Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Push Pack Reviews

One of the fun things about having Small Batch Studio, my own business, is that the items I sell come from my heart.  My main item right now is the Push Pack.  You can find the story of how it came to be on this blog by clicking here.  It was my first blog entry and this story is on every Push Pack.

Since developing the Push Pack, I've given them as gifts as well as sold them.  I just love the look on a pregnant lady's face when she sees the gift.  The response is always one of excitement, maybe because they are thinking about the day they get to use it too!  I also love when people who get one call & order one (or two) for their friends!!  I recently asked a few women who had received the Push Pack if they could write a review.  Here is what they said:

I was given the Push Pack for my fourth hospital delivery. What a lovely thought! The Push Pack was filled with everything I could have possibly needed while I was on my "hospital getaway." It was wonderful to have several fewer things to pack considering the busyness of a mama with other children. The Push Pack will make a great gift for any mom-to-be!  Laura G.  Mom of 5.
"Well, we have to get this baby out today, tell your husband to pack a bag for you and meet us at the hospital in 30 minutes, said my doctor. Yikes! How is he going to know what I need? How am I going to know what I need? I've never done this before! Bring the push pack and some pajamas, I tell my husband frantically on the phone. (I'll skip the birthing details out of kindness.) in hospital, painful to move after c- section. Look in push pack and lots of goodies inside. Ah gum & snacks comforting. Toiletries that my husband doesn't even know women need to stay sane. Know I'll be clean and acceptable when friends come to visit. And all this new stuff I need, that I had no idea. breast pads came in very handy between baby feedings. Thank you Laura in being so clever on your invention. New moms on the way need this! Lisa V - First time Mom
I was given the Push Pack by a friend at my baby shower and I was so happy to have it during my hospital stay. Everything I needed (including several things I never would have thought of) was included. As a first time mom I really appreciated the experience that went in to the contents of the pack. I would recommend the Push Pack to any first time mom who doesn't know what she will need or want at the hospital or any experienced mom who doesn't want the stress of trying to remember and pack every little thing.  Annie C - First time mom.

Now, is there any question that you need to get a Push Pack for your friend, or for yourself??  

Monday, August 29, 2011

Buisness stuff ...

Summer is coming to an end.  Kids are heading back to school.  My schedule is about to get nuts.

For the next five weeks I am going to be focusing on my company, Small Batch Studio, getting ready for for the Birth and Baby Fair and Prego Palooza both in October.   Since this is my first tome attending these events I have no idea how many Push Packs to bring!  I've decided to bring 40 to the Birth and Baby Fair.  I'll see how that goes and then decided on how many to bring to the Prego Palooza two weeks later.

I've also decided this will be a great time to launch my new product, Doughy Fun.  Doughy Fun is home made play dough.  I am also making play dough kits.  A mix, all ready to go just add water & oil.  I love cooking with my girls & know many of you enjoy cooking with your kids too, but sometimes finding the right recipe or having all of the ingredients is challenging.  More on Doughy Fun (thanks to my good friend Stephanie & her son Carson for the name!!) later.

Time management is a HUGE challenge for me.  I am constantly working on getting it down.  My goal is that the week before the shows  I'll only be worrying about the outfit I'll wear.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Picky eaters

As I begin to type this entry, my dauughters are on their second helping of pasta with meat sauce.  15 minutes ago, they were almost in tears because they DID NOT want pasta for lunch.  Vivienne told me she wanted ANYTHING but pasta.  She didn't like pasta.  She wanted a sandwich.  What about .... the list went on & on.

I have read that you should always offer a choice if possible.  Sometimes, there is no choice.   It is what it is.  I could have made a sandwich, but we had pasta from last night that needed to be eaten.  They liked it then.   I was almost tempted to give in to the request for an alternative until the request became a demand.  Then I decided no way.  I do let them pick dinner sometimes, and because of this home made mac-n-cheese is on the menu at least once a week.

My philosophy for my kids is this:  Though I believe that kids really don't like some things,  there are very few foods that my kids always refuse.  "I don't like that" most likely means "I don't want it." Kids, if hungry, will eat.  So, if a meal is placed in front of them & I know they have eaten it before ... that's the meal.  Don't want to eat?  Too bad.  I am not going to "make" them eat a certain number of bites.  We have dessert a few nights a week & it is usually quite small.  An ice cream cone with 1T of ice cream is perfectly fine.   I do not like to "battle" over food.  If you don't eat any dinner you don't get dessert.  My kids don't eat a lot of junk food, we just don't have it in our house.  They don't eat fast food often ... I would lie if I said never.  The drive through has saved my bacon more than once ... maybe 4x a year?  We just don't go.   So, I figure if I keep putting healthy food in front of my kids, they'll eat healthy food ... eventually.

What stratagies have you adopted?  Do you "give in" to the meal requests?   What are your rules?  Let me know!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

When you're not watching ....

Some nights bed time for the girls is easy.  Other nights, it drags on & on.  I am usually flying solo, as my husband works at night (well, all day & into the night).  Getting three girls settled down & asleep is another story.

I try to follow a routine.  I do pretty well actually.  Bath (most nights), teeth, stories & songs.  Then in bed.  I have the two youngest still in cribs in one room & Vivienne falls asleep in my bed, then I move her to her bed.  We start about 7 or 7:30, and end about 8 or 8:30.

Audrey is the easiest, heck, she can't climb out of bed yet.  Coco is pretty good.  She has a habit of getting out of bed & running into get in bed with Vivienne which can make Audrey scream as then she is alone.  This happens about twice a week.  She'll get out of bed, then they (Vivienne & Coco) play and I put Coco back in bed, she gets back out  ... until she (Coco) gets too tired to get out of bed again.  Then there is Vivienne.  She likes to drag bedtime out.  I think this is a sign that her nap time should be eliminated, but I don't want to give it up!!  (You moms that have kids who nap at the same time know what I mean!!)

Last night, was a "challenging" night with Vivienne.  After 9 pm I refused to go up to see her & ignored her calling "mom, mom, MAAAHHHHMMMAAAA, mom, mom, mom.  Finally about 10 it stopped.

Little did I know what was going on between 9 & 10PM .... this is what I found in the morning:
Yes, that is ball point pen all over.  I didn't make a big deal out of it.  I just told her that we don't put pen on our skin and secretly thanked God that it was only on her skin!

What would you have done?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Coco the cat ...

I realize it has been a while since I wrote about one of my kids' antics.   You know, one of those things that you really don't want your kid to do, but it is quite funny so you have to hold back the laughter as you reprimand them ... one of those things.

Coco & Vivienne went into the garage from the house.   They'll follow the cat in there & feed him.  The other day, they were taking a little too long.  I opened the door & saw Coco kneeling down with her face on the floor .... eating CAT FOOD!!!   (I wish I had had my camera with me and almost staged it again so I could get a picture, but figured that would only encourage it more.)

Coco, so sweet & innocent.
Our conversation went like this:
me: "COCO!"  I said, "DON'T EAT CAT FOOD!"
Coco: "Mommy, I cat.  Meow Meow."
me (trying desperately not to laugh let alone crack a smile) "Coco, I don't want you eating the cat's food."
Coco pleading: "But Mommy! I HUNGRY!"
me (really trying not to laugh) "Coco, you don't eat the cats food."
Vivienne now replies in her "motherly tone", "But mom, she really likes it."

OK .... full disclosure here.  I was reminded by a very good childhood friend that at around age 7, We did in fact try dog food.  I guess Coco comes by it honestly.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


For those of you who grew up in Concord, CA in the 70's ... it was Pixie Playland.  For kids now, it is just  Pixieland  A hidden gem inside Willow Pass Park.  I remember going when I was little.  My parents have the pictures to prove it!  I believe the train & the carousel are the only rides left from my time ... but the ones that are there now are just as fun for the kids.

There is no entrance fee, you buy tickets and each ride requires 1 - 2 tickets.  Fortunately, the two ticket rides are ones my girls avoid, so we get a little more bang for our $1.25.  If you buy just one book of tickets, it is a bit pricey, but if you buy multiple books, you get a free book so here is my tip.  Buy multiple books.  They make GREAT birthday gifts for anyone who has kids with in 20 minutes of Concord.  I know I struggle with what to get the 5 year old who has every Lego set on earth.

 We love to go over at random times, just because or as a "special treat".  Usually if we are alone, Vivienne goes on 4 - 5 rides.  Coco for some reason is happy just to watch (again, at $1.25 a ticket, I don't mind!) .  We are usually there for about 30 minutes to an hour.

A few days ago we went with some friends.  The kids had a BLAST!!
 This plane ride is just like the "Dumbo" ride at Disneyland ... but no lines here!  You never have to wait more than 5 minutes for a ride.

 Up up and away!!!  The height limit is 40 inches to ride alone, so Emma (2) got to go with her big brother.

 They also have a train that runs around a little pond.  Complete w/ Canadian Geese.  This is a two ticket ride.  My girls have NO desire to go on it.  I don't know why.  They love all things trains ... except the rides.
 Vivienne is obsessed w/ Carosels.  This is the reason she comes to Pixieland.  Where ever we go, if there is a carosel, she has to ride it.

Our attempt at a group picture.  At the end of the play time, it just wasn't happening!

As you can see, this place isn't that crowded if you are there during the week.  I have no idea why.  It is such a fun place.  They have a tea cup ride, and a small roller coaster too.  This time they also had a girl doing the fancy face painting.

For all of my Bay Area natives, what are your Pixie Playland memories?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

She's on HOLD! ... and that means???

Photo by Jay Dixon
I got one of the fun calls today.  A go-see that Vivienne went to two weeks ago has resulted in a "hold" about two weeks from now.  This is almost like getting a job, but not really.  

When a child get puts on hold, it means that at that moment, the company wants to use your child for a shot on a particular day.  It doesn't mean that they have the job.  It means, don't make other plans for that day because they may be working.  Confusing?  Yes, a little.

A hold also means that the client may change their mind for what ever reason (only they know).  Maybe they found another kid that fits better.  Maybe that shot got canceled.  Maybe ... really, who knows?

So, two things could result.  Vivienne can either book the job (she is confirmed, working).  Or she gets released (not working).  I'm crossing my fingers she is working.  It's a fun company and I would love to see what they will be doing, especially since it isn't a clothing company.

I'll keep you posted!

My little secret (one of them!)

Back in my single days, a good friend got me the book The_Fabulous Girl's Guide to Grace Under Pressure  It is a fun book with hundreds of examples of "sticky" situations and how to remain calm.  Most of the topics have to do with the life of a single social woman.  I loved it.  It made me laugh and also helped me out a few times.

Little did I know while reading it all those years ago (like 8 or 9) that I would use one of the tips for my youngest daughter's first birthday party.

You see, if you read this blog you know I love to be crafty.  I love to cook.  In my mind I can pull of a dinner party that would impress even Martha Stewart.  Unfortunatly, I don't have a staff or the money to hire a staff.  Instead, I have three kids ages (now) 4, 2, and 1.  So, when it comes to pulling off the ultimate "Martha would be proud" 1st birthday ... somthings get put off.  For me, it was the birthday cake.  It wasn't until the day before the party that I decided what kind of cake I was going to make.  I decided on chocolate w/ cream cheese frosting.  Of course from scratch.  Growing up, a cake mix cake was NEVER served at a birthday party.

For some reason, I had in my head that a three layer, 8 inch cake, would feed 20 adults and 20 kids.  As I made the cake the morning of the party my husband made a comment, something like .. that's not enough cake.  I looked at the cake & it hit me.  I don't have enough BIRTHDAY CAKE.

So, referncing my book ... I drove to the best baker in town, bought a second cake.  It was carrott cake (my brother's favorite.).  I pulled off the funky hard carrots that decorated the top & re-frosted it with my cream cheese frosting, then threw on some sprinkles.  Voila!

The key is, according to my book is you just go on like nothing happened.  It was suppose to be this way.  For example, if you accidently, burn your main course: get the burn smell out while calling the local Chinese restaurant that delivers.  Your guests are dining on Chinese tonight!  They'll never know that wasn't the plan!
I think they they figued it out too ... but these girls know where their bread is buttered.  They didn't tell either!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


The other day I was talking to another mom about her business decisions.  She started telling me about people she had connected with through different moms groups.  This conversation started me thinking.

I never joined a moms group.  In San Francisco, I almost did but for some reason, didn't.  Then I moved out to the East Bay.  I really didn't think moms groups existed.  (Quite a silly thought I guess.)  I have my friends and enjoy spending time with them ... so why even join a moms group?  Then the other day I was talking to a friend who mentioned that she lives in an area "way out there" and is looking for friends.

I googled moms groups & her city and came across a whole list of groups.  It was through Meet Up.  Now, maybe I am just a little behind in things, but this site is amazing!  You can find people with all kinds of interests, backgrounds, and challenges looking for like minded people to meet.  Your kid likes trains?  There is probably a group that fits that.  Have you started a small business (like me!) and are looking for networking opportunities?  (like me!)  There is a group!  I found a local group and then found a larger group Networking for Moms.  There is even an event scheduled this week.

Needless to say, I am quite excited.  Meeting new people outside of my circle is really fun and interesting.  You never know what kind of people you are going to meet, or the opportunities that will materialize.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The broken tooth

When I was 7 years old, I fell at school and broke off half of my front left tooth.  That was the beginning of my fear and loathing of the dentist.  I won't go into details about all I went through, but I was traumatized.  Let's just say, my dentist rarely used Novocaine & never used the gas.

This week was Vivienne's 4 year old check up & Audrey's 1 year old check up at the pediatrician.  The girls' doctor is a wonderful woman who for me, is almost like going to see a friend.  Sadly for us, she is leaving the practice & pursuing her passion.   She reminded me that Vivienne needed to start going to the dentist and gave me a list of a few in the area.  One thing for sure, I will NOT take my child to a non-pediatric dentist.  No, adult dentist that sees children.  Nope, my kids are getting all of the bells and whistles that I didn't get!

Little did I know that the next day I would discover that AUDREY needed to see the dentist!

This is her at dinner on Thursday.  She smiled at me and WHAT????  You can't really tell here but her top right tooth is chipped too.  I knew when it happened.  The day before!  She had fallen, I saw her fall, heard a loud hit & a lot of screaming but didn't see any bruising or swelling on her face.  I was confused, but didn't think to look at her teeth.   I felt like mom of the year.

I have heard stories of parents who had kids with broken bones who discovered it 1 - 2 days later.  Man, what an awful feeling.  Have you had something like this happen?

By the way ... found a very kind & gentle dentist.  Audrey didn't even fuss at the exam.  She is fine "best" chip scenario.   Oh, one more thing ... get dental insurance as soon as your kid is born.  I didn't for Audrey.  Thank goodness it wasn't worse!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

We are family!

Over the weekend (for 4 days actually), we had my brother and his family as house guests.  He has two little boys, ages 5 and 8.  Wonderful boys.  They live in Los Angeles.  Unfortunately, we don't get to see each other but 2 - 4  times a year.

One would think that the kids would have to take a little time to get to know each other since they are so young.  Not so.  Our kids are in love with one another.  They play well, hug, laugh and only argue a little.  We had a day at Muir Woods.  A fun adventure and a must see for anyone in the San Francisco area!

My favorite part, however was bedtime.  Their oldest is a great reader & read the bedtime stories.  It was so adorable.

Fortunately, the next visit is just two weeks away.  Hopefully, I can put my house back together by then.  I don't know about you, but having house guests is a perfect excuse not to do laundry and other deep cleaning ... I'm too busy visiting!!   What about your extended families?  Is there a bond there that you see with cousins that you don't see with friends?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

DIY paper banner

We celebrated Audrey's first birthday this weekend.  I love having parties!  I wish I had a staff of 10 to help me do all of the ideas that are floating around in my head.  I wanted to do banner type decoration, but was trying to cut my budget so three rolls of crepe paper were out as well as any store bought sign.  I also wanted to use up things that I had stashed away in my craft closet.

About a month ago I attended a baby shower and saw a paper garland made from circles.  The hostess had used a jumbo hole punch and sewn the circles together.  It looked so cute and fun.

I didn't have the circle hole punch but I had a large 12x12 packet of scrapbook paper (from Joann's, with the coupon about $10.).  I also wanted something larger, since we had a lot of space to cover.  I cut about 100 of the 250 pieces in half.  I then folded them over so the banner would be printed on both sides.  I sewed across the top about 1" down with my sewing machine.  It took about an hour & I ended up with over 50 feet of paper banner!  Very easy & looked great.  You could take it a step further & buy themed paper for you baby shower or wedding ...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Gift Fair Time!

Small Batch Studio (me) is headed to the San Francisco International Gift Fair.  I have been told I HAVE to go, especially since it is in my old stomping grounds!  I am looking foward to see all of the creative items there are, as well as possibly find some things for the PUSH PACK.  Who knows ... five years from now I could be one of the sellers there??

Here's to happy shoping! ... and remember, when you're in need of a baby shower gift that will WOW everyone, think of the PUSH PACK!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I'm busy ... and what? my kids are auditioning tomorrow?

When it rains it pours.  So the saying goes.   I lived it this week, am still living it now.  It is not just a crazy busy week ... it is a really crazy busy week.

My baby is turning one next week & Vivienne is four today.   There is a party for Audrey for a few (40 - 50) friends / family at our house.  For those of you who know my family you know that this is a small, I didn't invite a lot of people, party.  Paul is working very long days until the party.  We also have house guests arriving in about an hour to stay four days.  I also am attending the San Francisco International Gift Fair Monday & Tuesday to get ideas for my business.

So, of course I get a call that Vivienne is requested for a go-see (audition) on Wednesday at 1:38 near South San Francisco.  We got the call last week, so I had made babysitting arrangements for the other two kids.  No other kids are allowed, and only one adult per child.  On Monday, I got a call that another company was interested in Audrey.  I called on Tuesday afternoon to see if anything had come of it.  Yes!  Audrey had a go-see on Wednesday ... at 12:10 in San Francisco.  Two kids, two auditions, 90 minutes apart.  I can do this.  Neither one can be at the other's audition.  So, my task ... find someone to go to San Francisco with me, sit in the car & hang out with my kids for three hours.

I don't know about you, but there is a very short list of people who are not busy on a Wednesday afternoon, have no kids, and don't mind hanging out for three hours in a car!  Fortunately, I have a wonderful family & a soon to be Aunt said she would do it!

Audition #1 Baby food company.  Audrey & I got there, filled out the paperwork.  We went into the audition room.  They were quite nice.  They wanted her to have a still picture taken, then would do a little video.  For the video, she was to:  'crawl and then grab a piece of food out of my hand and eat it while looking at the camera'  She did good, even threw in a few giggles.  Out the door at 12:45

Audition #2 Arrived at 1:00,  audition is at 1:38 - don't show up that early.  We also hadn't eaten lunch yet!  So, got out of the car (in a business park) found a little grass & ate our sandwiches.  Back to the audition at 1:33.  Went in & how fun is this??? The woman in the waiting area recognized us form this blog!  What an ADORABLE little girl she has!  Vivienne went in by herself to get her picture taken.  I walked over to try & hear.  I was asked by the photographer to come in.  Seems Vivienne was giving her "generic" smile.  I pretended to tickle her and BAM!  Big smile!

I got home & had an email ... possible work for Vivienne on Tuesday!

When it rains ... it pours.

We found out Audrey didn't get the job, which is fine.  It was for tomorrow (Friday) and I have plans already to do some sightseeing with family.  But again, such is the life ... be ready at a moments notice.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Homemade play dough

My kids love play dough.  When Vivienne was little, I was hesitant to have her play with it, as she thought it was some sort of food and the thought of her eating it grossed me out.   Fortunately, I got over it & gave her some Play Dough to play with.  I bought all of our play dough at the store ... you know, the play dough in the yellow container with color tops.

Recently, I discovered play dough recipes.  I had heard it was easy to make and was better than the store bought stuff.   We gave it a try and found, yes, these things are true!

We made a few colors in about an hour.  Once you get started, it is a bit addicting.  The orange and purple were made with Kool-Aide and the others were made with liquid food coloring.  According to my oldest, the Kool-Aide play dough smells good & the other is stinky.  It is true, there is a pleasant scent   from the Kool-Aide.  The other just smells like play dough.

We used recipes that require boiling water.  I understand there are "no cook" recipes.  We just haven't tried them.  The first one I used is from MOCHA The Museum of Children's Art in Oakland.


2c all purpose flour
1c salt
3t cream of tartar
2 1/4 c water
4T vegetable oil
food coloring

Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Combine oil & food coloring in a small bowl.  Put water in a pot & boil (2qt or larger size) after it is boiling, put in oil / food coloring.  Turn off heat & mix in dry ingredients.  After it is mixed put on a flat surface & knead.  

Here is our red before kneading.  It doesn't look too smooth, don't worry.  It will look great after you kneed it ... but be careful!  It is HOT.  I took it out of the pot & then let it sit for about 10 minutes before kneading it.  This recipe makes almost 4 c of dough.

Kool-Aide dough

1c flour
1/2 c salt
1 1/2 t cream of tartar 
1 package Kool Aide - the color of the play dough will be the color of the punch.
(The orange & purple in the picture above were make w/ Kool-Aide, orange & grape.)
1 c water
2T oil

Follow the directions above except:
Add Kool-aide to dry ingredients
Makes almost 2 c dough

Do you have a favorite recipe or tips?  Please share!  $$ saving tip:  If you think you will be making more than one or two batches, buy your cream of tartar in bulk from a store like Smart & Final.