Tag Archives: family

We’re Moms Too: Here Comes Baby Number Two

Written by Ashley

The spit up, the wails, the midnight, 2am, and 4am feedings – They’re all gracing us with their presence for round two when we welcome baby #2 this fall. But with them come the warm cuddles, the indescribable sweet baby smell, and the soft, longing gazes.

As I watch my toddler daughter grow older by the day, I am amazed by all the things she is saying and doing. But I feel like as each day passes, my memories of her as a newborn fade more and more.

I’ll admit that I miss the days when we drove around the block 18 times (literally – I think my neighbors were starting to get suspicious) in hope that she would fall asleep, when she gazed into my eyes while she nursed, and even when she screamed for 2 hours straight and I just laid there on her nursery floor with crocodile tears running down my face in pure exhaustion. I wouldn’t have traded those moments for anything in this world.

But welcoming a new baby with a toddler already in the picture will certainly add some new challenges.

Excitement and fears when you find out you're having another baby

I fear that I won’t be able to provide my daughter with enough attention. I fear that she’ll become resentful of me and my husband catering to another child. I fear that I won’t have enough room in my heart to love my second child as much as I do my first. I fear that she’ll revert back to her old sleeping habits and I’ll never sleep again. Like, Ever. Again.

I know she’ll be a great big sister. She’s so kind and considerate of others. I honestly think she knows that something is about to change because she just started trying to hug every baby we lay eyes on and even points to my belly and says “ba-by” in two distinct syllables. I try not to bring too much attention to the changes, but I do want her to know that something very exciting will be happening soon.

As a parent, I’m no expert. I can barely get out the door some mornings, but I’m humbled every time I “fail” as a parent and I willingly welcome the advice of other moms who have walked before me.

I’ve been reading some blog posts that have helped me during this time of unknowns like Amanda’s post over at Dirt & Boogers (how cute is that blog name?) about how she reconnected with her son when her second child was born and Breanne’s post at Borealis about preparation to juggling two.

It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

To all the moms that have two or more children – how did you prepare your first when you welcomed your second?

WM2_AshleyAbout Ashley
Ashley is a self-proclaimed fashionista, social media maven, proud mama to her toddler daughter and expecting her second child this fall. She is the Social Media Manager at Step2 and you may have recently communicated with her if you’ve chatted with Step2 on Facebook or Twitter.

We’re Families Too: Holiday Edition

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This year, we’ve shared our stories as moms, dads, grandmas, and [adult] children . Just like you, we have families at home that provide us with love and laughs, especially during the holidays. This time of year is cheerful and a time to create beautiful memories that will last a lifetime. As this year comes to a close, we’d like to share with you our fondest memories of the holidays from our different traditions to our silliest stories.

We’re Moms Too: Tena’s Christmas Story

Growing up, my maternal grandparents lived next door and my paternal grandparents lived about one mile away.  We would wait to open Christmas gifts until both sets of grandmas and g  randpas arrived.  The wait was agonizing! After opening gifts, we’d indulge in some left over cookies that Santa didn’t have room for in his belly.  From there, we’d go over to my gog and pop’s house (maternal grandparents and neighbors) for Christmas breakfast, come home and nap, and then head over to my other grandparent’s house for Christmas dinner.

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Tena at age 2

Our son is 2½ and this will be the first Christmas he is healthy enough for us to spend it with our family.  We feel so blessed this year to be able to hang out with our family for the holiday.  My parents live 45 minutes away and my hubby’s live a few hours away. Instead of waking up and waiting for them like I had to do as a child, we intend on setting the computer up the night before so we can Skype them in to enable them to be a part of the Christmas morning magic. Later in the morning, we’ll head to my parents house to carry on the Christmas morning breakfast tradition.  We’ve lost most of my grandparent’s in the last ten years with the exception of my paternal grandma and we will still go to her house for Christmas dinner.

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Tena’s son with the Chrismas tree

It is amazing how technology has enabled us to keep some traditions alive regardless of distance, health or inclement weather.  Though our living situations are different, many of our holiday celebrations will be carried on.  One more tradition that my gog did with me that I intend on continuing with my son is to sing, “Happy Birthday” to the Baby Jesus in the nativity scene.  Though I consider myself more spiritual than religious, this tradition is an important reminder that the day is not just about food and gifts, but about love and family.

We’re Kids Too: Nicole’s Hanukkah Story

When I was a little girl, my favorite time of the year was Hanukkah. I loved the aroma of the latkes as they would fry on the stove top, the boiling of the matza ball and the brisket cooking in the slow cooker. My mom and I always celebrated the first night of Hanukkah at my bubbie and poppy’s (grandmother and grandfather) house.  My family would recite the prayers, light the candles on the menorah, eat our delicious meal and finish with the delicious Polish dessert called mandel brate. The following seven nights we would recite the prayers to light the candles. After we were done lighting the candles, I would open one present. Nothing was more exciting than being given presents for eight straight days!

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Nicole at age 2 (on the left) and age 6 (on the right)

My grandparents passed away when I was in my teens and not a holiday season goes by that I do not miss our traditional Hanukkah celebration. However, over the years my mom and I have put our own twist on the traditional holiday festivities.

Over the years we have included my friends at our holiday feast and decorated a beautiful tree with Jewish stars and lights that we call our Hanukkah bush. For the past two years, we have made some more changes to our tradition by spending Hanukkah with my boyfriend’s family. We still eat the same food and perform the same rituals on the first night of Hanukkah, just like we did when I was a little girl.

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Hanukkah 2013

It makes me happy to know that in many ways we still carry on the traditions that my bubbie and poppy once celebrated, putting our own spin on this holiday which will allow us to pass on our new customs to my children someday. I know my grandparents would be proud of how we observe Hanukkah because we celebrate this holiday with a wonderful family that is just like ours.  One tradition that has remained, and always will, is the raising of our glasses to say, “l’chaim,” which means “to life” in Hebrew.  So, l’chaim, to a life of love, peace and joy to you and your family not only during the holidays but also every day of the year!

We’re Kids Too: Michael’s Christmas Story

I remember that when I young, Christmas Day was the greatest holiday of the year.  My parents would always go to great lengths to convince us that Santa had landed on the roof the previous night, bombarding our family room with the gifts we had wished for all year. Sometimes this got a little ridiculous. One example that comes to my mind is the year my sister secretly climbed onto the roof on Christmas eve (NOT advisable for any seven- year-old to do) and placed all the green apples from our kitchen in different locations above the drainage spout on the far side of our house.  During lunch, she cheerfully revealed what she had done, absolutely horrifying my mom.

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Michael at 4 months old

The next morning on Christmas Day, my sister woke us all up at 8am sharp, exuberantly shouting that Comet, her favorite reindeer, had landed on the roof and ate her apples!  To this day I don’t know how my dad managed to get onto our roof without us or the neighbors hearing him and calling the police. I can imagine him sitting up there in the freezing cold, in the middle of night, taking large bites out of each individual apple. He risked his safety simply to convince my sister that Santa’s reindeer were grateful for her gift and watching over her fondly during this magical holiday.  To this day, it still boggles my mind.

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Michael (age 6) and his sister (age 4)

We’re Moms Too: Ashley’s Holiday Story

My mother saves everything, and I’m lucky that’s so. My dad suddenly passed away 4 Christmases ago and it’s been difficult celebrating the holidays these past few years. Last year was the most joyous since his passing, as we celebrated my daughter’s first Christmas. While over at my mom’s house a few months before Christmas 2012, I was in the basement in search of my old toys to give to my daughter (some still in their original boxes!). While searching, I found the black patent leather purse my dad gave me for my first Christmas in 1985.

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Ashley at 4 months old (on the left) and her daughter at 4 months old (on the right)

Tears instantly welled in my eyes. I knew at that moment that my dad was smiling down on me and giving my daughter that very same purse. On Christmas Eve, my husband and I gave it to my daughter. It now sits on my daughter’s bookshelf as a reminder that Grandpa is there watching over her. Every time I pass by it, I smile. I hope that one day my daughter will pass it down yet again on another first Christmas.

We’re Moms Too: Meghan, Irish by Day, Slovenian by Holiday

I grew up with an Irish identity.  I’m sure the McConville name had something to do with it, along with the fact that my dad came from a family of 4 boys, all of whom had 6 kids (except my family) and although scattered throughout New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio—when you put us all in a room together we look like the cast of Angela’s Ashes.

My mom, who I am said to resemble exactly except for the red hair and freckles, is 100% Slovenian.   That means that our holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, had nothing to do with being Irish and everything to do with being Slovenian.   To us, that meant particular hearty food—including a stuffed dumpling called Žlikrofi, a nutty bread called potica and a special noodle soup that kicks off the Thanksgiving meal. The most memorable thing about our Thanksgiving meal was that we had it twice.  That’s right – Thanksgiving started at noon and ended at midnight.  All the Slovenian cousins, aunts and uncles packed together in someone’s dining room or basement to eat this sacred meal, served on china.  You’d wonder how you could possibly eat a hearty meal at 2:00pm and then be anxious for seconds at 9:00pm, but I oddly enough, we always were.  The leftovers would go back in the oven, the china would come back out and we sat together once again.

During the in-between time of the two dinners, we would play cards, tell stories, sometimes argue, and always play the accordion.  My grandfather, Louis,  his brother in-law (also named Louis) and his son, Little Louie played the accordion while my great Aunt Mary played the base.

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Thanksgiving, 1950
Meghan’s Grandpa Louis playing the accordion in the corner

It was truly a wonderful way to spend 12 hours.  I always hated to go home.  We’d explore every corner and closet of my aunt’s home, looking through old photo albums and digging in boxes of treasures in the attic.   Often my brother and I would fall asleep curled up someplace and my parents would carry us to the car, well fed and well loved by all the Slovenian relatives.

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Christmas, 1990
Meghan’s Great Uncle Louie and son Louis on the accordions with Great Aunt Mary (Mitzi) on the washer drum

Most of the older generations of aunts and uncles aren’t around anymore and both my grandparents have passed away in recent years.  However, my Mom keeps the tradition alive and hosts all 30 of the new crop of diluted Slovenians at her house.    The accordions have been replaced by a guitar that my cousin Matt pulls out, on occasion.  Also, the kids put on a play, romp in the snow and get lost in the house, creating memories just like I did.

As for me, I hope I can carry on the tradition that my aunts and uncles, and now Mom embrace with a  great meal and lots of togetherness.   I want my girls to eat in the memories of a Thanksgiving Day that doesn’t end until the next day.  For a kid, there is nothing better.

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Meghan’s daughters with her cousin (from the Slovenian clan), at her Christmas Eve party

Happy Holidays from our families to yours!

About the authors:

Tena
Tena and her best friend (and hubby) had their first child in July, 2011. Their little guy has a congenital heart defect and he is one tough little cookie; don’t ever think about calling him sick though – “his plumbing is just different.” Tena is an animal loving vegetarian and is excited to teach her son about compassion and the importance of volunteer work. She secretly hopes her son will be left handed like his momma. She is the Online Marketing Director for Step2.

Nicole
nicole7Nicole is a DIY advocate (thanks to Pinterest) and amateur chef (also thanks to Pinterest). Still taking life one step at a time after graduating almost a year ago, she loves receiving advice about life from her mother, who is her best friend. She is a lover of all things Cleveland and loves going to the new restaurants and attractions around town. Nicole is the Internet Marketing Specialist at Step2.

Michael
michaelMichael is a fun-loving recent graduate of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling the world, keeping active, the internet, and keeping in touch with family and friends. Michael is a seasonal customer service rep for Step2 Direct.

 

Ashley
WM2_AshleyAshley is a self-proclaimed fashionista, social media maven, and proud new mama. Together with her husband, they welcomed their first child last August. They also have a fur-baby named Peak, an 80-lb. yellow lab whom they adopted during a ski trip in Denver. She is the Social Media Manager at Step2 and you may have recently communicated with her if you’ve chatted with Step2 on Facebook or Twitter.

Meghan
892Meghan is the Communication and Licensing Director at Step2. Meghan is a mom to three little girls, all under the age of 5, who are best friends and worst enemies at the same time. Meghan, married to her husband of 8 years, loves to travel, try new foods, and has recently become a big fan of Downtown Abby. It’s a real treat when she and husband get a babysitter and over-order at their favorite sushi restaurant.

Thoughtful Thursday: Bond of Siblings

thoughtfulthursday bond of siblings

Most kids write to Santa Claus asking for toys; but not eight-year-old Ryan Suffern. He asked if Santa could stop the kids at school from bullying his fraternal twin sister, Amber. He also asked if Amber’s favorite band Big Time Rush could come to Amber’s birthday party.

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 Ryan’s mom Karen was so touched by her son’s letter that she shared it on her Facebook page. The letter went viral and the family was interviewed on Good Morning America. Little did they know that Big Time Rush was waiting to greet Amber as an early birthday present.

This Thoughtful Thursday we commend both Ryan and Amber for taking a stand against bullying.

Sharing Hobbies with Kids

sharing hobbies with kids

Here at Step2, we understand and promote the importance of families spending time together. A great way for families to spend valuable time together is by partaking in hobbies everyone can enjoy. Sharenanny.com gave us some great ideas for kid friendly hobbies that may spark the interest of you and your little ones:

  • Rock collecting: As we transition into spring, we may find many interesting objects on the ground that were once covered by snow or leaves. Try collecting interesting looking rocks with your kids when you decide to clean up the yard or go on a nature walk. Try putting similar color rocks into the same jar and see how many different jars of rocks your family ends up collecting!
  • Photography: Many parents enjoy taking pictures of the children so they can reflect on the memories of their kids as they grow up. Teach children how to take pictures whether it is with your phone or digital camera (parent supervision is strongly recommended).   Have your children take pictures of things they find intriguing whether it is pictures of their toys or trying to take pictures of you, it can be a fun experience you can both enjoy.  A fun project you and your children can do together is taking a picture of each other each day for a certain amount of time and the make a flip book out the pictures and see how much both of you have changed. Check out this example of this an awesome flip book!
  • Scrapbooking: While you are taking pictures, this is a perfect opportunity to take those pictures and decorate them and put the photos into albums. You can spark the artistic and creative side of your children by having them choose the placement of the pictures, coordinate the colors, and use different decorative embellishments.
  • Playing Instruments:  ParentalGuide.org expresses the benefits of children that play instruments. It helps improves children’s cognitive and motor skills. Teaching children basic notes on the piano or having them bang their hands on a drum may be a noisy experience but you will have a blast making noise together.
  • Cooking/Baking: This is an activity that children can do right along with their parents with their very own play kitchen. Teaching children different ways to prepare food will help aspiring little chefs to learn how to cook and bake from a young age.
  • Exercising: Keeping children active is very important. By spending time together doing basic exercise moves, it can promote a healthy lifestyle and a entertaining way for both of your to work up a healthy sweat. Whether you are having a dance party or playing outside, both of you will have tons of fun staying in shape.

What hobbies do you share with your children?

 

Encouraging Healthy Eating Habits

Eating cake, cookies, burgers, pizza, and other delicious foods may be a delectable meal for some, but it can also be an unhealthy lifestyle to pursue all the time. Teaching and encouraging healthy eating habits to your children may help with their development.  There is no guarantee that your children will not become picky eaters, but suggesting the importance of being healthy may open their mind to at least trying new foods.

We found this article on PBS that explains ways to encourage healthy eating habits for your little ones. Here are some of the highlights:

Get them involved by bringing them along. Taking children to the grocery store can an adventure or a struggle, but bringing them, will allow an opportunity for your children to choose the food you purchase. Let them pick out the fruits, vegetables, cheeses, bread and other food you are planning on buying. Try to give them a simple description of what the particular food they have picked tastes like. A great way to stay away from unhealthy food is to try to avoid going down the aisles that supply it. If a child cannot see their favorite unhealthy food in front of them, they may not even think about it or want it.

Go to the source. Speaking of describing how a food tastes to children, it is equally important to increase your children’s food knowledge. Sometimes, instead of going to the grocery store travel to your local farmer’s market. Your children can meet the people that actually grow and pick the fresh fruits and veggies. Even planning a day to go to a dairy farm will teach them where dairy products come from. Besides, showing your children where healthy foods come from- stocking up on plenty of nutritious snacks in your home is a smart idea too!

Have healthy snacks readily available. Having the fridge and cabinets filled with sliced apples, cut up carrots, whole grain crackers, and water bottles is never a bad idea. These are snacks that children can access without your help. In addition, they are snacks that can travel with them in the car. Portable snacks help keep children busy! Besides feeding children healthy snacks, being a role model and eating healthy too can benefit both you and your children.

It takes dedication to eat healthy but if a family tries to do it together, it becomes a group effort. Kids look up to their parents and want to imitate what the adults are doing. If children see their parents eating the same food as them, they may be influenced to enjoy these nutritious and delicious foods instead of complaining.

Overall, implementing health conscious food choices into the family’s meals and snacks is a fantastic way for everyone to receive their daily nutritional requirements. What do you do to try to get your children to eat healthy?

Life’s Little Pleasures are Truly the Best

Written by Sara R.

As children get older, get their driver’s license, move out,  and get married, family get-togethers are not as easy as they once were when all my children were younger and at home. It takes some planning, synchronizing of schedules and several weeks advance notice to get everyone in one place at the same time.

I’ve been very fortunate as we’ve already had three family gatherings so far this month. Our first get together was on June 1 in Columbus, Ohio at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at The Ohio State University to watch my 16-year-old daughter Taylor compete in the OHSAA State Track Meet. Her 4 x 400 meter girls relay team took 6th  place in Division II for the State of Ohio. It was a very exciting time for all of us.  My husband and I along with her big brother, who made the trip from Cleveland to Columbus, and her big sister, who lives in Columbus were all there. Her Grandma & Grandpa R. from Michigan also made the long journey to Columbus to watch and cheer her on. We are so very proud of her and her teammates!

On June 9 we were all together again to help celebrate my oldest son’s 21st birthday (hard to believe he’s 21!).  It doesn’t seem that long ago when he crawled up on my hospital bed to peek at his new baby sister who was just born.  He was really hoping for a baby brother.

I remember when he went back to pre-school the next day and his teacher said to him “I heard something exciting happened at your house yesterday, do you want to share it with the rest of the class?” “Yes,” Justin answered. “I threw up!” His teacher trying not to react to his statement said “I heard something really exciting happened yesterday.”  Justin said “Yeah, I threw up twice!”

We were all together again Father’s Day weekend. This time it was for a whole weekend! Besides our four children, joining us was my son-in-law, my darling grandson and my husband’s mother and father. It was great to get all the fathers together to celebrate Father’s Day.

We all met in Port Clinton, Ohio on Friday night for dinner and spent the night. The guys got up bright and early, 5:30am, and went fishing on a boat they had chartered for the day. My youngest son, Christopher, proved to be quite the fisherman.  He caught a 7lb, 24” Walleye. The ladies, along with my grandson, took the Jet Express to Put-in-Bay for some shopping, eating, good conversation and fun times.

Saturday evening we all drove back to Cleveland, Ohio and gathered again for dinner. As all eleven of us sat at the big round table. I remembered the days when my children were young and we would sit at the dinner table and just talk about anything and everything. Sometimes it would turn into a battle zone because one child was making a funny face at another, or  someone was  upset because “he was interrupting me when I’m trying to talk” or someone was spilling their milk or dropping food on the floor for the dogs to eat.

Sunday we enjoyed Marine Week in Cleveland. If you get the chance to attend one of these events I would highly recommend it. It’s a very moving experience.

It is so true when you hear someone say “enjoy your children when they’re young because before you know it they will be grown and gone.”

I feel very blessed each and every time we can all get together.

About Sara R.

Sara is a mother of four. She has two daughters – Jamie age 35 and Taylor age 16 – and two sons – Justin age 20 and Christopher age 14. She is also a grandmother of one – Andrew age 3. She lives in Mantua, Ohio with her husband Bill. She has worked at Step2 for the past 12 years (before that she was a stay at home mom for 9 years). Sara is the Operations Manager for Step2 Direct internet sales.