Monthly Archives: March 2012

Happy Spring – Let’s Clean!

Today is the first official day of spring and what better way to celebrate than by doing a bit of spring cleaning during naptime. I confess that I am a Martha Stewart fanatic (gasp) and usually follow this checklist for my spring cleaning ritual. This year it’s a bit different now that H-Man is around so I’ve created my own spring cleaning checklist just for him. In the ideal world I would do this every week, but as all MomMe’s know there just isn’t enough time in a day.

  • Stroller: Strip stroller down to the frame or base being sure to remove all fabric and plastic parts. Clean the stroller base with an eco and stroller friendly product such as EcoSTORE USA’s all purpose cleaner or check out Buggy Love’s cleaning kit. Check your stroller manufacturer’s suggestions for washing fabric pieces and take extra care of fabric involving velcro.
  • Crib: Pull out the travel crib (or pack and play) and let your little one nap in their for the day while you air out the crib mattress and wash the crib skirt. Be sure to wip down the grime that has accumulated on the crib with a germ killing product that is safe for your little one. Check your manufacturer’s instructions on which products are safe to use on your crib. Certain products are not safe for particular furniture finishes (if you could only see my coffee table)!
  • Plush Toys: Wash plush toys on delicate cycle in washing machine and allow to air dry. Remember to use laundry detergent that is non-toxic, such as EcoSTORE USA’s laundry liquid (see note below about EcoSTORE USA’s products). Your child will inevitably be putting these toys back in his mouth.
  • Plastic Toys: Remove all batteries from plastic toys (yes I admit we do have a few battery operated toys and they are not sold by Melissa and Doug), spray toys with a non-toxic and child friendly cleaner, and wipe down toys. We use the same all purpose cleaner from EcoSTORE USA as we use on our stroller. After cleaning we repeat the process using a spray bottle filled with water and dry with a cloth before the toy chewing begins all over again.

EcoSTORE USA is an amazing line of plant based products that are natural and safe for your child. Please take a moment to support them in bringing their baby shampoo to the shelves by clicking here or by texting 5413 to 383838. Thank you for your support!

 

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Shopping By Subscription, It’s How A Modern Mommy Shops

In the magical world of babies, certain trends seem to be so pervasive that a new one seems to be popping up every week.  Picture the Groupon-lites that offer daily deals on everything from children’s clothing to toys, mommy and me classes and now even family trips.

One of the newest entries into this category taking over the baby world are subscription services.  They offer everything from diapers and wipes, products for your home, clothes and more.  You know something has caught on when the New York Times writes, “selling products by subscription is all of the rage.”

Honest Company Products for Mom and BabyFor parents, these subscriptions offer time-saving solutions that cut down on the product overload and ensure that you never run out of must-have items.  Another great feature of these services is that they offer you the chance to try out something that you might not normally select in a store or add to your cart online.  Just as CSA produce baskets encourage you to try new produce, these services introduce you to new products that just might transform your ability to clean your home in an eco-friendly fashion.

Amazon has experimented in this category with its ‘Subscribe & Save‘ feature that provides a discount for items shipped every month, two, three or four.  As a pioneer in the Amazon Mom program (and one who is very disappointed with their decision to terminate the program along with Diaper.com’s decision Friday 3/16 to end their Take 5 $5 Off Diaper Loyalty Program), I am a huge fan of the ability to get diapers delivered to my door without having to leave the house or even remember that I need diapers. The biggest problem that I have with the Amazon program is that there is not an option to have delivery more often than once a month.  I mean, what new parent only buys diapers once a month?

These subscriptions services are a great baby shower present for moms-to-be, and many are available as gifts in one, three and even six month increments!  Need just the right book, well there is a service for that.  Are you a crafty mama?  There is a subscription for you called Whimsy Box.   If you are lucky enough to be able to afford raising a baby in New York there is a program that provides organic baby food direct from farms to baby even!

Stroller Traffic just featured a fantastic overview of some of these new subscription programs.  But just remember, as the New York Times article pointed out, the reason these subscriptions programs came into being was so attract a consistent revenue stream for companies that they can rely on every month.  So while they may seem attractive and time saving, they may also lure you into spending money that you may otherwise not have spent.

As someone who absolutely loves to shop for anything under the sun, be it walking the aisles at Target (you can find me there whenever I am having a bad day, the store cheers me up) or a new pair of Tory Burch flats, I love to shop.  Starting from the age of 0, my mom took me to the grocery store and everywhere else with her, so I have a natural affinity for selecting bell peppers and greeting cards for friends.  For this reason, most of the subscription services are not for me; I am simply too controlling to let my buying decisions be dictated by anyone else.  They may however work wonderfully for your family and lifestyle, so check them out:

Honest Company:
Subscriptions Offered: Diapers (& Wipes for $79.95/month) or Family Essentials (for $39.95/month with a free trial offered)

Citrus Lane:
Subscriptions Offered: Products tailored to your child’s age from clothes to sippy cups (for $25/month)

Good Karma:
Subscriptions Offered: Starting from seven complete outfits plus seven onesies and seven sleepers starting at $49.98 for the ‘basic wardrobe’ to $97.99 for seven onesies, seven sellers and fourteen outfits for the ‘better wardrobe’ (like Hannah Anderson and Polo)

Bluum:
Subscriptions Offered: Deluxe product samples for moms and baby like Mustela (starting from $11/month)

Petitie Box:
Subscriptions Offered: High-end European products for mom and baby debuting soon (for $25/month)

Kiwi Crate:
Subscriptions Offered: Hands-on fun projects for kids ages 3-7 years old ($19.95/month)

Birch Box:
Subscriptions Offered: Four to five deluxe samples for moms delivered per month (for $10/month or $110/year)

WittleBee:
Subscriptions Offered: Customized box of eight to nine items of clothing from both major and boutique clothing brands per month ($39.95/month)

Babbaco:
Subscriptions Offered: An acitivity box based on your child’s age with materials and explanations to engage with your little one arrives once a month for $29.99/month of $299.99/year (two months free)

SparkBox:
Subscriptions Offered: Four or more personalized educational toys available to keep for four weeks or more available by toy type or skill-set ($22.95/month for new toys every 8 weeks, $27.95/month for new toys every 6 weeks and $34.95/month for new toys every 4 weeks with a 14 day free trial)

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Go Green On St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. (Let’s clarify that. I love all holidays, but I really like St. Patty’s day a lot!) Irish spirit is exaggerated here in Chicago with the dyeing of the Chicago river and the endless sea of green clothing marching through the Loop today. I’ve hand my handmade St. Patty’s day wreath on my front door for weeks now and it seems that most Chicagoans have already gone green for St. Patrick’s Day too. As much as I love celebrating holidays, we’re going green in a different way today with these eco-friendly tips for MomMe!

1. Hand me downs are hot – Who needs to buy new clothing or toys when sites like thredUP and Swapmamas are exploding. Check out Spark Box and Toygaroo (think Netflix for toys). Go green by trading, bartering or swapping clothes and toys baby outgrows for new ones!

2. Go glass – With hip slip-proof silicone covers from companies such as BornFree, Dr. Brown’s and Coddlelife, using glass bottles has never been easier. And, no more worries about exposing your little one to BPA. Going glass knocks out two birds with one stone.

3. Nix the paper towels: Bring in a little flair in your kitchen by using dish cloths instead of paper towels. Treat yourself to luxurious, soft towels that you can display on your kitchen counter in place of that paper towel holder. Floursack Towels and Dish Cloths by Now Designs are some of my favorite. They durable, large enough to clean up spills and wash well.

4. No plastic bags: In Santa Monica, where my partner Rachel lives, plastic bags are outlawed! Stores only use paper bags or ask you to supply your own reusable totes to haul your groceries. We already use reusable tote bags and I love them. My favorite is my LL Bean Boat and Tote bag. I use it for everything from weekly grocery store runs to an overnight bag for quick weekend trips. It’s versatile, amazing and has a lifetime warranty from LL Bean!

We hope you have a Happy St. Patty’s day tomorrow and may the luck of the Irish be with you!

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An Interview with Krista from Classic Kids Photography Santa Monica/Pasadena (Chief Monkey Wrangler)

Today we are speaking with Krista, the head photographer at Classic Kids Photography in Santa Monica and Pasadena, California.  Krista is a sweet, savvy and very talented photographer who looks like she was born in Los Angeles rather than her native Minnesota.  Club MomMe is so thrilled to be hosting events at Classic Kids Photography and featuring their mini-shoots at many of our events like our upcoming MomMe and Me Tea.

Krista, what inspired you to become a photographer?

I have always had a passion for art and the creative process; photography was something that came naturally to me and I really enjoyed growing up. I received my first camera in elementary school (a Polaroid which I was absolutely obsessed with) and became hooked. I first started taking pictures of flowers in our front yard and after mastering the art of working with still subjects, moved on to snapping photos of my small cousins.

Did you study photography in college?

I actually studied Communications with a minor in Photography, hoping to one day become a photojournalist. Little did I know that my true calling was to be a children’s photographer! Shortly after college I moved to Minneapolis and worked as a data analyst by day and waitress by night to make ends meet.  As one would expect, I soon became restless and yearned for a more creative way to make a living. That’s when I came across a job ad looking for a “Monkey Wrangler” for Classic Kids in San Francisco. I replied immediately with the subject line, “PERFECT!” and the rest is really history!

It seems like you were destined to be a Classic Kids Photographer/Monkey Wrangler!  How long now have you been working at Classic Kids Photography?

Almost five years! My first year with the company was spent assisting and training in our San Francisco studio, after which I relocated to Los Angeles to run Classic Kids Santa Monica. Since that time, I have had the privilege of getting to capture cherished memories for so many families and have also had the chance to see my small subjects grow and change before my eyes. We also recently opened a second LA area studio in Pasadena, which I shoot in a couple of days a week.

What age groups do you like to photograph? Making subjects smile…Newborn…etc

To tell you the truth, I really enjoy working with all age groups! My job is really a combination of photography and psychology, as I’ve really had to discover how to bring the best personality out in age groups from baby all the way to grandparent. There is a certain challenge to each photo shoot that I look forward to. With babies (2 months to a year), you really have to engage with them a bit to figure out what excites them. Some babies are more sensitive than others and prefer just to be spoken to quietly. Other babies get a kick out of loud Peek-A-Boo’s and singing.  It’s really a matter of paying attention from the second a client walks in the door to know what techniques will get the best results in the photos.

Tell us about photographing newborns.

We love to have newborns in the studio at around 5-12 days of age. At this stage, babies will sleep almost the entire shoot and we can really mold them into some amazing positions to showcase how small they are. We always keep the studio very warm and toasty and have plenty of fuzzy blankets on hand so baby is comfy-cozy. We also allow for up to 4 hours for a newborn shoot so that we have plenty of time if baby should need a feeding break or extra time to fall asleep.

How does that differ from photographing toddlers?

With toddlers, having an assistant on hand is always key. Sometimes my assistant will have to pick up the child, wipe drool off their face, set them on the backdrop paper and immediately run behind me to do a “monkey show.” It takes a lot of energy and persistence, but is always worth the hard work when the proofs come in and you get series of amazing shots where the child is truly laughing and engaging with us.

And what about shooting children?

For ages between four and ten years old, I really love to just ask questions to invoke a conversation, as kids tend to be very expressive when talking about things they like. Asking them what they want to be when they grow up is a great starter. I always tend to throw in a couple of silly suggestions for them to get a laugh while they are contemplating their answer.  For some reason the answer “Crocodile dentist” as an option always gets a good chuckle. Or sometimes I tell kids that when I was little I wanted to be a giraffe when I grew up. That answer still makes me laugh, too!

Is it different shooting parents with their kids?

Sometimes our hardest subjects can be the parents, as they don’t always come into the studio feeling confident about being in pictures. The key to this is to have fun with both the kids and the parents. I’m really unafraid of making a fool out of myself to get a natural, happy expression. We never tell our clients to “sit and smile.” We want them to be having fun along with us so that we can get the most natural shots possible.

Lastly, tell us about your favorite moments in a photoshoot.

I have a wonderful client who comes in every year with her young daughter for updated shots and holiday cards. This last year her daughter (who was 7 at the time) requested that Mom leave during the shoot so that we could have our “playdate” together alone. After Mom promptly agreed and went next door to grab a coffee, my sweet little subject said, “I have a secret to tell you.” She made me kneel down and whispered in my ear, “You are my best friend.” My heart absolutely melted and we had so much fun for the rest of the “playdate” as we giggled over girl talk, had a dancing contest and chatted about princesses. Needless to say, the photographs really showed how much fun we had together!

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Joovy Nook Highchair Review

My son is now eight months old and it is now time to purchase a real highchair.  Until now we have been using a Mamas and Papas Snug High Chair which has worked really well for us.  But he is ready to start feeding himself some food and sit with us at the table when we eat.

The Joovy Nook highchair somehow manages to check off every single item on my very particular and demanding highchair wish list.  And you thought babies were demanding, just wait until you see this list!

Club MomMe recommends The Joovy Nook Highchair to all moms, and rates it an amazing 5 out of 5 on the Club MomMe Product Rating Scale for the following reasons listed after my highchair wish list criteria:

Small usable floor space

  • The Joovy has a pretty small floorspace for a highchair, with only two long, thin bars on the floor.
  • The BEST part of the highchair is that it folds up in less than ten seconds with one hand, resembling a folded law chair in size.  This makes this chair a must-buy for any parents, grandparents, etc. dealing with a tight space!

Aesthetically pleasing (no wood, no bulky design, and nothing too modern.  This is a high chair, not equipment designed for outer space)

  • The chair has a slim, slick and simplistic design.  The chair has with a rounded top with white or black trim and attaches to V-shaped legs in a cool looking round nub.  The Nook comes in four colors, two basic colors (white & black) and two fun colors that pop but not in an obnoxious way (lime green and orangy orange) with white or black accents (for the black fabric only).
  • The chair is not overly baby or too modern and completely un-baby. Easy to clean up
  • The seating comes in leatherette and fabric, and both are machines washable and very easy to remove.
  • The entire tray is machine washable and is easy to remove.  The tray has a plastic covering that can easily be removed to wipe down more thoroughly in the sink or throw in the dishwasher. Something my son will feel comfortable sitting in for at least half an hour
  • The fabric is thick and the tray is not too close to his body.  The bar between the legs is unobtrusive, and there is a foot bar for older kids.
  • The high chair is at a really nice height that allows the baby to feel like part of the family during mealtimes.

Easy to move

  • The chair supposedly weighs 15 pounds, but because of the thoughtful design of the chair, it feels very light.  Even better, when folded the chair is easily transported by the handle on the chair.

Not an hindrance to walk by (see baby bouncer, which stubbed my husband and mom’s toes so many times they started walking in wide circles around it just in case)

  • The floor bars are thick without any parts that stick out and can cause stubbed toes or hurt a baby who loves to explore.

Does not damage the floor

  • Each end of the floor bars has a thoughtful plastic bracket on the end to avoid stubbed toes and save your floors from scratches and marks.

Extremely stable (does not tip easily)

  • The wide V-shape of the legs provides tremendous stability.

Safe

  • The Nook comes with a five-point harness system that is easily adjustable.

Easy to get the baby in and out

  • The tray slides in and out, making it very easy to get the baby in and out of the highchair.

To sum up the Joovy Nook, this highchair is extremely functional, easy to use and clean, provides an excellent value for the price, and is even well-named, as it can literally fit into a small nook of your home when not in use.  Club MomMe gives the Joovy Nook highchair a 5 out of 5!

* I received this product to review from Joovy for no charge.  I was not paid for my review, and all reviews solely reflect the honest opinions of Club Momme.  The Nook photo is from Amazon and the Nook links to an Amazon Affiliate.

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