Category Archives: Smile

Celebrate the Jewish New Year with these easy, D.I.Y. honey jars

Rosh Hashanah is almost here, and what better way to celebrate the Jewish New Year than with a customized honey jar?

Honey, with it’s sweet, delicious flavor is synonomous with Rosh Hashanah and our desire for the upcoming year to be full of sweetness and joy.

While any honey will do, creating honey jars with your family is a great way to add a special twist on the tradition, and add some decorative flare to your Rosh Hashanah table. Huge thanks to a special person in my life for sharing this idea.

What You Need

Honey Jars (with or without stirrers, plain mason jar will do)

Decorative Bees

Tacky Glue

(Optional: Paints, glitter glue and other decorative items)

What To Do

Clean and dry honey jars.

Add bees where desired, using tacky glue.

Let dry.

You may customize the jars with your child’s Hebrew Name, L’Shanah Tova or other messages for the New Year.

Fill with honey as desired.

For a fun side project, and a simple way to review the blessings over the apples and honey, you can create Rosh Hashanah “Brachot” sheets using construction paper, marker and glue. Older kids can write out the Hebrew themselves, while younger ones can work with an adult.

Simply layer a white piece of construction paper on top of a colored paper of your choice. Flip over and glue another white piece of paper on the other side. Write out the blessings in Hebrew on one side, English (or preferred language) on the other.

Even more Rosh Hashanah ideas and stories can be found at PJ Library. The renowned philanthropy that brings Jewish-themed books to families all over has lots of fun ways to prepare for the Jewish New Year.

Introduce your children to the Jewish books, music and more from PJ Library by signing up here. Content is geared toward children ages 6 months to about 7 years, depending on your area.

Disclaimer: As a PJ Library influencer, I am compensated for promoting this program. All opinions expressed are my own.

“The Old Cocoon” offers needed comfort in times of uncertainty

“The Old Cocoon,” by April O’Leary arrived in my mailbox just when I needed the encouragement.

After weeks agonizing over our children’s education, reviewing statistics, reading through our district’s plans, and consulting with our friends and family, my husband and I submitted the forms to enroll them in their respective, modified, in-person learning options.

Though the deed was done, I still felt anxious about my choice. I was scared about the future, frightened by the uncertainty. Did we do the right thing? How will our children handle this “new normal?”

I am comforted by knowledge and being able to control situations. Yet, as we all know, these days, that’s a difficult task.

Reading “The Old Cocoon” reminded me of the beauty of change and how we can embrace the future with hope, knowing we are held by those who love and support us.

Through a beautiful, 34-page tale of a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly, O’Leary addresses the hardship and fear of change, while offering a path toward acceptance and positivity.

I believe people of all ages will appreciate this beautiful story. The words are uplifting, genuine and heartfelt. They are truly written with love and a passion for helping others.

I especially feel this is a wonderful story for parents and children to read together as the school year begins (whether virtual or in-person) across the country.

“The Old Cocoon” can serve as a tool for discussing your child’s concerns about school, wearing masks, canceled trips or any other “disruptions” caused by the current pandemic.

Even beyond the uncertainty of the current global environment, “The Old Cocoon” will guide you and your loved ones through such moments as the death of a loved one, moving to a new city, or the ending of a long friendship.

Now available with the limited time offer to “Buy One Get One” via the O’Leary Publishing website, “The Old Cocoon,” which is designed to fit easily inside most standard greeting cards, is a wonderful gift of hope and comfort to deliver to the loved ones in our lives.

And as a special gift to you, I will be giving away four copies of “The Old Cocoon” to the first four people who comment on this post with how they think this book can help them or someone they love.

“The Old Cocoon” is available for purchase through O’Leary Publishing and on Amazon in both soft cover and Kindle format.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All views expressed are my own.

Socially-distant summer activities with PJ Library printable

Summer is in full swing, and Americans have accepted that this season will unlike any other in recent history. Many of our favorite summer spots are closed, or running with limited capacity, and health concerns have left many families wary of venturing too far beyond their homes.

With limited and restricted options for entertainment, you may wonder what to do with kids all day. Afterall, bored kids can be the worst.

A little resourcefulness and creativity can turn those bored days into memorable ones. Read on for some ideas to try with your family.

Continue reading

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.

creatorclubstorypirates

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.

picturethisfacecover

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.

picturethisartson

 

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.

picturethisclothingkids

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