Archive for February, 2016

Best Monthly Mom and Kid Box Subscriptions

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Best Monthly Mom and Kid Box SubscriptionsI recently discovered something amazing–monthly box clubs! For some reason, I get a huge thrill out of a package being delivered to my door monthly that is a bit of a surprise. I’ve done Stitch Fix, Ipsy, Mom’s Milk Boutique’s mystery box, and Citrus Lane. This month, I’m trying out Faith Box. Yes, I’m a box addict.

The great thing about these boxes is that you don’t have to commit. I have tried some for just a month, just because I am intrigued. Here are some of the best boxes for moms and kids, in my opinion.

Mom’s Milk Mystery Boxes
I can always use a fun order from Mom’s Milk Boutique, and the mystery box was just this. Did I need anything? No. But, I love the excitement and the caramel that comes in the package. I did a $50 toy box before the holidays for my kids. Inside my box were Automoblox cars, an eco-friendly notepad with rock crayons, and a Melissa and Doug bug floor puzzle. I loved that there were toys for my 3-year-old and 1-year-old. Mom’s Milk Boutique gives you the option to personalize your box. Baby wearing, feeding, and toy boxes are some of the options. They also give you the option to add-on some fun extras, including cloth diapers.

Ecocentric Mom Boxes
These boxes deliver eco-friendly products to your door based on what stage of motherhood you are in. The products in the boxes can be for your home, health, beauty, or for baby. You can choose from pregnancy boxes to mom & baby boxes or even just mom boxes. The website offers photos and information on past boxes to give you great photos and examples of what your box may include. Items like Earth Mama Angel Baby teas and Konjac Sponge Baby Bath Sponge were included in December. Subscriptions start at $24.95. I think this is a cool gift for a mom-to-be, don’t you, mommas?

Koala Crate Boxes
These boxes are specifically for kids, and you select the age level appropriate for your children. The materials inside these boxes are designed to spark creativity. The example crate on their website is all about colors, and it features crayons, watercolors, dice, transparencies, and paints. The boxes also come with a magazine to read with your little one. These boxes are perfect for little crafty toddlers. Subscriptions start at $17/month and shipping is free.

So what boxes have you tried? I am excited to try new ones as time goes by and my kids grow. There is just something exciting about a package being delivered to your door when you know it’s full of goodies to enhance your mommyhood or to bring a smile to your little one’s faces.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana where she lives, writes, and shops online.





The Benefits of Daycare

Friday, February 26th, 2016

The Benefits of DaycareAfter the birth of my first born, I had to go back to work at 8 weeks postpartum. It was my first experience with leaving my precious bundle and I was scared. Would he be okay without me? The first few months were tough, but we managed; eventually managing for two more years. Juggling a lot of responsibilities was tough, but looking back, there were many blessings that came with our daycare experience.

As mothers, we often have a gut reaction to leaving our children with anyone but family; Fear, guilt, stress.  I’ve learned, however, that whether you are a stay at home mom using the gym daycare, someone who uses a licensed provider daily, or even if you occasionally use it for mom or dads night out, leaving your child with another trusted adult can reap many benefits for both you and your child.

The first time you leave your child, it is just plain HARD

The first time I left my youngest at our gym daycare; I hemmed and hawed, despite the fact that I felt comfortable with the employees and the facility.  Baby R seemed so little. I had convinced myself He really loved being with just me. He wanted his blanket and his baba just so. And of course, I worried what if he got SICK?! I managed to do really well at talking myself out of it.

If you are planning to use daycare for the first time, do a dry run with no expectations. If you are returning to work, try to start mid-week so that it doesn’t seem so daunting. The first time will be difficult but you are most likely more concerned and upset than your children. The first time is hard but it gets so much easier.

Relying on other adults instills confidence in your child.

R started going for an hour to the gym kidstime when he was just 4 months. As the weeks went by, he became familiar with the ladies, he knew the environment, and he became more comfortable. He knew that there were other adults that would take great care of him besides me. As he grew, there were times when it stung a little that he wasn’t clinging to me but it simultaneously gave me so much pride. He did not rely on me for his happiness. He knew he was okay. He was confident.

That confidence has grown as he has grown. R now has no problems trying new activities without clinging to me. He feels confident enough to introduce himself to new people. I fully believe that this is because daycare taught him security even when I am not around.

Socialization is good for both mommy and kiddos.

As humans, we are social creatures. We need our group and our tribe even as little people. In a safe and structured daycare setting, young children have the opportunity to practice problem solving, communication, and develop empathy for others through play. They can learn about their world. They also develop cognitively from being around their peers. Daycare can be an enriching part of your child’s life. It can also be enriching for you. It is healthy to have the opportunity to socialize with co-workers, friends, and other adults.

Reconnecting with yourself makes you a better momma

Whether you are a working momma or just using the gym daycare like I was, reconnecting with other parts of yourself is important.  For me, using my gym daycare made me realize that it took just one hour a day of exercise for me to be a sweeter, kinder, more loving momma. It helped me focus and reconnect.

Whatever your motivation is, if you find yourself needing to use a daycare provider, know that if you have found one that is safe and loving, your child’s experience can be an positive one that has lasting effects.

Tessa Wesnitzer is a health and wellness coach who lives in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves her husband, two boys, green tea, long runs, and snowy winters.


Fostering A Child When You Have Kids

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

Fostering when you have childrenOver the next month, we will be doing a three part series on fostering. According to, on any given day, there are more than four hundred thousand children without permanent homes in the United States. Of those children, most of them will remain in the State’s care for over two years, some for much longer. Each of these families has a unique and impactful experience. This is the Anderson’s story.

Callie and her husband have been together for over 10 years.  They have two biological kids under the age of 5 and a current foster baby under the age of 1. Callie’s husband works in law enforcement while she works in healthcare.  They both love to travel, explore, cook, and experience life. I interviewed Callie six months after her first placement.

What was your motivation for fostering?

I have always felt called to fostering. Working in healthcare, we are exposed to the good, bad and ugly sides of the foster system. Seeing the need day in and day out, I have always had a hard time walking away from children in need.  My husband was against fostering–he was terrified of the stress it would put on our marriage and the attention it would take away from our children. He admittedly had no grounding on what fostering would mean for our marriage.  It took over 5 years, but he finally agreed to learn about fostering and took some classes with me. Early into the classes his opinion changed, and all the sudden we had our first placement.

Once you had decided to be a foster, how did you begin the process?

I offered–as a health care worker, we can qualify for placement as kinship as we already know and have a relationship with our patients.  I spoke to my social worker, who talked to DCS.  We then prayed and told God that we were willing, but it was up to Him to do the work because we were clueless–literally.

What qualities do you think make you a good foster parent?

Our family strength is communication. We listen to each other and are devoted to each other.  No one person is more important than another–we do our best to meet the needs of each person. Our children are raised to be aware of their feelings and to feel empowered to talk about their feelings. This is a HUGE need for bio children. Our other strengths include our education in discipline. We took voluntary parenting classes shortly after our first bio child was born. We have a lot of collective knowledge in child development and the legal process because of our careers.

What has been the most challenging part of the experience, thus far?

The most challenging aspect of fostering has been giving up control.  We cannot try to control the process or anticipate how it will end. When we try to do this, the balance is upset. There is a diverse group of people who are trying to decide what is best for our child–we have to continually reset and tell God, “This is your plan–this is your decision. We are merely your hands and feet.” Reunification is a hard pill to swallow for many—that’s when the child you are fostering is placed back in their biological home. We agree that reunification has to be the goal. Our job is to ensure the safety of the child and speak up when they cannot. People can change. People should be allowed to change. We strive to support the bio parents and not set them up for failure.

What has been the most rewarding part of the experience for you?

 The most rewarding aspect has been smiles and the knowledge that we are starting this little life out with love. The knowledge that no matter what happened, we have allowed many important brain connections to complete and these can never be taken away from the child. The love–our love for each other and our Foster has grown.  It has strengthened all our bonds.

What were your biggest concerns prior to the process and have those concerns changed over the course of the process?

 Of course there are always the obvious: How will this child’s trauma impact our children? Will our children be hurt or feel left out because a foster needs more attention? Is the commitment too taxing to maintain the family balance we have? Most of these concerns have not played out in our current situation, but we are prepared for them by our classes and support group should we encounter them in the future. We know how to identify needs and use our strengths to overcome them. I think having faith has really diminished a lot of my worries.

How have your bio children adjusted to your foster?

The kids have such an open heart. They love their foster sibling.  Both have readily accepted him into our daily living.  We make sure each child gets some one-on-one attention.

Tessa Wesnitzer is a health and wellness coach who lives in a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah. She loves her husband, two boys, black tea, long runs, and snowy winters.

A Health Counselor’s Favorite Kid Vitamins

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 9.40.49 AMFeeding children healthy food always feels like such a loaded topic. Are they getting enough nutrients?  Are they eating mineral rich foods? Are they currently going through a food strike where they refuse to eat anything but crackers? It’s enough to pull your hair out!

Personally I tend to focus more on nutrient-dense foods (like grass-fed beef, pastured liver and butter to name a few) and stress less (yes, I still stress) about the vegetables that my daughter is eating. I’ve also added vitamins to her diet because it makes me feel better when she goes through a day refusing to eat a single fruit or vegetable.

The problem is that not every children’s vitamin is created equally. In fact, some are so full of junk that it’s a joke that they’re even labeled as vitamins. I searched high and low before deciding which ones I deemed worthy of giving my daughter and here’s what I discovered.

Probiotics. These are great for supporting gut health and especially important if your child has ever been on antibiotics. When they’re infants you can start with putting some probiotic powder on your nipple before breastfeeding. We use Raw Probiotics by Garden of Life. They’re organic and I feel good giving them to my daughter. It comes in a powder and you can’t really taste it, which makes it easy to mix with water.

Magnesium. It’s safe to say that almost everyone is magnesium deficient. Magnesium is one of the most important minerals–it helps with so many bodily functions and our modern food supply just doesn’t offer enough. I throw a handful of Epsom salts in my daughter’s bath every single time- it absorbs wonderfully through the skin. We have also used Magnesium Calm and sometimes still do, especially when we’re traveling. It’s a great powder that mixes into water and tastes good enough that my picky daughter loves it.

Multivitamin. This might be the trickiest of all! My daughter refuses to take a chalky chewable and will only eat gummy vitamins most of which are loaded with junk. We love Nordic Berries by Nordic Naturals. They are non-gmo, have no added colors, preservatives or allergens. We don’t take them everyday because I try to focus on a nutrient-dense diet but we always have them at home.

Omega 3. Another win for Nordic Naturals. They come in a variety of fun gummy shapes, from dots, to worms to squishy little fishies. They contain all of the omega 3s your child would need without any of the junk.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor and online fitness coach. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception to those trying to get their grove back after pregnancy to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mom and baby.

My Pregnancy: Week 28

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

My Pregnancy: Week 28It’s time ladies. The time of discomfort is quickly approaching. I knew I couldn’t hold it off forever. For some the discomfort is slight; others it’s nearly unbearable. With three third trimesters in my experience now, allow me to share a few things that make those last 13 weeks comfortable for me.

Compression socks. Buy them now; thank me later. If you approach the third trimester in the heat of summer or just have too much style to wear these socks by day, consider wearing them at night. They help reduce water retention and the feeling of tired legs. These socks offer a similar effect of elevating your legs, encouraging excess water to move on up from your legs so your body can process it out. Don’t fall for the inexpensive compression socks that fill most of the drugstore aisle. Look specifically for the very firm or medical-grade support that you can buy at the drugstore or online. Mine were twenty-something a pair full price, and I make it just fine with two pair. Ask your doctor if you need further insight. I wear them especially on days when I know I will sit or stand for long periods. When we took a 6-hour round trip drive Christmas day, I sported them the whole time, as did I on Thanksgiving day and during the holidays when I was baking and doing more than usual.

Stretchy clothes. Working requires a wardrobe that sometimes can’t allow for ultimate comfort. When possible, embrace the comfort. Invest in a few pair of underwear that don’t cut into your skin! I didn’t want to justify this purchase, thinking it an indulgence with only a couple months of pregnancy left. Oh the comfort and confidence that comes with properly fitting undergarments! They offer support, coverage, and smooth you out instead of adding lumps or creases under your clothing. Even buying a three-pack that you wash often will allow you to enjoy the comfort without indulging your budget too much.

Other maternity-specific support. Look for transitional nursing bras now that can last you the end of pregnancy until you’re able to invest in highly supportive bras in the weeks after birth once your size and supply balance out. Bra extenders may get you through at a very low cost. Belly support also can give you an overall sense of comfort and stability as your weight shifts around to your waist and hips.

Shoes. With both previous pregnancies I could still paint my toes and reach my feet until birth (though putting on compression socks is a feat no matter what your ability!). Still, investing in a pair of comfy shoes, possibly a half or full size up, is worth the many comfortable hours they will provide you now and in the month or so after birth until your other shoes return to the comfort zone. If old shoes don’t ever get comfy again, at least you have one pair of shoes that fit!

Pillows. I never found need for more than an inexpensive body pillow from Target. If you find yourself needing significant support, look into the variety of pregnancy-specific body pillows that support your many joints and curves from your feet to your neck. If money is an issue, consider if smaller pillows, like those from the couch, can do the job to get you comfortable. Strategically place them between your knees, under your belly, or around your back as needed.

Digestible extravagance. I’m talking about teas, random cravings, and antacids. Sooth your soul with delicious teas, whether pregnancy-specific or just generally delicious. Indulge without guilt in those rare, specific cravings. Surely a pint of ice cream every day isn’t ideal but if cookies and cream approach your mouth every once in a while, indulge in your comfort without remorse. Address heartburn with midwife/doctor-approved antacids and headaches, migraines, or other pains with appropriate use of Tylenol and caffeine, if doctor/midwife-approved.

Annie is a mom of two boys, ages two and three. She enjoys the finer things in life, like compression socks and a full night’s rest.