Category Archives: Smile

5 Ways to enjoy fall in the Western Hudson Valley

I have called the Hudson Valley my home for several years now, and I am finally getting around to sharing some of the incredible food, places, and culture this region has to over.

The Hudson Valley is an area of New York State that stretches along the Hudson River. On the east side, you have Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess County, while on the west side of the river, you will find Orange, Rockland and Ulster County.

My family resides in Western Hudson Valley, so my focus will be on this part of the region, but you can certainly find incredible places to explore on the eastern side of the Hudson River.

While any time of year is a wonderful time to visit, the Hudson Valley is especially popular in the fall, and with good reason. The leaves turn gorgeous shades of red, orange, yellow and purple; farm stands are filled with tasty fall produce; and, apple and pumpkin picking is plentiful.



Please note fall weekends (especially Columbus Day weekend, and during Warwick’s Applefest) can be extremely crowded. If you prefer less people around during your visit, try coming in the middle of the week, or later in the season. Late November, before the Winter holiday activities start, is a good bet.

Read on to learn about some of my favorite spots to experience the best of the Hudson Valley.

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5 simple ways to enjoy a fun, safe family vacation

By Joyce Wilson

Family vacations during school breaks are always something to look forward to and can still be enjoyed even in the era of COVID-19. Thankfully, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise domestic travel is safe for fully vaccinated individuals who wear a mask in public. If your children are too young for the vaccine, the CDC recommends you limit your travel to a short road trip to a location with outdoor activities that allow for social distancing.

Read on for ways to enjoy vacationing with your family in these unique times.

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10 times my kid’s outfits were better than anything at the Met Gala

The annual Met Gala is the place for high society to see and be seen in the most glamorous, avant garde and jaw-dropping fashion. From models to movie stars to even politicians, anyone who is anyone was on the red carpet at the event of the fall.

Scrolling through this years looks, I am reminded of all the creative clothing choices my youngest child has made over the years. From the moment he first became aware of clothes, he’s loved to dress up and express himself in unique ways. While I may have a mother’s bias, I think his looks could definitely upstage or at least turn a head or two if they were to strut their stuff at the Gala.

Here are a few of my favorite looks from recent years:

Overalls And Boots

Nothing says style like a snazzy pair of red cowboy boots.

Red Warrior

What can I say? The kid likes red.

Stealing The Scene In Green

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A tribute to my siblings on “Aunt and Uncle’s Day”

My children are fortunate to have a strong bond with their extended family. Though we often go too long without seeing them in person, I am grateful, in particular, with the connection my kids have forged with my brother and sister.

Affectionately known by the Hebrew words for aunt and uncle, their “Doda” and “Dod” are an important part of my kids’ lives.

In honor of “National Aunt and Uncle’s Day,” today, I am sharing my love and appreciation for my siblings, and all the other siblings who are devoted aunts and uncles to their nieces, and niblings (non-binary alternative for niece or nephew; I was unclear on an accepted one for aunt or uncle, please suggest one in the comment).



When my first son was born, my sister stepped up and offered her babysitting services, allowing my husband and I to get much needed nights out. We still joke about how the only way to stop my son from crying was to change his diaperconstantly. Hey, whatever works!

Two years and another baby later, my sister continued to be an important part of my kids’ lives. As they both got older, this bond grew from helping with feeding, bathing and diapers, to doing projects with them and taking them to museums. And, when we couldn’t get together in person, “Doda” was always eager to video chat.

With the world opening up (hopefully), my sister will soon be jetting off to some fabulous location, and I am sure will pick up (as she often does), cool souvenirs for my boys. I am thankful that even in her travels, my sister has her nephews in her heart.

Though my brother’s bond with my kids started slowly, in recent years, this connection has grown stronger. They are thrilled whenever they get the chance to spend time with their “Dod,” which means lots of fun playing games, running around or just being silly.

My brother had a special connection with one of our own uncles (may his memory be a blessing), who served as a guide, mentor and confidante to him over the years. As my boys grow older, I am grateful they will have their “Dod” to turn to for guidance and support.

Speaking on behalf of all parents out there, I want to say,”thank you,” to all the siblings who cherish their role as aunt or uncle. You are the ones our kids can go to when they are uncomfortable talk



When my first son was born, my sister stepped up and offered her babysitting services, allowing my husband and I to get much needed nights out. We still joke about how the only way to stop my son from crying was to change his diaperconstantly. Hey, whatever works!

Two years and another baby later, my sister continued to be an important part of my kids’ lives. As they both got older, this bond grew from helping with feeding, bathing and diapers, to doing projects with them and taking them to museums. And, when we couldn’t get together in person, “Doda” was always eager to video chat.

With the world opening up (hopefully), my sister will soon be jetting off to some fabulous location, and I am sure will pick up (as she often does), cool souvenirs for my boys. I am thankful that even in her travels, my sister has her nephews in her heart.

Though my brother’s bond with my kids started slowly, in recent years, this connection has grown stronger. They are thrilled whenever they get the chance to spend time with their “Dod,” which means lots of fun playing games, running around or just being silly.

My brother had a special connection with one of our own uncles (may his memory be a blessing), who served as a guide, mentor and confidante to him over the years. As my boys grow older, I am grateful they will have their “Dod” to turn to for guidance and support.

Speaking on behalf of all parents out there, I want to say,”thank you,” to all the siblings who cherish their role as aunt or uncle. You are the ones our kids can go to when they are uncomfortable talking to us. You are the ones who bring the cool gifts and take the kids to fun places. You are the ones who let the kids stay up late watching movies and give them all the junk food. You are the ones who bring joy and love into all of our lives.

Thank you aunts and uncles for being your wonderful selves.

Happy Aunt and Uncle’s Day!

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Small-town, seaside charm abounds in Cape May, N.J.

A few days after our family trip to Cape May, N.J., I can still smell the salty, sea air and feel the cool, ocean breeze on my skin.

I am no stranger to the beach; I grew up in Queens, within an hour’s drive of Long Island’s popular shores, took yearly trips to Virginia Beach as a kid, traveled to the beaches of the Carribean and the Middle East, and, more recently, spent many summers at the more northern points of the Jersey Shore.

Cape May N.J. has a lot of what you might find in any beach town, small shops selling ice cream, souvenirs, or beach gear, restaurants on the water and a walkable pathway that runs along the edge of the beach. However, what makes Cape May stand out is the charm of the town.

Cape May N.J. is dotted with beautiful Victorian homes and quaint shops. In proximity to our hotel, was just one small grocery store, and I can’t recall seeing a single chain restaurant or major retail store. Of course, this could make living in Cape May year-round challenging, which I can’t speak to, but if you enjoy an escape from the hustle and bustle of busier areas, a visit to Cape May may be right for you.

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Super simple pizza lunch/snack hack

I have two school-age kids who bring their lunches from home. Though I am far from the healthiest parent, I do try to give my children a variety of foods, and, when possible, pack them items that are homemade.

Still, those prepackaged kid lunch options you find in the supermarket are very tempting, and definitely convenient.

My son and I were at the store together, viewing these very items in the refrigerated section, when I thought of the idea to try and make my own version of this popular item.

I grabbed some pizza dough I had already made, got a muffin tin, and got to work. The result was portable, stackable, packable mini pizza rounds.

If you are a parent looking for an easy school/camp/sports lunch or snack hack. Read on for the super simple recipe.

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What hiking taught me about the human spirit

I am blessed with the good fortune to live near some incredible hiking trails, including a large section of the Appalachian trail. I love the peace and quiet I find while hiking, especially in the fall and winter when the trails are less populated. I find being alone on the trail allows me to better experience the sounds of the wind whistling through the trees, birds chirping and insects buzzing. I can sync my soul with nature and put my mind at ease.

Now with the warming weather, more people are out hiking, so my opportunities for solitude are limited. However, I still enjoy getting outside, and try to hit the trails on weekday mornings when the crowds are manageable. Also, there is a difference between crowds on a trail, and crowds in general. Something aboout being out in nature reduces the stress and annoyance of being around large groups of people. I can’t help but feel good.

I find my fellow hikers, whether novices or experts on a months-long excursion, share this same spirit. While, we may have widely different views, and might even despise one another in a different space, on the trail none of that seems to matter. Here we all share one purpose, the desire to be one with nature.

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LEGOLAND New York brings thrills to the Hudson Valley

My family has called the New York Hudson Valley home for nearly six years, and the longer we are here, the more we fall in love with all the wonderful treasures this area has to offer. From breathtaking views atop scenic mountain trails to delicious farm-to-table food, this region is truly a special place.

This summer, the Hudson Valley will become even more of a hot spot with the opening of LEGOLAND New York.

Conveniently located in Goshen, N.Y. — just 60 miles from NYC — LEGOLAND New York will include seven themed lands, such signature rides as “The Dragon” and “LEGO® NINJAGO® The Ride,” as well as new experiences like the global debut of LEGO® Factory Adventure ride.

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Latin-Grammy winners, 123 Andrés turn hit song “Ten Little Birds/Diez Pajaritos” into dual-language board book for young learners

Learning a new language is fun for all ages, and even really young children can benefit from exposure to languages outside their native tongue.

123 Andrés, the award-winning musical duo, has put their incredible talent for introducing youngsters to Spanish into a brand new board book, Ten Little Birds/Diez Pajaritos.

Based on the fan favorite song of the same name, Ten Little Birds/Diez Pajaritos, follows the journey of ten colorful birds, that keep flying away. Children will love the bold images and whimsical images, and guessing where the birds might have gone.

Presented in both English and Spanish, parents and guardians will love how Ten Little Birds/Diez Pajaritos can be used as a tool to teach or enhance language development. The book is also a wonderful way to foster counting, subtraction and other early math skills.

Ten Little Birds/Diez Pajaritos is available now at a variety of retailers including Amazon, Target, Barnes and Noble and more.

Ten Little Birds/Diez Pajaritos was written by husband and wife, Andrés and Christina under their band name, 123 Andrés. Andrés and Christina have performed all over the world, bringing their love of music, language and Latinx culture to families. In 2016, 123 Andrés won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album for their album, “Arriba Abajo.”

Ten Little Birds/Diez Pajaritos is the first book from 123 Andrés and is published by Scholastic.



How To Celebrate Lag B’Omer

Lag B’Omer is a lesser-known Jewish celebration, which commerorates the 33rd day of the Omer, or time between the Jews leaving Egypt and their receiving of the Torah 40 days later.

So, what’s so special about the 33rd day, and why do we honor this occasion?

The answer depends on who you ask. However, many scholars believe Lag B’Omer is observed because, according to the Talmud, during the Omer, the esteemed sage Rabbi Akiva’s students were killed by the thousands, on all the days, save for the 33rd one.

Yikes! Seems like a dark reason for a celebration, but hey, have you seen pretty much every other Jewish festival? Celebrating not getting killed is our bread and butter, or bagel and schmear, if you prefer.

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