Ash & Alys Babes Blog
10 on 10: What My Parents Taught Me September 10, 2013 14:18
Our parents did a pretty good job, and Alyssa and I are grateful to have a relationship with both of them and have them in our lives today. Despite the fact that they divorced and we had our ups and downs as a family, there are definitely distinct things they (and our grandparents, aunts and uncles) taught us that I hope to instill in my children as they grow. Here’s my top 10:
- Family comes first
- Be tough and have a thick skin
- But it’s still OK to cry
- Have faith and gratitude
- Show respect
- Stand up for yourself, for others, and for what you believe in
- Be the wheel, not the spoke
- Don’t assume
- Be kind
- Say what you mean and mean what you say
What values did you learn as a child that still ring true for your family today? Here's a shot of my mom with us kiddos...
Guest Post on Natural Parents Network - Healthy Eating August 27, 2013 08:21
You may be trying to squeeze in one final getaway before school starts this fall - or planning your holiday and winter break vacations. It can be hard to stay the course with avoiding heavy fast foods when traveling - especially with kids. I recently contributed a post to Natural Parents Network on tips my family uses to eat healthy while on the road. It's all about planning ahead and saving money without sacrificing your food standards. Check out my post on Natural Parents Network here.
SlumberSling Safety August 01, 2013 10:57 14 Comments
UPDATED:May 13, 2014
The SlumberSling has been professionally crash tested by MGA Research, an independent company that provides crash testing services to major car seat manufacturers. MGA Research, having conducted the test with a child dummy in a current market car seat found that "All of the requirements for child seat testing
were met. The addition of the SlumberSling did not cause the dummy to fail requirements."
This is the validation that many of our consumers have been seeking - confirmation that the SlumberSling is in fact safe according to current car seat testing requirements. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any further questions.
Former post from 2013 regarding safety concerns:
We have been seeing increased interest in our SlumberSling in recent months, and are very excited about the positive feedback and enthusiasm parents around the world are showing in this product. In addition to the great reviews we are getting, we certainly also receive questions about safety. I wanted to say a few words about this.
Because this product is used on young children and as a car seat accessory, safety is typically the first thing a parent will question. There are a few factors that we have incorporated into the design of the SlumberSling to achieve safety.
First and foremost, the entire product is made of fabric and soft materials; the band that supports the child's head and loops around the car seat is elastic, which gives it a lot of flexibility and absolutely no rigidity. It is fastened with adjustable hook and loop fastener (i.e. Velcro), further ensuring the appropriate amount of 'give'. The child has plenty of freedom of movement when the product is in use given its design using only soft materials. Moreover, because there are no hard materials on the product, it ensures that if it were to come off or be stressed in an accident, there would not be any hard piece that could come off and hit the child or any passengers in the car.
Secondly, when a child is properly secured in a car seat, his/her shoulders are snug against the back of the car seat, meaning that the child's body can't lean forward in any way. Therefore, if the SlumberSling were to slip down from the forehead to the neck area, it would no longer be pulled taut, and would simply rest slack around the neck and shoulder area. When a child is properly secured, there is no possible way for his/her body to lean forward into the product and cause any pressure on the neck.
As you can see on the product page, we indicate that this product is not designed for nor suggested for use with reclining infant car seats, and is intended for use only on convertible car seats and booster seats. It is not intended to be used as a safety device, and as always, parents should rely on the advice of their doctor for all child related products.
We welcome ongoing feedback and can be reached at email@example.com with specific questions. We love seeing new reviews on the product, and take all of our customers' comments into consideration. We are a small, family owned business, and I created the product for use on my own children who have been using it for years. The photo below is of my oldest son using the SlumberSling years ago when we first launched it into the consumer market.
Safety is a top priority. Please stay in touch with us!
Favorite Moment: Peaceful Playfulness July 23, 2013 09:39
We recently took a family getaway to paradise. It was one of those splurge trips that only come along once every few years – or truly even less often than that. Everything about this trip was perfection. The weather, the accommodations, the company, attitudes, recreation, rest, beauty. Our family was at its best on this trip, and we were the epitome of happiness.
There was a particular moment on the beach that I will try to hold onto forever. My husband and I were restfully lounging under an umbrella with my mom and sister. Taking in the vastness of the ocean and the life of the sun. My two boys were 50 yards away from us playing in the sand and testing their bravery in the shallows of the surf. They were peaceful and energetic all at once. Happy and entertained. Despite how good it felt to simply lounge on the beach and relax, I desperately wanted to join them; to be a part of their joyful romping.
Afraid that I might upset the balance of their world by intruding, I held back. I knew in my heart that if they needed me or wanted me in that moment they would come get me. This was their moment to enjoy unbridled freedom and fully explore their universe without rules, corrections, or worry about messes. It was such a blessing to sit back and just watch the magic of childhood unfold in front of me between my two perfect children. It was a taste of Heaven and a moment I’ll cherish for long to come.
10 on 10: Favorite Summer Fun July 10, 2013 20:18
Summer is in full swing, and we are loving the slowed pace and sunny days. I have been taking in extra time with my kids, and really just basking in Mother Nature. Here is a list of my favorite 10 summer fun activities – all tried and true. Hope you get out and enjoy the outdoors this season.
1. Backyard splashing in sprinklers, inflatable pools and the good old fashioned hose
2. Gardening and harvesting our yummy fruits and veggies
3. Play dates at community outdoor pools
4. Dining al fresco
5. Water balloon battles
6. Homemade popsicles melting down little fingers and chubby cheeks
7. Mommy and me dates for ice cream or cupcakes, enjoyed in the sun
8. Yoga in the park
9. Laaazzzzy mornings with nowhere to be and nothing to do
10. Camping trips, lake trips, boating and day hikes in our beautiful Pacific Northwest
Welcoming A New Sibling To the World July 02, 2013 09:33
There is something uniquely special about the oldest child. They are a parent’s first everything. First pregnancy, first birth, first sleepless night, first love. Our first children teach us so much about being parents and how we can change and adapt so drastically to become better versions of ourselves. Once you have your first baby, the concept of loving anyone else as much as him is inconceivable. He is the center of your universe.
This feeling of devotion to my first son led to some fairly intense anxiety about having a second child. We wanted to grow our family without a doubt, and knew a sibling would be one of the greatest gifts we could give to our son. But the thought of sharing my affections, attentions and heart with another child quite frankly scared me. I was worried about the impact it would have on my first, and I was worried that I might forever favor the older child. I was also of course concerned about the logistics and challenges involved with adding another member to the family.
Fortunately, our second pregnancy came as a surprise, which took the pressure off of deciding when was the right time. I was overjoyed and terrified all at once – most moms know that feeling. I obsessed over every little detail of how I would divide my time between the two, and how I would ensure that no major disruption would come to my older son’s ‘perfect’ life. As the pregnancy progressed, the worry was gradually replaced by love, adoration and excitement. Logically I knew it would all work out, knew that my heart would grow to more than accommodate my new baby, and I knew that the ‘disruption’ a sibling would cause in our home would in the long run be a good thing for my toddler.
Welcoming a new baby is difficult for an only child. They experience a great sense of loss – everything that was once theirs alone must now be shared. Expectations from their parents naturally change. Life is different. Of course children love babies and also share in the joy of their new sibling’s arrival; but it is a more emotional and complex issue for them than we sometimes give credit for.
The key for us when our second child was born, was to find a balance between expecting our toddler to be the ‘big boy’ and allowing him to still be our baby. Keeping our expectations in check and our patience on high helped a lot with the transition for everyone. We did a lot of talking to help our son prepare for the changes that were coming, and we vowed to maintain some of the special time that was just for him.
I’d be lying if I said it was easy; having a second baby threw me for a loop. But the love part was easy, and though it was emotional in many ways for big brother, overall it was easy for him too. Two years later, and my boys are the best of friends. My oldest son truly can’t even remember life before his brother, and regularly asks what baby is in my tummy now so they can have another brother (there isn’t one!). My oldest son taught me so much about being a mom, and my youngest son taught me an unforgettable lesson in how infinite love really is.
Little Princesses and Warrior Princesses June 18, 2013 12:15
Inside every woman is a little girl, and inside every little girl is a princess. I’m not trying to perpetuate gender stereotypes, but I do think it is important to acknowledge, embrace and celebrate the essence of femininity that separates girls from boys, women from men. Whether a little girl imagines herself to be Pocahontas, Cinderella, Spiderman, Luke Skywalker or something different all together, the princess heart is behind it all – a desire to be captivating, strong, beautiful and heroic all at the same time.
I recently wrote a post reviewing a book I read called ‘Raising A Son,’ which opened my eyes to the biological drivers that make boys so special and different from everyone else. Because I live with all males (including the pets), I sometimes forget the flip side of the equation: the deeply rooted differences that make girls (and women) so special. In an effort to remind me of this, my mom gave me the book ‘Captivating,’ which discusses the core of femininity and helps women to understand the reason for our yearnings and hearts’ desires.
I would highly recommend this book. It is very inspiring and would resonate with women from all walks of life. It is a Christian book, but I think even non-Christian women will find something truthful and enlivening in the message about femininity. It reminds us that treasuring our beauty doesn’t mean giving up our strength and that having power doesn’t have to mean sacrificing our gentle, nurturing side either. Women get to be everything – life giver, beauty, leader, warrior, vulnerable, princess – all at once.
This gift that we have, to get to play every role and still
be feminine, is something that must be cherished and nurtured in little girls.
I don’t have a daughter, but many of my friends do; and I have very young
cousins and a niece who are all little warrior princesses to me. I love their
fire, sensitivity and wistfulness. I’m excited to watch them grow into young
women who will make a mark on this world in the way that only females can. This photo is of my lovely little cousin who is a princess through and through!
10 on 10: Favorite Reads June 10, 2013 10:57
Ashley and I love to read, you know, during that time in between taking care of the kids, keeping the house from falling apart, cooking dinner, working out, going to grad school, running our business etc., etc. We’re both self-professed bookworms, and each of use usually have a stack of 2-5 books on the night stand that we are reading all at the same time.
This month’s 10 on 10 is a list of our all-time favorite reads. And, since Ashley and I are both contributing to this list, the following is in no particular order (because I don’t know if we’d ever agree).
1. Makai Queen, Tara Fairfield
2. Till We Have Faces, CS Lewis
3. Eating Animals, Jonathan Sanfran Foer
4. Fall on Your Knees, Ann-Marie MacDonald
5. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, Christopher McDougall
6. The Awakening, Kate Chopin
7. Watership Down, Richard Adams
8. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
9. The Chronicles of Narnia (series), C.S. Lewis
10. The House at Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne
How to Rough It with Kids June 06, 2013 10:09
I have always loved camping. It's something I did as a kid with my family, with friends as a teenager and college student, and with my husband in our early days together. And while becoming a mom has changed my lifestyle in many ways, camping was one area where we didn't slow down a bit.
We've been camping with our children since my oldest was just a babe, and have learned a few things along the way to make it just a little easier and more enjoyable. There's no doubt that camping with babes and kids is much more work than when it's a group of adults, but it really can be just as fun.
Today, Natural Parents Network is featuring a post from me sharing some of my suggestions for how to tackle camping with your little ones in tow. Check my article, along with a ton of great natural parenting resources, here.
And here's a cute pic of my little guy camping last summer to remind you that to really rough it, you can't be afraid to get a little dirty!
Favorite Moment: Auntie Love May 30, 2013 10:06
So if you’ve read our blog, or you’re a family friend, you probably know the story of my youngest nephew thinking I was a "poser mommy," and crying when I tried to pick him up. Fortunately, he’s outgrown that stage! I am officially referred to as ‘Auntie Lyssa’.
Ashley and I like to post a favorite moment of the month, so we can stop and appreciate the little things. We’ve missed a few, so here is a #tbt moment of the month.
Not too long after Ashley and her family’s recent visit to see me ended, she called me up and told me a little story about her youngest son...Out of the blue, he said to her, ‘Mommy, I want to go play at Auntie Lyssa’s house’ (serious progress from the poser mommy days). She of course replied with ‘Oh honey I am sorry, we can’t go play at Auntie Lyssa’s house, she lives in Arizona.' In response to this, (here comes the victory for finally being appreciated by this little man) he throws his head back and wails ‘nooooooooo’ and stomps off angry that he can’t come play with his new favorite person. I am sad that I don’t live closer so he could come play with me anytime, but I am so happy that I have finally won him over!!
The Case For Staying Home May 16, 2013 10:42
There’s a lot to read out there about how hard it is to stay home with your children, ways for parents to cope with the challenges and the importance of having space from your children and an independent sense of self. These things are all true and important. However, what I feel gets lost in all that talk about the housecleaning, the crying children, discipline challenges, and the monotony of being home, is the truth about how amazing it really is to spend your ‘career’ caring for your own children.
I feel so blessed to be living my dream of being a mother and having the opportunity to stay home with my children. It is an opportunity not all parents are afforded, and while many parents choose working outside the home for personal, professional and financial reasons, I choose to stay home. Like many stay at home moms, I’m very employable and had a thriving career before my family grew by one, and then two children. People often question why someone would voluntarily leave a successful career and comfortable salary when there are so many varied childcare options available. This is such a personal choice, and is different for each family; but for me, I couldn’t cope with the stress of being away from my little ones for the vast majority of my days.
And it was more than that. I knew that (again this is very individual) I couldn’t give myself fully to my family or my career as long as I was splitting my time between both. I tried going back to work after my first son arrived. It worked out for a while, but eventually, one side of the equation was always suffering. And I was always suffering in the middle. Most parents, especially moms, face this struggle on some level – ultimately it’s about following the stronger pull, whether that’s money, family needs, personal satisfaction, etc.
Mothers working outside the home need advocacy and support for the challenges they face in the workplace, and stay home moms need the same support, respect, recognition and validation that they are doing something meaningful and important. In light of honoring stay at home moms, I’ve decided to highlight a few of the reasons why I feel staying home is the best gig there is.
1) Play: Sure, it can be exhausting to chase two busy kids around a zoo, playground or hiking trail, all while lugging sippy cups, snacks, diapers and a deserted tricycle. But, I get to play for ‘work’. The most important task of my day is to engage my children in exploring their world with their minds and bodies. We play, we go on adventures and we enjoy the outdoors. I’d gladly trade a day in the office for a day of changing diapers if it means I get to spend the bulk of my time having fun with my kids.
2) Involvement: Stay at home moms have the luxury – and I do feel it is a luxury – of being involved in their children’s daily lives, friendships and school. I keep my kids pretty active, and I’m the lucky one who gets to watch them learn how to swim, see their first somersault at gymnastics class and cheer from the sidelines at a weekday t-ball practice. I know their friends well, and have the time to chat with the pre-school teachers at drop off and pick up. I can help in the classroom and volunteer to bring snacks without having to make concessions in a work schedule to do so.
3) Variety: I’m a busy body, and I do not do well with being idle. The prospect of staying at home all day without any planned activities can sometimes cause me anxiety. And there are monotonous days when I feel a deep longing for adult life outside of my home. Definitely days when I miss my former job. But kids bring boundless variety. Each day brings a new development, milestone, conversation, opportunity for teaching and excitement. A child views each new day with hope and anticipation for what might happen. If you can immerse yourself in that way of thinking, each day at home with your children can be entertaining and stimulating for everyone.
4) Company: I don’t have to spend an entire day alone with a computer. I always have someone to talk to – and kids are much more capable of deep conversations than they are often given credit for. I’m needed and wanted every day, and though I’m much harder on myself in terms of expectations than any former ‘boss’ ever was, I’m removed from the drama that can come with workplace relationships. Plus, I get to meet other parents and spend afternoons with my best friends while our children play together.
5) Challenge: Learning how to discipline my children has been the most daunting aspect of parenting. I know what values I want ingrained in them, I know what my expectations are of them for social and familial behavior, I know that I want to be gentle and empathetic with them. But I tend to have no idea of how to achieve these things gracefully or even successfully. My husband and I work to find balance between parenting ‘tactics’ we’ve learned from books and experts with our natural parental instincts. Everyone knows parenting isn’t easy, but staying home all day and maintaining patience and calm day after day is the ultimate test. I appreciate the challenge. And while there have been countless times I’ve felt broken by it, staying home with my kids is teaching me to be a better person and to dig deep to uncover parts of myself I didn’t know were there. I’ve yet to experience a paying job that offers the same level of self discovery.
Raising A Son April 30, 2013 12:26
Living in a house full of boys has been an adjustment for me. I am a girly girl in many ways, and I grew up in a home around other females – my mom and sister. I do have brothers, and for part of my life we shared a home with my dad, but the world of little boys was largely foreign to me before my sons were born.
This adjustment to life with boys has had many ups and downs. I am so blessed and amazed every day to be a part of their heroic hearts, sense of adventure, strong characters and fearlessness. I also struggle to mother children who are so full of energy and fire – testing my limits and patience on a daily basis. In search of some deeper understanding of why boys are the way they are, I of course turned to books. I read voraciously to find answers to my most burning questions – and to help uncover this particular mystery, I found ‘Raising A Son,’ by Don Elium and Jeanne Elium.
This is one of the best books I have read on parenting. It doesn’t judge or offer the silver bullet for raising ‘well-behaved’ children. It isn’t filled with ‘how-tos’. It eloquently explains the biological differences between males and females, and helps parents understand the fundamentals of what boys need to thrive. It talks about the emotional journey of a male, and how gentle but firm boundaries can be provided to guide him, keep him safe and help teach him how to harness his natural tension and release needs without stifling his soul. The book walks through the biological development of a boy and how and when testosterone impacts his behavior and personal desires. I found this fascinating and valuable information as a mom trying so hard to navigate these unfamiliar waters. The book also helped me identify why sometimes this journey seems to come so much more naturally to my husband than it does to me – because he knows what it is like to be a little boy; he inherently understands testosterone’s drive within a male body.
The book is also full of heart. It talks about how important it is for boys not to be pushed from the world of ‘mother’ too soon; not to be forced to be ‘big boys’ and not to ignore their emotional needs. It encourages mothers to love and nurture their son's emotional side and sensitivity with the confidence that when it is time for him to cross the bridge over to the world of ‘father’, he naturally will if a strong male figure is there to guide him. It also addresses the struggles of single mothers raising boys, and offers support and advice for how to manage this unique challenge.
I loved this book. It helped me let go of some of my fears about raising boys, and validated what we have been doing so far. It opened my eyes to a greater understanding of my husband and my sons, and brought forth both tears and laughter in the process. Mothering is an amazing adventure whether you are raising boys or girls. But, if you are surrounded by one boy or a handful of them, you will appreciate what this book has to offer.
Favorite Moment: Desert Beauty April 25, 2013 11:06
I love Arizona. I understand that it's beauty is an acquired taste, but I love it, and last Saturday reminded me why.
My friend and I go to this great gym with trainer led classes. The gym is opening a new location in my old town of Fountain Hills, and hosting their Saturday class at the new location. Now, I currently live in Midtown Phx, so for those of you not familiar with Arizona, it is about a 40 minute drive. After deciding Saturday class is worth the it, we get our selves up at 7am on our Saturday morning and hit the road. We pull up to the gym and notice NO cars around. There is also tape still on the gym windows. We were a week early.... Total bust.
After laughing off our inability to pay attention to details, we decided we couldn't come all this way for nothing. Fortunately I had been wanting to run the McDowell Mountain trails, conveniently located just outside Fountain Hills, and I just happen to have my running shoes in the back seat. Our mistake turned into such a perfect morning. The trails were empty, the wildflowers were blooming everywhere and it was miles of beautiful desert. If you want to try and disagree that Arizona is not beautiful, come running with me next weekend!
Happy Earth Day April 22, 2013 13:49
Today is Earth Day - and we should all celebrate this amazing planet we call home. Recently returning from an amazing Hawaiian vacation, I've really been reveling in the beauty and bounty we get to enjoy. I'm a firm believer that every day should be Earth Day, but today actually is and it's important to take this as an opportunity to help instill your love for our Earth in your children.
There are so many ways to celebrate Earth Day, from the tried and true tree planting, to growing a vegetable garden, to taking a bike ride or hike, and more. The spring issue of Green Child Magazine featured an article by me with 10 ideas for getting outdoors with your family to fall in love with nature. Check it out, and make sure to do at least one - or one of your own ideas - today.
Mom of the Month - Our Mom Tara Fairfield April 18, 2013 12:48
It seems that if two sisters run their own website, and have a blog that features a mom of the month, they better be sure to feature their own mom at some point. Alyssa and I agreed that for April, we’d choose our own mom for the monthly Mom of the Month column. So below you’ll find a short excerpt from each of us detailing just what we admire most about our own mom.
I owe my sense of determination and self worth to my mom. There were times during my childhood that were very trying emotionally, but through it all, my mom never failed to remind me that I was special and had a mark to make on the world. She instilled a deep sense of independence in me by allowing me to make mistakes and supporting my decisions, even if she disagreed with the path I was choosing.
She was a single mother for about half of my childhood (during which time she managed to raise three of us, worked full time and obtained her doctorate degree in psychology), and continually reminded me the importance of being independent. Of all the values my mom instilled in me – my faith in Christ, my belief that it’s ok to have my head in the clouds, my confidence, the importance of serving others – the most prominent was to ensure my own survival, independence and prosperity through education and work ethic.
She learned this lesson the hard way, and was determined to raise us kids to learn from her trials and tribulations. We did. My mom’s insistence on obtaining an education and following a sustainable career path fueled my personal ambitions and helped me keep my focus. When the time came for me to leave home and venture out to college, the transition was hard, but I was mentally ready to fend for myself. That level of autonomy is something I hope I can encourage in my own children when they are at the right age.
Our mom has just recently achieved yet another amazing feat. She wrote a novel, pitched it tirelessly and obtained a publisher for it. It launched, and is being bought and enjoyed by readers across the country – and internationally! I’m so proud of my mom, so happy for her that she has been able to chase this dream; and look to her as inspiration that really anything is possible with the right level of perseverance.
Ash and I love giving our mother a hard time, laughing at all of her funny quirks and dramatic moments. But, in all reality, she is one strong lady. As I am writing this, I am currently on a plane to go and meet our family in Hawaii. We are celebrating the release of her new book, Makai Queen, which is just another outcome of her determination and hard work.
I have a lot of gratitude and admiration for our mother. I was very young when our parents divorced, and as Ashley said, she raised the three of us kids by herself, worked full time, and completed her doctorates. She made a lot of sacrifices for us, as I like to say "manned up", and much of where I am and who I am today is owed to that. I am sure this is where my 'no excuse' mentality comes from.
One of the qualities of our mother that I am so thankful for is her unwavering support. I was never told I was not capable of doing something. Our mother always pushes us to go for our dreams and ensures us we are capable of achieving anything we put our minds to. She not only tells us this, she shows us this. I can always turn to her for support and encouragement.
She is amazing. We are three very lucky children.
For more about her book, visit http://www.makaiqueen.com/. It’s a fantastic read, and we’re not just saying that because we’re biased.
Spring is Springing! Our Favorite Warm Weather Pieces March 22, 2013 11:14
We’re so excited that our first shipments of spring collections have arrived. It’s like a shopping spree every time a new box arrives. Now that we’ve added new items from Kate Quinn Organics, KicKee Pants, Winter Water Factory and Under The Nile, it’s time to highlight our favorite pieces – sure to please your babes as we transition away from winter and toward summer!
Lions and airplanes and whales, oh my!
There are some adorable prints available from the collections this season. We particularly love the circus lion footie from KicKee Pants, Kate Quinn Organics’ airplane print infant gown and jumpsuit (with a matching hat of course!) and this little tank from Under The Nile.
When my boys were at the crawling and waddling stages, I loved dressing them in shorty rompers for warm weather lounging. KicKee Pants has a boy and girl options – of course the girl’s version has KicKee’s signature ruffles. Too cute not to include as a staple piece in your babe’s warm weather wardrobe.
Every girl needs a few light and airy dresses to play comfortably all spring and summer long. Pair them with leggings and a cardigan on cool spring days or some strappy sandals when the sun is hot!
Kate Quinn Organics hit a home run with this season’s pinstripes. I love these gender neutral pocket shorts. They are lightweight and ultra soft for a comfortable fit. They coordinate perfectly with the graphic helicopter tee for boys or the cap sleeve bow shirt for girls. My kids are sporting theirs this spring!
Tiered Ruffle Dress
Another pinstripe piece from Kate Quinn Organics. It’s the best seller from this collection and I can see why. Every baby girl should have this dress!
Both of my boys love their submarine tee from Winter Water Factory. It’s a great basic piece to layer with long sleeves underneath, or match with your boy’s favorite shorts. You can’t go wrong with this one!
Eco Chic Nurseries and Children’s rooms March 15, 2013 11:19
Nadia here, newest member of the Ash and Aly’s Babes team! You might be seeing more of my baby bump and me.
I am incredibly excited to welcome a baby girl into the world on June 4th (or whenever she decides to start the party). Like most expecting mothers, I am reading lots of books, buying itty bitty baby clothes, and creating an adorable nursery. This will be my first child and I am humbled by all I have yet to learn.
My brief time spent working Ashley and Alyssa has opened my eyes to an eco-friendly lifestyle. These girls are passionate about clean eating, eco-friendly products, organic clothing, and overall health and well-being. I am beginning to view the world through different eyes. While purchasing baby clothes, I pay attention the fabric the garment consists of. Is it safe?
Although there are countless nursery ideas and themes out there, (can you say Pinterest?) I have been paying special attention to the actual elements within the nurseries. I have been excited to observe that eco-friendly nurseries are actually on trend right now. Designers are incorporating elements of sustainable wood and bamboo. There are more and more options for organic-bedding (we carry some super cute ones in the “Sleep” section).
Some of the most important things to consider in creating a safe nursery include choosing furniture made of sustainable materials with non-toxic/low VOC paints, organic mattresses, second-hand items, organic bedding not treated with flame retardants, safe toys, handmade and/or locally produced décor and calming colors and patterns.Here are some of my favorite eco-chic baby and child rooms:
Earth Day! March 12, 2013 12:32
Earth Day is Monday, April 22, and I'm so excited to celebrate it with my boys and use it as yet another opportunity to teach them the importance of caring for this beautiful Creation we call home. Green Child Magazine featured an article I wrote about ways to celebrate Earth Day with your family in the Spring issue that released today.
Check out Green Child's latest issue, and my Earth Day ideas (including planting a garden, spring skiing, watching the sunrise and more)!
10 on 10: Favorite Parenting Quotes March 11, 2013 10:23
One of my favorite conversations with my nephew is to talk about just how wise his mother is, and how moms always know what is best. Sometimes, he’ll nod and agree with me, other times he’ll say “No Auntie Issa, I always know what it best because I am a super hero. ” Superpowers or not, he still has a wise mom. This month’s 10 on 10 is an attribute to some of the wisest parents, old and new. It is a list of our 10 favorite quotes on parenting:
“Tell me and I forget, teach
me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
― Benjamin Franklin
“Children are people,
and they should have to reach to learn about things, to understand things, just
as adults have to reach if they want to grow in mental stature. Life is
composed of lights and shadows, and we would be untruthful, insincere, and
saccharine if we tried to pretend there were no shadows. Most things are good,
and they are the strongest things; but there are evil things too, and you are
not doing a child a favor by trying to shield him from reality. The important
thing is to teach a child that good can always triumph over evil.”
― Walt Disney Company
“No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I'm not talking about the kids. Their behavior is always normal.”
― Bill Cosby
“Children have never
been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to
― James Baldwin
“I know it is hard for
you young mothers to believe that almost before you can turn around the
children will be gone and you will be alone with your husband. You had better
be sure you are developing the kind of love and friendship that will be
delightful and enduring. Let the children learn from your attitude that he is
important. Encourage him. Be kind. It is a rough world, and he, like everyone
else, is fighting to survive. Be cheerful. Don't be a whiner.”
― Marjorie Pay Hinckley, Small and Simple Things
“Before I got married I
had six theories about raising children; now, I have six children and no
― John Wilmot
“Parenting is really just a matter of tracking, of hoping your kids do not get so far ahead you can no longer see their next moves. ”
― Jodi Picoult, My Sister's Keeper
“No one is ever quite
ready; everyone is always caught off guard. Parenthood chooses you. And you
open your eyes, look at what you've got, say "Oh, my gosh," and recognize
that of all the balls there ever were, this is the one you should not drop.
It's not a question of choice.”
― Marisa de los Santos, Love Walked In
“No man should bring
children into the world who is unwilling to persevere to the end in their nature
“The best way to make
children good is to make them happy.”
― Oscar Wilde
Reality of Positive Parenting March 06, 2013 11:38
I'm a big advocate of using positive parenting approaches to discipline. It's not always easy, but I believe that in the long run, the effort is more than worth it. Check out my guest post on Nature Moms Blog talking about the day-to-day challenges of positive parenting. A big thank you to Tiffany at Nature Moms Blog for welcoming me as a guest blogger!
Midwife of the Month February 28, 2013 11:23
For February, we’ve decided to recognize a midwife in lieu of our regular mom of the month column. Between my bleeding heart and Alyssa’s newfound passion for maternal health issues, we’ve been so inspired by Geraldine Lee of Fremont Midwifery, and her recent volunteer work at the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital in Somaliland.
I was lucky enough to have Geraldine as my midwife for my second baby, and loved every minute of the time she spent with our family. Each check up felt like I was hanging out with a friend rather than going in for a medical visit. She was confident, respectful, kind, professional, direct, understanding and so much more. I was able to birth my baby on my own, in my home – and I feel grateful that Geraldine helped make that possible. All these qualities and more are what make her an amazing midwife and why her clients sing her praises.
When I learned about her five-week volunteer trip to Somaliland to provide care to pregnant/post-partum women and newborns, it made perfect sense. She obviously has a passion for midwifery and for providing excellent care to mothers and babies. From reading her blog posts and Facebook posts about the experience, I felt a renewed interest in and passion for increasing my own education about maternal health issues around the world.
We wanted to honor Geraldine to commend her for her service to the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital. Please read her blog for a candid look at real life struggles women and infants face in underdeveloped countries, as well as the challenges presented to their care providers. I’m sure that reading her stories will be eye opening and hopefully inspire to you to make a donation to Edna Adan Maternity Hospital.
Here's a photo of Geraldine's lovely baby Mohammed and his mother.
CELEBRITY SPOTLIGHT: Stars Love Kicky Pants! February 26, 2013 10:44
In an interview for Baby Couture magazine, mom Kourtney Kardashian sheds some light on her baby fashion preferences. We aren’t the least bit surprised that she loves comfy Kicky Pants pajamas for her son Mason!
On her favorite places to shop: “For clothing brands [for Mason] I like Ralph Lauren, H&M, Petit Bateau and Kicky Pants for PJ’s…”
We love Kicky Pants for the line’s bamboo knit fabric. Bamboo Viscose is an eco-friendly and breathable fabric for EVERY season. Kicky Pants clothing comes in the cutest fabrics and styles to fit every little one. Below are a few of the fashions available in our Threads and Sleep sections.
Product Review: Squooshi February 18, 2013 12:49
I haven’t gotten this excited about a new product since we dreamed up the SlumberSling. Squooshi is my new favorite thing for so many reasons – which is why we’re now carrying them on the site, and including them in one of the few product reviews we do here on our blog.
I’ve always been frustrated with finding healthy, affordable on-the-go snacks for my kids. String cheese, apples, fruit leather and homemade fruit/nut bars tend to be my standard choices, but none of those are typically filling enough to make a full snack for my big eaters. Reusable sandwich and snack bags started to make packing snacks a little easier, but I still feel like I’m always lugging around 10 pounds of food everywhere we go.
My kids love the food pouches and applesauce pouches from the grocery store. The problem is they are not cost effective, and every snack just creates more trash for the landfills. This is where Squooshi comes in and saves the day.
According to the Squooshi founder, over 2 billion single use food pouches end up in landfills every year. So, facing the same snack challenges most moms are familiar with, she was inspired to create an affordable, reusable version.
Some of Squooshi’s awesome features: BPA-free, Phthalate-free, PVC-free, and Lead-free, money saving (pre-filled pouches cost $1.50-$2.25 each), save energy (pre-packaged food travels over 1,200 miles before it reaches you), less mess and less for mom to tote around in her bag.
Here are a few snack ideas I’ve used in our Squooshi pouches.
· Strawberry-banana puree
· Green smoothies (which can be frozen in batches)
· Plain yogurt (SO much better than the sugary, artificial Go-Gurts)
· Mashed avocado
· Peanut butter, cooked oatmeal and banana mush
· Hummus to squeeze on crackers packed in a reusable snack bag
I think you’ll love Squooshi as much as I do! And please share your favorite Squooshi recipes with us on Facebook!
We’re All Working Moms – Stay at Home versus Work Out of the Home February 12, 2013 08:27
The pursuit of a work-life balance challenges most working people in today’s society. Mothers tend to feel the pinch more acutely, facing not only the challenge of juggling multiple responsibilities, duties and personal fulfillment, but also guilt.
The more I talk to my mommy friends, the more I realize that everyone, no matter their work scenario, thinks the other side has it a little easier. I recently interviewed a few friends, each with a different work-life scenario, to take the pulse on how everyday mom’s are really handling the juggle. Below are some of the questions and answers…
1) What is your current work/life situation, and is it what you want (i.e. if you are staying home, is that what you wanted/planned)?
Meghann: Working 2 days a week with random side projects. I don't think I planned for anything but I find I'm unhappy if I'm not working a little, but don't think I'd want to work any more. I'd say 2 full days a week is pretty perfect for me.
Bonnie: Currently working full-time. Was home for 6 months with the baby then returned to work. I thought this was what I wanted, but realized within a few weeks back that I was very unhappy and would much rather be at home. Unfortunately, I will need to work for another 6 months, but am planning on being home after that.
Emily: I am currently staying at home with my two little boys (ages: 7 months and 2 years old). When I was pregnant with my first, I thought there was a good chance I'd return to work. When my first son was about two months old, my boss got in touch with me to discuss my options for returning. The pit in my stomach at the thought of being away from my baby and having someone else take care of him, even on a very part-time schedule, told me I was meant to make raising him my full time job. I haven't regretted that decision for one moment.
My upbringing certainly influenced my decision as well. I was raised by an amazing single, working mom, so I fully recognize the challenges and guilt that working moms face. It wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I truly understood how hard that time in her life must have been and why she wished it could have been different. My mom is my biggest supporter of the decision I made to stay home.
2) If you go to work full time, how do you balance time with your child versus household duties/errands/etc.?
Bonnie: I have no idea! My baby has definitely become my priority, so certain things go by the wayside, but I couldn't do it without my wonderful husband! I recently hired a housekeeper that comes once a month to do the heavy cleaning. Errands are done on the weekends, usually with the baby in tow.
3) If you stay at home, how do you balance time with your child versus household duties/errands/etc.?
Meghann: On the days I'm at home, I have to be super organized to get everything done that needs done. I'd say I'm barely on top of regular household duties and far behind on anything above / beyond. We just moved and I'd love to put more time into our house, but I'm lucky to get the shopping done, dinner fixed and cleaned and the laundry kept, bills paid, etc.
Emily: The truth is I do not have very good balance, and it is something I am constantly chasing. My children are 100% my focus and priority when they are awake. Errands are typically done on the weekends when I can run in and out of places while my husband sits in the car with the [typically sleeping] kids. I have hired a cleaning company to scour our house top-to-bottom every other week, and that has relieved a tremendous burden.
My husband is an incredible, highly involved father, which also helps a great deal with the balancing act. He has had to travel a lot over the last two years, which has been more difficult than I anticipated, but when he is in town, he tries to get home around 6 pm and dives right into Dad mode: playing with the boys, helping with dinner (or even bringing dinner home) doing bath time and bedtime for our 2 year old, walking our dog, and so on. His involvement frees me up to clean up the kitchen, then nurse and put our baby down, fold laundry, wash diapers, pay bills, etc.
4) What is your child care situation, and are you happy with it?
Meghann: We have a babysitter who comes once a week for a date night, and Sienna's in daycare / school two days a week. I say "school" because it's a preschool when they get older. It's great, it’s like a village for little people and she's super stimulated and good with it.
Bonnie: Baby is at a corporate daycare. Pros are the regulations and standards associated with the company - knowing my child is safe, supervised, and staff is well qualified. Con is that the number of children in the room make it so my child's needs are met only to their best ability depending on what's going on with other babies.
Emily: I tend to be very hesitant to ever ask for help, specifically when it means enlisting someone to care for my babies when I wouldn’t be using that time to bring in any income. My husband feels strongly that having someone help during a few hours each week so I can run errands, catch up on personal matters, household duties, projects, (and take a breath!) would be an enormous help for all of us and would be a small price to pay. He may be right, but I'm ridiculously stubborn and hate to admit I may not be able to do it all.
5) All moms tend to agree that parenthood is challenging no matter what - do you think the grass is greener on the other side (i.e. if you are working, do you think staying home would be easier)?
Meghann: I love the balance, or the attempt to balance I should say. I wouldn't be happy with just one or the other. I need both sides to fill all of me, my individuality and my maternal / wifely needs.
Bonnie: I feel that I've experienced a little of both, staying home for 6 months then back at work full time. Although there were days when I was at home where I thought I would go a little crazy, I feel that working full-time is MUCH more difficult. Basic tasks such as getting a load of laundry done become so much harder when I am gone for nine hours a day. Also, the stress from work is difficult to cope with when I want to come home and have a happy attitude or the energy to play with my baby.
Emily: In many ways, I think working would be easier, but I also understand why working moms feel staying home would be easier. I’ve had an up-close view of both sides considering how I was raised, and let’s be honest: parenting is incredibly challenging no matter how you approach it. I feel true physical and emotional exhaustion, my days often blur into one another (particularly if I've been up much of the night with the baby), I often lack mental stimulation, I can't get a sick day. Motherhood is as much my job as it is my passion, and I have always believed in giving 110% to anything I take on.
Quite honestly, I envy working moms in many ways, but perhaps not ways that would naturally come to mind. More than anything I think they have maintained that sense of their identity by staying in the professional world. I believe working moms may also maintain a healthier balance and sense of self because they have some separation from their children, so that every waking moment of their life is not entirely defined by their role as mom. All that said, I know that for ME, staying home was absolutely the best choice and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
6) What has surprised you as the most challenging aspect of your work/life situation?
Meghann: San Jose is sprawling so I do a lot of driving; drop Sienna, drop Adrian, then to work (usually stopping at Starbucks), then again on the way home. I feel like my head is a manic mess most of the time because of the juggling act, but I think I strangely like it that way. I'm more forgetful than ever if that was possible.
Bonnie: How sad I really am dropping him off everyday and how much I really want to be at home.
Emily: Loneliness. In the early days of parenthood, the loneliness was what struck me the most. It never occurred to me that being home alone with my precious baby day after day could make me feel so utterly isolated from the outside world. I found ways to conquer that by getting out of the house for prescribed activities, meeting up with other moms, etc., but there are days the loneliness still creeps in, particularly when my husband is traveling.
7) What has surprised you as the most enjoyable aspect of your work/life situation?
Meghann: Days at work are the easiest days, I love how focused I can be and how much I can get done. Then I love that there are days I just get to be with Sienna, though I find that I'm still trying to cram the other "home duties" into those days so sometimes I'm not fully there with her, which sucks for us both. Sometimes I find I'm never fully present anywhere because I've got so much on my plate. Enjoyable is that I feel strong and like super woman when I'm in the grind, like I'm achieving everything all at once - which I'm sure I'm not but I'm happy in my illusions.
Emily: 1) The laughter that fills my day. My 2 year old makes me laugh out loud all day long. I want to freeze him in time because he is so ridiculously entertaining at this age. 2) The love I feel. I knew I would love my children and love being a mom as I’ve always been a nurturer, but I am more in love with my boys than I ever dreamt possible. My husband and I joke about how we want to lick them and eat them we love them so much –but it’s true; we just can’t get close enough. 3) The friendships I’ve made. I have been surprised by what strong friendships I’ve formed with fellow moms since the birth of my first son.
8) If you work, how do you deal with days when your child's needs prohibit you or your spouse from going to work? Is your employer flexible?
Meghann: It's happened once already this month, I was initially mad in the morning that the day wasn't working out as expected, but then happy that I got to spend the day at home tending to my baby and didn't have anything else planned. I still felt guilty towards my employer, but at the end of the day she's got to be more important.
Bonnie: My husband and I take turns staying home with a sick baby. It is difficult for me to leave work mid-day, so he will leave work for doctor’s appointments or when we have to pick up our baby from daycare early.
9) Do you have a consistent outlet for adult time outside of work/parenting? If so, what is it?
Meghann: Not really here. I get adult time at play dates, and a date night once a week with Adrian but that's about it for pure adult time. I don't have any great girlfriends here yet. I love when Sienna naps and I can squeeze a juicy conversation with a girlfriend from another state; that makes me feel free.
Bonnie: Not really. A good support system at work, but not many people who can "help" make things easier.
Emily: Not currently, but I'm beginning a personal training program (after MUCH resistance) which will force me to take time for myself. Otherwise, the answer is pretty much, NO…it’s all kids, all the time around here, and I fully recognize that may not exactly be a healthy balance, but it works for me right now.
In closing, Emily said: “I hope my presence will mean as much to my boys as it does to me. Their existence has put my whole life in beautiful perspective and I am overflowing with gratitude for being able to spend each day making their lives great. My children are without question my greatest accomplishment.”
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