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May 5 2014

The Blessing for Milestones Also Helps When Things Go Wrong

By at 4:10 pm


My daughter decided to learn how to ride a bike on Sunday.

Strange wording. Not “my daughter learned to ride a bike” but “my daughter decided to learn how to ride a bike.” Because that is precisely what Lilly does; she makes a decision and then does it.

And when she brought me outside to see her newest accomplishment, I said, “Remember what we do when we do something for the first time?” Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 13 2014

14 Things You Should Know Before Getting Married

By at 1:56 pm


My husband and I just celebrated a milestone anniversary–our 40th.

We married when we were 21 and 22, respectively, after meeting five years before in summer camp. In my senior year of high school, even while dating other people, I knew I wanted to marry him. I didn’t have a “list” or set of criteria like so many women seem to have now. I didn’t analyze, intellectualize, or speculate on his earning potential or what kind of father he would be. I just jumped, taking a leap of faith that remarkably, astonishingly, and awesomely paid off.

Over the decades I have learned a lot about marriage, from my own experience and from observing other people. These are some of my conclusions; some things I think people should know before they get married:

1. Know that you will not always be happy.

2. Don’t expect your spouse to fulfill all your needs. Women, especially, should make sure to keep their friends. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 19 2013

At What Age Can Kids be Left Home Alone?

By at 9:57 am

at what age do you leave your kids home alone?

It’s a big year at our house. This September, for the first time, my 14-year-old began taking the subway to school by himself, my 10-year-old began taking the city bus to school by himself, and I began leaving my 6-year-old at home alone for short stretches.

As with many of our previous milestones, all came about due to necessity. My oldest first started coming home by himself on the bus at the age of 9. His toddler sister had just transitioned from two naps to one, and the time she chose to do it in was exactly during his school pick up. Trying to put her down any earlier would have been too early, and any later would have been too late. So we armed our 4th grader with a Metro Card and a cell phone and assured him he was ready for this grand adventure. (Several parents in his class disagreed with our assessment and generously let us know how they felt.)

A year later, we decreed that not only was he experienced enough to also take the bus to school, but that he could bring along his kindergarten-aged brother. Now he was the one who disagreed with our assessment. Not because my oldest thought he couldn’t handle it, but because his brother was, to quote, annoying and obnoxious and refused to hold his hand while crossing the street, even though we’d mandated that he must. In that case, a stern talking-to with the younger made the older more amenable. That and my agreeing, despite being against allowances, to pay him for his pain and suffering. It was still less than what an adult babysitter would have cost. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 11 2013

Little Known Jewish Prayers, Written By and For Women

By at 11:52 am

pregnant woman in pretty dress

Giving birth was the most spiritual experience I ever had.

It was as if my body, mind and soul–my very being–was on high alert. I felt a new closeness to the man with whom I had fallen in love years before and who was now the father of my child. I felt an intense identification with the Creator God, to whom I prayed each day, and who was our partner in the creation of the new life I had just pushed from my body.

But as a religious Jewish woman, I was disappointed that my tradition provided no special prayer or ritual to mark my rite of passage from “woman” to “mother,” even as I softly said the generic Shehechiyanu blessing (“…who has kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this time.”) Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 13 2013

So Sad to Part With All This Baby Stuff

By at 3:44 pm
demolishing first cupcake

Jared devouring his first cupcake on his 1st birthday.

The other night I took my daughter’s pink Disney Princess booster seat off the kitchen chair to clean it. As it turns out, that was the last night she used it. She says she doesn’t need it anymore, her big eyes in her tiny head poking up above the table.

That’s how it always goes, my husband says. One day something is super important and the next you’re deciding whether to donate it or sell it on Craigslist.

We’re hypersensitive to the finality of even the most trivial things because our second and last baby just turned 1. As he starts to formulate his first words, we’re stuck trying to find our own, too–ones to describe the sadness and yet slight elation around knowing there will never be another infant we made in the house. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 5 2013

My Baby Wouldn’t Sit Up

By at 1:05 pm

baby lying downAs I watched other babies several months younger than my son cruise around rooms with ease while my Jared just sat and watched, I tried not to be that mom. You know, the one who compares what her baby can do against what others are doing. After all, Jared is my second child and I know better. Kinda.

At his 9-month well check, I told the pediatrician that he’s not trying to crawl yet. He said 10 percent of babies never crawl so as long as he’s sitting himself up and seeming interested in starting to stand, I had nothing to worry about. And that was my cue to officially worry, because Jared wasn’t doing those things either. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 28 2013

Counting the Omer, Counting the Milestones

By at 1:39 pm

pile of legos“Dear God, how many hours until bedtime?” I mutter from my prone position on the playroom floor as Legos bounce off of my head.

And how long have I been doing this, anyway? I’m home with the kids today, and my husband left for work at 7:30, so it’s been eight hours (not all of them involved being pummeled by Legos, but still). Now the Legos are hitting me in the arm as my toddler flings them into the air, his giggles piercing the torpid afternoon. Let’s see…if there are no major meltdowns, I can reasonably expect to get both kids into bed by 8:30, so I’ve got five more hours to go. Five more hours is doable, right? Five is a lot less than eight, so clearly I’ve reached the downhill part of my day. No problem, I think. I’m golden. I’m coasting. I’m… oh, for crying out loud, can’t they make Legos out of something softer? Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 4 2012

The Case of the Missing Bar Mitzvah

By at 12:42 pm

Almost three years ago, when my oldest son was only 10, I received an e-mail from our temple’s Hebrew School, which he was then attending, informing me that it was time to put his bar mitzvah date down on their calendar.

I responded with what I thought was the perfect, Jewish reaction, “Oy, we should all live so long.” (Let the record show that the above response was only in my head. I sent the temple a more dispassionately worded answer, merely declining the opportunity.)

I was informed that, should I fail at committing to a particular date almost three years down the road on the spot, I risked it BECOMING UNAVAILABLE. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 10 2011

My Son’s First Birthday

By at 9:42 am

This morning when we went downstairs for breakfast, my husband announced to everyone, “It’s my son’s first birthday!” This seemed like a huge turnaround in his attitude from just a week ago. As Aiven’s first birthday approached, Alex begrudged much of my preparations. To him, it wasn’t worth it to make a big deal about his birthday since he wasn’t going to remember it anyway. Also, since money’s tight right now, he felt that it would be better spent on other things or kept in reserve. A few days ago, in a moment of frustration, I blurted out that Aiven’s birthday was as much about me as it was about him.  It was an epiphany for my husband and myself.

Aiven’s birthday is my birthday, too.  One year ago today, I was reborn.  I will never again be the same person I was before.  I have progressed emotionally and spiritually.  I have learned to be patient with my child (still learning patience with my husband), come to terms with my new body, and seen the world through the eyes of a newborn.  I have received smiles and kisses that are truly priceless, and I have continued to work towards becoming more selfless (I grew up an only child myself, so things like sharing don’t always come easy to me.)

It is a milestone for both of us.

For Aiven, it is about celebrating his first year of life.  He has progressed developmentally at a rate I still cannot fathom.  He took his first steps at 9 months (and can now toddle towards danger in the blink of an eye), self-weaned at 11 months, and every day seems to learn more stupid pet tricks (kisses, hands up, gimme five, tongue out).  Last but not least, he has survived one year living with crazy parents who schlepped him to five different countries and I don’t know how many different hotel rooms, and the smile that appeared on his face at 6 weeks is still there. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 14 2011

Back on the Bar Mitzvah Circuit

By at 12:30 pm

The last time I attended a bar or bat mitzvah celebration, the deejay blasted “Ice, Ice Baby” in between “The Electric Slide” and “Hava Nagila,” and my friends and I raced around the party collecting materials to make a memory glass. Not much has changed about the synagogue service in the two decades since I attended a bar/bat mitzvah, but the after-party sure looks a whole lot different.

I found this out over the weekend when I attended the b’nai mitzvah of my husband’s cousin’s kids (they’re 14 months apart and decided to have a joint celebration). They rocked their prayers and speeches and were more than ready to release the stress of it all at a nighttime bash at the W Hotel in Dallas.

The first thing I noticed is that the music was really loud. The second thing I noticed is that I am apparently now old. But the biggest observation I made is that the party has become about the kids, not the adults. Aside from an open bar, there wasn’t much for adults, and in fact, not many who weren’t family or very close friends were there. Gone, it appears, are the days of inviting teachers, friends’ parents, etc. Teens chowing down on sliders, chicken fingers, and fries far outnumbered the grownups carrying plates of veggies out to the quieter reception room.

I know that a lot of people are against having big, expensive parties for their kids. My own parents took me on a bar/bat mitzvah tour to Israel in lieu of making me a lavish event. They felt I would remember that a lot longer than I would a dance party. (I can’t say for sure if they were right because I didn’t have a party to compare it to, but I do remember that trip to Israel as if I went on it yesterday.) But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a celebration of the hard work and milestone that was met as long as the focus remains steadfast on what it all means rather than what it means for getting presents.

And if you’re going to make a party for your child, making it about your child is the way to go. Isn’t it?


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