Author Archives: CrazyForBargains

Sleeping Outdoors Can Be a Pleasant or Miserable Experience

Sleeping outdoors can be a pleasant or miserable experience. It all depends how well a person prepares ahead of time. There is a difference between car camping and backpacking-type camping, and what you should bring on your trip for sleepwear.

Fall is here. The tree leaves have turned the fiery colors of yellow, red, and orange. There is a clean, cool, crispness to the morning air outside. Fall is hunting season, and most hunters will car camp (really it should be called truck camping). The beauty with car camping is that you can take a lot of stuff on your trip, to make camping comfortable and relaxing. A favorite pajama for outdoors men are one-piece pajamas with feet. When you are sleeping in a camp trailer or tent without central air heat, it gets pretty darn cold at night. Since the early 1800s, hunters, fishermen, and woodsmen have chosen the union-suit as the pajama of choice. The one-piece pajama keeps your whole body toasty warm, when it is so cold that you can see your breath in the air.

Probably the best one-piece pajama for men is from a company called Big Feet PJs. They are a small company that started business in 2005 up in the Pacific Northwest. They make fleece, flannel, and cotton knit one-piece pajamas that come in variety of colors. The woodland green camouflage, fleece, footed pajamas are a favorite with outdoors men. They are made with a plush polar fleece that is sure to keep a camper warm on those cool nights outside. They button down the front and come in forest green, red and blue colors as well. These Big Feet brand one-piece footed pajamas also come in 100% cotton knit flannel. The cotton knit pajamas even have the classic drop seat built into them. Anyone who has needed to go to the bathroom outside in the middle of the night, will know just how handy a drop-seat is. Imagine trying to take care of business out in the woods with snow on the ground and dressed only in pajamas. The drop-seat helps keep you warm in these situations. These cotton knit pajamas come in traditional plaid colors, like hunters mackinaw red plaid, forester green plaid, and fisherman gray and black plaid.

 

Big Feet PJs Green Camo Footed Pajamas for Adults

Big Feet PJs Green Camo Footed Pajamas for Adults

Some outdoors men like wearing a thick fleece pajama pants once they get back into camp and are settling in for the evening. If you have been post-holing through the snow all day, tracking a big bull elk, nothing feels better than getting those wet clothes and boots off, and putting on dry fleece pajama pants and a pair of warm camp slippers. Fun Boxers make a couple of different colors of camouflage fleece pants that are popular with outdoors men. The pants come in a green camo print and a gray camo print, they have a button up fly, elastic waistband with adjustable drawstring, and handy side pockets. Fun Boxers brand also make humorous outdoor pants as well. For deer hunters there are the pants that say, I Like Big Bucks! For fishermen, they make pants that say, Shut Up And Fish!

A comfortable camp slipper is the moccasin-style slipper. Realtree brand makes a camouflage moccasin slipper that is designed for both indoor and outdoor use. Northern Trail makes a similar moccasin style slipper with a different camouflage print and outer fabric. If you are backpack camping, then you might check out the Gertex camouflage slipper. This slipper is thicker than a slipper sock, but can still be rolled up into a tight ball, and packed down deep inside your backpack.

Fleece Pajama Pants

Fleece Pajama Pants

Some backpackers are tired of paying too much money for the latest high tech fabric camping pants. These fancy high tech fabric pants usually have a popular big name brand displayed prominently on them. It makes a person wonder if they are paying for the brand name or for the astronaut-like fabric. Some backpackers are now just packing a pair of polyester fleece pajama pants and using them for sleeping, and for layering. These budget backpackers carry fleece PJ pants for slipping on over their hiking shorts when it is cold in the morning, then slipping them off once the day begins to warm up. Its a cheap way to stay warm, but have that flexibility of layering. The great thing with fleece is that it keeps you warm even when it gets wet. Fleece costs just a few dollars and works great for camping.

Next time you go hunting, fishing, or camping outdoors think about all the different options you have for sleepwear. Remember that you dont have to buy the latest and greatest high tech fabric, but can pay a few dollars and still purchase warm and comfortable sleepwear.

About the author:

Dirk Murphy spent 20+ years with the National Park Service before retiring in the summer of 2014. He now works full-time on his family pajama business.

Practical Halloween Costume Ideas for Little Ones

Halloween is approaching.

When I was a kid it was always one of my favorite holidays. As a young childin the 1970s in Richmond Hill, Queens, NY Halloween was quite an event. Our neighborhood was filled with children. Many of the adults sat out of theirs stoops with bowls of candy for the trick or treaters. We would spend hours walking around the neighborhood in our costumes filling our bags with candy and treats. Then we would eat candy until we were nearly sick. It was great.

We never had store bought costumes. In retrospect, my mom was probably trying to economize. She knew how to sew and was big into capes. There was a black cape for a witch’s costume and a red cape for devil’s costume.

Today, I have two teenagers who are too old to trick or treat anymore. They are in charge of handing out (and eating) the candy on Halloween. But, over the years I have been through many costumes with them.

I always tried to encourage my kids to go with something fun, yet practical for Halloween. What do I mean by fun, yet practical? I mean that I wanted them to select something that they would be able to use for more than just one afternoon.

When my daughter was little, she was a Disney Princess year after year. We would buy one of those Disney Princess dress up dresses and just use it for a costume for the day. Then she would have it for a dress up for months (or even years) afterward. Over the years she collected Belle, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine, and a few others. She got a lot of use out of them, so I never regretted purchasing them. She and her friends could spend hours playing with those princess dresses.

(She is currently going through a grunge phrase that involves Doc Martins and Nirvana t-shirts, so those princess dresses seem like a long time ago!)

Rapunzel Fantasy Nightgown for Toddlers

Rapunzel Fantasy Nightgown for Toddlers

Snow White Fantasy Nightgown

Snow White Fantasy Nightgown

This year we have some “fantasy” nightgowns in Snow White and Rapunzel styles. (They are only available in toddler sizes 2T to 4T.) They would make fun Halloween costumes and could be saved afterwards for use as nightgowns.

What about for boys?

When my son was little things were easy. He loved superheroes. Lots of little boys love superheroes. Of course, you can buy a superhero costume and there is nothing wrong with that. But, if you buy superhero pajamas you will have them for your child to wear as sleepwear for the rest of the year.

This year we have Batman and Superman superhero pajamas with capes. For Halloween, I would definitely choose 100% polyester styles that are loose fitting. (100% cotton styles will be snug fitting and might not be the best choice for trick or treating.)

This year we have some other fun options for toddlers such as Teenager Mutant Ninja Turtle Pajamas for Toddlers and Yo Gabba Gabba.

Trust me. Kids don’t stay little forever. Treasure the time that you have with them when they are little as it doesn’t last forever. (One day they will be teenagers. Yikes!)

Sweet dreams!

Melissa

 

Gaspin’ in the Aspens

Last Saturday was the final and sixth race of the Run Flagstaff trail running series. The race takes place at the Flagstaff Nordic Center, which is situated at 8,000 feet above sea level. The race is called “Gaspin’ in the Aspens”, because of the elevation and because parts of the race course goes through spectacular aspen groves. The race this year was organized and coordinated by Ian Torrence, a well know Flagstaff ultra runner. Ian also is the organizer for the Grand Canyon Stage Coach race, which is a 100 mile race that leaves Flagstaff and follows the old stage coach path to Grand Canyon National Park.

Gaspin’ in the Aspens features two different race distances. There is the 5K race which my daughter was running, and the 15K race which I was running. This is my third year of running this race, and it is always one of my favorites. It had rained the day before the race, and it was cool that morning. The trail was well packed with moisture and not dusty like it normally is when the race used to take place in July. There was even some puddles out on the course. The course is all dirt trails, that get covered in snow during the winter and are cross country ski trails during the winter months.

My daughter and I arrived a little early to the Nordic Center since we had not had time to pick up our race bibs the night before. The Flagstaff High School cross country team was volunteering to park vehicles in the parking lot. Each student would direct you to where you needed to park. Since the Nordic Center is leased U.S. Forest Service land, the race only allows 300 runners total. This race always fills up fast each year and registration closes quickly.

Pajama pants at the 2014 Gaspin' in the Aspens race

Dirk in his blue plaid fleece pajama pants at the 2014 Gaspin’ in the Aspens race.

Because it was cold outside that morning, I had put on my blue plaid fleece pajama pants. I use these pants just to stay warm before the race, and take them off before I run. I know I have written already about my infamous blue plaid running pants, but they are quite warm on cool mornings like this. Why do I wear these crazy pajama pants to races? Number one, they are inexpensive to purchase. One reason I always enjoyed trail running is that the only item you need to buy is a sturdy pair of running shoes. Lately, I have been running in Salomon trail running shoes. I love my Salomon shoes, but they are slowly inching towards the $200 price range for the S Lab series. The shoes I wear are in excess of $100. These funky blue plaid fleece pants I wear cost only $11.99. If you were to buy your typical running pants, they would be around $60. Second, the fleece pajama pants are easy to put on and take off with running shoes. The pants I wear are an XL, even though I’m a size L. They fit loose enough so that I can just slip then on and off right over my trail running shoes. No fancy zippers that seem to break, like the zippers that you find on the $60 running pants. The fleece pajama pants are very basic but practical technology. Third, the fleece pants are warm, soft, and comfortable to wear. Running pants are usually a form fitting spandex type material that is comfortable, but can be a little cool to put on first thing in the morning. Spandex will warm up eventually once you begin to move around. These soft, fuzzy fleece pajama pants are warm the first second that you slip them on in the morning. Lastly, trail runners by their nature are rough around the edges. A lot of ultra runners have beards, and look like mountain men. Fleece plaid clothing seems to me, to fit in more with the trail running mindset which is a little unorthodox. Fleece plaid pajama pants are definitely not expensive, sleek and designer type clothing. I’m not sure if trail runners even have a style per se, since every trail runner I ever met is pretty independent thinking and is happy running hours solo through the woods alone. I guess, fleece plaid pajama pants to me are more representative of the independent, unorthodox and rough nature of a trail runner.

Dirk bib from Gaspin in the Aspens 2014

Dirk bib from Gaspin in the Aspens 2014

In the end, I met my goals that morning. My goal was to finish the race without injuring myself more than I already was. I have been injured for the last couple of months and not able to run any serious training runs. My morning racing aspirations were therefore conservative. I did end up walking up some of the steeper parts of the course, and my foot did hurt a lot. Both of which, I had anticipated would happen. This did not stop me from enjoying myself, and soaking in the magnificence of the beautiful aspen covered sections of the trail. Just to be moving again through a high mountain forest was satisfying to me. It was a great race, and great people. All the local Flagstaff trail runners were there. It was great to say, “Hi” to old running friends and share a race together again. Overall, it was a wonderful race to cap the end of this year’s running series. Just like the first race of the running series, I felt quite at home in my funky blue plaid pajama pants!

Three Weekends of Running for the Pajama Family

Of course, I must exempt myself from this running business. I am have not been in shape for years as I spend too many hours in front of the computer and not enough exercising. But, I do provide a tremendous amount of moral support to the runners in our family.

On Independence Day both of the Murphy kids ran in the Downtown Mile here in Flagstaff. This race is organized by Team Run Flagstaff. Our company is happy to sponsor this organization.

How did we ever get involved with Team Run Flagstaff? My husband has been running for years and has always been interested in their activities. But, it was our son who really got us interested. Team Run Flagstaff has a kids group call Kids Run Flagstaff, which meets a few times a week. They get kids interested in running. They take kids who are beginners and kids who have a lot of experience and everything in between. When our son started he didn’t have a lot of experience with track or cross country. After just a few short months he is running six minute miles and really enjoying what he is doing.

My kids and I got up at the crack of dawn on July 4th and headed downtown for the race. Downtown Flagstaff is a beautiful place. The downtown is filled with buildings from the turn of the century and you can see the magnificent San Francisco Peaks in the distance.

The kids ran well. Our son ran a mile in 6 minutes and 11 seconds, which is one of his best times to date. Our daughter won the middle of the pack award. She joked that it could have been worse. She could have won the second to last award (if such a thing existed). The first weekend of running turned out well.

The second weekend of running took my husband to the Hearts 911 Run on Mount Elden just outside of Flagstaff. This eleven mile race benefits the Shadows Foundation’s “Heart’s Worth Saving” program. Amazingly, first responders (police, fire, and EMS) are 300% more likely to suffer from heart disease than the general population. My husband is about to retire from over 20 years of service doing just those things " law enforcement, structural and wild land fire, EMS, and search and rescue " with the National Park Service. As I am writing this, he has about a week left to work until his retirement. (Of course, he will become a full-time pajamaman after he leaves that job.)

So, on Saturday morning my hubby left the house in his flannel pajama pants (his warm up pants of choice) and headed for Mount Elden. The race is 5.5 miles up hill and then 5.5 miles down the other side of the mountain. Yikes. No wonder the rest of the Murphys stayed in bed. But, Mr. Murphy did us proud. He came in seventh overall, which is not too shabby for someone who is about to retire.

Next weekend we head to another crazy road race " the Snowbowl Hill Climb. I am sure that Mr. Murphy will wear yet another pair of funny pajama pants as warm up pants. My daughter and I are volunteering before the race at the bottom of the mountain. (We will be selling raffle tickets in support of the race.) My husband is running seven miles up the road that services our local ski resort. It is a steep, curvy, mountain road. (I am not sure that I could walk up that road. I don’t think that I could run up there even if a really scary wild animal was chasing me.) I am sure that he will run well for us. We will keep you posted as always.

Five Great Ideas for Baby Shower Gifts

It seems like a long time ago that our first baby Murphy was born. Today, he is now taller than I am! (How did that ever happen? I guess it is inevitable that kids grow.) Almost fifteen years have flown by since his birth.

But, I still remember being tremendously pregnant with him. My office mate Faith threw me a baby shower that I will never forget. My husband and I lived far away from our families, so we appreciated everything that our friends did to make the arrival of our baby boy as smooth as possible.

There are a few gifts that I still remember almost fifteen years after that baby shower. Obviously, they meant a lot to me. Hopefully, the next time that you go to a shower you can pick out something for your friend or relative that is just as meaningful.

Also, you should note the context of our lives at the time. We lived at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park at the time that our son was born. It is about 80 miles north of Flagstaff, AZ where we currently live. My husband worked for the National Park Service and I was the marketing director for a non-profit organization based in the park. So, our situation was a little out of the ordinary.

One of my favorite gifts came from my friend Greer. Greer was one of most fun people I ever worked with. He always had a funny story to tell. Like me he was also transplanted New Yorker, who ended up living for a time in Grand Canyon National Park. He had a wonderful dog named Gus, who he loved more than anyone has ever loved a pet. Greer’s stories were so funny that I frequently would laugh so hard that I would have tears streaming down my face and I would almost fall off the chair.

I am sure that my baby shower was the only one that Greer ever attended in his life. So, I am grateful that he put up with all of the baby shower antics and shenanigans, which were not his style. Greer’s gift was a onesie purchased from the Old Town Shops in Flagstaff, AZ. It was orange and had a little pumpkin on the front. My husband and I thought that it was just adorable and started calling our son pumpkin shortly after he was born. It stuck for quite a while.

A baby bodysuit or onesie is a great shower or baby gift for new parents. They come in a variety of fun brands and designs. Let’s face it. When your bundle of joy is first born they will be experts at messing up their clothes. Having a good supply of baby bodysuits around is a lifesaver for a new parent.

Baby bodysuit

Admittedly, I don’t remember who gave us the infant carrier, but it was a great gift. I took three months of maternity leave after I had my son. I have also gained a lot of weight with my first pregnancy. What can I say? Being pregnant made me hungry. But, I lost it all within a few months with the help of two shower gifts. They were the the infant carrier and the jog stroller. By an infant carrier, I mean the carrier that straps to the front of you and you put the baby in facing you. I believe that we had a Snugli brand carrier. I know that there are many other brands out there.

Since we lived in Grand Canyon National Park, I was blessed with lots of great places to walk. I would put my son in the Snugli and go for 1-2 hour walks around the rim of the canyon. The baby would get in a good nap and I would get in some good exercise. Once he was old enough we switched from the Snugli to the jog stroller, which was another great shower gift that I received from my work colleagues.

Footies for babiesFooted pajamas or blanket sleepers are another great option for shower gifts. You can never have enough of these when your little one is just born. You never have to worry about the baby being cold or kicking off their blanket when they go to sleeping in these cozy jammies. Our son just loved footed pjs when he was young. Even when he grew into toddler and big kid sizes they were always his favorites.

The last gift I wanted to mentioned was a play mat called a Gymini. Now, I know that if you don’t have children you will not have any idea what I am talking about. It is a soft mat with two arches over it. Little toys (some with mirrors) hang down from the arches. For some reason, babies go crazy over this thing. It provides hours and hours of baby entertainment. As a bonus, if you have cats, when the baby is safely sleeping in their crib it makes an irresistible place for a cat to take a nap. (Our cats couldn’t stay away. RIP Felix and Classic Oscar. They loved our son’s Gymini.)

The day after our son was born two visitors appeared in my hospital room, but our dear friends Kim and Mike. They came bearing some festive balloons and a huge Curious George stuffed animal that our son still has to this day. (He keeps it hidden in the back of his closet where his friends can’t see it when they come over.)

For those of you looking for a baby or shower gift in the near future, I hope that you will select a one that they will remember for years to come.

Regards,

Melissa Canepa Murphy

P.S. Greer P. If you ever decide to publish your series of short stories including “Greer and the Buzzer Factory” and “Greer and the Pink Princess Phone”, I am still available for the PR.

Trail Runners and Pajama Pants

Trail runners are different. I like to think to think that this is a good kind of different rather than a bad or scary kind of different. We prefer not to run on pavement or roads. We often choose the steepest, rockiest, and most difficult routes to run. A typical run might result in a tumble, with some abrasions, bruising, and bleeding. Yet, we love running on the dirt, through the mountains, and immersing ourselves in the outdoors. I consider this the good kind of different, but then I am biased.

Part of being trail runner and being different is not wearing the sort of gear a typical road racer might wear. Some trail runners wear shoes with extra toe protection so that you dont break a toe when they inadvertently kick a rock in the trail. Other trail runners use trekking poles to get up and down mountains.

Being a trail runner, being different, and knowing that anything goes in trail running wear, I didnt think twice about wearing pajama pants to the 2013 Soulstice trail race. It was early morning, I was tired, and I thought, Hey, why not just wear some pajama pants for warm up pants? I trail run in compression tights or shorts, which enhance performance, but do not provide much warmth. It is cold up in the San Francisco Peaks, near Flagstaff, AZ. Flagstaff is at 7,000 feet elevation, and the race is about 8,000 to 9,000 feet in elevation. The race is held every October. It is not uncommon to find it snowing during this time of year. I knew I needed a second layer to stay warm pre-race. Why not wear my pajama pants as that second layer. They are fleece pajama pants that always keep me warm. So without further ado, I pulled on my compression tights, sweat-vac race shirt, and Salomon trail shoes, then threw on a polar fleece jacket and my blue plaid fleece pajama pants and left for the race. When I went to the registration area to pick up my race bib, my legs felt nice and warm, even though it was below freezing. No one gave me a second look even though I was wearing my pajama pants. We are trail runners and we are different, and anything pretty much goes with trail running apparel.

Fast forward to May, 2014, and the Flagstaff trail racing season has begun. Every year I sign up for the Flagstaff Summer Running Series. Neil Weintraub , who founded the Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association also created the Flagstaff Summer Running Series. Neil has worked hard in keeping the series going year after year. The first race of Flagstaff Summer Running Series is Run for the Mountain. The race benefits the Mountain Charter School. This is a race held at Fort Tuthill on the outskirts of Flagstaff. It is all dirt trails running and pine trees.

It was a little cold the morning of the Run for the Mountain race. The weather was definitely pajama pants weather. I walked up to the registration kiosk wearing pajama pants and got my race bib number. No one batted an eye at the guy wearing blue plaid fleece pajama pants. The pajama pants kept me nice and toasty until it was time to start the race.

This is my fourth year at the Run for the Mountain race. My son Max and my daughter Emma were running the 5K, while I would run my usual 10K. One year the announcer at the Imogene Pass Race coined the term The Running Nation of Flagstaff. (The iconic Imogene Pass Run is a 17 mile mountain race within the San Juan mountains of Colorado, you run along a route which connects the towns of Ouray (7810 ft.) and Telluride (8750 ft.) by way of 13,114 foot Imogene Pass). It looked like many citizens of the Running Nation of Flagstaff would be running the Run for the Mountain race. Some of these citizens were elite runners and they would run in the same 10K that I was running. One elite runner, Emily Harrison, of Flagstaff, finished the Caumsett State Park 50K this March at 3:15 setting the course record. She won the USATF 50K National Road Championship. She also ran the second fastest 50K in North American History. Nick Arciniaga, another Flagstaff resident, took 7th place in the Boston Marathon this year. Nick also would be running in the 10K with me.

Dirk Murphy in his prerace fleece pajama pants.

Dirk Murphy in his prerace fleece pajama pants.

Being in my 50s, I always hang back with other local old guys toward the middle of the pack at the start of a race. The Run for the Mountain race started out fast. Luckily I had warmed up ahead of time with my blue plaid flannel pajama pants and was ready for the quick start. I ended finishing 3rd in the mens 50 to 59 year old category. My son Max finished 5th in the mens 13 to 19 year old category for the 5K. My daughter Emma finished 9th out of the womens 1 to 12 year old category for the 5K.

Earlier I had seen a guy on a bicycle leading the kids 2K fun run part of the Run for the Mountain race. The bicyclist was wearing a neon orange afro wig, and a blue super hero cape. I realized that it was my neighbor, who also was a trail runner and regularly runs Imogene Pass Run. I thought, Wow! That is different. My neighbors attire reminded me of the crazy attire for the annual Kahtoola Uphill race. Kahtoola is held every February at the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort just north of Flagstaff, AZ. You start running at 9,200 feet and run straight up to 10,800 feet. The course is about 3.3 miles. The Kahtoola Uphill race could be described as a winter running Mardi Gras, with crazy runners and skiers racing straight up a ski slope.

When I reflected on some of the outlandish running attire that I have witnessed at trail races, my mens blue plaid fleece pajama pants seemed downright conservative in comparison. So, I will keep on wearing my plaid fleece pajama pants as warm up pants at the local trail races. I find them comfortable, warm, and easy to don on and off. They may not look like other runners warm up pants. But, what can I say? Im a trail runner. Im different, but it is a good kind of different.

Dirk Murphy enjoys trail running and the outdoors when he is not spending time with his family or helping with his family’s business.

Spoil Mom Throughout the Year

Mother’s Day has come and gone this year. It is always nice to take some time to thank our moms for all they do for us, but shouldn’t we be doing that throughout the year and not just on one special day? I think so. Being a mom is the most challenging and also the most rewarding job on Earth.

I have put together a few ideas on how you can spoil your mom throughout the year and not just on Mother’s Day. (It kind of reminds me of Alice and Wonderland. Remember how you have just one birthday and 364 un-birthdays? Well, remember that your mom has 364 days of the year that you should remember that she is special besides just Mother’s Day.) Here are my ideas for spoiling mom throughout the year.

I own a sleepwear company, so of course I have to start with pajamas. (It is a shameless promotion, I know. But, who doesn’t like pajamas?)

Laura Ashley Sleepwear for Women

Laura Ashley Sleepwear for Women

Moms will love any sleepwear by Laura Ashley. She will love the classic patterns. If your mom is my age (an extremely youthful mid-forties type), she will remember the beautiful Laura Ashley dresses of our youths. Now similar classic, floral patterns are brought to life on nightgowns and pajamas. They are beautiful and comfortable. She will love reading books in bed on weekend mornings in these delightful pjs.

She will love any sleepwear by Lazy One. If your mom has a great sense of humor and whimsical, animal prints are more of her thing, Lazy One is for her. They offer a huge selection of two-piece pajama sets and nightshirts in 100% cotton knit, which is super comfy. Favorites include the Out Cold penguin print, Bear Hug polar bear print. There are tons of prints to choose from.

She will love any thong-style slippers. These slippers are just perfect for this time of year. You can wear something comfortable around the house without having your feet be too hot. We have thong-style slippers from both Lazy One and Aerosole brands. What is the difference? Lazy One slippers feature fun animal prints and have moppy-style fabric on the uppers. The padding is very generous in these slippers, so they feel very cozy under your feet. Aerosole brand slippers are a bit more traditional. The fabric is more of a terry-style polyester. Available patterns include solids and animal prints. Both brands are great. They are just different. Just try to choose what your mom would like best.

Here are a few non-sleepwear ideas that are perfect for when you want to spoil mom. They will work well either in conjunction with a pair of pajamas or on their own.

A gift certificate to her local independent bookstore is always a fun idea. I know. I know. Everyone has electronic way to read books these day. I have an iPad and I do really like it. It is great to be able to go online and buy a book and start reading it right then and there. But, there is nothing like a real life bookstore. I love to look at books. I love to pick them up and read the dust jackets (or the back covers). It just seems to me that books should be a tactile thing that you experience, not just something on a screen. (I could argue this point with my teenage son for hours.) Plus, there is nothing like lounging in the bathtub with a good book. I would not take my iPad in the tub. That seems like a recipe for disaster.

My husband and I spend hours every weekend browsing through our local bookstores. We love the books and we love the coffee. Here in Flagstaff we have an amazing used bookstore named Bookmans. The Murphys spend a lot of time at Bookmans. It is like a treasure hunt. You never know what new inventory they are going to get in as it varies all the time. Plus, they make the best cappuccino in town and in comes in a real (not paper) cup.

My mom happens to have a great independent bookstore not too far from where she lives. Part of her gift this year was a gift certificate to this shop. I would not even attempt to purchase books for her. She has a lot of opinions when it comes to things like books and I would be sure to blunder if I attempted to choose for her on my own. It is better to leave her in control.

Once your mom has some great new books she can curl up in her pjs and read them undisturbed for hours. This would be the greatest gift you could give her " peace and tranquility.

A peaceful trip to your local coffee shop is always appreciated. What do I mean by this? I mean that if my family were to take me to a local coffee shop, I would want my children to leave their electronic devices at home. (I know that this is a lot to ask and is quite unreasonable, but I am the mom and once in a while I get to make the rules.) I would want my children to not fight with each other and to answer questions in complete sentences. I would want to hear about what they want to do for the summer. I would want just some uninterrupted family time.

Our family likes coffee shops. My husband and I love coffee. My daughter likes to order giant hot chocolates with heaping piles of whipped cream. My son is grumpy as we insist that he is too young for coffee and make him get something else. We recently discovered a jewel in our local area " the cafe Bohemian at Macy’s (the local coffee shop, not the big department store). It is a cafe latte with powdered chocolate and cinnamon sprinkled on top. Yum. You wouldn’t think that adding a dash of flavor to the top of a cup of coffee would make that much of a difference, but it does. I am not a fan of those super sweet syrups. This is a whole different thing.

Your mom may not be coffee fan. Maybe she likes ice cream, or smoothies, or something else. It doesn’t really matter. You don’t even need to go anywhere. You can just sit around your own kitchen table. The point is to have some uninterrupted family time. That is what moms really want. Trust me on this one.

A clean house is bliss. What mom doesn’t want a clean house? This is like a dream come true. If your mom is older, it might be harder for her to clean than it used to be. If this is for your wife and she is either a working mom and spends her days shuttling kids from activity to activity, the idea of a clean house may seem like heaven.

There are a few ways to approach this. The first way is to call a cleaning service. This is certainly easier, but much more expensive. If your mom lives far away, it might be your only option. If mom lives close by you have more options. If you truly don’t have time to do it yourself, you can call a cleaning service. In my experience, you can always get a national chain to come out on a one-time basis, but it is going to cost you a bundle. If you can find a local company based on the recommendation of a friend that may be the way to go. I would always check references and only let a bonded company into my home.

The other option is the old fashioned do it yourself option. Do you have tweens or teenagers? Remind them that you are attempting to pamper mom and it is time for them to pitch in.

Hopefully, this will give you some ideas for spoiling your mom. Or, you could put them all together for the ultimate mom package. 1. Take mom to a bookstore and let her pick out something new to read. 2. Next, bring her to her favorite coffee, ice cream, smoothie shop where she can enjoy an hour or so of uninterrupted family time with her favorite people on the planet. 3. Take her home to the house that you have somehow managed to clean while she was out. That make take some creative thinking to arrange the timing. 4. Let her spend the rest of the day lounging around in peace and quiet reading her new book in the new pair of pajamas you had waiting for her at home. Trust me. This is mom heaven.

Melissa

Would You Wear Pajamas in Public?

There has been a lot of commotion in the press lately about the practice of wearing pajamas in public. Celebrities are wearing their pjs around town. School boards are worried about high school students wearing pajama pants to school. School officials are also in a dither about parents wearing pajamas to school when they drop students off. Wow! Who would have imagined that this would ever have been topic of discussion a decade or two ago.

So… what do you think? Would you wear pajamas outside of your house? If so, when is it OK? When is it not?

It is not my preference to wear my pajamas all over town. I live in my pjs at home. I wear them all weekend and all evening/night. If I am going to run to the grocery store or to get some dinner, I would throw on a pair of jeans or khakis. I love my pajama pants, but I wouldn’t wear them to a lot of public places. That is just my choice.

But, other people make other choices. I think about my old neighbor Guy. He lived down the block from us in our last house. He was retired. He used to hang out in front of his house and drink his coffee in the morning in his Batman pajama pants. I thought that he was really cool even before I officially met him. (Once I met him, I discovered that he was a very nice man.) It did not offend me in the least that he sat on his front patio in his pajama pants. First, it was his yard. Second, he was retired, so he should be able to do what he wants as long as he was not bothering anyone else. Third, he picked a really cool superhero to wear, so what’s not to like?

I only wear pajama pants outside of the house when I go for long walks by myself. Why? I really don’t like wearing sweatpants. I don’t even own any. Now, if I were twenty, cute and thin, there might be some really attractive sweats out there for me. But, I am not. I am middle aged and need to lose weight. I really think that I am doing my neighbors a favor by wearing my cute cartoon pajama pants to go for walks rather than some unattractive sweats. (If they really don’t want to see me in my pj pants, they can always look away. I also walk on trails that don’t get a lot of traffic. The 2-3 people who see me at a time will probably survive the experience.)

What do I wear for these scandalous excursions? I wear men’s cartoon pajama pants. I love them. I have many pairs including Superman, Charlie Brown, Elvis, and Homer Simpson. (Unfortunately, some of the characters aren’t even made anymore.) I have washed and worn them a zillion times, so I can tell you that they hold up very well.

I can only think of one time that I wore pajama pants in public other than on my walks. Admittedly, it was pretty embarrassing. I had on a pair of khakis and dropped of my kids at a birthday party on a Saturday afternoon. After I dropped them off at the party, I went to the office and loaded my truck up with these giant bags of mail to take them over to the post office. (I suspect this is when the damage occurred.) I later went back to the party where I spent about an hour talking to other parents before leaving with the kids. We later picked up my husband and headed to the movies. As we were walking into the movie theater one of my kids said (as only a small child can say at full volume), Hey mom! Did you know there is a giant hole in the back of your pants? Of course I didn’t know. What sane adult knowingly walks around with a hole in the back of their pants?

When I told the kids that we were going to have to miss the movie due to the ripped pants fiasco, they were crushed. I don’t even remember what the movie was, but it seemed like the end of the world to them. At that point, I was forced to formulate another plan. All four of us headed back out to the parking lot and to our truck. (Of course, I was attempting to strategically cover the hole in my pants with my purse as I left the theater.) In the truck, I did have a few extra clothing items as only mothers miraculously seem to have on hand. One of those items was a pair of Elvis pajama pants. Don’t ask me why they were there, but they were. After a quick change, I was back in business. (The things we do to make our kids happy. They will never fully understand.)

Now that they are older (young teens), my kids seem to have no interest in wearing their jammies outside of the house. When they have specific pajama/spirit days at school they always participate, but they don’t otherwise wear pjs to school.

The other morning my son and I left the house together. It was about 32 degrees outside and insanely windy. (We live in the mountains of northern Arizona. It can be freezing in the morning and beautiful and warm by the afternoon.) What was my son wearing? Shorts. I was freezing in my long pants, but there he was in shorts. He would have been better off in pajama pants. But, he is a teenager and he thinks he knows everything. I am the mother of a teenager and I pick my battles. Right now homework and studying are at the top of my list. I let the shorts slide. If he really wanted to wear pajama pants to school, I would let those slide too. Pajama pants might be a little unusual for school, but it seems like they might be more practical than shorts on a 32 degree day.

I recently discovered that my husband wears his fleece pajama pants outside. He is pretty sly about wearing his pjs out of the house. I actually had no idea that he was doing this until just recently. My husband is a park ranger for the National Park Service in his regular life (soon to be retired), but his real passion is trail running. He runs marathons, half marathons, and many 10Ks during the running season here in Arizona. He is a great runner and wins a lot of awards for his age (what he calls the old guy division).

So what is the deal with the pajama pants? When he goes to races and is getting ready, it is really early in the morning and is pretty cold. He thinks that the fleece pajama pants are perfect for keeping warm without looking too slick like a pair of fancy warm up pants would. (I guess serious trail runners are a relaxed bunch. I am not a trail runner. I don’t profess to know anything about their fashion preferences.) When we do go see my husband’s races, we see him cross the finish line " not getting ready an hour before. So my kids and I did not know that dad was secretly wearing his jammies to warm up before his races.

Fleece Pajama Pants

Fleece Pajama Pants

Who would have guessed it? Not me and we have been married for eighteen years. I guess you never know who is going to turn up in their pajamas in public. (Believe me " my husband does not seem like the type.)

Now you know all of the Murphy family secrets about pajama wearing in public. What are yours? Do you wear your pajamas outside? What do you think about other people wearing their pjs outside? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page. We love hearing from you.

Sweet dreams.

Melissa

Best Friends and Fuzzy Slippers

There is a line from the beginning of the movie It’s Kind of a Funny Story. The main character remarks that going to high school in New York City isn’t like going to school in any other place in the world. In my experience in the 1980s, that was definitely true. After junior high most of my friends did not go to our neighborhood high school. We took special tests and filled out applications. It was big stuff applying for high school. In my case, I went to an audition. Luckily, I was accepted.

So, in 1984 I started high school in a brand new building behind Lincoln Center. I got to school by taking the subway (three lines) from my family’s home in Queens to the Upper West Side. It took over an hour each way, but it was worth it. When I climbed out of the subway each morning, I knew that I was going somewhere special.

The first few days were pretty crazy. I did know a few girls from my ballet school, but only a handful. But, I was in some pretty intense cultural shock. My neighborhood in Queens was pretty sedate. It was full of pretty Tudor homes with well tended lawns. I had spent a lot of time in the city (aka Manhattan) before, but sitting next to a guy in geometry class with a 12 inch high, spiked Mohawk seemed like something else. My head was spinning.

The dance department was on the eighth floor of our school. Now, that was home. That was where I met most of my best friends in high school, including Stephanie. Today, you would call a friend like Stephanie a BFF (best friends forever). I am not sure if anyone had coined the term at the time. She and I were best friends. We did everything together. My oldest sister said that we even started looking like each other. (I never thought so, but we probably dressed alike and wore our hair the same way.)

Both of my older sisters were away at college when I was in high school. I thought that it was pretty great to have the top floor of our house to myself. But, every weekend I had company. Stephanie came over and slept in my sister’s twin bed every Saturday night. I bet she slept in that bed more nights than my sister did for a few years.

Sometime during this period, my oldest sister gave me a pair of fuzzy slippers as a gift. I am almost positive that it was for Christmas, although it is possible that is was for my birthday. They were big bear paw slippers. They looked a lot like the grizzly bear paw slippers that I sell today. I loved those goofy slippers and wore them all the time. I had them for years.

Grizzly Bear Paw Slippers for Women and Men

Fuzzy Slippers

Stephanie also had some big goofy slippers. Hers looked like giant tomatoes. Once we discovered that we both had giant slippers we would make sure to wear them together on Saturday nights. The term coach potato had just become a big thing and microwave popcorn had been invented not too long before. We took advantage of both of these 1980s phenomena. We would have been really embarrassed if anyone at school knew about the fuzzy slipper thing, so we kept it just between us.

Stephanie and I stayed great friends all throughout high school. I thought that we would be friends forever. Then, I guess, life happens.

I went to Fordham for college and then started working after graduation and went to NYU at night for grad school. I stayed in the city and ended up in Brooklyn for a while where I met my husband.

Stephanie went to SUNY Purchase and eventually moved to Greenwich, CT and then worked for some stock brokers in Manhattan.

The last time I saw Stephanie was in Greenwich. I was about to move to Arizona to be with the man who is now my husband. If only I knew that it was going to be the last time that I was going to see her, I would have told her how much those years of friendship meant to me.

A mutual friend mentioned through Facebook that she ran into Stephanie a few years ago. Our friend danced in Broadway road shows and Stephanie came back stage to say hello. Apparently Stephanie moved to Texas, got married, and had a few kids. That seemed crazy at first, but I guess I moved to Arizona, got married, and had two kids. Even crazier, I sell fuzzy slippers for a living. You never know where life is going to take you.

Savor those innocent moments of best friends and fuzzy slippers. They are priceless.

And, Stephanie if you ever find me, get in touch. I would love to hear from you. I now own a whole warehouse full of fuzzy slippers. I am sure that at least one pair has your name on them.

Regards,

Melissa Canepa Murphy

Bedtime Full of Comfort and Fun for Kids

Yesterday we had a great debate in our office. Someone mentioned that kids find bedtime a scary time. I was surprised by this. I personally don’t remember ever thinking that bedtime was scary and my kids never seemed scared at bedtime. (They didn’t always want to go to bed, but that is a whole other thing.) Also, I have been selling pajamas for fourteen years and have read probably thousands of emails of happy stories about children in their pajamas.

We conducted an informal poll of our staff and found that most of us were not scared of bedtime, but a few of us had children who were afraid of the dark. (Our staff is a mix of moms and college-age, young adults.)

Since I spend many, many hours of my life thinking about pajamas, bedtime and the like, I decided that I would share a few stories with you. Hopefully they will be helpful to some parents out there. Many of these stories were not funny at the time that they happened, but seem very funny to me years later.

I am not a doctor or sleep expert. I am just a mom of two kids who are now teenagers. (Since they have made it to be teenagers they are therefore experts on sleep.) I sell sleepwear for a living, so have heard from many parents over the years and look forward to hearing from many more to come.

Here are a few stories from my own childhood.

I spent my early childhood in Richmond Hill, Queens, New York. It was a neighborhood of old, wooden Victorian houses, big families, children playing kickball in the street, and the J train rumbling in the distance. New York City in the 1970s was rougher around the edges than it is today, but it was a happy time for families like mine and a fun time to be a kid.

We lived in a three story, yellow Victorian house that always needed painting. It had a lot of little bedrooms and a nursery off of the master bedroom. My crib was in that nursery. I guess my mom kept me in my crib for quite a while. One of my earliest memories was demanding to sleep in another bed. Why? Well, there is a bit of a story behind my request.

I was the youngest of three sisters. As the youngest, I was frequently tormented by my two sisters who were four and five years older than me. As a child, my middle sister had flaming red hair and a bit of mischief about her.

One day she told me that an ape lived under my crib. She and my dad were fans of the Planet of the Apes movies, which were big stuff at the time. So, I am sure that she meant for me to picture one of those apes living under my crib. I actually pictured something more like Magilla Gorilla. (A classic, Hanna Barbera cartoon character for those of you who are too young to remember.) Regardless, I wanted no part of sleeping in that crib once I thought that an ape (or Magilla Gorilla) lived underneath it.

So, I moved into the other twin bed in her room and happily slept in her room for years. (I foiled my sister by moving on from the ape trauma quickly.)

Years later my parents painted what had always been our playroom on the third floor of our house a beautiful shade of robin’s egg blue. They were making into a special bedroom for my redheaded sister so she wouldn’t have to share a room with me anymore. She slept up there for one night. Then I overheard my mom asking her why she wouldn’t sleep up there anymore. She said, Because there are monsters up there. So she went back to sharing a room with me.

Well, I thought that was crazy. Give up a lovely robin’s egg blue bedroom of her own just because she was afraid of a few imaginary monsters? So, we struck a deal. At the ripe old age of seven, I switched rooms with her and took the third floor room for myself. I might have let her scare me out of my crib, but by seven I was tough enough to sleep on the third floor by myself. Plus, I was armed with my blankey! (My mother was afraid I was going to take that ratty old thing away to college with me. That did not happen.) Having my own room was well worth it.

One pajama-related thing that I remember from that house was my redheaded sister and I dancing up and down the second floor hall singing, Feety pajamas! Feety pajamas! Putting on our footed pajamas for the first time each year was a joyous event. They were fun pajamas for us and we liked the way that they looked. I am sure that they were practical for my mom as the house was old and drafty. (I think that it was built before real insulation was invented.)

We moved out of that house on my eighth birthday, which was also the last day of second grade. It had a lot of great memories and I was sad to go.

So what is all of this supposed to mean or teach us now that we are all grown up? I hope now that I have my own kids I can try to keep my son from torturing his younger sister, especially at bedtime. (I said try. I can’t promise any miracles.)

Don’t forget to let your kids have their fifteen minutes of Feety pajamas! singing and dancing time before they go to bed. Who knows? They may still remember it fondly forty years later just like I do.

Melissa