• By A Parent in Silver Spring

    Have you made your Ripple of Kindness yet this holiday season? You probably already have, or maybe you've been on the receiving side of some goodwill-tastic works! Ripples of Kindness is Yahoo!'s cool concept that simple acts to brighten others' days will create a ripple effect, and inspire others to do the same. So far over 41,000 kindness updates and good works have been posted!

    Some people have been doing totally random acts of kindness around their towns like paying people's parking meters, bringing goods to homeless people on the street, giving Starbucks gift cards to fellow parents who really look like they could use a cup. Others are organizing dinners for friends who are sick and volunteering with organizations in their community.

    One day while pondering what to do, I headed to volunteer at my child's school during lunchtime. I arrived early to hear Charlie's beloved first grade teacher Ms. Hirsch reading from a Junie B. Jones book to the class.

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  • The Ripple Effect

    This month, thanks to Yahoo! and their generous donation, I had the opportunity to participate in their bid to spread random acts of kindness. The premise is this:
    "Your single good deed, big or small, can inspire others and cause a ripple effect of kindness that continues to grow as others join in. Start something today - the more people who take action, the larger your ripple will become."
    I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how I would spread the kindness this holiday season. I thought of extravagant ideas, lump sum donations, and even specific individuals. But, what I decided was I wanted to reach as many people as possible in hopes of bringing a smile to their morning. Last Friday my 2 year old and I went to Starbucks. We pulled the managed aside, handed him $100 dollars and told him we wanted to pay for coffee for as many people as possible in the drive-thru line. He was shocked, but excited! As we waited for our order I got to see at least 5 people drive away with curious

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  • Top 10s of 2010

    What is December known for in addition to holiday festivities? Top 10 Lists. Okay, sometimes the lists are top 50 or top 100, but when December comes around, list making is everywhere.

    Yahoo! has compiled more than a few lists of their own. You can go to Yahoo! 2010 Year in Review to see all of the lists, however, here are a few of my favorites.

    10 Obsessions of 2010
    1. iPhone
    2. Lindsay Lohan
    3. iPad
    4. "Glee"
    5. "Jersey Shore"
    6. Facebook
    7. Bedbugs
    8. Tea Party
    9. Silly Bandz
    10. Stieg Larsson's "The Girl"

    Top Searched Questions on Yahoo! in 2010
    1. How to tie a tie
    2. How to lose weight
    3. How to kiss
    4. How to write a resume
    5. What's the world's only immortal animal
    6. Which city has the best tap water
    7. Which natural disaster shortened earth's days
    8. What is love
    9. What causes lightning
    10. How to boil an egg

    My Top 10 articles from 2010 from my blog Connect with your Teens through Pop Culture and Technology:
    1. ABC New Video on Teens and Texting with

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  • We sat quietly in the corner of the parking lot - inconspicuous as we could be, staking out the Rotten Robbie gas station. We watched people come and go, and waited patiently to pounce. Who was the next target of the day going to be? We wanted unsuspecting citizens - unaware of our stealth plan.

    Inside the car, the four of us whispered, sitting low in our seats and diverting our eyes from suspecting passersby. How we'd pull-off the job was thoroughly discussed. And then, our opportunity arrived: a white Ford Explorer, driven by a 50-something woman. As we gave the O-K sign, I crouched down low and ran from our car into the gas station and shoved $20 into the attendant's hand:

    "HER!," I whispered, "We want to pay for her gas! Now! Pump 4! Go! Go!"

    I put my cap down and walked unsuspectingly back to our car, quietly closed the door and started the car. Next it was time for LaGringa's part of the job. The woman walked into the station to pay for her gas and we peeled out of

    Read More »from User post: Gas station stalking and other random acts of kindness
  • Today I'm going to talk about Spam. I'm not talking about the kind in your mailbox, I'm talking about the canned meat.

    Hey, where'd everybody go?

    Now that everyone, save for a few adventurous souls and the Asians, have left the room let me tell you about one of my favorite family traditions, Spam musubi, (pronounced moo-soo-bee), a kind of sushi concoction made out of spam, rice and seaweed.

    Hey look - now only the Asians are still here.

    Sure, being Japanese-American, it's kind of expected that my family tradition would be along the lines of a complex fish recipe handed down to me from my grandmother and featuring eyeballs and fins, or some sort of elegant cake concoction made from the delicate leaves of a young cherry blossom tree. Ideally it would be something that was created by my ancestors and whose ingredients were painstakingly written down on a piece of parchment and residing in an antique carved wooden box that smells like memories.

    Instead, it's a meat of questionable

    Read More »from User post: Spam: It's What's For Dinner. No, Really.
  • I love traditions. When I think back to my childhood, it is the traditions that I remember. Some traditions are intentional and some are accidental. Either way, traditions are something that ties our ancestors to us and to the future.

    My mother was born in Germany and came over here as a young child. My grandparents kept a lot of their traditional German traditions alive when I was a child. Now that both of my grandparents have passed away, it is more difficult to keep many of those traditions going.

    There is one tradition that I insist we keep going. It's our Christmas meal tradition. We used to have our traditional German meal on Christmas Eve. As a child, Santa would come while my sisters and I napped in the afternoon on Christmas Eve. When we woke up, we dressed in our holiday dress and my grandparents would arrive shortly after.

    Traditional German Christmas MealTraditional German Christmas Meal

    We would all sit down to dinner (how did they keep us focused on food with all those presents in the next room???) The dinner consisted of

    Read More »from User post: Keeping an Old German Family Christmas Tradition Alive
  • My Aunt Judy lives in Minnesota, the Wild Rice capital of the world, and she makes the most delicious stuffing with it every year. Even though I moved from Minnesota to Los Angeles years ago, I still love wild rice. I started making this stuffing with my Thanksgiving turkey a few years ago, and it's become my family tradition now, too.

    It uses quite a bit of butter, but remember, you don't eat it every night. This is a special occasion! And it is worth the extra workouts. Delicious!

    Aunt Judy's Wild Rice Stuffing

    ½ pound sliced mushrooms

    2 cups chopped celery

    2 cups chopped onions

    1 cup butter, divided

    6 cups bread cubes

    1 cup chopped pecans

    1 teaspoon sage

    1 teaspoon thyme

    ½ teaspoon pepper

    1 cup cooked wild rice

    1 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)

    Saute the mushrooms, celery and onions in ½ cup butter until soft. In large bowl, combine bread cubes, pecans, sage, thyme and pepper. Add vegetable-butter mix and stir to combine.

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  • turkey handturkey handNovember is officially the one month where I look forward to a huge, guilt-free feast. This year, we traveled almost 600 miles to spend Thanksgiving with my family. If I had to choose one meal out of the year to enjoy with family, this would be it. Childhood memories of Thanksgiving past came flooding back as the scent of pumpkin pies and turkey in the oven wafted through the air.

    As the meal preparations were being made, we introduced the little ones to our tradition of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. They were ecstatic when Sponge Bob and Hello Kitty appeared and went floating through the streets of New York City. Our 16 month old even danced to the beat of the marching bands as they played classic holiday tunes. Their eyes grew pretty wide when Santa Claus rode by, waving at everyone from his sleigh.

    We don't get to spend every Thanksgiving with my immediate family, so I very much cherish the ones that we do. This year, my little family of four spent the day with four

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  • As a child Thanksgiving and the holiday season felt a bit lonely to me. We had a ton of relatives, but rarely traveled to visit them, and none made the trek to visit our small nuclear family (my mom, my dad, my sister, and I). I've always loved the holidays though, and in my nearly 15 years with my spouse we have come up with our own variations on traditions as our family has grown and changed.

    This Thanksgiving I feel like we finally found the perfect balance of tradition, family time, and fun. We started with a family night out at the movies the night before Thanksgiving and ate out for dinner. It was nice to let the kids stay up a bit late, and really spend time together with all of us in one place (seems so rare!).

    Thanksgiving day we weren't hosting dinner, so we had a lazy holiday breakfast, and the we spent some time cleaning up the house (a good way to start the weekend I think). Then we headed to Thanksgiving dinner at my sister's house where a fun (if rowdy) time was had by

    Read More »from Holiday Traditions: Creating your own family traditions
  • My mom's favorite day was Thanksgiving. She made every bite of food from the appetizers to the delectable pumpkin pie. The cooking started days before. Year after year, she opened her house to whomever wanted to join. It wasn't a huge house but we managed to always fit the crowds around a formal table. She was typically the most informal of people, but that day it was all about bone china and polished silver and a table set for 35.
    If you were her kid and you ever started seriously dating someone, the first thing you did was let them know you would never spend Thanksgiving with their family. When I got engaged, I had to make sure my future husband understood he would no longer spend Thanksgiving with his family, unless they agreed to come to my mom's. That was just how it worked. Turkey day at Toni's was part of the package if you married a Ritz.
    When my mom died, it never occurred to us to go our separate ways. My oldest sister offered the hosting duties and everybody grabbed a dish

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