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Jan 23 2013

On Tu Bishvat & Grieving for My Dad

By at 9:36 am

Tu Bishvat begins this Friday. For some, this holiday will only register because a child enrolled in Hebrew school (or Jewish Day School) will come home with a sandwich bag full of dried fruits and nuts or with a story about the Tu Bishvat Seder she participated in at school.

But for most of us, this admittedly minor Jewish holiday will pass without much (any?) fanfare. The concept is great: a New Year for the trees. The winter rains in Israel are on their way out; its time to welcome spring, to honor the earth in all of its life-sustaining glory, to get our fingernails dirty and plant something. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 5 2012

The Killing at the Pittsburgh Zoo

By at 11:00 am

Sunday afternoon a 2-year-old was killed at our zoo in Pittsburgh after falling into the Painted Dog exhibit.

The words “mauled to death” almost made me sick as tears welled up in my eyes. I take my kids to that zoo almost weekly. My 2-year-old just started walking on his own instead of seeing the animals from the safety of his stroller. I wear my infant and push the empty stroller, just in case he gets tired and wants to climb in for a ride. I am often preoccupied with the bulky stroller or fussy baby and he runs ahead a little. The other day I turned my head for a moment and lost him over near the Komodo dragon exhibit. A moment.

Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 1 2012

How to Talk About the Birds, the Bees & the Holocaust with Your Kids

By at 5:08 pm

As a parent, I’m fully aware that I have a slew of difficult, but necessary, conversations with my son ahead of me. We’ve already tackled one of the toughest: Where do babies come from? Despite reading a variety of parenting books and blogs, I still wasn’t sure how I would handle it when the time came, but at 3.5, when my son started asking questions, I found it was actually pretty easy. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 21 2012

What Will Happen When Mommy & Daddy Die?

By at 3:31 pm

question mark in sky“Mommy, who’s going to take care of me when you and Daddy die?”

This from the mouth of a child who is not yet 4 years old. My child. My first born, my daughter who has a tender, anxious soul and wisdom beyond her years. She made me a mother and challenges me every day to question my beliefs and face my fears.

She’s been curious about death lately. I’m not sure where she heard the word, but she seems to have grasped the concept. She understands that death means someone is gone and that they’re not coming back. She’s still struggling with the details; she recently asked “where we fall” when we die, or if we “pop.” I can handle those questions–even if I don’t have the right answers, I’m ok muddling through until I find something good enough that seems to work for her little brain. (We finally settled on “you just stop” as the answer to what happens, and that seemed to work for her.) Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 6 2012

Yahrzeit for a Dog

By at 6:13 am

yahrzeit for a dogIn Judaism, the anniversary of a person’s death is called their yahrzeit. On that day, the mourner lights a candle, says the mourner’s kaddish, and reflects on the meaning that the deceased person had in the mourner’s life.

These rituals are, generally, not done for a dog.

If they were, though, Captain’s yahrzeit would be sometime in the beginning of August. He died two years ago under somewhat sketchy circumstances. First things first: Captain wasn’t even my dog. And truth be told, there were plenty of moments when I really didn’t like him. But the fact of the matter is that Captain actually changed the course of my life. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 3 2012

Taking My Kids to the Cemetery

By at 3:02 pm

gravestones cemeteryMy grandmother’s unveiling was this past Sunday, on Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish year. Except the day wasn’t especially sad for me. My grandmother passed away just months before her 96th birthday and she lived a very long and full life. She was well loved. And while I wish my grandmother could have met my daughters, born just two days before her death, I think we’re pretty lucky to she got to meet–and got to know–the six other great-grandchildren who came before my own. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 28 2012

Our Favorite Tributes to Nora Ephron

By at 10:39 am

nora ephron and tom hanksIt’s become abundantly clear that we will all miss Nora Ephron. Our own Jordana Horn shared her slightly (okay, more than slightly) embarrassing story about faking an orgasm a la When Harry Met Sally, and plenty of other writers in the blogosphere have written touching tributes. Here are some of our favorites:

On Tablet: This Was My Life, by Nona Willis Aronowitz

On The Arty Semite (The Forward): Nora Ephron Made Genius Look Easy, by Jordana Horn (Damn, girl)

On Diner’s Journal (New York Times): Nora Ephron Never Forgot the Food, by Julia Moskin

On Time: Nora Ephron: A Life of Voice and Detail, by Tom Hanks

On Huffington Post: Nora Ephron Made My Career Possible, by Jennifer Weiner

And one quite excellent video tribute (thanks to Matthue for sharing):

Jun 27 2012

My First Fake Orgasm: A Nora Ephron Tribute

By at 4:07 pm

when harry met sally katz deli sceneNora Ephron taught me what an orgasm was. Call me naïve, but I had no idea.

This isn’t as sad as it sounds, truly. I was in high school when When Harry Met Sally… came out. And I loved every part of the movie. This, of course, was despite not being able to relate to it on several levels in the least: unlike the film’s protagonists, I was a suburban teenager who had never had sex. Read the rest of this entry →

May 9 2012

My Mother, In the Pictures

By at 3:01 pm

sarah tuttle-singer mother photographsIn honor of Mother’s Day, one of our writers reflects on the lasting memories of her mom.

My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November, 1999. For a while, chemotherapy was her powerful ally, and she won battle after battle against the invader cells. By May, 2002, she was proclaimed “cancer free,” and went traipsing off to Provence with my dad and his cousins for a 10-day adventure, where they enjoyed the flowering countryside, good food, and fine wine.

She returned happy and very, very tired. When the fatigue didn’t lift after a few weeks, she was back at her oncologist’s office, bravely facing the terrible news: The cancer was back. With a vengeance. So, she and her oncologist tried to hit back twice as hard, until she developed a life-threatening toxicity to the only drug that was kicking cancer’s ass. But, instead of giving up, she entered a hard-core clinical trial–one that left her skin blistered and peeling, her nights suffocated by excruciating dreams, and her unusually keen memory foggy and addled. Read the rest of this entry →

May 8 2012

What Maurice Sendak Taught Me

By at 12:48 pm

maurice sendak where the wild things areThere are so many things to say about Maurice Sendak, the incredible children’s writer and illustrator who died today at 83 years old. In the famous book The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales, child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim wrote that the most truly magical works of children’s literature were the ones that allowed children to face their terrors and fears through symbolism. Sendak was a master of this–and not only for children.

Facebook feeds will surely be full up today with status message tributes to Sendak’s legacy. Read the rest of this entry →

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