Tag Archives: We’re Moms Too

Toddler Alert

Having managed Step2’s Customer Service Department for over 19 years, I have learned the importance of age recommendations, safety guidelines, parental supervision and warnings outlined in product assembly instructions and oftentimes displayed on cartons and products.  Much research and testing (both internal and third party) goes into determining this information.   The majority of incidents involving children reported by consumers generally occur when children are unsupervised, not age appropriate for the product or recommended guidelines not followed.

This recently hit home with me when I learned that my precious granddaughter was hurt riding on her first “foot to floor” ride-on toy.  The product involved was age appropriate however, clearly noted on the box was the statement that shoes should be worn while playing with this product.  Since the product is used indoors and my son and his wife have a “no shoes worn in the house” policy, my granddaughter was in her bare feet.  Unfortunately, my son did not see exactly how the injury occurred as he was in the kitchen and she was right outside the kitchen door, in the hallway.  He was alerted that something was amiss when his daughter suddenly let out a loud yelp followed by many tears.  Luckily, it was not a serious injury however she did bruise her foot.  (She showed grandma her “boo boo” in our last Skype session.)  This resulted in a trip to the pediatrician’s office and then on to the hospital for a recommended x-ray.

Having raised two boys myself, I learned quickly that toddlers need constant supervision.    It only takes a split second for a mishap to occur.  As much as we want our children to be independent, the younger years are not the time to be concerned about independence as there is plenty of time for that.  And of course, we all think our children are smarter, more advanced or bigger than average and suitable for toys beyond their years.

Please know that I did not lecture my son for lack of supervision or for not following the “shoe” rule – I’m sure he beat himself up plenty without my help. Although, I did say that little girls are more fragile than boys and he agreed.  All parents go through situations like this at some point or another.  It is just a reminder that during those tender toddler years when they are exploring and innocently trying new things, it is important to keep them in full view.

Sharon became a first time grandma in February of 2011 and had the pleasure of celebrating her granddaughter’s first birthday in San Francisco where she lives with her oldest son and his wife. Sharon welcomes the opportunity to spoil her granddaughter after having raised two boys. Sharon is an avid lover of the arts and has dabbled with oil painting and enjoys interior decorating as a hobby. She is the Customer Service Manager for Step2.

Peer Pressure

Prepping for high school, my Mom was quick to warn me about peer pressure; what it is, why I didn’t need to give in, and how to avoid it altogether.  I survived those years and while I’m certain that from time to time I was a victim of group think mentality, for the most part, I was my own person and confident in my decisions.  Recently, I have found myself wishing I could tap into the confidence I had as a 14 year old, defending my decisions that 14 year olds are presented with, and apply them to the personal decisions I’ve made in my parenting style.

The decisions that we all must face as a Mom are so difficult and they start from the moment of conception.  I remember constantly comparing myself against the acceptable standards of “normal” on so many things:

  • When is the right time to share my happy news?
  • Should I find out the gender or wait?
  • How much weight should I be gaining?
  • Natural birth or epidural?

We all know that it doesn’t stop once your child has arrived either.  I find myself measuring against others in terms of childcare decisions, healthy food choices, TV or no TV, the right way to put my son to bed…it never ends.  Not only are there so many choices about how to raise our children it seems like there are so many people out there with opinions on what is right for our children.

One thing is for certain, no two Moms are exactly the same any more than two children are exactly the same.  As I consider the impossible standards and endless judgments that I feel are constantly being placed on me, I have to wonder if they are real or imaginary.  I had never considered this possibility until recently.

Last week, our inbound call center phone lines were down here at The Step® Company and I spent much of my afternoon fielding questions via Facebook.  One Mom had quite a few questions so I offered to pick up the phone and give her a call (after all, our outbound lines were working).  While on the phone, she was so apologetic for her children in the background.  I tried to reassure her explaining that I completely know how it is, I am a Mom too.  After changing a DVD for her little one, she followed up with, “After this we will have learning time”.  When she offered her children a snack of peanut butter, she followed up with, “Do you want some natural peanut butter and whole wheat bread”.  Just when I began to judge my poor decision of having served processed PB & J to my son the night before I stopped myself and developed a new internal dialogue.

What if this Mom was worried that I was judging her for putting her kids in front of the “dummy box”?  What if she thought I was horrified at that thought of peanut butter with sugar and additives?  Of course, neither of these thoughts had even crossed my mind as I was too busy measuring myself against her superior parenting tactics.  I will never know for sure if her comments were for my benefit, for hers, or if neither were at play.  But what I did decide after that conversation is that it doesn’t matter.

I’m doing the best for my kids just as she is doing the best for hers.  Just as I know it is not my right to judge others most people aren’t out there judging my decisions either.  If they are, then good, I’ll give them something to talk about.

Last night, as I went into my son’s room to grab some PJ’s (not while I was putting him to bed, because, “gasp” – he still sleeps with us) I smiled as I read the quote I’d strategically placed over his closet.  In the words of the great Dr. Seuss, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”.

 

About 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.

Growing up left-handed in a right-handed world

Written by Sara R.

My youngest son Christopher, who is 14, is the only member of our immediate family that is left-handed.

I started reading a few articles on left handed people and found some very interesting facts. Here are just a few (there are some negative facts out there but I prefer to focus on the positive):

  • Only 10-15% of the population in the world is left handed
  • Four out of the last seven U.S. Presidents are left handed
  • Left-handed people are more likely to pursue creative careers
  • Left-handed college grads go on to become 26% richer than right handed grads
  • August 13th is known as Left Handed Day
  • There are grants and scholarships for left-handed people

 

Christopher’s personality fits that of a left-handed person. He’s creative, artistic, independent and a quick thinker. Some famous people who are left-handed include Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi (one of Christopher’s favorite people), Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Mozart, Beethoven, Paul McCartney, Prince Charles & Prince William and Bill Gates, just to name a few.

I never gave it a second thought about how different it must be for him and how it can be quite frustrating at times. I do, however, set his place at the table with the napkin, fork and glass on the left side.

Last year for his Christmas gift we purchased a left-handed bow because he loves archery. We had a hard time finding one.

Lefties are usually better with hand-eye coordination. That explains the reason he won the archery championship in summer camp this year! ?

When I sat down to interview Christopher on what he felt was an annoyance, if any, being left-handed, I wasn’t prepared to hear what he had to say. He started off with “Well, my first grade teacher tried to get me to write with my right hand. She would make me stay in for recess, put a pencil in my right hand and have me write the alphabet. Once I was finished, I could go out for recess”.

Wait! What?! Are you kidding me? She really made you do this?? UNBELIEVABLE! “Why didn’t you ever tell me this?” I asked. He replied, “I didn’t think it was a big deal because she only had me write the alphabet once and then I was allowed go out for recess.” It seems this happened every day for half the school year! He quickly commented that when she compared his writing from the first time he did this exercise to the last that there was no improvement in his right-handed writing.

He also went on to tell me when he was in 7th grade one of his teachers would criticize him for leaving two inches to the left of his paper. Christopher did this because he said it was more comfortable to leave some space for his hand when he had to write from a spiral notebook. Writing is a bit of a challenge for Christopher because he tends to drag his writing hand across the paper which in turn smudges his letters.

He might be left handed but he is all right with me. I read somewhere left-handed people are “a special expression of God’s creativity.” I totally agree!

Foodies Beware! One Mom’s guide to culinary sophistication

Written by Tiffany

Three years ago, when Alex was in daycare, one of the other mothers commented that she believed her son’s packed lunch had been mixed up with Alex’s lunch.  As a result, each child had consumed the other’s lunch.

When I asked her why she thought the mix up involved Alex’s lunch, she quickly said, “Because I don’t feed my child things from a can.”

I rather dryly replied, “Oh…and clearly you think I do.”  I watched as she shifted uncomfortably and turned from pink to a bright red color.  Usually, I go out of my way to make sure people don’t feel uncomfortable.  However, in this case, I was okay with her discomfort.

She had no idea that I had once taken a Lunchable, removed the packaging and put the cheese, crackers and meat in separate containers to avoid violating the overpriced daycare (I mean child enrichment centers) “no Lunchables” rule.  She didn’t know that I had mentally fist pumped the air because of my cleverness at besting the school.  The idea of her commenting that I would pack a canned item for my child (clearly, I would disguise it in other packaging) was too much!

My mom did an excellent job of always making sure my older brother and I ate healthy meals.  She fed us low-fat and low sugar cereals, made sandwiches on wheat bread and had us drink two percent milk long before these items were in vogue.  She chose Jif, because hey, that’s what “choosy mom’s” chose.  Actually, Jif was about the only brand named item she purchased but that’s a story for another day (the tagline swayed her).  She always made sure dinners were balanced.  We didn’t really know what dessert was.

I do my best, but my cooking skills are somewhat limited.  It’s not that I can’t cook because, as my mom says, anyone who can read can follow a recipe and cook.  It’s just that I’ve chosen not to build my skill set in this area.

I live vicariously through cooking shows.  Alex enjoys watching them with me (Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef are favorites – I think he likes Gordon Ramsay’s charm).

Tiffany & Alex in the KitchenAs a result, I could successfully fool you into thinking I could cook and was a “foodie.”  My “training” has taught me how to toss around expressions like “flavor profiles,” comment on the “sear” of meat, and remark on “knife work” with the best of them!

Lest my son be deprived of experiencing different foods, when we dine out we play a game called “taste test” based off of the popular “Hell’s Kitchen” challenge.  I have Alex shut his eyes and then feed him something.  He then has to guess what it is.  By playing this, I have been able to get him to try many foods that kids typically shy away from.

Once he has tried something, I’ll buy it and we’ll try cooking it at home.  Cooking together has become “our thing” and we have cool Iron Man “chefs” aprons.

A few days ago, Alex and I made perfectly seasoned and cooked Tilapia (nice crunchy crust), steamed broccoli with a light cheese sauce and a stunning rice.

Gotta love Gorton’s and steam fresh veggies.  Foodies beware!

About Tiffany

Tiffany is the mother of a curly haired six year old boy who wants to be Batman when he grows up! When she is not engaged in an intense light saber battle, watching Transformers (cartoons and movies), asking her child not to jump from the top step or being told, “you’re playing action figures the wrong way, mom” she contemplates how wonderful it would be if her child were a twin or triplet.  Tiffany is the Human Resources Manager for Step2.

Going It Alone…

Written by Sharon

Having been a single parent raising two sons, I beam with pride watching my oldest with his daughter.  What a wonderful father he has become.  As a teenager he would often complain that he had become too sensitive being raised solely by a woman.  I would assure him that someday, someone would really appreciate that trait.  Well, that time has come.

Sharon and sonsSingle parents often get a bad rep. I found a great article outlining some of the positive effects that I had found to be true despite the hardships that often exist:

Parents tend to develop strong bonds with their children that do not end when they turn 18 but continue to evolve into their adult years.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, “It takes a village to raise a child”.  This is even more evident when extended families and friends step up to help out.

Shared responsibilities versus token chores to earn an allowance are a necessary contribution to the family.  This in turn teaches children the value of their contribution and pride in their own work.  I am reminded of a time when I went on a grocery shopping strike (they were both older and driving) because they didn’t like my idea of the three of us taking turns with this weekly task.  They, being stubborn teenagers, held out until the cupboards were literally bare.  Once they gave in they started to enjoy the task as they could pick up some of their favorite things.

Children learn to handle conflict and disappointments early in life.  These can be valuable growth experiences resulting in them becoming more sensitive, empathetic and caring adults by helping them to express and deal with their emotions.

Children learn to balance their own needs and wants with those of the family.  They receive the assurance that they are the parents priority however not treated as though they are the center of everyone’s universe.  They learned early on that mom needed her alone time, even if it was to lock myself in the bathroom for a long bubble bath.

Sometimes things don’t work out the way we hope. In my case, I became a single parent. I am proud to say that with a lot of hard work and perseverance I was able to raise my boys to be happy, healthy and responsible adults.

About Sharon

Sharon became a first time grandma in February of 2011 and had the pleasure of celebrating her granddaughter’s first birthday in San Francisco where she lives with her oldest son and his wife.  Sharon welcomes the opportunity to spoil her granddaughter after having raised two boys.  Sharon is an avid lover of the arts and has dabbled with oil painting and enjoys interior decorating as a hobby.  She is the Customer Service Manager for Step2.

Wuv and Windows

Some summertime stories and a haiku…

Ok, so we had the double birthday party. One turned two and one turned five. It was our first birthday party not at Uncle Jims.  It was a bowling party and super fun!  I didn’t know this before the party but they have ramps you can put the ball down so even a two year old can bowl.  Grizz (Brady) put the ball down the ramp Bowling Partyand would exclaim, “oh yeah.” It was a perfect party for kids and adults!  July weather outside can get hairy and being inside in air conditioning with a set activity and even some one to clean up was painless and smooth.

At the close of the party, I was packing up things to take to the car. Grizz looked at me, waved, and sang, “bye Mommy.” Not a minute later the boy’s nanny says “good-bye” and Grizz proceeds to throw a temper tantrum saying, “stay here.” Ho hum.  I’m still kind of depressed by that. To add salt to the wound there were about 25 family members to hear the exchange.

 

Moving on to other summer happenings – Grizz finally pulled what I knew he would pull, something I have been waiting (and dreading) him to try. He tried to crawl out the second story window. We have original windows that are now locked all the time. I have already called Pella for a quote on new windows. If I needed an excuse I have one. Of course our first born NEVER pulled a stunt like that.

Right or wrong we bought Ryan an iPod touch for his birthday. Grizz was pretty jealous and kept saying “download it, download it.” I told them that I’m pretty sure I didn’t say the word “download” until my twenties and even then I didn’t know the difference between “download” and “upload.” Not long after that Ryan informed me that the 1980’s were the “olden days.” Olden days?  The eighties? I didn’t exactly know what to do with that information but I didn’t take it well. I am almost 4 years older than my husband so he was no help.

The best thing about this summer is that Grizz told me he loved me for the first time – he redeemed himself from the nanny debacle. He chased after me when I was leaving for work and said “I wuv,”
“I wuv.”

I thought I’d end with a haiku – a seasonal haiku.

I love summertime

The Boys like to get dirty

Summer is stinky

About Sara S.

Sara is an on the go – down to earth Momma, married to a Marine and the mother of two get dirty wild and crazy, play in the mud boys.   She loves Michael Jackson, dancing and spending time with her family. She is honored to be able to teach her little guys about the world around them, about kindness love and the human spirit. For fun, she loves to make jewelry, shop, ski and spend time outdoors getting dirty with her boys. Sara is a Sr. Product Manager at Step2.