Links rookie moms should know about (February 2015)

Our friend Lindsay at Suburban Turmoil is always hilarious. If you are overwhelmed by the world’s public obsessions with Paleo, Crossfit, Green Smoothies, HIIT, and other cult-like dedication to healthy habits, her parody is funny. is so much fun! Enter your birthday and get a playlist of the top songs from when you were in second grade, high school, and other milestones. Excellent nostalgia.

If you have kids old enough to read and use YouTube, you may know how offensive the comments can be. Here’s how to hide them. Thanks, Cool Mom Tech.

I wrote a little primer on baby classes for Lifetime Moms. (Hint: It’s about meeting the other moms.)

Design Mom has four girls sharing a room. I loved this tour of how the room is set up and styled.

My friend Lynn’s sister Jill Santopietro is a chef, food editor, and mother, so her post about making baby food is full of great tips.

More on that topic…You Have to F**king Eat is the follow up to cult smash “children’s” book Go the F**k To Sleep. This author gets me.

You have to f-ing eat, kid!

Peanut Butter and Jelly vs Jelly and Peanut Butter

I’m bursting with pride for my friend Deborah Kelson, who has just published an adorable children’s book that I cannot recommend more whole-heartedly for kids who are old enough to a) eat peanut butter and jelly and b) not put books in their mouths.

After working full-time and parenting two young children for a handful of years, Deb recently decided to give herself a break. She had a couple of creative projects brewing in her mind, and left her job working for a big corporation in search of a re-energizing experience.

She spent a few months working on the book and getting it ready for publication. When the book was done, she got a new full-time job. I am not sure I’ve ever witnessed such neat and clean story about work/life balance.

Allow me to introduce Peanut Butter or Jelly by Deborah Kelson

Peanut Butter OR Jelly?

The characters Deb created, Peanut Butter, a salty type, and Jelly, a sweet but sassy friend, come to life in the photographs she styled using real bread, the two spreads obviously, and a variety of clever props as backgrounds.


The story invites us to rethink the fairness of Peanut Butter always taking top billing in America’s favorite sandwich, and suggests that maybe Jelly should have a turn.

My grade-school aged children were completely engaged by this proposal. They debated it with intensity.

The website allows kids to vote — whose name should go first? — and mine were way into it.

Watch this adorable trailer and consider buying Peanut Butter or Jelly on for your favorite sandwich lover.


Give longer life to your cutest kids shirts

How to make an iron-on from fabric you already have.

When I saw Mike Adamick, local dad and writer, on an afternoon talk show talking about decorating cute shirts for his daughter, I thought it was unlikely I’d learn something new. I mean, I’ve already written about decorating onesies in just about every way I can think of. But behold, Mike taught me yet another technique.

He uses fusible webbing to adhere the fabric of his choice, say a giraffe-shaped piece of floral print, to the shirt he is embellishing.

mike adamick tshirt
Before you panic and think that as a not-so-crafty person you are totally unqualified to purchase something called “fusible webbing”, let me assure you that it’s not such a big deal. Purchase it by the yard at a fabric store, or in a package from Amazon, and it comes with instructions. (Ten bucks for five yards worth on Amazon.) The magic is that you iron it to one piece of fabric, peel off the paper, and then iron it to the other side. Now the two fabrics are adhered. (Keep scrolling for pictures.)

I had cut this guitar from a hipster kid t-shirt that Julian outgrew and tossed it into my “to do something with someday” pile, throwing the rest of the shirt into the rag bag.

Next, I took scissors to the aforementioned fusible webbing cut. To produce a piece exactly the size of the guitar-shaped piece of t-shirt I wanted to use, I placed the fabric on the webbing in order to cut.

Then, I ironed the guitar to the fusible webbing, and let it cool. I had decided that this red long-sleeved polo, bought by my MIL as a Christmas shirt, would be the recipient of our applique.

[Read more…]

Are these dad stereotypes true, fair, or productive?

My husband does most of the laundry in our house, makes breakfast and lunch for the children, and works at a full-time job without a flexible schedule. When he is done with lunch packing, he cleans up the supplies and places the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher.

That’s why I’m totally flummoxed when I read an article like the one recently on Scary Mommy titled 15 Things Only Mom Can Do, which sarcastically concludes that throwing away empty food wrappers and putting dishes in the dishwasher must be special mom skills because dads simply leave their dirty crap and garbage on the counter.

That is not my experience.

I have shared space in a house and household duties with five fathers over the years: my own father, two stepfathers (not at the same time), my father-in-law, and my husband. All of these men like a clean kitchen and understand how it gets that way.  None of them assume a magic fairy will clean up after them.

Nobody’s perfect, and we’ve all made mistakes, leaving milk out on the counter, or putting away a cereal box that has seven crushed Cheerios lingering at the bottom of it, but I find it hard to believe that the vast majority of fathers these days are as unhelpful as they are made out to be in articles like that one.

Modern parents can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, wash that dish, throw away the package #dadsrule #momsrule [Read more…]

Theo and Beau: The world’s sweetest nappers

We’d guess that many of you are aware of our friend Jessica Shyba’s photographs, as they typically garner tens of thousands of little hearts on Instagram whenever she posts one.

Yin & Yang #theoandbeau

A photo posted by Jessica Shyba (@mommasgonecity) on

About two years ago, the Shyba family adopted a puppy and named him Theo. Little Theo made himself right at home with the family of five, and began napping with their youngest child, Beau. When Jessica started capturing these daily sleep scenes with her camera, dog and baby lovers around the world went nuts for them.

Photos of Theo and Beau by Jessica Shyba


During the months that followed, we could see Theo (and Beau) grow right before our eyes.

Photos of Theo and Beau by Jessica Shyba

For anyone who lives with the chaos of toddlers and dogs, the stillness and peace that Jessica photographed feels like witnessing a small miracle.

Photos of Theo and Beau by Jessica Shyba


Her touching photos have been compiled in a book, Naptime with Theo and Beau, available for order now.

Naptime with Theo & Beau by Jessica Shyba

Watch the video trailer:

To see what happened when Theo and Beau got a new baby sister (spoiler: more naps!), visit Jessica’s home on the web: Momma’s Gone City

Congrats to Jessica for documenting this sweet phase of life and for generating so much awareness for the SPCA in Santa Cruz that has benefited from her project. We know that with four children and a dog, her house cannot be silence and snuggles around the clock, so we appreciate her inviting us in for a peek at the Theo and Beau every day.

all photos in this post belong to Jessica Shyba

Activity #52: Celebrate your way

For your 52nd weekly Rookie Moms challenge, we invite you to pat yourself on the back — You have a ONE YEAR OLD! The celebration is for you.

If you are inviting others to celebrate the big ONE with you, make some plans for it. Make it easy on yourself by delegating food and decorations to anyone who volunteers to help.

Since your baby won’t understand the event, traditional birthday party activities are completely optional. We let our guests know that the birthday boy would not be opening gifts in front of them and that his second nap began promptly at 3:30 (whether or not guests were present).

My friend Christine honored this milestone by having dinner with her husband and hiring a babysitter. Heather threw a blowout camping trip for herself, I mean for Holden, and attended an adults-only swanky Oscars party in honor of Milo’s first year.

This collection of super cute first birthday party ideas gives more inspiration on planning a party to suit your style.
How to have a sane first birthday celebration

Baby too young to be planning a birthday party? Go choose another challenge!

Skip*hop launches apparel! (giveaway)

Skip Hop Layette Collection.Baby: L'nie

Ooh, I’m feeling so lucky that skip*hop said we could do a giveaway of their new layette items. Someone is going to score big time!

This stuff is so cute, it makes me want to have another… um, giveaway?

Skip*Hop Layette Giveaway

All the items coordinate, are super cute, and made of the softest cotton.

Here’s what we’ve got in this generous prize package:


  • side-snap short sleeve bodysuit ($18) – set of 3
  • side-snap long sleeve bodysuit ($18) – set of 2
  • baby pants ($16) – set of 2
  • side-snap 1 piece footie ($16)
  • gown ($16)
  • reversible bib ($10)
  • baby hat ($10) – set of 2
  • reversible welcome blanket ($24)
  • 4 piece welcome home set ($35) – Set includes Short-Sleeve Bodysuit, Footed Pants, Cardigan, and Baby Hat
  • PLUS a Duo Signature Diaper Bag ($60)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rainbow birthday party ideas

Birthday Express invited me to pick out some items as a way to introduce them to you. They sell tons of party items for $10 or less. This post contains affiliate links.


A few times per year, Heather and I have a table at a preschool fair or some other community event. Next up, Boobie-Palooza, a birth and baby festival in Berkeley, CA. We are not tradeshow experts, and these colorful balls of tissue paper made our {510} Families booth look eight zillion times better. When I discovered these technicolor poofs, I became an instant fan. (No pun intended.)

They are flat before you puff them out, and they brighten any space instantly. A three-pack is $9.99.


We decided they would be perfect for a rainbow-themed birthday party.

Rainbow-themed birthday party

[Read more…]

Cancer is a big ugly jerk. Donate to Cycle for Survival

This is our sixth time riding and fundraising for this event and the first time we’ve ever really asked you for money. Please keep reading! 

Yeah, I’m asking you for money. I just thought I’d be upfront and put it in the headline because those who aren’t interested can ignore this post.

Here’s why you should be interested.

Jennifer Goodman LinnYears ago, my husband had a roommate named Dave. They were 18-year old soccer players at Northwestern University. Over time, they got all mature and got married. Dave to Jen and Ryan to me. Ryan and I have two healthy children. Jen died from stomach cancer. However, that’s not all to know about Jen.

She was a kick ass type of chick — the kind that had big plans and followed through on them. She had a bazillion caring friends and family members who asked, “Hey Jen, what can we do to help?” and so she created an answer for all of us.

We can donate to her fund.

When she first got sick, she learned that working out — spinning to be specific — was her sanity saver. She became a spinning addict.

So, Jen and Dave Linn created an event called Spin4Survival, an indoor team cycling fundraiser held in January 2007. She envisioned an event that would “reward and challenge the mind, body, and soul” — one that would eventually become national in scope.

The inaugural event was an inspiration for all who attended. The second annual fundraiser far surpassed projected goals, with more than 120 teams “geared up to battle cancer,” including worldwide satellite teams. In total, the event has raised more than $50 million and has grown into the fundraiser now known as Cycle for Survival.

It is HUGE now. And 100% off the money raised goes to research at Sloan Kettering.

Donate to Cycle for Survival

“The fact that this event has directly benefited patients motivates me to keep going,” Jen said a few years ago. “We’ve gained momentum, and we’ve already changed the way we’re fighting this illness. I have great hope that this will ultimately lead to more treatment breakthroughs and higher survival rates for those with rare cancers, so that more of us will live to tell our unique tales.”

Donate to Cycle for SurvivalIn February, Heather and I will ride again (with my husband, pictured above) as part of the Bay Area arm of this fight. Because we can and because we can’t stop. It would mean a lot to us and to the patients living with cancer to have your support. (That means dollars.) Click here to donate through us. Join the battle, because cancer is a big, ugly jerk.

Cycle for Survival

Cheater’s chicken soup with picky kid variations

Cheater's Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’ve been eating SO clean since the new year started; I really deserve a medal of some kind. Not only have I reduced my pizza, wine, and sugar consumption, I have done so while my kitchen is under construction, so you’ll understand if I need to brag about my healthy habits.

One of my favorite things to eat is a variation on chicken tortilla soup, made super easy with some brilliant shortcuts. However, my kids would never eat a soup with all those different lumpy ingredients swimming around in it, so this meal, which makes everyone happy, has become something of a cross between Taco Night and Mommy’s Healthy Soup Night. Everyone wins.

I don’t go by exact measurements, but this is a very forgiving recipe, so take off your rule-follower hat and go with the flow. You can do this all at once in a pot, or in two stages with a slow cooker. Here’s the crock pot method for busy families.

Soup Ingredients:

1 chicken breast for every two chicken eaters in the house (Cheater’s tip: use rotisserie chicken or other pre-cooked chicken from grocery store) [Read more…]

Adorable and inexpensive things to hang from your child’s ceiling

Ideas for mobiles that aren't mobiles

When I was decorating Scarlett’s room, I needed some color to break up the white wall and to bring the pinks and oranges together into a more cohesive color story. I bought these honeycomb balls for about $3 each and hung them from the ceiling. (Affiliate link)

I thought they would be sweet for a baby’s room, too, and found all sorts of tissue poufs, even prettier ones, on (Save 15% via this link)

I asked them to send me some to play with, and then my mind started wandering to all the different visuals that excite me more than the electronic mobile I had hanging above my son’s crib.


Our contributor Laura from Oakland Avenue DIY’d this garland from felt balls that she bought on etsy.

Felt garland

I loved seeing this on her blog because my elementary school friend Sharon Montrose is the photographer of these baby animals.

Laura also used Christmas tree ornament felt animals along with some of the felt balls to create a simple mobile.


Courtney from Bowdenisms hung this fabric scrap mobile in her daughter Piper’s room, using this mobile spider clip thing.

5 ideas for inexpensive mobile alternatives

Heather created this quirky Star Wars mobile with R2D2 silhouettes after being inspired by Jen’s vespa mobile. Both used the same photo clip hanging device as Courtney.


Vespa mobile and other DIY mobiles

Does your child have a mobile? Do you use it?




Tutorial: How to make cozy pajama bottoms

How to make flannel PJ bottoms

By Christmas morning, my two big kiddos had matching plaid flannel pj bottoms, so I would like to say “Booyah!” or “Mission Accomplished”, depending on if I’m in a sporty mood (RIP Stuart Scott) or a geeky political mood. But I’d be lying if I didn’t confess there were a few hiccups along the way to this victory.

I know how to make PJ bottoms, which is why, when I complained to her that I couldn’t find matching family PJs at a reasonable price, it only took Wendy a few minutes to convince me to sew them myself. I mean, seriously Pajamagrams, WTF.  $219 for my family of four? Not this year.

I found exactly what I was looking for at my big fabric store: traditional red and white plaid in a soft flannel.

I set my intention to make four pairs of pj bottoms — one for each member of my household — and bought what seemed like enough fabric. (Spoiler: It was really almost enough, but not exactly.)

Pro tip: Bring a pair of pants in each family member’s size with you and measure with your hands and eyeballs, not with your mental math-balls.

How to make pajama bottoms

You need a sewing machine for this. If you’re thinking, “I am a modern woman with an iPhone, lady. What use would I have for a sewing machine?” Well, I hear you. You should open the Amazon shopping app on that fancy iPhone, Ms. Modern, and order yourself some cozy pj bottoms. Done.

If you like to do things the hard way, read on. [Read more…]