I recently stumbled upon KC Los Angeles, a stylish t-shirt company that inspires women to embrace their femininity, their roots, and their dreams. Owner Karen Crawford created the line to celebrate her heritage in NYC's Spanish Harlem.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I have never met a mom who didn't feel the need for "me time." While I am so grateful for the privilege to be a mom, I recognize the need to regularly recharge my batteries. I asked six wonderful women to share a snapshot of how they sneak in a little time for themselves. I think you'll find their thoughts to be funny, authentic, and down-right true!
I steal free time. Rather than wait for my husband to offer it, I just grab the car keys and announce to whoever might be in the room, "I'm going to a movie!" I then show up at the theater and watch whatever happens to be starting next. In other words, my "me time" is spent with my brain unplugged. Whether it's watching "Deadliest Catch" marathons on Discovery while my husband takes the boys to Best Buy to play Guitar Hero or it's my wandering aimlessly around a movie theater until the nachos run out, I approach my time alone with absolutely no goals other than to zone out and recharge. And maybe gain five pounds while I'm at it.
-Megan, Velveteen Mind
I have learned that no one will give me my "me time" - I have to find it, own it, and protect it. I carve out at least 15 minutes every morning to write or read while drinking a cup of ginger tea or decaf coffee. It is a nice quiet way to start my day before my kids wake up. I also have a weekly mom's night out. My husband picks up my boys from preschool and I have the entire night off. On a monthly basis, I schedule a girl's night out with one or more of my friends. And on an annual basis, I leave my family and go on vacation all by myself. All of these activities honor my needs, passions, and authentic self. "Me time" keeps me balanced and it gives me the mental bandwidth to live my life (on most days) with intention.
-Stacey, Create a Balance
After I put my girls to bed, I immediately change into my yoga clothes and recharge by doing an hour and a half of Ashtanga yoga. Oh wait. That's not it. I mean, I change into my Juicy sweatpants, sit on the couch, drink a glass of wine and watch "Gossip Girl" or "Rescue Me." Yup, that's how I recharge.
-Kelcey, The Mama Bird Diaries
I danced all throughout my childhood, but as I became older, I gave it up. About seven years ago I saw belly dance classes popping up all over Denver and I took a few with different teachers, but I always had a hard time with the schedule. When my son started preschool this past September, I asked the Universe for a teacher because I wanted to dance again. She appeared, and since then I have been dancing 3-4 days a week. I have re-discovered my sensuality, and it certainly doesn't hurt that I am getting in shape. But most importantly belly dance is a woman's dance, and it allows me to reconnect to my true self and to the Goddess. The beauty of this dance is that it is welcoming to women of all shapes, sizes and ages. In fact, dare I say as you get older, you get better.
-Dina, Walking Within the Spiral
One of the ways I find some me time is to lock myself in the bathroom and take a hot bath. My husband will also take my girls out occasionally on a "daddy date," and it's nice to just have some down time to myself to exercise, shop, whatever!
And from the expectant mom:
With only 13 or so weeks left until my first child arrives, my "me time" lately has been spent doing a lot of baby preparations. When I actually have free "me time," my favorite thing to do is to go to a great bookstore on a Saturday morning and peruse the shelves looking for a new read. Once I've chosen a new book (or magazine, depending on my mood), I enjoy heading over to my local coffee shop to have an omelette and read. It always feels like such an indulgence. Taking a couple of quiet hours just for me helps me to recharge. My husband is very "kid friendly," so I'm hoping that after the baby arrives I'll still be able to indulge in my Saturday morning "me time" every once in awhile.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I used to hate waiting. Waiting rooms. Waiting on line. Waiting for the freight train to pass. It’s my impatient, Jersey, I-have-somewhere-to-be mentality.
Yesterday, I had an appointment at a doctor’s office that is notorious for making me wait. I mean, really wait. Long, torturous hours. It makes my blood boil. The audacity! This appointment had the power to ruin my entire afternoon.
But yesterday was different. I entered the waiting room childless (childless may be the operative word here), with my reading materials, ready to wait. Bring it. I’ve got all day. Well, as long as I’m outta here by 3:30.
I relaxed into one of the cushiony, leather chairs and perused the latest Real Simple magazine, which usually accumulates dust on my nightstand for months before I have the opportunity to open it. By then, I'm reading about summer skin care in January. What good is that?
I'll have you know that yesterday, I actually read entire articles without transforming into a human jungle gym, without a little person crawling on me or tugging at my pants. It was liberating just to sit and wait, to read something that made me laugh out loud (embarrassing at times) or wonder Is this blogging material? I never once glanced at the clock, annoyed.
Heck, if waiting is the closest I can get to time alone, I’ll take it.
Monday, May 25, 2009
I've always been interested in the language that parents use with small children when discussing food and nutrition. We've all heard the old threat: "If you don't eat your veggies, no dessert." By saying this, we're setting our kids up to view eating vegetables as undesirable, just a means to get to the good stuff. I'll be the first to say, I love dessert. In moderation.
So how can I talk to my toddler about food and avoid the negotiating and bribery game that drains so many parents and ends in a power struggle?
I recently consulted Dr. William Sears's book, The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood. Dr. Sears uses a simple and kid-friendly language when discussing food. He talks of "green light" (best) foods versus "red light" (worst) foods, and uses this terminology to steer kids towards making healthy choices. Dr. Sears also refers to nutritious foods as "grow foods." His article, The ABC's of Teaching Nutrition to Your Kids, is an excellent resource for parents; it offers practical tips for raising a health-conscious child with an adventurous palette (without crowning you Meanest Mother in the World).
Stacie Elliott, founder of New Mommy Help, regularly blogs about supporting and encouraging new moms. She is the mother of 4 beautiful children, twin boys- 6, girl-3, boy-1. I am so grateful for Stacie's expertise in this area (I consider the mom of 4 good eaters an expert!)
I believe proper nutrition begins at birth--preferably breastfeeding. This requires a mom to think about what she is eating right from the start. By the way, this is a fine example of the beginning of motherhood, isn't it? We have to make sacrifices and wise decisions regarding our children that we might never have made otherwise.
As moms, we all know that it doesn't matter what is on our plate; our children want it. Obviously, we can say what we want about food, but in the end our actions speak louder. Modeling healthy eating is a vital form of communication. For example, when our children started on solid foods, I chose to make homemade baby food. As often as possible, I would simply use the food we were having for dinner. If we had baked sweet potatoes, I made a puree for the baby. Of course, this only works when choosing nutritionally sound meals.
We regularly talk about the ingredients and nutritional value in different foods. Like, meat has protein for strong muscles. Fruits and Veggies have various vitamins, etc. Our kids respond well to that and seem to make good choices when given the chance. However, our 6-year-olds are already dealing with peer pressure in this area. They see what other kids eat and drink and want to know why they can't have soda (for example). Since we have already talked about how foods provide various types of nutrition, they can understand our decision better.
In response to the question, "Have I eaten enough to have dessert?" we have designated dessert days. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are dessert days. Everyone knows dessert is only on weekends. We view it as something special, and it's not expected any other day. We do, however, make exceptions on special occasions (i.e. birthdays). We tell our kids that desserts have lots of sugar and very little healthy ingredients, if any. That's why we do not have dessert every day. We want to take care of our bodies and limit foods that are empty.
Thank you, Stacie, for sharing your wise words of wisdom with us! Please visit Stacie's blog for more information and insight.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Yesterday, we were invited to a BBQ, so I decided to make homemade brownies from The Bride and Groom's First Cookbook. (Eight years later, and I'm just getting around to using it.) The recipe sounded heavenly. Chocolate, LOTS of chocolate. Walnuts. Sugar. More chocolate.
Labels: Small moments
Friday, May 22, 2009
I am thrilled to tell you about Bambini Bliss, an online boutique specializing in everything from stylish designer diaper bags to gifts for the new parents, big brother, or sister.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Yesterday, I was honored to be a guest speaker at the Women's Empowerment (WE) Series in Ridgewood, NJ. This powerful program sets out to nurture the creative, contemplative nature of women through on-going conversation. It's for women "who yearn for a slice of urban intellect in the wilds of suburbia." And yes, it is wild.
Labels: Mind and Body
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
My daughter LOVES music. I mean, really loves it. During her infancy, we spent hours bouncing and twirling across the kitchen floor, dancing to everything and anything. Except classical. Take that, Baby Einstein!
Monday, May 18, 2009
I love the smell of bacon. In part, because it's so darn tasty (though I'm not sure how I feel about Bacon Lip Balm). But also, because it takes me back to the Saturday mornings of my childhood. Pancake breakfasts, with a pound of bacon. (In his Odes to Common Things, Pablo Neruda really should have written an "Ode to Bacon.")
I recently heard a mom remark, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with my kids this summer. They don’t know how to just play.” Sound familiar?
I’m making a sweeping generalization here: Today’s suburban kids live by set schedules and organized, adult-regulated activities. We moms shuttle them off to piano lessons, tutoring, baseball practice, art class. We think we’re doing what’s best for our kids. We want them to have opportunities, so we start building our kids’ “resumes” in elementary school.
Yes, I would agree that kids learn discipline, the value of teamwork, and socially appropriate behavior from playing soccer or saxophone. But there’s a seriousness and rigidity to all of this structure, and we’re missing something big. . .
In his outstanding book, Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagintion, and Invigorates the Soul, Stuart Brown, M.D., discusses play as a state of mind. He defines it as “an absorbing, apparently purposeless activity that provides enjoyment and a suspension of self-consciousness and sense of time.”
Notice how Brown says that play is “apparently purposeless.” In his eyes, it is perhaps the most important aspect of brain growth. Brown believes that “play lies at the core of creativity and innovation.”
But we think that kids who fit the mold, who play “the game” with an exceptional GPA and impressive resume (that includes a service trip to Africa, of course), will be rewarded in life.
How many unhappy college graduates do you know?
In recent years, Brown has presented a seminar on play to Stanford sophomores, who he believes are “suffering from low-grade play deprivation, and are so used to their hectic, pressured, high-performance lives (despite still being kids) that they don’t realize what they have missed in the pursuit of academic excellence and success.”
I was that kid. Growing up, I was so tightly wound that I lost sight of play. For me, good grades got old, and there was a huge price to pay for not cutting loose. At the end of the day, who cares about academic accolades and big fat promotions if there is no play.
So, how can we encourage our children to play?
Brown suggests exposing our children to various opportunities at a young age and taking note of their early desires and inclinations, “the natural choices that your child’s early play demonstrates.” Then, encourage those early patterns that result from natural desires to build, sing, create, dance, etc.
So, the next time your child plays with the box instead of the $100 award-winning toy inside of it, swallow your pride and give yourself permission to smile. She is building a world for herself and mastering the most important subject, Life 101.
Friday, May 15, 2009
In college, I had a roommate from Wyoming. I loved her to pieces, but when it came to walking, she was Slow with a capital S. I was a "city" girl, destination-bound, with a quickness in my step. I walked with purpose, to get there fast. She, on the other hand, bounced her way down the sidewalk, in part I think, to irritate me. It worked.
My daughter is just at the age where she loves stepping out for a walk down our quiet little street. Together, we shuffle across the uneven pavement and explore nature's toy box. Yesterday we watched the birds darting from tree to tree. We listened to water gurgling through the sewer. We pointed to big, fluffy clouds and cars passing by. We picked a few flowers (Don't tell the neighbors.) and fingered the veins on leaves. We stomped across a patch of rocks and giggled as they crunched under our toes.
It was a grand buffet for the senses.
Maybe the tortoise is onto something. For years, I'd thought that slow was synonymous with purposeless. These days, I'd argue that the opposite is true. Because when you hurry about, you miss stuff. Stuff that stirs your blood and awakens your soul. You know, if we walked at the pace of a child, we’d see so much more of the world.
Okay, Miss Wyoming, you were right. Want to go for a walk? You lead.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
A few months before my daughter was born, I sat down with my husband for the talk. Sorry to disappoint, but it had nothing to do with money, sex, or in-laws. “We need to start making the bed,” I insisted. If I was going to demand that my child make her bed one day, then I needed to do it too.
So we tested the widely held belief that it takes 21 days to make a habit. Now (Drumroll, please), almost two years later, I’m still climbing into a nice, neat bed every night. And every morning I take one minute to pull the sheets taut and straighten the comforter. One minute. That’s all it takes.
You’re probably wondering: Why the big stink over the bed? Because it’s never just about making the bed. Even Michelle Obama, who has a 95-person residence staff, demands that her two daughters make their beds. In an interview with Oprah, the First Lady spoke of her daughters’ chores: “It can’t be foreign to them to be part of a working household.” I couldn’t agree more.
I spent a couple of years teaching first and second grade. During conference time, parents inevitably asked what they could do at home to help their children succeed. Without fail, I always answered, “Read. Read. Read.” If I had to do it all over again, I’d add, “And have little Suzie make her bed.”
Monday, May 11, 2009
Ladies, does your husband have wallet butt? Is he ruining those jeans you bought that make his butt look cute? If so, then look no further. I have the perfect Father's Day gift idea from ALL-ETT: The World's Thinnest Wallet.
The unique I.D. Wallet features an ID pocket on the inside of the wallet. This design allows you to show your ID easily and quickly while still keeping it securely stored inside of your wallet. The ID wallet will hold 12 credit cards and ID and has 2 pockets for your bills and receipts. Great for those who have to show their ID for work! Only $ 19.95 for nylon and $ 29.95 for leather.
Is your husband a sailor? The Boater's Wallet is waterproof and floats on top of the water for up to two days; it is truly amazing! The bright color helps make it easy to see for retrieval. This is a must have for boaters, kayakers, or anybody who might drop his wallet in the water. It will hold up to 10 credit cards, cash and a couple of keys while still floating. The dimensions of this wallet (empty & closed) are 3 ½" x 5 ¼" x ¼". It can be yours for only $ 29.95.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I think we all have the desire to be known, to share our truth with the world. I've always wanted to be a writer, a real one. In hard print, on a newsstand. Someone who writes for Parenting Magazine or Real Simple, or (dare I say it) Oprah. I want someone to see my name in print and say, "Damn, she's good."
Labels: Life Lessons
Monday, May 4, 2009
Remember catching fireflies when you were small? And poking holes in plastic cups? Remember running across freshly mowed grass with a carefree abandon, cupping your hands around dancing yellow lights? Those were the days . . .
This nostalgia warms my heart, much like the whimsical gifts from Catching Fireflies. With Mother's Day quickly approaching, I'd encourage you to stop by and take a peek at their wide variety of unique, stylish gift ideas. They have everything from recycled artwork to personalized jewelry to hand-crafted pewter goods. Here are my favorites from a.i. paper design:
FOR THE NEW MOM: I've gotten countless compliments on a baby ribbon frame that hangs in my bedroom and reads "little miracle." I know what you're thinking: Not another frame! But these are different; They are handmade, sophisticated and chic- perfect for the modern mom! Look at the one below . . .irresistible!
FOR THE PROUD MOM: You can show off your child's latest and greatest masterpiece and eliminate fridge clutter at the same time. Ingenius! Below is an adorable brag board for your "little Picasso." They can be personalized too!
I'm a big fan of Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel, but it's the same old stuff after awhile. So head on over to Catching Fireflies, and take a trip down memory lane. Go ahead . . .brighten someone's day!
Labels: Gift Ideas
Sunday, May 3, 2009
On a bright, sunny afternoon, my sister and I decided to take Liza for a stroll through the historic district of a nearby walking town. While I was spending my recent Gymbucks (I love Gymboree.), my sister entertained Liza in the village square.
As I headed off to meet them, I noticed Liza hugging a big, red ball. Hmm . . .not hers. Trailing behind her was another little girl, and her mother, who looked strangely familiar. I slowed my pace and squinted my eyes to get a closer look. I know her, I thought. She had these memorable pigtails- simple and unpretentious. It was Maggie, a cheerful mom from the Hip Mamas group. Oh, crap. A part of me wanted to dart in the opposite direction; I am a Hip Mamas dropout.
I joined the Hip Mamas a few months after my daughter was born, to meet other like-minded moms, to find my match. It's not that I don't have friends, but they are all working moms, married without children, or single. I wanted and needed someone with whom I could share this wild, awesome, and also daunting task of mothering.
So I went to some mommy meet-ups, scanning the group for my mommy mate. Being shy, my "pick up lines" were few and far between: "She's only three months old? You look amazing!" Talk of sleep schedules and BPA-free bottles gets old . . .really fast. Needless to say, I did a lot of listening, and observing. Mom A dropped the f-bomb incessantly. Mom B fed her kid garbage. Mom C whipped out her boob wherever, whenever. SO awkward. I admit; I was sizing them up. Is she a potential?
I felt like posting in the Craigslist personals: SAHM seeking SAHM. Desires light and easy adult conversation, stroller walks in the park, bargain-shopper buddy. Must be fun, warm, real, and committed to genuine, lasting friendship.
I was impatient. I wanted to find "the one" (In retrospect, that's a freakishly heavy burden to carry.), someone with whom I could sit and chat over a cup of hot cocoa. You know, someone whose company has the capacity to warm my soul on days when motherhood leaves me lonely and cold.
Now back to Maggie. I didn't bolt. Instead I said with a familiar smile, "I know you! We met awhile back in the mom's group."
"Oh, yeah. I think I remember you from the farm," she replied, returning the smile.
"Do you still go to meet-ups?" I asked.
"Yeah. I'm new to the area and don't know anybody. So it's nice just to get out sometimes with other moms. How 'bout you?"
"Oh, we don't really go anymore. Ever, actually. We just got caught up in other things (semi-true)."
I couldn't tell the truth. Oh, I'm a drop-out; I didn't gel with the other moms.
For another minute or so, we talked about our daughters and then wished each other well: "Maybe we'll see you here again soon!"
As I turned towards the nearest park bench, I had the urge to reach out. What if she was sad and alone? What if she needed someone? She seemed sincere and down-to-earth. Should I give her my number? Oh my God, how ridiculously high school!
Alas, I rummaged through my diaper bag for a pen and a tissue to write on, and scribbled my phone number. Then, I ran to catch up with Maggie.
"Here's my phone number," I said, "in case you ever want to get together. We come here a lot and the girls are so close in age. We'd love to meet up."
And oh, by the way, I'm "available."
I haven't heard from Maggie. Still, it felt good to make a connection, even if only for a moment. There was something about her that felt right, something relaxed and natural. My mommy match? Who knows. That's what I get for playing the field.
Friday, May 1, 2009
I recently read a fun article in Parent Guide News about crafting with your kids. Anne-Marie Faiola, creator of Bramble Berry, has lots of delightful indoor soap-making activities for kids. They are perfect for rainy spring days. Silence those little whiny voices with these super-cool crafts!
- Cookie Cutter Soaps: Creating soaps in fun shapes
- Embedded Soap Toy: A toy trapped in soap
- Lip Balm
- Bath Fizzies