Monthly Archives: September 2010
I just returned from a trip to our plant in North Carolina where we make our crib mattresses. After being there, I have a deeper appreciation for the love and dedication that goes into making a crib mattresses and why Kolcraft is the #1 crib mattress manufacturer.
I was fascinated by the precision of how the coils were made and how all the pieces were lovingly put together to make a quality crib mattress. After talking with some of the workers it was clear that they truly care about what they do because they know a precious baby will be sleeping on that mattresses.
My visit to the plant could not be at a more perfect time as I was able to see the crib mattresses stacked in storage before the orders were filled. It was pretty impressive and the crib mattresses don’t sit on the shelves long before they are shipped!
I also had the opportunity to meet with our consumer service team. These dedicated ladies are the ones who answer consumer questions and comments. Whether you have a question about how to fold a stroller or what crib mattress is best for you, they are always ready to help with a smile! We talked about Kolcraft’s presence in social media and they had great ideas on how to better serve our consumers through social media. I left North Carolina happy that our consumers are in the best of hands.
If you aren’t familiar with our crib mattresses, check them out. I saw first-hand how much love goes into making them the best crib mattresses in the USA so your baby (and you!) can have a night of peaceful sleep.
Join us on Twitter for our Hike & Seek party this Thursday from 11-12 CST to hear about the importance of outdoor play for your child, get outdoor-fun-time tips and win Jeep Baby products, Jeep pet products, etc.
It’s easy to participate – just follow #hikeandseek on Twitter and follow the fun.
We can’t wait to celebrate your family & hear your ideas about getting outdoors as well as hear from the NWF experts.
Will you join the party?
Being a mom (or a dad!) is demanding. By the end of the day you have nurtured, loved, taught and cared for your child 100 times over. With so many demands, it is hard to have “me” time, but without it it’s hard to keep perspective.
This is where the power of “no” comes in. If you say “yes” to every invitation, volunteer opportunity, etc. you will become run down. Cherish the priceless moments you spend with your baby and nurturing your own spirit, even if it means saying “no” to something else. It may be only 5 minutes of enjoying a cup of coffee or stopping to take in the sunshine – whatever recharges you. Push aside the mommy (or daddy) guilt and give yourself permission to have some “me” time.
What ways do you recharge your parenting battery?
You may have noticed that Kolcraft is “a twitter” over the Hike & Seek event that is coming up in October. As we have partnered with the National Wildlife Federation, we have gotten to know Meri-Margaret Deoudes, Senior Director of Corporate Relations & Special Events. She is passionate about being a mom and raising her son to love nature. We had to share her story with our Kolcraft fans.
Where did you receive your love for nature & being outdoors?
From my parents. Neither are traditional conservationists, but both encouraged us to go outside and play. My dad is a real beach person and taught me to appreciate the magic of the ocean. My mom is a master gardener and we had vegetable gardens (and sometimes fruit) everywhere we lived. I went to sleep away camp on Lake George in Upstate New York and we spent most of the days and nights outside. I have always found the water and nature to be relaxing and rejuvenating.
How did you become involved with NWF?
Like many pregnant moms, I began to look at the decisions I was making to welcome the new baby. Although I am a runner, I switched to walking during pregnancy and really enjoyed my time outdoors. Like many moms, once I had my son, John Robert, my priorities changed. About the same time, I started looking for my next professional challenge. NWF had a position open that combined many of my professional interests, but most importantly addressed my personal interests in conserving beautiful places and creatures for the next generation, including John Robert.
Would you say your mission at NWF inspires your parenting? How?
Yes, definitely. NWF’s mission is to protect wildlife for our children’s future. A large part of that work is our new Be Out There movement which aims to re-connect children and families to nature. Central to this program is 60 minutes of green time, or unstructured outdoor play, per day. Studies prove that this type of activity nurtures a child’s body, mind and spirit. As a parent of a young child and employee of NWF, I am conscious of these studies, but also see the positive impact on my own son.
What are the biggest challenges to getting our children back outside & in love with nature?
There are so many challenges these days. First there is the fun and allure of electronic entertainment – TV, DVDs, i-Phones, i-Pads, Wii, etc. Kids are actually spending close to 7 hours a day with electronic media and only 4-7 minutes outside in unstructured play. The hours they are inside is comparable to the endless hours we would spend outside when were kids riding our bikes, building forts, playing hide & seek/kick-the-can, etc. until dark.
As parents, we are busier than ever. Many more households have single parents or parents that both work outside the home. The demands on our time are enormous and sometimes it is easier for us to entertain our kids inside while we are busy with other tasks.
Finally, many parents worry that our neighborhoods aren’t safe and are worried that children may be at risk if they play outside. To help overcome these obstacles, we all need to take responsibility for playing outside with our children and/or creating neighborhood networks to create safe environments for outdoor play.
What would be your advice to parents who want their children outside more, but aren’t sure where to start?
Don’t make it too complicated and try to let go. Getting outside doesn’t have to be a planned weekend or even a weekend activity. It also doesn’t have to be an excursion. Just a few minutes at a time can make a big difference. Try to work it into your schedule, go for a walk or bike ride after dinner, stop at a park on the way home from Saturday morning errands, point out the birds and flowers in your yard.
It is difficult for me, too, but we need to let our kids be kids. If they want to dig in the dirt, chase fireflies, gather sticks and rocks, we need to let them explore and get dirty. In this day and age, there is a soap, a wipe, hand sanitizer and a laundry detergent that will ensure they are squeaky clean again.
NWF has some great events and resources to help parents get started. We are launching Hike & Seek, a cross between a hike and scavenger hunt in nature, starting October 2nd. As part of our Be Out There movement to re-connect families with the outdoors we have ideas for outdoor activities and our Nature Find program can help find nature in your neighborhood.
Now for a quick glance into Meri-Margaret’s life.
What’s the one thing that never gets checked off your “to do” list? Since I became a mom, there are a lot more things that don’t get checked-off, but I have learned it is a trade-off. If certain things (like filing) don’t get done, I have more time to spend with my family.
If you had a “free day” with no commitments or obligations, what would you do with it?
I would pack the car and my family for a ‘venture and probably end up at the beach or on the lake. During the winter, I love to hang out at home, cooking/entertaining and watching football.
What is your favorite time of day? Seeing my son first thing in the morning and after school/work.
What’s your favorite “no-fuss” meal that you fall back on when things are really hectic? That’s an easy one- PASTA. I am half Italian and pasta is simple, healthy and there are so many variations.
Learning about nature and animals doesn’t only happen in the classroom. Your kids can learn while having fun with your family. Since it’s Fun Friday, we wanted to share with you our fun & educational experience at the Chicago Shedd Aquarium that we think your children will love – the pet a penguin experience. That’s right we got to pet a real penguin for only $25.00! Most behind the scenes experiences at zoos and aquariums tend to hover over $100.00 per person which can blow a family’s budget. For only $25.00 per person, we were able to meet our little penguin in a private room. The group was limited to 10 people so we really had one-on-one time with Mr. Penguin. We learned so many fun facts about the penguin as he walked around our little circle. We all had the opportunity to pet him and have a photo opp with him!
A couple of hints to get the most out of a behind the scenes tour:
- Your tour price is in addition to your admittance fee. Many places have reduced rates if you are a city resident. Be sure to ask!
- Check at your library to see if they have free passes to your city’s zoos, aquariums, etc. It takes some planning since there is usually a wait list, but you really save on admittance prices!
- Check the website for “free days” because at least once a month many places have free admittance days.
- Plan your tour at a time that will allow you to be at the main tanks or exhibits when it’s feeding time. Most places have the trainer hooked up to a mic while explaining what they are doing. The Shedd Aquarium hooks up the trainer in the main fish tank and you can ask him questions while he feeds the fish!
- Have your child pick a particular animal that he has special interest in and do some research beforehand on the animal. It will build excitement over “meeting” that animal. If you prefer to wait until you are at the zoo, nature center or aquarium and then have your child pick an animal to be her special friend, you can research it when you return home.
- If you don’t have the opportunity to go to your local zoo or aquarium, you can go there via a Ranger Rick, Wild Animal Baby or Your Big Backyard magazine subscription. Discover all sorts of fun facts on animals and nature through the colorful pages of these magazines. Join our Twitter Party on September 30th from 11-12 CST and win a subscription!!! Use hash tag #hikeandseek. See you there!
Tell us what your favorite ways to have fun while your child learns.
Kolcraft has been catching parent’s attention for years, but lately Kolcraft baby products have had some interesting media appearances.
If you live in Chicago, you most likely are familiar with the popular radio station Q101. We had to snap a photo of their billboard which is a spin-off of a scene from The Hangover. The baby carrier is none other than our popular Jeep 2 in 1 baby carrier.
We know our baby products are worth 5 stars and while we love the media attention, we know that the best endorsement comes is when parents like you love our products.
By now you know how much we at Kolcraft believe in protecting and enjoying nature. We were very excited when we saw that President Obama declared September to be National Wilderness Month. When your child is outside playing it helps strengthen their mind, body and spirit.
Studies have shown:
- Children who spend much of their time indoors watching television and playing video games can become isolated and withdrawn
- Free play teaches kids to share, cooperate and resolve problems
- Nature offers opportunities to decompress, reduce stress and improve relationships, helping kids feel lighter and happier
Organizations like the National Wildlife Federation have been helping children and families live healthier lives through through the myriad of programs they offer. Kolcraft is behind the NWF’s mission and we think it’s so appropriate that during this National Wilderness Month we are partnering with them to celebrate Hike and Seek. In a nutshell, Hike and Seek is a FABULOUS opportunity to get outside with your family and enjoy Mother Nature via a scavenger hunt while learning about animals and nature! And if that isn’t exciting enough Hike and Seek provides the opportunity to win great Jeep products from strollers to pet carriers and more!
If you don’t live in Chicago, Seattle or Washington DC where Hike & Seek will take place, that’s ok. You can still win great prizes and learn about healthy living at our Twitter Party on September 30, 2010 from 11-12 CST. You can follow us on Twitter and the conversation by using #HikeandSeek! See you there!
You are all excited for your new baby to arrive. Nursery ready? Check. Layette in place? Check. Baby’s name chosen? Check. Birth plan in place? Ummm not so much.
There are so many things to think about when making a birth plan: environment, pain relief, monitoring, baby care… and the list goes on. Making a birth plan can be daunting and that is why we love the Pregnancy Birth Plan Generator - it does the thinking for you so all your t’s are crossed and your i’s are dotted. The Pregnancy Birth Plan Generator is a free online, easy-to-use tool for creating your birth plan.
Nothing, however, substitutes for the age-old wisdom of moms who have given birth. What advice do you have on creating a birth plan?
Life after “the altar” is sometimes when things get very real. We met the author of a blog named After the Alter & not only do we love the blog, we love Jennifer as well. She is honest, down-to-earth and wise beyond her years. We were able to catch up with this new mommy to be and are happy to introduce her to you.
We love the title of your blog. What inspired you to blog?
My husband always jokes that I have a lot of words that I need to get out in one day–basically saying I talk a lot. So when the idea of a blog came out I was excited. I knew I wasn’t an “expert” in anything, but I did have the desire to be as good as a wife that I could be, and I wanted to share my experience with others. The name “After The Alter” represents my life after being married (Altar) and all the changes that go with it (Alter). Over time the blog has gone from my life as a wife, to my life after a miscarriage, to my life trying to conceive and now my life as a pregnant woman. I truly enjoy sharing it all!
Sometimes after the wedding cake is eaten and the final song of the reception is played, it seems the “rest” will fall into place of starting a family. That wasn’t quite the journey you had. Can you tell us about it?
I think when we dream about what life will be like after being married you see it all as a bunch of steps..ok, so now I’m married. Then comes the house, then children and so forth. When my husband and I decided we were ready to have children we had no idea of the road we would eventually take. We got pregnant on our first try, only to find out a few weeks later that I had suffered a miscarriage. I am not sure one can describe the pain and sadness that comes with that. Not only are you left to deal with the physical aspects of it, you are left to deal with all the shattered dreams that you already had made for your future child. After that loss, our road didn’t get any easier. Trying to conceive became more of an effort than anything else and as time moved on I got more worried that my dreams of becoming a mother just may not come true. No one tells you that getting pregnant isn’t always an instant thing. Blogging helped me cope. I enjoyed sharing my story with others and I enjoyed having others reach out to me. After 7 months of actively trying we finally got our miracle. I was pregnant! I had so many mixed emotions…I was so excited but at the same time scared. I sometimes feel that the joy one is supposed to feel when they see that positive result on the pregnancy test was stolen from me due to my loss, but I guess it is what it is. Now, I am almost 7 months pregnant and truly enjoying every second of my pregnancy. We are truly blessed.
What got you through the grief of a miscarriage and what gave you hope as you started TTC again?
There is a lot of grief that comes with a miscarriage. Some will say “well at least it happened early”, but I don’t think it really matters. Once you find out your pregnant you begin to have dreams of the future…and then they are all taken away in an instant. My husband was amazing and sometimes I think that the tragedy brought us closer. We had just been married 1 year, and it was good to know that he really was there for me in good times and in bad. Other than my husband my best support was through an online chat forum which consisted of women who all had been through the same thing. They were amazing women. It was great being able to share with people who truly understood. It seems that other people either tried to offer advice or comfort that really wasn’t helpful. Words like “everything happens for a reason” and “It just wasn’t your time” are not words that I took comfort in at all. Blogging was also a huge help. It was like a personal journal I shared with others. I felt that if I could just help 1 person out there not feel alone, then I was happy. Because when it happened to me I felt somewhat alone. TTC was also hard and scary. It’s the hardest thing when you want something just so bad and you can’t achieve it. I tried to stay positive the best I could. Trust me, it wasn’t always easy. But what kept me going was the belief that I would get my chance to one day be a mom…
What are you looking forward to the most about being a mom?
I am looking forward to almost everything about being a mom. I really believe it’s my true calling in life. There is nothing I want more. I can’t wait to have my baby look up at me and smile. I can only imagine the feeling of seeing this little child staring at you thinking you are the only thing that matters in the world. I look forward to each milestone as they come. The smiles, the turning over, the laughing, the crawling….I can’t wait to look at the world through his eyes. I can only imagine that it is the most amazing thing in the world.
What scares you the most about parenting and what aspect would you like advice about?
Wow..I am terrified of a lot of things! This is the first child on both sides of the family, and I have ZERO experience with babies. I haven’t even changed a diaper since I was 14! I guess if I had to narrow it down the one thing that scares me the most is the sleepless nights, and how I will cope with that. Another thing I am scared of weeding through everyone’s advice. It seems that EVERYONE knows the best way to do things. Who knows best? Doctors? Parents? I am thinking the answer is that I need to figure out what’s best for me…but how?
Now for a quick glance into Jen’s life.
What is one thing always in your fridge? Before pregnancy the answer would be Wine! Lol Since then things have gotten a little more boring and I would say milk.
What color is your nursery? Baby Blue and beige!
Will you miss any aspect of being pregnant? Is it bad to say I love the attention? I really am enjoying this time and taking it for myself. I know once the baby is here I will be old news.
If someone was going to write a book on your life, what would they title it? Wow that’s a toughie! Life Is Too Short To Be Anything but Happy. It’s a long title but it’s something I truly believe in. I have led a very happy life, and it’s my goal always to find happiness in everything. There is no point dwelling on being miserable right?