Category Archives: Children

Toms Shoes: A Review and a Give-away

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By now you should know that I won’t do a review on Morningside Mom unless there is something about that product that truly impresses me. Well, I have another one for you. Toms Shoes approached me and asked that I review a pair of shoes for them. But these aren’t just a pair of shoes. In case you don’t know about Toms Shoes, I am going to tell you what makes this specific shoe company so very special.

shoe4The Toms Shoes company was started by Blake Mycoskie after he visited Argentina and noticed how many children did not have any shoes. His dream for this company was to create a shoe that he could sell and give away. Let me explain further. He wanted his company to make it possible to donate one pair of shoes to a child in need with every one purchased. That’s right. And he did. After one year, he and his family and friends were ready to donate over 10,000 shoes to children in Argentina. Next stop was South Africa where he and his crew dropped off 50,000 shoes. And in 2008 it was planned that they donate over 200,000 shoes worldwide.

Ok, now watch this.

Pretty amazing, right?

Ok, so lets get down to the shoes themselves. What did I think?

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Well, in terms of style, I was a liiiittle nervous. I’ll admit, I was worried they’d be kind of like grandma shoes. I am just being honest here. I wasn’t sure they’d really be my style. So I looked through all the various patterns available online and went for a fun “Element” shoe style. At least I knew these shoes wouldn’t look anything like what Grandma would wear.

shoes2But here’s the thing. When I got them, they actually looked a lot cooler than I expected. I was pleasantly surprised. And my favorite part about the shoes? When I slipped them on, I didn’t want to take them off. Because, my friend, they’re like butta. So dang comfy. Granted, they don’t have a ton of support – these are flat shoes made of canvas. But they are well made and I really, truly never want to take them off. (Maybe I should get Grandma a pair, I think she wouldn’t take them off either.)

Now down to the fun part.

It’s giveaway time!

I have the DVD of their award winning documentary about their first shoe drop in Argentina and a coupon code worth $50 in Tom’s Shoes to give away to a Morningside Mom reader.

How do you enter? Leave a comment below about a time you’ve given back to your community or something you would like to do for your community. Real answers please, don’t just respond with some general Ms. America “I want to save the world” comment. Think about it for the sake of making change happen – like Toms Shoes has.

I will pick a winner at random on Monday March 16th.

Thanks and good luck!

**UPDATE: WE HAVE A WINNER!!**

Ilinap from Dirt and Noise was picked at random and has won the Toms Shoes giveaway! Congrats Ilinap!

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Filed under Africa, Causes, Children, Contests, Gifts, Philanthropy, Raising Awareness, Reccomendations, Reviews

Everyone Poops: A Father’s Example

If you have small children and you are potty training, perhaps even trying to explain the normalcy of bowel movements, it’s likely then that you have the book “Everyone Poops”. While it guarantees gales of giggles with every read, it also teaches children that everyone and every living thing, well, poops.

It’s really no big deal, right?

Of course with two boys it is no surprise that “Everyone Poops” is a bedtime favorite around here. However. My husband has brought this book to life a bit, and I am sure he is not the only husband who has. My husband likes to add certain sound effects while reading “Everyone Poops”. I have never made said sound effects while reading it myself (yeah, I’m such a lady) but thats ok. My boys will make the sounds for me. With sprays of spit and rattling raspberries, all three of them have become very talented at poop sounds while hopefully learning that yes, in fact, everyone poops. Maybe the youngest will finally be inspired enough to someday put his poop in the potty. Maybe.

In the meantime, here is a quick video I made of my husband and the example he has set for our children with the book “Everyone Poops”. Never underestimate what complexities a father can pass on to his children.

Enjoy. 

4 Comments

Filed under Boys, Children, Fathers, Growing up, Parenting, Potty Training, Silliness, Teaching kids

Mom Bloggers Tweetup at Seaworld

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This Sunday, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Seaworld with a fabulous crew of mom bloggers. All thanks to Ted Murphy at IZEA and Wendy Piersall at Sparkplugging.com, we were able to spend an entire day at the park soaking up all things aquatic. I had never been to Orlando’s Seaworld before and was very excited to see what all the fuss was about. And while I wasn’t able to bring my children, I got to see the park through the eyes of the other mom blogger’s children – all while plying them with cotton candy.

So who did I go with? Well the wonderful Shellie from Blog 4 Mom , the brilliant Susan from Egg Marketing and Sometimes Parenting Sucks , the wildly witty Britt from Miss Britt, and the beautiful Melanie from Modern Mami. And had I ever met these women before? Well, here and there on Twitter or in passing at Blog Her last year – but for the most part we met as strangers. But c’mon. Give us some credit. We blog, we’re moms, we had pleeeenty in common. We really had a wonderful day together and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to hang out with them and their families.

Now what about the park? From sea exhibit to shining sea exhibit, I had an amazing time. Since it is February, the weather was perfect and the park was not very crowded. We walked casually to each section, we never felt too overwhelmed by other visitors and enjoyed every sea creature we saw.

The dolphin area was amazing. Visitors had the chance to feed dolphins and reach out to pet them if they happened to be at arms length. You could truly enjoy this creatures curiousity – they are such wonderful and social animals. The under water viewing area was impressive. The dolphins peered right back at us, swimming slowly by. I think they were equally entertained.

After checking out some wonderful manatee (and debating with husbands whether they are technically considered “cute” – which they are), we went to the Blue Horizons Whale and Dolphin show. I happened to capture the finale on video to share with my children and all of you.

Afterwards, we grabbed some lunch and then headed over to the shark exhibit. I really enjoyed being able to move through the shark tank and see them swim over us. I also appreciated seeing how thick that glass was separating us and the sharks!

The big event for the afternoon was the Shamu Show “Believe”. We all made sure to get spots as close to the front without technically being in the “splash zone”. If the kids had a choice however, we would have been right down front, bracing for wave impact. Nope. We mom bloggers are practical, we stayed dry. But I did catch that finale on video also.

At this point, the kids had been pretty good about following our agenda so we let them run wild in Shamu’s Happy Harbor while we chatted. Or should I say, the moms chatted and the dads braved the climbing contraption with netted tubes three stories above us. While we compared blog tips and tweeted from iphones, the dad’s sweated their way through it all, each coming back down exhausted and a bit overwhelmed. Be prepared if you head up into that maze yourselves, it is not really built for adults sizes or large crowds and can get very warm!

Our final stop was for the wild at heart. A few of the mom bloggers braved the Kraken – a ginormous roller coaster found at the back of the park. It absolutely took my breath away and was an incredible ride. Awesome for sure, but it left me seeing stars a bit on the way back to the car. (Groan, am I getting too old for roller coasters? …never.)

All in all, it was an amazing day. Seaworld is wonderful park for every aged family member. While it brings a lot of the Florida sea life to visitors, it does a great job giving us real accessibility to the animals. Afterwards, visitors are left with an educational visit and a true appreciation for what is really living in our oceans.  

Find some time when it won’t be crowded at Seaworld and go yourself!

**Update**

Izea is sponsoring a Seaworld trip for four! The contest begins February 11th and ends March 10th and is very easy to enter. Go check it out!

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Filed under Animal appreciation, Bloggers, Children, Florida, Reccomendations, Reviews, Theme Parks, Vacation

Mothers are Lame

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Being a mom is boring. Its just lame. Its not interesting. It is about as exciting as watching paint dry. And before you start commenting up a storm about how untrue this is, how mothers are unsung heroes and need all the props in the world – well, I actually wholeheartedly agree with you. But still, in the eyes of the world, when a mother starts talking about her day, said world’s eyes glaze right over. And you know I’m right.

Here’s the irony. While a mother’s day might be considered lame, it is actually fast paced and filled with action.  A typical day might include learning how to change a poopy diaper while using every one of your limbs to pin that child so they don’t get up or take a swipe at something they shouldn’t. Or how about making 2 lunches at the same time while piercing shrieks are directed right at you. Cold sweat anyone? Or many don’t realize that mothers play goalie many afternoons, keeping balls from rolling into streets or going over fences. Or try shopping with kids. You want excitement? I’ll give you excitement.

But when a friend or family member or even someone who does technically care very much asks you “How was your day?” Just try and rehash what you did. Try and explain how tough that poopy diaper was. How many times you had to put your two year old back into time out. How you had to pick grapes out of the speaker. No matter what adventure you had been on that day that challenged you to your wits end, one thing remains true…

It’s boring.

Yup, rehashing a mother’s day just does not get anyone’s pulse racing. I don’t know why but its the truth. Its as if something is lost in translation.

“And you should have seen him, writhing around, I had each of my feet pinning his legs and the wipes in one hand and I was leaning on his body, he kicked me once in the head (luckily the bleeding wasn’t too bad) BUT I got it all, I got ALL the poop off his ass! Amazing, huh?”

*Crickets*

Boring. Lame.  It’s not interesting.

So where does that leave mothers? When that’s all they do? When all that they have accomplished is simply reflected in clean, fed, healthy, sleeping children at the end of a day? Well, its leaves them with just that. Clean, fed, healthy sleeping children. And expecting some kind of award, or oohing and ahhing for this achievement, just won’t get you anywhere. Don’t be bitter. It’s your gig now. There is not a lot of positive feedback and there are no bonuses for extra time put in. The reality is folks don’t really want to hear about every single detail and I’m afraid that makes it pretty damn isolating. Sorry. I know we deserve red carpets and gold trophies – but that’s just the way it is.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love being home with my kids. I know how lucky I am to have this time with them. Its just, well, I can’t expect anyone who wasn’t there next to me changing that poopy diaper to really give a crap (so to speak).

Mothers are lame. Healthy, clean, fed, sleeping children certainly are NOT. But mothers and their adventures are, no bones about it, *yawn*, next subject please, laaaame.

And you know what’s even more lame? A post about moms talking about their days and how lame that is. Is anyone even reading this? Bueller? …Bueller?

(Oh and one more thing. If you think you get crickets telling people what you do home with your kids all day, try telling them you blog. *Blink* Maybe my next post needs to be titled “But Bloggers are REALLY Lame.”)

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Filed under Children, Family, Mothers, Parenting, Reality check

The Rants and Raves of a Potty Trainer

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“Baby. When you feel like your body is telling you there is a pee pee about to come out, you make sure you LISTEN TO YOU BODY. Ok? Ok, honey? Ok? …Ok??”

“C.! Where does pee pee go? Huh??? Where does it go?! You know, you’re so smart. IN THE POTTY, right? Right, C.?? IN THE POTTY!!! YAAAY FOR POTTIES!!! THEY”RE SO COOL!!! …what?”

“Hey hon, remember, you don’t have a Pull Up on. If you feel like a pee pee needs to come out, you need to go put it IN THE POTTY. Ok, baby? That’s all. So easy.”

“Whats your body telling you??? Any pee pee in there?”

“I GOT AN IDEA!!!! How about if you put a pee pee in the potty, I’ll give you a sticker! You can put it on the potty if you want!! What do you think? WHAT DO YOU THINK?”

“Or how about a cookie?”

“….Or one of Mommy’s South Beach bars….?”

“AAHHHHHOHMYGODYOUDIDITYOUPEEPEEDYOUDIDITAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!”

“Ok, um…. careful, CAREFUL!!!! Don’t spill it… yes you’re a big boy, ok, carefulCAREFULCAREFUL!!!!”

“Its ok baby. Yup, mommy will pick it up.”

“Ok you can help….. um…. yup, into the potty. Ok LETS WASH HANDS!!! YAY!!!!! …hey… GET BACK HERE!”

“So. Baby? If you have poops, they go in the potty too. Ok?”

“Here, lets put the potty on the PORCH. Fun! And heres a book! Fun!! Just hang out and read your book and if you feel that poop just **PUUUUUSH**…mmmkay? Kay, baby?”

“What? Wheres the poop? Did you put it in…? ….OH! Ok. Well. It was very close, hon. So close. Not too far away at all. Yes, thank you for showing me where it is, now back up.”

“ACKDON’TTOUCHITDON’TTOUCHIT!!!!! …Oh, I didn’t mean to scare you. MOMMY just needs to pick it up, ok?”

“Ok, let’s put it IN your little potty right where it belongs, ok? And now we’ll go back to the bathroom and flush it. OK? OK? Because poops go *IN* the pottty. Right??? Right baby?”

“Um… Alright. You can carry the potty. …just… careful? ok?”

“BLAOHHAHHWATCHOUTFOR…. oh baby you tripped. Are you ok? Just stand up! Careful now. Back up, ok? You need your boo-boo bear? Um, ok. Wait here. NO DON’T TOUCH THE MESS.”

“DON’T TOUCH, Mommy cleans up, you sit with your boo boo bear, I got this. …Oh.  …You want to help?

“You get the clorox wipes, *I* get the spray. No baby, I get the spray.”

“Ok, NOW the poop goes in the potty. Bye bye poops! Bye bye! Go ahead and flush… ok… AND DON’T MOVE A MUSCLE ITS TIME TO WASH HANDS SO HELP ME GOD!!! …Yes. You can do it.”

“OK!!!! GOOD JOB BABY!!! …So… how about lets put on your Pull Up for now, ok?”

“And here’s your sticker… and Mommy’s South Beach bar.”

8 Comments

Filed under Children, Growing up, Panicking, Parenting, Potty Training, Teaching kids

Inauguration Activities for your Children

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In case you hadn’t noticed, I am very excited about the upcoming inauguration of President-Elect Obama. And as a mom, I think it is only fair that I share the excitement of this historical event with my children too. I also think this is the perfect opportunity to teach our children about the United States presidency and the purpose of an inauguration. So, after doing some research, I have found all sorts of fun ways to engage our children in this historical event.

Where to begin? First, and depending on their age, you might want to explain to your children what the United States President is actually responsible for. Ben’s Guide will give your kids a simple but fairly thorough explanation.You may also want to show your children our nation’s past 43 presidents. White House.gov provides a list of past presidents along with interesting facts about each. And what better way to remember our presidents than to learn a rap about all 44 of them? The song and lyrics can be found here.

The inauguration is as much a celebration as it is a learning experience for our children. Parents should think about explaining what this inauguration is for and what it means for so many people. Here are some excellent books which will teach children further about the presidency and the inauguration process:

Our President-Elect represents a great deal to our country. His principles, his history as a politician and recent election can teach our kids many important lessons. Princemensah at Ehow wrote a wonderful article about the inspiring lessons children should learn from Barack Obama. One suggested lesson reads:

“Point out the lesson of working with different people.

The President-Elect has a history of working with people with differing views. From Harvard to the Hill, he has established faith and friendship with people who do not share his views. This attitude is critical to a nation sharply divided over war and worries over the economy. Your children need to know about the value of being able to gain the respect of your enemies.”

While teaching our children about the inauguration is important, there are plenty of fun, interactive ways to include them in all the celebrating too. Active learning with lots of cutting and pasting always gets the brain moving. As I mentioned in a post before, Kaboose.com has some excellent craft ideas for children. More crafts can also be found at Amazing Moms.com.

Does your child dream of becoming President of the United States someday? Scholastic.com has a fun game for older children where they can decide what they would do if they were president.

If you have an inauguration whiz on your hands, perhaps the whole family can sit down and play this inauguration quiz found at pbs.org

Or do you have a musician in the house? Have them try playing “Hail to the Chief”. The sheet music can be found here if you click on the “score” icon at the top left of the page.

Are you looking for coloring pages? So that your young ones can stay busy coloring up a storm on Tuesday, we’ve got plenty of links to share:

While the rest of your household readies for the inauguration, you may be wondering how you can engage your tween or high schooler further. Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel and MTV will all be hosting events with many favorite performers like the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus.

With millions of visitors expected to converge on the capitol next week, it is likely that some of you are headed there as well. Due to all of the security restrictions, I am sure you are frustrated to hear that it may be very difficult to bring your children to the inauguration itself.

That being said, there will be so much to do in the DC area for families. Be sure to check out Go City Kids for all of the city wide activities. And did you know that there will be, in fact, a Children’s Inaugural Ball?

And for those families like mine who are scrambling to figure out how to celebrate inauguration day hundreds of miles away from Washington DC, be sure to check locally for events and activities for children on the day of the inauguration. I know that Borders will hosting inaugural events in some cities, so it’s worth doing further research online.

So strike up Hail to the chief, hang your coloring pages proudly, maybe do a little presidential rap, and enjoy celebrating the inauguration with your entire family this coming Tuesday, January 20th.

Crossed posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Children, Education, Family, Government, Inauguration, Inspiring people, MTV, Music, Obama, Parenting, Patriotism, Presidency, Reccomendations, Teaching kids

Be a Better Parent without Forgeting about Yourself

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This is a post for parents. For mothers and fathers whose lives have done an entire 180 and have landed *splat* face down on the sidewalk since they have had children. After five years of parenting, I consider myself entirely too enlightened about one key factor: the you, the “you” you knew before your kids were left in a bundle on your doorstep, will become a scarce, mythical beast, read only about in fairy tales, lest you corner that old “you”, wrastle it to the ground and trap it in a place you can access on a daily basis.

What am I on about? Parents know. Its the days of wearing old t-shirts because your breasts are leaking constantly. Its cutting your hair because you are tired of having it yanked out a strand at a time. Its crushed crackers in a diaper bag, while all the cute bags slowly fade out of style in your closet. Its Friday nights asleep on the couch while a well intentioned DVD plays in the background. Its the groundhog days filled with time outs, thrown applesauce, nails down the chalk board screams, flushed toys and poopy diaper wrestling. It’s considering your annual trip to your OBGYN “a day out”. It’s never having a private moment in the bathroom. Ever.

Please. To all my brothers and sisters in the trenches of parenthood. Take a look around. When was the last time you went on a date with your partner? When was the last time you wore something “dry clean only”? When was the last time you left the house without diapers, snacks, sippy cups, and an outift change? When was the last time you slept somewhere away from your children and then – gasp – allowed yourself to sleep in past 7am?

It is so very important to remember what makes you happy. Yes, yes. Your happy child makes you happy. So does 8pm when they are (God willing) in bed finally. But what makes YOU tick? Before kids. Did you like to read? (And I don’t mean board books.) Did you have a hobby? Did you see friends often? Did you exercise? Did you have actual leisure time?

Did you?

Do you have any of that stuff now? No??? Go find it. Quick. Hire a sitter, even if it costs money. Figure out a girls night out. Have a friend take the kids for an afternoon. Check the guilt at the door and do something for YOURSELF.

Because if you don’t, you will truly lose yourself and your mind. You will forget who you are. You will actually forget what you truly LIKE to do. All of the sudden, ALL that you know about yourself is being… well… a parent. Take away the kids, and suddenly there is nothing left. Your identity is simply… a mom. Or a dad.

And it can happen so quickly. You’re there and then *POOF*, suddenly, you’re gone.

No disrespect of course. Being a parent is an incredible and, yes, noble job. It is an honorable identity to assume, and every parent should claim that title with pride. As my aunt always reminds me, parenting it the hardest job there is. Yeah, you bet your animal crackers it is. And THAT’S exactly why its so easy to loose yourself. There is so much to do while parenting that when you forget about the “you” stuff, the “kid” stuff seeps in and fills in all the cracks. There is always a sippy cup to fill, a puzzle to make, and a nose – or bum – to wipe. Just let someone else do it once in awhile, that’s all. It will still be there when you get back. No one will take the title of “mom” or “dad” away from you. Just be your first name, the name you had before “mom” or “dad”, once and awhile.

Have you still not shaken your parental guilt to consider more time for yourself? Don’t forget that when you are happier, you are a happier – and therefore better – parent. And then theres the whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” thing. When you take some time away, you do miss your kids. And upon your return, you and your partner will actually fight for the chance to change a poopy diaper. Seriously, it happens.

And I know the tough times of parenting are fleeting. I am betting my wiser readers who have been parents longer than I have are pleading to me “Oh but enjoy these tough days. Enjoy your child before he grows up. They will be gone in an instant!”

Sadly, I know that. And I fear that. Everyday I bring my 5 year old home from school and I hold him tight tight tight because I can literally feel his mind and body growing in my arms. But that is also my point. They DO grow up so damn fast. And then in an instant, they are off to college. Where does that leave you? If your child went to college today (forget that he or she is a 2 year old toddler) – who would you be right now? How would you identify yourself? What kind of fun would you have with your spouse? Do you know? You need to know. Think about it.

Now please do not assume I actually have this figured out. (Snort.) Honestly? I am writing this post while deeply in the trenches of an extraordinarily all consuming phase of parenting. My husband is just about to begin his season and that will require him to work six days a week, working as late as 10pm. But in the midst of this time, while I raise these wonderful but tough kids of mine and my husband works so that I can take care of these wonderful but tough kids of ours, I am trying to keep track of myself. For instance, I write when I have any time, from my home, with the kids here next to me. While multi-tasking this mommy stuff, I am hoping to piece together some clue so I can be a better (potentially paid) writer “when I grow up”. And I have started running. Insane, right? But I’m into it (I’ll even go before my husband leaves for work) and now dream of finding some way to have my kids watched so I can run a 5K.

Granted, I keep reminding myself to keep my expectations reasonable. Diaper changing, referreeing the rules of sharing and helping with homework is just what I do for now. But dreaming, and clinging stubbornly onto what truly makes me tick, does allow me to be more than just “Mom” – but “Caroline” too.

The picture posted above is of me with my boys. It was taken about a year and a half ago and might be titled “Me as Mommy”. It is one of my favorites as I am caught in a very typical, absolutely wonderful, however all consuming parenting moment.

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Filed under Aging, Boys, Children, Deep thoughts, Family, Fathers, Growing up, Guilt and motherhood, Identity crisis, Marriage, Mothers, Parenting, Reality check