It’s A Girl! {Inauguration Day}

IT’S A GIRL!

Princesses.
Dress ups.
Tea Parties.
Pink.
Glitter.
Barbies.
Make Up.
Flowers.
Jewelry.
Baby dolls.
Hair bows.
Nail polish.
Vice. President.
inauguration day

My daughter started watching a new show on PBS Kids called Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum. In case you’ve never watched, it’s very cute and educational. It’s probably geared towards kids older than 3.5 years old, but it keeps her interest and I love the message. It is based on the book series Ordinary People Can Change the World and at the end of every episode they say, “(insert famous person’s name) was a kid just like you. Kids can change the world!”

From the moment we find out we are expecting, we all have dreams for our kids. We want them to grow up to be kind and to work hard. We want them to pursue their dreams and be “successful”, whatever that means. But man, what if our kids do change the world? I wonder if Kamala Harris’ mother, a hard working immigrant with biracial children, ever dreamed her daughter would literally change the world. I’m sure she had fears about the way her children would be treated and accepted in society. I’m sure, like all of us, she did everything in her power to show her daughters that they could be anything they wanted to be and that they deserved to be treated fairly and respected. I can’t even imagine the overwhelming pride and joy she would be feeling today watching her daughter be inaugurated as the first ever female Vice President of the United States. She is changing the world.

“She is giving every little girl permission to change the world, too.”

There are so many stereotypes our girls fall into (many of them listed above) and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with girls loving any and all of those things, there is also nothing wrong with them loving trucks, sports, dinosaurs, dirt, and power. It is essential that we give our girls permission to be what and who they are, whatever that may be. Kamala Harris isn’t just changing the world today; she is giving every little girl permission to change the world, too.


Note from the Editor: While CMC remains committed to not being overtly political, we are so excited for what Inauguration Day January 20, 2021 means for our daughters in this country and especially our daughters of color.

10 Recipes to Celebrate National Peanut Butter Day! {This Sunday, Jan. 24}

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Now this is a silly holiday that I can get behind – National Peanut Butter Day! I don’t know about your family, but mine goes through a ridiculous amount of peanut butter; it’s definitely one of our routine bulk purchases. Since this Sunday is all about peanut butter, I wanted to track down some unique peanut butter recipes that you can make with your kids!

peanut butter

These 10 recipes are all easy to make, and most have minimal ingredients – I wouldn’t DARE ask you to make something complicated; I know better than that!

  1. 3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cheerio Bars – This recipe from The Lazy Dish could not be more simple with only three (super common) ingredients: Cheerios, peanut butter and honey!
  2. Peanut Butter and Jelly French Toast Roll-Ups PA Country Crafts has combined two of my favorite things for a delicious breakfast treat. These might sound complicated from the title, but I promise that you’ll have them whipped up in no time.
  3. Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie With Hidden Veggie If you’re like me, you’re always trying to find new ways to get your kids to eat vegetables… well, Baby Foode’s got your back. You’ll be SHOCKED at what the hidden veggie is!
  4. Peanut Butter Muffins (gluten-free, dairy-free) If you’re working with a gluten or dairy allergy, check out this yummy muffin recipe from Mile High Mitts!
  5. Healthy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies This recipe from Kathryn’s Kitchen Blog only needs six common ingredients, and I bet you can have them done (start-to-finish) in about 30 minutes!
  6. Peanut Butter Cake Roll – Admittedly, Recipes Mama’s cake roll is a little more labor-intensive than the previous recipes on this list… but MAN does it look worth the effort!
  7. Fudgy Peanut Butter Brownies – Not gonna lie… Pinky Princess Girl’s brownies probably aren’t getting shared with the rest of my family… they’re going to go into my secret “mom stash”…
  8. Four-Ingredient Peanut Butter Fudge Fresh Simple Home has a delicious and SUPER simple fudge recipe for ya.
  9. Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats This is Not Diet Food has a fun twist on Rice Krispie treats using peanut butter and M&Ms.
  10. Peanut Butter Cup Cookies with Pretzels – The pictures of these have me DROOLING. Caitlyn from Erhardt Eats also has some great notes on the recipe about making them ahead of time and how to store leftovers!

I hope that you find something on this list to try on Sunday (or another day!). Happy National Peanut Butter Day, friends!

Four Books and a Podcast for a Better 2021

Perhaps I am overstepping by assuming you want 2021 to be better than 2020 was. But really, am I wrong? Is there anyone among us not ready to say a hearty goodbye to last year and hope like heck that everything in the new year takes a turn for the better? In service of thinking positively and setting good intentions, I have found four books and one podcast perfect for setting us all on the path to a hopeful and bright 2021.

2021

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Yes, this book is by Shonda Rhimes – goddess of Thursday night, famous gazillionaire, and creative genius behind the best shows that ever graced our television sets. But let me tell you, she is the realest of real, down to earth, absolutely relatable, and funny in that honest and insightful way that makes you laugh out loud. This book tells the story of the year she decided to say yes to everything and how, by kicking her own backside out of her comfort zone, she changed her life and herself. It is beautiful and inspiring. It is personal and intimate. It will put you in the perfect frame of mind to kick off 2021 on the right foot.

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

This is a rare treasure of a book. Reading it felt like I just sat at a friend’s table for four hours, drinking coffee and catching up on the last 10 years of their life. The main character, Rosie, is a mom, just like you and me. Her life with kids is crazier than she ever imagined because who can really imagine the chaos of a house filled with kids before you are living in it. Her story is about learning to be the parent your child needs, even if it is different than the one you always imagined you’d be. It’s about the transformative power of love, children, parenting, acceptance, and being open to whatever the universe offers you.

World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

This book is magic. Let me say that again, slower, lest you think I am exaggerating. This. Book. Is. Magic. Aimee captures the physical beauty of the natural world – the strange, surprising, and magnificent creatures most of us will only ever see on TV and paints their portraits clearly in your mind. Oh, but that is not all, my friends. Those vivid pictures she just created in your head connect to the stories she tells about her life, each of which reveals a little slice of humanity that will make you want to break open with joy, sadness, anger, empathy, pain, love, and yes – wonder.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Giilbert

I know, I know – this book has been around for AGES! But that is what a classic is – a book that remains relevant to many people over many years. Whenever I feel like my psyche needs a reset, this is the book I reach for again and again. Liz Gilbert did a hard reset on her life one year, and this book takes us along for the ride as she travels through Italy, India, and Bali. Perhaps 2021 was our chance to do the same – forced out of our routines and habits, nudged by the universe to slow down and examine our way of life, an opportunity to just be for a bit and decide what our way forward will look like.

Unlocking Us Podcast with Brené Brown

I almost chose one of Brene’s books as my final selection, but I had a hard time deciding which one since every single one worth your time. Besides, even more than her books, I have been enjoying her new podcast so much! Brene’s intelligence and insight come straight to your ears – live, current and relevant, every single week. Just like her books, the podcast combines well-researched science on the human condition combined with meaningful stories and real-life ways to use that knowledge to make life better. Add in a few eye-popping guest interviews like President Barak Obama and author Glennon Doyle, and it is a podcast I can’t wait to drop each week.

How are you making a fresh start to the new year? Do you have music, books, podcasts, or other guideposts lighting your way? I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Sending Hugs {Creatively Celebrating National Hug Day on Jan. 21}

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve typed “sending hugs” into a text message sent to a friend or family member just needing a hug this past year. My intention is always for them to take a moment to pause and know I’m thinking of them, wishing I could offer them some kind of physical comfort, or really even just be sitting next to them.

Now, more than ever, I think it’s important that we acknowledge National Hug Day and send someone a hug who might be needing it.

hug

Since it isn’t safe to physically hug right now, here are some creative ways to send hugs to all the people you love.

MAIL A HUG

Supplies:

  • A roll of butcher paper or several pieces of construction paper taped together
  • Writing utensil
  • Scissors

Have your child lay down on the paper and spread their arms wide like they are giving a hug and trace them. Have them decorate it. Cut it out and fold it like an accordion to fit in an envelope and mail.

MAIL A HUG (again, but a little different)

Supplies:

  • Paper
  • Writing utensil
  • Scissors
  • Hole Punch
  • String

Trace both of your child’s hands, decorate, and cut them out. Hole punch the bottom of each hand and tie a long string between the two of them. Mail to a lucky recipient.

BAKE SOMETHING

In my family food = love and, to me, nothing comes closer to a warm hug than a warm baked good. Make a batch of chocolate chip cookies or homemade bread and drop it on someone’s porch while it’s still warm. Bonus points if your cookies use Hershey’s Hugs as an ingredient.

DROP A WARM DRINK

Mamas, which one of you wouldn’t feel loved by someone dropping off a hot cup of coffee or tea on your porch? None of you? That’s what I thought.

GIFT SOMETHING COZY

Hugs make me feel warm and fuzzy, and so do fuzzy socks, blankets, scarves, etc. Gift your bestie something to make them feel the warm and fuzzies.

I hope this inspires you to send your friends and family all the warmth and love that comes with a hug in a creative, safe way. Have fun! And while you’re giving out hugs, go ahead and give yourself one. Let your kids watch an extra show today, throw your comfiest clothes in the dryer, and take a nice long bath or shower. Put on your warm clothes, go snuggle those kiddos and breathe deep. Sending hugs on this National Hug Day <3

Cheers to 4 Years {Celebrating Fiona’s Birthday on Jan. 24}

Four years ago, a preemie hippo named Fiona took the world by storm and stole Cincinnati’s heart. That tiny 29-pound hippo is now a whopping 1,500 pounds, nearing a ton, but still just as sweet and endearing as the day she came on the scene.

The Cincinnati Zoo usually throws some kind of birthday bash for the plump princess.

fiona

My favorite was her first birthday – a festive day at the zoo, complete with an opportunity to sign her birthday card, birthday cake, cookies, and her own signature flavor of Graeter’s ice cream!

This year, due to Covid, there aren’t many in-person gatherings planned to celebrate Princess Fiona, but there is still plenty of fun to be had. You can opt to celebrate our girl’s special day at the zoo when the zoo opens after this event and pay a visit to the birthday girl (be sure to remember your Fiona masks and social distance in style!)

But if you’d rather stay in, here are some fun Fiona ideas to get the party hopping:

  1. Don a festive Fiona birthday t-shirt or any of the other Fiona t-shirts you may have collected over the years.
  2. Hippo adoption! Pick out some stuffed hippos for your littles to adopt and have them create adoption certificates. Or you can even adopt Fiona herself!
  3. Busken sells special cookies every year to commemorate Fiona. You can purchase them through the zoo/Rookwood or Busken’s site directly.
  4. Fiona tablewear – No birthday table would be complete without these specially-designed dessert plates and ice cream bowls. Pass the cookies, please!
  5. Chunky Chunky Hippo. Don’t forget to pick up a pint (or 2!) of Graeter’s signature flavor to celebrate the birthday girl – two scoops, please!
  6. Play Hungry, Hungry Hippos! This is a classic game from childhood that has universal appeal. Not sure if we’re quite ready to try this in our home with our super active 3-year-old and 1-year-old…
  7. Play Pin the Tail on the Hippo! A fun twist on the classic game. Or for another twist, you could play “Plant the Kiss on Fiona!” Make cut-out lips to try to put on Fiona’s face.
  8. Tune in to Cincinnati Pop’s Digital Lollipops Family Concert: Carnival of the Animals on Feb. 27!
  9. Hippo-themed storytime! There are several books written about Fiona for babies, toddlers, and older kids, that even parents will enjoy reading with their kiddos available in the Zoo’s online shop. We have a sizeable collection going. Our a new one for this year that we will read for our bedtime story is Fiona, It’s Bedtime!

TCT’s Pick-A-Path Experience :: Martin’s Dream

We are so thankful for our friends at The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati who work hard to stay innovative in bringing quality, entertaining, and educational resources to our community in the midst of these challenging times. The opinions featured here are 100% our own!

martin's dream

Recently, my daughter and I had the opportunity to view one of TCT’s Pick-A-Path productions entitled Martin’s Dream. It was an incredibly powerful and poignant piece retelling the life and death of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. If you are unfamiliar with The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, they are an absolutely amazing organization that has been sharing their love of the arts and theatre with families for over 100 years. They are a phenomenal group made up of truly talented people creating pieces they love and hope you will, too!

My personal love of the theatre started very young and followed me well into High School, which is why TCT speaks volumes to me with their mission statement: To educate, entertain, and engage audiences of all ages through professional theatrical productions and arts education programming. Take a look around their website if you are interested in the academy classes they offer scholars of all ages. Between workshops, camps, and their shows that can be viewed in-person or virtually, there is truly something for everyone.

The Pick-A-Path experience brings stories to life by allowing the audience to sit in the driver’s seat. It is such an innovative way to immerse ourselves in the lessons, speeches, and songs. Throughout the show, we are given options to choose from that will help move the story along. It is such a fun and exciting way to keep the audience involved and actively listening. Another favorite of ours was Harriet Tubman: Straight Up Outta’ The Underground.

The creator and actor, Deondra Kamau Means, is completely captivating in this one-man show. From the moment we hit play to the very end-scene, my daughter and I were learning, feeling, and dreaming. This production is considered historically accurate. Some of which we knew and other parts we were hearing for the first time. I think that is one of the main reasons I truly love the Pick-A-Path experience; they are using their creative outlets to teach, to open minds, and to open hearts by keeping us tuned in.

It is important to note that there are two versions of this particular show, and the one my teenaged daughter and I viewed did have words and phrases that may not be appropriate for little ones. If you are interested in watching with a younger audience, I would go with the option that is geared towards that age group of viewers. This one is for ages 8 and up, grades 3rd – 8th.

The cost is just $15.00 and is digitally streaming from now until June 30, 2021. I would highly recommend this show and the overall experience you’ll have during it. It encourages us to explore the real man behind the images we have seen countless times. It gives us the ability to see what an incredibly funny, passionate, and intelligent man Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was. It was his deep faith, the love for his family, and his yearning for equality that helped make him one of the most revered people in our nation’s history.

If you are unable to attend in-person showings, The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati offers a Broadway On Demand option where they have taken their live performances and made them available to stream digitally.

Click TCT’s logo below to get your tickets to Martin’s Dream today!

children's theatre of cincinnatiYou may also enjoy reading this piece from our contributing team on how we can apply MLK’s lessons to our kids today.

Beating the Cold {10 Ways to Embrace the Winter Months Ahead}

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With the icy chill of winter biting our cheeks every time we go outside, it can be very tempting to stay snug indoors, sipping hot chocolate, watching Hallmark movies in our cozy socks. A quick glance out the window will quickly solidify our decision to hibernate indoors. However, going out in the cold doesn’t have to be a blustery blunder. Here are a few ideas to help beat the cold months ahead.

cold

Dress for the cold!

It seems obvious, but the easiest way to beat the cold is to simply layer up and dress for the weather. 

Repurpose old milk cartons by cutting off one side.

You can then fill the empty cartons with water and place them outside to freeze into ice blocks. Once you have enough blocks, you and your children can assemble an igloo or ice fort, no snow necessary! If we are lucky enough to get snow, invite other children in the neighborhood over for a (distanced) snowball fight!

If you have pine trees in your neighborhood, go out on a foraging walk and gather a few pinecones (toilet paper rolls will also work if pinecones are unavailable).

Bring the pinecones back in and smother with peanut butter and then roll or sprinkle into birdseed. Take your bird feeders out to a tree within sight from a window of your house. You and your children will enjoy spotting birds and learning how to identify new species of winter birds!

Take an empty tub of margarine, or something similar, and fill with water.

Let your children place some of their nature treasures inside the water. Then put a small cup in the center of the water and set out to freeze. Once it is frozen, you can turn it into a winter centerpiece for your table by placing a small candle in the center. If you have a bundt cake pan you can use the same process to make an ice wreath. 

Make your own ice globes outside.

When the temperature drops below freezing, take out some bubbles and let your child discover how the bubbles freeze into tiny ice globes.

Paint the snow.

When the snow covers the ground, outside of the typical snowmen and snowball fights, you can take a spray bottle filled with a little water and food coloring and let your children paint the snow. 

Bundle up and go on a walk or hike with a warm cup of hot chocolate to help fight the cold.

You can simply enjoy the sights of nature or encourage your children to spot winter birds or look for wildlife tracks in the snow. 

Enchant your children by filling a balloon with water and food coloring.

Hide them outside if its below freezing. When they are frozen and the balloon is peeled away, they will be excited to discover an ice gem. As they begin to lose interest in the simple balls of colored ice, present them with a hammer and let them try to crack open the ice. 

Everyone enjoys sledding when it snows.

Try to challenge your children to create their own sled. They will have to utilize their enginuity to craft a sled and be eager to have the fastest sled of their siblings. Cardboard and duct tape work well for this activity. 

Finally a bonfire always helps beat the cold.

Have fun by roasting hot dogs and marshmallows around a small fire and gaze up at the stars, learning new constellations. There are apps you can download to help you identify the constellations. 

Being outside is so beneficial for our children, but is also good for us, too. Nourish your soul by finding some peace in the winter’s calm and quiet. Enjoy a warm drink while your kids play and soak up the cold sun. Even though it is cold, going outside can help fight seasonal anxiety and depression disorder by getting some fresh air and sunlight and escaping the indoors.

Going outside in the winter months is also important to help maintain your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Before we know it, spring will return and the warmth will return and going outside won’t be such a task anymore, but in the meantime, hopefully some of these ideas will help you to venture out into the cold. 

Bracing for 2021 {And Reflecting on 2020}

With the hope of a vaccinated public to curb the restrictions of Covid, we look toward the return of normalcy. The question remains, what parts do we welcome back into our lives?

These past 10 months have provided a taste of an alternate universe: one that is slower, quieter, and filled with intention. Profound loss yields unmatched reflection. In one way or another, humanity experienced shared grief.

As hungry as we are for this to be remembered only through the pages of a history book, it is a waste to not reflect on our growth. In therapy, we are often taught that the most heart-wrenching and desperate times of our life are precursors to an extraordinary period of self-transformation. When this enlightenment is achieved, it is impossible to pull the veil of ignorance back, again. We saw. We learned. We evolved.

This leads us to where we are both collectively and individually… now… in 2021, looking toward the end of a moment of intense and forced reflection. We spent a year adapting to unfamiliar and uncontrollable surroundings. What did we learn about ourselves in the process? What of others? Who and what still is worthy of a place in our current lives?

2021

New year’s resolutions are checklists of items we want to change and habits we wish to begin. This month, our year starts differently. Instead of making goals of what we want to change, we reflect on what we want to retain. As the whispered promise of renewal and rebirth, we resolve with a type of homecoming – one in which our past is forever altered because of our current path.

Find a moment to step away and meditate on last year’s completion. Acknowledge the pain of separation, of loss, of confusion, of devastation, and of the fear that accompanies the unknown. Then allow yourself the moments to experience the wonder of a handwritten letter, a phone call, a familiar face, a text message, a check-in. What parts allowed you to melt into a smile felt in the depths of your being, past fleeting happiness, and into the pulsing vibration of gratitude? There you will find the parts to carry with you through all times. Here is where I find my Covid-lessons to bring into my future… the soul-molding pressure that creates beauty out of pain.

As you look ahead in 2021, I wish you peace and reflection in the moment of living, present-day nostalgia.

I’m an Executive Virtual Assistant

Everyone is always intrigued when I tell them I’m a Virtual Assistant (actually an Executive Virtual Assistant). “A what?” “What’s that?” “How did you find that job?” Those are the top three questions I get asked. 

I started working from home in 2012 before it was the “cool and in thing.” I came across the job on a work-at-home board and with some skepticism, submitted my resume. I was honestly surprised to hear back.

The company hires their assistants as independent contractors, which was helpful to me at the time because it gave me the freedom to work as much or as little as I wanted. I did that for about a year and then took a break from it for a few years to spend time with my newest daughter and open a daycare. After closing the daycare because of moving, I started back with the company, again as an independent contractor.

assistant

A position for a lead assistant opened, which meant that I could become an employee of the company. After going through the interview process, they decided they wanted to launch a separate department for executive assistants (EAs) and well here I am, now along with a trail of other EAs.

We have lots of different kinds of clients from start-up business owners to corporate presidents and from college students to teachers, lawyers, doctors, busy parents, and everything else in between. The process to submit a task is pretty simple. Clients use our platform to submit a task, it goes to a shared dashboard between us assistants. Whoever is available and capable of doing the task grabs it and completes it. There is usually a wide range of types of tasks available at any given time due to the diversity and backgrounds of our clients.

The most common types of tasks we do are: 

  • Travel arrangements
  • Pay bills
  • Research purchases
  • Make purchases
  • Keep calendar
  • Data entry (work/personal)
  • Event planning
  • Spreadsheet management
  • Social media management
  • Find service providers (handymen, cleaning company, new floors, etc.)
  • Editing/proofreading
  • Basic or deep research
  • Email management
  • Website edits/maintenance
  • Basic graphic design
  • PowerPoint presentations with provided content
  • Billing disputes
  • Work/business-related tasks
  • Administrative/clerical/receptionist tasks
  • Basic accounting/bookkeeping
  • Transcription

The above list is not all-inclusive but does give a general idea of what my day-to-day looks like. At my job, the main difference between a regular assistant and an Executive Assistant is that the client pays a premium for having one assistant instead of submitting a task and any working assistant can grab it.

I love working as a virtual Executive Assistant because I love the variety of tasks in comparison to the same repetitive job every day (no offense if that’s your thing!). This job also allows me to be there for and spend more time with my kids instead of having to send them to daycare.

Have you ever used a virtual assistant? What was your experience like? Would you ever use one? Comment below!

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In + Around Cincinnati

February Family Fun in Cincinnati & NKY {2021}

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Taking a slightly different turn from our typical monthly events guide, with many things still canceled or postponed, we came up with a fun...