Mom Things

I believe that one of the hardest things about being a mom to the 5 and under crowd is finding time to exercise. There are no lunch breaks to go to the gym, and the thought of getting up before my children do to go for a jog is just preposterous. However, I’ve found that walking is a pretty sustainable form of exercise, and I personally make it a point to get outside, rain or shine, and go for a walk 5 or 6 days a week. On two of those days, I have at least one, if not two children in tow which means I’m also pushing a stroller. I got a cool new phone for Christmas, and one of the first apps I downloaded was CardioTrainer. I LOVE the app because it keeps me walking at a much faster pace than when I was just walking with my regular old phone. Plus, it saves all my previous workouts so I can challenge myself to try to beat my previous times. One of the challenges of walking and pushing a stroller is that when I try to either find my phone buried somewhere in the folds of the stroller canopy, or I let go of the stroller to try to dig my phone out of my jacket pocket or my diaper bag, I inevitably end up slowing down. OK, maybe not a huge deal, but when you’re challenging yourself, you don’t want to lose a step! A few weeks ago, I was contacted to review a new product called the texthook. After using the texthook for a few weeks now, I wish that I could have had one since day one of my stroller pushing years! Click on Read more below for my review of the texthook and for details about how to win one for yourself.

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A Few of My Favorite Things: Wooden Marker Holder
So here we are, a little more than a month out from Christmas and the question, as always, is which gifts are the children still using/playing with and which have already worked their way to the bottom of the toy basket? Well, one thing that has not made its way far out of sight, and, in fact, has earned itself a place of honor in our kitchen is this wooden marker holder that my brother made for the kiddos:

The idea is to put the markers in upside down and then glue the caps in, making it easy even for the little guy to get all of the markers put away each time that he plays with them- which is a lot these days! As you can see, we have markers in big holes and then colored pencils in the small ones for now, but we could certainly change if Lilly decided she wanted to use the skinny markers. Now if you do not know my brother, or another remarkably handy person who could craft one of these for you, I am happy to tell you that you can find them on Etsy (like the one on the right) and in many early childhood classroom catalogs (the one on the left is from Discount School Supply). Sure, I was more excited about this gift than the kids were on Christmas day, but I still say: Yay for Christmas gifts that are cool and useful, too!

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A Few of My Favorite Things and a Giveaway! CARES Child Aviation Restraint System

When Nadia was about 10 months old we made the rookie mistake of trying to fly from Chicago to Seattle with her on our laps. I mean, why pay for a ticket if you don’t have to, right? After that nightmarish flight, we vowed to never again travel with a mobile child on a plane without paying for that extra seat. Flash forward to last week when we traveled from Seattle to Kansas City to visit our family. Nadia at 4, is perfectly capable of sitting still in the regular old airplane seat belt, but Isaac is a different story. There is no way to make the belt tight enough to keep him from squirming right out of it. This leaves us two options. One, we could drag a car seat through the airport and onto the plane. Or, we could use the CARES child aviation restraint system. Again, we opted for leaving the car seat behind. Why lug such an awkward and heavy thing around when we could just throw the lightweight CARES into our carry-on?

I originally reviewed the CARES in the fall of ’08 when Nadia was 2. We used it on multiple flights and found it to exceed our expectations. We hadn’t really had the opportunity to use it with Isaac until our most recent trip, and once again, CARES saved the day! On the three and a half hour trip to Kansas City, Isaac probably slept for 2+ hours in the seat next to his dad. He never once argued about wearing the CARES. And, it’s worth mentioning that the toddler in the seat behind us was also strapped into a CARES. There were no tears and no stressed out parents in our section of the plane!

My sleepy little traveler.

On the way back, I was on my own. I had packed very lightly for the trip and my only carry-on was my regular diaper bag. I simply attached the CARES to the stroller strap of my Babymel diaper bag, and it was right there when the kids and I got on the plane. After boarding, I quickly and painlessly got the CARES attached to Isaac’s seat and got both kids settled with a box of dried fruit to wait for the take-off which never ended up happening. Our plane had broken down which meant I had to repack everything and move both kids to a new plane. I wasn’t happy, but again, thank goodness for the CARES. It’s so easy to use that I just pulled it off the seat, stuffed it into its little bag and we were ready to start all over again on a new plane! Imagine how I frustrated and stressed I would have been if I’d had to drag two kids and a car seat off one plane and onto another! Once we were finally in the air, Isaac took another nap in the CARES. This time it wasn’t as long, but that was a function of the lack of sleep from the night before. Or maybe it was the smell of the warm Midwest Airlines chocolate chip cookies?

After several flights and two kids worth of use, I would like to reiterate that if you fly with your young children more than once a year, then an investment in the CARES is something you should really consider. It’s so much more portable than traveling with a car seat. It is comfortable, as evidenced by my sometimes sleeping, but always smiling Isaac, and most importantly, it’s a safe way for your child to travel on an airplane.

Vegging out with Alice in Wonderland.

You can buy the CARES at for $62 right now. Or, use this store locator to find a CARES retailer near you!

Just in time for all those of you who are thinking about your summer travel plans, we have a CARES child aviation restraint system to giveaway to one lucky reader! To enter our giveaway, leave us a comment about either your upcoming family vacation plans, or tell us a story about a nightmare trip you’ve had with your little one, or one of your best family travel tips, and you’ll be entered to win a CARES for your next trip! All entries must be received by 11:59 PST on Monday, February 8, 2010. Winner must be 18+ and a resident of the U.S. You can read the rest of our giveaway rules here. Good luck and Happy Travels!

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A Few of My Favorite Things: The Baby Name Wizard

Well, here we are again. Expecting a child in about 5 months (gasp!) and faced with the daunting task of picking a name for the little sucker. I take this task very, very seriously, as I think parents ought to- though I am not often reassured that this is the case when I read through the births page of the newspaper! Luckily, there is no shortage of advice or books on the matter! By far, my favorite book is “The Baby Name Wizard” by Laura Wattenburg.

Before I tell you about the book, I have to tell you that my husband accuses me of having all kinds of crazy rules about baby naming. For instance, it is unacceptable to name our next child Lucy (a perfectly lovely name) because a) we already have a Lilly and they are basically the same and b) everyone else in the house has a name that starts with M, so if we give out another L name it will seem like we are trying too hard to match. Obviously, this means that all M names are out as well as anything with an “x” and anything with double “ll”s. In addition, having a Lilly and a Max means that naming the next kid Dylan (another perfectly fine name) is out because it is not in the same genre. Okay, so maybe I have a few kooky rules, but I am just trying to look out for the little person and, of course, make sure that no one reads our Christmas cards and says, “huh”?

Back to the book– For each name listed, they give you the current popularity rating, a graph depicting the name’s popularity over time, nicknames, variants and my two favorite features: 1. the “style” meaning what lists or categories it falls into (choices includes things like “Nickname Proof”, “Solid Citizens” and “Guys and Dolls”) and 2. Sisters and Brothers, which is “names that match in style and feeling” and could be, well, sisters or brothers of the name in question. I really love this feature and have been known to spend hours combing through these lists of sisters and brothers looking for new suggestions and trying to come up with the perfect fit. The back of the book is filled with all kinds of lists, including all of the categories that I mentioned above. The Baby Name Wizard folks also put up a website which has a lot of great features and has quickly become my favorite baby-name website as well. Here you can track a names popularity over time, map a name, which is to locate is popularity by region of the country, or use Namepedia- a baby name encyclopedia full of information about names.

Of course, the merits of the book itself aside one of the reasons that I love “The Baby Name Wizard” is because it was given to me by a good friend when I was pregnant with my first child (almost 5 years ago!) and came filled with little sticky note suggestions and funny comments. Since then, the book has been passed around to friends several times- Each couple uses their own system for marking names and, while many of the pages are now falling out, the front cover boasts the names of 8 babies that the book has helped to name! If only I could come up with something brilliant for that 9th one…..

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Review and Giveaway! Wee Squeak Shoes

I’ve always been a little hesitant to buy squeaky toddler shoes in the past. My children make plenty of noise on their own, thank you very much. However, I’ve always adored many of the styles in the Wee Squeak shoe collection. When I found out that the squeakers are removable, there was no way I could pass up the opportunity to review their Hottest Pink Mary Janes! Click on read more below for my review and for details on how you can win a pair of super cute Wee Squeak shoes!

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Review: Scholastic Treasury of 100 Storybook Classics

It’s fair to say that we’re very fond of Scholastic’s Storybook DVD’s, and now they have the grandaddy of them all. A box set of 16 DVDs with 100 total stories! This is a fantastic collection that will surely provide hours of entertainment to my gals for years to come.

The 16 feature stories are below:
– Where the Wild Things Are
– Harold and the Purple Crayon
– Curious George Rides a Bike
– Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
– Chicka Chicka 123
– How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?
– Chrysanthemum
– Harry the Dirty Dog
– Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type
– The Ezra Jack Keats Collection
– Pete’s a Pizza
– Make Way for Ducklings
– Diary of a Spider
– Rapunzel
– Strega Nona
– I Stink
Click on “Read More” for more reasons why we love these.

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Review and Giveaway! Musicolor by Delta Creative
Today we have a giveaway for a way cool toy, unlike anything you’ve seen before: Musicolor by Delta Creative. Musicolor is a one of a kind toy that combines a form of color-by-number with music in the form of this unique little old-timey record player device that translates color into musical notes! Confused? Check out the picture below and it will make more sense!

Your child can choose to either color one of the pre-printed sheets with the corresponding color, or create one of their own designs on a blank form. Then, they simply place the disk onto the turn table, and the little record player arm reads the colors and translates the color into a musical note. It’s super cool technology and unlike any other toy we have in our house. Click on Read more for the rest of my review.