The Black Hole

First Born is growing. Like a fertilised weed. A very well fertilised weed. Working Boy and I cannot help but notice that every few weeks he has crept a few millimetres closer to that moment where he will be taller than his mother. It could be months away, it could be weeks away, it could be days away, but the moment is coming. They say a watched pot never boils but when your child starts encroaching on your superior height, you can practically see your power slipping away before your eyes. 

With such obvious growth, it somehow still always takes me by surprise when his clothes don’t fit from one year to the next. Or sometimes from one month to the next. As the weather cooled over the last school holidays, it became painfully obvious that First Born needed some new tops. And jumpers. And shirts. And pants. Even undies (Sorry First Born. There was a reason I never told you about my blog). 

First Born’s feet are now a 40. He is a size 16 in clothes. Let me tell you something about these sizes. They are literally the black hole of clothing. They do not exist. Most of the kids shoes finish around a 36. The men’s shoes start at a 41. I am not joking. We have had a good few years now of floating around blindly in shoe no man’s land. Cooking Child is just entering this unenviable phase, as First Born will finally make his entree into men’s shoes. Last year an excellent friend in the same predicament tipped me off that Windsor Smith has some styles starting in a 39. There’s a reason that these days my kids ONLY wear sneakers outside of school and it’s not their sporting prowess. Sneakers seem to be the only shoe form that bridges the gap. Until we emerge firmly in men’s shoes, my kids will live in Nikes. There are worse predicaments in life. 

As for the clothes, some of the brands have TRIED to target the situation, and for a while the gap was bridged – there’s FREE by Cotton On (for 9-14s), Seed Teen, and Pavement. These are my first points of call. But this season…..nothing. There are just so many boringly plain things, or stupidly sloganed. And only Pavement goes to a 16 which means that First Born has grown out of teen sizes but is still not quite ready for men’s.

I have ransacked DJs, where I can generally dress my entire family with ease……nothing fits the bill. Or the boy. I am not stingy when it comes to First Born’s clothing. There are 3 smaller bodies waiting to wear it, so I am more than happy to pay more for something that will last. But I can’t pay for something which does not exist.

I have been to Country Road and the gap between where the boys clothes finish and then Men’s clothes begin is Grand Canyon-esque. 

See that space in between man and child? That space is where all the clothes I need for First Born are hiding. Somewhere between child……and man. I can just see their teen range when it finally emerges (and I’m sure it will)…..County Road: Manchild

So what do I do and where do I go? How do I fill the black hole of shopping?

First, Zara. They opened their kids’ section in WBJ with so little fanfare that even I only realised it was there about 3 months after it opened. Shocking confession, I know. Last year, First Born wanted a white shirt. They had a size 14 shirt which was plain white enough to keep Working Boy happy, with a small twist to keep me happy. Their 13-14 is generously sized so this will keep Cooking Child clothed for a while, at least, though First Born is still in the wasteland. 

I went to Myer. I don’t love shopping at Myer, but their teen boys’ section is reasonably well stocked. I’ve had luck with Mossimo (ha! My autocorrect turned Mossimo into Missoni – who knew the phone had the complexity to make Freudian slips?) and Bauhaus, one of Myer’s in house brands. 

I’ve been trying the smallest size of menswear with mixed results. XXS t-shirt from TopMan? Success. Size 28 chinos from Cotton On? Success. I have bought t-shirts and shirts from Cotton On in size S which First Born tries on and says “It’s a dress”. Interestingly there appear to be size XS and XXS but these options are always blocked out online. I’m not sure if this is because they are not available or whether the more experienced gap mothers snap up all the XXS and XS the second they become available. I’m sure by the time Master T reaches “the gap” I’ll have worked it out. 

The other problem, apart from actual size, with trying to bridge “the gap” by shopping small sizes of menswear is that the styles are often too adult for a twelve year old. And the prices are also too adult (this is why Cotton On’s regular 30% off deals come in handy). 

Speaking of gaps, it occurs to be that one place I have not searched to fill the gap, is, in fact, The GAP. Wouldn’t it be ironic if The GAP actually filled the gap? 

In the meantime, the gap is alive and well, and living in my house. I’m open to suggestions.

XOXO Shopping Girl 

Back to Basics

Life is not an Instagram feed. If it was, this was my life last weekend:

And that was just the conference that I got whisked away to Kingscliff for (The Toddler former known as Baby N – TTFKABN somehow got caught in the whisk too). But the weekend was not over yet….

 Toddler Dance party!
 Giant balloons!
 Playing giant draughts with Master T

 Watching the boats from the Opera House



Except in reality, it did not look like that at all. Well it did for a few minutes at a time but it also looked like…. me selling my tickets for the sold out Clare Bowen concert I had been looking forward to for months because I realised, mere hours before the concert, that there was no possible way to get everything organised for the conference trip the next morning, get my kids organised for their overnighters at friends,  AND attend the concert; 2 children coming down with illnesses on Sunday; TTFKABN Losing His Shit when those giant balls were dropped on the audience; TTFKABN literally shaking in my arms as we approached Duggee – who was the whole reason we went to the toddler rave in the first place; TTFKABN unable to recover from losing sight of me for approximately 5 seconds while he was jumping in bubbles, necessitating him to cry for the rest of the morning (though in retrospect he was actually launching a temperature and ear infection so that might have had something to do with the misery); Master T not wanting to go when I had enough of lugging around the crying TFKABN, because he was actually enjoying the whole kids’ festival, TTFKABN refusing to walk necessitating me to carry all 21.5 kg of him from the Opera House, back to the carpark (this is not a short stroll)…..I could go on but I think you get the picture.   TTFKABN SO excited to meet his favourite character, Duggee. Can’t you tell from the way he’s clinging onto me for dear life?

Conclusion: Life is NOT an Instagram feed. At least mine’s not and I need clothes that are up to the task of daily life (we touched on this last time). When your whole life feels like a Masterchef pressure test, the last thing you need is wardrobe stress. When making the time to shower and get dressed is a strategised event, actual thought going into an outfit is somewhat unlikely and in reality close to impossible. 

One solution I have to this is dresses. Always dresses. They are a complete outfit in one decision. Dress equals less stress. You put it on and boom! You’re dressed! 

We work hard to buy our clothes but once they are bought it’s time for the clothes to work for us. And my clothes have some hard work ahead of them. I have forgotten how to get dressed lately. I think it’s the change of season, which was very sudden in Sydney….it literally went from summer to winter overnight. Which meant I closed my eyes one night wanting to layer as little as possible and woke up the next morning trying to layer as much as possible . Unfortunately I can’t remember how to do this. I keep staring at my wardrobe in confusion, wondering what on earth to do with it, and more to the point did I just wear a dressing gown all of last winter? How on earth did I leave the house clothed 9 months ago when I can’t see any viable winter options. I feel lost in translation.

To layer successfully, you need basics. Really good basics. I am not great at buying basics – I am good at buying dry clean only silk for child-free evenings  but my life demands basics. I am also good at visiting the dry cleaner as my enthusiasm for an outfit outweighs my sense of reason to save dry-clean only for rare child-free occasions. But back to basics and layering, thankfully I have found three labels which are taking the guess work out of it for me. 

***

1. The Style Trinity

The Style Trinity is the 4th baby of my gorgeous friend, Charissa. Her first 3 babies were human, the latter two being born a mere year apart, so she GETS the need to look fabulous with minimal effort and time. Charissa always looks amazing. She has a knack of pulling together an outfit like no other and she is investing that innate style into her label. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook

When my Style Trinity goodies arrived in the post last week, I threw them all on together. And I looked great. Not as great as Charissa, but styled and sorted. I felt good. And it took me 10 seconds to get dressed. These are clothes that are doing the work for me. 

This is Charissa wearing her long Penelope Skirt and brand logo tank:

I bought that skirt. It is actually magic. I am pear shaped. Now I know some people *think* they are pear shaped, but most of the time that is an insult, or perhaps a compliment, to the truly pear shaped amongs us. Straight, tight skirts do not suit me. They cling to my non-straight thighs in a most unflattering way. The Penelope skirt is different. It is tight, yet somehow unbelievably flattering. I’m not sure what black magic Charissa has done to the fabric, but I like it. And speaking of black magic, I’ll have the black too.

I also ordered the ultimate basic – a long sleeve striped tee. It works with everything. It even doubles as pyjamas. I know this because sometimes I fall asleep in my clothes. This was lovely to sleep in and still good to go the next morning. I can’t say the same for all my clothes.  I like a multitasking top.

The quality is there. The cut is there. The style is there. And the clothes are here, hanging in my wardrobe, where all good clothes belong. 

***

2. The Frock NYC

These girls do not need a rap from Shopping Girl. They’ve been feature in Vogue, for goodness sake. The Frock are Simi Polonsky and Chaya Chanin, two Sydney girls making it big in NYC. Chaya and Simi get my wardrobe needs like no-one else can. They grew up in Sydney so they get the weather. They are uber stylish. They are mothers. And most importantly (for me) they are Orthodox Jews (like me), so they get the need to marry stylish, weather & lifestyle appropriate clothing with Jewish modesty laws. Not only do they keep my wardrobe covered, they keep my elbows and knees covered too. 


Their business is, not surprisingly, frocks (and some brilliant belts) which just PROVES what a great customer-slash-brand combo we are. When they came to Sydney last year, I went to check out their threads. I was browsing through the dresses, and picked up a silky T dress to inspect more closely (it was lovely close up too). As I scrutinised it, Simi piped up “It’s a great layering piece”. “This girl’s cuckoo” I said (quietly in my head). “I have 4 kids – i don’t have time to LAYER”. The next morning as I gazed incomprehensibly at my wardrobe, unable to find a thing to wear, I realised she was right. Layering pieces were exactly what I needed. If I just had the dress, I could throw on this jumper or that vest, with a saddle belt, some ankle boots, and I’d be good to go. I called the girls, and bought the dress in blush. And then in olive. Followed by a frockheaven dress, a frockclassic T and a frockfluid. 


Frock silky t in Olive

Simi and Chaya have taught me that layering does not need to be time consuming or scary, and that with the right basic pieces, it’s a cinch. 
***

3. COS

Last year Working Boy and I took the boys overseas. After 3 weeks in Israel, we went to London for 9 days. We showed the boys all the sights and one fantastic afternoon,  Working Boy took the boys sight seeing to allow me some unencumbered shopping time. 


A bit of Zara here….a spot of Massimo Dutti there, but mostly some glorious browsing. At the end of a few hours, Working Boy and the Boyz were ready to be reunited with me and we organised to meet at The Apple Shop. As I approached Apple, I walked past the windows of a COS store. “Interesting,” I thought. Followed by “WB and the Boyz will be FINE in Apple for 5 minutes by themselves” and into COS I went. Well. I was bedazzled. I wanted to try on everything. My phone started beeping. The non-natives were restless. “I’ll be there in 5!” I lied texted. I did a speed perusal, grabbed about 10 things, ran to the change room, resisted the urge to max out the credit card, and limited myself to a dress, and a handbag. 

Joy of all joys a few months later COS opened one of its Australian branches in WBJ, my very local mega mall. I still cannot walk in there without wanting to take half the shop home with me. This is layerable pieces on steroids. Incredible basics, reasonable price point, fabulous, stylish cuts.

COS Bondi Junction: I spy with my little eye the most GORGEOUS rose gold triangular prism bag!

***

And that’s my wrap on basics. Shopping Girl: keeping it real, one outfit at a time.

XOXO Shopping Girl

MBFW – The Round Up

Last week was the annual Mercedes-Benz  Fashion Week – it’s THE week of weeks for the sartorially inclined in Australia. I like watching the shows online. I’d like to watch in person more but no-one ever invites me. I scanned my Instagram with particular interest this year. The collections paraded will hit the shops a few weeks before First Born’s barmitzvah, so I’m in the market for a spectacular outfit or two. Unfortunately,  “we” have some major expenses coming up, so apparently that is ALL I’m in the market for until then. Very hard to be Shopping Girl without shopping……but details, details

Anyway, fabulous outfits aside, I like to keep an eye on the latest from Australian designers. It’s not just that I can’t afford international designers, Australian designers seem to get me. They get my lifestyle. They know what I want to wear. There is barely a season that goes by, that I DON’T have a wish list from Zimmerman, Ginger & Smart, Bianca Spender et al. 

Truth be known, and contrary to popular belief, I don’t spend my days doing lunches, fashion shows and sipping champagne. It’s all very well looking hawt while I swan around WBJ but I need my fashion to work for me at school drop off (and pick up), at the supermarket, at the sink, and the washing-line  (where I spend a stupid amount of time) and, most importantly, in the park.

So let’s see, how will the 2016 collections work for me?

Let’s start with Maticevski, he was the opening night after all. 


Okey dokey then……I can see how this works on the runway. And why this would be worth creating just for the media buzz BUT I do have to say….Toni? This really does not work for me. Nor any other mother I know. And just general, functional non-mothers.  I NEED my hands. I cannot cook dinner with my hands tied behind my back. I cannot push a swing. Okay fine….I supposed I can kick a swing. But I cannot drive, and driving, in my line of “work”, is everything.  My hands and arms are pretty crucial in just about every day to day scenario in which I envisage myself. That “piece” is pretty, and certainly dramatic, but seriously? I’d prefer it just hung there like a pendulum and gave me use of my hands. 

Okay….Ginger & Smart I love you. Don’t get me wrong. I really do. I could buy 5 of your ($600) dresses every single collection. I sometimes think I must be your third sister, separated at birth. But girls? I cannot SEE out of this hat. Yes, yes, it may provide excellent SPF but I have 4 boys to watch over. There’s a whole mummy mafia who will crucify me if I don’t. And I might end up on Bondi Rescue as the sun smart mum who wasn’t watching (nay couldn’t watch) her toddler near the water. 

The bag on the other hand? Excellent. In Fashun-speak, that would be called a Weekender. I would call it “a morning out with children”. The bag should just about fit everything in, though the kids will still have to carry their own towels if we head to the beach. 

Moving on and Emma Mulholland seemed to be more in my world with her playful designs. I saw the headbands:

And I thought “yes! You get what my life is like”. I saw the star stickers on the models’ faces and I thought “been there”. Given, my kids generally stick those little fruit stickers on me, rather than stars, but you know, same concept. 


However where Mulholland is clearly not designing for me is the boob spacemen. It’s like her head is all PlaySchool and then the body is all, well, Alien. Sigourney Weaver type Alien. I can’t wear that. My kids will have nightmares and they’ll wake me up in the middle of the night. I’d rather wear the fruit stickers.

You almost had me. That skirt is heaven. I am ready to hand over my credit card but for goodness sake why is it COMPLETELY TRANSPARENT?? I can’t go to parent teacher night with my undies on display. Actually I can’t go anywhere with my undies on display. For just so many reasons, really.  Steven Khalil: Line the skirt, and you have a sale.


Well this is a surgery waiting to happen, Alice McCall. I don’t know about you, but when I kneel down to button up a small shirt or tie up a shoelace, my kids start randomly poking me in the face. The Todder Formerly Known as Baby N actually takes handfuls of hair from each side of my face, and then rubs it all over my face, in a sort of banana smearing motion.  I now involuntarily shout out “don’t touch my face!” when I drop on one knee.  I can see myself losing the piece of cartilage between my nostrils. I like having separate nostrils. I don’t want one big nostril. No face jewelly for me. 

But not all designers fell victim to totally impractical designs for a stay-at-home mother of 4. Here are some that come with the Shopping Girl stamp of approval.

Steven Khalil

You can hide anything under this dress (assuming it gets lined). A pregnancy. Even just a food baby. An extra child into a movie that you don’t want to pay for. The options are endless. Volume is good.


Georgia Alice



This top is genius. For anyone, like me, who has more children than hands, no need for fights anymore over who gets to hold them. Everyone gets a strip of sleeve instead. There’s even extras for friends. I once said I needed to be an octopus to be a mother. Now I can be.

Let’s start with my friend on the left. What is she wearing? Is it a coat? Is it a picnic blanket? Is it a quilt? Who knows, but how much more perfect could a garment be than to combine all three. Perfect for those freezing Sunday morning soccer games, with hungry siblings who’ve come along for the ride.  Thank you Romance was Born.

As for the girl on the far right, let’s just say: my kids go to a religious Jewish school, so biblical dress ups come in more handy than you might generally think. Mum’s jacket by night, Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat by day.

And these last two? Well they are just utter style. I am happy just gazing upon their simple perfection. 

Bianca Spender


By Johnny

Stay tuned next time, for the opposite end of the spectrum. The designers who are designing with actual, child driving, food cooking, non-parade going people in mind.

XOXO Shopping Girl 

Style for the people

I have a dirty, little secret. I almost too ashamed to share except that I am so excited about it that I have to. Some of you may be shocked. There’s a particular resident of Gilgandra Rd that may require medical assistance after reading this (someone may like to call a preparatory ambulance?) but, well there are always casualties when secrets are spilled.

Are you ready?

You sure?

Okay here goes…..

I’ve started shopping at K-Mart. And I LOVE it.

(Cue: fainting).

No seriously, have you been?? It’s really quite amazing. Once upon a time I practically showered after a visit to K-Mart if I ever had to go (kids’ camp clothes and the like). Call me a snob (Working Boy does all the time but between you & me, he’s a bigger snob than me. Ah, true love), but that is how it is. Or was, at least.

Now, you still won’t find me sporting the latest big K fashions (though I do have a friend @seemeswoon – check her out on Insta – who throws together inexpensive chain store buys all the time and looks constantly AMAZING) but what you will find me doing is raiding the store for their amazing homewares. 

I seem to be doing a lot of list based posts at the moment but to save you trawling around K-Mart (although it has emerged that there are Facebook groups full of people who LOVE doing just that), here is:

Shopping Girl’s Definitive List of the Ten Best Things to Buy at K-Mart.

1.

Metal Locker bedside table – $29.

$29. Twenty Nine dollars people. I cannot tell you what a bargain this is. I had been searching online for a bedside table for Cooking Child (my children discovered my blog last week, and the child formerly known as J has requested to henceforth be known as Cooking Child) and had my heart set on a locker style. The only problem was that the locker style bedside tables had their hearts set on being in excess of $200. I went to K-Mart to buy beanbag beans (see below) and lo and behold I could not believe my EYES when I saw this little beauty just sitting there, humbly, for $29. Into the trolley it went.

2.


Cement base lamp – $10

So cheap, you should buy two. In fact I’m going to have to because I bought this lamp so quickly I didn’t stop to consider where in the house it would actually go. I have since decided that it is perfect as a bedside table lamp in mine and Working Boy’s room, but now I need one for each side of our bed. We are symmetrical people.  

3.


Stainless Steel Shaped Jug – $15

I had been lusting after a very similar jug on the Peters of Kensignton website which cost around $189. Or given that in actuality my lusty thoughts on pitchers are extremely few and far between, some may say non-existent, let’s just say I really quite liked it. Considering how much entertaining we do, we have a disproportionality small number of jugs, and what’s more, the two we have are small. I bought two of these as well. Now I can have one at both ends of the table. As I said, we’re symmetrical people. 

4.

50cm Fire Pit with stand – $39

They say that art imitates life but can life imitate decor? I haven’t bought this yet. But if I did it would make me the sort of person who spontaneously has friends over, where we hang outside, drinking wine, someone’s playing guitar and we’re sitting around a fire pit (preferably on floor cushions)…..it all sounds so relaxed and so un-i-have-4-children. Plus we would become the marshmallow toasting capital of Bellevue Hill.

5. 


Paper Plates – Pastel Foil $3 (16 in pack)

I always feel a bit bad when I use disposable plates. There’s the environmental impact. There’s the cost. And then there’s the fact that I must already have a huge amount of washing up to do, or I wouldn’t be resorting to disaposables. That makes me feel really, REALLY bad. 

These, however, make me feel happy. Like I’m having a party. And I mind setting the table just a little bit less when I’m setting it with these plates. 

6. 


Canisters: small – $5, large $7

There are SO many places in the house that could benefit from some pretty canisters. If we could just fill a large one with lead pencils and a small one with erasers, the daily call of “do you know where a pencil / rubber is?” and subsequent 10 minute homework avoiding search, could be eradicated. Without compromising my house design aesthetic. 

7.


4 Piece Cityscape Activity Floor Mat $16.00

This playmat screams “YOUR CHILD WILL SIT AND PLAY ON ME IMAGINATIVELY FOR HOURS WITH HIS MATCHBOX CARS AND WON’T EVEN MENTION THE IPAD”. That sounds like a good deal for $16 to me.  When First Born was born, playmats did not look nearly so pretty, or so fun. It’s a designer mat with a non-designer price. 


8.


Teardrop bean bag – Grid extra large – $25

I actually already bought a beanbag. From Typo. I was at K-mart buying the beans when I spied this super-size bag. Sometimes being plus-sized can be a disadvantage in life…..not when you’re a beanbag. Who would NOT want to sink into a quite chic oversized beanbag? This would look fab in First Born’s room. But First Born, you have your own cash, so buy it yourself.
9.Felt Storage Box with Lid – $6

We all know I am a massive fan of storage options. Would you rather have random open boxes of Lego lying around or some smart grey felt boxes? With a leather strap? I know what I prefer. Conceal the chaos, shoppers. 
10.

Be gone IKEA Billy – there’s a new favourite shelving system in town. I’m partial to a little pegboard. This one has little shelves. I already bought a pegboard at Typo and when I saw this I was devastated that I could have had a pegboard/ shelving combo…..but now I see that Typo must have also gone to K-Mart (all the cool people are) and had the exact same reaction, for they have released little shelves that you can buy as an accessory to your peg board. 
11. 

Wall LED Decor – Lightning, White $9

I know I said 10 but I just couldn’t limit myself, so consider this your bonus buy. Plus number 10 was more about Typo than it was about K-Mart so it didn’t really seem fair. 

Not so long ago this sort of thing cost well over $100. I don’t know who has a couple of hundred bucks to drop on a fun light for their kid’s room but it’s not me (because I already spent it on a dress). That is why I love you K-Mart – you are democratising decor. 

XOXO Shopping Girl

Shopping Girl’s Guide to Mothers’ Day 2016

It’s that time of year again…..the time when I get presents for my powers of procreation. It’s a complete rort, of course, but I feel I deserve some sort of compensation for the fact that motherhood just keeps getting more and more complicated as the kids get older. Sure, people said “Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems”. But they also say “A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie” and if that was me, I would say “No there’s not enough pie for everyone” and then eat all 4 pieces once the kids were in bed, so how was I to know I was actually supposed to heed the warning?

Many of my friends think that having older children that you can reason with and really talk to is the pay off for the exhausting slog of the first few years. Personally I like them small, cute, funny and in bed by 7pm.

If you’re anything like me, you  do a short victory dance everytime you find yourself alone in the house for a good stretch of time have worked out that leaving the present buying to the people around you does not always work out for the best. I now buy my own gifts and give them to Working Boy…..to give to me. I highly recommend this strategy. Everyone is happy. I am happy because I get something I really want. Working Boy is happy because he doesn’t need to work out what a good present would be or indeed find the time to purchase it. The kids are happy because….well they’re kids and when someone in the house is celebrating something, there’s often cake involved.

And so I bring you the definitive 2016 Shopping Girl’s Guide to Mothers’ Day. Sure Mothers’ Day is less than one hour away but I provide weblinks to everything and a printed email receipt for something good is better than nothing……or a crappy gift.

1. Benah for Karen Walker–  Dana Duo Wallet – $150


This is what I am getting. I know because I ordered it and left it, gift boxed on Working Boy’s desk. Can’t leave a more obvious hint than that. My purse has been needing replacement for a while. Money keeps falling out. I mean sometimes it falls out onto a shop counter and I take something home, but sometimes the coins just spill out when I’m NOT trying to pay for anything. 

I like this purse because it’s big so I’ll find it in my handbag, I can take it out as a clutch when I’m just running into a shop and just want to grab my purse, I love the neutral colour AND it has lots of card slots. I have lots of cards. #perfectmatch



2. Scarf Option A

Banjo & Matilda Caresse Scarf – $295


Sure, $295 is a little steep for a scarf, but this is what my Banjo & Matilda email said about it…..


I will never want to take it off. Even if I only live till 70, it will end up being quite good value for money, from a cost per wear perspective. Silk and cashmere sounds divine, plus who knows, if I wear the scarf, perhaps I’ll get legs like hers…👆🏻

Scarf Option B

Gorman Pom Pom Pom Scarf – $129


I just think life would be more fun if I had a bunch of coloured pom-poms around my neck. I can’t think of any situation which is not improved by pom-poms.

3.Typo Phone Charger Wallet – $59.99


Apart from the fact that this wallet won’t fit my brand new hulking big purse, could you BE any more useful, little Typo wallet? My iPhone, like all good iPhones, begins with a great battery life, which rapidly declines in my obviously neglectful care. On-the-go chargers are everything. And so I bring you 4……

4. Rubi Powerbank – $24.95 

See 3. This one is cute. The Toddler Formerly know as Baby N snapped off the charging bit off my old one, when he was Baby N. 

5. FitBit Alta – $179



I was SO excited about this. We all know how much Shopping Girl loves a pink & metallic tech product. Nothing has as yet ever encouraged me to exercise regularly but something pink and metallic could prove to be the winning incentive. 

I don’t need a band to tell me that I did NOT get 8 hours of unbroken sleep. But you know, J says ALL the kids in Year 5 have a Fitbit (he doesn’t want one). This makes me think two things a) WTF? b) if all those flipping 10 years old have them, I should bloody well have one.

In researching this product it emerged that the pink leather band has to be purchased for an additional $99.95. Why can’t it just come in pink??? Fitbit?? 

6. A Fluffy Foot Stool

I still regret not buying that fluffy foot stool. I think I would have smiled at it every time I passed it. Nothing would make me feel MORE appreciated as a mother than the children presenting me with a fluffy foot stool tomorrow. Sadly for them, they don’t have the finances, and it is no longer available (although my Real Living magazine did once do a feature on how to make one). So they’ll just have to make feel appreciated using, you know, words, and actions and BEHAVIOUR.

7. New Ugg Boots – $89


I love my Peter Alexander Homeboots. Nothing takes the sting out of a day on your feet, and a chill in the air, like cosy, soft uggboots. I treat myself to a new pair every 2-3 years as I find that in that time, the wool is flattened until eventually there is no comfort left, only hard, generally filthy, once-was-wool. Peter Alexander does some special edition prints, finishes or colours each year. My last pair were gold and they rocked. I’m in a leopard mood this year. Roar. 

8. Magazine Subscription


Every year Working Boy gets me a subscription to my favourite mag. This a mutually beneficial arrangement. I get my preferred title delivered to my letterbox each month (actually the postman slides it under the gate), and he gets to make a present out of something I would have bought anyway. Win win.

9. Clare Bowen VIP – $100

The very second the Clare Bowen tickets went on sale I snapped them up. I could listen to her gorgeous voice forever. But then, a few days later, I saw THIS advertised:


I don’t need an autographed item. I’ll say something stupid if I meet her (I know this after my recent Tim Freedman experience. Don’t ask me. I feel sick even *thinking* about it). I’ll embarrass myself having a photo with her. BUT, an intimate acoustic performance??? Yes!! Yes!! Yes, please!!!

10. Zac Posen dress that Clare Danes wore to the Met Gala.

A girl can dream can’t she?  Anyway it’s First Born’s barmitzvah later this year so I’m in the market for a fab dress.


And that concludes the guide. Wine and chocolate is not an entry on the list. That is not a Mothers’ Day gift – all women should be supplied with wine and chocolate, year round.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all the mums, soon to be mums, yet to be mums, sparents etc etc

XOXO Shopping Girl 

Flying high….in the sky

Because flying across Australia solo with four boys is SUCH a breeze, I thought to myself, what better time than now (kosher meals having failed to make their appearance, toddler mourning a wireless connection) to revive my blog? 
Baby N is now Toddler N, and come the end of June, will be Little Boy N. Or perhaps “The Little Boy formerly known as Baby N”. Sure, it’s a mouthful, but it has a ring to it. 

Anyway onto business. 

Shopping Girl’s Top 5 tips for Flying With Kids:

1. i (Prounounced “eye”).

To be clear, i-anything, loaded with shows. The Toddler Formerly Known as Baby N’s favourite apps (YouTube Kids and abckids iview) only work with a wireless connection so make sure you download your shows prior to take-off. At least 5 of each of your child’s favourite shows. Apparently there are ways to save from YouTube onto your device, which no doubt one day I will work out, but in the meantime just pay for them on iTunes (worth every penny and if we didn’t buy something, it wouldn’t be a Shopping Girl post).   

Recently we flew to Melbourne. The flight from Sydney to Melbourne is so short it barely counts. But on this flight I discovered that my carefully curated collection of BBC’s finest (The Toddler Formerly Known as Baby N – henceforth TTFKABN – has a mostly British accent which has nothing to do with my birthplace – Birmingham – and everything to do with Peppa Pig and Ben & Holly) had unceremoniously vacated my iPad and returned itself to my cloud. My plane inaccessible cloud. Fortunately I keep some emergency shows on my iphone. 


I don’t care if Steve Jobs deserves more of the credit than I actually do….I’m much better suited to accepting praise on the behaviour of my children than I am slinking off the plane, unruly toddler barely in tow, wavering between staring at the ground and staring every passenger directly in the eye, just DARING them to say something.

Devices people. Devices. There are no screen time limits in the air.

2. Qantas. Book with Qantas. Worth every penny when travelling alone with children. Space (it’s relative of course). Screens. Kosher food (sometimes missing). As I type this, they are delivering (blessedly kosher) Mars Bar ice creams to every passenger. Lunch, kids! 

Times have changed since the memorable trip of 2005 where First Born informed every passenger on board in a voice more appropriate for reaching the back rows of the Sydney Opera House concert hall, that “the icecream on the plane’s NOT KOSHER!”.


3. Headphones. Aeroplanes are noisy. It’s hard for the offspring to hear their devices. And it’s painful for everyone else to hear their devices. So headphones people. They make them small these days especially for your little screen addicted progeny. 

My favourite thing in the world at the moment are my wireless headphones. I don’t use them on flights for four obvious reasons. BUT at home they are (and I never say this lightly) one of the BEST things I have EVER bought. Not only do they give the (correct) impression to the children that I cannot hear them, but in the evening, when I am desperately trying to get my Nashville/Girls/Charlie Pickering fix and relieve the boredom of the nightly kitchen duties, with my iPad propped up on the caesarstone, no matter how much I walk around the kitchen (to the fridge, to the pantry, to the Tupperware drawer, repeat) I can still hear my show. My choice? Kreafunk


They work and they look great. I’m a sucker for pink and metallics and there are marketing genii all over the place that know it.
4. Food.                                                                         a) Gum / tic-tacs. There’s something about planes that makes me feel like I have morning breath all over again. Working Boy doesn’t deserve a kiss full of that breath. Can also double up as “landing treats” (see below). 

b) Snacks. Lots. The reason I invented “landing treats” was 1. Sore ears. 2. Peace and quiet for the last ten minutes of the flight because not so long ago, devices had to be switched off for landing. 3. I have a no-chocolate, no-lollies rule on the plane (except the last 10 minutes because if the sugar high is gonna hit, we’ll be off the plane by then). I pack loads of “piece-y” snacks though (they take more time to eat) for my kids in lots of individual ziplocks. Popcorn. Pretzels. Animal crackers. Sultanas. Bissli (Israeli snack). If it’s dry, will not make clothing or hands sticky, and there’s no associated sugar rush, then sodium levels be damned, it’s going in the hand luggage. 


Just make sure you pack water too.
5. Happy Baby dummies. They should rebrand and call themselves Happy Mummy dummies. Two of my kids did not have a dummy, two did, so I have no interest in getting involved in a dummy debate. But for the dummy suckers, it’s been Happy Baby all the way. 

One thing I am strict on is that dummies are only for sleeping. They exist in the cot and in the cot alone. Except on aeroplanes. Because I discovered that when George Pig cries on Peppa Pig (it happens quite a lot), TTFKABN likes to treat his fellow passengers to his best George impression. I may not understand a word TTFKABN is saying when he has a dummy in his mouth but there is no question that his volume is dulled.

So, when it comes to flight advice, I could go on for a while, what with wipes, twisting textas (no lids to drop) but top 5 is what I promised so top 5 is what you got.

And as a bonus for reading this far……

Shopping Girl’s Top 1 tip for travelling with no kids
:
1) Invest in some noise cancelling headphones. That way if the Todddler Formerly known as Baby N is on your flight, you will be none the wiser. I know I said before that aeroplanes are noisy, but they are also quiet. In the old days, ie before personal screens, the cabin itself buzzed  with conversation. Now that everyone is quietly dedicated to a screen, the mechanical sounds remain but the cabin is extremely quiet. You will only notice this when you fly with an infant or toddler, as their voice resonates through formerly quiet cabin. Noise cancelling earphones. 

XOXO Shopping Girl

Takeover Bid

Food: check!

Caffeine: check!

Sanity: missing, presumed dead.

But the show must go on….a few months ago I bought a chambray shirt dress from shopbop. It looks like this:

  
Yup, that’s totally how it looks on me too. 

It has fast become a wardrobe MVP (most valuable player – mum gets upset when I talk in abbreviations she doesn’t understand). But despite the fact that the me above has rolled her sleeves, it is quite a heavy cotton and not ideal for summer.

The other day I was walking through David Jones and I saw something similar.

   I couldn’t stop to shop, so I clocked that it was Trenery, and kept walking. 

I kept thinking about the dress (which is always a surefire way to know that it’s a worthwhile buy), but I was held back by the thought that every girl I knew would probably buy the same one. Because we would all recognise the value in such a dress. And wouldn’t  we all look ridiculous come school pick up, rocking up to school to fetch our uniformed children, wearing, well, a uniform. A uniform of chambray dresses. 

But still I kept thinking of the dress. And then a strange thing happened. Chambray dresses started popping up EVERYWHERE. And I mean everywhere.

There, in Sunday Life magazine was Camilla and Marc‘s version:

  
And then I check my email, and Picnic, a West Australian shop whose emails I didn’t even sign up for, was letting me know they have not one but two on offer:

Paige:

  
And Nate:

  
Not to be outdone, Witchery emailed me to let me know I had not yet spent my $20 birthday gift voucher, which was soon going to expire. And oh by the way, we TOO have a great summer chambray dress, they said. Look!*

*exact words may differ slightly from those used in actual Witchery email.

  
So there we have it. And there are probably more versions landing in shops as we type / read. Clearly a bid to take over the world. Or at the very least my wardrobe. How to choose? How to choose?

I’ll throw it open to you. 

Vote 1) for Trenery ($149, though spend and save likely, possibly a bit short – ugly knees – and pockets could be unflattering?).

Vote 2) for Camilla & Marc ($280, mind, and least likely to have a shop wise discount at any stage).

Vote 3) for Picnic’s Paige ($129.95 – and possibly MOS-G should pay because she emailed me the picture of the Hobb’s boots, which I then had to buy, which is why I think I’m now being emailed by Picnic).

Vote 4) for Picnic’s Nate ($139.95 – I guess the buttons cost $10, or maybe you’re paying for the name Nate, which I prefer to Paige).

Vote 5) for Witchery ($149.95 but I have my birthday voucher and it says “low in stock” which always brings out the “buyer frenzy” in me). 

Vote 6) none of the above (Working Boy – stop hacking my blog).

I’ll leave the decision to the crowd.

XOXO Shopping Girl

Fuels

It’s been a busy year so far. A really, particularly busy year. For many reasons and no reasons and I can’t say I’ve really achieved anything more than I have in less busy years. But nonetheless the fact remains that I have not found time to write. More importantly I have not found enough time to read. I only realised this yesterday, when Working Boy took the four boys to synagogue and I sat down to read for an hour. Vogue, if you must  know. And all at once the urge to write overcame me. Ideas starting flowing in. My (deserted) blog began writing itself in my mind, as I relaxed and read. 

It reminded me of something author Caitlin Moran said, in an article I read in Elle magazine many months ago. Put simply, she said that writing was a simple equation – words in equal words out. The more words you drink in, the more you’ll have to output. I think she’s right. The less I read, the less I write, and I don’t think it’s just a matter of time.

I may need to read to fuel my brain to write, but I also need to fuel my stomach. Unfortunately today is one of two 25 hour fasts in the Jewish calendar, so I am unfuelled. More specifically uncaffeinated. So the blog will have to resume tomorrow. 

Today’s fast ends a 3 week mourning period in the Jewish calendar. It is not a time for shopping and new things (though there are exceptions to the rule). So there’s only one thing I am buying today. And that is bread. More specifically Holy Seeds bread. My goddess of a friend, Romy, is spending her fast baking artisan sourdough with her 4 children, so that others may purchase it and break their fast on it.  (You can drool over her amazing food on her Instagram @holy_seeds). 

  
This is what I will break my fast on….smeared with avo, sprinkled with chilli flakes.

Too…..hungry…..to…..keep…..typing.

Over & out.

XOXO Shopping Girl

Fashions on the Field

Today marked the beginning of soccer season.

This is how my day went:

Some ungodly hour: Working Boy’s alarm goes off and he hurries off to work, in an effort to be back in time to help with the soccer run (around). 

Less ungodly hour: I wake up, shower, go downstairs and realise that we are almost out of milk. Divide the remaining milk between the Nespresso aerocino and Baby N’s bottle (it is unclear whose need is greater). Top up bottle with water and offer kids custard and fruit for breakfast. Celebrations all round.

8.45am: Tell Master T it’s time to get ready for soccer.

8.46am: Master T looks at me sheepishly and says “I don’t want to do soccer after all”.

8.47am: I internally celebrate. 

8.49am: Master T says “Actually I think I do want to do it”. My heart sinks. I reply “Fine, let’s get you dressed”.

8.50am: Master T looks at me sheepishly and says “I don’t want to do soccer after all”.

8.51am: I internally celebrate.

8.55am: J, who is also playing soccer this year, asks who is on his team. I read out the team. Master T asks me to read out the names of his (former) team. “I can’t decide whether to play. It’s such a hard decision” he says. “Well decide now, because if you’re going to play, we need to leave in 20 minutes,” I reply. “Okay, I’m not playing,” deems Master T. (Yeah, you can see where this going, can’t you?).

9.15am: I put Baby N in highchair for (late) breakfast.

9.20am: Master T appears and says “I am going to do soccer after all”.

 “But everyone is in their pyjamas and we’ll need to leave in 10 minutes to make it on time,” I say. “Where are my soccer clothes?” Master T replies.

9.21am: I find soccer clothes.

9.22am: I begin screaming like a banshee for First Born, First Born’s friend who stayed over, J and Master T to get dressed. Start slapping on make up and clothes, trying to brush teeth simulateously.

9.24am: Catch sight of Master T putting on socks. “Shin pads!” I screech. “You need shin pads!”. “I don’t know where they are”, says Master T.

9.25am: More Banshee. Go looking for shin pads.

9.26am:  Find shin pads and tell First Born to help Master T with them.

9.28am: “I’ll just get my sneakers”, says Master T. “Soccer boots!” I screech. “You need your soccer boots!”. He looks at me blankly. I head up to his room. No soccer boots. I look in coat cupboard. No soccer boots.

9.33am: Eventually find soccer boots on a shelf in the garage. 

9.35am: Grab some clothes for Baby N, some water for Master T.

9.40am: Wipe down Baby N and pile him and the other 4 kids into the car. 

Arrive at soccer 15 minutes late and collapse in a triumphant pile. The soccer field is quite a fashionable place. I forgot this in our rush to get out.  So how did we play? 

First Born and his friend were fine. Casual separates, suitable attire for “disinterested older brother and friend of disinterested older brother”. They dressed themselves, so no credit taken.

Master T and J were both in their soccer uniforms (we had a short turnover between when Master T finished his match and when J began his warm up, 20 minutes away). And the boots. The beautiful soccer boots. I LOVE buying them soccer boots each year. Gorgeous, shiny, bright. The louder the better. Being that they play more for social than sporty reasons, I buy the bottom of the range. But even the cheaper ones are fab. Maybe this is because the cheaper ones still cost $49.95 for Master T (from Shoes and Sox) and (close your eyes Working Boy) $79.95 for J (from Athlete’s Foot). Here they are:

  

Glorious aren’t they?

Baby N did not fare so well. We arrived and he was wearing a hand me down Mickey Mouse pyjama t-shirt. It had a line of custard down it. I got some Bonds tracksuit pants on him, and then he ran off shouting “Goccer! Goccer!” and relied on his natural charm rather than sartorial prowess for the hour. By the afternoon he was looking pretty cute though:

  

(You can’t see, but the hoody has dinosaur spikes running down from the front of the hood all the way to the bottom of the jacket). 

And as for me…..well “Soccer Mum” is not a category that comes naturally to me. And in our soccer league, you have to know that you are going to see roughly half the community.  There are some mums who dress as though they themselves may be called onto the field at any minute (thank G-d this does not seem to be protocol).  And I’m thinking this is not a bad idea because it would give me a great excuse to get stuck into the Country Road fitness collection…..but generally I try to go for casual. I don’t like dressing up on Sundays. But I don’t want to look like a slob. So casual, but put together. And warm. Siberia has nothing on the cliffs of Vaucluse (uh….I imagine). But I don’t want to be hot before I get there. The stress of getting there is enough to keep me cosy on the way.

This morning there was no time to cultivate any look. So I grabbed by brand new Lee Matthews poncho, just gifted to me by good old MOS-G. It’s half a poncho, half a wrap and half a blanket (it multitasks so hard it’s more like 1.5 pieces of clothing). It’s cotton & cashmere which means it’s light but cosy.

   To save from looking like I’d gone outside wearing a blanket (although this is an acceptable look at the mo), I wrapped a recently purchased super thin leather strap/ belt (check out @thefrocknyc on Instagram – who are the lovely ladies who sell them) to hold my blanket together…..and abracadabra, I was chic and warm but not overdressed. Score. 

XOXO Shopping Girl

P.S. Stay tuned for Part Two on Tuesday, where we somehow go to soccer training simultaneously with our guitar and piano lessons……

The 5 stages of supermarket with a toddler (the Kübler-Ross model)

I love toddlers. Toddlers are cute and funny and people stop to admire mine on a regular basis, which, for some inexplicable reason makes me feel like I am WINNING AT LIFE. I have so much fun with Baby N, who is 21 months now. He is a constant source of amusement. His latest trick is this: you say: “Baby N, what do you get when you cross a cat with a pig?”. And he replies “meow” and then he snorts. I cannot get enough of this trick. His mispronunciation of just about everything is delightful (until he’s 7 and needs intense speech therapy). Like all my toddlers have been, he is with me 24/7 and I really do love it.

Except when I am attempting to get anything done. Unless I am trying to watch In The Night Garden, kicking a soccer ball around the house, upturning sippy cups, ditching food across the room, or sitting in a Fisher Price car, then Baby N is not only NOT interested in what I am doing, he is taking active steps to prevent it. 

Nowhere is this more obvious than the supermarket. Ah, the Supermarket. Feared by all parents with toddlers in tow. Based on 11 years of personal experience, across 4 personal toddlers, there are 5 stages of doing the supermarket shopping with a toddler.

Stage One: Denial

I don’t know about you, but as I am driving to the supermarket I am convinced that it won’t be that bad. Baby N will be fine. He’s grown up a bit since the last time and has been a lot more amenable to recent errands. I have my shopping list, so I can be super efficient. My bag is well equipped with water and sultanas. I can get him a Chobani yoghurt if he finishes the sultanas. I will chat to him the whole time and keep him distracted. It will be fine. No, more than fine. I love the supermarket. 

Stage Two: Anger

I am not sure who is angrier. Me, because Baby N won’t sit in the trolley, or Baby N, because I am trying to shoehorn him into a trolley that is clearly not meant for toddlers of his stature. Or the guy who is trying to move his trolley along but can’t because Baby N is dawdling sweetly, but somewhat inconventiently in the middle of the aisle so that no-one can get past. Either way, there’s some anger brewing. I am trying to move on to the next aisle and Baby N is not moving at all. “Why is this happening to me?” I question. I think the guy stuck behind Baby N is wondering the same thing.

Stage 3: Bargaining

I offer Baby N a yoghurt in exchange for sitting in the trolley. It works like a dream. For about 5 minutes. Even though he eats yoghurt tubes beautifully at all other times, in the trolley he squirts it out everywhere…..over him, over me, over the floor, over the trolley. I abandon my aisle ordered list and hot-foot it to the baby aisle to get some wipes.  Baby N smiles beautifically like a Huggies baby.  And then turns around and starts reaching for the contents of the trolley and hurling it down the aisle. I give him sultanas and promise G-d that if I can just finish this supermarket shop with even half the things I need, and half my sanity intact, I will never ask for anything again.

Stage 4: Depression

We are at the check out. I have most of the things I need, but have just realised I forgot the nappies. I need the nappies. But I can’t leave Baby N in the trolley at the checkout. I don’t want to take him out to go and get the nappies because then I will never get him back in and then I won’t be able to push the trolley. This is depressing. Forget it. I will have to come back tomorrow for nappies…..

And then I look up and Baby N is sprinkling his sultanas all over the floor, followed by the box. I bend down to try and clean up but the cashier has finished and is waiting to be paid. The woman behind me, who has a small-ish baby who is starting to grizzle, is looking at me with barely-concealed horror. Must be her first child.  I leave the sultanas and start to pay. I give her a gift voucher. She enters a whole lot of numbers and codes and then tells me she needs to do it again because the voucher has been used already. Baby N is squawking his yoghurt smeared face off for his sultanas. Small, perfect baby behind us is grizzling more. Perfect mother behind me is shooting more machetes than daggers at me. I am never going to the Supermarket again. No, I am never leaving the HOUSE again. I want to get off the world.

Stage 5: Acceptance.

There are sultanas everywhere. I can’t pick them all up. My receipt is printed, my Woolworths collectable dominoes are in hand. The woman behind me is truly fed up because I went on to pay with three gift vouchers (yes, Working Boy, I’m looking at you).

“I’m sorry, I say to the cashier, there are sultanas on the floor”. And I leave. 

Except I don’t because as I walk off I count my dominoes and even though my receipt says I have earned 18. And even though I TOLD her I have 4 kids, somehow she has given me 12 dominoes. She grabbed handfuls of them, like she was being very generous. But it was all an act, and I only have 12 dominoes.   By now I have accepted that shopping with a toddler is an exercise in utter mortification. In fact, I am embracing it. So I march back up to my cashier who is finally serving the non-yoghurt smeared woman behind me and I say “Excuse me. But you only gave me 12 dominoes and I was supposed to get 18”.

So I got my extra 6 dominoes. Sure I lost my dignity but you know….you can’t win them all. And quite frankly,  when it comes toddlers and supermarkets, you feel lucky to escape at all. 

XOXO Shopping Girl