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Jul 22 2014

Kid, It’s Time You Got a Job

By at 2:03 pm

boy using saw at woodshop

Exactly two years ago, I wrote a post about how my kids would be doing nothing all summer long. Our laissez-faire experiment went so well in 2012, that I repeated the lack of structured activity in 2013. I’m a big believer in the notion that boredom is good for children. And if they dare whine about it, I tell them to clean the house.

However, 2014 is shaping up to be a horse of a different color. While my 7-year-old daughter continues to be footloose and fancy-free (though we are systematically working our way thorough the “Disney Princess Cookbook”), my almost 11-year-old son won a grant earlier in the year that allowed him to attend two weeks of computer camp and then a coding conference in England. I’ve already made it clear to him that this is a one-shot deal and he should enjoy every single moment of it.

But then, there is the issue of my oldest son. He just turned 15, finishing his freshman year of high school. Previously, my husband left the dispensation of our kids’ summer schedule to me. This year, he informed our older son that he expected him to get a job. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 3 2014

I Wasn’t Cool at Camp, But I’m Sending My Son There Anyway

By at 11:19 am

I wasn't cool at camp, but I'm sending my son there anyway

I’m holding my breath for 11 more days.

My 9-year-old, Noah, left yesterday for 12 days of sleepaway camp.

This morning the cat didn’t get fed until 7. Noah’s 6-year-old brother, Sam, was the first one up and put on music to stave off the quiet. I found myself, after the breakfast dishes were done, listening to the washing machine on spin.

It’s going to be a long two weeks. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 19 2014

Drag Your Kids To Summer Camp

By at 11:20 am

archery

I recently read a New York Times article about one woman’s unfavorable experiences in summer camp and laughed out loud.

Like the author, I was not much of a joiner and hated sports. I also disliked getting dressed and undressed in a roomful of strangers. My first summer, I was the only girl still wearing undershirts so I’d change clothes in the bathroom. (Not that I fooled anyone. And most of those gals didn’t really need bras, either.)

I sucked at anything involving a softball, volleyball, golf ball, basketball, fencing foil, or bow and arrow. And unlike some other kids who might have also been less than stellar athletes, but who discovered at camp that they enjoyed drama, music, dance or even carpentry, I didn’t. My favorite “activity” was shiur during which we learned Jewish subjects. Unlike most kids (but also like the writer of the New York Times piece), I actually liked school. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 2 2014

Top 12 Summer Reads of 2014

By at 10:33 am

Welcome to the Third Annual Jordana Horn Summer Reading List! This list is by no means conclusive, but it’s a list of books I’ve read in the past six months that I thought were particularly terrific. Please put your own ideas and suggestions for great reads in the comments, and friend me on GoodReads (I’m “Jordana Horn Gordon” there) so we can keep talking books, which I love passionately. Without further ado, here are some great reads that should sit on your shelf or device this summer, in no particular order.

to-rise2

1. To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, by Joshua Ferris 

This one is demanding and intellectually ambitious, but well worth your time. It’s the story of dentist Paul O’Rourke, who is bored with his life, dental practice, and his relationship to the world at large–until his online identity begins to be recreated by strangers. These strangers claim to be the descendants of Amalekites, the ancient enemy of the Jewish people–which is interesting enough without including the fact that they claim that Paul is one of them, and he just might believe them. This is a book about identity–what it means to be part of a people and a person. It’s jaw-droppingly good. Read the rest of this entry →

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 →

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