Monthly Archives: March 2010
Whether you have twins or more than one child who needs a stroller, you know the challenge of a “stroller solution” for multiples. I still remember blazing hot days at the zoo with my niece and nephew who both needed a stroller after about an hour of walking. We didn’t have a tandem so we would take turns carrying one while the other was in the stroller. After about 3 hours, adults and children were all cranky and needed a nap! I wish the Contours Options II Tandem was around back then.
The Contours Options II Tandem is the perfect stroller to give you the flexibility needed as a parent. For one or two kids- infant or toddlers- everyone has a great view in any direction with its reversible seats! It is the ultimate stroller with lots of options for your ever changing life style.
A few of the features I especially like:
- Reversible seats! There are quite a few “seating” options for your children: both can face you, they can face each other, both can face forward, or they can sit back to back.
- Not only are the seats reversible…they recline!
- Easy trigger fold with convenient Free-Stand™ so the stroller can stand upright! (My poor car bumper would have appreciated the upright stand. I had so many scratches from the stroller leaning on it & of course falling over, all while taking paint off the car on the way down.)
- Who doesn’t love a parent tray with cup holders? This one is new and improved with deeper, ventilated cup holders.
- Adjustable canopy that can be raised or lowered to the height of your child (My absolute fave feature).
What are your “must have” features in a tandem?
Whether you are a fan of cloth diapers or prefer to dispose your diapers, one thing is certain when it comes to the diaper debate – you go through a lot of them on any given day. There are many sites for “diaper tips” that we love, but we wanted to highlight two that might help your diaper dilemma.
- For the cloth diapering parent, we love Holly’s blog at The Cloth Diaper Experiment. Holly shares the ups and downs of cloth diapers. She has reviews from a wide variety of cloth diaper companies, great giveaways and all sorts of secret tips on the best diapering methods. She even has posts on how to use cloth diapers while on vacation!
- For those who prefer to go the disposable route, we love the Pampers site. This is more than a “diaper site.” Pampers has a registry, pregnancy widgets, forums and our favorite – a rewards program! The rewards program gives you gifts for buying their products! There is a wide range of gifts from toys to baby gear. We may be a bit partial, but our favorite gift is the Jeep® Wrangler All-Weather umbrella stroller. Check it out – you and your wallet will thank you.
Which side of the “diaper dilemma” do you fall on – cloth or disposable?
Share your thoughts and tips on the diaper debate with us!
(And Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all our Irish & not so Irish readers!)
Sleep routines can be challenging for parents especially when a newborn just doesn’t want to go to sleep. Developing a sleep routine can help with this. Keep bed time consistent and develop soothing rituals such as singing, rocking, reading to, or cuddling baby. These rituals can not only help baby sleep, but become ways of connecting with your baby.
What special sleep routines have helped your baby sleep?
Is there part of the routine that you look forward to the most?
This week, our Mom Monday series features the co-founder of My Mommy Manual, Suzanne Tucker, a.k.a. Zen Mommy. (Try saying Mom Monday with My Mommy Manual’s mom of multiples 5 times fast!) She co-creates this online mommy community that includes online events and giveaways, a Yogi Parenting course and “practical and inspired tips” for parents. Suzanne is also the proud new mommy of twins!
You are one of the creators of MyMommyManual.com. How did your website come about?
That’s a great story. Ria and I actually met at a hospital. We were both there to support one of our close friends who was delivering her first child. So while our mutual BFF, Emma, was laboring (for 36 long hours with no meds I might add!) we were having a slumber party in the waiting room… complete with pizza, yoga, tarot cards and The Devil Wears Prada on DVD. As we prayed and sent our friend good vibs to hang in there, our friendship was born. It was from this place of loving and supporting each other in motherhood that My Mommy Manual was born as well. I became “Zen Mommy” as I love to talk/write about all things spiritual and inspirational while Ria, ever my practical friend, took on the pen name “Practical Mommy”.
How have you been able to connect with other moms through your site?
My Mommy Manual is unique to other mom sites. Our tag line is “connecting you with practical and inspired tips” and we take these words to heart in everything we do. Ria and I and all the contributing writers on MMM not only share tips – we share our lives. In my work I am deeply inspired by the words of Henri Nouwen, “Our lives are not our own… they are for us to share.” Good experiences, challenging experiences… on MMM we share them all and our readers share back!
Because we are always pushing the envelope in using technology to “connect” with our community, we host a lot of live online events. In fact, we’re having one tomorrow to launch a parenting course. It’s called Yogi Parenting. I’m excited because I also get to introduce my six week old babies (Hadley and Colin) to our online peeps.
Can you tell us more about Yogi Parenting and the Party?
Sure. Yogi Parenting is a positive approach to parenting which Ria, myself and long time educator and Yoga Kids Certified Instructor Michaela Turner created. We’ve been teaching parenting classes live in St. Louis for years. We’re excited to launch this online version as it makes Yogi Parenting available to parents all over the world. Unlike many parenting classes, it’s convenient, accessible AND affordable. The launch party will be online tomorrow, March 16. And through March 29th we are offering the course at the charter enrollment price of 50% off. Check it out here.
You have two girls, seven and nine years old, & now five week old twins. What has been your greatest joy of motherhood?
My kids make me slow down and smell the flowers. All kids do I think…. They are SO good at being HERE NOW. That has been the greatest gift of being a mom… slowing down in my life long enough to catch the occasional glimpse of the here and now.
How about your biggest challenge?
Ha. Is it fair to say ditto to what I said above??? Biggest challenge… I’d have to say being present. By that I mean being able to let go and give up control (or at least what I thought I controlled) over what is happening right here… right now in my life. I am ever learning to accept life as it comes, moment by moment, curve balls and all. This acceptance stuff is sometimes easier said than done.
Have you had an “Ah-ha” mom moment that you can share with us?
Yes. It came after much pain and heartache. After five miscarriages hoping to have a third child, I finally had this profound ah-ha moment that I AM NOT THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF MY LIFE.
Here’s what happened: I had just lost our fifth baby and went for a walk on a beautiful fall day. During that walk I think I had my first real taste of what it means to be fully present. I was walking, I was breathing… and then it just happened.
In that moment I wasn’t a woman who had just miscarried. I wasn’t even a woman. I just was. I felt this deep connection to the earth and all the beauty that surrounded me. It was in that split second of peace and love that a voice inside me said “YOU ARE NOT THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF YOUR LIFE… YOU ARE LIFE. YOU ARE LOVE. YOU CAN LOVE THIS DAY.”
I like to think it was my sweet baby angel whispering to my heart, giving me this gift of awareness. It has changed my life.
You have some great reviews of various products on your blog. What would you say is the “must have” baby product?
Hmmm. I’d say my iphone. Is that crazy? Really though-it’s so easy to feel isolated as a new mom, and I did at times, especially with my first born nine years ago when iphone technology was not even on the radar.
All those hours alone in my home nursing those first few months almost drove me insane. It was such a shift from how my life had been owning my own business and working full time as a Physical Therapist.
This go around has been so different, largely because of the great online mommy community I am able to access at the touch of a button on my iphone. I post pics on Facebook, I tweet with friends on twitter (that are awake when I am for 2am feedings!) and DM my sister day and night who has a five month old in Seattle. I do all this while nursing not one but two babies! I just feel so much love and support this go around… so connected. And moms, if you can’t get an iphone, at the very least, be sure you’re a member of My Mommy Manual. *Wink* The support we can tap into online as moms is truly amazing. We are NOT alone!!!
Any advice for first-time parents?
Hmm. Again. Look up to the last question. My advice is “You are not alone!” so be sure to access support from all around you; family and friends, online communities like My Mommy Manual… pay for it if you have to!!! Cleaning ladies, frozen food, paper plates, doula’s etc… just get yourself support, especially in those first few months. If you are feeling isolated, you have to talk to someone. Community is essential to parenting. Essential. You know the saying “It takes a village”? Well, it’s true.
Now for a quick glance into Zen Mommy’s life
What is the book currently by your bedside? Which one?!?! Ha. OK… I’ll go with Allen Watt’s The Way of Zen. Love it. Have read it many times.
What’s your favorite holiday? Mother’s Day. Is that wrong?
What song always motivates you? Easy. Ray Lamontagne “Let It Be Me”. For me, that song explains all of life.
If you had a “free day” with no commitments or obligations, what would you do with it? I would go on a Yin Yoga retreat somewhere out in nature… it could be in St. Louis or in Colorado… just so I’m doing yoga, breathing and enjoying the earth, the wind and the sky.
You favorite saying? “What is most personal is most universal” – Henri Nouwen. This is what has me share my life so publicly online as Zen Mommy.
What’s one thing on your list of dreams to accomplish? To be present for 25 seconds in a row. I’m still working at it.
Thank you “Zen Mommy” for taking time out of your very busy schedule to talk with us. We look forward to your party tomorrow & meeting the twins!
In Chicago it has been awhile since we have seen sunshine, so we welcome even the faintest glimmer of Spring. With Spring comes budding flowers, green grass and opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with your children. Gardening with your kids is a great way to teach your child about different flowers and vegetables while having fun. You can even give them their own garden space which they can “own.” Your kids will love watching their little garden grow and finally “harvesting” it for dinner.
If you don’t have outdoor space for a garden or you want your child to have a personalized hands-on garden space, you can create a Little Hands Garden.
What you will need:
- Planter (make sure it will “absorb” paint. We have found most plastic or ceramic planters do)
- Finger Paint
- Potting Soil
- Seeds or Bulbs
- Paper Plates
- Newspaper or table cloth
- Clear Paint Coat
Set newspapers or a tablecloth (that you don’t mind getting dirty) on work surface. Wash and thoroughly dry planter. Empty different colors of finger paint on separate paper plates. (Have baby wipes available if you don’t have a sink nearby. This will allow for easy cleaning of hands in case your child wants to use different colors.) Have your child dip his/her hands in the finger paint & put hand-print on planter. Continue decorating all sides of planter. Spray or brush on a clear paint coat to preserve your child’s hand-print. Once dry, your child can add soil and plant the seeds or bulbs. Be sure your child remembers to water and care for her/his new garden.
What Springtime crafts do you like to do with your children?
This week we are taking a “behind the scenes” look at Brent Borhauer, Graphic Production Manager for Kolcraft. For the past 10 years Brent has designed everything from product boxes to web graphics for Kolcraft. As a new dad, his view of life has changed a bit. We were able to catch up with him so you could have a glimpse of the guy behind the graphics.
Were you an artist when you were little?
Yeah, I always loved to draw. As a child I had quite the collection of instructional drawing books and made good use out of them. In school when I should have been taking notes I was usually doodling.
When did you know you were going to be a graphic designer?
In high school I took a graphic design course and knew it was my calling when my design projects became more of a priority then my math and science homework. Also, my sister and her husband were working as graphic designers. I really took an interest in learning about their field and decided to major in Graphic Design.
What is a typical day like for you?
I’m a creature of habit so my mornings always start off as a routine before I get into work, but once I get into work my day is anything but routine. I usually work on the most urgent projects which can consist in the design of: packaging, logo development, product instruction manuals, point-of-purchase design, mattress label design, website projects, photo shoots, catalogs, etc. I do this type of design for Kolcraft products and I also get to work on projects for Jeep, Sesame Street, Sealy and our Contours brand. My job is anything but cookie cutter.
Where do you receive inspiration for your work?
I’d have to say the best place to find inspiration is on the internet. I’ve recently begun to utilize Twitter which is a great resource to learn about other designers, their blogs and online portfolio’s. I also subscribe to 6 different graphic design magazines that are filled with all sorts of great design and tutorials. They’re a great resource to keep up with the trends in design.
You have been at Kolcraft for 10 years. How have you seen Kolcraft change?
I’ve seen many of our departments grow in size, as well as a few new departments created. One of the most needed changes was moving from our tiny office building on the South Side of Chicago to a much larger building in the West Loop of Chicago. Also, our product selection has evolved quite a bit. When I first started, Kolcraft designed and manufactured only about 6 different types of products. Our product selection has more than doubled since I’ve been here.
Obviously you are living & breathing baby products at work, but you recently became a first time dad. What did you learn about parenting that you didn’t know before your baby was born?
I learned that baby’s finger nails grow extremely fast….and that I’m not capable of cutting them properly. I learned about a baby’s fontanel and its clinical significance. And that the lingering smell of baby spit ups on clothing can be quite repulsive.
What were your first thoughts when you brought Ellie home from the hospital?
Since she slept so much at first (like all babies do), I constantly worried if she was breathing. I’d get up several times at night to check on her in the bassinet.
What has been your greatest joy & greatest challenge to being a dad?
My greatest joy is simply watching Ellie grow and develop. Every day she’s learning and doing something new. She makes my wife and I so happy. We get such a kick out of her silliness.
My biggest challenge usually occurs on the weekends my wife works. Ellie still nurses and in these first 7 months we’ve never successfully got her to drink from a bottle. So when it comes to our weekend’s together while her mom is at work, getting her to eat and sleep tends to be a real challenge.
Brent at a glance:
Funniest thing that has happened since Ellie was born?
The funniest thing related to Ellie was at about 3 months old, she discovered that she could do “raspberries” with her mouth and would do those on a fairly regular basis. But there were two types of “raspberries”….the first being the “casual everyday” raspberries and then there are the “I’m pretty ticked off right now” raspberries. Either of these usually gets a pretty big laugh from me.
Favorite daddy daughter activity with Ellie?
I love to feed Ellie solid foods in her high chair. Just after I get home from work, I prepare Ellie’s meal, sit down and enjoy that time with her…..as she spits her food all over me. We even get to play tug-o-war with the spoon. Her tiny hands really have a death grip on that spoon. How is it that she’s already stronger then I am?
Favorite Kolcraft product?
Ellie’s favorite is definitely the Baby Sit & Step activity center, but my wife and I love our Contours Options 3 Wheel stroller. It’s been the only stroller we’ve needed to use since we came home with Ellie from the hospital. The infant car seat attachment made it so easy to simply transfer her quickly in the cold from the car to the stroller, without fumbling with restraint straps. Now that she’s older and the weather is nicer, we use the stroller seat, and we’re able to face her towards us as we walk, so we can keep our eye on her. In the coming months as she gets older, we’ll be able to face her outwards so she can look around and see the world.
And since Brent now has “baby on the brain” 24/7, a little fun mind game with Brent. We asked Brent what is the first word that comes to mind when we say:
Baby – Big cheeks
Sleep – Yes please
Morning – Refreshing
Broccoli – Stains
Beverage – Guinness….I mean apple juice
Lady GaGa – Who?
Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to talk with us Brent. If you have a burning question for our “graphic’s guy,” feel free to leave it in the comment section!
Perhaps you have seen the trailer for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution showing how he is trying to transform the way America’s children eat. In the trailer we see kids unable to identify a tomato, potato and other various fruit and vegetables. It is sad to watch, but the story doesn’t end there. Jamie is challenging all of us as individuals and as a family to live healthier lives. It’s not always easy to get children to eat their fruit and veggies when they would rather have cookies or chips. A few things can help make nutritious food more palatable for our kids and even ourselves!
- Let your children be part of the fruit & vegetable “decision making.” Let them pick out the fruit and vegetables when shopping.
- Assign different nights where your child can pick which vegetable will be served with dinner. This sort of “ownership” can help them feel more in “control” of their meal.
- Serve fruit with a non-fat or sugar-free yogurt as a dip.
- Make a healthy trail mix with raisins, cereal and nuts.
- Put chopped fruit into jello.
- Make fun shapes out of fruit and vegetables so your children will look forward to eating it.
- Give healthy “sweet” alternatives to candy and ice-cream. We liked this easy and healthy smoothie recipe as an alternative to ice-cream for kids & adults .
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 small banana
1/4 teaspoon honey (optional)
Place all the ingredients in a blender . Blend on high speed until smooth.
Will you be joining the Food Revolution? How do you get your children to eat their fruit and vegetables? Share your tips with us!
Did you ever wonder what it was like for your mom while she was pregnant with you? How you acted as toddler? How your parents adjusted to being new parents? Perhaps your mom, dad or grandparents left photos or a diary behind for you to read. Or maybe you had to rely on asking them questions about your childhood.
One thing you can do for your own child is give them the gift of their legacy. Write monthly letters to your baby while you are expecting and store them in a safe place. (If your baby is already born, it’s not too late to start! Every stage has its own joys and challenges that you can record.) Continue doing this until they hit a significant milestone such as marriage or having their own child. You can then give these letters to them as a very personalized and meaningful gift!
What ways have you been able to capture your first moments with your child? Will you share that with your baby when he/she is older?
Recently we had the chance to catch up with Kristin from Our Ordinary Life. We think Kristin has anything but an “ordinary life” as she juggles being a mom to two adorable girls and being a full-time student!
Your life doesn’t seem to “fit” your blog name “Our Ordinary Life.” You are a mom to a toddler and a newborn and you are a full time college student. That’s a lot to fit into 24 hours. How do you balance it all?
I have a lot of help. Luckily my husband Del is very supportive. He’s my real secret to managing it all. Although my life is pretty ordinary, we like simple things and a lot of family time. My dream of finishing college doesn’t really take away from my family. When I’m not home Del is. Don’t get me wrong, some days aren’t easy but that’s life – as ordinary as it is.
How would you say your life as a mom has impacted your style of learning in college & how you approach your degree?
I didn’t really notice the change until last term. I took a public speaking class and we were asked to address certain topics. Right away I noticed that every topic I picked had to do with my children – my future dreams and wishes for them. Without realizing it I take my family into every situation I am in, whether that is a classroom or not. My style of learning is cramming. I guess I’m so used to cramming everything in so it works for me. Most days anyway!
When do you graduate and what do you plan to do after graduation?
I just want to live the dream & have a career that I love. I hope to get an internship at a local public relations firm. I entered college not knowing what I wanted to do, but my blog quickly guided my decision. I like promoting products and coming up with new ideas. I started my blog before public relation firms started massively approaching bloggers. I was the one who taught other bloggers that we were considered press. Behind the scenes I gave away all the secrets, but I’ve learned so much and continue to learn. I like sharing my solutions with others. I hope to take my experiences with my blog and social media into my career.
We are sure you have had your ups and downs as you struggle to keep up with college work, raise your children and keep your house in order. With all these challenges, what has been your greatest joy of motherhood?
Watching my children grow. As sad as it is to see them grow so fast it’s such a rewarding experience. Brooklin, my youngest is now at the age where she is really getting into everything. I just love this age, and my oldest Kaila is all about being the big sister. Watching them together has to be my greatest joy.
Have you had an “Ah-ha” mom moment that you can share with us?
The day I realized I didn’t know it all. That my parenting is not perfect, and I don’t know all the answers. Realizing that in many ways has helped me to relax as a mother; my children have more fun and I do too.
Any advice to fellow moms and dads who may be in your situation of juggling studies and parenthood?
Have support. My husband picks up the vacuum and takes the kids out of the house. I don’t have to tell him or beg for his help. We just work together and that works for us. I guess that pertains to more than just studies, but really without all the help I couldn’t do it all.
What’s the one thing that never gets checked off your “to do” list?
My inbox and desktop. It’s always a mess! I am very unorganized so my email and desktop reflect that.
If you had a “free day” with no commitments or obligations, what would you do with it?
I’d spend time online commenting. It’s so important to connect with others online and sadly I don’t do it enough. I’m not so much of a girly girl and I don’t waste money, so things like spa days just are not me. The spa just wouldn’t be something I would do. I swear, it seems like every time I sit down to read a blog someone needs something. I’d totally like to spend my day connecting with others!
What is your favorite time of day?
I’m going to do the traditional mommy answer…nighttime! Del and I just hang out alone in the quiet. We often work on things together and I like it. It’s so important for parents to get time together with no children. That’s our time!
What’s your favorite “no-fuss” meal that you fall back on when things are really hectic?
Pizza! I love pizza, my children love pizza. Del stands it because we like it so much. Pizza is just always a win, win.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Soda! It’s such a bad habit, but it’s my thing. I’ve really tried to not buy any, but just one Coke a day. Like I said – it’s my thing.
Thanks Kristin. We enjoyed getting to know you more!
You can imagine the excitement at Kolcraft when we came across Grandparents.com – a rich resource for Grandparents (and parents) of all ages. It covers a vast array of topics of interest to Grandparents, has expert advice, activities, contests, deals and more. If you haven’t seen the site, stop by for a few minutes and check it out. You’ll be happy that you did.
Leave a comment and share your ideas and ways that your children interact with their Grandparents!