January 26, 2018

Our heroes change over the course of our lives.  I know mine have.

When I was younger, my heroes were Madeleine L’Engle, Jean Kerr, Virginia Woolf, and a number of others.  They were female writers and several of them had families.   They made the combination of being a writer and having a family work for them.

When my children were little, my heroes were my children’s special teachers and their doctors.  Those people who made my world a better and safer for being in my children’s lives.

My heroes, all of them, have a few things in common.  Their goals are to do their jobs, their careers, their life’s work – to the best of their abilities, and to hope that this helps others to do what they need to do in this life as well.

I believe in heroes.

Who are yours?

Picky Eaters and Bits and Bobs

December 9, 2015

Picky Eaters and Bits & Bobs

Lunchtime with children, especially packing lunches for school, can be irritating.

I have one child who eats sandwiches. Easy! With a piece of fruit, maybe a healthy snack bar or two, and his lunch is complete.

My other child has declared that she does not like sandwiches (with the exception of peanut butter and jam).

These are my recommendations to make assembling lunch fun for your children and less stress on you, and I do list gluten-free and dairy-free alternatives:

On Sunday afternoon, pick out the following to assemble:

  • yogurt and honey – I prefer Greek yogurt, as my lactose-intolerant child can still digest this; however, there are almond milk or soy milk yogurts now in the Kroger organic refrigerated section. Also, if local honey is available, that’s the best to use. 1 teaspoon of honey to ~6 oz of yogurt. I would set up small glass containers with plastic lids to store the yogurt and honey in, as plastic and dairy don’t always mix.
  • organic nuts or organic sunflower seeds and organic raisins (or other dried fruit) – you can find these at Whole Foods, as well as other stores – I prefer using pesticide free nuts and dried fruit, and I would measure a mixture of a few tablespoons of nuts/sunflower seeds to a few tablespoons of dried fruit and put each mixture into little plastic baggies or another container which won’t spill.
  • organic baby cut carrots or carrot chips – you can add a side of hummus or favorite dressing on the side in an extra container if you want. I would put 6-8 baby carrots in each plastic baggy or other container of your choice.
  • palm-size organic apples – I know Trader Joe’s usually carries little organic apples, perfect for children’s lunches.
  • bananas – my uncle promises that the organic ones are sweeter, but I usually forget and buy the regular ones.
  • organic rice cakes – gluten free, pesticide free, dairy free, and nut free all in one neat crunchy snack – salted or unsalted. I’ve found these at Trader Joe’s and Publix. I would store them in a plastic or glass containers, not baggies, or your crunchy treat will crumble.
  • snack bars / bread – pick (or make!) your favorite snack bars or muffin breads – be aware of the ingredients – if you made homemade muffins or granola bars, put them in little snack bags or small containers for the week.
  • organic popcorn in individual sizes – Chicka Boom Pop makes lovely snack size bags which Costco carries
  • veggie chips / straws  in individual sizes – Costco carries these.
  • seaweed packs – crunchy salty and a nice amount of Vitamin C – Trader Joe’s and Kroger carry them.
  • cheese sticks – these come in non-dairy alternatives in the Kroger organic section.

Anything you don’t make yourself, you must check the ingredients to make sure there is no food-coloring, no artificial anything, no high fructose corn syrup, and whatever else your child isn’t allowed to have for allergy reasons.

Have your little one create his or her own lunch by picking out several healthy snack choices for lunch, and then put the lunch box in the refrigerator if it includes yogurt or cheese. (Do keep in mind that you don’t want to refrigerate bananas.)

Good luck, and may your lunchtime packing be less stressful and healthier.

Safety and children in the dark

November 30, 2015

Safety and children in the dark

I debated about writing a blog about this. I called several friends who lived in different regions and asked them their opinions. My friend who lives out where the hay bales are as big as the cars had one opinion, my sister-in-law who lives on Long Island had a different opinion.

In the end, for me, it boils down to safety.

Being brave is important. Teaching your children to have manners, morality, and about sex & drugs is important, as well as hard. That is being brave.

Giving your children room to grow and mature is important, and hard. We want them to leave the bubble of safety, to take responsibility, to thrive and grow into mature adults who can contribute to society in a positive way.

That said, I was driving home after dark a week or so ago. Both my children were in the car. It was maybe 6pm. We were chatting about the day. I stopped at the stop sign before turning right onto our street.

I happen to see some faint twinkling lights in the middle of the street. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have stopped my car instantly.

I narrowly missed hitting three children.

Three boys were standing in the middle of the street playing chicken in the dark with the cars that turned on the road. The oldest was maybe 9 or 10, the youngest was 6.

I saw they were safe, and then I rolled down my window and yelled at them for putting their lives in danger. I was terrified and angry and scared, and furious.

For me, it boils down to safety.

The three boys were out the next night, holding flashlights and standing on the grass. Whenever a car would come down the road, they would shine a flashlight directly at the driver. The driver was temporarily blinded by the light, which is dangerous in any situation.

Surely, there has to be a better solution. One that involves neither the children nor the drivers being in harm’s way.

I challenge you to come up with a new solution. Or, at least to open up a dialogue with your loved ones about safety, cars, and the dark. We all need to be aware of our surroundings, especially what we cannot control and how we can choose to react.

May your week be peaceful and turkey free.



What inspires me – October 2015

October 2015

Watching my son be helped to our car by my husband, I went over to investigate. My son had tears running down his cheeks, saying it hurt more than last time.

Bafflement ensued as we tried to ascertain what has happened, what hurt, and what last time?

I have no medical training in any medical field, other than being a mom. Which does provide some minimal on the job training. However, I prefer to defer to the professionals in cases such as this.

Of course, we were at our school fall festival with no professionals onsite. (Afterwards, a friend mentioned that his wife, who had been there, had held a previous career as a nurse. If I had known that, I would have asked her to look at my son. She is a dear and gave much-needed hugs when she saw my face was white as a sheet, after we announced we were taking him to the emergency room.)

The bottom line – our 12 year old son, in the interest of speed and laziness, had not properly laced up his hiking shoes (to his credit, I don’t think we ever told him how the little metal tabs on the sides of the shoes should be laced up) and he tripped & fell on concrete, causing a hairline fracture to his right kneecap. (He had fallen almost exactly a year earlier and fractured his left wrist.)

We sorted out the emergency room visit, the subsequent orthopedist visit, the different kinds of braces he could use for his knee, crutches, and what meds he could & couldn’t have. (For the record, no Ibuprofen or Advil for fractures, as the doctors don’t want the patient to bleed into the fracture.)

A week and a half later, my son is crying in my car again. Different kind of tears. Not from a physical injury, but from an emotional one.

Adolescence is difficult on a good day. Having a fractured kneecap makes everything at least a little bit, sometimes a lot, harder. Having a few other adolescents you normally call friends tell you that your injury is pretend is so much worse.

That part is being handled as well, by people who care, thank goodness.

What my question is – which is worse?

The physical injury, or the emotional one?

In this case, I would say the emotional one.

The body is weak.

The spirit is strong enough to overcome almost anything.

My son is getting stronger every day, and promises never to wear those shoes again. (Tying your shoes – hard lesson to learn.)

He inspires me. Watching him overcome the difficulties he has had dealing with the pain as well as every day tasks in the last couple weeks, I am very proud of him.

I am grateful to our friends and family who have been wonderfully supportive.

May your holiday weekend be fun and safe.

What is it worth?

October 2015

What is it worth?

I try to teach my children certain basic lessons, like all parents do. One of my lessons is – what is it worth to you?

Is arguing with me for 20 minutes about something going to get you what you want, or going to make me madder than I was before? Is it worth it? What are you trying to get out of this discussion?

Is it just to be stubborn, or is there another reason? Is continuing a discussion going to change my mind, or make it worse? Be strategic and thoughtful. Do not waste your time or mine.

My son and I play this game called 7 wonders. Neat game. I have a tendency to beat him most of the time, which frustrates him. It’s about who has the most victory points in the end, which come from any combination of buildings, armies, scientific advances, wonders, etc. What is the best balance that you can create to having the most victory points, while trying to ensure your opponent has less victory points than you?

Strategy. Thinking ahead.

What is it worth?

People are the same. Is the price too high to spend with a person? Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no. People continue to surprise me.

A close family member and I spoke the other week after not having spoken much in quite some time – we had a lovely conversation. I had been so nervous at the thought of a miserable conversation that I put off broaching a topic for several weeks. I was more than pleasantly surprised. It was a joy.


I was speaking with a close friend of mine yesterday, whom I have known since grade school. She asked my opinion. This was one of the few times that I was ambivalent. I was not sure how to counsel her and I told her so. Then I countered her question with a query of my own. Reminding her that we have to pick and choose our battles, what was it worth to her? Weigh the positives and negatives. If the person you are working with is very set on one way, and after you have done your research you are still ambivalent, then what is it worth to you? In the interest of moving forward, is this a battle you want to take on?

Think forward.

We reap what we sow. Kindness is important and you have to be okay with how you treat people. Yes, this deals with strategy, but not in a sneaky way. If I feel I am going to be unpleasant to someone my husband or I care about, I make an excuse to get off the phone. Count to twenty and decide what is it worth to call the person on his or her behavior. Is it going to get you what you need or want from that person? Is this approach really working for you, or would another approach work better?

Breathe in, breathe out. Be true to yourself, and be kind to others. Sometimes one contradicts the other. Weigh your options and decide what it is worth.

For my readers in Atlanta today – keep an umbrella handy and note that autumn has arrived!

Happy week. Lisa

Tolerance (part 1) – I like cats, I really do

May 18, 2015 – Tolerance, part 1

I like cats, I really do. I love the way they purr when you pet them. I like to play with them.

So, if I like cats, why, when I’m at someone else’s house, do I stay far, far away from them? Why don’t I pet them, love on them, snuggle with them?

You, who love your precious cat, must think me unloving for not petting it.

I am not allergic to cats. Why don’t I pet them or play with them?


What part of this story are you missing? What is the reason why I won’t pet your cat?

We forget that our reality is often different from someone else’s. In your world of purring, cats are perfect.

In my world, in my home, there are two people whom I love dearly who are very, very allergic to your pet. If my husband gets cat hair on him, he gets a rash, has an allergy attack, and can’t stop sneezing for a day or two. If my daughter is near someone with cat hair on them, she feels itchy all over.

If I pet your cat, and I go to hug my daughter, she won’t stop being itchy until she showers, and I wash all the cat hair off of me and my clothes. The same is true of my husband.

We are so quick to make judgements of ourselves, of others, that we forget to look at the other side. Newton’s law of physics: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

There is a reason for every single thing that we do, just as there is a reason for every single thing someone else does, or does not.

Before you spring to your judgement that someone else’s way must be wrong, keep in mind, that person is probably looking at you, thinking the same exact thing.



Peremptory warning – I am not a doctor or a nurse, and I don’t play one on television. I am a mom of two diverse children, one aged eleven, the other aged eight. I know what applies to them, and I will freely admit, I am still learning.

Over the course of my children’s lifetimes, I believe I have owned more thermometers than I ever knew existed. There was the pacifier thermometer, a different one for the forehead, another kind for the ear, a few for under the arm, and a few for under the tongue. (Yes, I know there are rectal thermometers as well, but I loathe those even more.) I have even tried the old-fashioned mercury thermometers.

Sadly, I am unable to use any of them. (For the purpose of this blog, any thermometer readings mentioned are in Fahrenheit.)

My father berated me this morning for not using a thermometer for checking my children’s temperatures. The number is important. I realize the importance of numbers in this world. I really do.

I also realize that thermometers in the hands of anyone but me most likely work as useful tools. For me, I get readings of 94.4 or 96.4 or 95.7. Obviously, I don’t know how to use the thermometer, any thermometer.

According to my children’s doctor visits, my son’s normal temperature is approximately 97.4, which means that if he has a 99 degree fever, it is the same as when my daughter (who’s normal healthy temperature is 98.4) has a 100 degree fever. In other words, if my son’s temperature is elevated by a degree and a half, he has a fever, whether or not it registers as 99 or 100. (According to some medical professionals, a person is not considered to have a fever unless it is 100, which I believe is nonsense.)

Numbers are relative.

Whenever you are taking your child’s temperature, you need to know what his or her normal, healthy temperature is before you can have an accurate idea of what an unhealthy or sick temperature is.

That said, if you are lacking in the thermometer department, there are other ways to assess a child’s health. How is your child behaving? Normally? Or, is your child listless, unusually cranky, unusually whiny, and complaining of different ailments (in any combination or separately), such as headache, nausea, chills, dizziness, sore throat, cough, ear pain, eye pain, etc.

Also, is your child scalding or warm to the touch? To properly assess this, do not use your hands straight from the freezer. If you feel your child is unwell, by the look of his/her eyes, behavior, or symptoms, do take your child to your physician or other health professional.

Keeping a log will help you and your health professional identify if your child is suffering from a virus (which has to run its course and medicine usually doesn’t help), or a bacterial infection (which can be treated with antibiotics, if you are open to that).

Your child needs to stay well-hydrated, which means s/he needs to drink a lot of water, stay away from sweets and dairy, and increase fruits and veggies if possible. Smoothies made from fresh (pesticide free) fruit and soups made from pureed veggies are a good way to get some much needed extra nutrition into your child. Be careful of using acidic fruits (ie, not too much pineapple, orange, lemon, or lime – some is good, perhaps with honey, as it helps break up the congestion) if your child has a sore throat, as that may sting.

Of course, it’s better not to be sick, so to keep up your immune system, take in plenty of (pesticide free is best) whole fruits and vegetables, drink lots of water, make sure you’re getting plenty of calcium (with a little bit of Vitamin D, but be careful not to overdo your Vitamin D), get plenty of rest as sleep helps the brain stay healthy – which in turn helps the rest of the body stay healthy.

Happy November!

Mother, Daughter, Perspective

July 12, 2014

I was born a daughter to my parents, I am a mother to my children. Both are part of what makes up who I am.

My son told me about a dream he had the other night. He was waiting for my dad to pick him up from school, (which is unusual, but happens occasionally), when my mother walked down the hall. He told me he was astonished to see her (as she passed away last summer), and he gave her hug.

My son has grown a lot in the last year. I asked him how tall he was when he hugged her. He told me he was up to her eyes, which is the height he would be on her today, not a year ago. He told me she looked the same as she had a year ago.

When I’ve seen my mother in my dreams, she is younger, which is how I remember her.

She is still around me during the day, in things that I do, in things that I say. I remember her responses to me when I was an older child, and I find myself saying similar things to my children, in similar circumstances. I understand the responses better now that I am on the other side, and I sometimes try to explain to my children why I am frustrated with certain actions and reactions.

I strive to have my children grow up to be contributing members of society, to be kind and considerate, to accomplish what needs to be done as well as what they want to be done. To treat others, as well as themselves, with respect – adults as well as peers.

My son is at that age, that some of us still live in, of wanting the privileges which come with greater responsibility, yet unsure of wearing that mantle of the greater responsibility, and of hoping to convince someone else to do things for him.

He has a school trip coming up early next spring in which he will travel to another country. I have been pointing out to him when he goes to a friend’s house that if he chooses to eat poorly or forget to pack his clothes for the next day, those are his choices, and he has to live with them. (He did, in fact, forget his clothes once on a sleepover. No, I did not bring him a change of clothes; nor, did he ask me to.)

On his school trip, he will be away from home for a little over a week. I am pleased to see that he has been considering his choices a little more carefully recently. I hope it continues.

Parenting, or – But for the Grace of G-d Go I

I was recently commended on the excellent behavior of my children by one of their teachers. The teacher has three children of her own, her oldest being in kindergarten. She asked me, as a slightly more veteran parent of a second grader and fifth grader how they came to be so well-adjusted and well-behaved.

My response was – But for the Grace of G-d go I.

I remember complimenting a mother several years ago on the wonderful behavior of her twin 6 year old children. She told me, with a straight serious face, that it was due to her excellent parenting skills. We were sitting in synagogue and I recall turning around to see if lightning were going to strike.

I love my kids. I think they’re two of the neatest people I have ever met. And, they have good days and not-so-good days, like everyone else. Sometimes their behavior is, in a word, lacking, as sometimes mine is as well.

In my opinion, there are certain keys to parenting:

Consistency and following-through are the main ones. Praying also helps quite a bit for sanity reasons. But for the Grace of G-d go I.

Only promise to reward or punish with something that you are actually willing to do. Don’t tell your child you are taking away video games if you have no intention of doing so. Don’t offer to reward a trip to the zoo if you can’t afford the time or money for the trip.

It is so hard to be consistent, especially when your children are small and you don’t want to see them cry because you have taken away that beloved toy. But you have to be consistent and follow-through.

I am so not perfect at this, I confess. It’s very hard. It is also very worthwhile.

Whenever possible while disciplining, remain calm and even. This is also very hard.

Do remember to tell your kids that you love them, that you are proud of them, just because they are who and what they are. This is one of the best rewards you can give them – this is also the one reward they will remember years later.

Also – set expectations for yourself as well as your children. Before you enter a store, briefly discuss with your children what you expect from them. This does not guarantee good behavior whatsoever, but it will help. Consistency – if you tell your children you are not purchasing a toy – don’t purchase the toy. They get used to the idea and understand that when you go to certain places, this is what to expect.

Parenting is not a perfect science. Every child is different. Every family is different. This makes the world go round.

The magic of a sunrise

My daughter asked me the other day if magic was real.

I hesitated.

After thinking about it for a few days, I know the answer.

Yes. Magic is real.

In our world of technological devices, how could magic possibly be real?

Have you even seen a sunrise? A sunset? A rainbow in the sky? Have you had a first kiss, felt a baby’s kick inside your stomach, watched someone walk down the street, any street?

All these things are magical.

That our brain communicates to the rest of our body the ability to walk, talk, and be understood by anyone else is amazing.

I know that science can explain why and how we see the colors of a rainbow. That doesn’t make it any less wonderful, or any less magical.

When word processors became more commonplace 20 years ago, I remember my mother being amazed that I could move sentences around a page on a screen.

Yes, there is magic in this world.