Amazon Mom doesn’t know my husband

I love Amazon, and so does my husband. He is all about efficiency and setting things up to take care of themselves. We never run out of vitamins, toothpaste, or hair product, thanks to whatever he does on Amazon.

I have a more flexible schedule, so while I’m more likely to pick up toilet paper at a store during the day, Ryan keeps himself stocked in shaving cream via the Internet. For convenience sake, when he’s placing an order, he uses his computer science brain to optimize the order by throwing in stuff we’re going to need eventually, like sunscreen.

Taking care of our family is one of his skillz.

Amazon Mom, a subscription program from, encourages parents to “set it and forget it” when it comes to diapers. Or does it not encourage parents, but rather moms, due to the name of the service?

Amazon includes this sentence in the description on their website: Amazon Mom is open to anyone, whether you’re a mom, dad, grandparent or caretaker.

So why is it called Amazon Mom?

While Heather and I created this website for moms, because we were focused on a phase of life that included postpartum healing and breastfeeding, we have another website for Bay Area parents called We thought long and hard about the name of that site, and because the content focuses on local activities for kids, we did not want to exclude men from the name. Wouldn’t any parent be interested in finding out what family-friendly weekend events are coming up? We think so.

By offering discounts and conveniences on diapers and other baby supplies, Amazon is providing a great service to families. No parent wants to run out at 7 am to pick up diapers to leave at their baby’s daycare. Hence the name Amazon uses in the UK and other countries, Amazon Family, for the same service, is a better choice.

This matters, you guys. We have to break open the assumption that diapers and shopping are women’s issues. Even if they are in your house, we have to welcome participation and accountability from parents of both genders. And, dads who stay home, or take on more childcare, diapering, or shopping duties, shouldn’t be made to feel that they are playing Mom when they do those things.

Dad changing diapers

The dad blogging community has been getting vocal on this issue, asking Amazon to make the change. If you would like to see Amazon change the name, you can sign this petition.

Please note that I am not suggesting a boycott of Amazon, because I have to live here.

Related: Are these dad stereotypes true, fair, or productive?

Second birthday party ideas

Two-year old birthday parties are an exercise in herding cats. You can hire an entertainer, serve an aesthetically pleasing and/or well-balanced meal, and provide hands-on activities for your little guests, but it doesn’t mean they will appreciate it. In fact, some may cry or scream “MINE!” for the better part of your event. That’s why we encourage you to take it easy.

These are some sanity-saving suggestions for planning a second birthday party.

Easy tips for second birthday parties

Skip the meal. If you can get away with it, host your party when neither lunch nor dinner is expected. Serve fruit, crackers, pretzels, and finally cake or cupcakes. (I always feel compelled to serve a meal because we usually have out-of-town grandparents at our parties and I have to feed them anyhow, so if our party is at home, I order from a taqueria: everything you need for guests to make their own burritos, from tortillas, beans, and meat to cheese, salsa and guacamole.)

I like the snack line up below where the pretzels have been poured into a toy truck.

Two-year old birthday party ideas: Construction-themed party

The rest of this construction-themed party is way too adorable, so proceed with caution.

Two-year old birthday party ideas: fun snacks

Cupcake papers can hold individual snack portions and make them feel special. (This idea is from an amazing LEGO party.)

Simplify the theme or just don’t have one. If buying everything Dora is easy for you and makes you happy, go for it. If one key element will satisfy your toddler, such as Dora on the cake, do that, and free yourself from weeks of curating Nick Jr. merchandise. Other themes that offer flexibility, especially for the licensed character-adverse, are stripes, animals, or transportation. I usually have no theme at all, other than a color scheme — red and white for Scarlett who was born on the 4th of July; orange and black for Julian, born October 29th. I don’t think my kids have ever demanded a theme. This is not a Bar Mitzvah, guys.

Searching “rainbow party” on Pinterest may leave you feeling inadequate, but picking one simple point of focus for the rainbows could just be a 20-minute project.

Two-year old birthday party ideas: rainbow-veggie tray

Crepe paper is a cheap and easy way to decorate with big impact. Two-year olds will enjoy running through the “curtain” (and tearing it down.)
Two-year old birthday party ideas: rainbow-crepe paper decor

Let them swing, bounce, dig or splash. Outdoors is ideal for two-year old parties. If at all possible, set up a sand table, water table, or trampoline. A playground party will do the trick as well. Winter birthday parents might consider children’s gyms or children’s museums where kids can roll up their sleeves and get involved. Remember when we hid plastic animals in the sand table at Scarlett’s fourth birthday party? Two-year olds are too young to socialize, share, or play cooperatively. Empower them to have a good time on their own terms and the party will be a success.

Birthday Party Activity: Sand Table

Two-year old birthday party ideas

photo sources: truck, puffs, rainbow veggies, crepe paper, sand table

Start training your toddler for Easter 2015

How to get ready for an Easter Egg hunt with toddlers
How to prep a toddler for EasterHis first Easter, four-month old Julian slept through the whole thing, but once he got his first taste of modern American celebrations of this holiday the following year as a determined toddler, he never looked back. Since he is not actually Christian, his experience of Easter was limited to the hunting of plastic and hard-boiled eggs. And hunt he did.

The egg hunting was so much fun, I realized we should be doing this in the backyard whenever boredom strikes. The more the merrier, so this might be something to suggest when your relatives are visiting. A little fresh air is good for everyone.

So the activity of the day is to conduct an age-appropriate treasure hunt for pre-verbal toddlers.

Materials needed:

  • three or four of the same object, such as golf balls, tennis balls, or plastic eggs. (We use lemons from our backyard tree).
  • small gift bag

How to do it:

  1. Place objects in a grassy area in plain view.
  2. Hold a small gift bag on behalf of your little scavenger.
  3. Announce the hunt: “Let’s go find some golf balls!”
  4. Model the desired behavior: “I found a ball – now I’ll put it in the bag!”
  5. Help child “find” another object and place it in the bag.
  6. When child is not watching, take “found” object and toss it from the bag back onto the grass for more finding fun.
  7. Practice this exercise periodically so that when Easter rolls around next year, your toddler will be kicking butt and taking names.

Related: Plastic Easter eggs can be played with before and after Easter

Activity #418: Document Examples of Bad Parenting

Document Examples of Bad Parenting #rookiemomsYears ago, a reader named Lynnette gave us the idea to start a collection of photos using baby as a prop to demonstrate all the What Not To Dos. I took mental photographs for this collection whenever I found my second child is asleep in her Pack and Play, swaddled tightly, but surrounded by loose extra blankets, burp cloths and a stuffed animal or two. We never would have allowed such lax safety measures with our first baby.

Lynette explains:

One of the keys of surviving as a rookie mom is to have a sense of humor about the whole motherhood experience. My husband and I often relax after dinner with a glass of wine, and find that our daughter is mesmerized by wine glasses. My husband, a wanna-be wino, likes to swirl the wine above her head, talking to her about the color, and then offer her the glass to smell the “nose” of the wine. She has recently started reaching for the wine glass with glee, and we just had to document it because it looks so darn funny. (Don’t worry, she hasn’t had a taste of wine yet!)

If you have any photos that fit this category, add #rookiemoms to the tags when you share so we can all enjoy your bad parenting.

Jillian of HelloSplendid shared this photo of her baby son browsing the Victoria’s Secret catalog.

Related: Dangerous photo inspiration from Chelsea and Nate

Clever ways to make roads for toy cars on your floor

When my son was little, we used painters tape to make roads on the floor of our playroom. You can draw lines down the center with Sharpie and use your imagination.

Apparently enough parents have done this, that some clever toy industry folks decided to turn the DIY approach into a product.

Playtape, which will run you about $12/roll on Amazon is a great little gift for a preschooler. It comes in a few varieties.

Playtape for toy cars

Roll of tape you can buy for car play
available on Amazon

There are train tracks, which seems handy for travel if you want to just bring 3-4 trains and this roll of tape for your train addict, but I’m not sure any hardcore track lover would be satisfied with this substitute. What do you think?

Railroad Tape
find railroad tape on Amazon

See also, Civil Engineer tape.

Best toy that’s already in your house: Washcloths

Things to do with toddlers indoors

My kids have logged many sessions arranging and rearranging washcloths and hand-towels. We have parked cars on washcloths, laid dolls down on them, lined them up, made them into a circle time and more.

We had a pack of white ones from Target that were the favorites for a long time, but the way they showed the dirt when we actually used them to wipe dirty faces started to gross me out.

Washcloths and other toys that are already in your house

Regular adult washcloths, like these 12 x 12 guys, are the most satisfying.

I bought these bright rainbow ones on Amazon, which are fun for a preschooler who has opinions about colors, but a little hard to make them lay flat. I suppose it’s because they are the type that are designed for infants, lightweight and smaller in size.

Playing with washcloths is a surefire way to reveal anyone’s inner OCD. But smoothing them out and making the corners perfect is half the fun, if you’re two. Or half the frustration if your motor skills are not finely honed.

A fresh pack of 24 white washcloths just might be your new best friend. Present them to your toddler as a neatly folded stack, because you know that is what makes it most appealing to unpack and spread out all over the living room.

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!