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Feb 19 2014

Managing Motherhood & Depression Means Asking For Help

By at 9:56 am

sleeping-child

It was a day I will never forget. Last week, I was at work when I received a call from my daughter’s preschool. I was told that she is fine but she is saying she is very tired and is lying on the couch sucking her fingers (her go-to when nervous or tired). I said I would be right over. Since I work next door to the JCC where she attends, it makes it convenient.

I went over and sat to talk with her asking if anything hurt. She said “no.” I asked her if she wanted to go to dance class and she said “no.” Now I knew something was up, as she loves her dance class and dressing in her leotard and tutu. I asked if she wanted to go home and she said “yes.”

Once we were home and settled I felt and kissed her forehead but she felt cool. We had lunch and she ate heartily. We started watching the movie “Cars” and I turned to her and asked her if she was not only tired but was she missing mommy. I knew the response before she said it. She said “yes, I missed you.” Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 3 2014

News Roundup: How Are We Supposed to Feel About Woody Allen?

By at 4:22 pm

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

woody allen

- Dylan Farrow, adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, published an open letter in the New York Times, claiming she was sexually abused by Allen when she was 7. Meanwhile, Allen’s documentarian highlights some inconsistencies in this now decades-long case. So what are we to make of all this? Elissa Strauss writes for The Sisterhood that it’s OK to be ambivalent. (Forward)

- The abortion rate in the United States is at its lowest point since 1973, when the supreme court legalized the procedure in all 50 states. No conclusive evidence yet as to why, but many are linking the drop to the availability of new, long-acting contraceptive methods. (Washington Post)

- Another newborn has contracted neonatal genital herpes from metzitzah b’peh, a controversial circumcision rite in which the mohel places his mouth directly on the circumcision wound in order to draw blood. The practice is not used in most Jewish circumcision ceremonies, but many in the haredi Orthodox community still adhere to the rite. (JTA)

- Preschool is totally trending right now, with more and more states from both sides of the political divide making a serious push for government-funded preschool. (NY Times)

Jan 27 2014

Why I Am Choosing to Convert My Preschool Son

By at 10:19 am

why i'm converting my preschool son

When my husband and I met, he was Jewish. I was an absentee Catholic. Very early on, we agreed that we both wanted kids, and that they would be raised Jewish. At the time, I didn’t fully grasp what that meant.

Over the course of the next few years, I learned about Jewish traditions and culture. We had as Jewish of a wedding as a Jew and a non-Jew can have. When our son came along, my husband searched the Bay Area for a mohel who would ritually circumcise Sam. Since I was not Jewish and so neither was Sam, this was not an easy task. Finally, we found one and our son had his bris at home on his eighth day of life.

Sometime in the following few years, I decided to convert. My year of studying with the rabbi was one of the most important of my life. The rabbi said, “You’ll know you’re ready when you stop thinking of Jews as ‘them’ and think of it as ‘us’.” My studies, attending shul, searching my soul, and my time speaking with the rabbis gradually, over time, transformed me into a Jew. When the scheduler called with my date for the mikveh, I was as excited as I was about scheduling my wedding day. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 21 2014

A Second Chance at Jewish Preschool for My Son with Special Needs

By at 10:01 am

preshool

I had always envisioned my children growing up feeling the sense of “Jewishness” that was so special to me in my own childhood, so we started our son at a Jewish preschool at the age of 2.

But it quickly became clear that he simply couldn’t function in a classroom and was getting nothing out of school. Our journey, which eventually led to an autism spectrum diagnosis, brought with it a roller coaster of emotions and never-ending to-do lists, and dealing with all of that required me to push aside my disappointment about giving up his Jewish preschool. It had become obvious that we had to send him to a special education program to provide the hours of intensive therapy he needed. So without so much as a glance back we forged ahead on this path, and amazingly after two years he had progressed so far that he was almost unrecognizable from the 2-year-old he was before it all started.

We found ourselves at the beginning of this current school year, his last year of preschool, with some decisions to make. The special education preschool program in our new school district, as remarkable as it is, did not provide enough hours of school for him with only four short afternoons a week. We knew we should consider a mainstream preschool as a supplement to his special needs program. He would benefit socially from being around “typical” peers, but we couldn’t help but wonder if he was really ready for it. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 12 2013

Feeling at Home in Jewish Preschool

By at 10:16 am

boy playing with trains at preschool

The Northern California air is crisp and biting as I unbuckle my son from his car seat and slide his arms into his Spiderman sweatshirt.

“Stand right here by me and don’t move,” I warn him, reaching back in to hoist the baby’s car seat up into the air. I keep one hand on Max as the other clicks the baby seat into the stroller. Lunchbox. Water bottle. Mitzvah Star. Five dollars for challah. Baby’s blanket is on. Where is his hat?

“Stay right here, Max, there are too many cars in this parking lot. Wait for Mommy. Hold on to Bennie’s stroller please.” A wadded up diaper rolls out of the passenger seat as I grab my diaper bag. I stuff it back in before anyone notices.

“Good morning, Simon Family! Hi Max! Or should I call you Spiderman? That’s a pretty cool sweatshirt you’ve got on!”

He beams. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 22 2013

This Dad Wants to Shrink and Go To Preschool

By at 10:57 am

Preschool girl

My wife and I often talk about how fascinating it would be to be flies on the wall at our daughter’s Jewish preschool. It’s the ultimate parent fantasy–to see how your children behave when you’re out of sight. At home, we take delight in those few moments when our 3-year-old daughter cozies up  in a corner of our apartment reading to herself; creating a story with toy figures or stuffed animals, unaware as we watch from a doorway.

As parents, we see our children in all of their many phases and moods.
And it is precisely because we are their parents that they feel
comfortable enough to scream and tantrum and test us in many ways
as they learn life’s boundaries and the limits of their autonomy
during childhood. But then (as if it’s a minor miracle) there are
those moments when our children are so sweet, inquisitive,
insightful, or loving, and I’m pretty sure this is how my daughter
behaves most of the day at preschool.

So, I want to take kvelling to the next level.

Imagine if I could be reduced to my daughter’s size and attend
preschool with her.

What fun I could have filling my days with coloring, painting, and
sculpting clay next to my daughter. We could build with blocks, read
wonderful books for the first time, and make first friends. There’s
also this thing called naptime. NAP TIME. Did you hear that? I need
more of that in my life.

Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 7 2013

News Roundup: Wet Seal Makes a Dream Come True for 17-year-old Girl with Down Syndrome

By at 4:33 pm

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

karri

- Wet Seal has proved to be a pretty awesome company. After Karrie Brown, a 17-year-old girl with Down syndrome, received compliments for her fashionable style, friends in her community launched a Facebook page in support of Karrie modeling for the company. Turns out Wet Seal responded to the page and flew Karrie and her mother out for a photo shoot in LA where she danced to Bieber tunes and modeled clothing. (XO Jane)

- In more negligent news, a high-end daycare center in Brooklyn, Williamsburg Northside Preschool, lost a child in the park last week when teachers failed to count the group correctly. Yikes. (DNAinfo)

- “Parenthood, like war, is a state where it’s impossible to be moral,”–just one great line from a piece on ethical parenting in New York Magazine. Great read for parents who would move mountains for their children, if only they could. (NY Mag)

- A new study in the New York Times provides hard evidence of a continuing bias against women in the sciences. Surprisingly and unfortunately, women are just as biased as their male counterparts. (NY Times)

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Why Are Israeli Preschools Feeding Our Kids Crap?

By at 10:24 am

 

shutterstock_47582197

Israel does a lot of things exceptionally well: Jewish life in general, giving people reasons to weep from spiritual depth, falafel, breeding good-looking Jews. But you know what Israelis aren’t doing so well? Feeding children. And while some mothers may fantasize about expensive vacations or ivy league acceptance for their kids, I find myself lost in a flurry of daydreams involving my toddler eating unsweetened peanut butter on whole wheat bread or some yogurt without added sugar.

Am I crazy? Maybe. But Israeli preschools leave me no choice. On English language forums for mothers in Israel, almost daily, a frazzled mother tells a tale about how their kids get a snack, supposedly to “keep them going” in the afternoon, of white bread with chocolate spread, cookies, or the infamous Bamba (think peanut butter flavored cheese doodles). But don’t worry, they don’t really give 2 and 3-year-olds candy and cake anymore. Having realized that it’s not so nutritious, they only give it on special occasions, including but not limited to a class birthday, an upcoming holiday, Rosh Chodesh, and Shabbat (you know, that weekly occurrence). Really very infrequently, they say. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 10 2013

The Non-Jewish Mom Prepares for Jewish Preschool

By at 9:57 am
plate of halloween cookies

Note to self: Do not send Halloween cookies to Jewish preschool.

As camp ends and the new school year approaches, I find myself going over what I remember from last year, with regards to the Jewish faith. My eldest daughter is 4 and has been attending a Jewish preschool for the last two years. Being a non-practicing Catholic, I have taken the “learn as I go” approach.

There are good Catholic and non-denominational schools available to me in my area, but I chose a Jewish preschool. My husband is a consultant and travels most of the work week. Since he is not always home I felt it was imperative for Delanie to learn her father’s faith from a place that could teach her in a way I could not.

The usual school preparation list populates my head: no meat with dairy for lunch, remember her “mitzvah notes” each week (which I admit at times I make up because there is only so many times you can write that she helped with housework or shared with her younger sister), and whatever I do, I must remember to not send her to school in her holiday (Christmas, Halloween, etc.) printed tee shirts from Old Navy. I learned that lesson the hard way last year when my daughter’s teacher told me that the school would not allow the Halloween cookies I made because it is not a recognized Jewish holiday. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 26 2013

I Chose Jewish Preschool Because of the Pool

By at 9:52 am

swimming pool lessons for kidsTotal disclosure. I chose Alice’s preschool because they have a pool and teach the kids how to swim. It happens to be a wonderful school, with lovely staff and facilities, but it was the pool that sold me.

The fact that it is a JCC (Jewish Community Center) and the curriculum is rooted in Jewish teachings was a complete afterthought. I even told the school director in an offhanded way, “I was really surprised about how Jewish the curriculum is.” He then called the local mental institution and told them a patient with a frontal lobotomy had escaped, because what did I think they were going to teach at the JCC? Read the rest of this entry →

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