Behavior & Discipline, chanukah, kids, candles, menorah, Life in General, Motherhood

If the candles could speak…

If the candles could speak…

The warm glow of the Menorah. Watch the flames flicker and whisper-

“We do not play with fire! Put out the candle now!”

Watch them whisper the story of Chanukah. Feel the warmth –

“The next person to touch a candle isn’t getting any chocolate coins this Chanukah! This is not safe!”

Feel the warmth, look deep into the flames.
Flames that symbolize –

“Ok, no donuts! Till your bar mitzvah! That’s how fires start, don’t do that!”

Flames that symbolize our freedom. Our endurance. The power of the –

“Do not touch the menorah! It can fall!”

The power of our nation. The power of –

“That is dangerous!! Put out that match!”

The power of perseverance. The power of our –

“No running near the menorahs! That’s dangerous!”

The power of our people. So many lessons-

“Don’t touch the menorahs! No, you can not melt that spoon!”

So many powerful lessons from –

“That’s not safe! Do not light a candle from both ends!!”

…so many powerful lessons from Chanukah.

But sometimes I’m glad that my candles can’t talk…

What would your candles say?

Behavior & Discipline, Life in General, Motherhood

Can you get an F in Parenting?

Last week Thursday I got an F in parenting.

Completely and royally failed.

At least that’s how I interpreted the text message I received.

“Your boys are being extremely disrespectful; we need to talk about this.”


Another adult was telling me that my boys were disrespectful. I got an F. I failed dismally.

My energetic and sometimes rowdy 8, 10 and 12 year old were being supervised and tested by their teacher who oversees our homeschool program and apparently it wasn’t going well.

They were outdoors in 90 degree weather, at 3pm, doing testing on laptops and as 3 brothers they feed off each other when it comes to all things; good behavior or otherwise.

And here it seemed to be the otherwise.

Is she blaming me?

So what does a mom do when another mom tells her that her kids are being extremely disrespectful and not cooperating?

Like is she really trying to say, you bad mother, you taught your kids to be rude to adults!

Does anyone think that mothers actually want their kids to act that way?

Do I apologize? Apologize for what?

One thing was certain, this adult was extremely frustrated, and as the mom, well I guess it was my fault.

Hence the F.

But here’s what I’ve discovered.

Parenting is not a gumball machine.

Gumball machines are straightforward; put in a coin, get a gumball. Every time. You put in what’s expected and you get what you expect.

I’d say parenting is more like the claw machine.

Y’know, the machine at every arcade place that taunts you and you convince yourself that you are going to beat it. And as it eats up coin after coin, you carefully and steadily maneuver that claw arm, never losing track of it, hyper focused on its every move and slowly lower it, so carefully and delicately aimed at just the item you want. You’re sweating from the intense labor and watch it slowly reaching your desired prize; it slowly grasps a corner, lifts it a fraction of an inch as you watch not breathing, and then drops it, delivering you nothing.

That’s parenting.

You sweat, you toil, you make intentional decisions and mindful choices; you give all you have, you give all that you know how to give … and most likely what you get in return is not what you envisioned.

But different than the claw machine, where you walk away with nothing; in parenting you don’t walk away empty handed.

You always get something beautiful and priceless, if you stop trying to limit the options. 

So my kids were disrespectful. So much so that the adult came complaining, which in my perception was blaming, and vented her frustration to me.

So do I say I’m sorry I’ve raised such rude children?

Do I say I’m sorry I told my kids to be disrespectful?

I chose something more neutral; I’m sorry you had to deal with that. I will speak to them about it.

Am I proud of them?

At that moment, I sure wasn’t.

Should I punish them? Consequences? Retribution? How dare my children behave like that to another adult!

So do I get an F? Is it that easy to fail?

Parenting isn’t a gumball machine but really it’s a lot better than a claw machine.

It’s the ultimate test of self; of patience to allow our children to grow and mature at their pace, through their stages and phases and ups and downs. Of being a guiding light and good example of what’s right and wrong. Of catching them when they fall but not shunning them when they fail. Of allowing each child to grow into their best self, not your version of best. Of loving each child even when another adult is annoyed.

So my fellow Annoyed Adult, I’m annoyed too. And to be honest, I’m sure it’ll happen again. And I’ll watch them grow into their own little people. But my kids are not gumballs and my kids are not my report card. There’s no such thing as an F in parenting.

Parenting is not about helping your kids be the best version of your dreams. It’s about helping them become the best version of themselves. And the path is a bumpy one.

The only F is if you expect it to work like a gumball machine.


Moms, have you ever heard of D-MER?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of D-MER.

Raise your hand a little higher.

Hmm, there’s not that many of you.

Chances are everyone reading this has either experienced it or knows someone who did; the problem is, most people don’t know that it actually has a name.

It’s a common breastfeeding related condition that gets little attention and is not well known – and must be publicized. Because if you’ve experienced this, putting a name to the description will make you feel normal again.

I am grateful I’ve been able to nurse all my babies. When my eighth was born 4 years ago, I was relieved that once again nursing was no problem; except for one minor detail change.

Every time I’d start nursing, I’d suddenly be hit by the most overwhelming feeling of sadness. As if something terrible had just happened.

At first I was so confused.

What did I just see? What did I just hear that I feel this way?

And then was the strangest part. After no more than 30 seconds at most, the feeling was gone and I felt great again. Gone without a trace. To the extent that at first I thought I was imagining it.

But then I noticed the pattern. All was well, I was going about my day in a good mood. I’d sit down to nurse and suddenly be hit by this emotional wave. I’d count to 20 or 30 at most and it would be gone, leaving not a trace behind. It was fascinating and bizarre all at the same time. I started asking around, my sisters and my network of friends. No one could understand what I was describing.

I started doubting myself that this was actually true. Maybe I was making it up! But then I’d nurse again and experience it all over again.

My baby got older and slowly these incidents stopped and I forgot about it.

Until my 9th was born, 2 and a half years ago. I recognized it as soon as it happened. Everything was fine, I was feeling good and my baby nursed well. But I’d sit down to nurse and bam, there came that emotional overload. I’d focus on my counting, knowing it would dissipate before I got to 30, and it was gone.

But what was it?!? I googled any terms I could think of. Sadness while nursing. Overwhelming feeling while breastfeeding. No results.

I asked my doctor about it at my 6 week follow-up. This time I knew I wasn’t hallucinating. I knew I felt it. My OB stared at me blankly. She said some random platitudes like “Make sure you’re drinking and getting enough help in the house.” But I KNEW that wasn’t it. It was so hard to explain but I knew it was real!

I started polling my sisters and friends again and still, nothing doing. No one understood what I was referring too. Because really, it sounded crazy. An overwhelming emotional overload for 20 seconds?! Something that had no connection to the activity I was doing right before nor to where I was? It sounded crazy.

I was able to continue nursing with no problem, and the episodes faded and I forgot about it again.

And then, a few months later, I was reading an article in a magazine and I nearly yelped out loud.

This was it!! They were describing me!! This this this!! It was real! I wasn’t making it up! It even had a name!

The elation, the sheer joy and excitement at being validated!

True, this condition hadn’t interrupted my life thank G-d. But I knew something was going on to trigger it and I so badly wanted to know what it was. And here was my answer, in print.

D-MER. It had a name. It was real. Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex.

It was as strange and bizarre as I described it, but there was a reason for it. I went to and read it top to bottom and bottom to top. There wasn’t a whole lot of information, but the name and description was enough.

I couldn’t get enough of it. It was a real condition.

There’s a broad range from extremely mild (in my case, lasting 20 seconds) to the extreme of debilitating anxiety that lasts long after the nursing, causing women to stop nursing because it is too difficult.

And I shared the info with every person I could think of. I don’t know why it does not get much publicity and why it’s hardly known. Any woman can experience it, it has nothing to do with any other part of your life.

It has nothing to do with one’s emotional or psychological well-being. Read that again. It has nothing to do with one’s emotional or psychological well-being. It is solely related to the milk release while breastfeeding. It is fascinating.

Fast forward to the birth of my 10th in May, just a few months ago. I start nursing and bam, there it goes. But I know what it is, it has a name! I am not crazy. This is real. I count through it and in 20 seconds it’s gone.

I go back to and see that there is even more information available on it than the last time I checked.

It has a name. I know the name. And I want to make sure that every single woman out there knows the name D-MER. D-MER.

It’s real and it’s a broad spectrum. For some it affects their decision to nurse or not. And for some, like me, it’s the knowledge alone that it has a name that helps me get through it and be able to nurse happily and successfully.

Even if you’ve never experienced this, you can help spread the word. My fellow moms, listen carefully the next time one of your newly postpartum friends start babbling about how she feels. You may be the one to give her the name to the experience, together with the validation that what she’s experiencing is real. Validation. The very best baby gift ever.

Behavior & Discipline, Motherhood

So, what’s it like with a houseful of boys?


“You have how many boys?!”

That’s a pretty typical response I get when I mention that I am blessed to be the mother of 8 boys.

“And one girl!” I add.

But still, they look at me as if I’m a creature from outer space.

Never mind the big family; raising a houseful of boys is what makes them gape.

And rightfully so.

Because boys really are from a different planet.

There’s so much I learned on the job. I was never a tomboy or anything remotely close. I dreamed in pink, played with Barbies longer than I’ll admit and never got tired of dressing all my dolls for yet another wedding.

With only one daughter, there’s not much dolls and not much pink. Considering she’s a teenager already, dolls haven’t surfaced in this house for years.

True they say boys need dolls too…but after seeing one decapitated doll too many, I finally stopped buying them. Little People will just have to do; at least you can’t just take off their heads.

Doll houses had a bit of a longer life span, but after one too many caved in after being used as a step stool one time too often, I finally admitted defeat and started to think in boy-language.

With only one girl, there’s also not that much drama. But what’s missing in drama is made up in ACTION. With boys, there is always action. Fast moving, loud, banging, tumbling type of action. It’s like boys live their lives on fast forward; there’s always something to touch, to break or to experiment with.

Mundane household items become sought after treasures. Things that I never thought twice about suddenly have deeper meaning and more purposes.

One of the most sought after items in my kitchen is the broomstick – and not because everyone loves to sweep. It is not uncommon to find the poor head of the broom languishing alone in the corner, missing its handle. I used to have a dustpan with a handle too, I loved the convenience of it and did not miss the kneeling down to scoop everything up! The only problem was that the stick handle kept disappearing … and so I was forced to just go with the one piece small dustpan, and I’m still chasing my broomstick, which doubles as all different types of ammunition.

Believe it or not, I do have a strict no-gun policy. We don’t buy toys that come with guns. The problem is, though, that everything from Clicks to Legos to Lincoln Logs to furniture to empty Amazon boxes all moonlight as guns. Every size color and shape.

“Why? Why must everything be a gun? Why can’t you pretend it’s anything else, anything else in the world?!”

And that’s when they turn them into swords.

And that’s also when I realize I just won’t ever get it. I may not ever be able to understand these boys, no matter how hard I try,  but I do understand the reality; everything will be used as a gun. And no, we do not watch violent action movies. It’s another one of those boy things that I can’t figure out.

Hoverboards meandering through the kitchen and a remote control car slipping between my feet as I’m trying to cook, with a drone somewhere overhead; that’s just the normal.

While some people typically find themselves sitting on a chair or couch to relax, some kids just find themselves sprawled out on the counter.

Why?! Just sit on the couch or a chair, why the counter?!”

While there’s a “no throwing balls indoor” policy in this house, it’s not uncommon for a ball to land in the sink as I wash the dishes.

Some kids walk into a room, some kids enter a room as if they’re sliding into home plate.

And I’m left wondering – “Why can’t you just walk in the boring way?!”

But I’m learning. Every single day, I am learning. This is just how they work. The more I try to change them, the more frustrated I’ll be.

It’s my responsibility to teach them, to guide them, and to nurture them.

But not to change them.

One of our best investments is the outdoor trampoline. Yes, I know, I’ve read all the statistics and reasons why not to get one. But if I went by statistics on every item I own, we’d own nothing. Sometimes common sense has to override everything else. It’s a must-have for a house of boys. Because as I keep discovering, boys have this thing called ENERGY. And it’s a good thing. But it also comes at a cost – amongst the costs is endless pairs of pants. After experimenting with multiple different brands of pants I finally came to terms with the fact that maybe it’s not the pants but it’s the person who wears them…and some boys just tear the knees of their pants by the dozens.

They don’t whine. They don’t bicker.

They move. They fight. They roughhouse.

No one teaches them how to. They just do.

They climb, they explore.

Life is one big amusement park, and they treat is as such.

If it can be climbed, climb it. That might be the handles of the drawers, the counters or the tree outside; there’s no difference.

I look at their bright eyes and try to see the world through their eyes for a moment, to see the opportunities galore.

When I see a staircase – regardless of size, all I see is a set of stairs. All boys see is a banister. And the possibilities are endless.

There’s no greater competition than who can jump down more steps at a time; an activity that is not for the faint of heart to watch and an activity I’m getting better at limiting my commentary on while it’s happening. I’m learning how to silently watch from a distance with the corner of my eye and only intervene when it really is getting dangerous. This is a big accomplishment, especially from the girl who has never even taken the steps two at a time.

I try to see it from their eyes; some times I succeed and sometimes I’m left muttering “Why? Why do you think this is ok?! What are they thinking?!”

I still say the typical mother things; we have a trampoline for a reason; no jumping on the couches. Beds are for sleeping, not for jumping.

All the regular boring mother things. The things that go in one ear and out the other.

And amidst the frustration and struggle to understand them and appreciate their endless energy, I count my blessings every day that this fabulous group of fun-loving mommy-hugging boys love to read. Because when the books come out, there’s this thing called SILENCE. It just pops out from nowhere and suddenly everyone is sprawled somewhere else and blissfully reading. And I blissfully do this thing called breathing.

Then there’s the mud, dirt and sand. There can be acres or beautiful play equipment and grass, but they’ll find that one square inch of mud and play there for hours. And if it’s sand, I know that half the sandbox will be coming home with us in their pockets and shoes. When they do decide to switch to the play structure, they will climb it and hang from it in every possible way, other than what it’s intended for. Climb the perimeter of it…swing from underneath it … go up the slide … I’ll just have to believe them that it’s just so much more fun that way. 

There are moments when you just have to laugh to yourself and marvel at their appreciation for small things. Like when I’m putting some clothes in the washing machine (an often occurrence) and the pile weighs like a ton of rocks… and sure enough, in one of the little boy pants pockets there lies … a ton of rocks. Hand selected from the play yard at school, because apparently the rocks in our back yard just aren’t the same.

My boys have taught me to think out of the box and to love it too. They’ve taught me that muddy hugs and well worn pants are signs of happiness. They’ve taught me to prioritize and appreciate the moment. They’ve taught me what’s really important and when to let go. 

But most of all they’ve taught me that motherhood is not about changing your kids to suit your needs.

It’s about changing yourself to be the mother that your kids need.

And there’s a reason that no one ever said it was easy.


Errands, Toddlers and Blueberries


Three year olds do not belong in grocery stores. I knew that already.

I weighed out the pros and the cons. I was about to drive past Walmart. I only needed a few items.

I made the quick decision to take my one year old and newly minted three year old in with me for this short errand.

What could possibly go wrong?

I got my baby in the front seat with the strap secured and my three year old in the back of the cart. Mine is not the type who will walk around the store holding onto the cart. To him, life is an exciting party. And walking around in Walmart would be a dream come true – and make that running, not walking. It wouldn’t work. But that part was fine, they were both safely seated. Continue reading “Errands, Toddlers and Blueberries”