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My grandmother would be 100 this year if she were still alive. I consider myself fortunate that she was an active presence in my life. She got to meet my children and the older ones have fond memories of her.


My grandmother only had an elementary school education. She may not have been the smartest person, but she knew a few things about life and she passed some of these ideas on to me. She truly lived life, without fear and seemingly without regrets.

Grandma used to nag me to wear a hat, but I rarely did. You have to cover your head, she stressed to me.  A hat’s primary purpose is to keep your head warm, but she told me that the hat did more than that, it kept the heat in your body. Science backs up that fact. 

Grandma’s theme song was, “You’re Nobody ‘til Somebody Loves You.”  She lived the Golden Rule unlike anyone else I have ever known. Love others. Period. She had choice words about people from time to time, but she forgave easily, and she was generous with hugs and kisses.

New people in her life were often taken aback by her in-your-face ways, but it didn’t take long to be captivated by this woman. She was obviously a grandma, but acted so un-grandma-like. She drank and swore and sometimes said inappropriate things, but she knew how to make you feel loved and special.

She was unapologetically herself. I am certain she was hurt if people didn’t like her, but it didn’t change how she lived. This may be what drew people to her, her genuine love of life and her willingness to share it with others.

She had no filter. She was generous with both praise and criticism. “You’re an Asshole!” was a favorite line of hers, and resulted in T-shirts, which sold at the kitchen she ran at a local bar. Not only did people love this, there were some people who never heard those words from her who almost seemed hurt.

She didn’t whine about hardships, despite her hard life. She grew up during the Great Depression, the oldest of five. She knew what it was to live without.  This affected her throughout life, but did not diminish her spirit.

After marrying, her life was good for a while. The family moved, and then she became a single mom of three in a time when most women didn’t work. She found jobs, and though they didn’t have much, they managed. I never knew her to dwell on those times, or on what they didn’t have. Her concerns were for others, who had even less.

She held a variety of jobs throughout her life: cleaning lady, clerk, meat packer, nightclub singer, short-order cook, and professional organizer to name a few. She never shied away from hard work, but also demonstrated that what you do does not define you as a person. She worked hard for most of her life until her later years when she decided to work only occasionally.

Grandma worked hard, but she also made sure to take time to play. She loved going to the movies and the boardwalk. She loved to sing and dance. She was willing to try anything, especially if it was requested by one of her grandchildren.

She went on amusement park rides and exaggerated their dizzying effect on her. She loved to spend time with people and hosted frequent parties. She had a juke box in her basement and taught me how to dance the Alley Cat, the Bunny Hop, and the Cha-cha.

She worried about those less fortunate, and throughout her life gave to those in need, even if she had little herself. No one went hungry when Grandma was around and no one spent a holiday alone, which meant that we often had an odd assortment of “new friends” with us for the holidays. 

Some would say that she took chances welcoming some people into her home or that she was being taken advantage of. Perhaps this was true, but these were people who were going through a tough time and soaked up the love and energy she emanated. Her faith in them may have been just what they needed to be better people.

Grandma showed me the value of networking, and she was a pro. She seemed to know everyone. No matter where we went, or how far we traveled, she would inevitably see someone who looked familiar and go talk to them. Perhaps she knew them, or perhaps some people were just being polite, but they always took the time to chat with her.

In my mind I see her smiling, ready to break into a full-fledged laugh. Laughter came easily to her, and she was willing to laugh at herself. Grandma never took herself too seriously. She was willing to get down on the floor and play with her great-grandchildren, even into her 70s. She made them giggle, and would end up laughing herself. Her laugh was contagious.

She is no longer with us, but her spirit lives on in her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and all those whose lives she touched. I catch glimpses of her sometimes – watching my oldest child dance, listening to my two middle children play in a jazz band, or in the voice of my youngest singing with emotion.

I see her energy, her passion, her love, and her smile in my children. I feel her warmth and love when I cook certain dishes, when I hear certain music, and even in her Art Deco lady’s-head-lipstick-holder sitting on a shelf in my bathroom. I miss her. I am so thankful that she was my grandma, who taught me so much about living a good life.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent. Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, is more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued so the crisis can be averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

For me, the fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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