Thursday, April 29, 2010

I'm shipping off to Bloggy Bootcamp!

I'm leaving for Phoenix today and I'm so excited. I'll be spending the rest of the week with friends and then I'm shipping off to Bloggy Bootcamp! This is my first blog-focused conference since I began my blogging journey 6 months ago. I thought I knew a lot about social media marketing from my many, many years as a professional in marketing communications, but I never thought that once I left the corporate world and became a full-time mom and part-time blogger, I would learn so much more. I have attained so much information over the past 6 months just by being in the trenches, that I'm sure I will come away an even bigger social media maven after hearing from the amazing line-up of blog goddesses the SITS Girls have on deck.

Blogging has truly opened up a new way to connect and communicate ideas, stories and information. I cannot wait to meet and mingle with some of the fabulous women I have gotten to know (online) over the past 6 months.

So, I'll be here next week to report back all my newfound secrets of the blogosphere.

Until then, I'll see you online - 140 characters at a time.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Teaching patience and the everlasting gobstopper

It's an interesting situation when you find yourself trying to teach your little one complex thought processes such as patience or the concept of "gone".

Before becoming a mom, I never really thought about the fact that I would be faced with teaching my little guy such intangible things. Sure, I knew I would have to teach him to share, how to count and how not to hold on to the dog's tail like a rodeo clown. But instilling in him an important life-skill like patience? Or that blueberries aren't like an everlasting gobstopper? That, contrary to his current thought process, there isn't a never-ending supply in the refrigerator, no matter how much he points to the door?

I found myself face-to-face with the developmental dilemma this weekend as the K man and I were planting the last bunch of strawberry plants.

As a child, I always loved picking blackberries and strawberries out of my grandmother's garden, so I conjured up the brilliant idea that maybe the K man would have fun planting strawberries this year. I imagined how he would get a kick out of spying that bright red berry and plucking it from the plant and popping it into his mouth. He would see where strawberries came from and quite possibly understand that they don't just miraculously appear in the refrigerator. Who was I kidding? He's 1.5 years old.

These two concepts intersected when, as I had hoped, he did get excited when he spied the bright red "ball", as he called it, and  quickly plucked it off and popped it into his mouth. The problem was, he wanted more.

What I failed to understand is, this 2 foot-tall little rock star is a strawberry fiend and couldn't possibly comprehend the concept of why he would have to "wait" for the green berry to turn red. What was wrong with the green berries? Why weren't there more of the red ones? It was everything I could to do to stop him from pulling every immature little green fruit off the plant without the subsequent meltdown that I just knew was bubbling under that quivering lip. Maybe the homegrown fruit will have to wait until later.

Teaching patience to a toddler who's vocabulary consists of about 10 words that range from "ball" to "Uh-o", can be somewhat of a challenge. Often it's hard for him to express himself.  And at 1.5 he has not yet developed the coping skills to be able to "wait".  I know its frustrating to him, especially when the little guy has finished up his crackers, blueberries, strawberries (insert toddler treat here) and starts to point to where these little treats "live" and says; "more". When there isn't any more, it's a rough go and often requires the fine art of misdirection.

I have read that I am supposed to "model patience" for him since he is always learning from me. I should be aware of the words and body language I use when I have to wait for something. For example, instead of acting anxious when stuck in traffic, I should put in a relaxing CD. Hmmm...so I guess teaching him to yell at the cars in front of us to "get out of mommy's way" is the wrong thing to do. Check.

Teaching him this important life-skill will take some time and absolutely some patience on my part. But I realize that it will make for a happier, less stressed-out kid later. And its truly introspective when you think about how you handle these types of situations. Motherhood is an incredible journey. One that often takes you down roads you never thought you would travel.  I just love to watch him bloom everyday into his own little being and it has truly been a gift to be able to share all these little challenges with him.


I found a few tips on teaching patience. Thought I would share:

  • Model patience. Your child is always learning from you, so be aware of the words and body language you use when you have to wait for something. Instead of acting anxious when you're stuck in traffic, put in a relaxing CD, for example.
  • Use reflective listening. Young children don't have to words to express what they're feeling, but you can help verbalize those emotions. In the checkout line, you might say, "I know it's hard to wait. This is taking a long time, but you're doing a great job waiting." If you acknowledge your child's struggle, he'll naturally try harder.
  • Keep expectations reasonable. Asking your preschooler to wait an hour for food is just too long. At a restaurant, ask your server to bring bread or crackers as soon as you sit down, and have a book or quiet game handy to keep your child occupied.
  • Help her develop strategies for waiting. When you must wait, help your child figure out what she can do to pass the time. Say, "What can we do while we're waiting? Should we sing songs or read a book?"
  • Use a timer to help your child visualize the wait. If he is begging for a story, but you need time to finish what you're doing, set an egg timer for 5 minutes and tell him that when the bell rings, you'll read the book.
  • Consider preschool. One of the real values of having your child in a program before kindergarten is that she learns waiting and self-control — two foundations of school readiness. If your child hasn't learned these skills by the time she starts school, her impatience may draw a negative response from the teacher and other students.



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Monday, April 26, 2010

Featured Babe of the week- Tiny Prints Rocks

Yeah! I'm such a proud mama. The K man is one of the featured babies on the Tiny Prints blog this week!

If you haven't shopped Tiny Prints, you really should. As I had mentioned before - they just simply rock and are my go-to spot for all my invitations,  announcements, christmas cards and now greeting cards!

Tiny Prints just launched their new line of personalized printed greeting cards just in time for Mother's Day! (which by the way is fast approaching - May 9th!). The new line of greeting cards includes a card for almost every occasion such as birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations, holidays and more.

I loved Tiny Prints for how much I could customize all my invitations and Christmas cards and now I love them even more with this new line of greeting cards! You can choose the design and then personalize your card to reflect exactly what you want to say. Best of all - Tiny Prints now takes one more thing off your plate – remembering all those special occasions! When you sign up, you can create, schedule and even send the card directly to the recipients home – all online.

You have a choice of memberships that let you pay per greeting card or sign up for a membership plan to enjoy special pricing on every card you send, starting as low as $1.99 each - which is no more expensive than a store bought card - but much more personal.

Give it a whirl – I promise you will love Tiny Prints! And right now you can get a FREE 3 card trial. Whoo hoo!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pampers Dry Max Causing Rashes And Burns - Moms Speak Up

I had a post all ready to go today that explored teaching toddlers patience and some incredibly fabulous reference to the everlasting gobstopper, but then I came across this post from Parent Dish: "Pampers Dry Max Causing Rashes And Burns, Parents Allege" and I just couldn't keep my blogging "mouth" closed one-second more.

Bells went off for me today when I combed through the hundreds of posts that described exactly what I had been going through with the K man. We had just ran out of his old diapers and this was the first week with the new Pampers Cruisers with Dry Max.  My little kiddo's poor butt was as red as a beet and he cried hysterically when I wiped him. At first, I thought he just had a really bad bout of diaper rash, but then, it just wasn't getting any better with the usual treatment and became worse. And then I saw this post and it occurred to me that this must be the culprit.

Normally, I would just switch back or change brands, but after researching more about this new product (which by the way, is now your only choice - you cannot elect to not have the Dry Max "technology" or not. There is no "switching back"), I found myself getting furious.

As I continued to read more and more of these mother's concerns and how P&G has reacted, I cannot believe for one-second that a company would all-out discount what over 1,500 mothers are telling them.  As a mom, I am dumb-founded that Pampers would post an FAQ that would state such things as: "They [parents] often associate any changes they experience with their babies to changes in the product". Are we clueless? Do we not know the difference between a severe reaction/irritation and a "change" in our babies? This statement is so incredibly condescending, its almost comical.

And then to top it off with: "...when we do introduce a new product, because of the emotional attachment parents have for our products, we'll get an uptick in calls" Does P&G not know that emotional attachment is why people buy their products in the first place? Even better - do they know who their target audience is? Hello? It's mothers. And you won't find a bigger group of "emotionally connected" buyers than that.

When I saw these statements on the Pampers FAQ, I was outraged. Actaully, I was insulted. That we as moms, could have our safety concerns dismissed as "emotional" attachment is not only insulting, in my opinion, it's almost irresponsible.

As a marketer, I am shocked that a company would not listen to the concerns of their consumers. As a mom, I am overwhelmed that a company would possibly put my child at risk.

So now, we are switching to Seventh Generation diapers. I don't know why we were not using them in the first place. We try to eat organically, use the least amount of chemicals in our cleaning products and other household items, look for eco-conscious toys, so why would I choose anything but an "eco-friendly" diaper? I'll tell you why - emotional attachment . They were the diapers we were given when we left the hospital and we just never changed.

I hope that enough moms speak up so that P&G will finally listen to their concerns. I cannot stand behind a company that does not listen to their consumers when it comes to the health and safety of their children.

Could you imagine if all companies waited until over 1,500 children were affected negatively by a product to make a change? I can't even think about it.

If you would like more information or have been affected, you can check out this group on Facebook








Thursday, April 22, 2010

Artsy & Tasty Treats for Mother's Day - ticings review & giveaway

****This giveaway is now closed****

I ran across this amazing product while searching for party ideas for the K man's 2nd birthday, which is in 6 months! I know - what can I say, I'm a planner. Really, I'm totally indisicive so I need to give myself plenty of time to figure things out, but that's a topic for an entirely different post!

This amazing company is called ticings. They create decorative edible icing sheets that you can pop right onto cupcakes, layer cakes or even brownies. It’s as simple as peel and press and voila! You have a completely professional looking baked good created in your own home.

ticings has a fantastic set of designs that you can use for almost every occasion from weddings (yes weddings!) to birthday parties. You can even send ticings an image and they can create a custom edible icing sheet for you. Hello? Is this not amazing or what??

I tried two sizes. The mini circles in "Red Bouquet" and the standard circles in "Two Birds". I did something a little different with mine, as I used the mini circles on a standard size cupcake. I liked the way the image looked with all the icing around it. I also piled my icing high on the cupcake and then flattened that out verses cutting the top off of the cupcake to make it flat. You truly do have to make the icing as flat as possible before you apply the ticings to your cupcakes, otherwise you get a lumpy edge and it's just not as nice. I did that..,so, I had to eat that one...or two.


Just in case you are wondering, there is no taste or texture to the ticings once they are on the cupcake. All you taste is the frosting. I think these came out pretty good - I mean, I'm no Martha Stewart, but I have to say these look pretty sweet!

So, I thought these would be a great idea for Mother's Day, and you know what? The fabulous people at ticings agreed with me and decided to let one lucky winner try them out for free! But hurry - this giveaway is only open until April 30th so you can get your ticings in time to bake mom some yummy and beautiful deserts!



Here's how you win a sheet of Mother's Day themed ticings ("Two Birds" shown here):

WE HAVE A WINNER! LUCKY NUMBER 7 - COURTNEY - AN EMAIL HAS BEEN SENT



EASY PEASY ENTRY: To make this a simple as possible all you have to do is visit ticings here, then come back and let me know what your favorite design is. Thats it! If you want additional chances to win, you can do any of the optional entries. This is a required entry and must be done before the extra entries will count.

OPTIONAL ENTRIES: You can do any combination of the following things for an extra entry. Make sure to leave a separate comment for each thing you do!

  • Become a fan of ticings on Facebook (be sure to leave me a comment with your user name) - 1 entry
  • Follow ticings on Twitter (be sure to leave me a comment with your user name) - 1 entry 
  • Follow Tales from the Sippy Cup on Twitter - 1 entry 
  • Follow Tales from the Sippy Cup via Google/Friend Connect (find on my sidebar) - 1 entry 
  • Tweet about the giveaway and leave me a comment to tell me that you tweeted – 1 entry daily
  • Vote for Tales from the sippy cup on Top Mommy Blogs (simply click on the button on the sidebar) and make sure you leave me a comment to tell me that you voted! – 1 entry
  • Blog about this giveaway and include the URL – 5 entries

Of course there are rules: Giveaway will close at 11:59 p.m. PST on Friday, April 30th, 2010! Any entries after this time will be deleted.- Contest open to U.S. residents only. The winner will be chosen by using random.org. Winner must have valid email address (please leave a valid email in the comments if your Blogger profile is private) will have 72 hours to respond to notification with shipping info. If no response, another winner will be chosen.

Good luck!!

Disclosure:  I was not compensated in any way for this review.  I was provided with product from ticings for my review. All of the opinions expressed in this review are my own and were not influenced by the providing company in any way.  If you have any questions about this review, please contact me via email at talesfromthesippycup (at) Yahoo (dot) com

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Celebrate Earth Day with a Healthy Home - Seventh Generation Review & Giveaway

***This giveaway is now closed***


It's officially spring! And you know what always follows spring? Okay, yes summer does follow spring, but I'm talking about spring cleaning!  And now that Earth Day and spring have officially arrived, many of us are in the eco-conscious/cleaning mode.  But, while spring cleaning is a great excuse to downsize, de-clutter and clean up, some of the very products we use to clean our homes could be harmful to our families and the environment. Especially if you have a crawler or a toddler at home.


A few years ago, when I was pregnant with the K man, I became increasingly concerned about the cleaning products I was using on a daily basis. I discovered they were actually leaving more toxins behind than those they were supposed to be cleaning. So, that meant that just setting food down on a recently cleaned counter, could lead to the ingestion of the chemical residue left behind. Blah! Children can come in contact with these toxic chemical residues, by crawling, lying and sitting on a freshly cleaned floor. And if your kiddo is anything like mine, his fingers are constantly in his mouth, which increases their risk of exposure.

Just thinking about the possibility of my newborn kiddo coming in contact with all these chemicals that could cause serious and adverse impacts to his health sent me on a search for alternatives. I wanted to provide my impending bundle of joy with a safer and healthier environment. After trying many of the "natural" and "green" products out there, I found that they were nicely scented - but that's about all they did - leave a nice scent. My house keeper (don't get any ideas, she only comes once a month if I'm lucky!) even told me that she liked to use one particular product just to spray on the counter after she cleaned it [with something else] because it smelled good. Then I discovered Seventh Generation and was thrilled to discover, these products actually clean. I have been using their products for over 2 years now.

The Free & Clear line of products is great because my son has a fragrance allergy. I use everything from the Free & Clear dish soap to the laundry detergent. There is no "perfumey"smell left behind on the plastic bottles or dishes that I had found with other brands. And now I don't have to wash his clothes in separate laundry detergent. The products that are scented are created from only pure and whole plant and flower essences and don't leave behind a heavy scent.

The awesome people at Seventh Generation sent me some of their products for review which included their new "Botanical Disinfectants". These cleaning products are amazing. They smell like you just walked through an herb garden and brushed against a rosemary bush. Seriously fantastic.

I love Seventh Generation for their great product line, but I also feel really good about using products from a company that not only is committed to improving the environment, but also committed to helping the people who share the environment with us. So, you know I was thrilled when Seventh Generation said they were going to provide me with a "Healthy Home Starter Kit"for one of my lucky (fabulous) readers!

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to start with cleaning out the toxic substances and chemicals found in everyday cleaning supplies? Here is what is included in the kit:



Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner
Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner
Disinfecting Wipes - 35 ct.
All-Purpose Cleaner - Free & Clear
Natural Glass & Surface Cleaner - Free & Clear
Shower Cleaner - GM&L
Toilet Cleaner  - EC&F
Tub & Tile Cleaner  - EC&F
Natural Paper Towels
Seventh Generation Recycled Bag
Baby Wipes Sample Pack
Coupons for more Seventh Generation Products

Congratulations to "Thecountryblossom" #62. An email has been sent. Thank you to everyone who participated in the drawing! 

Can you believe you get all that? Here's how you win it:

MANDATORY ENTRY: To make this a simple as possible all you have to do is visit Seventh Generation here, then come back and let me know one thing you learned about the company. This is the ONE and only required entry. IF you want extra chances, you can do ANY of the optional entries.

Optional Entries: You can do any combination of the following things for an extra entry. Make sure to leave a separate comment for each thing you do!

  • Become a fan of Seventh Generation on Facebook (be sure to leave me a comment with your user name) - 1 entry
  • Follow Seventh Generation on Twitter (be sure to leave me a comment with your user name) - 1 entry 
  • Join the "Million Baby Crawl" and help support the reform of outdated chemical control policies (be sure to leave me a comment with your crawler's name) - 1 entry 
  • Follow Tales from the Sippy Cup on Twitter - 1 entry 
  • Follow Tales from the Sippy Cup via Google/Friend Connect (find on my sidebar) - 1 entry 
  • Tweet about the giveaway and leave me a comment to tell me that you tweeted – 1 entry daily
  • Vote for Tales from the sippy cup on Top Mommy Blogs (simply click on the button on the sidebar) and make sure you leave me a comment to tell me that you voted! – 1 entry
  • Blog about this giveaway and include the URL – 5 entries

Of course there are rules: Giveaway will close at 11:59 p.m. PST on Friday, May 7, 2010! Any entries after this time will be deleted.- Contest open to U.S. residents only. The winner will be chosen by using random.org. Winner must have valid email address (please leave a valid email in the comments if your Blogger profile is private) will have 72 hours to respond to notification with shipping info. If no response, another winner will be chosen.

Good luck!!

Disclosure:  I was not compensated in any way for this review.  I was provided with product from Seventh Generation for my review. All of the opinions expressed in this review are my own and were not influenced by the providing company in any way.  If you have any questions about this review, please contact me via email at talesfromthesippycup (at) Yahoo (dot) com


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Monday, April 19, 2010

Pushing the boundaries of toddler cuisine

My son ate spinach tonight. Yeah that's right. He ate it and he loved it. Okay, he didn't actually know he was eating it. I totally pulled a fast one on him. But he still ate it!  Thanks to those fantastic people over at parenting.com who slave for hours over a hot stove to come up with all these tasty recipes, I was able to get the green leafy veggie into the kiddo without him even knowing it.

So, last week a little note popped up in my email from my friends over at parenting.com (I don't actually know anyone over at parenting.com, but they do send me emails all the time, so I'm thinking they want to be friends right?). The subject of the email was "65 Funny Food Recipes for Kids".  65! There just had to be at least 1 out of the 65 that the picky little kiddo would eat. And they were "funny". What kiddo doesn't love funny?

Then I noticed a link that said; "Two-Way Dinners - Make it for kids, then tweak it for adults -- and everybody's happy!" - Just what I needed a way to make everyone happy.

The recipe that caught my eye was the Chicken Nuggets/ Chicken Croquettes.  Since the adult version actually sounded pretty good with the cheese and the spinach, I decided not to do the two different versions and push the boundaries of toddler cuisine.  I was also running a tad bit behind schedule and didn't have the time to bake them, so I actually browned them up in a pan with a little olive oil.





Not only did the little man eat the green-colored chicken hunks, he devoured them! And who wouldn't love a crispy, cheesy chicken nugget...that just happened to have a little spinach in it?

Next time I might try them a little differently with a feta cheese instead of the cheddar and a sweet cranberry sauce drizzle. Yum.

Thanks again to my BFF's at parenting.com for getting my veggie-free toddler to eat spinach.

He looks mad. Maybe he figured out I tricked him! HA!




Outdoor

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The "idiot box" and other memories of my grandmother

I started thinking the other day, as I watched my son's face light up with delight at the mere sight of his grandpa, we are so very lucky to have my husband's parents so close to us. How lucky my son is to be able to spend so much time with his grandparents. To build such a bond and such great memories. And if you read my previous post, you know how much he loves his grandpa.

And then I started thinking about my own childhood and how, so much of it was spent with my own grandparents. Especially my grandmother. Almost every childhood memory I have revolves around my grandmother.

My grandmother with me and my cousin at 1 month old

I spent every summer with them. We would set out in this big blue camper for the beach and camp for a week. Memories of sunburns, warm nights and sitting on the beach watching the sun disappear into the horizon are some of my favorites. Making friends with the local kids. Running around the camp site, making smores and not having a care in the world. I loved those trips to the beach.

We played games. Yahtzee, Gin Rummy, Scrabble, Go Fish, you name it, my grandmother would play it. I remember feeling so grown up playing Gin Rummy with her because it was a "real" card game. No matter where we were, she always had a deck of cards with her to pass the time when things got dull.

When I would spend the night, I remember thinking how boring it was lying on the floor, staring at the "idiot box", as my grandmother called it, while 20/20, or 60 Minutes chattered on. Funny how later in life you end up watching the same shows you thought were so boring as a kid. I could hardly wait for Jeopardy to come on because, even though I never knew the answers, (I must have been 8 or 9 at the time) it was at least fun to listen to my grandparents chatter back at the television.

My grandmother actually saved my life. While eating dinner one night, I had gotten a big hunk of steak stuck in my throat and couldn't breath. I remember my grandmother practically leaping over the table, yanking me out of my chair and squeezing me over and over again until that persistent hunk of steak finally popped out. I could breath again.

My grandmother was crafty. I remember making Easter "scenes" out of old ham cans. We would spray paint the can a shiny spring color and fill the inside with grass, trees, rocks and little ceramic bunnies. Pictures from magazines pasted on the inside of the can served as the backdrop to the scene. They were truly spectacular little vignettes.

My grandmother had a candy jar. It was a tall, beautifully carved crystal candy jar with a lid that had notches all around it like a jack o' lantern top. You had to turn it just right for the lid to fit. It sat on a table in the entry way and it was always filled with Dum Dums. Every time you walked out the door, you took a little sweetness with you. It was a ritual.

My grandmother and my dad and uncle circa 1946

My grandmother was stylish. She always wore a dress and she always wore a braided Navajo silver cuff.  She wore it everyday. I never saw her without it. And actually, when I think about my grandmother, that's the one thing I remember distinctly. Maybe from the countless hours sitting in her lap staring at it, running my finger over every groove and line. I'm not sure.  I later found out that iconic silver Navajo cuff was in reality, her engagement "ring".  I had been thinking about having one made just like it.

There are so many memories. I could write for hours. This June will be the 4th anniversary of my grandmother's passing. And I never got to say goodbye.

I don't know what happens in those teenage years when you start to think you know everything and you don't need your grandparents or any parents for that matter. But I stopped visiting her on a regular basis. And then months turned into years and the years turned into many. And then life just sweeps you up and before you know it, you are so far down the road, its hard to make it back. It's something that I will always regret.

I spoke to her on the phone a few times prior to her passing, but age started to fatigue her mind and she never really remembered who I was. Selfishly, I decided not to see her. I wanted to hold on the memory of who she was when I was 13–carving pumpkins and catching fire flies.

And that's just what I have. Memories. Strangely enough, with all the time that I had spent with them, I have very few pictures of my grandparents. Something that I have now become very cognizant of when it comes to my son. Which really was the reason I decided to write this post. Realizing how lucky I was to share those times and how truly precious the time with grandparents really is. They are the ones that make you pancakes for dinner. Let you eat just one more cookie if you want it and jump on the bed and have pillow fights, just because its fun.

A few months a go I got an unexpected phone call from my aunt. She was in town and wanted to stop by. I hadn't seen her in years and was excited to see her. When she walked through the door she handed me something I thought I would never see again. It was my grandmothers silver cuff. The one she wore everyday of her life. Her engagement ring.

This year, I won't be getting a birthday card from her. I won't tear open the envelope and see the 5 dollar bill stuffed inside with the inscription "Have an ice cream on us!" But everyday as I put on that silver cuff, I'll know that I always have her with me.



Outdoor

Monday, April 12, 2010

Get Dad "stuffed" this Father's Day!

I was on my usual Monday blog crawl, trying to catch up on some over due comment luv, when I ran across this awesome idea from onecoolpick.com (which BTW is starting to become one of my favorite blogs to hang out at - the blog is authored by mom and very talented Creative Design Professional Melanie Lantin - she has an awesome eye for the "cool" - you should check her out).

When I saw this, I had an "ah ha!" moment realizing that Father's day is right around the corner and how cool would it be to have dad stuffed and immortalized as a kinda-freaky mini-me? Yeah, I know! Super cool right? Well, the people over at www.iamastuffedanimal.com can do just that for you.  Each one is custom designed and handmade so they take approximately 4-6 weeks to make... time is ticking to make that Father's Day deadline. I'm totally stuffing the hubster this year...I may just get the whole fam stuffed!!



Think having a little stuffed "dad" lying around is just a tad on the freakish side? Why not have the kiddos drawing turned into a stuffed animal?  The peeps over at "Stuff Your Doodle" can do just that. They can make monsters, animals, aliens and even portraits of friends and family. It's unique. It's personal. And yeah, it's pretty cool! Check them out at www.stuffyourdoodles.com





Okay...so having things stuffed not your thing? Well, there are a few really fun sites out there that let you create a special gift just for dad. One of my favorites is www.zazzle.com. You can create custom T-shirts, mugs, hats, the always popular tie, and even skateboard decks! Seriously.




  



Have you spotted anything cool for this year's father's day gift? Let me know!! I'm always looking for something new and different.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The next toddler extravaganza

The Kiddo's 2nd birthday is 6 months away, and I am already thinking about themes, ideas and party favors for the next toddler extravaganza. I've never been one to opt for pre-packaged themes. Not even for Christmas cards or party invitiations. We have always made our own or found some way to manipulate another design to suite our needs. I have a passion for design, creativity and I love things that are original, interesting and memorable.

Last year, the little man's theme was "One". Yeah, because he was turning one. We created the invitations online with Tiny Prints. I love Tiny Prints because they always an amazing selection of styles and the ability to customize almost everything. The trick here if you are looking for something specific is to look in all the categories. Don't just stick to the 'Invitation' section". Our invite actually turned out to be a birth announcement that we were able to customize to exactly what we wanted.


       

For party favors we had T-shirts made for all the kids featuring a "One" logo with green and black circles, which ultimately turned out to be the central icon for the party. We filled these cute gable boxes with the shirts and printed stickers with each kiddo's name on the box.

Being the inspiring Martha Stewart that I am, I decided to take on the baking of the cake, as well as learning how to roll out, color, cut and apply fondant to a cake. I actually made 3 cakes in the weeks before his birthday! My friends and neighbors were loving the "experimental" deserts. I actually made 50 plus cupcakes to match as well all with fondant circles on the top.


For birthday number 2, I am starting early and in my search for fun and fabulous items, I have stumbeled across some amazing party supplies and ideas that I wish I would have known about last year when I was planning the 1st birthday. Just browsing through these sites made me want to come up with a reason to party, so I definitely wanted to share.

I also didn't want to detract from their awesomeness, so I created a post dedicated solely to these amazing party supplies and ideas. Please check out "Fabulous Party Ideas" for these little gems.








Fabulous Party Ideas

As you may know from my previous post, the Kiddo's 2nd birthday is 6 months away, and I am already thinking about themes, ideas and party favors for the next toddler extravaganza. In my search for ideas and supplies, I have come across some truly amazing companies that offer an alternative to the standard pre-packaged party themes. While there is nothing wrong with a princess, pirate or even a character party theme–those are some of the best!– it's always nice to add your own personal touches to make your event more original, interesting and memorable.  I only wish I had known about some of these sites when I was planning the first one!

Starting out my list of amazing sites is Modern Kiddo. The images you'll find here are so amazing. When I come across images like these featured below, it just makes me wish I had a little girl just to throw this party! I just Love, Love, Love, this Raggedy Ann and Andy themed party idea. The colors are fresh, modern and fun.  Make sure to check out the site for more images. They are spectacular! Their latest featured party theme, Circus, is jaw dropping as well. If you haven't been over to Modern Kiddo, it's a "must see".


        

If you love all things cupcake like I do (following Sprinkles on Twitter is an issue! Makes me want to bake everyday!) then you are going to love these amazing cupcake wrappers! At Snow & Graham you can download your very own template to make your own wrappers out of wrapping paper or anything else you desire. I think these are soo pretty and soo ready for spring!

 


How I never happened across Paper & Cake before I will never know! Paper & Cake is a creative collaboration between Kira Franz-Knight and Abigail Barnes.  They offer uniquely-designed, themed-party collections that can be downloaded and printed out at home! Can you believe it?  Each collection includes items from the following groups: stationery, party decorations, tablescape decorations, and favors. Looking through their Etsy shop makes me want to come up with any old reason the throw a party. Especially the retro Hawaiian party collection. Seriously amazing.

   


Tiny Prints is one of my all time favorite places to get unique stationery, photo cards, invitations and announcements.  I love them because they always have an amazing selection of styles and the ability to customize almost everything. The trick here if you are looking for something specific is to look in all the categories and not just stick to the 'Invitation' section. Our party invites actually turned out to be a birth announcement!





The Creative Party Place is a party planners dream come true!! The Creative Place enables people to share the ideas they have come up with for everyone to see. You can upload pictures of your event or browse through the many fabulous images of other parties. If you cannot find inspiration here, I just don't know what to tell you!

 


Oh and then there is The Celebration Shoppe! The Celebration Shoppe was born from the frustrations of a very busy new mom trying to plan a first birthday party that would be fun for her son, great in pictures and still stylish enough to share with her friends. Not pleased with the quality she found at online party stores or with schlepping all over town in search of coordinating decor and custom invitations, founder and creative director Kim M. Byers, decided to launch a stylish online party shoppe full of birthday, girlfriend gathering and holiday fun that could be delivered right to your door in a matter of days. You have the check it out! Seriously fantastic.


What celebration would be complete without The Party Dress! Created by Kelly Lyden, The Party Dress is a website dedicated to all things entertaining.  It provides daily eye candy and entertaining tips to encourage readers to get creative!  The Party Dress focuses on everyday ideas, children’s birthday parties, theme parties and special events such as bridal and baby showers, and weddings.  It provides countless ideas for planning a modern party, and showcases the newest products in the market. And just check out these fantastic Easter Brunch Ideas! I actually did the center piece with the Peeps and the jelly beans for this year's Easter dinner table. Fabulous!!



I stumbled upon this blog and thought the creativity and style that Chris Nease puts into every celebration she touches was truly spectacular.  Chris started Celebrations At Home with the idea of making the smaller celebrations in ones life, stylish and memorable.  Take a look at her site, you'll see she is succeeding in the stylish department for sure!! 






Ran across this amazing idea from onecoolpick.com.  The company is called ticings™. They create decorative edible icing sheets that quickly add modern design features to cakes, cookies, brownies and cupcakes. it’s as simple as peel and press! ticings dot-free, photographic quality art brings instant originality to your baked products, and the flavor of your frosting is the only thing you’ll taste. Hello? Is this not amazing or what?? Go check them out at: http://ticings.com





                         
Thats all for now! As I find more inspirational sites I'll be sure to add them. 



Thursday, April 8, 2010

Building a positive dialog

Over the past few days, the topic of "judgment" has become a reoccurring theme. As I read these articles and blog posts, that popped up this week, I couldn't help but think about my own judgments. My own posts, and how just recently I had publicly passed judgement on a parent's views of a holiday tradition.

As a parent–no actually–as a human being, I think it is almost impossible not to judge others. To accept everyone at face value and not compare yourself, your values or your goals to theirs. We seem to be hard-wired to judge. Utilizing this tactic as a sort of survival instinct. After reading these articles and posts, I started to feel guilty for doing what just happens to come naturally to most everyone. But then I started to dig deeper and I realized, it's not as cut and dry as we think.

I'm sure you have heard the old saying "first impressions"? The instant judgement that is formed upon initial encounter with another person. It's said, these first impressions can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo. And there have been hundreds of books and articles written on how to make a good one, whether on a job interview, a date, or any other social situation. However, what if you remind that person of someone they were not particularly fond of? Or what if you had a tattoo and that person had a predisposition to think that all people with tattoos were irresponsible?  It wouldn't matter if you had meticulously followed the "Seven Steps to a Great First Impression" or not. The judgement would already be made. And it would be wrong right? And yet, this is a socially acceptable form of judgement.

I myself have been affected by this "first impression" theory by someone I have to see on a regular basis. I have spent years trying to overcome that initial judgement (which I am sure you can gather was not a good one). I'm yet to be successful and it's a painful experience.

Ultimately as human beings we are going to judge other people. We can't help it, its just in our nature.  But what we can help, is whether we elect to share our judgments or to keep them private. Whether we openly defame another person or whether we choose to be introspective with our judgements. And this is where the lines get blurry.

There are many times when it's important to judge others. I know, that's a shocking statement, but such judgments help us discern good behavior from the bad. Take the snarky mom at the park chatting away on the phone and not paying attention to her child. Or the parent that decides that taking her child to a children's museum is "her time" away from the kids and doesn't feel that it is important to follow the rules or supervise her child. Or better yet, the parent that openly teaches his child to be racist or that it's okay to hit another child if he was hit first. Clearly this is not appropriate behavior. Especially when that behavior affects my child or someone else's. You better believe I will be passing judgement on those parents just as many others will. And for good reason. This goes far beyond a disagreement on parenting styles.  Writing about these experiences opens up a dialog and brings topics like bullying or the perpetuation of racism to light.

As moms, as parents, we won't always agree with each other's choices. If we did, it would make for a pretty boring world. Some of us are going to breastfeed, some of us are not. Some of us are going to let our kids watch TV for more than an hour.  We all have our own views on parenthood. Unfortunately there is no manual to let us know who is wrong and who is right. One thing is for certain, we need to support each other as a community of bright, creative, talented women. And as moms. I am always shocked when I see people hiding behind anonymous comments and passing judgments on these women who have opened up their lives and bared their souls, only to be judged on what they chosen to share. I'm always open to an opposing opinion, that's how we learn and grow– as long as it builds a positive dialog.

Coming full circle back to my sanctimonious post from Monday. Could I have done a better job of making my point without choosing to share my judgement of these other parents? Probably, and I will make a concerted effort to do so in the future. Do I still stand behind my convictions that I disagreed with their parenting style? Absolutely.


Fresh Party Invitations from Minted

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sharing views on the Easter Bunny

This year was our little man's second Easter, but it was the first one where he was actually aware of what was going on. The first one where we got to color eggs together, have an Easter egg hunt and watch him spin around in circles from devouring an entire chocolate bunny (thanks to grandma).

As new parents, the hubs and I cannot wait to spend these awesome moments of discovery with our little guy. To see his eyes light up when he sees the eggs in the yard for the first time. or when he figures out how to pop open the plastic eggs and see that there is something inside. To watch him contemplate whether to continue chomping on the chocolate bunny's ears, not fully understanding what this amazing thing called chocolate is all about. And how with one more bite he would be hooked for life.

Enjoying this holiday weekend with our little guy ignited such excitement in me for all the little "discoveries" the future has to hold. To share with him all the fun and childhood enjoyment these little rituals can bring.

So when I found myself face to face with the parents of a 3-year old boy that didn't quite share my rosy view on the world, it got me to thinking. See, I had asked this little boy whether the Easter Bunny had stopped at his house. I was quite shocked to hear the answer. One of the parents piped up and said to me in a sharp tone; "No, not at our house".  Which I could totally understand. I mean not everyone "does the Easter Bunny" right? Or maybe the 3 year-old was over it.  But it was the follow-up comment by the other parent that overwhelmed me with a combination of emotions ranging from confusion, sadness, frustration and then to top it all off, anger;  "We don't do that crap, it's just too much work".

What? It's too much work?

Cleaning up a gigantic pile of poop that just happened to start seeping out the top and sides of the diaper is work. Trying to figure out what is wrong with your screaming child who cannot tell you his head hurts and continues to bang it on the cold hard tile is work. Spreading a few plastic eggs around the yard so that your child can experience a positive and happy childhood moment with you is not too much work.

I know I shouldn't judge anyone's parenting methods, ideals or beliefs, but our kiddos are young and innocent for only so long. How could anyone not want to see them bubbling with excitement when they peek outside and see a glimpse of a colored egg strategically hidden in the yard? How could one not want to provide a basis to developing a vast imagination? After all, adults who are imaginative children often become problem solvers, innovators and creative thinkers. It's a fact. I read it somewhere.

But this wasn't a belief that believing in the Easter Bunny was in some way diminishing the value of the holiday. Or that believing in such icons would only lead to devastation once the child discovered the fictitious giant rabbit, that for some reason every year, hides eggs all over the place, was really mom and dad. No, the belief here was simply that it was "Just too much work".

That's really too bad. I cherish these moments with my little guy. I can't wait to see his face next year when he will get it even more and will really be excited about the Easter Bunny, the eggs, the basket, the whole nine yards. I'm thrilled that he will have all these childhood memories to think back on when he is older. And we actually feel privileged to be able put in all the "work" it takes to help fuel his imagination and inspire his creativity.

What do you think? Do these icons like the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, etc., put too much pressure on parents? Do you think it's just another chore or item you have to add to your list?
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