Should have been Hillary Clinton

It was a foggy day in New York. My heart is heavy, my mind is cluttered, my soul is weeping. How did this progressive nation set itself back. How are we so divided on issues of race, sexism, abuse, fairness? I don’t know how to feel and I don’t know what to do. This overwhelming feeling of hopelessness seems to just roll in like the fog today.

I have hope for the future… somewhere deep inside.

But today I mourn.

 

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#YouthMarchTogether

#YouthMarchTogetherLike many of you, we, in this house, are feeling out of sorts and at times hopeless. This is something that our kids perceive and understand. The question I have myself as a mom is, do I want my kids to think that hopelessness wins or do I give them some tools for not just coping, but for being part of a movement that stands for something different.
What kids really need to know now…

they need to know they are Safe

they need to know they are Loved

they need to know they are Accepted

they need to know that GOOD WINS

Kids need hope, they want to be involved, and kids need concrete action. I’ve been going back and forth about how Lily, my 11 YO, can feel involved in this current climate. She feels the unease and asks questions, observes harsh words being tossed around at her school and wants to do something. But what?


Your news feed is being filled with plans of people who will march this weekend, in DC, in NYC, in states all across this country. Some of us won’t be able to make these marches and most kids won’t be there. So how do kids, our youth, who are so very effected by this electoral outcome and the conflicting environment, how do our youth participate in this, how do they get involved?

I suggest a project.

This is for our youth. YOU are the future change-makers, YOU will make a difference, YOU will ensure that kindness and good will win and YOUR VOICE is POWER!

To YOU marching this weekend… our kids, young people, our youth stand with YOU… the millions marching this weekend… we stand with you and this is how we will show our support.


Use the reach of social media to get the message out. I encourage you to write #YouthMarchTogether on the palm of your hand and share an image via your social channels.

Tag @YouthMarchTogether on Insta!

We are all in this TOGETHER. We MARCH forward TOGETHER.

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Dinosaurs love Hillary Clinton too

Madame Alexander Wendy for President

When Barack Obama was sworn into the White House… Lily was 3 years old and lined up all her dolls and ponies to watch the historic moment.

This morning Thomas was so excited about the big news – because Lily and I were chattering about it  at breakfast – that he brought out all his favorite toys to be part of the excitement.

Dinosaurs love Hillary too y’all!

Hillary Clinton 2016

Unless you have been living under a rock these past 24 hours, you know that Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Nominee for the upcoming presidential election.

I’m with her.

Lily and I stayed up late to watch her speech and cheered her along. Her powerful words, inclusive ideas and just overall energy was enough to pave even playing grounds for both genders. Having a daughter grow up with Barack Obama and now Hillary Clinton as leaders of this fine country is magical. we get to talk about equality, we get to talk about fairness, we get to talk about love and patience and building a better future. And we get to do this in an open forum with leaders who openly support these changing times.

I grew up in India with the name Indira Gandhi mentioned all around me. I grew up with a woman as a political figure. This was the norm. So why is this such a big deal in this country which is far more progressive in so many ways.

Play… imitates life… imitates play… and while I’m sure there will be lots of Hillary Clinton dolls for little girls everywhere to role play with… we have found our fave.

The new Madame Alexander doll – Wendy for President – is ready to celebrate this historic time in our political history. This gorgeous collectible doll is dressed in red white and blue with a familiar blonde hairdo. Hmmm… Madame Alexander… did you know something we didn’t! We are super proud of our Wendy for President doll… and Thomas high-fived her on the way off to preschool this morning.

I would snatch this doll up quick… it’s going to sell fast!

Madame Alexander Wendy for President

Swing by Madame Alexander for all the info about this doll.

This post is sponsored. Opinions are my own and not affiliated with the company. 

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Our Neighbor Hillary Clinton – All Politics are Local

#HRC2016
photo credit: Francesca Hagadus

When the future POTUS and her husband elected to move to northern Westchester County after leaving the most famous residence in the world, there was great satisfaction in knowing that the Clintons chose to live in the same community we did.  Of course, this campaign has proven that Hillary’s Chappaqua address is a home away from home before she returns to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. As a New Yorker, Hillary Clinton has served as our senator and the nation’s Secretary of State; she has also worshiped in her local church , and chewed the fat in her local deli. Her generosity has shown her supporting the local food pantry and teaching civics at the local high school.  There’s no debating… Hillary Rodham Clinton is my neighbor, and I approve this message.

#HRC2016
photo credit: Chad David Kraus
#HRC2016
photo credit : Lori Gowen Morton
#HRC2016
photo credit: Chad David Kraus

New Yorkers love the Clintons and this morning for the New York primaries… the town of Chappaqua came out to show some love for our neighbor!

My neighbor Hillary Clinton!

 

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He Named Me Malala – A Review From a Parental Perspective #withMalala

Malala_Social_V1-Rev

Lily’s 5th grade class read about Malala this year. She was inspired and would come home and tell us all about this modern-day hero. So when I was approached to be a media partner for the upcoming documentary – He Named Me Malala – airing on the NatGeo Channel on MONDAY February 29 at 8:00pm EST,   I had to jump onboard.

He Named Me Malala is a powerful documentary about Malala Yousafzai. Malala is the youngest person ever to win a Nobel Peace Prize and she has proven to be this generations, hero in a very unconventional way. Unlike the heroes we see on the big screen – you know muscles, brawn, skin-tight outfits, capes, and magical transforming power, Malala’s strength and power lie in her words.

At the age of 11, living in Pakistan, she decided to start a blog. Yes… a blog. A blog where she talked about the Taliban regime and her support for girls to be educated. She gained fans and was shot down in public 3 times on a bus and left for dead.

He Named Me Malala tells this story and has real-time accounts of what happened, what has happened since, and gives the viewer not only the full play-by-play of Malala’s powerful story but also takes us into her culture and family.

I’m not going to go into a full review of the film, because you can read all about it all over the web. However, I would like to give you a parents perspective and whether or not you should watch this film with your child.  *Note: I said WITH your child. It’s a tough one to have a kid watch alone. 

Lily is 11. She’s in 5th grade. She has read the book and knows the story. She had lots of questions about the shooting and grasping the concept that girls are denied educational rights over boys. She had questions while reading the book and we answered them the best we could.

The film. The film is different. It’s visual and there are a lot of images that are tough to take in for young kids. The content is serious with visuals of the blood on the bus, her face after being shot, and imagery of local life in poverty ridden areas of Pakistan.

There are a few moments of emotional relief like the beautiful relationship she has with her father who, contradictory to the stereotype of Pakistani men, supports and fuels Malala’s women’s right’s movement, and another moment when Malala is caught looking at pictures of David Beckham online. I mean… who can blame her right. But overall, this film is intense. Especially for kids who have not been exposed to any context or real life experience similar to the Pakistani terrain, culture, and imagery in this context and storyline.

He Named Me Malala is a PG-13 film. And this is an appropriate rating. If your child is watching PG-13 movies already, then you should watch this because this film with its ( very few) graphic visuals and true change-makers- story that’s happening right now. At least this film has a better message than other PG-13 flicks where zombies are eating people or snakes have invading a plane or even 6 o’clock the news.

Malala_Social_V5-Rev

This said, it is an important documentary that should be watched by kids in Middle and High School. The mature content will resonate and may even work as a call to action for some kids.

He Named Me Malala is an important documentary and PARENTS… you …WE… should watch it. To know the truth and to know what’s happening and to know that our children will be inspired by this strong change-maker.

What does the name MALALA mean? We learn from the film that – Malala’s father – who is a significant part of inspiring his daughter to fight for what she believes in,  named his first born -fueled with power from the beginning. Malala is named after the Pastun Joan of Arc of sorts –  Malalai of Maiwand,  who fought and gave her own life while she  encouraged Afghan soldiers to stand up against British colonialists.

He Named Me Malala will be shown commercial free on the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC channel on Monday February 29 at 8:00pm ET/7:00pm CT.

Another way to support this amazing story and cause is to tweet #withMalala! Between now and 3/10 and 21st Century Fox will donate $1 to the Malala Fund for every tweet tagged #withMalala. It’s never been easier to support the Fund and girls’ education globally. Tell all your friends to get on board too!

Please tweet this message —>  @thenewyorkmom & I are standing #withMalala Please RT this message to have @21CF donate $1 to @Malalafund 4 supporting girls right to edu! 

*Thanks for swinging by and supporting this powerful story!  You guys are awesome!*

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First Candle Gala with Regal Lager

This blog allows me many opportunities that I would never have access to if not for this platform. And while some perks are extravagant and come in the form of press trips or meeting some interesting people, once in the while something truly meaningful comes my way that makes me stop and think about the bigger picture.

Last friday I attended the very formal, First Candle Gala in NYC. First Candle is an amazing non-Profit organization that helps families all over the world by ensuring safe pregnancies and infant life. I really want to tell you about the great work this organization is doing because it’s so very valuable.

First Candle is an organization that works hard to educate caretakers, parents, and day care workers about proper infant care to ensure that babies are given the best possible chance to reach their first birthday and birthdays beyond.

I attended as a guest of the baby gear company – Regal Lager. It was such an honor to be part of this very important and touching evening that raised funds to further spread this important message.

I spend my professional life as a writer, commentator and expert in the parenting and baby gear areas. Attending this  important gala was very special to me as a contributor to this topic in the online space.

Allison Jacobsen, the founder of Safety Mom, was the host for the evening and shared her touching story of how she lost her baby to SIDS in 1997. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is very real and Allison took her devastation from losing her child to be the preeminent voice of infant sleep safety.

The message of Safe-Sleep gives the public tips about making sure babies always sleep in their backs and that there are no soft, loose bedding or toys in the baby’s crib.

The gala was a buzz with media, parents, advocates, baby gear companies and supporters of First Candle.

Some of my pals from the parenting space – Elisabeth Bergoo from regal Lager, Brianne Manz from Stroller in The City,Jessica Hartshorn from Parents Magazine, Melisa Fluhr from Project Nursery, Serena Noor from Cool Mom Picks, Eric Messinger from New York Family, and a handful of NYC’s social influencers in the parenting space were all in attendance to support First Candle.

First Candle

At the end of our decadent dinner, a single cupcake with a candle was served to all the guests to symbolize baby’s first birthday. It was very touching and makes you really appreciate everything this organization and all the companies in the room were fighting for.

Please visit FIRSTCANDLE.ORG for more information.

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Schoola – 20 days of school | part 2

The New York Mom

I was in the Marching Band in High School. This was my entire life for my teen years. My social, emotional and educational life were all intertwined in marching band. Anyone who is in a marching band will know that the hours and hours and endless weekends of rehearsal are just the icing on the cake. Kids in Marching band are taught life lessons in discipline, art, perseverance and hard knocks … without even knowing it.  It look back on those years fondly and only wish Lily and Thomas can be part of such a program in the future. While there is no marching band in elementary school, there is a school orchestra and Lily is a proud member. She is loving her trumpet lessons and her concert last year was pretty impressive when you consider the little rehearsal time these kids get.

Arts are an essential part of learning and I am thrilled that Lily has these opportunities at her school.

Earlier this month I had shared the incredible creative efforts SCHOOLA is working on this back to school season and thought I would swing by for a second gentle reminder about this great program.

Schoola is an online consignment store  which sells only  brand name kids clothes. A portion of the proceeds goes to schools in need and I’ve chosen KIPP Academy and their music program. 

Here’s how this works. Simply shop for back to school stuff at SCHOOLA and money will go right to KIPP ELEMENTARY.

  • For every transaction made from Schoola, Schoola will donate $1 to the KIPP Academy.
  • For every person who requests a donation bag, Schoola will donate $1 to the KIPP Academy.
  • For every clothing donation made from Schoola and when you fill out your school information ( a school you’d like to support), $2 of every $5 made will go back to the school that you support.

Follow this link so we can help KIPP Academy! —> SCHOOLA

It’s going to take so little to make such a big difference!!!

This post is brought to you by Schoola, the best place to buy discounted kids clothes all while give back to schools in need. Click here to learn more about Schoola. Click here to see what people are saying.

 

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20 days of school with Schoola

This post is sponsored by Schoola. 

The New York Mom

It’s Back To School time and I’ve partnered with SCHOOLA and their 20 days of school campaign, to help raise 25,000 for Kipp Academy in the Bronx to help fund their music program.

If you know me at all you know that my heart is in arts education. As a fierce advocate for the Arts, I support arts education right from elementary school. This project makes me so happy and I really hope you are inspired to join me.

Kipp Academy in the Bronx REALLY needs this program. 95% of the kids qualify for free or reduced cost lunch. 95 PERCENT!!! More than one in seven kids, at KIPP academy,  receives special education services. Music helps KIPP Academy reach and engage every child who enters its doors. The slogan on the Music Room wall sets the stage—All of Us Will Learn Music.

Arts education is absolutely vital to the development of young minds. Arts educations effectiveness has been proven time and time again, When kids are engaged in dance, theatre, music or visual arts they improve in their academics, don’t drop out of school, attendance in school is higher, find a focus and their self esteem gets a boost.

and the best part… exposure to the arts from a young age creates amazing little human who will grow and do amazing things!

I’ve had the fortune of being a guest artist teaching dance in schools all across New York City and it’s been the most fulfilling part of my professional dance career. Teaching dance at schools like KIPP Academy where most of the kids are at risk was especially fulfilling. I was able to – for a short time- give these kids a small escape from their lives while also teaching them about movement and art and collaborations. These kids don’t have access to the arts like you and I do. With programs in the arts getting cut in public schools more and more every year, we need more than ever to help out schools like KIPP Academy succeed. Let’s help them buy new instruments, let’s help them teach music to these talented kids, and lets help them make artists who will grow up and shape our creative future!

I’m thrilled to share my collaboration with Schoola with you and really hope that you – me- WE can help KIPP academy raise the 25,000 they need to fund their music program.

Schoola is an online consignment store  which sells only  brand name kids clothes. A portion of the proceeds goes to schools in need and I’ve chosen KIPP Academy and their music program. 

Here’s how this works. Simply shop for back to school stuff at SCHOOLA and money will go right to KIPP ELEMENTARY.

  • For every transaction made from Schoola, Schoola will donate $1 to the KIPP Academy.
  • For every person who requests a donation bag, Schoola will donate $1 to the KIPP Academy.
  • For every clothing donation made from Schoola and when you fill out your school information ( a school you’d like to support), $2 of every $5 made will go back to the school that you support.

Follow this link so we can help KIPP Academy! —> SCHOOLA

It’s going to take so little to make such a big difference!!!

This post is brought to you by Schoola, the best place to buy discounted kids clothes all while give back to schools in need. Click here to learn more about Schoola. Click here to see what people are saying.

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Life after testing… now what?

When I taught dance at conservatories and dance studios in NYC and surrounding towns, the culture was to spend the entire year teaching the dance routine for the end of the year concert. I fought this in all my classes and I never ever gave into that culture. I taught technique, artistry, transitions, skill and I was building little dancers…not immitators.  I would always start my concert pieces 3 months before the concert sometimes 2 months in the advanced classes.

There was pressure on the students  to do well in the concert -I  didn’t add to that pressure but rather squeeze it down to only 2 months and in those 2-3 months these kids were fully equipped to handle a full blown dance piece which highlighted their artistry rather than spending all year going over the same 5-6-7-8. Year after year, my students performed at the top of their expectations. They danced, they were artists up on that stage and their technique stood out! I was a proud teacher and I know the students appreciated our artistic journey of learning in class. They took the pressure of learning their pieces in a short amount of time and rose to the occasion because they were prepared for it in a well rounded way. They also were exposed to the whole art form and were not confined to the movement of their concert piece. 

Lily finishes her 3 day testing of ELA – English Language Arts-  today which begs me to ask the question – now what? Is the rest of the year Math only? What happens to ELA now?

Seems like so much of the year was spent on practice tests and homework geared toward THE ELA TEST, it makes me wonder what happens to the curriculum now that the goal of all those practice tests has been achieved. It’s the first week of April and testing is over. We have 3 more months to go.

Did the kids spend the whole year learning to the test? How much of the curriculum was part of the testing… all of it? Then what else? And how are we testing the rest of the year…or are we?Do the kids get feedback on their scores? Do they get their scores?

There is much debate about testing. Lily’s teacher told me that she was very happy to hear that Lily was in good spirits because some kids were in tears and looked stressed in the hallways. I took that as a compliment.  I have faith in Lily’s teacher. She’s worked hard to keep these kids somewhat relaxed. And I know this is not always the case.

Here’s a thought – What if they tested the kids without the prep? like… let them learn on their own to see how they did? – I know this is a totally different conversation. I’m not sure I will even see Lily’s test results to see how she did or if the teachers are getting feedback from the testing? It’s all such a mystery.

So now what? The big hype is over. ELA Testing is done. We have 3 more months of school. Now what?

Math testing is coming up in May. So we’re gearing up for round 2.

 In my dance classes, I left my students with much more than a product for their end-of-the-year concert. I left them with technical and artistic tools which hopefully took them through the rest of their dance journey. And that… as a teacher… is priceless. 

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Please sharpen your no.2 pencils

Today is day 2 of Common Core Testing in the New York Public Schools. Lily came home yesterday and felt pretty accomplished. She bragged about the huge packet they had to work on for the test, how the principal himself walked into the class to hand deliver the test and all the nervous energy everyone was feeling. She came home from school – did her homework, played with her friends, had dinner and spent the rest of the evening playing with her dolls and role-playing the entire testing day.

Calico_Critters

I grew up in India. We had one giant test at the very end of the school year which determined your placement in the class and whether you would move on to the next level. This is a whole ton of pressure on kids and parents. I have very vivid memories of staying up all night in tears and miserable because I just couldn’t get one math problem on the practice test or i couldn’t spell a word, my patient mother by my side into the wee hours of the morning. The stress was there, it came from the school, teachers, and most of all parents. But there was no other way really. This ONE solitary test at the end of the year measured your intelligence and your knowledge on everything … every-thing you studied that entire year. The test was long and grueling and I remember even being stressed about sharpening my no.2. pencils. Because if you had to stop what you were working on to get up and sharpen your pencil then the whole class was disrupted and it also meant you and your parents were unprepared. My mom used to send us to testing days with a dozen finely sharpened pencils so if one dulled, another was ready and willing to take its place. prepared.

Common Core

While the Common Core is not judging the kids, it is putting pressure on them to perform at their very best. The school year has been spent preparing the kids for this test with practice tests and timed math quizzes and homework. While it’s been a lot of work it also has been a fairly smooth transition this year. I don’t disagree with the testing. I think giving the kids this pressured goal is actually a good thing. Lily has very little to stress about in her life. We have a great home life, we go on vacations, we play, we dance around… it’s fun. Teaching her how to deal with pressure and stress is an important tool which will only make her capable of coping with her challenges as she gets older.

Calico_Critters

As she headed off to school this morning, she was nervous. She was excited but she was totally prepared! Here’s to day 2! How is your kid doing this testing week?

* Lily is playing with the SchoolHouse Playset from Calico Critters. We love it! check out my review of it at TTPM.com*

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