share your stories and join in on the discussion on Facebook!

Friday, December 2, 2016

gifts for the family of 5 - third baby ideas

Many moms have asked in our Mommy Stories group the last few months what to get for a mom friend who delivered her third child. Here are a few ideas that may help you out, coming from my own experience recently!

image from
  • Meals- Food is a must for anyone having had a child. This is especially true for the parents of third child. First, they have two other kids who need to eat, so anything extra is helpful. Second, fewer people visit with the third child. I think people are busy, they have more kids themselves by the time you have your third around, and they probably think you've got this, you're pros. Well, even pros need to EAT people! So bring food. If you can't visit yourself, send over takeout gift cards. 
  • Mama care package- Whip something up for the mom so she's not forgotten, so she's celebrated in this big thing she just did by giving birth, and so that she can relax a bit. My good friend sent me a package JUST for me, nothing for baby or anyone else, it was SO sweet to be pampered. She included things like chapstick, chocolate, comfy socks, water bottle, snacks, hot chocolate mix, etc. Such a nice idea. 
  • Little brother or sister outfit- These are my personal favorites! It's nice to show off the little guy or gal in something specific to them. It helps in that whole complete family feeling. 
  • A new outfit for baby- This is really nice with the third child, so that they are spoiled and feel special. I'm all about hand me downs, it's 95% of what our kids wear! But it's nice to have something that was specifically bought for this new little being. 
  • Practical stuff- Everyone appreciates diapers, wipes, bottles, shampoo, etc. They will need these things, and most don't find these items fun to purchase so the parents will totally appreciate if you actually do.
  • Remember the big kids- It's nice to give them a small token of celebratory fun at being a big sibling for the first time or again. So grab a coloring book or a box of goldfish or something for the big kids. The new mama will appreciate you thinking of her big kids too. 
  • Drop by- Bring a muffin and coffee. Offer to hold the baby while she naps or takes a shower. Take the trash outside for her without asking if she needs it done. Take the kids outside while she gets some rest inside. Text ahead of time but do the drop by to see if she needs something. 
  • Hospital snacks- Our brother in law did this for us this time around and it was AMAZING. We ate those snacks for days, chocolate, popcorn, granola bars, etc. It was great, and also an awesome treat to have on hand for when the big kids visited the hospital. 
It really doesn't matter what you send over for a gift for the new mom or the third baby, they are going to appreciate it. 

preparing for baby #3

So you're having THREE!?!?
It's so much fun, don't you worry!

But preparing for the third one is sometimes more challenging than preparing for baby #1 and #2. For us, it meant rearranging EVERYTHING in our home! We had to make room physically for this little third one to join our family. We already were cramped, and had no place to put things. It took a very long time to move things around in our home to prepare for baby, but I'm glad we spent so much time ahead of time getting things ready and organized.

For me, with this third pregnancy I started nesting immediately! I'm not kidding. At week 7 I believe I was cleaning my house and starting to get rid of things we didn't need anymore, consigning and donating things, selling items, making way for baby to come. I knew I didn't want to deal with these things when baby was here, knew we'd have no time, so during pregnancy I focused on organizing everything and de-cluttering and downsizing items.

I went through the toys, bookshelves, clothing, kitchen drawers, ETC. I ended up consigning and donating and moving out 60+ bags of things. I know, nuts that we had that much stuff, but things accumulate when you're having fun with kids right?! It felt SO great moving things around and trading things in for baby items we needed.

We also had to really sit and figure out where the baby was going, where the swing would fit in the living room, where car seats would move to in the car. It was a lot of planning and thinking to get things prepared this time around, whereas I feel the first time it was more fun, this was more "how are we doing this logistically?!"

It's kind of chaotic and overwhelming preparing for the third, as you're so busy and cramped in the house anyway. But it's FUN I promise. In the end you'll feel proud and accomplished at what you get done before baby comes, hopefully, if you follow some tips and start early!

Here are some tips for preparing for your third child:

  • Start early - My #1 advice with preparing for #3 is to start as soon as you can and feel comfortable doing so in your pregnancy. You won't have as much time this time around, already having two kids, being more tired because of those two kids, and more involved in activities and things that take you away from the home you're trying to prepare. Everything took me three times longer this pregnancy to get done. Doing laundry, oh please, don't get me started... you already have tons of laundry as a family of four... so adding in baby laundry took even longer to get finished! I had to break tasks down into weekly to do lists, and I never got my lists crossed off early or easily. So take your time by starting early. This means definitely by start of second trimester, not waiting until third trimester. 
  • Make room - For us, we had to change the play room / office / treadmill room into a nursery. Do you have any idea how long that took?! Yikes. We had to move everything in that room to spread it out among the other rooms in our house. It took weeks to do this. So start early, and figure out where you can make a room if you don't already have one. This may mean kids are bunking up together, so that involves preparing them ahead of time, too. If you have painting or carpeting or things like that to do too, you really need to start early. 
  • Where will baby go? Looking for childcare is even more difficult this time around if you're not able to send your child to where your first two went. If you are able to send him there, you're good to go. But if you have to start over, start over EARLY. This took me months to figure out, and I wish I'd started sooner. Again, another thing that takes longer because you're so busy. Visiting daycares, talking to people on the phone, etc. all takes longer. So give yourself plenty of time to solidify things. 
  • Hospital plans - Figuring out who could watch your dog the first time was easy. Figuring out who could watch your firstborn toddler the second time was no problem or at least had a little thought put into it. Figuring out who is going to watch your dog and two kids?! Not as easy. This time around we really had to think about who would stay home with our kids while we were in the hospital, because it included getting kids to and from school, figuring out if they'd go to dance and soccer and activities or not, who would help with homework, etc. It's a lot more work with bigger kids versus just telling them where the diapers are with your first. Prepare early. This includes writing notes on the fridge and figuring out logistics while you're away. 
  • Gift bags for siblings- I ordered our kids a gift early on and wrapped them and put into our hospital bags at least a month before due date. I didn't want this to be something we forgot or didn't get to do, as I knew our kids would appreciate the gifts at the hospital. 
  • Checking the equipment- Our baby stuff like the swing, car seats, etc. were almost 7 years old when we prepared for our third child. Not a lifetime, but also not super new either. Several items including the car seat were expired and not in as great shape as we thought they were after our second child when we'd packed them away for someday. So we needed to spend more time and money on items like bottles, car seat, bibs, etc. So make sure you get the equipment out ahead of time so you have enough time to look for deals on items you need. This goes with clothing too, especially if you're having a third baby in a new season from the other kids. 
  • Get organized - Go through everything and get rid of as much as you can, because adding another person into the mix, especially with baby stuff galore, is a LOT for one house to take. So go through drawers and junk and toss out what you don't need. Consign as much as you can to trade in for new items. Put extra hand sanitizer in the car and back up band aids and cough syrup in the cabinet. It helps to focus on these things now before you are sleep deprived with #3 in the mix. 
  • Make a list - I know some don't believe in a third baby shower or sprinkle celebration, and many don't agree with making a registry. However, I disagree! I think even if you just make the registry list for YOU to remember what you need, it's helpful! You also get a discount at the end of your due date time to purchase what's on the list, so it's a cost saving benefit also. I made a registry list and kept adding to it as I would go through baby items that we needed new or updated things for the new baby. It helped having a list so I could prepare what we really needed, from diaper cream and baby shampoo to a new bath tub or swing. It's also helpful too in case people ask what you need, they can get something practical. 
  • Freezer meals- I made at least 10-15 meals for the freezer, soups and stews, pasta sauces, etc. so that we'd have plenty to eat. I also froze a bunch of items we typically eat like raviolis and burger for tacos. When you had your second, you know not as many visitors came by with food like with your first child. Well, with the third, it's even less, if not nonexistent. People are busy! So stock up yourself so you're prepared, and anything people bring will be gravy on top :) If you're too tired and pregnant to cook enlist your partner or kids to help cook, or find some healthier freezer options already made and stock up on those, no big deal. Just make sure you have some meals ready to go for your family so you'll feel less guilty eating pizza every third night later on. 
  • Bulk up- I made a HUGE list of things we needed to bulk up on in the house before baby came so that when baby was here we'd be all set and not need to rush to the store last minute, which is clearly difficult with two kids so don't even think about trying it with THREE kids! On my list included items like:
    • toilet paper
    • paper towels 
    • paper plates (easier when you're so tired, trust me)
    • dish soap
    • detergent 
    • shampoo
    • toothpaste
    • vitamins and prenatals too 
    • anything special to the mom - like my particular saline solution and face lotion, deodorant, etc. that nobody else will understand what to find for me when I can't get to the store for a couple months 
    • food items - cereal, pasta, tomato sauce, freezer items like veggies and chicken sausage for quick meals, ETC. anything that you eat all the time like snacks for the kids' lunches, buy 2-3 boxes of each so you have them for quite a while without needing to shop again. 
Hope these tips help you in preparing yourself, your family and the house for another one to join in the mix. It's not easy or perfect, but you can do it! Anything you do ahead of time is going to help you a lot in the long run. 

a birth story - my mighty Quinn

My sweet little man was born on September 28th at 8:38 a.m. My sweet boy, my rainbow baby, my third precious angel. It's still surreal to me, even weeks later, I can't believe he's here. I say it to him and to others all the time, I cannot believe he's here.

It was a difficult pregnancy, exhausting and some issues along the way. Now that I look back at the pregnancy I realize how lucky I am to have this little man. I've told friends, "I have done the pregnancy and birth thing three times now, and yet I still feel so blessed and know what a huge miracle it is. How lucky are we to be moms?!" That's an amazing feeling I'll never forget.

the day before I was scheduled for c-section

I was scheduled for a C-section on the 28th of September, a Wednesday. I worked up through the Monday of that week. I had planned to also work Tuesday, but it was pretty miserable walking around the school building that I work in and everyone encouraged me to take at least one day to myself. So Tuesday was pouring rain and I decided to stay in all day and watch movies, resting up for the Big Day. My husband surprised me and stayed home, too, and we ate, watched movies, slept and talked about our surprise in my belly, wondering one last time what we were having, boy or girl.

We watched the Superman movie that came out a few years ago (yeah, we're behind, parents of three!). The whole thing was about hope, the S symbol of Superman meant hope, this movie claimed. Hope was something I clung to during this pregnancy, after I'd had a miscarriage a few months before this time. Randomly watching this Superman movie filled with power, strength, courage, and hope, I don't know, it stuck with me and made me less nervous about my impending surgery the next day. I had been anxious the whole pregnancy, worried something would go wrong like it had the last pregnancy. So this was so nice to spend one day with my husband surrounded by hope and encouragement.

That night, we went to bed like we had done twice before, full of anticipation and surprise and excitement about what was to come the next day. I was filled with worry also. I won't go into how bad my anxiety was about this complicated surgery (I have a fibroid in my uterus), but I was genuinely afraid of so much with this surgery and birth. I just prayed a lot that night. We kissed goodnight, but barely slept the next few hours.

I was awakened from midnight on with contractions every few minutes, nothing major but they were annoying and uncomfortable. I told my husband, "This baby wants to come today, that's for sure." Since we were heading to the hospital in a few hours I figured we were good to wait out the uncomfortable-ness at home.

Before leaving for the hospital and leaving our two big kids with my best friend, I went upstairs to kiss my big babies before leaving. I teared up, looking at them peacefully sleeping, wondering how they would fare without me for a few days, worrying about how this new child would change things for them, praying they liked their sibling, hoping with all my heart that it would not change their view of my love for them.

And then we were off... we listened to music, looked at the stars and then the sun rising, it was so early in the morning. We held hands the whole time, as if I was able to take my husband's strength and positivity and will myself to feel the same way, letting go of the anxiety.

On the way to the hospital, just like I'd done twice before, I called my other best friend and asked her to pray with me. She told me in that wonderful prayer not only to focus on positives, love, and hope, but also to have fun with this experience, to enjoy it, to really be in the moment and enjoy this as a fun and exciting day instead of all the worries I had in my mind. That stuck with me the entire day and I swear it's the number one thing that got me through the nerves of the C-section: focusing on this being a beautiful experience, nothing to fear.

When we got to the hospital the nurses told me I was lucky to be scheduled first thing in the morning, as they were experiencing their busiest birthing week that year! They also asked if I was feeling those contractions, coming every couple of minutes. I said a big UH YEAH. It was painful at this point, not unbearable but certainly more than uncomfortable. Baby was moving nonstop, kicking away that morning, as if to say, "Let's do this, Mama." I took comfort in every single jab and kick, trying to memorize the feelings, as this was my last pregnancy.

They kept me on the monitor longer than they typically do, just to keep an eye on things since I was having frequent contractions, the nurse told me. Hearing the heartbeat over and over, it was music to my ears. I just sat in the hospital bed, giddy and excited, talking to my husband, playing the Questions Game that we have played since high school, especially to calm my nerves over the years in big moments like this.

Our parents came to check in with us, gave big hugs and "I love yous," and then it was time to walk into the surgery room. I hate that part. Walking away from my husband to go get my spinal inserted. I cried as they held me still, through contractions, clinging to a nurse, talking me through it with positive stories. And then a calm came over me, like we can do this, I'm fine, my baby is fine, we're going to be a family. It was so bright in there, the surgery room, which usually is blinding. But on this day, choosing to find the fun and excitement in this event, I saw it as sunshine.

I pictured holding my baby, just like I'd done for the last 38 weeks since I found out I was pregnant after a miscarriage, full of worry and fear that something could go wrong, I pictured myself holding my baby. It was the one thing that got me through the fears, picturing what I wanted, what I hoped for, willing it to happen.

And then the fear set back in... as I heard them whispering that the baby's heartbeat was down... and then it was some professional rushing around, moving quicker than typical, and asking where the Dad was... not waiting for Dad to get started they said... and for a few moments I was terrified, wondering what was going on, but trying so desperately to trust they had this, they knew what they were doing, we were OK, me and my baby were going to be fine.

And then my doctor called it, as she has done the last two times I was in that operating room. She said what we were there for: a C-section birth for me and that we don't know the gender and that Dad would announce that part, and let's get started... and my husband was by my side, thankfully.

From there it was quick... my baby was born at 8:38 a.m. My husband held my hand tightly as he announced that we had another baby boy! I heard my little one scream loudly as if to say, "Yup, I'm HERE! I've arrived!" It was the loudest cry ever. It made my heart feel full instantly. I burst into tears, as if I'd even stopped crying all morning anyway! I instantly thought, "I have a boy, I have another son..." I was so happy, elated. When they announced that he was 6 lbs 13 oz I almost laughed, as my first son was 9 lbs 3 oz and my second, a daughter, was 7 lbs 14 oz. What a peanut we had here!

He screamed and screamed, louder than our other babies. He was so upset coming into the world, until he lay with me and was snuggled by his Dad, he then calmed down. It was perfection.

At one point with my boy on my chest a nurse asked what his name was, and I smiled saying the name I had in my head for four years prior... Quinn. She said "oh he's a mighty Quinn all right" as she heard him loud and clear. I love that. It's now his #amightyquinn for my Instagram pictures. He is definitely mighty... after all we survived together during pregnancy... he's mighty for sure. My mighty boy.

He cried so loudly. I sobbed. I just wanted to hold him, my whole body ached to hold him tightly as I'd pictured so long after my miscarriage, just wanting to hold that baby tight and know everything was all right, he was safe and sound on the outside. There were moments in the delivery room when I just smiled, thinking, "I did it. I carried him to term, we made it together. He's here. I'm so blessed." I felt so proud of my body in that moment. So proud.

My sweet boy's birth was nothing short of a miracle and yet it was an easier than expected surgery to get him here. I felt so lucky. When we were wheeled into the recovery room I was beaming and excited, just wanting our family to rush in to see us. My husband told me to slow down, let's enjoy this together since it's our last time, our last little one. We stared at our baby boy for a while, just taking it all in, memorizing his face in that instant. He was so tiny. I looked at him and realized that in an instant he'd grow so quickly and we'd never have this time back again, so we better stop and enjoy it as it came to us.

And that's how it's been... now 9 weeks later (ugh! took way too long to write this birth story, but such is our busy life with three kids now I suppose!)... he's already so big I barely recall how little he started out as back then. Time is surely flying by, and we're very, very blessed.

This birth was filled with sadness as it was my last, and pride from what I'd accomplished through this tough pregnancy and difficult surgery. It was filled with smiles and tears, fears and worries, and ultimately bliss that we had completed our family with our sweet boy, Quinn Ronald.

It could not have gone smoother, better, happier. I am such a lucky mother.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

the first holiday without our boy by Christine Coutu

I am grateful to my good friend Christine for sharing her advice for those going through the holiday season as a grieving parent, one who has lost their child far too soon. Her advice is straight forward and honest, heartfelt and thoughtful. Thank you for sharing, I know this will help support a mother who may be struggling. 
The First Holiday Season Without Our Boy
by Christine Coutu
This Thanksgiving and Christmas season has been difficult to say the least.  Not because we’ve felt the pressures of hosting our first Thanksgiving dinner for family, or worried about Christmas gifts or had tons of baking to do.  No, those things used to affect me.  They used to give me energy, in fact.  I actually enjoyed this time of year; especially Christmas.  I love baking, shopping for people, wrapping gifts and eating those special treats you only eat at holiday parties.  I would be lying if I said that I never got stressed around the holidays, and in fact I’d argue that if you claim not to feel at least a little pressure this time of year, you need your head examined! ;-)

This year is different for me.  In many, many ways.  Frankly, I absolutely dread going out in public.  I have come very close to tearing down decorations in stores and punching people who tell me to have a “wonderful holiday”.  This year, Bing Crosby can take his “White Christmas” and shove it.

See because this year, there will be a very small but extremely painful and noticeable absence in our midst; our son who passed away just over 5 months ago before he was born at 38 weeks.  An infection killed him.  It almost killed me too.  After he was born, I wouldn’t stop bleeding.  A trauma team of surgeons, 3 surgeries, 8 days in the ICU and 2 total weeks in the hospital later, I finally went home; without my son, without a uterus and with a very, very long and painful road to recovery.  

My husband and I have a mountain to climb in terms of attempting to wrap our heads and hearts around what happened to our perfect little family. We’ll be climbing that mountain for years to come.

The holidays (especially this first year) are a part of that mountain and so here are the things that I’ve quickly learned about surviving this season after a loss like mine.  I’m still working through it as we clearly have just gotten into the holiday swing, but here it goes.

  1. When you go shopping, do it alone if you can.  That sounds crazy.  Yet, for me it works.  I can mumble under my breath about the “stupid Christmas stuff” in my way, or the holly jolly spirit everyone has that makes me want to puke without having to explain myself to anyone.  I can also block things out and be a “Scrooge” if I want to, zipping past people with my cart and keeping my head down.  Lastly, I don’t need to be my super cheery self when I’m alone because sometimes I don’t freaking want to, and I’ve learned to be okay with that.  Pretending to be happy takes a lot of emotional work, damnit! And in my state of grief and physical recovery, remembering my grocery list and how to even get to the store can be difficult some days.  I’m not kidding.  I once turned around in my car three times before I remembered where I was going and how to get there.  Oh! And one more thing.  If I need to go out of the store, make a beeline for my car and have a sobbing, messy breakdown after seeing another newborn or just because it’s an extra hard day, I can do that and don’t need to worry about freaking anyone out!
  2. Do not apologize.  If you knew me before my life fell out from underneath me, you’d know that I apologized a lot.  I was also a self-proclaimed people pleaser.  Nope.  Not anymore.  I’ve learned that life is too short (cliche, I know) to be concerned about other’s feelings when it comes to speaking up for my needs.  Now, I try to speak up for what I need and advocate for myself and my family.  While I attempt to do this with love, I will admit that I probably come off “witchy” to those who know me because it’s not something I ever did before in such an upfront and blatantly honest manner. Oh well.
  3. Save yourself the stress, don’t buy gifts.  This year, we are not giving out Christmas gifts (at least not from my husband and me, my 2 year old will paint cheap ornaments etc for grandparents and the like).  Instead, we are giving to a charity.  The organization through which we sponsor a child always has a Christmas catalog in which you can order “Christmas gifts” like goats, seeds, school books etc for people in other countries.  This year, they have “safe baby delivery kits” available and so we are buying two of them in honor of my son.  If there is an organization close to your heart or something that might be connected to the child you’ve lost, donate to them instead of giving gifts this year.  I’m writing a letter and sending those out in lieu of Christmas cards to inform our family and friends of what we’re doing.  Which leads me to….
  4. Holiday cards etc.  If they’re too painful.  Don’t do them.  We aren’t.  Heck no.  A Christmas picture to have for all time that will remind me of this period of hell that we’re going through?  Ummm….no thanks, I’ll pass.  This also includes any “routine” or obligatory Christmas pictures your family or extended family may take during parties this year.  Either politely express your plan to not be a part of said pictures or show up after the pictures are taken if they are usually done at a certain time during the party (before dinner, gifts etc).  Remember too that you are sharing your intentions, not asking permission here.  Don’t say “do you mind if…” because you mind, you don’t want to participate in picture taking, so say so.  

    One mantra that has helped me is actually a quote from Jesus in the Bible when he says “Let your yes be yes and your no be no” (Matthew 5:37).  Simple, to the point.  Say what you mean, mean what you say and don’t muddy the waters with “if you don’t mind”’s or “would it be okay if”’s.
  5. Do something to remember your child.  If you have lost an older child and there was something specific that he or she enjoyed during this time of year, go and do it as a family.  Celebrate the life of your loved one that way.  I’ve also seen online suggestions of hanging a stocking, having a certain ornament or something like that to represent and memorialize the child or baby lost.  For us, none of those things hit home.  In fact, on the 15th of October (Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day) when I lit a candle for my son, I wanted to throw it across the room 2 hours later because it just angered me to look at it.  This year, we will honor our son by spending time as a family but will maybe do something like this in the future.  We’ll see where this roller coaster ride of grief takes us over the next couple of years.
  6. Decide what your family needs and do it (again, no apologies).  My husband and I have struggled with this one, honestly.  However, we eventually decided that the best thing for us this Christmas was to spend it alone, with our 2 year old, and away.  We just do not want to celebrate.  Thanksgiving is a tough holiday for us, too and I’m not discounting that.  However, for the both of us there is so much more tradition wrapped up in Christmas (and it’s my preferred holiday of the two) that the absence of my son this year would be just unbearable.  We’ve met some resistance from family but again, are standing up for what we feel is best for our family.  In all honesty, we’re excited about it!  To get away, do something different and spend time together.  If this is something that you need to do as a family, then do it; sometimes it’s good to shake things up a bit!  You might not need to go away completely but maybe it’s just to celebrate with family or friends you’ve never spent the holiday with before, or go out to eat or order in, or create a brand new tradition for your immediate family on Christmas morning.  Whatever it is!  Do what feels right.  

At the end of the day, this is your grief process, nobody else’s - and never ever let anyone else enforce or put their expectations of how you should grieve this holiday season (or any other time of the year) onto you.  

If people are telling you to “get over it”, that it’s “time to move on” or that “maybe you need/want to/really should be with family”, ignore them.  Do whatever makes you and your spouse - your immediate, nuclear family feel the best.  Grief is a process, a journey, and ultimately something that never goes away and to be honest doesn’t get easier.  For me at least, it hasn’t gotten easier with time; over these last 5 months I’ve just had more practice putting one foot in front of the other to get through my day and have found there to be more space in between sobbing sessions.

If you’re reading this because you just experienced a loss and need these suggestions, I’m sorry.  Truly I am.  Nobody understands what it’s like to lose a child, except for another parent who has lost one too.  If I could give you a big hug, share a cup of tea and cry with you, I would.  

My husband and I both would, but since we can’t, know that you are loved, and that we will pray for you.  And remember that some of the best things to heal a crushed and broken heart is love and laughter so be sure that no matter what you do these next few weeks, you get some of those things in, too.  

If you’re reading this for a family member or friend, on their behalf I would just ask that you keep two mantras in mind this holiday season (and for a long time to come as the journey of grief is ever changing); “whatever you need” and “we’re here when you’re ready”.  Those are the phrases that have helped us the most over the last 5 months.

All my love and prayers for a blessed holiday season.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Shop & Support Moms - Rachel Curwen - Mama's Linkz Jewelry

Oh I am so fortunate that Rachel Curwen shared her beautiful work with me for the final part of our Shop & Support Moms series this year! Her work is nothing short of exquisite! I LOVE how gorgeous these pieces are, but more importantly what they mean and the care and time she puts into making each piece spectacular. You MUST read this to hear more about how Rachel creates important jewelry that heals and provides strength to moms and families who may need it. I love the idea behind this business.

Moms, you will LOVE this jewelry, and it's great for gifts. Discount below!

Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your work and life with us!

Images shared from Rachel Curwen

  • 1. How did you start your business? Why did you want your own business? When did you start your business? 
    I started my business in March of 2016 after a friend inspired me several months prior. This friend delivered a baby at 29 weeks. I made this friend and her daughter matching bracelets with rose and crystal quartz along with a lotus flower charm. Rose quartz is known to open the heart to support unconditional love and deep inner healing while crystal quartz clears negative energy and enhances spiritual growth. The lotus flower charm symbolizes the beauty and spiritual growth that comes from difficult challenges. It was a very meaningful gift for both of them to receive and it filled me with so much joy to be able to help them in some small way.
  • I felt compelled to start a business where people could buy jewelry with metaphysical properties that would connect them to the people they love and also provide healing properties. It felt more like a calling rather than a choice.
  • 2. Why was owning a business a perfect situation for you and your family? 
    I am a stay at home mom to two children. Mama's Linkz Jewelry allows me to open up my creative spirit and give back to others in a meaningful way. It provides me the opportunity to be flexible with my time so I can be with my kids as much as possible.
  • 3. What does your business specialize in? What's your favorite product? How'd you come up with the name? 

    Mama's Linkz Jewelry specializes in bracelets and more specifically bracelet sets for family, couples, mothers & daughters or grandmothers, sisters, aunts, godmothers, fathers & daughters or sons, etc. These bracelet sets are for any two people who have a special connection and want to be reminded of each other throughout the day.
  • My favorite items to create are the custom bracelets. I love working with people to make something unique to their relationships, needs and preferences. I guess you could say I'm a people pleaser.
  • Mama's Linkz Jewelry has a triple meaning--Lynx are the spirit animal that I connect with the most. The Mama and baby Lynx are my logo. Lynx represent the power of second sight, instinct and observation. The lynx has the gift of knowing and I often find that when I make jewelry for people that certain semi-precious stones and their healing properties speak to me based on what might be going on in that person's life. Linkz also stands for the connections we have between us and the actual links in between the actual bracelets/chain.
  • 4. What do you love best about working for yourself? 
    I love setting my own routine, goals and organizing my time based on family/business needs.

    5. When working, When do you work in the day/evening? What's your process for working? Things you do daily, a routine? 
    I work both during the day and at night creating jewelry pieces that I am inspired by--I might have just taken a walk on the beach and loved the way the dark blue ocean water played off the bright blue sky and it will entice me to create a piece like the Nautical Blue Sodalite and Blue Lace Agate bracelet:
  • 6. Take me step by step through working with customers. Do you do anything special or unique, wrapping, specials, etc.? 
    I pride myself on working closely with customers to ensure they love their bracelet/s. I like to communicate clearly through the full process of purchasing--bracelet sizing, shipping dates, and packaging.
  • I offer custom design pieces as well and work very closely with clients to choose colors, charms, and design details so their bracelets will be special and unique to them and/or their loved ones.
  • I think my packaging is unique as it is a jewelry box with my logo on it (Mama and baby Lynx) wrapped in butcher's twine and glass beads. Each bracelet or bracelet set also comes with an insert that tells you how to care for your jewelry along with what the metaphysical properties are of the beads.
  • 7. What is your success rate? What do you think customers would say about your work, shop? 
    Customers have enjoyed working with me because of how quickly I respond to their needs and work hard to make sure they love their purchase. I've only received very positive reviews.
  • 8. Why do you think people should shop in your store, and why should they support moms who work for themselves? 
    I like to make the entire buying process easy and beautiful. I include a jewelry box with every purchase that is wrapped in bakers twine and tied with glass beads so you feel like you are opening a gift. Each jewelry box has an insert that describes how to take care of your jewelry and explains what the metaphysical properties are of the beads in the bracelets you purchased. These bracelets make a unique and thoughtful gift. 

    I think it is valuable and important to support women who are working hard to raise the next generation of change agents.
  • 9. What are your items to sell? 
    Bracelets and bracelet sets.

    10. How does your business allow you to be a great mother? 
    My business exemplifies the morals I want to share with my children--by honoring one's creativity, passion for caring about all people and the importance of connecting with those we love in a meaningful way.
  • 11. What do you think would surprise readers to know about you? 
    I didn't know until my 30s if I was going to want children.
  • 12. What is the coolest thing you've ever experienced as part of working with this business? 
    I was commissioned to design a memorial bracelet set for a mother and father who just lost their day old baby. A few days prior I was drawn to buy two angel wing charms which isn't something I would normally purchase. I planned to use the angel wings along with amethyst for these bracelets and was told that the parents just got matching angel wing tattoos along with purple flowers.
  • 13. What is one of your favorite gifts to give someone for the holidays? 
    Homemade cookies, slippers and a movie I know they will like.
  • 14. How many kids do you have? Give us one word to describe them.
    I have a 2 and a half year old little girl named Clara and a three week old little boy named Calvin. One word to describe them is precious.


  • DISCOUNT: a 15% discount on bracelets 
    code linkzjewelry15off expires 12/31/16

Monday, November 21, 2016

Shop & Support Moms - Katherine Kollman - Out of My Head Etsy gifts

I'm always so excited when I find a new AMAZING Maine-momma and her shop on every November when I seek out new businesses to feature in this Shop & Support Moms series! Out of My Head is an awesome store, with tons to choose from this holiday season for the kids and family members, daycare providers, teachers, etc. on your list.

Thank you to Katherine Kollman for sharing her great work with us!

MOMS: discount ends 12/15/16, check it out below!!!

Images shared from Out of My Head 

 1. How did you start your business? Why did you want your own business? When did you start your business?

I am a stay-at-home mother of 2 little girls who is inspired daily by mothering them to create unique and natural playthings and accessories. I own my business - Out of My Head - which I started fourteen years ago while living Charleston, South Carolina. I started making jewelry for fun, and my work was soon juried into the famous Charleston Farmer's Market Art and Craft section. After moving back home to Maine to start a family, my hand-work continued to feed my soul during the wonderful (and sometimes exhausting) days of motherhood.

Since the birth of my second daughter, my work has blossomed from what was once jewelry only to hand-sewn and embroidered children's items and breastfeeding/birth advocacy-wear. My children continue to inspire my work and lead me down ever-changing paths of creativity! 

2. Why was owning a business a perfect situation for you and your family?
Being a small business owner allows me the flexibility to be there when my family needs me. I can work when they are at school or doing homework, and still be available for almost all their activities, doctor appointments, school events, etc.

3. What does your business specialize in? What's your favorite product? How'd you come up with the name?  

Out of My Head specializes in what I call “elegantly out of the ordinary”. From baby gifts, children’s accessories and playthings, to specialty home decor, Out of My Head strives to offer unique, handmade treasures for you and your loved ones!

I came up with the name for my business when first thinking about starting my own online shop. I thought to myself “What am I? Out of My Head?” I knew right then that I had found my name!

My favorite product is usually whatever I most recently made! I love being able to work in small batches with gorgeous fabrics. Batiks are my favorite, and I love incorporating them into Doll Ring Slings, funky cosmetic bags and clutch purses, as well into embroidery applique.

4. What do you love best about working for yourself?
I love the creative freedom and time to spend on what is most important to me - my family!

5. When working, When do you work in the day/evening? What's your process for working? Things you do daily, a routine?
Now that my children are older (13 and 16), I work mostly during the day while they are at school but when they were little, I would work late into the night while they were sleeping. It made my body tired but replenished my soul after the sometimes long and intense days of mothering little ones.

I don’t have much of a routine...which is one reason I love what I boredom! The unpredictable nature of online sales is such that one day I might need to work on a Custom Order or shop restocks, another day has me packaging and mailing orders, and other days are spent on social media and promotion. use the down times to develop new product and renew my creativity.

6. Take me step by step through working with customers. Do you do anything special or unique, wrapping, specials, etc.?
Most of my work is ‘ready-to-ship’ so my customers just choose what they want and place their order. I pride myself on shipping very quickly, often the same day they order! I wrap each item for safe in natural kraft paper and raffia ribbon so each one is a gift! I am also happy to gift wrap for free all year round!

7. What is your success rate? What do you think customers would say about your work, shop?
I am proud to have over 365 five star reviews on Etsy and over 600 positive feedbacks on eBay. I spent many years (before children) working in high-end boutique retail shops in Bar Harbor, Maine, Northeast Harbor, Maine and Charleston, South Carolina, so I am accustomed to providing exemplary customer service and keen attention to detail. My customers often comment on the high quality of my sewing, quick shipping and frequently say ”It looks even better in person!”

8. Why do you think people should shop in your store or buy your product that you create, and why should they support moms who work for themselves?

I love supporting small, mama-owned business because I know that almost all of the money earned goes back to supporting their children and families. They are turning right around and spending the money on things their kids, need and helping to support their local economies. Every country that supports its women and mothers sees immediate positive results in their economy. I am proud to be a small part in this powerful movement of women entrepreneurs!  

9. What are your favorite or best items that you sell?
I am still partial to my Doll Carrying Rings Slings because they were my first online product. I loved wearing my own babies and I feel that passing on the loving attachment that babywearing can bring is an important gift we can give to our children. In my newer items, I love the American Sign Language ‘I Love You’ hand applique that I sew onto baby bibs and bath towels. In our family, we often use that hand symbol to quietly say “I Love You,” so it’s a nice family tradition to share in my shop. We are also big “book nerds” in our house so I am extra fond of my Book-Themed bath decor that say ‘Book Nerd’, ‘The Book Was Better’ and ‘I’d Rather Be Reading.’ 

10. How does your business allow you to be a great mother?

Well, I hope that I am a great mother, but you’d have to ask my kids to be sure! I just hope that they appreciate the time that I can spend with them and be available to support their activities, help with homework and make the occasional after school snack...all while pursuing my creative passion and helping to augment our family income.

11. What do you think would surprise readers to know about you?
I have a B.A. in Theatre/Dance. In fact, I learned to sew in the costume classes required for my degree, but didn’t put them to use until I had babies! I still teach dance and acting on a very part time basis, and love sharing this part of my life with my girls who also love dance and theatre.

12. What is the coolest thing you've ever experienced as part of working with this business?
My work has been featured on a couple Buzzfeed lists that still circulate. That was a huge boost financially for awhile and just lots of fun to be featured!

13. What is one of your favorite gifts to give someone for the holidays?

I actually like to shop for the holidays all year long so I can take my time finding the perfect gift (and save some pennies with sales and careful bargain shopping!) I add gifts all year to a big bin I keep in a closet and have fun in November finding all the treasures that I’ve been collecting all year!

14. How many kids do you have? Give us one word to describe them.
I have two girls...and they are inspiring!

Please use exclusive code MOMMYSTORIES20 for 20% off in my Esty shop through 12/15/2016
And join our facebook page for upcoming giveaways!