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…]

Big girl room: Gold polka dot wall decals

A peek at the new paint job in Scarlett’s bedroom.

Adorable and totally easy polka dot wall

My daughter’s bedroom was last painted 11 years ago when I was expecting her older brother, my first baby. I didn’t know what gender he would be, so I painted the room a light green, with a unique accent wall featuring thick circus stripes behind the crib.


This look (more pics) was versatile enough to grow with my kids, becoming a girl’s nursery after being a boy’s, and the room eventually lost the crib, gained toddler beds, and over the years, bunk beds. My beloved stripe wall became the background for a play kitchen, and it still worked.

But for Christmas we gifted our children the freedom to have their own rooms, and since Scarlett was staying put in the room she and Julian had been sharing for the past six years, I thought it was due a makeover.


I’ll show more of the room in another post, but I wanted to show off her gold polka dot wall today.

I had the room painted white with a coral ceiling.

Painted Ceiling - Peach with Gold Polka Dots

I bought a set of 48 Lottie Dots Polka Dot Wall Decals in gold
from: The Land of Nod.

Here’s their styling of the dots.

Gold dots decal set from Land of Nod

They come in white, black, aqua, pink and multicolored, as well as star-shaped and bricks-shaped for your LEGO fans. See them all >

I was so excited about these gold dots, I obsessed about the paint color for days. I was leaning toward navy blue as the background for the dots, like I saw in this image on Land of Nod, but ultimately decided that if I was only going to paint the room every 11 years, white was more versatile, plus easier to paint over.

Gold dot wall decals from Land of Nod

Once the wall was painted, I got out my stool, ruler, and pencil and started planning out how apply them. I have this handy ruler with a built-in level, so it was pretty easy to measure out my grid. I penciled a dot every 16 inches in both directions until I had a wall of evenly distributed pencil dots. Then I applied the decals, lining up each dot’s left edge with the pencil mark.

When my husband came to check on my progress, he sort of questioned how far apart I was putting the dots, but I had a vision, and it came out exactly as I hoped.

How to make polka dot walls

Materials used (with affiliate links):

  • Ruler with built-in bi-directional level
  • Polka dot decals from Land of Nod (Gold)
  • Pencil!
  • Arctic White wall paint from Home Depot
  • Powdered Petals ceiling paint (Behr) from Home Depot


Activity #124: Make ‘em tap

Homemade tap shoesWhen fellow parenting blogger and amateur fashion designer Mike posted about tap dancing with his daughter Emme, I knew Julian and I had to try it.

Mike gives Charlene credit, and she gives someone else credit, but it doesn’t really matter as long as Julian gives ME credit for the idea of taping quarters to one’s shoes in order to convert them into instant tap shoes. And if you take action on this activity, your preschooler will give you credit.

Julian and I used blue painter’s tape on his Ugg-style boots. As soon as he realized the pleasing sound he could make by dancing spastically rhythmically on the hardwood floors, he began channeling Gene Kelly, who, by the way, he has never heard of. He asked me for a top hat and a cane. I swear, this kid is destined for the theatre.

With my umbrella as a cane and his dad’s derby hat on his head, he went about his tap-dancing way, clicking all over the house for the rest of the evening. I’m sure a young toddler would be intrigued by this opportunity to make noise as well.

I guess he told his teacher Steve about his new hobby. This morning when we arrived at school, his teacher Steve, a straight man who often wears a pink tutu over his cargo shorts just to screw with the rigid gender rules that five year olds impose on the world, offered him a set of washers to tape to his shoes. (See photo above.) Two washers on each shoe, Vans this time, took the tapping to a new level.

Try it yourself.

On realizing I’m not a rookie mom, but rather a veteran

Thanks to Courtney from Bowdenisms for this guest post.

When you're no longer a rookie mom, but a veteran.

“Is this the mom’s group?”

She was shy, nervous, and almost eclipsed by the gigantic stroller/baby carrier/diaper bag she was struggling to navigate between the tables at the grocery store cafe. I assumed there was a baby in that mobile fortress, but it was hard to tell with all the blankets and shades obscuring any glimpse of him (her?). There wasn’t a peep from inside the covered wagon, but she was careful to keep it moving at all times, afraid to upset the motion-induced zen and risk a public outcry — or at least a cry –in public.

So when her tentative eyes scanned the room, looking for a safe place to land, her face posed many more questions than the one her mouth dared to ask. She asked if we were the mom’s group, but I heard (and saw) more.

I saw me, almost three years ago. [Read more…]

Living with my not-so pregnant belly

Our guest today is Liz Jobst, mom to Henry in Oakland, CA.

Please don't ask if I'm pregnant.
I recently attended an event where I ran into some acquaintances that I had not seen in a while. Multiple people came up to me to discuss my second pregnancy. One woman even put her hand on my belly and asked when I was due. The problem with their gestures is that I am 100% positive I am not pregnant. Completely caught off guard by these inquires, the only response I could muster was, “I’m not pregnant; I just haven’t lost the first one yet.” I then moved to change the subject — to anything other than the giant whale that had appeared between us.

On a bad day, I look in the mirror and consider myself, a size 12/14, terribly fat. The truth is that I weigh about the same as before I was pregnant with my son. However, all of my weight is now concentrated in my middle. Short skirts, bring them on; my legs look fine. I just have a belly that is impossible to hide. Would I like to lose 20 pounds? Absolutely. Especially since I live in the super fit Bay Area where skinny everything are Mom norms.

I have actually heard other Moms wonder why I am too lazy (or insert other derogatory adjective here) to lose the weight. I guess since my son is no longer an infant their empathy for “baby weight” has been replaced with judgment. [Read more…]

Activity #48: Find some excellent graffiti

rookiemoms challenges are fun for mama

This challenge, your 48th, goes out to all the urban mamas who need a scavenger hunt for the day.

Gotta do this: Graffiti photo shoot with your baby | urban #rookiemoms challenge

Take a picture of your baby in front of graffiti – as explained by Dutch, the dad who writes on Sweet Juniper. He has an awesome set of Flickr photos that inspired us to do this. We set out to find the best graffiti in Berkeley and packed up the boys and our cameras. Sometimes the best street art is at the railroad tracks or near the highways, so bring a grown-up friend to turn the assignment into a fun adventure.

Please share your attempts here in our comments or on the Rookie Moms Facebook page. If you have any tips on getting your kid to stay put while you take the pictures, let’s hear them.

Too cold outside? Your baby too young? Choose another challenge.

Activity #47: Join a museum

Dozens of new mom challenges

Join a children's museum #rookiemoms

Like they used to say on TV, membership has it’s privileges. Both of the Bay Area children’s museums that I have been to are part of a consortium of Children’s Museums that have reciprocal memberships. This means that if you get a one-year membership at Habitot in Berkeley, for example, you can go to the Discovery Museum in Sausalito for a significant discount. Also, if you travel to a place with another children’s museum, you are totally in.


The point, however, is not the membership. The point is that these are destinations with rooms for crawlers. Usually they have mats on the floor or different textures and large scale shapes that babies and young toddlers can put their grubby hands on, in and through. The Discovery Museum Tot Room, for example, has at least four waterbed-type areas for babies.

Cosmic Campout OpeningIf you live near one of these places, and buy a membership, consider it a mommy meet market. Go there when you and baby are feeling lonely, let down your hair, and have a juice box or two.

Hey, wait! If we just talked you into a membership, let us help you pay for that thing. Here are 5 ways to save money on your children’s museum membership.

Your 47th weekly challenge is to seek out a children’s museum and make a special trip there with your baby. Tell us, how was it? (Baby too young for this outing? Start at the beginning.)

Photos: Minnesota Children’s Museum;  Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco