Category Archives: Inspire

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Groceries and gratitude

“The card didn’t go through,” the cashier said, after I attempted to pay for my groceries.

I inserted my credit card into the reader once more.

Again, nothing.

I sighed heavily, baffled by why my card wasn’t working.

I don’t struggle financially.

My payments are on time.

I was annoyed.

After a failed third attempt, I used a different card.

I left the store still annoyed and embarrassed.

I hated the idea of people thinking I couldn’t afford those groceries — that I was deemed unfit by the credit card company to pay in such a manner.

But, as I drove away, I felt something deeper.

Shame.

Not the shame of feeling misjudged for my economic status,

But the shame at myself for allowing myself to think so negatively of those who are less fortunate that the mere idea that others would perceive me in the same light made me so angry.

I like to believe I am a compassionate person.

I support many causes.

I try to give back in my community and beyond.

And, yet, I am still part of a society which teaches us to put so much worth and value in one’s economic standing.

From a young age, we are inundated with the notion that those who work the hardest will be rewarded, and that those who are less fortunate than we are simply didn’t try hard enough.

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We are conditioned to believe:

Poor equals lazy.

Poor equals stupid.

As if there aren’t plenty of rich, lazy people roaming the earth.

But, thinking negatively of those who have less makes it easier to write them off.

It makes it easier for people like me to feel better about ourselves.

But, we all know the truth.

How much any of us has doesn’t make any of us a better human being.

Living in a huge house doesn’t make us any kinder.

Having a designer wardrobe doesn’t make us any more empathetic.

Driving a nice car doesn’t make our actions any greater.

Going on expensive trips doesn’t make our souls any more fulfilled.

Our stuff doesn’t make us better.

In this time of year when it is easy to focus on being grateful for the material things, I am going to remember that things I hold in my hands are nothing compared to what I hold in my heart.

I will encourage my children to think of others this season, and do my best to model acts of kindness.

I will pause before judging others, whose situations I do not know, and even better, try to take the time to learn more about them.

And, I will allow myself room for growth, and forgiveness.

A version of this post originally appeared on the Maybe I’ll Shower Today Facebook page.

Tech-free tips for keeping kids happy on the go

Unpredictable moods, constant whining and non-stop hunger make traveling with children a daunting task for families. And, while many parents, including me, are grateful for the wealth of tech products to keep our kids entertained, often we need, or want, to leave the gadgets behind.

Whether you are a tech-free family or your devices simply ran out of power, there are lots of reasons to turn to old school forms of entertainment on your next family road, air or train trip.

I asked my followers on Facebook to share their tech-free tips for keeping kids occupied and happy while traveling, and they delivered. Continue reading

Supporting our Vets beyond Veterans Day

The parades have ended, the uniforms are folded and tucked away, the little American Flags go back into storage, and life goes on. Veterans Day has come and gone, and while those of us who never served will go back to our regular lives, many of our veterans remain some of the most vulnerable members of society.

After giving so much to serve our country, many of Americans veterans come home to little support financially, mentally, and emotionally, and are left to cope with the difficulty of returning to civilian life all on their own. Far too many vets are in serious financial trouble, without stable employment, or living on the streets.

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Leave No Veteran Behind is an organization working hard to ensure that those who serve are not forgotten once they come home. Through education, as well as job training and support, Leave No Veteran Behind, helps get veterans back on their feet, while helping to bring these highly skilled people back into the workforce.

In my religion, Judaism, one of the highest forms of charity you can perform is to help someone who is struggling find a stable source of income. The dignity one attains by being able to support themselves and their families is unmatched, and to be able to give back in this way is an incredible honor. Therefore, I am thrilled to help spread the word about Leave No Veteran Behind and the great work they are doing to help our veterans.

Veterans are our family, our friends, and our neighbors. Let’s honor them not only with special celebrations and parades, but with real support and guidance.

Click here to support Leave No Veteran Behind.

 

Put down the screaming toddler, and pick up this book

Moby Dick, Crime and PunishmentThe Catcher in the Rye, these are just a few of the many books that speak so boldly to the human experience. The anguish, the despair — the general disdain and confusion for humanity — are all laid out for the reader’s consumption.

Yet, no piece of literature has so perfectly captured the essence of toddlerhood …

until now.

Silence Is A Scary Sound, the latest release from Clint Edwards, the hilarious person behind the beloved blog, No Idea What I’m Doing, is an honest, humorous and heartfelt depiction of the pure wonder and insanity that is raising two and three-year-olds. Continue reading

Not all families celebrate Halloween

With Halloween mere days away, many American parents are scrambling to put last-minute costumes together, dealing with kids who can’t make up their minds about what they want to be, stocking up on extra candy, and hoping nobody gets into too much trouble.

This is a fun time of year for many families, and as Halloween has become an accepted part of American culture, it is often assumed most, if not all Americans celebrate it in someway.

This is not true.

For several reasons, lots of families choose to opt out of the Halloween festivities. Some feel the holiday puts too much emphasis on candy, others believe it’s too scary, others skip it for religious reasons. Continue reading