Category Archives: Smile

From preschool to college, graduates deserve celebration

Editor’s note: This post was written in collaboration with PurpleTrail.com. All views expressed are my own. Images for this story were provided by PurpleTrail.com.

As I sit here writing this on a chilly, New York, winter morning, it’s hard to imagine the warmer weather, and what those sunnier days bring: the end of the school year, and, for many students, graduation.

When I was a high school senior, many, many years ago, I eagerly awaited my graduation day, excited to see what adventures lay ahead of me in college and beyond. Four years later, that same feeling, albeit with a bit more nerves about heading into the “real world,” was with me as I journeyed toward the end of my higher education.

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I had the self-centered focus of youth, and wasn’t able to fully understand how important my education was to my parents. Even as a young adult, without kids, I didn’t understand the big fuss families made over graduation. Now, that I have children of my own, I get the joy families feel when seeing their children walk across the stage, collecting their diplomas, signifying many years of diligent work and determination.

Graduation is a huge accomplishment, and whether they are headed off to college or Kindergarten, PurpleTrail.com has a wide variety of gifts and invitations to mark the occasion. Continue reading

Curiosity ignites at Liberty Science Center

Exploring their surroundings through touch, is one of the main ways children learn about the world. They love to get their hands on everything — often things which are dangerous, expensive or both. This love for grabbing all the things, can make visiting museums tough for families with small children.

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Their acceptance and even insistence that kids manipulate and interact with their exhibits is why I love science museums. Children are curious beings, and offering them opportunities to see how things work is crucial for their development. Nothing beats seeing a child’s eyes widen in wonder at the sight of something remarkable.

During the winter break, my family visited Liberty Science Center. Located in Jersey City, N.J., just across from lower Manhattan, this museum has plenty to offer kids of all ages. Even grown-ups can tap into their inner child and have fun. Continue reading

Exploring The Rubin Museum of Art with mindful intention

Editor’s note: This post is about my experience attending Mindfulness for Families at The Rubin Museum of Art. My family’s visit was compensated by the museum. All views expressed are my own.

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My two boys and I are exploring The Rubin Museum of Art, absorbing the various paintings, sculptures and architecture. We are tasked by mindfulness expert, Archimedes Bibiano, to move through the space, sans electronics, and take mental snapshots of whatever inspires us in the moment. There are no rules — only a time limit — and everything from the chairs in the cafe to the color of the walls is worthy of consideration.

My six-year-old wants to discover the sixth floor, so we ride the elevator up, anticipating what exciting treasures me might find.  We walk out on the floor, and we catch a glimpse of the floor below, which is visible from the top of the spiral staircase, which climbs up the center of the museum. From this perspective, my son notices a pool of water with wooden cut outs floating inside. He sees some visitors stepping from piece to piece and is eager to try this himself. Continue reading

Reading to NICU babies inspires foundation full of heart

My baby doesn’t belong in the NICU.

At least, that’s what I thought while I held my seven-pound, full-term newborn in a room surrounded by tiny preemies tucked away in incubators, fighting to survive.

My baby doesn’t belong.

Or, maybe, I don’t belong.

My NICU experience was fraction of the time other parents endure. I came to the hospital with a baby born under emergency conditions and left two days later with a healthy child. This is not a typical NICU story, and I often feel wrong putting myself in that club.

I have friends whose children spent weeks, even months in the hospital, their contact with their precious babies reduced to supervised hours and minimal privacy. I have friends who spent days watching their tiny miracles give their all to survive, only to succumb to the will of G-d. I witnessed other parents during my visits to the NICU, whose bravery never wavered in the face of uncertainty.

Even though, my child wasn’t in the NICU for long. The time I spent with him there taught me just how valuable a caring and supportive environment can be for both newborns and parents. As I sat there in that uncomfortable hospital chair, awkwardly trying to nurse my child without detaching the numerous wires affixed to his body, I listened to the sounds of nurses tirelessly rushing from incubator to incubator, checking vitals and comforting bewildered parents. Because I was able to spend time with my child alone, I had the unique opportunity to observe other families and empathize with their hopes, fears and dreams.

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Because I (article author) was able to spend time with my child alone, I had the unique opportunity to observe other families and empathize with their hopes, fears and dreams.

One common connection between all NICU families, as this immense feeling of gratitude. Even those who’ve experienced the greatest of loss, still find meaning and purpose in the midst of tragedy. These parents are an inspiration and a reminder how hope can shine through the darkest of moments.

One such mother is Stacey Skrysak, a journalist and writer who, along with her husband Ryan founded Triple Heart Foundation in honor of their premature triplets, Peyton, Parker and Abby. Born in 2013 at just a little more than 22 weeks gestation, only Peyton survived, with Abby passing shortly after birth and Parker passing in the NICU at nearly two months old. Continue reading

Top 8 things to know about Channukah

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Jewish families like mine are scrambling to get ready for Channukah, the festival of lights. There are presents to buy, latkes to fry and menorahs to polish. Although Channukah is a favorite holiday of my people, and gets a good deal of mainstream attention, there is still some confusion about this eight-day celebration.

Why is it eight days?

Is this the “Jewish Christmas?”

Who’s this “Maccabee” guy?

To shine a light on this Jewish festival, here are the top eight things to know about Channukah Continue reading

One More

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This poem originally appeared on the Maybe I’ll Shower Today Facebook page

One More

One more kiss
Before you go down to sleep
My sweet little baby
My heart you keep

One more push
On the swing my love
My spirited child
Soar, soar above

One more wave
As you board the bus
I promise to not
Make much of fuss
One more lecture
Before I hand you the keys
Tell me once more
You’ll be careful, please?

One more hug
At your college room
How did this moment
Come so soon?

There will never be enough “one mores”
So, I will savor the few
And be thankful for the blessing
Of raising you.

Fall for these chocolate chip, butternut squash muffins

I am basic enough to admit that, while you will never catch me with a pumpkin-spiced latte, I do love the fall, and cooking with my favorite seasonal produce — squash.

Because butternut squash is aplenty, I have been experimenting with various muffin recipes. A quick Internet search yields dozens of versions, many of which I have tested. I realized, however, that I was always adding my one tweaks, so I decided to finally give my own recipe a go.

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What I love about this recipe is its simplicity (most ingredients are likely already in your pantry) and that it is lower in sugar than comparable muffin recipes. If you have more of a sweet tooth consider going with a 1/2 cup of sugar instead. Continue reading

Our Columbus, OH trip (with some PA in between)

My husband is an alumnus and avid fan of The Ohio State University (I hope this won’t deter any Michigan or Penn State supporters from reading on), which means every couple of years or so, he longs to return to the banks of the Olentangy River to cheer on his beloved Buckeyes. While we have gone as a couple before, we had never gone as a family, so we decided to take the brood back to Columbus for OSU’s homecoming weekend.

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My husband and I agreed driving would be the best option for our family. Flying with young kids can be tricky, and we felt stopping midway in Pennsylvania from New York to Ohio would make the journey more comfortable for everyone. We chose the Holiday Inn Express in Dubois, Pa., for its convenient location and high recommendation. The hotel met all of my expectations for the Holiday Inn brand and was a great choice for an overnight before we continued on to Columbus. Continue reading

Nature vs. Nurture: Nature (slightly) wins

I took an advanced placement course in developmental psychology, during my senior year of high school. Although, at the time, I was a long way from having children of my own, I was fascinated with how the human psyche is shaped over time. We studied various views on personality and behavior, including the long-standing debate of nature versus nurture.

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Reading the works of the likes of John Locke, I was convinced that our behavior and character was almost exclusively shaped by our environment and that we are truly “blank slates” when we first enter the world. This view made me regard every future child I encountered with a certain level of judgement for their parents. If their kid was awful, it had to be because of something they were doing wrong.

Then, I had my own kids. Two boys, being raised in similar circumstances, but who could not be more different. And, this difference was apparent from the moment my second son was born. Continue reading

“Harry Potter” and the lessons for this mom

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My two boys and I were shopping for school supplies at our local Target, a few months ago, when I came across a display of “Harry Potter” books. My eldest, who will turn six in November, was entering first grade, had a growing attention span, and was more capable of processing a complex narrative. I was excited to introduce him to the magical world of Harry Potter, and hopefully find something special him and I could share. He was familiar with the series, and was interested in getting a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. When I read the series, many years ago, I got most of the books from the library, so I was happy to have an excuse to buy a copy, plus it was 20% off, and I can’t resist a deal. Who knows, maybe this will be my motivation to finally buy a complete set. Continue reading