Honoring Parents Category
We recently met up with Jay from Chicago’s Neighborhood Parents Network (NPN). NPN has been connecting families all across Chicago for more than 30 years. Whether you need advice on the best schools in the area or are looking to meet other new parents in your neighborhood, NPN has something to offer all Chicago parents. With over 5400 active members, NPN’s diverse clubs and events bring together families from all across the city.
What made you initially decide to get involved with Neighborhood Parents Network (NPN)?
I’d heard about NPN since I was pregnant from friends with kids. When I had my daughter and went into “new mommy panic” mode, I joined a NPN New Moms Group. It was an immediate lifesaver. Having new friends going through the same new parent challenges was incredible.
What is the most rewarding part of being involved with NPN?
I love connecting new parents and helping them receive information on everything from potty training advice to the best kid-friendly brunch spots in the city. Having a fun, free event to go to almost every week is a fun perk too!
NPN offers so many great opportunities for new moms to mingle and share their experiences with other first-time moms. What advice do you have for new parents?
Ask for help when you need it! There is no shame in needing someone to watch the baby for a while so you can sneak in a nap or just unwind. Being a new parent can be all-consuming- I hope new parents realize there’s no shame in being overwhelmed, intimidated or confused at times.
We love the NPN blog for its great tips on fun activities and yummy local restaurants in various neighborhoods around Chicago. What’s your favorite place to take your family in the city and why?
There is so much to do in the city its hard to pick just one place! But this summer, we’ve loved taking long bike rides to Welles Park. It’s a huge park with a fun water feature at the play lot and a path for riding along the perimeter. On the way home, we always grab lunch at Drew’s Eatery –the perfect, kid-friendly place for an organic hot dog and ice cream cone.
NPN not only offers moms the chance to have group play dates and share parenting tips and advice, but also gives moms the opportunity to relax with their “Mom’s Night Out” events. Do you have any advice for moms out there trying to balance raising a family while still finding time for yourself?
Its definitely easy to be overwhelmed when you’re trying to do it all! For me, I think sneaking in even a ½ hour a day of “me” time is crucial to keeping me sane. I’ve stopped feeling guilty if I let the kids watch a show while I get in a long, hot shower if that’s what I need to re-charge for the rest of the day.
Chicago is such a diverse community with so many great family-friendly activities! What has been the best thing about raising your child in the city?
Thanks to the diversity in Chicago, we have an awesome selection of restaurants with foods from so many other countries. It’s been fun introducing the kids to different foods from all over the world. Now, my daughter names Thai noodles and spicy shrimp sushi rolls as her two favorite foods!
Now for a quick glance into Jay’s life.
What’s your one guilty pleasure?
I’m embarrassed to admit but I watch way too much reality TV!
What’s your favorite activity to do with your kids?
Foster Beach is the perfect way to spend a summer afternoon. My kids can spend hours playing in the sand and filling up endless buckets of water. An ice cream treat on the way home and it’s a perfect day!
What is the book currently by your bedside?
I just finished reading a great book called the Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty. Unfortunately my kindle just broke so it might be awhile until I start another book!
What is something that is always in your fridge?
My kids have recently become addicted to ProBugs, which are these organic kefir drinks in spill-proof, squeezable pouches.
Chicago Cubs or Chicago White Sox?
I’d have to go with the Cubs since we’re so close to Wrigleyville.
Sunday, September 11th is Grandparent’s Day. What better to show grandma or grandpa just how much they mean to us than by given them a personalized, homemade gift? Today’s picture frame craft is easy and fun for kids of all ages and will only cost you around $1 to make! Enjoy this Grandparents Day Craft!
What you will need:
- Wooden picture frame (can be purchased at most craft stores for around $1)
- Old magazines or newspapers
- Non-Toxic glue
- Scissors (adult use only unless child can safely use them)
How to make picture frame craft:
- Cut or tear out fun pictures, words, and patterns from old magazines and newspapers.
- Glue magazine or newspaper clippings onto a wooden picture frame. Don’t forget to cover the edges of the picture frame as well!
- Cut or tear out letters to spell out G-R-A-N-D-M-A or G-R-A-N-D-P-A and glue this onto the top of the frame.
This is a fun and inexpensive craft not only for Grandparent’s Day, but can be used on other holidays and to decorate your child’s room, as well!
This Sunday we celebrate Grandparents day. Grandparents are those wonderful people who help children learn and love in a very special way. Today we meet Corinne, one of Kolcraft’s friendliest faces and a member of the Accounting department. Corinne is the grandmother to 3 year old Aiden and 1 year old Nicky.
What is your favorite part of being a grandma?
When I come over to visit, Aiden is so excited to see me. Having him on my lap, and he gives me hugs and kisses, is so special. He tells me he loves me and I just melt. Nicky is just learning to give little “hugs”. That is special also.
Has anything surprised you about being a grandma?
My time with my grandsons is one-on-one. I don’t have to worry about cooking and cleaning and giving baths and bedtime. I don’t think about “then they just go back home.” I love when Aiden spends the night and can’t wait until Nicky will join him. Now so many special memories of my children growing up come back to me so I get to relive those times. It helps me to appreciate what my own children have become.
What is your favorite thing to do with your grandchildren?
I just love being with them. They make each other laugh and giggle. Aiden and I love sharing popcorn in the evening when he is visiting me. Visiting at my house is special for both of us.
What is the one thing that never gets checked off your “to do list”?
Balancing my checkbook
What is your favorite holiday?
Christmas. If we could only capture the love and spirit and spread it out over the whole year.
If you had a “free day” with no commitments or obligations, what would you do with it?
I would take a long, hot bath, and just relax and not think about anything.
What is your favorite book?
I have no favorite, but I love mysteries and especially books written by Mary Higgins Clark.
This week we are preparing our September and October posts. We have a lot of great resources, tips, and activities for the fall. On this Mom Monday, we are revisiting previous Mom Monday posts. Enjoy a trip down “momery” lane.
We hope you enjoyed these Mom Monday archives.
Yesterday we began the newest sweepstakes for the Kolcraft 65th anniversary. The Sealy New Baby, New Bed sweepstakes includes over $1500 in Sealy prizes! Enter today!
Nutrition impacts how your child sleeps, plays and develops so you want to give your baby the best food. But where is a mom supposed to start? How do you know what is best?
We recently met Michelle who works for the HappyFamily organic food company as one of Chicago’s local representatives. She is a mom to twin 10 month old girls and is passionate about giving children the best healthy start to life. We had a few minutes to catch up with her and get the inside scoop on raising a happy, healthy baby.
HappyFamily was started when your founder, Shazi Visram, realized there was a real need for busy parents to find a solution to giving their babies healthy food. Can you tell us more about how HappyFamily came to be?
Shazi’s vision came about as she listened to a friend’s anguish about the difficulty of finding the time to make her own baby food between caring for her baby, keeping up with her work, and all of the other demands of her very full life. When we launched our first product line called HappyBaby in 2006, there were no other homestyle options on the market. The only alternative to highly processed baby food in jars was making your own at home, which can be time consuming for busy families.
You gave your twins a healthy start. Can you tell us about your mom journey with this? Were you overwhelmed at where to begin?
The amount of information out there about what you should and should not feed your children is definitely overwhelming. I knew from the start that I wanted to stick with organic, fresh foods as much as possible. My approach when I need to use packaged foods has been to find products that are certified organic and have ingredient lists I can easily understand. The minimally processed foods will typically have a list that is relatively easy to decode. If I don’t know what an ingredient is, I look it up. So far, the process has been very manageable and I have peace of mind in knowing what I’m feeding my kids.
What is the biggest challenge to raising your kids in an organic environment and eating healthy?
For me, it’s time. Shopping for the best foods and cooking wholesome, healthy meals can be very time consuming. Add to that the fact that parents and kids are constantly on the go with work, school, and countless activities, and it can seem impossible to keep up with healthy eating. I try to get around this by being diligent about planning ahead. Each week I make a list of meals we will eat, including snacks and meals that can be taken “to go” if needed. (For my girls, this means snacks I can throw in the diaper bag in case our outing runs too long.) I use that list to do all the grocery shopping for the week. The planning takes a little extra time on the weekends, but makes life so much easier during the week.
This can be more difficult if your kids are not always eating under your supervision – for instance, at daycare or school. Be sure to find out what foods are being offered and pack food from home if possible. As parents, I think our best bet is to teach our children about healthy foods and lead by example so that they will automatically make good choices when we can’t choose for them.
Can you give us 3 tips any parent can do to help their children to live a more organic & healthy lifestyle?
Make a healthy diet and regular exercise the norm for the whole family. It’s so important not to overlook our own health since our children will learn from the examples we set.
Choose organic whenever possible. When organic foods are not available, or are cost prohibitive, use the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists as a guide: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/
Make healthy eating fun by cooking together, visiting farmers’ markets, and planting a small garden. Even though my girls are only 11 months old, I already take them out in the backyard with me to pick the veggies that we grow. Their faces light up when I let them have a taste.
Now for a quick glance into Michelle’s life.
What has been your greatest joy as a mom?
Watching my daughters grow and seeing the excitement in their eyes when they learn something new.
What keeps you going through busy days?
Remembering how blessed I am to have two happy, healthy babies and a wonderful husband. It helps to keep things in perspective.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
A giant piece of chocolate cake.
If you had a “free day” with no commitments or obligations, what would you do with it?
I would “sleep in” until at least 7:00am (I can’t remember the last time that happened.) Then, I would treat myself to a morning at the spa, followed by meeting the girls and my husband for a picnic lunch or trip to the zoo and finally, dinner and a movie with my husband.
If someone was going to write a book on your life, what would the title be?
We are happy to announce a new member to the Kolcraft family. Michelle, our marketing communications manager, and her husband welcomed a baby girl last week. We wish their family well and we look forward to meeting the newest Kolcraft baby.
Colleen Fahey, our digital media specialist, will be leading the conversation on this blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Take a look at some of the great topics we have coming:
- Balancing work and parenting
- End of summer picnic
- Elephant appreciation day
If there is a topic or craft you want us to share on this blog, send it to email@example.com and we will do our best to get it in the schedule.
Happy Mom Monday Michelle! Congrats!
One of our favorite days of the week is Mom Monday because we get to share with our community all the talented moms (& dads) that we meet. We have wanted you to meet Jenniffer for some time now. She has a wonderful blog, Born 2 Impress, with helpful reviews, fun giveaways, resources, etc. But what we can’t get enough of is her Born 2 Impress handmade children apparel and accessories. Jenniffer makes the cutest hats, bows, purses, headbands – you name it, she makes it & your child will look like she’s born to impress in these sweet accessories! Grab a cup of coffee or tea & enjoy the impressive world of Jenniffer.
Where do you get your inspiration for such cute designs? My little girl….She is the one who inspired me too start making the hair pieces.
How would you say motherhood has changed for you and how has it “directed” your talent? Oh My. I am a totally different person since I became a mom, and I love dressing up my daughter, so I like to create “ pretty things” for her and her friends.
What is your favorite part of being of mom? Motherhood!
What has been your greatest challenge as a mom? I think trying to be the best mom I can be for my little girl……They do not come with manuals
If you could give ‘expert advice” on one aspect of parenting to new parents, what would it be? Patience and love will get you through anything coming your way.
Where do you see yourself in 25 years? That is a good question….I think right here with my family.
Now for a quick glance into Jennifer’s life.
What is one thing always in your fridge? Grapes.
What is your one guilty pleasure? Just one? Coke, coffee, chocolate…I know not good for my diet, so we don’t keep them in the house
If a genie could give you one wish but it couldn’t be immortality or 2 more wishes, what would your wish be? Health for me and my family.
If you had a free day to yourself, how would you spend it? In bed watching TV!
If someone were going to write a book on your life, what would they title it? Jennifer’s Motherhood diaries
Some moms approach life with an extra flair for the beautiful. We found Lindaanne to be one of those moms. She is an artist, a designer and a photographer. We were drawn in by her sketches, her clothing line and her sense of beauty so we had to introduce her to our Kolcraft fans.
Lindaanne, we love your artwork, your clothing line and your web designs! Oh, did we mention your sketches? How did you find your “inner artist”? I found it as a child, probably, with my vivid imagination. I am forever coming up with ideas – good ideas, bad ideas, so-so ideas. I like to think it comes naturally for me. I also have some wonderful creative friends who inspire me, not to mention the world around me. Creating something out of nothing is a great joy and challenge for me – whether it’s art for art sake or art for a reason.
What artistic work do you like doing best? I love everything that I do. It’s not just one, but a culmination of everything that completes me.
In what ways has your work inspired being a mom & visa versa? I hope, as a mom, I have given my daughter various possibilities of perceiving the world in a more creative mindfulness. To appreciate the present/future visual and philosophical changes around her, yet remembering the beautiful aspects of the past. My daughter, in turn, taught me to see her colorful imaginary and real world through her lovely precocious eyes. She inspired me to be a child again.
Do you have a favorite “mom moment” that you can share with us? There are so many treasured moments: hugging and kissing her, her hugs and kisses always, our wonderful conversations. She forever persisted that she wanted a real unicorn for a pet. I had to tell her, again and again, I couldn’t get one for her, which made her very sad. Her very first mother’s day present for me, which I still have – a pair of porcelain unicorns.
How about a favorite “artist moment”? When a big publishing company asked me to illustrate and design my first book.
Any advice for moms who are trying to balance work and motherhood? A positive attitude is very important, determination, passion, scheduling, child-care you can trust, a set of priorities. The balance between work and motherhood can be frustrating and daunting at times, if not downright depressing. But keep in mind the positive reasons why and who you are doing it for. When you look back years from now, you’ll be proud of all your accomplishments . . . . I mean, you actually did it.
Now for a quick glance into Lindaanne’s life.
If you could design the ultimate baby nursery, what would it look like? The only aesthetic thing I ever wanted for my daughter’s nursery were blue skies with white fluffy quiet clouds (on the walls) surrounding her. As long as she had that, nothing else mattered.
But with that said: one of the most important essentials would be a nice kolcraft cozy soft mattress in a beautiful white crib for baby’s good night sleep and well-being. White curtains to shade the sun, white bedding, a colorful hanging mobile of peter rabbit & his friends. Framed nursery rhyme themes hanging on the walls.
What’s your guilty pleasure? A nice glass of red wine
What is an instant de-stressor for you? Dancing to my favorite music.
What is something that is always in your fridge? Orange juice
If someone was going to write a book of your life, what would the title be? Determination.
It’s the final week of Mom Fitness with Cassandra from Active Moms Club. Her fitness tip this week is something you can do anywhere, anytime. It’s these seemingly small exercises that can make a big difference in your fitness routine.
Don’t forget to leave a comment on what you learned from Cassandra or tell us what feature of the Jeep Overland Jogging stroller will help you on your fitness journey. Your comment will automatically enter you to win the Jeep Jogging stroller. Contest ends July 25th at midnight CST.
Remember those days when you were dating and you couldn’t wait to see your significant other? Those timeless dates where you just kept falling more in love? Keeping the spark alive may take a bit more effort now that baby(ies) have entered the picture, but it doesn’t have to end with baby nor does it have to break the bank.
5 Everyday Ways To Bring Back Some Romance
- Write a love note and put it in his lunch. It doesn’t have to be long. It can even be a silly word that has meaning and memories only between you.
- Find something to compliment her on. She will appreciate that you still find her attractive post baby.
- Stop to take the time to really kiss each other when you come home or leave for work.
- Remember how you used to hold hands when you went for a walk? You now are pushing a stroller & have a toddler in tow, but you can be creative on how to hold hands and baby.
- Your day is hectic, but take a minute to think about your partner and what you love about him/her. Send a short text saying how much you can’t wait to see him/her at the end of the day.
How do you keep romance alive post baby?