Do Your Kids do Chores?

Did you know that helping around the house could actually help your kids develop their gross motor skills?

Did you know that there are many benefits of chores for kids? You can use chores to work on gross motor and coordination skills, among others.

A quick online search will confirm that doing chores can teach kids responsibility and perseverance, and may also contribute to better life skills and self care.

There are many chores that are great at helping to develop upper body strength (shoulder girdle stability) and bilateral coordination skills.

Additional benefits of chores that require pushing, pulling or lifting are that they provide lots of proprioceptive input and can be considered “heavy work” tasks.  Taking part in “heavy work tasks” can have a calming influence on a child who is feeling sensory overwhelmed or who is losing focus, and can be helpful as a break during the school day.

Here are a few chores that your child can easily do in order to develop gross motor skills.

Laundry Chores

Folding Large Items

Good For: Bilateral Coordination

Folding sheets and table cloths neatly is always so much easier when you have someone to help you. So rope your child in to help you!

Helping you fold these large items will give your child a chance to practice large bilateral movements.

Folding and Rolling Towels

Good For: Bilateral Coordination

Folding and rolling towels will help your child use both hands together in a coordinated way (bilateral coordination).

These pics show a child folding the towel in half (using his chin to keep it in place) and then rolling the towel so it stacks nicely in the linen cupboard.

Of course, you can also ask your child to continue folding the towel to the size you like it to be.

Actually, any clothes that need to be folded can give your child a chance to work on bilateral coordination skills.

Pushing and Pulling Chores

Sweeping, Mopping and Vacuuming

Good For: Bilateral Coordination, Shoulder Girdle Strengthening, Proprioception

Let your child help you with sweeping, mopping, and/or vacuuming, as these are great bilateral activities.

Sweeping, mopping and vacuuming all involve pulling and pushing so they are good “heavy work” tasks which can build shoulder girdle strength and stability as well as being good for proprioceptive input.

You may need to show your child how to hold the handle with both hands in an effective way, as it does not come naturally to many kids.

You may also need to consider the size of the broom/mop/vacuum cleaner to make sure it is not too large for your child to work with.

Cleaning Windows

Good For: Bilateral Coordination, Shoulder Girdle Strengthening

Cleaning windows is another cleaning task that kids love! Washing windows can also help strengthen your child’s shoulder girdle muscles as your child will be working against gravity on the vertical surface.

Let your child use a window cleaner sponge/squeegee to clean your house windows, or even your car windows. Encourage your child to have both hands on the handle at all times for best bilateral benefit.

Cleaning With A Cloth

Good For: Bilateral Coordination, Shoulder Girdle Strengthening

Have your child clean the car, a table or any other surface using both hands together on a soft cloth.

Show your child how to use back-and-forth movements as well as circular movements with both hands on the cloth. This is also a great activity for toddlers and preschoolers, who will probably enjoy wiping down any surface even if it does not need it!

The ultimate aim is to get both hands moving together in a coordinated way, not to get a perfectly clean surface 🙂 so you may need to go back and finish it off later, but your child will have a lot of fun doing this with you!

Cleaning a vertical surface also helps to work the upper body and may help strengthen the shoulder girdle muscles – so you can use their enthusiasm to wipe down walls and blackboards as well!

Thank you to Tracey le Roux. OT Mom Learning ActivitiesTM & OT Mom E-BooksTM & OT Mom Free PrintablesTM & Mamá TOTM

Pesach Doughnuts

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • sprinkles, chopped nuts, coconut, or orange zest, for garnish

Glaze

  • 1 cup Gefen Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius).

2. Beat eggs and sugar in a bowl with a whisk or hand mixer until frothy. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix very well. Pour into well-sprayed doughnut molds (see tip) and bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely.

3. Mix glaze ingredients. Dip doughnuts in glaze. Garnish with sprinkles, chopped nuts, or orange zest.

Tips

To make doughnuts without doughnut molds, cut pieces of aluminum foil to approximately 4 x 4 inches (10 x 10 centimeters). Using your left index finger as a guide, form the foil into a mold with the center column coming up about two inches (five centimeters). Press the rest of the foil into a cupcake pan so it covers the bottom and comes slightly up the sides. Spray extremely well with cooking spray.

Recipe from Kosher.com

Pesach Survival Guide

Do you break into a sweat, just thinking about the upcoming holidays? Do you cringe at the thought of awkward moments you are sure to have, the looks or comments from family members when your child is having a tantrum because he can’t express himself? How will everyone react or respond? These are some of the thoughts and fears I have had over the years, and you may have as well.

Handling a holiday with a child that has special needs has its own unique challenges. We know that holidays are supposed to be an exciting and meaningful time for families to reunite, celebrate, and practice both religious rituals and family traditions, but sometimes holiday gatherings aren’t magical. Sometimes they’re more stressful for us than the average family. The hubbub of family celebrations and parties can overwhelm those with sensory issues. The vacation from school and work, means a break from routine, something that kids with special needs and their parents depend on, and your child may find it a bit unsettling. Many families travel, facing traffic and long airplane rides. How can anxious, easily frustrated or fragile children hope to survive all that?

Here are some tips that I hope will help ease the stress and make your holidays and family time less stressful and more enjoyable for all!

Plan ahead! Plan ahead! Plan ahead!

When it comes to having a child with special needs extra considerations often arise. Not only will you have to prepare the usual things, like food, clothes, and everything else your family needs, plus you must plan for your special child and his needs— what to take, who will be there, when to arrive, when to leave, where and how they will sleep, will you need a wheel chair or medical equipment? First if your child is verbal, have a conversation with him/ her (from here on we’re going to say him). Discuss how you expect him to behave and don’t shy away from specifics. Let him know the rules, what he should expect, and what is expected of him. You will have to keep reminding him over the holiday, so it stays fresh in his mind each day. Talk to your hosts as well. It is sometimes necessary to prepare your relatives, so they have realistic expectations.

As a parent, you never want to put your child in a situation where he will fail. If there’s a family member who insists on kisses from the children, let her know—in no uncertain terms—not to include your child in that ritual. If your child is nonverbal and doesn’t understand that if he breaks his cousins Lego tower, his cousin will get upset, you may want to speak to his cousin, and the other children, before they interact, and explain that your child doesn’t understand what he is doing.

Ask

This might or might not work. Getting along with cousins and other kids they don’t see often can be a challenge. Just because kids are approximately the same age doesn’t mean they will be natural friends, but they should still try to get along (with adult support if needed). If your child gets frustrated easily, when he doesn’t get his way, encourage him to share and be polite with his cousins. Rule of thumb, let kids try to settle their own arguments. Parents shouldn’t get involved, until it’s absolutely necessary. When it comes to a child with special needs, he can also try to work things out, but if conflict arises, they can’t settle things amicably, and he needs your support, let him know that he should find you. Family gatherings can be teachable moments. Just because you’re family doesn’t mean that everyone gets along well with everyone else. Let kids know that family is important and sometimes you must deal with people you don’t really like, but you should try to get along. As parents, you are probably doing the same with some relatives, this is a good time to model positive social behavior. If it can’t be avoided, distance your child and yourself from people who cause conflict, to keep the peace. As far as “well meaning” friends or family members who have “the answer” or advice, whether you asked for it or not, smile and say, “thank you.” Try to let the insensitive comments roll off your back (at least in front of everyone). You don’t have to agree or disagree, and you don’t have to do what they say, but you can have grace and gratitude. I must admit it is not going to be easy. My tongue has many scars from the bite marks it has had to endure over the years, but it needs to be done to get through the holiday peacefully.

If possible, bring a caregiver or baby-sitter, so he can be watched at all time.

I know this doesn’t always fit into everyone’s situation, but if it is possible, do it. You’ll be happy you did. You will be a lot calmer and you may even be able to sit, eat, and enjoy a conversation with the other adults.

Try to keep to a routine as much as possible

We love the holidays because they give us a break from our everyday routines, but that can also make them more stressful— especially for kids who find routine comforting. Try to keep some things constant, like meals or bedtime, even if the actual time is different, at least keep to the routine of bedtime. Your child will miss the structured day and activities he has in school, so keep him occupied. If you are traveling, pack a bag with multiple activities that he enjoys, a tablet is great because you can do so many things with it—watch a favorite show, play a game, listen to music, etc. If he is capable, let him help out, set the table, push the wagon in the supermarket, or even make a gift for your host. Helping will not only keep him busy, it can be meaningful to him at the same time.

If possible, plan ahead for quiet time, to decrease the over-stimulation, which could lead to a meltdown. If possible, arrange for another room that he can use when he needs a break to either chill out or take a nap. Remember, he’s just a kid; some holiday traditions depend on kids being on their best behavior. Try to keep lengthy meals and family gatherings to a minimum and customize festivities to your child’s frustration level. Managing your own expectations of what the holidays “should” be like is the most essential step. As parents, we should check in with ourselves about our expectations, and we should not extend them to our kids. It would be great if the kids could sit at the table and eat a nice holiday meal with us, but that isn’t reality. They are incapable of doing this and can’t sit still or stay quiet for a long time. It is important to appreciate that kids might find fun in other things, like helping out or playing with their cousins or running around outside, and that is ok.

Identify one or two things you would like your kids to get out of the holiday—an idea, a value, a memory of doing something special as a family—and work on achieving that. Above all else, give yourself a break, you can’t make everyone happy, and the perfect holiday is nonexistent! It’s something you only see in movies.

Unlocking Wisdom: Valuable Tips from Victoria Safdieh, founder of CARE and mom to children with special needs

13 Secrets to Pesach Cleaning Your Home in Half the Time

1. Have a System

Cutting your cleaning time in half starts with a system. That means cleaning the house in the same order every time: working one room at a time, and starting and finishing at the same spot in a room so that you don’t waste time running back and forth.

To get the time down, you have to be consistent. You do the same thing every time you clean, so it is a routine. The routine is the method, and that is an inherently better way to clean because the speed comes from the method instead of from hurrying. You really can clean your house in half the time.

2. Clean Top to Bottom, Left to Right

Don’t start a room by wiping the coffee table, then cleaning the blinds, only to watch the dust from the blinds coat your newly cleaned coffee table. Start at the top of the room, such as dusting a ceiling fan, and work your way down to the floor to eliminate redundant work.

Likewise, cleaning left to right ensures that you cover the entire room instead of darting from place to place.

“Most people see something and clean it, then they look up and see something else and clean it, and the dirt falls down on what you just cleaned,” Debbie Sardone says. “If you work top to bottom and left to right, you’re working once instead of cleaning areas you’ve just cleaned.”

3. Keep Proper Tools Handy

Having all the tools and cleaning products you need at arm’s reach means you won’t waste time walking back and forth to the cabinet under the sink. Place your supplies in a caddy or a bucket to stay organized and save time.

“If you hired a carpenter and he went up and down a ladder every time he needed a nail, you’d never tolerate it,” Sardone says. “You want him to have everything with him. You can do the same with cleaners.”

4. Squeegee Windows for a Streak-Free Finish

Can’t get the shine you want with Windex and paper towels? Author and speed-cleaning expert Laura Dellutri’s weapon of choice is a professional-grade window squeegee. Place a drop of dish soap in a gallon of water, wipe it generously on the window with a cloth, then squeegee it off. “Go top to bottom and wipe the blade each time at the bottom,” she says. “You’ll get a window that is streak-free.”

If you don’t want to use a squeegee, use a glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth. When wiping with the cloth, use horizontal strokes and move from top to bottom. Don’t clean a window by rubbing in circles, which can leave streaks, and avoid wiping the glass with newspaper or paper towels, which leave a residue.

5. Get Proactive



Running Water in a Shower. Modern Bathroom Interior.

The best way to keep a clean home is to stop some problems in their tracks before they ever begin. For example, use a shower cleaner to prevent grime and scum buildup in the bath. You can spray it on and walk away. Every time you take a shower, spray it on to prevent having a dirty shower. Spray it on, rinse, and walk away. You don’t have to wipe or anything.

6. Cut Through Kitchen Grease



Domestic female hand wearing gloves cleaning dirty stove after cooking using sponge for washing. Woman housewife enjoying daily household close-up top view

Grease inevitably ends up on kitchen cabinets, especially those above or next to the range. You can buy a cleaner with orange oil to wipe off the grease, or you can use a standard grease-cutting dishwashing detergent. The detergent will cut through the grease on the cabinets just like it does with dishes.

Mix one tablespoon of liquid detergent with a gallon of warm water. Test the solution in an inconspicuous area, wiping it on with a clean sponge or cloth, to make sure it won’t damage or discolor the finish. Then rinse it off with a different sponge and warm water.

For tough stains or buildup that won’t come off with detergent, mix baking soda with water and lightly scrub the problem area with a cloth.

7. Whip Out The Lemons

Rust stains on patios, porches, garage floors, and driveways are eyesores, but you don’t need acid to remove them. Instead, use a lemon. The acid in the lemon juice will dissolve the rust. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze the juice onto the stain and let it soak in for about 10 minutes. For stains that have been on the concrete for weeks, months, or longer, scrub with a hard bristle brush. Then rinse off the lemon juice and gunk with clean water.

8. Battle Bathroom Mold

Mold haunts bathrooms that aren’t well-ventilated because water remains on the walls after bathing. Use hydrogen peroxide in a trigger-spray bottle to battle mold and mildew. Spray it on, let it sit 3 to 5 minutes, and it will kill the fungus.

To keep mold from coming back, use a fan when showering. When you’re done, take a couple of minutes to squeegee the water off the tile walls and shower door.

9. Make that Faucet Sparkle

If mineral deposits from hard water have stained your faucet, don’t clean them with bristle brushes or pads. They can scratch the faucet. Instead, use white vinegar. Pour some on a clean cloth and wipe the faucets. It doesn’t take much effort to make them sparkle!

10. Keep Stainless Steel Shining

Fingerprints, smudges, and watermarks are the enemies of stainless steel sinks and surfaces. Mineral Oil can help you beat them. Pour some mineral oil on a cloth and wipe it down once a week. This repels the water. The mineral oil also helps keep toothpaste and other items from sticking to the sink, making it easier to wipe clean.

11. Make Friends with Magic Erasers

We’re big fans of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. They take stains off when nothing else will! Keep a couple in your caddy when you’re cleaning.” The Eraser is ideal for cleaning walls and almost any floor surface, including wood, laminate, and tile.

12. Clean the Microwave Like a Champ

The inside of your microwave probably looks like a war zone. Unfortunately, baked-on food—especially if it has been sitting for days or longer—can be tough to remove.

The trick: Have the microwave help you. Put a coffee cup full of water in the microwave and heat it up until it’s boiling hot. “This creates moisture that loosens up anything on the top, sides, or bottom of the microwave”. Then take a damp cloth and wipe the surfaces clean.

13. Vacuum in Rows

The secret to effective and efficient vacuuming: Do the entire length of the room in a straight row, then move over and start again at the front of the room.

4 Easy Tips To Avoid Homework Struggles

Sometimes it can take an hour to do one piece of homework that should only take 10 minutes! AND by the time you finally finish, you may feel like a horrible parent for threatening, yelling, and losing your mind.

Any parent with school kids knows that getting a kid to do homework is no walk in the park. Especially when the weather is nice out and spring fever is everywhere.

When intense emotions, sensory differences, or anxious feelings are added into the mix, it’s more like trudging through a sea of mud with iron boots and 5 children on your back.

While there isn’t a magic option to make it perfect, homework struggles can decrease drastically by implementing a few simple strategies.

1. Turn Homework into a Game!

The Egg Timer Game offers your child an incentive for dedicating a certain amount of time to doing homework.

Start by agreeing some goals with your child and then assign a specific reward for when each time period is complete.

For example, you might agree that if your child works uninterrupted for 20 minutes (use a stopwatch or egg timer for added fun) they’ll get 20 minutes of play time – playing their favorite computer game or riding their scooter.

Just make sure that your child understands the bigger picture when it comes to playing the game. You want to them to associate their homework with getting better grades, rather than just receiving treats.

The Playing Teacher Game

They say if you want to learn something, go teach it. The Playing Teacher Game involves a little role reversal and lets your child step into the role of educator. This game works particularly well with subjects that require theory, like Science, for example.

Have your child explain a concept to you as a teacher. Get them to stand up at the front of the class and fully take on the role.

By having them teach you, their understanding of the concept will improve as they begin to fully appreciate the logic and reasoning behind the idea.

2. Do a Little Movement Before

School is long and takes a lot out of many kids.

Being able to come home and have a little time to recharge can be so great for kids.

Maybe switch homework time from after school to early morning. Or decide to do it after dinner.

Be flexible and allow your child to help you think of a solution that works for everyone.  Activities like these that help children stay calm and focus are great for getting the body and brain recharged to be able to think again.


3. Provide a Suitable Learning Environment

A quiet room without distractions makes for a good homework space!

How encouraged would you feel to study if your space was a cluttered kitchen table? One way to encourage your children to do homework is to make sure that they have an inspiring place to do it. If your home has a study or office, let them use the room for ‘homework time’.

In order to create a stimulating study environment, your child needs a well-lit room that’s quiet, comfortable and free from distractions. Remove any tablets, phones, or other gadgets so that they can fully commit their time to studying.

It’s equally important that your child has all the resources that they’ll need. Make sure they have paper, pens, a calculator and other stationary and have a laptop on hand that they can use for research if needed.

4. Have a Homework Routine in Place

One of the best ways to encourage children to do their homework is to have a study routine. If your child follows the same routine every night, they’ll be more likely to do their homework without protest.

An effective homework routine could look like this:

  • Homework begins at 7 pm, after dinner
  • It’s completed in a quiet room with no distractions
  • If they get stuck on something, they move on to the next tasks and come back to it at the end.
  • Nothing else gets done until the homework is completed

We hope these tips ease the daily homework battles!

Easy and Healthy WRAPS

Spinach Feta Wrap Recipe

Talk about a breakfast wrap! This Spinach, Feta & Egg White Wrap is stuffed with cheesy goodness and bursting with bold Mediterranean flavors!

Ingredients

  • 1 wrap or large burrito
  • 1/2 tsp oil from sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh spinach roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes in oil chopped
  • 1 tsp each: garlic powder & Italian seasoning
  • pinch of salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (120g)
  • 3 Tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese (21g) use freshly shredded for the most cheesiness!
  • 2 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese (14g)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Spray a skillet with cooking spray and set to medium heat. Add the oil. When warm. Add the spinach and saute until wilted. Then stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
  • Shake egg white carton and pour over spinach mixture. Stir a few times to make sure everything is mixed evenly then cover and let sit to form an egg patty.
  • Lay lavash bread out. Place egg patty in the center then sprinkle evenly over top with both cheeses.
  • Fold by rolling up like a burrito with the bottom-side sealed. Spray the burrito with cooking spray on both sides then place in the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 5-10 minutes, flipping halfway, or until desired crispiness. Then cut in half, and enjoy!

Recipe from Lauren Fit Foodie

Grilled Zucchini Hummus Wrap

INGREDIENTS 

  • 1 whole zucchini ends removed and thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tomato sliced (or handful of cherry tomatoes)
  • 1/8 cup sliced red onion
  • 1 cup kale tough stems removed
  • 2 slices white cheddar or chipotle gouda cheese
  • 2 large tortillas
  • 4 tablespoons hummus

INSTRUCTIONS 

  • Heat a skillet or grill to medium heat.
  • Remove the ends from the zucchini and slice length wise into strips. Toss sliced zucchini in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Place sliced zucchini directly on grill and let cook for 3 minutes, turn and cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Set zucchini aside.
  • Place the tortillas on grill for approximately one minute, or just until grill marks are visible and tortillas are pliable.
  • Remove tortillas from grill and assemble wraps, 2 tablespoons of hummus, one slice of cheese, zucchini slices, 1/2 cup kale, onion and tomato slices.
  • Wrap tightly and enjoy immediately.

Recipe from Maebells

Grilled Chicken Wrap

Ingredients

  • chicken breasts boneless and skinless, sliced into cutlets, 650g in total
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic granules
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil if frying
  • flour tortilla wraps
  • 4 large iceberg lettuce leaves
  • ½ cup ranch dressing 

Instructions

  • Season the chicken cutlets with smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic granules, salt, and pepper.
  • Heat oil in a pan, or a grill pan, or preheat your outdoor grill.
  • Place the seasoned chicken cutlets on the grill or pan, and cook on both sides until the chicken is cooked through. The internal temperature of the center of the chicken must be at least 165°F (75°C).
  • Remove the chicken from the grill, and allow it to rest on a plate for 5 minutes.
  • Cut the chicken up, and assemble the wrap.
  • To assemble, on a tortilla bread, layer lettuce leaves, followed by chicken and a drizzle of ranch dressing. Seal the tortilla and place the wrap on the grill (or lightly oiled grill pan). Cook for a minute or 2 on both sides, then remove and slice the wraps in halves and serve.

How to get through Purim day

Do you know the feeling you get when leaving for a party? The combination of excitement, and worry, what to expect, wear, talk about. For kids with special needs, this feeling can be constant and exaggerated. There is nothing more wonderful than gathering with family and friends to celebrate the holiday. We enjoy getting dressed up, giving mishloach manot, going to hear the megillah, eating the meal with family, loud music, continuing fun traditions and creating memories we treasure for years to come.

For children with special needs, Purim, with all the fun it comes along with, can have the potential to be very overstimulating and difficult to get through. Participating in these gatherings and traditions can go from wonderful to awful all too quickly. Large family gatherings and loud noise can offset your child’s typical routine and daily structure. Going to shul could be out of the question for some children with special needs. The child may not be able to sit quietly throughout the megillah and could disrupt you and others. Sometimes the family gathering is in an unfamiliar place, or the meal has unfamiliar food. Costumes can usually trigger sensory issues to the point of tears. While you want to make your child part of the festivities, sometimes it is impractical and too much for the child to bare. If it is too much all together to include this child in the festivities of the day, or too much for you or the rest of the family, allow the child to sit this holiday out. Sometimes, as much as we want to include the child in everything, it’s just too much. The child might be better off staying home and continuing with his/her normal routine. He/she won’t feel bad that they are missing out and will be happier without the anxiety and stress of the day. Ultimately, so will you and the rest of the family.

If you feel the child can manage the day, here are some pointers to consider preparing in advance to help everyone in the family enjoy a much better holiday.

1. Adjust expectations-we all have expectations going into the day. Let’s try and make those expectations ones that aren’t too high and will not disappoint us at the end of the day. We want to enjoy every conversation and fully engage with family. We want to enjoy the mitzvot of the day. However, your child might need you throughout the day and you might have to shift your focus sometimes. You may need to step out of the house and take your child for a walk to reset. Adjust your expectations and simplify them. I have learned that if I choose to enjoy the simple moments of the day, I will end up content in the end.                         

2.Gather the details of the day; by knowing what the day will bring, you could better prepare for it. Find out the different times for megillah readings, so you can organize your day accordingly. Find out what time you are expected to arrive and leave the meals.  Is there a space available for your child if they need alone time or to rest? As you gather the details and expectations, you can make decisions on how best to prepare.

3.Prepare a bag to take along– a few simple things can make all the difference. A comfort item, or preferred toy, change of clothes, headphones or tablets (no!! it doesn’t make you a bad parent). It is a long day; bring anything that will help your child feel comfortable.

4.Gather your “team”- don’t go into this day alone. If you have an aid or respite worker, plan to take them along with you. Talk to your spouse and other children so you can face this day together. Make a game plan, take turns with your spouse and other children watching, feeding, keeping the child busy, or going out for a walk. Having a team and planning together prevents potential tension and frustration that can build up as you try to do everything on your own.

5.Give yourself permission to step away or do what is best in that moment. Don’t push your child beyond what is reasonable. If it’s best for your family to leave early, do so gracefully. You can always follow up later with a phone call or text, thanking the host for the time that you were able to share together.

At the end of the day, keeping in mind the story of Purim and how the situation seemed dark and bleak. Venahafochu, Hashem turned things around and brought about salvation and light at the end of a long dark tunnel.

Unlocking Wisdom: Expert Tips from Victoria Safdieh, founder of CARE and mom to children with special needs

Linzertashen

The Perfect Purim Cookie!

Cook time:  12 mins

Total time:  12 mins

Serves: 20 cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) trans-fat free margarine
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1⅔ cups all purpose flour
  • 1⅓ cups ground hazelnuts (almonds will work as well)
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting
  • Jam of your choice, for filling (can use mixed berry)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In the bowl of a mixer on medium speed, cream together margarine and sugar until combined and creamy.
  2. Add egg, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Beat to combine.
  3. Turn the mixer to low speed and gradually add the flour and ground nuts; mix until just combined.
  4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in fridge to chill for at least a few hours, up to overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll a portion of the dough to a little less than ¼ inch thickness. Use a triangle cookie cutter (or a knife) to cut large triangles out of the dough; place on prepared baking pan.
  7. Use a small triangle cutter (or a knife) to cut a hole in the center of half of the cookies.
  8. Bake for about 12 minutes, until firm. Set aside to cool completely.
  9. Repeat with remaining dough and scraps from between the cookies.
  10. Separate the cop cookies (with the holes cut out) from the bottom cookies. Dust the top ones with powdered sugar.
  11. Place a small spoonful of jam in the center of each bottom cookie. Place a top cookie over it, then gently press down to spread the filling and push it up through the hole a bit.

Note:

  1. The dough is easiest to work with when cold, so roll half or a third at a time, and keep the rest in the fridge.

Variation:

Instead of jam, you can use chocolate spread, which will go nicely with the flavor of the hazelnut in the cookies.

To make these year round, you can cut them into a more traditional round shape, or the shape of your choice, such as a heart.

Plan Ahead:

  1. These cookies can be frozen in an airtight container. However, the powdered sugar will dissolve in the freezer, so for prettiest results, freeze the unassembled cookies, then dust with powdered sugar and fill just before serving.

Author: Miriam Pascal, OvertimeCook.com

3 Ways to keep kids Safe

For families with young children, especially children with special needs, these safety items can bring an additional peace of mind guarantee. If your child wanders off, you can easily locate them and bring them home safely.

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