Category Archives: Smile

Spark the kids’ creativity with The Story Pirates Creator Club

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to limit much of the activities many Americans can do as a family. And with many summer camps cancelled, schools closed or closing, parents are left wondering what to do with their kids all summer.

In between hiking and playing with the sprinkler, why not let your kids exercise their creative muscle with the Story Pirates.

The Story Pirates are a hilarious troupe of comedians, musicians, authors and teachers who produce content that honors the creativity and ingenuity of children. The widely popular Story Pirates podcast, takes stories written by kids and turns them into songs and sketches with the help of special guests including Billy Eichner, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dax Shepard, Bowen Yang, Claire Danes, John Oliver, and Lake Bell.

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My own kids just submitted their own story to The Story Pirates, and are eagerly awaiting to hear back. I mean, who wanted to hear a story about a dog, cat and sloth driving themselves to the vet, but I digress. Even if their story doesn’t get accepted, the process allowed them to excercise their creative muscle. Continue reading

Five black-led causes to support right now

The horrific death of  George Floyd at the hands (or rather, the knee) of a police officer disgracing his badge by exerting his power over another human being has lead to increased outrage and anger within black and P.O.C. communities in general, as well among white folks who are continuing to speak out, or speak out for the first time, against racial injustice.

As a white woman, I am learning how to balance using my own voice while being sure to amplify the voices of black/brown folks and other marginalized groups. I am constantly making mistakes, learning, and growing. 

In my journey toward being a better ally, I have grown to appreciate the importance of putting actual dollars (or whatever your country’s currency may be) into causes that directly or indirectly serve people of color in their communities and beyond. 

These organizations are working with often limited resources to fight and correct years of racial injustice and inequity, and are especially in need of funding at this time.

With the help of family, friends and colleagues, I have compiled a short list of organizations for those looking for places to give. These organizations not only focus on the needs and specific issues impacting black members of their communities and beyond, but they are all (to the best of my knowledge) founded or led by black folks.

In keeping with this blog’s Blogging for Better initiative these are mainly smaller, grassroots groups who are doing incredible work in their cities and towns.

If you have any other causes to suggest, please list them in the comment below. Continue reading

10 mom rules for tweens on social media

By Meredith Bleakley

My 9-year-old just got into a relationship.  I knew it was inevitable but I secretly hoped she would wait a little bit longer to step into this new phase of life.  However, she came to me and pleaded her case that she was grown up enough to get into this relationship so I’m going to allow it.  My gut tells me this relationship is going to be pretty serious and chances are despite how I feel about it – it’s probably going to last her lifetime.  She is officially in a relationship with social media.  *sigh*

It’s very basic and elementary for the moment.  She’s on Instagram and despite not being 13, I have allowed her to have a Pinterest account.  (Why does Pinterest want you to be 13 to have an account? At least Pinterest has value, she made me Christmas projects & she has found plenty of good useful information on that site.  I digress.) Continue reading

Picture This Clothing turns child imagination into wearable art

Throughout my social media feeds, I kept seeing pictures of adorable kids and their grownups wearing gorgeous shirts, leggings, dresses and more with unique designs. I soon learned the company behind these incredible pieces was Picture This Clothing, a company that turns your child’s imagination into wearable art.

Imagine your little one’s colorful creation taken from the page and placed onto their very own t-shirt.

Picture This Clothing gives you the opportunity to turn your children’s treasured artwork into a quality, wearable item that can last much longer than a drawing on the fridge.

Both of my boys (ages 7 and 5) loved creating their designs. My oldest chose a t-shirt and was very meticulous about the details of his design. My youngest chose to make a face cover and was a little more “abstract” with his creation. In both cases the final products looked beautiful, and they were so happy when they saw their t-shirt and mask for the first time.

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Picture This Clothing makes the process super easy. Simply print out the appropriate design template for the item you’d like to create, let your kids do their thing with colored pencils, crayons or markers, take a well-lit photo and upload the picture with your order.

Orders take about 10 days to complete, and I was happy to receive my items within that timeframe. This is particularly impressive for a company doing custom pieces.

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Picture This Clothing prints, hand cuts and sews all their orders in the USA, and this is reflected in the price. (A t-shirt, for example, will run you about $49.00 USD). The quality of the fabric and prints are excellent, making the price well worth it. These will definitely be special items to treasure.

When ordering, heed the company’s advice and order at least one size up. I ordered a youth size 10 for my son, who is about seven-and-a-half and of average build. As you can see in the photo below, the shirt fits him nicely, but is definitely not huge. If you want something your child can grow into, I would suggest going at least three sizes up, depending on your child.

Of course, Picture This is there to help with any of your sizing questions.

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Picture This Clothing isn’t just for kids. Adults can bring their kids’ (or their own) artwork to life in grown-up size t-shirts or leggings.

And right now, Picture This is celebrating the dads in our lives with 15% off all orders, including gift cards through June 21st. Imagine dad and his daughter in matching t-shirt and leggings — adorable!

Just enter the code DAD15 at checkout.

Disclaimer: This post was created in exchange for products, services and/or compensation. All views expressed are my own.

 

 

 

 

Traditional and adventurous ways to make Shavuot the delicious dairy holiday of your dreams

Shavuot, the Jewish festival that commomerates the receiving of the Torah (Old Testament), was one of my favorite holidays as a child.

I would love to tell you my appreciation of this holy day was because of a deep spiritual connection to my ancestors, and maybe it was a bit, but the real reason I adored Shavuot was the food.

Unlike other Jewish festivals with their gefilte fish, chopped liver and other traditional ashkenazic foods I disliked, the holiday of Shavuot was a dairy-filled wonder of cheesey goodness.

From blintzes to lasagna, I loved all the lactose-laden meals I indulged in during the holiday. Continue reading

Donating meals to essential workers and more ways to help right now

News and personal accounts of the devastating impact on the new Coronavirus on the United States has left many of us feeling powerless and overwhelmed.

If you aren’t a health care worker or other essential employee, you may be wondering how you can help.

First, take a moment to be grateful to be at a place where you can think that way. Many people are in pure survival mode and don’t have the financial, mental or emotional means to help others or even themselves. The fact that you are willing and able to think about aiding others is a huge privilege.

So you want to do something, but what? The numbers are overwhelming, you may not always know what to believe, or where the help is truly needed.

I have felt this way myself. I was saddened by the impact of this virus, and was searching for some way to make a difference. 

Luckily, I was able to find answers within myself, through the magic of positive social media and via my own family, including someone who is an expert in philanthropy.

But, even with all this knowledge, where do you start? Continue reading

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

The five judgmental people you are bound to meet as a parent

When you become a parent, you enter a world that is nothing but loving, supportive and judgement free. Just kidding.

While, I certainly hope you have at least a small group that fits the aforementioned description, chances are as you will encounter several sanctimonious people who believe they know best, and will be sure to tell you that any chance they get.

Parents are getting judged all the time by people around them. From the moment you have your first baby, to even seasoned moms, everyone is giving parenting advice and telling you how to be a parent. Here are five types of judgmental people you’ll meet as a parent. 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.

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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

Nutella, white chocolate bring fun twist to traditional hamantaschen

Purim is almost here, and that means hamantaschen.

Yum!

So what is Purim anyway?

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Well the story is a bit more complicated than this, but essentially the holiday celebrates the freeing of the Jews of Persia from a hateful decree by the king’s advisor, Haman.

Haman? Hamantaschen? Are they related?

Yup!

Hamantaschen are filled, triangle-shaped cookies, which, supposedly look like Haman’s hat.

Why would we want to eat a cookie shaped like the hat of a man who wanted to destroy the Jewish people? I’m not sure. But, they are delicious and super fun to make. Continue reading