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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts

In 1958, African American choreographer Alvin Ailey first performed with a group of young modern dancers at New York’s 92nd Street Young Men’s Hebrew Association. His work as a dancer and an activist popularized modern dance and transformed the way the African American population participated […]

31 Things I Want My Middle-School Son To Know

31 Things I Want My Middle-School Son To Know

As you navigate middle school, I have a few things I’d like you to know: 1. Not everyone will get you. Be patient. You will continue to find your people. 2. Even if you aren’t a natural athlete, grit will be the characteristic that separates you. 3. When […]

It’s Time For A Paid Family Leave Option That Works — And This Plan Could Be It

It’s Time For A Paid Family Leave Option That Works — And This Plan Could Be It

For some moms, decisions about when and how much to work while our children are young are among the hardest we will make. For other moms, like those who act as primary or sole breadwinners in about 40 percent of American households, those decisions don’t feel like a choice at all – their families depend on their income.

The American family and work force has changed rapidly in the last generation: Today about 70 percent of mothers (with children under 18) work, compared to 47 percent in 1975. During this time, there’s been a red-hot cultural debate about women’s roles, what it means to be a “feminist,” and what public policies we should put into place to ease some of the pressures on working moms.

One important public policy debate is about paid family leave. Should our laws do more to guarantee working moms (and dads) time off after the birth of a new baby?  This issue is not just political, but personal.

I would know; I’m expecting my second baby to arrive in just a couple of months.

But there’s a lot at stake in this complex debate, especially considering how diverse American families have become. I can’t presume every family is like mine, or that every mom wants the same kind of maternity leave arrangement I want. To me, being a feminist means supporting other women in their choices, even if they differ from mine.

Two commonly discussed solutions for the paid leave dilemma are new entitlements and new mandates on employers. But stay-at-home parents and childless workers don’t need paid family leave, so it wouldn’t be fair to ask them to fund a government program to pay workers during this time off. Mandates on employers come with costs, too, ultimately making it less likely employers will hire and promote women of child-bearing age.

Clearly, we need a paid leave policy that treats all families and workers fairly, and minimizes the unintended consequences that backfire on women in the workplace.

Finally, there’s a plan that does just that.

Several Members of Congress are championing a new paid family leave proposal originally advanced by Independent Women’s Forum that would increase access to paid parental leave for those who need it most, but without penalizing those families that choose not to have children, or families with children who keep a parent at home, or those who have access to paid leave benefits already.

Instead of raising taxes on all workers, this plan would reform the existing Social Security program to offer working parents a choice to take “parental benefits” early (after the addition of a new child) in exchange for delaying retirement benefits later. Parental benefits would be calculated according to the disability formula, meaning lower-income families would see a greater portion of their pay replaced during a family leave period.

The beauty of this plan is that the choice lies with the individual worker. It’s completely voluntary. Workers who do not opt in would see no changes to their compensation, benefits, or Social Security.  What better way to honor the variety of choices that women (and men) make about work and family life?

As the American workforce continues to evolve (with more workers seeking greater flexibility in the gig economy and non-traditional jobs) and our family structures continue to become more diverse, we should focus on policies that give all workers the greatest freedom and choice. Our plan does this with respect for the myriad different ways modern American women choose to direct their own lives. That’s worth celebrating.

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20 Tweets Moms Of Boys Will Relate To

20 Tweets Moms Of Boys Will Relate To

Having a son is an incredible blessing, and other boy moms understand this. There’s an unspoken bond we all have with one another; it evolves out of the joyful exhaustion we all share. Boys are endless sources of energy. They run, jump, climb, wrestle, dive, […]

A Shout Out To The Grandparents Raising Their Grandchildren

A Shout Out To The Grandparents Raising Their Grandchildren

When I was growing up, my father was in and out of jail, so my mother was struggling to manage being a single mother of three kids. It seemed like, back then, all we did was fight. Every day my mom and I fought. And […]

Good People Of The Internet: We Need To Have A Talk

Good People Of The Internet: We Need To Have A Talk

Folks. Let’s have a little chat, shall we?

Since we’re all living in this massive web known as the Internet, I think it’s time we set some things straight. Because let’s be honest, the Internet has become a toxic cesspool bubbling over with nastiness, humblebrags, and nonsense. And a girl can only take so much before she wants to throw her computer out the window or move to a secluded island because people so clearly suck beyond repair.

Look, the Internet has a way of bringing out the worst in people. Yes, sometimes the best, but mostly the worst.

I try to be tolerant and polite. So I looked the other way when I noticed that you liked the Facebook page of that evangelical Christian who thinks progressives are going to rot in hell. I didn’t comment on your post with a link to Breitbart or Fox News. And I swallowed the vomit in my mouth when you humblebragged about your “sweet hubby” for the gajillionth time.

But we’ve all got limits. And I’m at mine.

Chances are, you might be too.

So before we all start hating everybody – and for the sake of our expensive Macs and PCs at the risk of being tossed from a second story window – let’s set a few ground rules.

If you’re gonna leave, just leave. No. Announcement. Necessary.

Newsflash: if you don’t like a page or a friend’s Internet fuckery is driving you up the wall, there’s this handy little button called “unlike” or “unfriend.” It works like a charm and here’s the real special thing — you don’t need to do anything other the click it. You don’t need to comment with a grand announcement of your departure. JUST LEAVE.

Before you share, beware.

I hate to break it to you, but most of what’s on the Internet is a load of crap. So before you share that post from www.democratsaresatan.com or www.republicansarethedevil.com or www.theapocylpseishappeningontuesday.com, maybe check with a credible news source. And no, Fox News and Breitbart don’t count as “credible.”

Enough with the shady MLM scams.

I’m not going to buy your leggings, your face cream, your weight loss shake, or your unnamed tooth whitening paste. So please stop asking. Enough with the FB sales pitches disguised as messages “to catch up” even though we haven’t actually exchanged words in 15 years and you spent most of high school giving me side-eye. I’m not buying your shit, Nancy. But thanks for asking.

Don’t tag me in photos where you look like a runway model and I look like Rip Van Winkle in stained yoga pants.

This shouldn’t need further explanation. Yet here we are.

Knock it off with the hashtagged humblebrags.

We all know your kid is #cuteasabutton and you’re #lovingmomlife, but you aren’t fooling anyone when you post a photo from the front row of the CMAs or on the 50-yard line of the Super Bowl and hashtag that shit with #SoBlessed or #GodIsGreat. Because last time I checked, God didn’t give a shit about award ceremonies or football games. And you just sound obnoxious.

On a related note, keep your Sunday morning evangelism to yourself.

Ain’t no one got time for your Facebook sermons, Cindy Jo.

Unfriending is always in season for assholes.

I suppose this should go without saying, but if you’re an asshole or think it’s okay to tell sexist, racist, or homophobic “jokes,” let me introduce you to my friend Unfriend and my even more badass friend Block. Because life’s too short for this dumbfuckery and nastiness. Bye Felicia!

Sanctimommies and Judgy McJudgersons need not apply.

Pro-tip: If you start a comment with “I’m sorry, but…” or “I don’t mean to judge…,” you aren’t fooling anyone.

Stop Vaguebooking.

Tell us. Or don’t tell us. But don’t maybe hint at something that might happen but it’s so important/great/sad/upsetting that you just can’t talk about it yet.

Stahp. It.

Look. Interneting isn’t all that hard. Basically, it all boils down to one simple rule: Don’t be a dick. If we can all do that, then we’ll be able to keep scrolling to our hearts’ content without wearing a Haz-Mat suit or wanting to stab a fork in our eye.

Sound good?


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Good People Of The Internet: We Need To Have A Talk

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To Moms Of Wild Kids: I’m Sorry I Judged You

To Moms Of Wild Kids: I’m Sorry I Judged You

I remember being at a play date eight years ago. My first born was a toddler, and I was pregnant with his sister. I’d already faced a few parenting struggles. The wind got knocked out of me when I failed epically at breastfeeding. I wondered […]

I Don’t Save My Kids’ Stuff Because It Gives Me Anxiety

I Don’t Save My Kids’ Stuff Because It Gives Me Anxiety

Walking into my daughter’s room this morning, I caught glimpse of her school project lying on the floor — there were colored pencils, scissors, and glue stick strewn about. Half-empty bottles of perfume and body lotion were scattered on her desk next to Tupperware containers […]

What To Do (And Not Do) When A Friend Has A Child With Special Needs

What To Do (And Not Do) When A Friend Has A Child With Special Needs

Imagine you’re out at the park with your child who is on the spectrum. Or what about if you’ve mustered up the energy to pack up your car with your child’s wheelchair and you’re out and about enjoying the beautiful weather. But in your peripheral vision, you see someone looking at you — staring.

Or how about being approached by someone you haven’t seen in a while, and the conversation gets really awkward. That, my friend, is something we parents of kids with special needs encounter on a daily basis.

Here are a few of my pet peeves along with some tips to help turn an awkward encounter into a memorable one.

Pet Peeve #1: Trying to Relate

It’s so great when we run into people we haven’t seen in a long time. The conversation may start out like this:

The Friend: “Hi!! Oh my gosh, I haven’t seen you in so long! Your kids are so beautiful!!”

But then, the conversation goes south and things get pretty awkward.

The Friend, again: “I just wanted you to know that my co-workers-daughter’s-best friend’s-brother’s-nieces-nephew… has Down syndrome.”

Special Needs Parent: “Ummmm….Okay?….?”

What are we supposed to say to that? How about leaving the history line alone and just be happy to see us. Trust me, we want to have as much of a normal conversation as possible.

Pet Peeve #2: Sympathizing When We’re Out

We know that what we go through is different and tough, but do us all a favor: If you see us out, don’t feel sorry for us. Be happy that we’re out. All we’re doing is trying to give our child the best life we can. Trust me, if we’ve managed to gather our child’s wheelchair, oxygen tank, heart monitor, feeding pump, and whatever else — be happy for us! Don’t remind us of our situation by feeling sorry or bad for us.

Pet Peeve #3: Staring

Let’s say you happen to see a family who has a child in a wheelchair. Or it’s a family who has a child with autism and that child is having an episode. And then BOOM! You start staring at them, without even realizing you’re doing it.

Thanks to a magical thing called peripheral vision, we definitely see you looking at us. Now, if you happen to get caught staring, DO NOT QUICKLY LOOK THE OTHER WAY! Or even worse, DON’T WALK AWAY! Instead, acknowledge your stare. What do I mean by acknowledging? Smile at us. Or even just a quick head nod and a wave is fine.

Oh, you want to do more than just smiling. Sure! How about taking action on your stare? We parents won’t bite. If you see us, and our child on the spectrum is having an episode, politely ask that parent if they need help with anything. Or if you see a parent with their hands full and also a wheelchair that they have to disassemble to get it into their car, ask if they need any help.

A simple offer of assistance can go a long way. Try it one day.

These pet peeves are things that I have personally gone through, but I’m sure my other special needs parent comrades can relate. To see more on this topic, check out my latest vlog right here: Pet Peeves | Special Needs Parent Edition 2018.

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What To Do (And Not Do) When A Friend Has A Child With Special Needs

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Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie Recipe

Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie Recipe

Mornings in our house are admittedly hectic, and despite our best laid plans, there is inevitably one child who decides the morning is the best time to finish a project or alert me to the fact that I need to stop at the store before […]

Best 7 Books for Kids

Top 7 Stories For Kids

Top 7 Stories For Kids

Best Childrens Books

Since we can remember, we all have enjoyed stories.

Every day we use stories to communicate to others our thoughts and feelings. We all started from Children’s stories, and Kids Story Books, until one day we we’re able to handle bigger words and read much more effectively.

This list is a compiled list of the best books from our childhood, from the classics, to the new way books have been developed.

Childrens books are the backbone to what make us love a good story, and without them, we definitely wouldn’t be as creative or optimistic like we are.

I present you with the best Stories for Kids, enjoy!

Best 7 Books for Kids#7. Where the Wild Things are.

Where the wild things are, is a story about calming down from being a wild child, how our parents do a lot for us, and to not take them for granted.

Max is a troublemaker who is grounded, he goes to sleep, wakes up and his room transforms into a moonlit forest where there is a vast area of water when he then hops on a boat and travels happily without his mom.

He is taken to a place where big fluffy mammal type creatures are, and though extreme looking, they are tame creatures. They try to scare him off, but Max doesn’t take the bait, this, in turn, makes the creatures flabbergasted at him. They immediately make him king over all of them, as he is the most ferocious of them all. They spend days going completely bonkers, until Max finally believes it’s time to stop, he sends them “to bed without dinner,” just as his mother did to him. At this point, Max misses his mom and realizes that it is hard to be in charge of things. Max smells something good, some really good food, he believes it is his mother’s dinner which he wasn’t allowed to eat. He then travels back to the place where he started and goes back home.

6. Charlotte’s Web.

Charlotte’s Web is a story 100% about Friendship and how friends make us who we are and how they will always be there for us to help us succeed and keep us out of trouble.

Wilbur the Pig, a pig who grows friendships with Fern Arable, who is the little girl who adapted him, and other barnyard animals including Charlotte the spider. When a pig at the barn has piglets, Mr. Arable(Fern’s Father) decides he is going to slaughter Wilbur, because he is a runt. Fern persuades him to keep Wilbur alive. Her father does know that he will end up doing it in the future anyways and tries to break their bond. When Wilbur is strong, he is sent to Mr. Zuckerman’s(Fern’s Uncle) barn and lives there, Fern sees him as often as she can. Wilbur is quite lonely when Fern isn’t there, until one day a spider comes and meets him. He then meets the rest of barnyard animals at this new barn. Charlotte tells Wilbur he will be slaughtered in the winter. She agrees to help him. She begins to spin words in her web and attracts the likes of Mr. Zuckerman to which he thinks it’s a miracle. She spins many words in her web, thanks to the help of a barnyard rat who helps her copy more words. Wilbur is entered into a Fair, where Wilbur is praised thanks to Charlotte and her web.

Unfortunately, though, Charlotte is reaching the end of her life and creates a nest of eggs of other spiders. She entrusts them with Wilbur and tells him that she won’t be going back to the barn with him after the fair. Wilbur guards the eggs with his life. When they finally hatch, most of the spiders leave, but 3 stay behind at the barn and stay friends with Wilbur.

5. The Cat in the Hat.

Cat in the Hat is a story of Sally and her brother at home. They sit alone and bored in their house. Outside it is a cold, rainy, sad day. They both stare endlessly out the window until they hear a big “thud.” The noise came from a big Cat wearing a Red striped hat and a bowtie. The Cat wants to entertain the children with some tricks that he knows. The children’s pet fish doesn’t want that but does want him to leave. The Cat then balances the fish on his umbrella and starts to throw more stuff up and balance it all. It ends with him falling on his head and dropping everything. The fish gets mad at him, but the Cat decides to show another trick.

He brings in a big red box from outside, filled with 2 twins, called “Thing 1 and Thing 2.” They begin to cause havoc and go absolutely crazy inside the house, destroying and breaking things.

The children’s mother is then seen from the Fish, to which sally captures the things in a net and the cat, who is very sad at this point, put them back into the big red box and leaves.

He soon comes back with a machine that begins to clean and fix all the damage caused by him and the things. The children and fish are very happy at this point, and right before their mother walks in the door, the Cat in the Hat leaves with the things.

The mother walks in and asks what the children did while she was gone, but the children do not answer.

The story ends with the questions, “What would you do if your mother asked you?”

4. The Giving Tree.

The Giving Tree is about the joy of giving and selfless love.

The giving tree is a book about a female apple tree and a boy that begin to have a sort of relationship together. The tree always addresses the boy, even thru his various stages of life, as “boy.” The tree in this book “gives” to the boy throughout the story, at first, it is all about climbing the branches and enjoying the apple from the tree, and the tree is happy.

At various stages of the boy’s life, he begins to take more and more. As a child, he gained happiness from her apples and climbing the tree, and the tree is happy. The boy grows into a teen and begins to take all the apples to sell them to make money. When the boy gets older and turns into a man, the man chops her branches down in order for him to build a house, and the tree was happy. Later on, the man chops down her trunk and uses it to build a boat, and the tree was happy.

The Man begins to turn old and the Tree is now a stump. The Boy returns to the tree as an old man and states he just wants a quiet place to sit and rest, which is the only thing the tree can now provide. Despite being chopped down and practically nothing left, the tree was still happy.

3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

It starts with an egg. Inside the egg hatches a big green caterpillar with a red face. He is hungry, so he decides to go and look for some food. At first, on Monday he has just 1 apple. Tuesday he has 2 pears. Wednesdays he has 3 Plums. Thursday he eats 4 Strawberries. Fridays he eats 5 Oranges! TASTY!

On Saturday he has an enormous feast which includes a very… balanced 😂 diet… He then begins to eat: a piece of chocolate cake, one ice cream cone, one pickle, one slice of swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon. By the end of the day, he gains a stomach ache and gets sick from all the food he ate!

On Sunday he is out of his food coma and returns to a better diet of a big green leaf. He then spins a cocoon which he stays in for 2 weeks. After the 2 weeks are up, he emerges from the cocoon as a big beautiful butterfly with large multi-colored wings!

2. Superoo – The Helpful Hero.

At the mall, Chloe leaped at the chance to help others. On that day, she became Superoo! She likes coloring, jump rope, and music. She has the biggest heart on the HeroPals Team.

Did you know that friends, brothers, sisters, moms, and dads sometimes need help just like you do?

Chloe the kangaroo noticed that lots of people needed help. She didn’t let being a kid stop her from being a hero!

 1. Darkpaw – A Tail of Bravery.

When Max finds a costume in the attic, he becomes the hero, Darkpaw! He likes climbing, comic books, and action figures. He is always the first Hero Pal to leap into action!

Have you ever been afraid of the dark? Scared of dogs?
Freaked out by strange looking food?

Before he became the Hero Pal known as Darkpaw, Max was a scaredy cat. See how he learned to be brave!





About Hero Pals.


Introducing the Hero Pals, a new series of exciting story books that are sure to bring smiles to your heroes-in-training.

Every adventure has been specifically designed for maximum fun and entertainment for ages 3 to 8.


Use the free app to unlock special features on your mobile device. Scanning the inside of the book will give you access to interactive content that brings the stories to Life!