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Dec 2 2014

Does Picture Day Have to Be This Stressful?

By at 1:15 pm

school picture day is the worst

A couple weeks ago my kids had picture day at their school. We prepared well, I think. One kid got a haircut, both kids had showers the night before, and my husband was successful in scrubbing the week-old tattoo off my 5-year-old’s arm so it didn’t spend eternity front and center in her class picture. Instructions were given (eat breakfast and brush your teeth before getting dressed) and clothes were laid out. My daughter even willingly put on the dress she had picked out without flaking on me and changing her mind at the last minute.

And yet, all day long at work I fretted over how the pictures would turn out. Please, I thought to myself, somebody make sure there’s no dried-up snot or food crumbs stuck to their clothes or faces. Please, let them not smash their faces into anything, lest they have a busted lip in their school picture like my son did when he was 3. Let them show some semblance of happiness so that when they look back on their school pictures years from now, they (and their parents) are satisfied with what they see. Let the grossly insane amount of money we shell out for school pictures these days be worth it! Amen. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 25 2014

Actually, Screen Time is Kind of Awesome

By at 11:34 am

Actually, Screen Time is Pretty Great

I’ll admit it: I’ve had it with this “no screen time under 2” thing. I have always suspected that this “no television” thing is bogus—and at last, someone is saying so.

A guide released last month by the nonprofit group Zero to Three called “Screen Sense: Setting the Record Straight” notes that “children should have lots of time for play in the real, 3-D world,” and parents should, “make screen use a shared experience.”

In other words, the new group posits that maybe, just maybe, the whole “no screen time under 2” thing isn’t getting to the essence of the problem, which is the fear that parents will substitute television for themselves on the regular. In other words, you do not need to fear weirdo rays emanating from screens morphing your child’s brain—instead, you need to fear your own inadequacy as a parent. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 24 2014

Rosh Hashanah Confession: I Have a Thing For the Produce Man

By at 10:03 am

produce-isle

Because repentance is serious business in the home stretch leading up to Rosh Hashanah, I’m finally coming clean: For nearly a decade, I’ve had a thing for the produce man at the local supermarket.

Years ago, our then 3-year-old son–a clever, square peg of a boy who has long struggled to fit in–had another challenging morning at nursery school. He decided it was a silly thing to transform an empty orange juice carton into a spice box for Havdalah (ceremony for taking leave of Shabbat). His refusal led to an ugly power struggle with his already-exasperated teacher, ultimately landing him in the penalty box, where he frequently kept the seat warm.

The dreaded call came. I stopped writing and ran to get him, tail between my legs. I listened as the principal meted out judgment, the same harsh words I’d heard in various mutations over the past year. He’s difficult, unlovable, a challenge to manage… In fact, I’d spent so much time in the principal’s office that I’d already derailed my full-time career. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 4 2014

Dear New Parents: It Gets Better, I Promise

By at 11:53 am

Showering

“I shower. ALONE. While my girls are in the house. {Insert dramatic pause here.} And my husband is AT WORK. And they’re FINE.”

At this declaration, my friends’ eyes got wide as they watched their 18-month-old daughter smear a mushy banana all over her face. Their little girl was beyond adorable, but like most toddlers, she poops in her pants (OK, actually in a diaper, but you get the point) and sleeps in a cage crib and wanders aimlessly around the house flinging toys and pulling plugs and breaking things her parents didn’t even realize they owned.

Those days are long passed in my house. (OK, mostly passed. Mostly.) My daughters are 4 years old and 5 and ¾ (God help me if I forget the ¾) and they sleep in big-girl beds and they can pee in the potty (I’m not saying they always do. I’m saying they are capable of it). When they’re being annoying it’s mostly because they are choosing to be annoying, which is more than we can say for most toddlers. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 6 2014

Why Was Breastfeeding So Much Harder the Third Time Around?

By at 12:06 pm

breastfeeding-third

Readers beware: This post has a little TMI regarding nipples. There, you’ve been warned. 

I successfully nursed two baby boys. They each got one year of the good stuff before they weaned to whole milk. I regularly got calls from friends, and friends of friends, who were having nursing problems. I was the resident expert–always proud and happy to help.

While pregnant with my third child, a girl, nursing issues were never on my radar. After all, I had two solid years under my belt. I worried about balancing three kids while recovering from a C-section. But not once did I consider that my biggest obstacle would be the painful, frustrating, and exhausting mission of nursing this baby. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 17 2014

So, I Tried Meditating…With Children

By at 12:02 pm

meditating-alina

Back in March, I wrote about the case of shingles that knocked me flat on my back (though that hurt, too) after a month of covering the Winter Olympics, and my subsequent decision to basically… change my entire life.

I resolved to learn how to relax, so we wouldn’t have a repeat of that stress-induced chicken pox virus. Naturally, I focused all of my Type A personality on the endeavor because, well, Rome wasn’t built in a day….  Read the rest of this entry →

May 22 2014

The Sacrificial Broken Mug

By at 12:08 pm

broken-cup

I broke a mug today. My favorite one. It was half-filled with miso soup when it shattered. Jagged cuts of blue porcelain and tiny tofu clouds hurled across my floor like a child’s version of The Big Bang.

I’ve always marveled at how containers can enhance the enjoyment of the contents. This cup, with its elegant patterns and exaggerated curves had elevated my nightly green tea into a royal refreshment.

Now this magic goblet lay in pieces on the floor, bleeding its fishy contents onto the thin carpet. Read the rest of this entry →

May 13 2014

The Insane Traffic Jam That Forced Me To Stop Controlling Everything

By at 4:07 pm

traffic-jam

I am one of those people who always wants to be in control. Before I go to sleep at night (way later than I should), I pack everyone’s bags (diaper, work, lunch), make sure the tasks I want the babysitter to do the next day are all listed on my notes and that she’s got all she needs to take the kids out (metro cards, money, fresh water bottles, etc), and clean the kitchen. Then I wake up at 5 a.m. to make sure the kids’ lunches are all organized and their clothes are laid out. After I make the coffee that my partner and I live off of, I prep dinner and make sure the house in order.

It was one of these mornings when my partner called from the road; her route to work was flooded after the recent storm in DC. Could I help her navigate an alternate route, she asked. It took me a few moments to realize my route this particular morning would be the same because this entire semester, I have the honor of teaching (thanks to an amazing colleague) future Episcopal Ministers at a seminary in Virginia, a course introducing them to the world of rabbinic Midrash.

On these days our babysitter arrives early at 7:30 so I can hustle out to Virginia in time for an 8:45 start time. The car ride is normally about 30 minutes but I leave the extra time for thinking, finishing up my prepping, meeting with students, and such. I do not like being late–it is a pet peeve of mine. Read the rest of this entry →

May 12 2014

When the Terrified Non-Jewish Mom Hosts the Bris

By at 3:06 pm

newborn-bris

My husband Marc was Jewish, I was not. We hadn’t decided, not entirely, what that would mean for our kids. We already had a 3-year-old daughter, and she was happily celebrating Christian and Jewish holidays with both sides of our extended family. But having a son made any theoretical discussion suddenly incredibly real.

For Marc, the idea that we wouldn’t circumcise our infant son wasn’t an option. It was an absolute. This wasn’t a topic for discussion, not like whether or not we’d have a Christmas tree or should we not give our toddler cheerios during the week of Passover. I had to honor Marc’s right to make this decision. I had known he was Jewish, I had chosen to create a family with him. I had to respect his feelings on this topic, but I was surprised at the strength of his conviction.

I knew about circumcision. All of the little boys in my family had been circumcised in the hospital before coming home, so it wasn’t a foreign idea for me. Having it done at home was new, but my husband (and a Jewish friend who was also a resident at the local hospital) convinced me that having it done by an experienced mohel, as opposed to an exhausted and inexperienced resident, would be the best choice. If we had to do it, at least it would be done in a loving and gentle environment, by someone who was incredibly experienced and competent. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 4 2014

What Not To Do When You Think Your Child Has Lice

By at 11:33 am

lice

It was a typical weeknight. My son was having dinner while I was tackling my leftover work emails and sorting through the coupon mailer. In fact, it was actually one of those rare evenings where the ratio of food in the child’s mouth to food on the floor was pretty favorable. Things were looking good until I noticed that in between bites, my son seemed to be aggressively scratching his head.

At first I assumed he’d gotten food in his hair–a feat he’s managed on many an occasion. But upon further inspection, I saw nothing of the sort.

After dinner the scratching persisted. And the more he scratched, the more I came to face the realization that we were probably dealing with our first-ever lice infestation. I mean, the kid goes to daycare, so it was bound to happen at some point, right? Only instead of taking a productive, level-headed approach to the situation, I opted to do the thing that came naturally: I freaked out. Read the rest of this entry →

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