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  1. If you’re like most parents, returning home from a vacation with children can leave you feeling like you need a vacation from the vacation. With a little planning though, you can re-enter your routine with ease and even work in some much needed “vacay recovery.” Here are some top notch tips for helping you (and your kiddos) get back into the swing of things. Plan a buffer day for the family: It can be tempting to try to squeeze in as much away-time as possible, but returning home on a Saturday vs. a Sunday can make all the difference for you and your kids. Have a loose plan on how you’ll spend your first day back and keep it low key. My kids love to have pajamas and a movie day! If you’re really on your A-game, you might decide to pull out some old toys or games to keep kids entertained while you unpack luggage and prepare for the week. Plan a buffer day for YOU: This is great if you have school aged kiddos. If you can swing it, take the Monday off! Send the kids back to school and take your own pajama day. Resist the temptation to be productive and truly relax. No, you really don’t need to get back to work. This is your permission to take the extra day for YOU. Hire a service to clean while you’re away: The hustle and bustle to get out the door for vacation can sometimes leave your home in disarray. There is nothing better than coming home to a clean house. You’ll be so happy to walk into a clean home, with beds made, dishes cleaned, and toys tidied. From here on out, make it part of your vacation budget! Pre-plan grocery delivery: Place a grocery delivery order for the day you return home. Consider quick meals like frozen pizza or pasta. Of course take-out is always an option too, but even a small delivery of groceries to set you up with the essentials can put your mind at ease as you head into the week. Order prints of your vacation photos: If you see a dip in your mood upon returning from a vacation (this happens to my husband!), you might consider a fun activity for the family to reflect on the trip once you’ve returned home. Order prints of your vacation photos and have a scrapbooking night as a family. You don’t need to get fancy with materials either. Put the photos in a pile and let everyone cut, glue, and chat while you remember the fun you had!
  2. Embarking on family adventures, such as road trips, airport travels, or exploring foreign lands, often poses the challenge of picky eating. A change in routine, exposure to new environments, and the availability of unfamiliar cuisines can all contribute to a child's resistance to trying new foods. As a registered dietitian, I emphasize the importance of healthy eating, consistent meal frequency, adequate protein and energy intake, and hydration while minimizing highly processed foods. In this article, we'll explore the reasons behind children's picky eating during travel and offer practical tips to ensure proper nutrition whether on a road trip, at the airport, or overseas. Tips to Improve Eating Habits and Promote Nutrition on the Road, at the Airport, and Overseas Create a Portable Pantry for Road Trips I advocate for planning by packing a cooler with ice packs and a variety of healthy snacks. Options like cut-up/whole fruits or vegetable sticks paired with a healthy dip like dark chocolate/regular hummus, plain Greek yogurt, or nut butter packs, along with single-serving packet choices such as yogurt-covered/plain raisins, applesauce, low sodium jerky, seaweed snacks, popcorn, dried mango, dates, mini energy bars, cheese sticks/balls, drinkable kefir, cheese/nut crackers, plain/dark chocolate pretzels, pistachios or dark chocolate almonds, and sunflower seeds can provide essential nutrients during long drives. As a dietitian, I recommend avoiding excessive reliance on sugary treats, which can lead to energy spikes followed by crashes. Airport Adventures Navigating airport dining can be challenging, but with thoughtful planning, it becomes manageable. Carry a mix of healthy snacks such as the ones mentioned above. Look for airport restaurants offering balanced options like salads, wraps, or grilled chicken. Whether you're on a road trip, at the airport, or overseas, having a stash of familiar, healthy snacks can be a game-changer. Hydration is Key I stress the importance of staying hydrated during travel. Carry reusable water bottles and encourage regular sips. Limit sugary drinks and opt for water or diluted 100% fruit juices. Coconut water is also a great choice! Proper hydration is crucial for maintaining energy levels and overall well-being. Balanced Fast Food Choices While on the road, fast food may be the most convenient option. However, as a dietitian, I recommend making mindful choices by selecting items with a balance of protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals. Many fast-food establishments now offer healthier alternatives, such as grilled chicken options or salads. Opt for Buffets or Family-Style Dining Choose restaurants that offer buffet or family-style dining options. This allows children to explore various dishes in smaller portions without feeling overwhelmed. It also gives them a sense of control over their meal choices. Embrace International Flavors Traveling abroad provides a unique opportunity to expose your child to diverse cuisines. Encourage kids to try small portions of local dishes. For food safety, focus on foods that are cooked thoroughly and filtered bottled water. Engaging in the cultural aspect of food can make the experience more enjoyable. Explore Local Markets While overseas, immerse your family in the local food culture by exploring markets. Allow your child to pick out fresh fruits, vegetables, or local snacks. This not only promotes healthy eating but also provides an exciting cultural experience. Maintain Routine with Time Zone Changes If traveling across time zones, try to maintain a consistent mealtime routine as much as possible. This helps regulate your child's hunger and ensures they receive the nutrients their growing bodies need. Set a Healthy Example Children often model their behavior after their parents. Demonstrate the importance of nutrition by making mindful food choices yourself. If they see you enjoying a variety of nutritious foods, they may be more inclined to do the same. Juggling picky eating during family travels requires creativity, preparation, and a dash of flexibility. By understanding the reasons behind picky eating while on the road, at the airport, or overseas, and implementing practical tips, you can transform mealtime into an opportunity for nutritional exploration. As a dietitian, my emphasis is on creating lasting memories of nourishing adventures for your child, ensuring they receive the nutrients their growing bodies need.
  3. NPN Sitaara

    Making Travel Au-some

    Traveling with children can be fun, exciting and challenging and traveling with a child with a special needs child adds a whole new dynamic. I’m a mom of three: I have one 3 year old son and 5 year old boy/girl twins and my oldest son, Owen, has autism. To get ready for a trip, whether that be an outing in the city, a car trip or a flight, I prepare well in advance, know my resources, plan for the day and embrace a positive attitude. Prepare in advance: Clear expectations, visuals and schedules help Owen process new outings. When preparing for our trip to Florida, we worked with Owen’s incredible and life changing therapy team at Chicago Pediatric Therapy and Wellness Center and utilized a social story. To our delight, Shannon Hurst, Owen’s Occupational Therapist, even went as far as to create a mock trip to Florida to help him prepare. During this mock trip, Owen boarded a flight with his own ticket, practiced wearing headphones to block out loud noises, engaged in a few typical Florida activities while working through sensory challenges such as using sunscreen, playing in the sand and wearing a bathing suit and sandals, and practiced boarding a flight home. This mock trip approach helped Owen know what to expect and equipped him with the tools to navigate uncomfortable situations, such as counting when applying sunscreen and wearing sandals when walking on the beach. Know your resources: Did you know that airports offer a variety of services such as TSA Cares to assist travelers with diverse needs? On the TSA Cares website, you can submit a request for assistance through the screening process and indicate any foreseeable challenges. For Owen, it is imperative that he carry his comfort item through security so I request that a hand scanner is used. We have been very fortunate flying out of O’Hare and have worked with extremely compassionate TSA Cares representatives. Additionally, airlines offer accessible travel options. Since most airplanes can be overwhelming sensory experiences, you can request to board early to get settled and some airlines even offer special perks like a children’s activity packet with a sensory calming strip. When traveling locally, seek out sensory friendly kid attractions. One of our favorites is Lincoln Park Zoo. They do a fantastic job hosting sensory friendly events throughout the year, including a sensory friendly evening during Zoo Lights. Like many other museums, sporting venues and concert arenas, they have a partnership with KultureCity, a non-profit that is dedicated to “creating sensory accessibility and inclusion for those with invisible differences”. When dining out, be sure to indicate your family’s needs when you make your reservation. Request a table or quieter spot in the restaurant that might suit your child best and provide the restaurant with any relevant allergy information. Plan for the day of: Preparation is key for any type of travel and if possible, allow your child to engage in gross motor play prior to and during the trip. If you’re driving, take a minute to walk around the rest stop. If you’re in an airport and see an empty gate, take advantage of open space. Be sure to throw some extra clothes in for the unexpected spill or accident. And of course pack many highly preferred snacks, as you can’t go wrong with snacks. YumEarth has Elderberry lollipops infused with vitamins and they are allergy friendly - a win win, boost your child’s immunity while giving them a calming treat. Additionally, Melissa & Doug mess free coloring sheets and workbooks as well as fidget tools provide entertainment for those long trips and potential delays. Embrace a positive attitude: Traveling can be an exciting opportunity for children to see the world in a new way and certainly will come with many hiccups. It has been helpful for us to break down the travel day into steps and explain each part to our children and celebrate as we make it through the various parts of the day. And yes, there are moments when I look at my husband and wonder, “Why did we sign up for this? Are we crazy?” and then we remember, we are turning therapeutic moments into valuable experiences and making lifelong memories.
  4. It used to be a painful exercise when I had to write a note to our son’s teachers to let them know we would be taking our son out of school for a family vacation. The guilt would sink in and I would start to think we were bad parents for not putting enough focus on his education. I would write and re-write these emails and would get a knot in my stomach after hitting send as I wondered what his teachers must be thinking of us for prioritizing a trip over the classroom. But as we’ve traveled more and I’ve gotten more practice writing these types of emails, I’ve come to a few basic conclusions: Travel is education. The memories and experiences gained through travel can sometimes be more valuable than the lessons learned inside a classroom. Our son is still very young and him being absent for a handful of days each school year is not going to have an impact on him learning the class material. The time we enjoy together on vacation is crucial for our family. The reliance on technology, work stresses, and constant running around the city for errands, after school activities and birthday parties takes a toll. It is a huge release to be able to leave all this behind and just focus on each other. Some will argue that vacations are no reason to take a child out of school, and I am also very aware that just being able to take a vacation is a privilege. But if you are able to take a trip and decide to do so during your child’s schooldays, here are a few tips on how to write that note to your child’s teacher: Before you send that email, review the school’s policies. What is considered an excused absence vs. an unexcused absence? What, if any consequences, will there be if your child accumulates too many unexcused absences? Communicate well in advance of your trip. Telling your child’s teacher a day or two before you plan on taking your child out of school for a trip is not best practice, and it’s not respecting the teacher’s time. We like to give our son’s teachers at least a month's heads-up when we need to take him out of school so they can modify their lesson plans for him, if necessary. Focus on academics. Your child’s teacher is concerned about your child’s academics, not your family spending a week at Disney World or Spring Training in Arizona during the middle of March when school is in session. So, let your child’s teachers know that your child will be making up any assignments they’ll miss. If assignments are posted online in Google Classroom or another platform, even better. Your child can still complete/submit work on time when they’re gone. Be honest. There’s no reason to make up a story about why your child is going to be absent. You’re taking a trip. At the same time, as mentioned above, you don’t need to share your vacation itinerary with your child’s teachers.
  5. until
    Join ALR Connections (HR and Staffing Company) at Werewolf Coffee Bar for coffee and networking. A representative from ALR Connections will be present as well as other NPN Members who are interested in connecting about professional opportunities. ALR Connections has been bringing authenticity and passion to the niche of helping women find jobs where their skills can shine. The locally focused team helps people pivot, reinvent and re-establish themselves in the current workplace by building personal relationships, highlighting transferable skills, and developing a community of professional support. At the same time, ALR helps small businesses without HR departments grow and thrive by vetting and placing perfect-match talent on their behalf. For more information visit alrconnections.com Werewolf Coffee Bar is located at: 1765 N ELSTON AVE, CHICAGO PARKING IS AVAILABLE IN THE 1765 N ELSTON PARKING LOT. ADDITIONAL PARKING IS ON ELSTON AVE.
  6. Looking for a special gift or just a treat for yourself? Check out this list of Black-owned businesses in the city (many of which offer delivery or curbside pickup), where you can get everything from cocktail-themed artisan soaps to kids' toys. *Updated 1/28/2024 Food & Drink Batter & Berries: Breakfast/brunch/lunch spot in Lincoln Park Brown Sugar Bakery: Cakes and cupcakes in Chatham Can't Believe It's Not Meat: A vegan and vegetarian restaurant specializing in plant-based comfort food in Hyde Park Chemisty: Black-owned steakhouse and celebration/party venue in Hyde Park Chicago French Press: Coffee roaster that offers bean subscriptions and beans by the pound Coffee, Hip Hop & Mental Health: A cafe and mental health resource in Lakeview The Common Cup: Coffee shop in Rogers Park Demera: Ethiopian cuisine in Uptown Ethiopian Diamond: Ethiopian cuisine in Edgewater Friistyle: Belgian frites in Bronzeville Frontier: Meat-focused restaurant in Bucktown Fruve Express Juicery: Cold-pressed juice in Loop and South Loop Gimme Some Sugah: Pies, cakes, cookies and more in South Shore Good to Go Jamaican: Jamaican cuisine on Rogers Park/Evanston border The Grail Cafe: Breakfast and lunch in South Loop Ina Mae’s Tavern: New Orleans cuisine in Wicker Park Justice of the Pies: Pies available in markets and some restaurants Kilwin’s: Ice cream and sweets in Hyde Park Kyoto Black: Coffee shop in Edgewater currently offering coffee bean delivery Lem’s Bar-B-Q: Barbecue spot in Chatham Life’s Sweet: Cafe in Rogers Park Lizzy J: Catering, cafe and housemade iced tea in Ravenswood The Long Room: Bar/restaurant in Ravenswood currently offering to-go cocktails, beer and wine Love Corkscrew: Wine delivery; also available in various retail locations Luella’s Southern Kitchen: Soul food in Lincoln Square Pearl’s Place: Southern cuisine in Bronzeville Rooh Chicago: Indian cuisine in West Loop Shawn Michelle's: Ice cream shop in Bronzeville Sip & Savor: Coffee shop in Bronzeville Soule: Southern cuisine in West Town Strugglebeard Bakery: Baked cookies and sweets made with love by a Veteran in Hyde Park. Taste 2 Go: American cuisine in West Loop Taylor’s Tacos: Tacos for catering or pickup (Tuesdays only) in East Garfield Park Virtue: Southern cuisine in Hyde Park Clothes & Accessories A’nies Accents: Boutique in South Loop Buttonsbyferrai: Etsy shop featuring custom and social activist buttons Kido: Kids' toys and clothes in South Loop; online ordering available Kiwi’s Boutique: Boutique in Tri-Taylor; online ordering available Mimi’s Tot Closet: Shop for girls’ clothes in Auburn-Gresham; online ordering available Love Peridot: Accessories shop in South Loop; online ordering available Recycled Modern: Vintage, upcycled and handcrafted furniture and home decor shop in Lakeview Reformed School: Etsy shop featuring humorous and social activism T-shirts and accessories The Silver Room: Jewelry, accessories, clothes, gifts and more in Hyde Park; online ordering available Sir & Madame: Fashion brand with a store in Hyde Park Standout Style Boutique: Online-only clothes and accessories Beauty/Personal Care/Health 80th and May: Online-only shop featuring artisan soaps and bath salts Blade and Bloom: Etsy shop featuring skin-care products Bodi Shak: Group fitness gym in Uptown Chatto: Natural hair- and skin-care products in West Loop; online ordering available Depart with Art: Online-only shop featuring organic body products Eb & Flow: Yoga studio in Bucktown; currently offering live online classes Goldkissed Essentials: Online-only shop featuring handmade soaps Mad Moisture Beauty: Online-only skincare products Mind Body Defense: Kickboxing gym with private classes in Uptown Next Man Up Spa: A spa catering to men in Bronzeville Pear Nova: Online-only vegan nail polish Soap Distillery: Cocktail-inspired artisan soaps Sweet Beginnings: Beekeeping social enterprise featuring honey and honey-based body care products; online ordering available Black Owned Market: Online-only bath and body products Urbane Blades: Men’s barbershop in Near North Side Wholistic Skincare: Skincare salon in Clybourn Corridor; online ordering available Books, Gifts & More Black Ensemble Theater: A theater and arts production studio that also provides theatrical and technical theater training opportunities for youth in Uptown Boxville: A shipping container marketplace featuring diverse-owned businesses that operate year-round in Bronzeville Helendora Samuels Picture Framing: Custom frame shop in Wicker Park Rose Blossom Chicago: Online-only florist Semicolon Chi: The only Black woman–owned bookstore in Chicago. Store in River West; online ordering available. Thepairabirds: Etsy shop featuring illustrated artwork Third Coast Comics: Comic and graphic novel shop in Rogers Park This is not an exhaustive list, so we'd love to get your recommendations for awesome Black-owned businesses in Chicago. Share them with us at sitaara@npnparents.org.
  7. As winter settles in, many people cope with the change in weather by planning their next family vacation. But if your last family vacation has you wanting to never venture out as a family again - you're in luck! We've gathered the top travel hacks from NPN members on how to master your next family vacation and a ✨magical opportunity to make the financial planning part of your next family vacation a piece of cake! Hack 1: Pick A Location That Works For Everyone The opportunity to get away with your family only presents itself a few times a year. Make the most of your trip by traveling to a destination that will please all of your carry ons - ahem, children. Destinations like amusement parks, cruises, beaches, and family-friendly resorts are always a win! ✨NPN is excited to offer your family the chance of a lifetime! Win a magical family vacation while supporting NPN and Chicago families! Win big while giving back by purchasing a chance to win in the NPN Dreams Come True Family Vacation Sweepstakes! The sweepstakes is now open so secure your tickets today! Hack 2: Don't Stretch Your Budget Family vacations aren't cheap but overspending doesn't have to be your only option. Plus, if you overspend, you'll be more likely to not be able to enjoy your trip because you're too busy worrying about paying for everything later. Do yourself a favor and try to save during the year for your next family trip. Plan ahead and divide the anticipated total cost up each month or pay period to make your dream vacation a reality for your bank account. ✨P.S Did we mention that tickets to NPN's Dreams Come True Family Vacation Sweepstakes are only $40 and that the grand prize includes a check to cover airfare, lodging, tickets to the park, and spending money? Read more about each prize level and secure as many tickets as you want here. Hack 3: Leave The Planning To The Pros There are two types of people out there - those that love planning things and those that don't. If the thought of planning meals and activities makes you nervous, tag in a vacation planner to handle the details! Before you start thinking of your grandparents who used travel agents “back in their day,” remember that travel agents are experts in wanderlust and have relationships that can lead to a better vacation and a much less stressful experience for you. For example, if you're planning a trip to Disney, it can be hard to know how soon to plan your trip, what a Genie+ is, or how to find the best deals. If you're planning things at the last minute or haven't been to Disney since you were 10, a planner may be the expert you need. Looking for recommendations? This forum post has a few! Hack 4: Carve Out Time For Yourself + Time With Your Spouse I know, I know - it's a family vacation. But YOU are a part of your family and so is your spouse! Try to find time to stay up late and catch a movie together or to take a dip in the pool, solo. You'll be amazed how therapeutic it can be! Where possible, choose a family-friendly resort, a cruise with a kids club, or find activities that your kids can do on their own (if they are old enough) to give you a few minutes of alone time. Your kids will also appreciate this time to be independent! Hack 5: Don't Sweat The Small Stuff Every trip is sure to have its share of surprises and things that you didn't expect or prepare for. Try as best as you can to go with the flow and be prepared to pivot under pressure. Figure out how to make the best of crappy weather or meltdowns or sickness to avoid spoiling an entire day or the whole trip. Not only will this help you have a less stressful time, but it'll also show your kids a great example of how to handle disappointments, snafus, and changes of plan—something they’ll carry with them (and that’ll make them awesome travelers) for life. Try (as best as you can) to plan ahead. Bring extra snacks with you (did you know that you're allowed to bring your own food into Disney?!) to avoid the inevitable "I'm starving" whines, pack ponchos to be prepared for random rainstorms, and be prepared for attitudes and tantrums from kids who may not appreciate all of the work that goes into making their dreams come true! There's no need to be afraid to plan your next getaway with your kiddos and there are major benefits to traveling and creating memories with your family. We hope these tips make your next family adventure, a dream come true!
  8. As parents, it's our job to do everything we can to make our children feel safe and secure. So it's only natural to default to avoiding topics that may frighten, concern, or cause panic in our children. But what should you do when the topic impacts you directly because of your religion or beliefs or when the topic feels unavoidable due to news and social media coverage? Ever since October 7th, many families (including my own) have been torn on how to answer this question. So, I compiled expert advice from trusted sources on how to best navigate these difficult conversations with their children in this age-by-age guide. Tip 1: TAKE INITIATIVE Don't wait for your child to ask you about it. Not all children will start a conversation or ask questions about what's going on and may instead choose to rely on information from their peers or social media. In order to ensure that your children are receiving accurate information, it's important to take the lead. Waheeda Saif, a program coordinator at Riverside Trauma Center in Massachusetts suggests using open-ended questions to start a conversation: "'Have you heard what's been going on in the world?' 'Have you heard anything about what's going on in Israel and Palestine?' And just see what they say, and take it from there," she said during a conversation with NPR. Children of all ages deserve a conversation — even those without loved ones who live in Israel or Gaza. Tip 2: LEAD WITH EMPATHY, NOT POLITICS Regardless of what you believe, we can all agree that everyone has a right to life. While this seems like a known fact, it's important to start here. According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Claude Bruderlein, leading with empathy in these discussions will help dissociate ourselves from categories like race, nationality, and religion, which can become divisive. “The first, more sensitive step is really to take a stand that everybody has a right to life and dignity, regardless of their nationality, regardless of their religion, regardless of their gender and age,” Bruderlein told The Boston Globe. Tip 3: IT'S OKAY TO NOT HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS It can feel impossible to answer all of the questions that may pop up during your chat but it's important to remember that you don't have to have all of the answers and that you are not expected to turn into a historian or political scientist overnight. Often children just want to better understand why and how people can be so cruel to one another and as difficult as it can be to explain, it's okay to redirect them towards believing in the possibility of peace and coexistence. Allow them to lead by asking them how they can improve the immediate world around them by being kind to others. Tip 4: CHECK IN WITH YOURSELF Protecting your mental health at this time is vital. Family clinical psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, recommends that you "...check in with how you are doing, as well, to ensure that you are not flooding your own nervous system...be mindful of how you are feeling so that you can be more present for you children." How to Explain the Israel-Hamas War Age-By-Age *Source, Parents.com PRESCHOOL Many experts agree that discussing the war with your preschooler is not necessary UNLESS they ask you about it or see it on the news. You want to avoid dismissing them because of their age while keeping the topic age-appropriate by using words and situations that they can relate to. Leading the conversation with statements about people hurting each other and expressing that it is never okay to hurt someone else is an easy way to start. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Keeping things simple with this age group is best as well. You can begin by showing them a map of where the conflict is taking place, discussing why people may be sad or upset and being direct about what it means to be at war. MIDDLE SCHOOL Once social media has entered the chat, the discussion needs to be dialed up a bit. It's important to help your middle schooler realize how to spot fake news and how to fact-check information that they may find on the internet. For this age group, it's important to let them lead the conversation. You can do this by asking questions to see what they already know and to help determine how they may already feel about it. Respect their opinion while introducing them to and educating them on the history of the conflict. If you don't know it, this is a great opportunity to learn together. HIGH SCHOOL Helping your high schooler learn to discern fact from fiction is key. Help them identify and follow reputable, non-biased sources that you know and trust to try to help beat the algorithm of content that is designed to spark an emotional reaction. Help them understand the importance of being mindful of their mental health. Scrolling social media and seeing photos and videos of death and violence can be traumatic. According to reports, Israeli and Jewish schools in the U.S. have even urged parents to delete social media apps from their children's phones to shield them from seeing any purported hostage videos from Hamas. Deleting social media from their phone may seem extreme so it's important to remind them to take breaks from social media when they feel overwhelmed with any content they may see and to also report the content on social media to keep it out of their feed. A major part of keeping our children as safe as possible is to make sure that they are aware of what is going on around them. I hope these tips help prepare you to do just that. Let us know how your discussions go on the forum.
  9. If you'd asked me where I'd be in 2023 as a teenager - there's no way I'd ever guess I'd spend my weekends couch surfing with my kids while watching Disney movies that I've seen a thousand times...and enjoying it. My social life as a teen/early adult was that of scene from a pop-themed movie. Nonstop plans, no fears or worries about being mugged, short dresses, scandalous heels that I could actually walk in (how!?) and more than anything, friends out the whazoo. I had friends from college, high school friends, cheer friends, friends of friends, guy friends, queer friends, straight friends, family friends - you name it and they were a friend of mine. It was completely normal for me to strike up a full conversation with a total stranger on the L over their shoes. Oh, you're also getting off at Fullerton at the same time as me? Instant friend! Fast-forward to today where I avoid making eye contact with strangers at all costs. Especially in public, unfamiliar places. Spark up a random conversation with a stranger that lasts longer than 30 seconds? As if. What gives?? Turns out, I'm not the only one. A quick Google search reveals that making friends as an adult is a common query and also that it is notoriously harder than it ever was. In fact, it is so difficult that there are apps dedicated to it. According to people smarter than me who are paid to research things like this, COVID is largely to blame. Per the Surgeon General, America is in the midst of a loneliness epidemic, and the forced physical separation of the pandemic certainly didn't help us stay in touch. Surveys show that many Americans lost friends thanks to two years of shutdowns and restrictions. Also, newsflash - you still got it, sis! The difficulty isn't that you're uncool or awkward. It's that the essential building blocks of friendship are harder to come by when you're older. For example, research shows making a casual friend takes 50 hours on average, while close friendships take 200 hours (yes, like 199 +1). Ain't nobody got time for that! So how do we push past the awkwardness and actually find time to dedicate to making new friends? And if you're anything like me, how do we convince ourselves that making friends is actually something we need? Because I have totally sold myself on Netflix and chilling with my kids in my spare time... Here are a few tips! Find your people Breaking news: to make friends you have to actually leave your house. But unless we are cool with being besties with our toddlers - teens, we gotta break free from the couch. An easy place to start, find yo' people! Finding a group of people that you naturally have things in common with is an easy launch point. Are you a new mom? Join a local new moms group (shameless plug for NPN's New Moms Group!), go to a family-friendly activity, or a networking event if professional friends are your thing. Don't just go though, you have to actually talk to people. As awkward as it may seem, approach someone and say something nice or ask them a question. Apparently this works. Connect AND MEAN IT How often have you met someone cool, hit it off amazingly, and then you're like, "okay totally let's do this again!" Only to never.do.it.again? Fall out of this trap by actually setting plans (AND ADDING THEM TO YOUR CALENDAR) before you leave. Adult friendships are a lot like scheduled sex. You can't believe you have to, but you feel much better knowing what to prepare for. Understand the benefits Adult friendships are a lot more than nice-to-haves or the icing on top of a successful adult life. Positive friendships are a proven mood booster and stress buster (while loneliness can be as bad for your body as smoking a pack a day). So unless, you're fond of smoking and want to die alone (okay, maybe a tiny bit dramatic) - the benefits to making friends are real. Also, for this assignment - work friends DO NOT count. Get out there and make some friends you aren't paid to hang out with. Morale of the story...don't give up on making new friends! It won't happen effortlessly like it did when we were in college but a lot has changed since then so why wouldn't our process of making and keeping friends? With a little planning and courage, the whole friends as adults thing is totally doable. Wanna be friends?
  10. Deal are on the way! Amazon Prime Day AKA Christmas in July, kicks off next week and is arguably the biggest sales event of the year. Yep, even bigger than Black Friday! Established in 2015, Prime Day has become the summer's best time to stock up, plan ahead for the holiday season, and splurge on things that we've had our eyes on buying. We’re counting down the days until Prime Day on July 11th and 12th and we want to make sure you have everything you need to make the most out of this year's deals. Keep reading for shopping tips to help you make the most out of the 48-hour deal frenzy and a few of the best early Prime Day deals that you can shop for right now! Preparation is Key 🔑 It's incredibly easy to get overwhelmed by the number of deals available on Prime Day and overspend. Remember, this is a time to save money - not spend more than you need to or purchase things you don't need. Take a few deep breaths, grasp your credit card tight, and follow these tips to be prepared. 💳 Membership Check Consider Prime Day your virtual Costco or Sams Club - you can't access the deals without flashing your membership at the door. Make sure your membership is current and that you are logged in before you plan to join in. If you're not a member already, the best news is that Prime Day always includes great incentives to take advantage of Amazon's core products - including: Amazon Prime Membership: Try Amazon Prime free (and participate in Prime Day!) for 30 days! Reminder: you can only take part in Prime Day if you are a Prime member! Amazon Family Membership: Save 20% off diaper subscriptions when you join Amazon family Amazon Student Membership: Get 50% off of Amazon Prime for students and 6 months free! Audible Plus: Try Audible Plus and get 3 free months! Gift cards: Buy a $50 Amazon gift card and earn a $5 credit for Prime Day 🗒️ Make a list - check it twice! It's inevitable, a great deal is a surefire way to convince you that you NEED that deluxe automatic plant waterer. Save the explanations to your partner when they trip over all of the boxes from your Prime Day haul by making a list and checking it twice. The best way that I've found to avoid over spending is to grab your calendar and make note of all of the important holidays, birthdays, and celebrations coming up. Create a list of names and upcoming events (just make sure you're on that list, too!) and jot down a few gift ideas for each person. Don't forget to also stock up on the household items you'll need and maybe a few big-ticket items (like a new TV or speaker system) if your budget allows. 🛍️ Make sure you're actually getting a deal Prime Day has put a ton of pressure on competitors so be sure to shop around on Prime Day and leading up to it to see if you're scoring the best price. Big box stores like Target, Best Buy, and Walmart are guaranteed to also slash their prices or even price-match Prime deals to remain relevant during this 48-hour sprint so do your research and shop around! 🌩️ Capitalize on Lightning deals Lightning deals are promos that are only available in limited numbers for a short period of time. If you notice a lightning deal on a product you love, you can track the deal and be notified once it's live in the Amazon App. If you miss out, you may also be able to join the waitlist to be notified if more become available. You don't have to wait until July 11th (at midnight!) to start saving. Prime members have early access to deals on products from brands you know and love like Ruggable and Ring. You can also save early on products from small businesses and support women, Black, and military-owned brands. Here are a few of our favorite early deals! Deals for Kids Save up to 60% on Melissa & Doug toys for the kids Save 30% on Balance Bikes Save up to 60% on PJ Masks, FurReal, Baby Alive, and more Deals for Teens Save 43% on Amazon Luna controller bundle Save 13% on Polaroid instant print camera bundle Save 35% on a portable karaoke machine Deals for Home Save 47% on a Smart Fire TV Save 60% on a new luggage set Save 50% on a Shark IQ Robot *As a 501c3, we are always searching for ways to invest back into NPN and help us continue to grow. For that reason, we may occasionally earn an affiliate commission on the sales of products that we link to at zero cost to you. We vow to only feature items that we genuinely love and want to share and that our opinion on each item is our own and not at all influenced by any earnings.
  11. If you’re anything like me, at any given time of the day, your home resembles a pigsty (hopefully sans the odor). I have kid toys, clothing, random bits of food, and some of my husbands random items scattered across the tables, countertops, and floors constantly. It’s become our new decor. While I’ve grown to accept that a tidy home is not included in the toddler parenting pack - I am constantly on the prowl for ways to improve the overall aesthetic of my home (AKA ways to hide all of the clutter). Smart storage has become my new thing. The excitement that comes over me when I walk through the cleaning aisle or the Container Store is enough to make my husband green with envy. But who am I kidding? I don’t actually have the time to stroll through store aisles often. So I am forever thankful to Amazon and their array of useful products that aim to make the cleaning process easier, especially for those of us with busy lives and limited amounts of energy. So without further ado, here are a few of my favorite (Amazon) things! Each of which can hopefully help you take on your cleaning goals and keep your home semi-less cluttered all year long (or until next spring, at least!) The Pink Stuff Cleaning Paste I’ve been hearing about this product line A LOT but it wasn’t until I saw a few reviews on TikTok that I was convinced to try it myself and I have to admit - it works. At only $5 a jar and with over 172k positive reviews, this is a buy that you won’t feel guilty about trying out for yourself. Undersink Organizer With all of the new cleaning products, tossing them under the sink or into a cabinet just won’t cut it. This undersink organizer was easy to put together and saves me a ton of space while keeping everything organized and easy to find. O-Cedar EasyWring Microfiber Spin Mop A few years ago, I splurged on a mop system that also claimed to steam your floors so well you could eat off of them. And then the liquid steam solution ran out and it was a pain ordering a new one or a new mop head. This year, I switched over to this O-Cedar mop system and it also removes 99% of bacteria but doesn’t need special steam solution and the mop heads can be picked up at local stores! This bundle in particular even comes with a few extra replacement mop heads! FTW. 22 Piece Drill Brush Attachments Set My hubby bought this years ago when my 5-year old was in her prime “get everything sticky” phase. I thought it was a joke until he tested this bad boy out on her high chair and it came out looking better than new. I really can’t recommend this product enough, it helped reach all of the tiny crevices that food nestles down into and my husband was excited to use it because it requires a power tool. Anything that can get him to contribute to scrubbing is a win in my book. 2-Pack Mop and Broom Holder The people we purchased our home from were so ahead of the game on this one. They already had this installed into our home so I didn’t need to buy one but I had to list it here because it saves so much floor space and keeps everything in an easily accessible spot. Underbed storage We use these to store away just about everything but primarily for hiding out of season clothing and kid toys. We even have our kids help pack their underbed storage bin so they know exactly what’s there and where to find things (and return them later) when they want to play with them. My favorite thing about this pack, is that it comes with 3 bins and they have handles on them! Vacuum Storage Bags Want to stuff even more stuff into your underbed storage container? These vacuum storage bags are addictive and fun. Seriously, we kept looking for items to toss into them and flatten! We even got the kids in the mix and had them help suck all of the air out and talked about the science behind it all, too. I actually just purchased this pack to help with college packing in a few months! Based on some of your advice in the forum, here are a few products I’d recommend to help with some of the main areas you all said to be sure to tackle: Deep clean of baseboards: This cleaner with washable heads can help save your back and knees! Fully clean kitchen and freezer: These storage bins can help re-organize your fridge “Basically everything looks better in storage baskets” - I couldn’t agree more! Here’s a pack of three that are available in a variety of sizes and colors to match your decor! A few of you also mentioned donating things instead of just tossing them and I am a HUGE fan of donating things that we no longer use. Here’s one organization that accepts work attire to help the homeless and other people in need dress their best for job interviews. Keep the spring cleaning ideas coming! Share your favorite products, tips, and strategies in the forum! *It’s important to note that as a 501c3, we are always searching for ways to invest back into NPN and help us continue to grow. For that reason, we may occasionally earn an affiliate commission on the sales of products that we link to at zero cost to you. We vow to only feature items that we genuinely love and want to share and that our opinion on each item is our own and not at all influenced by any earnings.
  12. If you're like me, saving for my children's future is a top priority. But it's more than just saving for college: I want to help my kids have positive relationships with money. And that means talking to them early and often about money and finances so that they are equipped with the tools to make good financial choices as adults. However, in the last 10 years, the financial landscape and possibilities have changed drastically with the introduction of cryptocurrency and the Metaverse. As a parent, this leads me to ask so many questions: What does this mean for our kids and their future? How can I better educate myself so that I can safely introduce the world of web3 to my kids? And most importantly, is there a way that I can leverage crypto to incorporate it into our larger wealth-building journey to benefit both myself and my family? All of these questions led my husband and I to start a company called The CryptoMom App, the premiere destination for all things crypto for women, by women. I wanted to create an inclusive, secure platform for women to learn about crypto and then invest it in products that are meaningful to our lives, like college funds. And with April being Financial Literacy Month, there's no better time than today to start learning about cryptocurrency. Here are three ways to start conversations about financial literacy and web3 with your children: 1. Model good behavior by researching first The best way to learn about the basics of crypto is to start researching. There are really great social media accounts for women that encourage conversations and provide the basics of cryptocurrency; Some of my favorites are CryptoWitchClub on Instagram and Elana @TradingFemale on Twitter. You don’t have to know all of the jargon and buzzwords; It’s more about increasing your exposure to slowly gain familiarity. Then, talk about what you've learned with your kids in a casual setting, like at the dinner table. Your kids will certainly be impressed and you get to flex your 'cool mom' muscles! 2. Read Books Together Kids of all ages love to cuddle up and read books together. You can find books at your local library or online that teach kids the basics of crypto, even board books for infants and toddlers like Bitcoin for Babies. For your teens, offer to start a book club and read the book together. Not only are you learning together but you're also building authentic connections that are often difficult to maintain in the teen years. 3. Take the plunge by purchasing yourself first There's no better teacher than experience so now that you're prepared with research and knowledge, take your first step by purchasing your first coin. Don’t feel the need to invest large amounts of money; Invest what you feel comfortable with, whether it's $20 or $200. Platforms like The CryptoMom App allow you to buy small fractions of bitcoin in just three easy steps. If you're looking to connect with other women on their crypto wealth-building journey, sign up for the waitlist for The CryptoMom App to get exclusive, first access to our product.
  13. Zero to $25 Garfield Park Conservatory’s Spring Flower Show is here! Send your favorite flower lover off to the Conservatory with a cash donation ready to go. The spring flower show will give children and families the gift of warmth (truly! It’s balmy in there). Add on a disposable camera for fun and see what develops… you may be impressed with what captures the eyes of your nature lover. Bubbles Academy- For the younger child, look no further than Bubbles Academy for everything from drop-in art classes to outdoor classes and a nature playground. Coming this spring for families and children aged up to 7, check out their Silly Space Soiree or a gift card for one of their many fun and developmentally smart activities at any location. Chalk it Up - Chalk is an underestimated resource. Whether traditional or “spray chalk,” create sidewalk games like Hopscotch, Four Square, or more. Check out “Shape Hopscotch” for a fun twist. Birthday message artistry is also a fun treat to wake up to! Spray chalk works on grass and washes out after rain. Bee’s Knees (and butterflies, too!) – For kids or families abuzz to help our favorite little honey-makers, we suggest the gift of a native plant garden. For quickest impact, plant natives from a plug rather than seeds. Because the helpful native plants are hard to find at most big box stores or nurseries, we specifically like Possibility Place Nursery in Monee, (which also offers suggestions for plants to attract butterflies!). Prairie Nursery in Wisconsin also has native plant seeds with the option to ship. For a tree bee lover, we suggest making a donation in name to Southport Corridor Bees, or adding in a jar of local organic honey to the gift. Camping - If your child has their heart set on a camping adventure, we like the idea of sharing a weekend (or just an evening) away. With many camping areas within driving distance, you can make their dream come true easily. Check out Chicago Park District’s Coleman Gear Library, where you can rent everything from tents and sleeping bags to flashlights and much more for free. If your family is new to camping, you can attend a camping experience with Chicago Parks for around $50. Learn basic camping principles, take a nature hike and enjoy an evening around the campfire led by our expert camping staff. At night campers will enjoy hot dogs and s’mores over the fire, and a light breakfast in the morning. Art lovers - While the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Institute have daily admission or membership options, we find that children and adults alike enjoy spending time and money at the gift shops and surrounding restaurants. Check out specifically MCA’s Family Days and The Art Exchange at The Art Institute of Chicago. Send them with a calendar of upcoming events, and maybe some art supplies and snacks to supplement their fun. $25-50 Movie Theater- Many families have not been to the theater since 2019/early 2020, which means that some young kids have never seen a movie on the big screen at all. Make their day with a gift card to their nearest movie theater or IMAX location. Bonus points if you throw in cash for snacks! Chicago Children’s Theatre - offers drop-in day camps for performers and performance-curious. We also love their unique Red Kite Program, which has special offerings for children on the autism spectrum. They even offer financial aid options for those who need it. Indoor Play - Fit City Kids offers something from everything from crawlers to big kids. Parents can relax while children run, jump, slide, and dive around the massive play zone. Daily visit passes are available online. Personal and small-group training is also available for the more serious athlete. They even have pickleball classes for kids! You can also check out Climb Zone or Brooklyn Boulders; Trampoline parks like Altitude or Urban Air. And if you’re gifting for a grown-up 21+, check out Altitude’s Adult Nights, where tickets include a drink. $50-$100 Date Night - Who wouldn’t love to be gifted a date night with childcare covered? Send parents the gift of child care: whether by covering their babysitting costs, or gifting a “Parent Survival Night” at The Little Gym. If you’re feeling generous, send them with a gift card to a nearby restaurant for grownup conversation. Near The Little Gym in Lakeview, we suggest: El Tapatio, Volo, Coda Di Volpe, or Ella Elli. Over $100 Private food experience – For the foodie families in your life, consider giving a private or small-group class or dining experience. Who wouldn’t want to experience a cooking class with French Chef Vincent at Cook Au Vin? Cooking classes are BYOB, so feel free to package your gift certificate with a bottle of their favorite wine. We hear that private catering options are also available, which may be the perfect gift for small dinner parties or romantic special occasions. Sleep - Can you really gift sleep? We sure think so. Kelly Murray Sleep Consulting offers services for new and not-so-new parents. Professional sleep consultants offer free consultations and packages range from from program guides with online support to private in-home coaching. Bulls and Bears and Blackhawks, oh my - Tickets to a Chicago Bears, Bulls, or Blackhawks game are wonderful starting points. Chicago’s WNBA team, Chicago Sky, is also a fantastic idea. And for anyone who caught the soccer bug with last years’ World Cup, check out a match for the Chicago Fire (at Soldier Field) or Chicago Stars (Bridgeview). Family Photos – For families who are so busy making memories that they may forget to capture them, consider a family photo package. Various mini-shoots are available online around holidays. Little Bear Photography and TK Photography are both well-known for their high quality and ease to work with. Next-Level Sleepovers - The Shedd Aquarium offers many specialty events for families, including add-on events such as encounters with Sea Otter, Beluga, or even a shark feeding tour! The Aquarium offers impressive overnight events, from sleeping around the Caribbean Reef to Oceanarium, where you can wake up next to penguins, whales and even dolphins. The Field Museum has regular “Dozin’ with the Dinos,” where families with children ages 6 to 12 can spend the night in the museum. Even better, you can prepay for overnight parking! Museum of Science and Industry has the unique overnight “Snoozeum” The Getaway – The getaway gift is staple for a reason. Whether it’s your family or another, most enjoy the gift of a hotel overnight. For those with older children, consider offering a small party or sleepover for them at a cool rental property. While this gift may be reserved for very special occasions, it can be the memory of a lifetime. Imagine hosting a sixteenth birthday party at a rental property with a pool table and a hot tub. Families with younger children may appreciate being sent to an indoor water park or even to the spa for mani-pedis together. Priceless: The Gift of Cereal The best gift you can possibly give someone may not be one you could predict. A recommendation shared with me recently was this: Give the child something that they ask for often but usually don’t get. Maybe it’s something you would never think of. Maybe they want to wear mismatched socks one day, or have a parent say yes to their request for a popsicle at the beach or donut at the store. Ask the child’s parent for ideas of what the child is constantly asking for, and find out if you can give the child that. Perhaps it takes the shape of cash for the parent to keep on hand at the beach. In the case of one friend I know, it was cereal. The best gifts come from the heart, creative and even wacky gift ideas can be the most memorable.
  14. Let’s begin with a boundary check: The responsibility of homework completion falls squarely on the child. Without question, it is hard to watch our children struggle with the effort homework demands, but it is very important that we resist the urge to “rescue” our child from the discomfort of effort. If you “help” a butterfly out of its cocoon it dies because it wasn’t given the chance to build its wing strength. So, we can all agree that children should work through homework on their own, but there is still a tremendous amount of pressure on children and parents to achieve at very high levels in our culture. College applications reduce years of education to a discrete set of numbers and the status of being from certain high-performing schools. We are told to not interfere, and then we are shown a world in which not getting the best possible grades and achieving the accolades that come with that means dramatically reduced opportunity. And it all begins with homework, which is why it’s such a charged topic. While we often are looking forward towards an imagined future for our children, we are probably pointed in the wrong direction. To achieve a way forward through this achievement thicket, we should look to our own memories of doing homework as a child. There, we can mine the gold of memory: the parents who hovered over you and checked your work before you turned it in, or the parents who left you completely alone. We all have pain points from our school years. Exploring and healing these sore spots will free up space for you to more clearly choose how you want to interact with your child around homework. Your uncomfortable memories of homework and your child’s struggles with it today represent a perfect reparenting opportunity for you, which can lead to a deeply compassionate journey with your child as you work together to make homework work for them, instead of simply feeling like busy work. With this mindset you can start shifting the narrative from struggle and challenge to one that is about how we can learn and grow - together. Here are some suggestions of ways to foster relationship and a love of learning: Pair your own work time with that of your child by having work/study dates. You can set goals together, take breaks where you share what you are learning or working on, and most importantly celebrate progress together. Turn counterproductive statements or questions into learning opportunities by challenging them to problem solve. Respond to a statement like “I don’t know how to do this” with “What have you tried?” Having a good dialogue about a stumbling block builds critical thinking skills. Problem solve difficulty in completing homework together, as you might tackle a task management problem at work. Engage the challenge as a partner in removing obstacles. By making homework help a self-development opportunity, you can ensure a deeper engagement in learning for both your child and you.
  15. As a family law mediator and attorney, my hours are filled with former couples who must learn how to communicate for the benefit of their child. In advising clients on how to do this, we have to consider certain situations or feelings that get in the way. Before diving into advice on appropriate communication, I’ll explain a bit more on why it is so important: Your child deserves the best version of you, and the healthiest parents possible. Only you can provide them with a happy, healthy, and functional you. Your behavior is a model framework, and your child learns more from how you interact with others than from how you instruct them to interact with others. As we know too well, children are observant and smart. In their social skills now and for the future, your child will reference your communication skills (or lack thereof) as guidance for their social interactions. You are very uniquely positioned to help them become functional individuals who can face interpersonal difficulties. Your child will certainly pick up on your own attitude, demeanor, and language about your ex. If you ask adults whose parents were divorced to share a memory of how their parents communicated, they will undoubtedly remember. You don’t want your child to grow and think, “wow, my parent really couldn’t put me first. They hated my other parent more than they loved me.” You want your child to grow and know, “my parent did their best to protect me from the nuance and nastiness of their adult romantic relationship.” Finally, remember that your child is truly a combination of you and your ex. Regardless of who your child is closer to, resembles, prefers, etc., remember this: they have two parents. Your child could likely internalize at least some of what you’re saying about their other parent, because it’s, well, their parent! And you have a truly special opportunity to show them how to communicate in a healthy way. Caveat: My thoughts apply to standard or high-conflict situations where everyone is physically safe. Anyone dealing with an abusive or violence ex should, of course, put safety first. Universal guidelines for communication with a co-parent: Accept that your relationship with this adult is now primarily transactional. Consider this a business relationship where you are essentially professionals working together raising the child. Make, keep, and reaffirm boundaries. I highly recommend the book by Nedra Glover Tawwab as described below. Some common examples of boundaries with co parents are: Only being available to them for matters related to your child; Letting their calls go to voicemail and reviewing the voicemail; Answer non-urgent requests within 24 hours; and Reminding them as needed of your boundaries. Keep it BIFF: Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm. As described in the book mentioned below, communication between co parents can and should, in general, be straightforward. Your exchanges should be brief and to the point; informative and useful (no communication “just because…”); friendly without being flirty, and firm without being harsh. Again, you now have primarily a transactional relationship with this person. Behave accordingly. Consider shared calendar and family organization apps (Google Calendar, Our Family Wizard, Talking Parents) to limit unnecessary back-and forth. Never use the child as a messenger. Consider therapy another source of professional help for handling the massive emotions and changes you’re likely experiencing. You don’t have to do this alone. When one of you is still in love: Accept reality. However you must do this, learn and accept that you are now a solo parent and a single individual. This person is not your spouse, they are not your romantic partner. It is not ok to flirt with them or treat them romantically or “cute.” Distance yourself. Refrain from contacting them unnecessarily, or for reasons outside of their new role as co-parent (and not as your romantic interest). Ask some friends to be your assistants in this, and check with them before sending or saying anything that you think may not be best. Reframe their role in your life. While you may have once been comfortable calling this person your husband/wife/ spouse, this person has a new role: Teammate on Team Child. I have seen parents save each other's phones as new contacts “Sam Jones- Team Billy!” It’s corny, but maybe it will help. (Side note: if you can’t save them as something nice, save them as their own name. This is not a time for “nicknames.”) When there’s hate: Process it on your own. You are probably going to want a therapist, if only for a short term. How can you move forward if you’re still so angry abo it the past? Your anger may be well-founded and deserved, I get it. You must learn to leave your child out of this as much as possible, and prevent them from becoming collateral damage. Keep it away from your child. Regardless of where you are in the healing journey, your child is dealing with enough on their own. Protect them from adult matters by discussing co parenting issues when they aren’t around. Speaking in “code” or just out of their earshot probably doesn’t work as well as you think it does. Note: if there is or was abuse or violence in your relationship with your now-coparent, i recommend the following books in particular: “Splitting” and “Why Does He Do That?” These books separately address some of the considerations that you may unfortunately be dealing with. Regardless of where you are in the coparenting process, I hope you will consider your child above all else. Even the “best” parents struggle sometimes. It is hard! And you can do hard things. Especially ones that are so very worth it for your child. **Here are the links to the recommended reads mentioned above:** Set Boundaries, Find Peace: https://www.semicolonchi.com/humble-design/1du11v25tyoistwttyram0lgrgxvib BIFF: https://www.highconflictinstitute.com/bookstores/biff-for-coparents Splitting: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/9996542 Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/224552.Why_Does_He_Do_That_
  16. It was an early Sunday morning in March 2012. I did not get much sleep the night before, because I was 4 months pregnant with our second child, and our first child, Luke, had just received a diagnosis of autism and epilepsy. To say that I was stressed would be an understatement. Related: Your Child Received a Diagnosis, Now What? After speaking to my nursing pediatrician, it was recommended that I join a few community groups for support and resources. It was in this search that I found out about a resource fair that was created for parents just like me - parents that were overwhelmed, stressed, and on the hunt for resources and community. I was determined to provide my children with the best options available and realized that attending this fair might help me do just that. Overwhelmed with loneliness, desperation, and fear of our new normal we went to our first NPN Developmental Differences Resource Fair (DDRF) that morning. If I close my eyes right now, I can remember the moment I walked into my first NPN Developmental Differences Resources Fair. I can remember looking around and seeing so many resources and so many families, like mine, all in one room. Instantly, my stress levels decreased and I breathed a sigh of relief as the feeling of hope, which had escaped me for several months, came flooding back. I was able to connect with so many resources at once! The biggest takeaway was the connections with the other families I met; just knowing I was not alone gave me so much encouragement. The following year, I returned for my second DDRF. This time I was more confident, I knew exactly which resources I needed, and I was prepared with questions to ask. My biggest takeaway that second year at DDRF was that there is literally a resource for everything. Education, extra-curricular activities, therapies, government benefits, financial planning, whatever it is - there is a resource for it. I just had no idea where to look to find all of the information that I needed and had been too exhausted as a new mom to seek out the resources on my own. Related: Raising a Black Autistic Boy in America Fast forward to today and my son is now 12 years old and thriving! I have to say that being an advocate for my son and utilizing the resources that I found at NPN’s DDRF have made all the difference. I am proud to report that we have been able to change the trajectory of our son’s progress for the better. One of the best decisions I ever made was to pull my exhausted, desperate, hopeless, and stressed self out of bed that morning in March 2012, and take the first steps towards building our community and support network.
  17. As a mom to a boisterous four-year-old girl, I am always looking for ways to entertain her and keep her busy. That's why I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to take my daughter, Clarke, to see The Nutcracker for the very first time this year. Clarke has been captivated recently with dance and gymnastics - so I figured an opportunity to take her to see the greatest holiday show ever would be as magical for her as it would be for me! Growing up, I was the girl that always dreamt of going to fancy shows and getting dolled up to go out with my mother. However, with two busy working parents and four other siblings, there was always either a shortage of time or money which meant no ballet performances for me; the closest I would get would be to watch a performance on television. So, once the ticket notification hit my inbox, I was overjoyed! We were going to see The Nutcracker for the first time ever!! In all of my excitement, I ignored warnings that my daughter might be too young to admire the amazing skills of the dancers or to be truly interested in a performance without words or animation - but as we got closer to our performance date, I began to worry about her attention span and a little bit of everything else. Will our seats be close enough for her to see what's actually going on? Will she want to talk the entire time? Will the people near us be patient and understanding if (when) she does talk the entire time?? Will other kids her age even be there??? Alas, our performance date arrived, here's how it went and how I did my best to prepare her. Hours before the ballet: The afternoon leading up to the ballet, we talked about how ballerinas can be girls and boys and how they study dance and practice for years to take part in performances. We also watched a few clips from a YouTube video on the work that goes on behind-the-scenes to prepare for The Nutcracker performance. Personally, I watched a video about the history of The Nutcracker. (Did you know that it was originally written in 1891?!) I didn't set out to watch this video on my own but my daughter was not at all interested in this content. On the way to the ballet: On the way to the ballet, we listened to the famous Tchaikovsky tunes from The Nutcracker while I called out different melodies that I hoped she'd be able to recognize later. During the ballet: After struggling to find parking, we ended up arriving 8 minutes late and had to sit in the late section for the first act. This was the roughest part of the experience for Clarke. She kept asking questions about why the dancers were so far away and trying to rock around in her seat to peer a tiny bit closer at the action on stage. I silently counted down until the conclusion of the first act so we could move to our actual seats. After intermission, a snack, and a bio break - we finally settled into our seats and enjoyed a much closer view. To my delight, we sat next to a five-year-old girl that was also there for her first show with her mom. Her mother and I exchanged smiles of support as the lights dimmed for the final act. Much to my surprise, Clarke was completely enthralled! She was focused in and amazed at the movements. She recognized many of the songs we'd listened to on the way there and she giggled along during the hilarious moments and clapped loudly at the end. I'm pretty sure I sprained a cheek muscle from smiling ear-to-ear for 45 minutes straight. Afterwards: For about a week, our kitchen floors received a complimentary wax as a result of all of the spinning and gliding from Clarke and her fuzziest socks. She was going to be a ballerina, she exclaimed! The kind that dances with nuts. We definitely just started a new tradition in our home. I cannot wait to take her back next year and to personally experience the magic again, myself. The Joffrey Ballet’s “Nutcracker” runs through late December at the Lyric Opera House. A very special thank you to The Silverman Group for providing complimentary tickets and making our dreams come true!
  18. During a week in July, my husband and I hosted his family for vacation. Spread between three houses (including ours), were 19 family members, ages 6–70 years old. With a small backyard and a basement only a teenager would love, we had to get out and about in the city. To help inspire anyone who's in a position to play host this fall and beyond, I'm sharing what we did and how it went — both the "goal" and the "reality." Chinatown on a (sweltering) Tuesday ⭐⭐ Goal: Drive to Chinatown, take a water taxi to downtown and back, shop, eat, drive home. Reality: The water taxi was only running on weekends over the summer. Bummer #1. Parking was easy in the Chinatown North Parking Lot (2001 S. Wentworth Ave.). After parking, we met inside the beautiful, air-conditioned library (2100 S Wentworth Ave.). So far so good. We ate lunch at Triple Crown Restaurant (2217 S. Wentworth). Amazingly, they sat all 19 of us right away, at two big tables right next to each other. The dim sum was delicious but it was a severely hot day and the A/C couldn’t keep up. I sweated through lunch. [Related: Chicago date-night ideas that go beyond dinner and drinks] After lunch we tried to stay together, but as a big group on a narrow sidewalk trying to make a decision about where to go next, this was not fun. Eventually we all made it to the plaza together and that was much better. Bubble tea, shopping, finding some shade…everything was OK again. Except for the fact that when we got to the parking lot, we realized that we had neglected to get our parking tickets stamped at the restaurant, and had to pay full price for parking. Sigh. Downtown on a Wednesday ⭐⭐⭐ Goal: Take the El downtown, go to the Skydeck Ledge in the Willis Tower, then to Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park. Eat lunch along the way. Reality: We purchased tickets to the Ledge ahead of time and took the train to Willis Tower. There was no wait to get into the elevator. So far, so good. The winding line that we stood in to actually walk out onto the Ledge was long, but moved quickly. We were a group of 20 and they allowed 14 of us on the ledge at once. Pictures turned out great! Back down at street level, half of our group went home. The rest of us (ages 6-70) ate lunch outside at Willis Tower and then walked to the Crown Fountains at Millennium Park. Everyone had a good day. Climb Zone on a Thursday ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Goal: Let the kids burn some energy while (some of) the adults do other things. Reality: We had eight kids in our group, ages 7–16. They all climbed and played video games, bumper cars, and laser tag. We ate pizza, chicken strips, and salad. Parking was tight in the lot (2500 W Bradley Pl.), but we had the inside almost all to ourselves. Easy and fun. [Related: Chicago venues that cater to kids with special needs] Miko’s Italian Ice on a Sunday ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Goal: Walk to Miko’s (4125 N. Kimball Ave.), eat Italian ice, be happy. Reality: Exactly as planned!
  19. NPN Lauren

    Daycation: All I ever wanted

    Family vacations are overrated. As we’ve read on our Forum, seen on social media, and heard from fellow parents, “Vacations are basically just taking the sh*t show on the road.” With little kids, they’re anything but relaxing. So with spring break in the rear view and summer “vacations” still a ways off, it’s time to plan the next-best thing: a daycation, all to yourself. Here’s how. [Related: To the moms running on fumes, here's how to refill the tank] Mark your calendar You know how people say that the hardest part about exercising is getting to the gym, or even getting out the door? Same goes for a self-prescribed holiday: the hardest part is making the mental commitment to do so. If you’re the type who uses a calendar, go ahead and block it out as you would a true vacation day or mental health day. I recommend blocking a Friday, so you can treat yourself to a three-day weekend instead of having to hop back into reality post-daycation. Block the full day — don’t wimp out and just book the morning. I’m talkin’ 9AM to 5PM. Better yet, block 8AM to 6PM. If you can get out of dropping off and picking up the kids on this day, do it. That saying “It takes a village” applies to solo daycations, too. No guilt allowed. Allow yourself to daydream Now that you’ve got a day off to look forward to, it’s time to think about what you would truly enjoy to do with your day. (Imagine that!) Try not to default to a combination of forced “relaxation” and obligatory busywork, e.g., eating half a gummy and washing your delicates. Newsflash: That’s not a vacation, parents. That’s a Saturday night. [Related: 3 steps moms can take to get some me time every week] Think bigger: What does your ideal (solo) vacation look like? Can it be loosely replicated in the city of Chicago in a single day? Unfortunately, we don’t have any private islands within our city limits. But we do have a lot of wonderful ways to play hooky. While I can’t pretend to know what your daycation fantasy is, I can share mine (a full day at the Langham complete with lap swimming, lobster rolls, and literally any of these treatments), and hopefully inspire some well-earned daydreaming. For instance, if you love nothing more than pretending to read a paperback novel while dozing off poolside, this can be achieved. So can a truly luxe spa day, a gorgeous day spent hiking in nature, a decadent brunch followed by hours of bookstore browsing, an unexpected day-trip to another city, or even a deep meditation session. Make it happen If you have an agenda in mind but are struggling with execution, check out the list below for some ideas. Then, book it and start the count-down. Anticipation is half the fun. Enjoy! Spa Day $: King Spa & Sauna in Niles $$: Aire Ancient Baths in West Town $$$: Kohler Waters Spa in Lincoln Park $$$$: Chuan Spa at The Langham in River North Pool Day FREE: Portage Park Pool $: InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile $: East Bank Club $$: The Peninsula Hotel Forest Bathing & Nature Days FREE: Calumet Woods in Riverdale FREE: Forest Glen Woods in Forest Glen FREE: LaBagh Woods in North Park $: Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe $: Morton Arboretum in Lisle Day Trip Wilmington, IL — 75 minutes Michigan City, IN — 75 minutes Milwaukee — 90 minutes Harbor Country, MI — 90 minutes Lake Geneva — 90 minutes
  20. NPN Jana

    Laws and Paws

    until
    Ankin Law Office LLC, in collaboration with Wicker Park Advisory Council, presents LAWS & PAWS, a local gathering in the Wicker Park Field adjacent to the Wicker Park Dog Park. The event allows the Chicago community and their canine friends to learn about dog safety, the frequently overlooked legal ramifications of dog bites, the importance of pet insurance and common liability scenarios. Dog walking safety lights that attach to a collar* will be given to the first 100 guests. RSVP Required. Please go here to register *Must pick up the collar in person at the event no later than 6:00 pm This is an external partner event. Please contact the organization directly with any questions or concerns: sheila@marketjd.com

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