Category Archives: Think

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.

vets.png

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.

 

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.

babieshard.png

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

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.

kidsunderstand.png

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

That daily glass could be putting you at risk for breast cancer

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor am I a scientific expert. This website and its content are not meant to be a substitute for peer-reviewed journalism. My purpose in sharing this article is to raise awareness on the potential risks of alcohol consumption, and while I did my best to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, I am aware that these points can be debated. I welcome your feedback in the comments.

What if I told you that drinking one of these every day could increase your risk of breast cancer by 12 percent? I’m guessing you’d think twice about grabbing another glass. You might even stop drinking it altogether. 

What if I told you that drink was alcohol? Would you still be so keen on giving it up?

When we think of bad habits that cause cancer, we think of smoking, eating poorly or spending too much time in the tanning booth. We criticize those who indulge in a daily cheeseburger, but would never do the same for those who partake in a glass of red wine at the end of a long day. 

breastCancerdrink.png

To be clear, I know several women who have breast cancer, I am not applying that they or any other person who has this horrible illness is at fault because they drink alcohol. Several factors contribute to breast cancer risk, including genetics, stress and just plain bad luck.

This article isn’t meant to shame anyone, least of all people with cancer, I am sharing this with the intent to educate and raise questions about “drinking culture,” and what that means for women’s health. Continue reading

Finding magic outside the “Magic Kingdom”

Every few months or so, I mull over the idea of planning a family trip to Disney World. I go online, research the best hotels, compare vacation packages and express my interest in Disney to a chorus of responses from friends who are Disney vacation planners, or know people who are Disney vacation planners.

The process overwhelms me, as I am confronted with the reality of how difficult — and expensive — a Disney World trip can be for families, not to mention how hard visiting the Happiest Place On Earth is for anyone traveling outside a very narrow selection of dates.

So, I table my plans and think, maybe another time, all the while wondering if I am depriving my children of some magical experience they will only appreciate when they are young.

magic (1).png

It doesn’t help that my six-year-old has never been that into Disney or most other “fantasy.” I swear the kid was basically born an adult.

My younger son, however, loves princesses and make believe and all things magical.

He is four, which means soon, he too will have no interest in childhood fantasies.

I often worry I’m depriving him of the opportunity to have his dreams come true.

But, then I think about how magic can come from anywhere.

I am reminded simple joys can mean the world to a child.

On a family trip to Mystic, Conn., we decided to drive about 25 minutes away to watch the Connecticut Tigers, a minor-league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Continue reading

All a baby needs is your love (and maybe diapers)

My eyes widened as they caught sight of a beautiful crib, displayed with great care in the middle of the showroom floor.

I, pregnant mom-to-be, and my husband were deep in our shopping for the baby whose arrival was quickly approaching.

I spotted the crib and was enamored with its features:

A built in changing table!

Drawers!

It converts into a toddler bed!

loveanddiapers

I was sold. The rational bargain shopper in me, would have insisted on a more simpler (i.e. less expensive option), but I thought, hey, this is an investment. This is something we will use in so many ways, and it will last many years. After all, a baby spends a lot of time sleeping, right?

Turns out, my firstborn spent little time in his crib, and I wound up purchasing a special bassinet which enabled me to safely co-sleep with my baby.

As for the changing table, well, I mostly found it to be a pain, and performed most of my diaper changing on our floor on top of a mat or spare towel.

The drawers did come in handy, and once in a while our child did use the toddler bed, so maybe the crib wasn’t a complete waste.

But could we have done without it?

Yes. Continue reading

What YouTube means for representation

When he was about three years old, my now six-year-old son, discovered YouTube. Like many toddlers and preschoolers, my child would stare in awe as other children un-boxed and played with toys — many of which we had in our very own home, sitting un-played with on a shelf near by.

Maybe it was the comfort of hearing another child’s voice in the home, or the thrill of watching a kid get a new toy, but for whatever reason, my kid just ate this stuff up.

Above all, one YouTube kid kept making his way onto our screen.

youtubediversity.png

Ryan.

Ryan, the now eight-year-old star of the behemoth YouTube channel, Ryan ToysReview, began making videos with his parents in 2015, and has grown into what may be the biggest child star of my kids’ generation.

What Macaulay Culkin was to the 90s, Ryan is to this decade.

My older son has mostly moved on to watching gamers, but my four-year-old has found his own joy in watching Ryan’s channel.

And, I know that grinds a lot of gears.

Parents, including myself, often disgruntling watched our children stare fascinated at Ryan, all the while calculating in our heads all the money he and his family earn from every single video.

I thought of how this poor child was being exploited, for some sort of bastardization of entertainment. This wasn’t acting, this wasn’t a skill.

Any parent with a cellphone camera could do this.

But, one moment changed my view on Ryan and his YouTube fame. Continue reading

It’s time to stop ‘boot-strapping’ parenthood

Scrolling through my Instagram feed the other day, I came across a video featuring a well-known motivational speaker, who this person is doesn’t matter, as the message shared is pretty much the same for the lot of them:

“I worked hard, came from nothing, did this all on my own, became successful, and you can too, if you just tried.”

bootstrapmotherhood

At face value, this is an encouraging sentiment, and provides us with that “can-do” attitude we need to achieve our dreams.

Yet. when we dig deeper, we find that success is never achieved in an isolated vacuum, and this message is dangerous no matter what you are pursuing, but it is especially true for parents — women and mothers in particular — who are taught we most work harder, better and smarter, with little or no help from society at large, because this is the American way.

Suck it up, pull up those proverbial “bootstraps,” and do what you gotta do.

This toxic message roots itself deep in our psyche and tells us that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Continue reading