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Mar 11 2014

Getting Rid of Stuff is Hard, Especially When it Tells a Story

By at 12:28 pm


My husband and I have been in our house for almost seven years now. After moving houses (all on the island, which has a dearth of year-round rentals) a total of seven times in our first two years here and resisting the accumulation of a whole lot of stuff (besides the necessities, including a complete menagerie of musical instruments), we’ve been able to relax, spread out and acquire.

We sort through things annually and donate to Goodwill or bring things to our town transfer station, which functions as an on-going free swap meet as well as a dump and recycling station. My husband, who genuinely fears and dreads clutter, will suddenly cave to impulses requiring him to get rid of a lot of mugs at once. But still, the stuff has piled up, in the basement and especially in the office/guest room that will become the baby’s room.

Suddenly, we had to make room for a whole other human being in our house. And she comes with her own stuff. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 7 2014

The Self-Conscious Mom & Her Very Observant Kids

By at 9:55 am


This post is part of our Torah commentary series through the perspective of a mother. This Shabbat we read Parashat Tetzaveh. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

I’d like to say that I’m the kind of woman who’s never given much thought to clothing and what I wear. I’d like to say that I’ve always just sort of thrown something on, and effortlessly, look pulled together all the time, or don’t, but either way, no matter. I’d like to remember my child-self as one who didn’t think tights were scratchy, who didn’t notice if her undershirt was tucked in, who didn’t have an obsessive penchant for the colors purple and orange, who didn’t mind wearing headbands, two-piece bathing suits, or ankle socks.

I’d like to say that I was and still am highly unselfconscious.

Except I am totally self-conscious, and have always been a bit of a nut when it comes to clothes. I’m not talking in a clotheshorse kind of way, where I’m off spending money on labels and status pieces. No, I’m talking about the much more existential and far less useful ways in which I obsess about how I look. I’ve never worn a bikini, I don’t really enjoy being photographed, and often notice myself fidgeting–with my clothing, my hair, whatever. While my neuroses are (mostly) in check, a healthy dose of anxiety runs through my bloodstream at all times, just to keep me on my toes. And often, this delightful kind of crazy rears its ugly head as I try and dress myself on any given day. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 5 2013

The Great Fashion Debate with My 5-Year-Old Step-Daughter

By at 1:58 pm


Just before bedtime I put on a brave face and begin “The Great Fashion Debate.” What will my step-daughter wear the next day? I try to open with a note on the weather or the next day’s activities–long sleeves if it’s cold, something fancier if we’ll be going to synagogue–and then wait for Ronia’s first choice. At 5 years old, Ronia is not as invested in fashion as some of her friends, but she definitely cares, and has a strong affinity for dresses and skirts, pink things, and anything with ruffles.

This could not be farther from my own fashion sense. Seventy percent of my wardrobe is black, and it’s safe to say I wear a cardigan over a tank top with jeans six days a week. Meeting in the middle is a pretty far walk for either of us.

So why do I care what Ronia wears? I know that there are some parents who feel like they have neither the time nor energy to police their kids’ fashion choices, and I salute them. But I find that I really do care what Ronia wears. Partially it’s because I know that I get judged based on how she looks and behaves. Though I did not give birth to Ronia, and only married her father a few weeks ago, when people see us together, the assumption is that I’m her mother, and that I’m responsible for making her look neat, clean, appropriate, and fashionable. I’ll never forget the time that another parent came up to me at synagogue, looked at Ronia, raised his eyebrows, and said, “Wow, you guys let her dress herself?” That stings. And it implies bad mothering on my part, for allowing her out and about in one of her more creative ensembles. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 22 2013

My Daughter Always Looks Way Cuter Than Me

By at 12:19 pm

stained t-shirt

1. Thriving on a nutritious diet consisting of homemade organic food? Check.

2. Perfectly coordinated outfit? Check.

3. Hair well coiffed and adorned with an accessory that flawlessly matches the ensemble? Check.

Oh how I wish that were MY checklist. It, however, belongs to my 11-month-old little girl. I always make sure she is well fed, perfectly groomed, and has any and everything she could want that is within my power to give her.

As for me, I’m lucky if I squeeze a shower in each day. After which, my hair is promptly twisted up into a clip and a bandana is worn to cover up the mess and the grays which have sprouted since her birth. On the rare occasion that my hair is worn down (If I will be away from my wee one who would only put my locks in her mouth), then the Sharpie comes out. Yes, I have covered my grays with a black Sharpie. I’m a classy broad. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 17 2013

Confession: I Have a Mommy Uniform

By at 12:56 pm

workout shorts

It has happened. I swore it wouldn’t, but it has. I have a mommy uniform.

When I was expecting my first child, I promised myself I would never wear so-called mom jeans. You know, the kind spoofed on “Saturday Night Live,” with a light wash and high waist. My vow was more of one to stay committed to myself than to fashion, and yet I found my version of mom jeans in the form of workout clothes.

I first started to realize I was in an appearance rut in the spring, when my daughter–now 3-going-on-16 said, “What happened to your real eyes?” when I walked into the kitchen one morning wearing makeup.

I answered that I had applied some eyeliner and mascara and suppressed the urge to say, “Listen here, missy. Before you and your brother arrived on the scene, these were my real eyes. Every day.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 9 2013

Learning to Dress Like a Grown Up

By at 10:46 am

closetAt a recent professional conference we broke the ice with a rousing game of “two truths and a lie.” My shocking truth that fooled them all? I can get ready for work in less than four minutes. I should have guessed by the gasps that this wasn’t something to be proud of.

I’m a working mom with one son in grade school and another in preschool. On a typical morning during the school year I wake up, do dishes, rouse the kids, feed them breakfast, get them dressed, make their lunches, pack their backpacks and only then, in the few last minutes before we make a mad dash for the bus, figure out what I’m wearing that day. If it’s clean, matches, and basically fits, it’s a win.

It’s not just about the kids, though it’s certainly exacerbated the situation. The truth is, I’ve always been low maintenance. It was a point of pride–shopping and fashion were vanity, style without substance, right? Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 17 2013

My Daughter & Her Boyfriend’s Jeans

By at 2:54 pm

torn jeans with holeI’m standing at the kitchen sink when my eldest walks past me to the table to pack her lunch.

“What’s all over your pants?”

“They’re distressed.”

“Did you rip them?!”

“No, they came like that. It’s a style.” She pauses for effect. “And they’re not my pants. And you said I looked cute in them.”

Now I’m distressed. I look more closely at her pants. They are black jeans, ripped and frayed on both legs. I hadn’t noticed that–looking up from the bottom of the stairs–when I’d complimented her.

“Are you wearing [boyfriend name]‘s pants?!” Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 28 2012

Free Stuff Alert: Rosh Hashanah Onesie

By at 11:35 am

everything is honey onesie giveawayWith Rosh Hashanah coming up, that means one thing–honey season! And even if your baby is too young to eat honey, that doesn’t mean they can’t get into the spirit, too.

IMA Design is a boutique importer and retailer of top quality design products from Israeli designers. In their store you will find unique gift items for Mom and baby including Hebrew baby bodysuits and top quality silver jewelry.

We’ve paired up with IMA Design Imports to give one lucky Kveller reader this adorable Rosh Hashanah onesie featuring the Hebrew saying “Hakol dvash,” meaning “Everything is honey.” To enter, sign up for our e-letter and then drop us a note in the comments section below saying hi (if you’re already signed up for the e-letter, just leave us a comment). We’ll choose a random winner this Friday, August 31st.

And even if this isn’t your lucky day, IMA Design is kind enough to offer free shipping to all Kveller readers through the end of the (secular) year. When purchasing anything from the IMA Design website, simply enter the discount code “Kveller” at checkout. L’shana tova!

Mar 22 2012

My Baby Girl Wears Pink, So What?

By at 1:33 pm

pink baby socksI wasn’t one of those people who wanted to wait until the day my baby was born to find out the gender. So the day Lila was born was exhilarating–and exhausting–but the birth drama never included the doctor’s calling out, “It’s a Girl!” The delivering doctor didn’t need to, since we already knew. And since that time, I’ve made an effort to ensure everyone else knows, too.

Last spring, I invited pink and purple into our home in a big way. I know another mother who is glad she had a boy, so she doesn’t have to live amidst a pink explosion, but I rather like it. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 9 2011

Operation Hot and Holy

By at 10:03 am

Mayim previously on the red carpet

Re: ‘Operation Subdued Sexy’ aka ‘Operation Hot and Holy’
Client: Mayim Bialik, PhD, cast member of CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory
Timeline: Operation set to commence immediately for September 18 date of completion

Mission: Acquire very fancy designer gown that conforms to the standards of tznius (modesty) to wear to the 2011 Emmy Awards

Details: Tznius varies in its interpretation but in general terms, reflects modesty and decorum for men and women alike in dress and demeanor. For women who keep to tznius, the most widely accepted guidelines are to cover the knees and elbows and all of one’s cleavage and clavicle. Dr. Bialik favors jewel tones (emerald, sapphire, ruby) and is open to any color possibility, especially if it highlights her blue/green eyes with the gold flecks around the pupils which she is told are her best feature.

Modifications: In the past, Dr. Bialik has maintained the “knee” guideline fairly consistently, but has shifted the elbow restriction to the shoulder in consideration to the designers attempting to dress her for various and sundry red carpet events where even covering to the knee is often viewed as “dowdy,” “fuddy- duddy,” or just plain “not hip.” For the Emmy Awards, Dr. Bialik has expressed a strong and keen interest to hold to the more standard guideline for tznius but is open to allowing her clavicle to show and possible minimal cleavage. TBD.

Approach: Dr. Bialik has acquired the services of a very expensive and very talented professional stylist who is on target and on purpose for the execution of ‘Operation Subdued Sexy’ aka ‘Operation Hot and Holy.’ Said stylist even has Orthodox friends and a spouse who is a member of the Tribe. Dr. Bialik takes great comfort in these facts and this comfort has been converted to excitement which has allowed her to be distracted – if only momentarily – from how incredibly expensive stylists are. Dr. Bialik has had a phone conference with aforementioned stylist and has been asked to provide exact measurements of her bust, hips, waist, and shoulders so that the stylist may pursue the gown in both London and Los Angeles over the next few weeks.

Conclusion: Dr. Bialik is thrilled, as the granddaughter of poor immigrants to this country who arrived on the shores of Manhattan with not much besides the dreams in their hearts and the shoes on their feet, to be attending the Emmy Awards. She will consider it a personal achievement to obtain the Emmy gown that she feels will allow her neshama (spirit) to shine through.

Read Part II of Mayim’s dress search here.


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