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Stuff of Dubious Merit

The Princess Chair

The Princess Chair

Who sold me out? My sister-in-law warned me about this: you get pregnant and the next thing you know a bunch of stuff arrives at your door. Catalog stuff. Formula sample stuff. Babies R Us coupons. Just mounds and mounds of stuff-mostly stuff I was not interested in.

The information had to come from the hospital or my OBGYN. Doesn’t HIPAA prevent this sort of thing? I was up in arms briefly, then the flood ended at about the time Simon was 2-3 months old, and I assumed the flood of unwanted stuff had ended. I was wrong.

In the past two weeks, as Simon approaches his first birthday, I have received two unsolicited items. The first was a new Enfamil toddler formula, touting the benefits of its nutrition over whole milk from nine months to baby’s second birthday. I honestly didn’t know toddler formulas existed.

The company’s logic is that whole milk isn’t nutritionally optimal for baby’s second year and that toddler formulas contain additional calcium, phosphorus, and DHA. I can see that. But formula is expensive-extremely so. I’ve read that most families spend $1.5 K in a year on the stuff. And unless your baby is not eating much in the way of solids, I think the toddler can do without formula. And even if your toddler is a poor eater, I suspect you can simply give a multi-vitamin and achieve the same effect for much less cash.

Then again, Enfamil has to come up with some way to increase their profits every year and keep shareholders happy. I suppose you could call this the ultimate customer retention plan. My own plan is to offer some whole milk once Simon turns one, continue to nurse, and give a vitamin to supplement his iron intake.

The next arrival of stuff is actually topical. It’s (sadly) all over the Louisville papers that celebrity photographer Larry Birkhead-he who sired Anna Nicole Smith’s daughter-is throwing a first birthday party for baby Danielynn at Tricia Barnstable-Brown’s house. This is simply too, too perfect. You see, Tricia Barnstable rubs elbows with C- and D-list celebrities each year at her Derby party, which occurs around the corner and several income tax brackets from my house. And Larry… Well, poor Larry rubbed more than elbows with at least one C-lister (that would be Anna Nicole), who, according to reports, met Anna Nicole at the Barnstable Derby party one year and was embarrassed by her drunken behavior at the same party the next year.

You may also recall a little paternity battle resulting from Anna Nicole’s officially naming Howard K. Stern the father. Ah, true romance. Still, Tricia claims magic was in the air the day they met, and so she’s now hosting an intimate gathering of 200 to mark the celebuspawn’s first birthday. And Louisville is getting on board! Thanks to the Courier-Journal, I now know all about the ritzy shop where Larry bought the invitations and party favors to perfectly capture the princess theme for the upcoming celebration.

Hey Larry (or Tricia)! You shoulda called me. I could have saved you a bundle. Because today I received the catalog “1st Wishes”, offering 35 pages of birthday themed napkins, invitations, plates, rugs, hats, tee-shirts, bibs, and toys. Lare’s princess theme appears on the cover and on page 2-3. In case the gender stereotyping of princess turns you off, you can also choose from a Baby Einstein “baby genius” theme* or, better yet, Thomas the Train, which comes with bonus lead paint at no extra charge.

Anyway, call me old fashioned but I have different plans for Simon’s party. I’m making the (gender neutral) invites. Evie is going to help me plan games for the older cousins. My mom is hosting the party and helping with the cooking and baking. A cute party will be had. I’ll no doubt blog about it. And with the $250 I’ve saved by not buying all the stuff in the catalog, I can buy Simon his fall-winter wardrobe. **

* A study released two weeks ago demonstrated that children who watched Baby Einstein videos actually had fewer words than those who didn’t. Probably because the time kids spend watching these videos is better spent by a parent or sitter actually, you know, talking to the kid.

** OK, so I could buy his fall-winter wardrobe for $250, but sadly, knowing me, I’ll go way over that budget. So apologies to all who blow money on birthday parties. People who live in glass houses and all…

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