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Sep 18 2013

Five Gorgeous Sukkot Tablescapes

By at 1:41 pm

If you’ve built your own sukkah, congratulations–the hard part’s over. But you may still want it to look nice and pretty inside. Even if you won’t be dining in a sukkah, you can turn your dinner table into a lovely Sukkot display. Take some inspiration from these five gorgeous Sukkot-inspired tablescapes.

1. Sukkot/Thanksgiving Tablescape from The Glamorous Housewife

sukkot tablescape the glamorous housewife

2. Sukkah Tablescape from The Shiksa in the Kitchen Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 30 2013

Eight Rosh Hashanah Tablescape Ideas

By at 10:24 am

Preparing a meal for Rosh Hashanah is hard work, but serving it to your guests seated around a table filled with holiday ambiance is above and beyond what is expected. Here are some amazing tablescape ideas that will really WOW this Rosh Hashanah.

1. Maine Apple Orchard via Daisies & Pearls Merrymakingorchard rosh hashanah tablescape

2. Harvest Tablescape via Holiday & Hearth Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 7 2013

Passover Shopping Guide 2013: Setting the Seder Table

By at 5:01 pm

Once you’ve got the seder plate covered, there’s still a few more things you might need for your seder table. Take a look through some of our favorite items available today, like multi-purpose kiddish cups and matzah-themed everything. Happy shopping!

1. Michael Aram Wisteria Kiddish Cup ($85) This beautiful stainless steel kiddish cup is a work of art for your Passover table.

wisteria kiddish cup

Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 31 2013

I’m So Tired of “What Are We Having for Dinner?”

By at 3:38 pm

angry kid at dinner with carrotsAs my children trickle home from school and their tummies begin to rumble, I can hear the question before it even begins to leave their mouths. With authority that they think is their birthright, they ask me, “What are we having for dinner?”

Oh, how I have grown to strongly dislike this inquiry. When the question begins to form, it is not just on the lips of one child but the lips of four little mouths whining in unison. It’s a rhetorical question for sure and experience has taught me that there is no correct answer that will satisfy all eight ears. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 10 2012

Friday Night: Committing to This Shabbat Thing

By at 1:48 pm

spoonful of noodle kugel

Five years ago my husband and I completely ignored Shabbat for the last time. Eager to arrive at our friend’s 30th birthday party, we kissed our (then) 3-year-old son and baby girl goodnight, gave the sitter cash for pizza, and made for the door. By then we were hosting traditional Shabbat dinners most weeks. I liked the idea of a weekly ritual that brought our family together, but I didn’t want to feel shackled to it either.

As we walked away our son yelled after us, “But what about my Shabbos dinner?”

The poor kid sobbed. He didn’t want pizza or a babysitter. He wanted chickenkugelchallah, candles–the whole nine yards. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 9 2012

After Two Years of Fretting Over Everything, I’m Ready to Breathe

By at 2:36 pm

vanilla ice cream with sprinklesLast night after dinner my son asked for a bowl of ice cream. He sat quietly in his booster seat and carefully guided each spoonful into his mouth and with about three bites left, he handed me the bowl and said, “All done axe-cream.” I sat there and looked at him in amazement. Partly because how could a child of mine not finish a scoop of ice cream, but mostly because he is a kid. A full blown CHILD who uses a spoon and tells me when he’s finished and while he still craps his pants, he’s lost almost every glimmer of babyness and replaced it with kid things like nose-picking and matchbox cars.

And somehow we got to this place after two years of holding my breath that every little decision I was making was absolutely critical to his future development. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 24 2012

What’s Easiest for Mama is Best for Kids

By at 9:35 am
new york city bus stop

My kids can handle the bus.

Occam’s Razor is a scientific heuristic that, simply put, states the easiest solution to a problem is, more often than not, the right one.

I am Occam’s Mother. I believe that the easiest thing for me to do, vis-à-vis my kids, is, more often than not, the right thing. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 11 2012

Mama’s Dinnertime Rules

By at 2:29 pm

home cooking that will please youI love it when other parents pull back the curtain and expose their parenting style, and not just so I can indulge in a little schadenfreude. It provides me with an opportunity to gaze inward, question, and perhaps modify my own parenting choices.

Cara recently wrote a post about her life as a Laid Back Mama, and it got me thinking about meal time at our house. I’ve written before about feeding toddlers, but that was about the food, not the manners. I’d like to think of myself as pretty mellow, but as my husband, my daughters, or anyone who has spent at least seven minutes with me will tell you, I’m just not. Especially not at dinnertime.

Now, before I share with you my own brand of Mama Crazy, you should know I come by it honestly. My father’s heritage is German, and even though our family has been in the States for over a century, we’ve still got the obnoxious last name and the anal-retentive obsession with manners and punctuality to prove it. My great-grandfather used to bark out numbered rules at the dinner table; my father remembers that 1 meant “sit down,” 2 was “shut up,” and 7 was “elbows off the table”. I think my Dad has blocked the rest from his memory, and understandably so.

I haven’t numbered our mealtime rules (yet), but like a good yekke, I do have expectations for how my daughters (ages 3 and 18 months) should behave at the table. Yes, it’s probably genetic and cultural (my husband is also half-German, and he and his parents also appreciate good manners), but I do believe that teaching your children how to act at the table is important. Most social gatherings and Jewish holidays include meals–prime opportunities for family and friends to judge you and your parenting abilities get to know your kids (and vice versa), which tends to go a lot better for everyone if the kids behave. Even when you’re home alone, you’ve still got three meals a day to get through, and there’s no reason why they can’t be enjoyable for everyone. Read the rest of this entry →

May 6 2011

Friday Night: Too Many Screens?

By at 9:07 am

It seems like kids (and adults) these days are always plugged in.

When I was pregnant, my husband and I did a lot of thinking about what kind of parents we wanted to be. How would we teach our baby-to-be about the world? What values would we exemplify in our lives? What aspects of Judaism would be important to us? And of course–what were we absolutely, positively, sure we would never do?

One of the things on that no-way list was letting our kids watch TV/movies anywhere and everywhere. I remember one Friday evening when we went to a restaurant in our neighborhood and saw a family of four having a lovely dinner out. (Ah, the days of being able to celebrate the restfulness of Shabbat by going out to dinner on a Friday night without needing a babysitter!) But when I looked closer, I saw that the daughter was listening to music on her ipod and the son was watching a dvd. I was really sad to see that. I thought to myself, “we’ll never let our kids do that.” After all, I’d grown up in a house where you weren’t even allowed to bring your book to the dinner table.

I’ve seen it more and more lately. There’s even a new restaurant in my kid-friendly neighborhood that caters to that mentality–they have booths with televisions and the kids can choose from an assortment of dvds. When I asked a friend about it, she said it was the only way she and her husband could enjoy a nice dinner.

I don’t know about that.

Now, my daughter isn’t quite 2 yet, so I haven’t faced this head-on the same way some of you have–but shouldn’t there be other ways to enjoy a nice dinner? Aren’t there other toys, games, or activities that you can bring to the table if you need your child to be entertained? Lately crayons and stickers have been our distraction of choice–and it seems to be working. When it stops working, I’ll try to find something else. To me, the ipod (with its videos of Laurie Berkner) is our last resort–and only used if one of us can’t take her out of the restaurant.

Of course I’m realistic, and I’ve broken my own rules a couple of times too. At one of our  Passover seders at a friend’s house, when we hadn’t wrapped up by 9 pm, and we weren’t putting our daughter to sleep there, we might have let her sit at the table watching a dvd. (Okay, we did let her sit at the table watching a dvd.) But those were extenuating circumstances–we should’ve thought ahead and brought the pack n play and let her go to sleep. My mom told me that my grandfather was probably rolling over in his grave at the thought of tv at the seder. I agree–which is enough incentive for me to not ever do that one again.

There was an article in the New York Times recently about families that were too plugged in–though they all sit in their living room together, each person has his/her own screen (from ipads to tv to cell phones) and thus, are totally separate. That’s not what I want for my family. So I’m going to do my damnedest not to let it happen. How? Starting with me. If I have fewer screens in my life, so will my husband, and so will our daughter.

I’m determined to do it. What about you?

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