Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bouncy Love

If you have kids, chances are you are a huge fan of bouncer chairs. What a great invention!

It is one gear that will buy you at least one hour of peace and rest a day. I’m yet to see a baby or young toddler that doesn’t get completely entertained in one of those for at least an hour. It is a bit noisy, but you just can’t have everything!

Someone gave us as a baby shower present. I confess that we didn’t have the slightest idea that it even existed until that moment. Since the first minute we put Lukas on it, it was like magic, he loved it. We didn’t even put batteries in the chair. He bounced himself by kicking it with his heels.

The toys hanging are very amusing, and for some reason the bouncy movement makes him very drowsy. It is an hour of self-entertainment, and an extra-hour of nap. As a bonus, the dog also gets quite amused….

God bless its creator!

If You Are a Runner or a Walker

Walking or running are great ways to exercise. Being able to walk to the grocery store, a cafe, or to see my friends is a great opportunity to burn calories and save resources (gas and money!).

We got an “all-terrain” type of stroller that works really well. It is a bit heavy to take on trips, but a great gear to have in the city. The wheels are big and wide, so riding it on smooth or rough pavements is a breeze. And the suspension keeps the little one comfortable anywhere. Its large canopy protects my son against rain or sun. I also keep a net and an umbrella in the pocket, in case of mosquitoes, or rain to cover myself. A diaper changer, when I remember, is also useful to keep in the pocket!

There are several brands available in stores, most marketed as running strollers. The one we got is from BOB, but overall look for “all-terrain” features (large wheels and suspension) and a long canopy for protection.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Family Bike Ride

bike trailerWoohoo! Summer is here, and if you haven’t cleaned your bikes yet, you are missing a lot of fun.

Family rides are a very good exercise, and an awesome bonding experience. Bike trailers are great for kids, and some of them can even be used as a strollers. There are versions for different ages, and for two kids as well.

Bike extension versions work well, however you will need some practice before carrying your kid! If the child moves abruptly, or if the parent is not used to the additional weight, there is a potential to destabilize the bike.

Standard bike trailers seem a lot safer to me for younger kids, since they are lower on the ground, and the flexible hitches allow the trailer to stay upright in case the bike falls.

Whatever the version you choose for your family, get on the road while the sun is warm, and enjoy loads of family fun! Just remember to stay close, in case of diaper emergencies…

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Daily Dose of Energy

Every day I raise my energy level with a great workout, a blend of fresh antioxidant fruits and positive thoughts. Well, at least I try! If time doesn’t allow for a great workout, I go for a shorter power walk.

Setting aside ten to fifteen minutes at night to relax my mind and meditate completes the cycle, and energizes my ability to maintain positive thoughts.

As role models for our kids, we have the duty to teach them self-motivation and the importance of taking good care of themselves.

Wikipedia defines self-motivation as the ability to “find a reason and the necessary strength to do something, without the need of being influenced to do so by another person. Working in a careful and consistent manner without giving up.” This precisely defines great personality traits that I want my kids to develop.

As busy parents, we often put ourselves at the bottom of our priority lists. Taking good care of ourselves is a great exercise but requires some discipline! Cultivating our health and mind can only bring positive results for the whole family. Definitely a win-win!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Daily Agenda

Some people have asked me how I manage to juggle mom’s duties with the mompreneur role. My answer is that it’s definitely difficult but way worth it.

It is a joy having Lukas and my dog Samba around when I’m working on my websites, or having lunch. They make great co-workers! And the flexibility of working from home is absolutely priceless. But don’t take me wrong, there are several annoying things happening during my day as well.

Everything in my day is precisely organized timewise. Sometimes I have to use a crystal ball to schedule conference calls. Any unexpected item in the agenda and the often grouchy juggler comes to play. Unfortunately there is only so much I can predict…

Dedicating some breaks to play with the little one is also a very important part in my daily agenda. Not having Lukas in a daycare has its downside, and I need to make sure his social and cognitive development is compensated accordingly. Luckily, he is always smiling and hardly ever cries.

At the end of the day, it feels like I’ve just finished a marathon. The sense of accomplishment is what usually drives my evening mood. Only a few things are worse to me than an unproductive day.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Save Yourself Some Resources

Saving resources is not only good for the environment, but also great for you and your family. Kids see parents as role models, and our daily attitude will teach them how to take care of themselves and the environment, respecting our community.

There are so many easy “green ways” to save cash. From our driving style to small adjustments at home, in the office and at school.

Start by teaching the kids how to separate the items in the garbage to recycle. Everything we buy these days has multiple layers of packaging, and most of it can be recycled.

If you are in the process of buying new appliances, look for the energy saving stamp. Your energy savings will be worth it. Also, think about the location where you place your appliances. As an example, don’t place the refrigerator next to the stove or dishwasher.

Having a programmable thermostat at home will also save you big bucks along the year. You will be able to program the temperature at a pre-determined schedule. Why keep the house very cool when you and your family are at work or school?

How and what we drive can have a huge impact in our wallet. According to formal sources, “driving your vehicle 55 mph instead of 65 mph can improve your mileage by about 15 percent and reduce emissions considerably. You’ll also get better mileage if you avoid quick starts and sudden braking whenever you can, and if you keep your tires properly inflated to the maximum recommended pressure.”

And, when the exciting time to buy a new car comes, choose wisely. Do you really need a seven passenger car to carry two people around?

Check our Useful Links page for great tips to save resources (and loads of cash) at home, on the road and at the office.

Friday, July 10, 2009

How Many Strollers can One Child Have?

It never seizes to amaze me how much money new parents spend unnecessarily on strollers (and on baby gear in general!). Have you ever thought about the number of strollers per child in this country? Even during recessions you still see parents buying one stroller for short and another for long walks, yet another for a run, and an additional, and portable one, to leave in the trunk.

When the second baby comes, the shopping spree restarts for double versions. In total, by the time the second child hits her fifth birthday, there are about eight to ten strollers parked in the garage. And the cars are parked outside, of course!

When we had our baby, my husband and I decided to adopt the buy- on-an-as-needed-basis rule. We were surprised by how much gear we actually didn’t need! Brands start overwhelming parents with massive marketing from the moment you go to your first obstetrician appointment. By the time I was five months pregnant, we had already received four containers of formula and several $5-$10 coupons through the mail. A massive marketing to doubt our decision to breastfeed! Any class or seminar your register becomes part of a quite desirable industry mailing list.

Anyway, back to strollers, we bought one for all situations, a real all-terrain type with large wheels and tires to handle both snowed and rainy pavements, and another one a few days before our first international trip. We knew we were going to spent long hours connecting, and the umbrella stroller came in very handy to navigate through airports.

Every time I go to stores like Babies R Us, I amuse myself analyzing what people are buying. Hard to believe that devices such as a baby wipes warmer can make it to the store, and be sold! Waste of resources….

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Enough Packing for a Trip

Both my husband and I have traveled the world, for business and leisure. Having a baby required some adjustments into our schedules, but not enough to stop us from enjoying new international experiences! Our son Lukas went to Australia with us when he was 8 months old, and then to Brazil at 11 months. We have also taken him to several domestic trips. Soon we are heading to Europe, and Brazil again. Before his first birthday his passport had already been stamped in a few continents.

The trips definitely required some serious preparation, and a lot more equipment! Good times when we used to travel with carry on luggage only. No more….well, it is really not that difficult. Gotta be organized!

Having an umbrella stroller has been very helpful to navigate through airports and destinations. Also, bringing some comfort food items, such as cereal or Cheerios, can be a huge plus while the little one is getting acquainted with different food. Lukas eats a lot of fruits and vegetables, which generally can be found anywhere. The food preparation is really the main difference.

IMG_0751 (2)

Another item that has been very valuable is a diaper changing mat. I bought a large piece of fabric that is water proof on one side, and cushioned on the other. It has allowed us to change his diapers pretty much anywhere (see picture at a park in Sydney). Many countries lack the convenience of public restrooms’ changing tables. Sometimes the stalls are so small that you can barely fit yourself in there.

Through our trips I have compiled a helpful check list of items to pack for carry on and checked luggage. Some of my world traveler friends help me add to this list with their personal experiences too. You can find the check list posted on the section “Useful Links” in this website.

I think that exposing your kids to other cultures is one of the best experiences you can provide. Even though they might not remember the actual trip in the future, some key learnings will stay with them forever.

Relax, be flexible, and enjoy the trip!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Making your Own Toys


Young kids love playing with different materials. That is a great opportunity to develop their creativity, and teach them their first lessons about renewable resources!

Large boxes, fabric, non-toxic glue and paint are ideal elements to have fun with. Ok, I’m far from being creative in arts with my hands, but just the experience is already worth it! A large box, cut on both sides can turn into a fun tunnel! A long and colored piece of fabric with different patterns becomes a little play field. An empty plastic container with coins inside can make interesting noises. Even a bunch of nylon sponges with different colors may turn into a puppet, which all toddlers love to play with! IMG_1629

Learning how to transform materials into creative pieces is a great skill to have for life. Wait until they are teenagers to buy them elaborate gifts, when they are definitely more demanding. Toddlers have fun with anything different that allows them to explorer forms and colors