Creative ways to connect this Valentine’s Day

When my husband and I first got together, Valentine’s Day meant spending an evening out at a fancy restaurant. As we have gotten older, and have added kids to the mix, February 14th is more often celebrated at home with a meal we cooked ourselves and watching a favorite movie or T.V. show.

While going out for dinner is a wonderful way to spend Valentine’s Day, you may want to mix things up a bit this year.

Read on for some creative ways to connect this Valentine’s Day.

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Charlotte’s journey as a trans kid’s parent is “And Just Like That” bright spot

Warning: Minor spoilers for And Just Like That ahead.

When Sex And The City, first aired I was in my late teens and early 20s. At the time, I was enamored with Carrie’s effortless style and creative spirit, Miranda’s passion for her career, and even Samantha’s sexual freedom and lust for life. While, I had no major issues with Charlotte, I often found her to be the buzzkill of the group, annoyingly obsessed with marriage and family, and far from the modern representation of feminism I admired in the other women.

As a college student, marriage and kids were the last thing on my mind, and I wasn’t even sure if my life would head in that direction. Though others may have casted them off as “old maids,” I thought these four women living incredible lives in New York City were the coolest. So when Charlotte got into her usual mope about never finding a man, I wanted to reach through the screen, grab her, and say, “don’t you realize how good you’ve got it!”

Now as a 30-something woman watching the SATC reboot, And Just Like That, I realize I relate more with Charlotte than anyone else, and she may be my favorite character in the series. 

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Connecting environmental and racial justice on Tu B’Shvat and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

My nine-year-old and I were updating his PJ Library reusable wall calendar for January, when he noticed Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish holiday celebrating the new year of the trees, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, fall on the same day this year, Monday, January 17.

As we look ahead to Tu B’Shvat, we can be mindful of Dr. King’s work, how climate justice and racial justice are linked, and how we can bridge the Jewish values of caring for our planet and working toward a more just world together.

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King’s words continue to ring true, as we look back on his legacy and wonder if we have gotten closer to achieving his dream for an equitable world.

While Tu B’Shvat is traditionally a holiday focused on trees, specifically the trees of Israel, and celebrating the land, the festival can be used an opportunity for both Jews and non-Jews a like to consider the topic of environmental justice.

Tu B’Shvat is the perfect time to ask ourselves, and our children, do we have access to clean water? Can we breathe clean air? Do we live in a place that is safe from the impact of hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters? Are we close to parks, nature centers, and other places for appreciating the environment?

If the answer to these questions is yes, we can take the opportunity to think about how others might be living, and note how environmental inequality is very much an issue in the U.S. and beyond.

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Screen-free ways to spend a family road trip

As a parent, I tend to be more on the laxer side of the screen time debate. I know letting my kids have an extra 30 minutes on their devices can be just what I need to keep my sanity in check. However, when we travel, I prefer to limit screens as much as possible.

I find that while offering screen time can keep my kids calm and make for an easier trip in the short term, often the stress over devices losing charge, not working, or even inducing nausea make them not worth bringing in the long run.

My family has taken several road trips in our Subaru, the longest being our drive from New York to Ohio when my kids were 6 and 3. While we did endure the occasional whine, my kids were able to manage without a device in their face for a few hours.

We are heading out on the road again, this time to Washington D.C., and I plan to use some of my tested strategies as well as some new ones, to help make the trip a calm and enjoyable experience.

Read on to see my plans for a screen-free road trip.

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I tried to turn my kid’s art into an NFT and failed miserably

Cryptocurrency. Chances are you’ve heard of this digital form of money, and may have heard of the phrase, “Non Fungible Tokens” or “NFTs.” You may have also read about people making thousands — even millions — of dollars by buying and selling NFTs on various digital marketplaces.

You may be wondering, what the hell is an NFT?

To be honest, I still don’t fully understand how NFTs function, how their value is determined, or if they are a viable long-term investment.

According to Forbes, “An NFT is a digital asset that represents real-world objects like art, music, in-game items and videos. They are bought and sold online, frequently with cryptocurrency, and they are generally encoded with the same underlying software as many cryptos.”

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Menorahs, Maccabees and more: Hanukkah explained

The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah began on Sunday evening, and you may have noticed your friends sharing pictures and videos of their Hanukkah festivities.

Hanukkah is a joyous celebration, and a popular Jewish festival. It is my kids’ favorite holiday, and for good reason! Who doesn’t love eight days of food, family and gifts?

Hanukkah is also one of the few Jewish observances those who aren’t Jewish (or connected to Judaism in some way) are familiar with, yet, despite the popularity of the holiday, many do not understand the full meaning and history behind Hanukkah.

As a Jew, and a mom, who cares about educating the world about Judaism, in hopes this might make others more tolerant and prevent antisemitism, I wanted to write this post to explain a bit more about Hanukkah.

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Recipes, books, games and more — PJ Library’s got everything you need to celebrate Hanukkah

Hanukkah is almost here, and I can already smell the latkes and see my kids smiling from all the holiday fun.

If your family is like mine, your kids are already looking forward to Hanukkah, and you are ready to make some special memories.

To help families embrace and share the joy of The Festival of Lights, PJ Library has updated its “Hanukkah Hub” for 2021 to bring Jewish and Interfaith families games, projects, recipes and more ways to make this year’s holiday one the family will cherish for years to come.

Photo Courtesy Of PJ Library

Whether you are looking for ways to mix up your latke recipe, or instructions on how to light the holiday candles, PJ Library is your go-to source for all things Hanukkah.

You already trust PJ Library to curate and deliver quality Jewish books to your family, so you can be sure that they have an excellent selection of activities to make Hannukkah a blast for all eight nights.

PJ Library’s Hanukkah Hub is free to use, and anyone is welcomed to visit PJ Library to browse all of their wonderful Hanukkah books, activities, and recipes.

For more information on PJ Library, and how you can enroll your children in their free book subscription service for Jewish families, visit PJLibrary.org.

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

White and dark chocolate chip cookies with WAFFLE CONE pieces

My son turned nine years old this week, and we will be celebrating with a small group of his friends this weekend.

I purchased a bunch of snacks (more than enough, according to my son), yet I couldn’t resist adding another fun treat to the mix.

My family loves chocolate chip cookies, and I often make the classic favorite we all know well. This time, however, I wanted to have some fun, so I swapped out half of the chocolate chips for the white chocolate version and added some waffle cone pieces for a crunchy, sweet surprise.

Note, I used the Keebler-brand waffle cones, as that’s what I had on hand. I would be curious how this would work with other brands, or even other types of cones.

Let me know if you try this recipe and share what you think in the comments.

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FREE Hannukah coloring pages: Dreidels, Dinos and Donuts!

Channukah, Hannukah, Hanukah, however you spell it, the Festival Of Lights is coming soon!

Though I am far from a professional artist, I was inspired to create these whimsical, Hannukah coloring pages to help kids of all ages get into the Hannukah spirit.

I hope you enjoy these, and please give me feedback on ways to improve my designs, or other ones you may like to see in the future.

Happy Hannukah and happy coloring!

What “Maid” teaches us about lifting up our fellow moms

I finished watching “Maid,” the Netflix limited-series, last night, and I still find myself sobbing at random moments, while recalling the powerful, gut-wrenching scenes of the show.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

“Maid” touched on domestic violence, alcoholism, toxic masculinity and other heavy issues, which, hopefully, sparked a conversation on breaking the cycle of abuse and doing better by DV survivors, while also acknowledging that many abusers are survivors of abuse themselves.

At the same time the series was shining a light on abuse, “Maid” was reflecting the stark difference in reality for those with financial means, and those without. This point was illustrated by the incredible story arc involving the relationship between main character Alex (Margaret Qualley) and Regina (Anika Noni Rose).

The viewer is introduced to Regina, when Alex shows up to clean her massive home. We quickly learn Regina is a power player, and, so it seems, has little to worry her. Meanwhile, at this point, we have already seen Alex escape her trailer home, sleep on a Ferry Station floor, and, thanks to visual reminders on screen, try to get by with little money.

From this vantage point, Regina seems entitled and self-absorbed, and our sympathies (at least mine) were with Alex, when her DV shelter friend, Danielle, “dognaps” Regina’s dog as payback for Regina refusing to pay Alex what was owed to her.

In a stand-off between Alex and Regina, we see Alex lay into Regina for freaking out over her dog missing for a few hours, when she herself had her daughter taken from her.

Perhaps motivated by Alex’s speech, Regina does pay Alex for her work, and continues to engage her cleaning services.

In what is a pivotal shift in her story, we first see Regina hastily packing up homemade pies for Thanksgiving, while her husband urges her to hurry up, all the while questioning the need for seven pies, which, apparently are for decoration only.

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