Some amazing moms have been gracing our Kolcraft blog from new moms, to moms of many children, to single moms to today’s very special mom – Ana Benitez. Ana has been at Kolcraft for 13 years and helps keeps our office running as Executive Secretary. Ana is a mom of two beautiful girls. Her youngest, only 9 months old has had a struggle from the beginning. Here is Ana’s amazing story of hope overcoming all odds.
Ana, you have had quite a journey of motherhood. Your youngest, Liliana had to have heart surgery right after she was born. Did you know she would need surgery?
Liliana was only 9 weeks old when she had her heart surgery. Yes, I was 18 weeks into my pregnancy, when we found out that our baby Liliana had an Atrioventricular (AV) canal defect which is a large hole in the center of the heart that could only be repaired surgically. We also found out that babies with this kind of heart defect have a 50 percent chance of being born with a chromosome problem, Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome). Our baby Liliana was also diagnosed with Down Syndrome shortly after birth.
You must have had so many emotions – joy over your new baby, sadness that she was sick and struggling. How did you make it through those first few months that were so “touch & go”?
The love and support I received from my family and friends helped me overcome what I was feeling mentally and physically. My daughter Alexa, who will be turning 8 years old at the end of this month, was the greatest motivation to get back on my feet. I knew she was having a hard time being away from “mommy”. I knew then, that I had to be strong and somehow be there for both of my daughters. I then remembered the phrase “If God brings it to you, God will help you get through it” so I prayed and asked God to give me strength and help me cope with my emotions.
What family “lessons” would you say you are all learning with having a baby with special needs?
I’ve learned that no matter what the case maybe, my family will always be there to support and guide me. I’ve also seen how it’s brought our family closer together.
What is the one thing you have discovered as a parent to a special needs child that you hope to communicate with others?
The one thing I discovered as a parent to a special needs child is that there is no reason to treat them any differently. They are as normal as an average child, but they are born with and will face a few more challenges in life.
What is your greatest joy of being a mom?Having my daughters call me “mommy” and receiving their bear hugs (as my daughter Alexa calls them) and kisses. But the greatest joy ever is receiving their unconditional love.
Ana at a glance:
What is your favorite time of day? The evening! When I get to cuddle and read to my girls.
What is your favorite Kolcraft product? Contours Options 3 Wheeler
Best “sanity” break to recharge your mom battery? What’s a break? A good night sleep, when I can get one!!
If someone was going to make a movie of your life, who would play you in the lead roll? What would the title of the movie be? Either Ashley Judd or Salma Hayek – The Gift of Life
Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to talk with us Ana.
If you have a burning question for Ana, feel free to leave it in the comment section!
Yoga has grown in popularity these last few years as a way to de-stress, get in shape, improve concentration and increase flexibility. It’s not just for adults anymore! Yoga can be a great way to bring these benefits to your toddler. Between ages 3 and 6, your child’s movements become more coordinated which makes this a good age to try yoga.
You can start yoga with your own toddler or organize a fun yoga play date with your child’s friends. But where to start?
- Keep it short. Children’s attention spans are limited and they can become bored easily. Keep the session to 20 minutes tops with a mini-break at the 10 minute mark.
- Use your imagination. Call poses by an animal name or object such as frog pose, tree pose, boat pose (you will be amazed what shapes you see when you look at yoga poses with creative eyes). You can tell stories or fun facts about these animals or objects to keep the children interested. An added bonus is that your child can learn new words through the poses!
We love these books and resources to help get you started:
- Yoga for children with special needs
- The Yoga Zoo Adventure
- Storytime Yoga
- Yoga Fun for Toddlers, Children & You
Do you practice yoga with your children?
What ways do you foster flexibility, creativity, good posture and concentration with your children? Please share with us!
We interrupt our normally scheduled Tip Tuesday to announce some winners. As you know we have been running a Marvelous Moms contest on Facebook where people submitted their mom, sister, girlfriend, wife, etc. as a Marvelous Mom. The judges had a hard time deciding between all the inspirational stories. They finally limited it to two: Lori who is caring for her husband who has cancer while she takes care of her children and her niece & Julianna’s mom who adopted her two children with special needs. In the end, the judges couldn’t decide so they left it up to random.org to decide and Julianna’s mom won a spa pamper package.
Our other contest was to win tickets to see the Babies movie. We loved that movie so much we had to send someone else to see it! Random.org picked Miranda. Looks like Miranda is overdue to see a movie since she hasn’t seen one since her three-year-old was born.
Since it is Tip Tuesday, our tip of the day is to enter Kolcraft contests because you can win great prizes!
Congrats to our winners!
Last week we met Johanna a new mom full of fun and energy. Today we have with us Anna – a mom with a lot of experience under her belt. Married for 19 years, Anna has 7 children ages 18 years old to 4 months old! We were able to catch Anna for a glimpse into her world.
Wow – 7 children! Did you always want to be a mom to a big family?
No, I was the first in my school crowd to say I will never ever have children, but God had other plans!
7 children brings a lot of experience and diapers! How would you say your parenting has changed over the years?
I would have to say when I was younger there was a tendency to give my child anything to keep him or her happy. I also didn’t spank the children or discipline them even though I was taught to do this and I rejected the advice of experienced people in our family. Needless to say, I no longer give my children everything they want and I do discipline them now. I’ve learned to always listen to experienced people and look to see if they were successful!
Do you ever find it overwhelming to have such a large family?
No not at all! If you teach the children to clean up after themselves, do their chores and not raise a lazy child, it helps. Also I’ve had to teach them to use “inside voices,” otherwise it can tend to get a little loud!
What is your secret to keeping everything organized?
I’m a stay at home mom, so its not so hectic to keep the house in order, take kids to appointments, help with homework, prepare dinner, etc.
What have your children learned from having so many brothers & sisters?
They have learned that there is always somebody to play with and they are not always going to get along with each other, but they must stick together like glue. Family is #1!
Now for a quick glance into Anna’s life.
What is your favorite time of day? My fav time of the day is nighttime because it’s my time to relax with my hubby, pop in a movie and share a bowl of popcorn.
What’s the one pregnancy product you couldn’t live without? I couldn’t live with out the baby doppler. I just had to hear the baby’s heartbeat everyday 3 times a day!
What is your favorite hobby you do with your children? Yard sailing and community events.
If someone was going to make a movie of your life, who would play you in the movie? What would the title be? Renee Zellweger… A Bio of A Mother’s Love
This Mother’s Day weekend, the Babies movie will hit theaters across the United States. Yesterday, courtesy of American Baby, Emilie & I had a sneak peek at Babies. From the trailers we saw and the articles we read we knew Babies would be a good movie, but we weren’t prepared for how good the movie would be. It was obvious from the “ohhh’s, ahhh’s and laughter in the audience that we weren’t the only ones who enjoyed it.
Babies chronicles the lives of four babies in different countries. It was amazing to see the differences in culture – Bayar was taken home on the back of a motorcycle after he was born! We are still in awe that his mom was able to ride a motorcycle after giving birth! Yet despite some differences, other things are universal; a mother’s love, sibling rivalry, the beauty of a baby’s smile, the joy of taking first steps and the list goes on.
The producers did an excellent job of “not getting in the way” and letting the babies lives unfold. It was as if the audience was an invisible presence in the sacred space of these families’ lives. Here at Kolcraft we give Babies movie 5 stars! (Here is one of our favorite scenes – Ponijao trying to sleep.)
A fun thing to do this Mother’s Day weekend is to see the Babies movie as a family and discuss it afterwords. We loved the movie so much, we are giving away a gift certificate so you can see the Babies movie on Kolcraft! All you have to do to enter our drawing is to follow us on Twitter or Facebook & then leave a comment under this post that you are following Kolcraft on one or both of these social media platforms. We will draw a winner through random.org next Tuesday!
During this special Mother’s Day month we are highlighting some moms who work at Kolcraft. We are excited to start our Kolcraft Mom interviews with Hyon who is our Fashion Design Manager. Not only is Hyon talented and vivacious at work, she is mom to two beautiful girls so her work at a baby gear company takes on special meaning.
You have a great story of “love at Kolcraft,” but let’s start at the beginning. How did you decide that you wanted a career in fashion?
It’s a long story. Here’s the short version…I was always a creative person, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue a career in it. I already had plans to study something very different, very structured, but somewhere along the line it was obvious to me and to everyone around me that I was not happy with what I was doing. I had complete support from all my friends and family to go after my dreams and do something that will make me happy. It sounds so cheesy, but it is important to go after your dreams! I will pass this wisdom on to my kids.
When you came to Kolcraft you met the man you would eventually marry. Having both worked in the baby gear world, did you feel a little more prepared to be parents?
Yes and no. Yes I felt more prepared, but only with the technical aspects of baby gear; folding and unfolding a stroller, assembling a bassinet, etc. When it was actually time to take care of the baby…not so much. For me, it was a whole new experience. I would honestly say that my husband was much more prepared than me. He already had experience taking care of babies…he has two siblings much younger than him. I had never changed a diaper in my life! The first week or so was a bit challenging, but you quickly adapt to this unique situation and somehow everything becomes second nature. It’s all worth it!!! And you forget about all the headaches you had with the first one…then comes baby #2!
You decided to be a working mom and Damon is a stay at home dad. What would you say the benefits are of being a working mom and breaking the stereotypes that you would be the one to stay home and not Damon?
As a working mom, the time I have with my kids is that much more special because of the short time I have with them when I get home. The benefit, according to Damon, the kids will always consider me the “treat” at the end of the day. I truly feel that dads don’t get enough recognition when it comes to parenting. Nowadays, dads are very hands on with everything: feeding, sleeping, cleaning, etc. I don’t think parenting stops when one (mom or dad) goes to work. Physically I am not there with the kids, but I am still planning the next meal, what games to play, which books to read, etc. And as soon as I get home, it’s all about kids!
You have been at Kolcraft for 9 years. What unique challenges do you find in the fashion aspect of baby gear that you didn’t find working in other fashion industries?
In the apparel world, generally, the primary focus is aesthetics. But in the baby gear world, functionality plays a major role alongside aesthetics. Just like everything else in life, you have to find the right balance; choose fabrics with structural integrity but also soft to the touch, forecast colors that are trendy but still timeless, etc. The apparel industry has trends that are fleeting but with baby gear, the products tend to get reused, whether it’s for the 2nd or 3rd child or you pass it down to friends or other family members. It’s these kinds of challenges that make my job even more worthwhile.
How has being a mom impacted how you design baby gear?
I tend to think a lot more about the end users: mother, father and baby. If a product only looks good, but doesn’t function well for the parents and doesn’t provide comfort for the baby, then it is an incomplete product.
Hyon at a glance :
Favorite part about being a mom? The out-of-the-blue, indiscriminate “I LOVE YOU, MOMMY”
Favorite time of day? When I get home from work – all the smiles, the hugs and the kisses that I get as soon as I walk through the door.
Best “sanity” break to recharge your mom battery? Sitting in my massage chair for 15 minutes.
If someone was going to make a movie of your life, who would play you in the lead roll? What would the title of the movie be? Beyonce?! Irreplaceable
Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to talk with us Hyon. If you have a burning question for our “fashion mom,” feel free to leave it in the comment section!
This Sunday, all across the United States, mothers will be celebrated for their love, dedication, care and commitment to their children. This holiday dates back to ancient Greece honoring the great mother of gods and has since taken root in several religious and civil celebrations throughout the world.
Some will celebrate Mother’s Day with gifts, a special outing, preparing a meal for mom or going to her favorite restaurant. My mom still has the myriad of Mother’s Day cards my sister and I made for her throughout the years. She loves to look through them and tell stories of us when we were little – like the time we brought her breakfast in bed and managed to dump it on the sheets. Nothing like starting your special day doing laundry! Whether it’s breakfast in bed or a celebration at a bed and breakfast, the ways to pamper mom are endless.
Do you have a favorite Mother’s Day memory or a special Mother’s Day request? If so , please share it with us. And if your special wish is to be pampered in a spa, make sure a special someone enters you in our Mother’s Day contest.
Are you a busy mom with barely any time -if any- to get ready in the morning? You can still have a “finished” look on the go and new York City’s makeup artist Carmindy is ready to help with some easy tips from her new book, Crazy Busy Beautiful: Beauty Secrets for Getting Gorgeous Fast. A few easy tips that we liked:
- In a pinch, you can use mascara as eyeliner. Pick up a little color from the mascara wand with a cotton swab and smudge it into the lashline.
- When applied with a clean dried-out mascara brush, regular hair gel can work as brow gel.
- For a quick hint of glow-to-go, bland a dab of clear lip gloss on the top of the cheekbones.
Whether you have time to “prime yourself” or not, we are know you are a beautiful mom inside and out!
What quick “get ready” tips do you have?
It’s May and we are celebrating Motherhood in a special way. For our 5 Mom Mondays this month you will be hearing from moms who come from very different backgrounds and experiences, but who share a deep love for being a mom. We kick off our Month of Moms with Johanna from And Baby Makes Three (Plus Pooch)
As a first-time mom what were some of your fears of becoming a mom?
I worried that I’d never be able to do it all. I was worried that I wouldn’t be good enough; that I wouldn’t have enough to offer or to teach my daughter. I worried that I would work too much and spend too little time with the baby and she’d resent me. Or that I’d work too little and spend too much time with her and get fired. I worried that I would never sleep again, that I would never, ever be caught up on laundry, and that the days of my husband and I sitting alone to enjoy a bottle of wine would be as frequent as a buy one/get one sale at Bloomingdales. And I worried that I’d have to buy all new clothes because I didn’t think there was a chance in the world that my behind was ever going to fit into my skinny jeans again.
What has been your biggest surprise about motherhood?
That none of the stuff I feared mattered. I was surprised to find out that as long as I did the best at what I knew, it was enough for my daughter. After all, she was new at this whole thing too. Everyone talked about the instant connection that I would feel after the baby was born, but nothing prepared me for how deeply into my bones and through my blood I would feel that love. I was totally shocked that I didn’t always totally mind when Marin woke me up at 2am. I was surprised by how unbothered I was by her dirty diapers, her runny nose, her spit up… And I was surprised by how content I was to just sit with my daughter in silence, not necessarily doing anything at all. And yes, I was surprised when I fit back into those jeans. In fact, I did a dance and ran around singing, “My jeans fit! My jeans fit!” and I’m not embarrassed to admit that.
What is your biggest challenge?
Balance. That work/life/family/love/friends/dog walking balance has been really hard for me. I’m not sure I will ever really figure this out. Does anyone?
If you could receive ‘expert advice” on one aspect of parenting, what would it be?
How to survive a meltdown in the middle of the grocery store… the kind where your child just plops right down on the floor and wails. Yeah, I’m there.
Where do you see yourself in 25 years?
I just did the math and am over the fact that I will someday be as old as my mother-in-law… but I’m not yet over the shock that Marin will someday be 26! Isn’t she going to be my sweet, innocent baby girl forever? I suppose if forced to face that reality, in 25 years I’d love to be relaxing, traveling, writing, and thinking about how to gently persuade Marin to make my husband and me, grandparents.
Now for a quick glance into Johanna’s life.
What is one thing always in your fridge? Whole milk and my grandparent’s homemade pickles!
What is your one guilty pleasure? Jelly bellies. I like to eat them in amounts too embarrassing to disclose.
If you had a free day to yourself, how would you spend it? At the park with Marin in the morning, at the spa with a girlfriend in the afternoon, a quiet dinner with my husband that evening… all topped off with a good book in a bubble bath. Ahhhh…perfection!
If someone were going to write a book on your life, what would they title it? I had the idea about a year ago to write a book titled Blood, Sweat and Breastmilk, based on my theory that breastmilk has unparalleled value to a breastfeeding mother. And about the equal parts love and sweat equity that a mother pours into her children. I think that pretty fairly represents my life at this moment.
Thank you Johanna. We really enjoy your great outlook and sense of humor. If any of our “seasoned moms” have figured out the “balance of life” part of motherhood, chime in!
The New York Times is looking to capture a global moment in time this Sunday. The idea is to take a photo of wherever you are at on Sunday, May 2, at 15:00 hours (U.T.C.). This invite is open to expert photographers and amateurs. You only get to submit one photo so the NY Times encourages you to put thought behind the picture. You are asked to list your location and subject and a short caption. You will then be able to see a world-wide mosaic of what humanity was doing at that same moment in time. You can arrange the photos by country or topic as well as by how readers ranked them.
We think this is a fun activity to do as a family. You can teach your children about different parts of the world as you look at the global mosaic. Here at Kolcraft we will be joining in the “awe” of being part of a global mosaic. Feel free to post your moment in time in our Magical Moments section so your Kolcraft family can share your moment in time.
Will you be participating in the Global Mosaic?