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Jan 23 2014

Six Ways to Help Kids Interact with People with Disabilities

By at 1:59 pm

ways to help kids deal with people with disablities

In our ketubah (marriage contract), that my husband and I wrote ourselves, we included the kinds of things that we wanted to foster in our home. This included “tolerance and understanding” and “respectfulness of all people.”

This has played out in many ways, but one of the most important has been how our children interact with people with disabilities in their lives. Somewhat surprisingly, my children (ages 2 and 5) have already had a lot of personal experiences with disability, even though they, themselves, do not have any.

Here are some ways that we try to help them understand the disabilities in their worlds:

1. We try to dispel the stigmas that are often associated with disabilities before our children understand that there are stigmas. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 29 2013

The 10 Dos and Don’ts for When Your Spouse is Freaking Out

By at 3:45 pm

man looking at computer scared

Sometimes, your partner–being a human being (presumably; unless you’re like this guy which I sincerely hope you’re not)–will take some very trivial tiny hiccup that your baby does and freak out, worrying that he’s about to lose a leg. This risk is particularly high if it’s a newborn, or a first child–and if it’s both, watch out!

“Oh no, he sneezed… could he have a genetic lung disease?” Or maybe, just maybe, he just… sneezes sometimes?

Keeping with our sacred Jewish tradition ever since Exodus 20 of having lists of 10s broken into half positives and half negatives–here are five dos and five don’ts for this situation:

1.) Don’t try to reason logically with her/him. When she’s in freak-out mode, it’s her motherly instinct (or fatherly instinct, as the case may be) wanting to make sure the baby is perfect. You can’t process logical chains of reasoning when you’re in freak-out mode. Of course, logical analysis is essential, but that comes later, when you’re both calm. The militant say, “Shoot first, then ask questions”; I’d say, “Hug first, then ask questions.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 24 2013

The Best Advice for First Time Moms, Royal or Otherwise

By at 11:37 am

duke and duchess of cambridgeWith the world-wide hullabaloo over the new yet-to-be-named Prince of Cambridge, I thought it might be appropriate to offer Catherine and William a few tips about first-time parenting, although some of my observations will apply less to a child born into privilege and massive resources.

My aunt gave me the best advice of all about parenting, and I must say that her grown children are incredibly centered and mentally sound. She told me that the key to successful parenting is to accept, even while the child is still growing in the womb, that it will always be your fault. As soon as you realize that whether you neglect your children or have the capability to give them everything they need, your kids will eventually end up on some therapist’s couch, complaining about their mother.

That being said, I present a cheat sheet for new mothers, royal or those of lesser bloodlines, to get through the first few years with relative sanity. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 16 2013

Parenting Tips from the Developing World

By at 11:54 am
developing world

Ramogi Village in Eastern Uganda–a group of women meeting with the Uganda Orphans Rural Development Program.

I know I have a lot to learn about parenting. While I do find many aspects of motherhood to be fairly intuitive, like when to change a poo-poo diaper, it’s always helpful to hear tricks of the trade.

This is why I regularly read Kveller and happily listen to advice from my mom, mother-in-law, husband, former nanny, friends who are moms, friends who are dads, the guy who used to sell me a banana every day on the corner of 36th and 5th Ave in Midtown, our daycare teachers, people without kids–give me advice on parenting! I’ll take it or leave it; either way I like to hear it. And I like to give it.

For the 18 years before I had a baby, I had the privilege and pleasure of traveling around the world. Two years of living in Israel, three months teaching English in Turkey, six months interning with a women’s rights organization in India, graduate school in England, vacations to Cuba, Russia, Greece, and France, and then a dream job that required me to travel to developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America several times a year. I needed additional pages put into my passport, multiple vaccinations, and traveled to over 20 different countries before I got pregnant. The time I spent in the developing world definitely shaped the person I am today and had a profound impact on my perspectives on parenting. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 25 2013

How to Vacation Without Your Kids Without Missing Them the Whole Time

By at 10:07 am

bed and breakfast“I want to hug that couple’s baby. Is that weird?”

I asked my husband this as we are sat poolside at our condo last year in the Turks & Caicos. Little Man and Bun Bun were 9 months old at the time and were staying with Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie while we took some much needed R&R. I was thrilled to be away, but suddenly, here was this little blonde Austrian baby-man, a doppelganger for my Little Man, and all I wanted to do was scoop him up in my arms, give him belly kisses, and maybe even wipe his cute little nose boogies.

Yeah, that wouldn’t be weird. Read the rest of this entry →

May 1 2013

Six Easy Steps to Being a Pretty Good Step-Parent

By at 12:09 pm

crocsWhen people find out I’m a mom and a stepmom (my partner, Joseph, has three children with his ex-wife, and he and I have two children of our own), they’re curious about how we make it work.

I’m lucky to have three lovely stepkids whom I adore, but we’ve had our fair share of bumps in the road.

A child of divorce myself, I brought my own baggage into the dynamics of our relationship; maybe I thought that being the “perfect” stepmother would help me heal the emotional wounds of my parents’ divorce and my own difficulties with my dad’s new family. I also rushed into my role as do-it-all stepmom without taking the time to let everyone (including me) adjust to our new, extended family. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 3 2013

21 Parenting Tips I Learned from Genesis

By at 10:12 am

books of genesis1. Children will do things you tell them not to do (2:17)

2. They will blame each other (3:12)

3. You will curse at them, or perhaps want to (3:17)

4. Not all siblings get along all that well (4:8)

5. Children babble and make a lot of noise (11:19)

6. Your children may have to go off on their own journeys (12:1)

7. You may love your children so much that you put yourself at risk (19:26)

8. Do not, under any circumstances, let your children get you drunk so they can have sex with you even if they think it is the end of the world (19:32) Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 27 2012

Five Tips for Making the Snazziest Rosh Hashanah Cards

By at 6:02 am
stacey ilyse family photo boardwalk

Show off those precious faces this New Year.

I remember, growing up, getting cards in the mail for Rosh Hashanah. They were always the normal, generic, Hallmark “Happy New Year” type card.

Nowadays, people are WAY more tech savvy and have the ability to create really fun cards that reflect and show off who they are and their adorable kids and family. If you want to give your Rosh Hashanah cards a personal touch this year, here are five tips plus a few resources for creating and producing the picture perfect photo card. Read the rest of this entry →

May 23 2012

Time-Saving Tips for Extra Busy Moms

By at 12:14 pm

pocket watches

Everyone is busy and everyone has trouble keeping up. While I don’t claim any special level of industriousness for myself, I can say that, in the phrase people often use, I have a lot on my plate.

I’m divorced, and I live in Israel, where I have no family, other than my children, to help me out with life’s occasional emergencies. My sons are 16 and 12, and my older boy was diagnosed with autism (PDD/NOS) at age 3. He goes to a number of afterschool therapy appointments every week and sometimes I fill in for his aide at school during the day. My younger son has his own afterschool activities, some of which he cannot get to on his own. I work as the movie critic for the Jerusalem Post, reviewing films, covering the Israeli movie industry, and interviewing Israeli and foreign filmmakers. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 30 2011

Bad (Jewish) Hair Day

By at 2:25 pm

I have not met a woman that doesn’t have a bad hair day. There are different hair types that have degrees of bad hair day, and those who are born with the traditional Jewish curly hair are some of those who have the hardest time keeping their tresses in order.

“Jewish” hair is usually dark kinky hair that can be frizzy. It takes a lot of product and finesse to get it to look and feel the way the person would like.

Here are some tips on what to do those days where spending time on your hair is not going to happen:

It perplexes me why more women don’t know the value and greatness of a single braid down the back, but get to know it. It can look so chic, yet simple. Step it up with beautiful fun bobby pins, like the Happy-Go-Lucky Bobby Set. For a more sporty look put on a great non-slip headband like the Woven Pink Argyle. Use them to hold back loose hairs, or just to dress up your hair.

For those of you looking for something to cover a little more, try a headbandana. What’s a headbandana, you ask? It’s like a scarf you tie behind your hair, but it’s already made into a headband so you don’t have to tie it at all. My mother would call this a schmata (Urban Dictionary: noun – unfashionable piece of clothing; something you should not be caught dead wearing), but if she does, I’d say it’s a chic one. My favorite ones are the Cappuccino by Danielle Loporto.

There are times when you just need to get your hair out of your face and away with a bun or chignon. I have tried these fantastic Goody Spin Pins. Two of them keeps your bun staying up all day long. For those of you who are skeptical, so was I, but they actually do work! Mix it up and use these with pretty bobby pins, and again you’re accessorizing your plain bun.

Something I tried recently that surprised me is dry shampoo. It certainly doesn’t clean your hair, but it does remove the oil if you need. I like the Suave Dry Shampoo because it works and it’s under $4. Win-win!

Who said a bad hair day had to look bad?

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