Month: March 2009

obama arms

A friend of mine from college today put on her facebook status update, “I’m working on my Obama arms.”

I knew instantly what she meant. Those sculpted, toned, always in a sleeveless dress arms that make me drool and lift 10 more reps when I’m at the gym. I want those arms too.

Earlier this week I read an article by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times that brought up the idea that people thought that Michelle Obama should cover up her arms. Enough already, they said. We’ve seen “thunder and lightening,” she should cover up already. (if you have been living under a rock for the past 3 years, her arms are quite the toned arms, the envy of many!)

Uhhh…what???? Are we not in 2009?

Michelle Obama is a mom, a Harvard graduate, a multi-tasker, the first lady, and the inspiration to millions of women around the world. Why should she cover up her arms? They are just one more reason why I love her. Many people think that her husband Barack is an inspiration to all because he allows many people believe that they too can be president one day. Well…you know what???…I’m not one of those people. I never thought or will think that I can be president.

But I look at Michelle Obama and I think…I can be that mom. A good example, a volunteer, a compassionate and supportive partner, and a hot mama…I can be her.

Michelle…you hear me…don’t you dare fall prey to the critics. Don’t cover up those arms. Just like the education and degrees you have worked so hard for and show with pride. Flash those puppies, wear those sleeveless dresses, and give me inspiration each time I go to the gym.

I’m off in the morning to work on my Obama arms. Are you going to join me?

cootie bug solution

Is there not a mother alive that is not simultaneously amazed and disgusted by both the frequency and interval with which a child can touch every surface in a public bathroom? Have we not all experienced saying in our begging yet sing-song voice, “Now honey, don’t touch ANYthing…okay?” while entering the tiny stall of a public restroom and once you are both inside the cramped stall you wiggle-turn around to see your child opening and closing the small “door” on the tampon disposal container? “Baby! I told you don’t touch ANYthing!” “Oh sorry Mommy” is the casual reply while moving on to explore the butt-gasket dispenser. “SWEETIE, STOP IT!”

I discovered I am way too Aries to be having that particular experience over and over. I came up with a solution that has generated many a kudos amongst eavesdropping stall-mates. Often times it was mothers of older children that wished they had thought of it too. When Olivia was very young I would say “Can you touch your eyes?” A young child’s natural response is to put both hands on their eyes. There in lies the beauty of the task. “Can you touch your ears?” Both hands touch her ears. And my personal favorite “Can you touch your elbows?” which was just funny to watch. This goes on and on until we make a clean exit and leave E-coli Central.

Once Olivia learned the names of all her parts, I panicked. The game was over for her and she was now touching everything again. I had to do something and do it quick. Spanish! I began asking “Donde estan tus ojos?” “Where are your dedos?”

Once Olivia learned the names of her parts in Spanish, I again panicked. I don’t know French. What will I do? Anatomy! Ah, thank goodness for Anatomy! I began asking “Where your femors?” Where are your phalanges?” “Honey, where is your mandible? Tell me?”

Now Olivia is 5 and a half and squeezing around in the stall becomes increasingly more like a Cirque du Soleil audition. We no longer have to play the game because she is old enough now to understand. I meet far less new friends at the sink now that we don’t have the neurotic-mommy method to discuss but Olivia now knows the names of her parts in English, Spanish and proper Anatomical terms. That is all a bonus.

proud of your little citizen?

We’re looking for our first Little Citizen of the Month! Upload a photo of your little one dressed in Tea on our new Facebook Page. Each month we will select a little citizen to win a $200 gift certificate to spend here at Tea!

To win you must be on the Tea Stay in Touch list. Also, please include in your caption what you love about Tea or why your little one is a little citizen of the world.

family heirlooms

As winter took one last punch at the eastern half of the US last week, we found ourselves traveling under unusual circumstances. My husband’s grandmother passed away a week short of her 101st birthday. With the funeral in Ohio and a reception in South Florida, packing proved challenging. We would be leaving our home in the Deep South for two distinct climates. I had some decisions to make regarding wardrobe; for starters, what should a baby wear to a funeral? I also struggled with how I would keep a baby with a southern winter wardrobe warm. I didn’t have to think long to come up with an answer.

Grandma was an amazing woman. Raised as an Orthodox Jew in rural Ohio, she saw her share of prejudice and hardship. She lived through the Great Depression and World War II. She saw her youngest daughter head south with her new husband, a Catholic no less, to tackle the Civil Rights Movement. That girl went on to have three sons, the last one my husband.

Through her 100 years, there was one thing her family and friends could count on. Grandma would crochet them an afghan. A woman with a sense of joy and much love, the blankets she created felt alive with her memories. She made them in all shapes and sizes, in all colors. We personally have six in our household and we love each of them. I feel overwhelmingly blessed that Annie P was able to meet Grandma and receive an afghan of her own. When we stepped out on a bleak winter day to say goodbye, Annie P wasn’t cold as she snuggled under her great grandmother’s gift.

We were fortunate to make it to Florida before the snow and got a couple of extra days down there as a result. But as the mourners returned to their homes in places up and down the east coast and the weather took a turn, they reached for their afghans. My husband’s mother and her sister received call after call from people to tell them they were finding comfort under their blankets, in more ways than one. Grandma left a legacy in her afghans, one we will hold onto for years to come.

This made me think about the things we hold dear. Some of the most prized memories of a family are woven, crocheted or sewn. The 103 year old dress Annie P wore for her baptism was first worn by my mother’s grandmother. The care we took in dressing, and undressing, her is a testament to the place the gown has in our family. After my wedding, I painstakingly preserved my dress with the notion that perhaps one day my daughter would take it out and want to wear it. Or just look at it.

Gloves, hats, quilts, tablecloths, pillow cases. Each woven heirlooms of what we’re made of, or where we come from. Sometimes when I’m dressing Annie P, I wonder which pieces of her clothing I’ll hold onto and why. Aside from aesthetics, maybe I’ll save the outfit she’s wearing when she finally walks, or her dress from the first day of kindergarten. Maybe a blouse I adore will be ruined beyond repair. So I’ll snip a small piece of it and save it in a drawer. Over time, it will become a part of a collection. Maybe I’ll turn that collection into an heirloom for Annie P And along with her afghan, I’ll keep them safe until she needs them.

a global take on an american tradition

A Great Baby Shower FavorThere’s very few American traditions I enjoy more than a good old-fashioned baby shower — complete with wonderfully useful (and a few useless) gifts for a first-time Mom. I recently planned an intimate baby shower that blended a traditional high tea shower with South Asian flair — the application of mehndi for the expecting Mom and shower guests.

About Mehndi
Mehndi or Mehendi is the application of henna as temporary body art. Evidence suggests that mehndi originated from India but it is also deeply engrained in the history and culture of people in other South Asian countries, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

Mehndi is traditionally applied as part of a wedding ceremony in India. When traveling in Goa a few years ago, I learned we could easily identify a newly married woman by her intricately designed arms and hands.

Mehndi is also a part of other special occassions live the birth of a baby, engagements, holidays or other family get-togethers. In Arabic speaking countries mehndi is part of celebrations of a woman’s seventh month of pregnancy.

Three Reasons Mehndi Is Great for a Baby Shower

  • It’s beautiful and personal to each guest – some Moms at the shower I just organized very cleverly had the names of their husbands and children worked into the intricate designs they selected.
  • As the henna gradually fades away, guests are reminded of the guest of honor’s upcoming joys and challenges.
  • Henna is cooling and soothing. Just this small amount on my hand had a great overall chill-out effect.

If you’re looking for a henna artist in the NYC area, check out Ammara at NY Henna – you can find her on Facebook as Ammara Nyhenna. Facebook also has a great Mehndi Lovers Group which contains listings for artists across the country and around the world.

pass the brie

I can remember some of the foods of my childhood. There are others I have consciously blocked out. Some of my favorites at the time were cheese from a can as well as a rectangle blue box of American cheese. Neither refrigerated. Also there were breakfast cereals called Sugar Smacks and Sugar Pops, which are now called Smacks and Corn Pops in an effort to balderdash. A can of Kool-Aid was a great improvement over the small “add sugar” packets enabling kids to stick their finger in it and lick it off. Also known as a fake pixi-stix at my house. And we would never, NEVER eat our vegetables.

We are in a different era. Kids now are happy to eat their vegetables and I can report there are a few kindergarteners in Olivia’s class that are vegetarians. Perhaps it is only in my happy little California bubble that this level of nutrition is so. Or should I further qualify it to be happy little San Francisco bubble. In a time where our nation is under a serious concern for elevated levels of childhood obesity and children diagnosed with diabetes (an adult disease) at near epidemic levels, it is common place for healthy eating at our San Francisco schools and homes. Parents do their part by modeling healthy eating for their children and the children become healthy eaters. We tend to feed our children “children food” like Chicken Nuggets when we should be feeding them chicken dipped in yogurt, rolled in planko bread crumbs and baked. Fabulous. It takes about the same amount of time, a tiny bit more, but it is worth it. It is so important to allow our children to experience quality food with a wide variety options. Olivia experienced her first Chicken Nugget at the neighbors house when she was 5. I am sure it was organic and baked not fried but none-the-less it was a Nugget. She took one bite and refused the rest. That made me happy when I heard about it later. She has developed a taste for quality food and no interest in “fast” food.

We were invited to our good friends house when my daughter was 3. They have 2 daughters, ages 18m and 6 years. We sat down for a lovely dinner and after some time Olivia asked Sam, the father, to please pass the bread. Sam asks while passing the bread, “Olivia, would you like butter too?” Olivia replied “No thanks. But….do you have any Brie?”

bento box: a new way to bring lunch

Courtesy of Happy Home Baking

Ditch the bags and go for a box. I’m not talking about your regular American lunch box. The bento box is an option that kids will love for its unique style and cool factor. Your kid doesn’t have to be Asian to carry one either. I know you’re use to eating sushi and teriyaki out of restaurant bento boxes, but sandwiches and veggies work in them too. Each compartment will keep sandwiches, fruit, and cookie in their spot without the use of Ziploc bags. What an easy way to go green!

Bento boxes are a common way to eat lunch around Japan whether in school, on transit, or on a family picnic. Most boxes are beautifully lacquered while others are printed with popular Anime characters.

You can also wrap a furoshiki (pretty small cloth) around the box that can act as a place mat or napkin too.

Where to get a box:

Cooking for

Any Sanrio Store