Even shopping for socks and underwear becomes exciting for children when they get to lead the way. Over 700 children from communities in and around Essex County went shopping for new outfits and school supplies on Sunday, courtesy of the Essex County Section of the National Council of Jewish Women. This is the 6th Annual Back 2 School Store (B2SS) the NCJW has held for area children. The B2SS has grown from its first year when it served 250 economically disadvantaged children to now helping over 700 children focus on learning and not worrying as they begin the school year.
While some children began the shopping experience feeling unsure, their faces showed excitement and a sense of being “in charge” when their shopping trip was complete. The 4,000 square foot “department store” was located in space donated by Congregation B’nai Shalom in West Orange, NJ. Each child was assigned a personal shopper to guide them through the stations that included winter coats, hats, and gloves as well as new sneakers, pants, and basics like socks and underwear.
I like the commercialism of Mother’s Day about as much as I like seeing July 4th items on sale at my local Target last week. For me, the idea of buying some cheap token for Mother’s Day celebrates everything superficial about the holiday and very little about the real substance of the day, which to me, is taking a moment to think about mothers everywhere.
So against the sea of ads for jewelry and perfumes and, I wish this wasn’t true, weight-loss solutions, that are coming through my Facebook feed in “honor” of Mother’s Day, all I can think is how very little this matters to me, or I would guess any mom, when over 200 girls are missing in Nigeria.
More than two weeks ago, militants stormed a residential school in Nigeria and abducted school girls, still missing, and most recently, the leader of the group that kidnapped them at gunpoint are threatening to sell these girls. I cannot even contemplate the horror, and I am completely removed from this situation. And while I know I cannot even fathom how these families are feeling right now, at least as part of the global community, we can give our voices to the demand to #BringBackOurGirls.
When was the last time you were told to “Listen to your mother”? In May, Baristaville will have a chance to listen to many stories of motherhood from all points of view. After several days of auditions that narrowed down almost 100 stories about mothers and motherhood, the selected authors for the inaugural year of the North Jersey Listen to Your Mother cast are getting ready to share their words with all of us at the South Orange Performing Arts Center on May 10th at 5 PM.
Organizers Sandy Rustin and Deborah Goldstein narrowed down the scores of auditions to fifteen authors and performers, many from the Maplewood/South Orange area. Each performer will share their personal stories, some humorous, some heartbreaking, as Listen to Your Mother (LTYM) continues its tradition of giving motherhood a microphone — this time in New Jersey!
I might own a gun shop one day. So I’ve felt like an outsider when my friends and peers from our ultra-liberal town have advocated for strict gun control. Their pleas, bleeding with fret and emotion, populate my Facebook feed. They often post pictures of the innocent children who were murdered in Newtown. When the subject comes up–and it always does–at my neighborhood book club or at various get togethers, I try to keep my opinions to myself. If I get into how I really feel, I’m afraid I’ll be asked to leave.
When Newtown happened, I cried just as much as everyone else. I hold sadness in my heart for the victims. I keep picturing the brave principal who tried to stop the crazed shooter. I see her pretty face in my dreams and wonder why she and so many others had to die.
But the vast majority of people who own weapons legally are not crazed. I do not believe guns are bad. I grew up with guns, and when I was 7, my dad taught me to shoot with a Bearcat revolver one day after school. He currently owns a gun shop in my hometown of Jeffersonville, Indiana, a small river community on the Kentucky border. (See left.) He would be the first to say that he is not a young man. So I hope he doesn’t get mad when he finds out that I’ve already pondered what will happen if he dies. Along with my brother, I will inherit his busy, popular gun shop and gunsmith business.
This is my first time at this, and I’m surprised at how nervous I am. I don’t like to think of myself as an overly-anxious parent, you know? So, please don’t take this the wrong way. I don’t want to tell you how to do your job. I certainly don’t appreciate when people try to tell me how to do mine. But I just want you to know, up front, that when you pull away from the end of my block today you’ll be taking my heart with you.
I’ve pictured the yellow rear-end of the school bus pulling away from the curb so many times this summer. And each time makes my eyes water and my mouth turn down. This kid, my son, is so excited to ride the bus to school. So excited. But he’s also nervous and worried about finding his class and about rough kids sitting next to him and about whether someone will make fun of the t-shirt he picked out for his first day of kindergarten. I don’t want him to get special attention, not more than anyone else’s child, but could you do me a favor and give him a grin and a “Good Morning!” when he gets on the bus? I’m sure you would do that anyway, but it’s my first time at this, and I don’t know.
Come as a baker, shopper or both. The weather forecast is not good for tomorrow so why not do a baking project with the kids? My oven is not working so I will definitely be there trying to buy some muffins for an after-school treat, otherwise I would have made these berry muffins or some carrot cake squares.
Please drop off baked goods (shop-bought or home-made) at 14 Nassau Road, by 7 P.M. Tuesday, September 4.
My daughters, thankfully, are hot on cooking. So recently I handed them a paring knife and some oven mitts. They know how to cut strawberries and kiwis. They pull the strings out of snap peas and saute them in butter on our behemoth gas stove that scares the sugar out of me.
They’re 6 and a half. Geez. They should be making Summer Thai Noodle Salad by now. Anyway, I started out watching them very closely. But as they get more practice, I give them more independence (i.e. I can check my email while they work). We’re learning how to boil hot dogs next.
Now if they’d just do the dishes.
What age do you plan to let your kids start cooking? Take our poll…
We’re so sad to learn that puppeteer Jerry Nelson has died a the age of 78. He is most famous for being Count von Count, aka The Count, my second favorite Sesame Street character growing up. He also gave life to Mr. Snuffleupagus, Herry Monster, Gobo Fraggle on Fraggle Rock, and many other Muppet characters.
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Here are your weekend’s highlights:
Drop your kids off at The Little Gym for the Parents Survival Night. They’ll have fun and you get a kid-free evening! (Friday, August 24)
Celebrate Junie B Jones’ 20th anniversary with a very special party at Barnes & Noble in Livingston. (Saturday, August 25)
(Editor’s Note: This orginally ran in 2011. We feel it’s valuable information and are re-posting.)
Are you sick and tired of the school year becoming one long nag fest about homework, organization, studying, etc.? Are you dreading September? It doesn’t have to be this way. This year, become your child’s “school coach” and stop taking all the responsibility for the work that they should be doing themselves.
The successful school coach uses this checklist:
Gets “buy-in” listening to her team and working together to create a plan where everyone “wins”
Makes expectations clear and in writing
Provides encouragement and assistance not interference
Maintains faith and trust in her team’s ability to get the job done correctly and on time
Models the behavior she expect from others
Creates a system for earning privileges and sticks to it
Rewards effort and achievement with fairness and sincerity
Here are some practical steps to get started coaching your team: