Monday, December 03, 2007

Mom to Mom(s): Katherine and Kristen

Oh, I can't wait to introduce you to these TWO moms! As many of you know, I'm a super picky mama. I'm picky about food, picky about clothing, books, and VERY picky about toys. It seems that the toy industry produces a lot of toys with bright lights and loud noises, toys that quickly bait children, but then leave them bored and uninterested. I keep searching for toys that are imaginative and can be used in a number of ways (like the one pictured below in which Satch is playing with a calculator).

As a little girl one of my favorite things to do on a rainy day was build blanket forts at Grandma's house. Grandma would get a bunch of old blankets out of her linen closet and we'd drape them over the furniture, using heavy books to weigh down the ends. We'd toss pillows inside, a flash light, snacks. It was an indoor adventure and the living room transformed itself into a jungle or any magical place we could dream up while the rain pattered against the windows and thunder echoed in the distance.

I can't tell you how delighted I am to have stumbled upon the "fortamajig". As a grown-up-blanket-fort-enthusiast, I can certainly say that "fortamajig" takes the art to a whole new level.

Since the holiday season is right around the corner and so many parents are searching for unique and imaginative gifts for children, I decided to share one of our favorite toys AND interview the two mama's that created the "fortamajig". (Most Alive Monday will resume next week)

It is with great pleasure that I introduce Katherine and Kristen...

Mom: Katherine H.P. Huck
Of: Claire (2 yrs), Rebecca (5 yrs), Jared (8 yrs)
Where: Massachusetts
Site: Happy Kid Company

Kristen P. Stocking
Of: Syndey (6 mos) and Ellie (4 yrs)
Where: Massachusetts
Site: Happy Kid Company

1. In what ways has becoming a mother changed you?

KHPH: I live more in the moment. I appreciate the small gifts. I am now very grateful for good health and free time. Watching my children, as they grow, makes me so thankful just to be with them. It has deepened my relationships with others – making them stronger and more meaningful.

KPS: One of the most incredible changes has been in my newfound respect for all Mothers and their ability to multi-task. While all women have this natural gift, Moms are masters! I can find myself playing the role of “savvy salesperson” on the phone, while simultaneously being dressed-up in princess clothes by my 4-year old, creating some sort of mystery casserole with my one remaining hand and rocking the baby bouncy chair with my left foot.

2. What is one tip you would like to share about mothering?

KHPH: Trust your instincts. What works for others may not be what works for you, but feel confident that your choices and decisions are made by the person who knows your children and family the best – you.

KPS: Simple—you must absolutely pick your battles and save your precious energy for the good times.

3. How/when did the two of you meet?

Both: We met in college just over 20 years ago when we lived on the same floor in our college dorm.

4. How/when was the Fortamajig conceived?

KHPH: My kids love building forts and they wanted something that could stick around for a little while. I wanted something that I could take down easily when needed that could also be used anywhere. In November of 2005, I devised a prototype for a changeable and interactive play space. I mentioned my ideas to Kristen who was extremely encouraging and game for an exciting challenge. From that day, early in 2006, the invention of the Fortamajig began to take shape as the design came together.

KPS: When Kath told me about her ideas, I was intrigued immediately. I have a strong business background, started and owned my own business before, and was ready to start something new. This was a terrific opportunity and we had always talked about starting a business together.

5. What inspired you to create the Fortamajig?

Both: Our children and our experiences as parents. We wanted to create something interactive and exciting for our kids that also spoke to our own sensibilities. We loved the idea of creating a new rendition of a classic childhood play theme that our children could use for their own play, but that we could also enjoy with them. The element of interactive play in fort building was a huge inspiration – as much of what our kids had for play spaces was static and not open-ended. We wanted to offer them a creative option.

We also had both experienced the parental agony of picking up toys with millions of pieces, or things that broke in the first 5 minutes and we knew that durability and versatility were absolute necessities.

6. What did you learn from the process?

Both: To persevere. When you are attempting to create something out of nothing, you are met with many roadblocks and dead ends. We just kept going. In doing so, we have met so many wonderful people along the way who were willing to help – and it fueled our determination to stick with it.

7. Do you plan to design more imaginative toys in the future?

Both: We are working on several currently and hope to have initial prototypes available early in 2008. They will all share the same goals – being versatile, open-ended and unique.

*Most Alive Monday will resume next week.

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posted by Wendy at 6:31 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can attest: afghans over chairs, blankets hung from ceiling fans, quilts strung from doorknobs do not suffice. But I'm afraid time's run out. Georgia is pining for the other thingamajig. An iPhone. It's the calculator for 8 year olds.

4:33 PM  

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