Dearest Sugar Bee,
It was your birthday yesterday and I fell in love with you again. We were out in the desert with friends and you were your beautiful, lively self, enjoying your family and friends and soaking in the sunshine. We spent a lot of time holding hands and swinging in a hammock and talking about life. I gave you your “7″ charm to wear around your neck this year. It’s the charm that I wore when I was 7 and Grandma wore and Aunt Lenore too. The charm that Grammy brought into our lives. Lucky seven. We are indeed lucky.
Flashback a week and we are fighting about homework. Again. You are giving me that look. Slack jawed, tongue forward, eyes rolled, wobbling your head like a car ornament. And I want to kill you. I feel my chest tighten and I want to shriek that I can’t stand you. That I don’t understand why you treat me the way you do. Why only me? I try to diffuse your frustration and anger which I have gotten pretty good at after this much practice. My encouragement falls on deaf ears. You are too far gone. I excuse myself from homework and give myself a time out in my bedroom and hold my head in my hands until my anger dissipates. When you calm down too you knock on my door and we hug. You give me the picture you drew of us together. I smile and thank you and add it to the pile. We continue to work; you finish your homework and peace is restored to our home. Read more →
Last month I had one of those “I have no idea what to expect because I went to public school” moments. The occasion was my son’s “siddur play”–an apparent rite of passage for every first grade child in Jewish day school. For the weeks leading up to the big event, my son had been practicing his line for the play and belting out songs in the bathtub. He excitedly talked about stage presence (“we have to say our line very loud”) and choreography (“this is the part when we all stand up”). And while the theater major in me could relate, the public school student in me could not.
On the big day, after dropping my son off with his class (actors need their prep-time, you know) my husband, parents, and I filed into the schools beit midrash (study hall/multi-purpose room) with cameras at the ready. What followed was 40 minutes of pure sweetness. Through words, songs, prayers, and props the class told the story of how much they have learned since those first timid days at the start of the year, and how they were now ready to receive their very own siddurim (prayer books). It didn’t matter that I only understood about 70 percent of the all-Hebrew performance. Their pride was palpable.
My son could hardly contain his excitement. He sung loudly, delivered his line as if he was on a Broadway stage, and closed his eyes, leaned his head back, and swayed with great passion when the class sang the Shema. At the conclusion of the play, when his name was called and he was handed a beautiful leather-bound siddur with his name printed in gold, it was as if he gained inches before my eyes. For a child who seems to be straddling the line between “little kid” and “big boy” (scared by the Lego Movie, but fearless during his first time on a snowboard), I watched him take a definitive step toward the latter. Read more →
As part of our month-long series dedicated to Jewish Disability Awareness Month, Elaine shares her journey of raising a son with severe autism, from toddlerhood through bar mitzvah age to where he’s at now, at almost 20 years old.
Our tradition dictates: “Be fruitful and multiply.” I couldn’t do either. Each year at Rosh Hashanah, where we read Hannah’s story of her inability to give birth, I cried Hannah’s tears. I prayed, “If you give me a child, I will give him back to you, to serve you all his days.” My prayer was finally answered when I adopted my son from an orphanage in Russia.
I had been raised in a religious ”Conservadox” family in a non-Jewish area of Southern Maryland and had felt different all my life. Now, I just wanted normal. I looked forward to returning to LA and beginning a normal life: car pool, little league, Tot Shabbat. On a blissful flight home across many continents, I had no idea what lay ahead of us.
Reality set in quickly. We discovered that our toddler son had liver toxicity, parasites, malnutrition, and he was spiking fevers of 105. He stared at his hands for hours at a time, spun around in circles, opened/closed and banged cabinet doors, made no eye contact, couldn’t speak, tantrumed for hours, and didn’t sleep. Read more →
Ever tried hosting your own Shabbat dinner and felt a touch… overwhelmed? Bethany from The Glamorous Housewife is here to help with her monthly how-to series on Kveller. Read last month’s Shabbat Dinner Guide here.
We are deep into winter and although many of us long for spring, the weather is still cold and comfort food is often what we all crave. Therefore I thought a traditional brisket would be a perfect main dish for this month’s meal. The recipe I use the most is via The Barefoot Contessa because I think it is quite easy and totally foolproof. My favorite part about this dish is it can be made the day ahead and then reheated in the sauce. My only tip is to not use brisket but to substitute with chuck roast. Chuck often has more fat than brisket and fat equals flavor and tenderness, so when you cut into it there should be no resistance and the meat will melt like butter! Read more →
All the Jewish celebrity parent gossip you (n)ever wanted to know.
-It’s a boy! Jason Biggs, who describes himself on Twitter as “Jewiest looking non-Jew,” consistently gets cast in super Jewish roles, despite being Roman Catholic. His actress wife Jenny Mollen (the jury is still out on her ethnic make-up) has been updating us via Instagram on the birth of baby Sid (SO Jewish!) who apparently had a bris yesterday! “Today was not a good day to be Sid’s penis. #babybiggs #circumcision,” Jenny quipped in one photo. (Instagram)
-Simon Cowell welcomed new baby Eric into the world with girlfriend Lauren Silverman. If you haven’t been following the shanda, Lauren was allegedly married to Simon’s close friend Andrew Silverman when the relationship began, and their divorce was only finalized late into her pregnancy with baby Cowell. The first-time father showed his softer side as he captioned an online photo of his new family, “I never knew how much love and pride I would feel.” (The Hollywood Gossip)
-Adam Brody–or Seth Cohen, as we know him– is off the market. The adorkable curly-haired “OC” star recently wed “Gossip Girl” actress Leighton Meester in a surreal union that seems concocted in teen drama fan club heaven. Let’s hope they get busy and make us some beautiful, Jew-froed, teen-drama hybrid babies soon. (Pop Watch)
-If anyone can rock a baby bump, it’s Drew Barrymore. Drew dazzles in this gallery of chic red-carpet frocks and gowns. Mazel Tov, Drew! We love you! (People)
I have been watching the Happy Birthday Colin movement on Facebook for the past couple of weeks. I have been both fascinated and touched by the outpouring of compassion and generosity that seemingly millions of strangers have expressed towards Colin, a boy with special needs who has trouble making friends. After Colin told his mom not to bother with a birthday party since he doesn’t have any friends, his mother, feeling awful, took to social media, built a Facebook page for his birthday, and shared it, hoping some messages would help to lift the boy’s spirits on his birthday.
The thing has gone completely viral; more than 2 million people have liked the page and offered messages. Based on the photos that Colin’s mother posts every few days of them picking up what looks like carloads of birthday cards and gifts that are arriving at Colin’s PO Box, it looks like Colin will have the surprise of a lifetime on his birthday (and he will probably be opening cards every day until his next birthday from the looks of it).
It’s really been great to see that people recognize the need to make every kid feel good on their birthday and to reach out to this boy. Read more →
Dear journalists, scriptwriters, and other members of the media: I officially revoke your ability to use the word “adoption,” in any of its related forms.
The lead story on CNN recently (which was not about adoption in any way, shape or form) pointed out not once, but twice, that a couple adopted their son. In one instance, they use the line, “…[She] carried him out of the hospital in her arms, as ecstatic as if she’d carried and birthed him herself.” A sensation, indeed: imagine, a woman whose name is on her own child’s birth certificate is over-the-moon at the anticipation of parenting her actual son. A banner day for mothers everywhere, to be sure.
Also on repeat, a show named “Bubble Guppies” on Nick Jr. (listen, I know it’s not exactly Masterpiece Theater, but sometimes I need to do things like take a shower) described adoption (in this case, the adoption of a puppy…or a mer-puppy, to be specific) as “giving someone a nice place to live.” If that’s all it takes, then I’m going to skip the college fund and start vacuuming more often.
(As a side note: While I applaud a marketing-job-well-done by the animal rights industry, until a cat is able to go to court and sign away her or his parental rights, there is absolutely no connection between pet ownership and parenthood.) Read more →
The next time someone asks me what I do for a living, I plan to say that I’m a dental hygienist. Maybe a carpet salesman. A baker? Hmm… that’s an idea. Who doesn’t love cookies? It’s too bad that I’m a terrible liar.
I was mid-haircut the last time the question was posed to me. “I’m a guidance counselor,” I said, with a smile. I glanced around the salon and waited for the inevitable commentary to come. That train is never late.
“Well, you scored an easy gig!”
“Teachers have such nice hours. It’s like working part-time!”
“You have your own office, right?” Read more →
Bedbugs began to invade my imagination two months after my daughter was born. I was readying to attend a conference when a friend casually mentioned the hotel was featured on the Bedbug Registry. Bedbug Registry? What was that? I headed to the website and started rooting around. I researched bedbugs. And that was when life would be divided in half–before my daughter was born when bedbugs did not exist for me and after the birth of my daughter when bedbugs were everywhere.
Granted, I was poised for calamity. As a hypochondriac daughter of a doctor, I have been anticipating diseases since I was 8 years old when decided I had cystic fibrosis. (That would be followed by brain cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis, mad cow disease, and schizophrenia). All that pent-up anxiety was lying patiently dormant until I gave birth to my daughter in the dead of winter. And then, as if a portal had been opened, all the fears seeped out at once.
Typical Google searches while breastfeeding in the middle of the night: “SIDS,” “suffocation,” “lice,” “preference of daddy over mommy,” “eczema,” “attachment disorder,” “arsenic in drinking water.” And then, after a quick perusal of the Bedbug Registry, I added “bedbugs” to the list. Read more →