Nicki Gilbert is a writer and country music lover who lives in the Bay Area with her husband and four kids. She is a regular columnist for J., the Jewish news weekly of Northern California and her work has appeared on NYT Motherlode, Kveller, Mamalode and The Huffington Post. Follow Nicki on her blog at www.RedBoots.me.
My oldest son started high school this year. He is officially the first person in our family to be a freshman, play football, and attend an American high school. My husband and I grew up in South…Africa where “football” means soccer and words like “freshman” do not exist in the lexicon. That first week of school, my newly appointed freshman fielded a lot of questions from his curious siblings and even more curious parents: “Have you made new friends?” “Are your teachers nice?” “Do they know your name?” “Are your classes… >> Read More
Last night I saw orange, and I exploded. My insides burst out of me in a gooey, slippery mess of seeds and stringy fibers, and I know my eyes flashed scarily like a Jack O' Lantern in…the dark. I’m sorry. After a too-schleppy day of school, appointments, ballet, errands, multiple drop-offs and pick-ups in the same place but at different times, dinner was not yet on the table, and the moon was rapidly rising white and full in the dark sky. 7:30 p.m. was not the time to carve pumpkins. And… >> Read More
The thing is, Friday mornings are chaotic. Like all mornings. There are kids to wake, sometimes more than once, school lunches to prepare, breakfasts to make, backpacks to pack (“Why don’t you do…this the night before?”), shoes to find (“Did they walk away in the night?”), reminders to issue (“Brush your teeth! Don’t forget your instrument! Do you have your lunch? What about your backpack?!”). And, on Friday mornings, challah to bake. On Friday mornings, I wake up an extra 15 minutes early. I sneak as quietly… >> Read More
This past Shabbat was a special one.
The spring day dawned typically foggy and cool. The boys poured themselves bowls of cereal and milk for breakfast, and my daughter snuggled deeper into her…blanket on the couch. Four pairs of eyes glued to the DVR’d episode of “Modern Family” on the TV in the family room. A regular Saturday morning. I reminded them all to put their dishes in the sink and to get dressed and ready. “OK, Mom,” one of them mumbled. By now they were all… >> Read More
I am a sucker for fairytales. The magical story set in a faraway land, the hopeful promise of love and adventure in “Once upon a time,” the guarantee of a happy ending. But mostly, I love…fairytales for the messages sprinkled throughout the story like faint sparkles of fairy dust, so bright and elusive that if you blink you might miss them. But if you hold out your hand and let those sparkles gently float into your palm, the wisdom and simple truth will settle into your veins and flow into… >> Read More
Yesterday I did nothing. And by nothing, I mean nothing. I was unmotivated, uninspired, and--unless seasoning the salmon we had for dinner counts for something--woefully unaccomplished. Smoked sea…salt, lemon zest, plenty of dill. >> Read More
The images are gruesome. Heartwrenching. So much blood. I don’t want to see. And for a while I don’t. Not really. I scroll quickly from one post to the next. Four killed in terror attack. Har…Nof. Rabbis. Synagogue. Even as my heart is rushing and the tears are falling, my fingers slow down. To read. And to see. To really see. A blood-soaked tallit (prayer shawl) crouches in crumpled horror. The red-splattered bookshelves stand feebly by. They are a quiet, ueseless protection to the forever stained siddurim (prayer books) they… >> Read More
A boisterous game of “Monkey in the Middle” overtook our family room after Shabbat dinner last week. Astonishingly, nothing was broken and nobody got hurt. Laughter, happy yelling, and lots of…good-natured teasing kept the blue-and-white beach ball airborne and away from the “monkey,” who in this game, was my daughter. My only little girl is a feisty 8-year-old. She holds her own with big green-gray eyes, a smattering of freckles, a knowing smile, and a steely grip amid the three brothers who love nothing more… >> Read More
I call myself a “shitty mom” at least once a day. OK, more than that. A few times a day, minimum. That’s vague enough. Definitely every day those nine letters float across my busy brain.
I…feel like a shitty mom when I don’t walk my kindergartner to his classroom because I need to make my 8:30 a.m. exercise class and he knows the way on his own. When I don’t buy my 8th grader the protractor he needs for tomorrow because I can’t face dealing with the Walgreens parking lot… >> Read More
A crumpled up map of the city of Jerusalem. A ticket from the Israel Museum. A black and red card for my favorite falafel place in Jaffa. A guide to the tunnels under the Western Wall. A…pinkly pale and gray shell I found on the beach in Herzliya. These smudged, damp, and crinkled remnants of our adventures gently spill out of my new turquoise made-in-Israel bag like the fine grains of Dead Sea salt that scattered on the bathroom floor from my bathing suit this evening. It’s almost over, our vacation.… >> Read More
We came to Israel this summer to celebrate.
And for many other reasons, too. Because our kids had never been and we wanted to show them the land of their people, because we love beach vacations…and no matter where you are in Israel you’re seldom further than an hour from an incredible beach, and because the food is amazing (never mind the shwarma and falafel, even frozen schnitzel and french fries are delicious here--especially if you eat them on the beach!). Because you can kayak down the Jordan river and… >> Read More
The turquoise Mediterranean glittered in the late afternoon sun. Smoky barbecue drifted toward me as I helped my daughter and her cousin build sandcastles. No English for one and…no Hebrew for the other, they built a beautiful, sandy city together with nods and smiles, gestures and touches. Up ahead three horses carried their riders toward the dunes. The sun sank lower. The boys played Frisbee. The girls built their castles. The grown-ups drank beer and sparkling red wine, and the dog lay in the cooling sand,… >> Read More
Did you know “nvm” means “never mind”? I didn’t.
My almost-teenage son explained that to me. When he texted me to ask how he could get my online signature for a board he’s applying to.…But when I didn’t reply because I was in a different time zone, he figured out he could ask his dad, so “nvm.” I didn’t understand why he didn’t ask his dad to start with--I was clearly out of town and not very available, or even at all available. And I didn’t know what “nvm”… >> Read More
Sweet face. Naughty smile. Huge brown sparkling eyes that stared straight into mine. We’re not usually at eye-level. He’s only 5.
“Will you, Mom? Get me the sunscreen? Now? Will you get it…for me now?” We were having this conversation eye-to-eye because I was sitting on the toilet. I’d been in the bathroom 30 quiet seconds before he barreled in with all his bursting, small-boy energy. It was only 8:30 a.m.--he still had oodles of it. And he needed the sunscreen, right now, immediately, now, now, now. >> Read More