Category Archives: Rachel’s Favorite Things

Chatting with Pregnancy Awareness Founders Anna Getty and Alisa Donner

Today we are speaking with Anna Getty and Alisa Donner, Founds of Pregnancy Awareness Month.  PAM was established in 2008 to empower, inspire, and build a community of support for expectant women and their families.

Celebrating their fifth year this year, PAM kicks off with a huge event in Los Angeles on May 6, 2012 at the Skirball Cultural Center featuring Abby Epstein from the Business of Being Born, Dr. Alan Greene, a renown pediatrician and author, Christopher Gavigan, Founder/Chief Product Officer of the Honest Company and former CEO/Executive Director of Healthy Child, Healthy World and several others.  The Los Angeles event will feature a performance by Lisa Loeb, and hosted by Anna Getty, Catherine McCord, Lisa Loeb and Josie Maran.

The appeal of Pregnancy Awareness spread organically throughout the country, and there are licensed PAM events throughout the month of May from San Diego to New York City, including two Club MomMe events in Los Angeles!

What inspired you to create Pregnancy Awareness Month®?  Inspiring women to make conscious, conscientious, holistic, and educated decisions; moving into motherhood gracefully, powerfully and also confidently.

How has the concept changed from the way it was first envisioned? The concept hasn’t changed, but how we deliver the message has.  Social Media moved us into a new world of connecting and communicating. It has been incredibly fun to meet women on Facebook and Twitter and connect on the topic of pregnancy and being a mom.  It is a wonderful way for moms to inspire and support each other.

Tell us about the marquee event on May 6th.  The PAM 2012 event is the 5th Anniversary celebration of Pregnancy Awareness Month.  This year there will be an emphasis on informative roundtable discussions with a variety of acclaimed experts such as Abbey Epstein Producer of “More Business of Being Born,” Dr. Alan Greene Pediatrician and Author of “Feeding Baby Green” and Ken Cook President and Founder of the Environmental Working Group among many others.  We will also have a “mommy spa” with facials, pregnancy message and lot’s of pampering.  Pregnancy style maven Amy Tara Koch will be hosting Viacord’s Bump It Up Style lounge with one on one fashion make-overs and tips.  For entertainment Lisa Loeb will be performing some songs from her kids book and CD “SILLY SING-ALONG The Disappointing Pancake and Other Zany Songs.”  For the kids, Ladybug Jane and her eco-friendly kids activities and of course, many product booths to discover all the amazing resources out there for pregnant mothers and newborns!

When did you start offering licensed PAM events in various locations throughout the United States?  Our first licensed PAM events were three years ago, and we had three licensed events.  This year there will be over 20 events! How do the licensed events they help serve the message of PAM? Besides spreading the message of Pregnancy Awareness Month® thru events and gatherings, PAM aims to help create community.  The licensed events help to bring the message to people in their own communities with their own twist.  It is a grassroots effort that is both effective and fun.  It is exciting to see women all over the country being inspired to do this, to find something meaningful to them and want to share it.  It’s a reminder that the idea of motherhood, pregnancy, and birthing lies within each and every woman.  It is helping to revive that knowingness.

How is it working together?  We chose to work together because we did before and enjoyed it.  We bring different strengths to the table.  It is ever evolving.  We organically move thru challenges and have the foundation of a strong friendship at its core.  We share the same vision.

What advice do you have to other moms who want to start their own business?  The current economy is very different than when we started.   Look at partnering with people that are established and see what you can offer them.  We connected to each other, and then reached out to our network of contacts. Take the time to think it your business strategy out and create the community in your business first before you launch. Trust and believe in the power of the social network community, but understand it, and think of how what you do can benefit others not only how their work can benefit yours.

How do you balance work, your family and your relationships?  We don’t.  We think about it, we strive for it, and we forgive ourselves.  We don’t sacrifice in a significant way, but when we get balanced, we will let you know.

What is your favorite part of being a mom?  What about being pregnant?  One of Anna’s favorite things is seeing the world through her children’s eyes.  It is amazing to share the joy as they experience the world. For Alisa being a mom and being pregnant were all about connection, connecting to her strength as a woman, to the power of the creation of life, and now the connection to her daughter and creating the structure of a family.

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Girl In Progress Advance Screening Giveaway!

Club MomMe is giving away SIX tickets to see an advanced screening of Girl In Progress featuring Eva Mendes this Friday April 20th at 10 am in Santa Monica.  The movie screening will be followed by a Q&A session with the Director Patricia Riggen and lunch.  Parking is complimentary.

To watch a trailor of the movie click here

About the movie: Grace (Eva Mendes) is a single mom. She is too busy juggling work, bills, and the very married Dr. Hartford (Matthew Modine), to give her daughter, Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez) the attention she desperately needs. When Ansiedad’s English teacher, Ms. Armstrong (Patricia Arquette), introduces her students to classic coming-of-age stories, Ansiedad is inspired to skip adolescence and jump-start her life without mom. While Grace becomes preoccupied with the increasing affections of her co-worker (Eugenio Derbez), Ansiedad enlists the help of her loyal friend, Tavita (Raini Rodriguez), to plot her shortcut to “adulthood”. But as her misguided plan unravels, Ansiedad and Grace must learn that sometimes growing-up means acting your age.

To enter click here: http://clubmomme.com/contests/2012/4/15/girl-in-progress-advanced-screening-ticket-giveaway-1.html

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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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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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Diane von Furstenberg for GapKids: Can She Help Gap Bounce Back?

We all know the state of affairs at one of the most American of retail stores, the Gap.  Their sales were extremely disappointing for 2011, and they are closing stores.  Re-assessing their strategy.  Shaking things up.

And really, what better way to shake things up than taking a page out of H&M and Target‘s book and having a major fashion icon design a special line?  Okay, I know what you are thinking, Madonna for H&M is not a major fashion icon, though Versace and Marni are.  But did you try to log on to Target’s website the day Missoni went live?

If so you were either unable to access it because it crashed in poor form, and then had a waiting list.  One new person on to shop once another left.  Don’t even get me started on their stores that morning.  Chaos is too kind to describe the scene there.  If you were lucky you found a discarded cardigan somewhere.

But to be perfectly honest, I was not that impressed by the Missoni for Target line.  The items were very typical Missoni, but nothing special.  No amazing colors, eye-popping new silhouette.  I personally felt like most people were buying the items to say they owned Missoni more than they actually liked them.

Not so with DVF for GapKids.  Her collection is adorable, stylish, everything that her brand is known for just in smaller sizes.  While DVF may have made the wrap dress the dress that flatters all women, only part of her collection involves wrap dresses.  She also brings a-line dresses, shirts, leggings, shorts, jackets and accessories to the table.

Did you get your invitation to the preview in the mail today?  I will be there, on March 4th at the Grove, and yes, I am hoping to fit into the largest GapKids size available…

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Bonding over Surgery?

For the first time in his life, my son is not with family. Instead, he is lying on an operating table, for a procedure that I am told is quite minor. But let me tell you, nothing seems minor when the word surgery involves your baby. Or child. I have this habit of comparing my situation to others in an effort to make myself feel better. Perhaps this is my own self-soothing, but whatever it is, the process usually makes me feel better.

When I was pregnant and having a hard day, I thought to myself, at least I am not pregnant with twins. That would be so much harder! Or, if that woman could have nineteen kids, surely I can have one! In the past few weeks I have spoken with moms who have experienced surgeries far more complex and invasive than the one my son is currently undergoing. Things like open-heart surgery to correct arteries attached backwards, cleft palates, and the like.

Hearing these stories gave me comfort. If these women could get through however many hours being apart from their child, worrying and overcome with anxiety, surely I could get through an hour and a half, right? An essential part of becoming a momme is joining the community of women, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, friends, colleagues and such that are mothers, nurturers, caregivers and understand what it is the have unconditional love for another being that you created or care for like they are your own.

Knowing that others have traveled down this path before you, and gone through the hard nights, kissed boo-boos and dealt with lack of sleep, frustration, fears and worries is extremely comforting to me. It binds women in a way that nothing else can, because really, we are all in this together. There may be some new bottles or theories about when to introduce rice cereal and foods, but the essentials of motherhood never change. It is the reason many new moms feel a bond with their own mother like they have never experienced before, because suddenly, they understand. They have been initiated into the club.

Walking around Costco this past Sunday, the store was packed with people, many of them frustrated and wanting to move as quickly as possible. One gentleman made a rude comment to a slower walking couple, and I as a new mom immediately made eye contact with the mom of a four-year old girl and we shared a knowing glance. As moms, we know what it is like to experience frustration and lack control on a daily basis, we have come to almost expect it. Our patience and understanding has increased, and we share a bond, even though I had never met this woman before. She said to me, “what does this guy expect on Sunday at the busiest Costco in the country?”

We smiled and laughed. We are both moms, and we both get it. Listening to other mom’s stories about their experiences with surgeries on their little ones provided me tremendous comfort that google searches and talking to a doctor never could. These women had been through the same thing as me and survived, and I knew that I could do the same.

The paging board just changed colors, which means my son is done with his procedure. I can’t wait to kiss his face and look into his eyes, and know that we got through this together, just as so many other mommes and babies have before us.

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