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May 22 2013

The Israeli Stranger Who Left Me Her Baby on the Plane

By at 11:57 am

benji on flight with babyI’ve been an uncle officially for 17 years, since my sister had her first son. Since then, three more nieces and nephews have popped out, giving me at least four reasons to bring gifts from Israel.

As more and more of my friends have had kids over the years (and there have been at least a few of those years, with my somewhat impending arrival to the age which rhymes with “sporty”), an increasing number of children have called me “Uncle Benji” despite a lack of blood relation. I have perfected animal impressions (which includes my personal and undisputed favorite, “the chicken”), I have become quite good at “online babysitting” (entertaining little kids with an Ernie puppet), and I am not ashamed to admit that I have developed such entertaining material that I have been caught recycling it across families in both English and (albeit, broken) Hebrew.

But I have never actually been a father. Until last week. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 30 2013

Uncle Gets a Name

By at 9:39 am

“Nope.”

“Cheerios?”

“Nope.”

“Toast?”

“Mope.”

“Banana?”

“Nana!”

Banana it is! Previously, I wrote about babysitting my niece, Lila, at six months, and at 15 months. Now 20 months old, babysitting has become a far less frightening proposition– Lila has become an actual person, with opinions, and, even better, the beginnings of an ability to express them. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 30 2012

Grandma Ought To Be In Pictures

By at 2:33 pm

Hey, Stacey here! Great tip for you: Don’t forget about the other important people in your little one’s life. When I look back at my childhood photos I don’t have a ton of images with my grandparents, or aunts, uncles, or even close family friends. They tend to be forgotten in the heat of the picture-taking moment.

I’m not saying stop focusing only on the immediate family unit which yes, is important…BUT if you have grandparents who are close to your kiddos or that YOU are close with, you should make sure to take the time to include them in your photos so that when your babes are big and grown they can look back and see that those other family members and how they took part in their lives.

The photos themselves don’t need to be anything amazing. Just something sweet and simple to document the time together. Here are some examples of my favorite “extras,” some taken of my own little girl and her important people, and some of my clients and all the wonderful, other people who love and adore their little ones!

A nice group shot

American Gothic plus one

Don't forget the aunties!

A classic grandparent shot

Aug 15 2012

Childless Uncle Changes a Diaper

By at 2:24 pm
stuffed hippo

Everything's easier on a hippo.

Earlier this year, I babysat my 9-month-old niece for an hour and a half, alone. Six months later, due in part to my stunning success in keeping her alive for 90 minutes in Manhattan, I got another chance. Eight full hours–with a toddler who’s just about to hit the 15-month mark.

Before, Lila was almost entirely helpless. She could smile, she could cry, she could sleep–and that was about it. Now, she has wants, she has feelings, she has opinions–and she can even express at least a small percentage of them. The night before the big day, my most pressing concern was changing her diaper. I’d watched people change diapers, but I’d never done it myself. My wife and I practiced with a folded piece of paper towel, a small square of tape, and a stuffed hippopotamus. Somehow, my success wrapping a sheet of Bounty loosely around a lifeless object gave me the confidence that I would be able to handle the task on an actual person, with an actual diaper–including something called a “ruffle” that I was repeatedly warned I must be aware of. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 16 2012

The Childless Uncle & The Baby Take Manhattan

By at 1:18 pm
cvs in manhattan

Where else to take a baby in Manhattan?

I recently spent an hour and a half alone with my niece Lila–no competent adult supervising–on the dangerous streets of Manhattan. She survived. Both of us survived, in fact. This I see as a tremendous accomplishment.

The secret I suspect I share with many other first-time aunts and uncles is that we are paralyzed with fear. We are supposed to be people you can trust with your baby, but we have no idea what we are doing. I had never even seen a real baby up close until I met Lila. The first thing I said to my wife when we left the hospital, after visiting our hours-old niece, was that I was surprised she wasn’t making more eye contact. And even having expressed this preposterously idiotic reaction to meeting a newborn baby for the first time, I was still trusted to wheel her around a crowded city for 90 minutes–alone. Read the rest of this entry →

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