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Feb 24 2014

When I Finally Developed My Daughter’s Camera, Her Photos Took My Breath Away

By at 1:53 pm

ORLI7

It began, as so many things do these days, with a nudge that turned into a whine. Ima. Eeeeeemmmmaaaaa. When are you going to charge my camera for me?

Orli, my older daughter, has her own camera, a small Fisher Price deal that takes relatively fuzzy pictures–especially given how crisp digital images are these days–unless the light is absolutely perfect. I thought buying it was a mistake.“Why are we giving her a camera that doesn’t even work well?” I wondered, at the time.

It was late last spring, and Orli was in that strange space pre-school age children get into when they are anticipating a sibling they desperately want, and yet, on some level, understand will upend their lives. She wanted a camera. Very, very much. And so we got her this guy, with its sturdy, drop-me-I’ll-be-fine thick plastic walls. It is pink and white. I hated it. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 12 2013

My 7-Year-Old Won’t Ride His Bike

By at 1:34 pm

boy's bikeMy kid won’t ride a bike.

A 7-year-old boy, he’s had a summer full of baseball and sports camp and swimming and neighborhood adventures. He’s been to the park (two blocks), to a sleepover party (five blocks), and out for pizza (six blocks). And not once did he get there by putting his tushie on the seat of a 2-wheel, training wheel-less bike. It’s just not happening.

When he turned 7 in late spring, my husband and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get rid of the training wheels. We took the boy to the store, let him pick an awesome orange and black 20-inch bike and thought we’d be off and biking within days.

The bike sat on our front porch. And sat. And sat. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 1 2013

Life as a Summertime Stay-at-Home Mom

By at 11:53 am

stay at home summertime momBeing a teacher is one of those jobs that is SUPER-challenging from September to May, and then SUPER-easy from June through August–because having the summer off is a huge perk! In the past, I haven’t been the biggest fan of this unpaid vacation, because I like to keep busy and this two and a half month break tends to lag after the first few weeks. In the past, I’ve taught summer school or gotten a summer job doing something full time, anything I could do to make money during the break.

However, this is my first summer off being a mommy; it’s super-busy, super-fun, and it’s a whole new world! Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 31 2013

When My Daughter is More Than Her Autism

By at 9:56 am

merry-go-roundWhen you are raising a child with special needs, it often feels like the diagnosis takes over your whole life.  My daughter has autism and there isn’t a day and often not an hour or a minute where autism doesn’t occupy center stage in our lives.

It’s there, everywhere you go,  throwing up hurdles and roadblocks, preventing joy, happiness, and discovery and sending your senses into overdrive at the drop of a hat.  In those brief moments that you are not dealing with it, you are likely talking someone’s ear off about it or blogging about it.

For myself I find that any given day with my daughter involves a lot of strategizing on my part.  I spend my day anticipating her day, trying to foresee where the trouble spots might be, what might be difficult for her and what might send her into sensory and/or emotional overload.  It involves thinking ahead a lot about where we are going, anticipating where the hurdles might be, and trying to find a way to avoid them or at least anticipate them so I can prepare her for it and try to minimize the chance that she will be overstimulated enough to lose control of her emotions and behavior and sink into meltdown territory.    Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 11 2013

Summer Vacation is No Picnic for a Child with Autism

By at 9:59 am

child in hammockSummer vacation is upon us.

All over Facebook I see statuses of parents dealing with school being out. Grateful posts about not having to pack lunches quickly turn into posts about the hassles of shlepping kids to baseball practice or kids being underfoot saying, “I’m bored” 600 times a day and in between happy vacation photos and day trips and amusements parks.

In other words, the stuff of life. Or at least the stuff of life when you are a parent.

As the parent of a special needs child, I recognize these irritations but honestly, I also do my share of eye rolling when I read stuff like this. It’s tough not to shake my head when some parents’ biggest problems are that they cannot decide how many pairs of flowered underpants their kids need to pack to go to Jewish sleep-away camp for two weeks. It sometimes makes me cringe when I read stuff like this, not just because I think of friends who struggle financially and aren’t in the position to be able to pay to send their child to be cared for by others for two weeks. Or those, like me, whose kids just can’t participate in things like summer camp, because their needs are so specialized and they just need more attention and care than they can get in most summer programs. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 27 2013

Ten Great Books to Read This Summer

By at 3:36 pm

Welcome to the Second Annual Jordana Horn Summer Reading List, in which I recommend books for your summer reading pleasure. Some are new releases; some you may have missed because you were “working” or “taking care of children” or some other time-consuming endeavor. If you do get a few peaceful moments this summer, though, any one of these reads would be worth your while. My list last year was deemed “too intellectual,” so I’ve thrown in a few suggestions of lighter fare as well. Please feel free to add recommendations in the comments as I am always reading and always excited to find new books!

karen joy fowler we are all completely beside ourselves1. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler

I read a review before reading this book. While I wouldn’t say the review “ruined” the book for me, it was definitely a spoiler. This book hinges on one key fact which I would think would work better as a surprise, so I will leave you in suspense. Suffice it to say that this book rocked my world: my perception of family interactions, and what a fiction book can accomplish were changed by it. I am so glad I read it, and think you will be, too.

2. Schroder, by Amity Gaige

Beautifully written story of what happens when an East German-born man who has appropriated a new American, Kennedy-esque identity decides to make a post-separation run for the Canadian border with his young daughter. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 21 2013

Why You Should Never Leave Your Kids in the Car

By at 12:54 pm
My little guy, safe in his car seat and not alone.

My little guy, safe in his car seat and not alone.

I have dozens of childhood memories that include me and my siblings waiting in the car for our parents. Most notably, I remember us waiting at the bank and my little brother, probably preschool age, backing the car into an adjacent lot. The story is told in jest now, and my mother was most definitely a helicopter parent of her time. That’s just how it was.

But it’s 2013 and we use car seats and bike helmets and you can’t leave your kids in the car anymore. There is no “running in” anywhere and even going to the bank to deposit a check is a full blown ordeal.

I ran errands one day last week and pulled my two kids in and out of the car no less than 15 times before noon. It was 80 degrees outside and I was taking our cat to the groomer. Here I am holding a 20-pound infant who is diving out of my arms with a cat carrier in one hand and attempting to wrangle a bolting preschooler with the other. Add the diaper bag and I’m a walking circus. Once I finally got everyone loaded into the car I realized that I forgot the checkbook and the grooming salon ONLY TAKES CHECKS. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 20 2013

Taking Your Kids to the Beach When You’re Terrified of Water

By at 5:04 pm

little girl on beachI walk up and down the aisles of a local discount store, filling my cart to the brim. My kids are chattering happily about swimming suits, beach towels, matching flip-flops, and sand pails. I have an unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach.

“Mommy, what does the beach look like?” my 4-year-old son asks. We live less than a three hour drive away from the ocean, and even closer still is the bay, and yet he’s never been to either. “I know how to swim,” exclaims my daughter excitedly. “I’ve been practicing in the bath!” I smile uneasily. I know it’s time I really teach them to swim, to teach them all about water safety. I can’t keep avoiding it. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 11 2013

Sending Your Kids to Camp is Not Easy to Do

By at 9:59 am

coach bus in parking lotWhen my second son was 8 years old, he decided to that he wanted to go to camp. My husband and I were all for it. We went to different camps but we both loved, loved it. Did I mention loved? We both started our camper careers young, me at age 8 him at age 10.

We chose a camp, my husband’s alma mater, made the necessary arrangements early in the year, and talked about how great an experience it would be for him. We regaled him with tales of our camp adventures, boating, color wars, girl boy singalons, trips to town, hikes, camp outs, and ghost stories. Even my mother-in-law got in on the action; she told him about unpacking his father’s trunk when he got home and finding the new packages of underwear that she had sent unopened. Gross…but so campy…  Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 20 2012

Sending My Son to Russian Jewish Teen Camp

By at 11:11 am

camp boatsSo, remember when I said that this summer my kids were doing… nothing?

I tried to stick to the plan, I really did. But then, I found out about this free dance camp for my 8-year-old son. (And if there is one thing I love more than making life easy for myself it’s things that are free .

And then, thanks to the articles I’ve written here on Kveller about my Soviet Jewish background, I was contacted by the Marks JCH of Bensonhurst asking if I might be interested in sending my oldest to Camp B’Yachad, a 12-day overnight program happening this August 22 to September 2, specifically for teens from Russian-Jewish families. Read the rest of this entry →

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