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Sep 19 2014

To My Mama Friend Who is Having a Rough Time

By at 1:37 pm

Butterfly-mama

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Nitzavim. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

To a mama friend who is currently having a rough time:

I’ve never been a fan of the, “We’re only given what we can handle,” line. Extra rough things happen only to people who are better equipped to deal with them? I just don’t believe that.

But I do believe the opposite of that line. It is precisely through dealing with hard things, that we become strong. And that is exactly what you are doing. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 28 2014

Making Aliyah in the Midst of a War

By at 10:02 am

EL-AL

I moved to Israel last week with four kids, ages 5 to 12, right before they stopped most flights to Israel.

Over the last month, while Israel had fallen on tumultuous times, I had been running my own Operation Protective Edge to keep my younger children in the dark about what was happening there.

Shielding them in the Cone of Silence had been easier because we had been driving cross-country from our former home in San Diego to New York over the last four weeks to get to our flight to Israel. We experienced glorious national parks in Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming, stood at the foothills of Mt. Rushmore, zoomed across the Badlands in South Dakota, and splashed on slides in the Wisconsin Dells, the water park capital of the world. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 14 2014

The Only Thing We Arranged For Our Move Across the World

By at 11:47 am

car drives on highway

“Last US Exit,” my husband, our driver, reads aloud. I reach for my iPhone to capture the image of our departure, but we whiz by too quickly. Too unceremoniously.

Can I really leave my home, take my children out of their excellent school, say goodbye to an amazing job and kind friends and a beautiful neighborhood–again?

We’re not American, though the country feels like home to us. Graduate school brought us to the US from Canada for a long stay that began in the 1990s, and we have since left and returned to the country with every job change and new opportunity. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 20 2014

How Can I Help My Son Adjust to a New City?

By at 1:32 pm

new-home

It is one of those mornings. Sam woke up early and now he is in my bed, snuggled as close as possible, twirling my hair around his fingers. His breath is warm on my cheek and his long limbs are wrapped around me. “I don’t want to go to school, Mama. I don’t like my new school. Nobody loves me there. And the toys are boring,” he says.

I turn to him and hold him close, trying to find the right words to comfort him. It is not easy.

My little guy is having a hard time. To be honest, we are all having a hard time, but Sam is the one who is new to this world of changes and challenges. We just moved to a new city and he started attending a new preschool. We are away from family, from the familiar, from the routine. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 11 2014

After Years of Upheaval, We Finally Have a Home

By at 10:46 am

Cara-Paiuk-New-Home

The early milestones in my life were not happy ones, revolving around death and displacement. I also was sick for part of my early adulthood and the years blended together into a blur without any milestones to mark the passage of time.

So, when I met my husband just over four years ago, it was almost as if my life started back up again in overdrive. Our milestones have been making up for lost time I suppose. Almost four years ago I had our son and 13 months ago our twin daughters were born. In the past five years, I have moved eight times and lived in four different cities. While all this roving around has been exciting, it has also been exceedingly stressful and exhausting. The time had finally come for the moving to stop.

Two years ago we landed in West Hartford, Connecticut, where we fell in love with just about everything and everyone who crossed our paths. We knew fairly quickly that this was it–the place we were going to put down roots and raise our children. We could think of no better place to celebrate all of our family’s future milestones. Read the rest of this entry →

May 22 2014

Leaving the Only Home My Kids Have Known

By at 4:33 pm

moving

Three months ago, I moved with my family into a new home six blocks and a few avenues from our former home. This was my first move with young children and I was deeply concerned about how it would affect them.

I wondered how uprooting them from the only home they had known in their few years of life might upset and confuse them. I stressed about the boxes that slowly overtook our old apartment, eating into my children’s play space, and nearly swallowing us all. I thought often about whether they would miss our neighbors, our doormen, our block, and the routine that had made up their lives. And, I worried about how my two daughters would adjust to sharing a room for the first time (we always had one of them in our bedroom previously).

But, as with many other things in parenting, I learned that these fears were mostly about me, not my children. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 27 2014

Loving (and Leaving) the Kibbutz

By at 1:20 pm

kibby

My son was 2 years old and we were living in the West Village. I wasn’t sure the city was the right place to bring up this kid. Maybe another kid, my yet-to-be-born daughter, for instance. But not him. He was and has always been a physically active kid. The only running around he could do was at the playground.

My husband was born on a kibbutz in Israel. He had always described his childhood in idyllic terms, with loads of freedom and activities and nature. He was the person at the Central Park petting zoo who could coax the cow out of the shed. He knew which fruits and vegetables were in season, when. His parents still lived there along with his sister and her children. And while I was not Israeli, or for that matter, even Jewish, I longed for the community and family life he described.

We took the 11-hour plane trip and arrived on the kibbutz. Instantly, my son and I were in love. On the kibbutz I watched him run around excitedly from person to person. Kibbutznik men are generally a loving bunch and were a constant source of entertainment for my young social son. And I? I was relaxed. On that visit, for the first time since my son was born, I could let my guard down. On an Israeli kibbutz, just 15 miles from the Lebanese border, I found peace. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 15 2014

Saying Goodbye to My Childhood Home & Hello to the Sandwich Generation

By at 3:23 pm

moving boxes

Over Christmas week, my parents sold and moved out of the house they lived in for the past 40 years. The house in which I was raised. The place that I, at 39, continue to call my home.

It was sad, but not tragic. There was no death or illness or tragedy that forced them out. My mother has been retired for several years, and my father talks about it more and more. They are rational and practical people who are preparing for the next step in their lives, and they wanted to be well positioned to make it. The house had the potential to hold them back. They left it on their own terms, which is a blessing–but that doesn’t mean I didn’t cry.

I live in Maryland, and went back to New York to be with my parents for the sale and their move. I brought my husband and two children with me. The house didn’t “look” the same as the one I grew up in. It hasn’t for a few years. Long ago my parents took the wallpaper off the walls of the bedrooms, opting for a new palette of paint colors. Some carpeting was replaced by new flooring, new couches were purchased, central air and heating were installed. But it was still my house, and there is a lifetime of me in it. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 20 2013

Friday Night: We Survived Our First Year in the Suburbs

By at 12:28 pm

kids swinging in the suburbs

About a week ago, a friend posted on her Facebook page: “Happy Houseiversary!”

She and her family had been living in their new home for a year (a home that happens to be across the road from my home. Hi, Lori!)

I saw Lori’s post, checked the calendar, and immediately felt shame. Just a week before Lori’s houseiversary, we had a houseiversary, too. It’s just that I hadn’t noticed. I didn’t mention it to my husband, and he didn’t mention it to me. I didn’t post it on Facebook, or give it much thought, at all. In fact, when people ask us how long we’ve been living in our new home, in our new town, we usually mumble, “Uh, a year? About a year? Maybe a little less than a year?” (For the record: one year, three weeks, and five days.)

I’ve blogged on Kveller a bunch about my ambivalence about the suburbs. First I wondered if I was old enough to own a house and then I wondered if the suburbs would make my kids boring. There was a post where I asked, “Will we find people like us?” and one where I tried to instruct readers on how to “close on a house and not freak out.” Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 9 2013

It’s OK to be Overwhelmed by Happy Events

By at 11:59 am

boxes movingWe moved into a house recently. It’s kind of a big deal, I know. It’s a mazel to find a house you like, in a neighborhood you like, for a price you can afford. But moving is kind of like having a baby. It’s a wonderful thing, and everyone tells you mazel tov, and you’re happy and all, but OH MY GOSH it’s overwhelming, and even if you’ve done it before, you forget just how much of a pain it can be.

Since it’s such a happy event, I feel totally guilty for not being deliriously ecstatic about it. Right now, I kind of want to curl into a ball, but I can’t, because first I have to make sure that the Macguyverish gate is in place so the baby doesn’t climb up the staircase. Again.

The concept of First World Problems is a cute way of keeping perspective, but sometimes we just need someone to tell us, “It’s okay to be overwhelmed by your blessings. You’re not a bad person for feeling this way.”

Because it’s totally true.  Read the rest of this entry →

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