Tuesday Introduction: Devi Ma Yoga

When I first met Kelly and heard her story and inspiration behind Devi Ma I was so intrigued. Devi Ma Yoga is so much more than yoga classes and Kelly brings so much experience and wisdom to each of the classes she teaches. I love the approach and flexibility that expecting and new parents can find at Devi Ma Yoga. Read on to hear more about Kelly’s story and what you will find at Devi Ma.

How long ago did you start Devi Ma Yoga and what inspired you?

Devi Ma Yoga opened in November 2018. It was another step on an amazing journey that began back in 2005 when I first started teaching prenatal yoga and Yoga for Labor and Delivery workshops.

However, I was originally inspired toward this work in the 1990s, as a result of my own experiences during pregnancy while living on the reservation in South Dakota. It was here that I glimpsed the powerful spirituality and traditions of pregnancy and birth which is deeply revered by First Nations people, yet starkly juxtaposed to the lack of services and modern realities of reservation life.

When I began teaching Yoga for Labor and Delivery, I realized just how important it is for women and their partners to know much more about birth, how the body and mind adjusts, options, questions to ask and what to expect. I also realized that a good number of women were not fully receiving this information and feeling “not heard”, dissatisfied with their birth experience, and generally disempowered by the system. I observed many women seeking a more meaningful, informed and even spiritual experience in welcoming their baby. This is when I made it one of my goals to offer classes that not only addressed the physical aspects of birth, but also the profound emotional, mental and spiritual aspects that are often overlooked. In 2006, I was nudged forward in this work yet again as I supported my sister’s birth and caught my niece upon her entry into the world. Since this time, I have supported over 70 births. Most recently, I supported the birth of my daughter-in-law and son, welcoming a new grandson Earth-side. In all of these births, I am always deeply struck by the awesome, innate power of women.

When considering names for my studio I was searching for something that captured this innate and powerful energy. Devi Ma seemed like the perfect name. It is a Sanskrit term meaning “goddess mother” and it represents the inherent abundance, power and creative force of the feminine… at all stages of life.

What types of classes do you offer?

I offer yoga classes that include prenatal and mom & baby yoga. I also offer Yin Goddess yoga which focuses on the deep transformations of peri-meno, menopause and beyond. In addition, a “regular” yoga class called Hatha Elements is on the schedule. This is a traditional yoga and meditation practice for both women and men of all ages. Fertility yoga classes will be on the schedule soon, but privates are available now.

I provide a comprehensive childbirth education series (3 classes) that guide parents-to-be through the last weeks of pregnancy, the entire birth process, and the realities of the first six weeks with baby. One of the unique aspects of my childbirth education series is that you get to choose when you take the classes, how many classes you take, and the order in which you attend. The website has a full description of the classes and my approach/philosophy on birth at: yogadevi.mom

My studio also offers workshops, guest speakers, doula services and doula training as well as yoga teacher trainings at both the basic and graduate levels. The yoga trainings I offer are: 200 hour Basic Yoga Teacher Training, Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training, Yin Yoga Teacher Training, and continuing education workshops for yoga teachers, including a course I developed in 2009 called Adapting Asana for Prenatal Yoga Students.

How are your classes unique to the classes at my local hospital or gym yoga classes? Where do your classes take place?

Classes at Devi Ma encompass a traditional yoga practice that goes beyond just the practice of physical yoga poses. In addition to movement, we practice yogic breath, meditation and relaxation techniques that serve as effective tools for birth and beyond. We sing to babies, work on subtle body alignment (chakras), address pelvic floor integrity, changes in breast tissue, discuss tips and resources, and find time to just chat. Classes are designed to nurture the “whole woman” by addressing the profound physical, emotional, mental and spiritual transformations of pregnancy and motherhood. As a seasoned doula, childbirth educator and prenatal/postnatal yoga teacher, I combine all of my skill bases for a more comprehensive and informative class. Beyond the average yoga class, my goal is to guide women in how to trust their body, release trepidation surrounding birth and breastfeeding, and reconnect with their internal wisdom. In this way they can navigate the rapid shifts of pregnancy and motherhood with greater understanding, ease and calm.

What does your daily schedule look like? How do you divide your time and priorities between your kids, your husband, your home and your business?

Most of my classes are held in the mornings, evenings, or weekends. But, when I am on-call as a doula, I never know when (or how long) I will be at a birth. In this way, my schedule is sometimes a moving target. In between classes, I prepare lesson plans, update and write training curriculums, mentor new doulas and yoga teachers, and run a business.

My children are now grown. But, I am mom to a very gregarious and talkative parrot. As any bird parent will tell you, caring for a parrot is very similar to having a small child in terms of the care, daily routine and attention they require. So this is actually the anchor that keeps me centered in maintaining a routine that also includes time for myself and my husband every week.

Is there one piece of baby gear that you tell a new mom she needs to have for breastfeeding?

The Haakaa breast milk collector is great for catching milk that leaks from the opposite breast as you are nursing baby. My daughter-in-law used one and said it best: “This was a lifesaver the first three months, and I built up a good stash just doing this.”

Thanks Kelly!

xo, Julie

New York Baby Show 2018 Ticket Giveaway

COMING SOON! The 2018 New York Baby Show, on May 19 & 20 at Pier 94 will once again be the largest show for new and expectant parents in the country. Not just because it is in my backyard, this show is one of my favorite all year and I hope to see lots of you there!

Now in its 8th year, no other event provides a better experience for expectant and new families from New York and neighboring counties, seeking a family-friendly jamboree of top brands, great speakers and seminars, big giveaways, and lots of learning, support, bonding, and fun.

We are giving away 10 FREE tickets for you and your family to experience the show.  Normal ticket price is $30 per family (for 2 adults and up to 4 children), and $20 per individual. Hurry and use the link below to grab one of these free tickets.

 Free Tickets

If you weren’t lucky enough to get a free ticket you can still enjoy 50% off tickets (family or single).

50% Off Tickets

Once you grab your tickets send me an email (julie@babynavbabyplanners.com) and let me know you are going to be there! I would love to say hello! 🙂

xo, Julie

Top 3 Expert Baby Bump Styling Tips

You’re pregnant! Congratulations and welcome to this amazing next chapter of your life.  As your baby grows, so do you and getting dressed can become frustrating, to say the least. That uncomfortable stage where it’s not yet an obvious baby bump and potentially just some extra weight around the waistline can leave you feeling frumpy, which isn’t good for anybody. Sometimes, women prefer to not invest in maternity style because it’s a temporary stage for your body, but if it negatively affects how you feel daily, keep reading to learn how a good outfit can boost your mood.

A Pea in the Pod Joe’s Secret Fit Belly Skinny Leg Maternity Jeans

1. To start, you can get away with your regular threads, leaning towards leggings, flowy or asymmetrical tops, over-sized shirts, jeans expanded by your elastic hair-tie, maybe a bra adjuster to expand your bra. But once that gets uncomfortable, I highly recommend finding the right pair of maternity jeans. Trust me, you won’t want to get out of them! (And you’ll be sporting them post-baby too.) Don’t make the mistake of buying regular clothes a size up because maternity lines stay true to your size and fit in flattering ways to show off your baby bump. Stick to the color and patterns that appeal to you and make that belly your greatest accessory!

Old Navy Maternity Bodycon Scoop-Neck Dress

2. Shopping maternity doesn’t need to break the bank. H&M, Old Navy (the above dress is only $20!), Target, and ASOS all carry fun styles that are budget friendly. If you’re into designer brands, A Pea in the Pod, Isabella Oliver, Nordstrom, and Hatch always have a solid selection for both quality and fit. You’ll definitely get plenty of wear out of your maternity clothes, plus maybe miles for another pregnancy, handing down to a good friend, or even consignment.

Ingrid & Isabel at Nordstrom

3. Not everything needs to be maternity! Wisely mix and match. A fabulous way to elevate a simple maternity dress is to wear it with your chic blazer, leather or denim jackets…no need to zip up! You could even wear a dress with a cool pair of sneakers for comfort and style. In addition, make the most of bold accessories to glam up any plain outfit. Accessories always fit, right?! Whether you’re wearing all black, colors, floral, or stripes, be sure you’re comfortable because true beauty shines with confidence.

If you’re still feeling stuck, create a Pinterest board to figure out a style you love. Or hire a personal stylist to get you through it by really digging into your closet and doing the legwork of shopping. Pregnant women are glowing and gorgeous. Try your best to embrace it!

Angela is a personal stylist and CT mom of 3 who loves helping women look and feel their best. Through her mindful services, she intends to get to the root of your true style so that you can confidently express your inner beauty on the outside too. Whether it’s a closet edit, in-person shopping session, wardrobe restyling out of your own closet, or virtual styling, her mission is to simplify your wardrobe goals and to guide you to effortlessly expressing your own unique fashion sense. Check her out at Styling Seed

Swanling Innovations Giveaway

We’re celebrating sleep safety for infants and children with a special giveaway with our friends over at Swanling Innovations! One lucky winner will receive a Swanling Slumber Sleeper™ and a 2-hour BabyNav gift certificate for a phone/Skype consultation! It’s so easy to enter…all you have to do is fill out the form below with your information! We would also love for you to share the giveaway with your friends and family so they can get in on the fun!

What is the Swanling Slumber Sleeper™?

swanling-JULY-6-2

The Slumber Sleeper® is one of the best sleep aids available for young children as it comforts babies and children allowing them to sleep longer and safer. The all-in-one safe sleep solution combines a sleep sack, fitted sheet, flat sheet, and mattress protector. It is also recognized as “Hip Healthy” by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. Recommended by Pediatricians, especially for younger children who have started to roll over in their sleep but cannot roll back, the Slumber Sleeper, with its built in stretch fabric, regulates babies rolling so that they do not get stuck on their stomach in the nighttime. Once the child reaches the gross motor development stage then more movement in the Sleeper can occur as the child grows.

What does the 2-hour BabyNav consultation entail?

sleepplanning

BabyNav will work with your family to understand your lifestyle and your expectations and goals to create a custom timeline of everything that needs to get done. Babies love routine and you will too after working with BabyNav to create a custom routine. We will work together to develop a routine that reinforces play time, quiet time, feeding time, and sleeping time.

Please fill out the form below to enter the giveaway!

* indicates required field

Thank you so much for entering!

Do I really need a baby planner?

Based on the fact that you are reading this on a baby planning site I know you are probably thinking that the answer to the above question is obviously  “yes” but I would say the answer is “maybe not”. Wait, there is more!

There are some people that truly need the extra care and support but for most people having a baby planner isn’t truly a necessity. However, for almost every family that is expecting having a baby planner can be very beneficial. Having a baby planner can give you valuable time back, can actually save you money (more on that in a minute) and will definitely save you some unnecessary stress.

While baby planners are not medical professionals and should never give you any medical advice they can help you with information on almost any other topic related to your pregnancy, baby gear or getting started with baby at home. Baby planners are often very connected to the community and those that offer services intended for expecting moms and new parents. We call these our “concierge services”  but you may just see these listed as “friends” on other baby planner sites.

Any baby planner that you would work with should have a vast amount of knowledge related to baby gear. Baby planners are able to provide advice on what pieces of gear you need and which ones you simply don’t need to bring into your home (this is where the money saving comes into play) based on your lifestyle. Often when you walk into a store to register for items for your baby shower you are given a very long list of items that you should register for….but no one needs all of that gear! A baby planner can help you determine not only which type of gear but provide recommendations on which brands and products where you would get the most use and value.

Here are a few things clients have said after working with us:
Here are a few things clients have said after working with us:

So how do you get started in the search for and hiring a baby planner? First, there may be very few if any in your immediate area but most baby planners offer some level of their services via email, Skype or over the phone. We are based in New York but have worked with families all over the US and Canada. Check out www.internationalbabyplanners.com for a listing of baby planners. Here are a things to think about when hiring a baby planner:

1. Ask them how many clients they have worked with on the specific services that you are interested in.

2. Test their gear knowledge (ask them their thoughts on the latest and greatest). You want them to be 100% up to date on the latest gear that is available and all safety standards.

3. Ask for references and call previous clients.

4. Look up articles they have written and watch any appearances they may have made.

You may decide that having a baby planner come along as you register or as you start to get your nursery in order are what works best for you. You may decide having them help you get your education classes booked and in hiring your nanny will be the most beneficial. Or you may decide after a consultation that there are no services that would be truly beneficial to your family (but I doubt that!).

xo, Julie

the Ivy Joy benefit

I am proud to share that BabyNav is taking a little part in something amazing being organized by my dear friend Jordon at Georgia Grace. Georgia Grace is sold through trunk representatives and one of those, Mary, has been on a long road with her adoptive daughter and her congenital heart defect. Most recently Ivy Joy had her 5th open heart surgery which was unexpected and required an air ambulance to Boston! Jordon and her team at Georgia Grace have organized the “the Ivy Joy benefit” which includes some amazing raffles and all the proceeds will go to Mary and her family! Starting Monday, January 28th you will be able to visit the Georgia Grace Big Cartel Site and the Georgia Grace Facebok page to purchase a $1 ticket for each item for a chance to win. The more tickets the more chances to win! BabyNav has donated a 1 hour Skype consultation for the service of your choice (baby gear consulting or custom sleep plan/routine development).

You may know that congenital heart defects (CHD) are very close to my heart every day. (If not, you can read our story here.) I am really excited for this benefit as I am anything that raises awareness for CHD but this also helps a really special little girl and her mom. I have never met Mary personally but through her honest and open sharing of Ivy Joy’s story I have developed so much respect and admiration for her.

I encourage you to check out Georgia Grace, read Ivy’s story and to participate in the Ivy Joy benefit. Not only are you going to have the chance to win some amazing raffles you will be helping an amazing mom and her family!

xoxo, Julie

BabyNav Favs from ABC

The ABC Kids Expo is the 2nd largest juvenile product showcase in the world with showcases by more than 3,000 exhibitors. Walking the show floor feels like you are navigating miles of baby gear and as overwhelming as that may seem to some, to me it is my baby gear nerd heaven. Last month, I was able to spend three days in Louisville, KY looking at new, updated classic, innovative and sometimes strange baby gear. ABC gives me a chance to hear the stories behind a brand or a product and each detail of why that product is good for moms, dads and babies! I was so pleased with what I saw this year and wanted to share my favs:

Top 5 Big Ticket Items: There were so many great strollers and car seat updates this year that this list could be a lot longer. These are the 5 that brought the most innovation and combined that with great design.

1. Orbit Double Helix – There are a lot of reasons to like Orbit but the number one reason to be so excited about the Double Helix is that it is truly made for a growing family (or perfect if you are starting out with twins).  The Helix can be purchased as an upgrade kit to their current stroller frame to create a double or purchased as a double stroller frame from the get-go (which also means you can easily convert back to a single when you no longer need a double). It includes the signature Orbit swivel making it easy to get baby in and out as well as a plethora of  other features moms and dads will love (easy access shopping basket, cup-holders and iPad case).

2. Foonf convertible car seat by Clek – This seat is changing the game when it comes to convertible car seats. First, the seat which will hold a child up to 50 pounds rear-facing or 65 forward-facing, has a distinct design that includes crypton super fabrics that will repel water and stains. Secondly, with their React safety system including crumple zones (the stuff that makes race cars safe) they are able to reduce the force on a child in an accident by up to 40%. And lastly, using a rigid latch install system and creating a more narrow seat you are finally able to comfortably put three convertible seats in one row.

3. Mamas & Papas Mylo – The Mamas & Papas brand has been a hit in the UK since the early 80’s but it is just starting to make a big splash in the US and we are thankful they are here! Each product is designed and tested by moms and their goal is to bring style and simplicity to a parent’s every day life. With its plush fabric, leatherette handle, the easiest one hand push out there and a one handed fold,  Mylo is a  luxury stroller for any mom.

4. Quinny Yezz – I am generally never a fan of traditional umbrella strollers but Quinny has changed the game with the introduction of the Yezz. The Yezz has a super sleek design and 7 bright and modern color options. The best part is the entire stroller only weighs 11 pounds and folds up so compact you can easily navigate the city or the airport carrying the Yezz using its carry strap.

 

5. Nuna – This is cheating a little but the US introduction of the Nuna line of baby products made my list! Each of these items truly combines beautiful Dutch design with amazing function and there isn’t one detail missing. The Sena & Sena Mini play-yards have a truly simply one hand open and fold without weighing a ton.  The Zazz is the revolutionary high-chair you always wished you had. There is no place for crumbs to hide,  a hidden pneumatic lift so you can always have baby at the table and it converts into a designer chair that can hold up to 220 pounds. The Leaf is revolutionary motor-free seat with plus fabric and can hold up to 130 pounds! Each of the products from Nuna are ones that you can proudly display in your home without skimping on any function.

Top 5 Small (but mighty) Ticket Items: There are certainly NO shortage of small pieces of baby gear that are made to make life a little easier for parents or safer for babies. I saw a lot of new bottles, breast pumps, pacifiers, monitors,  carriers and bathing accessories but these stood out to me as pieces of gear that could really make a difference for parents. 1. Chewbeads – The Chewbeads Perry Necklace is the latest in a line of beautiful silicone beads made for Mom and baby. This BPA and phthalates free necklace and sensory tool makes for a great shower gift. What new mom wouldn’t want to look great and have something that makes baby happy too?

2. Zen Swaddle – This swaddle by Nested Bean is the first on the market that is designed to mimic touch and calm babies. Based on an impressive amount of research, this swaddle has three lighted weighted pouches that mimic they way a mom holds baby. The luxury cotton fabric is machine washable and the swaddle works in 2 sizes by incorporating an inner pouch for use with younger babies. This is the swaddle that every veteran mom is going to wish she had! 

3. Boon Fresh Changing Table – Boon is known for recreating, rethinking and modernizing baby gear and they have done it again with the Fresh changing table. This table has a contoured design and slip resistant base that is filled with a colorful foam, removable and wipeable pad. One of the nicest features is the (removable) overhead toy hook to keep baby distracted during changes. Watch for this to become available in February. 

4. Tortle – Following the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations of Back to Sleep is critical but combining that with the amount of time that kids spend on the go and there is now an increased risk for flat head syndrome. Founded by a pediatrician and neonatologists, Tortle is a great machine washable beanie designed to be worn while a child is in a car seat, bouncy seat or swing and repositions the baby’s head from side to side as the beanie is moved. Multiples and premature infants are at a particular risk and this is a great tool that can prevent flat head syndrome. 

5. Belly Armor – I walked away with one item that needs to be on every expecting mother’s list of things to buy for themselves and that is the Belly Armor Blanket. Although it isn’t yet known the effects of the everyday radiation (cell phone, iPad, laptop, etc) that a growing fetus is exposed to,  the World Health Organization and the FDA have all agreed there is some negative effect and it could take years to fully understand what it is. Belly Armor’s line of products are lined with silver fibers that shield radiation with a 99% effectiveness. There is radiation around us everyday but if you are working or at home on your iPad you can snuggle up with your Belly Armor Blanket and know you are providing protection.

There were some other great products shown at ABC that I didn’t highlight here but will be testing and reviewing in the coming weeks and months so stay tuned!

xoxo, Julie

Red Tricycle Totally Awesome Awards

If you don’t already know, Red Tricycle is a great online resource for busy parents to find localized info on the best places to eat, shop, do or play. Their goal is to “help parents have more fun with their kids”. This is the 2nd year Red Tricycle is presenting the Totally Awesome Awards and we are so proud and excited that BabyNav was nominated and announced as a finalist in the “Best Mom Run Business” category. Each day I strive really hard to be the best Mom I can be and still maintain the best business with the best service I can offer to other moms so I can’t possibly think of another category that I would rather see BabyNav represented.

I know you are really consumed with another important vote that is about to take place but we would love if we could have one of your votes too! You can do that here!

As a bonus, anyone who votes is entered to win a $500 gift certificate to Giggle. Thanks Giggle and thank you for your continued support!

Happy Voting! xoxo, Julie

This Time It’s Personal: OUR Summer

As I was preparing for Twin A’s pre-op appointment tomorrow, I realized I have not been fulfilling my promise to keep you up to date on our comings and goings! Normally at this time of year I am happy to see Summer leave and Fall start to arrive but this year is really different. I had had the best summer that I can ever remember because I was able to dedicate two months to being with my kids and now I don’t want it to end! Even with the exciting launch of the BabyNav partnership with Babies-R-Us and working with some great moms I have had more time than I have ever had to be with the kids. We visited so many fun places, created some new traditions, did lots of crafts and just generally enjoyed being together. I learned so much about the kids as individuals and as siblings but I also learned a lot about myself as a mom. I learned that I need to let go and let more messes happen. And I learned that I am the happiest when I give up some control and am just present with the kids.

Check out the pictures below for some of the highlights from our summer. I apologize in advance for my lack of photography skills and all of these were taken from my phone which didn’t help my cause! Enjoy!

   

1. We started out the summer with a big adventure to Field Station Dinosaurs in Secaucus, NJ. There are over 30 life size dinosaurs as well as games and activities to keep your little dino lover entertained. It was great for our 4 year old but the 2 year old twins were frightened of the dinosaurs, especially when the roars came!

2. Our big guy got his first big guy bike for his 4th birthday and he hasn’t been off it much since!

3. We did Liquid Sidewalk Chalk a few times and it was a big winner with all three kids (and Mom). It is super simple to make, use and clean-up!

4. You have probably seen a version of this “car wash” for kids floating around but we forgot to take any directions with us to the hardware store so this design is original. 😉 We made all of this with 4 long pieces of  3/4″ pvc cut into the sizes we needed at the store, some elbows and the water hose connector. My husband assembled the pvc, drilled holes for the water and added the pool noodles with some wire to create our car wash. The kids drove bikes, cars, scooters, balance bikes and ran through the car wash each time it was assembled! As a bonus – the car wash is gone but the kids now have a new construction set made from the pvc cut into smaller pieces and some added pvc connectors.

   

5. Our big guy did his first day camp! He went to a sports camp for 4-6 yr olds and he loved it! We celebrated with a spaghetti dinner…you know just like the real athletes do.

6. With goggles and hammers ready, we did Bashing Baked Cotton Balls. Honestly, all three kids had more fun making these than they did bashing the cotton balls. I think that was my fault because I set up the activity by calling it Exploding cotton balls and there is no explosion which was very disappointing for the boys.

7. I know this picture may seem a little odd but I give this bouncy house by Little Tikes credit for potty training both our boys. We originally bought this bouncer for our big guy’s second birthday party when we discovered it was cheaper than renting one. The weekend after his birthday party we spent an entire day outside bouncing in the bouncy house and every thirty minutes we took a break to take a drink of water and sit on the potty. From that day forward he was in undies so this summer we repeated with Twin A and it worked like a charm the second time. Unfortunately, Twin B didn’t fall for it so maybe bouncy houses can only potty train boys. 😉

8. Even at 2 1/2 the twins still put a lot of things in their mouths so paint projects make me nervous. I was happy to find this (what I called edible) paint recipe and the kids turned it into a hand and foot painting party on an old sheet outside.

   

9 & 10. The Olympics gave us two weeks of really fun projects as we learned about different sports, lots about London and how the whole world comes together to compete. I hyped up the opening ceremony which was a bad idea because there was nothing exciting for kids but they loved making salt dough Olympic medals, having a formal afternoon tea with homemade scones and having our own competitions in the front yard. All summer our local library has provided some great content but the books we got about London and the Olympics were some of our favs.

11. There were certainly a few rainy afternoons this summer and we tried to fill those up with lots of sensory activities. One of the kids favorite was a found object game with colored rice. After making the colored rice in each of the kids favorite colors (must do the day before to dry) I collected 21 small objects from around the house and divided them among three paper bags with the kids names. The kids started with their own bin filled with rice and then every few minutes blindly reached into their paper bag to find a new object to add to their rice. With each new object the use of the rice and the existing objects would evolve but my favorite was watching Twin B feed a kangaroo rice with a lego.

12. One of my favorite toys that the kids have is a set of Matchbox cars that was their Dad’s (it is even still in the original case). It has been mixed now with new cars but they love to hear the stories of where their Dad got his and what he liked to do with them. We had one day this summer that was totally dedicated to those cars. I took out all of the electrical tape and painters tape (I didn’t plan ahead on this one as I hadn’t looked at the forecast) I could find in the house and covered the living room with a track for the Matchbox cars and let the kids’ imaginations run.

   

13. & 14. Sometimes it was just the simple things that we enjoyed. The week we talked about the letter “B” I taped up some bubble wrap in our dining room. Each time the kids walked by I would hear a little POP and a giggle. We also took advantage of the rainy days to head outside in our rain-boots and splash in the one puddle we get with each rain. That puddle also provided lots of giggles.

15. The kids really love animals and we are really fortunate to have a place like Muscoot Farm so close. We visited Muscoot at least 4 times this summer and the kids never got bored. It also provided a summer full of story telling after I got too close to a cow and it licked my leg as a warning to get away. The kids LOVE to tell that one!

16. We also looked to several traditional art & craft projects like water colors to create some fun pieces. This simple twist of adding tape to create their initials was a fun reveal and looked great to have on display.

   

17. We went to fairs, fairs and more fairs. The kids are at ages where they may love a ride or may scream during the entire time it is motion but we kept going to the local church, town and fire department fairs to test our luck. By the end of the summer Twin B would go on every ride she was tall enough to tackle and her big brother would not attempt one ride.

18. At the end of the summer I felt the need to use up some of the jumbo pack of Ivory soap I bought to microwave (not a highlight for me) so we had a soap boat race. I created the boats using only Ivory soap bars, tooth picks and foam stickers. We created a race track on a small hill with heavy duty aluminum foil (or you can use a rain gutter) and turned on the hose. The more we raced and the more soap was on the foil the faster the boats got and the louder the cheers got!

19. With the summer coming to an end I was thinking about packing away our water table but decided to give it one more use. Instead of filling it up with water we used shaving cream. I gave the kids wooden spoons and every so often would add drops of food coloring to the shaving cream and let the kids stir it up. Let’s be honest, by the end they were just rubbing it all over each other but I loved how nicely they were playing with each other so I let them do it until the shaving cream ran out.

20. To end the summer we went on our FIRST official family vacation to Long Beach Island. We all loved the trip so much we are already trying to book the same house we stayed in this year for next year. The kids cried when we left but to keep the memory alive once we were home, we painted the shells we found on the beach and gave them to daddy as a thank you for our awesome vacation.

Today was the kids first day at their new preschool and after a cheerful drop-off I found myself sitting in my car with tears streaming down my face. I knew OUR summer was over and I was crying tears of joy for the time I had with them and tears of sadness that it was ending.

Tomorrow we head to a pre-op appointment because Twin A is having a cardiac catheterization in 10 days which is all in preparation for his 2nd open heart surgery. We know he is going to do great and I will keep you updated on that journey! In the meantime there are Fall projects to plan and MANY babies to plan!

xoxo, Julie

Tuesday Introduction: Cristina Coco Photography

Sometimes you just see something and a light goes off that it is being done right. That was exactly how I felt when I first saw photos by Cristina Coco! Cristina is a natural light photographer working in Westchester and Fairfield Counties and she has created some amazing shots using the natural landscape we are surrounded with in this area (she has some really cute subjects that help)! When I look at Cristina’s photos I literally feel like I know the kids’ personalities and they all look happy and comfortable! We were lucky enough to get to pick Cristina’s brain on what she is up to and get a little advice for snapping some shots of our own (try not get too distracted by the cuteness below)!

I started Cristina Coco Photography officially in 2009. I had been photographing my friend’s kids for years while I was in the fashion industry. After I had my son, I didn’t want to travel to Europe for work anymore and I was able to turn my passion and hobby into a business. My inspiration came from two things. One, my son and I wanted a business where I could spend time with him yet still have an income. The second was I just lived and breathed photography. I wanted to do it every day. Combining it into a career has been a blessing.

  • Do you do Maternity, Newborn, Infant, Kids, Family photography? And, do you have a favorite?

Yes, yes, yes, yes and YES! A year or two ago I would have said infant hands down, when they are six to seven months old and sitting and not really crawling yet. So happy and easy to entertain because they are seeing the world upright on their own terms for the first time. They are so adorable and every image is easy. Lately I have really fallen in love with photographing kids a little older too (3-5 is so special!). I just adore getting to know my clients children through the years and as they get older I’m fond of each age more and more.

  • What is the one piece of advice you would give to parents bringing a newborn/infant to a session?

Low expectations! (joking, but only sort of!) I don’t want my clients to have low expectations for the images you are going to get, a good photographer will get you good images under almost any situation but for the way your child might act that day. They are just like us, they have good days and bad. f you are not expecting too much and think of it as something fun to do, your stress level will drop immensely! Babies feel your energy, a stressed mom makes a fussy baby. The more relaxed you are, the better. Also, plan you and your child’s wardrobe at least a few weeks before the session. So many times a mom will call me frantic a few days before trying to get the right thing to wear!

  • Can you share some tips for a mom that wants to capture every day moments at home?

Always have your camera charged and an extra memory card, don’t miss something amazing because your camera is dead! I usually keep a camera in our hall which is near everything in my house so I can grab in a second. For better pictures, get down to your child’slevel and try different angles. From a floor level, suddenly something as simple as putting together a puzzle has a more documentary feeling than just an above their head shot. I’m on my tummy all the time when shooting.

  • Is there a camera/type of camera that you suggest for a novice that will take a lot of pics of their new baby?

Honestly, all the DSLR cameras on the market are so good right now, you really can’t go wrong with any Canon or Nikon. I always go by the saying, The best camera is the one you have with you. It is so true! Some of my favorite images of my son and I are iPhone pictures because I’m usually behind the camera.

  • (Now that Picasso is gone) Is there a place on-line that you suggest people use for picture storing and sharing?

I usually tell clients to print with mpix.com, out of all the public photography labs out there, I feel their color is the best!

  • Do you have any advice to a mom that wants to start her own business?

Find something you love and are passionate about and then get ready to spend 100% more time doing it than you planned. Owning your own business takes a lot of time and money to get off the ground. You have to be obsessed with what you are doing or you’ll be miserable! If you really love what you do, even a bad day is a good one. I feel so lucky to love what I do.

  • What does your daily schedule look like? How do you divide your time and priorities between your son, your husband, your home and business?

Mornings, I get up early with my son and we eat breakfast and play with toys or color until my babysitter gets there around 9:30. Then I get dressed and am in my office by 10 (got to love the short commute down the hall!). He’s off to school or a sport class by 11 and then I spend the day editing clients sessions, marketing, creating galleries, designing albums or announcements, sending orders out, emailing, talking to clients on the phone… It’s different every day. On session days I work in my office until 3 or so and then I head out to photograph some beautiful families! With newborns and infants I usually do that backwards and shoot in the morning as I find in-home light to be better at that time and most babies are better in the morning. Evenings are all about my family, phone goes off at 6 and I don’t check my email again until my son goes to sleep. As far as priorities, family comes first without a question. That being said, being a small business owner is really a ton of work and the balance is something I work on constantly.

See….isn’t she amazing!! Now, check out Cristina’s website (www.cristinacocophoto.com) to see more of her beautiful photography and book your own session!

Happy Shooting! xoxo, Julie