Friday, October 28, 2011

What tangeld webs we weave ...

No, I am not referring to spiders at Halloween.  I am talking about lying.

Having a 4 year old,  the concept of lying has been something we have been dealing with for about 6 months or so.  We talk about what a lie is; things that are real vs pretend.  Things that really happened vs she wished they happened.  I have read that the concept of lying can't really be grasped until at least age 4.  So, when someone says they were hit or had a toy first and the other kid says the opposite we talk about lying and use a lot of definitions / examples ... not just "YOU LIED!!"

Until recently ...

I, like may other women, lie about my age.  Not regularly, I am 39.  This summer, before Vivienne turned four she was into ages and birthdays.  She asked how old I was & I said 21.  She figured out on her own I would then turn 22.  (Our birthdays are 3 days apart.)  I said yes.  I laughed as I told the story of her telling a woman at the store I was 21 and I didn't correct her.  The woman looked as if I should have (trust me, I don't look 21!).

Last weekend, my sister went with the girls and I on a road trip.  During the ride, Vivienne asked her aunt how old she was ... my younger sister told her she was 35.

Fast forward to Tuesday morning when my husband took Vivienne & her sisters to school.  He got home & said I was in big trouble.  Vivienne asked how come Aunt S. could be the little sister if she was 35 & mommy was 22.  She said Paul was a liar for saying I was the big sister.  He told her that we (she & I) would discuss it later.

I picked Vivienne up from school & no mention until we got in the car.  She looked at me with a seriousness I don't know that I have ever seen.  She had been really thinking about this.  She said, "Daddy told me a lie today. He told me you were the big sister but I know you're not.  You are 22 and Aunt S. is 35."  I told her "No, Vivienne, daddy is right I am the big sister."  "YOU LIE!!!"  She said. The rant that followed I can't repeat.  It involved tears, confusion, and a lot of "But I know you are 22!!"  I tried to explain how lying about ones age really isn't lying more like pretending.  No good.  The words, "YOU ARE A LIAR"  Came out of her mouth a few times.

Honestly, I was and still am at a total loss as to what to do.  She has brought up the fact twice since that I am 22, and I don't argue.  I am taking the "she'll forget about this soon enough" route.  I felt so hurt as a mom, crushed really.  That I caused this much anguish in my 4 year old.  My age was a joke, or so it started that way, but I am not laughing now.  

I'd love some support here ... have you ever done something like this?  Something you didn't give a second thought to & then it turned out to be a BIG DEAL?  Comments please!! (Advice welcome too!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Where have I been??

For some reason, this week has been a real challenge for me to post to my blog.  I don't know why really ... except that a lot is going on for me & Small Batch Studio.  Believe it or not, it takes a bit out of me to sit & write, usually after a long day, something that I think people would want to read.

I have a post titled: " What tangled webs we weave ..." just about ready to post.  I had a pretty emotional day with my 4 year old ... let's just say she'll have it branded in her memory for many years.  I've started & stopped writing it several times.  It's a tough one for me, her mom.

On the Small Batch front, I am learning to design a website!  I'll soon have my own & move my "shop" from Etsy to my own domain.  I am NOT a tech savvy person & even the 5 minute intro class caused me stress & anxiety.  I'm also about to have a HUGE deal go out on so if you haven't signed up for them ... you should!  My first promotional event.

So ... here's to saying I haven't gone far!  I'm just a mom having a crazy mom / wife / business owner / trying to have a life woman.  Hope your week is going well!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our first giveaway!!

With a challenge by another small business Labor Looks (beautiful hospital gowns) our FB site has reached 55 fans.  How cool is that?  For me, pretty darn cool.  I upped the ante by offering two Push Packs to two lucky fans.

We did this very simply - no random computer selection, just a good old fashioned pick the name out of a hat (though in this case it was a large vase)

First I wrote down all of the names of the fans:

 Then wrote the names on pieces of paper & my trusted assistant folded them in half.

All 54 names were all placed into the vase.

My trusted (can't read so there's no cheating!) assistant pulls the first name out of the vase:

And the first winner is ....

Congratulations to Lea Schexnayder Smith!!!

Now, onto winner #2 ... .

And the winner is ...

Congratulations to Annie Clausen!!

So Ladies, please email me at with your mailing address.  You can choose pink or blue socks, so please specify that as well.

For those of you who didn't win, don't be too sad ... click the link to my etsy shop & enter in the code 54likes for 20% off your Push Pack until November 1st.

This was fun!

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Bi-racial Babies

Vivienne with me in the hospital holding Audrey 
Back in 2007, while pregnant with Vivienne, my sister had this fun idea to create a collection of stories from some of her friends and put it in a book for us.  She called it Mamalogues.  When she asked me to write something I felt like I had nothing really to write about.  She kept bugging me and one day I read something that inspired me to write.

Fast forward to now, three babies later.  I came across a blog Baby Making Machine I love it.  I found a section about bi-racial babies, since she (the author) is black & her husband is white.  She wrote and entry titled Perfectly Mixed, a little ironically on my youngest daughter's  birthday.  It is a beautiful post & brought tears to my eyes.  It also reminded me of my Mamalogue story, and so I thought I would share it with all of you.

My Bi-Racial Baby

A friend passed a copy of Parenting Magazine on to me since she had already read it.  There was an article about one mom's struggle with strangers asking what she called the question.  "Where did you get her?" The mom was blonde with blue eyes and the father was of Japanese decent.  In this instance, "the question" referred to her daughter's heritage which left the mother feeling angry, insecure and frustrated.  She sought the advise of child therapists who recommended several strategies for either avoiding the question or short, rude quips for responding to it.  After I read this article, I was hit with the reality that soon I would be the mother of a bi-racial and bi-cultural child.  I am American / Caucasian my husband is French / Black.  For several days I wondered in silence if I was up to the task.  This author had brought up so many points as to her duty to protect her daughter from the "evils" of the inquiring world.  What would I do when someone hurt my baby with a racial comment.  Then, I thought about the universal struggle that all girls have: to fit in and be happy with the features that God gave them.  This transcends race and culture.  My mom reminded me that I cried because I hated my freckles.  I wanted curly hair; mine was straight.  I wanted slender hips; mine were curvy.  The list goes on.  I realized that my job as my babies' mom is to create in her a sense of pride in who she is.  If people ask "the question" I will respond with a huge smile and say, "She looks like her Daddy.  He was born in Nigeria."  I believe that if I am angered by this innocent inquiry, then I am teaching my children to be ashamed of her differences, or that I am not proud of her.  Her father is the most amazing friend, husband & father, and I am proud to have his children.  Children and adults can sometimes be cruel.  If she is made fun of at some point because of her looks, well ... weren't we all?  I need to remember this when I give her a big hug and remind her how much I love her.
Audrey & I ... photo taken by Vivienne.  My 4 year old. 

Would love your thoughts ... comments welcome.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Water Paint

I love to be crafty.  I love to do creative things and want my kids to have a passion for creating as well.  I do not like, however, kid made art messes.  I am kind of afraid them (or more like have anxiety about them).   I wish I could break out the finger paints and say "GO FOR IT!" but I think about the clothes, furniture, mess ... and it stresses me out. Kind of like the feeling I get when I am about to go to Target with all three girls just before dinner time when they haven't taken naps but I'm out of diapers so I have to ... that feeling.  I ask myself, what if we paint outside and then the kid with paint dripping from all parts of them suddenly HAS to go to the bathroom, NOW.  Do you just let them go outside or what?  

Ok ... now that you think I am really weird ... I have a solution (kind of).  My mom showed this to me and the girls LOVE it.  Painting with water on the cement walk (or wood deck or fence ...).  

 The fun part is - no clean up!  The girls will spend up to 30 minutes doing this ... even my one year old gets into it.  It is also fun for adults too.    We get assorted size brushes, bowls that are a little on the heavier side so they don't tip over too easily (we use ramekins), and water.  Simple.  Fun.  No mess, no stress.  Also, no worries about what to do with this adorable painting you don't have space for but don't want to throw away.  It dries up & is gone.

So comments please ... tell me I am not the only mom who "fears" these messes.  What do you do?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Today was tantrum day.  I think it is a full moon or close to it.

Coco 2 1/2 was the first one.  We had to go pick up Vivienne from school & she didn't want to.   So, what did she do?  Throw a tantrum.  This was a good one too, lasting about 40 minutes.  It started with her flailing on the floor in the living room.  I got Audrey into the car, and came back for Coco.  (Strategy: get the "easy" ones secured in the car first.)  Had to carry her shoes, no putting those on ... one more battle I didn't want to add.

I got her in the car (we are now running about 5 minutes late.).  She wants to buckle herself in her car seat now and I usually let her.  It takes a little while, but it takes me time to get the other two buckled in, driveway gate open etc.  This time though, she was still "upset" and taking too long.  So, I tell her I will count to three and if she hasn't done the buckle, I'll buckle it.  Well, there are three buckles & I had to do each one.  Can you say FURIOUS!?!  She went hysterical!  Thrashing, screaming and crying.   What is she screaming you ask?  "I WANT UP!!!"  Now, remember, I am already late for my pick up of Vivienne at school.  There is no pulling over to hold her and besides, I am not going to reward this behavior.  SO, I tell her I can hold her when we get to the school, but now we have to get Vivienne.  Turned on some classical music and drive.

I learned early on to be at peace during these tantrums.  I can only control myself, and my behavior.  If I have a "tantrum" too ... I solve nothing.

We got to Vivienne's school 15 minutes later & Coco was still screaming!  I got Vivienne & then came around and took Coco out to hold her for a minute ... hopefully calm her down a bit.   Worked for a minute, then I had to put her back in the car.  She throws a "minor" tantrum about having to get back in her seat.  She buckled herself in though (I did have to count again) and we were on our way.  She was asleep 5 minutes late & peace was restored.

What do you find works when your kids act like this (or do they?)  Do you have strategies for stopping this type of behavior?  I'd love to hear it!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

KitchenAid mixer drama & home made bread.

In France, bread is a religion.  My husband's family lives in a small village in Provence.  Every winter the bakery closes & a new baker comes in to bake for the villagers who live there year round.  Unlike here in the US, in France, every day you eat fresh bread.  I was there shortly after Vivienne was born & was told about the challenges of finding someone who made "good" bread in the winter.

If you have never had FRESH bread, you probably think this is a little silly.  Bread is bread, right?  No.  Home made fresh bread can be amazing.   

For about two months I have been faithfully making all of our bread.  It has become part of my routine, more reliable than my laundry schedule ;)  Until this week.

We have a KitchenAid 6 qt Professional mixer.  It was a wedding gift, so it is now 5 years old.  On Thursday, the motor quit.  Isn't this the mixer that women talk about inheriting from their mothers??  It has lasted for YEARS?  Well, apparently, that is the old version.  The newer versions are not as long lasting and if you google "kitchenaid mixer complaints" you will see numerous stories of people who have had the same problems.

I checked our Consumer Reports to see what they had to say.  KitchenAid topped the list of recommended mixers.  So I wonder, it is just a sign of our disposable / consumer times?  It's "normal" for things not to be built to last?

Even more challenging ... what mixer do I buy next?  Not a small investment at around $500.00 for a large mixer.  At this rate, $100 a year.  Do you use a mixer?  Would you recommend it?  I have heard Bosch is the go to machiene.  I am not familiar with the modern ones, the two people who recommended them got theirs in the 70's.  Has Bosch downgraded their motors as well?  Consumer Reports rates them lower than the KitchenAid.

HELP!!  Please forward this post to your baker friend.  Ask them to comment on what mixer they use / love / would recommend.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Labor Looks - beautiful hospital gowns

One of the fun parts of attending the Birth & Baby Fair was meeting the other vendors, and seeing the new & exciting products that are out there.

These gowns really caught my eye.  Three times I wore those boring, used, hospital gowns.  Wouldn't it have been fun to have something stylish & just for me.  A perfect accompaniment for the Push Pack if you were doing a baby shower gift basket!!

I met Ashley co-founder of  Labor Looks.  Here is what they wrote about their company / gowns on FB.

Our gowns are designed specifically for the laboring and recovering mom. They have been designed by Ashley, a Labor and Delivery Nurse and Brittani, a Certified Nurse Midwife to meet the needs of moms and hospital providers.

Our gowns are made of comfortable, high quality 100% cotton (Amy Butler and Robert Kaufman). They are designed specifically for pregnant and recovering women and are available in S/M (0-8 pre-pregnancy), M/L (10-18 pre-pregnancy) and now XL (20-28 pre-pregnancy).
Each gown has a main fabric and a border trim. The border trim fabric coordinates with the grosgrain ribbon trim used to tie the gown closed at the neck and around the waist. The wrap around fabric and ties allow for full coverage and comfortable movement throughout labor. The shoulders have snaps in order to ensure simple access for skin-to-skin, breastfeeding, epidurals, etc.

Our gowns have a pocket in front, as does a hospital gown, most often used to keep a phone or camera close by during the recovery period. Gowns are machine washable, dryer and iron safe and are made in the U.S.A.

That's Ashley on the right.

Check them out today!  Order your expecting friend Push Pack & Labor Looks gown ... be the talk of the baby shower ... or treat yourself & be the talk of the maternity ward.  You can also get them at the Prego Palooza in Santa Clara Oct 16th.  We'll both be there.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

John Henry

Disney has a great video ... or should I say DVD.  Heroes & Legends.  It takes some great folk heroes & tells their story in animation.  There is Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, and John Henry.

I remember these from when I was a kid ... a few years ago.  My parents recently bought the DVD for my girls to watch.  They love it.  They are particularly fond of the story of John Henry.  A story of a freed slave who helped build the railroad with his mighty strength.  In the end, he dies of exhaustion.

The girls love singing the song & took our croquet mallets and pretended they were sledge hammers, like the one John Henry used.   Fearing they would break our mallets, I had them ask Grandpa to build them hammers.  Of course, he did.

The girls love "playing" John Henry and can actually break up rocks with the hammer.  All the time singing the John Henry song.

I wonder if I can include "knows how to swing a sledge hammer" on their list of skills for their modeling resume.  hummm ....

Sunday, October 2, 2011

SF Birth & Baby Fair

I made it!  My first Birth and Baby Fair is done.  It was a great experience!  I am now exhausted and looking forward to going to bed, but I figured I'd share a little about the day.

I shared a booth with a good friend, Mary who makes hand made items for children.  She is extremely talented, and like me mom to three kids.   We figured sharing this booth was a great opportunity for us to get some exposure and test the waters so to speak.

Here is our booth.  We had a great location near the entrance.

So many people showed up to see all that was new and available for moms and babies (and even dads!!)  I'll share a few of my favorites over the next few posts.   We had a lot of interest in our things & sales were made!  We also made some time to do a little networking.

Here are my areas for the Push Pack as well as Doughy Fun.  The great thing about having something for an "older" kid here is that so much of this is focused on babies that people were eager for a little something for the big brother or sister.

I learned a lot too.  I now have more ideas for what worked & what didn't as far a packing list, packing in general, display and sales pitch.

Two weeks until the next show The Prego Palooza in Santa Clara October 16th at 11 am.

Until then, you can find the Push Pack & Doughy Fun at my Etsy shop!

Saturday, October 1, 2011


It's ready!!!  I didn't think I could make it happen, especially with the Birth and Baby Fair tomorrow.  But, everything came together.  I will be selling DOUGHY FUN.  It is my home made play dough.
Kids love to play with play dough.  There is even research out there telling us that there many positive reasons kids should play with modeling dough.    My girls love it.  They will sit (sometimes) and play for almost an hour.  There are so many creative things to make with modeling clay.  Add glitter for sparkling dough.

Doughy Fun came about by searching numerous recipes until I found one I really liked.  It lasts a long time and is SO much softer than the traditional Play Dough.  I really also like the fact that I know what is in it.  Everything is edible.  (Though there is tons of salt, so I have heard do not let dogs get to it!!)

I'll be selling the color you see here at the Birth and Baby Fair at an exciting introductory price.  Two sizes 4 oz & 8 oz.

For those of you who want to be a little more involved in the process, I also have Doughy Fun Mix.  All of the dry ingredients you need to make your own!  Just add vegetable oil & water.   (Instructions are on the jar)  Right now they are all for white dough, but I'll have some colorings I can add if you don't have it at home.

Doughy Fun is also a great idea for a party favor.  Forget the candy!  Give a gift that kids love to play with,  encourages creativity and lasts.  I can also help you put together goodie bags with cutters, rollers and glitter.  Convo me via Etsy.