The Chirping Moms

September 17, 2014

Oh, The Places We Will Go (Just Abby & Me)...

It's a big transition in our house this month.  Aiden is now in full-day kindergarten & Andrew is in half-day preschool three mornings a week.   This means that three mornings from 9:00-1:00, it is just me and Abby.  I have twelve hours a week of just my sweet baby girl & me.  Alone time with my little girl has RARELY happened in her short 18 months of life.  So it's time for us to have some fun & head out on some fun Abby & Me adventures.  Oh, the places you can go when you go from managing three children to one children.  In the past week, we have only ventured on our normal runs:  the grocery store, the gym, Costco, & other errands.  It's no cake walk with one child, but it definitely makes things a lot easier when I'm not herding children through stores & around town.
Evenflo Symphony LX : The Chirping Moms

My little petite Abby has been living in her infant car seat a little too long.  Thankfully she is small & easygoing so it didn't seem to bother her, but it was time for a big upgrade for this baby girl's ride.  We decided on the Evenflo Symphony LX for Abby's new ride & couldn't be happier with the new pick.  Looking at this car seat on the ground in front of me, I was super intimated.  Installing car seats is one of my least favorite things to do ever because I wrestle & struggle trying to get them in, often calling my  husband to help as soon as he arrives home from work.  But this seat was so much easier than some of the ones we have had in the past...
Evenflo Symphony LX : The Chirping Moms
Did you know that 70% of car seats are incorrectly installed?  Evenflo has created the SureSafe system making it easier to install the car seat (& has increased proper installation by 2x compared to standard latch hooks).  Evenflo has created a super easy installation system, where latch guides attach to hidden lower anchors of the vehicle  Essentially, the LATCH guides act like a tunnel, making it super easy to find the lower anchors in your car.  Once those are installed, you can simply attach & detach the quick connectors with one hand making it for a safe and easy installation and easy to transition between two cars.
Evenflo Symphony LX : The Chirping Moms

Some of the other features that we love about the Evenflo Symphony LX:
  • e3 Side Impact Protection:  Evenflo has created this car seat with three layers of engineered foam designed & tested to reduce side impact forces up to 50%.  
  • Buckle Pockets:  These pockets protect from hot buckle burns and eliminate digging under your child for lost buckles. 
  • Infinite Slide Harness:  This feature makes it easy to slide the strap to fit my child correctly.
  • Dual Cup Holders:  The car seat holds up to two drinks.  Abby's choice:  milk in one side & Apple juice on the other.
  • All-In-One Car Seat:  Fits children from 5-110 pounds.  The only car seat you would ever need!
  • Comfortable & Roomy For the Child:  A happy child = Happy mom with less distractions.  According to a study conducted by American Baby and Safe Kids Worldwide, new moms are 300% more likely to get into an accident than other drivers, in part due to tending to an upset baby.  Therefore when selecting a car seat for your child, pick one that is safe & comfortable.

For more details on the Evenflo Symphony LX as you embark on adventures with your own children, please visit the Evenflo website. And to my fellow moms who are always looking to save, if you look in the top upper right hand corner or at the bottom of the page, there is a great coupon to print where you can save up to $15 off!  
I participated in this sponsored campaign on behalf of One2One Network. All opinions stated are my own.

September 16, 2014

10 Tips for Finding the Right Daycare: A Guest Post

My friend Meghan is pregnant with her first baby and is in the process of searching for daycare. When she was talking to me about it last month, I couldn't believe she already had to look! The baby is due in December and won't be heading to daycare until about March. I had no idea you had to look so early. She had so much great information about finding a daycare and the whole process. I haven't used daycare before, but really wanted to share this wealth of information with our readers, so I asked Meghan to write some tips to share. I'm so thankful that she put together such a comprehensive list and hope it helps readers in search of daycare.
10 Tips for Finding the Right Daycare
By: Meghan Wolf
1. Start looking early! After attending a Bump Club Chicago event on childcare, I realized that I should have started scheduling daycare tours at around 12-14 weeks. Many popular daycare centers have waitlists that require a deposit and there is no guarantee that you’ll get off the waitlist at your #1 pick.

2. Find local parenting resources and take advantage of them! As mentioned, I attended a Bump Club event and it was extremely helpful. I also joined a Neighborhood Parenting Network. I discovered a lot of forums on NPN about daycare options and questions to ask when going on a tour. A plain old Google search and Yelp are two other great places to find reviews. 

3. Take advantage of your social network! I emailed and Facebook messaged friends, friends of friends and co-workers who have children in daycare.  I was pleasantly surprised with the responses that I received. Everyone was more than happy to provide feedback and send along links to helpful resources like lists of questions to ask on a daycare tour.

4. Consider location and how daycare can fit into your commute. Since I have a more consistent work schedule, I’ll be responsible for the daily pick-up and drop-off.  Ideally, I’d like to be able to walk to and from daycare when it’s nice out. In bad weather, I’d like to be close to public transportation or be able to drive 15 minutes or less. I actually did a trial run during rush hour to see how long it would take me to drive to the daycare that is farthest from our house. I know there will be days when it’s challenging to get out the door in the morning or finish up work in the evening, so I like to know how close I can really cut it if needed! 

5. Schedule several tours, even if your heart is set on one place. I found it was really helpful to compare the pros and cons of several places and then determine if my initial #1 choice was still at the top of the list. Even though websites have a lot of useful information, a tour is the best way to find out what a place is really like.  

6. Make a list of questions and ask the same questions on each tour. Here are a few things that I asked: 
  • What are the drop-off and pick-up times? Can I leave my stroller here during the day?
  • What types of security measures do you have in place? 
  • How often are the children outside? Do you have a playground on-site or are they going to public parks?  
  • How do you communicate with parents? Do you send pictures or just daily/weekly reports? 
  • How often do you sanitize the rooms? 
  • Who determines my baby’s schedule – you or me? 
  • How do you approach discipline? 
  • What kind of curriculum do you follow? How do you incorporate this into toddler’s schedule? 
  • What do I need to provide? For example: diapers, food, wipes, change of clothes 
  • What’s your sick policy? How do you communicate with parents if something is going around the classroom? 
  • How does your waitlist policy work? 
  • Can I see your licensing paperwork? (Typically this is provided in a packet they give you on the tour)
7. Food matters! Even though this isn’t relevant for infants, I realized I would really appreciate a snack/lunch program once my child is older.  A lot of the programs I researched had organic meal programs and provide lunch and up to three snacks per day. They also cater to food allergies or personal preferences.  

8. Ask for referrals. During each tour, I asked for the name of a family who could act as a referral and provide feedback on their experiences.  I specifically asked for a family who currently has a child in the infant room or has a child who started in the infant room and recently moved to a toddler room. 

9. Consider the eventual transition to pre-school or kindergarten. Make sure the curriculum that the daycare provides will ensure your child is well prepared for school. 

10. Last, but most important: go with your gut! I’ll admit that I’m somewhat of an internet junkie and I could probably spend an entire weekend researching every little decision related to childcare. I’ve also sought advice from a lot of people and really value their different perspectives. It’s been eye opening to hear what factors other parents have considered and it’s helped me shape my list of criteria for childcare.  All things considered, my favorite piece of advice thus far has been to go with your gut. I’m making a decision based on what I think is best for my family and I expect to learn from a few mistakes along the way!  But, when I walk into a daycare I get a feeling right away if I’m comfortable and if I’d be happy there.  The place that I have the most positive gut feeling about may not match my set of criteria perfectly and that’s okay.

September 15, 2014

Summer Memories & A Sample Sale Not To Miss

The past few mornings have been in the 50's. As we snuggle under blankets to keep warm, and the kids have to wear a sweater for the walk to school, I've finally accepted that summer is over. I'm also at the point in my pregnancy, that I know I have to give myself time at night to put my feet up and relax a bit vs. my usual race to clean the house. I've spent some of this down time looking through the pictures I took this summer. It was no surprise that my favorite summer pictures were those I took of my adventurous girls enjoying the outdoors in their Wovenplay clothes. 
I discovered Wovenplay about a year ago and just adore their line. It reminds me of childhood, dress up and enjoying every day adventures. I always love the pictures I take of the girls in their Wovenplay outfits, because the clothes really match their personalities. 
The girls loved playing pirate this summer and would ask me to hide "treasure" around the yard. 

The clothes photographed beautifully on the beach this summer! 
You can read more about the brand and how local it is in this post. 
I'm excited to announce that Wovenplay is hosting a sample sale this week! I shopped the sample sale last year and the prices are crazy low. It's worth the trip to their studio. Details: 
Wovenplay Sample Sale: Thursday 9/18, Friday 9/19 and Saturday 9/20 from 11am to 5pm at 
190 West Street, Brooklyn NY.


The New Baby Gifting from Baby Boden & Giveaway

Over the past 5 years, I have given and received more baby gifts than I can count. It's hard to go wrong with baby gifts, everything that tiny is so cute. When I am giving a new baby gift, I always try to find something a little different, but also something I know the person will really use. Now that I'm chasing around my own 2 children, I also look for something convenient to buy and mail(which is not easy). My new go-to: Baby Boden Gift Sets
A few weeks ago I received the sweetest gift set in the mail from Baby Boden. From the packaging to how soft each item was, it was the perfect baby gift. The set includes a printed romper with a matching blanket, bib and hat. The set comes in 3 prints. We got the London Life print, to which my girls immediately said "the baby will match our London jammies!" Last year when Maggie and I traveled to London, she picked out new pjs to bring home for her and her sister. They are their favorites, so they couldn't believe the new baby would have some too now. The print is fun and bold. I love primary colors on sweet little babies. We can't wait to use this set when the baby arrives next month!  #BabyBoden

I also can't wait to send this set to some friends that are expecting babies. As a mom who has been shopping Boden for a few years, I know the quality of their clothes is wonderful. I know that all of the items in the set will come in handy for a new baby and my favorite part: it's convenient. The set came perfectly wrapped and ready to go. I can now send a gift right from Boden's site to the new baby and know that it will arrive looking perfect! You can shop the Baby Boden Gift Shop (and the whole Boden site) with promotional code BABY for 15% off through October 12th. We are also excited to announce, that one lucky reader will receive the Baby Boden Gift Set of their choice! You can enter the using the Rafflecopter below. Good luck & happy baby gifting! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

September 12, 2014

Cherish the Little Years

"The days are long, but the years are short"

You don't even want to know how many people have said this to me.  It's funny that with three children, five and under, you would think that people would avoid the chaos & craziness that comes with the sight full of young children and their mom.  Instead, the sight of me with three kids hanging on the cart in the grocery store brings smiles, laughter, and lots of tidbits of wisdom from strangers.  When people tell me about long days & short years, I often give them a big smile & nod my head with some gracious response.  What do you mean "short years"?  I only know about long days filled with diapers, laundry, meltdowns, & more.  A walk down the street in our double stroller, often carrying three children, causes strangers to stop and say hello & the question "how do you do it?"  I just look at them & say "I don't really know" as I laugh and keep pushing on.  

Honestly I don't think that one even thinks about how to do it.  As a busy mom of little children, you just do it.  You wake up & don't even have much time to think about the day.  You make breakfast for three little kids, often forgetting to feed yourself.  You get all three kids dressed, teeth brushed, hair combed, & hopefully shoes on the right feet before quickly throwing on a clean shirt and pair of shorts for yourself before hopping out the door.  You get kids to where they need to be.  You read endless books & play never-ending games.  You are a master at slicing grapes, cutting crusts, and peeling carrots.  You know the ins and outs of every playground in your town.  You know what restaurants have "kids eat free" nights & what grocery stores give out free cookies.  You have mastered how to make dinner, manage laundry, FaceTime with Grandma and Grandpa, & play hide and seek with a baby all at the same time.  One day can be awesome full of happy kids & fun times.  The next day is exhausting and you count the hours until you can crawl onto the couch with a remote in one hand and a glass of wine in the other hand.  Life with young kids is busy, wild, and never dull.  Trust me, this is my life.  The days can be long.  Yes, very long.  And some days so long that I can't even remember which day it is because they all start to feel the same.     

But, I am finally learning what these people are telling me.  Almost two weeks ago, I kissed my almost six year old on the head and said "Have a great day!" as he walked himself into his first day of full-day kindergarten.  And there he went, into the class on his own, showing me that he is truly growing up.  Our days together as me with three little kids all day has changed.  I have climbed a step in parenthood this month as I am learning to let my oldest son go & grow, away from the familiar surrounding of our house.  His day is filled with a wonderful new teacher, lots of new peers, & an opportunity to grow and blossom in the school setting.  But I have to admit, it has been tough to let him go.  I worry that he won't know how to find his classroom or have anyone to play with on the playground or ask if he needs help.  He was my first baby & even as my oldest child, he will always be one of my babies.  He may just be turning six in a couple months, but it is scary to look back on the past few years and ask "Where did the time go?". 

It's funny that it has taken me five long years to realize that my kids are truly growing up & won't be little forever.  So with this big step, I am reminding myself to "cherish" this just do it stage with little ones.  Yes, there will be some things I may not miss.  The endless laundry & dishes and the car and house that will never stay clean.  But I am going to miss this time.  I won't get to cut dinosaur shaped sandwiches forever.  I won't get to cuddle in my kids' beds for stories & read Clifford the Big Red Dog for the 10th time that day.  I won't get to have afternoon dance parties, run through the sprinklers in the backyard, or tell silly stories about penguins in the car to keep my little ones awake.  So I am finally learning what people mean when they say that the days are long, but the years are short.  It's true.  Our kids do grow up & they are even at this moment.  These years are the ones to enjoy & cherish.  These "little" years are sweet.  And these wild and crazy years, I'm realizing, are becoming far too short.  


September 11, 2014

25 Children's Books: All About City & Farm

With all the traveling that we have done this summer, my oldest son is really interested in country life vs farm life.  It's funny because when we have been in more "country" settings (such as Lancaster PA or visiting family in Iowa), he talks about how he would love to live on a farm, drive a tractor, & milk a cow.  But as we headed into Washington, DC on the Metro last weekend, he was talking about how he wants us to move into an apartment and be able to visit the museums every day. He has been really interested in farm & city life, so I decided to check out some books from the library to help explore his interest in the world around him.  I searched Amazon, the public library, & our own book library to pick out some of our favorite city & farm books to share with you all today!

City Books for Children : The Chirping Moms
Children's Books:  All About the City

Little Elliot, Big City
Good Night Our World Series (New York, Chicago, Washington DC)
City vs. Country Life Books for Children : The Chirping Moms
Children's Books:  City vs. Country Life

City Dog Country Frog
Farm Books for Children : The Chirping Moms
Children's Books:  Life on the Farm

Funny Farm
Disclosure:  This post does include affiliate links.

September 10, 2014

Kids' Daily Checklists

School has started this month.  It has been an adjustment in this house as we are saying good-bye to lazy summer mornings & are busy scrambling around the house trying to get lunches made, shoes on the feet, & teeth brushed.  I created these three handy signs to encourage independence in my oldest son and so far, they have been super handy for him (and me!).  I just printed and laminated them.  The Good Morning & Bedtime Checklist hang on a bulletin board in his room where he can easily check off what he has done with a dry erase marker.  The Welcome Home sign is on our family bulletin board in our kitchen where he can see it immediately when he walks in from school.  A little organization in this chaotic house of young children brings just a little more sanity to my life!

Good Morning Printable Checklist : The Chirping Moms

After School Printable Checklist : The Chirping Moms

Bedtime Printable Checklist : The Chirping Moms

Another option to print: Right click on the images to open in a new window.  You can either save it or print it from there.  Make sure you scale it to the size you would like when printing!

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