Samantha Taylor is a wife and mother of three from the Orlando area. Before the birth of her third child, she was the associate editor for three lifestyle publications in central Florida. Samantha was recently named Volunteer of the Year for the JCC of Greater Orlando and is a graduate of the Bornstein Leadership Program through the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. In her spare time she enjoys visiting with family and friends, rooting for the Gators, and watching her longtime pal Mayim Bialik on The Big Bang Theory.
I grew up with liberal, Jewish parents in New York and New Jersey. We were surrounded by like-minded families. I doubt my parents even considered asking other parents about the gun situation in their…homes before a playdate. It surely wasn’t on their radar. When I was 8 we moved to Florida. Guns are a big deal here. When I made a new friend at school, my parents helped facilitate a playdate. They were shocked, to say the least, when we entered the home and saw guns mounted all… >> Read More
Today is a very important day in cinema history. Today (October 21st, 2015) is the day that Marty McFly visits the future in Back to the Future II. Today is also a very important day in my family. My…oldest son Joey turns 11. This date is so pivotal in my house that we might as well declare it a holiday. Let me tell you why. Joey, who has a propensity for becoming passionate about certain subjects and learning everything he possibly can about them, has been through many such phases. He became passionate… >> Read More
Last year, when we moved my 10-year-old out of public school and into a private school that would help him with his learning issues, social skills, and anxiety, we knew it was the right move for…him. This year, he started school with no hesitation. He was happy to return to his routine and start fifth grade. The second week of school he got into my car clutching a “Code of Conduct” book they had given the students that day. As we pulled out of the parking lot, his voice started… >> Read More
My boys (ages 10 and 7) have been attending our JCC summer camp for years. The camp includes games, sports, Jewish education, swimming, and weekly field trips. Once you are entering second grade you…get to participate in the highly anticipated, extremely fun sleepovers, of which they do two to three each summer. My older son, Joey, who struggles in certain social situations, has declined to attend every single sleepover for the past four years. He happily goes on the field trips, but asks me to pick him up… >> Read More
When we built the pool in our backyard a few years ago, our boys already knew how to swim. They had taken lessons when they were 3-years-old at the local JCC. Obviously we put up a baby gate to…protect them and visiting children from falling in. But when we had our third baby, she was the first one of my kids to live in a house with a pool and not know how to swim. I live in Florida, where unfortunately I read about drownings on a pretty regular basis. It’s terrifying to… >> Read More
Making new friends is hard, so I was really excited when I started to form a friendship with another mom of a child in my daughter’s My Gym class. We had a lot in common. We each had two boys in…elementary school and baby girls the same age. So we planned a few playdates and found that we really got along. And while I’m Jewish, and she isn’t, this didn’t matter. In fact, as someone who lives in central Florida, I can tell you that most of my mommy friends aren’t Jewish. Totally a non-issue.… >> Read More
As I write this, my husband and my two sons (ages 7 and 10) are live streaming the World Nintendo Championships. They are yelling at the TV. I’m pretty sure I just heard my 7-year-old say, “He…beat that like a boss!” Last night they watched “The Wizard.” My husband is a software engineer for a large video game company. Let’s just say video games are very, very important in my house. Too important. A few years ago when my kids discovered video games, we had limits. They were enforced, and all… >> Read More
Sometimes you have to make a really hard decision for your kids. You gather all of the information you can, talk to your spouse, your parents, and your best friends (in my case ad nauseam) until you…are certain you are making the best decision possible. You make the choice with love, cross your fingers, and make it so. You may never know if it was the “right” decision. All you can do is wait and hope. Approximately three months and three days after we made the very difficult decision to pull… >> Read More
I spent Mother’s Day weekend without my kids, and it was amazing.
I’m not sure when my adoration for Bette Midler began. I used to go to the video rental store and check out “Beaches” on a…regular basis. My mom and I watched it together dozens of times. I loved, LOVED, the movie “Big Business” with Lily Tomlin. They played two sets of identical twins switched at birth. It might have been corny, but I was 9. I loved it. Then she starred in “Gypsy” on television. I watched that musical… >> Read More
One half of my posts on Kveller have been about my 10-year-old son’s issues with school, socialization, and auditory/language processing issues. A third of my posts were about my 1-year-old…daughter, including her hospital stay, breastfeeding, and sleep training. The rest of my posts were general posts about taking separate vacations, why people don’t RSVP, and that time Dr. Oz ambushed me at the grocery store. Of all of my posts, none of them have been about my middle child. Not one. He doesn’t make… >> Read More
As my son made his way through his fourth grade year in public school, it became increasingly obvious that his needs weren’t being met. Despite the school’s best efforts, his language processing…issues weren’t improving fast enough to keep up with all of the academic and social demands of school. He wasn’t engaging in learning. He seemed in a fog to his teachers. And socially, he struggled. He misinterpreted kids’ intentions and took everything personally, complaining that the other students weren’t nice to him. Once we determined… >> Read More
I’m pretty liberal when it comes to most things, but I don’t like drama or controversy. Lately everyone has been in an uproar about vaccinations and the measles outbreak. Several of my friends…have posted “pro-vaccination” links on their Facebook pages. While I agree with them, I haven’t “liked” a single one. I just didn’t want to get involved in the debate. Until now… >> Read More
My husband and I have been married for more than 12 years. In that time, we have taken some pretty great vacations. Together, we have traveled to New York, Las Vegas, California, Boston, and Alaska.…We even attended Comic Con--twice! Once our boys were old enough to enjoy traveling, we took them on some road trips, and even managed to get away by ourselves a few times thanks to some awesome grandparents. >> Read More
So we’ve all been sitting on our couch watching TV, at one time or another, and have seen someone get ambushed at the grocery store. The slender, healthy TV personality (in full make-up) goes…through the chips, soda, cookies, and white bread in the shopping cart and they tell the poor, unprepared mom who just popped in, sans make-up, with her yoga pants on, why her children should not be eating sugary snacks. I never thought it would happen to me. On a random Thursday I popped into my… >> Read More
For my son’s 10th birthday we decided to go all out. We arranged a private showing at the planetarium. We rented a nearby community building for cake and festivities afterwards. The theater holds…60 people, so we decided to invite his entire class along with our family and friends. The graphic designer in my office went to town designing a beautiful invitation based on the show “Cosmos,” since that’s what our son Joey enjoys watching. I had them printed and wrote each of the 24 kids’ names in… >> Read More
I’ve been blessed with good sleepers. All three of my babies were excellent sleepers as newborns, giving me nice long stretches of sleep. I’m lucky, I know. But don’t hate me just yet……because after all of my bragging, karma reared its ugly head and bit me, hard. My daughter, who had been sleeping 10-12 hours a night, hit a regression at 5-6 months. I’m still not sure what happened. I used to be able to place her in the crib and she’d fall asleep on her own,… >> Read More
Recently, my family’s been taken with the new sitcom “The Goldbergs.” It’s an adorable show about a boy (Adam Goldberg) growing up in a (I’m assuming Jewish) family in Philadelphia in the…1980s. It’s got an overbearing, loving mother, a father who just wants to be left alone to nap in his recliner after work, and two older siblings who take turns teasing and embarrassing Adam in the ways that only older siblings can. Throw in 80s pop culture (“Star Wars,”“The Goonies,”“Ghostbusters,” mixtapes, and laser light shows)… >> Read More
When my very bright son’s grades started to plummet, we decided it was time to find out what was going on. In an attempt to help him, we subjected him to a sleep study, neurological exams,…academic exams, and psychological testing. At the same time, Joey was struggling with skills for the standardized tests, so he was taking multiple practice exams and being pulled out of class to work with a reading specialist. He was patient, and handled them all like a champ. Occasionally he’d ask about the testing. We’d give… >> Read More
My husband and I got married young and couldn’t wait to become parents. We both come from families with two children, a boy and a girl. We assumed that we would have two children, and of course,…we’d get one of each. We were elated when our first son was born. He was the first grandchild on both sides. He hung the moon. I was pretty surprised when we got pregnant two years later with, what turned out to be, another boy. He was born just before my older son’s 3rd birthday.… >> Read More
School just started here. With my boys starting first and fourth grade, I’m reminded of when I moved to this small town in 1986, when I was 7 years old. We moved from East Brunswick, New…Jersey to Lake Mary, Florida. Lake Mary is a charming, beautiful suburb of Orlando. It was recently named one of the top 10 places to live for families in Family Circle Magazine. I have no complaints about my parents’ decision to move here. But we might have been among the first Jews to move in.… >> Read More
As a kid, I used to look forward to standardized testing days. For us, it was the CTBS tests, and it meant a day or two of testing and playing board games and eating snacks with our friends when…the testing was over. It was a welcome change to the routine of school. It came and went, and at some point I’m sure our parents got the results in the mail. I have no idea. Anyone with a child in public school now knows that the carefree testing situation is a thing of the… >> Read More
My son Joey is turning 10 this fall. His development has been anything but normal.
Since Joey was 18 months old, we have seen countless professionals who have attempted to evaluate and diagnose…him. None of the doctors, therapists, psychologists, or teachers were ever able to satisfactorily define Joey’s behavior. I often wondered if he was autistic, but that didn’t totally fit. He also exhibits a lot of Asperger’s characteristics, but again, not a complete match. Allow me a moment to give you an idea of what I’m… >> Read More
Readers beware: This post has a little TMI regarding nipples. There, you’ve been warned.
I successfully nursed two baby boys. They each got one year of the good stuff before they weaned to…whole milk. I regularly got calls from friends, and friends of friends, who were having nursing problems. I was the resident expert--always proud and happy to help. While pregnant with my third child, a girl, nursing issues were never on my radar. After all, I had two solid years under my belt. I worried about… >> Read More
My 8-month-old daughter Billie was recently hospitalized for a UTI. It was scary, exhausting, and emotional. She refused to nurse for four excruciating days (don't worry, I pumped). She was…lethargic and had a high fever. But after four long days and nights at an amazing children's hospital, I'm happy to report my little girlie is back home and 100 percent herself. My dad (who was with us at the hospital frequently) always taught me to find the humor in life. After reflecting on our… >> Read More