New Adventures…

I’ve been working on a blog post for ages about our green efforts and how my definition of progress opposes the generally accepted business definition. Today, though, I am writing something entirely different.

Although I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, I’ve been too stubborn   to put voice to it. And, my decision has been made even more difficult recently because the new flash cards have been extremely well-received with sales outpacing the old tins in the few stores where they’ve been available.  Nonetheless, I’ve decided to end my adventures with mocobabies.

It’s been almost eight years of amazing success building and growing my business.  I have learned a lot, met amazing people, celebrated successes and improved after each mistake.

I’ve reveled in the sense of accomplishment that comes from the strain of much hard work and, also, grumbled about the long hours.

I’ve cherished the gift of time and flexibility that having my own business has given me with my children, while also stressing about never having enough time to get everything done.

I’ve enjoyed tremendous support from family and friends while also working to not internalize negativity from those that have a different idea of success and assumed I just played on the computer all day.

But, that is the brilliance of it – of anything in life, really – the trials and grumbles are what make you appreciate the successes, both big and small.

I will always keep close the feeling of pride when the order finally came in from what would be my biggest retailer, a store I had been coveting for months; the emails and phone calls from customers telling me how much they loved my products; growing to the point where I could no longer manufacture the flash cards myself; meeting some of the most amazing, helpful and supportive people, and, most importantly, being able to share day-to-day moments with my kids that a 9-5 job wouldn’t have allowed me to be a part of.

But, it’s time to say goodbye. My heart just isn’t in it anymore. I have had so many plans for mocobabies but, for lots of reasons, they have remained just ideas. It’s been these ideas though, along with my stubbornness and sentimentality, that have kept mocobabies going but since making the decision to close I feel like a weight has lifted.

I can’t thank everyone who has supported me enough. I have an amazing family (parents who helped me cut and corner thousands of laminated flash cards), supportive friends, and THE most amazing customers.  Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

2 Comments

Filed under Business, Learning, Life, motherhood

Perfectionism

Last year Lily wanted to be Rapunzel for Hallowe’en.  Fortunately there were plenty of Tangled costumes available, but none of them came with the trademark long blonde hair.  No problem – a little yellow yarn and I’ve solved that problem.  Except for one minor little detail:  I am the least crafty person you will ever meet.   But, with the best of intentions I pulled out my glue gun, bought yellow wool, a yellow headband and set to work.

It wasn’t until the wee hours of the morning on October 30th that panic started to set in as I looked down at a mess of yellow and unsightly gobs of stringy glue along the top of the headband.  I tried to fix it.  I kept putting it on to see how the yarn was falling and how much more I would be able to add.

It was awful.  Lily was going to hate it.  I was ruining her costume.

She woke up full of excitement until I sat down beside her and explained that I’d really tried but I wasn’t sure she was going to like her wig.  When I pulled it out from behind my back, there was silence.  The pit in my stomach grew as I chastised myself for lacking even a shred of maternal Martha Stewartness.

But, then Lily’s little face lit up and she grabbed it out of my hands to put on.  She flung her new hair over her shoulder and twirled around the room.  Oh, it looked awful but she was happy.

I had forgotten that kids don’t have the same expectations of perfection that we do.  And, frankly, I think Lily, in her youthful wisdom, knew it was going to be a tough road for me with my inability to pull off anything crafty.

I’m not a fan of perfect and don’t often strive for it, but, sometimes I still get caught in its evil little trap.  Lily’s headband has become my reminder to throw out perfectionism and just do what I can.

It helps that a year later it’s still one of her favourite things in the dress-up bin.

Happy Hallowe’en!  

2 Comments

Filed under kids, motherhood

It’s Not Fair

Nothing sets me on edge more than hearing one of my children bellow, “It’s NOT FAIR!”  That one sentence can turn me foul even when in the midst of a sun-shiny-birds-singin’ kind of day.

Lily thought it would be a good idea to whine it’s not fair when I asked her to pick up some of the ten thousand blankets she’d used to build a fort in the family room.

Frustrated,  I jumped into my now-overused diatribe on ‘fair’.  I threw out a few examples, including “Is it fair that your brother is cleaning the guinea pig cage and you aren’t helping him?”

It was going well until I threw in, “Is it fair that you’ve been playing all day and were out  on the swings while I made lunch, brought your dishes in, cleaned and put everything away?”

Lily had been quick to answer all the other questions with a ‘No, that’s not fair’ but here she took pause and looked a little bit confused, “Yeah, that’s fair.  That’s what parents do. Kids are only supposed to play.  Parents have to do all the other stuff.”

I think I have to revisit our chore chart…

1 Comment

Filed under kids, Life, motherhood

Redefining Progress

There are days I wonder why I bother to read the paper.  I typically end up shaking my head in disbelief or shuddering at the apathy and viciousness with which we seem to be treating each other.  Yesterday was no different.

In an article about the vast environmental controls and protections that are being eliminated in Canada, it seems the government has defended it’s actions by stating that “…caring for nature is a barrier to economic prosperity.”

In that very same paper there was an article about a beach that I’ve been swimming in since I was born that was closed to swimmers over the weekend because of increased e-coli levels.  The beach remains closed today.

Alberta is still dealing with a massive oil spill that went undetected for days, the second spill in the past year, and ten animal species were added to the Canadian endangered list in May 2012.

I find it shocking that our leaders have decided to grow (resuscitate) the economy at the expense of the environment. The leaders of this amazing country, so rich in natural resources, should be using their position of power to build on something genius, something that future generations will marvel at like my son does now when he asks in awe how people were able to think of technology, skyscrapers and other wonders of daily life we seem to take for granted as adults.  Our leaders should be working to redefine progress not forging ahead focused only on the dollar and so little on the splendor and necessity of our natural world.

The definition of progress is forward movement towards a destination.  I want to move towards a future where my kids have clean water to drink and Lake Huron is still clean enough to swim in.  I want an economy that embraces the environment instead of  exploiting it with such an intense focus on money.

I’m not even close to perfect when it comes to having an eco-friendly lifestyle but I’m happy about the changes that my family and I have made.  And, I’m especially proud of the changes I’ve made with mocobabies.  I no longer manufacture overseas, our packaging is eco-friendly and each component I’ve sourced is made in North America.  Still, we can do more.

The kids and I were out playing in the rain yesterday and as the thunder grew louder my son said “Isn’t it weird that the earth would want to destroy things and sometimes kill people with tornadoes and lightening when it should be protecting us?”  I tried to explain that the earth supports us but it’s our job to protect it.  Unfortunately, we’re doing a horrible job.

Since our leaders aren’t providing us with ingenuity, we have to work on ridding ourselves of apathy and get creative; it seems it’s up to us to redefine progress.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go hug a tree.

2 Comments

Filed under Being Green, Life

Operation Old Lady

I don’t have specific dreams for my children.  I don’t care what career they choose or worry about what they’re personal definition of success will be when they’re older.  I just want them to be happy.  I want them to have fun, follow their dreams and fall in love with their whole heart.  My only worry is whether I’m doing the right things to help them succeed in their happiness.  Oddly enough, it was my mom’s seventieth birthday celebration that showed me that it’s not a matter of whether I’m doing the right things; it’s a matter of being authentically me.

My sister and I tried to plan something for my mom for months but nothing felt right until we decided on a gather-the-gifts tour around Owen Sound, lovingly titled Operation Old Lady.

Mom received riddles before the big day so that she knew when to be at my house. When she arrived, we were all gone but there was a clown asleep on our front porch.  The clown (played by a most-amazing friend who I now owe dearly) had a horrible case of “Snoozilepsy” and my mom had to sing to wake her up.  My mom quietly sang Happy Birthday to Me then moved on to a verse of Home on the Range to no avail.  Only when my dad said ‘Well, the sign says sing louder’ did my mom rouse our clown with a belted out version of Jingle Bells.  Our Snoozileptic clown tried to read my mom her first clue but having ‘never been to clown college”, she never learned to read (Tessa, you’re brilliant).

When mom and dad arrived at their second stop, the Owen Sound Farmer’s Market, they wore smiles from ear to ear.  From there mom had to find the balloons that a few vendors happily allowed us to stash behind their stand with a gift attached.  Mom gathered a custom Red Hat sock monkey, some delicious cookies and a bag of the most incredible kettle corn.  The best part?  Thanks to Tom Pink and Stephanie Hargrave, the entire market stopped and sang my mom Happy Birthday.  It was awesome.

There were many more stops and a lot of incredible people that made the day unbelievably perfect.  Loretta at Millcreek Chocolates made our cheeks hurt we were all laughing so hard.

It was a day that wouldn’t suit everyone (as one woman made very clear by stating we should have called it Operation Humiliation) but at the end of it mom said that she hadn’t laughed so hard in years, which is exactly what my sister and I had hoped for.

When I was thinking about the craziness of the day, I realized that mom’s celebration exemplified some of the very things I want to teach my kids.  And, all of a sudden I understood that my parents never sat me down to teach me the lessons I hold dear today – they lived the lessons for me.  They didn’t verbally emphasize that one of the most important things in life is happiness and having fun – they just had a lot of fun together.

My parents didn’t sit me down for rousing motivational speeches about following my dreams but I was around when they talked about starting their own business;  I remember going and looking at various properties they were thinking about.  It didn’t matter that they didn’t go through with it – they were dreaming it and somehow, even as a kid, that’s what mattered.

When I started to fall for my boyfriend at seventeen years old my parents embraced him.  When at twenty we started talking about getting married my parents didn’t mock us or tell us we were too young – my mom said it was a good thing because if we broke up she’d have to adopt him.  My husband and I have had so many dreams throughout our years together, some we’ve followed and some we haven’t, but we’re always up for an adventure and we’re laughing along the way.

Sometimes I mess-up, I cry, I laugh, I play, I snark, I joke, I dream and, I am happy.  Hopefully that’s what my kids will take with them in life, because if they’re waiting for words of wisdom they unfortunately have the wrong mama.

2 Comments

Filed under kids, Life

My Favourite Time of Year

“Mom, I have your Mother’s Day present in my backpack. I’m so excited.  I think I have to give it to you now.”  I knew it was pointless trying to talk him into waiting; he’s so much like his dad who bursts at the seams with excitement when he’s found, or made, the perfect gift.  It’s pretty fun to watch, and, I like getting presents so I didn’t mind.

Before I knew it, Jackson had placed a sweet painting and beaded necklace next to me on the front seat.  “Do you love it, mom?  Do you love it?” I did.

Lily who had been patiently holding onto her gift for days yelled ‘I’M GIVING YOU MINE WHEN WE GET HOME!!!”  She ran upstairs and pulled the pink tissue paper wrapped “Spoon Full of Kisses” card from under her bed where she had been hiding it.  I opened my arms thinking she was trying to give me a hug too but realized just in time that she was only trying to nab my chocolate kisses.

Mother’s Day beats out my birthday for favourite occasions that are all about me.  On Sunday, I might get to sleep in, I’ll definitely get breakfast made for me and we’ll all be together. We may not do anything much but on Sunday I’ll be spoiled with time, hugs and kisses.

Truthfully though, as much as I love seeing the kids excitement giving me their gifts, I don’t hold out much hope that they will actually be able to give me the one thing that I’ve asked for this year:  just one day of not having to referee their continual bickering.  That, I think, may be asking too much.

Happy Mother’s Day.  I hope you get to enjoy a little pampering.

7 Comments

Filed under Life, motherhood

Hugging Trees

I’ve been working on it for a long time now.  Searching.  Thinking.  Searching some more. Rethinking –  it’s been a long process.  But, I’ve done it; in a just a couple of weeks our new, more eco-friendly flash cards will be online!

Seven years ago, when I first started mocobabies, I offered a set of ten flash cards that were packaged in a clear cellophane envelope with a small homemade label across the bottom.  I still remember my first few sales, how exciting it was when someone said they’d love to carry them and more importantly when I got those first reorders.  My excitement quickly turned to rattling nerves as I  got to the point where I couldn’t keep up with my orders.  After some bumps and bruises trying to manufacture in North America, I eventually made the decision to have our expanded set of thirty-five cards made overseas.

However, when I recently sold out of our last shipment of cards, I decided I wanted to keep production closer to home; I wanted to reduce our footprint.  I’m happy to say that it’s been a much easier process than it was seven years ago.  There seems to have been a shift and small business is embraced rather than shooed away by local manufacturers and suppliers.  Years ago, I was repeatedly told that it wasn’t worth their time unless I was going to place a million dollar order.  This time around, companies have been helpful and more than willing to take the time to talk with me about my product.  It’s been wonderful to experience such a turnaround.

Long story short(ish), I’m really proud of our new cards and the path we’re forging for mocobabies.  Perhaps most importantly, I’m also working hard to buck the recent trend of skyrocketing prices; our cards will be greener, Canadian made and more affordable.  I’m pretty excited.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baby Signing, Being Green, Business