Grow With Me Tee

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At the Mamas Expo

At the Mamas Expo I found this awesome product. It is the Grow With Me Tee. It’s a t-shirt that has a high school graduation year and kids “grow” into it. I thought this was clever and so different. The thought of seeing how your child grows every year, using the same t-shirt it’s just adorable. A lot of people do the month stickers, but this tee took it to another level.

They have many products. They main tee is the “School Year” tee. It comes in a size Large in cotton blend, with the year that your child is supposed to graduate high school printed in the front. “Class of 20__” is printed in collegiate letters in black. My son is due to graduate high school in 2028!!! Yikes!

My son's shirt!
My son’s shirt!

The “Preschool Years” tee comes in a size 5/6 and is 100% cotton. This shirt has a ruler in the front and the script “TODAY I AM (RULER) YEARS OLD!”. The cool thing about this tee is that it comes with a fabric marker so that you can mark the ruler on the tee at the age of your child and take a picture. The ruler also has half birthdays so you can go from 6 months to 5 years. The other tee they have is the “Baby’s First Year”. This little one definitely takes the place of the boring month stickers. It has a clock in the middle of the script “TODAY I AM (CLOCK) MONTHS OLD”. This one also comes with a marker and you color where your baby is at the time of the picture.

My daughter's shirt.
My daughter’s shirt.

I really like this concept. It is different and I like things that are different. It is an out of the box idea to commemorate your child. The “School Years” tee is a must. Definitely get it. They’re $20.00 so it’s not terrible for a keepsakes shirt. My only advice is to keep the t-shirt accessible so that you can make sure to take the same picture at the beginning or end of each school year. (Best place probably hanging in the closet?).

This is a new family run business and it’s a clever, innovative idea they have. I can’t wait for the school year to begin to take my tots first picture in the huge t-shirt! I will also be taking a picture of my baby in her preschool shirt painted with 6 months! If you want to get a tee and I hope you do (even if you have no kids, it’s a great birthday, shower, or any holiday gift) our friends from Grow With Me Tee have provided a discount code for our readers. For the month of June use code “MOMMYELF15” for 15% of your purchase! So go check out www.growwithmetee.net and check them out!

Ivy-Kids

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July Box-Jump, Frog, Jump!

There are a lot of “box” service subscriptions. Everyone is sending out boxes with make up, different products, even clothes. There is a better box. It comes from Ivy-kids (www.ivy-kids.com). This box comes from a mom of 2 who is also a certified early childhood teacher. She created a box that contains magic! Literally it kept three toddlers ages 4-2 busy for a couple of days. The box is based on a book. Each month is a kids classic story book. The activities are educational yet fun. There are several activities per box based on the book but with a life of their own.

July’s box is based on the book Jump, Frog, Jump! by Robert Kalan. In the box you will find, the book, a book mark, a personalized door knob hanger, and the different activities, each packaged individually with their instructions. The book mark gives you a snip of how the book helps the development of your child and also list a couple of questions to “encourage reading comprehension”. The most exciting thing about the book is that it is absolutely complete. There is nothing you will need. The activities everything, from the paper, the glue, the paint, brush to the cup (I don’t even know how she managed to fit everything in the box!). Besides the instructions the activities also have “Questions to scaffold learning”. Because the boxes are designed for ages 3-8 there are also instructions on how to adapt the activities for Little Ivy kids as well as Junior Ivy kids. It also has a learning goals and skills that will be develop with the activity.

Some of the activities in the box for July are Race the Pond game. This game includes the board game, the frogs and the die. The questions for scaffolding learning include: Can you count your jumps out loud? How many insects did your frog get? The learning goal in this one is math. Another activity is the Story Sticks, this particular activity includes characters from the book in sticks. The sticks are used to re-enact the story. Some questions for learning are: How do you think the frog will get away? And the developing skill is language art. My favorite activity for July is the Letter Jump. In the letter jump there are jumpy frogs and 3 letter lilly pad boards. The objective of the activity/game is making the frog jump and seeing where it lands. Some of the ways it helps learning are letters, sounds. A Junior tip for this game is to find words that start with the letter the frog fell on. This helps in letter identification and counting.

The activities
The activities

These boxes are absolutely awesome. You can get them monthly, or sign up for 3 or 6 months subscriptions. Right now for their launch they have a discount code “IVYLAUNCH”, which gives you $5 off a monthly or 3 months subscription or $10 off a 6 months subscription. I enjoyed the box a lot and so did my tots. There were activities for days and all the games have a learning purpose, this is really what I enjoyed the most. Everything is so organized and complete. It is ready for your kids to have fun and learn. Head on over to site and take advantage of the discount! It is worth it!

NY Baby Show 2014

There are few events in New York City that are so big that need to days to take place, the New York Baby Show is one of them. This show gathers a lot of the best baby brands and adds some great local resources. This year there were some great usual suspects in the baby gear world like Joovy (http://www.joovy.com/default.aspx), Britax (http://www.britaxusa.com/), Stokke (http://www.stokke.com/USA/en_US/home), and Ergobaby (http://store.ergobaby.com/). But also new comers like the Nurse Purse (http://nursepurse.com/) and Name Bubbles (https://www.namebubbles.com/Default.aspx).  There was also some new companies that I thought were great and really caught my attention, like Tidy Tots Cloth Diapers and and Zen-Rocks and the Trio Bike (http://www.triobike.com/). Of course there was also a Babies R Us booth were expectant moms can begin or complete their registry.

 

Tidy Tots (http://www.tidytotsdiapers.com/) is a cloth diaper that really caught my attention, not only because they were the first booth I saw but the design of the diaper cover is awesome, and it has a really tight fit in the leg but you can customize the absorbency. The prints are really cute and they are made in the United States. (Side Note: I have been using these since I purchased them at the show on Saturday and absolutely LOVE them! Review of these will be my next post!)

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Zen-Rocks (http://zen-rocks.com/) was presented at the show by Eyla’s Imports. There are silicone super cute teether. This show was the companies launch which was great because it was a good opportunity to give them feedback right away on the design and the feel of the product. It comes in different designs like shark tooth as well as a sand dollars. I got the crescent moon in the hot pink, and it’s so cute.

The Trio Bike is a bicycle that can carry up to 4 kids! How awesome is that!!?

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Throughout the two day event, there were seminars including a big one moderated by Rosie Pope, which included Damian Pope, the President and CEO of Rosie Pope Maternity, Jada Shapiro and Anna Merrill, the founders of Birthday Prescence amongst others. There were also demonstrations and seminars on different baby topics like breastfeeding and baby wearing as well as how to choose a pre-school and determining the readiness of your marriage to have a baby.

This is a family show, there are different activities for the kids like face painting, music from Music Together, and a baseball pitching station provided by The Baseball Center NYC. The show also provides an opportunity for new parents to test out different strollers in the stroller track. There is no gift bag but there are some goodies you can collect from different vendors. If you want to enjoy a family afternoon and learn about new companies, then you should check out this show, especially since the ticket is pretty cheap at about $30 for a family ticket. I like that the show is two days giving families more opportunity to check it out.

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There are a couple of things that stand out from this show like: the Dads Lounge, the stroller track, the new products and the activities for kids. I didn’t particularly enjoy this year as much as previous years. I feel there were less companies and I missed Beco Baby Carriers, Little Pim, Baby Mum Mum, and Graco. The food was pretty pricey and the space could be better used.

For the price you can’t beat it though. It’s fun, it’s two days, and it’s a great time for the kids. Make sure to add it to your list of things to do next year!

Who’s your mama? The Mamas Expo-Exposed!

The theme for this years The Mamas Expo was Who’s your Mama? Brilliant! This is th type of expo that is exciting because it’s fun, informative, and mostly free! Queens Mamas is a local resource for parents and they throw this awesome expo for families to attend. The expo if full of local information for parents like summer camps, schools, after school programs, and the most innovative baby products. The expo is held at the New York Hall of Science, which is one of my top 5 places to visit in Queens, so this is extra special. The expo is free with the Museum admission, how awesome is that?

 

This is a family event, so through out the day there is music performances from Music Together, there was a fire truck from the FDNY, games and a lot of other cool things like face painting. This year there was also a new parent lounge where companies like 4Moms were doing demos on how to use different baby gear.

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There were a ton of new innovative products like the Playtime Tee and the Grow with Me Tee. This second one, I really loved. It’s a T-shirt that has the year your child will graduate school and you take a picture with the shirt every school year until they fit in it! Absolutely adorable.

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Another spot I really enjoyed was the Babies R Us table. They have a big space for moms to start their registry and also had tons of goodie bags to get them started. IMG_0180 IMG_0181

Of course there is some nice swag involved. The VIP ticket gets you a super cute bag with the logo of the expo, Who’s your Mama? and some awesome swag inside like Goodnight Nanny Cam Book, a NY Kids Club T-shirt, Experimenting with Babies book and a MAM bottle. These are just some of the goodies. Of course we don’t go for the swag but it certainly is nice to get it! DSC_0191

This is one of those events were it’s great to bring the whole family and have a fun day. There is something for everyone to get excited about. The kids can be entertained, the mom and dads can get the information they need and you also enjoy the Museum. Again this year the knocked it out of the ball park with the event! If you live in NYC and even Long Island check it out next year. You’ll have a great time!

Big City Moms Biggest Babyshower

Biggest Babyshower by Big City Moms is probably the best information, swag event for expectant and new mothers. Twice a year in cities like Miami, New York and LA, moms are exposed to a huge list of local resources and gear vendors and seminars by professionals in the field of parenting. This year the New York event, held at the Metropolitan Pavilion was included seminars by Laura Kalehoff from Fit Pregnancy, Liza Huber from Sage Spoonfuls and Keith Garber from Babyganics amongst others.

If you need to plan your registry this is the perfect event. You can prepare your registry at the Babies R Us table after checking out all the vendors in attendance. Some of the vendors at this shower included Britax, Beco, Peg Perego, Ergo, Babyganics, Plum Organics. Most tables have samples for moms to take home and try as well as different raffles. This is the best opportunity to ask questions from the manufacturers and play with the gear.

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It is also a great chance to check out new gear like this infrared thermometer. Image

The event is also social and fun. You can eat while you mingle. The food at the NYC event is provided by Big Daddy’s. There are also various stations where you can hydrate have something to drink. There is also a pampering station where moms can get their hair done and get a mini manicure or makeup done. Its a great opportunity for mom to be to relax and enjoy a night out before baby arrives. It’s the perfect combination of of baby learning and also taking care of yourself.

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There are multiple ways to score at this event, more than information that is. When you purchase a ticket there are various options. One is a regular ticket, which just covers your entrance and all the samples you can get from vendors. There are 3 other options. The Standard, Super, and the Ultimate pass. The Standard included your entrance, a BINGO card (the BINGO card is a card you get stamped by the vendors and at the end you get a BINGO prized if you get 20 stamps!), access to the seminars, food, treats and shopping. The Super pass includes everything the Standard does but also includes a Beco Baby Carrier and an overflowing gift bag. The Ultimate pass is the big ticket. There are only limited amounts of these tickets. It includes everything from the Standard, but it also includes a baby carrier and another big ticket item. For this specific NYC event it was a lillebaby Baby Carrier and a Peg Perego Rialto Booster Seat.

The overflowing gift bag is INSANE! There is more than $300 worth of baby products in these bags. You will not be disappointed. This is the kind of event where you really have to pack light because you will be struggling to carry all the swag home. The swag is a great way to try other items at home and decide what you want to use best. I forgot to mention that BINGO gift can be anything from a car seat to a stroller or a diaper bag. This year I was lucky to get the Maxi-Cosi Kaia stroller.

ImageImage  There is no way a picture can show you everything in the bag, but to give you an idea there are bottles from Born Free, Avent, and Dr. Browns. Toys from Skip Hop and Tiny Love and cleaning supplies from Dapple. There are also items for moms like samples from Mama Mio. Don’t worry if you can’t afford the ticket that includes the gift bag, the table swag is pretty good too. Image

I recommend this even to any expectant mom or new mom. There is so much to gain from it. From the seminars, the vendors and the pampering it is a great night. And don’t think dads are excluded, some you can get couples passes (which is good so he can help you carry the swag!) and they even have a “dad lounge” so they can hang out together!

Go, learn and have fun! You won’t regret it!

 

The Dragon and The Rabbit

Last week I attended the launch party of a new super cute clothing line for kids. The Dragon and the Rabbit (www.thedragonandtherabbit.com), is a whimsical, cute, and easy to wear line. The colors of the collection are very in trend with the nautical theme. The pieces are red, navy blue and white. There are multiple pieces in the collection, from dresses to jeans there is something for the child in your life.

 

The designer is Anjana Eapen-Sathaye, after working in the New York fashion industry and becoming a mom she decided to create this clothing line. Its name come from her children one born in the year of the dragon and the other one born in the year of the rabbit. The clothes are made of natural cotton fabrics that are easy to take care of and feel soft on the children’s skin. Image

I really love this line. It’s easy, comfortable pieces, with limited embellishments yet enough character for any fashionable tot. The pieces also provide a lot of versatility thanks to the colors and the fabrics. My favorite pieces are the dress on top, which can be used as a dress for a little girl or a shirt for an older girl. For the boys my favorite piece is this cute polo with a train. Image

If you are looking for fashionably, easy maintenance, chic clothes for you kids, this is great for you. Prices range from $30 to $60 dollars which is pretty good. And if the cute clothes and good price is not enough to make you buy them, know that a portion of the sales go to the Children’s Heart Foundation (www.babyheart.org)

So go ahead, not only will your kid look good, you will also be helping another child!

Here are more pictures from the party, which was held at The Children’s Museum of Art in NYC.

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Do you know what Gearapalooza is???

What is it? An expo dedicated to baby gear. Created by Bump Club and Beyond this expo is for moms to get together and learn about baby gear. It is also a great opportunity to hear seminars about which baby gear is absolutely necessary to bring the baby home, and where should you really spend more or less time deciding.

Where? Gearapalooza started as a six city tour and this year expanded to twelve cities. I attended the New Jersey stop.

How? You get a ticket. It includes light dinner, bingo card (which could score you some really nice prizes- I happen to win the Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat), and a gift bag.

One of the things that makes this expo special is that they have partnered up with Jamie Grayson, The Baby Guy NYC. He is the featured speaker for the expo and explains what is important when choosing an infant car seat and how baby gear should be divided. He discusses five categories: car seat, stroller, mattress, baby carrier, and breast pump.

If you are a mom to be or a new mom, you need to know about Gearpalooza. The great thing about this expo in specific is that it is held in local baby stores where you can purchase what you need. The New Jersey stop at Nesalee Baby in Livingston. This was a super chic baby store, and another benefit of the expo is that you can create your baby registry with discounts. The evening also included light dinner, and a swag bag. The New Jersey stopped included exhibitions by Bugaboo, Chicco, 4 Moms, Beco Baby Carriers, Nuna USA, Stokke, Maxi Cosi, Uppa Baby, and Dr. Smiths Diaper Ointment.

The swag bag was awesome. It had some great stuff like Skip Hop Pronto Changing Station, Maxi Cosi Footmuff, MAM bottle and my item was the Stokke foldable bath.

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The link for the expo is http://bumpclubandbeyond.com/gearapalooza/

If you can check it out is totally worth it, the information you get is essentially priceless! This is really a great investment in your baby planning. And if you don’t see a stop in your city or near buy, let them know, this years 12th city was picked by the fans!

Savor the moment.

I didn’t want to make The Mommy Elf a personal blog/site. But today I need to share with you what is going on in my life. See, my 2 year old has neuroblastoma. And right now we are cancer free, hopefully we’ll stay like that after his June checkup. My post is not about that though, is more about how we as parents deal with it, with illness that is. For me, it has been a process of spoiling my baby and trying to give him everything he wants. And this is hard. As he is quickly becoming the poster child for “terrible 2’s”, I worry about EVERYTHING with him. I worry that he is not eating, I worry when he doesn’t respond to his name, I worry when he wakes up and goes right back to bed, I worry when he is drowsy or hyper, I worry every time something happens to him. A booboo in his arm or a bump in his head are things that 90% of the time keep me awake. Watching him. I stare at him and marvel at the beauty of this tiny person who I carried for 9 months and whose time with me, might be limited. I try to savor every kiss and every hug. I try to take mental pictures, more than real pictures because I want to live the moment in front of it and not behind the camera.

Yesterday I posted on Facebook the story of Larry and his daughter Savvy. She was 2 years old and she went to bed and didn’t wake up. He made me think about my fortune of having my boy still with me. I think of his stolen moments and try to have as many moments as I can, because you never know. Our time is so short here and sometimes we, as parents, take that for granted. We get so busy making schedules for playdates, classes (gym, zoo, karate, music), we over-schedule birthday parties, we take thousands of pictures, yet we forget to live the moment. To stop and just breath and enjoy. To savor every second that we possibly can with these little people who in an instant are going to be off to college, married, with kids of their own! It might sound like I’m exaggerating, but that’s how I feel. Every day is a gift more valuable and more precious than any big house, expensive car, or hefty bank account. Life is the most valuable gift we have.

You might ask why I’m thinking about this. Well today my baby decided to play and bumped his head in a glass table. It was such a small accident. And when I saw him I broke down. I re-lived every moment in the hospital with him. He got a bump in his head and I acted like he had fallen of a building. I don’t know how to explain it other than I am terrified. I am terrified of having those moments taken away from me. I pray. I just ask God to let me enjoy him and all my loved ones just a bit longer.

So if anything I just want to help you stop and think. Think about slowing down. Enjoy the ride, the moments, the hugs and the kisses. You can always make up a missed music class, but you can never make up time with your kids.

 

Cloth Diapering- The beginning!

Any mom who has successfully cloth diapered will tell you 2 things:

1. it’s addicting

2. it’s easy

But there are other more important reasons why cloth diapering is beneficial: it saves money, it reduces waste and protects your babies bum!

Because I wanted to know exactly what I talk about when I write these posts, I decided to start cloth diapering myself. Crazy to think I would be able to do it since I have 2 toddlers, and I admit it seemed very very hard, but I decided to commit. 3 months later I am loving it. Like everything it has it’s hard days (a day with multiple bowl movements), but for the most part it’s as easy as using a disposable diaper.

The first thing you need to know is the types of diapers:

-Prefolds= these are the diapers that our grandmas mostly used. They have 3 sides with a thicker center. It gets folded and secured with a snappy and a cover goes on top of it.

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-AIO (All in One)= this is the type of diaper that is all together, the cover and the absorbent liner are sown in.

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-Pocket= this diaper has a pocket where you insert one or multiple inserts (microfiber or bamboo are great) for absorbency.

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-Hybrid= a diaper with different ways of using it.

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After the type of diaper you need to know the different accessories:

-Snappy. Snappies are used in place of safety pins. They are used to secure the prefold diapers.

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-Diaper cover= this is just a waterproof cover to put over the prefolds

-Wet bag= a place to put your dirty items in

-Liners= these can be placed on top of the diapers so that when stool is solid you can just pick up the liner and toss it in the toilet.

-Wipes= cloth wipes make sense to use with cloth diapers. They come in different materials like hemp, cotton or fleece.

-Wipe solution= you can make it yourself, just add water to a spray bottle and wet the wipe, or you can buy some solutions.

-Diaper sprayer= this is a spray hose that you can hook up to the toilet and rinse your diapers on the toilet. I haven’t found this to be of any use, but some people LOVE their sprayer.

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The second thing is preparing. You need to know how many diapers you need, get detergent, prepare your diapers for usage. So on.

*When choosing which diaper to use (AIO, hybrid, pocket or prefolds). I recommend getting a couple of each. This is really a very personal choice. Some people love the easiness of AIO, while others like the versatility  of hybrids. Trial and error is the way to go. But if you want start with pockets. Think about choosing between Pampers, Huggies or Luvs!

For a newborn you will need between 15-24 diapers. This really depends on how much your baby soils their diaper. (With my baby I started with 15).

For infants and toddlers, you can decide how many diapers you need based on the amount of times they need to get changed and also how often you want to do laundry. If you are going to do laundry every other day then you’ll never need more than 24 diapers, but if you are taking an extra day and plan on doing laundry every 2 days then you might run out of clean diapers. For example: my daughter is 3.5 months, she uses about 4 diapers a day and I do laundry every other night so I never really use more than 10 diapers before I do laundry.

For the detergent, you need to make sure that it is safe for cloth diapers, since you will be washing these quite often, you need to make sure that the detergent doesn’t strip the absorbency of the diaper. Here is a great chart on different detergents.

 

Once you pick a detergent (I have been using Charlies Soap-great with stains) and get your diapers you need to get them ready to use. This process is called “stripping”. This basically means to get rid of any chemicals that might be on the diaper. You can follow the manufacturers instructions or you can wash your diapers about 4-5 times some with cold water and some with hot.

The you are ready to begin!!!

To take care of the diapers just take the diaper of the baby, and toss it in the diaper pail If your baby has more solid stool then you’ll probably rinse it with the sprayer and then toss it in the pail. (You can get a diaper liner- which is a huge wet bag!). I just use a hanging wet bag in the bathroom. When you are ready to do the laundry follow these steps:

~Take the insert out (if you are using a pocket).

~Toss everything in the machine, including the wet bags

~Run a cold cycle in the machine

~Add detergent and run a hot cycle

~Rinse in cold water

~Hang to dry. I don’t have a line outside so I hang them to dry in a drying rack in the hallway. If you have a line take use of it. The sun is a great tool to keep the diapers stain free. I like to hang everything to dry, but you can choose to hang the covers and dry the inserts in the dryer. This is what I use to hang my diapers

 

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After they dry I get them ready to go, by either stuffing the inserts or folding them the right way. There are many ways to store the diapers, mine are in a drawer.

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Here is a list of super helpful websites were you can not only get diapers, you can also score pretty good deals. Get detergent, tips and other specials.

www.kellyscloset.com

www.dirtydiaperlaundry.com

www.diaperjunction.com

www.clothdiapers.us.com

Have fun… Let us know how you cloth diaper!!