Thursday, July 31, 2008

Peter And The Wolf

At least once a year, usually in the summer, my local NPR station will play a version of Prokofiev's Peter And The Wolf. The one they aired this week was narrated by Sting. Seriously cool.

I've loved this symphony since I was a girl and have enjoyed many narrators, from Sir John Gielgud to David Bowie. Sting's version stands up beautifully and I am fairly certain we'll be adding it to our collection.

At once sweet and dramatic, this is a perfect introduction for any child to the world of classical music, as well as the art of storytelling.

It's a...

Boy! I'm now the proud aunt of a sweet and perfect little nephew! He entered the world yesterday at 4:31 PM and weighs in at a healthy 7 lbs 6 oz. Mama, baby and Papa are all doing well.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Baby, Baby!

Mamas, I'm off for the rest of the day because my very first niece or nephew is on her/his way into this world as we speak! I can't wait to meet this precious new member of our family, so I'm off to the hospital.

I'll be back tomorrow!

Congratulations!

Meghan, you are the lucky Mama's Cup reader who will receive the Kiss My Face Bubbles & Bathtime Basket! Email me your shipping information at mamascup@gmail.com and I'll get this terrific gift off to you shortly.

Thanks to Kiss My Face for sponsoring two fantastic giveaways!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bubbles & Bathtime Basket Giveaway!


As promised, here is another giveaway from the generous people at Kiss My Face! This one is perfect for Mamas because it's full of the new Kiss My Face Obsessively Natural Kids line. This basket contains six new bathtime products for kids, including shampoo, hand wash, body wash and a detangler. All products are "totally natural" with "no artificial colors or fragrances...no parabens and no SLS."

I'm letting this giveaway run until tomorrow morning, 9:00 AM Eastern Time. Post a comment here and tomorrow morning, we'll print them out and choose one at random.
Good luck!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Laugh, Kookaburra, Laugh

Take an aural trip through the jungle with your kids and listen some truly Wild Sounds--like the hilarious Laughing Kookaburra--at NPR.org.

"And Don't Get Into Mischief."

Happy Birthday, Ms. Potter. A woman ahead of your time, your legacy has certainly lived on.

Visit the lovely World of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit. Or view some truly precious images by Beatrix Potter here, via the pretty Periwinklebloom.

Once Upon a Time...

Despite our insistence that gifts were unnecessary, Olivia received some wonderfully generous and creative presents for her birthday. One of these is a completely personalized fairy tale by a company called I See Me. From the copyright page to the very end, this book is a beautifully illustrated, magical journey made especially for my little one. It's a special book that she'll likely keep forever.
Take a virtual tour here. Or check out their other products.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Give It Away Now

That's right, Mama's Cup will be offering another giveaway next week! So tell all your friends and make sure you check back.

Have a beautiful, blissful weekend, Mamas!

Have Your Cake

Flipping through the July Williams-Sonoma catalogue yesterday, I found this adorable Cupcake Cake. What kid wouldn't love this for her birthday? To make it, you need the Great Cupcake Pan. I wish I had seen this sooner, I might have attempted it for tomorrow's festivities. They also have a recipe for the top photo, the Giant Ice Cream Cupcake, which sounds like a definite crowd-pleaser for the toddler set. Ah well, I can always try it next year...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Power To The People

I found out something amusing--and a little scary--that I thought I'd share with you Mamas. Mama's Cup is actually blocked in China! Apparently, my little blog is too subversive to be viewed by the masses!

Now I know that there was no meeting held in Beijing to discuss The Problem of Mama's Cup. And I know that most blogs are filtered out of their system because blogs, by their very nature, embolden the voiceless and encourage freedom of expression, which kind of freaks out Beijing. I also know that I am not making any friends over there either.

Humor aside, the idea that a blog as innocuous as this one is restricted viewing for an entire nation is really kind of Orwellian. It's disturbing.

As the world whips itself into a lather of excitement over the approaching Olympics, I feel we cannot allow ourselves to forget where the games are happening, and upon whose broken backs the shiny new stadiums were built.


"Consider the matter dispassionately...and you will see that no offense is so heinous as unorthodoxy of behavior. Murder kills only the individual-and, after all, what is an individual?"--Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Indeed.

StarbrightBaby Design

As I mentioned previously, I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first niece or nephew. (Though perhaps not quite as anxiously as my still pregnant sister-in-law--you're almost there!) And so, my eyes wander to all things sweet for the littlest ones. Today, I found this unbearably cute Teething Giraffe from StarbrightBaby's Etsy Shop, via the very sweet Little Willow. I'd like to order about a dozen and set up a whole cloth giraffe menagerie! Adorable!

Ohm

A truly fantastic Mama and friend recently sent me a lovely gift, a "Congratulations on Your Blog" gift. It has quickly become one of my favorite Mama Books, bypassing my I-Wish-I-Had-Time-To-Read-This List entirely and going straight to the top of the pile of the books on my bedside table.

It's called MOMfulness: Mothering with Mindfulness, Compassion, and Grace by Denise Roy. This wonderful book is truly an oasis of calm in the chaos that sometimes masquerades as life. Roy, a psychotherapist and mother of four, is completely tapped into the Mind of the Modern Mama. Aware of the pace at which life goes whizzing by, Roy encourages Mamas to slow down and gives truly practical tips on how to do so. From exercises like "Mouth Yoga" to "Hugging Meditation" to "Honoring-Your-Hands Practice" Roy's words and suggestions will help any Mama stop and take a breath. She also helps us recognize all of the essential, graceful (maybe I should write grace-filled?) and sacred contributions we make to our families' lives and to the world.

Roy examines the full scope of Motherhood, asserting that we must learn to Mother ourselves. She writes:

"When I work with clients (who are mostly moms) in therapy, often the work is in helping them find a mothering and nurturing parent within themselves. Too often their inner voice is a harsh and critical one. As they develop a positive mothering presence within themselves, they are better able to soothe themselves when they are feeling stressed or anxious. Then they are able to mother their own kids in a much more compassionate way."

This book is funny, honest and deeply spiritual. I want to buy a copy for every Mama I know.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's Up to You...

I'm a working Mama today, heading out for meetings in the Big Apple. Here are some of my (and my little one's) favorite books about one of our favorite cities. Enjoy!

1. This is New York by Miroslav Sasek



2. Up & Down New York by Tony Sarg


3. Good Night New York City by Adam Gamble


4. Lisa in New York by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Best Summer Memory of All

Two years ago today, right this instant, I was wondering how many more hours it would be until I would hold my baby girl in my arms for the very first time. A hot and sticky New York City bustled as usual, despite the earthshattering events going on in my birthing suite high above the morning fray. Would I be able to do it? Was I up to the task? All of it? Getting through the rest of the labor? Nursing? Changing a diaper? Raising a human being? Shaping a life? Who did I think I was? Whose idea was this, anyway?

But here we are, two years--a whole lifetime--later, smiling, laughing, playing, singing. I have more faith in myself now, because of that day two years ago. And I am in awe of the funny, brilliant, amazing, happy little person we're raising.


Happy Birthday, little one. You are truly the sunshine of my life.

And The Winner Is...

Congratulations KAMEWH of the lovely little blog Blueberries & Peanut Butter! You are the winner of the fantastic Kiss My Face Sun & Fun Basket giveaway! Send me an email (mamascup@gmail.com) including your shipping information and I'll gladly get the basket off to you today.

Thank you to everyone else for sharing such wonderful memories and images of summer. They were a pleasure to read. Your words brought back many snapshots of my own childhood, of my family's lake house, picking wild blueberries and the sense of freedom and adventure that the mere mention of the words "summer vacation" invokes.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Apricot Tartlets

A fabulous, gourmet Mama friend emailed me earlier with a link to one of the most delectable blogs I've come across in a long time. It's called Bread & Honey and it is a mouthwatering escapade through the kitchens of two lovely Mamas. Check out this recipe for Apricot Tartlets. Yum, yum, yum.

Sun & Fun Basket Giveaway!

It's here Mamas! The very first giveaway at Mama's Cup! The fantastic people at Kiss My Face have put together a special Sun & Fun basket of "obsessively natural" products for one very lucky Mama. The basket includes Sunspray Lotion, Face Factor, Hot Spots, Swy Flotter and After Sun Aloe. It's really a lovely basket full of natural, preservative and paraben-free products that your whole family can use.

So, go to it! Post a comment here--maybe something about your best summer memory or favorite summer activity--and we'll print out the comments at the end of the day. Then we'll fold them up, place them in a bowl and select the winner at random. You have until 9:00 PM Eastern Time to post your comments. We'll draw the winner shortly thereafter and make the announcement tomorrow!

Good luck Mamas!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Giveaway!

I am thrilled to announce Mama's Cup's very first giveaway! Look for it here on Monday! And don't forget to tell all your friends. Happy weekend!

46664

"It always seems impossible until it is done."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wake Up You Lazybones

I spend a lot of my life saying to people "I'm just so tired." And I have a vague sense of guilt about this. Shouldn't I be less tired? After all, how much energy should it take to stay at home and raise my toddler(we're currently in the throes of potty-training), keep my house clean, my family's clothes washed, cook breakfast, lunch and dinner, while managing to get some writing done and stay on schedule?

I typically blame my heavy eyelids on my little one's penchant for waking daily somewhere around 5:00 AM, which (to me) is the middle of the night.

Apparently, I'm not the only mother who feels this way.

In fact, I found this Parenting.com article on CNN.com. It's actually called "Moms: How to stop feeling so tired." And while none of the tips are earth-shattering revelations, I'm definitely guilty of at least two no-no's on this list. I'm a notorious lunch skipper (who knew that eating the crusts of my little one's grilled cheese sandwich doesn't actually count as lunch?). And I basically mainline caffeine, which places me squarely in the vicious circle category: Caffeinating to stay awake, then being unable to rest well because I'm over caffeinated. Experts agree, I need to cut back on the coffee.

Anyone have any tips to add? Any Mamas out there who don't feel perpetually sleepy? What's your secret? Let us all in on it. In the meantime, I'm going to grab another cup 'a joe. OK, half a cup.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tune Out, Turn Off and Play!

I'm climbing back up on my soapbox here Mamas, to tell you about this article in today's New York Times by Tara Parker-Pope. She examines a study in the current issue of Child Development. Researchers looked at the effect of television as background noise on children's play.

Think it doesn't make a difference?

It turns out that it makes a big difference. The television becomes an "ever-changing audiovisual distractor" making it very difficult for kids to sustain focused play. And play is crucial to a child's development. It is her work.

So, even if the kids aren't watching, they are affected every time the TV is turned on. Let's shut of the flat-screens Mamas, and let the kids get back to work!

For further advice and opinion on de-screening your life, check out this commentary by Bob Greene from last Labor Day.

Garden Candles

What's better than summer evenings in your garden? Around here, we love eating outside and then talking around the garden table for hours. Unfortunately, irritating insects also enjoy these evenings entirely too much. I've already covered how to keep bugs off your back. Now keep them away from from your party altogether with these gorgeous, natural cedarwood and thyme votive candles from Smith & Hawken. These terra cotta votives come in sets of four and beautifully presented in a pine box. What a wonderful hostess gift! (Via Cookie.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mama's New Look

Mama's Cup just got a makeover! If you like our new look, check out Seventy & Sunny Design Studio. They're the artists who gave Mama a great new look.

Yoga Babies

I have this fantastic Mama friend, who used to be journalist in NYC. She moved to China with her husband, where she had a baby and now she teaches yoga. She's bright and funny and all around fabulous. I love it when she recommends things to me because she's always right on.

We recently received a copy of this sweet little book, Little Yoga, from her, and it's been a wonderful find. The text is simple, the illustrations adorable and easy for a toddler to understand.

So my little one is now running around my house doing Tree poses and Downward Facing Dog with a big smile on her face. If we keep this up, I'll be able to get back to my old yoga schedule sooner than I thought, because she'll be able to come with me! Thanks, Jodi!



Cosmic Bebe

I am loving these adorable toddler tees from Cosmic Bebe (via Tangled & True). Sweet and whimsical, these tees proclaim your little one's astrological sign with a corresponding personality trait. They also have a line of Mommy Tees and Infant Onesies. What a cute gift idea!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Kiss My Face--DISCOUNT


Nothing like a SALE to turn around a rainy Monday morning! And this morning, I am happy to announce that the generous folks over at Kiss My Face are offering Mama's Cup readers 25% off!

That's right, Mamas, 25% off at Kiss My Face! Just head over to their web site, shop their complete line of natural skin and body care products, and enter the code KMFBLOG3 at the check out! This discount is good all the way through August 7!

So, pass along the discount information, and brighten a Mama's morning!
Happy shopping, Mamas!

Allons Enfants...

Joyeux Quatorze Juillet, Mamans!

Today is Bastille Day, a sort of French Independence Day. While not the same as our 4th of July, the two are often compared and, for our purposes, that'll do just fine.

So, break out the champagne and spread un peu d'amour. And maybe try some of these delicious French recipes.

Remember Mama's Quiche Lorraine? Tried and true, Quiche Lorraine is as French as the day is long. Serve with a green salad and a gentle Sancerre. C'est si bon!

What's more French than soup a l'onion? Serve with a baguette and a Cote du Rhone. Magnifique!

And what about crepes? We Americans love crepes! You can fill these yummy pastry shells with just about anything.

So, here's to liberte, egalite, fraternite! Bon Appetit!

Friday, July 11, 2008

My Future's So Bright...

Photo by Me

Nothing like Summer Fridays, Mamas. And we're taking this one off to explore. I'll be back to regular posting on Monday, ready to regale you with tales of fun and adventure!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

For the Single Mama

I have very strong and witty readers here at Mama's Cup, for whom I am quite grateful. I enjoy so much when you leave your comments and share your opinions and experiences. I also enjoy the email that I get from you, with tips or ideas or stories of your own.

Several readers of Mama's Cup are Single Mamas who have shared small parts of their journeys with me. One recently lamented to me over the lack of decent, down-to-earth books for Single Mamas. Often the books that are available are formal, unrealistic or judgemental, choosing to moralize instead of aid.

So I've searched out this Single Mother's Survival Guide by Patrice Karst. This book sound refreshingly honest, while maintaining a positive bent. As the Amazon review states: "On [Karst's] list of 'Reasons to Be Happy About Being a Single Mom,' the first one is 'because it's happening.'" Karst doesn't seem to sugar coat anything, but offers real "wisdom and inspiration for the single mother."

I hope this is useful to you Single Mamas, the ones I know and the ones I don't. You deserve much respect.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Watermelon = Summer

Watermelon-Mango-Jicama Salsa + Steak Tacos = Total Rapture

I found this and other summery watermelon recipes at NPR. (Scroll down the link for these crazy-delicious sounding tacos!)



Photo by Epoy via Flickr

Green Tips

My Wish-I-Had-Time-To-Read-This list is getting a bit unruly. Though I am trying, ever so slowly, to make my way through it. My latest addition to the list is this handy How-To, Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home by Christopher Gavigan. Gavigan is the CEO of a non-profit by the same name that is "dedicated to protecting the health and well being of children from harmful environmental exposures." They focus on the ever-increasing rates of disease, birth defects and developmental disabilities in children. Their mission is to educate parents and the public.

The book seems like a simple guide to cleaning up your home and pantry, without cleaning out your wallet. Cookie also offers a quick Q&A with Gavigan here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Petite Menagerie

I'm bursting with excitement these days, because I'm expecting my first niece or nephew (that's right, it's a surprise!) sometime in the next few weeks! So lately my eyes are wandering to all things tiny and sweet. Like these adorable animals from Little Circus. Soft, simple and sweet!

Monday, July 7, 2008

I Still Heart NY


OK, after my last post, I feel like the Big Apple and I should kiss and make up. What made me fall in love all over again with the city? These unique and fantastic city alphabet collages for kids by Gregoire Ganters (via the ever-hip Nonchalant Mom).

Oh yeah, he does custom collages too.

So, what about me & New York? Fuhgetaboutit.

The City That Never Stops Complaining


I read a disturbing article in Sunday's New York Times. It described a terrible city where parents are increasingly forced to silence their children in their own homes, for fear of incurring the wrath of their neighbors. The article detailed the trails of parents and children forced to curb playtime, or suffer the installation of noise-monitoring equipment to measure the decibel level of the happy sound of children being children. Some families have even been forced to sell their apartments and find new homes, because the neighbors simply wouldn't tolerate the sound of running or playing!

Where is this Seventh Circle of Hell, you ask? It must be Beijing! Or perhaps, Moscow, circa 1952?

No, my friends. It is present day New York City. That's right. The hipsters in New York are so fed up with human procreation, they've decided to (almost) legislate against it.

You've guessed by now that I'm on a bit of a rant here. And you're right. But I feel a sense of entitlement, being a Mama and a former New Yorker. Ask anyone who knows me, and she'll tell you that I have a serious and deep love affair with this town.

But c'mon, New York, lighten up! We're human beings! We procreate! Deal with it already!

One family actually "had to post signs in the building saying [they] were going to let [their baby] cry it out for a weekend, so [their] neighbor wouldn't get mad at [them]."

What?

I could say something here about the virtues of the suburbs, but that's not the point. The point is that children are not A/V equipment. Children are not inconsiderate neighbors who enjoy their music at increased volume afterhours. Children aren't hosting cocktail parties that entertain too many for too long.

One complainant moans: "I try to be sympathetic but it's very hard for me to relate to them because I don't have children." I sure hope this lovely woman isn't studying to be a physician because, never having had cancer, her bedside manner would leave a considerable amount to be desired.

I'm not advocating disrespect for one's neighbors, and I'm all for living in harmony. But the tone of this particular article leant quite overtly toward parents (and children!) being expected to placate the whims and sleeping habits of their childless neighbors. No one, not even in hushed tones, suggested that the irritated parties should start sleeping with earplugs. No one suggested these people participate in a Child Awareness and Tolerance Program. No one said, "Hey Sweetheart, lighten up! They're just kids for crying out loud!"

For all of the jackhammers and honking and loud-talking (screaming?) in restaurants that goes on in that town, you'd think most residents wouldn't even notice the pitter-pat of little children. But apparently, children and the noise they make, are becoming an increasing nuisance in the City that Already Doesn't Sleep.

Want my advice? Move to Connecticut. There's more parking anyway.

Friday, July 4, 2008

We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident...

Every year for the last two decades, the vibrant voices at NPR have gathered to read the Declaration of Independence. It still gives me goosebumps, to hear the words read aloud. Listen to it here. Listen with your kids, so they know what those sparklers are all about.

Happy Birthday, America.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

$4.09

That's the newest average price per gallon of gasoline in America. According to CNN, the cost of gasoline has risen three percent in the last month and 39 percent in the last 12 months. And because of this, AAA anticipates about a one percent--or just over ten million people--drop in travel this holiday weekend. The last time the U.S. experienced a drop in July Fourth travel was in 2001.

So, in honor of Independence Day, we're not going anywhere. We will celebrate this country's unique and hard won existence by proclaiming our family's independence from gasoline, if only for a day.

AP Photo/Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fine Kid Art


A dear Mama friend today told me about one of the best ideas I've heard in ages: Coffee Table Books for your children's artwork! What could be cooler than that? Jen Chaky's company For Keeps will take your children's masterpieces and turn them into a classy, hardcover book that will be the highlight of your art collection! The service isn't cheap, but it is a truly creative way to preserve and celebrate your child's oeuvre. They also make great gifts for grandparents!
Neat & Simple Living also blogged about this recently, and one of the readers over there was singing the praises of Scribble Couture, a company that will put your kid's artwork on a handbag, a canvas tote or even a neat and simple clutch!
Just two more good ideas for all of you proud Mamas!

Alicia Bock Photography

I recently discovered the truly gorgeous photography of Alicia Bock via her blog, Bloom, Grow, Love and am pleased to have her permission to post some of her work here to share it with you. All of her photos have an ethereal quality. Like looking at Polaroids of memories. Or dreams.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hide N Seek

I am really loving these sweet, quiet prints by hide n seek, via Poppytalk Handmade. A lovely and inexpensive addition to any child's wall.



DIY Playdough

A Mama's Cup friend and reader just sent in this terrific recipe for homemade Playdough! It sounds like a fun project for a rainy afternoon. She even threw in a recommendation for all natural food coloring by India Tree. Thanks Amy!

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon powdered alum
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoon vanilla
food coloring

Mix all dry ingredients. Add oil and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until reaching the consistency of mashed potatoes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and food coloring. Divide into balls and work in color by kneading.

Bug Off

I just came across a wonderful, all-natural, incredibly simple bug bite remedy while perusing the lovely blog Nonchalant Mom. Carina--The Nonchalant Mom--swears by applying raw onion to the bite as soon as possible, for about 10 minutes. The onion apparently mitigates the itching with lasting effect.

I've also found the (mostly) natural Quantum Sting Soothe to be effective itch relief, but it does require multiple applications. And it isn't as natural as a plain, unadulterated vegetable!

Of course, the best itch relief is not getting mosquito bites in the first place. This year, we've been using Swy Flotter by Kiss My Face. It's natural, DEET free and kid safe. It smells nice (it contains lavender and citronella) and has been extremely effective in our Connecticut back yard. The only downside is that it is fairly oily. But hey, I'll take a little greasy feeling for a natural and effective bug repellent.