Welcome to our blog

Our hope is to provide a forum for mothers, fathers,and caregivers to discuss ideas, share insight and "pay it forward". Neither of us attended Medill school of journalism and we are not psychologists. We are just two women who have cared for aging grandparents and diapered littleones. We will share our experiences, tips and questions with you. Please share back. We need all the help we can get!

Kirsten and Katie
Co-founders ChicksWithKidz

Monday, August 31, 2009

Getting Ready for School - Part 2

For Preschool, Kindergarten, early elementary ~~

*Label everything - jackets, coats, sweaters, sweatshirt, lunchbox, sippy cup/water bottle, etc…

* remember to put your child in an outfit that is easy to get in and out of/pull up and down – both for the teacher (if your child is not potty trained) and for your child. (so your child doesn’t have any accidents at school because they couldn’t get their clothes off fast enough)
So, no belts, snaps, buttons on pants – just elastic waists on pants.
For girls leggings are great.

* No backpacks or bags unless the teacher requires it. The only thing your child will usually need is a lunchbox/snack bag.

*Use lunch boxes that are like bags and have a Velcro top or are easy to zip open and closed. Remember your child will be opening it themselves!
You can always tuck a note or picture into your child’s lunchbox J

*Don’t send items in their lunchbox that your child can’t open themselves i.e. juice boxes, yogurt etc..

*Nutritious snacks/lunches please! And pay attention to your schools policy for snacks and lunches – i.e. NO peanut products

*Dress your child appropriately for school – keep in mind they’ll go outside everyday and they’ll do messy art projects. Don’t dress them in an outfit that if it gets dirty or messy, will upset them or you.
Children go outside everyday unless it is below freezing, snowing, raining or has rained/snowed significantly over night and there is just too much water and mud on the playground, so dress them appropriately for the weather every day – hats, coats, jackets, etc.. And in clothes that you won’t mind getting paint on etc..

*No sandals or open toed shoes without socks – the mulch and pebbles from playgrounds get in and bothers the little toesies.

*When you drop your child off in the morning, the best things is STOP, DROP and ROLL. Quickly drop them off and scoot out of sight. Do not go into the classroom/playground to get them settled or engaged in something, and then try to sneak out. That usually makes it worse, once they look up and can’t find mommy or daddy. The teacher will get your child engaged and involved, that is her job!
The teacher or another staff member will let you know if there is a problem and your child is not settling in.
Remember it will take some time, for everyone.

*Do not pick your child before the designated class/school ending time. When one child sees a parent, they all start wanting their parents. And make sure you are there promptly at the closing time – don’t be late! Again, when one parent shows up it sets them all off and if you’re the last one to pick up, your child will most likely be very unhappy.

*If you need to pick up your child early, please let the staff/teacher know in the morning. That way they will make sure that he/she is ready and that there is minimal disruption to the class.

*If someone else is picking up your child, let the teacher know in the morning. Children do get upset if their routine is changed.

*If there are any changes in your home life (new caregiver, move, new pet, parent traveling, visiting relatives, etc), please let the teacher know. It does effect your child’s day.

*Make sure to check your child’s lunchbox (or backpack) every day for any notes about your child’s day, school announcements, upcoming events, newsletters, and any other school related information.

Some Books to read with your child:

The Kissing Hand
Ms. Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten
Froggy Goes to School
Miss Malarkey Doesn’t Live in Room 10
The Night Before Kindergarten
When I was Five
When I was Little
Leo the Late Bloomer

Friday, August 28, 2009

Getting Ready for School - Part 1

I write this from my experiences as the mom of two special needs boys (currently in elementary school and high school), as a former preschool teacher, and a PTA President. These are just some tips to help get you and your child ready for school, whether it’s preschool or elementary school.

Going to school is a big step and a change for everyone, even mom and dad.
One of the best ways to prepare your child for school is to be prepared yourself. Your child will look to you, if you are confident, they will be too.

- the school calendar – holidays, special events, etc..
-the school/class hours
-your child’s class schedule – post it on the refrigerator for everyone to see
-the drop off and pick up process, bus schedule, and/or car pool schedule
-the schools playground, before school and after school rules
-how to reach the school by phone and e mail
-the schools lunch room rules and policies – no peanut products?
-the schools electronics policy – ipods, cell phones, gameboys
-how the school communicates emergency announcements
-how the school communicates other information – newsletters, e mails,
flyers in backpacks, etc..
-how best to communicate with your child’s teacher – e mail or phone
-what the school dress code is

Make sure you have all the school supplies, gym uniform, Kleenex, etc. before school starts! And don’t send all your child’s school supplies in with him/her on the first day. Try to drop them off at school before school starts. This way your child isn’t trying to carry everything and do everything on their first trip to school.

Get involved – volunteer as a room parent, join the PTA/Parent Association, just get involved! It really does make a difference. Your child will see you at school and see you enjoying being a part of their world. The teachers will appreciate you and your time. And believe it or not, it does have an impact on how and how often the teacher interacts with your child.

more on Monday.......

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Excerpts from a New Mothers Journal: 2007-2009 - the birth of the bizzyBee baby data assistant

April 2009:

I am proud to say that I can attest to the fact that the bizzyBee is as useful for my third child as it would have been for my first. Life just gets more hectic and keeping track of things more difficult.

My third child, a little girl, was suffering as a newborn. She was jaundice so her intake was critical to monitor. Nursing had to be supplemented with bottle feeds in order to fight the condition. With my other children when the doctor asked how often my baby had eaten or if she was sleeping well, the best I could do was guess. This time around I was able to print out and provide all the information the doctor needed to get a real picture about what was going on. This information included her feedings; how often they were, how long they lasted, or in the case of a bottle, how many ounces she had consumed. Based on this information, along with a lot of discussion, the doctor was able to make an educated guess that the reason my baby was fussy ALL THE TIME, gurgling, hiccupping and chocking a lot was due to a case of severe acid reflux. One pill and 10 hours later I had a new baby. Seriously.

Now I use the bizzyBee to help me remember when it is time to give her the Prevacid. We are only on a once a day dose but even that is difficult to remember with two little boys also demanding my attention. Without the bizzyBee I seemed to be asking my self regularly. “was that TODAY I gave that to her or yesterday?”. Now I don’t ever have to wonder. This provides me a lot of peace of mind on the occasions I leave her with my absent minded professor husband. Thank goodness for the bizzyBee!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

activites/things to do this weekend and Fall

Various things coming up this weekend and Fall~~~~~

~~~New York~~~

Big City Moms Super Pass Deal, DailyCandy Kids readers get $20 off passes to the biggest baby shower in NY.
Deal valid thru Aug. 28. Limited availability. Event, Oct. 6, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
American Girl Place, 609 Fifth Ave., at 49th St. NY
R.S.V.P. to events@bigcitymoms.com or 917-488-8542.

Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day
The US Open begins with tennis clinics, skills challenges, games, music, and special guests.
Sat. Games and clinics, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Main St. to Corona Ave. to 111th St., Flushing.
Admission is free for games and clinics.

Sail the New York Harbor aboard a 19th-century schooner and trawl the waters for cool creatures.
Sat., noon-3 p.m.
South Street Seaport Museum, 12 Fulton St., at Pier 16. Reserve at 212-748-8786 or online at

~~~Washington, DC Metro Area~~~

Air show, helicopter & plane rides, exhibits & food
College Park Aviation Museum,
Sat 8/29 10-5,
College Park Airport, 1985 Corp. Frank Scott Dr., College Park, MD

Monday, August 24, 2009

Excerpts from a New Mothers Journal: 2007-2009 - the birth of the bizzyBee baby data assistant

December 2007

We decided that easy access to recording and retrieving information was critical to our peace of mind. We set out to provide ourselves with a solution and ended up developing a tool that helped us with some very important parenting basics. Namely, to IMPLEMENT the guidelines laid out by various sleep experts which created champion sleepers in our homes. To FEED our babies at reasonable intervals vs. feeling like a pacifier. To MEDICATE theething and sick babies with confidence everytime. Personally, to TRANSITION back to work with peace of mind that I was in the loop and aware of my babies schedules and wellbeing whether I was there for every moment or not.

And so, the bizzyBee: the baby Data Assistant was born

Friday, August 21, 2009

Excerpts from New Mothers Journal: 2007-2009

September 2007

I felt frustrated and ill-equipped to make the baby feel better. If I just had some basic information I knew I could make more informed decisions and stop his crying and my panic sooner. I begin to ask myself, “Is this all because I work?” Now the working mommy guilt is building.

Fortunately, in a moment of confidence, my sister in law a stay at home mom who has just had a baby confirms that I am not crazy. She too struggles to remember things. Even though she is at home all day the exhaustion and steep learning curve of new motherhood had taken it’s toll on her as well. Added to that her baby has acid reflux which requires multiple daily medications and she too is feeling equally tense and at times overwhelmed.

Between the two of us, we were frustrated, uncertain, tired and ready for a change.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Excerpts from New Mothers Journal: 2007-2009

July 2007:
It started before I even left the hospital. From the moment my son was born my ability to recall the simplest information was gone.

It took me aback really. I’d heard about mommy brain but this was ridiculous. A week ago I was managing hundreds of relationships and the top sales person in a fortune 500 company.

I thought it would get better when I got home and I was in my own surroundings. The log book I was trying to use to keep track of the feeding time the doctor had suggested I monitor was always 2 floors away, which might as well have been 200 miles away in my sleep deprived state. I felt like a pacifier too but really couldn’t remember whether it had been 15 minutes or 2 hours since his last feeding so the easiest thing to do was simply feed him again.

Fast forward 4 months and I am back to work. Somehow I am always running late. Traffic, one more client. As I am rushing in my babysitter is rushing out and I am left wondering why exactly the baby has started crying. Has he eaten recently? How much? Enough? Is he tired? Did he take good naps today? Should I put him down or let him stay up a bit? The questions swirl around in my head. Without any information it is hard to know what course of action to take to calm your little baby’s cries. Once teething started it just complicated things more as I never knew when he had last been medicated. We would all TRY to write these things down, but apparently it takes a much more organized group of people than us to do this consistently. I keep wondering are WE the ONLY ones???

to be continued.....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kelly Ripa/TLC Show audition - part 5

continued from Monday.......

Three weeks later we received an email from a casting producer at Milojo Productions. He said that he was looking at our application and had questions about where we were in the process. What did we need help with? What obstacles were we facing while trying to bring the product to market? We were still in the running! We answered his questions and now will sit back to wait out the remaining weeks.

So far the process has been an exciting adventure. We have met intriguing women who all share a common thread: To realize their dreams no matter what the cost and effort involved. I feel we have joined this elite group who not only dream but dare to risk it all for the possibility of holding that concrete, finite thing in our hands and showing it to the entire world in the hopes it will make someone’s life better. May we all persevere and get there.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sleep Tips for Parents of little ones

Train to Sleep: Tips for parents and their little ones

Have you ever gone a whole night without sleeping? The effects are amazing. You can go from being tired to being full of energy as you catch your “second wind”, which is eventually followed by the “crash”, which brings about short temper, frustration, anxiety. Then, if you are lucky you fall asleep before you say something you shouldn’t. It seems the same cycle happens to a lesser degree if you are not getting enough sleep. The exhaustion compounds over days and eventually, you are no fun to be around. You control your hostile temper because you have manners and you are an adult with responsibilities. But what if you weren’t? What if these were skills that you had yet to learn? What if you are just a little guy and you don’t know how to even say please and thank you, much less control your temper? What then? Melt down!

As adults we recognize that we need sleep. We generally take every opportunity to recharge so that we are better able to handle what the world throws our way. Children, on the other hand, don’t have this level of awareness.

Parents often act surprised (and a little envious) when I tell them my 2 and 4 year olds’ sleep schedules. Naps from 1:00 to 4:00, bed time between 7:30 and 8:00 and wake at 7 am. So often I hear other moms say, “I wish my little one still took naps”, or “My daughter wakes up in the middle of the night regularly”, with an exhausted sigh. So I thought I’d summarize what we do just in case it may work for you as well. My disclaimer is I am NOT a sleep expert. I am just a curious mom who has read and implemented the tips from some good books and observed some very successful (and some not-so-successful) sleep routines. Here is what I have learned:

Don’t be selfish. Even though you want to spend more time with them (and they definitely don’t want to miss a minute with you) they NEED sleep. It is your responsibility to make sure they get it. This one helped me a lot during the “training” times: You are doing a disservice to your child if you don’t make them sleep. It is for their health. Without the appropriate amount of sleep they will become more easily frustrated, have shorter attention spans and diminished motor function during the day. Don’t set your child up for failure by being the “nice guy”. They DON’T know what they need. You DO!

Move bedtime and naptimes earlier than you think, especially in the summer months. This is a difficult one as well. (Let’s face it, it is all hard!). It seems so counter intuitive that an earlier bed time would work better, but it really, really does. Once your child is overly tired it is difficult for them to not melt down at the thought of being away from you. We have found these bed times worked the best for both of our children:

· 6 months-2 years 6:45 or 7 pm.
· 2-3.5 years 7:30
· 3.5-4years 8:00*
*Unless it is a day where you have done a long outing and missed your nap, and then it is right back to 6:45 or 7:00.

6 months-1 ½ 9:00 to 11:00 and 3:00 to 4:30
1 ½- 3 ½ 12:30 to 4:00
3 ½ -4 1:30-3:30
4+ 1:30 -3:30 may be sleep or quiet time in room (puzzles, books, mazes etc)

In the summer months when we are enjoying the outdoors most of the day, I actually move these times a half an hour earlier. With hot sun and the hard work in the pool, it is absolutely necessary to stay on top of the schedule. (OK. I said stay on top of the schedule in general but live a little! Don’t pass up every activity that comes along. Once in a while it is ok to vary your routine. It will likely cause a little disruption in the following days but it isn’t very practical to go to the water park for an hour and leave).

Be consistent. I know for many of us this is a killer. Sticking to this schedule means play dates can be cut short or you might not be able to sign up for that Gymboree class this time around but I promise you it will be worth it! Having a well rested child means you will have fewer tantrums and less whining. Trust me when I tell you it is worth it! Hey, maybe you can even get a nap too! I record the times of my children’s naps with the bizzyBee the baby data assistant so I know how to adjust their bedtimes. Now that they are older this is amazingly predictable but when they were younger and naps varied, the bizzyBee was essential to making sure I wasn’t asking more from them than they could give. I still find this particularly useful when I have a caregiver watching my kids for the day. By reviewing the sleep log on the bizzyBee I know whether they slept well or barely slept at all. This allows me to move that bed time up and avoid the meltdowns, all with the push of a button. If you would like more information on the bizzyBee go to http://www.chickswithkidz.com/.

“But I don’t want to go to sleep!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” The heartbreaking sound of your child calling for you is unmatched. Anguish is the only word that describes it. It is brutal and it is best if you have someone there to support you. If you don’t have a partner who can be there with you during your training week call someone on the phone who can talk you through it. Many people will say this is cruel. I would say it is crueler to not train your child how to fall asleep. How you go about this is entirely up to you. I am a big believer in crying it out. I have watched friend after friend try other methods and eventually, after a year of frustration, they resort at some point to letting their child cry it out. If you establish self soothing from the beginning you won’t have to battle a two year old, whom I assure you kicks harder and yells louder. If you are consistent this anguish will not last more than 3-7 days. Don’t make it harder on yourself or your child by caving in. Be strong. (That said, obviously you know your child and if it sounds like they are hurting themselves in any way, go to them and seek expert advice!)

Relapse: I just finished telling you this would last a week or less. And it will. However, as your child progresses through various stages they will test you again to make sure the rules have not changed. After all, things must be different once I move to a big girl bed right? Wrong. You know the rules, you made them. Stick to them and you will be through this new test in no time.

Night Waking: This is one I struggled with the most. My immediate instinct is to bolt out of bed and run to them. It was only with the help of my husband who would grab my arm and say, “Wait,” that I was able to give the kids a chance to work it out themselves - which they did generally very quickly. That said, you know the difference between grumbling in the night and the sounds of nightmares. I believe, and this is just my opinion, that if your child is truly afraid (which any parent can tell by their voices) that you should go to them and comfort them so they know you will always be there should they REALLY need you.
In summary, different things work for different people. I don’t propose to know everything there is to know about sleep. This is simply advice that proved to be useful in getting my little ones to rest. I hope by passing it on, others out there might get a good night’s sleep too. Good luck!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Kelly Ripa/TLC Show audition - part 4

continued from last week.......

We entered the room and I think it went well. We were asked to speak for 2 minutes about our product and then we were to answer questions from the casting directors. I think the baby started to cry near the end, but I really don’t remember much. Kirsten said that the casting directors were smiling as we spoke and were nodding as if they understood the importance of our product. I’ll take her word for it as I was staring blankly at the camera during the audition. One of the directors stopped us on the way out of the room to mention that she saw a great need for the bizzyBee in daycares. She got it! At least one of them understood what we were trying to get across.

By the time we left the auditions that day we learned more about the show: The season will be 8 1-hour episodes and 16 inventions will be chosen. 2 inventions will be showcased on each episode. Milojo Productions, The Discovery Channel, TLC, Kelly Ripa, and the Home Shopping Network will all take turns cutting down the list of contestants and the 16 finalists will most likely be notified sometime in September. We weren’t told when the season will begin. So, we left feeling a bit more informed and planned to forget about the whole thing until we heard something one way or the other. At least we made it to the second round!

to be continued........

Friday, August 7, 2009

Kelly Ripa/TLC Show audition - part 3

continued from Wednesday........
Hours passed and our time arose. Thankfully Kirsten, her daughter and I were together so naturally our nerves were calmed. I believe we have a good chemistry together – we compliment each other so well. Just looking at us made the casting directors smile as we walked into the room. They immediately sensed their challenge for the video interview: Kirsten measures at 6’ 1” and I reach somewhere around her collar bone at 5’ 3”. Should I be on stilts? Should Kirsten kneel? Hmmm… We all made light of the situation and continued on with the 30 second audition – our brief introduction to the bizzyBee.

Prior to our audition we had heard inventor after inventor leave the audition room and comment that they weren’t asked to continue on to the second round. I had resigned myself to being sent home after our initial attempt, but happily we were escorted out of the first room to a hallway where we were outfitted with wireless microphones and told to prepare our 2 minute audition, which would take place in a few minutes. We were number 23 in round two. Not bad since 103 women had auditioned before us that day! The nerves set in. Suddenly I realized that I had been awake since 3:30 that morning, I was starving, and wow was I nervous. What was that 2 minute spiel again? What the heck was I supposed to say?
more to come on Monday........

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Kelly Ripa/TLC Show audition - part 2

continued from Monday..........
On June 26, about a week later, we were in the air on the way to the auditions, both of us memorizing the 30-second and 2-minute audition spiels we had written only the night before. I met Kirsten and her 8-week-old daughter (exclusively breastfeeding, so she had no choice but to accompany us) in the Chicago airport. Now, Kirsten and I have had a lot of adventures together: Besides inventing a product when our babies were only 2 months old and developing it since then, we had traveled to Rhode Island, Las Vegas, Florida, Texas, and many parts of Virginia all in the name of the bizzyBee. Suddenly we found ourselves facing an exciting new avenue. What were we about to do? Who auditions for TV shows? Certainly no one I know. Were we going to be those people who go on American Idol who can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but their family and friends have told them to “Go for it” because they love them so much? Were we going to be made fun of and realize what we had been working toward for 2 years was a silly pipe dream? What we were about to do seemed so crazy.

After a relatively short cab ride we arrived at the hotel where we would be auditioning and staying for the night. We went to our room and prepared for the audition, beginning to feel at once exhilarated and hesitant as to what we were about to walk into. Downstairs, the audition room was buzzing with excited, nervous chatter from about one hundred women inventors and those who came to support them. We signed in and received our number: 104. Pictures were taken of each woman and her invention. My niece was a trooper and the hit of the day. Everyone stopped to comment on how precious she was. What an icebreaker!

We were told that it would be several hours until our number came up, so we decided to go back to the room and rest. On our way out of the waiting room we met woman after woman who either asked about our invention or wanted to share theirs with us. The women were passionate about their ideas as we were, and had been working as diligently as we had to bring their concepts to fruition. Women were in many stages of realizing their ideas. Some had rudimentary prototypes that were homemade, others had professionally made prototypes, while some women had products that had been manufactured and were already on the market. Yes – there were empty buckets begging for a tune to carry, but mostly there were fantastic concepts that will enrich our lives in some way if they are marketed successfully.
to be continued..........

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Batavia (IL) Mothers Club Raffle

Thought we would spread the word about this group and the good things they are doing for children!

Batavia Mothers' Club's 26th annual Craft Show is coming up and they are doing a 50/50 Raffle this year! One raffle ticket could win you up to $1000. Tickets are $20 each, need not be present to win.
For tickets and more information email ttracyg@yahoo.com with "50/50 Raffle" as the subject line. Only 100 tickets are being sold and they are going quickly!

Batavia Mothers' Club is a 501(c)3 organization that raises money to donate to organizations that help improve the lives of children and women in the Batavia area.

Go to www.bataviamothersclub.org for more information about the Craft Show on October 17th.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Kelly Ripa/TLC Show audition - part 1

I have never wanted to be on TV. Ever. So when our bizzyBee engineer sent us an email about auditioning for a woman inventor’s show, I giggled a little. (“Us” denotes myself, Katie, and Kirsten, the inventors of the bizzyBee. Kirsten is my sister-in-law and business partner.) You want us to audition for what? We researched the link to the show and found very limited information – something like “TLC channel, Kelly Ripa and Milojo Productions are joining forces to present a television series showcasing women inventors”. That’s pretty much all that was told about the show. Kirsten and I agreed that we weren’t TV types, but thought the opportunity was too good to pass up. This could be the chance to introduce the bizzyBee to the entire country! Who knows – maybe we’ll make it! With as much as we believe in the bizzyBee and the support we’ve received from everyone we’ve met so far, why shouldn’t we make it? What the heck, we decided, let’s go for it.

One of the options for applying for the show was a video introducing the invention. Initially we planned on doing this until we realized that the producers recommended auditioning in person. We had missed the first few audition locations and realized our last chance was Chicago only a week away.