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Sep 29 2014

Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky Welcome Baby Girl

By at 1:40 pm

While we were all busy blowing shofars and dipping apples in honey, something magical happened–Chelsea Clinton had a baby girl!

Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky–the ultimate political power baby–was born on Friday, September 26, at 7:03 a.m. (Did Chelsea choose the name from our Jewish baby name bank?) We’ve been eagerly awaiting this Clinton spawn for some time now, ever since her mother’s high-profile interfaith wedding to Jewish Wall Street guru Marc Mezvinsky. Read the rest of this entry →

My Toddler Brings Out the Best & Worst in Me

By at 11:52 am

Toddler-Mess

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This past Shabbat we read Parashat Ha’azinu. (Apologies for the delay, we were busy dipping apples in honey.) To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

For me, being a mother is the spiritual equivalent of looking into one of those magnifying mirrors that points out every pore and flaw. I am forced to face myself, not as how I’d like to be, but as I am.

This year, as the Ten Days of Awe descend, I am realizing this part of parenthood is a great preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. After all, during this time we are supposed to examine ourselves and take stock of who we are on the deepest level. We are supposed to consider our failings of the past year, the ways we could have been better, the parts of ourselves we don’t like to see. And as a parent, all those things are in my face pretty much every day. Read the rest of this entry →

For The First Time in Nine Years, I’m Not Going “Back to School”

By at 11:05 am

Newborn-playing

As soon as I discovered I was pregnant at the end of last summer, I set the wheels in motion to take a half-year sabbatical from my job teaching music, theatre and English at Maine’s smallest K-12 public school. We’re allowed a full year at half pay every seven years, but my family wouldn’t quite be able to swing that financially. Besides, between my six-week maternity leave, summer vacation and a four-month sabbatical, I piled up eight months of time at home with my daughter Penrose. The second half of the school year might be a nice break from around-the-clock parenting.

The word “sabbatical” is derived from the word “Sabbath,” and it’s supposed to be just that–a rest. In an academic or ecclesiastic context, you’re supposed to do something wholly unrelated to your job. But a public school teacher’s sabbatical is a little bit different. I needed to come up with a plan for somehow enriching the school. Writing a book and caring for a member of the class of 2032 wasn’t quite enough, so I’m going to be working on curriculum mapping and taking clarinet lessons.

School started the Tuesday after Labor Day. Ordinarily I’d have already been in workshops for two days, agonized over a bulletin board (cutting out letters has never been my forte), and picked out a back-to-school outfit. Instead, I woke up on a pee-soaked trundle bed next to a happily kicking 4-month-old. We weren’t on a schedule and we didn’t have an agenda, so I cleaned up and moved us into my bed to get a few more hours of sleep.  Read the rest of this entry →

Waiting For an Apology That Will Never Come

By at 10:17 am

Landline

I used to have the right idea for Yom Kippur. I liked the notion of an entire month to clean up my messes from the past year, and I worked hard to deliver carefully worded apologies. The promise of a clean slate appealed to my resolution-making personality. And I appreciated the fact that the obligation to make life improvements deeper than, say, eating better, differentiated the Jewish New Year from the secular one. I was a High Holiday superfan. 

This year, however, I’ve found it difficult to focus solely on my faults, my wrongdoings, and my petty behavior. Enough about me, I’ve found myself thinking. Let’s talk about you.

I realize it’s not in the “High Holiday spirit” to preoccupy myself with the ways I’ve been wronged, but I can’t stop thinking about the few relationships in my life that could use some healing. One friend, in particular, I’ve drifted apart from due to so many layers of back and forth “offenses” through the years that I’m not even sure how the tension started or why. I’m willing to do my part, but I refuse to take all the responsibility. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 24 2014

Kveller’s Last Minute Tips to Celebrate Rosh Hashanah

By at 1:58 pm

apple-crates

The day of reckoning has arrived. Here are a couple of our favorite Rosh Hashanah posts, tips, and recipes to get you through it. Wishing all of our dear Kvellers a happy, healthy, sweet New Year.

Inspiration

The High Holidays Are Not the Same Without My Kids

Rosh Hashanah While Dad is at Work Read the rest of this entry →

What Makes This Rosh Hashanah Different From All Others?

By at 11:59 am

paiuk

While settling into our new house this summer, I unpacked several boxes that had been sealed for so long that the contents were long forgotten. Some contained treasures I was thrilled to find again and others were filled with junk that made me wonder why I had schlepped them around for so many years. But two boxes in particular, smothered in “FRAGILE” stickers and falling apart from thousands of miles of travel, stood out from all the rest. They were waiting for this house, this moment, for the big reveal.

One box contained the china I received as wedding gifts almost five years ago. Still in the original packaging, with not one dish broken or chipped, they gleamed eagerly. My husband quipped that if they’d been comic books we could have sold them in mint condition. The pile of discarded carton and foam packaging grew as I reverently unpacked each piece and beamed with joy that every piece had a home. I carefully arranged them along with a variety of other tchotchkes, marveling at the collection of treasures from so many places and generations.

Which brings me to the second box. Inside I found the few glass and silver serving pieces from my bubbe that I remembered from each yontif (holiday) spent together at her table. After years of wandering through the desert of disuse, they too had finally found their way home. They aren’t fancy pieces by any means and are clouded with age that no amount of cleaning will clear. But having them on my table this Rosh Hashanah will remind me of how my bubbe would make my favorite foods and repeat with every helping: “Ech azoy mein kind, ech azoy” (“Eat and enjoy, my child, eat and enjoy”). She is dearly missed and I hope her blessed memory infuses the yontif meal and the New Year ahead. Read the rest of this entry →

Rosh Hashanah Confession: I Have a Thing For the Produce Man

By at 10:03 am

produce-isle

Because repentance is serious business in the home stretch leading up to Rosh Hashanah, I’m finally coming clean: For nearly a decade, I’ve had a thing for the produce man at the local supermarket.

Years ago, our then 3-year-old son–a clever, square peg of a boy who has long struggled to fit in–had another challenging morning at nursery school. He decided it was a silly thing to transform an empty orange juice carton into a spice box for Havdalah (ceremony for taking leave of Shabbat). His refusal led to an ugly power struggle with his already-exasperated teacher, ultimately landing him in the penalty box, where he frequently kept the seat warm.

The dreaded call came. I stopped writing and ran to get him, tail between my legs. I listened as the principal meted out judgment, the same harsh words I’d heard in various mutations over the past year. He’s difficult, unlovable, a challenge to manage… In fact, I’d spent so much time in the principal’s office that I’d already derailed my full-time career. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 23 2014

I Need to Stop Worrying About My Sister’s Worrying

By at 3:49 pm

Sister-new-baby

My sister gave birth to her first baby last night. Her voice on the phone was both heavy with exhaustion and fluttery with joy. My heart ached to be so far away from her during this blessed beginning.

I was light and cheerful while we spoke. This was a happy occasion, of course. Perhaps the very happiest life has to offer.

Still, something about our conversation unnerved me. It wasn’t until hours later that it struck me. I’m worried about her. Read the rest of this entry →

Mother Bakes Vagina Cookies for Daughter’s 2nd Grade Class, Feuds With Teacher

By at 2:27 pm

Cookies

Granted, it probably won’t cause lasting harm if your kid views a Georgia O’Keefe painting, sees you walk around naked, or overhears Joan Rivers telling a vagina joke. But it seems one mama took anatomical pride a bit too far when she brought vagina-shaped cookies to her child’s 2nd grade classroom, suggesting a vagina-themed lesson to go with them.

According to a Reddit poster, who was repeating the story for her friend, the teacher, parents were invited bring in hypoallergenic snacks on Fridays as an occasional treat.

Here’s how it went down: Read the rest of this entry →

Five Tablescapes To Inspire You For Rosh Hashanah 

By at 11:54 am

rosh-hashanah-1

The High Holy Days are quickly coming, and if you are like me, you are probably already planning your Rosh Hashanah celebration. I happen to adore Rosh Hashanah and consider it to be one of my favorite holidays. What isn’t to love about celebrating a sweet New Year? Because the symbols of apples and honey feature so predominantly in celebrating this auspicious event, I usually feature them throughout my menu and my table decor. Here are five ways you can bring the elements of apples and honey into your own home. (Above image via Style Me Pretty)

1. Apples & Flowers. Read the rest of this entry →

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