18 Date Night Ideas That’ll Actually Have You Making Time for Each Other

Raise your hand if your romantic relationship has lost its mojo. Eliza Morrow’s arm is up and waving. The Austin, TX, mom of Chloe, 7, and Eli, 3, who runs a thriving ceramic-jewelry business, has steadily felt the “honeymoon giddiness” drain from her connection to husband Neal. Mind you, kids and work aren’t the only romance vampires here. “The more Neal and I neglect date nights, the duller our love life becomes,” Eliza admits. “Sure, children and jobs make things tricky, but when we used to commit to fun and intimate kid-free time, all our responsibilities just felt easier to deal with.”

Not surprising. “A relationship is a living thing that needs to be nurtured and fed or it doesn’t make it,” suggests Ojai, CA-based psychotherapist and couples specialist Adaya Walsh. “Things can start to feel depleted, tense and distant. That’s when work, parenting, everything gets harder.” Walsh confirms Eliza’s thoughts by noting that date nights are the food your relationship needs. “Time and attention are our most valuable offerings,” she says. Give them to your relationship and watch it grow.

Just how often do you two need this nourishment? Consider this: Married couples who engage in one-on-one time together at least once a week are 3.5 times more likely to express being “very happy” in their relationship than their counterparts who don’t have weekly couple time, according to the national Survey of Marital Generosity, funded by the Science of Generosity initiative at the University of Notre Dame. That’s significant.

We could, of course, just tell you to date more, but we know you need extra inspiration to carve out time from your crazy schedule. That’s why we’ve come up with a slew of enticing date suggestions certain to add sustenance to your relationship and personal wellness. So say “see ya later” to dinner and a movie and “let’s give it a try” to our irresistible date-night menu. Just order, add to your shared calendar, and enjoy!

Read more on Working Mother!

Inside the NYC Music Scene with The Delancey Five Leader Svetlana Shmulyian

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There are many voices flowing through New York City’s music venues, but few as alluring as Svetlana Shmulyian – a woman who channels the essence of Ella Fitzgerald, while mixing in an aural flavor that’s all her own.

Svetlana is the leader of the swing band The Delancey Five, and a regular at many of the jazz clubs and speakeasies that together form a web of old school musical magic. But, as intriguing as Svetlana’s pipes are, I’m equally enthralled by the fact that she’s churning out all this goodness while also being the mother to three young girls (go team mompreneurs!)

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Svetlana and The Delancey Five

Below is your key into the mind of one of the most badass ladies gracing the most interesting stages in New York.

Bailey Gaddis: Any advice for NYC tourists wanting to make the most of their time being immersed in the city’s music offerings.

Svetlana Shmulyian: It all depends on what you want to see! NYC has a “scene” for everything – whether you are into avant-garde jazz, or swing dancing, or salsa, reggae, or indie rock – there are multiple spaces­ to listen to this specific kind of music and mix with other lovers of it.

There are highbrow spots and underground spots for every kind of music, each offering a unique experience – and an “only in New York” thing to do is to experience these different spots in the same night!  So, search online for a specific kind of music you are interested in, on a specific date, and go to a high-brow show at 8pm (for example, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola for jazz and swing), grab a small plate or a snack after (like a falafel or noodles in Greenwich Village), and then “club-hop” through a few hidden speakeasy spots, like Mezzrow, Back Room, or Smalls for an after hours jam session.

BG: Being a mom, how do you find time to explore the live music in NYC? Do your daughters enjoy jazz and swing music? 

SS: I mainly explore the live music scene when I perform – and then stay later to check out after-hours shows of friends, or other acts I am interested in. On the nights I do not work, I prefer to stay home with my daughters, unless there is a very special show going on.

On the other hand, attending shows is part of a continuous education and improvement for anyone – and a feeding of the soul, so I try to do it as much as I can. That said, keeping a work-life balance is a challenge for any working mom, being a musician mom is no exception – we all do the best we can!

My daughters like jazz and swing – my older one is exploring other genres in her school orchestra, band and chorus. My little one always asks me to put my record on in the car and knows all my songs by heart!

BG: What inspired you to put together flashmobs? What is that process like?

SS: The idea to create a flashmob came from dancers themselves, and one of the swing DJs that often work with my band (DJ Douglas McMilan). The idea stems from our love for swing music and swing dancing, and is meant to celebrate a great community of swing dancers, and our beautiful town of New York. Because of these factors, we wanted to pick a dramatic spot against which the dancers and the band can be best seen, listened to, and danced to – Times Square!

The infectious vibe of our first event gained momentum for the gathering, and the following summer’s event went viral with several thousand people RSVP-ing, and hundreds of people actually attending. Our flashmob this summer, around SeaGlass Carousel, was profiled on WPIX 11 with live music and dancing at 8am (clearly way too early, but still very cool!). And our last flashmob was, once again, conducted in Times Square on Halloween night, and was listed in Time Out New York as the top free event to do on Halloween. Our next Times Square flashmob will once again take place in Times Square – all the information will be listed on the band’s Facebook page, and the website, where folks can find videos and photos of the last year’s events!

BG: What are you currently working on?

SS: I am currently working up songs for my next album, which will be a Volume Two of Night at the Speakeasy (our first album produced by Guy Eckstine, featuring Wycliffe Gordon). The vibe will remain ‘swing’ and ‘music that makes you smile,’ as the first album did. But, I will continue to develop my voice through the new original songs, some of which may go outside of the swing idiom, while definitely still retaining a vintage feel, and a feeling of ‘social music’ (a term coined first by Miles Davis and today championed by Jon Batiste).

‘Social music’ is music for your mind (sophisticated music played by first rate musicians), your feet (music you can dance and move to!), and your heart (music that will make you feel warm and welcome to the world of art, imagination and music).

I also enjoyed having special guests on the first album and will continue this tradition in the second album. I wrote several songs, some with my songwriting collaborator, Ryan Smith, and received permission to record original songs written, and arranged by, friends and collaborators – Wycliffe Gordon, Jay Rattman, Ruby Choy, and others.

I am also working on the birthday show that will include some of this new material for the performance at Joe’s Pub (date pending for early March).

In honor of the chilly weather flowing across the United States, check out Svetlana’s rendition of Baby It’s Cold Outside.

*This article has been edited and condensed.

How to Have the Ultimate Christmas Family Vacation in Downtown San Francisco

I’m addicted to the spirit of Christmas – so much so that I would happily pull up roots and move to Santa’s Village if the big guy extended an invite.

 

This ever-present craving for all things jolly, cheery and evergreen-y pulled me to downtown San Francisco two weeks before The Big Day. I wanted a chance for my young son, husband and I to get away for a mini and merry trip before we were absorbed into the loving chaos of our extended family.

 

While most Christmas themed areas leave me wanting more (more mistletoe, more lights, more hot chocolate, more classic holiday tunes, more wreaths, more red, more green, and more cheer) I left my holiday getaway to SF full of joy, wonder and peppermint flavored spirits.

 

Have a hankering for your own holiday themed sojourn? Here are events and activities in downtown San Francisco to help you create the ultimate Christmas family vacation.

Read more on Huff Post!

Nobody Told Me Weaning Would Be So Damn Hard

I felt a heavy ball of mourning in the pit of my stomach the last time I breastfed my son; physically, it felt like there was a cheese grater scraping over my nipples (I knew it was time to stop), but emotionally, I felt like we could go on forever. My body had been weaning him for the previous six months, supplying less and less nectar, requiring heightened sucking and ample nip-soreness.

I began the cold turkey weaning with the white lie, “Not right now,” when he would ask to nurse. I was lying to us both, giving him the illusion that at a time that wasn’t “right now” I’d let him nurse, and I was giving my self the illusion that the most intense form of bonding either of us had ever known wasn’t really over.

After a week of “not right nows,” my son and my emotions caught on and we cried hard. Our relationship had forever shifted, and my relationship with my self was thrown into a blender.

Breastfeeding was like my parenting “fail safe”; what I could rely on to make myself feel like a decent parent even if I’d been distracted and totally un-fun that day. It was my mommy reset button.

Read more on Babble!

The Kick-Ass Calendar of Female Empowerment

 

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Photo by Keoki Flagg courtesy gallerykeoki.com

The cover of the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Women of Ski Patrol 2017 calendar makes me proud to be a woman. The image features 13 badass female ski patrollers radiating strength and confidence while hanging from all ends of a gondola: and the fact that all the proceeds from this calendar go towards funding avalanche safety education scholarships amps up my pride level.

In a field predominately filled with men it’s inspiring to see the women that step up to perform avalanche control, respond to injuries on the mountain, and help ensure the overall safety on the mountain, be featured.

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Photo by Keoki Flagg courtesy gallerykeoki.com

The stunning images captured by acclaimed photographer Keoki Flagg do an excellent job of exuding the vibe veteran patroller Robin McElroy describes: “The Squaw Valley Ski Patrol Team draws adrenaline junkies, and I’m definitely in that category. There’s a sense of excitement to our work with starting in the dark and not knowing what the day will bring. There is also an inherent risk of avalanches for anyone who loves skiing powder and exploring our mountains, which is why I believe avalanche education is so valuable. We are proud to have turned a fun idea into a beautiful calendar that will directly benefit our community.”

A native of Anchorage, Alaska, McElroy learned to ski at a young age and grew up ski racing with Alyeska Ski Club and Spyder in Girdwood, Alaska. After joining the ski and snowboarding club at University of Colorado, Boulder, McElroy taught skiing and competed on the Freesking World Tour Circuit before joining the ski patrol at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows in 2006.

Did I mention the term “badass”?

To check out these powerful photos buy your calendar here.

Birth of Fawn Folk: The Family Bundle Service Inspiring You to Follow Your Heart

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Note: I’m not affiliated with Fawn Folk or Ojai Baby, I just LOVE this idea, and supporting change-making mompreneurs.

Visions of dirty factories, underpaid workers, and unraveling threads fill my mind when I flip through children’s clothing at a box store, or browse the digi-mega-marts. I get sad and overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn for quality products that won’t just be good for my son’s skin, but the wellbeing of our global community.

Enter Fawn Folk, an online bundle service delivering gender-neutral, high quality, unique, handmade, fair-trade and organic items to customer’s doorsteps. (Insert a choir of angels humming in my ear.) Score!

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Fawn Folk Bundle

The child bundles will be tailored made to suit the current age of your little one, while the mother bundle will provide goodies that add value and ease to the your life, versus more useless stuff you need to find a place for. A bundle for men is also in the works, honoring the fact that there are many men just as passionate in their role of parent as their partner. How can you go wrong with handmade items, which are prime candidates for becoming heirloom items?

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Fawn Folk Bundle

The founder of Fawn Folk, Lisa July Lynch, is a fellow resident of mine in Ojai, CA, a small town for people with big ideas and even bigger hearts. Lisa is the owner of the brick-and-mortar Ojai Baby store, which is a haven for Ojai parents looking for clothing they can be proud to put on their children. Lisa stands behind her decision to provide artisan fair-trade products explaining, “If we demand high quality fair-trade items for our children and selves more businesses will demand them and that’s the magic, that’s the real change we are looking for.”

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Fawn Folk Bundle

But, Lisa decided that creating change in one already-progressive town wasn’t enough, she wanted to spread the supply and demand of consciously sourced items to the rest of the nation, which is what spawned her new Fawn Folk endeavor. Lisa notes, “The journey [to the launch of Fawn Folk] has been joyous and extremely intimidating; it’s constantly evolving. I have had so much support from my partner and group of friends- their support and belief in my vision is what gets me through the doubtful times.”

Lisa lived by the credo “feel the fear and do it anyways” by allowing her inner-voice and heart to lead her in this “big picture” direction. And she’s not the only one to financially benefit from this heart-based business; part of the mission is to offer products made by “mom and pop” style creators across the United States, and “consignment bundles” whose second-hand, yet superior-quality, items will be provided by parents who send in treasures they love, but no longer have a use for.

Lisa stated, “If I listen to my heart, and provide a space for even more people to be able to listen to their heart, and do what they love while earning income, I can’t imagine a better business choice.”

This cycle of love Lisa has infused into her business was not happenstance. Lisa explained, “Everything has energy, if someone is loving what they are making, or feeling that they are being reimbursed fairly for what they are making, that energy flows into their creations and that energy is transferred to the end user.”

Has Lisa’s journey through fear, heart-fueled triumph, and propagation of love through purpose-driven business inspired you to shift your dreams from shape-shifting ideas to reality?

Here’s her final push for you to say yes to your heart, “Do not be afraid to put yourself out there. Years ago, I drove by the consignment store I wanted to consign my paintings to a few dozen times before I finally stopped the car and took them in. I was sure they would laugh at me. My mom and husband loved my work, but that was probably their obligation. Or so I told myself. All the paintings sold and they called me to paint more. Had I not taken that first step I don’t think I would have opened a retail store, and I don’t think I would be here talking about Ojai Baby and Fawn Folk. Take the first step.”

I’ll do it with you… ready, set, step into your purpose.

P.S. Feng Shui Mommies get 10% off their Fawn Folk purchase, plus a bonus gift, when you enter the code mamatribe at check out.  Yay for surprise gifts!

Go to FawnFolk.com to explore the treasures.

My Mama Mint Experience

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I nestled into a JetBlue Mint seat the morning after the 2016 election results rolled in. I was tired, and in need of nourishment. I was ushered to my space by a flight attendant who smelled like a fresh-linen candle and quickly handed me a “refreshmint” (hehe, good one JetBlue) cocktail.

My first twenty-ish minutes in a plane are usually laced with anxiety, but not this time. As I settled into my cushy airplane nest (a Mint “seat” is much more than a seat) I felt safe, cared for and free of my usual need to wring my hands and breath deeply (in a kind of creepy way) until we reach cruising altitude.

The alchemy of the following Mint elements is what made my experience so… well, minty.

The Nest

I walked onto this flight with a bone deep yearning to bury myself in blankets and check out, and was hoping I wouldn’t be met with the standard itchy, thin and strange-smelling airplane blanket. My nest came with a comforter-esque blanket and full-sized pillow. “Oh yeah,” was on repeat in my mind and body as I laid my seat flat (!), sunk my head into the pillow and cocooned myself into the blanket that easily covered my entire body.

And the partition between myself, and the kind lady seated next to me, saved her from being exposed to my drooling-sleep-face.

The Food

As I slid my seat out of the supine position, my candle-scented flight attendant re-appeared to ask what food I wanted from the small plate menu created by the NYC restaurant Saxon + Parole. The menu read like an ode to edible art, each item unique and begging me to have a try.

After an embarrassing amount of time hemming and hawing (and salivating) over the menu I ordered the Tuscan kale salad, goat cheese tortellini soup and pan-seared halibut with roasted cauliflower.

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Then I ate, and it was everything.

The Drink

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Most wines served on airplanes make me feel hung-over before I reach the bottom of the plastic cup. But JetBlue’s wine-service, curated by wine expert Jon Bonne, only offers the good stuff, like really good stuff; the stuff that makes your taste buds happy, body warm and fuzzy and mind strangely more creative and capable. And the bubbly is just as lovely. (Yes, I tried both. And had them put Bailey’s in my cappuccino.)

The Entertainment

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The blue glow of the large screen situated in my nest knew how to tickle my fancy. Unlimited access to programs I could watch without conferring with another adult and my three-year-old? Yes, please. Although I usually sink my airplane time into work, I let my laptop stay in its case and binged on movies with ratings naughtier than a G, as I took tiny bites of Blue Marble Ice Cream.

The Gifts

My persona can usually be summed up by the words “stale, tired and cranky” halfway through a long flight. So, I wanted to bear hug the flight attendant when she handed me a Hayward “designed for her” kit right as I was entering the “stale” realm. The denim clutch (that is so chic I now use as a clutch) was filled with an orange towelette, lip balm, breath mints, screen cloth, earplugs and a non-itchy eye mask.

Oh, and then there was the farewell gift box of chocolaty, buttery, uber-yummy treats from Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery that served as my dinner when I arrived at Hotel Commonwealth. The apple was nice too.

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The Lack of Arrogance

I adore the “Mint Experience” term versus “business class” or (bleh) “first class.” The lack of snootiness in the terminology employed by JetBlue conveys the message that they offer a special experience I can choose to treat myself to, not an area of the plane I deserve to be in because I’m somehow “better than” the folks sitting in the more affordable seats (the seats I’m usually sitting in.)

As a mom, my alone time usually equals being squished in my car during traffic, but no more. This mama is skipping those daily fancy coffees in favor of saving up for a Mint experience on my next solo flight, because I deserve it, and so do you.