Make My Life Easier Thursday: Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

I got a Fire TV Stick recently because using the TiVo interface had really been annoying me and I saw this on sale. I must say — especially if you have another TV that doesn’t have cable — this is great. It’s very fast and has a very smooth interface (but of course how well it works depends on how reliable your home internet service is). We’ve even considering cutting the cord entirely, so if anyone has any advice on that, I’d love to hear it! Also, although I love Alexa, I have yet to figure out how to use them together. The Fire TV Stick is $40 at Amazon, where it has an incredible 116,000+ customer reviews with an overall 4.5/5.0 — plus 1,000 (!) answered questions if you want to learn more. Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote | Streaming Media Player

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I have the Amazon Fire stick and the Alexa button is very helpful. There is also an app that you can download should your toddler take off with remote and you can’t find it for two weeks.

  2. Talk to me about Advent calendars, as in the countdown ones from Dec 1 to Dec 24. My MIL loves them and does one every year, and this is our year to get one for her. Any good ones for women, esp in the sub-$100 range?

    And I’m considering doing one for myself as my sole St Nick gift. Any good recs in the sub-$25 range?

    • mascot says:

      L’Occitane does one as does Sephora. Both are under $75. Cute idea, I wonder if I can get one in time for my mom as well.

    • Anonymous says:

      Apartment Therapy has a round up of them today

    • This is probably not what you are looking for, but we love the LEGO advent calendars every year.

    • I think Costco has a beer advent calendar. Unfortunately, I don’t see them listed online.

    • anne-on says:

      There’s a really cute David’s Tea one this year, and there are a LOT of empty ones available on amazon/etsy if you want to fill in with your own treats!

    • Pigpen's Mama says:

      Target has a sock one — I can’t give any more details than that because it popped up as a FB ad for me early this morning, but I thought it was cute!

  3. With 2 kids in daycare, I now realize there is so much more stuff. I’m in the market for an extra large tote bag that I can throw all of their stuff in so my hands can be free to wrangle with a carseat and a toddler. Only needed to get from car to school and from car to home. Any affordable options you’d recommend?

    • Anon in NYC says:

      Would a backpack be easier? I personally can’t stand having a tote slide down my shoulder when I need my hands to be free. Hershel has a wide variety. I have seen some nice looking Anello backpacks lately too. If/when I have a second, I’m totally getting a backpack.

      • Anonymous says:


        I have twins so I use a large black backpack. Keeps my hands free for kid wrangling.

    • Anonymous says:

      IKEA blue totes!

    • Tunnel says:

      I use a kids book bag for their stuff. It clearly belongs to my kid (even if I am carrying it), so I feel like I still look fashionable. Plus my H can use it too.

    • Thanks for all the suggestions!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why does an adult have an advent calendar? And why do you have to buy it for her?

    Our advent calendar came from Barnes and Noble several years ago. It has a tiny book for each day that tells part of the Christmas story. It is fun and reusable. I think there were also secular versions available.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think some families do them as a gifting thing. Like small gifts each day. We have a lovely fabric one and I put a chocolate for each child in the pouch for each day. My mom tried to start with the Lego and Playmobil ones but I stopped that after a year because toy advent calendars x 3 kids = avalanche of tiny junk.

      • 2 Cents says:

        My friend handmade one for another friend who was having a rough time. All of us in the group wrote out individual cards with a funny story or inspirational quote or something. Friend loves it and has reused it every year.

    • This was our “compromise” when I suggested no Christmas gifts for adults. The parents rotate buying an advent calendar and annual Book of the Month club for the grandparents, the grandparents make an extra-large batch of cookies for each set of parents to use for various holiday events. Small, consumable, but still feels like a present for those in the family who have “gift giving” as their love language.

      We’re up to 8 grandkids in the family now, exchanging the adult gifts at Thanksgiving helps keep the family present-opening event to a less obnoxious level.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I saw a cool advent calendar from L’occitane!

  6. AuntE says:

    We’ve been cable free for 3 years, and I don’t miss it! We have a digital antenna for broadcast and Amazon prime and Netflix. Our toddler doesn’t watch TV yet and husband doesn’t care about sports on tv, so it’s probably easier for us to do without.

    • Same, except we’ve been cable free for 5 years (since we moved in together). We have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and pay for good internet. I think my husband has a firestick too for the TV in our unfinished basement/his man cave work area. My husband also doesn’t care about sports, which I think is usually the big impediment of going cable free.

      • bluefield says:

        Sports & news are the only things that you really need cable for. We recently un-cut the cord (our co-op has a deal with the cable company so that cable + internet is $80, whereas just internet is like $78) and it is nice to be able to flip on the local news or watch cable news when something big happens (which is every other day these days).

    • I’ve never had cable in my adult life. We pay for Hulu, Netflix, and NBA league pass. Mys husband does use my parents’ cable log-in for ESPN.

  7. AwayEmily says:

    I feel like maybe I am supposed to automatically know this, but…how do I do my toddler’s hair? She’s 19 months and it’s long enough for pigtails. Do I get it wet first? Distract her with TV? Outsource it all to my husband? Any and all advice is appreciated. my mom cut my hair super short and kept it that way til 4th grade so I have no memories of this as a kid.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can get kid sized hair elastics but I find the thin adult ones easiest to use. I often do a ponytail, low braid or pigtails. You can buy a few clips to just clip her hair off her face if you don’t want to tie it back.

      I just brush/style my LO’s hair while she’s ‘brushing’ her teeth but if I wanted to do something more complicated, I would put her in front of the TV or put Mother Goose Club on my phone.

      Beware googling kid hair ideas as there is some super complicated stuff out there.

      My best long hair tip is that once her hair is past shoulder length, put it in a loose braid at night – significantly reduces tangles and less disastrous if there is a bout of random toddler puking.

    • I usually do my toddler’s hair while she’s eating breakfast and already seated and busy. It’s not foolproof and sometimes DH still has to distract her, but it’s the best solution I’ve come up with.

      With fine toddler hair, I like to style it while slightly damp. It’s easier to get the baby hairs and little flyaways. I use the Goody ouchless elastics. There are lots of sizes available depending on hair thickness. You can find them at Target, Wal-Mart, etc.

    • Frozen Peach says:

      The Suave Kids detangling spray is MAGIC STUFF. My kid is really sensitive to having hair snarls untangled and this has been game changing. We use little bow clips– she pulls anything elastic out.

      • Redux says:

        Does the detangler work on dry hair or do you use it on wet hair? My kid’s hair is fine after shampoo and conditioner but it is a straight up rat’s nest after a day without washing it.

        • Carine says:

          We’ve used it on both dry and wet hair and it works great either way.

          • Frozen Peach says:

            Same. It’s also great for fixing bedhead. Can get us through about 4 days without baths when life is insane.

    • I do pigtails or one high half pony. Usually when she’s distracted by TV. My mom always does more elaborate stuff with her like French braids, etc., but I have no time or patience. One cute variation I can manage is turning the pigtails into top-knots of sorts. For hair ties, I like elastics like these because they don’t pull on her hair and never seem to get stuck.

      I also like little hair clips with fabric backing – carters and Gymboree tend to always have some.

    • bluefield says:

      I do a ponytail every morning. My daughter hates it (she is very girly and would prefer to wear her hair down) but our rule is if you want to eat, hair goes into a ponytail. She likes to eat so she consents. Brushing we’re not so good at. Every so often she lets us brush her hair. Keeping it in a ponytail helps.

    • Jacque says:

      Teeny-tiny, thin, clear elastic bands are must haves. They are cheap, hold the hair in place all day, and are fairly easy to get back out.

      I liked Claire’s for cute toddler barrettes. We did a lot of clipped-back side parts, or side bangs in a perky little puff sticking off her head (like Michelle Tanner on Full House back in the 80’s).

      “Princess hair” is another option–gather the top half the hair and pull back into a high, loose pony tail. The back hair hangs down. Most of the hair is pulled back but she can still feel her hair “swinging down her back” and it’s a good compromise for any kid who fights about wearing her hair down.

  8. Autumn says:

    We recently signed up for DirecTV Now (which is streaming only) through AT&T as part of our cell phone package. With AT&T’s unlimited data package, the TV service is pretty much free, and it has all the channels we’re interested in watching plus HBO. Before that we were cable-free for YEARS and relied exclusively on Amazon/Netflix/iTunes/Hulu.

  9. Anonymous says:

    We have Amazon prime, HBO Now, and Netflix (piggyback off my parents account). We cut the cord two years ago and haven’t looked back! We also have an antenna if we want to watch local news. We would have prime anyways, so the only cost to us is the $15/month for HBO. I can’t believe how expensive cable is

    • It is crazy expensive! We cut cable about 9 years ago, when Netflix first came out and that’s all we have besides the local channels. I am planning on getting HBO, though. I think we need a little more variety. This firestick looks intriguing. I’m not a fan of our current streaming device.

      • avocado says:

        We cut the cord about a decade ago, but recently got cable TV back when we discovered that it was cheaper to have phone service + internet + TV than just phone service + internet. We must have land line or internet phone service because our house is in a weird dead zone with unreliable cell service. I think the cable TV actually gets used about once a month.

  10. Anon in NYC says:

    My husband and I keep talking about going cable-free, but it honestly doesn’t seem like it would save us that much money. Our cable and internet are bundled together. To cut out cable, but then replace it with Netflix (which we already have), Amazon Prime (also already have), and maybe HBO/Hulu, I think we’d break even.

    • Same! I just don’t see a huge savings for us. Now if I could switch to a less expensive phone carrier…

    • Jacque says:

      I’ve been cable-free for 7 years and I’m starting to think like you. We upgraded to a higher speed internet ($79 per month) because our family would hit overages by mid-month.

      $80 internet + $10 Netflix + $8.25 Amazon Prime = $98.25 per month

      Current cable special of lower speed internet + cable = $107 per month for 1 year

      There’s really no difference here.

      • But is the cable special permanent, or would you pay double after 12 months? And would you switch from Netflix/Prime to cable enough that you wouldn’t hit your data overages? Would the lower internet speed be enough for your family?

        • Jacque says:

          $107 is a special for 1 year. Our local cable provider doesn’t do contracts, so we would be free to cancel anytime.

          Just talked to my husband about switching over to cable and he’s against it. When we are somewhere with cable we flip around and can never find anything. He’d rather stick with Netflix and watch what we want, when we want it. After 7 years of no cable, our whole family is trained to intentionally pick something to watch. We’re not a house with the TV always flipped on as background, and we’re afraid cable will lead to that. (Plus, ads blaring in our faces. No thanks!)

          I’m realizing that choosing to be cable-free doesn’t = Big Savings like it did a few years ago. At this point, it’s more about preference than being frugal.

    • Turtle says:

      For us it only saved us about $20/month, and added a LOT of annoyance.

  11. EB0220 says:

    Would you relocate internationally with kids? (Mine are 3 and 5.) Pondering some overseas options for my husband’s job. Considering English-speaking countries only right now. Just curious. I always said I wanted to live abroad but now that I’m a parent, I find myself strongly wanting stability.

    • Anonymous says:

      Definitely! We’s totally be in Europe right now if I didn’t need an ocean between myself and my MIL (she lives in Europe and I need boundaries).

      3 and 5 is such a great age. They’re not set in their school friends/activities yet so they won’t find the move too hard. Like it’s way harder to move a 12 year old who is state wide competitive in their sport that isn’t common in target country.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      Yes, I absolutely would. It’s really hard for me to think about picking up and moving out of NYC, where there wouldn’t be family support. That’s a difficult benefit/hardship ratio (in my mind). But I would absolutely do it to go internationally! I feel like the ratio is better – far greater benefits than just living in a different town in the U.S.

    • Anonymous says:

      Temporarily, but not forever (too far from aging parents) and probably only to a country where the main language is English and only if I was able to work remotely or take some sort of leave. I’ve quit my job twice to follow my husband and am not doing it again unless it’s a move he *has* to make, not a voluntary one. I love to travel in countries where I don’t speak the language, but living there is very different and I think I’d feel too isolated with a language barrier, especially if I was not working or working at home for my US-based company.

    • EB0220 says:

      Thanks, Anonymous and Anon NYC! Also very interested to hear from people who would not consider this.

      • avocado says:

        My kid is 10 and I would find it very difficult to move her to another country, with the possible exception of Canada. She is an athlete and would not be able to pursue her sport in most other countries, where participation is typically limited to super talented kids with Olympic potential. She would be devastated if she had to give up her sport. I would also find it very challenging to figure out the educational system and how to get her specific needs met. It took a lot of information-gathering and advocacy to get her into a situation that is a reasonably good fit within our public school system, and I don’t know if I could be as successful in getting her the right placement in a foreign country where I don’t know the system, other parents (as a source of information), or possibly even the language. I would hate for her to get dropped into a situation that didn’t fit, then spend a year or two waiting for things to get untangled (if at all).

        With preschoolers it would be much easier. They aren’t invested in sports or music or other passions yet, and you can figure out the educational system as you go the same way you would in the U.S.

        Another factor to consider is family involvement. My husband wouldn’t be able to handle being on a different continent from his parents and siblings.

        • Avocado – Australia sounds like it would be perfect for your family if the opportunity came up (save for that pesky ‘different continent’ factor…!) Sports is huge, everyone gets to participate, etc.

          I will say that many moons ago, I did rule out dating someone because he wouldn’t consider living outside the US. (I am not originally from the US.)

          • avocado says:

            Yes, Australia is one of the few countries where her sport is widely available at a non-elite level!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes! I would love to expose my children to a new culture — so much so that I applied for a position in Europe earlier this year. (And got it, but then salary negotiations sort of fell apart). That said, we do not live close to our families right now and we don’t own a ton of immobile furniture, so there’s really no additional hardships on us. The flight from EU->Parents is about the same length as Current Location -> Parents.

    • We have thought about it. My husband could have overseas assignments (2-3 years) and I love the idea in theory, but in practice we’ve been hesitant for a couple reasons: (1) what would it mean for my job? I’m not sure my employer would let me be remote from Europe (even though I’m remote here in the US) if I could even legally work from wherever we’d go. I have a unicorn-for-me in-house job that I’m not willing to leave currently. And (2) we would see family very rarely (and in-laws, maybe not at all bc they’re getting up in age and do not travel well). We’d still consider it if the right opportunity came up while the kids are young, but for now it’s mostly off the table.

    • Yes! There might be a bit of a two-body problem, but then there’s a two-body problem with many domestic relocations anyway. My one requirement is that the country or visa permits both of us to work. Which by the way is not true in the US – dependent spouses aren’t eligible to work in most circumstances.

    • Not quite what you are looking for but I did this as a kid. When I was 12 my mom and I moved to Europe when my dad took a job that involved 6 week assignments in Africa followed by 2 weeks in the US. We would see him on his way to and from Africa. It also helped that his family lived in Europe and we lived with them at first and then just down the street. I went to a British school, so while the language was the same the curriculum was very different. Then 18 months later we moved to Africa with him for 2 1/2 years. I went to an American school that did the IB program. When I was 16 we moved back to the US and I finished high school here.

      My mom had retired when I was 11 and did not work for any of this period or when we returned to the US. Even as I kid I knew it was very hard on their marriage and hard for her because she wasn’t working/ didn’t know anyone / didn’t fit in socially very well.

      While we lived in Africa there were some significant political riots and terrorist attacks so it was challenging at times. I loved the school aspect of it, even the challenges of changing school systems. Ironically, I wasn’t very happy when we returned to the US, but I still got into an excellent college. I think learning to deal with change and having to deal with things be out of your control was an invaluable lesson. I’m a much more resilient person because of it today.

  12. TwoTwoTwo says:

    I just found out that I’m pregnant with #2 (first child is about 18 months). Not an accident per se but happened much more quickly than anticipated, and am now kind of panicking. Have a very demanding job. Looking for reassurance that 2 will not be that much worse than 1? (No horror stories…pls).

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Congratulations! I consider anyone having a baby to be insane if they don’t panic at some point during the pregnancy. And I’ll offer this reassurance; you figured it out with the first one. You will figure it out with the second one too, even if 2 is worse than 1. What you figure out might take a lot of different forms and there will certainly be tough moments, but you will figure it out.

    • I don’t have personal experience, but I have quite a few friends who’ve done 2 under 2, some of whom have demanding jobs. They’ve said that like anything the first few months was rough, but then it’s actually great! The kids can play together, you don’t need to buy all new baby stuff and you get out of the diaper years faster. It is also very sweet to see how the older sibling interacts with the younger one. You can do this! and at least it’s not twins :-)

    • Maddie Ross says:

      I had #2 last year. Honestly, #2 has been a breeze compared to #1. I think some people find the move from 1 to 2 to be hard, but for me, I found the move from childless to 1 the hardest. Now my life is already set up for kids. I already work a kid-impacted schedule. Mornings a little more hairy (extra body to dress and wrangle, still BF-ing #2, etc.), but honestly, the hardest part of two is just the logistics (an extra person to strap in the car seat safely while keeping the other out of traffic, extra crap to carry, etc.).

    • No experience on having the second kid, but it was when my kid turned 2 that I felt like ok, I could do another one (some day). I found 18 months to be a particularly challenging time. So, by the time the second is born your older child will be that much more mature.

      Many of my friends have now had their second kids and say that it’s great. Congratulations!!!!

    • FTMinFL says:

      My second is three months old now and just 21 months younger than my first. It has been a blast! I found going from 0 to 1 WAY harder than going from 1 to 2. I agree with everything Maddie Ross said – you’re already set up for kids and you’ll probably be surprised at how easily you fall into a routine. I also found having two to be easier because I am much more confident in the boundaries I’ve set at work. After my first was born I always felt the need to apologize when I left the office on time – no more!

      Congratulations! This will be great!

    • PinkKeyboard says:

      I got pregnant (via IVF) when ours was 15 months. So since the second was late and the first was early we have a 2 year old and a 3 month old. The first bit was rough because the babies fussy time coincided with the toddler’s bedtime but overall it’s pretty awesome. She likes to help with the baby and we still go out and do all our activities. I do feel bad because I end up shorting them both a bit on attention but then I remind myself that people use to have 12 kids and haul firewood and everyone survived just fine.

    • My #2 is 4.5 months old. #1 was 26 months when he was born. I’ve posted this before, but everything became way easier at 2 months because I was able to carry the baby with one arm. I’m still on mat leave (yay big law!) but I don’t see 2 kids as that much harder than 1 kid, except that they don’t nap at the same time on the weekend. And it’s totally biased, but I think it’s waaaay more fun. Congratulations and enjoy the ride!!

      **Massive caveat: #1 is a really easy toddler, #2 is a really easy baby, and I had a really easy childbirth.

  13. Blueberry says:

    Re-posting, with a redaction, because this got caught in mod till late yesterday:

    Interested to hear you educated moms’ thoughts on pre-term induction. I’m on my third pregnancy. The previous 2 ended up with babies that were born late and on the large side, but with no complications. The last one was a whopper at 10 lbs. V*ginal births, so I have what I have learned is technically called a “proven p*lvis” (although I’m not saying I wouldn’t prefer a smaller baby…) As it turned out, I had GD with the last baby that developed later in my third trimester and was not caught in the screening at 28-ish weeks, and which I was diagnosed with by the time it was really too late to do anything about. This time around, I passed my GD test, but have been tracking my blood glucose nonetheless and being more careful about what I eat. As of my growth scan this week (36 weeks), my baby seems to be in the 50th percentile. I and my doctor both know these estimates can be wildly off, and she is advocating (but not insisting) that I plan for an induction about a week before my due date, assuming my c*rvix is looking ready to go. I’m going to see what other docs in the practice think over the next couple weeks, because she is really the only one who has mentioned this to me. I suppose the risks of either doing this or not doing this are not terribly high, but I’m curious about others thoughts about which route they would choose in my situation.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      No particular insight, but my OB told me that in her experience, babies born in in the 39-41 week range have better outcomes than babies born at 42 weeks (i.e., 39-41 week babies less likely to go to the NICU). So based on that, her preference was to induce me no later than 41 weeks. She was perfectly willing to let me go to 42 weeks if I wanted – and I’m not at all saying that going to 42 weeks is bad – but just some anecdata from my doc. Perhaps there’s a compromise, where you are induced at 40 weeks?

    • Anonymous says:

      I wouldn’t induce before 40-41 weeks without a specific medical reason. It’s against the recommendations of the OB/GYN association to induce earlier unless there is a medical need. I don’t think the chance that it might be a big baby, when baby is measuring on track would be enough to convince me to go like 3 weeks early. There’s a reason they don’t consider inductions at 37 weeks as full term anymore and they changed the recommendation. There was a post on this a few days/weeks ago that you might find helpful.

      • Blueberry says:

        Thanks. To be clear, she’s talking more like 39.5 weeks if I haven’t gone into labor yet.

        • If it was me, I think I would agree to be induced at 40 weeks, but not earlier.

        • FTMinFL says:

          I was induced at 39.5 weeks with baby #2 and loved the experience. No stress of “when will it happen?!”, older kiddo was settled with grandparents, and I got to calmly watch movies until baby was born.

      • Moms Solo says:

        This was my conclusion after going down the rabbit hole of induction literature as well. That said I was induced at 40 + 1 for a borderline medical reason and was glad we did in the end.

    • There was a discussion about this here recently.

      I would probably not go early in your situation, esp. based on the 36 wk scan but I wouldn’t go more than a week post due date either. I know many doctors allow you up to 2 weeks, mine doesn’t and I was really happy that she scheduled me to be induced when I was one week past due last time. I think it avoided a lot of complications that would have come up otherwise. I know only person who was induced early (2 weeks) but her baby was showing up in the 90th percentile on the growth u/s so there was a definite articulable reason for it.

    • I was induced for twins birth at 38.5 weeks and honestly hated, hated, hated the induction process. I have never given birth otherwise, so I have nothing to compare it to, but if there weren’t a really good medical reason to do it (and there was for me), I’d pass. My body and my babies were not ready for birth yet and it was like this crazy medical intervention cocktail to try to get us all there. I ended up needing an unplanned c-section 23 hours after the induction started. But obviously YMMV.

      • just found out i’m having twins. any recs on twin resources?

        • Congrats! They are so fun! This is going back a few years, but the blogger Mrs. Blue on Hellobee had some good twin posts. And do not listen to anything that well-meaning parents of single babies tell you about what it’s like… they think they know, but they have no idea.

          For pregnancy, the best advice I got was keep hydrated (to prevent pre-term labor) and eat protein (to get their birth weights up). Not really sure if either was necessary, but I followed the advice diligently and, as you can see from my comment above, no pre-term labor.

          • thanks! no one knows yet bc we are still early. at first i was in shock, but now i’m excited. we never wanted more than two, and now the decision of 1 vs. 2 is made for us, and i will only have to be pregnant once! (not enjoying pregnancy very much so far, so i love the idea of not having to do this again). i’m a little nervous for the later years – making sure people (including myself) don’t compare them too much, that they get to develop as individuals, etc. but i know i have time to worry about that. just hoping that they get along better than i do with my sibling

    • bluefield says:

      I’m getting induced at 39+2 (second baby). My doctor would induce me at 39 weeks but the hospital was booked so I took the next available spot. He did not think it was a concern at all. I think I am more comfortable with medical interventions than other people are.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      You’ve done this before, so my first piece of advice is to do what YOU feel is right.
      That being said, if I read this correctly she’s suggesting a week before your due date. I’m all about keeping baby in there as long as possible (within reason, as in not past 41 weeks for me) to keep cooking, and have always assumed childbirth is way less unpleasant when it happens because your body is ready vs. an induction, but that being said I see no problem with induction in the 39-41 week time frame. My main hesitation would be the fear it would be more unpleasant than having it happen when my body is ready (but I’ve never pushed out an over-10-pound baby)

    • No personal experience, but my ob mentioned to me that inductions for second babies were a lot easier (on the mom) than inductions for first children. So I would take others’ experiences with their first child with a grain of salt.

  14. Due in December says:

    Recommendations for toddler socks and underwear? Kid is 22.5 months.

    Daycare says she seems ready to potty train, we’ve talked about the method, and I need to get her underwear. Thoughts as to whether to go with “training” underwear or plain old underwear? Any recommendations as to brands? (She doesn’t have favorite characters or anything, so we’re not worried about that).

    Also, we’ve been losing all the socks and it’s getting cold. Planning on buying a ton of the same white socks in bulk (NOT non-skid). Any thoughts as between Carters, Old Navy, H&M, Gap, Target, other?


    • Maddie Ross says:

      I prefer the regular old Hanes multi-packs from Amazon. Cheap. Colorful but not characters (although they also have plain white).

    • EB0220 says:

      I’m a very devoted online shopper, but we always go to Target for underwear and socks.

    • Our Old Navy socks are holding up great. Carter’s is hit and miss. I’ve had some come unraveled after a short time.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      I usually buy kiddo whatever undies Target is selling – I wouldn’t bother with the “training” undies. The only benefit that I could see from those was that they absorbed more, so accidents didn’t make a big mess around kiddo’s feet. But we didn’t have many pee accidents, so they were of minimal use.

      Having said that about Target undies – the Hannah undies are so, so much nicer and don’t leave red marks around kiddo’s waist and legs.

      I am still looking for the perfect socks. Lingerie bags help with not losing socks in the laundry.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m a cheapo but haven’t noticed any difference in quality between Hanes, Carter’s, and Gymboree underwear. Get the ones your kid is excited about, which often means character underwear – you need all the help you can get with potty training!

      For socks we have mostly hand me downs and they are a mix of Gap, Old Navy, Target, Hanes… they’re all fine. Do what is easy and cheap. They outgrow them long before they wear out.

    • Anonymous says:

      Socks – On Amazon: Socks Boys 8-20 Seamless Toe Athletic Crew, White/Grey, 6-pack

      LOVE THEM. I purchased X-Small for my 2.5 YO and they’re big (he’s now 3 and they still almost hit his knees). I bought 3-6packs and sock matching is so simple.

      We ordered the same Jefferies brand when he was about 1 YO (Jefferies Socks, Llc Unisex-baby Newborn 6 Pack Seamless Sport Half Cushion Crew Socks, White/Grey, 12-24 Months), so we’ve been using them consistently for 2 years and they’re awesome. They are white, so they get dirty, but I’ve never had to trash a pair for anything but that. Even was able to hand down his socks to my friend when he grew out of them.

      For potty training underwear, the “training” type don’t hold much, so kiddo always wet through them. I had gotten him a 2-pack of “expensive/nice” training underwear; just not worth it. We then got him regular hanes 6-pack of colored undies (x2) + Thomas the train 6 pack (x2) at Target (his favorite character).

      • BTanon says:

        We also use these Jefferies socks, and agree that they’re great. I try to have as few types/colors as possible to minimize matching issues, and these fit the bill from that perspective too.

  15. Frozen Peach says:

    We’ve started going to church every Sunday recently, and I’ve realized that getting my kiddo dressed is always super stressful– because she doesn’t have that many church-ish clothes! She has lots of dresses that I pair with leggings for the week, and so I’ve added in tights and that’s been fine– I don’t want to spend a ton of money on frilly dresses she’ll outgrow in a month, but I need to round out her church attire. Anyone have any favorite toddler girl dresses that a) aren’t too fancy, b) are under $30, and c) are available via Amazon Prime?

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m in the south, so we’re firmly a smocked dress family for church. I buy most of mine either on sale from sites like Smocked Auctions, Vive La Fete, Cecil and Lou, or similar. Or at consignment. YMMV if you don’t want smocked. Honestly, if we didn’t do smocked dresses, I would probably just wear regular play dresses with tights and mary janes.

    • Not on Amazon Prime, but I’ve found great church options at Old Navy and Gymboree. They’re always running sales. I always can squeeze extra wear out of Gymboree sweater dresses because they tend to run a little big.

    • Pigpen's Mama says:

      I recently bought some dresses off of Amazon from Fiream. They may be more casual than you’re looking for, but they meet the other conditions.

  16. Anyone have favorite holiday traditions they’d like to share?

    I’m realizing that we have very few traditions so far, and I realize some of these will come about organically as the kids get older, but also that if we don’t at least try some things, they’ll never get a chance to become traditions! We also have both kid birthdays within the Thanksgiving-New Year season, so I want to make sure we have some special things that aren’t birthday related.

    So far we’ve established the tradition of new PJs as a Christmas Eve gift (borrowed from my own childhood traditions), but that’s all I’ve got.

    • growing up we always baked cookies with cookie cutters, decorated a gingerbread house and watched rudolph the red nosed reindeer. we’d also go to this local park where they had a drive through holiday lights display. i know some people who do a drive through holiday lights while wearing their holiday pjs. my parents would also have us select one gift we received (this happened at our bday and at the holidays) to donate, usually to the Ronald McDonald House or a shelter and we’d go with them to drop off the gift.

      • rakma says:

        I think cookie cutters are the missing piece from my cookie plan. I’m not going to beat the traditional cookie recipes that other family members make, so we should go for fun shapes.

    • From my childhood:

      Watch the Grinch Christmas eve.

      Sugar cereal Christmas morning.

      Be Nice during December: Next to the tree we had a basket of straw and an empty baby crib. Whenever we did something nice during the month we added some straw to the crib so Baby Jesus would have a nice place to sleep.

      Gingerbread houses / Christmas cookie decorating.

      And a new tradition, but my personal favorite: Hubs and I listen to the Godawful Bob Dylan Christmas album and drink wine while wrapping up the final presents on Christmas eve.

      • Anonanonanon says:

        We’re not religious, but the putting straw in for baby jesus thing is probably the cutest thing I’ve ever heard

    • Anonanonanon says:

      We just try to keep the month “festive” as much as possible. So baking cookies here and there, hot chocolate after running errands in the cold, christmas music, etc. Right now, our only traditions are the Star Wards Lego Advent Calendar, and an annual party we have where family friends and their kids etc. all come over and we bust out the good silver and china (but it’s not a sit down dinner) and light candles and mingle and feel fancy.
      My parents threw a similar party (it was on christmas eve when I was a kid, but we usually do it the saturday before christmas) when I was a kid and those are my fondest memories. I loved seeing everyone all dressed up, getting to eat goodies, etc.

      • Anonanonanon says:

        OH and we go to the drive-thru christmas light display local to our area every year and I play christmas music on the radio while we drive through. Sometimes we take hot chocolate to sip if I have my act together.

    • Mrs. Jones says:

      BBQ nachos on Xmas Eve (I’m from Memphis)
      Make and decorate sugar cookies sometime in December
      Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar
      We open one gift Xmas Eve and the rest on Xmas, taking turns
      Lots of Xmas music and movies, esp. Grinch, Elf, and Die Hard (don’t tell me it’s not a Xmas movie)
      Assembling a large puzzle over a few days around Xmas
      Mimosas Xmas morning

      • quail says:

        Die Hard is a great Christmas movie.

        • Ha ha ha. Whenever I suggest watching Christmas movies, DH always suggests Diehard!

          Kat – Christmas/holiday traditions would be a fun post on its own!

    • EB0220 says:

      We go to a cute place by our house to get our Christmas tree every year. They have hot cocoa and take a picture of you each year with your tree. The kids are super enthusiastic about the place and point it out every time we drive by (at least 5x a week). We also go to Disney on Ice every year in December. We usually do an afternoon of gingerbread cookies with (local) Grandma. On Christmas Eve, we always open one present each. After the kids are in bed, husband and I watch a Die Hard movie (the first one at least is a Christmas movie!) and finish up wrapping/stockings/etc. That’s about it!

    • Anonymous says:

      Inspired by TK’s “sugar cereal Christmas morning”, this reminds me my mother did Pillsbury cinnamon or orange roles from a can Christmas and Easter morning, and we were allowed sugar cereal, Tang, and instant iced tea on vacation only. I have already taught my 5 year old how to pop open a can of dough.

      • Anonanonanon says:

        we did the pillsbury canned cinnamon rolls christmas morning, too! I usually do them too now that I think about it. I guess it’s a family tradition and I never even realized it! It’s perfect- special treat for kiddos and minimum work on the part of groggy parents

        • Jeffiner says:

          Holy cow, the only day of the year my family eats canned cinnamon rolls is Christmas morning, too! We did it both when I was a kid, and now that I have kids. My other favorite memory is the holiday lights drive through.

          One of my friends says her favorite memory is reading Christmas books. Her parents boxed them up each year with the rest of the Christmas decorations, so the books were extra exciting since they only got to read them once a year.

      • rakma says:

        Ooooh, yes, can of cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast. I think I’ll be more consistent with that going forward.

      • Anonymous says:

        Totally adopting the cinnamon roll thing! We do a mid morning brunch before going to grandparents for a late lunch but I love the idea of a special treat with coffee while the kids open presents.

    • So far, our immediate-family traditions are decorating the Christmas tree while watching Christmas specials on Netflix and drinking hot cocoa, pajamas as a Christmas Eve gift (Kiddo threw up on his last Christmas Eve, lol), and going to our city’s holiday lights/train ride event. This year, we may take Kiddo to see Santa at a historic village thing and add a trip to another holiday lights/drive-through thing. We may also make some cookies with him since he always wants to be involved in cooking.

      We have a lot of extended family in town (DH’s divorced parents, siblings, step-siblings, and nieces and nephews), so many traditions revolve around their get-togethers, which keep us busy during December.

      I am trying to get ahead on the “work” for Christmas this month–buying and wrapping gifts, making our edible gifts for the adults in the family, getting our holiday photos taken, and buying and sending Christmas cards. After Thanksgiving, we’ll get a tree and decorate it. I want December to be festive and as relaxing as possible.

  17. Anonymous says:

    It’s our first Christmas with a baby, but we’re doing new pajamas on Christmas Eve, reading The Night Before Christmas, and gifting DD a new ornament every year so she has ornaments to take with her as a grown up

  18. Hoping for some advice on how to help a friend! Dear friends of ours are experiencing a medical emergency right now. We’ve been in touch daily as a sounding board and have offered to help in anyway that they need. Their children are being cared for by relatives, so that’s covered, and they’ve said they are good on meals right now. Does anyone have any recommendations on how to help? We can send a get well gift or treats we know they like, but I know they are tired and stressed over this situation and I’m wondering if there is anything you’d recommend to help them with those feelings. I’ve also thought that maybe we could do something for when they are home from the hospital, either in addition to something now or in place of something now. Thanks in advance!

    • Anon in NYC says:

      How physically close are you? Can you offer to do some daycare/school pickup or drop off some days, like when they have follow up appointments? Can you take the kids for a few hours on a weekend for a playdate so they can both have some down time?

      What about offering to run errands for them – like, picking up their dry cleaning, or buying them more toilet paper, dropping packages off at the post office, etc.? Just a simple text like, “I’m going to the store, do you need paper towels or [insert something]?”

    • yes, i would say how physically close by are you? if there are any follow up doctors appointments and one spouse can’t go and you can, you can offer to drive them. my parents have been dealing with medical issues lately and they truly have the most amazing friends! you could also offer to cook some freezer meals so they have it for when they get home. offer to run over to their house and get their mail (unless someone has already done that). it is always nice to send flowers/treats, but the truth is those things aren’t necessarily helpful. is this someone who will need to be homebound for a while? if they don’t already have netflix you can set up an account for them, recommend some shoes/movies. offer to come over and do laundry, bring kid things to the relatives watching them, etc. It truly takes a village and it sounds like these people are lucky to have you in theirs!

      • Our house is about a 10 minute drive from their house, so we are physically close by! I think the errands is a great suggestion, as they have relatives who are doing school drop off/pick ups and who are staying with them right now for this purpose. I also like the netflix recommendation! Thanks!

    • Anonymous says:

      Also consider waiting 2 weeks and re-offering. The meal train may have dried out by then.

      I did some (light?) grocery shopping for my friends about a month after they had twins; it was greatly appreciated.

      • Anonanonanon says:

        ^This. Once the relatives leave town, they may still need help.

        • yes! people often jump in to help right away and then forget about it and go back to their own lives. the true friends are those who are still there two weeks, two months, etc. later

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Let them know you’re thinking about them, without asking for anything (including updates; so annoying to send a million responses to “how did today’s appointment go?” when you’re in the thick of an emergency). Just send a text or e-mail every few days saying, “Thinking about you!” or “Hugs” or “[insert random emoji].” And if you’re having a party or get together, invite them even if you think they probably can’t/won’t make it. Just letting them know that you are there, a friend, thinking of them, and they are included is a huge deal.

  19. Tfor22 says:

    Following up on the opera question–the other day I posted a question about leaving the kiddo with a sitter while we go to the opera when said kid has been very anxious about losing his parents. I don’t have any great updates on his worries but wanted to share that he’ll be joining us tomorrow (his idea, because he likes opera). I am eager to see what we all think of “The Exterminating Angel”!

    • avocado says:

      Sorry you are dealing with kiddo’s anxiety, but I think it’s great you are taking him to the opera! We have been taking our kid to the symphony, the ballet, folk concerts, rock concerts, and the theatre since she was just under four years old and it is awesome. She has fallen asleep in the middle of everything from Mahler to Bob Dylan, but she loves it and I love sharing the experience with her.

      • I love this! My parents are classical-music buffs. I definitely fell asleep in a bunch of second movements.

    • Mrs. Jones says:

      Isn’t that the one where the soprano sings the highest note ever? Fascinating.
      I bet son will enjoy it.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Help. We are in four month sleep regression hell.

    Any tips on how to survive? Seems like the only way out is through, but holy moly this is awful.

    We had a good thing going, baby! Why ruin things now?? ;)

    • Hugs! Stick with your bedtime routine (make sure you’re not putting baby to bed too late, like I was), and pray that it’s short. Get yourself to bed earlier if you can. It will get better, I promise!

  21. For Anonanonanon & others who were talking about missing out on the fun at work while they went on mat leave –

    It’s not for everyone but I’ve stayed plugged in enough to feel included on some of the wins my team made while I was gone. My two cents;

    1) I read, but don’t respond, to email.

    2) I keep up social correspondence with colleagues (send picture of baby, ask about how their new condo is coming along, etc).

    3) I attended a few in person events, all with social/celebratory components. One was our summer outing, where over beers I high-fived with my temp replacement over the signing of a major deal that happened in my absence. Another was a dinner during an internal conference where colleagues from almost all our global sites were in town. I also went in for a couple hours to receive an award.

    I absolutely did not want to work on my leave, but I also wanted to feel a part of the good stuff that happened – I think it’s totally possible!

    I’m actually really looking forward to going back in a few weeks.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      Thanks for thinking of us and for sharing, Pogo! I’m glad you’ve found your balance to stay plugged in juuuuuust the right amount!

  22. Anon for this says:

    May repost tomorrow in case it’s too late in the day…

    Any positive stories of being hired at a new job while 3-4 months pregnant? I’m interviewing and a very strong candidate. I know that legally I don’t have to disclose anything, but I personally don’t feel right about that. Maybe later in the interview process when things are getting way more serious/final? Job would be WAY MORE RELAXED than current gig, so I’m not too worried about work/life at a new company post-baby…. it simply cannot be worse. What am I not considering? I would of course try to negotiate paid leave, but I know that will be hard. Halp.

    And, FWIW, I told myself I was going to save interviewing for mat leave unless * * the perfect * * opportunity popped up. And here we are.

    • Blueberry says:

      I interviewed at this stage for a job in your situation (ie my work life balance is not good, it seemed like a unique opportunity for which I was a strong candidate). After much hand wringing, decided the right choice was not to tell anyone until having an offer or at least being in a very advanced stage. My interviewers could probably tell I was pregnant, but in the end, it would have been weird to say something, and the moment never presented itself even if I had wanted to say something (like, where do you fit that tidbit in, “I’d be great at this job for the following reasons blah blah blah oh btw I’m pregnant but don’t worry”). Takeaway — I was super conflicted about it, but per literally everyone’s advice, I didn’t disclose, which I think was the right decision.

    • Anonymous says:

      I got an offer when I was 3 months. I told my new boss when I accepted the offer. It was actually amazing – the reaction was perfect. She was just ecstatic for me, and immediately started talking about family friendly policies of the office. It made me feel really good about starting the job pregnant. In my head I was convinced I was going to get a horrified reaction. There were some coworkers that made some comments once I started at 4 months (and completely showing). But on the whole it was positive. I hope you have a similar experience. I don’t have advice on negotiation though. I went from one government position to another. Although it was completely different agencies, my service time carried so I was covered under FMLA.

  23. Anonymous says:

    In response to holiday traditions (in case I didn’t use the “reply” feature correctly)…

    I buy each kid a Waterford crystal ornament each year. They aren’t cheap, but I think it’ll be nice when they are grown up and have their first Christmas tree to have 18 or more lovely ornaments to use. Plus, I buy during the Macy’s friends and family sale to save some money. So far I’ve done the baby’s first Christmas for their first years and then tried to pick one (train, teddy bear, etc) that reflects their current interests. As they get older, I might just start doing the regular ornament they have (I think it’s a crystal star?) that changes a bit each year.

    We aren’t religious, so no advent calendar (unless my religious mother buys them one). But I was raised catholic, so we still do the St. Nick’s Day leaving-out-a-shoe-overnight-for-gifts tradition. And I’ve done somewhat of a non-religious “advent” calendar in that I wrap 25 Christmas books and we open one each night in December to read together. The first year was difficult to get 25 different books, and a lot of them were junk dollar-store finds. But when they’ve gotten nicer Christmas books as gifts or whatnot, we put them up with the other ones and get rid of the junk ones. Now I think we have a nice collection of good holiday books (e.g., Polar Express, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Little Blue Truck’s Christmas, etc) to use. we put them up with the Christmas decorations each year, so the books are new and exciting for the kids.

    • ornaments says:

      FWIW my parents did the crystal ornaments for me and they are still at my mom’s place (I am 34 years old) and I am dreading having to take them eventually. I doubt I will ever have a Christmas tree and if I do I don’t particularly like these. I will probably give or throw them away eventually.

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