Jan 20 2014
How do you get your kids to understand the meaning of a holiday, and not just the fact that they get a day off from school? Well, we were wondering the same thing, so we asked our readers on Facebook to share how they were planning on translating the importance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to their kids.
Here are the five most thoughtful answers we received to help you celebrate MLK Jr. Day with your kids in a meaningful way:
1. Make them listen to his “I have a dream” speech. It’s wonderfully captivating!
2. There is a great book called My Brother Martin, written for young kids by MLK’s sister. It is beautiful and well written. I heartily recommend it!
3. I told my kids that MLK was a person who wanted everybody to be friends. Some people don’t think everybody should be friends; they think you should only be friends with people who are like you. But he really wanted everyone in the world to be friends with each other, even if they were different. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 16 2014
Happy Tu Bishvat, the Jewish birthday of trees! This is a great holiday for making kids aware of the earth and all its bountiful beauty. If you’ve got some free time with the kids today, we rounded up a few craft projects you can do to get them in the “tree state of mind.”
1. Have a forest fiesta! Break out the paper, glue, buttons, and paint and create a forest with your kids. These two projects will leave you with a pretty play dough garden, and a landscape of paper trees. (Mum Paints Lives)
2. Make some cardboard leaves with stencils and paints! Get crazy and do some finger painting–there are many techniques you can use with this one. (Creative Jewish Mom) Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 14 2014
I had forgotten so much of it. How could have I have forgotten? I probably watched the movie hundreds of times when I was a child. I knew every single line, from Jane and Michael’s job description for a new nanny to the jokes that Bert and Uncle Albert told when they were floating on the ceiling, to the final, hopeful lyrics of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”
It wasn’t until last week when I finally sat down with my daughters to watch Mary Poppins for the first time that I remembered so many of those beautiful details that had such a firm grip on my young mind (and to be honest, my heart): Mrs. Bank’s “votes for women” sash (I didn’t really understand the message, but man, did I want a sash), Mary Poppins’ magical cough syrup that changes taste depending on who is drinking it, and chimneys that could suck a child up and send them into the rooftops high above a city. I loved it all.
Here is what I have never forgotten: the small, dark room at the top of the stairs in the old Victorian house my sister, mother, and I were living in with my grandmother. It was at the end of a short hallway, and down a few steps. The space was just big enough to hold a loveseat, a taple-top movie projector and BetaMax player, a screen, and a glass-fronted china cabinet filled with my grandmother’s antique doll collection and an older cousin’s collection of Friday the 13th movies. Most days after school and most weekends for at least a year, my sister and I would grab a few snacks and a drink and settle in to watch the movie once or twice through. Read the rest of this entry →
You’ll never hear me tell my kids to join the “clean plate club.” My father used to always push back when my grandparents told me to clean my plate. Somewhere in between their depression-mentality and his realization that giving your kid a stomachache and making them overeat really didn’t accomplish anything lies that reasonable parental desire to help curb our kids’ seemingly innate tendency to waste food.
Whether you’re that parent that really won’t let your kid eat anything else except what is served for dinner, or you’re that parent who gives in and let’s them have a bowl of cereal, or, heaven forbid, the one who becomes a short-order cook, most of us cringe when our kids waste the food they’re served or serve themselves.
How convenient then that we can use Tu Bishvat, the Jewish “Birthday of the Trees,” as an opportunity to reduce their wastefulness (Tu Bishvat is from sundown on Wednesday to sundown on Thursday). Kids really get a kick out of this birthday concept and want to learn more. If the trees are so special that they deserve their own holiday, we should have respect for the food that comes off of them and be sure to use it respectfully.
Have you ever become frustrated at how much your kids waste or wondered if it really is as much as you think it is? Here’s what you can do at home: Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 10 2014
I learned to braid and to bake at the same time. At my mother’s side, we mixed packets of yeast with warm water to let it proof, melted butter and stirred it together with eggs, milk, and honey, and added flour to make it a soft, pliable dough. She got the recipe for this sweetened and enriched challah from a roommate’s great-grandmother, who brought it with her from Europe.
“Push it away with the heel of your hands, then fold it over and pull it towards you,” she instructed, teaching me how to knead the dough. After the dough was springy and resilient, we placed it in a greased bowl to rise in a warm place. In the fall and winter, which is when we most often made honey-egg bread, we placed it on the edge of the kitchen counter, closest to the woodstove in the next room. We swaddled the bowl in a dishtowel.
After an hour, we lifted back the towel to see the dough, puffed out to double its size. My mother told me to punch it down, and we pried it out of the bowl and kneaded some more. She then cut it into equal pieces, three or six, depending on how many loaves we were making, or if we were making one big braid with a baby braid on top. We shaped each piece into a long, skinny snake, rolling on a floured board or between our hands in the air. Our golden retriever lay at our feet, hopeful for a dropped piece of dough. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 9 2014
There have been a few times so far in my life where I have taken my kids on an outing and everything works out perfectly: the birds chirp and the sun shines, I’ve miraculously packed enough snacks, and the kids behave like mensches. Perhaps most importantly, there are eyewitnesses to note my kids’ wonderful behavior and shoot me admiring looks for this Gisele-like scene of perfect parenting.
Listen, we all need a little external feedback sometimes for emotional validation. Even if you’re Gisele.
These rare occasions have falsely instilled a belief that most outings will go as smoothly, despite considerable evidence to the contrary (baby poop explosions and the realization that I forgot the wipes at home, temper tantrums in aisle six, etc.). So with a confidently optimistic attitude, I blithely set off for IKEA on New Year’s Day with two slightly hungry children who were antsy to get out of the house. I had never been to IKEA before, but people love it and the catalog makes it seem like a fun place. Read the rest of this entry →
I recently chatted with Jill Smokler, founder of Baltimore-based parenting website, Scary Mommy. Five years ago, Smokler created the website with one main motive in mind: to create a judgment-free zone for mothers to kvetch on all things motherhood. Jill is a proud mama of three children, a wife, and a New York Times best selling author. Jill mused on her inspiration for Scary Mommy, her conversion from kvetcher to kveller, and the most fun activities to do with her kids in Baltimore.
Tell us the story of Scary Mommy. Why did you start it and why the name?
Scary Mommy began in early 2008, simply as a mommy blog and one of a million projects I figured I’d start and grow tired of after a few short weeks. My middle son was 2 at the time and mildly terrified of everything. Every word he said had a “scary” in front of it. “I can’t sleep, my bed is scary.” “Scary car,” “scary brother,” “scary mommy.” The moment I heard the phrase, I ran to the computer to see if the URL was taken–I was in love.
How do your kids feel about you running the blog?
It depends on who you ask and what day you ask them. Lily is by far the most impressed with all things Scary Mommy, but if they’ve just received some cool perk or impressed a friend, suddenly I’m cool. Momentarily. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 8 2014
For most Jewish couples expecting a son, the decision to have a bris isn’t really a decision at all. It is a time honored tradition, a mitzvah, a tenant of the Jewish religion.
I, however, wasn’t so sure. Our daughter was our first, so when I got pregnant with my son, it was the first time I really gave a bris any thought. To be honest, I just wasn’t sure I wanted the circumcision to take place outside of a clean hospital without a physician. After much thought, and knowing how much this meant to my husband and family, I agreed to the bris. And since I am the consummate planner and organizer, I planned the details down to where we’d get the bagels and lox.
As I entered my third trimester I had a typical plan in my head for my baby boy’s first week. I knew I was having a C-section so after four days in the hospital we would go home and on his eighth day, our family and friends would celebrate my son’s bris. There is a Yiddish phrase that translates to “When you make a plan, God laughs.” When I had a placental abruption at 33 weeks and my son was whisked off to the NICU for what would turn out to be a month-long stay, my plans went out the window. Read the rest of this entry →
“Let’s start 2014 with happiness. If you ‘like’ this, I’ll write something that I find beautiful about you!”
I saw a status message in this vein on a friend’s Facebook page. I clicked “like”–more to convey that I “liked” that she was doing such a nice thing, rather than “like” as in, “Send me a compliment ASAP.”
Perhaps fortunately, Facebook’s “likes” are not so nuanced. So I got a compliment from her. It made me feel warm, fuzzy, and appreciated. And so I decided, you know what? I’ll do this too.
I posted this as my status message. The “likes” started pouring in. And whether they “liked” it because of my intention or because they wanted to see what I’d say about them, I decided I was going to write something for each one of them.
I won’t lie–it was time-consuming. I wrote on my phone with one finger as I put my 14-month-old down for her nap. I wrote between dot painting projects with my 2-year-old. I wrote in the glider, the baby asleep on my lap. I wrote in the carpool pickup line (car in park, don’t worry). Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 7 2014
On a recent morning before school, while zipping up his fall vest, my son Lucien announced that his father and I will make the best grandparents ever.
“When I have a son,” Lucien added, “if I have a son, I’ll let him come see you when he’s 5 or 6 years old.”
I gently explained that in most families grandparents get to know kids from day one, not when they are 5 or 6. This comes as a revelation to Lucien, because he has no grandparents.
I haven’t spoken to either of my parents, or my two brothers, since long before Lucien was born. The estrangement was my choice, the hardest–and best–decision I’ve ever made. But when I decided to cut my parents out of my life at the age of 28, after a childhood of physical and verbal abuse, and young adult years filled with dysfunction, I didn’t think about how the choice would one day shape my child’s life. I’ve protected my son from my family, but I’ve also kept him from knowing what it means to have grandparents. Read the rest of this entry →