Life in General

The things you can accomplish for just $3…

“But you said you’d give it back on the last day of camp!”

“Never said such a thing!” Responds the head counselor, totally disregarding the camper’s wide, innocent eyes as he watches an adult not keep his word.

“I never give things back when I take them away, sorry!” And the head counselor moves on to his many other things he has to do.

Sure, it was only a $3 keychain; nothing of much value. That is, nothing of much value to the head counselor.

But that’s 3 whole dollars to this child, plus his integrity, being tossed in the trash.

It happened the first week of camp; the spunky 10 year old had his $3 keychain with him; the head counselor approached and asked for it and he gave it; that’s when he was informed that it was being taken away.

And that’s also when the camper remembers being told that he would get it back on the last day of camp, and the head counselor doesn’t remember anything of the sort. Truthfully, why would he; considering the millions of things he’s dealt with between the first week and the last.

The child comes home from camp; he’s had an amazing experience filled with trips, activities, swimming, games sports and more. But what’s the first thing that he says?

“He took my keychain and wouldn’t give it back! Even though he said he would! And it was $3!!”

A broken promise from an adult.

After much deliberation, the child’s father reaches out to the (young) head counselor and tries to bring him into the bigger picture; the harm in adults failing kids and breaking their trust, and asks the head counselor to replace the keychain. It’s not about the $3, it’s about the lifelong lesson of adults keeping their word when they make promises to children. The father says he will send him the $3; please show him you take him seriously. He is convinced you told him he’d get it back.

“Sure,” agrees the head counselor, understanding that it’s about more than the $3. He doesn’t have the keychain, of course, but it’s easily available to replace.

“He’s going to send you the keychain,” the father tells his son; the look of his eyes lighting up, of his integrity and trust being restored, is hard to miss.

A week passes, followed by the father receiving a message from the HC: “I changed my mind, I’m not sending it. I don’t give back things that I take away from campers.”

Huh? What?

All conversation cease to exist; he has made up his mind and does not respond to any follow up conversation.

And this trusting 10 year old is trusting no more.

“I don’t give back things that I take away!”

How is that a thing?

Who is right? Did he say it or didn’t he? Is the 10 year-old remembering correctly or is the head counselor? At this point, it’s not relevant, because there’s something bigger going on.

There’s a great saying I came across – Mean what you say, say what you mean; but don’t be mean.

A kid is using something inappropriately or at the wrong time? By all means, take it away. 

But the purpose of taking away should be for the purpose of the respect and discipline needed at the time; not for the gratification of showing a child that you and your stuff is worthless, so I will toss it. Too bad.

$3.00. An insignificant amount to an adult.

$3.00. Sometimes it’s that cheap and easy to teach trust and respect; the principle of keeping your word. $3.00 to show I respect you as a human.

And $3.00 to destroy it too.

Don’t forget the big picture.

Life in General

CSLW – it’s a Thing

How does a thing become a Thing?

Seems that if something is not a Thing then it’s not worth doing.

Because we can’t just merely be mothers doing things, we need to be moms who do Things; and in order for a thing to be a Thing it has to have memes backing it. And most importantly, promoted on Instagram.

I don’t know when it became a Thing, but just when I thought I knew what I needed to know about babies and food, after weaning baby 10, I discovered I don’t know everything and there is Thing called BLW. 

Baby Led Weaning.

I can’t say I follow the whole dissertation on it, but I’ve seen enough memes to know that it’s really a Thing. And I’m sure I don’t fully understand it because to me it seems to teach kids they can eat whatever they like – which in my opinion seems to translate into teaching them that they are entitled to chips, soda or candy whenever they want to, as soon as they are old and wise enough to carry along the same principle. After all, its taste, texture, color and smell is quite appealing!

And that’s why I want to introduce you to a new weaning theory.


Common Sense Led Weaning.

The memes are in print, but not available just yet.

It works like this:

  1. Baby is ready for solids. Or mom is ready for baby to have solids.
  2. Baby doesn’t have many teeth.
  3. Baby can’t chew much.
  4. Soft food is in order.
  5. Purées are safe with no teeth.
  6. Baby can’t manage the container-to-mouth spoon movement so adult fills in.
  7. Adult puts spoon of food in baby’s mouth.

And here there’s two options for what happens next:

  1. Baby swallows and babbles and cooes and you know the food is a winner.
  2. Baby spits the food back in your face and you know that you need to try something else.

Baby gets some teeth. Cut up soft foods into small pieces. Baby either eats or tosses the food across the room. This will tell you what food baby likes.

And the more teeth, the more food the baby can safely eat. And baby learns that we eat all different types of food, and some we like more than others.

And there you have it. CSLW.

Common Sense Led Weaning.

Fellow moms, we are tired enough without having to so many Things! Maybe we can just do things even if it’s not a Thing, and still have successful results. And still be good-enough mothers. Maybe.

All memes welcome.

Life in General

Dear head counselors and staff,

“YOU IN THE BLUE CAP, GET OUT OF THE SHUL RIGHT NOW!” bellows the head counselor; pointing at the boy in the blue cap who dared whisper to his friend 5 minutes into camp.

What goes through the mind of a head counselor as he publicly humiliates the child with the blue cap, I’ll never know. Is it to make an example out of him?  To assert his authority? 

What I do know is – this age-old method has got to stop.

Did he choose the right kid – is this indeed the camp troublemaker, or did the head counselor actually just give this boy a title that he will now live up to?

This is a typical scene that every boy who has gone to camp is familiar with; but that doesn’t make it acceptable.

Shaming. Humiliating.

Two ingredients that create a defiant and daring camper. 

Dear head counselors, counselors and all staff members,

As you get ready for an amazing summer, devoting every waking hour – and there are many since you don’t sleep much –  to kids of all ages and types, pause and realize this mission you are being entrusted with. 

We are dishing out thousands and thousands of dollars and entrusting you with our precious children. We are so grateful to each of you who agree to undertake this tremendous task of giving our children the best summer possible.

That kid in the blue cap that ends up being used as a korban;

He is someone’s precious child. There’s a mother and father out there trusting you to take care of their treasure. To build and not break. To influence and not destroy. To inspire and not shame. To empower and not put down.

Long after you leave camp and have caught up on sleep, this child will either be soothing their scars or flying on clouds of inspiration.

Camp is invaluable; there’s endless tales of campers recounting the life changing experiences that overnight camp has brought into their lives.

But let’s talk about another group of kids. Who came to camp for a fresh start and repeatedly get shamed and yelled at. Publicly humiliated. Sent out repeatedly.

And surprisingly enough, the more they are screamed at, the more they act out.

Wouldn’t you if you were trying to save face?

And instead of realizing that the staff themselves have created this monster, they blame the camper for his behavior. Of course responsibility and accountability are integral for each camper; but the staff need to be the adults in the room.

In a conversation with a counselor of a particular camper who was causing a lot of havoc, the father of the child spoke to the counselor about some different strategies to reach the child, and then suggested that the counselor call a particular respected mentor who has experience dealing with challenging campers.

The response from the counselor: ”I can’t be bothered.”

This is a true story.

And so to the dedicated staff, head counselors and counselors, I want to share with you; to be in your position is signing up to “be bothered.”

It’s part of the package.

Children are often delightful and enthusiastic, but can often be, well, bothersome.

And it’s up to you; how will you be treating each camper? No, not the easy campers who look in their Siddur all davening, who don’t talk after lights out and always show up on time, getting more and more points, prizes and Rebbe pictures.

What about the other 80%? 

Screaming, shaming, embarrassing and humiliating doesn’t fly anymore.

A good measuring stick to keep in mind is that if you can’t say it with love, don’t say it.

I’ll leave the particular discipline systems to the professionals; but when you look at that kid in the blue cap who dared to talk/smirk/make faces/whistle/put his feet up and you are ready to attack him, pause and remember that he is someone’s child. He is someone’s most valuable possession. And he wants to have a fantastic summer just like you do.

Proceed with caution; not everything can be easily undone.

Wishing every one a happy and successful summer!


A mother of multiple kids who are heading to camp for a great summer!

Life in General

Good Advice…or is it?

“Wow, I’m the best mother ever! I’ve really got it all figured out!”

Said no mother, ever.

That’s just how it works; part of the gift of motherhood is the gift of doubt, guilt and second guessing.

And that’s where good advice comes in. The remedy for all this is good advice.

But not all advice is good, even if it has good intentions.

My personal two least favorite and least productive pieces of advice are these goodies;

“The days are long, but the years are short; before you blink they’ll be grown up, hold onto these times!”

“Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems!”

I don’t know if they’re meant as cliches or advice, but I do know what they actually are; when delivered, it’s just another form of the big bad G – GUILT – albeit with fancy wrapping paper.

Continue reading “Good Advice…or is it?”
Life in General

Six Sanity Tips for Pesach

The countdown is on, Pesach is coming.

When you read that sentence, did it make your heart start palpitating and you started breaking out in a cold sweat?

Or did you feel a thrill of excitement and burst of adrenaline for this incredible, all encompassing Jewish holiday that wraps you up in a world of its own; where regular life ceases to exist and family and meals become front and center of your life.

Yeah, that really is possible – or you can at least get closer to the latter reaction.

Pesach is a lot. It really is. There’s so much to do and so much to buy and so much to prepare.

Now, as I’m preparing to make Pesach in my own home for the 14th year, I’d like to share my top Six Sanity Tips for Pesach, in the hope that they offer some help in some way to some Pesach-makers.

#1- It starts at the roots, it’s the foundation. It’s the most important and fundamental rule that will make all the difference in everything I do: I must love pesach. 

Yes, love it.

If the feeling isn’t natural, I repeat “I love Pesach” over and over again until it becomes a part of me. I repeat it again and again. And then again. Starting the day after Purim, I think it while I work, while I walk, while I drive and just about any other time of day or night.

And it really happens. Try it and see for yourself; you will convince yourself. You will love Pesach. 

Especially considering the fact that it comes back every year, rain or shine, it’s integral to have a healthy relationship with it. 

You must love it. 

And to make sure you really love it, buy something new for yourself every year or do something special for yourself; it doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be something that gives you a positive association with the workload. (Think a new book, chocolate stash, manicure, purse, shoes, costume jewelry or whatever makes you happy and fits your budget.)

#2: As much as it’s important for me to love Pesach, my kids need to love it too; and really, that’s all dependent on what they hear me saying – which goes back to #1. If I become a ranting and raving chometz guard, we will all hate Pesach together. 

Do things that give the kids positive associations with the preparing; be creative with suppers and meals for the days before Pesach – as in, forget the rules and do what works. Can you imagine, nothing says best mother better than allowing cereal and milk for supper!! For three days straight! Double points if it’s Shabbos cereal! It’s just a few nights; everyone will be ok. Their emotional and mental  health is top priority over here. Buy some new games or books that are special just for Pesach.

Whatever it is that works, it has to be in line with making the kids love Pesach and not leaving them wishing it went away and so they can get their normal mother back. 

#3  I believe that my cleaning help is just as certified and qualified to do the Pesach cleaning as I am.

If you don’t have regular help, hire a company, group, someone, anyone. Your sanity costs a lot more money than the cleaning help; and it is alot harder to fix or replace your sanity if you lose or damage any of it. . 

Remember that the mitzvah is to get rid of edible chometz you can see. Food doesn’t fly and crumbs don’t jump. Just clean. And save spring cleaning for a calm day in July. 

#4 Pesach is not the time for me to patchke and fuss with new recipes; I save that for during the year when there’s actual ingredients to use, instead of attempting to use (lousy)  makeshift replacements and substitutes. The first year I made Pesach I made 5 different types of sweet potato/potato combos. Rolled, layered, scooped – you name it. They all had fancy names and they all tasted the same. All the work for nothing.

Unless fussing with elegant and delicate foods is something that gives you joy and it’s really your thing, just make the food you like and the food your family will eat. No one needs to know what your menu is.

#5 Look for shortcuts. My best shortcut is that I don’t empty a single cabinet or drawer or pantry in my kitchen. I have two self-standing plastic storage cabinets from Costco that are in the garage all year long storing all the pesach stuff and then the cabinets get moved into the house and it continues to house all the pesach stuff. My chometz cabinets get spring cleaned on random days in the year when it’s not Yom Tov season and it’s not spring. True, it’s additional clutter to have two cabinets brought into the kitchen; but pick your poison. Go for the one that will give you less work.

#6 Lists. Paper, Google docs, excel or whatever works. But make those lists and plan ahead. 

You can shop around for people’s ideas – but most importantly;  make them your own. 

There are so many different ways to do it; cooking everything before Pesach, kashering after Purim, kashering the day before or kashering on Erev Yom tov. There’s no wrong way. Find the right way that’s right for YOU. Do things because they work for you, not because they work for your friend or sister or mother or grandmother. 

Make Pesach yours. Make it your own.

And I can gaurantee you, you will love Pesach. 

You may come to the Seder tired, but there’s a difference between tired and resembling something that the cat dragged in or tired but full of pride and joy and a sense of accomplishment; that you made it without destroying anyone or anything in the process.

And then you can actually be present at the Seder; you will enjoy the time with your family and your food, and actually feel the depth of this holiday celebrating our freedom. You deserve it.