Archive for Product Reviews

Petites Sizes for the Working Mom

Faux Wrap Dress by Ashley Nicole Maternity

When I first bought Bloom Maternity I thought I would focus on the plus-size Mom. Though I was not obese while pregnant, I did have a hard time finding pants and jeans that I could pull up past my knees. The thought that petite women have a hard time finding clothes that fit too never occurred to me until I met Jacqueline Carrau one rainy night at Starbucks.

As a petite woman, Jacqueline too was frustrated when trying to find maternity clothes when she was pregnant two-plus years ago. So she decided to do something about it and created her own maternity line for petites — Ashley Nicole Maternity. Full of moxy, Jacqueline has quickly figured out how to get her designs created and is working hard on marketing and distribution.

Q: Why did you decide to launch your own maternity line?
When I was thinking of starting my business I was looking for a niche, and I came up with the idea of starting a petite maternity clothing line.  I just had a baby and realized that there weren’t a great amount of maternity clothes that were veered towards petite pregnant moms.  I couldn’t even find a whole lot of petite maternity clothes online.  So that’s when I decided to create a maternity apparel line for petites.  I originally named the business work style maternity because it was veered towards the working mom, but at the time I wanted to name the business after the middle names of my children but the name was already taken in the state of TX.  A few months later I was notified that the name Ashley Nicole was available, so I decided to change the name.  So that’s how Ashley Nicole Maternity was born.

Q: Which clothing pieces are the hardest to fit for women who are petite?
The hardest clothing pieces for petite women to fit are pants, skirts, and dresses.  If the length isn’t right a petite woman can’t wear them.

Q: Were you able to find many maternity clothes for petite when you were pregnant?
I was only able to shop at two places while I was pregnant for petite maternity clothes which included Destination Maternity and Motherhood.  The quality was not that great, and there weren’t enough options to choose from especially for working in an office.  As a manager at the time, I wanted comfortable, trendy, and professional maternity clothes that I could wear to work.

Q: Non-fashion related, what was your favorite memory while pregnant?
My favorite memory while being pregnant was preparing for the baby’s arrival. I liked buying things for the baby, and getting the baby’s room ready.

Q: What are some things we can look forward to in your Spring/Summer 2013 line?
The Spring/Summer 2013 line will have more prints to choose from.  I will have a couple of custom prints as well. The line will have a resort type feel to it with earth tone colors.  There will be more trendy items to choose from and many items will be able to be worn throughout pregnancy, and post pregnancy. I am very excited about the changes to the Spring/Summer 2013 line.

Ashley Nicole Maternity will include regular sizes starting in Fall 2012.  The line is currently being sold by sales reps in Los Angeles CA, and Canada.

You may also be interested in visiting Jacqueline’s blog Work, Baby, Balance designed as an online community for career moms with a family to share their experiences in balancing their career and family life.

Ashley Nicole Maternity petite sizes are now available at Bloom Maternity, and join us on Facebook to be one of the first to know when new Ashley Nicole Maternity styles are available.

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It’s True! A Maternity Shoe for You Giveaway

The Ashley Tennis Shoe by New Life Shoes

I had been hearing rumblings over the past several months that a new maternity shoe was about to debut here in San Antonio.

Thinking back to when I was pregnant; I remember shopping for new shoes because my feet had widened to the point of — I can’t get a shoe on past my toes! By my third trimester I had thrown all shoes out the door and only wore flip flops. (My husband has begged me to stop calling them thongs.)

So I have to give it to the fine folks over at New Life Shoes for their novel idea: to design a shoe that wasn’t a thong flip-flop for pregnant women.

I was delighted to be invited to their preview event to review the first of many designs to come: the Ashley Tennis Shoe.

Andy Kalns demonstrating the Multi-Layer Cushioning System

I was even more delighted to discover that I knew one of the designers — Andy Kalns. We volunteered together at our local PBS station. But I digress.

With other mommy bloggers, I learned that New Life Shoes originated in an OB-GYN’s office. The doctor conducted an exhaustive surveys of expectant mothers and heard an oft-repeated complaint: their feet were killing them. And there seemed to be no shoes that provided the relief, comfort, fit and support sought by the soon-to-be moms.

Are you surprised?

From there the doctor began working with shoe business veterans, Tom Adams and Mark Connors. Armed with Dr. Blank’s vision and a combined 80 years of industry expertise between them, they fashioned a cushiony, stylish shoe that pregnant women could easily adjust without bending over thanks to New Life’s ingenious Z-Fit System.

There are no laces to tie or re-tie, just a single strap that allows New Life wearers to tighten or loosen the entire shoe with one hand. The Z-Fit strap is strategically located on the inside of the foot so it’s easy to reach. The user doesn’t need to stoop or bend to tie her shoes.

How helpful is that for a pregnant mom who can’t bend over to tie her shoes?  All she has to do is criss-cross her leg up on to her knee and she can’t tighten the shoe from the inside of her foot.

Graphic by New Life Shoes

You can view how the Z-Fit System works here:

OK, so I tried on the tennis shoes and here are my thoughts:

  • They are über easy to put on.
  • Reminiscing about my third trimester, I liked being able to place my foot up on my knee and tightening them without having to bend over.
  • The shoes provide a 5 layer cushion of support and it was comfortable. I liked that fact that this shoe will expand when a pregnant foot swells with fluid.
  • Honestly the shoe is really comfortable. The week after I received these shoes I found myself wearing them around the house for extra support when my knee started to flare up. Within an hour my knee pain would subside. But those are just my knees, I can’t guarantee the same will happen to you.
  • Plus I’m ecstatic that this is a local company launching a national brand. I’m all about supporting our local companies, and I hope that you’ll join me in support this new shoe company — even if you aren’t in San Antonio.

So, do you want a pair? Of course!

New Life Shoes have been very gracious to provide a pair of shoes for me to give away here on The Bloom Blog. They just announced  name of this tennis shoe — The Ashley.

So we are giving away an Ashley pair in the size and color of the winner’s choice.  If you’re pregnant, you’ll make your feet happy.

Want to make your feet instantly happy? Be one of the first 10 Bloom Blog readers to purchase the shoes and get 20% off  with coupon code 1in3j2tentr1 on thier web store:

As for the giveaway, leave a comment below about which color (white, black or gray) and size you would like if you were the winner.

Of course, we would also love it if you would like both Bloom Maternity and New Life Shoes on Facebook.

Winner will be announced April 20, 2012 and will ship within 2 weeks after the winner is announced.

Now remember, take a load off and good luck!

Congratulation Kim — you’re #1 and was our winner! The Ashley tennis shoe is headed your way!

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Striding into Shape

If you happen to know me personally, you know that exercise and I aren’t best friends. I would like to be good friends with an exercise routine, but I’ve never hit that adrenline high to where I crave to get my heart beating and sweat dripping.

So it came as a surprise to my husband when I joined Stroller Strides of San Antonio. I had been using the excuse of not having the time to exercise because of the baby. Or the timing of classes never worked with my schedule. However I knew about Stroller Strides and casually glanced at their mailings that I had signed up for via email.

Then a couple of weeks ago I received a promotion offer — the first five people to respond would have their registration fee waived. I’m a sucker for contests so I immediately responded. Thirty-seconds later the phone rang and before I knew it I was signed up for the next day’s Stroller Strides class.

What had I gotten my lazy muscles into?

The group I belong to is new, and it fits my morning schedule and area of town perfectly — we meet at Brackenridge Park next to the zoo. I arrived slightly late (due to a diaper change) and met my instructor Amanda and another participant Christina. After brief introductions we started into our warm ups: jumping up and down, twisting side-to-side, working up a quick sweat in this humid Texas weather. Then off we power walked through the park.

Amanda, my instructor, alternates power walking with intervals of strength and body toning exercises using exercise tubing, benches and/or walls, and then a little bit of yoga at the end. Usually each routine offers a low impact option for the physically out of shape, like myself. But then I’ve discovered that the low impact versions are also good if you have a full bladder.

For each class you’ll need a stroller (baby optional), water, snack for baby, a small towel (you will get sweaty), and mat.

Thus far I’ve survived three classes, and am gingerly walking through my house because I’ve terrorized muscle groups that have laid dormant for years.

I know this is a good thing.

Another good thing? This unique program provides moms with the opportunity to meet other moms and engage in playgroups with their babies. Yesterday, all the classes around the city combined at North Star Mall due to the weather and I observed strong bonds amongst the mothers. They were all good friends.

Even if you don’t live in San Antonio, there is likely a Stroller Strides class in your area. Stroller Strides claims to have 1,200 locations in 44 states. All classes are taught by certified and specially trained fitness instructors.

Stroller Strides is truly wonderful for any level of exerciser, take if from me. My only regret is not joining sooner, right after my baby was born. This would have made transitioning from a professional to a stay at home mom so much easier.

If you live in San Antonio and would like to see what Stroller Strides is all about, please join me for the Brackenridge Park Grand Opening on Wednesday, March 28, 9:30 a.m.

To Celebrate their Grand Opening, they will have a fun free class with goodie bags, raffle items, treats for the kids including cookies from Lily’s Cookies and a Special 15 Minute Mat Exercise Led By Studio A:Pilates.

The Bloom Blog was not compensated for this review of Stroller Strides.

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The phil&teds traveller is back in stock

traveller by phil&teds

The phil & ted traveller playpen/cot is back in stock at Bloom Maternity in either black or red.

What we love about this item is that it’s a full size cot/crib that’s lighter than the baby; and much lighter than other cribs/cots, weighing in at only 2.5 kg/5.5lbs. The traveller is perfect for travel, either by air or car. It’s unbelievably compact: fits in the parcel tray of your inlineTM or overhead baggage compartment. The extruded aluminium frame provides maximum strength & sparkling good looks.  Plus it’s self-inflating and has a thermally insulating mattress. Unlike other playpens, the traveller is built for your child to use till he/she is 3 years old.

Take at look at the traveller, and let us know what your favorite feature is for this unique travel cot/playpen.

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Keep the Kids Movin’ and Groovin’


Groove Kid Nation "Music in Motion"

If you’re looking for a way to get the kids up off the couch this holiday season, consider the new children’s music CD from Groove Kid Nation titled “Music in Motion.”

My three year-old has had a grand time listening to this compilation of music with an funky soul beat. These energetic kid’s songs not only got him moving — to burn some energy — but was also a teaching tool for him when it comes to identifying high notes vs. low notes, and trumpets vs. the piano.

Through groovy soul tracks and the band of feline characters called the Kool Katz, my bundle of sunshine was drawn in with specific instructions on what to do from funny dances, to playing air guitar, to responding to musical cues, to simply nodding his head to the beat.

We had fund with “Itch and Scratch – Kool Kat Dance” where we laid on our backs and wiggled until our itch was gone. Then the set “Go Kat Go” kept us active as Theloneus the Cat played low notes on the piano. We jumped to jump to the left when we heard low notes, and then jumped right when Theloneus played the high ones. My son got quite an active workout when the notes switched back and forth at a much quicker pace.

Of course our favorite song was the “Funky Chicken” which featured The Kool Kat Horns.  This made us want to rock our shoulders back and forth.  Even I enjoyed being silly as I flapped my arms to the rhythm of the Funky Chicken.

Enclosed is a 10-page booklet featuring colorful illustrations of each Kool Kat playing their own instrument — which is a fun tool for your child browse through during each song and pick out the instrument that’s being played during that set. Groove Kid Nation extras include downloadable coloring book of the characters from the CD, one track minus the voaclas so that you can be the lead singer, an eclectic EP of the artist’s kid’s heartbeat and acoustic piano (rather cool).

What I like about is that it contains videos, a buyer’s guide to the “Best Musical Instruments for Kids under age 5,” and many resources to help you introduce your child to the world of music. This is going to be a helpful resource for us in the next year or two as we try to decide what musical class we should enroll our children in.

What’s also nice about this CD for the holidays, is that Groove Kid Nation donates 10 percent of the wholesale price of Music In Motion to CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting poverty. What a nice way to give back — using music to feed a soul.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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Kalencom Diaper Bag Appeared on HOUSE

Monkey Stripes Orange Diaper Bag

Did you catch the Kalencom Diaper Bag on the small screen this past Monday? It was featured for about three minutes from all different angles, and was even reference by Dr. Taub.

Here is a clip from one part of the scene. The scene goes on for a lot longer and the Kalencom bag makes several very prominent appearances.

You can purchase this bag from Bloom Maternity here for $79.00.

And, congratulations to Kalencom for making it to Hollywood!

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One Rockin’ Movement

As a mother of 5, American Kathryn Wiley knows the profound effect a mother can have on her young.   Armed with the knowledge that Haiti has the highest infant mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere, Kathryn started a movement.   In 2011, she purchased Rockin’ Baby, and decided to evolve the company into a “Mother to Mother” business.

Bloom Maternity is estatic to sell the Rockin’ Baby slings and pouches and we just love their mission: For every sling purchased, Rockin’ Baby will donate a new sling to a mother in need, and educate them on its importance.

So we reached out to Katheryn to ask her some more questions about Rockin’ Baby’s “Mother to Mother” Movement and what she discovered while visiting Haiti.

Why did you choose Haiti for your Mother to Mother Movement?
I have traveled all over the world, and to many 3rd world countries. I have now been to Haiti 6 times, and each time the people and the place really impact me. They have so much joy, despite their situation. When I decided to purchase Rockin’ Baby from its founders in Los Angeles, I thought it would be great to add a social aspect to the business. Toms Shoes has always inspired me with their success, and a one for one business model was my goal. I immediately thought of Haiti and the fact that the women do not carry their babies there. This is interesting since their roots are in Africa where they carry their babies primarily. I contacted some midwife organizations, as well as maternal programs in Haiti and asked them their opinion of Rockin’ Baby donating slings to the women there. It was accepted in such a resounding way, that there was never another option. I felt almost responsible to be successful in my Mother To Mother movement, and thrilled that after my first trip, I can say it was accepted with open arms and grateful hearts!

How many times have you visited Haiti, and what has impressed you the most about the mothers there?
I have been 6 times; spending about 4 months there over the years. The mothers are strong, amazing, tenacious women. I definitely think of them when I begin to complain about my load as a woman in America. They have to overcome so many obstacles, including poverty, loss, disease, and so much more…but, they do it with such grace and joy. I absolutely am inspired by these strong women. It is critical I Rockin’ Baby’s Mother to Mother Movement that the Haitian women are portrayed in a positive light; not one that would imply that they are waiting for a hand out!

How many slings have you donated?
I took 300 down in August for my first sling drop. I have several more hundred to take. I am working on sending my next shipment down, as they are out, and need more immediately. I only took 300 because I could not hand carry anymore. Shipping to Haiti is going to be the biggest challenge, that I am working to overcome right now. I have several contacts in Haiti, and so much support on the ground to distribute and educate the women about the slings. The issue is getting them in their hands. Next Spring, I hope to send a team of Mother/Midwives to Haiti to distribute a few thousand. We personally fit each woman in August, and that is the plan for every one we donate. It is critical that the women understand the use of the slings and how to properly wear their babies.

What are some of Haiti’s greatest needs currently?
Wow. That is a big question. They basically survive. When they wake up in the morning, it is about finding food for the day for their family. They fight cholera, malaria and other diseases such as dengue fever (break bone fever) on a daily basis. All of their clothes come from people who have donated to Haiti, and there are a lot of donations being sent. These people went through the most devastating event January 12, 2010, and they don’t even have time to process that because they just have to survive. It breaks your heart to the point of being emotionally paralyzed.

Culturally, what have you found most intriguing about motherhood in Haiti vs. the US?
The struggle. These women have to fight for their lives, and their families lives in a way that bonding/attachment becomes secondary to survival. The program, Heartline Women’s Program that I donate through is focusing on cultivating the bond between babies and mothers. Exclusive breastfeeding is not common, but they, as well as many other programs in Haiti, are working diligently to educate the women of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding. Without it, women use old formula (that is super expensive) and contaminated water. That is why their babies become so sick and malnourished. The slings will aid so much in breastfeeding, because they can take their babies with them everywhere, versus leaving them at home (sometimes by themselves, or with other young children) so the mothers can get work to make money for food. These babies end up not being fed, and are in harms way without their mothers. Mothers are the primary caregiver for the whole family. Empowering these women, and keeping their babies safe is an unbelievable way to help these mothers.

Any personal insights that you’ve walked away with?
My first intuition that donating slings to mothers in Haiti was not just right, it is critical for decreasing a high infant mortality rate. The midwives who live and work in Haiti believe that Rockin’ Baby can create a cultural shift and benefit mothers and their babies in a way that could change their society. That was amazing to hear. I am charged with that goal.

What are some of their greatest needs currently?
Proper nutritionproper housing, educating the women about attaching tot heir babies, and absolutely, slings.

How can we help from home?
We can push this movement forward. I feel the momentum (especially since traveling to Haiti in August!), and would like it to become viral like Toms did. It is less about the success of Rockin’ Baby, and more about the benefits mothers around the globe will have in bonding with their babies/toddlers!

As a mother purchasing a Rockin’ Baby sling today, you are actually giving the gift of life to another mother and her child in Haiti (and eventually beyond). The impact is huge! Now mothers can learn that slings can be part of their daily lives, no matter how they struggle with their basic needs. In turn, these babies will be healthier, more attached to their mothers and begin a life more fulfilled and optimistic. From you, to them.

Mother to Mother.

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