Sep 22 2014
My husband and I grew up very differently–I in an Orthodox household that celebrated every single Jewish holiday, and he in a Reform one that acknowledged Passover, saw Rosh Hashanah as a good excuse to make brisket, and suffered through Yom Kippur.
When I began dragging my husband to family gatherings for holidays he’d previously never even heard of, he was a good sport about it–and he still is, when those holidays fall on the weekends. But for the past number of years, the holiday calendar has been particularly cruel to those of us bound by limited time off and jobs that don’t close for Jewish observances. And this year is no exception.
Now I’m not particularly upset about spending my vacation days on the holidays this year, especially since we don’t have any major travel plans. But try convincing someone who grew up the way my husband did that it’s worthwhile using up all your vacation time to celebrate every single holiday our religion boasts. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 8 2014
Family picture par excellence.
About two weeks ago, I came back from a two-week family “vacation” in Europe. Our group was four adults (me, my husband, and my parents) and my five children–three of them aged 3 and under. Nine suitcases, two of them duffel bags full of diapers, wipes, bottles, and baby food. And three strollers.
It was wonderful. And I have only just now recovered from it.
Have you ever fantasized about taking a big trip with your little ones? If so, read on for some unsolicited advice. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 20 2014
Last month, my book club unanimously decided to go away for a night. I don’t remember who made the initial suggestion, but the idea sounded amazing to me. In the past few years, there have been days where my house is a disaster and my girls are crying and just as I’m about to lose it… my cat pukes on the rug. There are times when this Mommy needs a time out. Most of my friends are married and moms, and I knew they felt the same. We needed a break… so we took one.
We chose a destination, found a hotel, and made dinner reservations. We arranged for husbands and other family members to watch our children. As a group of eight, we evenly split ourselves into two cars.
It was all so simple. It was strange. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 11 2014
A crumpled up map of the city of Jerusalem. A ticket from the Israel Museum. A black and red card for my favorite falafel place in Jaffa. A guide to the tunnels under the Western Wall. A pinkly pale and gray shell I found on the beach in Herzliya.
These smudged, damp, and crinkled remnants of our adventures gently spill out of my new turquoise made-in-Israel bag like the fine grains of Dead Sea salt that scattered on the bathroom floor from my bathing suit this evening.
It’s almost over, our vacation. And I wish it wasn’t. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 23 2014
We are canceling our trip to Israel. Even as I say this, I want to be there more than ever. My wife and I debated this decision endlessly and were waiting until the last moment to decide. We did not want to abandon Israel. We wanted to show support by being physically present. We wanted to show support with our tourist dollars. And we desperately wanted to be with our family there.
On the other hand, we did not want to subject our children to the emotional trauma of air raid sirens and running to bomb shelters. We did not want our children to have a negative experience in Israel. Nor did we want to unnecessarily take up space or resources.
It seems the choice has been made for us. As of this writing, the FAA has ordered all US carriers to suspend flights to Israel, the State Department has issued a travel warning suggesting the deferral of non-essential travel to Israel, and multiple airlines have either temporarily or indefinitely suspended their flights to Israel. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 10 2014
The turquoise Mediterranean glittered in the late afternoon sun. Smoky barbecue drifted toward me as I helped my daughter and her cousin build sandcastles. No English for one and no Hebrew for the other, they built a beautiful, sandy city together with nods and smiles, gestures and touches. Up ahead three horses carried their riders toward the dunes. The sun sank lower.
The boys played Frisbee. The girls built their castles. The grown-ups drank beer and sparkling red wine, and the dog lay in the cooling sand, watching and sleeping.
They were photo-perfect moments happening every second, and my cousin ran from group to group and captured each one. “Chayim babu’ah,” she said. Life in a bubble. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 9 2014
I was nervous. I didn’t know what reaction I’d get on the other end of the call. Would I be met with joy? Apathy? Had I been forgotten? It had been a while since we last spoke and I felt anxious. As the time of the call drew closer, I had butterflies.
No, I’m not describing the emotions of talking to a guy I was really into… I’m talking about the excitement and anxiety I felt when my husband and I Skyped with our 18-month-old daughter while we were on vacation in Europe and she was back in California with my parents.
Before we left on our 12-day journey, we told my parents that we wanted to try to Skype a few times with our daughter. We went into it with the understanding that if seeing us on the screen made her burst into tears, then we would say goodbye and not see her again until we could do so in person with real life hugs and kisses. Read the rest of this entry →
May 15 2014
When is a vacation not really a vacation? Answer: When you go with your 2.5-year-old.
We are back from a week in Southern California where it was warm and sunny most of the time, and felt like a vacation for a few brief bursts when I had the chance to get away from my get-a-way. I try to kvell more than kvetch as a parent. I know I am infinitely blessed to have a happy and healthy daughter, great life-partner, supportive family, wonderful friends and community. I know the fact that I can take paid-time off from my job and hop on an airplane makes me at least a 5 percenter, so I feel like a jerk complaining about a week of vacation. That being said, it’s not so much as a complaint as an acknowledgement that my expectations sometimes drastically differ from reality, now that I am a parent. The learning curve is steep for the first kid. What I remember a vacation being is no longer what a vacation is.
I think back to past travel, shopping for new clothes especially for a trip, making a list of what to pack and an itinerary of what to do, and enjoying the excitement of going someplace new or visiting old friends. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 10 2014
When you think of Hawaii, you think beautiful beaches, hula dancers, volcanoes, and– perhaps most importantly–ROMANCE!
There’s a reason the tropical islands are among the top honeymoon destinations year after year, right? Lying on the sand, snuggling up with the love of your life, watching a beautiful sunset while drinking your fourth Mai Tai–it is paradise.
But that’s not how it panned out when I went to Hawaii with my husband, my 13-month-old daughter, and my parents recently. Actually, “romantic” was the last adjective that came to mind. Somehow the getaway felt more like a business trip. Just as a business trip can include a gorgeous location, phenomenal people, and delicious food where you leave learning a bit more about yourself, a trip like this was–for me–more than a bit of work. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 24 2013
Summer is yet another opportunity to feel bad about the places you haven’t traveled because you have young children and it’s too hard/expensive/logistically challenging. But I am here to tell you that there’s an answer, and it’s called “Take a Staycation and Send Your Kids to School/Daycare/Camp.”
Jon and I recently did just that. Much as we’d have liked to be back in Botswana, trekking in the bush and spying on elephants as we did when we were young and newly married, or at a B&B in the Berkshires drinking fair trade coffee and gearing up for a hike or a concert at Tanglewood, or in Guatemala boating on Lake Atitlan, we have toddlers and a bank account to consider. So instead, when a vacation week rolled around recently, we decided to try something different, something–I can’t believe I’m about to say this–just for us. Read the rest of this entry →