New Parents Money Saving Tip: The Diaper Bag

See, he can't even carry the bag over his shoulder. Of course his shoulders are the size of two small planets, so that might be a factor.

In case you don’t know this already, babies are expensive.  Even before they peak their little cone-shaped head out of your wife’s who-ha they are costing you a fortune in new furniture for the nursery, clothes, diapers, doctor visits and ultrasounds.  Seriously, if you aren’t sitting in the delivery room thinking you might have just gotten “Madoffed” then something is wrong.

Today I  have something that will help elevate a chunk of that national debt that you seem to be compiling.  I was shocked to see how much the baby stores were charging for diaper bags.  They are astronomical!  And for what?  A bag!  Don’t believe me, look at some prices.

BuyBuy Baby:

Did you see any bags for less than $30?  Hell no.  As a matter of fact if you clicked on the link you probably found that most of the bags cost over $100!  Seriously?  It’s not like Louis Vuitton or Coach are making these bags, no it is Eddie Bauer and the like, or the B listers of bag making.

I like how BuyBuy Baby had a “bags for dad’s” section.  Although if you look closely none of the bags are manly at all, other than the backpacks.  Seriously, throwing some camouflage pattern on a diaper bag doesn’t make it manly, isn’t that right Vin Diesel? It just makes for a terrible movie.

But don’t worry I’m not just going to pick on BuyBuy Baby, let’s take a look at Babies R Us and see if they have any better options.

Babies R Us:

See, just more of the same.  Insanely over priced bags simply because it is a “baby bag”.  And again I hope you noticed the “bags for dad’s” section was a bunch of neutral colored (not pink) bags or bags with camo or some other “manly” design like guitars and such.  Are they marketing to men or 10-year-old boys?  Or do marketers think that’s what men are, 10-year-old boys?  Where is Frued when you need him?

The only other place that I thought to really look was Target.  And they were certainly better, but still over priced if you asked me.  So what did we go with?  What is this brilliant idea that saved us a ton of money?  Well, it took a combined effort from several sources but we decided to go off the grid for a diaper bag. We knew we wanted a backpack.  My brother-in-law, Matt, got a backpack and it is just so much easier and is the most manly looking of all the bag styles out there.  You can call them totes, messenger bags or even satchels if you are an Indiana Jones fan, but that doesn’t make them any more manly looking.  A backpack never slips off your shoulder when you are carrying a baby in a car seat and the ten million other items you always need when traveling with your baby.  And lastly the backpacks seemed to have the most room for everything.

Since we were sold on the idea of a backpack did we really have to get a “baby backpack”?  Hell no!  Thanks to Jesy’s cousin, Kat, we realized that any old backpack would do and that even some sports bags would work great since they always had multiple pockets for your sports equipment.

The winner! Coincidentally it's the Victory Backpack by Under Armour.

Being sold on the idea, Jesy and I went to the Prime Outlets in Monroe and hit up the Under Armour store for a backpack.  Eureka!  We found exactly what we were looking for and didn’t spend over $20!  The prices on the website are a little higher, but if you go to the outlet store you can find some damn good deals.  But not only was price a factor we got way more room in the Under Armour bag than we got with any of the leading backpacks that the baby stores were selling.

  • Typical baby backpack – 13.75 x 17 x 6.5
  • Under Armour bag – 18 x 12.75 x 9.25

So to all you soon to be, or new parents out there, don’t waste your money on a product that isn’t what you really NEED.  Take an Andrew Jackson and go up to Monroe and get something that you will really be happy with.  And while you are there you can see the progress on the new Giant Jesus, bonus!

And no I wasn’t paid by Under Armour, but I really feel like I should have been.

You’re welcome Under Armour, if you want to throw me some free merch I will not object.

Why Women are Pregnant for 9 Months.

Did the house keeper get him this way?

I am a man.  I have no business talking about pregnancy, right?  Wrong.  I might not have carried our child around for 9 months, but I have had to pick up the slack in other areas due to our Uterus Alien zapping all of my wife’s strength and sometimes mental capacity!  So I feel I have earned the right to take a stab at why women are pregnant for 9 months.

Quite simply, because that is how long it takes to really be ready for the little bundle of joy that is going to come screaming out of Jesy’s vagina.  Think about it ladies, were any of you ready to have the baby the instant you found out that you were pregnant?  Hell no!  There were gifts to register for, a nursery to set up, all the gifts you registered for need to be put together, the house has to be cleaned 500 times, the entire house needs re-organized, the house needs to be baby-proofed, you need to pick out a pediatrician, you need to take all the baby safety classes and birthing classes and you need to take a tour of the hospital so you know where you are going when you get there.  Not to mention all the showers that you will have and all the ultrasounds and doctor visits that you go to.  Are you sure nine months is really enough time?  Hell, I’m exhausted just thinking about it all!

And yet here I sit, days away from becoming a father and all that seems like a blur to me.  It was all gone in a matter of moments and now THE day is rapidly approaching.  Today just happens to find me in a reflective mood.  So here is my best guess at explaining the genius of God and trying to determine why 9 months?

1st Trimester (Months 1-3)

  • Month 1.  You just had that oh shit moment, you peed on a stick and it gave you that news that several mornings of throwing up had been trying to tell you.  Your prego!  Now you get to schedule that first doctor visit to confirm your findings with a higher power than your urinary discharge.  The rest of this month you will be telling your close friends and family.  This is a good opportunity to have fun with your family if you so choose.   For instance, you can go to them and say that you have some good news and some bad news.  The good news is that after years of getting badgered about when we are going to have kids and that we are finally going to have one!  The bad news is that because of all that stress we are getting a divorce…..JUST KIDDING!  I would make sure that you have a very tolerant family before trying that joke.
  • Month 2.  You have no energy to do anything.  The new life forming inside you is acting like more of a symbiote and is stealing all your energy.  As an added bonus, it seems like God is punishing you because you can’t seem to stop running to the bathroom to throw up anytime there is a smell or taste you don’t like, which is about every 10 minutes.  You’re mainly still trying to cope with the fact that this is real!  Most of your time is spent hiding the fact that you are pregnant, eating and sleeping, ironic that the first couple months of the baby’s life will be spent in a similar fashion.
  • Month 3.  Time to start thinking about the nursery.  What will be the theme?  What will be the colors?  What kind of furniture and what kind of stain will it have?  How will the light from the second window effect the baby as you change them?   All those questions and more!  Fathers get ready, this is the start of having to put together anything that comes in that front door.  Also, if you haven’t already you can get that first ultrasound out-of-the-way.  The first one is pretty special, it’s the first time you get to see that little lima bean growing inside your wife’s stomach.

Trimester (Months 4-6)

  • Month 4.  Congrats, your rate of successfully having this baby just dramatically jumped.  You now have a 67% chance that the baby will make it all the way to term now.  It’s like in Monopoly when you get the card that allows you to go straight to GO.  This is also the time you start calling up family and friends and tell them why you haven’t been drinking wine or doing belly flops into the pool.   Your wife is supposed to turn back into a human after spending 3 months as a zombie, but I didn’t see too big of a jump until the third trimester.

We have two standers here! Remember boys, don't cross those streams!

  • Month 5.  Time to get that important ultrasound to see if you are having a stander or a squatter, a boy or a girl!  And you are at the halfway point now too, man where had the time gone?  Oh that’s right you have slept it away!  Well no more, time to get ready for a wife that will start to get stressed out with everything that still needs to be done.  And if your wife didn’t already have the shopping gene, she will now!  Time to go register!  Men, this will be hell for you, hours upon hours will be spent in a baby mega store like BuyBuyBaby or Babies R Us looking at the same crap over and over trying to decide which you want more, which is safer, which will go with the room better, which one you could assassinate yourself with.  It’s even worse if your wife brings along her best friend, you really start to feel irrelevant.  At any point I think I could have left, walked to a bar, had a couple of drinks and came back and they would have never missed me.  I probably should have.  My advise is to go for an hour at a time.  You will be tempted to register for everything all at once, don’t. You will kill each other and it is so overwhelming.  Take it an hour at a time, and have a list made of things you definitely want before hand.  And my last bit of advise is, do some research on safety before you go and get a general idea of what you want before you go in.  You’re welcome from the hours of fighting, crying and merchandise throwing I just saved you.  Seriously, it can be like a mad house in there, you have been warned.
  • Month 6.  Time to get serious, time to find a pediatrician.  Some things to consider; does the Doctor have young kids of their own?  Do they have children with special needs?  How long have they been a doctor and where have they been a doctor for their career?  Does the doctor’s office have a way to keep healthy kids and sick kids separate?  Do they have special times to bring in newborns?  Will the doctor be available around your work schedule?  Happy hunting!  Also, this is a good time to start taking those baby classes at the hospital.  I personally feel a TON better knowing that if something happens to my child I am way more prepared to do something.  Some of the stuff they go over is common sense and some of it you might already have memorized if you have been going to the OB check ups with your wife like I had been doing.  There is a chart about how to breast feed that I have to look at every time we go to the doctors.  Jesy never sees it because it is behind her, but I get to see it every time they are taking her blood pressure, so I had all the techniques on how to breast feed memorized before we even took the class.  That won’t come in that handy since my little man boobs don’t have any milk.  But hopefully I can help ensure that Jesy gets a good latch. Time to start taking baby classes at the hospital.  And lastly, get ready to have your house overrun with baby crap.  It’s about this time that your wife is going to start attending showers and making you clean out the car when she gets home.  Month 5 is the last time your house will be yours.  From now on that is the baby’s house, get used to it.

3rd Trimester (Months 7-9)

  • Month 7. It’s getting close to crunch time now.  You are in the final phase and for the first two months of the third trimester your wife will definitely make a return to somewhat normalcy.  Enjoy it while you can, because when that last month hits, she is going to get tired quicker and doing things like taking off her socks has become an ordeal.  The first thing you are going to want to do is clean the house.  Start with organizing all the shower loot you got.  Get it put away and ready for when the baby comes, because God knows you won’t have time when the baby is actually here!  By this time your wife has normally turned into a cleaning machine.  She only stops to empty the vacuum and then starts all over again.  If you have pets (which we do) you will clean almost daily from here on out.  Also, you are going to be making one last trip to the baby store.  It’s time to pick up anything you NEED that was somehow missed on your registry.  My only advice is to make sure you have all your coupons BEFORE you go and fill up your cart, it just makes things easier.  This is also a good month to get a 3D ultrasound.  The baby is pretty developed by this point and it is right before they get all smooshed inside your wife’s belly.  It makes for the best 3D picture.  I was a bit skeptical, especially considering the price, but after I was in the room and got to see my little girl all life-like, it was worth it.  I would have paid double.  It was so cool!  We went to Becoming Mom Spa in Deerfield and they were awesome!

Unless you want your 3D ultrasound to look something like this, don't wait too long!

  • Month 8.  Your wife is ready to have the baby, NOW.  But there is still some incubating left to do.  The energy level is going to go way down and not just for your wife, but for dads too.  Dads have been busy putting crap together, helping find room for all the baby stuff, doing the work around the house that your wife can’t anymore.  You both are going to be going to bed earlier, taking more naps and waking up tired.  I would say get used to it because I think that is how the next 20 years of your life might be.  At this point the nursery should be done, all registry gifts should be put away and organized and a pediatrician should have been picked out.  If not then get to it future parents, because time is running out!   This is a good time for all fathers-to-be to go around the house on your hands and knees and figure out what a kid could get into and then safety-ize it!  I have yet to do this, so I am a little behind, but it needs to get done.  Plug up outlets, put on corner protectors, all that fun stuff.  If you have pets this task will be challenging, they will want to play with you the entire time.
  • Month 9.  The finish line is in site now and it can’t come soon enough.  Your wife is now saying prayers to help motivate the baby to get the hell out!  It’s like a squatter that won’t leave!  The only thing you really have to get done this month is your last ultrasound to get some measurements on your baby.  This is a good and bad thing.  You have not seen your baby since week 21ish or maybe week 28ish if you got a 3D ultrasound, so you are really anxious to see how big they are.  But knowing how big they are is a double-edged sword.  We found out that we might be having a 10 pound baby!  Say what?  Now we are stressed out about Jesy trying to squeeze that basketball of a child out of her vagina.  Wonderful.  On top of that we get to stress about inducing early and a possible c-section.  The biggest problem with a c-section is that Jesy will take longer to recover and if anyone knows Jesy that is a bad thing.  She doesn’t like NOT being on the go, so if we have to go down that path, she is not going to be happy.  But on the bright side this is a month that you can try to take it easy and just try to get ready for when your baby arrives.

And there you have it.  God must have had it right to begin with.  There is no way that any normal set of parents would be ready to have a child in even three months, you need all nine to really be ready.  To have your house ready, to have your mind ready and to have your friends and family ready it will take all nine months and it will just fly by!

Thank you to everyone that helped keep us sane for nine months and helped get us ready.

Special thanks to my mother-in-law and Kat who came over and helped get the house organized, we would not be nearly as ready without your help.

Saturday with a Pregnant Wife.

Confusing? Not anymore. I know this map better than I know my own job.

I think I speak for all men when I say running errands SUCK.  It sucks because men and women shop SOOOOO differently.  My wife is always amazed that I knew all the short-cuts through IKEA after only being there twice.  Are you freaking kidding me?!  The first time I was there I was in DEEP reconnaissance mode, every time she would stop to “browse” I had that map out and was studying it like a high schooler studies a porno.  I had to know the quickest way in, through, and out of this beast since it was clear that Jesy liked a lot of what she saw there.

Is there anything more awful than having to give up a day of the weekend watching her outlet hop?  Any yard work starts to look appealing.  It’s painful and normally wives tend to give up even asking because most of us men are just miserable bastards the entire time they are out anyway.  Jesy and I actually have a pretty good system worked out so that I do work at home while she is out and then she will do work around the house while I’m out for the ten seconds it takes me to run my errands.

But because of several circumstances we had to run errands….together…..all day on Saturday.  Jesy is very pregnant, so she just can’t run around like she used to, also she can’t lift a lot of the things that we would have to return or buy.  Would we make it?  Would I be able to last all day running errands and primarily shopping all day?  Would an 8 month pregnant woman be able to handle my antics when I get bored after she is on her feet all day?  Would things go smoothly, or become unhinged?  Would the world of retail buffoonery be our undoing?  Well spoiler alert, we did both make it home alive.  Let’s see how we did it.

8:30 am.

Stop #1:  Dr.’s Office

  • The Doctor was 30 minutes late due to some scheduling snafu.  That is not a very encouraging sign at all.  These are professionals, you would expect better.  These are people that we are entrusting with our child’s health, can we at least get the time of the meeting correct?  But after saying that, I must admit that the Doctor that we did meet with was pretty awesome.  She has kids of her own and they are pretty young, so she clearly knows the quirks of raising children.   And she happens to be in the office the day that Jesy will be working from home.  So I think we found our Pediatrician.  I don’t want to give her name out on here after bashing whoever does the scheduling there, but if you would like to know please email me, she really was great.
  • Prognosis:  Not the greatest start to the day, but after finally talking to the Dr. I felt a lot better.
  • Energy level:  7, still warming up, and a minor set back that slowed me down.
Stop #2:  The Home Depot
  • We had to return a towel rack that we had bought for the bathroom remodel.  No trouble here, we had the receipt and the old man who was working the returns counter could not have been more delightful.  He was like a Disney movie grandpa.
  • Finish:  Awesome!  We just made $25!
  • Energy level:  8.5, Two stops in and we have made $25, that is amazing.  The strangely delightful old man made me smile.
Stop #3:  Lowes
  • We have no loyalty, it’s all about the price.  So we spent a little over $36 at Lowes, we got an air filter and some other little things.  But here is the key, we had gift cards suckers!  We really didn’t spend a dime!
  • Result:  Sure they were all things that we could have got at The Home Depot and thus eliminating a whole stop in this disaster of a clogged day, but the whole free thing will trump every time.
  • Energy level:  9.5, now a miraculous three stops and still no real money spent, SAY WHAAAAAAA?!  Some one call Guinness!  I’m so excited that I could pee myself!  If someone had told me that you could actually MAKE money by running errands I would have started this years ago.
The next stop is going to be a little scary.  This is the stop that could make or break this whole day.  At this point I’m at an all time high, things have pretty much gone our way, we were cruising.  But the next stop had potential to wreck everything.  There was going to be a lot of shopping, perhaps long lines of standing, waiting, listening to idiocy, there was a potential that we would have to fight to get our discounts and there were going to be returns.  Ugh.
Back to our tale….

This is just the car seat and stroller section! The store can be a bit overwhelming! Oh God, I'm getting flashbacks!

Stop #4:  BuyBuy Baby
  • We still needed a stroller, a car seat, a pack and play, a diaper pail and a pad for the changing table.  Those were the big items, so we decided to return doubles or triples and try to bank up as much as we could and use any gift certificates that we got along with some coups to try to get the best bang for our buck.  The returns went pretty smoothly and since we had really already picked out what we wanted it was just a matter of going through and collecting it all.  Running through the store like we had won a shopping spree.  In all fairness, Jesy was really focused, she really stuck to the game plan and only got side tracked by shiny objects a couple of times.  But then disaster struck.  We got to the register and started having the lady check us out when Jesy suddenly realized that the coupons were at home.  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  We were going to make it, despite having to actually shop this time I was feeling pretty good.  But now we had to backtrack.  We would have to return home, which meant we had to take out the dogs.  Turd.  But I shook it off, amazingly.
  • Pulse:  A real mixed bag here.  Felt pretty good about the quickness of the store adventure and line quickness, but ultimately destroyed when Jesy somehow managed to forget the coups.
  • Energy level:  10-6.5, A huge drop off, but not near danger level yet thankfully.  A strong start to the day really helped power through this little detour.
Stop #5:  Home
  • I wasn’t seething on the way home, but I wasn’t thrilled either. For once I really wanted to try to keep it positive so I tried my best to just get over it.  We returned home quickly and let the dogs out for good measure and then began our trip back to BuyBuy Baby.
  • Feeling:  Getting better, did my “woosa” and got over it.
  • Energy level:  7.5, yelling at Carson randomly made me feel better.
Stop #6:  The Return of BuyBuy Baby
  • Luckily the people at BuyBuy Baby were nice enough to hold our cart off to the side since we promised that we would be right back.  They did, but we hit another snag with the coupons.  HEADS UP BUYBUY BABY REGISTERS:  Turns out that the 10% you get off after your showers are over is a one time deal.  And you can’t use it with coupons, so you could get 10% off your entire order that one time.  But the weird thing is that they will  let you stack any other coupons as much as you want.  So we got the car seat (Thanks Molly and Terry!), the pack and play, the diaper pail and the changing pad with stacking coupons and decided that we will save the 10% off and use it when we get our stroller.  But the best part of this whole thing is that because of the coups, the returns and the gift cards, we didn’t spend a dime!
  • Heart beat:  Racing!  A lot of upper and downers, this must be what it’s like to be Courtney Love.  But ultimately this was a huge win.  I mean we spent like $400 at BuyBuy Baby but really spent nothing, it was AWESOME  despite having to return home, I mean it was worth it for essentially free right?!
  • Energy level:  9, back on top after wheeling, dealing and swindling!  And as a bonus we still have money left on gift cards.  Technically 6 stops in now and we are still $25 in the black!  At this point I’m afraid to talk to Jesy in the car.  It’s like talking to a pitcher during a no-hitter, after a certain point you just don’t do it.
Stop#7:  Kroger
  • Had to get some chili fixings for what turned out to be the 2nd best chili at this years annual Wenstrup Family and Friends Chili Cook-off.  Grocery shopping is the worst of all the shopping I think, so this again had potential to really weigh down my energy level.  It didn’t help that I had to start this pit stop off with a flu shot at the Little Clinic.  Last year that little shot made me sick, so I was afraid it would do it again this year(so far, so good by the way).  Luckily, everything I needed was really in like two isles, so there wasn’t a whole lot of navigating or exploring or waiting in line.  Another potential disaster avoided.
  • Receipt:  Not too bad.  Got everything I needed for chili and we are still in the black by $4!  So we are now 7 stops in and we have made $4, to me that is incredible.
  • Energy level:  8, still feeling pretty good, but back to back stops that involved a lot of walking and actual shopping and heavy participation on my part has me waning just a bit.
Stop #8:  Kroger Gas
  • A necessary evil, but for the first time we are going into the red.  $50 in gas later and we are now $46 in the hole.
  • Total:  It had to be done, but it sure was sad to see the streak end.  It does help that I got $.5o off though.
  • Energy level:  7.5, Not feeling good about having to lose all that money at once.
Sop #9:   Smoothielicious
  • Got a smoothie and a chicken salad wrap for $7.  Both were delicious and we got to catch up with Chris who is normally working when we stop in.  A great choice for a quick stop for lunch.
  • Checkout:  More money going out, but again it had to happen since we needed to eat at some point.  And seven bucks is a pretty good price for two people any more.  So now we are $53 in the hole for the day.  Still not bad at all.
  • Energy level:  8, a good lunch helps revive me a little for the second half push.
Stop # 10:  Target
  •  More returns and shopping, thank God we just had lunch because there is no way I would have survived three legit shopping trips in a row.  My head would have exploded.  But over all another pretty painless trip.  Picked up about $50 of more baby loot, but again didn’t have to pay anything out-of-pocket because of the returns and gift cards.  Sweet!  The only problem we encountered was when I was walking the shopping cart to a corral, Jesy inexplicably decided to just hang out in front of a Prius trying to pull out of the parking spot.  Her excuse was the car’s engine was so quiet she never heard it as she was checking her phone.  Yeah, she was that lady.
  • Basket:  We finally quit hemorrhaging money which was nice.  Jesy almost got run over which was bad.  Shopping trip was pretty painless, so just a pretty mediocre stop.
  • Energy level:   7.5, nothing too exciting but the day is going to start dragging soon, I can feel it coming.
Stop # 11:  Everybody’s Records
  • This was a selfish request for me.  It was part of my good behavior treat.  So, we took a slight detour out to Pleasant Ridge to my favorite record store.  Jesy took a nap in the car while I shopped.  I have a small list of old records that I would like to pick up, sadly I couldn’t find any of them.  So win/lose.  I spent no money and Jesy got a nap, but I didn’t find any records that I was looking for.
  • Fin:  Kind of a let down, was looking forward to my one requested stop having a little treasure to shut me up the rest of the day and they failed to come through for me.  Suck.
  • Energy level:  What I was hoping to give me a little boost sadly dropped me a little to 7.0.
Stop # 12:  Kenwood Mall

Yup, it was time to put on the adult diapers and take a nap. Hope I didn't have corn last night.

  • The last stop of the day and it was my turn for a nap.  These were all Jesy stops that I was not even remotely needed for and I was ready to call it a day for certain.  Jesy hit up Lenscrafters and got her glasses adjusted…for free.  Nicely done dear.  Now she will stop cursing because they won’t be sliding off her face.  Then she went to Build-A-Bear to get a recorder to record Abbey’s heart beat on Thursday at our next ultrasound.  That set us back a perfectly acceptable $8 taking our total to $61 spent in real money.  Next she went to Sephora to get makeup.  A whopping $27!  The only other time we spent more real money at one time today was when we put gas in the car that was virtually empty.  Better be the best makeup ever….just saying.  We are now $86 in the hole for the day, at least we didn’t break $100!
  • Trip Conclusion:  I got a much-needed nap, and when she got back I was out of it from napping, so I had no idea how much she spent until I started to write this, so I didn’t have that to be upset about.  I just knew we were headed home, so I was pretty happy!
  • Energy level:  7.5, got a nice little nap and the end was in sight so there was reason to be pretty optimistic.

Arrive home at 4:30 pm

  • 8 hours of errands.
  • $86 spent, $7.16 per stop, not bad at all.
  • 52.3 miles total trip
  • We didn’t kill each other.  In fact it was a pretty good day despite a couple hiccups.
We managed to finish off most of the big items that we NEEDED on our registry and just get stuff done that needed to get done.  I know with a child on the way that my life won’t be slowing down for the next 20 some years, so it was good to get a trial run in like this to make sure my fragile mental state can handle it.
Next challenge will be the drive to the hospital!  Hopefully it won’t be during some rush hour, and so help me God if there is a wreck!