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Dec 12 2014

The Mensch on a Bench Will Be On “Shark Tank” Tonight

By at 7:07 am

The Mensch on a Bench Will Be On "Shark Tank" Tonight

By now, you’ve probably heard of the Mensch on a Bench, the toy that was started as a Jewish response to the recent Christmas craze, Elf on a Shelf (earlier this month we gave one away). But Mensch exposure is about to get even bigger–creator Neal Hoffman will be appearing with his product on ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank” tonight as part of a special holiday episode.

For those not in the know, Shark Tank is AMAZING. Entrepreneurs present their company/products to a panel of “Sharks”–millionaire and billionaire business mogels including Dallas Mavericks owner Marc Cuban and QVC maven Lori Greiner–and the sharks can decide whether they’d like to invest in the company by way of offering thousands of dollars in exchange for a stake in the company. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 11 2014

Eight Hanukkah Gift Ideas for the Grandchild Who Has Everything

By at 4:03 pm

Eight Hanukkah Gift Ideas for Grandparents to Give The Grandchild Who Has Everything

When our kids were young, we busily searched for gifts to give them for each of the eight nights of Hanukkah. Now that we’re grandparents, we don’t send a gift for each night. These grandkids seem to have EVERYTHING in abundance. So what do grandparents do when they want to give something to their grandchild that’s both memorable and meaningful, and won’t be left out in pieces the next day on the living room floor?

I recently asked a number of adults which gifts they remember fondly from their grandparents and I’ve compiled the responses. Here are eight gift ideas that are memorable and stand the test of time in years, and even decades. Read the rest of this entry →

No More Hanukkah Downer

By at 11:47 am

No More Hanukkah Downer

This is the year I’m changing my attitude about Hanukkah. Why? Because for the past 10 years, which is as long as I’ve been a parent, I’ve been a Hanukkah downer.

“Hanukkah is my least favorite holiday,” I’ve said and written countless times. Considering some of the other Jewish holidays I’ve embraced with passion like Yom Kippur and Sukkot, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get on board with Hanukkah. What’s not to like about lighting the menorah with family and friends, playing dreidel, eating latkes and sufganiyot, and giving and receiving presents?

Speaking of presents, the first task I have to accomplish if I’m going to enjoy Hanukkah is to eliminate my need to protect Hanukkah from Christmas. Nobody hired me for that job, and I’m hereby retiring from the self-appointed position of reminding people that Hanukkah is a minor holiday. I’ve put so much energy into making sure my kids know Hanukkah is not Christmas that I’ve lost sight of what Hanukkah is or could be. Read the rest of this entry →

The 8 Weirdest Things People Say to Women Pregnant with Twins

By at 9:47 am

pregnant with twins

You’d think people would be used to the idea of twins by now, but pretty much every time I tell someone I’m carrying multiples, the news is met with something along the lines of “Holy crap!” In fact, I’ve had some pretty interesting reactions from friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers along the way–some helpful and encouraging, others not so much. And so I’ve decided to share some of the most memorable lines I’ve heard so far–along with my thoughts on the matter. (Warning: sarcasm imminent.)

1. “Huh? How’d that happen?”

Are you asking me to explain the biology behind multiple gestations? Or are you asking a prying, invasive question you have no right to be asking? If it’s the former, I can refer you to a number of internet sites that explain the phenomenon quite well. And if it’s the latter, please reexamine the concept of personal boundaries and consider withdrawing your inquiry.

2. “So did you plan for that to happen?”

Um, is it even possible to plan to have twins? Isn’t that kind of like asking someone whether she planned to have a boy versus a girl? Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 10 2014

Where to Celebrate Hanukkah in New York

By at 5:24 pm

where to celebrate hanukkah 2014 in new york

Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, begins at sundown on Tuesday, December 16 and ends the evening of Wednesday, December 24. In addition to spinning your dreidel and frying your latkes at home, here are some events throughout the New York metro area that will help you party like a Hanukkah rock star.

Manhattan:

When Mindy Saved Hanukkah Treasure Hunt

Who doesn’t love an adventure? Take the kids on a Hanukkah-themed treasure hunt in this century-old synagogue/museum and make holiday crafts and treats. $15 per family

Eldridge Street Synagogue, 12 Eldridge Street, Lower East Side

Sunday, Dec. 14, 11am-1pm Read the rest of this entry →

Letting My Kids Win–In Honor of My Father

By at 3:45 pm

checkers board

Growing up as the youngest of three, I was the last to learn to ride a bike, roller skate (which I gave up altogether since I was so klutzy), play checkers, backgammon, and most other games. And although I loved playing with my older siblings and sometimes they showed mercy on me, I pretty much got creamed every time we played a game.

But my parents showed me a great deal of compassion. Whenever we arm-wrestled, played checkers, or Go Fish, they let me win most of the time. I still remember that incredible feeling when I won. It felt good.

My father and I used to play silly games in the car on the way to school when I was little. “What number am I thinking?” he’d ask. And no matter what number I said, he’d exclaim, “You’re right!” And I would squeal with delight. Instinctively, I knew never to try this game with my friends–this was something special between my dad and me. Read the rest of this entry →

My Problem With Those Gender Reveal Parties

By at 2:22 pm

gender reveal

I never had a baby shower. Sure, there was the obligatory surprise lunch-time shower my colleagues threw for me, where I got to bask in my own glow for a 45-minute power session of crock-pot mac ‘n cheese and a marathon opening of a dozen onesies my students had all sponge-painted for me. That was pretty awesome. But I was never surrounded by friends cooing over miniature shoes, eating Noah’s Ark-themed goodies, and playing stupid party games with chocolate bars in Pampers and blindfolded baby food taste-testing.

Whenever I’m asked why I didn’t have a shower, I simply reply, “Jews don’t do that kind of thing. It tempts the evil eye.”

This is easier than explaining that after we miscarried our first pregnancy at 10 weeks, and had to painfully “untell” a handful of close friends and family, the importance of secrecy provided a layer of insulation against disappointments, awkward conversations, and jealous gazes at coworkers’ growing bellies. Read the rest of this entry →

Talking to My Son About Tamir Rice, Racism & Other Things We Still Don’t Get

By at 12:33 pm

toy gun

My 10-year-old son came into the room while I was watching the news yesterday. On screen, they were talking about Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy who was shot and killed by police in Cleveland.

“Why would the police kill a kid, Mom?”

I stumbled around for answers I didn’t have.

“Well, I guess he was carrying a BB gun and the police thought it was a real gun.”

“My cousins have BB guns. Are they going to get shot?” Read the rest of this entry →

I’m a Grandmother, Not a Babysitter

By at 11:13 am

i'm a grandmother not a babysitter

I’m not a gooey, super-affectionate type. I’m into competence and capability and problem solving. I have had to teach myself to be less Dr. Spock (as my children used to refer to me) and more Mr. Rogers, so to speak. I have a profession, and while I’ve practiced less than full-time since becoming a mother–it still keeps me pretty busy.

So when my kids started having their own kids and the demands on grandma started coming in, it wasn’t easy. Can I pick up from school? Something’s come up. Can I come to the house? The babysitter has to leave, mum is held up. Can I do this? Can I go there? I’m the Go-To Granny.

What to do? I do not want to be the grandma who is limping around with a toddler in tow, picking kids up from school and bringing them home, giving them dinner and bathing them so that they’re in their jim-jams all nice and clean for Mummy to come and pick up. Every day. No thank you. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 9 2014

No, I Don’t Have to Tame My Wild Child

By at 3:53 pm

wild child

My 4-year-old’s socks never match. She’s left the house in one teal sock and one yellow, while wearing an orange striped dress. Some days, she looks like a miniature Punky Brewster, and at this point, it is fine with me. I am learning to pick my battles.

As a baby, my daughter’s nap schedule was ironclad. She still does best with the same, precise daily routine. This includes everything–especially what she eats. If given the opportunity, she’d sustain life solely on pizza, sunbutter sandwiches, and yogurt smoothies. She hates new foods, though my husband is more successful than I am at getting her to try.

Showers and bedtime require long negotiations… and the occasional bribe. Read the rest of this entry →

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