We are back from our BlogHer break and ready to start up our Mom Mondays again! Today we have a very special mom who Kolcraft met at BlogHer. Tammy is the mom and author behind Autism Learning Felt who I connected with one evening after a long day at BlogHer. Even though it was a late hour, I was so energized and inspired by Tammy and how intelligent and learned she is on autism that I had to share her story with you.
Your blog and your business are very heartfelt. Tell us what prompted you to start a blog.
I wanted to create a place where I could help other parents. I wanted to be able to share my knowledge & experience and encourage others to share theirs too. I also wanted to use my blog to promote autism awareness and to educate my site readers to find out more about autism.
You obviously are very passionate about helping others understand autism. When your son was diagnosed with autism, what resources helped you?
The internet was my biggest help. I spent a lot of hours every day searching for information about autism. I bought books that were recommended. I joined online support groups. I was going everywhere I could for help.
Special needs children can bring immense joy as well as certain challenges. What has been your greatest joy? What has been you greatest challenge and how have your managed it?
My greatest joy has been the way that I have come to appreciate life. I see things differently through my son’s eyes. I take pleasure in the smallest accomplishments. I have experienced the joy of unconditional love.
My greatest challenge has been my son being nonverbal and stubborn. He is capable of communicating using the computer, but doesn’t always want to. When he is upset, he wants nothing to do with communicating. It is extremely frustrating, because it is hard to help him if I don’t know why he is upset.
What educational and political changes would you like to see to help families and children with autism?
I would like to see the education of our children improved. Right now, schools are doing what they perceive as the basics of service. They are providing what they deem to be an appropriate education. This, however, is not always adequate. I would also like to see more states pass laws requiring insurance companies to pay for autism related services, especially ABA. Some already have the law in place, a few are working on passing it, but many don’t have one.
What advice do you have for parents of an autistic child?
Be prepared to advocate for your child 24/7. It never stops. Don’t let anyone talk you out of what you know is best for your child.
Now for a quick glance into Tammy’s life.
What is always in your fridge? Milk and yogurt. Both are favorites of my kids.
What keeps you going through busy days? The knowledge that I can take a break when my husband gets home. It won’t be long, but it will be enough to get re-charged.
What’s your guilty pleasure? I have a favorite online game that I can get completely lost in. I don’t get to play that often, but when I do no one else gets the computer.
If you had a “free day” with no commitments or obligations, what would you do with it? Depends on the weather. To me, a “free day” means that I can take the kids fishing, hiking, or swimming. If the weather doesn’t permit, than it would be a day at the mall.
If someone was going to write a book on your life, what would the title be? That’s a tough one. My kids are my life. I guess it would have to be My Two Angels because that is what they are to me.
If you have any questions for Tammy, feel free to leave them in our comment section or on her site.
As summer winds down you may be at the end of your budget, but still wanting to have some fun experiences for your children – especially so you don’t have to hear, “Mom I’m bored!” for the 100th time. Your child’s stuffed animals can be the key to a Safari Adventure in your own backyard!
What you need:
- A few stuffed animals that would belong in a jungle. You can use a monkey, elephant, tiger, etc. You can also “fix” up an animal with a paper tail or ears to look like a jungle animal.
- A few places outside where you can “stage” the animal. You can put a monkey or tiger in a tree, put an elephant near an “oasis” like a pool or bird bath or a bowl of water you put outside, etc. Let your imagination run wild as you look at your backyard as a landscape for a Safari.
- Food that can mimic what that animal would eat. i.e. have a little salad or shredded carrots for when the kids find the giraffe, some rolled up deli meat for when they find the tiger or lion, etc.
- A piece of paper where you can map out the safari.
- Go online & grab some fun facts on each animal
- Prepare food for each safari station. Put it in little containers that you can give to your kids as they discover each animal.
- Stage the animals outside in different spots that mimic the animals environment. (i.e. monkey in a tree, etc)
- Make an easy guide to the safari by drawing a little map or a hint as to where the animals are “hiding.”
- Walk through the guide with your children. When they come upon a safari station, read a few fun facts about that animal and give them the food of that animal.
- For a fun food twist, get Pillsbury crescent rolls and shape them into little animal shapes that correspond to the Safari stations. You can also cut out deli meats or cheese with animal cookie cutters.
- Be sure to make a little map/guide to the Safari stations for each child so each feels like they are on the Safari adventure.
- Feel free to dress your part as the Safari guide by putting on a Safari-looking hat or binoculars.
- You can change the theme to a barnyard, forest/woods, etc. depending on what sort of stuffed animals your children have.
Your kids will not only learn fun facts about different animals who live in the jungle, but they will be excited to find their stuffed animals playing a “Safari role”.
Enjoy the squeals of delight and be sure to bring your camera to capture the moment!
We take a break from our regular baby gear news to give you an inside glance to the activities that keep Kolcraft creative. Yesterday Kolcraft engineers, industrial designers, Fashion designers, marketers, and the IT department participated in a brownie smackdown. There were brownies with frosting, s’more brownies, Twix brownies, traditional brownies, walnut brownies and brownie sundaes! Brownies were anonymously placed on a table with a number. Participants were to sample each brownie and cast a secret vote. Votes were then tallied and a winner was declared!
The event in pictures:
The empty tin speaks for itself. Ron from IT (with help from his team member, Allen) won the brownie smackdown with his homemade brownie sundaes. Stay tuned for the next smackdown when Ron defends his title.
August 12th and 13th will give your family a star show that is better than any blockbuster summer movie. The Perseids begin to rise in early August and meteor showers have their peak activity between August 12 and August 13, 2010. About 80 meteors per hour are expected!
It’s best to go somewhere where there aren’t a lot of city lights. National parks, beaches or campgrounds are a great place to get a good view. If that isn’t possible, just grab a blanket and head out into your back yard – you may not have the darkest conditions for a perfect view but you should be able to see something.
A few tips for watching meteor showers:
- Before the event check online for meteor info so you can answer your children’s questions
- Bring a blanket or comfortable chairs that allow you to easily look up and watch the meteor show
- Make sure you have bug spray to keep away pesty critters
- If you plan on being out for awhile, bring a few snacks
- It most likely will get cooler, so bring a few lightweight jackets just in case family members start to get cold
- Check with your local planetarium to see if they will have any special meteor-viewing events.
Will you and your family be sitting under the stars to watch Mother Nature’s light show?
Today is national s’mores day and what better thing to do on a summer night than make some s’mores? S’mores (meaning “some more”) have been synonymous with summer since their debut in the early 1900′s. Traditionally s’mores are made by melting a marshmallow and chocolate between two graham crackers. There have been varying recipes for s’mores including s’more clusters, s’more cookies, s’more pizzas and the list goes on.
This past weekend we discovered a new twist on s’mores when we met Lisa from General Mills at BlogHer. She introduced us to the Nature Valley Granola Thins. These scrumptious granola squares have a thin layer of chocolate or peanut butter. One bite and you will be hooked. And at only 80 calories, they are a healthy alternative to other snack choices. We loved the idea of using the chocolate Granola Thins for s’mores since you won’t have a giant bar of chocolate and box of graham crackers left over! We also are hooked on how the granola gives a little twist to the traditional s’more.
Easy recipe for Nature Valley Granola Thins S’mores
- Roast marshmallow over open flame until it turns golden brown.
- Select two dark chocolate Granola Things. Try the peanut butter flavor as a tasty alternative. You can even use one of each!
- Place the marshmallow inside the two thins, granola side out, and enjoy!
You can also prepare the s’more, wrap it in aluminum foil and place it on the grill.
What s’more recipes do you have to share?
I can still feel the energy radiating from BlogHer NYC! The days were packed full of sessions, networking, swag bags and fun! One of my favorite things was meeting moms who Kolcraft follows via Blogs, Facebook and Twitter. It was like meeting old friends who I knew for years and meeting new friends who I am excited to get to know better. What better way to honor Mom Monday than to show off some of the great moms we met over the weekend.
Had the opportunity to spend more time with Kristin. Her little girl, Brooklin, was a newborn when I met Kristin, so I feel like a virtual auntie to her. It was great to meet her in real life.
I know if he were a mom, he would be a Kolcraft Mom! Gotta love the Pillsbury Doughboy.
Kerri was a trooper at BlogHer while she cared for her daughter who was under the weather.
Jennifer couldn’t help but beckon the sun wherever she went!
Relaxing at lunch with Alicia, Shellie and Jessica.
Our happy winner of the Kolcraft Golden Ticket - Lisa Samples!
I had to go all the way to NYC to meet a mom who is in my own Chicago Backyard!
There were so many other wonderful moms that we met: Jen from After the Alter, Emily Dickey from Baby Dickey, Tanya from Mommy Goggles, Jen from the Dirty Tshirt, Danielle from A Few of My Favorite Things, Tammy from Autism Learning Felt, Denisse from Ahorros para Mama and so many more! A great big thank you to all moms who inspire us, make us laugh and remind us about important life lessons.
We look forward to seeing everyone at BlogHer 2011 in San Diego!
The dog days of summer can prove too hot for kids to play outside, but you may need to get them out of the house to release pent-up energy. We think a great way to do this is through the Kids Bowl Free program that is taking place across the US & Canada.
The program is designed by bowling centers to give back to the community and provide a safe, secure and fun way for kids to spend their time this summer. Children whose age does not exceed a limit set by a participating bowling center, are eligible to register for 2 free games a day, all summer long, courtesy of the participating bowling centers along with the schools and organizations! There is even a reduced rate family pass!
For more info check out the Kids Bowl Free site.
What ways have you been keeping your kids cool and energized this summer without causing your bank account to dwindle?
BlogHer is underway as blog moms from all across the United States descend on NYC and Kolcraft is excited to be part of this event! We will be introducing our new Kolcraft Mom review program, giving away a Kolcraft Golden Ticket to a lucky winner and partying with some pretty savvy, fun moms.
Follow us as we tweet about it using #BlogHer10 and #KolcraftMom
If you would like to meet us at BlogHer, it’s not too late. You can contact us at @Kolcraft or @MichelleHalm.
See you there!
It’s hard to believe that it is almost time for kids to go back to school. That can be hard on the pocketbook when you have to buy clothes, shoes, school supplies, etc. Thankfully many states are offering a sales tax holiday where certain items will not have sales tax. Some states are even applying the sales tax holiday to electronics! As a parent, you know how quickly taxes add up when you are buying a quantity of items. This sales tax holiday will hopefully bring you some relief at the register.
We liked this Sales Tax Holiday site for a quick reference on what days and items the individual states are offering the “no tax” holiday. What tips do you have to get the most from the sales tax holiday?
To date there have been 28 deaths in 2010 of children due to hyperthermia (heat stroke) from being left in hot vehicles. This tragedy happens for a number of reasons from caretakers being preoccupied and forgetting, to children playing in cars and getting locked in. As the weather only promises to get hotter, this Tip Tuesday we want to look at a few tips to keep in mind that can help prevent this tragedy from occurring with your child.
- Never leave your child alone in a car even if you are running a “quick” errand. Cars can heat up to over 20 degrees of the temperature outside in a matter of minutes.
- Put a large doll or teddy bear in your child’s car seat when not in use so that when you do put your child in the car seat, you put the doll in the front seat next to you as a visual reminder that your child is in the back seat.
- Put your briefcase, lunch or purse on the floor near the back seat so you are forced to go to the back seat and see your child when you leave your car.
- Lock your car when it is not in use. Your car is a great hiding spot for kids playing hide and seek. They can easily get locked in your car and overheat.
- Hide your car keys so your child cannot find them & accidentally lock himself inside it.
- Make sure anyone who watches your child knows these tips and follows them.
- If you see a child left alone in a car, be proactive and call 911. Your call could save a child from hyperthermia.
What tips do you have to help prevent hyperthermia?