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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 →

Jul 30 2013

Should I Force My Son to Take Swimming Lessons?

By at 12:28 pm

san Francisco swimmingEvery summer, in an attempt to escape the New York City heat, I pack up the kids and take them to visit my parents in San Francisco for a few weeks (where as Mark Twain probably didn’t say, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”).

This year, I wasn’t able to go due to work. But, because I think it’s important for my kids to spend time with their grandparents and assorted West Coast cousins, my husband and I decided to send the three of them out alone for a month.

They’re ages just-turned-14, almost-10, and 6 ½. They’ve spent weeks alone with their grandparents before, so we figured it wouldn’t be a problem.

And, initially, it wasn’t a problem. All three were excited about the upcoming trip. (Though I suspect what they were most excited about was the fantastic meals, new toys, and undivided attention they were about to receive; Mama didn’t raise no foolish children, they know where they’ve got it good).

But, the night before they were scheduled to leave, as we were packing their bags, my almost-10-year-old burst into tears. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 18 2013

How Should a Grandparent Spend Her Money?

By at 9:47 am

flightWe married young, had children young, and by the time I was 31, we had two children in yeshiva day school. My husband worked long, hard hours and I was a stay-at-home mom for 18 years, the right decision for our family.

We paid for private schools, including Ivy League colleges, for four children as well as a master’s and a doctoral degree. We managed to pay off the loans about two years ago and left our kids with no debt. I don’t know how we did it and I often consider that God was making regular deposits into our bank account.

We have started small 529Ks for each grandchild and I am the best customer of the day at Gap Kids when I do a big shopping trip twice a year for clothes for them. We try to be generous with our gifts.

So why am I feeling guilty spending money on just us, my husband and me? Why am I troubled spending money to travel with my husband when we never had the time or money to do it earlier in our lives? Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 11 2013

Bubbe’s Top 10 Books for Jewish Kids

By at 5:03 pm

the tale of meshka the kvetchThere has been a lot on Kveller about books for Jewish children but I have not seen any mention of my own favorites. So, after decades of reading to my children and grandchildren, here are my own top 10 picks for you to share with the children you love (between the ages of 3-8, all available on Amazon):

1. Yussel’s Prayer retold by Barbara Cohen: The story of a young cowherd and his simple Yom Kippur prayer. When my children were small, we read this every year on Yom Kippur night.

2. The Magician by Uri Shulevitz: Elijah the Prophet works his magic for an impoverished couple on Passover.

3. The Tale of Meshka the Kvetch by Carol Chapman: Need a laugh with a life lesson? This might be just the book for adults, too. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 25 2013

When Your Biggest Mommy Rival is Your Own Mother

By at 3:59 pm

grandmother and motherMommy Wars are usually about mom vs. mom: tiger vs. helicopter, attachment vs. baby-wise, French vs. Israeli. But what do you do if the biggest challenge to your mom identity–and your biggest potential mommy rival–is your own mother?

For the past almost 10 months, we’ve been living with my parents. Our necessary experiment in multi-generational living has shown me how great it is to live with extra adults to take on raising a child. The benefits far outweigh the cramped living space. Having a toddler is a lot of work, much more so than I ever imagined. It’s mentally, emotionally, and physically draining (and of course also rewarding). Having grandparents in the same house for support is beyond helpful, especially from my mom who is a wondermother. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 20 2013

The One & Only Job of a Grandparent

By at 2:06 pm

I got the sandwich orders from my children for our Septimus family picnic. I substituted rainbow bagels for the plain bagels for the little kids. When I called my younger daughter to clarify something, she said, “Are you getting rainbow bagels because my siblings ordered them or because you’re giving the kids a treat?”

“It’s a treat,” I replied.

“You never would have gotten them for us [her and her siblings],” she said accusingly. “You would have told us they caused cancer.”

She was right. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 17 2013

Before You Know It, You’re Sending Your Grandkids Off to Camp

By at 9:54 am

boy jumping off dock sleepaway campFirst they leave your body, then they leave your breast, then your bed.

The next thing you know they’re on a bus to sleep-away camp.

Adina Soclof’s recent piece about sending her child off to camp resonated with me.

Only I will be sending my grandsons off to camp. Well, actually, their parents will be.

I just can’t believe it. I vividly remember standing at the bus stop sending their mom, my oldest child, off to camp. I didn’t feel teary but I felt disoriented, almost confused. Why weren’t I and my husband going off to camp? It really seemed like we should have been getting on that bus. We, who met at sleep-away camp when I was 16-years-old, he 17. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 25 2013

The Pros and Cons of Living With Your Parents (As a Parent)

By at 6:52 pm
grandmother and granddaughter baking

Charlotte and Bubbie.

The best part of multi-generational living is unlimited FREE babysitting. Sure, you have to give up things like personal space and privacy, but sharing a home with an extra two adults (who love my daughter as much as me and my husband) is priceless.

For the past six months, I have been cohabiting with my husband, baby, and parents. It’s like a follow up episode of 16 and Pregnant on MTV, except I am 35 and the father of my child is officially my husband and gainfully employed. Last spring when our lease was up in Brooklyn, we decided the time had come to say goodbye to the east coast and move to Seattle. Without definite job security, we took a leap of faith and moved in with my parents to their 2 bed 1.5 bath condo. More and more I know friends who are moving back in with their parents, even after getting married and having a baby, to save money and for the mutual support. Of course this is how much of the world already operates. If you have a good relationship with your parents, it can be a win-win situation in many ways. Read the rest of this entry →

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 →

Dec 24 2012

News Roundup: Lie-Detector Tests for Nannies, Bulletproof Backpacks for Kids

By at 4:01 pm

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.

Nanny Interviews Get More Aggressive. They now sometimes involve lie-detector tests and private investigators. [Insert nanny-state joke here.] (Wall Street Journal)

-The Ultimate Amenity: Grandparents. Some families are choosing to buy or rent apartments for their parents so that grandparents can be nearby. (NY Times)

-Since Newtown Shooting Sales of Kids’ Bulletproof Backpacks Soar. No surprise that lots of parents are snapping these up (they’re $200-$500). (Washington Post)

-Why Is My Kid Such A Picky Eater? Here are some ways to help get around your child’s aversion to leafy greens and anything that isn’t light brown. (Slate)

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