Sep 30 2014
Poor little Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky.
Let’s be clear about the term ”poor”–the adorable newborn daughter of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky isn’t actually “poor” in the financial sense. And it is already clear from the tweets of doting grandma Hillary that she is loved and adored–so there is no need to pity her for being lonely or neglected.
And yet, life won’t be easy for this brand new little girl. The eyes of the world will be upon her–perhaps not as unflinchingly as they are on young Prince George. But if she turns out to be the only child in American history with a grandmother running for president of the United States and a grandfather who once held the job, she and George may have a lot to talk about. Read more →
Sep 30 2014
My husband, toddler, and I just attended Rosh Hashanah services at our parents’ temple, and the highlight for my son was the blowing of the shofar. Granted, we’d been talking it up well in advance of services, but it was such a thrill for him to stand near the rabbi while it sounded repeatedly. But that excitement was quickly overshadowed by what happened next: Following the blowing of the shofar, all the young kids who had gathered around the bimah were given candy. This happened every time the shofar was blown, and frankly, I wasn’t happy about it.
First of all, from a nutritional standpoint, the idea of my 2.5-year-old consuming a series of sugary candies (chocolates, marshmallows, etc.) in the hour leading up to lunchtime was enough to drive me crazy. Candy is something my son gets sparingly, and while nobody forced him to eat it, I wasn’t about to risk a major public fit by yanking it out of his hands while all the other children around him indulged. (As a side note, I think it’s a better practice for adults to ask a young child’s parent if it’s OK to give him candy before proactively offering it up. When I host play dates, I always ask the adult guests if it’s OK to put out certain foods and beverages before actually doing so.)
But the bigger issue I have is that the distribution of candy almost seemed like a bribe to get the kids to keep coming back to hear the shofar. I can’t speak for the other children, but my son was excited enough about the shofar to have gone up to the bimah repeatedly, without needing any outside encouragement to do so. Read more →
Sep 29 2014
Move over, Apparently Kid.
Three-year-old Ty Willmott, from Sloan, Iowa, won over the internet this week when a friendly preschool tiff over the weather with a pair of twins came to blows. (Happens to the best of us, right?)
In the video, presumably taken by their teacher, the three pint-sized blonds can’t figure out whether it is raining or sprinkling (or, rather, waining or spwinkling?). The boy’s mom told him that it was sprinkling while the twin sisters’ mom had informed them that it was raining. Read more →
Sep 29 2014
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 more →
Sep 29 2014
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 more →
Sep 29 2014
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 more →
Sep 29 2014
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 more →
Sep 24 2014
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.
The High Holidays Are Not the Same Without My Kids
Rosh Hashanah While Dad is at Work Read more →
Sep 24 2014
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 more →
Sep 24 2014
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 more →