Melanie got a Sandbox!

Melanie got a new sandbox! We were going to get the green Turtle Sandbox (I remember having one when I was young) but found this red Clam held twice as much sand! The sandbox barely fit in Heather’s Prius, luckily it did fit! It can hold up to 6 – 50lb bags of sand (The green turtle sandbox holds 3 – 50lb bags).

Heather had the great idea of putting the sandbox on the deck that way he sand doesn’t kill the grass.

For those who may be concerned about animals using the sandbox, it also came with a lid. 🙂

Melanie Update

Wow, it’s been a long time since the last post! Thought I’d give an update. First, here’s some pics:

Smiling in the Bouncer
Smiling in the Bouncer
Chillin in the Sun
Chillin in the Sun
Drinking Some Milk
Drinking Some Milk
Fence we use (sometimes)
Fence we use (sometimes)

The first one I took right before writing this post. I got her to smile by saying “Booga booga!” The second is from my cousin Nicole’s graduation party in Michigan in July. In the third, you can see she’s working on holding the bottle herself! She’s able to crawl around pretty fast now, and loves to stand up on everything. She wants to hold both of our hands and walk around. In the last, you can see a section of the 2 sets of a baby-fence to stop her from getting to certain areas. We have one section surrounding the TV in the family room so she doesn’t go pushing buttons and playing with cords. We have another section blocking access to the kitchen, so we can keep her in the family room where we have things basically baby-proof. We have another section set up in the office to contain her to one area while Angelo and I work or play on the computers. It works to keep her contained, but after a short while she climbs up on the fence and complains until we let her out or play with her.

She had a doctor’s visit recently and I think she is 19 and a half pounds. She’s staying at about the 75th percentile in length and weight. Still no teeth yet, but it seems like she’s been teething for months! We’re working our way through more textured foods (#3), and puff cereal snacks. She doesn’t seem very interested in self-feeding finger foods yet, or holding the sippy cup herself. She’d need to use both hands to hold it up high enough. Recently she’s started holding the bottle herself. We thought a 5-oz bottle size would be better for holding, but I think she’s able to hold the 8-oz size when she’s laying in our arms. We’ve taken some video over the past months and I’d like to find one to post. So stay tuned!

Babies R Us shadey pricing practices between online and in-store

This past August, Heather and I decided we wanted to get a play yard fence to use to wrap around the TV and upstairs in the office to keep Melanie from accessing particular parts of the rooms. We decided on the Superyard XT. The price was $59.99. This was perfect because it was also that price at Amazon.com. Amazon.com has free shipping, so even though the local Babies R Us is cheaper, it would mean that I would still be paying tax on the item at the store, making my purchase somewhere near $67, but I don’t mind paying the sales tax as long as  my purchases support the local economy. While at Babies r Us’ website I used the “Find it In Stores” option and found that the item was in stock at my local Babies R Us store. I did see the note at the top of the page “Pricing, promotions and styles may differ between online and store locations”, but I assumed that the note was there for Babies R Us locations in places such as Alaska or Hawaii where pricing is commonly slightly higher.

So that afternoon, Thursday, August 27, 2009 I packed Melanie in her baby car seat and headed over to the Babies R Us on Sawmill Road. When I got there, I grabbed one of the many Superyard XT they had in stock, grabbed a few other things that caught my attention, then checked out. That’s where Babies R Us started to fail in the customer service. First the cashier gave me a hard time off the bat that online pricing is never the price in the store. So I put the one item aside and just paid for the other items. I then proceeded to load up my iPhone to see if I could just purchase the item online then pick it up at the store. (You could do this in the early months Wal-Mart started their site-to-store feature, though now they are pretty strict with you waiting a few days before picking the item up) While I was on my phone the cashier had her manager visit me at the front of the store. The manager was very persistent, unwilling to just drop the price from $69.99 to $59.99. I even told her that I had a coupon for 15% off a purchase that expired yesterday and I have another 15% coupon that started tomorrow (see picture below). Her option was for her to put the item aside for me so I could come back tomorrow to use the coupon. Nice option, make me wait 16 hours to sell me the item cheaper. Smart, it gets me in the store again, increasing  the chance that I buying more side isle items.

Babies R Us Ads for August
Babies R Us Ads for August

The manager at Babies R Us used Kohls as an example of a store that has lower online pricing that in-store pricing. I know Wal-mart does this, and it pisses me off. I wouldn’t expect a specialty store such as Babies R us or Kohls to do the same thing. I think this practice is shady and intentionally miss-leading. What bothers me even more, is the web sites could just as easily include the store pricing, but they don’t. Why? Because I’m sure the decision was made at a board meeting after the thought came up that ‘Customers may just show up at the store and buy other crap while they’re there’, let alone pay the extra $5-20 to have the product right then. Now I can’t prove that this is the reason, but the latter would make more sense had a decision been made to include the different store pricing on the web to make sure ‘customer satisfaction is exceeded’. Some stores make decisions based on customer satisfaction and experience, obviously Babies R Us didn’t design their pricing online and in-store based on customer satisfaction and experience.

If Babies R Us has the special on-line pricing to compete with other online stores, then why don’t they re-brand the online store as www.babiesrus-online.com and then taret the original www.babiesrus.com site for pricing and products that are only available at the local stores. Mixing the two just proves one of two things, they value online shoppers and in-store customers the same (which doesn’t make the different pricing in-store and online make any sense), or they value online shoppers differently than in-store shoppers, giving online shoppers benefits that in-store shoppers are unaware of.

Now lets turn this around, what if you could go to your local Babies R us and see the price if you buy it now and the price if you order it and wait a couple days for it to arrive. It would be only fair if they implemented this. Oh wait, technology has already caught up with that, I can look up pricing just by scanning the bar code with my Google Android G1 phone and see what local and online stores have the lowest price. Perhaps the Babies R Us board has no clue how us customers shop, and that explains why they don’t offer matching in-store and online pricing. Either way, they’re idiots.

Lets look at some on-line stores that do online and in-store pricing right. Lowes and Home Depot complete with each other, which may explain why they have taken steps to make it clear what the pricing is of items at their particular locations you pick on their web sites. They both do a good job with tying their online experience with their local stores. If your a board member of a large department store, take note of what they are doing right. Bestbuy.com also does a decent job of providing notes that the pricing is ‘online only’. Though I would give Bestbuy’s online experience a C for other reasons.

One other item that bothers me is when I got home from my bad experience, I tweeted @BabiesRUS and expected a response back saying ‘we apologize and we’re looking at the pricing difference’ or some cookie cutter response indicating they will get back to me. They ignored my tweet, which is another indication that they don’t have a customer service policy but a marketing policy when it comes to their on-line presence. Board members should take note of this as well, Twitter is a communication tool for customer service as much as , if not more so, than a marketing tool.

As for the expiring coupon on Wednesday and the new coupon starting on Friday, I have no clue what Babies R Us was thinking here. What is so special with marked up pricing on Thursday? I know in other businesses, Thursday is the 4th and sometimes 3rd busiest shopping day of the week. Is the timing of these coupons to target those folks who just happen to go shopping on that day? Did someone in upper management at Babies R Us see some statistics that showed Thursday is the most likely day you can get someone to over pay for an item, is that why they did this? I’m being sarcastic here, but for real though, what’s the reason? Maybe the graphic designer made a mistake, but it looks like their graphic designer makes this mistake often looking back at previous coupons.

That Thursday evening I ordered a Superyard XT from Amazon.com for $59.99 and we got it the following Monday with their free super saver shipping. That Sunday Heather and I decided we could use a second Superyard, so we returned to the Babies R Us on Sawmill Road with our 15% off coupon and purchased another Superyard XT at $59.49+ tax.

As for further purchases at Babies R Us online or in-store, there aren’t going to be any anytime soon. We’re doing the rest of our baby shopping at other local stores and online.

As for the Superyard XT fences, they’re great! Now North States (makers of the Superyard XT) need to sell ends that can be fastened to the wall so you can quickly connect/disconnect the fence to walls. At the moment I’m using velcro straps from Lowes screwed into the wall at designated spots to strap around the ends of the fencing. I’ll post a separate blog post about how we’re using the Superyards next week.

Baby 5-Month Update

It’s been so long since we’ve made a post about Melanie! So I figured I would for Father’s day. She is doing great! She rolled over a couple times at the end of April (front to back), but hadn’t again until June 3rd or so (and then it was back to front only!). Today I heard that she rolled over front to back too. She rolls over onto her stomach during the middle of the night and starts getting upset, like she’s annoyed. So hopefully she’ll learn to flip back over. She’s becoming very active, scooting around (rotating) to find her toys. She does a pretty good pushup, and pushes her butt up too. She loves to stand up (we hold her) and to sit up (does a pretty good job unsupported, but falls forward or backwards eventually). Most of the time she sleeps through the night (but gets up around 5 or 5:30 to eat). She eats about 5 times a day, 6 to 8 ounces each time. She’s also tried pears, applesauce, and bananas. Sometimes she eats a pretty good portion of the solid food, but I don’t offer them regularly. She doesn’t have any teeth yet, but she is drooling and putting things in her mouth! Here’s some recent pics:

Ty watching over Melanie
Ty watching over Melanie
Melanie sitting up
Melanie sitting up

Who Does Melanie Look Like?

When Melanie was first born I thought she looked a lot like me, especially around the eyes. But Angelo’s mom sent us some of his baby pictures this weekend, and I must say Melanie looks a lot like him! I scanned the pictures today, so we can do a comparison!

Angelo - 1 yr??
Angelo - 1 yr??
Melanie - 6 weeks
Melanie - 6 weeks
Heather - 4 days old
Heather - 4 days old

I’ll have to search around for a picture of me when I was a little older. But it looks to me that Melanie has Angelo’s mouth and chin at least. Her looks change as she gets older, so we’ll just have to wait and see!

Infantino Euro Rider Baby Carrier

I wanted to try on the Infantino EuroRider baby carrier I received.  It took me a while to figure out and adjust the straps that position it correctly on my torso. It says to just pull on a loose strap to adjust, but it is a little more complicated than that.  I won’t have to adjust them again though, until Angelo wants to use it. Then it was difficult getting Melanie inside. I have to unbuckle one side (2 buckles and some heavy velcro), then somehow slide her leg into the opening on the other side (while supporting her head of course). Then buckle it up again, making sure her head doesn’t move around too much. The wrap-around head padding seems a little spacious to rely on it for supporting her head. She shouldn’t be too young; she fits the weight and length requirements. She started crying as soon as I tried putting her in, but that was probably because she was hungry. I had to have Angelo help take her back out, so I think it might be a two-person job. I’m sure we’ll get the hang of it and be able to go on some nice walks together!

Trying on the carrier
Trying on the carrier

First-Month Doctor Visit

Well, in the previous post Melanie was actually 4 weeks old, and yesterday she was 1 calendar month old. 🙂  Today we had another doctor visit. She is 10 pounds, 7 ounces now. And my wrists are feeling the additional weight! They have been hurting the past few days from holding her while nursing. The doctor visit went well; we need to start giving her vitamin D supplements, which is typical for breastfed babies. We also picked up a mirror to put in front of the mat when she has tummy time; this may encourage her to keep her head up as she looks at herself. Since she seems to spit up and grunt a lot right after nursing at night due to reflux, the doctor mentioned inclining her bassinet to 45 degrees. She only cried a little bit when she got a shot, but her pacifier helped to calm her. She remained asleep during the whole car ride and when we stopped at walmart.

1 Month Old!

Melanie is 1 month old today! If you haven’t noticed already, I added an ‘Age Ticker’ to the blog so we can easily keep track of how old she is. Monday we had our first outing with Melanie, (besides the doctor visit a few weeks ago). We went to Skyline and then to Babies R Us, and she was very good. Tuesday and Wednesday I sent out the birth announcements.

Melanie At Skyline
Melanie At Skyline
Announcement
Announcement

I’ve been trying to exercise every other day or so, but I think I pulled a muscle in my back again. So it’s hard to bend over and pick Melanie up now. Also I feel bad that I haven’t been sweeping and vacuuming the house recently. I thought being home all day would encourage me to clean, but it hasn’t yet! I’ve just been keeping up with the laundry and dishes. Maybe after my back is better I’ll feel like vacuuming!

2 and a half week update

Melanie is more than 2 and half weeks old, and we all are doing great! Most of the relatives have now paid a visit, and it’s just Mom, Dad and Melanie now. And of course Ty the dog and Giga the cat. Ty is pretty protective already, and doesn’t like Giga coming close to Melanie. We have to keep an eye out when Melanie is on the floor, to make sure neither of the animals cause any problems. We’re trying to find a good daily routine, but Mom is still taking a few daytime naps here and there! Breastfeeding is going well – Melanie seems to be staying awake long enough to be satisfied. She frequently spits up, so we’re getting used to changing clothes and doing a lot of laundry! She doesn’t cry much except when changing her diaper and when she’s hungry. She also gets fussy when she’s trying to get to sleep and her pacifier falls out. We won’t let the pacifier become a habit after a few months though. Of course she likes to be held, where she falls asleep quickly. We try to put her on her tummy on an activity mat, but she usually just falls asleep. We ordered the birth announcement cards today, so look out for those soon!

In a swing
In a swing
Our Family
Our Family
Asleep on Activity Mat
Asleep on Activity Mat
Look at my muscles!
Look at my muscles!
Pondering life's questions
Pondering life's questions