Christmas Tree Selection & Safety

One of my favorite sights after Thanksgiving is when the sidewalks become lined with fresh Christmas trees and tiny white lights. We typically walk about one block to pick out our tree and bring it home, but last year’s tree left me underwhelmed, so this year we decided to drive out to Linvilla Orchards to pick our own fresh tree. We try to take the kids to the farm every few months anyway to expose them to some nature, so they were excited that Linvilla not only had pumpkins and apple cider donuts from our October trip, but now Christmas trees.

photo 4

Although we went to Linvilla for the Christmasland experience, we couldn’t help but go straight to our favorite part: the barnyard. My daughter was excited that the animals were all eager to come up to the fence and visit. We had two cows, goats, and sheep vying for our attention.

photo 5

My son’s favorite part is always the playground. He loves pretending to drive the wooden trucks. There are so many fun options for all ages too. Meanwhile, I escaped to the Garden Center Christmas Shop to do some holiday shopping and since it was #smallbusinesssaturday I felt I had to do my part! Obviously we also had to stop to buy a bag of apple cider donuts for the ride home.

photo 2

The most special part of our trip of course was picking our tree. Our kids have helped choose all of our trees in the past and they have pretty good taste. After they picked our tree this year, we watched them trim the trunk, bind it in string, and tie it to the roof of our car. The process was incredibly simple and quite entertaining to two small children. My son was excited that our car had a “Christmas tree hat.”

photo-4 (2)

Overall, our Christmas trip to Linvilla helped us create a special holiday memory and we are excited to make this a new tradition. As we now trim our tree and finish decorating for Christmas, we are also talking about holiday safety tips that are important when you have a fresh tree at home:

– cut a few inches off the trunk of the tree to expose fresh wood that will help the tree absorb water and prevent it from drying out.

– keep the tree away from heat sources

– keep the stand full of water

– check the tree lights for damage before placing them on the tree

For more holiday safety tips, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics at: 2015 Holiday Safety Tips from the AAP. We made another stop at Christmas Village to pick out a few new ornaments and now our tree is complete! While Christmas is certainly about more than a tree and some glass ornaments, they helped us start the holiday season with some cheer and great memories.


[All opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this post. I have no affiliation with Linvilla Orchards or Christmas Village.]


My kids dutifully belted out “cheeeeese” as soon as they saw a camera lens pointed at them. “Guess what guys, with me you don’t have to say cheese,” the photographer told them. I knew then that this would be much different from the J.C. Penney’s portrait sessions of my childhood.

Until this month, we had no professional photos of either of my children. While I frequently see adorable newborn photos of friends’ children on social media, during my postpartum period I was more focused on remembering to brush my teeth than book a photographer. After that, it just never seemed like the right time or the right fit for us. Our family has a relaxed, casual spirit that doesn’t seem suited for color-coordinated matching outfits posed on the beach or in a wooded forest. As much as I love seeing these photos of friends’ families and think they are beautiful, it never seemed like us. Then, a friend posted in-home life story photos, which captured her kids doing everything from eating breakfast to reading bedtime stories. Finally, I saw professional photos that would capture my family in just the way I want to remember them.

Before I had a chance to schedule a life story photo shoot, a friend and photographer, Monica Ayers, advertised that she was doing a holiday mini shoot. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to capture a holiday-card-worthy photo of my active 2- and 4-year olds while trying out their easiness in front of the camera for a relatively low-cost. So on a warm November morning we met Monica at Rittenhouse Square and watched the kids climb and jump and play while she snapped away. There were some posed moments and specific instructions, but in general, she was looking for their personalities to come out in the urban environment that is their home. It seemed that there were but split seconds that they each looked at the camera and smiled, so I was doubtful that we would have anything usable, but Monica is amazing and sent us so many wonderful options. She also made sure to meet my special request for a full family shot and a new blog headshot despite only having 15-minutes to complete our mini shoot. For the sake of my kids’ privacy, I can only share one of our pictures here, but if you are on our holiday mailing list, you will certainly see more!


Whether you are a skeptic like me and want a mini shoot to try out photography or are looking for a portrait, wedding, or newborn photo shoot, Monica will put you at ease and help you tell your story in a natural and yet polished way. I am sorry we did not do this sooner, but I am already thinking about what we could do next.


[I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. I have no affiliation with Monica Ayers Photography.]

The 5 Nods Parents Give on the Streets


Shortly after giving birth I realized that anytime I walked down the street with a child I was greeted by other parents as if a member of a secret club. It seemed that every parent who passed me gave me a nod or smile as if we were already acquainted, based solely on the fact that I had a stroller or baby carrier in my possession. A few years later, I continue exchanging these greetings with strangers walking the journey of parenthood with me. Here is your guide to the five main types of greetings parents give each other:

1. The “Congratulations!” smile-nod combo: This greeting typically comes with an exaggerated smile and is prompted by seeing an infant in your stroller. This is the first and most positive greeting that other parents can give you. No matter how exhausted or cynical we all become, there is still an excitement that is fired up in us when we see new life, and therefore a new parent joining our ranks.

2. Niiiiccceee stroller: Prior to becoming pregnant, I never noticed strollers. However, in the months prior to my baby shower, I became a stroller aficionado and studied each one I saw on the street. I began to see that strollers were the way new parents exerted their status in an otherwise baby-drool-soaked-active-wear lifestyle. When passing each other on the street, a nice stroller garners a nod of approval. This nod can be adapted for parents who also do impressive stroller maneuvering: double-strollers up a set of stairs, grocery-laden overstuffed strollers, and off-roading or puddle-jumping jogging strollers.

3. Oh yes, my child has tantrums like that too: This is a sympathetic nod when your child is screaming or throwing snacks that lets you know you aren’t alone. We have all been there, so it is nice to acknowledge that universal truth when you see another parent in the trenches of toddlerdom. There is no need for the….

4. My child is so much better behaved than yours… right now. The most pretentious street nod. When I get these, I hope that I run into these parents later on when their child has their inevitable meltdown. When I am the fortunate parent with the well-behaved children, I give the #3 nod above and you should too.

5. Yeah, I slept 4 hours last night too. This greeting is typically reserved for the 6 AM strolls around the neighborhood to the local coffee shop. Wearing pajamas with a sweatshirt on top? Forget to brush your teeth? Unsure what day of the week it is currently? Yeah, I am right there with you. There is something unifying about the fact that we saw the sunrise together and that when the rest of the world wakes up well rested, we will be ready to eat lunch.

So the next time you find yourself pushing your stroller past another family, look for these nods coming your way. We are all raising these little humans together and can use all the support we can get, even if just a little non-verbal nod on the sidewalk. Every bit of encouragement counts.

Learning to Love Halloween


Every year I gave my mom a hard time about going to school on Halloween. I don’t know what it is about dressing up in a costume, but I never really enjoyed it. If you couple that with the odd fact that I didn’t like chocolate as a kid, Halloween was an undesirable holiday. Yet each year we brainstormed a costume and I begrudgingly marched around the school in the costume parade and accompanied my friends around our neighborhood, only to give away a majority of my candy to the chocolate-lovers around me.

I have gained a new appreciation for Halloween in watching my children dress up. For the past few years, my son has wanted to dress like a real-life hero, which made me proud. This year, he decided to dress like his current obsession, a hammerhead shark. I love that his costume choices represent his interests and passions and not just a cartoon character or popular movie. While my daughter’s first costumes were chosen by me (a skeleton and strawberry), she now made the choice herself to dress as a shark like her brother, her own hero. When shopping for a costume, there are so many disappointing options that sexualize children and gender stereotype. I am hopeful that my children will continue to be creative and brave in their choices.

At his class Halloween party this week, my son’s teacher described that as soon as he put on his costume, he “became zen.” While the other children were giddy with excitement over wearing their costumes at the party, my son seemed to take comfort in his new identity as one of his favorite animals. He suffered through trying to eat his dinner with the shark teeth getting in his way before finally taking off the costume as he overheated in the warm, crowded classroom. His teacher was right though and as I watched him swim through the crowds at the party, he seemed to glow. I am happy that my childhood reluctance over Halloween has not passed on to him and that we are able to find costumes each year that allow him to express his passions creatively. As a working mom who can’t sew, their costumes are store-bought, but their joy is pure and homemade.

Beyond Mommy Call


Turns out that working full-time and raising two children has kept me pretty busy lately and so there have been fewer Mommy Call posts. Sorry! However, just because there are not quite as many posts here does not mean that you cannot read Mommy Call elsewhere. You can always check the Media tab above for a listing of all Mommy Call guest posts on other sites, but here is a list of the most recent ones:

Coffee + Crumbs: The Working Mother Blind Spot

Today Parenting Team: multiple guest contributor posts (you can also VOTE for these posts!)

Kevin MD: How Call Rooms Reflect the Personality of a Pediatric Residency Program

Queen Village Neighborhood Association Magazine: multiple articles, most recently September 2015 issue

Working Motherhood podcast: Episode 329: Setting Incremental Goals

I hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as Mommy Call. Please vote, share, or comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...