Nov 20, 2018

Why - and How - We Plan To Raise Our Children Jewishly


photographer: Rhiannon Newman

Before Jon and I got married, I told him that one of my non-negotiables was the religious education of our hypothetical future children: I wanted them to be raised Jewish.

This might seem like a funny time for semantics but I do think that it's really important to clarify a few things - at least as I understand them - about being Jewish in America today.

First and perhaps most importantly as anti-Semitism is on the rise in the United States and across the world, know that one doesn't have to practice Judaism in any traditional way to be considered Jewish by others and targeted by anti-Semites. In Nazi Germany, remember, people counted as Jewish and therefore as deserving of extinction if they had a single Jewish grandparent.

Second, there are so many ways of practicing Judaism and of living a Jewish life that it's counterproductive to quantify or de/legitimize anyone's Judaism. (Unlike in Christianity, very few branches or denominations of Judaism today consider others to be heretical.) Judaism isn't just a religion; "clearly," researchers Barry Kosmin and Arielle Keyser write in a 2012 article, "there is more to the Jewish experience in America than religion... [and] the idea that the Jews are a 'people' and not just a faith is ancient." Judaism is a culture, too, one that flourishes rather than withers as increasing numbers of Jews marry non-Jews and create interfaith households.

Nov 14, 2018

The Best Parenting Advice We Received


photographer: Rhiannon Newman

When I was expecting and people engaged with me about my pregnancy, I always asked if they had any advice for first-time parents. Friends of friends, acquaintances, strangers - I asked anyone who self-identified as a parent or grandparent. First and foremost, I figured that asking for advice was a structured way of heading off a barrage of unsolicited suggestions. But also I desperately did want someone to tell me what we needed to know about having a baby and raising a child.

Almost everyone answered with a variation on this theme:

Enjoy it. Things change so fast.

Before Robbie arrived and in his first few months, that advice drove me insane. It was so unhelpful! Enjoy, okay, but that is not really actionable. And change - change how? Change when? Change why? What if, under my supervision, they changed in the wrong way?

Once we left the haze of the fourth trimester and I went back to work, though, I realized the value of their shared wisdom.

Enjoy it. Things change so fast.

Nov 8, 2018

One Room Challenge: Week Six



March 26, 2018

November 6, 2018

Well, dear readers, week six's reveal isn't of a beautiful finished room - or exterior - which is disappointing, but it's not unexpected. In my first post for this One Room Challenge, I explained that our big project was driven by necessity more than aesthetics and, because of that, most of the work would have to be done by professionals on their timeline and would cost a lot of not-fun money. To recap:


Nov 1, 2018

One Room Challenge: Week(s Four and) Five


8am Tuesday / 5pm Tuesday

I'm in awe of the couples who make tons and tons of hands-on progress every week in the One Room Challenge. How do they find the time for these major renovation projects between two full-time out-of-the-house jobs that involve evening and/or weekend work, business travel, a dog, and a baby... oh.

Suddenly, I don't feel so inactive!

I am frustrated by not having even started on the door regardless. My goal, as I said in the Week Three post, was to strip our front door of varnish, sand it, and repaint it. I did manage to go to the hardware store, where a lovely and encouraging man led me to everything I needed and walked me through all the steps, but buying the materials was as far as I got. When I asked for Jon's help in bringing the door outside, where I'd do the stripping and sanding, he admitted that he thought I was maybe biting off more than I could chew. Obviously my husband is very supportive of my dreams, etcetera etcetera, but when we actually talked through the practicalities of DIYing our very heavy wood front door with its 17 square panels and inset grooves, I realized that he was right and that I'd gotten a little carried away with trying to keep up with my fellow participants' projects in the One Room Challenge.