The Message We Send to Our Children

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Isn’t it cute that your three-year-old wants to help out around the house? So cute that the toy industry has created toy vacuums, kitchens, etc. Or how about when your toddler daughter puts on your high heels and walks around the house so proud. We all know that when they are little, they are watching every move we make and taking every chance to copy it. Fast forward, when I catch a swear come out of my teenage son’s mouth and reprimand him, I know that it is really also my duty to reprimand myself and recheck whether or not I am using profanity too much.

With the pressures of being a parent: work, sports, activities, household, etc., it is hard to constantly keep ourselves in check, after all, we are human. However, perhaps, we as parents can not only focus on trying to keep ourselves a little more in check for the sake of the future generations, but we should also call out others’ behaviors. If we are able to point out to our kids unacceptable adult behaviors, perhaps they will grow up to respect one another, despite differences or issues they may have with others.

I promised myself a long time ago not to get into discussions with people on religion or politics. I am entitled to my opinion and like to keep it that way; saves a lot of grief and stress and maybe even relationships. However, as annoyed and frustrated and utterly disgusted I have been by our very own President of the United States “tweeting” all the time, never have I been more outraged than now when he decided to retweet himself hitting a golf ball at Hillary Clinton. In a time when our planet is experiencing countless major hurricanes, earthquakes, tropical storms and threat of nuclear war, don’t you think our President should be focusing on those crises? The act of retweeting something violent and inappropriate that someone made up because they have nothing better to do with their time is so utterly immature. This is a 71-year-old man who, unfortunately, somehow, holds one of the most, if not the most, powerful positions in the world. And this is the message he is sending out to our nation and our kids. “Hey, look at my amazing golf swing and, even better, look at it hit Hillary. I win!”

So, where do we draw the line? We can always hope the Russian probe entices impeachment, but until then have to take matters into our own hands. We, as parents, have to take the responsibility to call out the President, and others to our kids. Being an adult doesn’t give the right to make the same mistakes the President is making by bullying, criticizing and degrading others, but to tell our children that this behavior is irresponsible and reckless. We, as humankind, will never move forward with acceptance and respect for others if we are being led by this example and believing it is okay to hurt others and laugh about it.

7 Skills to Teach your Daughter by age 13

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By: Rebecca Ruiz

A pre-teen girl is at a unique moment in her life.

The spark that is her potential grows more intense, yet she’ll have to fight against gender norms that threaten to diminish it.

Those expectations might convince her to sacrifice ambition for popularity, or shame her for rejecting feminine beauty standards. There are countless ways she’ll feel pressured to hide or change her authentic self.

Most adolescent children, regardless of gender, feel that tension, but girls often face distinct challenges. Research shows, for example, their self-esteem plummets compared to boys.

“Girls are at their fiercest and most authentic prior to puberty,” says Rachel Simmons, author of three books on girlhood and cofounder of Girls Leadership, a national nonprofit that provides training, education and workshops to girls and the adults who support them.

Parents can prepare their daughters for the trials of being a teenage girl by teaching them vital skills early on. These include honest communication, assertive behavior, self-compassion and developing a positive relationship with their body.

Talking about these and other issues, says Simmons, should also be an exercise in learning about your daughter’s interests and who inspires her. Draw from pop culture examples after you’ve asked about, for example, her favorite song, celebrities and YouTube videos.

“That’s your best way to get an education,” says Simmons, “and win some love and respect from your kid in the process.”

Here are seven skills to consider teaching your daughter by the time she turns 13.

1. How to respect and express her feelings

Popular stereotype portrays girls (and women) as in touch with their feelings and naturally good at communicating them. That idea, however, has a harmful corollary: When girls and (and women) are overcome by their emotions, they become incapable of making decisions.

We so frequently assume that girls and emotions are a natural pairing, for better or worse, that we neglect to actually teach girls emotional intelligence. That skill, says Simmons, means having the ability to describe and convey the full range of human emotion. But when girls are taught to value being happy and liked, they often suppress or can’t acknowledge their more difficult experiences.

Instead, parents need to show their daughters how to “flex the muscle of expressing their strongest feelings,” says Simmons. They can do that by modeling their own emotions with an expansive vocabulary using words like happy, nervous, excited, scared, angry, frustrated and confused.

They can also “authorize” their daughters’ emotions by honoring their experiences as opposed to diminishing or questioning them.

“When your girls express authentic emotions — even if they’re difficult — you take them seriously,” says Simmons, “you don’t deny them or challenge them.”

2. How to feel self-compassion

It’s easy to be one’s most unforgiving critic, no matter gender. But girls, says Simmons, get a lot of messages that it’s important to please others. So when they experience a setback, it often feels like letting someone else down.

Research shows that adolescent girls may be exposed to more interpersonal stress than boys. That makes them more likely to ruminate on negative feelings, which puts them at greater risk for depression.

To help prevent this cycle of suffering, Simmons recommends parents teach their daughters how to deal with failure:

“What we want is for girls to have is the capacity to move through a setback without beating themseves up.” 

“What we want is for girls to have is the capacity to move through a setback without beating themselves up.” 

This means teaching a girl how to relate to herself and practice self-compassion in a moment of crisis. It’s important that instead of criticizing herself harshly, she focus on the universality of disappointment and practice self-kindness. By realizing others share that experience, she’ll be better prepared to treat herself compassionately and develop resilience.

3. How to develop a positive relationship with her body

Lost in a sea of selfies and reality television, where the lines between self-objectification and self-empowerment are frequently blurry, girls might not know how to view themselves beyond objects of desire.

One way to help them develop a holistic, positive relationship with their body is to introduce them to sports. The physical activity gives them an opportunity to see their bodies as capable of strength and stamina, rather than being defined by appearance only. Research shows that sports can directly affect a girl’s self-perception and self-confidence.

But even girls who feel physically capable and confident might still feel ashamed of their body and its sexuality. Simmons recommends talking with girls about their bodies from toddlerhood. Parents should know and use the right names for genitalia and do their best to  “represent sex as a healthy, beautiful experience that should be had with joy and consent.” And yes, that means talking about what consent means early on and emphasizing that a girl’s body belongs to her alone.

Parents who are uncomfortable discussing sex and the body communicate those feelings to their daughter. “When girls feel uncomfortable with their bodies,” says Simmons, “they can also disconnect from how they are really feeling, and worry more about how someone else is feeling, or what they want, instead.”

4. How to learn from friendships

Girls are frequently told that friendships are paramount, and that may be why they can be so singularly focused on those relationships. There’s a reason why Taylor Swift’s “squad” was the subject of numerous news stories and think pieces this year.

But we shouldn’t take female friendship for granted, says Simmons. Relationships help girls learn to assert themselves, compromise and set boundaries.

Parents should view friendships as an opportunity to show girls what healthy relationships look like and how they can relate to others and themselves.

One example might be helping your daughter respond when her friend doesn’t save a seat for her on the swing. That could start with asking her what choices she has in the situation and working with her on role-playing an assertive response. Encouraging her to communicate honestly and reasonably assert herself, says Simmons, provides her with skills that she’ll need to push for a raise as an adult.

5. How to deal with bullying

No parent wants to learn his or her child is being bullied — or has become the bully.

Dealing with either situation is challenging because it involves so many factors: communication, friendship and a parent’s own emotional intelligence. Digital bullying, the subject of multiple education campaigns this year, adds another layer of complexity.

“Girls will bully because they don’t have the tools to deal with their feelings,” says Simmons. And when girls are bullied, they often feel powerless to stand up for themselves. In both cases, Simmons recommends making sure they ask for help from an adult as needed and practice assertive but respectful communication. She admits, though, that approach won’t always work, so girls must know when to step away from a situation that is “unkind” and “unethical.”

These are critical skills to teach a girl, but many parents don’t even possess them. Some will encourage bullying behavior or intervene every time their daughter complains about a difficult interaction. Parents, says Simmons, have to accept responsibility for their own role: “They have to set the tone early on for what’s OK in relationships and not.”

6. How to embrace her gender identity

From exposure to stars like Caitlyn Jenner and Miley Cyrus to Facebook’s 50-plus gender identification options, girls are learning about gender identity and fluidity at increasingly early ages, says Julie Mencher, a Massachusetts-based psychotherapist and educator who specializes in gender diversity and LGBT issues.

The message they’re hearing is that gender is not simply male or female anymore. This increased attention to gender, says Mencher, “gives us the opportunity to teach [children] that  there’s not just a spectrum of masculinity to femininity out there in the world, but inside each of us as well.”

Mencher recommends parents use language that expands the gender binary beyond boy and girl to include identities like transgender, genderqueer, gender-fluid and gender-neutral. It’s also important to describe human characteristics and emotions not just in gender-based terms (see: girls are always emotional).

Parents should reflect on their own identities as well, noting how much they embrace their “female masculinity” and “male femininity.”

Creating this kind of openness in your language and relationship will help a girl develop confidence in her own gender identity — no matter what that might be.

7. How to lead

We have more powerful female role models than ever before: Hillary ClintonSerena Williamsand TIME Person of the Year Angela Merkel, to name a few. But girls still find it difficult to develop leadership skills amidst the stigma of being called aggressive or bossy.

It’s even harder when they don’t know how to communicate their honest feelings, assert themselves, practice self-compassion, handle bullying or embrace their identity will probably have a tough time becoming a leader. That’s why it’s so important for a girl to cultivate a diverse set of life skills.

There are, however, specific strategies parents can use to encourage their daughter to take a leadership role. Fathers who evenly share household duties are more likely to raise daughters who believe they have a broader ranger of career options. Mothers can set their own example by taking on a leadership role at work or in a volunteer capacity.

Sports, says Simmons, is another way to teach leadership skills to girls; it’s a “pre-professional environment” that can help them succeed well past the season’s end.

“There’s a very powerful and painful unwritten communication code among girls that you’re not supposed to say what you really think to someone’s face and you’re not supposed to promote yourself,” says Simmons. “Sports perverts all of that; they can do that and be rewarded for it.”

These important skills aren’t easy to master, but the more chances a girl has to practice them under the guidance of a trusted adult, the more likely she’ll feel confident and self-assured as a teenager.

This article was originally published by mashable.com on December 18, 2015 and was written by Rebecca Ruiz.

5 Great Brunch Recipes In Time For The Holidays

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The holidays are approaching very quickly and with holidays comes company! Having family and friends stay all Thanksgiving weekend or for an extended Christmas? It’s hard enough to have to plan the actual holiday meal, but what about feeding your guests for the remainder of their visit? These recipes don’t have to be brunch-exclusive, they can also be used for breakfast or even dinner! These are just five of the MANY out there. Don’t forget the sides like fresh fruit, bacon and sausage and make sure you stock up on butter and syrup! Just click on the picture of each item to get to the original recipe.

Sausage Hashbrown Casserole

hashbrown breakfast casserole low carb
This is a classic breakfast/brunch recipe and can be found in numerous places on the internet as well as in many cookbooks. I chose this recipe because the steps are clear, there are a lot of pictures and it got a lot of good reviews. This recipe can be put together ahead of time and then just popped in the oven when ready to bake.

Overnight French Toast Casserole

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This is another recipe you can prep ahead of time and cook when ready. So easy to wake up pull out of the frig and pop in the oven. The nice thing about French Toast is that you can put out toppings to everyone’s liking. We love cinnamon and sugar on ours, but maple syrup, fresh fruit and powdered sugar are all yummy too!

Good Old Fashioned Pancakes


We used to be Bisquick pancake eaters, but one weekend morning we ran out. Upon looking for a recipe to make pancakes, we came across this one and will never go back to a packaged pancake mix. This recipe is SO good. They are so good on their own, but we’ve also done a chocolate chip version and a blueberry version- YUM!

Baked Steel Cut Oatmeal

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I am not a huge fan of oatmeal, but this recipe is really good! There are many variations to the flavor of this dish by adding different fruit. Just a note, mine took a bit longer to cook then the recipe states. Could have been my oven.

Crock Pot Cinnamon Roll Casserole

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How easy is this? Your guests will love waking up to the smell of cinnamon buns and if you have any children or children guests, they are bound to love this!

Oven Roasted Breakfast Potatoes

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We can’t forget the potatoes! Breakfast potatoes are my favorite breakfast food! This is a simple recipe and definitely can be put together the night before and baked in the morning.

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What would brunch be without a little kick? Below are a few variations (click on the picture for the recipe) that are sure to please you and your guests!

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Classic Bloody Mary
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Ultimate Bloody Mary
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Tomatillo Bloody Mary
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Classic Mimosa
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Strawberry Pineapple Mimosa
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White Cranberry Mimosa


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DSC_0857It’s that time of year in New England when we take a day to go to an orchard and pick apples. But there are so many varieties. Which ones do you pick? What do you do with them when you get home? To be honest, even though we do this every year, I had no idea what each variety is good for, we just picked! So I decided to do my research and share it in case there is anyone else out there who is clueless as to what to do with a bowl full of apples. I’ve put together a guide of the kinds of apples you might find at your local orchard and what each variety can be used for (besides eating of course)!

We live in Connecticut and enjoy going to March Farm in Bethlehem. They have a lot of trees in their orchards to pick from as well as playgrounds, corn maze and shop.
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And look at the size of those apples!!
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Thanks to ctapples.org, I am able to provide myself and you with some information. Epicurious also has a great guide on varieties http://www.epicurious.com/archive/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/visualguideapples.



With their wine-red color with gold accents, Macouns are highly regarded for their aroma and sweet-tart, juicy flavor. Excellent for snack and desserts and good for all culinary uses. Developed in 1909 from Jersey Black and McIntosh parents. Ripens in mid-September.

Red-orange, with yellow stripes. A sweet crisp flavor and texture. Very good for salads and sauces. Introduced in 1934. Ripens in late September.


A larger apple good for baking, with a deep, purple-red color. Moderately juicy and fairly sweet. Their white flesh doesn’t brown when sliced so Corlands are a standout for fruit salads, dipping in toppings, or eating wit a plate of sharp cheddar cheese. Developed in 1898, across between a McIntosh and Ben Davis. Ripens late September.
Ida Red
Bright golden red. Their tangy taste mellow at maturity. Excellent for snacks and all culinary uses. Developed in 1942. Ripens in late September.

Deep red skin brushed with gold and green. The Empire is mildly tart-sweet and has juicy quality dessert apple, good for all culinary uses. A newer variety introduced in 1966 from McIntosh and Delicious parents. Ripens late September.
Green with yellow highlights. Tangy sweet. Best for cooking and baking. Dates back to 1700. Ripens in September.

Honey Crisp
Deep red over yellow skin. Produced from a 1960 cross of Macoun and Honey-gold. Exceptionally crisp and juicy texture. Its flesh is cream colored and coarse. A large apple excellent for desserts. Ripens late September.
Red and green skin. Juicy, tart-sweet taste is good for snacks and salads. Introduced in 1936. Ripens in late September.


Red blush with green and yellow stripes. Crisp, firm, juicy flesh. Developed in Japan in 1939. Ripens in October.
Bright red with gold. Crisp and juicy, Jonagolds are good fresh, in salads, and for cooking and baking. Introduced in 1968 from Golden Delicious and Jonathan parents. Ripens in October.
Eastern Red Delicious
The unique shape of this red apple tapers to a five-knobbed base. Sweet, tender and juicy. Best for crunching out of hand and in fruit cups and salads. Developed in 1872, Red Delicious is America’s most plentifully grown apple. Ripens early October.
Golden Delicious
Golden or light-green, with pink blush. Tender, mellow, sweet. Wonderful fresh and in salads. Developed in 1912. Ripens in October.

A medium large, bright red, round apple with a slightly tart taste. Rome is considered on eof the finest baking apples available. First propagated from seed in 1828. Ripens mid-October.

Green-yellow skin witha red semi-stripe. Flesh is cream-colored, sweet and juicy. Introduced in a 1978, a cross between a Macoun and Purdue. An all-purpose apple. Ripens in early October.
Crispin (Mutsu)
Greenish yellow to yellow. Good for cooking. Introduced in U.S. in 1968. Ripens mid-October.
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You can find recipes for all varieties here: http://www.ctapples.org/#!recipes/c1ydi.  I used a mixture of the apples we picked to make homemade applesauce and it was so good! (see below)

Homemade Applesauce Recipe
Makes 6 servings (baed on a two tablespoon serving size) 

1. I chose only three apples because they were so big.
2. Peel the apples and slice them.
3. Put the apples in a pot over medium heat and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over them. I used a premixed cinnamon/sugar that we bought at the farm. Stir to mix the cinnamon and sugar in well with the apples.
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4. Cover and cook over medium/low heat, stirring frequently.
5. When apples are soft and tender, you can use a fork or a potato masher to mash the apples into a sauce.
6. Mix well and serve warm or cold.

First Day of School Ideas

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It’s back-to-school time already! The summer flew by and as much as the lazy days of summer will be missed, I think kids and parents alike are ready to go back to school and get back into a routine (although your kids won’t tell you that!)

I’ve put together some ideas for marking the first day of school. These ideas are a nice way to give your kids their school send off and mark the start of another year where they will learn and grow so much!

Wow! What a breakfast to wake up to!
Nice first day breakfast idea.
This “time capsule” is a nice tradition to mark the first day of school or other special occasions.
This idea is adapted from a German first day of school tradition.
This idea is adapted from a German first day of school tradition.
handprint tshirt
This is a really cool idea by a Pinterest user. I would certainly have done this if I had known about it when my kids were younger!
I have actually had this pinned for a long time. I think this sweet idea can be adapted to any grade.
One Pinterest user was inspired by this project to trace your child’s hand on each first day of school.
This free printable marks the important milestones on the first day of a given school year. Can be customized for girl or boy.
This is a great idea and would be cool to use the same frame year after year and see how your child changes.
This is a printable that you can have your child hold on the first day.
This is a printable that you can have your child hold on the first day.
Nice idea!