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Free Photo Sharing Fun

September 1st, 2008 by art mama

Ah, how the online world has opened up so many other worlds to explore, share and expand our knowledge! And with our technical gadget world turning all digital, (almost) gone are the days of holding yellow-edged photo albums in your hands. The good news is, with online photo sharing websites, family and friends from all over the world can “ooh and ahh” over your precious little one at all stages!

I was turned onto to Snapfish while I was pregnant and my friend sent an email invitation to view photos of her newborn. What I immediately liked about Snapfish is that, one, it is free, and even though you have to fill out a very short registration form, you are never ever bothered with pesky emails from Snapfish asking you to do things you don’t want to do. Once we had baby Solina, we immediately created an online album on Snapfish. It is super easy to just upload photos by selecting about 15 photos at a time. You can add captions and create the order you want your slideshow to run. Then you just add all of your email addresses and Snapfish creates an email template that invites everyone to click on a link and go directly to your online album. The email template features one photo of your choice, and you can write a personal letter to all of your recipients. I like that it is sort of like our Solina Newsletter. And every time I send it out, I always get positive responses.

Another cool feature about Snapfish, and I’m sure other online albums, is that you can create virtually anything with your favorite photo on it, including coffee mugs, posters, mouse pads, refrigerator magnets, and more. You just select the “gift” type and select the photo you want and within 10 days you will get your item. If you are old fashioned and still want an actual 3-D photo album, you can also get your photos printed to pick up at any Walgreens store. You can even print a photo book.

Ready to get started? Below are the top-rated sites and their features

Shutterfly – Like Snapfish, it’s free to use, unlimited photo storage, 50 free 4×6 prints when you join, easy to share online albums through their Share Sites program which is like a personalized web page, photo gift options, edit and enhance photos. Easy and cheap print orders for pick up at any Target store.

Share Site example for Baby Album

Photoworks – Free to use, unlimited photo storage, 25 free 4×6 prints when you join, easy to share online albums with their PhotoMail program, photo gift options, edit and enhance photos, can create personalized photo page. Easy and cheap print orders on Kodak Perfect Touch in a wide range of sizes.

My Photo Album – Free to use, unlimited photo and video storage, 20 free 4×6 prints when you join, easy to share online albums with your own personalized web address, photo gift options, edit and enhance photos, can personalize your albums with backgrounds, skins and frames. Easy and cheap print orders.

Picasa – Google’s free photo software that locates all photos on your computer and instantly organizes them, allows you to rename them, make albums and add photo effects, password protect albums, and share them via email.

…And speaking of all this photo sharing, the BEST place to start is to enter Glow Mama’s very own photo sharing contest! Enter our Show Glow…Your Labor contest by submitting a photo of you and your baby or belly on Flickr’s Glow Mama Group page, and you can win a fabulous prize package of perfect pampering products worth $250! You have until September 15th–don’t miss the opportunity to show off your glow, be a part of great group of glowing mamas, and cross your fingers for the wonderful prize.

Put the “YOU” Into Motherhood!

August 18th, 2008 by art mama
Art Mama with baby in tow!

Art Mama with baby in tow

Everyone told me while I was pregnant just how much my life was going to change, how hard parenting was going to be, and how my life will no longer be mine. I took note and basically sloughed it off, since I wasn’t there yet. Well that time has arrived! With my daughter now 10-months-old and happy, healthy and just a pure delight—I am on a mission to find “me” again.

It all started one night when she was crying (teething, I think) and I was holding her because my husband couldn’t comfort her (she wanted mommy), and I found myself crying along with her. I came to the realization then that my entire world revolves around her, this beautiful being, and therefore my own “me” world has been lost in the revolution. Don’t get me wrong—I love my daughter so much it makes my heart hurt. But from someone who has lived 40 great years, had pretty much a “dream” career, a dream husband and a vibrant life as a couple, I am inevitably going to grieve my life as I knew it. I then made a pact with myself to become completely fulfilled as my own person so I can be the best mom I can be to my daughter.

I am still learning as I go along, but I want to share my thoughts so far on how we can begin to be loving and content moms, starting with pregnancy!

During pregnancy MAKE YOUR LIFE ALL ABOUT YOU! It is the last time you can do this for yourself, and it will also create a healthy and happy environment to grow that baby! This means that you can toss that guilt aside as you allow yourself to do things that make you happy, such as:

  • Ask your husband or partner to pamper you. Hello nightly foot rubs!
  • Rest and nap as much as you want and need. Don’t feel guilty for laying on the couch reading a good book every evening, or watching back-to-back episodes of Grey’s Anatomy! Or simply going to bed at 7:30 without doing the dishes!
  • Eat foods that taste good to you at the time, even if it’s only potatoes and avocados. Your body will garnish all the nutrition it needs to nourish your baby. I remember I couldn’t look at a salad or anything green throughout my entire pregnancy, but I loved my dad’s coleslaw and drank gallons of ice water. I still managed to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby!
  • Drink lots of ice cold Glow Mama! Everything I drank during pregnancy had to be ice cold and I couldn’t drink anything too sweet. So Glow Mama is perfect! If I knew about Mom-Mocktails back then, I would have been in heaven!
  • Buy maternity clothes that make you feel good about being pregnant and having a glorious belly!

Once you have your wonderful baby, there will definitely be months of an adjustment period when you are getting to know your baby. Caring for your baby is a 24-7 devotion, (I refuse to call it a “job”!), so just know that the first couple of months will consist of putting your needs on the back burner. But as you emerge out of your new-baby-fog, it is okay to start adding pieces of yourself back into your life.

I recently read an article in Parents Magazine that said of course you will be listening to lullabies and playing with baby toys trying to merge yourself into your baby’s world. But it’s also okay to merge your baby into YOUR world! I realized I actually had started to do this when she was 3 months old. We took our baby to poetry readings, holiday parties (no matter how cold it was outside) and art walks. We play her music we like, and she loves it! We took her on her first overnight trip in Tahoe for our anniversary, and to her first ballpark! In all occasions, she’s always a joy. It shows us she is interested in social interaction and that she’s adaptable. We are learning that we can be a fun family, doing things together that we all love

Us Girls in Tahoe

Three Generations of Happy Girls in Tahoe

From these early experiences, this is the most important lesson I’ve learned: Don’t be afraid to introduce your baby to the activities/music/food you enjoy, because it is probably THE key ingredient to growing a healthy family life!

Now I am branching out more. I started taking a yoga class where for an hour and a half each week I have time that is solely mine. It feels good to nourish my body and mind this way. And when I get home, I more excited than ever to see my baby girl! I also do a few hours of work during the day, even when my baby isn’t napping. She is really good at amusing herself and playing independently—which is such a healthy experience for baby and mommy!

My husband and I try to have a date night at least once every two weeks. We see now how vital it is to put this focus onto us as a couple. We’ve learned the hard way that if we don’t, our relationship will not progress effortlessly as it may have before! Remember, happy parents create happy children!

Pregnancy and motherhood is the most special, uniquely personal, loving and important time in a woman’s life. Yes, there are sacrifices, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose yourself. You have made this beautiful life, and you deserve to continue nurturing it with all the pleasures in the world.

Rockin’ Mom Essentials

June 30th, 2008 by art mama


From my art mama point of view, I am not a cookie-cutter mom. I never had a planned timeline of when - or even if - I was going to have a child or how it was going to happen. I didn’t pick out baby names when I was 14 (okay, maybe I did pick one boy name and one girl name, but they didn’t stick!), and I can’t honestly say that I always knew I wanted to be a mom.

For the last part of my 30th decade, I was more concerned with exploring places, music and food with my husband, and gathering my ‘after hours poetry’ friends together to read poetry at various ‘establishments’ and acquire more inspiration for our writing.

I never listened to Top 40 music. I have no earthly clue about the difference between Fergie or the Pussycat Dolls. I love a summer evening listening to John Coltrane or a Saturday morning dancing to old Peter Gabriel. I was definitely there in the 80’s for the whole New Wave movement, and right in the front row of Grunge in the 90’s.

I saw a saying somewhere that I can easily adopt: Rocker Mom, not Soccer Mom. So for all you rockin’ moms, or even rockin’ soccerrock tee moms — I have pulled together some fun essentials for your new mom status. For your first essential, pour yourself an ice cold Glow Mama Mom-ito and enjoy!

Fun and Fashionable Maternity Apparel
Rock Star Moms - their motto is maternity wear for the rest of us.

Cry Baby Maternity - Because attitude is everything - Cute maternity swimwear! I like this guitar tee pictured here.

Motherhood Maternity - Affordable and fashionable. I was so excited when I ran across this store at the mall. You don’t have to change your style just because you’re pregnant.

Apparel for Baby
Jaminga - funky baby clothes

Urban Baby Runway - funny onesies and tees, cute dresses, shoes and boys and girls clothes.

The Retro Baby - rock band onesies and Dr. Suess baby clothes. My favorite: ‘My dad is rad’ onesie.diaper bag

Unique Baby Gifts and Diaper Bags:
Pokkadots - Modern gifts, books and diaper bags. My favorite: Fleurville Diaper Bag (pictured here).ballerina socks

Baby Bella - My favorite: Trumpette Baby Ballerina Socks. How cute are these?

Must-Have Baby RockRockabye CD
Rockabye Baby music - A necessity for all future rockers! Award-winning series transforms timeless rock songs into beautiful instrumental lullabies. My favorites so far are Radiohead and U2. A few noteworthy others include The Cure, Coldplay and The Smashing Pumpkins!

Creating a Creative Nursery That Reflects YOU!

June 18th, 2008 by art mama

mod nurseryI always knew that a pastel-colored nursery of standard zoo animals was not going to be for us. I believe in bright, bold colors and interesting prints — especially considering newborns are attracted to stand-out patterns and colors. My jumping off point was an ad I saw in a magazine for crib bedding in a modern nursery. I loved the unique furniture and graphics for the crib bedding and wall art (although I couldn’t afford it). So I had an idea of what I wanted and my imagination took over.

We knew we were having a girl but I wanted to use my favorite colors: turquoise and greens with chocolate brown accents. I saw on a design show a nursery makeover where they painted a band of polkadots across the middle of the wall. I loved it! So we went with that idea but adapted it to us. The top half of the wall in our daughter’s nursery is a neat 1950’s green, and the bottom half is a similar blue, separated by a chocolate brown band with pokkadots of various colors. It turned out better than I imagined!

Our chocolate brown accents are reflected in our furniture–a beautiful crib and changing table/dresser with glass doors–that I found and registered for at Babies ‘R Us. Instead of children’s lamps we chose brown modern lamps that flank each side of the dresser and window above it.

Crib bedding was more of a challenge because at big box stores (which are more affordable) you will find your standard muted pastel colors. But we chose bedding that had ‘bolder’ pastel colors and various textures, including a satin moon (I love moons!) and cute animals that I adore like giraffes and owls.

I am so in love with our baby girl’s nursery that often I will just sit on our VERY comfortable glider — which is an essential in any nursery, by the way! — and take it all in with joy. It is a room that will continue to bring happiness to me and baby for years to come!

It is true that you don’t need to be an interior designer to create your own nursery. Paint colors, crib bedding, beautiful and functional furniture and wall art are really all you need. Just go with what makes your heart happy! Here are a few ideas and tips to get you started:

  • http://www.creative-baby-nursery-rooms.com/
  • Parents.com - a plethora of nursery articles and ideas
  • Unique baby room ideas by theme

Nursery Photos:

  • Parents.com - Actual nursery photos submitted by parents
  • Photo gallery of modern nurseries

Unique crib bedding and other dream nursery products:

  • Baby Supermall.com - drool city (plus gives coordinating wall paint colors)
  • Modern Nursery.com - where I originally drooled

Belly Beautiful: The Art of Belly Casts

May 28th, 2008 by art mama

Pregnancy is a beautiful thing. So much so that it draws strangers in grocery stores and sidewalks to hover right to your round belly as if rubbing it will grant a wish. I believe it should be worshipped in this manor and cherished, celebrated—perhaps even preserved into art.

Belly casts (or belly masks/belly sculptures) are a unique and expressive way to preserve this special moment in your life and celebrate your body, as well as create a treasured keepsake for your little one as he/she grows older.

Since I chose to memorialize my pregnancy by having a professional photographer take artistic photos of me and my belly, I had to do some research for this particular art form. It looks like belly casting has been around since the mid 1980’s and conceptualized by a former art student, Francine Krause, who eventually created easy at-home kits. No art background is required, though, for creating your own belly mask. It can be as simple as keeping it just the natural plaster color, or painting it and/or embellishing it your heart’s content.

Moon cast
My favorite part about my research for this was the wonderful online art galleries I perused! Since I am a huge moon and star fan, I liked this piece I found on Proudbody.com. They have such an extensive gallery that they divided the masks by “theme.” There are some stunning pieces! I also particularly loved this flowery one: Flower mask

Some masks can be quite ornate, too, like those I found on RockABelly. I can see these hanging in high end galleries! My favorites were a hand-painted one to resemble an elaborate English pottery design, one with glass mosaic tiles, and one with an aged copper finish. Check it out! I also loved Belly Of Love where I found this fairy one. Fairy mask

The Real Deal Guide to Pregnancy: A New Book for Modern Moms-to-Be

May 13th, 2008 by art mama

Book CoverHere is a new book to add to your collection of pregnancy books, right alongside The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy (Vicki Iovine, Pocket Books). The Real Deal Guide to Pregnancy by Ericka Lenkert gives down-to-earth and practical advice with a twist of whimsy.

The author speaks from her own 9 month journey as well as takes snippets from a pool of 100 women whom she refers to as the “Mommy Menagerie.” The result is a complete guide that covers everything from the best places to buy maternity clothes, a section on nutrition and even “craving recipes” (I love this!), to particulars like what to bring in your hospital bag and what to skip, essential baby products, and even the author’s own birthing story (which I was touched by because it was very similar to mine).

If you’re like me, I soaked up every book on pregnancy I could get my hands on, and often re-read chapters as I was going through or about to go through that particular phase. This book is definitely one that you will constantly be referring to throughout your pregnancy, whether you need a pick-me-up when your pre-pregnancy jeans no longer fit even with them unbuttoned, or whether you want resources on breastfeeding or best baby gear to buy (often with brand names, which I appreciated).

The sprinkling of Mommy Menagerie top lists and topics, such as “The Mommy Menagerie Top 10 List of Creepiest Elements of Pregnancy,” and “The Mommy Menagerie on…Fashion Tips” are interesting tidbits of support when you need info from a pool of pregnant lovelies like yourself, or just knowledge that what you’re feeling is normal. But one of my favorite features are the various “Cheat Sheets” on topics like exercise, weight gain, sex and what to pack for the hospital.

From the perspective of a new mom who went through my own special 9 month pregnancy adventure, I have to commend the author for managing to incorporate *most of the pertinent information that us “real” gals want to know, without any fluff. (*There was no information or Mommy Menagerie weigh-ins on the actual giving birth part.) And it’s a fun read to boot (despite the book’s ridiculously small font size!) The resource guide in the back of the book is an added bonus.

Check out Erika Lenkert’s website at www.therealdealguide.com for more information about the book. Better yet, treat yourself to a copy!

Need a Getaway? Go on a Babymoon!

April 29th, 2008 by art mama

For me, part of being Art Mama is creating a joyful, fun and entertaining lifestyle for my family, and I believe that it starts with my relationship with my husband—and perhaps most importantly, myself. So that is why when I was 5 months pregnant, we decided to go to one of my favorite places—Mexico!

At that time “babymoon” was a humorous thing to call it, as it was a new term I had just run across. But indeed, that certainly was what it was, and I am so grateful I took advantage of it and immersed myself in its concept. The intent of a babymoon is to enjoy one last vacation together as a couple before your little addition arrives, (changing life as you know it!). My belief on top of that is to nurture yourself during one of the most important times in your life, during your pregnancy, when it is a time that is all about YOU. It is a time for rest, relaxation, reflection, dreaming, wish-list making, and pampering. And going on vacation to a favorite spot with your hubby is the perfect way to indulge in all of this. Spending time together to reconnect is also a special way to share your pregnancy with your husband.

Now babymoons are a popular trend in the vacation industry, with lots of information and travel guides to find online. Sites like BabymoonGuide.com and BabyMoonFinder.com offer a one-stop shopping source for finding the perfect babymoon destination. Specific resort packages all over the U.S. and in some tropical areas that cater to expecting couples now include everything from side-by-side couple massages, romantic dinners, prenatal yoga classes, and even Lamaze classes. BabymoonGuide.com also offers an area for people to share their babymoon experiences.

Travel sites like Frommers and Suite101 offer trip planning tips and other useful information to encourage parents-to-be to get away.

An article on iVillage Parenting shares the best babymoon packages, such as the “Mother in Balance” package in Arizona at the Miraval Resort and Spa, or La Costa Golf Resort in Southern California . These include classes and workshops on pregnancy nutrition, fitness, and pre and post-natal life, as well as perks such as use of the spa and pre-natal massage.

Or you can always wing it like I did and go to one of your favorite places and do all of your favorite pampering things! For me it was walking on the beach, swimming, napping, and eating Mexican food (and drinking virgin Piña Coladas during happy hour)!

Either way, it’s a trip of a lifetime. We went with my parents and sister and brother’s family. So one day my mom, sister and I painted Mexican pottery items as keepsakes for the baby. If you go, I encourage you to take lots of photos, maybe keep a journal of your daily activities and thoughts, and make or acquire a keepsake for your little one on the way. It will be a time for the whole family to always remember. But most of all, happy mommies and daddies have happy babies!

Music to Our Bellies

March 31st, 2008 by art mama

As a long-time music lover, I always enjoyed hearing stories about pregnant women who played music to their bellies only to have that child later become a musical prodigy. One friend told me a story about a husband who played his guitar right up against his wife’s pregnant belly and their son became a guitar whiz. Unfortunately, I only appreciate music, and besides my wishlist accomplishment of learning to play the cello for a brief stint, and my husband’s attempt to learn the bass guitar, we can only play our eclectic mix of CD’s like the best of them.

Of course I want to believe that music-lovers and musicians will raise the same. And it makes sense, doesn’t it, that if we expose our little ones to music of all types when they are dancing and tumbling around in the womb, they will come out as natural born appreciators of music. But I was interested to see if there were studies on this topic, and “hear” is what I found out….

It is a common belief that if you play calming music or lullabies to your baby in utero–for instance, placing your iPod headphones on the belly–your little peanut will react by kicking and moving, or becoming suddenly still, especially in the third trimester. Some even believe that music played while in the womb will be remembered by the baby up to a year after birth.

According to an article on SmartMommy.com , it is believed that in the 7th month of pregnancy, the soothing sounds of music in the womb can stimulate your baby’s ear, brain and body development in preparation for sound and language comprehension. Thomas Verny, M.D., author of The Secret Life of the Unborn Child (Dell, 1994) said, “Musicologists seem to agree that rhythms, similar to the mother’s heartbeat, have the most calming effect” on babies in utero. This can also be used as a tool to calm a fussy newborn.

One woman reported to BBC News Health : “I used to have a daily bath and listen to Ella Fitzgerald at 6pm. It was my peace time. When she was born she was very fractious with colic. We used to play Ella Fitzgerald at 3am to try to settle her, and it really worked.”

But there are differing opinions on what is called the “Mozart Effect,” which says that playing classical music to babies in utero increases brain activity and stimulation, which thereby is an intelligence and IQ booster. An online BBC article –Does Classical Music Make Babies Smarter? — states that “Numerous studies conclude that playing music to babies in the womb and in the early years helps build the neural bridges along which thoughts and information travel. And research suggests it can stimulate the brain’s alpha waves, creating a feeling of calm.”

It’s a fact that a fetus develops their ability to hear 5 months into pregnancy, and can therefore react to sounds outside the womb, but there is no hard evidence that proves that playing classical music is a direct link to higher intellectual development.

In the same BBC article, Professor Paul Robertson, a leading expert in musicology, believes it’s important the best music is made available to babies at the earliest possible stage of their growth.

My thoughts are, whether my baby becomes the next little genius or not, it can’t hurt to encourage her development with this great source of entertainment (that is far better than TV). If nothing else, it will be a way to bond with your baby before she arrives, and it will definitely be a way to share a fun and necessary form of the Arts for many years to come. So crank up that CD, go to Baby & Me music classes, and enjoy your happy time together!