Archive for January, 2012

Mommy’s Top Five

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Walk into any store selling baby items and you’ll see the vast array of eye-catching products and gadgets to help you care for your baby. Sometimes we can be influenced by the thrill of shopping and the excitement of the baby on the way.

It can be overwhelming to weave through the aisles and pick out items that you’ll really use. If you’re shopping online, it can be even more daunting to pin-point the best buys. Of course, there are necessities: bottles, a  car seat, diapers, and a crib, but what about the other “must have” items that you don’t want to miss out on?

I questioned a few mommies who have infants to find out what products they couldn’t do without.

Woombie – As the name suggests, this cozy covering provides the feeling of being back in the womb. While it’s snug enough to swaddle your baby, it’s not restricting. One of the mommies commented on how much this helped her baby girl stay asleep, which helped keep mommy sane.

Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bra – Okay, I know this one looks funny, but the moms raved about this one! If you will be breastfeeding at all, you’ll want to have this hands-free pumping bra. Joanna, one of the moms I spoke with, said, “It was SO worth it to be able to hold a book or eat a meal, or just relax, with both hands free while pumping.”

Bumbo – The Bumbo is so helpful.  It’s a baby seat  designed to “seat young babies who can’t sit up by themselves.” So if your infant is not old enough to sit up in a traditional high chair, you may really enjoy this. I’ve seen it in action, and with the tray attached, it made feeding time so much easier. Additional products are available from Bumbo like the cool mobile!

Lamaze Toys – This one was actually provided by one of the dads I talked to! Lamaze offers baby toys from ages 0 -24 months. You’ll enjoy playing with them even though you’re out of that age group. They offer such a wide range of choices, from soft and hardcover books to musical toys and activity gyms. These really help to keep baby entertained.  Super cute!

Baby Bullet – This little guy is not only practical, it’s absolutely adorable. What moms like the most about this product is that you can make your own baby food, and then store it in the cutesy containers that accompany the mini blender. Already have a blender for making baby food? You can purchase the little containers separately – they have little smiley faces on them!

All of the moms I talked to wished that they were told about these before their babies were born. Hopefully these will help you with your new bundle of joy!

What did we miss? I know that there are a lot of other great finds out there. Please share your favorites with us!

Q & A with LeAnn Morrissey, Operation Shower, Chief Shower Officer

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Many of you have seen our previous posts about our involvement with Operation Shower, a 501 c(3) non-profit

organization that hosts fabulous baby showers for military spouses to ease the burden of deployment. We at Carousel Designs have been honored to sponsor several Operation Shower events throughout the past year, with many more in the works!To catch up on what happened at two of the showers we sponsored in 2011 (one involving First Lady Michelle Obama and Martha Stewart!) check out our previous blog posts, “Supporting Our Military Families” and “Operation Shower: Red, White & Coo.”

LeAnn Morrissey, Chief Shower Officer, Operation Shower

We are very excited to announce our sponsorship of the next Operation Shower event, which will be held on January 24th in San Diego! A group of deserving military spouses will be treated to the baby shower of their dreams at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Club. Co-hosted by the PGA Tour and Birdies for the Brave, this is sure to be a memorable event.

In order to help you get to know Operation Shower and their woman-in-charge, Chief “Shower” Officer, LeAnn Morrissey, we put her through some pretty extensive Q & A. Below are the highlights of our interview!

How did Operation Shower get started?

In 2007, I asked my uncle what more I could do beyond sending him care packages while he was deployed to Iraq. He (and his wife) suggested I send cards to the pregnant wives of four men who were deployed overseas with him. This bit of encouragement or celebration of their imminent arrivals, he thought, would brighten their lives a little bit. I was happy to help but wanted to do more than just send a card.

After brainstorming and talking with family and friends, I decided to send each of the expecting military spouses a full baby shower — a “shower in a box”.  I had great support putting these boxes together and we shipped them to each mom.  We had such a great response from the moms and their spouses overseas that we knew it made a difference and was something we needed to do over and over again. The moms felt recognized and “spoiled” for a day and the fathers felt relief that their loved ones were being remembered and joy at celebrating the baby on the way.

A military mom-to-be opens her “shower-in-box” at a recent Operation Shower event in Fort Campbell, KY.

How many showers have you hosted so far?

We now take our “showers in a box” concept to a much larger scale and host full baby showers for large groups of military families on bases or other locations. We have, to date, hosted 18 showers for Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard units across the country. We have showered over 600 military families.

How has Operation Shower transformed since 2007?

Operation Shower has transformed in many ways, but with regard to our core values and what we try to convey, we are the same.  We have grown from sending individual boxes to moms to doing large scale showers. We have definitely increased the number of moms/families we are able to reach. In previous years, the highest number of showers we had completed was four, for 100 moms total. In 2011, we completed seven showers for 300 moms.  So we have definitely expanded our outreach and are looking to host more showers this year and reach even more families.

We pride ourselves on really spoiling the moms-to-be and making sure it is a “baby shower to remember.” They deserve the best and we work to provide it. Our Chief Event Planner works with designers and event planners across the country to come up with ways to make it special.  They often donate their services and time and we couldn’t be more thankful.

A large part of our ability to reach more moms is the support from companies such as Carousel Designs and Birdies for the Brave and also from individuals and other companies across the country, who donate product and dollars.

We are still working out of the basement and still have a very small staff, but we have supporters across the country — actually, I should say, the moms-to-be have support across the country!

What is your favorite part of the shower process?

My favorite part is always shower day and meeting the moms. I love the end result of being able to provide them with the showers in a box and the other gifts we have collected — and also for them to be able to meet many of the supporters and volunteers from Operation Shower who truly want to recognize them for their service. Being able to connect the volunteers and donors with the moms and have them say “thank you” in person is a great feeling and I believe the moms leave truly understanding that we are sincere in our respect and admiration for them and that we are serious about making sure they have a day of fun!

Is there a particular shower that’s been your favorite so far? A most memorable moment?

It is so hard to pick a favorite, as each shower really is so unique.  Each shower includes new moms, obviously, with their own unique stories and each community that comes out to help does so in their own way.  It was an honor, though, to have one of our showers last year attended by Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden as part of their Joining Forces campaign.  It was a great validation that Operation Shower is making a difference and doing something of great value.

Another truly memorable moment for me was at the close of one of our showers. An older gentleman volunteer who was there to help load the “showers in a box” came up to the podium of his own accord and said he just needed to say thank you to us for doing this. He said he had served in earlier wars and his wife delivered and raised their children while he was away for long stretches. He wished she had something like our showers. This was so meaningful to me — as I feel that not only are we honoring those serving now, but those families who served in the past but were not recognized as they should have been.

A group photo of the expectant moms and sponsors at the 2011 “Red, White & Coo” baby shower in Atlanta, GA.

What is your advice for someone who wants to get involved in their community and make a difference, as you have? 

Follow your heart. I love honoring military families; I love giving gifts; and I love helping moms-to-be. This is why Operation Shower means so much to me. I believe it is why it also touches so many others. So, my advice is to find something that you truly love and do it in some way. Find a way to do what you love — even if it is just a few hours a week or a month. Try different things until you find what works for you. I tried so many different care package ideas and ways to help moms and new business ideas (some really bad ideas) until I found the one that works for me and makes a difference.

What are you looking forward to in 2012 and beyond? 

I am looking forward to meeting new military families and showering them with love! I am looking forward to seeing what creative ideas our team comes up with to do this in the best way possible. We are looking for ways to help local bases have their own showers with Operation Shower’s support. This is a project I really want to pursue so we can reach even more families. I am looking forward to seeing military families have no doubt that they are appreciated!

Operation Shower’s “Sunshine Safari” themed baby shower for military moms is planned for January 24, 2012, in San Diego. The talented team at Paper and Cake (www.paperandcake.com) designed the cute party printables!

 

If people want to contribute to Operation Shower’s cause or help make a positive impact for military families, what should they do?

We have many ways that people can help. Tell us what you love to do — we can try to find a way to help you do it with Operation Shower!

We are always looking for sponsors for our showers. If you know someone, tell them about Operation Shower. We are always looking for product. People can donate in many ways — purchase items and mail to us — we can help you figure out the best items to send; purchase from our Amazon Wish List; host your own party (maybe a shower?) and collect donations. You can also donate on-line.  And finally, you can help with our party planning!!  Please visit our website (www.operationshower.org) and contact us.