Presenting Beth’s Official Splurge-Worthy Holiday Gift Guide

For anyone who knows what it’s like to be a parenting (aka Mommy) blogger, I’m going to clue you in to a little secret. About 12 years ago when I started blogging, my writer friends and I wrote about what we loved – whether it was storytelling, shopping or saving money. Nobody paid us when we wrote about them and we chalked it up to a stroke of luck when a brand discovered us and started sending us things for free. I mean when I started to get free Nintendo games for my kids, I seriously thought I hit the mother load. 

Today, my kids are a lot older so video games are not going to cut it. I guess I should be grateful that my son is obsessed with Fortnite so I really don’t have to spend that much on him anymore. But enough about my kids. This year, I’m coming up with my holiday wish list and damn, it’s pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

Just so you are aware, I’m what you call an “early adapter.” I discover things before they actually become popular so if you want to be ahead of the curve, then please feel free to follow my lead and happy shopping… 

 Beth’s Holiday Wish List…

  1. The Peloton Tread:  This is absolutely #1 on my list to purchase at some point this year. I have been Pelo-obsessed since I first splurged on the state of the art spin bike more than two years ago. But now, I’ve been eyeing their brand new treadmill that offers live and on demand classes that’ll finally solve the “why do my legs always look so big problem.” I always find that when I start jogging, my legs thin out so as soon as I land a few more projects, that treadmill is totally going to be mine. If you decide to pull the trigger and order a Peloton or a Tread, feel free to use my Referral Code: QJMKEY – think of it as a GoFundMe so I can raise money to get the Tread. Kidding, not kidding. 🙂

2. The Ninja Foodie: I have so many appliances on my counter and recently, I discovered a brand new combo appliance that puts the Instant Pot and Air Fryer all in one place. As my friends and family can attest, I cook practically everything these days in my Instant Pot and Air Fryer. The Ninja Foodie looks like a total game changer and a space saver all in one! 

3. Away Travel: Since I watch MSNBC all day and listen to it in the car too, there are certain commercials that have now been embedded in my memory. One is Madison Reed – which offers a simple way to color your hair (thanks but no thanks), the second is Third Love, a revolutionary bra that will change your life (nope) and the other is Away Travel…yes we have a winner! If you travel a lot or if you are obsessed with your phone, then this is the ideal gift for you. A suitcase where you can charge your phone at the same time! No more looking for wall outlets right before you board a flight. You can be plugged in at all times! 

4. Seaweed Villa in Treasure Beach Jamaica: Now that you have your luggage, here’s the place you’re going to want to stay. We’ve been to Treasure Beach several times and while it does take some work to get there (it’s about 2.5 hours from Montego Bay airport), it is totally worth it. If you can’t afford SeaWeed – which is an unbelievable villa with an in ground pool, jacuzzi, views of the beach, a staff to take care of your every whim, gazebos galore and gorgeous bedrooms, then head to Jakes Hotel which also has beautiful cottages with ocean views too. 

5. A New Car for My Hubby: For the last three years, Darin has been driving around in a tiny Hyundai Elantra and at last count, I think he has blown about 10 tires since driving out of the showroom. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not the car’s fault. He should have changed the tires during the winter or not driven on the roads in our neighborhood until all the pot holes were filled. Thankfully, his lease is up in the next two months so we’ll be on the hunt for a new set of wheels. Something tells me, it’s time for an upgrade. (Dare to dream).

So there you go. My dream holiday wish list. I probably won’t be getting everything on my list, but even if I can splurge on one thing, then seriously, I will be a very happy camper.

Happy Holidays!  

Top 10 Diet Resolutions for 2018

With 2018 on the horizon, it’s time to start thinking about how we’re going to do things differently in the New Year. For me, I’ve got a long list of resolutions that I really need to adhere to in the year ahead. Truth be told, the last year has been a bit trying to say the least – both on the career front and on the diet front.

This post is going to focus on my diet.

Ever since the 2016 election, I have gained eight pounds. That’s eight pounds on top of the 20 that I had wanted to lose in the first place. While I faithfully exercised on my Peloton and have logged over 300 rides this year, that didn’t stop the pounds from creeping up on me. So how can it be? Simple. Whenever I exercise, I give myself permission to eat more. Add to that the fact I am convinced that I’m going through perimenopause and there you have it. For the first time in my life, I have boobs and a muffin top. While I have always battled big calves, a big butt and big thighs, I have managed to keep my waist trim and my bra size fluctuated between an A and a B cup. These days, it seems like I’m inching towards a C and my jeans just don’t fit the way I’d like. My legs, thankfully look better than they ever have (thanks to my Peloton) so I blame some of the weight on muscle gain which technically weighs more than fat. Okay Beth, keep telling yourself that.

Even though I worked out at least 4-5 times per week, I spent way too much time online and in front of my TV. And that sedentary behavior has lead to the weight gain too. I’m obsessed with MSNBC and can watch it for hours on end which is totally unhealthy. When I wake up in the morning, I check my emails, my Facebook feed, the New York Post app, CNN and Twitter to make sure I’m updated on everything taking place that day. Then there’s all those news alerts. By the time I turn around, I’ve been sucked into a black hole where I’m reading everything from the Washington Post, to The Hill, to Politico, The New Yorker, Elle, Teen Vogue, and on and on and on. On the bright side, I’ve never read so much in my life. But on the down side, I haven’t cracked open a real book in months and every time I watch the news, I just get more and more aggravated.

So what am I going to do differently next year so I can stop this vicious cycle, lose weight and keep it off? I’m going to take the advice of my dear friend, Toby Amidor, the author of the Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook and a leading dietician who always has great advice for me on how to lose weight and keep it off. I just need to stick to it and do it!

So here are my diet resolutions for 2018:

  1. Drink more water. No matter how much I hate water, I’ve got to suck it up (literally) and just do it. At least 64 ounces of water per day. Every time I’m feeling hungry, I’ll reach for water. This is going to be tough but I have given up Diet Coke so it can become a habit eventually.
  2. Just say “NO” to the bread basket. This is totally my weakness. Whenever we go out to a restaurant, I love the bread basket. Corn muffins or warm sourdough bread gets me every time but this year, all bets are off. I may break down once in a while, but 2018 is all about cutting out carbs so I can reduce the size of my perimenopausal muffin top.
  3. Double up on veggies. Instead of including a starch with my meal, I will continue to get creative with vegetables. My instant pot has seriously upped my cooking skills so this year, I’ll continue using that amazing product to make our dinners delicious, filling and satisfying.
  4. Eat out less.  We have started doing this already but I know that the more I cook at home and the less I eat out at restaurants, the better we will be – from a health and savings standpoint. We’ll still go out on weekends but I’m committed to cooking at least 5 days per week in the New Year.
  5. Less wine per week. On the weekends, I totally enjoy having wine with dinner. But I find that if I have more than 2 glasses, I become exhausted and completely bloated. In the New Year, I’m going to limit my wine intake to either 1 glass per weekend meal. I’m also going to cut out drinking during the week.
  6. Start dancing and weight training again. While I do love my Peloton, my friend Toby tells me that as menopause approaches, I need to burn even more calories. That means, I need to find another way to sweat and I’m either going to get a class pass to try out some Zumba in my area or I’ll download the BeachBody on Demand App and take their classes instead. I actually purchased these cool boots called Kangoo Jumps which are great for people like me who have bad knees so I may just combine a dance workout with the Kangoos and see if the pounds start falling off by mixing up my cardio routine. Toby also says that weight training is a great way to speed up your metabolism and lose weight. Even though I do weights on the Peloton, I need to add more strength training into my routine and can easily use their Beyond the Ride option to take more of those classes too.
  7. Write more. Sure writing is a sedentary exercise, but it prevents you from reaching for a cookie while you’re typing. When it comes to my blog, I always vow each year that I’m going to post more and then I just don’t. I can’t make any promises but I will definitely try. Even if it means banking a few posts to run during the week, the more I write, the happier I am. So look for more blog posts on weight loss, inspiring moms, binge-worthy shows and funny stories.
  8. Join a singing group. In year’s past, I was always rehearsing on the weekends for a show but about three years ago, that stopped. Since that time, I’ve been talking about wanting to sing again but haven’t done anything about it. Well that stops this year – it’s time to find a group or a class where I can sing again. I miss it, I love it and that’ll keep my mind off food too.
  9. Cut down on the TV News addiction. This one is tough since I am obsessed with practically every show on MSNBC. I start my day with Morning Joe, I love catching Velshi and Ruhl for my finance tips. I look to Nicole Williams for great commentary on what’s going on at the White House. I’m hooked on Ari Melber and his insightful and lawyerly approach to the news of the day. And don’t even get me started on Joy Reid, Rachel Maddow and Laurence O’Donnell. I think if I ever met any of them, I’d pass out. Honorable mention also goes to Chuck Todd, Chris Matthews, Chris Hayes and Andrea Mitchell but I do have to work and spend time with my family so I don’t have MSNBC on a 24 hour loop as much as I’d like to. So as tough as it is, I’m going to cut back on my MSNBC addiction. Or just do something productive while I’m watching like ride my Peloton or slip on my Kangoos.
  10. Delete Facebook and Twitter from my phone. I don’t know if I have the guts to do this, so I’m going to just put that out there and will keep you posted if I actually do it. I really love reading my Facebook and Twitter feed but it is a total time suck. When I wake up in the morning, I should pop out of bed and hop on my Peloton. Instead, I spend an hour in bed liking posts, reading articles and getting sucked into the Russia investigation. I need to get those hours back and the best way to do it is to delete those apps from my phone. One more thing is to leave my phone downstairs whenever I work out. Otherwise, I’m distracted and I don’t work out as hard.

So there you have it – 10 ways I’m going to work hard at losing weight this year. I refuse to drink shakes, put butter in my coffee, become a vegan or eat food I hate. I’m going to downsize by eating less, working out and doing the things I love. The only thing I didn’t mention was cutting down on sugar. Since I do have a sweet tooth, I’m not going to rule out having something sweet in my diet each day, but I will opt for dark chocolate over cool whip and ice cream but that’s about the only thing I won’t give up on my quest to lose weight for the umpteenth time in my life.

If you need to lose weight in the New Year, I hope I inspired you with these resolutions. If you have any suggestions, let me know. I’m all ears as long as it doesn’t require doing shots of apple cider vinegar or fasting. I’m ready to lose weight the old fashioned way. Hope you’re with me too!

20 Things to Do with Tweens & Teens in NYC

grimaldis.jpgI have to say, now that my kids are getting older, I’ve actually been having a great time exploring every nook and cranny of New York City with them. Since we don’t have to worry about strollers, whining and potty breaks, my kids and I are foot loose, fancy free and subway bound. So what do we do when we hit the Big Apple? Simple, check out our top 20 list and give some of these attractions and activities a whirl.
1. Head to a NYC street fair and browse through all the kiosks and savor the tasty food.
2. High tail it to Times Square where you can hit M&M world, ESPN Zone, Bubba Gump Shrimp, and more.
3. Kids fixated with theme restaurants? Then visit my family faves Planet Hollywood, Mars 2112, Hard Rock Cafe or Jekyll & Hyde.
4. On October 27, head to Bryant Park for holiday shopping and ice skating
5. Rent bikes and then head to Central Park for a family ride.
6. Dessert anyone? That one’s simple – Serendipity, Dylan’s Candy Bar and Cafe Lalo are a few of my faves.
7. Hit Bowlmor Lanes or Lucky Strike for some family fun.
8. In the Halloween spirit? Then visit Ricky’s Costume Shop and then head to the Limelight Marketplace where you can dine on a delectable pie at Grimaldi’s pizza (cash only).
9. Take your kids to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and check out the incredible mummy exhibit.
10. Shop in the Flatiron district at H&M, Forever 21, the Farmers Market and more.
11. Movies anyone? Hit AMC Lincoln Square for the coolest film going experience ever.
12. Best musical hands down for Tweens (and their moms)…WICKED!!!
13. Visit Ellen’s Startdust diner for a burger, shake and singing waiters and waitresses.
13. When in doubt, visit the Nintendo world store at Rockefeller Center.
14. Try a family sport outing with golf, skating, basketball and more at Chelsea Piers.
15. Hop aboard a Spirit of New York cruise around New York.
16. Stroll down Fifth Avenue and visit Tiffany’s…window shopping is always free.
17. Enjoy tea and scones at Alice’s Tea Cup or head to the Plaza Hotel for high tea.
18. On Saturdays, visit the upper west side and shop the GreenFlea market on 77th and Columbus Avenue – then head to Isabella’s for brunch and their chocolate basket for dessert. Yummy.
19. Rent Sleepless in Seattle and watch with your tween. Then head to the top of the Empire State Building and pretend you’re Meg Ryan.
20. Go kayaking or canoeing along the east river or just bike along the trail that’ll take you all the way to Battery Park City.
More fun outings to come. We still haven’t hit Greenwich Village, Little Italy and Chinatown – guess a new top 20 list will be coming your way soon!

The Block Island Fave Five

images.jpegIt’s the summer and that can only mean one thing…time for a few Role Mommy Road Trips! First stop…Block Island. If you live on the east coast and have never ventured out to this tiny island with your family, then you don’t know what you’re missing! Dozens of great restaurants, beaches galore, charming bed and breakfasts, boutique shops with tons of Vera Bradley bags :), haunted houses (gotta love that) and picturesque bike trails.

In case you’re planning a trip to Block Island, here are five of my favorite things…
IMG00210.jpg1. It’s Easy to Get There – If you live on the east coast, there are ferries from Montauk, New London, and our personal fave, Point Judith. While it takes about three hours to drive to Pt. Judith from our house, once you purchase your tickets to the high speed ferry, it only takes 30 minutes to get to the island. Just make sure you don’t eat your lunch because these days, the seas are seriously rough. One of the staffers was even circling the seating area with barf bags. Luckily we didn’t use them – but I did take one just in case!
IMG00230.jpg2. Bed & Breakfasts, Haunted Hotels and Hospitality Galore – Have to say, I love where we’re staying this year. It’s called The Island Home and the innkeeper, Dina, is one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. We’ve also stayed at the Narragansett Inn (pictured above) and Kathy, who has run the hotel for nearly two decades, is also so sweet, remembers our kids and is a great conversationalist too! Wonder why we’re not staying there this year? Just buy “The Ghosts Of Block Island” and you’ll find out why! I’m a little skittish on the ghost front and supposedly, most of the B&B’s and hotels are haunted. No sign of apparitions where we are, but we still have a few days (and nights) left!
IMG00242.jpg3. Mansion Beach – Thanks to our great friends, we’ve discovered the best beach on the island. It’s called Mansion Beach and you’ve got to get their early or else you’ll never find a parking spot for your car. But once you’re there, the waves are high, the sights are gorgeous and I get to dive into my beach read! Oh – and did I mention that every year, our good friends have an annual reunion with their high school and college buddies, and invited us a few years back to join the caravan. The highlight of our beach experience is topped off by one of their actor friends, who goes by the name of “Pirate Tom” and hosts a massive treasure hunt for kids of all ages. While the expedition initially started out about a decade ago with two kids, there were about 50 children racing for pirate booty during Pirate Tom’s latest adventure! Don’t believe me, check out this vintage clip of Pirate Tom from 2007!

IMG00261.jpg4. Shopping Anyone? Ever wonder where all those kitschy items that are reviewed by some of my favorite mom blogs (Cool Mom Picks) can be found? Simple, the boutique shops of Block Island. From onesies that say “Chicks Dig Me” to changing pads called Cushy Tushies, plus great Vera Bradley bags and craft fairs galore (where I picked up a gorgeous picture frame and mail box with hydrangeas on it from a local artist who summers in Block Island and lives full-time in Houston), shopping in Block Island is one of my favorite pastimes!
IMG00227.jpg5. The Summer of Lobster Continues…Did I mention the amazing restaurants on the island like the Spring House and the Atlantic Inn? There is nothing quite like seafood in the summer time and lucky for us, the Spring House, which is set atop a picturesque hill overlooking the bay, has steamed and stuffed lobster on the menu – along with mouth watering appetizers and desserts (they had me at key lime creme brulee). And the wine list is killer too. Oh, and about that view…
tradition_header.jpgFor more information, visit Block Island tourism.

A Night Out with Amelie on Broadway

AmelieBway1164r.jpg (Photo credit: JOAN MARCUS). When I was a little girl, I dreamt of performing on Broadway. In fact, I’d spend most of my time singing in front of my mirror daydreaming about where my life would lead and all the exciting things I was going to do on the road to stardom.
Fast forward to today and I’m now a wife, mother and business owner and while I never did make my Broadway debut, I recently got to daydream again when I slipped away to a show that brought me right back to where it all began for me. And that’s where Amelie on Broadway comes in…
While I watched the story unfold in this new musical, I found myself thinking about my eight year old self again who dreamed that anything was possible. And that’s what little Amelie does when we meet her. While her parents are ridiculously over protective – forcing her to be home schooled because they’re afraid something bad will happen to her, we realize instantly the dangerous effect that helicopter parenting can have on a child. While her mom passes away when she’s still a young girl, Amelie thrives in her dream world but seems fearful of ever taking a chance and daring to live her life fully.
We then see Amelie as a young adult who works in a cafe and returns home where she continues to daydream until a tragedy convinces her to finally act on her dreams, go out into the city and make the world a better place one good deed at a time. Of course, this journey leads her to finally discover love but the only thing that holds her back is her fear of taking chances.
Amelie is played by the incredibly talented Phillipa Soo who most recently appeared in “Hamilton.” Soo is perfect for the role of the flighty young woman who is hoping her good deeds will make the world a better place. Listening to her sing is like watching a champion figure skater – you know she’s going to nail every note and her performances are simply flawless. I also really loved Savvy Crawford who portrays Amelie as a young girl. While this was her first role on Broadway, I’m sure we’ll be seeing Savvy for many years to come!
I think this charming musical is perfect for mothers and daughters or a girls night out like I did with one of my closest friends. If you’re like me and still find yourself daydreaming about what you’d love to do with your life, then Amelie is a perfect way to spend an evening or a matinee.
To find out more about Amelie on Broadway or to purchase tickets, visit their website.

Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to see Amelie on Broadway. However all opinions are 100% my own.

CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIPPING: THE MALIBU WINE SAFARI

I’ve been to California over a dozen times and most of my visits have included stops at memorable sites like the Hollywood Sign, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Dodger stadium, Universal Studios and the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum. But I never thought that I could actually pursue one of my favorite past times in Southern California too…wine tasting!
Little did I know that a beautiful drive up the Pacific Coast Highway would take me to one of the most beautiful wineries I’ve ever seen in my life – and trust me, as a wine lover, I have seen a lot of vineyards but nothing comes close to this one. I first found out about the Malibu Wine Safari through the Los Angeles Tourism Bureau and have to say that the moment I checked out their website, I was hooked. I mean, who wouldn’t love going on an outdoor adventure that included some light hiking, the chance to meet famous animals, and sampling wine and cheese along the way amidst a backdrop that was absolutely majestic.
If you’re looking for something fun to do with your family, your spouse or your girlfriends, then the Malibu Wine Safari is a great option. You can ride in an open top jeep where you’ll come nose to nose with a famous giraffe named Stanley who is happy to mug for the cameras as long as you keep feeding him lettuce. Stanley is a six year old giraffe who probably has an IMDB page since he’s appeared in films like the “Hangover 3” and several television commercials from Verizon to Doritos to name a few.
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The 1000 acre property was purchased in the 1970’s by Ron and Lisa Semler who have since transformed it into a gorgeous vineyard complete with unforgettable views, an ancient Indian cave, animals, a road lined with classic trailers, an amazing setting for wedding receptions, events, parties, reunions, farm to table dinners and there’s even a four bedroom ranch on the property that you can rent via airbnb!
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Another amazing part of our adventure included the opportunity to try Mailbu wines along the trail. And the wine was so delicious – from a sweet Rose to a variety of whites and reds — I picked the Malbec and then shared it with my travel companions at dinner that night.
If you plan to visit the Malibu winery, make sure you do it during the week – kids under 21 are only allowed on the family safari weekdays and kids need to be 7+ and with their parents. Additionally, private safaris are available too. For more information visit the Malibu Wine Safari website and definitely add it to your LA sightseeing plans!

Dr. Ken Set Visit and Halloween Show Preview

It’s been a whirlwind week for me that started out in Los Angeles where I got the chance to visit the sets of two great ABC comedies – “The Goldbergs” and “Dr. Ken.” I’m going to save my post about “The Goldbergs” for next week but for now, I want to make sure you tune into Dr. Ken – the ABC comedy starring Dr. Ken Jeong that’s now in its second season. I had the chance to visit the set this week, speak with the cast members and watch a preview of their Halloween episode which airs tonight!
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When Allison is disappointed that Halloween doesn’t seem to scare Dave anymore,his Grandpa manages to have him and Dr. Ken on the edge of their seats when he shares a scary Korean gwishin (ghost) story that convinces Dave he’s not as tough as he thinks. The entire cast brings this colorful story to life playing the various gwishins, which are all actual ghosts from Korean culture. Here’s a sneak peek…

We got the chance to speak with the cast after we saw a preview of the Halloween episode and Ken Jeong — who is a real life doctor who stars in the show and serves as executive producer talking about the research that went into that storyline to make it authentic as possible. He also revealed that this season, he often consults with his wife to make sure the storylines on the show are as realistic as they can be.
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What I loved most about the show and the cast was that all of them were so down to earth and relatable. Ken seems to be like every other dad I know – busy on the weekends with his kids’ activities and beaming with pride when they succeed. I especially loved hearing about his daughter who recently won a gymnastics competition. His other daughter seems to want to follow in her dad’s footsteps having guest starred on the show twice so far as Dave’s stalker.
If you’re like me and looking forward to a night on the couch watching your favorite shows, then don’t miss “Dr. Ken” which airs Fridays at 8:30pm ET/7:30pm CT on ABC.

10 Way to Help Your Child on Their College Search

The last year and change has been quite challenging to say the least. You see, this is the crucial year where our daughter has embarked on her college search. The process, if you are new to this game, is daunting to say the least but it doesn’t have to be. As long as you have the tools to help your child succeed, find scholarships and help prepare them for standardized tests that could potentially help them earn merit money towards their dream school, as a parent, you can help be their guide as they navigate this exciting journey in their lives.
If you’re just starting the process, here are 10 tips you might want to keep in mind while you are helping your child on their search:
1. Make sure you are signed up for Naviance at their school. Typically, their guidance counselor meets with them to show them how to navigate the site but the best part about it is that as parents, you can be a part of the process and help identify schools that might be of interest to your child. Naviance also shows you whether your child’s grades and standardized test scores will earn them entry into the school or if it’s a reach. There’s a treasure trove of great information on Naviance and frankly, I’m obsessed with it more than my daughter is!
2. Order US News & World Report Guide to Colleges and sign up for their online service as well. If you haven’t yet been admitted to Naviance, this is the next best thing. It also gives you breakdowns of schools that match your child’s interests and academic achievements. Plus it connects you to the college websites and you can easily navigate your way around the site to find a wealth of information.
3. Sign your child up for an SAT or ACT prep class in the summer. When they aren’t distracted by other classes, the summer is the perfect time to get your child test ready. Our daughter took her first class in the fall and winter months and took the brand new SAT in March and performed very well. She’s taking it one more time in October and currently has a class every weekend and once during the week to keep her test skills sharp when it’s time to take the SAT. If you are in the New York area, we used Test Takers but you can even use an online service like Varsity Tutors if you are not in our area but want access to great tutors who can help with ACT and SAT prep.
4. Start searching for Scholarships! Visit Scholly.com to search for potential scholarships that can help subsidize your child’s college education. With costs skyrocketing, this is a great site that matches your child’s academic interests and talents with potential scholarships that they can sign up for.
5. Make sure your child is active in extracurricular activities. Whether they are an athlete, an artist or they are a star on the debate team, your child doesn’t have to do a ton of things to make them stand out, but they should be doing at least one thing that sets them apart or shows their leadership abilities.
6. Sign up for FAFSA — Need financial aid or want to see if you qualify? Then make sure you sign up for FAFSA so that when the time comes, your child qualifies for funds that will help support their education.
7. Get your child a Upromise credit card from Master Card. This is a great way for your child to pay for school supplies and pay down student loans at the same time. It’s a rewards card that truly helps a student while they are pursuing their education.
8. Be smart about scheduling college tours. If you want to see a specific school, like an art school or science program, make sure you schedule your tour on a weekday so that you can see it when it is open. Weekend tours while they are convenient oftentimes don’t give you the true flavor for what the school is about or whether the school has what your child is looking for.
9. Don’t travel all over the country looking at colleges! Wait until your child is accepted into a school that’s a plane ride away before wasting money on a trip to visit their dream school. What’s the point of visiting if you don’t get accepted? If you are vacationing near a school they are interested in, then definitely go and visit but don’t go out of your way until they receive a large envelope in the mail.
10. Find out which schools offer merit scholarships. Essaywise is a fantastic site offering great advice to parents in the thick of the college search. In fact, while perusing the site, I found this amazing article about 40 schools that offer scholarships based on merit. Luckily, my daughter’s dream school is on the list so here’s hoping she gets in and gets some money to help offset the cost of out of state tuition too!

18 Year Old Pens Chizi’s Tale, An Inspiring Children’s Book that Gives Back

I recently read an article in the New York Times about the generation that’s striving to make a difference in our world. They’re called Generation Z and I recently met an extraordinary teen who embodies the Generation Z spirit — Jack Jones, an 18 year old
high school senior and student athlete who has travelled to Africa every summer where he has learned the importance of preserving and protecting nature. The youngest of four children, Jack has just published a inspiring new children’s book from Peek-a-boo Publishing that helps raise awareness and educate children and their parents about the importance of saving Black Rhinos.
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Jack recently appeared at a fun filled family event held at the beautiful Carlton Hotel in New York City to celebrate the launch of Chizi’s Tale. Based in Zimbabwe, Chizi’s Tale is the true story of a day-old black rhino that was separated from its mother. Upon discovery by two park rangers, the park manager is informed immediately and ultimately takes the rhino home to his family. The family adopts the infant animal and names him Chisiwana, which means ‘Orphaned One’ in the native language. Nicknamed ‘Chizi,’ the book chronicles his first year at his new home, where he is treated like a beloved family pet.
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“My mission with Chizi’s Tale is to bring attention to the endangered black rhino and encourage all of us to help save our world’s vanishing species.” said Jack. “With the sale of the book, 100 percent of the author proceeds are going to Tusk.org, a group dedicated to supporting wildlife, communities, and education in Africa.”
Today, black rhinos remain critically endangered due to the rising demand for rhino horn, which has brought poaching to record levels. Native to eastern and central Africa which includes the countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Angola, there are approximately only 4,800 remaining in the wild.
Through the kindness and perseverance of his adoptive family, Chizi is working to slowly be released back into the wild as it is vital towards helping his species survive. Both hardcopy ($7.99) and paperback ($3.99) versions of the book will be released simultaneously. Chizi’s story is appropriate for children ages 0 to 8, though he will touch the heart of all!
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
Jacqui Taylor lives in Zimbabwe. She wrote and illustrated A Hong Kong ABC, An African ABC, A Baobab is Big, and The Queen of Green. To learn more, please visit her website at .
ABOUT PEEK-A-BOO PUBLISHING
Peek-A-Boo is an exciting new approach to children’s publishing, focused on producing works that tell enduring tales and celebrate diversity. We are proud to offer our innovative storytelling in both traditional print and–through a newly minted partnership with industry leader Brightline Interactive–digital interactive formats. Spearheading this new venture is veteran children’s author Don Hoffman, whose books have sold more than one million copies worldwide. As director of acquisitions, Hoffman is tasked with seeking out and recruiting the best and brightest authors in the field under the Peek-A-Boo banner. Our imprints include: Peek-A-Boo (children ages 0-4), See-Saw (young readers ages 4-8), and RainbowKidz (children up to age 10 who are part of, or affected by, the LBBTQ community; soon expanding to teens). Peek-A-Boo Publishing: Open your eyes and see what’s next. Learn more at: http://www.peekaboopublishing.com/
ABOUT TUSK.ORG
Tusk is an African wildlife conservation organization working in 18 countries in Africa. For over 25 years, Tusk has been funding Africa’s most effective and successful conservation initiatives. Tusk carefully selects conservation, education and community programs that will have a lasting impact on the people and wildlife of Africa. Endangered and threatened species are protected and more than a million people benefit from the greater security, infrastructure, healthcare, and economic opportunities that Tusk programs provide. HRH The Duke of Cambridge has been the Royal Patron of Tusk since 2005 and has been a powerful advocate for Tusk’s work to support conservation, education and community development across Africa ever since. Learn more at: http://www.tusk.org

SO IT TURNS OUT I’M A CLOSET FEMINIST

IMG_1871.jpgI pride myself on the relationship I have with my daughter. Sure we have more than our fair share of knock down drag out fights, but they are usually resolved the same day and there are never personal attacks involved. We argue over things that happened or didn’t happen, not about who each of us are as people, which I believe is critical to a good relationship between any two parties. Rebecca knows (hopefully) that she can literally tell me anything and it will be without embarrassment for her or judgement by me. But there seems to be a lingering issue over the last 10 months between us that just won’t go away. And it was brought to my attention again the other night when I nudged my wife to tell me if there is anything going on with Rebecca that I should know about. As close as Rebecca and I are, I always like reassurances from my wife that I’m not missing anything. Well I’m glad I asked. Beth informed me that our daughter feels I am at odds with her about her self proclaimed “feminist” status and it bothered her a lot more than I realized.
At the beginning of the school year. Rebecca mentioned a few times to Beth and me that she considers herself to be a feminist. Rudely, I chuckled a bit insisting to myself and to her that she was nothing close to being a feminist. My first question to her was why she views herself as such and she attempted to articulate her beliefs. While I agreed with everything she was saying, I told her she is not a feminist and came just a little short of demanding that she stop calling herself that. The label really bothered me and I wanted her to stop connecting herself to a word that I didn’t believe truly reflected her ideologies, demeanor or interaction with others. The argument has persisted throughout the year, varying in intensity at different times, depending on my state of mental fatigue. Interestingly, the feminist issues that Rebecca told me were important to her were not the source of disagreement. She wants equal pay for men and women. So do I. She believes in reproductive rights for women. So do I. She is against domestic and sexual violence toward women. So am I. In fact, on just about every issue that Rebecca ever brought up as to why she considers herself to be a feminist, I was in agreement. And as we discussed each issue that she considered to be at the core of her feminist beliefs, she eventually looked at me and told me that I was a feminist too. Part of me laughed and the other part was taken back by her glib banter.
Despite my socially liberal views, I was always turned off by the word feminist. I associated the word as a cause being synonymous with hostility toward men or misguided anger. Part of it might trace back to my days in college when I was surrounded by many feminist activists who always just seemed antagonistic by nature. Again, the causes they were fighting for were more than justified, but I usually found their personalities to be off-putting, Chivalrous gestures often seemed to be construed as sexist acts for things that were simply common courtesy. Once asked by a woman why I felt the need to hold the door for her, I was stumped to offer an intelligent response. It wasn’t because I thought of her as being too weak to open the door herself or that I could increase my chances of getting her phone number for a date. (By the way, to the woman that I had that exchange with, I still think you are an a…) Like many people, it’s just what I would do for anyone. I guess for me, I’m a person who finds who delivers a message and the way that it is delivered to be just as important as the message itself. And too often I found the feminist message being communicated by people that I simply didn’t care to be around.
But for a guy who was primarily raised by his working mother and was taught that everyone deserves to be treated equally and with respect, irrespective of race, religion, age or gender, it would be hard to imagine that I would be anything other than supportive of the issues related to feminism. Even at a time when sexual orientation was a taboo topic, I grew up knowing that heterosexuals and homosexuals should never be treated differently. Maybe that doesn’t quite describe feminism, but you get the point. And as we fast forward to the parenting years for my two teenagers, it would be difficult to say I’m not supportive of feminist issues when it is my wife who is the sole income producer for our household since 2014. I was able to leave my job and venture off into a new career because I was confident that my partner would be able to take care of our financial needs for a period of time as I built my new business. I have tried to slice it and dice it every which way I could to see why Rebecca was wrong when she labeled me as a feminist as well. While I retorted, “yeah right”, she indeed was correct. It kills me to say it because the word just doesn’t sit well with me. However, at the end of the day, does it really matter if I like the word or not? It is the issues that matter, not the label they are put under. Maybe that will change one day, and a time will come where I will out myself as the feminist that I really am. But for now, I think I will just say that I am “pro gender equality.” That just sounds so much better to me.