Post Hurricane Reflections

ocean.jpegAs a New Yorker who is lucky enough to not have suffered any damage or lost power due to Hurricane Sandy, I want to just say that I have been pretty amazed by people who don’t live in the Northeast who have no clue about how badly people are faring.
I’ve been watching wall to wall news coverage – much like I did after September 11 and it is truly heartbreaking. From the family who shared their harrowing story of escaping from the burning home in Breezy Point, NY (over 111 homes have burned to the ground so far) to the woman sobbing as she shared with Governor Chris Christie that she had lost her husband and her son and now she lost all the memories of them since everything in her home has been completely destroyed. It was so tragic to see the faces of complete devastation.
People have been on gas lines for hours. Beach communities like Long Beach have no power and are about to have their water turned off because it has been contaminated. And a lot of our friends are without power and have no idea when it’s going to be turned back on because telephone poles with transformers attached to them fell, crashed to the ground and blew up.
So what do you do if you don’t live near here and can’t relate to what people are going through? Don’t dismiss it as if everything is fine. Unfortunately, it’s not. The aftermath of this storm is continuing – fires are starting due to gas leaks, water is still being pumped out of subways, tunnels and homes and you can’t even drive into Manhattan unless three or more people are in your car.
Did I mention that over 50 people have died — including the children of a poor mother whose babies were swept away when she tried to protect them from the storm? Another couple died while they were walking their dog. And two young boys were killed when a tree hit the home they were seeking shelter in.
This storm is not a laughing matter and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Homes and businesses have been destroyed. Lives have been lost. It will take billions of dollars to repair the damage. So please, take a moment and think about the people who have been directly affected by this tragedy. You may be safe and sound in your home but unfortunately, weather is unpredictable and every corner of our globe has experienced devastation in its wake. The northeast and its residents were the latest victim and all I can say is, if you don’t live nearby and weren’t home hearing the wind, water and fire rip apart neighborhoods, then say a prayer, make a donation and trim your trees!

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider

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Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan and Pecans
If you are new to spaghetti squash, it’s in season right now and is a great alternative to pasta. I had an abundance of the squash from my local CSA (community supported agriculture) and created the following recipe with just a few staples I had in the house. You can add any sauce you like but this one is simple and flavorful. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
One medium sized spaghetti squash
1/3 cup chopped, toasted pecans
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1-2 tsp olive oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper

Steps:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Take the spaghetti squash and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds with a spoon.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until tender and let cool. You can aso microwave for about 6-8 minutes.
Scrape the inside flesh out with a fork and set aside. It should be about 3 cups of flesh.
In a medium sized frying pan, heat up the olive oil and saute the squash until heated through, about 5 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste and top with pecans. Sprinkle with grated parmesan and serve.
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.

How to Find the Ideal Sport for Your Child

Written by Role Mommy Contributor, Brett Callan.

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Nowadays, it can be difficult to encourage children to explore the outdoors, what with the distractions of television, video games, and the Internet in the home. However, it’s vital that you encourage your children to be active, as it offers a variety of short and long-term benefits. Not only does it allow your children to practice fitness and enjoy a healthy outlet, it can also create habits that extend well into their adult life. With that being said, the next step is to look for a sport or activity that is well suited to your little one. The following are several tips on how to find the right sport that matches with your child:
-Give Them a Taste of Everything: 
For children, variety is an almost essential requirement. Preferences and interests range widely from child to child, and finding the right one can seem like an overwhelming challenge. Therefore, give your child the opportunity to try out as many as sports as possible. This doesn’t have to require much time or money – instead, there are a variety of ways to give your child a taste of what’s available. Whether through playing with parents or other children, this can be a great starting point to determine which sport suits your child. In addition, make sure that you get your children’s opinion when looking for sports. If your child is enthusiastic about a particular activity, then this can be an effective way to nurture an active lifestyle.
-Choose the Right Setting: 
While trying out different activities for your child, try experimenting with different type of settings and places. Does your child prefer playing and bonding with others? Organized sports may be a good match, as they provide kids the opportunity to work in a team, as well as build long-lasting friendships. On the other hand, if your child is more on the shy side, then solo activities such as biking, running or skateboarding may be a better option. Individual sports are a great way to allow them to learn at their own pace, without peer pressure or dependence on others.
In addition, consider the actual environment of the sport, as this can affect the enjoyment of the child. If your child enjoys fresh air, then perhaps hiking in the outdoors or playing baseball or soccer can be ideal. On the other hand, if your child prefers to stay in the water, then try choosing a sport that’s matches with that environment. Whether you choose surfing, water polo or simply swimming in general, there are an endless variety of sports that can work with your child.
-Have Fun: 
With any sport or activity, it’s vital that your child is fully involved in the process. Continuing with a sport that a child is disinterested in, or even dislikes, can create a great deal of negative emotions attributed to the activity. At best, it can seem like a chore; at worst, it can cause unhealthy habits. If he or she doesn’t seem to be having fun or lacks enthusiasm, then it may be time to try another sport. In general, make sure that your child is having fun in whatever activity he or she chooses.
Brett Callan is a writer for Murray Callan Swim Schools, where their Vista swim lessons offer customized support for children throughout San Diego. He loves to enjoy the San Diego weather whenever he can, whether from the beach or at a pool.

Catching up with the Ladies of “The Talk”

193845.jpegThere is something to be said for people who truly understand the power of social media. There are so many people I know who have no idea what a hashtag is, how to tweet and have even sworn off Facebook. But not me. I am completely and utterly hooked when I find myself engaging with celebrities, friends from all over the country and strangers from around the world.
Which leads me to my whirlwind trip last week to the set of “The Talk” on CBS. I have been fortunate enough to be working behind the scenes on the show helping to spread the word about the show, the fabulous hosts, and the laugh out loud moments that seem to spontaneously occur every day of the week. Last Wednesday’s show did not disappoint — I got the chance to welcome 16 bloggers to the show and together, we tweeted from the audience, laughed out loud with “Mike and Molly” star Billy Gardell and took home amazing prizes to help jump start our fitness routines.
Following the show, we were brought to the executive dining room at CBS where we first caught up with one another — I have met several of the bloggers and really adore them — they are so inspiring and accomplished in their own right and it’s always so nice to connect in person. Check out the incredibly inspiring Liz Dwyer with me below (thanks Liz!). I also met some new bloggers who were still learning the ropes and it was so great to be able to get to know them too and hear about what they hoped to accomplish through blogging.
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And then, the moment of truth arrived. We all took our seats and the ladies of “The Talk” walked into the dining room, grabbed their lunch and then spent the next hour and a half chatting about the show, their favorite guests, their family lives and so much more. I haven’t laughed so hard in quite a while — Sheryl Underwood is hilarious but can also bring you right back down to earth in an instant with her sharp wit and intellect. Sharon Osbourne is so lovely — sure she sometimes can curse like a sailor, but you know what? I love that she is so real. Aisha Tyler is also so funny and appreciative of all the support she’s received since joining the show. Sara Gilbert has totally blossomed as a co-host and Julie Chen, whom I’ve known since I first started booking CBS stars on “The Early Show,” is and will always be as humble and down to earth as the first time I ever met her.
After the ladies talked about how much fun they were having this season — just take a look at some of the recent comedy bits produced by “The Talk” and you will see why — the hosts and producers also shared how appreciative they were over the support they’ve received via social media. Sheryl Underwood loves seeing her comments on the show re-tweeted and both the executive producers and hosts attribute the show’s continued growth to the ongoing support of fans who get to interact in real time with the show.
Before we knew it, our time with the ladies was over, but not before Liz at Los Angelista snapped this pic of me with Sharon Osbourne. Love, love, love her!!!!
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Here’s a photo of all the fabulous bloggers who attended the luncheon — many thanks to all of them for taking time out of their busy schedules to spend a day with the ladies of “The Talk.”
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Check out all the amazing women who attended the luncheon and visit their blogs — I’m sure you will be just as impressed as I was!
Carley Knobloch — Digitwirl
Donna Schwartz Mills – Socal Mom
Liz Dwyer – Los Angelista
Yvonne Condes – MomsLA
Tara Gray and Brook Roberts – Gal Time
Morgan Shanahan – BlogHer
April Peveteux – Cafe Mom
Kimberly Clayton Blaine – The Go To Mom
Valerie Mitchell – Sweeps 4 Bloggers
Eva Glettner – Cool Mom Picks
Ana Flores – Spanglish Baby
Beth Blecherman – Tech Mama
Rosy Lopez – Daytripping Mom
Tisha Berg – Biz Mommy
Keuinta Dixon – Free and For Me

Don’t Miss The Stop Zombie Mouth Twitter Party, THIS WEDNESDAY!

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Halloween is right around the corner, so let’s start celebrating! We’ve teamed up with PopCap – the coolest online games for kids and the American Dental Association to help STOP ZOMBIE MOUTH!
We have fun tips for spooktacular alternatives to sugary treats and we want to hear your ideas too! To get started check out StopZombieMouth.com, the ADA’s MouthHealthy.com and connect on Plant vs. Zombies Facebook Fan page here.
The Stop Zombie Mouth Twitter Party
TIME: 9:00 – 10:00 PM ET

LOCATION: #StopZombieMouth
HOSTS: @RoleMommy (Beth Feldman) @DawnSandomeno @BethRosen @Partybluprints (Elizabeth Mascali) and @EvolvingStacey
SPONSORS: @Popcap and The American Dental Association @ADAMouthHealthy
RULES: You must RSVP below and be a US resident 18 and older to be eligible to win
It’s not a Twitter Party without prizes! We’re not only giving you all the tricks for a healthier mouth this Halloween we have treats too!
Four party participants tweeting with the #StopZombieMouth hashtag will be randomly selected to WIN the following:
3 PARTY PRIZES: $50.00 gift cards with PopCap games and Trading cards
1 GRAND PRIZE: $200.00 gift card with PopCap games
You must RSVP to be eligible to WIN!
RSVP with your Twitter Handle and link HERE!
With our party tips, a PopCap Prize Pack and a gift card, you’ll be able to host your own Halloween Bash! Check out all the Halloween fun at StopZombieMouth.com!
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Emily Owens M.D. Premieres Tonight!

emilyowens.jpg The new show Emily Owens M.D. premiers tonight at 9/8 central on the CW Network. Starring Mamie Gummer, Justin Hartley, Michael Rady, Aja Naomi King and more, this show is perfect for the whole family. Parents will love it right along with their teenagers and tweens. The story begins as Emily Owens starts her first day as a medical intern at a new hospital in Denver, hoping for a fresh start. However; her geeky high school days come back to haunt her when she discovers her very popular nemesis is also an intern at the hospital!
This show has tons of drama and lots of laughs. When asked what drew her most to the role of Emily, Mamie Gummer (who appeared in the Emmy Award-winning miniseries “John Adams,” “The Good Wife,” “The Big C” and “Off the Map”) replied, “Emily is so relatable.” It’s true, we all know someone just like Emily or we are just like Emily. You will no doubt be rooting for Emily, booing the mean girls and staring at all the good looking guys! So tune in TONIGHT, it’s the new drama not to be missed. You will want to know what everyone is talking about tomorrow!
Check out the official Emily Owens MD site and facebook page!

7 Tips for Planning Family Reunions on a Budget

Written by Role Mommy Contributor, Charli Radke

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Planning a family reunion can be a lot of fun, but it can also be quite expensive. From accommodations and venues to food and entertainment, a successful reunion can cost much more than the average person is prepared to shell out. These tips will help you plan a memorable family reunion without spending a fortune.
1. Split Up The Costs:
The best way to make family reunions more affordable for everyone is to share the costs among everyone in attendance. There are several ways to do this. Selling tickets may be the best choice for large gatherings, while smaller extended families may divide planning responsibilities along with the costs.
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2. Go Digital:
Rather than spending hours making phone calls and mailing invitations, create a Facebook page or website for your reunion. Send your relatives an email invitation, along with a link to the site for additional details. Consider setting up a donation option to help cover the costs of the reunion if you’re not charging an admission fee.
3. Raise The Money:
Bake sales, car washes, and fish fries are excellent ways to generate funds to cover the costs of a family reunion and can also be a lot of fun. If several family members live in the same area, invite everyone to participate. Cookbooks with secret family recipes make terrific fundraisers as well. Holding an auction or a raffle at the reunion can also recover some of the costs.
4. Research Your Options:
The destination, as well as the time of year you’re planning the reunion, will both play a big role in the costs. Choose a location that is central to most family members, but avoid holidays and peak travel seasons if possible. It’s usually cheaper to avoid big tourist areas, although an area with plenty of attractions may minimize the need for entertainment.
reunion5.jpg 5. Choose Budget Friendly Accommodations:
Many family reunions are held at resorts because there’s plenty of room with a variety of activities to keep everyone entertained. Search for packages that offer discounts for blocks of rooms. Group rates may also be available at many campgrounds and are usually much cheaper than hotel rooms or rental homes. Campfire stories and s’mores create wonderful reunion memories!
6 Take Out a Short Term Loan:
Even with the most carefully planned budget, it isn’t always possible to foresee every little expense that you may encounter when you’re planning a family reunion. Short term loans are a convenient way to cover any unexpected costs and can be a lifesaver if you run into difficulties along the way.
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7. Cut The Costs Of Catering:
Food and drink typically account for one of the biggest chunks of your reunion budget, but they don’t have to. Shop around for caterers with the best value, or consider enlisting the help of a few family members to grill burgers and hotdogs. If no one has to travel too far, a potluck is the most budget friendly option. Be sure to plan a menu beforehand to avoid duplicate dishes.
Whether you’re planning a family reunion for 50 or 500, it isn’t always easy to pull it off when you’re on a tight budget. The best way to cut costs is to get several people involved in planning and organizing the event. When you work together, you can save money and have more fun.
Here are some additional links with ideas to help you save and plan…
http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2008/02/06/little-steps-100-great-tips-for-saving-money-for-those-just-getting-started/
http://www.dumblittleman.com/2008/01/30-easy-ways-to-save-money-and-no-you.html

http://family-reunion.com/finances.htm

http://www.nydailynews.com/2.1353/plan-a-family-reunion-a-budget-article-1.260164

http://grouptravel.org/Family-Reunion/10-ideas-for-hosting-a-family-reunion-on-a-budget.html

Charli Radke is a freelance fashion, lifestyle, and technology writer exploring all things that are beautiful. Whether it’s about fashion, photography, family life, or whats new and cool in technology. Charlie is exploring it all. She is single and currently living in sunny Florida. When she’s not out exploring and blogging the newest trends she’s out writing for established companies like http://www.copyforbylines.com/.

Food Safety Mythbusters!

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Written by Role Mommy Contributor Danielle Feigenbaum

I’ve never been a big cook, but now that I have a family I do my very best to put a home cooked meal on the table for dinner every night. One thing I am crazy about, is food safety. I am the person who throws something out the minute after the expiration date, washes my hands with antibacterial soap three times after I touch eggs or uncooked meat, and re-washes lettuce that’s been pre-washed. However; I admit that I don’t REALLY know all the rules when it comes to food safety. So, let’s get to the bottom of it and debunk some of those myths.
MYTH #1: “If I microwave food, the microwaves kill the bacteria, so the food is safe.”
FACT: HARMFUL BACTERIA MAY REMAIN
Harmful bacteria may remain if food heats unevenly.
Be sure to follow cooking instructions including rotating, stirring, and letting food stand when indicated.
MYTH #2: “Of course I wash all bagged lettuce and greens because it might make me sick if I don’t.”
FACT: YOU DON’T HAVE TO WASH PRE-WASHED GREENS
While it is important to thoroughly wash most fruits and vegetables, if packaged greens are labeled “ready-to-eat,” “washed,” or “triple washed” then the product does NOT need to be washed at home.
MYTH #3: “I don’t need to use a food thermometer. I can tell when my food is cooked by looking at it or checking the temperature with my finger.”
FACT: YOU NEED TO USE A FOOD THERMOMETER
Color, texture and steaming are not indicators that a food is safe to eat. The only sure way to know food is safely cooked is to use a food thermometer.
MYTH #4: “I can’t re-freeze foods after I have thawed them – I have to cook them or throw them away.”
FACT: RAW FOODS MAY BE SAFELY RE-FROZEN
If raw foods have been thawed in the refrigerator, they may be safely re-frozen without cooking for later use. Never re-freeze foods that have been thawed in the microwave or in cool water. Never thaw raw foods by letting them sit on the kitchen counter.
Food safety is so important. When you know how to prepare your food safely, you and your family can avoid getting sick. Let us know what you do to keep your family safe when it comes to preparing food, share your tips!
To further explore tools and other educational materials on food safety you can visit:
fightbac.org
www.foodsafety.gov/
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Marissa Meyer, Maternity Leave and What’s In a Name Anyway?

mpw_cover_2012.jpegI just want to first say that for the record, I have always been a huge supporter of working moms. As a fellow working mother, I can still remember getting the stink eye from stay at home moms who used to make negative comments about how I was never around for the daily pick up at preschool. Yes, I was always there for their performances and games, but I wasn’t the one who was baking cupcakes or attending PTA meetings.
With that confession out of the way, I have to say I am pretty floored by the decision of new Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer to return to work only two weeks after giving birth. Sure, her baby won’t know that his mom is already back in board meetings, but can you honestly be effective at work when you’re only getting about 2-3 hours of sleep per night? And last I checked, Yahoo is an online company. Why can’t they skype her into calls so that she can spend more time to bond with her son. Then again, maybe she wants to return to work right away.
I mean she doesn’t seem to be the nurturing type anyway. In fact, just a few hours after giving birth, she hasn’t yet named her child. She even asked family and friends to help choose a name for her newborn. Are you kidding me? Two weeks maternity leave and crowdsourcing for a baby name. If that doesn’t put her in the working mother hall of shame, I don’t know what will.
I mean, think about. In the next two to three years when it’s time for her son to hit preschool, she’ll be surrounded by plenty of doting moms who are going to cast judgement upon her every move. And now that she’s alienated working moms too, I can’t imagine how she’s going to defend her actions on the maternity leave front.
At the end of the day, I hope that Marissa Mayer will carve out time in her schedule to be with her children. I hope she cherishes the time she has to sleep while she’s in the hospital because once she heads home with her infant, all bets are off. I hope that when she returns to work in two weeks that she doesn’t fall asleep during meetings and conference calls.
And more than anything else, I hope she and her husband are the ones to come up with a name for her son. Maybe they should just call him Shine. It’s an inspiring name, it’s different and it’s part of the Yahoo family. That way, even when Mayer is not home with her child, she can always be reminded that she has a son who is waiting to throw his arms around her neck, shower her with kisses and call her mommy.
So what do you think about a two week maternity leave and sending an email to friends and family to help choose your kids’ name? Totally normal or absolutely insane? I’d love to hear what you think!