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Sep 16 2014

Why We Decided to Have Baby Number Three

By at 10:38 am

Now-there-are-three

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. We were all nuts about him. Read the rest of this entry →

My Husband’s Grandmother Cooked in Yiddish

By at 10:02 am

grandmas-cheesecake

A few years before my husband Adam’s grandma passed away, we started asking for some of her recipes so we could record them and continue to enjoy them on holidays. Grandma Jean was the quintessential old world Jewish grandmother. Tiny, with a thick Polish accent, her world centered around food and family. She cooked mostly old-world Ashkenazi dishes, and was very serious about them.

The first Rosh Hashanah Adam and I spent together was in Rio Grande City, in south Texas near the Mexico border. Since none of our friends had ever attended a Jewish holiday celebration, we decided to cook some traditional recipes for them. And since no Rosh Hashanah would be complete without apple cake, Adam called up his grandma to get her recipe. The conversation went like this:

Adam: “Hi grandma, can I get your apple cake recipe from you? We want to cook it for Rosh Hashanah.” Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 15 2014

That Time My Son Felt “Like a Goy”

By at 2:44 pm

baseball-vizel

My 8-year-old son Seth and I were out at a baseball game on Saturday when he suddenly turned to me and said, “Mom, I feel like a goy.”

I was horrified. It never, ever occurs to me not to feel like a Jew. I feel like a Jew the same way I feel like a woman–it’s who I am. When I left the Hasidic community three years ago, people called me a shiksa and said that wasn’t Jewish anymore, that I looked like a goy. It had no meaning to me. It was like telling me I’m not a mother. You can’t tell me that. You can’t tell me I’m not who I am. In fact, since I left Orthodoxy, the more I’ve learned and expanded my horizons, the more I identified with the Jewish feminist movement, the Jewish progressive movement, Jewish literature, Jewish humanism, Jewish values, Zionism, and the Jewish yentas at my Jewish gym.

So I nuzzled Seth’s hair and said, “Honey, why would you ever feel like a goy?”

Read the rest of this entry →

Bronze Statue of Amy Winehouse Unveiled Wearing Star of David

By at 1:51 pm

Amy-Winehouse

A bronze statue of British R&B and soul sensation Amy Winehouse, who died from alcohol poisoning three years ago, was unveiled in Camden Sunday, on what would have been the singer’s 31st birthday.

Designed by artist Scott Eaton, the statue of Amy has a star of David draped around her neck and a live rose perched in her signature beehive.

The unveiling took place in front of her parents, family, and fans who came out by the hundreds to pay tribute. As the statue was unveiled, Amy’s father Mitch Winehouse, who lobbied for its erection, planted a kiss on his daughter’s cheek, reports the Guardian: Read the rest of this entry →

Kveller Exclusive: Q&A with Ione Skye on Her New Yiddish Kids’ Book (Plus a Giveaway!)

By at 11:18 am

Ione-Skye-Author-Photo

Ione Skye solidified her role as teen idol when she played Diane Court in “Say Anything…” alongside John Cusack in 1989. Since then, Ione’s kept herself busy with acting, including a guest stint on “Arrested Development,” as well as becoming a mother of two. She recently added “author” to her list of many titles with the release of her children’s book, “My Yiddish Vacation,” an adorable picture book that introduces kids to the wonderful world of Yiddish. We chatted with Ione about her own Yiddish-speaking grandparents, her family’s unique mix of tradition, and of course, boom boxes.

We’re also giving away three copies of Ione’s book, “My Yiddish Vacation,” to three lucky readers. To enter the giveaway, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

1. We immediately fell in love with the story, the characters, and the language in your children’s book, “My Yiddish Vacation.” What was your inspiration? Read the rest of this entry →

I Felt Uncomfortable Around Kids With Special Needs Until I Had My Own

By at 10:54 am

Moishy-And-Daddy

I’ll be honest: I used to generally try to avoid kids with special needs if I could. Aside from the awkwardness of not knowing how to react or interact, I also failed to understand how families of kids with severe disabilities stayed sane. Feeding, dressing, washing, and changing older kids’ diapers was not my idea of a good time, and I didn’t know how they did it.

Then I had a kid of my own. We didn’t realize it when Moishy was born, but during routine testing when he was 3 months old, they told us that his head was not growing, among other issues, and further testing was necessary. This news sent us on a crazy whirlwind of doctors, hospitals, cat scans, x-rays, and more. Eventually the diagnosis was clear: Our beautiful boy had cerebral palsy and microcephaly.

I looked myself in the mirror and realized that I had to change. Now I had my very own child with special needs. Avoidance was no longer an option. Read the rest of this entry →

A Stay-at-Home Mom’s Favorite Day of the Week

By at 10:01 am

Mondays

I know we’re not supposed to admit it, but stay-at-home moms of school-aged children do have a favorite day of the week, and it’s probably not what you think it is.

It’s Monday.

Like all mothers, I love weekends, the time when the family is together, when my husband is home from work, when we catch up on projects, catch a movie, go out to dinner, and get to spend a little more time together as a family.

But what I really like are Mondays. Yes, Mondays. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 12 2014

My Daughter Lost Interest in Shabbat When She Turned 3–So We Tweaked It

By at 1:11 pm

dancing-girl

We used to love Shabbat in our home. When my daughter was 2 years old we sang “Penny in the Pushke” while she put coins in the tzedakah (charity) box, swayed together to “Moving into Shabbos Time,” kvelled to watch her mirror her Ima’s motions for candle lighting, and melted when we rested our hands on her head to bless her. She loved the taste of grape juice and tearing a big hunk of challah when we finished HaMotzi (the blessing for bread). Every Friday evening felt richly relaxed.

Then our daughter turned 3, and our peaceful Shabbats steadily declined. She grew less patient with the blessings. She pulled on the challah so early the HaMotzi became “baruch ata… NOT YET… eloheinu… WAIT, DON’T PULL… HaOlam, HaMotzi–HEY, BRING THAT BACK!” She whined throughout the blessing over the wine, demanding to hold the grape juice herself. She had to be monitored every moment to not drink early or move in a way that would splash and stain. Our long musical Kiddush (blessing over the wine) was sung faster and faster, with less pleasure. During the meal she would dive under the table to visit our legs.

Worst of all–to us–was losing the blessing over our child. She started squirming beneath our hands, then running away until our once-intimate blessing turned into a chase around the apartment, and we were reduced to hurling the names of the matriarchs at our child’s back. Read the rest of this entry →

Motherhood Brings Out My Superstitious Side

By at 9:45 am

Alicia-Elija

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Ki Tavo. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

Sometimes, during these first few weeks of my newborn son Elijah’s life, I find myself overwhelmed by gratitude for him. I tend to write about the harder parts of motherhood, but in this moment I’m just bowled over by the beauty, mystery, and ridiculous cuteness of this little guy in a froggie onesie.

What do I do with all this raw emotion, this overwhelming love? Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 11 2014

My Sister’s Stillbirth

By at 4:13 pm

stillbirth

On October 31st, 2012, I awoke to a phone call from my sister. “I think I’m going to have a baby today. Maybe baby!” I pretended to be calm and collected and told her I would be right over. She only lives five minutes down the road.

When I got to my sister’s house, her curly-headed 2-year-old Rachie greeted me at the door with a big grin. My sister was trying to stifle her own excitement, knowing that while she had been having steady contractions since 3 a.m., birthing is unpredictable–it could be an hour or a day. As we watched television, she wiggled around on the birthing ball, shifting positions, walking around, breathing deeply as her contractions rose and fell. I was mesmerized. This woman before me, sister of my blood, seemed elevated with grace and knowing even in the throes of her primal ache. What a great laborer, I thought to myself enviously. I wish I could do that.

When it was almost noon, we noticed that the contractions were coming a bit less frequently than the morning. “When they get back from the store, Rachie will nurse,” my sister said confidently. “That will get the contractions going again.” Sure enough, the arrival of her big girl sent strong clenches through her uterus as we awaited the midwife. Not just any midwife, but the woman who had gently steered and caught my son and both my sister’s older children. Read the rest of this entry →

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