Winter Farm ABCs

I took my children on a walk on the farm this winter in search of all of the hidden letters of the alphabet on our farm both in natural and built structures. I got this idea from the Alphabet City by Stephen T. Johnson where a photographer did the same thing in a city, using buildings and benches. Our version could be called Winter Alphabet Farm, I imagine we could come up with a whole new one in summer. This was something I thought would be so much harder than it was, I expected it might take several hikes and …

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My Goodbye to Pete Seeger

As a mom, there have only been a handful of times I have let my children see me cry. Yesterday, when I learned of the death of the great Pete Seeger, was one of those times. When I tried to explain who he was and some of the things he stood for, I could not complete my sentences. So I turned to YouTube and let Pete speak and sing for himself. Within minutes, my 4-year-old was dancing to “If I Had a Hammer,” and then we were all singing “We Are Not Afraid, To-day.” And of course, since we are …

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Turkey in Disguise

When I was in middle school, there was a group of farm kids who wore letterman jackets with the word “Farmer” on the back instead of “Football”.  I remember them all leaning against the brick building at recess in their matching jackets looking intimidating. They were all boys. I thought the farm kids were a little scary, tough, and course.  In hindsight I cheer for these kids, proud to grow up on farms way back in the 80’s long before farmer was equated with hipster or anything remotely cool. But at the time, I had nothing to do with the …

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Book Review: All Natural* by Nathanael Johnson

When I heard about the new book “All Natural” by Nathanael Johnson, I was immediately intrigued.  There are not many writers who delve openly and honestly into questions about whether “natural” approaches to eating, childbirth, and medicine are actually healthier. Most people come at these topics with pretty strong leanings or an all-out agenda already in place. So those of us who want to figure it out for ourselves are usually left reading two wildly opposing opinions and trying to sort it out on our own. Nathanael Johnson offers a rare helping hand that might save some of us from …

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The Four Grown Ups: A Haggadah Supplement

This morning I was thinking and reading a little about the four children in the Passover Hagaddah, which are usually depicted as the wise child, the wicked child , the simple child and the child who is too young to ask. Every Haggadah will interpret these children a little differently, but they all have suggestions on how to parent each child according to their needs. While not directly related, I was also inspired by this piece by the Velveteen Rabbi about parents obligations at Passover to children.  And since the children were playing with magnetic tiles for a long time …

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My Passover Parenting Fail

This piece originally ran at Kveller.com. On the way home from Sunday school, my tiny children asked so many uncomfortable questions. They asked about God, and death, and bad guys, and then something even worse. That Egyptian child from the tenth plague was just temporarily frozen, I told them. Once Pharaoh realized his mistake all the children were fine. Then I desperately tried to change the subject, but it kept coming back. My children watched Prince of Egypt in Sunday school this weekend. They didn’t watch a short excerpt either. They watched a pretty big chunk of the movie and it was nowhere near …

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It’s Tu B’Shevat – Happy New Year to the Trees

(Note: This piece originally ran on 1/24/13 in the Washington Jewish Week). Did you know Tu B’Shevat coincides with Shabbat this year and starts tonight?  A January Tu B’Shevat is one of the first signs that the Jewish holidays will come early this year. You may have heard that the first night of Hanukkah will fall on Thanksgiving this fall. We will have to stay on our toes and keep our Jewish calendars close at hand in 2013. It’s not just the Jewish calendar that seems to be coming fast this year. Spring is on its way to Washington early …

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Back to School All Over Again

Who knew there would be a Monday in mid-December that would feel far scarier than the first day of school?  Today was the 74th day of Kindergarten, but it was also the first day of school since the horrible events unfolded in Newtown, since our whole world changed.  Even though my son attends elementary school hundreds of miles from CT, it was very hard to drop him off at school today and it will be hard again tomorrow. For my son who has no idea what happened last Friday, it was just another Monday morning. He wanted the weekend to …

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Hanukkah Goes to Public School

This week I went to my son’s kindergarten class to talk about Hanukkah.  My husband and I read a story, showed the children a manorah, introduced the Hebrew letters on the dreidel and the talked about olives and olive oil.   It was all over in a short and sweet 20 minutes! While preparing for our 20 minutes in the Kindergarten spotlight, I did some research and wrote a piece for the Washington Jewish Week.  Following are some resources and my article in case you are planning a similar presentation. My blogging friend, Joanna Brichetto, aka The Bible Belt Balabusta is …

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Jewish New Year and Tashlich at the River

We celebrated the Rosh Hashanah or the Jewish New Year this week with a visit to synagogue to pray and hear the shofar, a delicious apple cake modified from the Smitten Kitchen (ok, very modified), and tashlich at the river. Tashlich is the ritual of throwing bits of bread in the water while recounting things you are sorry about on or shortly after Rosh Hashanah.  You can find an official description from Chabad here.   It has always been one of my favorite rituals, because it is personal, hands-on, and takes place outdoors. We went down to the local Patuxant …

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