Understanding how to use a computer, tablet and smartphone is imperative these days. You could argue it's a form of literacy. When you think about it from that perspective it doesn't sound as crazy to allow your kids to use devices at young ages. Technology is their world, whereas us parents born in the early 80s can remember technology as being just a part of our world. In this installment of the Real Mom Series we are exploring this idea of introducing technology to your kids, how we do it now and how others do it. 

Elle and Levi have an iPad that they share and they play games on. There are also iPhone apps that I keep on my phone for them to play. I don't feel guilty at all about it because to me it's not the fact they use a device that is harmful it's the type of content they consume and how much of it they are consuming. So, put away shame for letting your kids watch T.V. and a movie in one day.

There are definitely age appropriate apps and shows, and I think it's up to us parents to use discretion and to watch the shows with our kids so we can understand what they are consuming. We have all of the usual apps like Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and even Disney Jr. and Nick Jr. Together we decide the show they are going to watch, and I make sure the kids either agree or take turns selecting. I am always in the room when they are watching a T.V. show or something on their iPad so I can monitor it. 


I think that's the key. Be proactive as a parent in knowing how they are spending their time, what they are spending it on and how they are being affected by it. If you don't like how they are speaking to you after they watch Paw Patrol, then don't let you kids watch it. 

That said, I've seen a lot of buzz about the kids YouTube app going around on parenting blogs, and I agree that it's an app you don't want your young kids interacting with. There's a lot of strange content on there that Elle would get obsessed with such as the unboxing channels. And we ended up deleting it and she returned to her normal self.

What are your feelings on technology and kids? Are you proactive in being involved in what they watch? 

Read other thoughts from real moms: The LIfe Styled, The Effortless Chic, Design for Mankind, The Fresh Exchange, Natalie Borton, Apartment 34


Finding good childcare has surprisingly been one the biggest challenges in parenting for me. You obviously don't just want to leave your kids with anyone, but finding the right person to trust is hard. It takes risk, investment and time to make it work. The Real Mom series is back as we get into the nitty gritty of what has worked for us and what hasn't with hired help. Be sure to the other real mamas' perspectives: The Effortless Chic; Sacramento Street; The Life Styled; FreutcakeHey Mama Co; A Daily Something; Thoughts by Natalie; The Sweetest Occasion; Sarah Sherman Samuel
We have gone through four babysitters all of whom our kids have adored, fallen in love with and have moved on (with the exception of occasional night or two). I didn't realize how hard it would be to not just find someone amazing, but keep someone amazing. I think the worst part of the whole childcare process has been having to break it to my kids that their babysitter isn't coming back. 

What I have learned is that most qualified sitters or nannies are looking for something full-time. Often they will take the work they can get, but I've never been in a place that I could afford full-time care nor do I want that for this season of motherhood. So, it's understandable that they have needed to move on, but heartbreaking nonetheless.

Thankfully, most of our sitters have been able to babysit for us here and there when we are in need for a date night, but I was still left with a problem of how to find consistent childcare?

Preschool for both kids came sooner than we thought. I didn't plan on putting Levi in school at one years old, especially with his health ups and downs, but I needed to know that someone wasn't going to cancel on me last minute or quit all together for the sake of my job and my sanity. I felt so guilty about it because it wasn't what I had planned, and I had it in my mind that being home was the best thing for my kids. To my surprise, it ended up being the best decision I have ever made. 

Elle is a social butterfly and thrives in a school environment. This was not a surprise to me, and it sure gave me a peace about placing her in school. She needed to be challenged and she needed the socialization. We found a small Christian preschool not too far away that was recommended by kindergarten teachers in our area, and she goes five mornings a week.

For Levi, it was a bit harder to find a school that would take him at 1 years old, but we found another small Christian school up the road that takes such great care of him. Levi doesn't talk very much, but he has started to talk more since being around other kids. One thing that I have particularly noticed is that he is able to sit at a table nicely and eat his food, he puts his toys away when you ask him and he can sit criss cross applesauce on the floor while listening to a story. These are all things that Elle struggled with when we transitioned her to preschool at three years old. I must say that having a one year old with good manners is AMAZING!

I pick them both up at 11:30. We come home and have lunch and nap/quiet time and have the rest of the day together. It's perfect. I have also preferred school because I'm able to work from home instead of a coffee shop. Taking conference calls in your car is annoying to say the least.

If you're a mom like me that feels guilty about putting your kids in daycare, don't be. In many ways it can offer better learning experiences than keeping them home with a sitter. 

I will also say that the BEST babysitter we have EVER had came from a local nanny agency. We told the agency what we were looking for and they prescreened and interviewed candidates for us. They submitted five to us, and the very first one we met, we loved. We were given her driving record, her CPR certification and a resume. We also had a two month trial period. The agency charged us a percentage of her monthly earnings, and that's it. After the trial period was over we were able to work with our nanny on our own terms. Though we couldn't keep her after a couple months due to her needing more hours, it was SUCH a great experience and now she babysits for us for date nights and other things. She has become a part of our family, and the kids see her at least once a week. So, if you are looking for a nanny try an agency and save yourself the hassle of or calling all of your friends for recommendations.

Photos by Rennai Hoefer


As a Christian, this time of year is a season of contemplation of my faith and the reliance I have on Jesus Christ. And now that I'm a mom, each year when I think about Jesus being born over 2,000 years ago, I often think about Mary, and all of the feelings she must have experienced becoming a new mom, carrying the Savior of the world, and birthing him in less than desirable circumstances (in a barn, no family around, and during a time when young boys were being slaughtered by King Herod). Regardless, of whether someone believes that Jesus was the Messiah, giving birth like Mary did is a victory alone. When I compare it to my my birth stories (they were hard just because it's frickin' child birth), I can't imagine how any person could get through that experience without a greater power to rely on. In this installment of The Real Mom Series, we are sharing our birth stories. My religious beliefs are my own and this topic just happened to fall during Christmas, so be sure to read everyone else's stories and experiences.

REAL MOMS: Thoughts by Natalie, The Effortless Chic, A Daily Something, Design for Mankind

Elle and Levi are opposites in every way - gender, interests, ages, personality and even their birth stories. 

Elle was my first. We took the classes and read the books. I went into the idea of birthing not wanting any pain medication and having a set birth plan (like many first time moms). Everything was as planned as I could make it be. And then my water broke three weeks early in the middle of the night just after celebrating Ryan's birthday, and, well, that wasn't in the plan at all. We went to the hospital, and once we were admitted we needed to make sure we had a baby within their set timeframe or it was straight to c-section. Looking back on it, it was definitely not an ideal birth situation. I didn't progress, so they hooked me up to pitocin (grrrr...I HATE that stuff). My contractions got super intense without dilating past a 3 cm for quite a while. I was in sooooo much pain and the contractions were coming so fast I couldn't catch my breath. I finally opted for an epidural, but since it was Labor Day weekend (ironic, right?) no one could get to me for an hour. I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that I got stadol (worst drug ever). I don't remember much that happened when I got that, but I know I said some CRRRAAAZY things to the doctors and Ryan. I finally got an epidural after that, but then my body started shaking non-stop, and the epidural didn't take right. My legs were numb, but I could feel every contraction. So, several hours of labor, without being able to walk and shaking made for super fun times at the hospital. 17 hours of labor total, and two pushes and then she was in my arms. And then the world just melted away because I became a mom in that moment. 

For Levi, it was text book for the most part. I labored at home without really knowing I was laboring for the majority of it. It was about 5:30pm on a Saturday night when things started getting more intense, but I was still functioning through it and doing my usual tasks. I had a feeling it could be "the day," so I told Ryan to go take the dog and Elle over to his parents' house. During that short hour that he was gone things intensified quickly. When I realized that I was actually in labor I wobbled upstairs to take a shower (knowing it would be awhile before I could do that again), and then packed my bag. I was huffing, puffing and screaming through it all. Finally he came home, and when I couldn't even have a conversation I knew it was time to go the hospital. There were so many swear words that came out of my mouth while driving to the hospital. I seriously thought I was going to have a baby in the car. When we got to the hospital I was already at 8 cm. It was crazy! They rushed me back into a delivery room, and told me that I was going to have a baby in the next hour. By this time it was 8:30pm, and there was no one at the hospital. I had such great care and attention by the staff. I ended up being able to get an epidural, and I'm thankful that I did because the only snag in the perfect birth experience was that the cord was wrapped around his neck. It took two and a half hours of pushing to get that guy out. They had to put me on oxygen because his heart rate would drop with every push. I don't think I realized how scary it was for the doctors until afterwards. They were just trying to keep me focused, and I was. He finally arrived at 1:21 a.m. on a Sunday. It was perfect. He slept forever, and we just snuggled. (Read more of his birth story in a past post here).

My post-partum experiences with both of them were the hardest part of it all, but that's for another Real Moms installment! Merry Christmas everyone!