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international day of the girl
@jada24k/Twenty20

To answer Beyonce's question about who runs the world, GIRLS is definitely right—especially during today's celebration of International Day of the Girl. After all, girls are capable, they're strong and they are the future.

Today, there certainly is a lot to celebrate about the steps we've made toward gender equality. Here are three big ones that should give us all hope:


1. Schools have noticed an increase in girls interested in STEM

Much has been written about how and why men vastly outnumber women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Less than a quarter of STEM jobs are filled by women, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce and only 16% of female students graduate from STEM subjects, according to the World Economic Forum.

But there are strong indicators we're moving in the right direction: Today's generation of girls are ready to innovate and are showing more interest in STEM subjects in school. With those inquisitive minds engaged + on the case, the future of STEM is looking quite bright.

2. Girls are taking up male-dominated sports like football

With no separate league for little girls in football (unlike softball, soccer and even hockey), it takes a lot of grit for girls to tackle the gridiron. But more and more of them are making names for themselves in the boy's leagues.

From the 11-year-old quarterback leading her team in the North Dakota Youth Football League to the Michigan linebacker doing double duty as Homecoming Queen, girls should be proof to everyone that they have a place in traditionally male-dominated sports. (And NFL players like Cam Newton now know better than to suggest otherwise, because girls aren't afraid to clap back.)

3. Girls outpace boys in college enrollment and graduation

America's girls are reaching for higher educations at higher rates than ever before. Back in 1994, only 63% of recent female high school graduates were enrolled in college in the fall following graduation (along with 61% of boys). By 2012, that number was up to 71% while the boys' numbers remained at 61 percent.

According to the Pew Research Center, women continue to outpace men in terms of educational attainment: In 2016, more women between 25 and 34 (52%) had finished college than men of their age.


Our girls are getting interested in science and sports and they're getting their degrees—but we still have a long way to go when it comes to true equality.

1. We need to get that pay gap in check

According to the Women in the Workplace 2017 study, women remain underrepresented at every level in corporate America despite all those degrees we're getting. And while the gender pay gap has narrowed, we still make less than men and work more once household responsibilities are factored.

2. We need to empower our daughters to speak up

A recent study of more than 10,000 American girls found that even girls with perfect GPAs don't think they are smart enough. And while most girls said they like to be in charge, one in three said she was afraid to act as a leader for fear of being perceived as bossy.

3. We need to boost our daughters' self-esteem


Worldwide, only 46% of girls reported high levels of body esteem. That's a big deal when you consider teaching girls to love their bodies results in higher levels of confidence, resilience and life satisfaction. So fostering good body image is an important pursuit when preparing our daughters to take on a world that still isn't always welcoming to women.

As with everyday, we should celebrate how far we've come and all that our girls can do. But we shouldn't forget how much they—and society in general—could achieve with more support. Let's all start changing culture for the better by empowering the girls of today.

[Originally published: October 11, 2017]

Sunday Citizen

I live in the Northeast and when I woke up this morning, my house was freezing. It had been in the mid 40's overnight and we haven't turned the heat on yet. Suddenly, my normal duvet felt too thin. The socks on my bare feet too non-existent. Winter is coming, and I'd been drinking rosés still pretending it was summer.

I couldn't put it off any longer. It was time to do my annual tradition of winterizing my home—and I don't mean making sure my pipes and walls have enough insulation (though obviously that's important too). I mean the act of evaluating every room and wondering if it has enough hygge to it.

If you've never heard of hygge, it's a Danish word that means a quality of coziness or contentment. And what better time to make sure you have moments of hygge all throughout your house than right now? As far as I'm concerned it's the only way to get through these dark winter months (even more so during a pandemic.)

So I went room by room (yes, even my 4-year-old's room) and swapped in, layered or added in these 13 products to get us ready for winter:

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14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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The second any new parent lays their eyes on their newborn baby, their thoughts probably go to how the baby is going to set the world on fire with their energy, charisma and passion. As the years go by, you may refer to your little one as a firecracker because of their witty and spunky personality, or you may be taken aback (in the best way possible) by how their infectious personality catches onto any room like a flame.

Perhaps you or your partner has taken on a life of service as a firefighter, and are heavily inspired by the word fire, or maybe it's a word with a different personal meaning that ignites your spirit. The word fire can stand for a lot of things, including warmth, light and exciting. Maybe you see your child as the flame that will continue to carry on your family's legacy. Whatever reason you may want to give your child a name that means fire, it's up to you, and there are dozens of options to make your dreams come true.

So go ahead and peruse this list for 100 ideas for baby names that mean fire.

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