Addie is at that stage where everything she can reach has to go in her mouth. Her brother Josh is older, 2 1/2. He's at the "that's mine" stage. Then there is their playmate, Logan, who is 1. His stage is this: "I'm fine as long as my mommy doesn't walk out of the room."
Josh and Addie's mom, Rachael Krantz Herrscher, and Logan's mom, Stephanie Wright Peterson, have been friends since they were in high school at Olympus. So the two little Herrschers and the one little Peterson often get a chance to play together. Their playtime is not without a certain amount of grabbing and tears, but they seem to be working through their various stages with minimal anguish. They are happy little kids.
As for the moms, Herrscher and Peterson find themselves at the stage where they need a lot of information about raising these happy little kids. They need to know where, along the Wasatch Front, they can take their children for toddler/mom swim lessons. And where is the closest library that has story hours, and when are those story hours? And how about music lessons — when should kids start, and what should they take, and what are the benefits of making music?
One day last summer the two moms were talking about swim lessons, and Peterson asked Herrscher, "Is there a book that lists all this stuff?" And Herrscher said, "No." So, just like that, the two decided to write such a book. By November, they had it published — a $16.95, 500-page paperback, titled "The Utah Mama's Handbook."
Its 25 chapters cover topics such as "Sports," "Seasonal Events," "Resources for Special Needs and Disabilities," "Just for Mom" and "Volunteer Opportunities." The authors included events and resources for all the counties along the Wasatch Front, including Summit County. They printed 20,000 copies and have sold 2,500 books as well as a half-dozen franchises (for $7,500 each, to moms in other states) and they have a Web site and a weekly radio spot (Star 102.7) where they talk about what's happening that week for Wasatch Front children and teens.
If you were to go to Peterson's house, on a Monday morning when Josh and Addie have come to play, you could watch the three children doing the things children do at those ages, while the moms describe their collaboration.
As they explain, they finish each other's sentences. "I'm a data brain," says Herrscher, "and Stephanie is a project person . . ." "Goal-oriented," adds Peterson, "I'm getting a degree in construction management from Weber State . . . " "And she runs marathons," adds Herrscher, who majored in English and who helped run the Olympic pins program in 2002. In short, they say, they each have different perspectives and their two brains work well together.
As the book got under way, they hired 10 friends to help with the research. They plan to publish a new volume of resources every year and want to add new chapters to their 2006 volume. They'll also be expanding their Web site, www.utahmama.com, to include a feature called "Support Your Local Mamas," where moms who have a product or a skill can let other moms know about their business. Says Herrscher, "We want to help other moms; we are not just in it to make money for ourselves."
Because one of the truths behind this book is, it can be hard to be a stay-at-home mom. Sometimes you need to help the family income. And it can be hard to be a working mom. You can't be taking time at work to make a dozen phone calls to find a summer camp for your 10-year-old.
Herrscher has one more plan for the next edition. It will come with a sticker that says, "Papa's," so that the dad who got angry at the store clerk who sold him the book won't have to feel discriminated against. He can just pull out the sticker, right there in the store, and change the title to "The Utah Papa's Handbook."