Nov 202014
 

At MommiesFirst we believe in moms helping moms!

We also believe in debunking myths. So let’s wipe out Super Mom and replace her with Happy Mom! And in support of Happy Mom, we’re launching the Help Mama series, which is dedicated to introducing our community of moms to companies whose sole purpose is to ……. yes, you’ve got it – help mama.

This week, we are sharing a company called Sparrow Park Goods & Co. ….

Sparrow Park Goods & Co. is a company that allows you to enjoy the outdoors with your family by using their stylish, water-resistant Roll-up Blanket.
water resistant blanket
Can you tell us a bit about your entrepreneurial story?

I was working as a strategy consultant and living in Chicago when the concept for Sparrow Park Goods & Co. started. Summer in Chicago is an amazing season where everyone sheds their winter layers and gets outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. Outdoor activities like concerts, movies in the park, and festivals have flourished in recent years. A common complaint that I kept hearing from friends and family was that they were having a hard time finding a good picnic blanket – one that was well-designed, water-resistant, machine washable, and a material other than wool or polyester

Building something of my own was an idea that I had been ruminating on for some time. While I enjoyed my corporate career immensely, a part of me yearned to integrate more creativity into my daily life. I realized that if I kept waiting for the perfect time or the perfect idea I would never start a business so I decided take a leap of faith and give Sparrow Park a chance. Every day at Sparrow Park I now have the pleasure of working with tactile materials and turning them into something wonderful. And, I get to wake up every day excited about what I’m doing and the impact that I’m making on others.

How do you feel you are helping moms (and Dads!) most?

We have made it easier for families to get outside and spend quality time together by addressing some of the primary issues with other picnic blankets on the market. All of our products were designed with their use in mind – our blankets are water-resistant, easy to pack & carry, machine washable and feature sturdy construction to stand up to everyday use.

What (or who) inspires you when it comes to creating a business committed to helping moms (and/or babies)?

I am inspired by the lifestyle that I had growing up and that I hope to one day emulate with my own family. Growing up my parents were very engaged with my siblings and I and my family was always outside. By creating simple, carefree products we cut down on the barriers parents face when trying to spend time with their kids. And, our picnic blankets make it fun and easy to get outside.

What are some exciting new developments for your business?

We launched Sparrow Park Goods & Co. in August of this year with our picnic blankets and picnic tablecloths. We are currently focused on getting the word out regarding these picnic items. Beyond personal use, we have a growing number of customers purchasing blankets as wedding and baby shower gifts. We are also currently in production with a line of colorful, carefree table linens that we plan to launch in early 2015.

The 2 biggest pieces of wisdom you’d impart to about being an entrepreneur?

First, and most importantly, talk to other entrepreneurs. I started my business, not by designing a product or finding a manufacturer, but by doing weeks of informational interviews with other entrepreneurs. It was from those conversations that I figured out what steps I needed to take, received recommendations for manufacturers and suppliers, learned about common pitfalls to avoid, and built a network of peers that I can reach out to when I have a question or need advice.

My second piece of advice is to set small, attainable goals every week. Being an entrepreneur can feel daunting – there is so much to do (all of the time!) and you are the only one to do it. It is easy to fall into a state of decision paralysis. By setting small, concrete goals you can more easily determine what needs to be done and the satisfaction that you get from achieving those goals can propel you forward to completing other tasks.

water resistant blanket

My favorite part about Marital Bliss is…  I just got engaged at the Telluride Mountain Film Festival this past summer so I can’t comment on marriage yet but my favorite thing about being engaged is having a partner with which I can share my successes and challenges.

When people find out what we do, they often say: “I have been looking for a good blanket to use at my child’s soccer/ baseball / football games!”

In my free time, I love to … DIY. I am an avid pinterest user and in the last several years I have developed a growing passion for refinishing furniture, painting, landscaping, etc

The last book I read was… I am an avid reader and just finished two great books, “This Is Where I Leave You: A Novel” by Jonathan Tropper and “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” by Mohsin Hamid

I’m dreaming of… Our upcoming honeymoon to Tanzania where we’ll be going on safari and spending time at the beach. Life as an entrepreneur can get crazy so it will be really nice for my fiancé and I to have some time to focus on each other and our relationship without work to distract us.


More Help Mama Posts:
Latch Pal
Curiosity Box
MADESQUARE – an app, but is MUCH more than just an app! It enables you to use photos from your phone and create them into a beautiful memory, keepsake or gift!
The New Mummy Company – a company devoted to helping new Moms!
L’il Tights by Skights – fun and warm knee high socks for little ones
Simply Fun Families – a website filled with great ideas and products for families to do together
LPH Illustrations – Susy the Soother Fairy (a book about giving away a soother)
Naked Nursing Tank – one of the best nursing tanks out there
coldfront – a personal cooling pack that stays cold for up to 12 hours
Zipadee-Zip – a slumber sack that helps babies transition from swaddling

Nov 102014
 

At MommiesFirst we believe in moms helping moms!

We also believe in debunking myths. So let’s wipe out Super Mom and replace her with Happy Mom! And in support of Happy Mom, we’re launching the Help Mama series, which is dedicated to introducing our community of moms to companies whose sole purpose is to ……. yes, you’ve got it – help mama.

This week, we are sharing a company called Latch Pal ….

Latch Pal is a nursing clip that secures a mother’s shirt during breastfeeding.
LatchPal
Can you tell us a bit about your entrepreneurial story?

I’m a mompreneur balancing the role of mom, wife, friend, entrepreneur, and working mom. I’m fueled by love, caffeine, and the desire to help new mothers.
As a new mother myself, I quickly realized that no amount of baby books or classes can truly prepare a mother-to-be for motherhood; especially breastfeeding.
In the days and weeks following delivery, I sat on the sofa, cradled my hungry baby, clumsily adjusted my bra, and tried to hold up my shirt, so I could clearly see my nursing baby. However, on most days, my baby was squirming, my shirt was falling and I didn’t have enough arms to do it all! As I talked to more moms, I learned that a lot of women struggled to hold up their shirts while nursing and I wasn’t alone! That’s when I was inspired to create LatchPal, a breastfeeding clip that secures a mother’s shirt!

How do you feel you are helping moms (and Dads!) most?

Parenthood is indescribably awesome; but it tests the boundaries of sleep, sanity, and possibility on a daily basis. A cooing cutie can become a hangry (hungry + angry) little human within seconds and LatchPal alleviates the annoyance of a falling shirt, so a mother can stress less, focus on feeding, and most importantly bond with her baby. We are truly touched when moms express how LatchPal has increased their nursing convenience and breastfeeding confidence. We feel truly blessed to be helping mothers during such a formative and precious time.

What (or who) inspires you when it comes to creating a business committed to helping moms (and/or babies)?

At one point, during my pregnancy, our baby was the size of a fig. Because we hadn’t decided on a name or learned the gender, we affectionately called our baby “fig.” When we held our little boy, for the first time, our life was forever changed. Our little boy, nicknamed Happy Fig, inspired us to love more, live more, and give more. We know “new additions” can make parents feel exhilarated and anxious, so we want to do everything we can to give back and support new families!

What are some exciting new developments for your business?

LatchPal has been embraced by retailers, lactation consultants, health professionals and Moms around the globe!

We’ve had the opportunity to partner with amazing individuals, programs, and hospitals to connect new moms with local resources.

LatchPal made its debut in Hollywood at a particularly exciting time and we’re thrilled that so many celebrities are promoting and supporting the beauty of breastfeeding!

Look for LatchPal in:

  • The Baby Maternity Holiday Gift Guide (November)
  • Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine (January)
  • MommyCon Chicago (February)

The 2 biggest pieces of wisdom you’d impart to about being an entrepreneur?

Everything will take longer than you think; anticipate, plan, & prepare.

Surround yourself with like-minded people who are driven by genuine passion and inspired to make a difference.

LatchPal

My favorite part about LatchPal by Happy Fig is…  knowing that we’re making a difference, helping one mom at a time.

When people find out what we do, they often say: “I’m inspired & thank you for sharing your story.”

In my free time, I love to … enjoy cinnamon roll Sunday with my family!

The last book I read was… The Happiness Project –OR- Llama Llama Red Pajama

We are dreaming of… a full night’s sleep (its rare with a little one!)


More Help Mama Posts:
Curiosity Box
MADESQUARE – an app, but is MUCH more than just an app! It enables you to use photos from your phone and create them into a beautiful memory, keepsake or gift!
The New Mummy Company – a company devoted to helping new Moms!
L’il Tights by Skights – fun and warm knee high socks for little ones
Simply Fun Families – a website filled with great ideas and products for families to do together
LPH Illustrations – Susy the Soother Fairy (a book about giving away a soother)
Naked Nursing Tank – one of the best nursing tanks out there
coldfront – a personal cooling pack that stays cold for up to 12 hours
Zipadee-Zip – a slumber sack that helps babies transition from swaddling

Oct 282014
 

Ana Begins
I can only assume that most parents have a conscious or subconscious idea about each new experience their child will inevitably discover as days, months and years unwind. I may be alone here, but what completely caught me off guard were the array of and often surprising feelings visiting me as my child experienced her new world. I might have been a bit at a disadvantage, as growing up feelings in my house were 99.9% taboo. In the last six and half years I have been transformed, or maybe re-born.

Alongside my daughter’s “firsts” I have opened a world of my own “firsts”. Seeing the world through my child’s eyes has brought me much joy, such as the cold sweet taste of ice cream spread around a smile or feeling the soft white sand tickling our feet. I have empathized with her frustration as a special toy has had a “time-out” do to the consequences of breaking rules.

What I DID NOT expect were the “firsts” that would fly by at jet speed and knock me right side up. “Firsts” with my name engraved wickedly large enough so there was zero confusion to whom they belong. The first time my bright-eyed and chubby munchkin pushed me away from a hug “no, mama… no” and quickly wiggled off the couch to sprint toward the toy bin. I felt jealousy. Jealousy? But, I don’t DO jealousy, especially not of a toy bin. Then there was the time she lied to me about brushing her teeth. She LIED to ME… Ouch. It hurt, but why? I’m supposed to be the grownup. It was suppose to be a simple, “Honey, we don’t lie and always tell the truth. Mommy will always love you no matter what. If you did not brush your teeth and need help I will help you. Telling a lie hurts your heart”. Simple, done, lesson learned moving on. I did not expect her to walk behind me and ask if it’s hard to have more than one kid. “Mama, you should be really thankful, because you just have one”. Double ouch! She’s 4! I felt bruised. Had I been too hard on her? Then there was the first time dropping her off at the babysitters = guilt, sadness, anxiety, doubt.

Not all “firsts” were difficult. Many were amazing and gave me strength as a mom and as an individual. The first time she made her bed and wore a smile of pride across her enchanting face. I felt satisfaction, pride and independence. The first time she introduced herself to a new friend without prompting. I felt more pride, security and joy. The first time she told me she loved her school’s cook’s homemade soup. I felt grateful, curious and comfort knowing she was loved and nourished at the place my husband and I chose to add to our village.

What I have learned through this journey as a mom is that I have feelings, and my feelings matter just as much as anyone else’s. I get to be angry, hurt, happy, joyful, proud, stressed, worried, sad, ecstatic, silly, independent, thoughtful, grateful. The key is to not enmesh my feelings with my child or her experience. My responsibility is to respect her experience separate from my own, but bask in the gift that I also get an experience, and many more “Firsts”.

To learn more about Ana, please read our introductory post about her.
Oct 282014
 

Enjoy Every Moment
Babies are like little race cars when it comes to their developmental milestones. They all follow the same track, but they don’t get to the finish line at the same time. Some babies seem to be in a hurry and walk early while others seem to spend a little more time with the pit crew and catch up with the others later. Keep in mind that the standardized guideline of developmental milestones is just a ‘serving suggestion’ and that your baby is an individual. There is no trophy for finishing first and no champagne cork-popping to celebrate. With this in mind, you can give yourself permission to begin following the development of your little race car without the ‘mommy angst’ of finishing in first place. With your loving encouragement you’ll introduce ways to help your baby move along without spending precious, valuable time focusing on the rush to those waving, checkered flags.

As a grandmother, I can see more clearly the benefit of not worrying over developmental goals. That ‘not worrying’ thing is good practice for other challenges child rearing will bring you, too. Since my daughter was a 27-week preemie, there was a lot to be concerned about and I, more often than I’m happy about, turned that into worry. Hear me say this in my most kind, grandmotherly voice: Worry is a time and attention sucker, it’s not worth it. It’s non-productive. Give yourself a pass when you feel overwhelmed with concern and worry and sing the Frozen song, “Let It Go”. Even in the smallest amounts, worry distracts us from focusing on the present. Some of my best memories of my daughter’s early years are the times that I chose to laugh instead of worry or be embarrassed. (Note: This will come in handy in the teenage years, too. Just believe me.)

I’ll let you in on one memorable incident: I was taking a shower or doing dishes (or I blinked, I don’t even know!) and two year old Morgan found my calligraphy pens. That’s indelible ink, y’all. NON-removable except by time and baths. She loved to watch me use them so it made sense that she thought drawing was an acceptable activity. Drawing on the hallway wall and on herself, to be specific. All over herself. Head and shoulders, knees and toes. No, really. Tummy, face and hands, too. I was, at first, horrified because it was extensive. She was her own Zentangle! What would people think of me for absent-mindedly leaving those pens within her reach and ‘allowing’ her to have access to them? The evidence was going to be around for weeks, anyway, so in defiance of anyone who might comment, we daringly went to McDonald’s for lunch and the playscape. (I’m still rebellious like that.)

Yes, we got some negative, judgmental comments and stares. Unbelievably, they were mostly from older women. (Let’s make a pact to support each other and stick together, ladies!) Other mommies gave me the “oh, no, you’ll be judged but not by me” nod. Mostly, we got comments about the artwork. Many asked what happened and upon my proud explanation of how my smart girl was copying her mommy (sans paper) the reactions reflected my excitement. My girl smiled so confidently at being called an artist because she heard me speak proudly of her. Can you spot the moral of that story? Completely by accident and my out- there-dare, I discovered that my own attitude had a huge impact on everybody but most importantly, my little Picasso!

So, when your baby starts rolling like a rolling pin instead of crawling, celebrate the ingenuity and know that some serious balancing skills are being sharpened! When your baby takes his time learning to sit up, let me encourage you to choose to enjoy the extra time you are helping him learn and the opportunity to be his biggest fan. You ARE his first teacher, after all and face time is always welcomed. A baby’s face time with you is the best ‘toy’ you can give her. You want a people person with near-expert socialization skills? Spend time talking and singing face to face with her. If you have other children, encourage them to do the same. Bonding and happy memory making are key in personality development and it improves the disposition of all involved!

Your little race car’s run for the finish line is his own personal ride around that wide race track. Delight in the process and seal in mental pictures. Today will be the only day your baby will be who he is this minute. As you choose more often to keep a positive outlook and maintain an atmosphere of encouragement (imagine fans in the stands waving wildly with excitement!), with less worry about reaching the finish line alongside his fellow drivers, you will more easily relish watching your baby bloom through every stage of the race.

About Juli, a loving grandmother…
Juli Bio

Oct 242014
 

Toronto Show
We are HUGE fans of Will Stroet, the children’s musician and entertainer. We are thrilled that Will and his crew are coming to Toronto to perform on November 30th, 2014.

One of our favourite Will Stroet songs is still Full of Beans… perhaps it is because our children are FULL of Beans! Here it is to enjoy for you and your little ones.

You can follow Will on Facebook and Twitter for more musical fun and be sure to visit his YouTube Channel for some entertaining videos.

Enter for your chance to win a Family Pass of 4 tickets to see Will Stroet at his Toronto Concert below…


Prize: 4 tickets to Will’s November 30th Toronto Concert
Open to: Canadian residents, transportation is not provided
Giveaway Ends: November 14, 2014 11:59pm EST

No purchase is necessary.
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Good luck to all Mommies, Daddies, Grandparents and Friends!

With Love and Care,
The MommiesFirst Team