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May 27 2011

News Roundup: Espresso Machine that Dispenses Formula, the Genderless Baby, and the Obama Girls

By at 11:58 am

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

-Nestle has rolled out a baby formula version of its Nespresso capsule coffee machine. There’s no option for foam, but it dispenses the formula “at precisely the right dosage and temperature, at the push of a button, in less than one minute.” While the company does have a penchant for getting moms in Africa hooked on formula, this machine is only available in Switzerland. For now. (The Guardian)

-Can you really raise a genderless child? I’m guessing no. And so are the ladies at Jezebel. They weigh in on the now famous Canadian baby named Storm whose gender is a big fat mystery. (Jezebel)

-Parenting by ZIP code. If you’ve ever moved with children, you probably noticed that each city has its own protocol when it comes to parenting. Birthday parties. School visits. Baby wearing. They do it differently in Seattle, Los Angeles, and New Jersey. (NY Times)

-The Psychological Warfare of Sasha and Malia Obama. Slideshow here. (New York Magazine)

-What happens when a marriage involves differing allegiances to baseball teams? Find out here. The editor of Jewcy is getting hitched and is blogging about the wedding plans.(Jewcy)

-Go the F— To Sleep is now a viral sensation. And I’m guessing more than a few of you have already seen a pirated version. Why is it so popular (aside from being hilarious?)”We are not supposed to not want to be with our children. We are not supposed to not want to be a parent all the time.”  (NY Times)

Did we miss anything?

May 20 2011

Mothers, What’s Wrong with the World?

By at 11:49 am

Tristane Banon, a journalist who claims that Dominique Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her during an interview. Daniel Janin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Today, I am stumped.

Item 1: A mother prevailed upon her daughter, a young victim of the IMF’s former chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, to refrain from making a public accusation of sexual abuse. She felt that her daughter would be victimized again by this powerful man, that her name would be sullied, and she would be unable to achieve any justice.

At first I thought–some mother! What about helping her child pursue truth in a court of law,  protect subsequent victims, maybe even get revenge? What about validating her daughter’s pain and anguish? But then I thought–no doubt there were many excruciating conversations between mother and daughter and you, know, sadly that mother has a point.

Item 2: The world is ending this weekend and the New York Times quoted a daughter whose mom told her that she was not going to heaven. “At first, it was really upsetting,” said the daughter. Indeed.

I have no reference point for this at all. One the one hand, the mom has utter and complete faith in her position. On the other hand- she’s nuts. But the truth is, this is not such an unusual position- parents all over the world feel similarly about their gay children.

For me, the bottom line is protecting my children and accepting them, as I hope they will accept me, with all our inadequacies and disappointments.

But, Kveller readers, what’s a mother to do?

Mar 4 2011

News Roundup: Yucky Jewish Girls, Breastmilk Ice Cream, and Hitler

By at 3:10 pm

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

-As you know, Kveller is all for breastfeeding, but even we have our limits. And apparently so does Lady Gaga. The performer (who once wore a dress made of meat!) is suing a London shop for selling  ice cream called “Baby Gaga” that just happens to be  made from breastmilk and lemon zest.  Scoops went for $22.50 each.  (Daily Mail)

-What does a Jewish American Princess make for dinner? How many Jewish American Princesses does it take to change a light bulb? Guess what? Your kids won’t know the answers and they probably don’t even know what a JAP is because the term JAP is dead and along with it, the entire section in Truly Tasteless Jokes!  (Forward)

-This week, famed Dior designer John Galliano said something stupid about Jews and Hitler. Stylish Jewish mommies and mommies-to-be including our girl NatPort said this was bad.  He was fired. (New York Times)

-In addition to being actresses, Natalie Portman and our own Mayim Bialik are also brilliant scientists! (New York Times)

-A Brooklyn mother of two walks out on her marriage and her two young boys. She realizes that she loves her kids, but she never wanted them in the first place. She grapples with why “a male full-time caretaker is a ‘saint,’ and how a female full-time caretaker is a ‘mother.’ (Salon)

Mar 1 2011

Mommy Blogs: Are They Lashon Ha-Ra?

By at 9:55 am

Heather Armstrong is one of the most succesful Mommy bloggers around. Her site gets more than 100,000 visitors a day.

Last week the New York Times Magazine published an article by Lisa Belkin (of Motherlode fame) in which she profiled Heather Armstrong, the writer behind Dooce, one of the most popular (and lucrative) Mommy blogs out there. Belkin describes Armstrong’s rise to fame, and also comments on the culture of the Mommy Blogger, and the ways in which mothers are seeking (and finding) support and money by sharing their stories of “poop and spit up… and

countless other banalities of one mother’s eclectic life that, for some reason, hundreds of thousands of strangers tune in, regularly, to read.”

Before I go on, I must tell you that I am also a Mommy blogger. I don’t make any money from my blog (although donations are most welcome, either in cash or chocolate), but I do shamelessly (and mostly unsuccessfully) promote it on Facebook and Twitter. Yet if not for the money, then why? Because, like most writers (aspiring or otherwise), I have stories to share, and it makes me happy when others read them and share their thoughts. And like most Jews, I find great meaning in reading and telling the tales of our shared history, from Queen Esther saving her people to my grandparents getting rejected from the local country club.

But Judaism doesn’t unequivocally support storytelling. Many of us have heard of lashon ha-ra (gossip, slander, etc.), a phrase we usually mumble and laugh off as we continue shoving bagel chips in our mouths while we share the latest story of our crazy Mommy friend or daycare provider or whoever we are casually badmouthing at the moment. According to Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, lashon ha-ra “forbids saying anything negative about another person, even if it is true, unless the person to whom one is speaking or writing has a legitimate need for this information”. This gossip can range from innocuous chatter about the details of other people’s lives to negative, but truthful information about others, to the sharing of blatant lies.

That Heather Armstrong engaged in lashon ha-ra is beyond question; in her article, Belkin describes how Armstrong was fired from her job because of what she wrote about her co-workers, as well as the pain her family experienced when they discovered her blog, including her angry rants against the Mormon church. Yet Armstrong may have committed another form of lashon ha-ra—against her daughter. Recently, she has been writing less about her older daughter, Leta (age 7), noting cryptically that she didn’t expect [their] relationship to become so complicated so early in her life”.

It’s a question I have struggled with as I share my own tales of dirty diapers, dinners gone wrong, and tantrums that leave me on the verge of tears. Although I am careful never to share anything that I wouldn’t say to someone’s face, that rule doesn’t necessarily apply to my daughters. Ok, I might say it to their chubby little faces, but they won’t have a clue what I’m talking about, nor can they tell me how they feel about it. Perhaps more importantly, though, is it lashon ha-ra?

Technically speaking, I guess it is. Although I do share stories about the good times, I have been known to complain about them from time to time.  But as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a halachic Jew, and I’m still going to write about my daughters. Call it a modern version of the baby book, but I want my daughters to know a bit about what it was like in our house when they were growing up, and what I was thinking about and struggling with as I faced the challenges of raising them each day. Hopefully when they read my blog in the future, they will realize how much I love them, and that I share my stories, their stories, as a way of getting support from my family, friends, and other mothers who feel like they might not make it through another witching hour if they don’t have the words of a fellow Mommy to get them through.

Feb 14 2011

Forgive Me For Not Joining The Bye Bye Mubarak Party

By at 9:22 am

On the off-chance that you’re living in a cave with restricted internet access that only lets you read Kveller.com, Mubarak has stepped down as president of Egypt.

Everyone I know back in The States (my family and I recently moved from LA to a kibbutz in Israel where my in laws live) is tossing around the words “freedom” and “liberation” like confetti all over facebook.  In fact, it seems like the whole world is celebrating.

But I’m not ready to join the party.

Actually, I’m a little nervous:  I’m a few hundred miles away from Cairo.  And while being this close to Egypt is cool if you want to check out the pyramids or get stoned on a beach in the Sinai Desert and drink sahlab, the fact remains that Egypt and Israel have not always been BFFs.

And, for all his faults, Mubarak helped keep the peace following the Camp David Accords.

In fact, during the recent fire in the Carmel, Mubarak sent planes to help put out the inferno.  That’s pretty neighborly if you ask me.

And while  katusha rockets come hurtling down onto Israeli towns in the North from our less-neighborly neighbors in Lebanon and Syria, the border between Israel and Egypt has been (relatively) chill.

In other words, there are no tanks in the Sinai ready to “drive Israel into the sea.”

Yet.

Yeah, I know, I know,  Israel is not the center of the world.  The revolution isn’t about the Jews or Israel or my family on the kibbutz…  And clearly Mubarak screwed up during his tenure because obviously his people were unhappy.  Hell, even members of the Egyptian military defected on the job and joined the protesters. (That sound you here are students in Berkeley singing Kumbaya.)

But still.

Sure, right now it looks like Egypt might move in a more liberal direction, but the truth is we do not know who will seize power.

And so, while everyone celebrates, I think I’ll stay home and watch the news instead.

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