12 New Board Games to Add to Your Gift Wish List

board games

Retire the classics for these innovative board games. We live in a board game golden age, but sometimes it’s hard to take a chance and dedicate the time to learning a new one when there are so many classics that have remained popular for many decades. Given the sheer number of board games available today, the endless options often lead us back to a familiar game of Monopoly, Clue, Battleship or any number of staples in our storage closets. Maybe this is the year to break that pattern. Rather than playing the same board games over and over again, here are 12 great contemporary board games to add to the mix. 1. Codenames (2-8 Players) Codenames is Available on Amazon From Czech Games Edition, Codenames is a party game for up to eight players (it works best with at least four). You’ll spread 25 codename cards (out of 200) in a five-by-five grid,        …read more

What Becomes of a Child Prodigy?

child prodigy

How likely is it for a child prodigy to blossom into a successful adult? She-e Wu essentially became a child prodigy the day she noticed a music store. When she was three and a half years old, she and her mother walked past a store where music was playing inside. Wu heard the sounds and pressed her little face to the window. “My mother said it was time to go, and my face was stuck on the door,” Wu says, describing her earliest memory. She refused to leave. “It was the point of no return,” she says. Wu’s mother signed her up for a trial class, and the toddler advanced to percussion lessons when she was six. With a two-step stool, she could reach her teacher’s timpani. Three years later, at the age of nine, Wu booked her first professional gig at the opera. Concertos and competitions soon followed. Wu        …read more

Twinning 101: Sorting Twin Facts from Folklore

twin facts, fraternal twins, identical twins

Identical twins have piqued curiosity for centuries: secret twin languages, ESP, twin trickery. Let’s dig into some twin facts as we attempt to tell the world’s most infamous pair apart: fact and fiction. “They like the same clothes. They like the same food. They like the same boys. But they need different doctors.” This was the 1990 Health Chicago ad campaign that my identical twin sister and I posed for at age 12. It was in some business magazines and on a few Chicagoland billboards. While the ad included cute phrases and identical curly-haired girls, it is clichéd with one of the most common misconceptions about twins: that they like the same things (though it does accurately point out that twins may have different health concerns). Growing up, my twin sister and I were frequently asked certain questions to which we had ready replies: “Do you feel each other’s pain?”        …read more

The Purple Flag and Other Stuff Parents Didn't Worry about in the '80s

the ’80s

Has the world become more dangerous since the ’80s, or have parents become more paranoid? Sometimes I long for the carefree days growing up in the ’80s, sitting around in my Umbros eating SpaghettiOs and Ho Hos with my 5th grade best friend discussing the latest Babysitters Club book as the toddlers we were babysitting sat watching Mister Rogers and drinking Tang. As a parent of young children today, I sometimes find myself feeling envious of parents who raised their kids in the ’80s, in a world of blissful ignorance. In that pre-Columbine world, my parents didn’t think twice about letting me and my twin sister walk four blocks to kindergarten by ourselves. And as I reached my preteens, neighborhood families trusted me to babysit their infants, including four-month-old triplets (by myself!) at age 12 — and not because I was particularly trustworthy, just because I lived nearby. Parents of        …read more

From the Back of My Drawer to the Museum of Broken Relationships

Museum of Broken Relationships

At the Museum of Broken Relationships, I took a stroll through other people’s donated memories...and I was not prepared to feel this way. Stack of books. Stuffed teddy bear. Old sweater. Diet guide. Woman’s slip and thong. Trophy. Diapers. Old cellphone. Pair of jeans. Rusty Jeep. On the surface these items have little meaning, but when you attach a memory and an emotion to such items, they develop into something entirely different. The meaning you imbue them with makes it much harder to discard them from your life. You could send them to a landfill, but it’s painful to send something sentimental to decay amid banana peels and old tires. We may never be able to erase the memory of someone or something, but there is a place that will hold on to them for us. Our emotional artifacts can have a lifelong home at the Museum of Broken Relationships, where the        …read more

Dissecting the Taboo of Polyamory

polyamorous

Are polyamorous relationships just like dating — but more honest and open? It’s put into our minds from a very young age that monogamy is the ideal, that one day we will meet a perfect someone and they will be our whole world, we will start a nuclear family and feel completely romantically fulfilled for the rest of our lives. For many people, however, this is largely fiction. We date people, sometimes several of them at once, looking for the single person who will satisfy our needs. Polyamorous relationships are rarely mentioned, and when they are, they’re often misunderstood. While I love the idea of building a life with someone I adore as much as the next person does, I have a slightly different approach to it. This approach, which despite all the articles you’ll see about millennials not having sex anymore, is growing in appeal and application. Some call it        …read more

What Happens When Mindfulness Meditation Replaces School Detention?

mindfulness meditation

Teachers and parents are discovering the surprising effects of providing mindfulness meditation at school. Many of the young students at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore lead chaotic lives. Some of their parents are in prison, many don’t eat outside of school, and the clothes on their backs are all they own. But as soon as they enter their school, they’re in an oasis of calm. The day begins with 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation. Breathing exercises help these kids leave their troubles at home and enter their safe space, where they can learn and grow. At the end of the day, a similar mindfulness meditation and breathing exercise is repeated for 15 minutes to give them the strength and calm they’ll need to get through the evening. Beginning the day with mindfulness meditation at Robert W. Coleman elementary school in Baltimore. When students are overwhelmed for any reason, they        …read more

Welcome to the Age of the Alternative School

alternative school

A new Chicago-area alternative school joins the American education revolution. In his manifesto Stop Stealing Dreams, modern-day philosopher and writer Seth Godin made the argument for a revolution in the American education system. He argued that public schools are not producing the brave, creative and self-reliant individuals — the ones intent on carving their own paths as artists, inventors, scientists and innovators — that we need for a successful culture and workforce in the connected economy. Instead he argues that the rote memorization, blind obedience, multiple-choice tests and antiquated curricula of the public school system are all tools to prepare students for an industrial era that is slowly dissolving into ancient history. However, since there are huge barriers to change, which are keeping this industrial model alive, Seth calls for parents and teachers to write their own manifestos and start their own alternative school. Because if a revolution is going        …read more

Once Upon a Mother’s Day

Celebrity mom Jenna von Oy dishes on the everyday surprises of motherhood. Once upon a Mother’s Day many moons ago, when I fancied myself a spry whippersnapper and spontaneity was still in my vocabulary (in other words, pre-children), I booked a last-minute flight from Los Angeles to Connecticut to surprise my mom. I snuck up my parents’ driveway and called from my cell phone (the old-school kind the size of a supercomputer), overselling apologies for my absence on such a special occasion. Mother’s Day should involve a celebratory luncheon, movie matinee or all-you-can-drink mimosa bar, I lamented. Or maybe, if one were truly enterprising with her daughterly devotion, it would include all three. I put my acting chops to the test, slathering the disappointment on thicker than Skippy peanut butter. My anticipation mounting, I rang the doorbell and awaited my mother’s response. I even managed to stifle my giggling when she        …read more

Tinder Supersized Me: Here’s why you should get out now

Tinder

Tinder Supersized me. Made me the worst person I could possibly be. Not on purpose. It just happened. Let me explain… Week 1 on Tinder I felt elated. Empowered. Overwhelmed with validation as my matches began racking up by the hundreds. You’re beautiful. Stunning. Wow — you’re so hot. Tell me your thoughts. What did you dream about last night? What’s your family like? It’s refreshing how smart you are — how funny you are — how down-to-earth you are. None of the other girls I talk to are like you. Every compliment I’ve ever wanted to hear. And I gobbled that shit up. Like eating too much on Christmas. Like heroin. First you feel warm, happy and high. But then the sickness…. I don’t think it was Tinder’s intention to be so sinister. But the way I’m put together, the hunger always takes over. And then, after having thrown away        …read more