For the mom with a new baby… the most comforting thing anyone ever said to me.

Baby Joe July 2007
Nine years ago today, I brought my first born home from the hospital.  Although much of the following months and years are a blur, I remember 2 things very clearly from July 2007.

First, I remember the most comforting thing anyone has ever said to me.

Nothing I had done in life had prepared me for bringing home a new baby.  I knew a lot about being a sister, about being a daughter, even about being a grown up… but I had no idea how to be a mother.

I had been pretty successful for 20 some years… and suddenly I was lost.  My newborn son ate all the time, never slept and cried a lot… and I never knew why.  After weeks of no sleep, my mom kindly told me the most simple and encouraging thing…  “Your baby does not know what he is doing either”.

We were in it together.  He was figuring it out, I was figuring it out and we had each other.

The second thing I remember is holding my little baby and thinking that if I loved him any more, I would burst.  My heart would just explode.

And 9 years later we are still in it together and I love him, and his sister and his brother so much that I am close to bursting. And now I’m expecting baby #4 and thinking more and more about July 2007.

So if you are a new mom that is overwhelmed with a baby that you love more than you could have ever imaged, let me tell you this… you baby does not know of a better mom… he just knows he has you and you’ll figure it out together.  You do not need to be perfect, you just need to be there.

4 Tips for Staying Fit, While Caring Kids, from Houston No Excuse Mom Laura Gettman

Laura Gettman of No Excuses Mom Exercising
Remember Laura Gettman with No Excuse Mom?  She’s back on BigKidSmallCity with 4 Tips for Busy Moms to Stay Fit!

It is crazy hot outside during the day, and the evenings do not cool off too much to help balance the temperature. Most of the children in the area are home, all day long! For my family, we have gone from one or two meals together to three full meals with at least two snack times.

There is a lot about this time of year that could provide for excuses to not eat as healthy or to skip my workouts. With habits I have worked hard to form, I am able to get through these months without allowing summer break to break me.

Here are four basic customs I use to maintain my healthy lifestyle during the changed schedule of summertime:

1) Work on planning meals ahead of time. A few years ago I began to plan my meals a month at a time. I know this seems like a daunting task, but for someone who tends to be unorganized and is not a planner, I needed to implement this habit.

During summer with all of the kids home, the work load at home grows exponentially because there are more people to makes messes, so meal prep time can be difficult. I keep a flexible meal plan, meaning we can change it up if we end up eating outside of the home or happen to have missed one of the ingredients when buying groceries.

I also plan in left over nights, which I designate with a “LO” on the calendar. Part of meal planning is also prepping, so we try and take times to pre-cut vegetables or cook a pot of rice earlier in the day or make sure to get out anything that needs to be thawed.

Keeping up with this also helps us to eat healthier as we are making most of our food at home and have the ability to pick and choose what goes into our food.

If you are leaving on vacation, meal planning can help make healthier choices by knowing what restaurants you will go to or looking into healthier food made at home that you can take on the road!

2) Take time to play outside. This can be harder to think about with the heat and humidity that clouds the outdoors here in Houston.

To still accomplish this I plan trips to the zoo when it first opens at 9am, play in our front yard from 8:30am-10:00am (or choose the best time for your neighborhood that has less sun and less possibilities of mosquitoes), visit our community pool or play at splash pads found in parks all throughout Houston (you can add a link here to posts you have done before on parks) When I am outside, I tend to be more active as a natural result of trying to keep up with the kids.

3) Incorporate your kids into your workout. This can be done by choosing to workout in a place your kids have space to play without needing to interrupt you too much such as a park, making a fixed activity area inside your home near your workout space, utilizing child watch at your gym or literally incorporating them into your workout.

You can have your children join you in a basic yoga routine, a fun dance style workout with loud music or a specific workout with basic moves that you turn into a competition or a group challenge to accomplish.

4) Try to keep a stable yet flexible schedule. What?! That makes no sense! In my house, there are many moments throughout the day that I just stop and think (or say) “WHAT?!”

I have found that my kids desire structure. They like to eat meals and snacks at similar times each day, they wake up and get tired around the same time each day, they have a few activities that are their natural “go to when I’m bored” types.

With that being said, I have four kids and usually at least one neighbor kid hanging around for the day. Preferences of times to eat, wake up, what to play with, etc. can be different for each one! Compromise and flexibility are my solutions to the daily happenings. I have a general plan and schedule form in my head each morning when I wake up, but have accepted that I may need to be able to change in a split second.

For maintaining a healthy lifestyle, this mindset helps in every part of my life. When I accept the reality of life and stop focusing on my “ideal” daily life, I make better choices in what I eat, when and how much I work out, and how I keep a more positive mental stability. This may not make sense, but it works!

I hope that you are able to find ways to make your summer a memorable one as you hang out at home, get out and about the Houston area or get away for a vacation!

The Simple Secret to Raising a Female Engineer: It’s not enough to let her be “whatever she wants to be”.

Jill Jarvis on 365 Things to Do in Houston Top 5
To celebrate National Women in Engineering Day, let me take a break from Things-to-do-in-Houston and share my thoughts on raising a female engineer.

As a woman engineer, I am often surprised by the initiatives to get girls excited in engineering.  Not because they are not important, but because when I was growing up, it never once entered my mind that girls could not be engineers (or doctors or lawyers or fire fighters or whatever they wanted to be).

My dad is an engineer, my 2 brothers are engineers and I am an engineer.  At college, there were 4 male students for every female student (and this was really only unfortunate for the guys looking for girlfriends).  At work, I’m often in full conference rooms and find that I am the only female.

I have been a professional electrical engineer for 13 years and I can honestly say that I’ve never been bothered by these statistics.  I’d love to have more girlfriends at work, but I’ve never felt threatened as a minority in the profession.  Maybe it’s because I have always worked in the -high tech-cutting edge-no time for old school stereotypes- industry.  Or maybe because it is how my parents raised me.

As I raise my own 2 boys and 1 girl, I am trying to be deliberate about creating the same environment in my house.  Looking back, the things I took for granted were:

  • There were no girl jobs or boy jobs.  My dad did work outside the house and my mom did stay home, but it was teamwork.  My dad did do the  “fix it” projects and my mom did the “laundry”, but they both helped each other and the kids did the same.  I didn’t have to clear the dishes, because I was a girl.  I had to clear the dishes because I was part of the family and we all cleared the dishes.
  • All 3 kids were expected to get good grades, in all subjects.  
  • All 3 kids were expected to behave.  The boys did not get the “they’re just being boys” excuse.  The girl did not get the “she’s a princess” excuse.
  • All 3 kids had the same opportunities.  We all played sports, played instruments and joined clubs.  No one was allowed to quit something until the season was over.

Of course, all 3 kids were different and all had things we liked.  And just like with my own daughter, I was girly.  I played with dolls and watched princess movies and wore bows in my hair.  But I never knew that there were some jobs that girls were not supposed to do.

All 3 kids, boys and girl, went to college for engineering and all played college soccer and we all went on to work as engineers.  My parents were proud that we all got into good schools and proud that the years of practice paid off, but it wasn’t some monumental accomplishment for the girl to go to engineering school.

So looking back over 30 years, I’d say the secret to raising a woman who does not fear a career in a male dominated field, is to never let her think that there are “girl jobs” and there are “boy jobs”.  This is even more important than telling her she can do “whatever she wants to do”.  Because if she does want to do the “boy job”, she’ll have hurdles to jump and battles to fight in order to do a “boy job”.  If she doesn’t know there are “boy jobs” and “girl jobs”, she’ll just do whatever it is she wants to do.

It’s not important to me if my own kids, boys and girl, do the traditionally male or traditionally female jobs.  My only goal is that they do not see their dream job as being “boy job” or a “girl job”.

The Houston Event for Moms: Mommie & Me, August 9, 2014 at NRG/Reliant Stadium!

Expecting moms, new moms and families with children 0-12 years old, do not miss this year’s Mommie & Me event at NRG Center!  On August 9, 2014, from 10:00am to 6:00pm.

At the event you will find fitness zones, daddy zone, kids activities, workshops on new parent prep, baby care and breastfeeding, and much more!

Partners for the event include BabyBjorn, Medela, McDonalds and Urgent Care for Kids and vendor booths are available for $495.  BUT YOU CAN GET IT FOR FREE!

If you are a Mom-treprenuer with a new business (less than 2 years old) that helps family, mothers, children or babies, you can enter to win a free booth and access to thousands of moms!  Go HERE to enter!!

Mommie and Me Flyer

Get Ready for Baby – Checklist of What Your Might Need Before Baby Comes Home!

When I was expecting my kids, the engineer in me put together this master list of things to buy or find before going to the hospital.  I like to have things planned out weeks (years) in advanced but usually hide this compulsion so I get invited to parties.

It turns out that not all people are hiding this obsession with checklists.  In fact, I’m shocked to find out of my good friend  laughs in the face of checklists.

She is expecting her third child next month and has nothing for him.  I think that partly it is because she’s done this twice before and sees no need to panic, but mostly, I think she is trying to drive me crazy.

I sent her this spreadsheet, and even offered to help her find anything that was missing.  AND she just laughed.  Before I have an anxiety attack over her lack of planning, please tell me that YOU like checklists and are happy to have it!

Use the list below to get started with your own list.  (Click “Read More” at the bottom of each page to see the whole list.)  Not everyone needs everything, and maybe you want some extra items.  My links are below to give you ideas but buy whatever works for you.  I’ll be happy is someone ACTUALLY USES MY CHECKLIST!

Item: Got it? Notes:
For Nursery:    
Monitor (Audio or Video) If you live in a small house or apartment, you might not need the audio monitor.  I never used mine. BUT, I always thought a video monitor would be great for knowing if the baby really needed me, or would maybe go back to sleep!
Sleep Positioner
Crib and/or Pack-And-Play  I had a crib and the cheapest pack-and-play available.  By baby #3, I was moving the pack-and-play to whatever room was quietest and having the baby sleep there.  I do think the fancy pack-and-plays with the changing tables and newborn beds would be convenient for the family room or mom’s room.
Crib Mattrress
Changing Table By the 2nd kid, I used a towel on the counter.  My younger kids didn’t know they were being cheated out of a changing table.
Changing Pad
Changing Pad Cover
Cradle or Bassinet or Baby Basket A cradle or bassinet is good to be right next to mom’s bed, but is not required.  I used the baby basket when we went to grandma’s house.
Diaper Pail These work well but require special trash bags.  Diaper Genie is my favorite, but I ultimately got rid of it and just emptied the trash a lot.
Crib Skirt
Crib Fitted Sheets
Cradle Sheets
Waterproof Pads  I took these anywhere baby slept.  Babies are messy.
Boppy/Nursing Pillow My favorite is the Boppy.  You can find look-alikes at JoAnn’s and use a coupon to get them pretty cheap.  My one splurge for baby #3 was an additional pillow: My Breast Friend.  It is not as easy to throw on as the Boppy, but has back support.
Boppy Cover Maybe get a couple… so you can send one through the wash.
Night Lights So you don’t break your leg at 4:00am feedings.

[Read more…]

Can we take kids to weddings, restaurants and on airplanes? If we do not give them the opportunity to behave, how do we know that they cannot?

BrookeLearningThis morning I walked by a TV showing a talk show.  On it, an audience member was asking if she should take her 4 year old daughter to a family wedding.  The family hosting the wedding really wanted the 4 year old to attend but the audience member was not sure if kids belonged at weddings.  To this, the talk show host said that she was a mother and that there were certain places that kids just did not belong.  According to her, this included restaurants with tablecloths, airplanes and weddings. And the audience member thought this was good advice.

This clip has been eating at me all day.  My question back is, how are kids to learn how to behave at restaurants, in airplanes and at weddings if we do not teach them?  And if it is a family wedding, and the hosts are asking for the 4 year old to attend, why is there a concern?  Is it better to leave a child at home with a babysitter, where no one can see when she misbehaves, or to have her spend time learning to behave with grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles and cousins?  She may not be perfect at all times, but her mom has legs that could walk her daughter out of the room when needed.

I agree that kids need to behave.  I do not really love sitting next to a screaming toddler or wild kid.  Especially when they are my own.  But if we do not give kids the opportunity to behave, how do we know that they cannot?  And if we tell them they will not behave, how can we expect them to do anything but misbehave?

Maybe a fancy restaurant is not the place for all children.  But, a mature kid should not be banned from tablecloth restaurants.

For weddings, the host can decide if children are invited.  If the host is asking for kids to attend, then they are asking for you kid to attend.

And as for airplanes, do children automatically act worse than others?  I fly a lot and have met some very rude adults on airplanes.  They did not cry the entire flight, but they were generally unpleasant and irritating for several hours.

Also, if children should not be on airplanes, how exactly will you get them to grandma’s house or some other grand adventure?  Is it better to leave a child at home with a babysitter, where no one can see when she misbehaves, or to have her spend time learning to behave?

I recently read a post on Momastery  saying that when she flies, she spends her time:

  1. Planning exactly what I will do if the plane is taken over by terrorists…
  2. Searching for and glaring relentlessly at anyone who dares to glare at crying babies or screaming toddlers.
  3. Stewing about how it seems men always take BOTH the arm rests…

I’m actually on business travel now and will fly home, without kids, in a couple days.  I plan to spend my 3 hour flight “Searching for and glaring relentlessly at anyone who dares to glare at crying babies or screaming toddlers.” and considering how to recover from the 1 minute of a talk show that ate at me all day.

How can we make our children confident in this world if we imply that they do not belong in all of it?  And more practically, how do we create a new generation of adults if children are something we do not want to deal with?

Let’s teach our children manners, let’s be considerate of parents as they do this and let’s know that we can try the restaurant, airplane or wedding, misbehave, CORRECT and try again.   Try.  Correct.  Try again.

Funny Things Moms Do – Yoga in Public Parking Lots

Yoga5I used to be a very shy person who was sensitive to how I looked and how I was perceived.  And then I became a mom.

As a mom, I have spent entire days in a shirt with spit up shoulders.  I have loudly sung happy birthday, at restaurants, in my not so good voice.  I’ve discussed potty in public.  And this is just the beginning.

It is funny how a person can suddenly change.  My level of “I just don’t care” seems to have risen to a healthy level.

Just this weekend I found myself doing made up yoga poses in a public parking lot.

HEB offers free kid’s yoga each month.  There was some sort of mix up this weekend and no instructor showed up.  But we were there and I had kids who wanted to do yoga.

One other mother and I decided that we could certainly do our own yoga class on the HEB sidewalk.  Neither of us actually knew any yoga poses, but we were doing some darn good superman, spider man, tree and flamingo poses.

It was a good 10 minutes in that we realized we were getting some smiles and questioning looks from the patrons.  But this just made us smile.

My kids seems to have put things into perspective for me.  A dozen curious HEB shoppers is nothing compared to 3 sad kids that missed out on yoga class.

I am sure glad I’m now the mom that just doesn’t care about things that don’t matter.

So, what funny mom thing have you done today?



Why Moms Need Moms – A Messy Tribute to Moms for Mother’s Day

WhyMomsNeedMomsMother’s Day Weekend is nearly here and this is a tribute to moms everywhere.  Not to this mom specifically, but to all moms and the moms that support this one.

Moms are very good at taking care of what is needed.  On the job training has taught moms how to clean up messes, sooth hurt feelings, bandage up injuries and make life better for those around them.  Moms encourage.  Moms comfort.  Moms get things done.

Although this training is in taking care of kids, mom’s super powers can benefit all.  Let me tell you about the Super Mom and the queso.

Last week I was preparing queso at my daughter’s school party.  As the cheese was melting, I managed to spill a bowl full down the entire length of my jeans.  And it was hot.  Hot, hot, hot.

For a moment, I was stunned by the burning cheese.  And then I was alarmed that I would be wearing queso covered jeans for the entire day.

In the next moment, I had a mom handing me a wet towel, wiping up the floor and offering to cover for me while I ran home for new pants.  And I was grateful.

I did not ask for help.  I did not know the next step to take.  I just got taken care of. 


Most days I do not have burning hot queso dripping down my leg, but moms still take care of me.

Not long after the queso incident, I took the kids out to lunch.  Some friends met us to celebrate a birthday, and all was going fine until baby James threw up.  On me.  Several times.

For a moment I was stunned by explosion.  And then I was alarmed that the chicken nuggets would be ruined.

In the next moment, I had a mom handing me napkins, another handing me wipes, another moving the food and another watching my other kids.
Once again, I did not ask for help.  I did not know the next step to take.  I just got taken care of.


Fortunately, I also do not get thrown up on most days, but moms still take care of me.

Not too long ago I took my 3 kids to an indoor play place.  No one got hurt and not one got sick.  In fact, there was nothing exceptional about the trip except that it came at the end of a long day.

By the end of the visit, I had used up most of my mom tricks and was exhausted.  At the point when I was not sure if I would ever get my kids to the car, another mom came over to me.  She told me that she had been watching me and that I was a very good mother.

And I was no longer tired.
Once again, I did not ask for help.  I did not know the next step to take.  I just got taken care of.


So thank you moms, for taking care of moms.  And thank you specifically for taking care of this mom.

“Should Have Known Better” List – 7 Things I do repeatedly as a mom that get in me in trouble with my kids.

I’ve been a parent for nearly 6 years and very frequently I find my self thinking, “I should have known better”.   And still I keep on doing these things.  Let me share some of the items on my “should have known better” list.

1.  Throwing out anything while the kids are awake.  I don’t care how sneaky I am, my kids have some secret sense about items going in the trash or donation pile.

2.  Throwing out “artwork” and leaving it visible in the trash can.  If I’m going to throw out 1 of the 100 masterpieces, with a single scribble across it, it must be done at night time and then buried deep in the trash can.

3.  Telling the kids we are having salmon for dinner.  They hate salmon but they love fish.  Even if it’s the same exact dinner.

4.  Letting anything perishable go in the 3rd row of the van.  “But Mom, I’ll be sure to throw out the leftovers” fools me at least once a week.

5.  Believing that my kids will carry anything for more than 1 minute.  What starts with, “I swear I can carry my doll in the store” ends with, “Moooooooom, it’s tooooo heavy.  Carrrrrry it!”.  It is completely rational.  I mean, if I’m already carrying a diaper bag, groceries and a baby, I’ve shown that I am capable of carrying anything our small circus may need.

6.  Thinking that 1 baggie of Goldfish is enough.  If I have 1 for the baby, I better have 1 each for the big kids and 1 more to replace which ever one gets dumped out in spectacular fashion first.

7.  Saying I see something cool out the window of the car. Especially if it’s moving at fast speed, like a train.  One kid will miss it and insist we chase it down.

So, what’s on your list?  I bet we can have at least 100 unique, and completely true, “should have known betters”.

In Need of a Mom Cheerleader? Check out Lisa-Jo Baker, Tales from a Gypsy Mama

Lisa-Jo BakerDid anyone else have trouble getting back into the school schedule this week?  Getting 3 kids out the door at 7:00am is painful.  And, it’s even more painful when the kids are whining, you spill your coffee, you’re operating on 4 hours of sleep and you look like it too.

From the number of tardy slips I saw being handout out this week, I’m guessing we’re not the only household readjusting to the school schedule.

Lucky for me, a friend sent me a Cheerleader for the week:  Lisa-Jo Baker, Tales from a Gypsy Mama.  Check out her blog HERE.  And more specifically, check out her post about What mothers can do for one another.  And funny, the day I read this, my good friend called and offered to do school pick up for me.

Do you need a Cheerleader?  Go HERE to find one.