Monday, February 25, 2013

Do You Need to Get an Amnio Just Because You’re Over 35?

Sometimes it’s best not to solicit advice.

Like when you’re 37 and pregnant, for example, and you can’t decide whether or not to do an amniocentesis. Hypothetically. And your gut tells you the baby is fine. And your screening scores tell you, really, the baby is fine. But you ask your friends. And everyone has a story about this one who miscarried because of the amnio and that one who had a baby with Downs Syndrome even though the Nuchal Translucency reported favorable odds. And then your judgment is clouded by conflicting stories instead of your own good sense.

So you end up shrieking on the phone at your poor midwife, a woman who you refer to as Mary Poppins on every other day of the year, for not returning your calls when a decision must be made because the window of opportunity is closing. And she apologizes profusely for being so unavailable and it is not like her at all, which it is not, and you both cry. And she sets you up with an appointment to see a genetic counselor, which you do, and even your husband comes because he can tell you are hanging by a thread. And the genetic counselor is lovely and helpful and informed and is probably wondering why you’re even there since all signs point toward a normal, healthy baby. At birth anyway.

You breathe a sigh and remember your gut. And the next day you see your midwife for your 20 week appointment and you both cry again and you try to explain how emotional you are in this third pregnancy because so much is at stake and how could it be, what with the law of limited good, that you might end up with three perfectly healthy babies when so many babies are sick? Or can’t even get conceived?

And she reminds you that you are worthy of many good things in your life, a concept that is hard for you to embrace. And that goodness can be mysterious. And you remember the conversations you’ve had with your husband about chasing perfect babies and how there are no guarantees. Even an amnio can’t guarantee that something won’t go south at delivery, or age 2 or 16 or 45. Or EVER. You just have to learn to live with worry. There is no going back.

So you surrender to the knowledge that control is only temporary and more than likely a total illusion. You breathe deeply and trust that this baby and this experience is exactly as it should be and that you are prepared for whatever comes.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Test Your Knowledge of Ten Facts About Purim

Purim is one of our most child-friendly holidays!

Test your Purim knowledge with our special edition TEN!

cutecartoon1. When do we celebrate Purim?

The 14th day of Adar, this year that falls out on Saturday night March 19th and continues through Sunday, March 20th. In certain walled cities (like Jerusalem), Purim is celebrated on Sunday night and Monday.

2. Who is the hero of the Purim story?


3. How many times is the story of Esther (Megillat Esther) read on Purim?

Twice. Once at night and once the following morning.

4. Who is the villain of the Purim story?


5. What is Haman’s evil plan?

Haman picks a day to destroy all the Jews in King Achashverosh’s kingdom.

6. Each time Haman’s name is read out loud in Megillat Esther, what is our custom?

To swing our greggers (noisemakers) as loudly as we can!

7. What is the miracle of Purim?

Esther convinces King Achashverosh to allow the Jews to fight back. They manage to fight and win!

8. What are the four commandments of Purim?

Listen to the Purim story
Eating a festive Purim meal
Sending food to your friends
Giving charity to the poor.

9. What is the name of the official Purim cookie?

Hamentaschen, which means Haman’s ear!

10.What great tradition do we have on Purim?

To get dressed up.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Our Favorite Purim Costumes

Let’s not beat around the bush: Purim is the craziest Jewish holiday of the year. There’s carnivals and parades, cookies and noisemakers, religion-sanctioned drunkenness, and of course, the costumes.

Many consider Purim to be the Jewish Halloween, and your kids certainly won’t mind getting into the spirit of the holiday by dressing up as whatever they want! Purim comes early this year, starting at sundown on Saturday, February 23rd, so if you don’t already have a costume in place, now’s the time to start looking. The internet’s cup runneth over with all kinds of costumes, but we've searched through the endless choices and found our favorites just for you. From cutesy to Jewishy to just plain weird, here they are.

Famous Jewish Figures
1. Moses. Got a natural born leader on your hands? Then who better to pay tribute to than the man who led us out of bondage? This Moses costume ($21.99) comes with the robe, hat, and Ten Commandments necklace. Though unfortunately, the awesome ginger beard is sold separately. Get it here.

2. Queen Esther. Want to stick with the Purim story? This child-size Queen Esther costume is only $15, and just look at how sassy your daughter will look! Get it here.

3. The Grand Rabbi. And okay, yeah, we’ve made fun of these costumes before, but if Purim isn’t the perfect time to dress up like the Grand Rabbi ($35), than we don’t know when is. Sidelocks sold separately. Get it here.

Can’t Go Wrong with Cute
Lion Costume4. Veterinarian. For any animal loving little boys and girls, this veterinarian costume set ($22.49) is super cute, and it even comes with a plush puppy “patient.” Your child, a doctor! Can you believe it? Get it here.

5. Baby Animals. What is it about babies and animal costumes that just make everybody go “Awwwwwww!”? We don’t know, but we’re not going to deny it. If you’re going for the cute factor, this infant lion costume ($21.69) is the way to go. Or the monkey ($27.95). Or the elephant ($16). Or the totally treyf lobster ($25.88)!

Monday, February 4, 2013

How to Teach Your Kids Hebrew

I grew up in New York speaking Hebrew with my Israeli mother and at my day school, Spanish with my Argentinean father and grandparents, and English everywhere else. I enjoyed being able to talk to lots of people, but it wasn’t until I became a developmental psychologist that I fully understood what a wonderful gift my parents had given me.

Bilingualism has tremendous benefits, and not just when you are trying to find a bathroom in Tel-Aviv. Bilingual children are better at problem solving, planning, and self-control. A lifetime of bilingualism may even help delay the onset of dementia in old age.

I’ve always intended to give my child the gift of a second language that my parents gave me. However, it’s very difficult for one parent to teach his or her child more than one native language and the closest my husband comes to speaking a second language is his southern accent, so when I got pregnant I had to decide: would I teach my baby Hebrew or Spanish? Spanish is undoubtedly the more “useful” language with hundreds of millions of speakers worldwide, and finding Spanish learning resources for my son would be relatively easy. But I chose Hebrew because my son will have plenty of opportunities to learn Spanish later on, and, more importantly, because speaking Hebrew will give my son a lifelong connection to Israel, his family, and culture.

As I began my journey, I learned about research showing that children need to be exposed to a second language for at least 20% of their waking hours in order to become truly fluent (less than that and the child might learn some words or phrases but they probably won’t put together new sentences). So, if my son is awake for 10 hours per day, two of those hours should be spent listening to and speaking Hebrew. I admit this sounded daunting at first. Without Hebrew-speaking relatives or friends nearby, nor Jewish day schools in the Midwestern town where we live, how have I done this?

1. I made sure that my husband understood what I was doing and fully supported me. I work full-time so achieving two hours+ of Hebrew each day means that my son and I have to spend some time speaking Hebrew when his father is around. For example, when we sit down to dinner, I talk to my son in Hebrew while his father talks to him in English. This might sound like it would be really disruptive to family conversations, but it rarely is because, quite frankly, it’s pretty obvious what you are saying to your 2-year-old as he dumps his peas on the floor. Bonus: my husband has learned useful Hebrew phrases like “stop that!”