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2004 ParentMap Picks - Shopping and buying

Favorite store that will make crafty types go wild.

Whether you're stocking your child's art box or looking for craft party fixings, Lakeshore Learning Store
comes through with an enormous, often unusual selection of papers, stamps, play clays, paints and craft doodads. Many items are sold in bulk (the store caters to teachers), but that's not always a bad thing when it comes to craft supplies. 11027 N.E. 4th St., Bellevue. 425-462-8076; www.lakeshorelearning.com

Favorite place to go for a perfect princess party dress.

The locally designed Sophie dresses at Sweet Baby Jess will break your daughter's heart with their poufed tulle skirts and silk bodices, dyed in delicate, sophisticated color combinations. Buy off the rack or special order, $50 and up. 1535 First Ave., Seattle. 206-340-0900.

Favorite place buy baby's first shoes.

Oldie-but-goody Nordstrom makes a big deal out of this milestone. After your child's foot is measured by a trained salesperson, you get to pick out a butter-soft pair of StrideRites or a tiny pink Merrell bootie. The salesperson takes a Polaroid of you and your astonished child, hands over a blue Nordy stuffed toy in honor of the occasion, and sends you away with his or her card in case you have any problems. www.nordstrom.com Favorite place to buy toys to keep the kids busy on a long car trip.

Archie McPhee isn't strictly a children's store. Patrons range from tattooed hipster couples to parents looking for goodie bag stuffers. But its selection of weird, fun and (most importantly) small toys makes it the go-to place if you want to have a few surprises up your sleeve on the next drive to Mount Rainier. Look for monster finger puppets, smiley-face bendies and tongue-in-cheek windup toys...and there's unusual candy, too. 2428 Market St., Seattle. 206-297-0240; www.mcphee.com -- Kris Collingridge


Favorite postpartum bang for the buck

Just because nursing is natural doesn't mean it always comes naturally. Now that you're home from the hospital, and you've got a squirming infant in your arms, everything you learned in your breastfeeding class may seem like an impossible dream. Call lactation consultant Renee Beebe (206-356-7252); she'll come to your home and introduce you to the ergonomics of nursing. Thanks to a few well-placed pillows and good advice, everything from your back to your wrists will benefit. A bonus: Long after the newborn phase, Beebe remains available for follow-up questions (think: reflux, mastitis), down the road. Her $150 fee maybe the best new-baby bling you spend.

Favorite alternative to circle time

Admit it: Some days, if you hear "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" one more time, you just might... Fortunately, there's a kids' music class that offers a welcome change from the usual parachute tunes. Laurel Lisez (lee-say) teaches infants to 5-year-olds in her home studio in Seattle's Wedgwood neighborhood. A children's music teacher for 23 years, Lisez uses piano, guitar, violin and other instruments plus recorded music to create musical stories. Puppets, books and other props engage the kids, and a class size of about six keeps things intimate. (Call Laurel Lisez at 206-527-1641) Lisez's mentor, Ted Rosenberger, also offers much-coveted classes; reach him at tedfordw@comcast.net.

Favorite way for new moms to vent

The baby was up all night, you're covered in spit-up, and now she's crying. Again. Call your Mentor Mom, a peer volunteer, who will give you a boost with a trusted ear, a this-too-shall-pass perspective, and confidentiality. The Mom2Mom Project, a joint program of Jewish Family Service and the Stroum Jewish Community Center, matches new mothers of all religious backgrounds with volunteer moms for a three-month period. After a training seminar by child development experts, mentors connect with moms at home, go for coffee and gradually introduce new mothers to the wider community.

Why go it alone? Riding the roller coaster of new motherhood is more fun with a been-there guide. (Contact Marjorie Schnyder, JFS Jewish Family Life Education Coordinator, at 206-461-3240 ext. 3146 or mschnyder@jfsseattle.org ) Favorite place to take your haircut-averse child for a trim A good kids' hair salon should be full of distractions. That's what you'll find at Beachcomber Kids' Cuts (206-783-1554, Phinney Ridge, Seattle), a beach-themed salon that offers DVDs, cool decor, fun seats and a large playroom in the back. Reservations recommended. Also check out The Hair Chair at U Village and Crossroads Shopping Center--a favorite of our readers as well. (Hair Chair U Village, 206-525-0499, or Crossroads, 425-562-0430.) --Michelle Feder

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