Category Archives: Smile

Nature vs. Nurture: Nature (slightly) wins

I took an advanced placement course in developmental psychology, during my senior year of high school. Although, at the time, I was a long way from having children of my own, I was fascinated with how the human psyche is shaped over time. We studied various views on personality and behavior, including the long-standing debate of nature versus nurture.

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Reading the works of the likes of John Locke, I was convinced that our behavior and character was almost exclusively shaped by our environment and that we are truly “blank slates” when we first enter the world. This view made me regard every future child I encountered with a certain level of judgement for their parents. If their kid was awful, it had to be because of something they were doing wrong.

Then, I had my own kids. Two boys, being raised in similar circumstances, but who could not be more different. And, this difference was apparent from the moment my second son was born. Continue reading

“Harry Potter” and the lessons for this mom

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My two boys and I were shopping for school supplies at our local Target, a few months ago, when I came across a display of “Harry Potter” books. My eldest, who will turn six in November, was entering first grade, had a growing attention span, and was more capable of processing a complex narrative. I was excited to introduce him to the magical world of Harry Potter, and hopefully find something special him and I could share. He was familiar with the series, and was interested in getting a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. When I read the series, many years ago, I got most of the books from the library, so I was happy to have an excuse to buy a copy, plus it was 20% off, and I can’t resist a deal. Who knows, maybe this will be my motivation to finally buy a complete set. Continue reading

I don’t regret putting my five-year-old in first grade

I was an anxious newly minted mom of a school-age child, one year ago, and like most parents preparing their kid for kindergarten, I worried about my son making new friends, handling the school work and whether he would eat the lunches I made. Having never sent my child to daycare or preschool, I was thrusting him into a whole new world. And, all of this was happening when he was only four years old.

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My eldest was born in November 2012, which fell about a month behind the New York State cut-off for entering kindergarten in 2017. I knew he would likely be the youngest child in his class, and how many parents in my place would have held him back. I had every intention of sending my son to school, but the voices of concern both in my head, and from without, filled me with a lot of doubt. I wondered if I was making the right choice, especially since conventional wisdom is to red-shirt children. Continue reading

I (kind of) want to skip the Tooth Fairy

Every toothless picture posted. Every report of another child coming to school with a missing tooth. Every debate about how much is too much for loose teeth. Every news of a wiggly canine or incisor hanging by a thin piece of gum. All of it reminds me my days of full sets of baby teeth are numbered.

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My oldest is five, and as parents do with each passing day, I eagerly anticipate the next milestone of his fleeting childhood. First words, first steps, first day of school — all have come and gone. Now, I await the next one, a pivotal moment on his journey to adulthood, the loss of his first tooth.

I am nervous about how the experience will feel for my son. I wonder if it will feel weird and if he will be scared. I could delve deeply into that topic, but I don’t feel like entertaining those thoughts right now. Admittedly, I am concerned about one aspect of the whole loose tooth thing: the Tooth Fairy.

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Maybe I’ll Shower Today’s best memes (so far)

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I love sharing my thoughts here on the blog. Writing is my passion, and I am so glad to have you as a reader. As you may also know, I run a Facebook page, where I share tons of memes. They are inspired by my children, who give me great material to work with, as well as my daily life as a mom.

I have gathered some of my favorites, and if you are not following me already, I hope these will do the trick. Continue reading

Why I’m saying “no” to a swing-set

My family was attending a birthday party for one of my son’s classmates, when my husband commented on the kids playing on the backyard swing-set, suggesting maybe we needed one for our own yard. In a lot of ways, he had a point. We have a large yard, we don’t live that close to a playground and our two boys are often quite literally climbing up the walls. A structured, safe, outdoor play space makes a lot of sense.

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And yet, I remain hesitant to purchase a, or even accept a donated, swing-set. When I picture owning one, nothing about it feels right to me. I look out my kitchen window, imagining my kids swinging and sliding, and instead of conjuring up happy thoughts, all I see is bad news. Here’s why:

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Why I bring my kids to gay pride events

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I supported and believed in basic human rights for LGBTQIA folks long before I had children. And, now that I have kids, and understand how relatively easy I have it by comparison, I believe it is just as important — if not more — to continue to stand with my gay friends and family and to show my own children that indeed love is love.

Large crowds make me uncomfortable, and you often won’t find me at large marches or protests, even if they are for causes I support in other ways. I am also vary weary of hostile opposition, and the mama bear in me wants to keep my kids away at all costs. However, I make an exception for gay pride and related events, because, my experience with them is always positive and enlightening.  Continue reading

Make your own $5 travel activity sets

Traveling with kids is a wonderful way to expose them to different cities, cultures and activities. However, while checking out a new location is fun and exciting, getting there, often, is anything but. Long waits at the airport, sitting in traffic, or taking a long train ride, are just a few things that make traveling tough for little ones.

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To make things easier, we parents look for ways to keep our kids, calm, entertained and happy. While this often means using tablets or other devices (something I’m not ashamed to admit using) to make our journey smoother, I prefer non-digital sources.

When my family traveled to Montreal last month, I needed away to keep my two kids happy without necessarily having to rely on screen-time. Luckily, my sister found creative and money-savvy ways to put together activity sets for my two boys. Using dollar-store finds and free Internet resources, she was able to produce each one for around $5. Depending on the age of your child, where you live and how much you want to put in your folder, this price could easily be less. Continue reading

My Montreal must-dos for families

Montreal is a fabulous city for families. From museums to playgrounds, there is something to satisfy children of all ages. The city, whose customs, culture and vibe is predominantly French, also provides a unique opportunity for American children to experience something new.

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On our long weekend in town, my children played with the locals at the park, learned about electricity, saw some old fossils and got a taste of the Montreal lifestyle. Read on to learn more about our journey, as well as pick up some pointers for your own trip. Continue reading

Thank you, class parents

Every class has one, or maybe two. They are the moms or dads who remind you of special events or nudge you about getting your money in for the class gift. They organize email lists and volunteer schedules. They do the grunt work so we all can shine.

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They are the unsung heroes who work tirelessly keeping track of the details, so the rest of us, who barely remember what day our kids have gym, can look like competent caretakers of our little ones. Continue reading