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Planning a baby shower is no easy feat. And while you may not be the one actually planning, be kind to those who are... AKA pass these helpful tips along. The first step in planning a baby shower is finding your inspiration, keeping in mind the future mother to be – her style and personality, and the things and colors she likes. Then go on and be bold in choosing the creative direction, theme and colors to tie it all together. For my friend, whose shower is pictured here, I designed the overall theme after being inspired by old-fashioned wooden toys that I stumbled upon while street shopping in Washington D.C. To complement the old toys and depart from the traditional light pink and baby blue palettes, I went with a pale yellow and grey color combination, with giraffes and elephants as the theme for the tablescape and atmosphere. For those of you who like to get crafty, it can be quite fun to make a baby shower your very own DIY project. However, if DIY is not for you, you can still give your friend a personalized and beautifully decorated shower by ordering printables online. There are a lot of options available, so you can get creative with different fonts, colors, shapes and patterns to highlight the theme you chose. It is always a nice touch to include your friend’s name, date of the shower and the gender of the baby in decorations too. Here are 5 high notes that are sure to make any baby shower a hit. Flowers and Sculptures These make a terrific centerpiece for the table. They also bring an elegant sense of festivity to the event. To stay consistent with the theme, my friend from Blooming Bears, a company that specializes in floral sculptures, designed the adorable giraffe and floral alphabet cubes that spelled BOY. The guests couldn’t stop gushing about these arrangements! Add fun and festive pom poms for some multiplicity of dimensions. The Menu Make sure the menu is simple and relaxed. This helps create a no-fuss-required atmosphere. Prepare options that can be eaten without forks and knives. I sliced up some bright bell peppers and blanched asparagus spears and served them crudité-style with spicy ranch sauce in individual shot glasses. This worked out wonderfully because it was light and refreshing, and looked beautiful at the same time. Make sure to also offer variety so that there is something for everyone. Think vegetarian, vegan, seafood and meat options. Sliders are an excellent way to feed the crowd. Mine were seafood burgers made from a combination of shrimp, scallops and squid, all mixed in the food processor for some seriously delectable treats. Serve them with a slice of tomato, lettuce and some spicy condiments on a tiny challah bun, and even the most mannered, sophisticated guest will lick their fingers with delight! Glassware Flutes of fuzzy champagne or sweet cocktails are totally appropriate at baby showers these days; however, I decided to serve freshly squeezed lemonade instead. Make it extra special by serving your beverage in individual glass jars with a personalized sticker (mommy’s baby shower, date of the occasion and who is expected). Tie a rustic twine around the bottle’s neck with “best wishes” tag and color-coordinated straws for added impact. Keep bottled and sparking water on hand as well. Centerpiece The cake is always a centerpiece of any event, and for the expectant mom that will want to have dessert for two, it has to be a showstopper. In this delicious masterpiece, you can incorporate your theme and all of the fun décor elements, such as the giraffe, elephant, wooden toys and the alphabet cubes. With the cake I selected, I wanted to emphasize the pale yellow, grey and white color scheme. The two-tiered wonder was really fresh and equally as enjoyable to eat as it was to gaze upon. Party Favors Finally, the party favors are the ideal way to thank your guests for joining you and the mommy-to-be in celebrating the joyous beginning of a new life. The personalized body lotion at our baby shower was adorned with a bird on a birch and the date of the occasion. Story and Images by Svitlana Flom of Art de Fete.

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As mamas, we naturally become the magic-makers for our families. We sing the songs that make the waits seem shorter, dispense the kisses that help boo-boos hurt less, carry the seemingly bottomless bags of treasures, and find ways to turn even the most hum-drum days into something memorable.

Sometimes it's on a family vacation or when exploring a new locale, but often it's in our own backyards or living rooms. Here are 12 ways to create magical moments with kids no matter where your adventures take you.


1. Keep it simple

Mary Poppins may be practically perfect in every way, but―trust us―your most magical memories don't require perfection. Spend the morning building blanket forts or break out the cookie cutters to serve their sandwich in a fun shape and you'll quickly learn that, for kids, the most magical moments are often the simplest.

2. Get on their level

Sometimes creating a memorable moment can be as easy as getting down on the floor and playing with your children. So don't be afraid to get on your hands and knees, to swing from the monkey bars, or turn watching your favorite movie into an ultimate snuggle sesh.

3. Reimagine the ordinary

As Mary says, "the cover is not the book." Teach your child to see the world beyond initial impressions by encouraging them to imagine a whole new world as you play―a world where the laundry basket can be a pirate ship or a pile of blankets can be a castle.

4. Get a little messy

Stomp in muddy puddles. Break out the finger paint. Bake a cake and don't worry about frosting drips on the counter. The messes will wait, mama. For now, let your children―and yourself―live in these moments that will all too soon become favorite memories.

5. Throw out the plan

The best-laid plans...are rarely the most exciting. And often the most magical moments happen by accident. So let go of the plan, embrace the unexpected, and remember that your child doesn't care if the day goes according to the schedule.

6. Take it outside

There's never a wrong time of year to make magic outside. Take a stroll through a spring rainstorm, catch the first winter snowflakes on your tongue, or camp out under a meteor shower this summer. Mother Nature is a natural at creating experiences you'll both remember forever.

7. Share your childhood memories

Chances are if you found it magical as a child, then your kids will too. Introduce your favorite books and movies (pro tip: Plan a double feature with an original like Mary Poppins followed with the sequel, Mary Poppins Returns!) or book a trip to your favorite family vacation spot from the past. You could even try to recreate photos from your old childhood with your kids so you can hang on to the memory forever.

8. Just add music

Even when you're doing something as humdrum as prepping dinner or tidying up the living room, a little music has a way of upping the fun factor. Tell Alexa to cue up your favorite station for a spontaneous family dance party or use your child's favorite movie soundtrack for a quick game of "Clean and Freeze" to pick up toys at the end of the day.

9. Say "yes"

Sometimes it can feel like you're constantly telling your child "no." While it's not possible to grant every request (sorry, kiddo, still can't let you drive the car!), plan a "yes" day for a little extra magic. That means every (reasonable) request gets an affirmative response for 24 hours. Trust us―they'll never forget it.

10. Let them take the lead

A day planned by your kid―can you imagine that? Instead of trying to plan what you think will lead to the best memories, put your kid in the driver's seat by letting them make the itinerary. If you have more than one child, break up the planning so one gets to pick the activity while the other chooses your lunch menu. You just might end up with a day you never expected.

11. Ask more questions

Odds are, your child might not remember every activity you plan―but they will remember the moments you made them feel special. By focusing the conversation on your little one―their likes, dislikes, goals, or even just craziest dreams―you teach them that their perspective matters and that you are their biggest fan.

12. Turn a bad day around

Not every magical moment will start from something good. But the days where things don't go to plan can often turn out to be the greatest memories, especially when you find a way to turn even a negative experience into a positive memory. So don't get discouraged if you wake up to rain clouds on your beach day or drop the eggs on the floor before breakfast―take a cue from Mary Poppins and find a way to turn the whole day a little "turtle."

Mary Poppins Returns available now on Digital & out on Blue-ray March 19! Let the magic begin in your house with a night where everything is possible—even the impossible ✨

Our biology and its baby-making capabilities shouldn't be a surprise when life gives the green light for reproduction, and we should feel confident talking with our medical professionals when the time comes, but it can often feel overwhelming or uncomfortable to ask in person.

Here are the top 10 questions about fertility I feel my patients are often hesitant to ask.

1. Can I get pregnant?

The answer is truly you don't know until you actually conceive. We can do tests for many aspects—are you ovulating, are the tubes open, does the mucus in the cervix like your partner's sperm? Does your partner have enough sperm? And all those questions can have positive results, and still one may not conceive.

2. What about freezing my eggs when I am young? Will that guarantee a baby later when I am older?

The answer here is similar to the question above: You.don't know until you try. So you can have lovely eggs retrieved and frozen but when they are unfrozen, there is a chance that they may not be able to be fertilized. So that's why I am hesitant to reassure women that it'll guarantee pregnancy in the future. The good news is yes, in general, it does work, but not 100% of the time.

3. How does age affect fertility?

We are born with all our eggs and they get older with us, and alas harder to fertilize. Fertility starts to decline beyond age 35, not precipitously there, but substantially, with a more marked decline at age 40 or so. If a woman is under age 35, we encourage women to seek medical attention if she has been trying to conceive for a year or more and hasn't been able to conceive. If a woman is 35 or older, we encourage her to check in with us after about 6 months of trying.

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4. What can I do on my own, health-habits wise, to increase my fertility?

There are a few tried and true ways to remain healthy. Try to achieve your ideal body weight as both being underweight and overweight can impact fertility. Stop smoking as it can age the ovaries, causing earlier menopause and can even increase the rate of SIDS in children. Limit your drinking and avoid drugs—a good habit to get into before conceiving. You can start taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid—having folic acid on board when you conceive reduces the risk of a number of birth defects, including neural tube defects, like spina bifida.

5. What at-home tests can I do on my own?

There are a couple that are very easy. You can pinpoint your ovulation with ovulation predictor kits, such as the First Response ovulation predictor kit. They're very reliable and will guide you when to have sex with the most likelihood of success in conception. And if it looks like you are not ovulating, check in with your provider. You can also check up on your ovarian reserve at home to see how "zippy" your ovaries are (are there lots of eggs left?). These tests can serve as a guideline to how vigorous you should be acting on your fertility and when to speak with your doctor.

6. What specifically can men do to help with fertility?

A few things could be helpful. If he is a big drinker, encourage him to take it easy since alcohol isn't great for healthy sperm production. And if he loves to sit in a hot tub, you might "cool him down" as sperm don't like hot temperatures. If you have concerns, he can also be tested to determine his sperm production.

7. If you are having problems as a couple conceiving, should you have your partner tested?

Absolutely! About 50% of infertility is due to male factors and fortunately, it is really easy to test. They'll collect a sperm sample by masturbation, and it's off to the lab and you will get a quick answer.

8. How soon can I find out if I am pregnant?

I wouldn't test 10 minutes after having sex, but indeed, an early pregnancy detection test such as the First Response test, will turn positive as early as six days before the first day of the missed period (and to think of how long women had to wait in the past!).

9. If I am having problems conceiving, do I have to start IVF?

Not necessarily. There are many simple medications that can help women ovulate, and if the fallopian tubes are blocked, sometimes even the test can detect that. There are various procedures that can help open the tubes so don't fear that you are automatically in need of IVF. Speak to your doctor with about your specific concerns.

10. If I do need IVF, will it break the bank?

Again, not necessarily. Many states mandate insurance coverage for infertility therapy so that depends on where you live and what kind of insurance you have. Do check with your provider who can give you the information you need.

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The NICU is not the place you go to meet people. It's an intensive care unit, not a party. Chances are, if you're here, it's a high-pressure situation. The background noise is beeps and buzzes and the whooshing of air in and out of ventilators. There's a clicking, too, a “tck, tck, tck" of the feeding, pumping, counting down the milliliters of milk and vitamins dripping down tubes and into bellies.

This is not the soundtrack for small talk.

And yet, when my son, born prematurely at 30 weeks, was one month into his NICU resort stay and clearly thinking he was on sabbatical and would return shortly to the womb, I met the woman who would become my best friend. I met her on the worst day of my life.

Brain scans are funny. Dots on black and white and gray delineate good from bad, solid from liquid, tissue from bone. On the day in question, my son had a 30-day brain scan, unbeknownst to us. Apparently, this is standard procedure. (Over the next few months—how long it took us to graduate—we would come to learn all the procedures much better than we would have liked.)

It was a sunny and warm day in April, the kind that makes all the kids in all the classrooms stare out the window and wish for summer. Of course, inside the NICU the weather is irrelevant behind tinted windows and fluorescent lighting. But I carried the mood in with me, a spring breeze along with my pumped milk in its little cooler.

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The nurse in my son's room was new. They always were. I never could learn them all. She informed me that the head of the NICU would like to see me. She'd page him, she said. And then she looked at me three seconds longer than was normal. That's how I knew something was up.

When he entered, the big man himself, he spoke a great many words I did not hear while pointing to gray spots on a picture of my son's brain. I looked at the scan, and then I looked at my son in my arms, awake and eyeing my like, “You, hey you, I see that milk there. What's the hold up, lady?"

And then I heard the doctor say, “periventricular leukomalacia." Eleven syllables to tell me that my child had damage in all four quadrants of his brain. Very gently, I kissed him on his head, which smelled of hand sanitizer, and handed him to the nurse so I wouldn't drop him. Then I walked out and lost it – lost all control of my body and words and thoughts. I cried and shook and tore at my clothes a little.

Hours later, I went back in and sat in the hospital-issued rocker and held my son again. We looked at each other. He sized me up with an owlish stare and then stretched and pooped, very casually, like he was The Big Lebowski and I, his bowling buddy. No biggie, man. The nurse laughed from her corner where she'd been charting stats. We got to talking.

Five years later, this nurse is in my contacts under “family." She has a husband and a house and a dog and a mother, and I've seen it all. It sounds weird to refer to your “best friend" when in your 30s, like you're one mall trip away from buying matching necklaces at Claire's. But she is.

After we came home from the NICU, finally, she called to check in. Nobody actually uses the numbers they swap on the way out the door, but she did. She came over a week later. And she's been coming over ever since, swapping quips and bringing iced coffee and all the good magazines for the pool.

We've celebrated birthdays and Thanksgivings and drunk wine at vineyards and made our husbands watch Katherine Hepburn flicks. She's the one I call when I'm losing my mind over insurance battles with my son's wheelchair or swim therapy. She's also the one I call when I watch the newest episode of “Game of Thrones."

She's my person. She's my best friend. She would roll her eyes at this. This is why we work.

You don't expect to make new friends at my age. You've got your standard go-tos locked in, the ones that don't require effort. You've already dated and wooed them. But I wooed a new one. I met the best friend I'll ever have on the worst day of my life, which I guess moves it up a notch.

Katie Couric is a trailblazer who has made media history while raising two daughters, and this week she's reminded the world that while a lot has changed since she was pregnant on the set of the Today Show back in 1991, some things, unfortunately, haven't.

In a recent edition of her newsletter, Wake-Up Call with Katie Couric, the former Today anchor shared an old clip from when she was pregnant with her oldest daughter and was about to go on maternity leave. Her former Today co-host, Bryant Gumbel, "didn't quite get it," Couric wrote, noting that "It's pretty shocking to watch it now, 28 years later!"

In the clip, Gumbel asks Couric why she's taking "so long" off work. She was planning to take nine weeks but ended up taking less than half of that.

Gumble gives Couric a hard time about her leave and Couric explains to Gumble that having a baby is a major shock to a woman's body and that humans need time to recover from birth. (Seriously, this woman was back to work at four weeks postpartum. Many moms are still bleeding at that point.)

The cringe-worthy clip has gone viral, and Couric has made it clear that she doesn't have hard feelings toward Gumble at all, but that she brought the old footage up to make a point.

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"I think that times have changed so much, but I do think there's a lot of implicit bias against moms," Couric recently told USA TODAY. "I think it's important to make sure your employer is up on the times and that women aren't penalized, consciously or unconsciously when they have children."

The pressure to get back to work

Couric only ended up taking half of her maternity leave, and it's so easy to understand why. Her predecessor at the Today show, Deborah Norville, went on maternity leave and never came back. Couric, her substitute, was promoted to the role of permanent co-anchor. At the time, Norville said it was her decision, but in recent years she has said she felt her bosses didn't want her to come back.

All this happened in 1991, a few months before I would start first grade. Fast forward to 2014 and I was also the co-anchor of a (much, much smaller) local morning show. I wanted to start trying for a baby and frequently daydreamed about how I would look pregnant at the anchor desk, but even in my daydreams, I would cut my maternity leave short. To be clear, no one ever expressly told me that I would be replaced if I took a long maternity leave, but I knew it was a possibility. In the end I chose to leave my dream job because I didn't feel like it was compatible with my dream of motherhood.

This is not just a problem in television news. Last year Indeed surveyed 1,005 women working in tech and found a whopping 83% of those who had children said they felt pressure to return to work faster when they were out on parental leave. Just over a third said they were directly pressured by colleagues or managers, while 32% feared losing their jobs and 38% feared losing credibility or value in their workplace.

"Frankly, women are afraid they'll lose their jobs. We're worried we'll be forgotten while we're gone. Out of sight, out of mind," Kim Williams, director of experience design at Indeed said in a statement to Recode.

Another survey, the iCIMS Women in the Workforce report found 45% of office professionals believe taking parental leave would decrease their opportunities for promotion. And yet another recent survey, this one by Talking Talent, found that when employees have access to parental leave (which many American workers don't), women use only about 52% of the time they could.

Between a rock and a hard place

The results of another study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that when it comes to taking maternity leave, women are "damned if she does and damned if she doesn't," as the study's co-author Madeline Heilman, professor of psychology at New York University, told TIME.

Take a longer maternity leave like Norville did and you're seen as uncommitted and less competent. Short change your mat leave like Couric did and your parenting is judged. "The sad truth is, women are really between a rock and a hard place when making this decision," Heilman told TIME.

Time for a change

It's been 28 years since Couric sat on that set and argued with Gumble about maternity leave and he asked her, "How many men get nine weeks off?"

Couric started to bring up the possibility of paternity leave, but unfortunately in the nearly 30 years since that awkward conversation happened not much has happened on that issue.

This is a huge problem because until men feel they are able to be both caregivers and valued employees, women won't be able to be both, either.

According to Teresa Hopke, the CEO of Talking Talent, while more and more workplaces are adopting parental leave policies, they're just not being used to their potential because parents fear being penalized for taking them. That's why women are only taking 52% of the leave they're entitled to at work, and why men take even less, about 32%.

Changing parental leave policies are a great start, but we need to change our culture, too, and Couric's throwback clip proves that.

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Americans are having fewer children than in decades past, and the cost of childcare is absolutely a factor. Millennial parents are struggling to afford childcare and some are hoping for relief in the form of a federally-funded universal childcare policy. Some politicians are campaigning on it, but most baby boomers are far from sold on the idea.

While surveys suggest that the rising cost of childcare is keeping many younger Americans from having as many children as they would like, they also suggest that older Americans are strongly opposed to universal childcare.

According to a Hill-HarrisX survey released earlier this month, 72% of registered voters 50 and older believe day care costs should be paid by parents, not a federally funded universal childcare program or a subsidy that would halve costs.

And while much of the current political conversation is focused on who and what is trending among millennials, baby boomers outvote millennials and Gen-Xers, so even if the policy is popular among today's young mothers and fathers, there will likely be more grandmothers and grandfathers at the polls.

So why are older Americans not into the idea of subsidizing childcare?

For one thing, as Bryce Covert wrote for The New Republic last year, "Most Americans have long considered child care to be a personal problem rather than a collective one."

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Colvert's opening line is so obvious to anyone who has brought up the cost of childcare (or housing or student loans) at a family dinner only to have a relative reply, "if you can't afford a child, don't have one."

But maybe we should reply, "if a generation can't afford to have children, you won't have them when you need them."

The U.S. Census Bureau projects that within a couple of decades there will be more Americans over the age of 65 than under the age of 18. We need younger generations to care for the older ones, but if parents aren't supported, there will be fewer young people.

For Americans of all ages, we need to address this childcare crisis. Maybe universal childcare isn't the solution, but we need to accept that this is a problem that impacts the future of the entire country, not just parents.

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