Friday, September 11, 2009

Throw a Coed Baby Shower

Coed baby showers are breaking down barriers set forth by previous generations, giving the host or hostess a new set of tasks: catering to the needs of both women and men. Instead of women celebrating motherhood, coed baby showers offer other couples an opportunity to show the new parents are supported by friends and family. If you have assumed the hairy task of planning a coed baby shower, be sure to keep your coed guests in mind when deciding on invitations, decorations, and activities. Below you will find a list of crucial do's and don'ts to help you along the way.

What to Consider When Planning a Coed Baby Shower

In order to remedy any socially awkward situations or tension, make sure to invite plenty of other male guests; make the shower guy-friendly. To achieve a happy medium so both genders are comfortable at the coed baby shower, consider the following:

  • Choose activities that both men and women feel comfortable participating in. An overbearing feminine touch, such as quilting, might threaten the machismo of the other gender. Another alternative is to offer separate baby shower games and activities for males and females. This will allow all guests to participate in the festivities without having to search for a single game to suit both sexes.
  • Make sure the gift opening process is a joint effort. The expecting parents should trade off opening presents so they both feel included.
  • Party favors or keepsakes should resemble the celebration of the mother and father-to-be. Choose a party favor that won't raise eyebrows from either gender or purchase separate party favors for men and women.
  • Invitations should be carefully worded: "You and your spouse are invited to..." is often a good start. Write down the name of both guests and make it clear that they are both invited.

Men, despite what many women may think, might feel honored by the invite and excited to participate in the baby shower, solidifying the importance of welcoming both men and women.

Tips for guys

For first timers stepping into the lion's den, men might feel intimidated or awkward around either other guys they don't know, or being in a room full of excited women. If male guests feel uncomfortable during any conversations about painful childbirths, take a bathroom break or grab another drink.

Planning the Coed Baby Shower

  • Pre-planning will be important. The party planner should consult both parents about their personal opinion and tastes unless you plan on throwing a surprise shower.
  • Make sure the dad-to-be attends-if he doesn't attend most guys will follow suit. In case the dad-to-be cannot attend or help with the party planning process, have the expecting mother designate another male friend who can take his place.
  • Make sure the dad-to-be or substitute remembers the party details: date, time, place, etc. He will most likely be asked by confused guests.
  • Consider your guests' food restrictions and appetites; avoid dainty tea-sandwiches and petit-fours and opt instead for a variety of dishes that will appeal to everyone.
  • Plan an appropriate baby shower theme.
  • Plan a retreat (another room) for hasty male guests who don't want to participate in games or uncomfortable conversations.

Lastly, do not go wild with decorations that fit only the female aesthetic (i.e. flowers, the color pink, etc.). The goal is to welcome - not frighten - your male guests

Find more baby shower ideas!


The baby is here ... now get the hell out of my house! How to Deal with Postpartum Visitors.

Parenting scholars are going to want a clinical name for this theory, so let's call it the Martha Stewart Rule of Post-Labor Servitude. In short, everyone who wants to be involved with this baby for the first few days of its life must pretend that they are working for Martha Stewart. (The new mother is Martha in this scenario.) Pre-existing relationships will be put on hold for this short period of time -- domineering mothers will suck it up and defer to their daughters, bossy siblings will chill out -- and everyone will act like the first-day intern who must consider every instruction ultra-carefully because they might get fired for picking up the wrong kind of coffee.

Some more advice below. Please add your own input in the comments:

  1. Be prepared to want to be alone. If you want your parents around to help, more power to you -- every new parent is going to feel differently. But with both children, I was surprised how much I wanted the first few days after the hospital to be just me and my wife and the kid(s). This feeling literally washed over me as I drove home. I think it's because bringing a new baby into your home is such an exciting but scary moment, that you want it to feel normal as soon as possible. I wanted to know "I can handle this," and I couldn't do that with other people in the house. (Thankfully, we had wonderfully considerate grandparents on both sides who gave us all the space we wanted.)
  2. Whatever the dynamic is between you and your friends/relatives, for a while at least you have the E-ticket ride. I don't think parents should deliberately wield the power of their new baby over grandparents -- except on this occasion. Babies are cute and the actions of brand new mothers are forgivable. Even if you do something that your own parents think is kind of rude, I'm guessing they're going to come back later.
  3. All of the above being said, remember how excited your parents and in-laws are. Don't totally shut them out. This is my wife's suggestion: Give them a visiting hour or two during your self-imposed exile -- with the understanding that they are to leave after a quick visit. Use this time to get a shower or take a nap or watch some bad television.
  4. Make allowances when necessary. The one exception I would make in this situation is if out-of-town grandparents are in a tough financial situation and you live in an expensive area. Two nights in even a halfway decent San Francisco hotel isn't cheap. In this case, I think it's on you to help make arrangements -- whether that involves setting the grandparents up with a friend or paying for their hotel yourself.
  5. Certain unexpected developments may make you change your mind. A close relative of mine had a C-section, couldn't hold her baby all the time, and had to rescind her everyone-get-the-hell-out request. Go back to Rule No. 1. This is the one week of your life that you can act like a complete bitch, and everyone will forgive you. But don't be such a Martha that they won't come running if you change your mind.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Grandparent's Day 2009

You probably know that Mother's Day is in May and Father's Day is in June, but do you know when Grandparent's Day is? Although it is lesser known than the national holidays we celebrate in honor of our parents, Grandparent's Day is just as important. Celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day, it has traditionally been used to honor both grandparents and their relationships with their grandchildren.

Grandparent's Day was the brainchild of Marian McQuade, a housewife and proud parent of fifteen children living in West Virginia, whose work with senior citizens dates back to 1956. Since then, she has dedicated her life to advocating for senior citizens, having served as President of the Vocational Rehabilitation Foundation, Vice President of the West Virginia Health Systems Agency, and Co-chairman for the Bi-Centennial Centenarian Search for the West Virginia Commission on Aging. It was in 1970 that McQuade initiated a campaign to set aside a special day in honor of grandparents.

Thanks in large part to the efforts of civic, business, church and political leaders in West Virginia, the first Grandparent's Day was proclaimed in 1973 by Governor Arch Moore. It was during the same year that Senator Jennings Randolph (D-WV) introduced a Grandparent's Day resolution in the United States Senate. To gather support for this resolution, McQuade and her team contacted the media and members of government in each state and tirelessly sent letters to churches, businesses and an array of national organizations whose members advocate for senior citizens.

All their hard work finally paid off in 1978. Five years after its inception in West Virginia, Congress passed legislation proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparent's Day. September was chosen for the holiday to signify the "autumn years" of life and the proclamation was signed by President Jimmy Carter. According to the statutes preamble, the purpose of Grandparent's Day is "to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children's children, and to help children become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer."

Over the past 25 years, Grandparent's Day has grown largely in popularity. The holiday even has an official song called "A Song for Grandma and Grandpa," by Johnny Prill. Greeting cards and other more traditional holiday activities have begun to take hold of Grandparent's Day, as well.

There are many ways Grandparent's Day can be celebrated. Schools, churches and senior organizations honor grandparents with special events, but above all, it is a day for family. It can be a day to discover your roots and put forth efforts to maintain a strong sense of family background. Oftentimes, grandparents are the only ones who have answers to questions about family histories. Expectant parents can spend the day Sunday with expectant grandparents and help to welcome them into their new grandchild's life. It's a perfect time to celebrate all the joys of becoming a grandparent.


Grandmother gives birth to her daughter's triplets

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Best Cities in America to Have a Baby

If it takes a village to raise a child, what kind of place does it take to have a baby? When Fit Pregnancy set out to find the best cities in America to have a baby, they looked at everything from doctors and hospitals to doulas, midwives, breastfeeding success rates, birth and health risk, stroller-friendly trails and parks, affordability, and a whole lot more.

What's more important to you: affordability or access to the best hospitals? Find your own "best city" by visiting Fit Pregnancy.

Here is the general list:

  1. Portland, OR
  2. Minneappolis
  3. San Francisco
  4. Seattle
  5. Denver
  6. Boston
  7. Omaha
  8. Virginia Beach
  9. Austin
  10. Albuquerque
  11. Jacksonville
  12. San Diego
  13. Honolulu
  14. Colorado Springs
  15. Atlanta
  16. Tucson
  17. Oakland
  18. Sacramento
  19. Milwaukee
  20. Cleveland
  21. Baltimore
  22. Columbus
  23. Miami
  24. Charlotte, NC
  25. Tulsa
  26. Wichita
  27. Oklahoma City
  28. Chicago
  29. New York
  30. Fresno
  31. San Jose
  32. Washington, DC
  33. Nashville-Davidson
  34. El Paso
  35. Houston
  36. Los Angeles
  37. Mesa, AZ
  38. San Antonio
  39. Arlington, TX
  40. Phoenix
  41. Indianapolis
  42. Louisville-Jefferson
  43. Dallas
  44. Kansas City, MO
  45. Fort Worth
  46. Philadelphia
  47. Long Beach
  48. Memphis
  49. Las Vegas
  50. Detroit

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Single Parents May Do as Well as Two: Study

Family stability -- regardless of whether it's a one- or two-parent household -- may help a child succeed in school and life, a new study shows.

The findings, by an Ohio State University professor, challenge the conventional wisdom that two-parent households are always best for children. A single parent marrying or moving in with a partner may be as disruptive to a child as a divorce, the author suggests.

"Based on this study, we can't say for sure that marriage will be a good thing for the children of single mothers, particularly if that marriage is unhealthy and does not last," Claire Kamp Dush, an assistant professor of human development and family science at Ohio State, said in a university news release.

Only in black families did Kamp Dush find a particular advantage in children always living with two parents as opposed to growing up with only one. Black children from stabled married families scored better on reading and math tests than those from single-parent families. Otherwise, regardless of race, the children of stable single-parent households did as well academically and behaviorally as their counterparts in married households.

"Our results suggest that the key for many children is growing up in a stable household, where they don't go through divorce or other changes in the family, whether that is in a single-parent home or a married home," she said.

The findings appear in "Marriage and Family: Perspectives and Complexities," a recently published book that Kamp Dash co-edited. She looked at information gathered from nearly 5,000 households nationwide during two long-term periods over three decades. While many past studies show an advantage for children growing up in married households, Kamp Dush notes those did not distinguish between family structure and family stability.

For example, in one breakdown of the data, Kamp Dush compared similar households where the only difference was whether the mother was single or married during the entire study and found little difference in how the children did in school or otherwise.

"My message to single moms is to think carefully before they decide to get married or live with a partner," she said. "Both romantic relationships and parenting are hard work. Unless you think that you and your partner can make it for the long haul, I think it would be better for single moms to avoid moving in with romantic partners. Family transitions are hard for kids."


Women still believe pregnancy myths

As many as one in eight women believe myths such as having a bump mostly to the front means you are carrying a boy, or that drinking coffee when pregnant can damage the baby's skin.

A survey by the charity Tommy's and Johnson's Baby found that while these old beliefs continue, women are confused about which foods have been medically shown to be unsafe to eat during pregnancy, says the Mail.

For example, 62% of pregnant women are unsure which cheeses are unsafe, and more than half are unclear which fish to avoid. Guidelines suggest pregnant women should avoid soft and blue cheeses, and with fish should avoid marlin, shark and swordfish, and limit the amount of tuna and oily fish.

'Sometimes it's difficult to know what information is best to follow,' said the model Penny Lancaster Stewart, who is supporting the Tommy's Let's Talk Baby information campaign, 'There are so many old wives' tales on pregnancy out there.'

Click here for more old wives' tales.

Click here for a list of safe cheeses during pregnancy.


Joseph Fiennes & Wife Expecting First Child!

Shakespeare In Love star Joseph Fiennes has announced he is to become a father for the first time.

The 39-year-old actor and his new wife, Swiss model Maria Dolores Dieguez, 27, who he married last month, issued a statement saying they are 'utterly thrilled'.

A close friend said: 'She's three months pregnant. They kept the news quiet until Maria reached the three-month-mark but now they are telling everyone.'

Joseph, who is from Wiltshire, and Maria married in a religious ceremony in Tuscany last month in front of close friends and family.

It was in Italy that they first met four years ago, at a red carpet party.

Maria, a former Miss Switzerland contestant, wore a lace gown by Spanish designer Manuel Mota with a bateau neckline and a tulle veil for the ceremony.

Joseph - whose brother Ralph is also a famous actor - is believed to be taking some time out and clearing his busy schedule for the birth of his first child.

Since the beginning of the year the busy actor has been filming a series of movies back to back.

He just completed a guest role in sci-fi American TV drama Flash Forward and is set to star alongside actress Rosamund Pike in a movie about naturalist Charles Darwin.