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My Sidewalk Running Is Not Going Well (Share the Road!)

Thrown into this new lifestyle, I am trying to listen to ALL the advice. Social distance, wash your hands, don’t hoard toilet paper, make a schedule, FaceTime with friends (and wine), and get some fresh air. For the past few weeks (when it’s not hailing, snowing, or raining), I have been making it a priority to get outside with my kids. We like to play in the backyard, but because we live in the city our backyard is not very big, and the balls my kids kick and throw are constantly going over the fence.

So, we like to take to the streets.

Both boys, 5 and 3, love the stroller and going fast. I am not a runner, but in trying to appease them (and my long-time goal of running a 10K) we go out for a run. Some days I take the single, others I am pushing the double stroller. Remember, they are 5 and 3 — that’s a lot to be pushing through the streets at a faster-than-walking pace (when I say run, I mean a jog with some walking included). 

We have been exploring our city streets and running further than normal since we have unlimited time. However, I am finding it very hard to stay on the sidewalks. The sidewalks that are meant for walking do not comfortably fit my single, never mind my double jogger. At times, I am feeling unsafe on these jogs. The other day, while out with one of my boys — who was peacefully napping — I found myself slowing down and navigating around trees, potholes, trash barrels, and dog poop. It was frustrating. It was ruining my stride. And, to top it off, my son, who had been peacefully napping, was no longer napping! 

So, what did I do? I ran in the street. I am sorry to the cars that had to share the road with me. Some of you were kind, polite, and went way around us. However, some cars were not so polite. I was, at times, nervous for myself and son. I tried to squeeze over, but with the more-than-normal amount of cars parked along the sides of the roads from everyone working from home (thank you), I was having a tough time. Eventually, I took my running back to the less-than-safe sidewalks.

We are in a pandemic. When you see a mom getting fresh air with her children, maybe the first time they’ve left the house in days, please leave room. Don’t creep in close, don’t get annoyed, and certainly don’t honk your horn. You never know who you’ll be waking up. 

I will continue to run (jog) on the street, because the sidewalks are not stroller friendly. Please share the road with me. Thank you.

Macaroni and Cheese Showdown

No matter the weather, comfort food is always in season.

I write this during quarantine, where I am 100% thankful for grocery delivery and online shopping. We’re all food fans in my family, and while we all have different tastes and cravings from time to time, one constant can’t be beat — macaroni and cheese! 

Macaroni pasta in itself is a pretty versatile pasta. You can eat it cold as macaroni salad, or hot with tomato sauce, or in, perhaps, its most delicious form — covered in cheese sauce. Baked, topped with breadcrumbs, cooked on the stovetop or even in the microwave, you can really make macaroni and cheese in a variety of ways. 

In an effort to discover the best non-homemade mac and cheese, my family did a blind side-by-side taste test of five different kinds from five different brands.

Some were microwaved and some were cooked on the stovetop. I prepared each according to the directions on the packaging. My sink is now full, and I’m still hoping for Rosie the Jetson’s robot maid to be available on Amazon Prime. One macaroni and cheese I hope to test in the future but did not get to include is Trader Joe’s — the line to get in the store was wrapped around the building both times I attempted to just “run in.” 

I didn’t label them during the tasting, although you could tell which one was Kraft (and that one was the last one sampled because I knew it would be a fan favorite). There wasn’t a sweep for winners, but there was a clear “loser.” 

Here are the final rankings!

5. Banza Chickpea Mac & Cheese (Classic Cheddar)

Overall, no one liked it, and I don’t think it had anything to do with the chickpea pasta. The pasta itself cooked with the consistency of regular pasta. The issue was the cheese sauce. Even following the directions and adding the optional butter, something was off. The cheese flavor wasn’t really cheddar, and it was dry. I will, however, recommend regular Banza pasta, because that alone with the added sauce of your choice is a great swap for traditional pasta, with more protein and fiber.

4. Blake’s Farmhouse Mac & Cheese

Not the best, but not the worst. Some family members felt there wasn’t enough cheese or flavor in the sauce. This one can be made in the microwave or baked in the oven, and it has a breadcrumb topping. 

3. Amy’s Macaroni and Cheese

The cheese sauce on this macaroni is rich and creamy. This one also is made in the microwave. The downside of any of the microwaved pasta is that the consistency of the pasta is a lot softer than if you make it fresh.

2. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese

I was surprised this wasn’t #1. My stepdaughter would choose this over any homemade macaroni and cheese and has actually asked in restaurants if the kid option is Kraft. You really can’t go wrong with the blue box, and the deluxe is also a favorite in our home.

1. Annie’s Shells & White Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese

The champion! The pasta is different because it’s a shell vs. a tubular, so the little shells scoop up the cheese sauce in every bite. The sauce on this one is flavorful but not too salty. This brand is made with organic wheat and 100% cheese. Their deluxe is also delicious!

There are so many quick macaroni and cheese options today, from regular elbow noodles to rice pasta to vegan cheese. What’s your go-to? 

 

I Lied to My Kid About COVID-19

I Lied to My Kid About COVID-19 - Boston Moms

It started out more as on omission of the truth.

Because my children are young, ages 4 and 1, and I’m blessed to be at home with them full time, it didn’t seem necessary to say anything. Even our son, who usually attended two mornings of preschool per week, didn’t seem to notice our change of pace at first. But when he finally realized he was spending WAY more time at home than usual, I decided to lie.

I lied to protect his innocence.

Like so many other parents, I believe I’m doing the right thing for my child. I choose to shelter my child at home without knowledge of the virus, because the alternative seems incredibly stressful and unnecessary for a child to hear. 

At first it was a halfway decent answer — just a little white lie to buy me time to figure out what to say to my son about our world coming to a halt over a global pandemic. “Spring break” is what I called it. After that seemed to appease him, it became our simple, go-to answer, along with “spring cleaning.” “Everyone is taking time to rest after winter and prepare for summer,” we’d say.

And for all he could observe, it was true. We, like so many others, have been busy cleaning our home, working on long-avoided house projects, and clocking hours upon hours in the yard, landscaping and gardening. So spring break and spring cleaning have made sense to his young and developing mind.

Everything now seems like it is in limbo. We are all anxious to see how things progress, when we will feel safe again and things will resume and places reopen. If there will be a cure, a vaccine, an end. What I keep thinking is, If I don’t feel prepared to understand how life is changing, how can I expect my child to?

Parenting expert Kim John Payne encourages parents to act as filters to the adult world for their children. In his book “Simplicity Parenting” he states that children are unable to fully understand the context of our adult issues, and parents should reserve these conversations for times when children are not present. “Not only do they lack context for the information, they lack the foundation that childhood slowly provides. The foundation of years of relatively safe observation, interaction, and exploration. Too much information does not ‘prepare’ a child for a complicated world, it paralyzes them.” Payne goes on to encourage parents to ask themselves before sharing anything with their children, “Is it necessary?”

Most of what I found online echoed this advice. The consensus amongst the Mayo Clinicthe CDC, and PBS is clear: Remain calm and reassuring, pay attention to what children may see or hear regarding the virus, practice safety with germs as a family, and provide them with age-appropriate information.

“Keeping your own anxiety in check is key,” wrote Jessica Grose in the New York Times. She encouraged gauging what your children know of the virus before telling them what you know, speaking to them about it at an age-appropriate level, encouraging good hygiene, and also remaining positive whenever possible. What stood out to me the most was a quote she included from Abi Gewirtz, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Minnesota: “If your child is under 6 and has not heard about the virus yet, you may not want to bring it up, as it may introduce unnecessary anxiety.”

So, yes, I’ve lied about the existence of the coronavirus to my child. And I’m proud of it.

It is my job as a parent to ensure my child’s safety and wellbeing. By staying home and practicing social distancing, I am keeping him safe. By avoiding telling him the ins and outs of the virus, as well as my own anxieties surrounding it, I am protecting his mental wellbeing.

I Lied to My Kid About COVID-19 - Boston Moms

I want my son to look back on this time and know nothing different. He was home. He was safe. He was loved. And we were happy.

He will eventually face hardships or experience difficult things in the world. And my hope is that when that day comes, the foundation and security of his happy childhood will provide the solid foundation to face those challenges. I’d rather he look back on this time of life and remember it fondly. We’ve spent more time resting instead of rushing. More time exploring on walks around our neighborhood instead of driving in our car for errands. More time gardening and baking instead of attending playdates and toddler tumbling.

It’s not all bad living a slower pace at home with our kids, and that’s important to remember as a parent leading a child through this strange phase of life. These are trying times for us all, but the best thing we can do for our children is to keep them home, in a safe and grounded environment, in order to prepare them for a strong future.

Celebrate Anyway

celebrate May anyway - Boston Moms

A typical May is a month full of celebrations. May 2020 is by no means a typical month, given our world’s current pandemic status.

But we will celebrate anyway.

Graduations, birthdays, weddings, proms, holidays, and end-of-school chapters will still go on despite a super virus and social distancing.

In my family alone this month we’ve celebrated my brother’s college graduation, my cousin’s wedding (yes, this photo is of my daughter wearing her flower girl dress during the live-streamed wedding), my grandfather-in-law’s 92nd birthday, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and the end of my daughter’s first year of preschool. And we celebrate our teachers for the amazing educators they are, especially this year.

In a typical May, all of these events are planned and organized for us. We show up to the graduation and applaud our grad. We attend the beautifully planned wedding and wish our best to the happy couple. We share cake at the birthday parties, we bring flowers to the Mother’s Day lunch, we send a gift card with our student to school for their deserving teacher.

May 2020 does not accommodate those in-person gatherings. We have to think outside the box to celebrate this month’s milestones. It takes a little more effort this year. But we can do it, and we must do it.

It can be as simple as mailing a card. It can be as easy as emailing a gift card to the deserving recipient. It can be as wonderful as supporting a small business with your gift delivery.

Thoughtfulness does not have to be extravagant to get its point across. The point is, we have not forgotten all the celebrations May holds. Our celebrations look a lot different this year, but we will still show up for our people who have worked so hard and deserve the spotlight for their awesome accomplishments.

Congratulations to everyone with a special day this month. You are so worth celebrating.

We’re Physically Distant, but We Can Still Be Social :: A Boston Family’s Experience with Houseparty

Boston Moms is thrilled to work alongside Houseparty to bring you this information. While this content is sponsored, the experiences and opinions are all our own.

I’ll admit it. When the news came that the kids would be out of school and my husband would be working from home for a while, I was almost, dare I say it? Happy! While our schedules would obviously be interrupted, the thought of having my family home and getting back to basics really did excite me.

Well, it’s been 10 weeks, and let’s just say… we’re bored!

Balancing the demands of two careers and the needs of three little kids has slowly eaten away at any of the blissful promise of what time together could feel like. I’m realizing now more than ever how much I relied on the social obligations that had grown to be such an important influence on how we raise our family: A random Saturday afternoon spent in the yard while my father-in-law helps my husband with a construction project. A trip to the park with friends. Sports practices, games, and a trip to the ice cream shop afterward. With all that on hold, there is an air of sadness in my house!

Enter Houseparty — the face-to-face social network!

Houseparty allows for groups to video chat on mobile or a desktop app. It’s incredibly easy to use and super intuitive — the user opens the app, and their friends receive a notification that they are now “in the house” and ready to chat. Friendship on Houseparty is by mutual agreement. Only people you have accepted as friends can join you when you open the app. Rooms can be locked or unlocked. It is safe and secure, and the perfect way to stay social even while we are physically distant!

To download the app, simply visit your app store and search for Houseparty. From there, you’ll create an account and will be given the option to identify phone contacts and Facebook friends who already have Houseparty accounts. When I created my account I was so surprised — many of my best friends already had accounts and had never told me! Better yet, even my grandparents had accounts! How had I missed out on all the fun until now? We connected instantly, and the rest was super easy to figure out.

My kids and I use Houseparty for general catch-up calls with our family and friends, but the best part is the games we play on the app. Have you ever had a video chat with live games being played? Have you ever done it with kids? It’s a riot! My boys are 7 and 4 and are able to understand and navigate the games pretty much on their own. Their favorites are Heads Up and Superhero Trivia! They love to play a quick game with their aunt, and it helps add a little silly to the middle of our hardest days stuck at home.

While we’re using Houseparty right now to connect with friends and family we’d typically see in person, we’ll absolutely continue to use it in the future. I love the idea that my grandparents will be able to play a game with my sons in real time, even when they’re living in Florida and we are here in Boston.

Download Houseparty today, and get in on the fun! And, if we’re friends in real life, add me! I’ll beat you in a game of Heads Up!  

Meet a Boston Mom :: Alice Lewis, Alice’s Table

Moms don’t get the recognition they deserve! As a business run BY local moms FOR local moms, Boston Moms is excited to showcase the hard work local moms are doing — both at home and in their professions.Alice's Table - Boston Moms

Boston Moms is proud to feature Alice Lewis for this “Meet a Boston Mom Monday!” You may recognize Alice’s face from social media or Shark Tank. Alice is a new mom and the CEO and founder of Alice’s Table, which launched in September 2015 with the mission to empower women across the country to start their own creative floral arranging businesses.

Join us in celebrating Alice and the important contributions she makes at home and at work! 

We asked Alice to share a bit about herself. Get to know her here!

Full name: Alice Lewis

Occupation/business name: Alice’s Table

Children: Eleanor, 9 months

Hometown: Chicago

Favorite local restaurant: Pastoral

Favorite local business or brand: Magic Beans

Tell us a bit about your work/job: I love my job! I get to work with amazing women and bring joy through flower arranging.

Want to know more about Alice’s Table?

“Alice’s Table hosts flower arranging workshops nationwide to bring women together to learn new skills and live a social and creative lifestyle. Its unique Event Exec program empowers women to launch their own events businesses and supports them with an innovative online platform and active community to help them be successful.

Our goal is to be the bright spot in the modern busy woman’s life — the thing she looks forward to at home and on the town. Modern women don’t have time to be Martha, they need lifestyle delivered.”

What is the one thing that surprised you the most about motherhood? That it is constantly changing; whenever you think you have finally gotten into a routine, something shifts. It is amazing to learn alongside your child.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer another working mom? There is no such thing as balance. You will always be racing from work to family and then back again. Try to enjoy the hustle!

What is one way you take care of yourself? Saturday nap times are my favorite! I light a candle, sit in bed, and read my book, alone!

List two other women who inspire you: My mom and Indra Nooyi (if you have not listened to her Aspen Institute talk about if women can have it all… it’s totally worth it).

You can read more about Alice Lewis here. Follow her at @alicelrlewis on Instagram, and for more information about her business, follow @alicestable!

Are you interested in being highlighted in a “Meet a Boston Mom” feature, or do you know someone who deserves this recognition? Let us know! Please email Meghan Block at [email protected] to discuss a feature.

Our Blended Bunch

stepmom - Boston Moms Blog

What do you think of when you hear the term “stepmom”?

Until I was in my mid-twenties, it was a mix of Disney villains and Julia Roberts. Until the movie “Stepmom” came out, the only cool blended family depiction was in “The Brady Bunch.” Regardless, at the end of “Stepmom” (*spoiler alert), the two women find common ground, co-parent, and live happily ever after… and then Susan Sarandon (the mom) dies.

Being a blended family is special, as any family is, with its own mix of schedules, challenges, and of course, fun.

My twin stepchildren are about to turn 13, so I’ve been reflecting lately on our relationship and our growth as a family. It’s been a crazy incredible journey watching them grow from little kids (who are dependent on you for everything) to budding, independent young adults. (But don’t worry, we have a toddler who is a mix of dependent/independent, so that’s fun for everyone in our family.) The term “blossomed” is an understatement. My stepson is now taller than I am and has learned to shave recently, and my stepdaughter is finding her own style and sass (thankfully directed at her brother). 

The first time I met them, it was at a Christmas stroll that is now a part of our family tradition to kick off the holiday season — one that now includes their little brother. Our other traditions have stayed true but evolved as well. In a time of technology, my husband and I are happy the kids still enjoy camping and the outdoors. During our first family camping trip — with my husband’s godmother and uncle — my stepdaughter and I were playing catch and she caught a ball with her face. Though mortifying for me, she was fine and enjoyed the rest of the trip. We laugh now about that first experience and continue to create more memories each year. They help set up the tents, chop wood, and research hikes for us to explore as a family.

Some days I still see them as the children who were barely big enough to ride the flume at Santa’s Village. But being able to take them zip lining in New Hampshire or watch a grown-up horror movie without them getting nightmares opens a whole new level of life. 

Cooking and food have always been a big part of our family too. We do a contest with the Food Network show “Kids Baking Championship” where we each pick a baker to see who chooses a champion. You win bragging rights, and it’s something we all look forward to. Our kids’ pallets have matured, too, with pizza nights moving beyond cheese and pepperoni to fig jam and prosciutto with goat cheese! 

They’re getting to experience young adulthood with added responsibility for their little brother. I give them credit for that, because they probably never expected to have a sibling but have grown into being big brother and big sister with flying colors. They are loving, positive role models.

As they officially become teens, I can’t help but reflect on how much they’ve grown and how much I can’t wait to see what this next stage of their life is going to bring. Here’s to many more memories for this happy stepmom!

 

Mom 2.0

It took approximately two weeks of quarantine for me to turn into my mother.

It started simply enough — me staring at my living room wall and deciding I had never really liked the color. And down the rabbit hole I went.

I was brought back to when I was 12, and a friend commented that my mom always had a home improvement project (or three) going at the same time. On any given day, a floor could be torn up, cabinets could be refaced, the kitchen sink could be moved to the other side of the room. She never hired a handyman, simply relying on the help of good-natured friends and relatives, and teaching herself the rest along the way.

And now I get it. My mom was a stay-at-home mom in the 80s and 90s. She spent a good deal of time at home, envisioning what she really wanted. Steadfast and determined, when she had a vision, nothing stopped her.

So, two weeks into quarantine and nowhere to go, I slowly became more like my mom. I didn’t realize it at first. That is, until the day I stood at the door, paint speckled in my messy ponytail, waving at the delivery guy with a drill in my hand while calling out my thanks for the cabinet refinishing stain he had just dropped off.

There she was. Mom 2.0.

Since that day, my kids have helped me paint walls, balanced the bottom of my ladder as I painted a 12-foot ceiling, watched me stain baseboards, and guided me as I cut down a tree in our backyard.

I hope that someday, when they remember this time in their lives, they will tell their own kids about the neverending projects in our house. And I hope they attribute it to inspiration from their grandma.

My mom’s house is beautiful. It is everything she dreamed of. And when her dreams change, she simply picks up a paintbrush or a saw and starts creating a new dream.

I am proud to be her daughter.

I miss you, Mom. I can’t wait for you to see what you have inspired in person.

I Won’t Sacrifice My Relationship With My Kid to Homeschool

We started off strong, with homemade checklists compiled from materials sent by my daughter’s six different therapists and one teacher.

Our workbooks were secured, I put up a dry erase board, I had great online resources. I was ready to go. Before my stay-at-home-mom years, I was a teacher. I felt confident. I had this. I wasn’t going to let school being closed rattle me.

Then I put my best foot forward for my 3-year-old on our first official day of “homeschool.”

And the confusion and sadness on my 3-year-old’s face was almost unbearable. 

It wasn’t until that moment that I remembered I was not actually her teacher. Moreover, I was certainly not her physical, occupational, or speech therapist. I was her mom. Her safe place. Her calm from the storm.

And that’s it. 

But there she was, in the middle of a storm, and her mom had magically transformed into someone she didn’t even recognize. Her routine had been disrupted. She was dealing with the unexpected loss of people she saw daily. Now, for reasons she didn’t understand, she didn’t recognize her safe place either. 

I made the wrong choice, trying to be everyone except her mom. It’s not what she needed.

Had I continued down that homeschool road, she may have made progress academically and met her therapy goals in her IEP for the year, but I would’ve disrupted our relationship to do so. 

Our mother-daughter relationship is not something I’m willing to sacrifice. For anything. 

It was a really humble moment, recognizing that I was so radically off base in my plans and thought process. I couldn’t possibly have been more out of touch.

I’m in no way suggesting that we give up on schooling and therapy — that wouldn’t be appropriate either. 

The kids still need to learn, but we’re choosing to embrace authentic learning and forego the hours of screen time and worksheets. The dry erase board has a tally of “great choices that were made today” instead of a daily agenda, and the workbooks are dusty. We’ve made peanut butter bird feeders, sung silly alphabet songs, planted a garden, and played hopscotch. We finally found Venus, splashed in all the puddles within a half-mile radius, and painted happy rocks for our neighbors to find.

Looking back, in my homeschool planning I had forgotten one of the most basic truths of this pandemic — that we’re all afraid.

Our kids are scared too.

Maybe they’re too little to understand, but they’re scared nonetheless. They see the things changing around them. They feel the “stressed out” vibes. They notice the uneasiness of the adults in their lives and hear lots of new words that make them feel nervous. 

So when those little feet come tiptoeing into your room in the middle of the night, just hold those beautiful babies tightly and tell them they’re safe and loved beyond measure.

We’re all just doing the best we can. 

All Things Baby :: Boston-Area Resources for Pregnancy, Postpartum, and Newborn Care

Boston pregnancy postpartum baby newborn - Boston Moms

Hooray! You’re pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or recently had a baby. Now what?

Pregnancy and postpartum can be filled with so much excitement and joy, but it can also be overwhelming to try to make the best decisions for your growing family. From prenatal and postpartum support to newborn nighttime challenges to pelvic floor therapy and nutrition, this guide has it all

Boston Moms has curated this guide with you in mind. We hope the connection to these incredible resources, businesses, and local practitioners will help take the stress out of adding to your family.

We are thankful to the following businesses, who we sought out and would use ourselves, for their partnership.

Boston NAPS is the leading provider of prenatal education and postpartum nursing care and consultations in the region and beyond, through their virtual offerings.
 
Because the Boston NAPS team is made up of all registered nurses and nurse practitioners, their clients enjoy an evidence-based approach to care that leads them to being and becoming more confident parents. Boston NAPS wants to create a sense of community that helps women and families feel well supported in a non-judgmental way, from the moment you find out you are expecting through those first few years of early childhood.
 
As mothers themselves, the Boston NAPS founders are proud to offer you support in a way that combines a healthy dose of medical advice with real-life parenting advice. 
 

Nightingale Night Nurses is a team of experienced professional newborn care specialists, postpartum doulas, and registered nurses who provide supportive care to parents of newborns in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Nightingale’s professionals provide new parents with the education and support they need to empower themselves and become confident parents during the first few months of life. Their claim to fame is helping babies learn to sleep through a 12-hour night by 12 weeks old when parents use the services consistently! 

Nightingale has experience working with a variety of family structures: No matter who you are or how you got here, they would love to support YOUR distinctive family dynamic.

Nightingale Night Nurses offer overnight care, 24/7 care, daytime support, and parent coaching, as well as sleep training for babies five months and older.

Want an easier pregnancy and a healthier baby? Did you know your diet and nutrition in pregnancy can impact the risk of complications (e.g., preeclampsia, gestational diabetes), lactation success, and even the digestive health of you and your baby? Danielle Shea Tan, licensed functional nutritionist and author of “52 Small Changes for the Family,” works with expecting mothers to gain more energy, improve digestive health, balance blood sugar, and more. She also uses food, herbs, and nutrients to naturally address common health issues faced by babies and children, such as constipation, reflux, food sensitivities/allergies, and eczema. Get started today by scheduling your initial 15-minute complimentary discovery call.

For a little over 12 years Tadpole has been a trusted neighborhood store for new and experienced parents alike. Heavily focused on baby gear delivered with a top-notch customer experience, Tadpole remains fully committed to serving you during this time and continues to operate through their local delivery (same or next day) and shipping services. Tadpole’s customer service team is on hand to help you with any baby and toddler needs you might have. 

Mama Blooms

As a certified lactation counselor, postpartum doula, and Ayurvedic postpartum care specialist, the mission of Mama Blooms, LLC, is to empower, nurture, and support the modern mama. Mama Blooms offers a unique blend of care and a wide variety of services, leaning on both evidence-based information AND the intuitive, ancient knowledge of our past so that women and their families can thrive in postpartum and beyond.

Boston Pelvic Physical Therapy

Do you leak pee when you exercise, cough, laugh, or sneeze? Do you have pain with sex? Are your abdominal muscles separated after pregnancy? Does your body just not feel right after birth? Pelvic floor physical therapy is right for you! With clinic locations in the Seaport and South Boston, as well as virtual and concierge visits available, pelvic health specialist Dr. Alexandra DiGrado PT, DPT, PRPC, makes pelvic floor PT convenient and accessible for pregnant people and new moms. 

Crabapple Photography

Crabapple Photography is a full-service boutique portrait photography studio specializing in maternity, newborn, baby, child, and family portraits. Crabapple Photography has been run by Kate McKenna since 2009 with a studio conveniently located in Andover, MA.

The Red Wagon

The Red Wagon stocks the best baby and kids clothing — think New England style with a modern twist. The Red Wagon is perfect for baby shower and new baby gifts.

Want to be a part of our All Things Baby guide?

We are always looking for new, fresh resources and local businesses to share with our incredible following. Partnering with Boston Moms allows your business greater visibility with a large targeted market of local families. Join us and help enrich the lives of Boston moms!

This guide was sponsored by the incredible local businesses listed above.

I Have Not Shaved My Legs in 8 Years

epilator - Boston Moms

Yes, it is true. I have not shaved my legs in eight years. However, before I explain, let me be clear: I am not walking around with hairy man legs. I do remove the hair, but not by shaving.

It started with my first pregnancy. Shaving your legs when you have a growing, awkward abdomen is the worst. I mean, you can hardly see your legs when you’re pregnant — forget about trying to bend over and get your ankles shaved. I was visiting my mom and saw her epilator in her bathroom — a device that pulls every little hair out by the root. As a child, this device really scared me. It was noisy and had a bunch of coils on it. I tried using it to take my arm hair off as a teenager and thought I was going to die from the pain. But with new technology and being an adult, this device did not seem so terrifying. What was terrifying was my due date in August and the thought of having hairy legs all summer. So I tried my mom’s epilator on a little part of my leg. “Not too bad,” I thought.

I went home and made the purchase — my own epilator for about $80. I’ll admit the first time I tried it for my entire leg it was definitely mind over matter and I was swearing through the pain. However, the result was worth the pain. My legs were smooth, and they stayed that way for over two weeks! Similar to what you hear about waxing, my hair grew back much slower and softer every time. I knew if I committed to not shaving my legs ever and only using my epilator my hair would continue to grow back slower and softer and the pain would be less every time. I did commit!  

I have not taken a razor to my legs in eight years, and a few years ago I started using my epilator on my underarms too. I currently only have to do my legs about once a month. A simple one-time $80 purchase has definitely saved me time, money, and embarrassment. I am glad I stuck it out and committed to only using my epilator. The initial pain was worth the reward, especially when you compare the price of waxing, laser hair removal, and constantly buying shaving supplies. Here’s to another razor-free summer!

Gratitude During COVID-19

COVID-19 - Boston Moms

This. Is. Hard.

We are facing a pandemic unlike anything we have ever seen before. We are trying to make sense of this and trying to explain COVID-19 to our kids. You may be feeling worried about your health and the health of loved ones. You may be stressing out about being recently unemployed — or about having to go in to work. You may be stressing out about working from home and parenting at the same time. You may be stressing out about how to get eggs and toilet paper. You may be stressing out about stressing out.

That is OK.

This is a time of extreme stress and extreme unknown.

And… this is also a time of gratitude.

Seriously, hear me out. I’m not being Pollyanna. I’m just trying to get through the day. And little glimpses of gratitude help me keep my head above the water.

So, here it goes:

I am grateful.

I am grateful for pajama pants and hoodies.

I am grateful for health and I am grateful for a paycheck.

I am grateful for the medical staff who are working day in and day out to care for our loved ones.

I am grateful for all the grocery store workers who keep the shelves stocked and cash me out with a smile.

I am grateful for the shortest commute ever.

I am grateful for a slower pace of life. No rush to get out in the morning. No rush to pick up the kids and get dinner on the table.

I am grateful for the smiles from strangers and the sidewalk chalk art in my neighborhood.

I am grateful to see so many people out for (socially distanced) walks and hikes on sunny days.

I am grateful for the increased recognition of the work teachers and daycare providers do, and I hope that will continue when this is all over.

I am grateful that, for the first time ever, we got to have both sets of out-of-town parents at our (Zoom) Passover table.

I am grateful for the sense of community that has brought so much digital content to my living room, connecting people across the street and across the world.

I am grateful that I am not focused on my kids’ productivity or academics during this time.

I am grateful for the reminders to focus on surviving — and not on thriving.

I am grateful my kids are happy and will remember the joys of increased family time.

I am grateful that one day this will all be over.

Breaking Up (with Amazon) Is Hard To Do

Amazon - Boston Moms

A hundred and one orders placed in the last six months.

Every time I try, I fail. No matter what I do, I can’t quit Amazon.

And it’s not like I’m a novice at this: I quit Diet Coke AND alcohol. But Amazon is a whole different beast. Quitting just doesn’t seem possible. And every time I vow to shop elsewhere, these lyrics start playing in my head (sing along to the tune of “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do”).

Do do do.
Prime doobie doo down down.
Free two-day shipping doobie doo down down.
Great original content doobie doo down down.

Breaking up (with Amazon) is hard to do.
Don’t take your Dots away from me.
A Lightning Deal on my favorite tea.
Without Mrs. Maisel, oh what will I do?

‘Cause breaking up (with Amazon) is hard to do.
Remember when I ordered a weighted blanket to hold me tight?
And it arrived after just two nights.
Think of all the orders I’ve put through.
Breaking up (with Amazon) is hard to do.

They say that brick-and-mortar stores are just as great,
But now I need the perfect cake plate.
And when it comes to leaving my home,
Instead of going out I know that Amazon will send me some.

I need some diapers, in a size four.
Can you deliver them, right to my door?
Subscribe and Save on my TP too.
Breaking up <with Amazon> is hard to do.

No matter when, morning or night,
I can shop in my phone light.
Think of all the gadgets they sell,
Breaking up <with Amazon> is pure hell.

Free two-day shipping doobie doo down down.
Empty boxes everywhere doobie doo down down.
Great original content doobie doo down down.
Send help, please, down doobie doo down down.

10 Kids YouTube Channels That Are Saving My Life Right Now

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Pre-quarantine, we had a very strict “no YouTube” rule in our home. Our then 2-year-old was a victim of the “Momo murders Peppa Pig” fiasco, and the scare made us evaluate whether or not it was appropriate to use. At the time, it was not. 

Now, after we’ve been quarantined for 60 days and counting, I’ve had to re-think this approach.

Avoiding YouTube was no longer feasible in the midst of our quarantine chaos. So after much soul-searching, I finally did some research on “safe” YouTube channels for kids of all ages. The results were astoundingly plentiful and diverse. There are so many quality kid videos out there!

Please keep in mind that what’s right for my family may not be what’s right for yours. I do not guarantee that all these videos will 100% meet your family’s viewing standards, and I strongly suggest previewing them before your kids watch them.   

Here are our family’s favorite YouTube kids channels… quarantine edition. 

Cosmic Kids Yoga 

Cosmic Kids Yoga is one of the pillars of my sanity right now. Yoga helps regulate my kiddo’s nervous system and gives her a positive way to “get her anxieties out” non-verbally. There is a fun and silly theme to each video, a captivating storyline, and some really great authentic but kid-friendly yoga poses.

GoNoodle

Admittedly, some of the videos on GoNoodle are better than others. However, this is a GREAT channel for “brain breaks” when the sillies, wiggles, or frustrated feelings take over. They’re funny, interactive, and plentiful. There is a mix of movie themes, mindfulness activities, and silly dances that make GoNoodle a hit for just about everyone. Right now, we’re really into their deep breathing videos!

National Geographic Kids

There are so many mini-series inside this one channel, it could entertain my kiddo for many, many years. They feature exploration videos, a “Best Job Ever!” series, “Weird but True!” videos, “Amazing Animals” shorts, and my daughter’s current favorite, the National Geographic/Barbie collaboratives. They’re captivating enough to get me to sit down and watch too! Except for maybe the Barbie ones…

Sesame Studios

From the makers of Sesame Street, these short videos are great for a preschool audience. There are short movement breakdances, nursery rhymes, and other endearing videos about feelings, sharing, and animals. In a pinch, I can always count on these videos to be age-appropriate, silly, and fun.

PBS Kids

This one almost goes without saying, but it’s just too good not to share. Between Daniel Tiger, Sesame Street, Arthur, Clifford, and the new “Read-Along with PBS Kids” e-series, we use this channel daily. It’s innovative, educational, and safe for kids, and I prefer this channel for my kiddo above all other TV. 

TedEd

One of the biggest reasons I love TedEd is because it caters to such a wide audience. I adore these videos and find them not only entertaining but also educational. They have videos for younger and older elementary school students, along with more advanced ones for the middle and high school audience. If you really look, you can find a video about virtually any topic you’re interested in!

Crash Course Kids

Crash Course Kids has one of my favorite series right now for kids on YouTube — “The Engineering Process.” They brand themselves as “science with a side of awesome” and have their channel broken down into different categories, like Earth science, life science, physical science, and space science. This channel is perfect for the science avoider and the science lover alike.

SciShow Kids

SciShow Kids is another amazing channel for little STEM lovers. They have an awesome “experiments” sub-section that encourages hands-on learning with relatively easy-to-find ingredients. I can always count on this channel to be appropriate, interesting, and engaging. The videos are on the brief side — between 4 and 7 minutes on average — and are perfect for little minds!

Art for Kids Hub

Art for Kids Hub is run by a family of six who love to create art together. It primarily features drawing tutorials and is perfect for any age range. They draw cute cartoons like heart flowers, community helpers, animals, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Right now our favorite is the “preschool art lessons” uploads — my almost 4-year-old always feels very proud of what she draws!

The Artful Parent

This channel is maybe more for parents than kids, but it has a great variety of arts and crafts activities for kids of all ages and skill levels. They range from simple to more elaborate and can go along with homeschool lessons. You can easily find something you and your kiddo will enjoy, no matter what they’re passionate about!

Baby Registry “Must Haves” I Passed On

Putting together a baby registry for friends and family to know your “must haves” is overwhelming, to say the least. You’re preparing to be a first-time mom, but you have no clue what you’ll actually need or what you’re doing.

There are tons of websites that offer helpful guides on what to add, and plenty of friends and family will be more than willing to offer their advice on registry must haves. But some things work for some people, and others just don’t. There are certainly no-brainer items that you’ll need, like onesies, bibs, and a stroller. But there are many items that aren’t essential. Because babies grow so quickly, there is a very limited window of time for almost all the things they use.

I tried to be very minimalist with my baby registry for this reason. Here are a few “must have” items we skipped out on:

Sophie la Girafe

Yes, she’s adorable. Yes, babies love her. But she is $25. For what is basically a chew toy for babies. I didn’t believe in shelling out that kind of money when there are far cheaper teething toys out on the market, which is what we opted for. I don’t think my son will need therapy for never having had a Sophie, but I guess only time will tell on that one.

Pacifiers

When I was in high school I worked at a daycare, so I saw firsthand how hard the pacifier addiction can hit toddlers — panic attacks, meltdowns, the whole nine yards. So I was well aware of the difficulties of binky weaning. And knowing that, I was very wary of even introducing them to my child, so I didn’t bother putting any on my baby registry. My baby was a preemie, and he had a pacifier in the NICU to help develop reflexes for feedings. It came in handy for the first couple of months, but past the newborn stage he was well over the pacifier and we haven’t needed them since.

Mamaroo

It’s been proven that movement helps to calm and soothe babies. Various methods and techniques have been used, from driving around in the car to rocking chairs, bouncers, and baby swings. The Mamaroo is touted to be an infant swing on steroids, replicating the bouncing and swaying of a parents’ arms to help soothe a baby. The retail value for one starts at $219. And I can say with assurance that you will get less than a year’s use out of one. We opted for a simple swing at a fraction of the price that we got decent mileage out of.

There are no hard and fast rules for organizing a baby shower registry. Don’t feel pressured to add something just because it is hip or popular. Research, read reviews, compare prices. And trust your instincts — it’s what you’ll be doing throughout most of your parenting journey, so you may as well start doing it early on!

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Guide To Boston

All Things Baby :: Boston-Area Resources for Pregnancy, Postpartum, and Newborn...

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Hooray! You're pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or recently had a baby. Now what? Pregnancy and postpartum can be filled with so much excitement and joy, but it can also be overwhelming to try to make the best decisions for your growing family. From prenatal and postpartum support to newborn nighttime challenges to pelvic floor therapy and nutrition, this guide has it all.