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Monday, March 02, 2015

How babies are made

The other day, I was at my friend Tina's house and spotted this amazing book, How Babies Are Made. It was originally published back in 1968, which was an awesome year for graphics (Rosemary's Baby, Zeffirelli's Romeo & Juliet, etc).

The authors explain simply and clearly how flowers procreate, then chickens, then dogs, then people. The tone seems very respectful of young readers, and the authors understand what children would want to know (for example: "The doctor removed the umbilical cord. This did not hurt"). Plus, the paper-cut illustrations are fantastic.

Here's a peek inside...
We've discussed talking to kids about sex before, and I'm definitely adding this book to our future repertoire. Used copies available here, if you'd like!

P.S. Our favorite children's books, and Toby as a teeny tiny reader:)

Motherhood Mondays: A twist on family dinners

Over the past few years, we've tried to create rituals for our family. We've started watching half* of a movie together on Friday evenings (first up: Shrek! Then God Help the Girl because Toby's obsessed with Belle & Sebastian. Now I can't wait for Peter Pan). While Anton naps on Saturdays, Alex and Toby get tacos at a Mexican place down the block. And we go to a neighborhood community center on Sunday mornings to eat bagels and play in their gym.

So, we're doing all right! But family dinners are still all over the place. As I've mentioned before, we've typically fed the boys early (around 6pm) and then waited to have a grown-up dinner after they're asleep (around 8 or 9pm). We sit with them while they eat, but the other day, Toby said, "Mama, you guys have to eat! You have to eat, too!" And I realized that our eating at the same time also mattered to him. It wasn't enough to talk and laugh about our days, we also had to be chewing and digesting. :)

So when I saw this dinner post—by Shauna of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef—I sat up straight and listened. She talked about how their Friday pizza nights changed everything...

We made Fridays pizza night...Then we all took our plates to the living room and watched a movie together, eating pizza. It was lovely. It still is.

And then a funny thing happened. That ritual of pizza together every Friday night started, slowly, changing everything. We had a taco bar one Thursday and Lucy asked if we could have tacos the next Thursday. So we did. And Thursdays became taco Thursdays. After a few visits to a conveyor belt sushi place in Seattle, Lucy desperately wanted sushi every week, so we started making our own sushi (minus the raw fish for her) on Sundays. After Desmond arrived, and our lives were happily disrupted, we needed ritual and routine more than ever. So we chose a meal for every day of the week. And we’ve been doing that ever since.

Mondays are meat and potato night. Tuesdays are kid choice night (right now, Lu’s favorite choice is gluten-free corn dogs. so she is a kid after all). Wednesdays are soup and salad nights. Thursdays are tacos. Fridays are pizza night. Saturdays are pasta night. Sundays are sushi night.

To our surprise, we love this. We don’t have to think about what to make for dinner, in a panic at 5pm every night...

The one ritual of pizza night turned into a series of rituals that changed our lives. The kitchen is clean these days. The refrigerator is better organized. And mealtimes are a series of songs and happy chattering and sharing of gratitude instead of us cajoling Lucy to please eat more of her meal. Desmond claps his hands in his high chair when we all sit down because he knows something fun is about to begin.

Isn't that brilliant? It's like hearing the answer to a riddle—it's so obvious that you can't believe you hadn't already thought of it. A certain meal every day of the week: I'm looking forward to trying it out. Would you do it? What do you make for family dinners now? Any tips or recommendations?

P.S. How to get your kids to talk at dinner, and why French kids eat everything.

* We watch the other half the next morning, or Saturday or Sunday evening. A full movie has proven to be too much for their little attention spans, ha! :)

(Shauna post via The Wednesday Chef)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Have a lovely weekend.

What are your plans this weekend? We're going to our friends' house tonight and taking the boys to the Brooklyn Transit Museum tomorrow. Buses! Subways! Also, I just started reading this book (ignore the cheesy cover:) and it's fantastic. Have a good weekend, and here are a few fun links from around the web...

How to enjoy the cold, by an arctic scuba diver.

"Why I decided not to have kids."

When you're hungry, don't shop for anything.

Finding love after a heart transplant.

A gold birthday party.

The one thing to pack for an office lunch.

This genius site makes your emails sound nicer.

I cannot wait for spring dresses!

Switched at birth in France.

39 incorrectly used words that can make you look bad.

Art Grip is a cool way to frame art.

Has anyone ever wanted to kill their mom more than Dakota Johnson?

The best potato recipe, officially.

Another funny Bachelor recap. (I can't stop.)

(Photo by Nikole Herriott, who just updated her gorgeous store. Scuba link via Swissmiss; emotional labor via Miss Moss)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

What kind of lingerie do you wear?

The other day, a reader wrote in with a question, and I'm curious to hear what you think...
Hi Joanna,

I'm dating a new guy, and I want to get some nice lingerie, but...eesh. I don't know where to begin. It got me thinking: What does the modern woman wear for special sexy times? Do women still wear garter belts or the thing that attaches your underwear to your stockings? Or is that just in the movies? I'm curious to hear the perspective of you and your readers.

Thanks! Molly
Hmmm, these days I'm wearing pajamas with socks to bed (WINTER), but for special occasions and trips, I've always liked Eberjey, which I've mentioned before—their chemises are soft and pretty. On the fly, you could just grab one of his button-down shirts and pair it with lacy underwear (like these!); it's always a sexy look. If you want some inspiration, Lonely Lingerie has beautifully real models. And, just for fun, you could always try one of these "cheerleading" skirts from American Apparel;)

Please share: What do you guys wear? Garter belts? Slips? Regular old underwear? Help a lady out! xoxo
P.S. Did you have sex on your wedding night? Plus, an easy way to have more sex.

Being Mortal documentary

I realize that Atul Gawande is becoming a leitmotif of this site, but I love him so much and can't stop writing about his work. PBS just created a 54-minute documentary based on his book, Being Mortal, in which Gawande examines how he and other physicians struggle to talk with patients about death and dying. It's honest, brave and beautiful.

You can watch a three-minute excerpt here:

And you can watch the full documentary (for free) on PBS. Highly recommended. xo

Woven wall hangings

You know when you learn a new word and then suddenly start hearing it everywhere? Well, the same phenomenon is happening with wall hangings. My friend Audrey told me she was making them, and now I'm suddenly seeing them everywhere: house tours, on Instagram, in friends' apartments. They can be neon and graphic or neutral and abstract, and it's a cool twist on affordable art.

Here are a few places to find them:
Hazel & Hunter
MW Textiles
Urban Outfitters
Sunday in Color
Hollin Textiles
Wallflower WeavingsThoughts? Do you have a woven wall hanging? Would you?

P.S. Where to find affordable art.

(Top photo by Honey Lake Studio for Design*Sponge)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Munchkin bath toys

This winter, we've been spending tons of time indoors with Toby and Anton, and one way to keep them happy is to take bubble baths.
To mix things up, I got some toys from Munchkin, the LA-based company that makes clever products for kids. All their gear and toys have a quirky twist.
Both boys LOVE the penguin bubble blower (which blows bubbles all over the bath!), bath crayons (which wipe right off) and pour whales (which make the water "rain"). And we use this brilliant rinser for washing their hair.
(Just like a teacher!)

Munchkin has really smart solutions in a bunch of areas, like feeding, travel and babyproofing. See all their products here.
(How genius are these Miracle 360 Cups that don't spill??? I'm excited to have Anton try one.)

Today, they're giving one lucky reader a $500 gift certificate to To enter, please follow them on Instagram (@munchkininc), then leave a comment below. A winner will be chosen at random tomorrow. Good luck, and thank you! Update: The winner has been e-mailed. Thanks for playing!

(This post is sponsored by Munchkin. Munchkin rids the world of the mundane by developing clever, innovative solutions that make family life safer, easier and more fun. You can find Munchkin products at Target and Thanks so much for supporting the brands that support Cup of Jo.)

How to stop yourself from crying

Years ago, I had a scary boss, who taught me a lot, but would also inexplicably fly off the handle every few days. Often I could keep it together, but other times I would end up crying in the bathroom and putting wet toilet paper on my eyes to keep them from puffing up. (Glamorous!) Thankfully, I discovered a bizarre trick to stop yourself from crying every single time...

Four breakfast tartines

Have you had a tartine? It's basically the French name for an open-faced sandwich, and they're totally delicious. Today, Joy from 3 Chairs shares her recipe for four breakfast tartines: two savory and two sweet. Here's how to make them...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Which famous people do you want to be friends with?

Okay, here's our pressing question for the day: Which celebrities or characters would you like to be friends with? (My answer is always and forever Jennifer Garner, plus Mike Myers from So I Married an Axe Murderer.) Above is Emily McDowell's answer, and share yours below...

This is part of a series with illustrator Emily McDowell, who asks us a burning question every month, such as what are your pet peeves and what's in the back of your fridge?

(Illustration by Emily McDowell for Cup of Jo)
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