The only online publication for women in Greater Cincinnati
Chic Mom

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I love the holiday season. For me, it starts as soon as October rolls around. Halloween decorations go up, pumpkins are everywhere, and the air gets a chill. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s all lined up in a row makes it seem like there’s just one big, celebration for the last three months of the year. It creates such a good-time buzz. Of course, the best part is the shopping!

 

Every year I start my Christmas shopping in October. It helps me budget out the spending better and keeps me from having this crazy, last minute rush to find the perfect gift. The other advantage to shopping early, even while the Halloween decorations are still out in the shops, is that I can concentrate on shopping local. It can be easier to hit the big-box stores but those stores certainly don’t have the same appeal as the boutiques. Part of enjoying the holiday season buzz is seeing the decorations and finding that unique gift for someone. The local boutiques go out of their way to create a wonderful holiday shopping experience, and I plan to take full advantage of it.

 

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There is something that truly wonderful about walking around Mariemont and seeing all of the beautiful fall foliage. Madeira lines Miami with trees lit by twinkle lights. Hyde Park shop windows are always decorated for the holidays. Main Street in Milford is a charming place to stroll and find special items at the antique shops. Oakley is always bustling with activity. There are wonderful places there to sit for a cup of hot tea or cocoa in the afternoon. Clifton, Over-the-Rhine, Mt. Adams, there are just so many great little, Cincinnati communities to shop in for the holidays (and the rest of the year!).

 

If you’re looking for the perfect toys for the kids, this year try Ted’s Toy Store in Madeira, King Arthur’s Court Toys in Oakley, The Blue Manatee in Oakley, Coolest Toys on Earth in Milford, and Toko Kidz in Clifton. (If you know of other cool places to toy shop leave them in the comments section below so other moms can check them out.)

 

This year, in the midst of all the holiday chaos, take some time with the family to visit several of Cincinnati’s wonderful communities. Shop, eat and attend the holiday events. Sip a cup of hot cocoa while you look at the holiday decorations. Doesn’t that sound a lot better than fighting the crowds at the mall?

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Our house is full of books. We could slap a sign on the front door and starting handing out library cards. I’ve always been an avid reader and grew up in a house that had books on every shelf. It thrills me to see my little girls sitting on the floor, surrounded by their books, and trying to read the words. I can already tell they share my passion for flipping pages. We love trips to The Honey Bee bookstore in Madeira and the Blue Manatee in Oakley.

 

One of our favorite books right now is The Pirate of Kindergarten by George Ella Lyon. It’s the story of a little girl in kindergarten that suffers from double vision. She has to wear an eye patch for a short time to help fix the problem with her eyesight. It is a wonderful story and easily can be used to start up a conversation about wearing glasses, coping with differences, or overcoming obstacles.

 

George Ella has actually written several of our favorite reads. When my girls were babies we went through three copies of Trucks Roll. Every night we read that particular book at least twice. The illustrations are bold and colorful. The sentences are short and flow along nicely. “Trucks bring ice cream. / Trucks bring blocks, / books and bulldozers, dolls and clocks.” The girls got great joy out of finding the truck on the page that was carrying the ice cream.

 

George Ella comes from a small, coal mining town in Eastern Kentucky and is an accomplished poet. You feel all of that in her stories. Her book, SleepSong, just about lulls me to sleep when I’m reading it to the girls at night. It’s a beautiful telling of drifting off to sleep. The illustrations show a family going through their nighttime routine along with animals sleeping in their habitats. This story also includes music and lyrics to the song George Ella wrote to accompany the book.

 

George Ella’s books aren’t just for the very young. She has written several young adult stories as well as books for adults. Her latest book is Holding On To Zoe. It is a deeply, haunting story of a teenage pregnancy. Mrs. Lyon’s storytelling is truly captivating. I find it fascinating that she can write such light and sweet stories for children and such riveting and sometimes heavy material for the adults.

 

I encourage you to pick up one or two of George Ella Lyon’s books. Your kids are sure to love her storytelling. Click here to find out more information about George Ella.

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Over the last month, I have been asked no fewer than five times if I know of a good nanny or babysitter that has availability. I know of one good (GREAT) nanny and she is mine. No one can have her. I guard her like a precious jewel. I’m starting to sound like that creepy troll from The Lord of the Rings. Anyway, I thought I would put together a list of some reputable sites and businesses in Cincinnati that provide placement for nannies.

 

NannyPro.com is an online placement service. You select your location and after paying an $80.00 fee you can look at the full descriptions of nannies seeking employment in the area. You are able to review background checks and interview the candidate with your paid subscription. The caregivers that appear on the site are tested with the INA Nanny Basic Skills Exam. I never knew such an exam existed but sounds good.

 

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Nanny Placement Service, Inc. focuses on Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana placement. There is a $100 fee due at the time of registration. It enrolls you with the service for one year. The company does a background check, including the driving record of each caregiver. Nanny Placement Service is located on the West side of Cincinnati and is listed with the BBB along with the INA.

 

Child Care Professionals is located in Cincinnati and places in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Their website states that they are the largest placement agency in the area. There is a $100 fee at time of registration. This fee is for one year and includes the One Time/Temporary placement service. The website gives a breakdown on how a nanny is paid and salary requirements. The site also provides information and forms for tax purposes.

 

There are other sites that are similar to the ones mentioned above, including SitterCity.com and Care.com. There are plenty of women (and a few men) out there looking for placement in a nanny or babysitter position. Of course, the hard part is finding one the fits your scheduling needs and that you feel clicks with your family.

 

Make sure when using one of these services to check their rating with the BBB, INA and the APNA. Also, remember that nannies don’t undergo any special licensing. It is important to:
o Ask questions. Ask the candidate open-ended questions about previous employment, likes and dislikes, challenges she/he has faced as a nanny.
o Call the people named as references.
o Do a criminal background check along with a check of the applicant’s driving record.
o Have your child meet the nanny and see how they interact with each other.
o Have the candidate complete a written application. Look for any gaps in employment or missing information.
o If you like the candidate, have her come for a second interview. If that goes well, set up a trial run day with your family.
o Once you are ready to hire a candidate, put everything in writing. Include a job description with specific expectations, salary, and scheduling.

 

Most important thing to remember is to trust your instincts. If the candidate looks great on paper and says everything exactly right but something inside says “no,” go with that feeling. Momma knows best.

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Park + Vine Lunch + Brunch Counter



Every summer, my kids are allowed to completely go nuts. They stay up late and eat way too many sweets. Then, as soon as August comes around, and the school year gets ready to start, I get my senses back. Bedtime is 8:30 and organic is all that’s on the table. Is this lack of consistency the right way to parent? I’m guessing no, but I will certainly never win a gold medal in parenting. At best, I’m that poor soul that just misses the podium and comes in fourth.

 

August has arrived and fall is just around the corner. The normal bedtime routine is back in place and healthy food once again rules our menu. There are several spots in Cincinnati that make eating organic and using green products an easy task. My favorite little spot is Park + Vine downtown. Moms, this place has just about everything you can need for green living and if they don’t they can tell you where to go to get what you’re looking for. Their food counter offers delicious sandwiches, salads and mac and cheese. The Park + Vine website is loaded with information on green living. There is a page on their site dedicated to providing information on other locally owned places to shop. As an added bonus, everyone that works there is unbelievably nice. It’s just a great spot to shop and eat.

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Another Cincinnati offering we take advantage of during the school year is Green Bean Delivery. Every week this wonderful green box gets delivered to our doorstep. It’s full of locally grown vegetables and organic goodies. You can select from different size bins and customize what you would like to have delivered. Green Bean Delivery also has an online store where you can add-on additional items like fish, meats, sweets, jellies, granola, yogurt, and more. All of their items are organic and delivered right to your home. My kids love waiting for the green box to arrive and seeing what’s inside. It gets them excited about fruits and vegetables. It can also be like the mystery box challenge on Chopped. Using our Green Bean Delivery veggies can require us to be a little more creative in the kitchen.

 

Lollibean’s in Mariemont opened last year and has a store full of green products for babies and small children.

 

Shopping local and shopping green is something my family needs to do all year long, including during the summer. The kids will probably still eat too much ice cream and stay up way past their bedtime but maybe we can do all that after a healthy, locally grown, meal.

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I spent the morning listening to a talking goat. Specifically, a talking guy goat named Hilda. Hilda is the “spokesgoat” for the Read Aloud program. This goat provided me with some very insightful statistics on literacy in our country and what we can do to help.

 

The Read Aloud program “works to ignite a passion for reading aloud in families nationwide”. This nonprofit organization, founded in 2008, has partnered with other organizations to work together to promote reading between parents and children. Let me share with you some of the stats that Hilda presented to me in his online slideshow presentation:
• Only about 1/3 of low-income families read aloud on a regular basis
• 0-3 years of age are critical years for early brain development
• By age 4, low-income children have heard an average 32 million fewer words than their wealthier peers
• By Kindergarten, some low-income children have been read aloud to as few as 25 hours, while their middle-income peers have been read aloud to as many as 1000 hours.
• Some children do not have access to any in home books.

 

Read Aloud believes that parents and children that read together are building a strong family relationship along with developing better literacy skills. This organization is working to get books into the hands of all children that have zero or limited access to age-appropriate reading materials. By partnering with other organizations, reaching out to communities, volunteers, and promoting through marketing they hope to spread this message nationwide.

 

Hilda, the lovable, talking goat, shares the Read Aloud message on the organization’s website and travels the country to advocate for his favorite pastime: reading to loved ones. He is based on the real pet goat of the Cole family. This family of eleven lived in the coal-mining town of Benham, Kentucky in the 1920’s. Hilda first appeared as a character in the book a “Cole Family Christmas” by Jennifer Liu Bryan and her grandmother, Hazel Cole Kendle. From his humble beginnings in a coal town, now Hilda is appearing all over the country and on the Internet to teach others the importance of reading aloud together as a family.

 

Personally, I cannot a recall a day in my life that didn’t involve reading. Both of my parents are avid readers and they read to me from day one. I grew up with a passion for books and hope that through reading to my children every day that they are developing that same passion. We hit the Honeybee Bookstore in Madeira on a pretty frequent basis to discover what new books have just arrived in the store.

 

Hilda has opened my eyes to the fact that this trip to my favorite local bookstore is not an option for every child. While promoting reading aloud at least 15 minutes a day to a child is the primary message Read Aloud is trying to spread, they also work to get books in to the hands of low-income children. One way they are accomplishing this goal is through The Big Box of Books program. The Big Box of Books program provides books to families in need but also provides the tools needed to make the most out of reading aloud. A few times a year, families and community volunteers come together for a 90 minute program of “learning and sharing sessions”. These interactive sessions provide tips for reading aloud to loved ones. Teachers and librarians demonstrate the best way to read aloud to children (look for some key tips on the ReadAloud.org website). Each box of books covers a specific area of learning. For example, a box may be about colors and numbers while another box may cover tales of space exploration. With programs in Northern Michigan, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C. and our own Cincinnati, The Big Box of Books effort has reached hundreds of families and children.

 

Visit the Read Aloud website and learn more about the important work going on at Read Aloud and how you can help. The website also provides some fantastic tips on how to read to your children along with a recommended reading list and a downloadable reading calendar. The organization also can be found on Facebook where program updates are provided on a regular basis.

 

And remember what Hilda the Goat always says: “It’s never work. It’s always a game.” (Mem Fox-Children’s author).

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Last week, I packed up my girls, my nephew, sister, and mother into my van, along with all of our accoutrements and headed north. My wish list for this vacation was to be able to drive to our destination, enjoy the sun, stay close to a beach and avoid the crowds. That is a tall order for a summer trip. After scouring the Internet, I happened upon a website for Michigan. More scouring and I came across a site for Harbor Country, Michigan.

 

Harbor Country consists of seven small towns: Michiana, Grand Beach, New Buffalo, Union Pier, Lakeside, Harbert and Sawyer. All of the towns have something to offer but New Buffalo really grabbed my attention. It is conveniently located and full of things to do with the kids. It is about 90 minutes from Chicago by car or you can take the Amtrak train (there is a station in New Buffalo). The beach is easily accessible by car or walking. The town is full of great shops and restaurants.

 

We rented a house for our trip through Yellow Bird Vacation Rentals. If you ask my sister and mother, they will tell you I have zero luck when it comes to picking places for us to stay. They can tell you tales about dragging their luggage across London because the original hotel I booked for the three of us to stay in was subpar. Trips to Nashville, Memphis and New England have turned out the same way. The accommodations are either too dirty or too small. At this point, it is a given that whatever hotel or house I book for our trip will not be where we actually stay. However, I may have redeemed myself on this trip. The house on Pond Path was perfect.

 

New Buffalo is a small town with lots of charm. From the Pond Path house we could easily walk to the downtown area. We enjoyed shopping in the boutiques and eating at the wonderful restaurants. We especially enjoyed Rosie’s Restaurant and Casey’s Bar and Grill. There were several restaurants we were dying to try including the famous burgers at Redamak’s and Hannah and Harry’s but we simply ran out of time. We’ll be sure to visit them on our next trip. The best part of eating in New Buffalo was the ice cream at Nancy’s for dessert! The servings were huge and every flavor we tried (and we tried A LOT) was delicious. During the week New Buffalo is quiet and laid back. By Friday night the traffic had definitely picked up. It wasn’t overwhelming, just noticeably more crowded. The beach during the week was ideal. There were few people and plenty of parking. The water was artic cold but the kids didn’t care. They enjoyed playing in the sand and swimming. Other than my 18 month old nephew eating his weight in sand, the beach was fantastic.

 

In St. Joseph, which is about 35 minutes from New Buffalo, there is a children’s museum with an antique carousel that the kids can ride. The Silver Beach Carousel & Center also has a waterpark and beach area. The town was full of boutiques, beach access, and restaurants. You could easily spend a day enjoying everything it has to offer. We ate at Schu’s restaurant and had a wonderful lunch. Their menu is full of yummy items including a Salmon B.L.T. a Portabella Panini.

 

If you’re looking for a quick, easy getaway this summer, I highly recommend visiting New Buffalo, Michigan. The drive is only about five hours, which is just about perfect if you’ve got a carload full of toddlers. We didn’t have to spend a lot of money but still feel like we had a great, family vacation.

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Sydney Tasner and Lizzie Levin

I don’t know about you but I needed serious help when it came to planning my nursery décor and putting together my baby registry. There are some women that have that stuff all figured out before they even get a positive pregnancy test, but that so was not me. Fortunately, there is a full service boutique in Cincinnati that can help with all of the details for baby (and big kids too).

 

Best for Babies and Big Kids Too is located just a few minutes away from Kenwood Mall on Montgomery Road. Opened in late 2008 by Sydney Tasner, the store (then known simply as Best for Babies) focused on baby gifts, basic gear and décor. Sydney’s motivation for opening the store was to offer women a place to shop where they could receive excellent customer service along with expert advice on baby products. In 2010, Lizzie Levin partnered with Sydney and since then the store has blossomed into a full service Nursery and Youth bedroom design and furnishings outfitter. Essentially, you can waltz into Best for Babies and Big Kids Too and put together a complete plan for your nursery or kid’s room. They will help you pick out everything from the perfect stroller to the perfect bedding.

 

Sydney and Lizzie work with each client to put together the perfect elements for a beautiful nursery. They have endless options for furniture, fabric and other accent pieces. Whether you know exactly what you want or don’t even have a color scheme picked out, these two ladies can help. The Doodlefish Kids Custom bedding and Alexander & Co. custom prints are just a few of the wonderful items to choose from while planning your nursery.

 

It is such a pleasant experience to shop at Best for Babies and Big Kids Too. It is nice to talk to people who are experts in their field, especially when putting together your baby registry. With their expertise and guidance you add the items you really need and, of course, a few “wants” as well. One of Sydney’s must-have items is The TummyTub. She mentioned her son would get fussy but the minute she placed him in this tub he was a happy camper. A couple of Lizzie’s favorite items are MD Moms Baby Silk Daily Skin Protection and Delicate Skin Comfort. These products help avoid stretchmarks, itchiness and general skin sensitivities. I love that Sydney and Lizzie are moms and know their products inside and out.

 

The absolute best part about creating a registry at Best for Babies and Big Kids Too is that a portion of every purchase from your registry goes to charity! Along with giving a portion of their yearly proceeds to support Pediatric Cancer Research, Sydney and Lizzie also give each registrant the opportunity to select their own charity. A donation is made to your charity of choice in honor of the birth of your new baby. This was reason enough for me to create a registry at their store. What an amazing and generous idea!

 

Whether you are shopping for a baby gift, baby clothing, a chic diaper bag, toys, crib, stroller or other baby gear, Best for Babies and Big Kids Too can help. They will assist you in designing and furnishing the nursery or kid’s room of your dreams. Now that my nursery days are behind me, it is fantastic to know that I can turn to Sydney and Lizzie to help create the big kid rooms for my home.

 

I asked Sydney and Lizzie to share a comment about their store for this article and received a wonderful quote back: “We operate our store with sincerity and complete integrity based on our family values and friendship. We carry some very unique products, but also those that you’ll find in many stores. A big misconception is that shopping in local stores means paying higher prices. This is absolutely not the case. Our prices are exactly the same as in all other stores. We just offer additional customer service that goes beyond the cash register. We put strollers together. We craft registries specific to your needs. We offer complementary nursery design within every budget and more. There is no reason when you are preparing for baby, that you need to sacrifice customer service. When you support our store, you will receive endless support from us.”

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The moment I walked into Lolli’s in Mariemont I knew I would be spending a lot of time there. It has the perfect blend of traditional with a splash of hip. I found luxurious body lotion, a fantastic necklace, adorable stuffed animals for my daughters and the best smelling candle for my mom’s birthday. There is absolutely something for everyone at this boutique.

 

Lolli’s owner, Leah Osgood, has done an amazing job of creating an inviting space to shop. The boutique is filled with antique display cases covered in beautiful eye candy. From the Ronda Smith Designs jewelry to the Waverly and Irving candles, each piece is handpicked by Leah and perfectly placed throughout the store. The store is warm and cozy with gift items galore, home décor pieces, baby items, cool clothing and more. One of the interesting pieces you can get at Lolli’s is a Custom Belt Buckle. Each purchase of a buckle helps support a different charity. There are currently buckles for the upcoming Warrior Run and The Shelter Campaign for Collin. Every penny of the proceeds goes to the charity. It’s always a good thing to know you are spending money to look fab and helping out a good cause.

 

Leah has spent the majority of her life working in retail and says she always dreamed of opening a boutique. After careful planning and using her years of experience she finally took the leap February 14 of this year. Thank goodness she did or I may never have discovered the Elisabethan line. The clothes are every shade of pretty and made completely out of recycled t-shirts.

 

Lolli’s is a unique shopping experience. You will find the item that will be perfect in that “spot” in your home, a new accessory to amp up an outfit or a darling baby gift. I believe Leah describes her shop’s philosophy perfectly:

 

“Lolli is someone I inspire to be…someone who has classic style with just a bit of an edge. A woman who takes comfort in the traditional, but is not afraid to twist it into something that is uniquely her own.”

 

You can visit Lolli’s at 6936 Madisonville Road in beautiful, historical Mariemont . You can also Pin away on the website, www.lollisltd.com.

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Finding a pediatrician is one of those big decisions that must be made as a new parent. It’s a major responsibility to find someone that is capable and makes you feel comfortable. It takes researching and interviewing to find a perfect match for you and your family.

 

The best place to start when looking for a pediatrician is your pool of friends and family. Ask for recommendations. When someone does make a recommendation make sure to ask the person what it is that they like about that particular doctor. Getting specifics will help you narrow down your list of potential doctors. For example, your friend mentions that their pediatrician gets them in and out of the office quickly but you’re looking for someone that takes their time and doesn’t make you feel rushed.

 

If you’re new to the area and don’t have friends and family to ask visit HealthyChild.org (powered by American Academy of Pediatrics). On this website you will find a tool to help you find a pediatrician along with other valuable information including the best questions to ask as you interview doctors. They also provide articles on Healthy Living, Safety and Prevention and Health Issues. Another great option for a pediatric referral is to ask your obstetrician. He or she will have worked with numerous pediatrician and be able to refer you to several candidates.

 

The search for a pediatrician should start about three months before your baby is due. This allows you ample time to find the right doctor. The hospital where you deliver will ask you for your pediatrician’s information. Shortly after your baby is born the hospital will notify your pediatrician of the birth. One question to ask a potential pediatrician is whether he will visit your baby in the hospital after you have given birth.

 

One of the questions at the top of my list when interviewing pediatricians was: What are your office hours? It was important to me that the office have evening and Saturday appointments. Additionally, I wanted to make sure there was a doctor on call in case of an after hour emergency. Because the extended hours and doctor on call options were high priorities for me, I knew I wanted a group and not a sole practitioner. If you desire the same doctor at each appointment you will want to look in to a doctor with his own practice.

 

Selecting your child’s pediatrician is a huge responsibility but not a permanent one. Make your best, most informed decision but if after several visits you are not confident that your selection was correct begin your search again. Settling is not an option when it comes to the care of your little ones. Be sure to visit the American Academy of Pediatrics and their HealthyChild.org site for more information on selecting the best care of your child.

 

 

 

 

 

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I recently made a wonderful discovery and only had to walk a few feet from my boutique’s front door! It’s called The Honey Bee Bookstore.

Moms, I think you will really appreciate everything this little shop is offering. It’s just the most adorable bookstore in Madeira that has the best selection of children’s books, from the baby years up to teen. Of course, there are lots of great bookstores in Cincinnati, but the Honey Bee is taking it a step farther by offering some truly amazing events. For example: Mondays from 10:00-11:00 there is Honey Bee Tots. Children aged 2-4 can enjoy music, story time and more. Thursday is Lunch Brunch from 12:00-1:00 for kids 4-5. You can bring your child by for story time with a brown bag lunch and drop them off for the hour!

Go do your grocery shopping while your kiddo is enjoying lunch with other children and a hearing a fun story. There is an activity for every day of the week so I encourage you to visit their website and view their online calendar. These are perfect activities for a rainy day or just an excuse to get out of the house and it’s FREE!
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The Honey Bee does community outreach by collecting donations for the Madisonville Education and Assistance Center (MEAC) The MEAC offers a preschool literacy program for children ages 3-5. When you do come by to enjoy the shop and activities drop a few bucks in the honey jug for the MEAC or bring by your gently used books.

The owner, Debbie Boylan, has selected the best in children’s books. She also has put together a superb selection of gift items. Gift cards are available and make a perfect present. I think parents really appreciate when their child receives a nice book accompanied by a gift card. The Honey Bee also has a Book of the Month Club. My mom enrolled my oldest in this program for her birthday. My daughter is so excited every month when her new book shows up. She can’t wait to tear open the wrapping and see what new book we’ll be diving in to next. There’s even a Honey Bee Book Club for kids 4-6 that meets on Tuesdays at the store. The children discuss themes and plots of a chapter book.

The Honey Bee Bookstore in Madeira is my pick for one of Cincinnati’s best kept secrets. I can find great books for my girls, drop in for various activities, drop them off while I run errands, find the perfect gift and get it wrapped for that special occasion. It’s so nice as a mom to find a place that meets so many different needs. Whether I need a book, gift or special activity, the Honey Bee has it all. I hope you’ll buzz by and check them out.

The Honey Bee Children’s Bookstore
7004 Center Street
Madeira, OH 45243
(513) 271-0590
www.honeybeekids.com