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Oct 29 2014

I Didn’t Want to Spoil My Kids, So I Gave Them All Credit Cards

By at 11:46 am

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I refused to raise spoiled, entitled kids.

So for their 15th birthdays, I gave each of them a credit card.

They got to charge their expenses, and I paid for it.

I am a careful shopper and look for quality at an off price. I was a Loehmann’s shopper, Filene’s shopper (may they rest in peace) and now I primarily shop in department stores or online when there are sales, clutching my additional discount coupons in my sweaty little hands. Read the rest of this entry →

Hey Kids, You Have a Choice–Grumpy Mama or Fun Mama?

By at 10:14 am

photo (11)

“Mama, we’re booorrrrrrred,” the kids whined while I was under the covers, one eye open.

“You have a choice: Grumpy Mama can wake up now, or Fun Mama can wake up later.”

The two deliberated for a minute, and my daughter whispered something in her brother’s ear.

“Fine. Fun Mama, later.” Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 28 2014

The Softer Side of Sleep Training

By at 3:53 pm

softer side of sleep training

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, sucking her two little fingers. When she cut her bottom teeth that must have bothered her. The glorious finger-sucking stopped, along with long naps and nighttime sleep. Before I knew it, she was waking up 4-6 times per night. I didn’t know what else to do, so I nursed her back to sleep each time. She’s in her own room, in a crib. This was exhausting. I never knew when she was going to wake up. As exhausted as I was, I was afraid to fall asleep because she could wake up at any time, and waking up after being asleep for 20 minutes is the worst kind of torture. I was averaging 3-4 hours of broken up sleep each night.

Naps were a joke. I’d nurse my daughter to sleep, and place her in the crib. But she wouldn’t have it. I had a choice. She’d either get the sleep she needed by sleeping on me, or she’d wake up after five minutes of nursing. Read the rest of this entry →

So That’s Why Women Don’t Usually Travel in Their Eighth Month

By at 2:02 pm

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For my 36th birthday, my husband took me out to dinner and a show in San Francisco, an hour north of where we live with our three kids. This was exciting mostly because we were an hour north of our three kids, and also, because we were celebrating not only my birthday, but also that morning’s pink line on my home pregnancy test. We felt both giddy and overwhelmed by the news, and were happy to be out, distracted.

We saw “The Book of Mormon,” and, as observant Jews, it hit close to home. We laughed and laughed. We were laughing at the show, and, by extension, at the Mormons, just as we were also laughing at ourselves, modern people of an ancient faith living a life of contradictions, trying hard to make sense of the traditions and stories that shape so much of our lives, so many of our decisions. Our laughter was uncomfortable, for we saw ourselves on that stage, and were afraid of the possibility that we too were living in an absurd world of illusions, dreaming of Orlando. Read the rest of this entry →

When Having a Baby Isn’t an Option

By at 11:43 am

I Lost My Womb But I Found A Community

It was a difficult time, the Shabbat before my hysterectomy. Though I had already had a procedure called a uterine ablation, actually losing the organ was more difficult than losing any vestige of fertility. At least with my uterus still in place, I could go to Israel, as I regularly did, and pray and weep at the holy sites. I believed, like Hannah in the Torah, that a miracle was possible.

But on that final Shabbat before my last surgery, all hope was gone. So when a heavily pregnant woman walked into shul, it was more than I could take. I barely made it out the door before I was sobbing. My friends found me weeping on the bathroom floor. Read the rest of this entry →

How My Family Will Celebrate This Year’s “Shabbatoween”

By at 9:42 am

How My Family Will Celebrate This Year's "Shabbatoween"

Growing up, Halloween was never something I celebrated. My Orthodox parents didn’t think it was appropriate for their children to go around trick-or-treating, and since most of my friends’ parents felt the same way, it was never something I felt I was missing out on. (Besides, we had Purim, which to me was just like Halloween, minus the spooky stuff.)

My husband, on the other hand, grew up trick-or-treating and loved it as a kid. So last year, when my son was almost 2, we decided to take him trick-or-treating, and he had a blast (even though we confiscated the vast majority of his candy once we got home, as we weren’t about to give him free reign over his stash). I know Halloween is one of those gray areas for a lot of folks who are Jewish—after all, celebrating Halloween is not the same thing as celebrating Christmas or Easter, but it doesn’t seem to be as accepted a holiday as Thanksgiving, which many observant Jews celebrate without hesitation. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 27 2014

Is There a “Reboot” Button for My Teenage Son?

By at 4:13 pm

Looking for a “Reboot” on My Teenage Son

As the mother of an almost-14-year-old male specimen, I have extensive experience with teenage development and behavior. This specimen is one that I have researched thoroughly for recurring patterns of maturation as well as chronological brain development, physical, social, and emotional milestone achievement, and other intangibles such as resiliency and societal awareness. I have charted each point of development and checked in with appropriate medical staff to determine success as well as possible areas of concern. I have invested high quantities of unconditional love and clocked in well over one million billable hours. I have made sure to allow for mistakes, self-learning, and personal advocacy whenever possible, and use natural consequences as a way to learn and avoid repetitive mistakes.

So after this immense investment, why does this specimen suddenly need a re-boot? If my iPhone functioned this way I would do a full system reset or ask for an update to fix the issue. Read the rest of this entry →

I Can’t Teach My Kids How to Be Organized, But I Can Teach Them This

By at 1:40 pm

I Can't Teach Them Organization, But I Can Teach Them This

My college years were a blur of last-minute study sessions and lost homework. Although I managed to graduate from Penn State with a respectable GPA, I paid for it in years of “forgot to study for my final” nightmares.

You would think that I would have learned my lesson after all those stressful college moments. But I didn’t. Over the years, I’ve missed appointments, lost passports, even booked hotels in the wrong city. When these things happen, my husband, the engineer, just shakes his head in disbelief.

Although he tries very hard to be patient with me, I know that my flightiness has caused him some hardships. (Ask him about the time I insisted that the travel agent said we could park our car ON the cruise ship…or about the time we hosted a Passover seder and the guests had to use spatulas and serving spoons to eat because I didn’t have enough silverware.) Read the rest of this entry →

Eight Secrets for Getting Your Kids to Eat Everything

By at 9:58 am

vegetables at the market

Last year, my daughter Julian and I stopped in front of a vegetable stand at our local farmers’ market. Without even pausing to consider what it would taste like uncooked, my 5-year-old grabbed a piece of raw okra and popped it into her mouth. Moments later, she pronounced it “crunchy and wet” and started filling our bag with handfuls of the green vegetable.

The mom standing next to us gasped, pulled at my shirtsleeve, and desperately insisted I tell her my “secret” for getting my kids to “eat healthy.” To her great disappointment, I explained I didn’t have a secret. Julian recommended she start with the okra and we parted ways.

Each time I’m at the market I hope I run into that mom again because I have since come up with a better answer. Here are my eight not-so-secret rules to get your kids to eat everything:

Rule #1: Let Your Kids Taste Anything Someone Hands Them Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 24 2014

I Care Less About Chores, More About Kindness

By at 1:59 pm

i case less about chores, more about kindness

This summer, my son wore his bathing suit and swim shirt for five days in a row—he slept in his bathing suit, wore it swimming the next day, and to bed that night. He did this for about five different weeks throughout July and August.

My kids (13 and 11) don’t make their beds every morning. They don’t do their own laundry either. Or take out the garbage. Ditto for loading the dishes in the dishwasher. Sometimes I feel guilty that they don’t help out more around the house. Once in a while I’d like my son to put on a clean shirt and brush his hair. But truthfully, I don’t care that much.

Before you start thinking that my kids are spoiled, entitled or just plain slobs, and before you think that I’m an indulgent parent, let me tell you what I do care a great deal about—I care deeply that my kids are good citizens of the world. A great deal of my parenting energy is spent trying to raise children who will grow up to be mensches. Read the rest of this entry →

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