Archive for the ‘ Must Read ’ Category

Birthday Cupcakes: Adorable Toppers That Make Decorating Easy

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Not a cupcake decorator? My friend Kerry found a fabulous solution that takes the cake (sorry, couldn’t resist) on MeriMeri.com. For less than $13, you can order cupcake kits with wrappers and toppers in more than a dozen cute themes like trucks and magic fairies. Kerry baked vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, frosted them in orange and blue, and then added little truck toppers. The overall effect was polished and adorable, and the older kids got to keep the little trucks (they were affixed to toothpicks, which were too sharp for the little ones).

The bash took place at Kerry’s house last Saturday. She and her family have the kind of private outdoor space that most New Yorkers can only dream about–it’s a huge wraparound patio right off their family room with a toy shed, couches, and tables. It’s the perfect place to hang with friends and celebrate special moments.

The vibe was comfortable and low-key. In one area, the kids played in a sand box. Kerry also had lots of rideable toys out, as well as a mat with every kind of toy car and truck imaginable. And kids could get temporary tattoos (that’s Mason, looking tough, right). The kid-friendly eats were a hit with everyone–various hoagies, pasta salad, tossed salad, and chips with mango-pineapple salsaand I loved that snacks (pretzels, popcorn, and goldfish crackers) were on low tables so that the kids could just help themselves.

A fun afternoon for sure! And now I know where to look for cupcake decorations for Mason’s bash next year.

What are your favorite websites for birthday party-planning?

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Breastfeeding Father Should Be Allowed to Become La Leche Leader

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Trevor, a 27-year-old transgender father and stay-at-home dad in Canada, was grateful that La Leche League helped him breastfeed after he gave birth to his first child last year. Now he wants to pay that support forward, but the group won’t let him, according to a report on Today Moms.

The breast-feeding advocacy organization told him via a letter that he posted on his blog (milkjunkies.net) that only a mother who has breast-fed a baby is allowed to become to
La Leche League leader, reports Lisa Flam. In other words, thanks, but no thanks, Trevor.

Say what?

New moms are under tremendous pressure to breastfeed, so how can the largest group devoted to promoting breastfeeding deny an experienced, passionate person the opportunity to help and support moms who are trying to become successful nursers? It just doesn’t make any sense.

In fact, Trevor is probably the group’s best argument that anyone can breastfeed.

Furthermore, Trevor’s a  particularly valuable resource for moms who are struggling to nurse, because it couldn’t have been easy for him to do it either. After all, it’s annoying when you’re struggling to learn how to do something and the person who’s teaching you how to do it makes it look (or seem) effortless–or who doesn’t have a story of legitimate struggle.

And surely it hasn’t been easy for Trevor. He was born with female anatomy and although he took appearance-altering testosterone and underwent surgery to remove most of his breast tissue, he kept his female reproductive system.

After reading Trevor’s enthusiastic remarks about breastfeeding I almost wished I could nurse Mason. Then I thought of Mason’s vampire-like incisors and suddenly felt fine sticking to the sippy cup.

Not surprisingly Trevor’s story has created a firestorm and now La Leche League policymakers say they’re reviewing the case and figuring out next steps, Flam notes.

Let me make it simple for you, ladies: Allow Trevor to volunteer for your organization. Value him, and every other person, who is willing to work hard on behalf of your cause.

Photo: Dad and baby via Ana Blazic Pavlovic/Shutterstock.com

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Waitress Forbidden from Pumping Breastmilk at Work, Manager Feared She’d “Spray All Over” His Office

Friday, August 24th, 2012

The New York Daily News is reporting on a new kind of breastfeeding bully. The latest offender is a chain restaurant manager in Seal Beach, California, and he made a terrible mistake last week.

Kristen Joseph, a 28-year-old single mom and waitress at Hennessey Tavern, was just trying to earn a living—and pump her breastmilk during a 10-minute break from work, as she had done for the last six months—when her as-hole manager stood in her way, according to the report.

Joseph says he refused to give her keys to the office so that she could pump in private. “He said it was disgusting,” she told CBS Los Angeles. “He said he didn’t want me to spray all over his office.”

But apparently he was fine with her waiting on tables while her breasts leaked.

After crying outside, Joseph says she returned to her shift and continued to work as her milk leaked on her shirt, because she had tables to close and paperwork to finish.

How can a manager be so cruel? This poor woman is a single mother, and I imagine she returned to work (despite the humiliation) because she was afraid of being fired.

Companies with more than 50 employees are required to provide an area, separate from the bathroom, for women to pump their breast milk, according to the report. Although I don’t know how many people this particular restaurant employed, how hard is it to give someone a private space for 10 minutes?

I stopped breastfeeding before I returned to work, so I never had to worry about pumping on the job (although my company is very accommodating to nursing mothers). Have you ever had any problems pumping at work?

As an aside, I’ve never been to a Hennessy Tavern, and now I’ll be sure to never go to one.

Photo: Breastfeeding mother via Natalia Dexbakh/Shutterstock.com

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Mason’s Second Birthday Party & Not Keeping Up With the Joneses

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Mason turned 2 yesterday and we celebrated with a cookout. It was very low-key, especially by New York standards, where pricey entertainment, a giant guest list, and catered food isn’t at all unusual.

We reserved the rooftop of our apartment building, and decorated it with a “mod monkey” theme inspired by Mason’s love of the stuffed monkey Chris adored when he was Bug’s age. In fact, it’s the only toy my quirky kid will allow in his crib at night, and he always makes sure that I cover “Monkey” up when I tuck him in.

I ordered all of the decorations, tableware, and favors online. My father-in-law hung clusters of balloons from the awning over the picnic table, and my mother-in-law put together the cute little centerpiece. I hung balloons and my brother-in-law’s girlfriend dressed things up with streamers.

The food was fresh and local. Chris grilled sliders and brats, while I made fruit salad, heirloom tomato salad, and red cole slaw. We served a bunch of different types of drinks (beer, wine, seltzer, soda, and juice boxes), and had the requisite goldfish crackers. Dessert was chocolate and vanilla cupcakes that I made from a mix decorated with rainbow sprinkles.

I didn’t hire fancy entertainment, I decided Mason was too young to really get a magician or whatever. Instead, the boys played with beach balls, toy cars, and bubbles–most of which came from our local dollar store. Our thinking was that new toys Mason had never played with would be easier for him to share than his beloved playthings (which stayed downstairs in our apartment). Our plan worked! The boys had a blast, and we didn’t have any major meltdowns.

The moms chilled out, eating and chatting (my father-in-law took on kid duty, which was awesome). At one point I looked around and felt so grateful to be surrounded by so many wonderful people who also love Mason. My MIL and FIL had flown in from out of town for the occasion. Then there was my BIL and his girlfriend (who are local); two LIC Mamas, Diane and Kerry, and their families; Katherine with her husband Eric and their darling twin girls, Kay and Brooke; and Aesook with her husband Henry and son Logan, a favorite classmate of Mason’s. Some neighbors whom we adore stopped by as well.

I had stressed endlessly about my simple approach; at one point, in the beginning of our party planning efforts, Chris had to remind me that we didn’t need to go overboard for our 2-year-old’s birthday party, and I’m thankful he was able to keep me focused. I find it embarrassingly easy to get swept up in what other moms think and say, and, I lose perspective on what works for us as a family. In the end, Mason clearly had a blast–and I wouldn’t change a thing about the party we had for him.

Have you found yourself in a situation recently where you’ve felt pressure to “keep up with the Joneses”? Dish with me!

 

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Easy Puppy Paw Print Cupcakes

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

Last April, I made an embarrassing confession to you guys. I revealed that I’d never baked a cake, and then later I realized I actually had baked a cake once. Apparently my efforts were pretty forgettable, even though the cake was for someone I loved very much at one time, so of course there’s a story there. However, getting into all of that, at 11:30 at night, is a bit more than I can handle, so let’s just move on.

My cake confession came about because I was stressing about my lack of cake-baking experience at a time when I was already beginning to think about what I was going to do to celebrate Mason’s second birthday this year.

Fast forward a few months and that time is here. Mason’s birthday is tomorrow. I was determined to make his cake this year (last year I purchased cupcakes), and guess what? I did it! Twice. And it was so simple I laughed at myself for being nervous about it.

My first batch of cupcakes was for his school birthday party, which took place last Friday. I made very easy puppy paw print cupcakes from cake mix and vanilla frosting. I used Necco wafers and smarties to create the paw prints. Decorating took 15 minutes, tops. And the cupcakes looked fabulous! (I can’t take credit for the idea–it was conceived of by Erica Policow, the Food editor of Parents, and featured in our May 2012 issue, along with several other easy cake decorating ideas.)

Tonight, after we got back from Mason’s first Yankee’s game, I cupcakes for his real birthday party. We’ve having a rooftop cookout with family and a handful of close friends tomorrow. (Pics to come in my next post.) I’m psyched we all get to celebrate on his actual birthday. Fingers crossed it doesn’t rain.

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