Category Archives: Inspire

Tech-free tips for keeping kids happy on the go

Unpredictable moods, constant whining and non-stop hunger make traveling with children a daunting task for families. And, while many parents, including me, are grateful for the wealth of tech products to keep our kids entertained, often we need, or want, to leave the gadgets behind.

Whether you are a tech-free family or your devices simply ran out of power, there are lots of reasons to turn to old school forms of entertainment on your next family road, air or train trip.

I asked my followers on Facebook to share their tech-free tips for keeping kids occupied and happy while traveling, and they delivered. Continue reading

Supporting our Vets beyond Veterans Day

The parades have ended, the uniforms are folded and tucked away, the little American Flags go back into storage, and life goes on. Veterans Day has come and gone, and while those of us who never served will go back to our regular lives, many of our veterans remain some of the most vulnerable members of society.

After giving so much to serve our country, many of Americans veterans come home to little support financially, mentally, and emotionally, and are left to cope with the difficulty of returning to civilian life all on their own. Far too many vets are in serious financial trouble, without stable employment, or living on the streets.

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Leave No Veteran Behind is an organization working hard to ensure that those who serve are not forgotten once they come home. Through education, as well as job training and support, Leave No Veteran Behind, helps get veterans back on their feet, while helping to bring these highly skilled people back into the workforce.

In my religion, Judaism, one of the highest forms of charity you can perform is to help someone who is struggling find a stable source of income. The dignity one attains by being able to support themselves and their families is unmatched, and to be able to give back in this way is an incredible honor. Therefore, I am thrilled to help spread the word about Leave No Veteran Behind and the great work they are doing to help our veterans.

Veterans are our family, our friends, and our neighbors. Let’s honor them not only with special celebrations and parades, but with real support and guidance.

Click here to support Leave No Veteran Behind.

 

Put down the screaming toddler, and pick up this book

Moby Dick, Crime and PunishmentThe Catcher in the Rye, these are just a few of the many books that speak so boldly to the human experience. The anguish, the despair — the general disdain and confusion for humanity — are all laid out for the reader’s consumption.

Yet, no piece of literature has so perfectly captured the essence of toddlerhood …

until now.

Silence Is A Scary Sound, the latest release from Clint Edwards, the hilarious person behind the beloved blog, No Idea What I’m Doing, is an honest, humorous and heartfelt depiction of the pure wonder and insanity that is raising two and three-year-olds. Continue reading

Not all families celebrate Halloween

With Halloween mere days away, many American parents are scrambling to put last-minute costumes together, dealing with kids who can’t make up their minds about what they want to be, stocking up on extra candy, and hoping nobody gets into too much trouble.

This is a fun time of year for many families, and as Halloween has become an accepted part of American culture, it is often assumed most, if not all Americans celebrate it in someway.

This is not true.

For several reasons, lots of families choose to opt out of the Halloween festivities. Some feel the holiday puts too much emphasis on candy, others believe it’s too scary, others skip it for religious reasons. Continue reading

It’s not your fault, some babies are just hard

You push the stroller through the door of your local baby group, amazed you were able to make it out the door. Your eyes are bloodshot and droopy from not having a good night’s sleep in months. You gaze around at all the put-together, well-rested parents, each holding happy, well-behaved babies, and just hope, for once, your fussy child, will be able to get through this without screaming.

You wonder: what am I doing wrong?

Nothing.

You are doing nothing wrong.

Some babies are just hard.

This isn’t just me, science agrees, so if anyone tries to smugly shame you for not doing the “right” thing to soothe your baby, or believes they are somehow how superior because their baby sleeps through the night at two months, feel free to ignore them.

New parents who are gifted with an easy baby are lucky, that’s all.

Before I continue, let me insert a bit of a disclaimer here and say that I understand “easy” is relative. I am not trying to compare my experience to a parent whose baby required non-stop medical care, or any other circumstance beyond the typical scope of babyhood.

I am talking about developmentally typical, relatively healthy babies, and even when most of these factors are the same, some babies will be harder to deal with than others. That is just how they are born.

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Many parents learn this truth after their second, or third kid. They live in a blissful state of self satisfaction, believing they somehow cracked the code on parenting, and then, BAM!, out pops a baby who screams non-stop, and these parents realize they weren’t the “experts” they once believed.

Other parents, like me, are blessed with a more challenging newborn on their first go. And, if you haven’t spent much time with other babies (I hadn’t), you really believe that 1) this is just how it is, and 2) if you can’t fix it, it’s totally your fault.

I genuinely thought it was normal for my baby to want to be on my boob every 30 minutes. I assumed all babies hated sleep, or at least not sleeping on top of another human. Continue reading

Sukkot: The awesome Jewish holiday you (probably) never heard of

If you are Jewish (or have at least a few Jewish friends), you probably saw a lot of stuff about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Indeed, those two holidays are, in my estimation, the most widely observed among the Jewish people, with Yom Kippur, in particular, holding a good deal of weight.

Lesser known among non-Jews, and even among more secular Jews, is the holiday of Sukkot, which is a shame because it is pretty awesome.

Sukkot is an eight-day-long festival celebrating the harvest and remembering the time when the Jewish people were wandering from Egypt to Israel. This last part is honored today by the practice of building a sukkah — a temporary hut, usually crafted from simple materials with branches and other natural material used for a “roof.”

As a child, I loved decorating my family’s sukkah with tinsel, garlands and other various items my parents have gathered over the years. Now as a mom, I am enjoying passing on this tradition with my own children. I love that is a chance for us to come together as a family to build something we can all share.

During Sukkot, families such as mine will eat, relax and enjoy time with family in the Sukkah. For kids this is a really cool experience, and makes family meals a special time. Some people even sleep in the Sukkah, to get the full feel of what it might have been like for the Jews in the wilderness. My family has never done this, as unlike in the Middle Eastern desert, this time of year gets pretty chilly where we live!

Sukkot is a wonderful time to connect with family, and, because we spend a lot of it outside, it is a great time to connect with nature as well.
Continue reading

Writing can save lives

The first few months or so after I gave birth to my first child were a blur of sleepless nights, days without a decent shower, and scrambling to eat to keep up with the never-ending hunger I felt from constant breastfeeding.

I was often exhausted, overwhelmed, angry, sad and confused.

New motherhood brought on a slew of emotions I had little experience with before I had kids.

I needed a way to process those emotions — to make sense of what I was experiencing — so, I turned to writing.

I started this blog in 2013, shortly after I made the decision to leave my job and become a stay-at-home mom.

My first entries were short, often nonsensical ramblings, I never intended many people to see. Though, I guess, subconsciously, I was hoping others would read it, otherwise I would have stuck with an old-school journal.

Regardless of my intent, getting my thoughts about parenting out of my head and on to the screen helped me to work through some of the harder parts of motherhood.

Writing might seem like a simple solution, but for me and others, like Kimberly Zapata, the founder of Greater Than Illness, there is so much more to writing than words on paper. 

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Continue reading

I’m a mom who makes mistakes

I wish I could tell you about that one time I lost my cool in front of my kids;

Or about that time I forgot to send in something important to my son’s school;

Or that time I was late picking my kid up.

I wish I could tell you about that “one time,” but, the truth is, there’s more than one time.

There are many, many times.

Because, I am a mom who makes mistakes. Continue reading

Kids understand more than we think

“Why do we have belly buttons?”

My six-year-old asked me, while staring down at his own naval during bathtime.

I explained to him that his belly button is the spot where his umbilical cord connected him to my placenta, which is how he got nutrients inside the womb. I told him how after babies are born, the umbilical cord is cut and what’s left is the belly button.

I went on to talk about how his younger brother’s umbilical cord might not have been cut properly, which is why he got sick when he was born.

We talked about how he had to go to the hospital, and my six-year-old commented on how lucky his brother was to have good doctors working on him, and I agreed.

My son followed up by asking me if doctors still had to help patients even if they didn’t have money. I explained how doctors have a sort of “code” which demands they care for anyone, no matter the circumstances. I told him that afterwards, the hospital or doctor’s office sends a bill saying what is owed to the patient or the patient’s family.

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We talked about how our family fortunate to have the means to pay for his brother’s procedures and NICU stay, and to be financially well enough to afford quality healthcare for our family.

I told my son that some families aren’t so fortunate, and many have to do things like sell their homes, or ask others for help because their medical bills are too expensive.

My son looked at me and asked with the innocence of a child, “Why can’t it just be free?”

I could have just said, “I wish, or, I don’t know,” but I believe our children deserve honest, thoughtful answers. Continue reading

Two dads are on a mission to “solve” childhood cancer

I was maybe eleven or twelve years old, when I first knew of a parent to lose a child to cancer. A family in my community had a little girl who was very ill. I knew she had cancer, but not what kind. I understood she was suffering, and her parents were working hard to care for her.

That little girl passed away, and I remember seeing her father in the days, weeks, months and even years after; always amazed by how positive he always remained. At my age, I couldn’t comprehend the depth of child loss, the unique experience of caring for a child with cancer, or how grief manifests itself in many ways.

I wish I could say that little girl would be the last time I knew of a child lost to cancer, but year after year, a family I know — whether from my “real life” or online community — has to bear the unbearable and mourn the death of a child to this horrible disease.

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What inspires me most about so many of these families is how even in the face of unspeakable grief they find hope and the will to seek out ways to help others dealing with a child’s cancer diagnosis. As a parent, I can say, most of us would do almost anything for our children, and it is no surprise parents are often at the forefront of movements to better our world.

Parents like John London and Scott Kennedy, the co-founders of Solving Kids’ Cancer.

Inspired by their children Penelope (John’s daughter) and Hazen (Scott’s son), who even while dealing with their own illness, remained hopeful other kids wouldn’t have to suffer, John and Scott came together in 2007 to form a foundation dedicated to addressing the unique issues of childhood cancer. Continue reading