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Nov 13 2014

Should We Give My Son a Shotgun Bar Mitzvah?

By at 9:47 am

Should We Give My Son a Shotgun Bar Mitzvah?

Since the day our 11-year-old was born, we’ve poured on the love, hugs, and Legos. But we slacked big time on his Jewish education.

Although I was raised Reform and my husband Conservative (the nephew of a rabbi, no less), we’re both essentially agnostic and take our cultural Jewish identity for granted. We really get Jon Stewart. You say sheket bevakashah, and we’ll both say “hey.” My husband can read Hebrew (never mind its meaning). I really like salty fish slathered in mayo. We feel Jewish. Unfortunately, that sense of identity was formed at the knees of Yiddish-speaking grandparents—it’s not something that can be passed on. And while our son has his own quad of adoring grandparents, they’ve long since abandoned their parents’ more traditional ways (my side leans towards atheism, my husband’s towards guilty apathy). And so our son’s sense of being Jewish is surface, at best. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 12 2014

What My 4-Year-Old Knows About Her Body (That Took Me Years to Figure Out)

By at 2:37 pm

My 4-Year-Old Daughter Taught Me To Love My Body

My 4-year-old daughter comes up the stairs in our three-story home carrying a heavy pink basket filled with wooden toys. She stands in the door frame, smiling and proud of herself, waiting for me to notice how strong she is.

“Audrey, wow! Did you carry that all by yourself? You are so strong!” I say, ignoring the fact that she’s not supposed to bring those toys upstairs. I am too impressed with her. I’m not impressed that she’s strong. We’re all strong; we just forget about it sometimes.

Rather, I’m impressed that this is what she’s proud of. Read the rest of this entry →

Playdates Made Easy With This Convenient Form for Moms!

By at 11:51 am

Madlibs for Making Playdates and Mom Friends

Moms, did you ever wish you had a quick and easy template for a playdate invitation to stick in a cubby or hand to a woman who looks like a potential friend? Well, you’re in luck. Just check off the applicable boxes, and you’re good to go. Soon you—I mean, your kid—might have a new best friend!

Dear Mom of: (Check off one)

[ ] child my child’s same age and gender, so come on, it has to work

[ ] child that is more popular than my child so I’m trying to help my child out

[ ] child I have never seen but this one time I saw you reading a book I like so I’m hoping we’ll be friends

Ever since we talked at: Read the rest of this entry →

The Surprising Benefit Breastfeeding Had for My Daughter with Autism

By at 9:58 am

How Breastfeeding Saved My Daughter With Autism's Life—And My Own

When I was 23 years old, I naturally birthed my first child, my sweet Chava Rachel. I gazed down at her in disbelief—this gorgeous little girl was mine. A perfectly round head covered in damp, dark locks, tiny fingernails almost translucent pink, as if she’d had a manicure in the womb.

As we struggled to latch those first few hours after birth, my lactation-consultant mother led me through skin-to-skin, attempts at biological nurturing, and the baby crawl. No luck. Eventually we called in for a hospital-grade pump. As my frustration mounted, my mother whispered furtively, “Let’s get out of here. Tell them you’re nursing just fine, and let’s go home.”

She and I agreed that a hospital was no place to learn to breastfeed a baby. It wasn’t until Chava’s second day of life that she finally latched on. At my mother’s suggestion, I got on all fours and lowered my breast into Chava’s mouth—success! It was painful for a few days, but with the visit of another lactation consultant we were able to get on the right path. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 11 2014

Why This Daughter of a Midwife Gave Birth at Home

By at 3:49 pm
homebirth

Credit: Laura Miller

 

My mom is a midwife. Throughout my childhood, she delivered babies in hospitals. She stroked my head to sleep while on the phone with women in early labor. Long before I learned how a baby is made, I understood that one isn’t in active labor until you can no longer walk and talk through contractions. I picked up on the meanings of “bloody show” and learned that babies come at all hours. While there were inconveniences, there was one big upside: insider knowledge. Friends’ moms disappeared, reemerging with squishy, pink siblings. How it all went down, nobody knew. Except me.

My mom’s career began as a scientist, running a laboratory. A data-driven, rational bent extends into her midwifery practice, which is to say that she is on the more medical end of the midwifery spectrum. But like all midwives, she believes in staying with women throughout labor, helping us birth our babies in our own ways. I also learned as a child that an obstetrician is not inherently better or worse than a midwife, but offers different services and sometimes a different philosophy. Read the rest of this entry →

Is It Wrong to Get Plastic Surgery for My 6-Year-Old Daughter?

By at 2:09 pm

should i get plastic surgery for my 6-year-old daughter?

My daughter’s 6th birthday party didn’t start off a total disaster. A handful of kids joined us at an art studio for a drawing lesson and other activities. I had a peculiar feeling that morning that the party wouldn’t be a good idea–I still can’t explain why–but when I saw the old-fashioned fun they were all having playing “Duck, Duck, Goose,” I started to pat myself on the back for a job well done.

But then, right in front of my eyes, yet too far away to do anything, my daughter Julian rounded the corner between one of her “ducks” and “goose,” slipped on the carpeting, and flew face forward into the sharp metal corner of a chair. We ran out–before even serving the cake–to tend to a nasty puncture wound just below her right eye.

Our pediatrician examined the gash and automatically mentioned a pediatric plastic surgeon who could revise the scar once it healed. After all, he explained, “If she was a boy, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. For them, scars are cool. But she’s a girl; it’s totally different.”  Read the rest of this entry →

My Daughter, The Hebrew School Dropout

By at 11:57 am

Hebrew school dropout

“My daughter, the Hebrew School dropout.” Those weren’t exactly the words I had in mind when I enrolled Hannah in Hebrew school when she was in kindergarten. And all went well for a few years…until there were some rumblings in 5th grade. But I gamely ignored them, and we soldiered on.

And then middle school hit like a tsunami. Hannah was normally a fairly calm, methodical kid. Not anymore. Her anxiety levels spiked as her secular school workload increased. She placed high expectations on herself, expecting straight A’s every marking period. I remember begging her, “Get a B. Just get a B in something and you will see that the world won’t end.”

Add in a long drive to Hebrew school and an extra two hours of class once a week, and Hannah was on the verge of cracking. When she came home from Hebrew school she would sob in my arms. She didn’t connect socially with her peers and she wasn’t learning anything new. She would stay up late at night to finish her homework and then do cartwheels and handsprings in her bedroom to calm her nerves. It was wearing both of us out. Read the rest of this entry →

How Will We Navigate Orthodoxy As My Feisty Daughter Grows Up?

By at 9:42 am

nicki gilbert monkey in the middle

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 than to give her a hard time about, well, everything: that she mispronounces “bird,” that she’s something of a busybody, that she prefers to keep her room testosterone-free, and yells “out” as soon as a male body, canine or human, places a smelly toe over the threshold. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 10 2014

Free Stuff Alert: Win a HydroChic Swim Shirt for Your Winter Getaway

By at 3:14 pm

hydrochic giveaway

Getting ready for your winter getaway? You’ll be happy to hear we’re teaming up with HydroChic to give away one of their bestselling swim shirts to one lucky Kveller reader.

HydroChic is lifestyle active wear that doubles as swimwear, is sun protective, and is designed to be worn both in and out of the water. Their tops and bottoms–including short sleeves, long sleeves, skirts, skorts, shorts, and pants–offer a full range of UV protection and coverage, and are super fun to mix and match. There is a style for every shape and size: Missy XS-XL and plus sizes 0X-4X. Read the rest of this entry →

Is It Too Early to Start Worrying About College?

By at 1:47 pm

Is It Too Early to Start Worrying About College?

As the mother of a toddler, most of my fellow parent friends have children who are on the young side as well. But when the topic of affording a college education came up during several recent conversations, I was a bit surprised to learn that other parents don’t seem nearly as worried about it as me.

“We’re so many years away from college,” was one friend’s response.

“We’ll save more when we can,” said another blithely.

And my favorite: “We’re hoping our parents will somehow help—though we’re not necessarily counting on it.” Read the rest of this entry →

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