With the holiday season comes the gift-giving spirit, and I, for one, have always been a fan of gifts that “give back.”
It all started with a proverb my mother told me as a child: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Ever since then, I’ve favored what I like to call “experiential gifts,” those that you can do or share with someone, or charitable gifts, which in some way support a cause I value.
This year, I’m going the charitable route. (Sometimes, the giving of an “experiential gift” feels like I’m selfishly giving myself a present, too. Anyone else ever feel that way when you buy two tickets for your special someone to a concert you’re both dying to see?) Fortunately, I was introduced to Pikolinos’ Maasai Collection, a line of shoes and bags featuring traditional beadwork embroidery. The brand partnered with over 1,600 women from the Maasai tribe of Kenya, one of the most threatened on the planet according to the UN, to design the collection. This sustainable collaboration wins my vote for the fashion-forward gift that gives back this year because 100% of the proceeds from this line go directly back into the Maasai Community in the form of fair wages. Thanks to this unique partnership, more than 1,600 families have a stable source of income that allows them to obtain basic needs items, like food and medicines.
As I browsed the collection, I thought, now here’s a gift I can feel good about giving—with comfort and style that’s so worth receiving.
Image: Olivia Palermo wears Pikoloinos via stylist.ca
…and with family and friends, of course! Canon’s new, interactive Facebook app, North Pole PIXMA, lets children write letters and electronically draw pictures to send to Santa’s workshop (and to your Canon printer using Cloud Technology) through December 24th. Once your child sends her creation to Santa through the app, she’ll be shown a video of the crew, including Santa, Ms. Claus, the workshop elves and Abominable Snowman, receiving her wish list at the North Pole. There’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit. Plus, you can save the printed copy as a keepsake or share the list with all your little one’s prospective gift givers this year.
Meet Luke St. Martin, this year’s winner of Parents’ annual cover contest. Luke, along with nine other semi-finalists, was flown to New York City this past August to participate in a photo shoot. Our cover shoot fashion stylist, Sarah Conroy, put together this outfit. Here, Sarah shares the clothing picks that gave him such rockin’ style:
Whether it’s poor manners, slacking on chores, or forgetting to feed the dog, most kids dodge responsibility from time to time. If you can catch your kid in the act on camera, we can help! Share short videos—2 minutes or less in length—of your child’s biggest behavior challenges with Parents, and selected submissions will received personalized expert advice. Send your video to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with your child’s name and age and your daytime phone number, to enter.
Here are some best video practices to get you started:
It’s fine to film on your phone—in fact, it’s encouraged!
Set up your shot as if you were taking a photo.
Make sure there is plenty of light. Turn on several lights, if you are inside.
If you shoot handheld, use two hands to steady the phone. Or, use a table or a book to prop your phone up, to have a completely steady shot.
Audio is key. Make sure the phone is close enough to your kid so that you can hear him. And don’t be afraid to have your child repeat something he’s said.
Submission of your material constitutes permission for Meredith Corporation to allow its use in all media.
Check out blog posts by multitalented mompreneur Rosie Pope every week at Parents.com!
I met a woman today who was beginning her last day of work. Her son had just turned 11 months old, and she had decided that her job just wasn’t flexible enough for the work-life balance she wanted with her child. So after almost a year of angst, she decided to take the leap and put her successful career on hold.
I know a lot of women, and increasingly more men, who have made this decision, often to their surprise, after going back to work once their babies were born. I thought for a moment about what it would be like to decide not to work any more and to stay home with my three babies.
And that’s when it hit me, surprisingly for the first time! I realized just how impossible that would be for me and, I imagine, for so many of you. I can just imagine walking into our HQ and into my husband’s office (yes, we work together), sitting on the couch, and saying, “Honey, today is my last day.” Aside from immediately pouring himself a stiff drink, he would also have to find my doppelganger—not an easy feat considering I may be the palest person to have ever walked the planet!
But in all seriousness, our company is still very much at the point where I need to continue working at it, and my kids rely on it for their livelihoods. If I am completely honest with myself, though, the lack of choice made me panic, and, in that moment, I felt more trapped than I have ever before. Until I remembered… I actually enjoy my job and feel so blessed to be able to do what I do. (Not to mention the look of complete panic on my husband’s face when I threw the idea around the office in jest!)
But what about all the men and women who don’t enjoy their jobs and can’t make the choice to stay home for financial or other reasons? I started to feel trapped and panicked for all of them. It is not that either staying at home or working is better; it is simply that we’d all hope to be able to make that choice for ourselves and our families freely and not because of reasons like dollars and cents.
I meet many moms and dads who struggle with this; yet, I am often humbled by the businesses these individuals have started that allow them to work from home, or the ingenious ways they have structured their schedules to try to fit everything in. It is important, though, to know this goes both ways: There are stay-at-home moms who want to go back to work, just as there are working moms who want to stay home. The sad truth is that the choice is just not always there.
While I’m not in the position to choose not to work, it is my goal that all my hard work will mean that my daughter and sons will be able to have the choice to work or not when they get to be parents themselves one day. Working in part for “choice” (because I love what I do) and in part for my children relieves my panic. Being able to make a change for the better and for those that you love is empowering, and so, perhaps for a moment, I’ll stop freaking out!
Check out blog posts by multitalented mompreneur Rosie Pope every week at Parents.com!
I went to Washington, D.C. last week as an advocate for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, a nonprofit organization that promotes reproductive health and equal access to family building options for those who are battling reproductive disorders. Infertility strips you of any feeling of power or control. Not knowing when or if you will be able to have children is completely debilitating, and 1 in 8 couples in the United States deal with some form of infertility. For me and the other advocates whose lives have been touched by infertility in some way, this trip was an opportunity to get a little power back.
To be able to walk the hallways of government buildings in D.C. and visit the men and women of our government was the most incredible experience. Having recently become an American citizen, it was thrilling to be able to exercise my rights under the First Amendment. And while there are still many injustices in the coverage of infertility for families throughout the United States, I was there to specifically support The Family Act of 2011 S. 965, a proposed tax credit for costs associated with infertility medical treatment, and to push for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to cover veterans whose injuries at war have resulted in their infertility. As it stands today, when veterans are injured in action and that injury causes infertility, their health insurance will not cover them in this regard. After putting their lives on the line to protect the freedom of us and our children, we then deny them the chance to have children themselves.
I find myself getting quite emotional writing this (and I am still shocked that I managed to hold it together while in Washington), but this is an important issue that needs to be recognized. I feel honored to have been amongst so many courageous and moral men and women fighting for fertility rights during my trip. In one sense, I felt enamored with the government system because of the fact that I, little old me, could make an appointment—or just show up at the different state offices—and present my case to anyone that would listen. But at the same time, I was also disheartened by the long battle ahead on behalf of the rights of Americans and our military heroes who want to have children. I am no stranger to budgeting problems, and the money to fund the effects of this act is going to have to come from somewhere.
While there is still much left to be done to bring light and awareness to this issue, the chance to instill my passion and educate people with the power to make a change was an amazing opportunity. I hope that when my daughter and her friends want to have children, for the 1 in 8 of them that may be affected by infertility concerns, they won’t have to think twice about whether their health insurance will cover them for their infertility treatment. After all, it is hard enough to struggle through infertility, but to layer on financial hardship or be unable to afford treatment is something that no family in our modern society should go through.
This post is by Julianna W. Miner, who writes the blog Rants from Mommyland (recently named The Blog Most Likely to Make you Laugh by Parents Magazine). She has three kids, a long-suffering husband, a very naughty dog and a geriatric, ill-tempered cat. In addition to blogging, she teaches at a college she couldn’t have gotten into because she made bad choices in high school.
I love Mother’s Day, but I’m somewhat confused by it. I think it’s like New Year’s Eve; a combination of high expectations and inevitable disappointment. It always feels like there’s some ideal that only specials get to experience. I’m a regular, so it doesn’t happen to me.
I feel kind of stupid and whiny complaining about Mother’s Day. It’s not like my husband and kids ever got it wrong, per se. Or that I had really high expectations. Mostly I just wanted to sleep. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, LET ME SLEEP. But then someone would always get an ear infection. And I would forget to go to the grocery store the day before so my “special” breakfast would be comprised of an old Capri Sun and a crumbly granola bar fished out of the bottom of a school bag.
But here’s the problem: what I really wanted, they couldn’t give me. Because the only people who truly understood what I needed to hear on Mother’s Day were other moms. They get it. I needed someone to look at me and say: “Remember that time you showed up at preschool and you hadn’t slept all night and there was a booger stain on your shoulder and you were counting the minutes until you got back to your empty house so you could shower and possibly take a nap? But your kid was upset and needed you to stay and so you did? THAT WAS AWESOME OF YOU. High five.”
I needed someone to tell me that even though sometimes I yelled at my kids or let them watch too much TV, that I was still doing a good job. That making mistakes is part of it. That waking up every day and trying as hard as you can to be the best person you can be is enough. That you fall short. But you get up and start over. And that is what makes you a good mom. Not being perfect. Not being a person who never messes up. With the notable exception of Gwyneth Paltrow, those people don’t exist. Those imaginary perfect moms are like the idealized New Year’s Eve or the “Pretty In Pink” prom moment that none of us actually got.
Realizing all that made me feel better. It also gave me some much-needed perspective. I have a family who tries to make Mother’s Day special for me every year. I have friends who get it and who love me, even though I’m a big weirdo. I began thinking about all of the moms who have nothing. Who work twice as hard as I do with half the resources to support them. I began thinking about the women who struggled to provide a home for their kids. Or who were brave enough to leave bad situations to make a better life for their families. For those women, Mother’s Day is just another Sunday. Another day struggling and living in need.
What better way to acknowledge Mother’s Day (and give thanks for my own blessings) than to honor moms living in homeless and domestic violence shelters? So that’s what I decided to do. I enlisted my friends Courtney and Christine from Naughty Betty (the world’s most amazing gift and greeting card company) and together we designed a bunch of hilarious Mother’s Day eCards for the Real World. Then we found a sponsor. The folks from Sweet Relish.com stepped up and offered to donate up to $10,000 to Shelter House (an organization that helps families struggling with homelessness and domestic violence).
So here’s how you can help moms in need this mother’s day: check out our eCards, and if you like them, share them! The more they’re shared across the internet, the more money Sweet Relish will donate. We think the cards are pretty awesome on their own, but if you factor that they’re going help families who need it, we think they could go viral.