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Aug 20 2013

Five Ways to Keep Your Kids Connected to Faraway Family

By at 9:51 am

greetings postcardWe live in New York and have members of our families that live in California and Beijing, so it was important for us to figure out some ways for our kids to feel they were part of their lives, despite the distance. Here were some things that we did:

1) Photos: Pictures have always been very important to me and it’s a great way to help build the memory. Very early on in both of our children’s lives, I started photo albums for them. I included photos of them with their family members and friends. We would look through the albums with them repeatedly, pointing out who everyone was.

As they got older and had more words, they were able to go through them on their own, identifying people and starting to attach them to experiences. On the same wavelength as the photo albums, my father started making a family photo calendar several years ago. We have strategically kept it in the kitchen, in full view of the children as they eat every meal. Last year, my son was so excited about the calendar that he wanted to help make it which he did. We also keep a website filled with photos of our lives that we share with our family and friends. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 26 2013

A Letter to My Future Niece

By at 10:11 am

toes in sandDear Future Niece,

When your mom and I were little, we went to the beach one summer with your Nana and PawPaw and even though it was vacation, and we didn’t have to, we decided to wake up before sunrise one morning and go fishing. We got all our equipment ready and made the short walk from the house to the beach, set up our fishing rods, and settled in for what would be a very unsuccessful fishing trip.

But I will never forget that day. We were young teenagers with most of high school still in front of us, and all of our lives after that. We sat in the sand talking about our dreams and wishes we had for our lives that were best spoken in the fading darkness and rising light of a summer sunrise. We talked about our weddings and the color of bridesmaids dresses we would never have. We confided in one another what we wanted in husbands and we talked about you. I was sure I was never going to have children so your cousins were never mentioned, but your mother smiled when she talked about you, even then.  Read the rest of this entry →

May 11 2013

Trying to Make Nice with My Mother-in-Law

By at 9:20 pm

yellow yarnWe present this piece about that tricky mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship just in time for Mother(-in-law)’s Day.

My mom and I are so close that we can finish each other’s sentences, or at least harmonize in what my husband calls the Parade of Horribles (“Hope this milk’s not expired/Hope it’s not too cold for shorts/Oy, oy, oy”). But this Mother’s Day, I need to make a special effort to knock down the walls that have risen between “MIL” Dearest and me.  Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 11 2013

The Difference Between Camp People & Non-Camp People

By at 9:53 am

happy family on the beachThere are two kinds of people in the world: Camp People, and Non-Camp People.

In his newest book, The Secrets of Happy Families, author Bruce Feiler definitely comes across as a Camp Person.

In the pages of The Secrets of Happy Families, Feiler approaches his research and fieldwork with all the optimism and resourcefulness of a senior counselor. He reaches out to experts in various fields in a Freakonomics-esque attempt to debunk conventional wisdom about what makes a functional family, and challenge some widely held beliefs about mundane practices such as the family meal, sex talks, conflict resolution, and allowance, while sharing his candid personal parenting victories and foibles and using lots of Camp People tactics throughout. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 21 2013

In Praise of Awesome Aunts

By at 9:41 am

folded purple sweaterThe day the pediatrician told me just how serious my breastfeeding problems really were, my aunt arrived into town to help out.

We had planned her trip so that she could meet the baby but until she got there I didn’t fully realize how crucial this visit was for me. My aunt immediately took control of the situation both emotionally and practically. She held both me and my daughter as I cried and cried. Her baby gift to me: as many sessions with the lactation consultant as I wanted. Other people could get me baby outfits and toys; she wanted to get me what I needed most at the time. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 24 2012

Flying Internationally With Kids is a Lot Like Giving Birth

By at 9:54 am

Flying internationally can be rough. It’s a lot of hours to be cooped up in an oversized bus with 300 strangers, stale air, and chicken or beef. But flying internationally with children is not unlike the process of childbirth itself. Hours of torture followed by sleepless nights and only a fleeting sense of accomplishment.

It begins many months before. You buy your tickets knowing there will be some amount of discomfort involved though you figure, how hard could it be? People have been flying with their kids for at least half a century. But seasoned parents are frank with you. Get your sleep now. Don’t get too excited about your personal video player since you’ll be nursing your baby the entire flight. You nod but secretly you think it will be different for you. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 21 2012

Who Does Your Baby Look Like?

By at 1:28 pm

When I found out I was having a boy, I assumed he would look like his dad. My husband is the spitting image of his own father. On top of their physical resemblance, both are economics professors and both ran cross-country in college. I never have to wonder what my husband will look like in 30 years–during any holiday celebration I only need to look over at my father-in-law.

But when my son arrived, he looked like me. Instead of being bald like the baby pictures of his dad, he was born with a head full of dark brown hair; instead of his father’s blue eyes he had dark brown irises, just like mine. Even my ever-eager-to-stake their genetic claim in-laws agreed: he was my child. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 9 2012

We Don’t Live Anywhere Near Our Family

By at 9:49 am

The night I realized that we had nobody to parent our children for a stretch of October, I cried.

My husband had a major conference in Reno, and I had a 10-day festival to run. That left us with no one.

For lots of folks, this kind of problem has an easy fix: Granny Nanny. But eight years ago my husband and I, childless and independent, moved to DC, leaving the closest grandparent five hours away. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 1 2012

Surviving Shabbat At the (Ultra-Orthodox) In-Laws

By at 10:27 am

“I’d rather shove a fork in my eye.”

That was my response when my husband said his parents called and asked if we’d like to come spend the last Shabbat of Sukkot with them in the ultra-Orthodox community my husband, children and I recently moved out of. It wasn’t any one thing in particular that gave me the knee-jerk, panic-stricken reaction to shout, “NO!”

In part, it was the fact that my relationship with my in-laws has been cordial but not particularly warm. It was the idea of spending 24 hours in a place where I’d never felt like myself. And much more basic than that, I hate packing my boys and all their belongings up and taking them somewhere unfamiliar to spend the night. They don’t ever sleep well, which means I don’t sleep well and that translates into one miserable weekend for everyone. My husband said, “Think about it and we’ll let them know tomorrow.” Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 22 2012

Surviving “Out of Town” Family With a Newborn

By at 11:03 am

airplane taking off“If it’s a boy, I think we’ll come for the bris,” my brother-in-law in Miami told me a few weeks ago over Skype, just before the arrival of our second baby.

As an East Coast transplant living in St. Louis, I spent the last few weeks of my pregnancy this summer acting as a part-time travel agent, navigating tricky waters to coordinate which family members would come to visit–and when. Read the rest of this entry →

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