Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

[breadcrumbs]

Fidget Spinners and Other Fun Grandchildren Bonding Activities

 

One of the reasons I love being a grandmother is that I think of every interaction with them as fun. Just having a silly conversation and making funny faces with my two and a half year old grandson is a blast but that’s another article!

A few weeks ago, reader Leah Hastings of Pure Flix media, wrote in to suggest I post some ideas for grandmothers to do with their grandchildren. Thanks, Leah!

So….Here are 10 fun ideas which are a mixture of culturally Jewish ideas and general population ideas. All are good, but since I’m a Jewish Bubby or grandmother, I veer towards the Jewish stuff! So come along with me and explore these ideas….

  1. Listen to CD’s of a  funny tape: My grandchildren love to listen to funny tapes which are usually educational stories and songs acted out by professional writers and actors and sold in Judaica stores. Really fun tapes filled with lessons on good character traits  are “When Zaidy Was Young”  and “The Marvelous Midos Machine”.These are wonderfully entertaining – for adults and children –and are useful for playing in the car during long and short errands. Play it at home in the kitchen or family room and sit around and laugh and learn. It’s great stuff and the lyrics and tunes will stay with you for a long time.
  2. Sharing Fads and Crazes: When I was a child, it was the Hula Hoop. When our kids were growing up it was the Rubik’s Cube which went out of style and then came back a few years ago when my own grandsons were pre-schoolers! How perfect. Just these past few weeks, the newest fad is the FIDGET SPINNER.                      It’s wild. It’s great for the kids to have something to share with their friends (during recess only, I’m told!) It’s not too expensive or hard on the parents’ wallets.  It’s fun for those kids with or without ADHD. (but don’t we all have a little bit of ADHD?) And best of all, it’s great as a conversation starter.  I love listening to my grandsons tell me about this fad, showing me how it works and asking my many silly questions (they are very patient with me!).
  3. Friday Night Shabbat Meal: Another fun activity revolves around our Friday night Shabbos or Shabbat meal when our son, daughter-in-law and grandsons eat with us. Every week, they come home from school with a handout from their teacher. The handout consists of questions on topics from the Torah Portion or Parsha of the week that the children have learned. My husband and my son read through the questions and when one of the kids doesn’t know the answer or hesitates, my husband makes up some silly choices with the correct choice being the only logical one. This always gets the boys to laugh and warms my heart because I know we are creating memories.
  4. Baseball Game Outing: Every summer we take the boys to a Dodger Game and the boys love it. It has become a tradition for the past six years since our older grandson was only three. It’s hard to believe he sat still for the entire game at that age, but he did. Anyway, we bring along hot dogs from home and other snacks and take lots of pictures and my husband explains the game to the boys and it’s really a lot of fun. Their mommy and daddy don’t come along, by the way. It’s a great way to give them time off. Oh yeah, we are due for that trip to the ballpark this summer, but the season just started so we’ll wait a month or so.
  5. Day at the Park: This is simple fun – we usually do this on a Sunday afternoon. We grab some balls of all sizes, sandwiches, water bottles, mitts and some scooters. And we head to the park and have a picnic. We haven’t done this for some time and just writing about it is making me excited to suggest it for a future Sunday.
  6. Playing Board or Card Games: As mentioned above, the most popular one is chess. I rarely beat my grandsons and the game goes by pretty fast before they “check-mate” me, so this one doesn’t take that much time. But it’s fun while it lasts.
  7. Reading Books – I love reading “The Cat in the Hat” to my 2 year old grandson. He gets really into it and  he points to the pictures on the page, enthusiastically naming  them. We have a blast, turning the pages (when he lets!)  and discuss his topics about the “fish,” and the “water,” and Thing One and Thing Two.
  8. Singing Songs and Finger Plays: I love singing songs to my toddler grandson. I also enjoy doing the motions and watching him giggle, sing and imitate my motions. He already knows some of the songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and others from his playgroup so he’s an experienced guy. Recently we did “Head, shoulders, knees and toes….” and I just adore the way he’s picking up all the names of body parts.
  9. Piano Lessons: The old expression is that the shoemaker’s kids go barefoot, but this piano teacher is not going to allow her grandsons to grow up without piano lessons. So even if I have to give them a lesson here and there when we see each other and when I and they have time, I will do that! So far it’s been fun, if not sporadic. A few lessons on rhythm, note reading and such. They love it, I love it, and it keeps us bonding. And by the way, when they prepared an anniversary card for my husband and me several months ago, they wrote about us “Omi (that’s my grandmother name!) teaches us how to play piano!” And reading that made me proud!
  10. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf: It’s always a fun tradition to take the boys for a cookie or Danish, or other snack at the Coffee Bean near our home. It serves as a special time with grandparents.

“Nachas,” Grandchildren and Facebook

facebook-like

I’m a Nachas-ist. Yep. You read right. I’m addicted to “nachas.” Now, nachas – (pronounced nakh-es) according to the dictionary is Yiddish for joy or blessings,pride especially from one’s children and grandchildren.

The truth is that there is no English word or phrase that captures the exact nuance of what nachas is. Not one of the words – joy, pride, blessed feeling – conveys the true meaning of what we know to be “nachas.”

Nachas is so unique to the Jewish culture with the stereotypical grandmother/Bubby or Mom who kvells (there goes another non-translatable Yiddish word) about her progeny.

groovy-granny

So back to being a Nachassist, I believe that I spend most of my existence as a grandmother kvelling (loosely translated as inner boasting, bragging) about the little and not-so-little-anymore boys who were born from my children- otherwise known as grandsons.

Cute ones. Adorable ones. Smart. Talented. Athletic. Perceptive. Kind.

hands

Oh and handsome and charming too.

And did I mention that I am absolutely NOT prejudiced or biased at all? I mean anyone will attest to the above claims.

So how am I a nachassist? You see, I thrive on nachas. (See above descriptions. We’re showing, not telling here.)

Nachas is what keeps me going. And nachas is what also keeps me distracted from doing what I have to do as in when I tell my 5-year old (irresistible) grandson, “Will you just stop being so cute? I can’t stand it anymore and I can’t get anything done with you around. Go away, okay?”

And he smiles back at me, in that knowing way. He gets it. He knows that I don’t have patience for too much cuteness. Then I tell my daughter-in-law (his mother) that they should make it illegal to be so cute.

The last few weeks, I agonized  at how little I wrote, blogged, read or did anything of significance with my brain because all I could do is kvell.

And you know, kvelling and accomplishing just don’t go together.

Now, in case you think that Nachassists are similar to Narcissists in that they have a personality disorder, think again.

Nachassists are not bad or selfish or damaged. They are simply human and they are just doing what comes naturally when good things come our way in life.

You see, even if you don’t have grandchildren, you can display a healthy dose of nachassism with regard to anything good in your life.

For example, if you have a child who is accepted to an Ivy League university, you have joy and pride in what the child has accomplished. That’s “nachas.” (if you’re not Jewish you call it something else, but you get my drift).

And if you worked really hard to play a Beethoven Sonata on the piano and then you perform it perfectly (or almost perfectly) in front of a large audience, you have nachas from yourself.

Nachas is that good old-fashioned, cuddly feeling you get when  you or someone you love gets or earns something really good and worthy of pride.

Now, sometimes “nachassism” can veer into dangerous territory and perhaps earn a not so nice reputation like its cousin “narcissism.”

How? When a Nachassist gets an urge to post a picture of his or her progeny on Facebook, it can cause some issues. For example, if the nachassist forgets to ask permission from the parents of the cute, adorable and irresistible kids. That can pose a problem of privacy being invaded into the young family’s territory, a feeling of being intruded upon.

And that’s when nachassism gets a little sticky.

The simple way for a nachassist to prevent any problems is to ask permission. Then, the parents of said children can either say yes or no. (hopefully they say yes, right?)

If yes is the response, the nachassist is free to post that photo for all his/her facebook friends to ooh and ahh over said child.

Never mind that each of those facebook friends who are admiring, liking, reacting and otherwise stroking the Nachassist’s ego on Facebook is secretly thinking, “My grandchild is much cuter. Hmph.” It doesn’t matter if each one is eagerly waiting to post his or her own nachas about his or her own life, it doesn’t matter.

Because that just proves how powerful the Nachassist phenomenon is. Later on, the likers, reactors, and strokers can post their one Nachas on Facebook for all to see.

You see, it’s all just a Nachas game, played by nachassists who want to brag and boast, share about their good events in life and/or grandchildren.

And that’s not so terrible, is it?

So the next time something good comes your way, go ahead and share it. Post it. Be proud of it. We are all here to read and share in your happiness.

And just so you know, we begrudge you the good fortune. In Yiddish – that’s called “Farginning.”

Oh, yeah, it’s hard to translate exactly into English. But you get my drift, don’t you?

May all grandmothers, grandfathers, parents and children have nachas from each other and themselves! Amen!

 


The Art of Giving Space to New Parents

geekynewborns

The news of our son’s new baby, a firstborn son for him,  came late Wednesday night.  My husband called  from an errand  and told me the exciting news that he had just heard from the new father.

“Mazel Tov! It’s a boy!” shouted my husband, in his characteristic sharing-good-news voice.

“What? Oh wow! Mazel Tov!” I answered in my semi-sleep state.

I called my son and daughter-in-law, wished them mazel tov and got all the details – like baby’s weight, the labor and the fun birth-story tidbits that all of us new and older moms enjoy sharing.

Soon, my daughter-in-law sent me a few photos of the baby. I couldn’t believe this. Already they were snapping and sharing pictures? How cool is that?

Times are a-changing. Couples nowadays are very savvy at  getting right into things. Immediately.

Next came an adorable video of my dil talking to her 15 minute old son and his responses via tongue wagging, eyes blinking and body stretching. Another insight into first-time Mommy-hood –  lots and lots of early stimulation.

My husband and I have already gone through the experience of  birth arrival  phone calls from parents. We’ve had the gamut of  feelings: euphoria, pride, gratitude and the overwhelming desire to just go. Do. Help. Support. Advise. Counsel.

But each time we become grandparents to another little boy (only boychiks so far in this family!) we learn about ourselves vis a vis today’s generation. We learn that times are changing. We realize that kids know what to do and are pretty definite about how they are going to parent.

And we learn that it’s best to keep our mouths shut regarding unsolicited advice. In some ways it’s not new, because we wanted the same space when we were new parents. But now we’re on the other side and it’s our job to be supportive and understanding, rather than didactic.

By now I get that  first time moms –and even second and third time moms –have pondered, researched and analyzed the pros and cons of all decisions for 9 months. And whether or not we agree or understand or recall doing things that way,  they want to do things their own way. In their own time.

So back to our new baby grandson’s arrival:

I called, texted and emailed my friends and family about the good news. Then,  I thought of posting some of the pictures onto Facebook.

But I stopped myself. Through a  WhatsApp, I asked,  “Is it okay to post a pic of the baby?”

Her swift response was , “Sure. No problem. Thanks for asking.”

The next day, I had a lot of things to do work-wise, and my head was swirling with tasks to get done in time for Shabbos.

I could have acted on autopilot. After all, I’ve done this many times before. The boy thing. The celebrations.  The gifting. The bris or brit milah (circumcision). The tumult surrounding all the phone calls. The decisions.

Still with all that I reminded myself that  this is not only my simcha. This is not my time to make firm decisions without consulting the new parents.  I had my time when I birthed and raised my own children. Now it was their time.

Within a few hours, the phone calls came in and the decisions were worked out.

They asked us if it’s okay if we  would host the sholom zochor for the baby.  the party after dinner on Friday night.

Great. We would be happy to do it.

I delegated the job of picking up the food and setting up the tables and chairs to them to my other son and daughter-in-law who were more than happy to help out.

And I then I got busy. My first stop would be the hospital. Yes, I would take off from work and go running to the hospital. I would even bring my dil a delicious meal from one of the local take outs that she likes.

But wait: Does she want visitors? Probably. Thinking back to when I was a new mom, I remembered that visitors were fun. But did I want unexpected visitors to come? Did I want surprises in the form of my mother-in-law?

No, I did not and neither does any new mom (hormones notwithstanding). So I did the right MIL-appropriate thing and I called my son and made sure they were up to visitors.

And when I went to buy the gift I asked the store owner for a gift receipt.  I didn’t want to impose my taste on her. While we relish those warm and fuzzy velour stretchies with cute blue and grey or turquoise and green stripes, these may not be the “in thing” for the young couples.

Last night my husband and I visited the new parents and their adorable baby. We oohed and ahhed and took lots of pictures of each of us holding the baby. We sat and chatted for awhile. And then we left.

This morning I got a phone call from my daughter-in-law. “Mommy, I just love those stretchies! That’s so nice of you….

I was happy to know that she enjoyed the new outfits. But more than that, I was glad that I had given her the space to decide for herself whether to “like” the gift. After all, none of us (not even the most veteran grandmas or bubbies) likes to be told what to like and how to be.

How do you navigate relationships with new moms and dads?

 

 


Thumbs Up to 10 Blogging Buddies

thumbs-up

As we enter the New Year of 2016,  I thank a group of  people who enrich my life with their insights and creativity. They enlighten me with their humor and spirituality. And they inform me with their knowledge and wit.

Most of these women are  younger than me; some are older and a few are just about my age and stage. Whether they blog about parenting, spirituality, grandparenting, midlife issues, world events,  religion or anything else…their sharing of ideas online  has improved my life.

Without further ado, I wish a Happy 2016 t0 the following talented bloggers (listed below in alphabetical order).

1.

An Empowered Spirit. Cathy Chester

From writing and advocating for those who have multiple sclerosis to bringing a positive angle from events….to teaching us the value of friendship and love….kindness and creativity to her friends and acquaintances…to reminiscing about oldies in movies, books and culture…to sharing exciting happenings in showbiz and musicals…..and how to age with grace and love and humor, and mindfulness….Cathy’s prose always inspires, hits the spot. Her ideas expressed on popular sites  and her personal blog resonate with spirituality and her words sing with just the right tones and beats, encouraging us all to find the beauty in the everyday lives we lead. Cathy’s blog has garnered a great deal of public attention, winning numerous awards, especially in her capacity as an advocate for people with disabilities.  One of these days, Cathy and I will meet – hopefully sooner than later.

2.

Cycling Grandma. Lisa Winkler.

Lisa and I began as grandmother friends as we both have grandma blogs and found each other online. Pretty soon we were swapping stories and grandchildren cute antics through email and some posts. Eventually, we actually met IRL when Lisa came to Los Angeles last year. Lisa is a woman of many passions: bike riding (“cycling”), knitting, play scripting,  teaching, stimulating her grandchildren’s growing minds, reading, traveling, and of course writing (I’m sure I left out a lot!).   I consider Lisa a dear and supportive friend who has given me many tools and tips for coping in my personal and professional life.

3.

Empty House Full Mind. Sharon Greenthal.

Sharon is one of  the founders of  Midlife Boulevard, a community of women who blog.  I joined that group a few years ago and met some like-minded and similar-staged friends. Sharon’s posts on her personal blog and other online platforms cover versatile topics including being a “mentsch” in social media, dealing with empty nest syndrome, perspectives on marriage, relating appropriately to adult children, and appreciating the good in our middle aged lives.  Sharon’s subjects are relatable and timely but always with an original twist that keeps me entertained and enlightened.  Her material is a reality check reminding me to laugh, relax and enjoy the ride. Sharon recently  became a columnist on About.com as their  expert in young adult parenting.  Thanks, Sharon!

4.

Friend for the Ride. Barbara Younger.

Barbara, a fellow grandmother was one of the first people that I met as a blogger. Barbara ran a guest post of mine and the rest is history.  Recently when I had a health scare that related to  menopause, Barbara gave me the encouragement I needed (and everything worked out well thank G-d!). You see, menopause –and everything tangentially related to it – is Barbara’s niche and expertise. Barbara is a hoot and expresses  serious medical topics with refreshing humor and candidness. Barbara’s bravery and optimism along with the accurate information that she posts are what attracted me to her blog. Her stories about being a grandmother and mom who juggles the sandwich generation are always relatable. Thank you, Barbara for being there.

5.

Grandma’s Briefs. Lisa Carpenter.

Lisa’s blog struck me from the beginning as the consummate “Grandmother Blog.” I loved the way Lisa gave her grandsons anonymous “bloggie” names on the blog. (Check them out on her blog in the sidebar). Lisa’s sense of humor, down to earth writing and really professional layout are what got me coming back. Lisa’s recent subjects on her blog have been movie reviews, combatting weight gain around holiday time, and other family matters. Lisa is the coordinator of an event where bloggers contribute their best post in one spot. She calls it the Grand Social and holds it weekly, inviting other grandmothers to submit their links on any topic (even non-grandmother topics – just no sales).  Lisa loves traveling and can often be found visiting her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren in nearby Arizona. Check out some of those fabulous photos and videos  she takes of her grandsons. Thanks, Lisa for the inspiration.

6.

L.ife in the Married Lane. Rivki Silver.

Rivki, SAHM mother of four, musician of too many instruments to count (clarinet, piano, saxophone and more) published writer, and performer,  blogs (in her free time…) a potpourri of ideas including Judaism, parenting, music, marriage,  motherhood and general “of interest” subjects.  Whether she’s covering serious or funny topics, Rivki’s writing is both engaging and gripping.  Check out some of  Rivki’s published posts and amazing you-tube videos where she articulates thoughts on spiritual growth and healthy priorities. Enjoy her musical selections such as “Ode to a Cosmic Carrot” that she’s composed and arranged. Rivki’s story about her spiritual journey and her gifts at combining technology,  spirituality and art with down-to-earth topics, inspire me to personal growth.  Thanks, Rivki!

7.

Nina Badzin, Writer.

In the beginning I read Nina’s blog to gain insight from an accomplished writer and blogger. I saw how vast her publishing experience was and I wanted to learn from her. But soon I realized that I was learning more about character traits and relationships than about knowledge on how to write. Nina has an intuitive sense of honing in on a theme and  is the go-to person for  how to navigate the complexities of social media;  I read her  friendship advice column and am amazed how spot-on she is. Nina seems to get so much done in a day that often I’m dizzy (in a good way) after reading her posts. From Challah baking groups to the myriad books she devours and reviews…. to the creative things she does with her cute kids, to her ambitious yet pragmatic outlook, I’m constantly inspired. But what I most enjoy about Nina’s writing is her solid voice with a sense of who she is and who she aspires to be. We can all identify with her  practical and sensible advice that always has a positive and hopeful tone. Keep teaching, Nina and thanks!

8.

Out of the Orthodox Box. Ruchie Koval.

Ruchie Koval’s blog’s title is reflective of her mission to bring Orthodox Judaism out of the box or to demystify the customs and practices of Orthodox Judaism for the Jews of all ages, affiliations and levels. Besides being the the author of the newly published book, Conversations With God,  her articulate posts offer perspectives on hosting unaffiliated guests for Shabbat meals  , a young Orthodox girl’s  conviction to wear a skirt for gymnastics, Orthodox Jewish women covering their hair after marriage, parenting, and relationships. Ruchi and her husband are the dynamic team who run the Cleveland program of Jewish Family Experience or  JFX, an organization for Jewish outreach. They, their seven children and staff  bring  Jewish people back to their roots through lectures, programs, entertainment and trips to Israel. With raw honesty and sincerity,  Ruchi breaks down complex issues into little understandable bites. Thanks, Ruchi.

9.

Rebecca Klempner’s Blog.

Rebecca Klempner, my IRL friend before my blogging friend,  was the one who got me motivated to get into blogging. She is the mother of four, science fiction fiend, and talented author of children’s book. Additionally, she has published anthology collections online and on the website Tablet magazine, and countless short stories and essays. A regular contributor to several print magazines and periodicals, Rebecca has become the go-to person in our community for knowing the ins and outs of the publishing world. Rebecca’s blog is about writing including her journey as a writer, her writing process, struggles and successes in composing essays and novels, news about her new publications, and general tips on writing for all of us readers. I always learn about the industry and the craft of writing when spending time with Becca or reading her blog.

10.

Renee Jacobson’s Blog.

Talented artist and painter, writer, blogger, lover of cute hats,  Renee and I met when she organized a Hannukkah Hoopla blogging event for a group of bloggers in December 2014. After that, we became fast Face-book friends (love that alliteration…) and Renee even painted a set of colorful canvases (!) for my new kitchen. Renee’s creativity in fashion, writing and teaching are only a small part of who she is. I’m happy to have met Renee online and look forward to meeting one day! Maybe you’ll come out to LA and give an art workshop. Who knows?

 

My wish for the coming year is that we continue to enjoy to gain inspiration through reading, writing and sharing our thoughts. Happy 2016!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Beyond Knitting in the Rocking Chair

somegrandmasOne of the best things about being a grandmother is that I get to define my role as I go along. I can be hands-on sometimes, hands-off other times, fun-loving when I’m in the mood, and too-busy-to-take-care-of-them at other times. It’s all good and it works; my relationships with my grandsons are really comfortable. My daughters-in-law appreciate the time I spend with the kids, and the family dynamics are great (most of the time!).

So when last week, photographer Gloria Baker Feinstein from Kansas City,  emailed me and asked if I would I write a review of her new children’s read-aloud photo book called Some Grandmas, I said yes!

Some Grandmas is a collection of photos taken by Gloria of  all kinds of grandmothers from all over the world doing all kinds of things with their grandchildren. Short captions accompany each photo for reading aloud to a child.  While one grandmother might be flying a kite with her grandchild, another will be painting. While one grandmother might be in a wheelchair talking to her grandchild, another will be riding a bike. All the photos are captivating, and capture the mood of love, caring, and bonding between grandmother and grandchild.

While the stereotypical grandmother with the silver or white bun and spectacles who sits in a rocking chair and knits is one type of grandmother, she is not necessarily the only image of a grandmother nowadays. Just as 60 is the new 40, grandmothers’ hobbies are getting more youth-oriented these days. Grandmothers are free to be who they are, and bond with their grandchildren in ways that they (and the children) choose. The opportunities are endless and it is helpful for all generations to realize that.

The words on each page of Some Grandmas, as is typical of children’s read-aloud books, are few. Every page starts with the words, “Some grandmas…” and is followed simply with what the grandma in that picture is doing.

My own grandmothers who were from Europe, were the free-spirited kind of women, who liked art, photography, literature and theatre, and I had close relationships with both of them, sharing my hobbies and passions with them. I would go to one grandmother’s house and we would make arts and crafts projects together. My other grandmother took me by subway to plays on my days off from school. She helped me with my French homework and cut out newspaper clippings for me for my school projects. Some of my friends had grandmothers who were less hands-on, but were equally warm, loving and friendly.

Nowadays, with life expectancy hitting a record high,   the types of activities and pastimes that grandmothers do with their grandchildren are evolving from knitting to  playing Chinese checkers to doing sports to shopping and other active games. All of these activities – from the wheelchair bound grandmother to the hiking or bicycling one, are worthy of getting grandparent and grandchild to bond.

Gloria Feinstein is an experienced and renowned photographer living in Kansas City, Missouri, with her work displayed at various exhibitions. The idea for this book came to her after she had already written adult books. Gloria had photographed a woman, Linda Cohen in her Sukkah before the Jewish holiday of Sukkot with her grandchildren and both grandmother and child were looking up at the roof of the sukkah. Gloria noted the wonder and curiosity in both of their faces and decided to explore the expressions and wonderment of other grandmothers in their activities with their grandchildren.

That photo and her grandchild is now on the cover of Some Grandmas.

The Grandmother Appellation

A grandmother of two, with the older one only 4 1/2, Ms. Feinstein, who is called “G-Lo” by her grandchildren dedicated her book to “all the Grandmas, Omas, Abuelitas, Savtas, Gramma, Gran, Bubbie,  Nonna, Yaya…..” and listed no less than 54 (yes, I counted!) names for grandmothers. I was proud of myself for knowing many of them, although I learned quite a few. (I had never heard of Yaya!).

One on One Relationship

What I liked about this book is that each picture has only one grandmother and one grandchild in it. That is significant to me because it shows the quality time and closeness inherent in the special relationship between grandparent and grandchild. Naturally, grandchildren often share their time with their grandmothers, but for this book, Ms. Feinstein photographed the one-on-one relationship.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the books Some Grandmas, go to a large care center in Kansas City to help support their Volunteer Grandmother program. The center provides services to children of the working poor.

Ms. Feinstein also made a creative set of items:  tee-shirt and tote bag, which are featured on the site with the book. Take a look there for those and other items!

Some Grandmas is currently available from the author (gbfeinsten@gmail.com), from local stores in Kansas City, and on Etsy. For more information, please contact the author.

teeshirtgrandma

 

totebaggrandma

 

 


Please Tell Me That Story Again!

About two weeks ago, my mother-in-law had hip surgery. After several days in the hospital, and a remarkable recovery thank G-d, she was released from the hospital and admitted to a rehabilitation center where she stayed for about a week. While my mother-in-law (we call her “Grandma”) was in the rehab,  I visited her. Wanting to cheer her up, I shared a cute story about one of my grandsons.

My husband mentioned to  me that after I told Grandma the story, she was so happy that she repeated it to my husband that night when she saw him. And the following evening she asked my husband to review the story again with her.

She wanted to remember every detail.

When my mother-in-law (did I mention she will be 95 kain ayin horah, in May?) joined us at Pesach where our family was together for the Holiday, the first thing she asked me was “Miriam, please tell me that story again. The one about the little one who you took shopping with you. I love to hear it…”

And so I agreed!

Her eyes lit up in excitement as she leaned forward to listen to the story yet again.

Several weeks ago, JoJo (my grandson’s name changed to protect the adorable) who is 4, came shopping with me to K-Mart, where I needed to pick up a few items.  After about an hour of shopping, where JoJo was being a very good boy, he asked me for something to eat.

‘I’m huuuungry….can you buy me something to eat?’

Looking around as we were waiting in line at the checkout, the first thing I saw was a Hershey Bar. I asked him if he wanted that, and his said, ‘Yes!’ Fine, I thought. It will keep him happy till I get him back home.

Isn’t that sweet….said Grandma while I continued on with the story.

Okay, so I paid for my items, and handed him the chocolate bar, which he held carefully in his hand while we walked to the car, with my bags in the shopping cart. I opened the car door, and helped him into his booster car seat.

‘Can I eat it now?’ he asked.

milk-chocolate

‘Sure,’ I said.

Turning toward her daughter, my sister-in-law, (who was with us at the time) Grandma said, Pshhhh. Could you believe the maturity? Unbelievable…

I continued: And I buckled him in and  loaded the car.

After driving a block or two, I stopped at a stop light, turned around briefly to check up on him, and  saw him munching the chocolate bar. He was busy and all was well.

Then I saw him fold the wrapper over the chocolate, as if he was done eating. He had eaten about half of it, and I wondered why he wasn’t finishing it.

Figuring he wasn’t that hungry, I didn’t say anything.

‘I’m saving the rest for B.B. (his older brother’s not-real-name).  It’s his birthday today,’ my grandson offered.

Doing a Mitzvah!

I love mitzvos!

Grandma opened her mouth in wonderment, as if hearing the story for the first time. She threw back her head and laughed with sounds of joy and nachas that only a great-grandmother can do. Then she leaned forward, looked downward, and shook her head, “Unbelievable…just unbelievable…such kindness!”

I continued on:

So, the whole thing happened so fast, I really didn’t know how to react or to think anything huge about it. I just simply said,”OH, that’s so nice of you. What a good idea! Such a mitzvah!”

‘Omi,’ said JoJo. ‘Can you take it from me and put it in a plastic bag? I don’t want it to melt.’

I took one of the shopping bags and put it inside, but JoJo wasn’t satisfied.

‘Can you put it in by itself?’

Not wanting to ruin the birthday gift, I did. I emptied the contents from another bag and put the half eaten chocolate bar into the bag and held onto it until later when JoJo’s mom came to get him.

Sure enough, later on he gave his 7 year old big brother the special gift of the leftover chocolate bar.

And that’s the end of the story, I told Grandma.

No, it’s not, no, it’s notsaid my mother-in-law. He’s going to be some great person…because he’s so kind.

And me? The grandmother? The teller or kveller or bragger or boaster of this story about my grandson? What do I gain from this story?

I realize how powerful one positive event can be in a person’s life, in ours and those whose lives we affect.

What narrative do we create out of the stories in our lives? How do we interpret them?

Do we repeat and reinforce the positive events over and over by sharing with others or at least in our minds and our hearts for posterity?

How do you feel about sharing or reinforcing positive events with others and ourselves? Let me know.

And by the way:

Postscript: This morning, I was passing my mother-in-law while she was talking to her physical therapist who came by for scheduled sessions. I overheard my mother-in-law tell the therapist, “You have to hear what my grandson did. His mother…or someone…bought him a Danish…or a candy bar…I don’t know what… and he only ate half of it, and offered to give the other half to his brother whose birthday it was! Could you believe how special he is?”

Happy Holidays to all! May you have much pride and joy from your families and loved ones!

 


A Special Day with a Friend

IMG_3057

When fellow bloggie-friend and  commiserating grandmother, Lisa Winkler   contacted me a few weeks ago that she was coming to Los Angeles with her husband, I was thrilled.  She and I decided to fit some time in for each other. We exchanged a few emails back and forth – from what to pack (warm clothes? raincoat? layers?) to where we would meet (her hotel!) and what we should do (“whatever you want” – we each said!).

I’ve lived in LA for several decades,  almost my entire adult life. I love it here, and have many dear friends and family. But there is something special about getting together with  friends from the (freezing cold) East Coast. First, I get to show off LA’s weather! Listen, we may have earthquakes here, but nothing beats our 70’s climate in January.  Second, I get to spend some time taking friends and family around, something I love to do.

Being with people from the East Coast reminds me of my family, who I miss very much. Their weather may be cold, but their personalities are very warm.

And since Lisa (who blogs over at Cycling Grandma with her astute observations of the world) and I have never met, except for our online communication, this was a  chance for us to meet in IRL (that’s “in real life” btw!). I’ve always admired Lisa and enjoyed writing about her play awhile ago on my blog.

When I drove up and saw Lisa, I felt as if I was seeing someone I’ve known for more than just the few years that we’ve been emailing, blogging and corresponding online.  It was thrilling.

Oh! The chatting, talking, comparing notes. On and on and on. Whew. I had to be careful driving, because I was so distracted by the excitement of it all.

Our first stop on that Monday afternoon when the sun was shining (low 70’s during the day; cooler in the early morning), was the “Fish Grill” which is a favorite restaurant of mine. Grilled fish, tacos, fast-food, and fun ambience.

                                                 IMG_3061 Lisa and I had myriad things to talk about. From family, to kids, to married couples and of course grandchildren. Oh, the kvelling and the venting (come on, what do you expect when two middle aged ladies get together?).  We had lots in common: Talking about hobbies, writing, passions. You name it.

Our next stop after eating lunch  and snapping a picture, (“Ummm, do you mind taking a photo of us,” I asked someone at the next table.), we headed over to the Museum of Tolerance,  located near Beverly Hills.

The place was pretty empty that day except for a few school gatherings, and the patrons were overly eager to help us out (one interestingly – ahem – offered to show us the restroom, which we politely declined; “we’re good, thank you!”). Another one, later on in our trek, wanted to give us a ticket to use for the computerized exhibits. We told her we are not techno-savvy and declined that as well.

I chuckle at the irony of two ladies walking through a museum which evokes sadness and tragedy, and chatting about things that were not always relevant to the topic or mood.  But yes, we did explore a few exhibits.  Going through the museum triggered lots of discussions about our respective Jewish heritage and other stimulating discussions about our moms, dads and other relatives. Lisa is an accomplished playwright of “The Shabbos List,”  and  writer of people’s memoirs, so her knowledge of Jewish culture is rich and stimulating.

After the museum, we headed to Walgreens, where  Lisa picked up a few essentials she needed.  I dropped her off at the hotel and then with plans to get together for a bit the next day as well, we said good-bye.

Our second day together was equally wonderful. We drove by the LACMA museum (LA county art museum) and the Tar Pits and down Wilshire Blvd, while I, the tour guide (ahem, ahem) shared my knowledge, as if I was a born and bred Angelino (not).

We talked more about the weather (just kidding), and then headed over to The Grove, a charming out-door mall, and walked around a bit. Lisa and I sat outside for about an hour chatting, sipping  latte and the Special of the Day (Lisa ordered that one!) at the Coffee Bean at the Farmer’s Market (adjacent to the Grove shopping mall). Time flies and before we knew it, it was 4 pm and both of us had to be on our ways.

I then drove Lisa back to the hotel. All good things must come to an end.

Lisa’s visit was a welcome break from my regular routine of work and errands. Since I have a flexible schedule at work, I was more than happy to block out a few hours or more to get together. Lisa kept thanking me, but it was my pleasure really. And of course, being active and able to drive and get around without extreme fatigue is a treat for me. So Lisa gets the credit for giving me the opportunity for that.

Lisa and I already promised each other that the next time I’m in NY or NJ, we will get together! I’m already looking forward, notwithstanding the NY weather!

And please check out Lisa’s blog which features a post about the Los Angeles segment of her California trip.


A Glimpse Into Another World (A Guest Post)

globeIt’s almost January 1, 2014 2015. On to a new year.

First, I announce the winner of my giveaway from the commenters on my blog post on the Hanukkah Hoopla. The winner is: Lisa W from Cycling Grandma! I will send her a copy of my book, Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby! (Israel Bookshop Publications, 2012). 

Here’s Lisa’s blog, if you have a chance to get a look! . (Thanks again, Renee Schuls-Jacobson, for planning the Hanukkah Hoopla!)

Next, I’d like to introduce Revital Belz from Israel, who blogs about being a Mom of five boys (sound familiar?). Revital has been published in the Jewish Journal, and blogs at  Ajudaica.com, where she enjoys creating stylish items for men, including personalized yarumulkas and T-shirts.

Enjoy Revital’s special simchas hachayim (Hebrew for joie de vivre) that comes through in her writing. Please feel free to comment below. Revital and I would love to read your thoughts!

*****************************

A GLIMPSE INTO ANOTHER WORLD by Revital Belz

I introduce myself as Revital, a mother who is  blessed with a large family.  revital

There is so much talk about these “wonder ladies” that I want to open a window and give you a peek.  It is a chance to share with you the joys and enormous satisfaction I derive from raising my large family.

I come from a traditional home but became strictly Orthodox in my teenage years.  I married at the age of 22 and today have five children ranging from two to ten with a set of twins in the middle.  In spite of my heavy home commitments, I work in our family Judaica business.  I know that I am a walking advertisement for motherhood so I make sure that I am always put together and  I don’t leave the house without makeup.

“When people ask me what I am doing with my life, I tell them that I am a Judaica artist.  I was granted five packages of raw material – human substance – and given the task of forming them into learned G-d fearing Jews who will make a contribution to their family and the community – beloved in the eyes of man and Heaven, individuals!  Sotheby’s recently sold a small statue for $100,000,000  (one hundred million dollars – in case the zero’s confuse!).  How much would they give for my artistic creation?”

“I don’t understand it when people asked me if I feel burnt-out or deprived.  Do they ask a doctor who sweats for five years to get his degree and another few years as an intern if he is neglecting his personal development”

“Motherhood is the greatest challenge to my personal development.  I was a spoiled indulged child when I got married.  I could just about boil an egg.  Over the years, I have learnt to be giving and compassionate, patient and diplomatic.  I never knew I had these qualities or that they were so important to life.  My husband and children have enriched my life.  Yes, sometimes I would like to read a book, attend a concert, or drink coffee with friends. I do not deny myself these personal pleasures.  I simply say to myself – not now.”

“I often think of my grandmother’s life advice – nothing worthwhile is achieved without hard work.  Sure, raising a large family demands energy and is sometimes draining.  I make mistakes.  I have learnt to pick myself up and continue.  Everything always works out in the end.”

“Before each birth, I wonder how I will divide my love to include an additional child and every time I discover anew that with each child, love multiplies not divides.  Children growing up in a large family have a unique opportunity to share and give and be considerate.  Of course, my kids fight and argue and have tantrums – like kids everywhere.  But, growing up in a large family is giving them the best tools for life.”

“The secret is to make your children your first priority.  I try to constantly be aware of their needs.   This demands thought more than time.

When my oldest had a major test, he found a candy in his school bag with a note wishing him success.

When Dudi was having a rough time in school, he got lots of extra ‘I love you’ hugs. My little one needs to feel good about himself.  I cooked him favorite lunch and told him that he is the greatest kid.   From time to time, we have a ‘king for a day’ project.  On that day, the lucky child will put a crown on his head in the morning and know that it is his day – the day that he is spoiled by everyone.”

“The climax of the week is the beautiful Shabbat when we sit around the table, talking and singing together.  No matter how exhausted my husband and I are, Shabbat is children’s time.  We tell stories, play games and check up on what they have studied during the week.  We relish the Chagim (Jewish festivals).  Each one has its special flavor that is almost tailor-made for children and gives wonderful family experiences.”

“Sometimes, I wonder if I am doing a good job.  My best endorsement came last week from my seven years old (the inspiration for this article).

He has just learned to read and proudly uses his Siddur (prayer book) every day.  With great self-confidence he confided in me, “Imma” he said, “I am praying to G-d that you should bring us another baby.  I would like triplets!”

**********************************

Thank you for reading Revital’s post. Please comment below! And check out Revital’s Judaica blog.


What I Needed to Learn, I Learned in Kindergarten

silhouette-kids-holding-hands

I was invited to a  Shabbos party at my pre-school grandson’s school, where he was chosen to be  the Shabbos Abba.  On Friday morning, I dropped everything and drove over to his classroom, met my DIL there and we observed my grandson  having this special party with his friends — with grape-juice, challah and other goodies.

It was at this party that I realized something about myself that I hadn’t known before. Something that made me feel more grown up than I’ve felt in years. More mature, evolved and settled.

I may have thought about it briefly over the past years, but hadn’t articulated it clearly in my mind.  Maybe I was in denial. Maybe I was too embarrassed to admit it. Maybe I never even thought too much about it.

What was this feeling?

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT….DONE!

Doing a Mitzvah!

Zooming in on my Mitzvah Guy!

Whew. There. I admitted it:  Having the sensation that it is okay to have done the Mommy thing years ago, and moved on.

As I viewed  the classroom with its bulletin boards, various stations, book shelves, colorful cubblies, circle time rugs, toys and art and musical instruments, I felt kind of detached.  Yes, it was all very sweet and nice but I zoomed right in to view my own grandson (who of course was the most adorable), snapped a few pictures, felt the pride and enjoyed. He, and my role as Grandma were key here. Nothing else.

There was none of the nostalgia for the good-ol’-days as a Mommy.

I felt completely comfortable in my role as middle-aged grandmother. Call me old. Call me complacent. Call me whatever you want to call me. But I really was not in the least bit sad about being older than every other person in the room – even the teachers.

BEING OLD IS GREAT

bouncing

It wasn’t easy to come to that conclusion. I’ve been so busy the past few years writing and reading about the empty nest syndrome with its intermittent loneliness, alleged boredom, painful nostalgia, ubiquitous regret and all the other supposed symptoms ot the midlife  crisis or period. It’s been a given that we  midlifers are forever  pining for the good-ol’ days of carpools, soccer practice, PTA meetings, and child bearing years.

To an extent we are. We miss the past, and want the feeling of watching our little ones grow and develop. The feeling of the unknown, how it’s all going to turn out is kind of exciting and non-threatening.  And when that is all over, it feels as if we have nowhere to go now. Nothing  to look forward to. Nothing to plant and grow anymore. We feel as if our work is done.

But me,  I’ve reached a point where I no longer miss those days. I’m seriously grateful for being at the stage that I am.

I don’t want to go back to those early parenting days anymore. No way.

Do I have the feeling of life having passed me by and that the good times are over? Nah.

I remember the good times and fun times of the cute kids and watching them grow, develop and learn alongside their peers and cousins, but I do not miss them. That’s because I also remember the difficult times.

The calls from the teachers that my kid has to sit detention. The endless carpools, the hours with them doing homework, the arguments and debates with those sons who were not as docile (euphemism here. Use your imagination, okay?) as the others and whatever angst raising children entails.

All that is over. No more having to get babysitters. No more dealing with discipline and rude behavior (yes, kids were sometimes disrespectul).

Bottom line, knowing that our children have turned out really well is a comfort to me. We’ve done our work as parents, and now we get to be a couple. My husband and I have done a great job, and now it’s time to sit back and enjoy our own stage.

The kindergarten visit taught me the lesson of being happy with the stage that I’m in.

I had my lesson about the true reality of  Empty Nest Syndrome, and it was time to go home to my own peace and quiet. How wonderful is that?

How do *you* feel about being in the Empty Nest Club? Do you pine for the good ol’ days? Do colorful kindergartens make you wax nostalgic?

(Photo credits: Property of M. Hendeles and  Image credits Publicdomainpics.net)

 


“Imagine If…” – A Children’s Book Review

By Rabbi Zeegel; Illustrated by Darrel Mordecai

By Rabbi Zeegel; Illustrated by Darrel Mordecai

Way back  when Theodore Seuss Geisel wrote a zany                 rhyming book for children, I wonder if he realized that he’d be so successful with the series that future  authors would attempt to imitate him.

I mean, imagine imitating green eggs and ham. Or a cat in a hat. Or a fox in socks.  It’s kind of ridiculous, wouldn’t you say? Still,  for  years, wannabe Dr. Seusses congregated in coffee houses, libraries and living rooms trying to mimic the flavor of the venerable Dr. Seuss. Continue reading


Subscribe to Blog!

Would you like to be notified of new posts? ENTER YOUR EMAIL HERE please and then look out for an email to CONFIRM your subscription.

Proud Member of Midlife Boulevard

Proud Member of Midlife Boulevard

Community

View Past Posts

WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien