summer clothing. I still have a hard time deciding what size that she will be in several months!

    I toyed with cancelling my shift, but I decided to stick with it. I arrived a few minutes early on Thursday evening, as they requested. I was under the impression that we would get some sort of instruction or training, but they pretty much just told me to go over to the “unwanted items” and sort things. Fortunately, a few people in the unwanted items section had been working for several hours, so they were able to show us the ropes. I took clothing items that had been discarded both in the designated section and all over the building and sorted them into the appropriate sections. Is it a boys or girls item? What size is it? I will be revisiting this topic when I talk about tips for consigning and shopping the sale! I ran a few toys from this section to the appropriate sections, but overall I just sorted tons of clothes into the appropriate sections while a few runners took sorted clothing to the sales racks.

    The unwanted section was hopping for a while. It seemed like every time we turned around, someone had discarded 20 more items. We had to monitor the sorted items to ensure that people didn’t just insert their random items into the ones that we had dutifully sorted. We had a lull after a little while, and I was reassigned to Linens.

    The Linens section was a complete mess when I arrived! The items had been tossed around, fallen off the table, and picked through furiously for almost 2 days. I worked with one other girl to straighten up the table, put the larger items on the floor under the table, and basically make it look presentable to the public sale the following morning. This task was a bit daunting at first and was harder than it looked. Nothing was particularly heavy, but it was manual labor that I’m not accustomed to doing. I think it was good for me, and I felt a sense of accomplishment when I looked over the section and saw a tidy row of linens…until I realized another section of linens that we had not yet tackled or even seen! We got those under control as well, and then we were reassigned to the checkout tables.

    The checkout tables were a bit overwhelming. We had to take the tags off of every item and put them into a box for the next table to calculate the totals. We bundled every 10 clothing items with a zip tie. We had to bag every item that could be bagged. We then had to count the number of bundles and bags as well as the number of items. This had to be cross checked with the number of tags in the box. We asked if they wanted to give a charitable donation. When all of this was checked and double checked, we would write the totals on a sticky note, put it into the box, tell the customer their number, and deliver the box to the next table. They really have a pretty good system, though they rely on the volunteers heavily to do their job correctly! My first order had 64 items, and this was a typical order throughout my checkout experiences. I was always concerned that my count was not going to come out correct (and once I couldn’t make it match no matter what I did and finally just notified the next table that I was off by one item. Oops.).

    I returned on Sunday afternoon for my 2-hour shift. I did a short stint in the unwanted items section and spent the majority of my time in the check out section. I once again removed tags, bagged and bundled items, asked for donations, and delivered my boxes. This went fairly smoothly, and the time passed quickly for the most part.

    Overall, I felt a little stressed to take time out of my busy life for working the event, but I actually enjoyed the work. I have never worked retail, so it was fun to do something different for a few hours. I have a much greater appreciation for checkout clerks, especially at this event but really in any busy situation. It gave me good ideas for what to do and not do when consigning items. It also made me appreciate the short lines and excellent selection on both the volunteer shopping day and the one-hour-early 50% off day. If you are serious about shopping Kids Exchange and have a few hours to spare, then volunteering is the way to go. Wear comfortable shoes, bring a water bottle and snacks, and be ready to be on your feet the entire time!

    Kids Exchange, Part 1

    Sunday, February 15th, 2009

    In this area, the Kids Exchange consignment sale is the big topic in the Mommy community twice a year. Thousands of consignors submit their items. Pretty much anything kid related is fair game, and item condition varies quite a bit. The most recent one was last month.

    I went to the sale for the first time last summer, and I was overwhelmed. I only went on the last day of the sale, midday, when almost everything is marked 50% off. I could not believe the amount of kids items. They had tables and tables and tables of toys, books, games, linens, and baby items. They had racks and racks and racks of clothing. It was unlike anything I had ever seen and a bargain hunter’s dream (though I’m not sure I’m patient enough to be that bargain hunter). I found a few cheap items including some age appropriate toys for Maddie, a few articles of clothing, and a baby scale.

    The Kids Exchange public sale is 3 days long, and it is preceded by two special sale days. The first day is reserved for volunteers only, and the second day is reserved for those who consign at least 10 items. The volunteers must work 5 hour shifts (a special two hour block is reserved for those who work two shifts). I heard that the best way to shop the sale was to volunteer, so I decided to give it a try. I signed up for a special split shift, since I wasn’t sure what Maddie’s schedule would be like when I made the commitment. My shift was Thursday night during the consignor sale and Sunday afternoon at the end of the 50% off sale.

    The volunteer sale was on Wednesday night, and Gabe, Maddie, and I attended the sale. Wow. I thought that last year’s final day had a ton of stuff, but I had no idea where they started. I cannot even begin to adequately describe what we saw. It was extremely overwhelming. Tables were piled so high that you had to be very careful when trying to grab a particular toy. I, myself, caused several toy avalanches. In addition to 3-foot high piles of items on top of every table, the items were stacked under the tables as well. They had many of every type of major baby equipment. Do you need a bouncy seat? They probably had no less than 100 of those. An exersaucer? At least 100 of those as well. A crib? Over 50 of those. Little People farm? You can choose from at least 20 different ones of varying prices, condition, and completeness. We were quite overwhelmed!

    We ended up buying about a dozen different items of clothing, a few Little People sets (airplane, bus, zoo), a little baggie of spare Little People, a few wooden puzzles, some childproofing items, and a few other random odds and ends. We started out trying to find a wagon (none seemed to be available), safety gates (we didn’t look in the right place and missed out on these entirely!), and a stroller (well over a hundred strollers – too overwhelming). We turned to toys because we felt we might be able to accomplish something in that section! We then tackled clothing last as I knew that would be exhausting.

    I worked the sale on Thursday night, and I was astounded by how much of the stuff had been sold between the time that we arrived at 5pm on Wednesday and arriving for my 6pm shift on Thursday. I wouldn’t be surprised if half of the items had been sold by then! Anyone who is remotely serious about getting great deals at this sale should consider volunteering or at least consigning items. Oh, and I should mention that I didn’t have to wait in hardly any lines. I think we had to wait maybe 20 minutes on Wednesday night (and had no wait at all on Sunday).

    As a volunteer, we also had the benefit of shopping an hour early on Sunday’s 50% off sale. As soon as we walked in, Gabe said, “there’s nothing left!” This is a very funny statement considering the massive quantity of stuff that still remains at this point. Compared to the first day, there really is nothing left! Coming in an hour early is a big benefit as you are able to find the best deals on the items that were mispriced. Suddenly, something that was deemed too expensive at $20 is a steal at $10! We found the Drop and Roar Dinosaur for $7.50, some cheap clothing, some cute puzzles, and a few other miscellaneous items for cheap, cheap, cheap!

    Stay tuned for my experiences as a volunteer as well as some things that I learned for consigning items and shopping the sale. I’ll be posting 3 more posts about the sale over the next several days or so. In the meantime, here’s a photo from Sunday when they had “nothing” left (you can’t even see the racks and racks of clothing in the back):

    You’ve got the cutest little…baby legs!

    Thursday, October 9th, 2008


    We had so many clothes for Maddie from yard sales, our baby shower gifts, other gifts from family and friends, and generous hand-me-downs from friends. Most of these clothes were in smaller sizes, and recently Maddie finally needed clothes for the first time. I have been excited about shopping for her! The biggest challenge in developing Maddie’s wardrobe is her mobility. She’s crawling and cruising all over the place. She can’t wear the footie sleepers or fancy dresses to play as they just get in her way and make her very frustrated.

    Catherine (our talented photographer friend) had given Maddie some Baby Legs leg warmers a while back. After talking to my friend Shannon about clothing choices for mobile babies, we decided to give them a try. They have worked very well for keeping her baby legs warm without impeding her crawling. And I think they are so cute! Shannon recommended Crawler Covers for some handmade baby leg warmers. We ordered 6 pairs, pictured at the top of this post. They are so cute! I have been pretty happy with them, though I think it would help to have more shorts or skirts to cover the gap between the onesie and the leg warmers. I will warn that some of the infant sized Crawler Covers are smaller than I anticipated. I think that Maddie could have worn the regular sized ones (and would be able to wear them longer). We have one more pair that we found at Target (not sure of the brand) that is pictured in our sneak peeks.

    Here’s Maddie wearing her purple Crawler Covers leg warmers:

    And here she is in her polka dotted Baby Legs:

    Our Snug Tuck Pillow

    Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

    I mentioned a while back that we had ordered a Snug Tuck Pillow to keep Maddie safe while co-sleeping. As I said in Maddie’s 7-month letter, we love it! We are so much more comfortable with her safety when she’s in the bed with us (which is the majority of the night).

    What’s sweeter than sleeping next to this little angel? The Snug Tuck Pillow is pictured here behind her. It matches our sheets pretty well, doesn’t it?

    Happy 7 Months, Madeline!

    Sunday, September 21st, 2008

    Maddie turned 7 months yesterday. I wrote this letter late last night, but I wanted to take time to add the photos today. Enjoy this installment of the Letters to Maddie series. (more…)

    Baby Product Review: Chicco Lullaby LX Playard

    Thursday, August 28th, 2008

    Our original plan involved Maddie sleeping in a bassinet by our bed for the first few months. We wanted a playard (commonly referred to as a “pack-n-play” which is the Graco brand), as we figured that this would be convenient at home as well as travel. We chose the Chicco Lullaby LX Playard in Race Red, as pictured here. We received the one that we wanted from Aunt Kristin and Crazy Uncle Chad, and they assisted us in putting it together.

    The first thing that we noticed about the playard is that it was quite a bit larger than we had expected. The Chicco Lullaby does not fold as compactly as we would have liked for traveling. We also discovered after putting it together that it is too wide for a standard doorway. If you planned to wheel the bassinet from one room to another, then this playard would not work for you. Fortunately, we didn’t have plans to move it once we had it set up, but we assembled it in the living room and realized the problem when trying to move it to our bedroom!

    The first time that we assembled the playard was tricky. Crazy Uncle Chad declared that the designers of this baby product should work for NASA. Once you put it together once or twice, it isn’t too hard to assemble or disassemble. Based on my experiences with the Chicco Playard and a Graco Pack-n-Play, it seems to be pretty standard.

    The bassinet portion of the playard was wonderful for Maddie’s first 4-5 months. We used it exclusively in our bedroom. We were thankful to have a portable crib in our room, even if she didn’t spend the entire night in the bassinet. This playard is sturdy, and we felt it was great for our purposes. We kept it fully assembled for the entire 5 months, and now we use the non-bassinet portion in cases where we need to keep Maddie safe for a few minutes if Gabe and I can’t be right there with her to watch her.

    My parents purchased one of the $59.99 Graco Pack-n-Play models to keep at their house. We have been to visit a few times, on our way to Atlanta or Gatlinburg. Each time, we have used the pack-n-play at their house and carried it with us to our other destinations. The $59.99 Graco model folds up much more compactly, making it much more convenient for travel. I think that the Chicco Lullaby model is sturdier, but it is more expensive. At $169.99, it just isn’t the best value. If I had to do it over again, I would probably just get a bare bones model like the $59.99 Graco model.

    Here are some of my thoughts on the fancy features of the Lullaby that you would not get with a cheaper model:

    Electronics with music, vibration, a nightlight, and a remote control: I’m not sure that I would consider this a necessary feature, but we did use it. We didn’t use the music too much, but we felt that the vibration feature helped Maddie get to sleep better some nights. One problem with it is that it doesn’t stay on for more than 6 minutes at a time. She’d be sleeping, the vibration would stop, and if we didn’t turn it back on quickly enough, she would awaken. The nightlight was somewhat handy in those early days where I was paranoid about whether the baby was sleeping or not. It was just bright enough to see her, but not bright enough to disturb her slumber. I used the remote a few times, but I had the bassinet close to the bed and could reach the buttons without getting out of bed. The electronic feature seemed to be quite the battery hog. I’m not sure if it used batteries while waiting on a signal from the remote or what, but it seemed like it used batteries faster than it should have based on use.

    Toy Gym: The Chicco Lullaby has a very cute mobile/toy gym that can hang over the mattress. We thought that this was great until we realized that there’s no way to put a playard sheet onto the mattress AND attach the toy gym at the same time. The mattress cover is washable, but we wanted an extra layer of protection in case an accident occurred in the middle of the night. The mattress can be used separately as a playmat with the attached toy bars on the floor, but we already had several of these types of mats and had no need for this feature.

    Changing Table Attachment: We actually used this for a little while, but it did not work very well for us. Due to the way it attaches and the nature of the construction, I don’t feel that there’s any way to get it very level. This causes the baby to roll and slide to one side. As you might expect, this makes changing her a bit more challenging. The changing table was not terribly convenient to attach and detach, especially in the middle of the night. During the day when she wasn’t using the bassinet, it might have worked better. The changing table was also a bit low for taller people. We discovered this and decided to use the changing table from her nursery in our bedroom instead. This worked much better for us.