Category Archives: Inspire

5 Kid-friendly foods you can make at home

Feeding kids is expensive and never-ending. You buy a box of snacks at the store, only to find them wiped out by the end of the day.

Sure, it is easier, to whip up a box of mac ‘n cheese or open a package of cookies, and believe me, I do that often, but, if you have a little time, there are plenty of kid-favorite foods which can be made easily, while saving you a few bucks at the grocery store. Continue reading

Coronavirus and Passover: Tips for keeping everyone safe and healthy

Passover is one of my favorite times of year because I get to gather with my family to participate in a seder lead by my father. I enjoy the communal spirit in partaking in rituals observed by our ancestors and passing on these traditions to my children.

Given the spread of the Coronavirus in the United States and health organizations advising everyone to take extra precautions to avoid getting sick or passing on germs to others, you may be anxious about how you will spend your Passover.

covid19passover

 

Maybe you had a big trip planned to Israel and now have to observe the holiday at home. Maybe you’re living in a containment zone and can no longer host the big seder you planned. Or, maybe, you are just anxious and can’t prepare for the holiday the way you normally would.

Whatever the reason, even during this time, we can still find ways to have a meaningful Passover, while still keeping our families and loved ones safe.

Keep reading for my tips, and feel free to share yours in the comments. Continue reading

African-centric foundation inspired by young Malawian who “harnessed the wind”

Necessity is the mother of invention, or so goes the famous quote from the Ancient Greek philosopher Plato. 

Yet, while necessity might be the mother, sometimes, it takes a child’s dream, determination and fortitude to bring that invention to life.

William Kamkwamba was one such boy.

When a severe famine hit is country, Malawi, William defied the odds and found a way to produce a windmill that could produce enough power to pump water for crop irrigation.

movingwindmills.png

Working off of an old textbook, written in English, a language William didn’t know well, William was able to use the diagrams to deduce how to construct a windmill. He found materials at the scrap yard, and with a little ingenuity, was able to build what would be the first of several windmills in his community, Dowa.

William did all this at just 14, and with only the help of the local library, as he was forced to drop out of school due to his family’s inability to pay the fees.

But, William wasn’t done there. Continue reading

Bringing babies to the office isn’t “working”

Every so often I come across a post about some company’s generous policy of allowing new parents to bring their babies to work with them. Usually the praise for the family-focused policy is accompanied by a picture of a smiling baby, happily sitting in a baby seat while mom goes about her office tasks.

These policies are touted as a wonderful solution for new parents who have to return to work and can’t or don’t want to rely on outside childcare.

The reality, however, is much different.

While some babies are calm enough to allow you to get your work done, others demand a lot of attention. Some babies are colicky, need to be held constantly. They need to be burped, changed, cleaned, and on and on.

And, then there’s the feeding.

If you are nursing, you may need to feed your baby as often as once every hour, and if you consider how long a feeding session is, that doesn’t leave much “baby free” time to get work done.

babiesoffice.png

This can be daunting if your job requires you to meet certain daily or weekly deadlines, you have a customer-centric career, or you have a job without flexible hours. 

Though, I was working from home, I still found it challenging to balance my job and my baby without outside support. I often found myself working in the middle of the night or very early in the morning to catch up on what I had missed caring for my son during the day. I imagine those who bring their babies to the office have to do the same.
Continue reading

Boston nonprofit helps child heart patients and their families

It’s the flicker of a heartbeat on that first sonogram, showing a healthy baby is growing inside you.

Later, it’s the 20-week scan, relieving fears and worries, when baby’s heart is shown to be strong and developing properly.

Throughout, pregnancy and after birth, we moms know a healthy heart is crucial for our baby’s survival. We take every test and scan, and hope and pray all will be OK.

Creating a healthy baby is a miracle of human creation, and for those of us, who had babies with no medical challenges, we can only imagine the hurt and heartache endured by parents whose babies need extra care.

During my time as a blogger, I have met several extraordinary writers, who have faced the difficult news of learning their child has a birth defect.

heartmonthevalyn.png

Mia Carella is one such mom.

Her daughter, Evalyn was born with a congenital heart defect, which meant she had to go through several surgeries from the time she was just an infant. Her difficult start also caused some developmental delays, meaning Mia would be a special needs mom, a role, which she has embraced with grace and strength.

Through Mia’s incredible writing, I have gotten to know Evalyn. I have learned about her amazing courage, her unwavering joy and the pride she brings her parents.

She is truly special. Continue reading

We all contribute to our families’ success

“Who has more bills, you or daddy?”

My son asked me, while we were chatting in the kitchen.

“Neither of us do,” I answered. “Dad may pay a certain amount to use the gym, and I may pay a certain amount on my dance class, but we share a budget, and all of us contribute, even you and your brother.”

I went on to explain while his father is the one who brings in the most financially, and that it is important to recognize that, it is just as important to recognize the non-monetary contributions all of us make.

I spoke about how my writing, though not a big moneymaker, enables me to be home when needed, take care of household chores (however poorly I manage them), take his brother to speech services, and other tasks that would be difficult to complete if I was working full-time.

familysuccess (1).png

I reminded my son his role (and his brother’s) is just as important as his parents. I explained how helping with the laundry, cleaning up his toys and being a good brother, all contribute to happy and well-functioning household.

We are all in this together, and we all play a part. Continue reading

To the moms who pump at work, we see you

I never intended to be a stay-at-home mom, so when it came time for me to return to work a few months after my oldest was born, I knew pumping would be a major part of my experience as a working mom.

Luckier than most, though far from ideal, I only had to go to the office once a week.

As a nursing mom, I had to pump on those days I couldn’t breastfeed at home. This meant lugging my pumping equipment, along with my regular bag and often my laptop back and forth from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

pumpingmoms.png

It was cumbersome and exhausting and I still can’t believe women do this every day.

While at work, I had to hope the one spare office was available, otherwise my only option was to use the ladies room.

Yes, I pumped in the bathroom.

I would hide in largest stall and hope nobody could hear the pump motor, which always seemed ridiculously loud. I felt ashamed for pumping in that place, and for not demanding something better.

As far as I was aware, at the time, my company was not large enough to have to comply with any federal or state regulations on providing lactation rooms at the office. But even if they were, I was too exhausted to deal with it. On top of that, I was already grateful to only have to come in one day a week, and I didn’t want to push my luck.

Looking back, however, if I did speak up, and made my experience more comfortable, I might have been motivated to stay a bit longer. Continue reading

Simple, flavorful roasted cauliflower

I eat a (mostly) vegetarian diet, which means produce plays an important part of my diet. Living with a bunch of meat-loving boys (my husband included), meant that I was often left eating my veggies on my own.

Over the years we’ve been together, I have shown my husband that many of the vegetables he thought he didn’t like could actually be very tasty, if cooked the right way.

For me, roasting vegetables is almost always the best way to bring out their delicious flavor — with the help of a good blend of spices, of course.

roastedcauliflower.png

One of the easiest, and tastiest, vegetable dishes, I love to make, is roasted cauliflower.

Cauliflower provides a neutral palette for a variety of seasoning options, but my go-to is turmeric. Not only does this spice give the cauliflower a beautiful color, it adds a nice smokey undertone, and has lots of nutritional benefits to boot.

Roasted Cauliflower

Ingredients:

1 cauliflower head chopped, or one bag pre-cut cauliflower

3 Tbsp – Olive oil

1 Tsp – Salt

1 Tsp Pepper

1 Tsp Turmeric

Directions:

Toss cauliflower in olive oil, than mix in the salt, pepper and turmeric.

Place cauliflower in casserole pan, baking sheet or whatever else you have on hand, just be sure it is large enough to spread out the cauliflower pieces.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes (or to desired crispness).

And that’s it. An easy dish that is healthful and flavorful

This cauliflower dish makes a great side, or even a good snack. Even my four-year-old enjoys it.

So whether you are going meatless or just want to eat more veggies, this dish is a simple, tasty addition to your rotation.

 

Fires put Australian wildlife at risk, here’s how to help

Like most people who grew up outside of Australia, I’ve always been fascinated by the country’s unique ecosystem and variety of animals found only in that part of the world.

Viewing koalas, kangaroos and other native Australian animals at local zoos was the closest I ever got to witness this incredible wildlife, and my hope is still to someday make it to Australia, so I can experience these creatures in their natural habitats. australiananimals.png

Sadly, those habitats are in grave danger, as fires continue to rage across Australia, leaving many animals without food, water, shelter and other means for survival. According to WIRES, an Australian organization leading the efforts to conserve local wildlife, more than 800 million animals have been effected since September.

WIRES has been working round the clock to rescue as many animals as possible, and is great need of financial support to carry out their mission. The organization has established a special emergency fund to address the dire needs of animals impacted by the wildfires.

Visa and Mastercard holders can donate directly through the WIRES website via these links:

https://www.wires.org.au/donate/online
https://www.wires.org.au/donate/emergency-fund

PayPal donations can be made here:

https://www.paypal.com/au/fundraiser/112574447199339912/charity/3562115

Donate through Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/donate/1386120504919105/10158318179549750/

For those donating from the United States, the exchange rate is favorable and your contribution can make a huge difference.

The impact of the Australian wildfires has yet to be fully understood, but it is clear they will have far-reaching effects on the Australian ecosystem and beyond. The BBC provides a thorough explanation of the causes, current status and implications of the wildfires.

For more ways to help the people, places and wildlife effected by the fires, check out this link from PBS.org.

 

 

 

This book made me appreciate teachers even more

Whenever I think about who inspired me to become a writer, my second-grade teacher comes to mind.

When I think about who inspired me to think critically, and ask questions, a high school teacher comes to mind.

When I think about who will shape and influence my children over the years, teachers come to mind.

schooled.png

The importance and value of great teachers cannot be understated. These dedicated servants to education can make all the difference in the lives of our children.

I have long had a deep respect for this profession, yet, I never fully understood the depth of work and devotion to this career, until I got my hands on a copy of Schooled: A Love Letter to the Exhausting, Infuriating, Occasionally Excruciating Yet Somehow Completely Wonderful Profession of Teaching. Continue reading