Happy Holidays

Posted by on Dec 23, 2016 in Holidays, Tips, Recommendations & Warnings | 0 comments

This is a time of warmth and cheer for many people, hot cocoa and fireplaces, friends, family, candelabras, Christmas trees and latkes. It brings happiness to many, sadness to others, probably a mix of the two to more than we realize. But we do our best, especially if we have children, to create an atmosphere of joy.

It’s the end of a year, too, and not just any year. 2016, don’t let the door hit you in the derrière on the way out. On second thought, do. You deserve it.

There will be plenty of time and opportunity in the year to come to experience and express sentiments we wish we could live without. So let’s set that aside for the last week-and-a-half of 2016, and lift ourselves up a bit. Let’s look for comfort for our kids, who, despite seeming evidence to the contrary, might need some help processing the world at this troubling time. Let’s read a few stories to warm our hearts—stories to help us remember what’s good again. We all know we love our kids, but sometimes an outside perspective can help us see that in a new light. And what are all of this season’s holidays about if not lights in the darkness?

First, from the Washington Post, Karen MacPherson offers a great list of 19 books to help children find hope and strength in stressful times for children ages 3 to 12.

Author and co-owner of the soon-to-open Belmont Books in Belmont, Massachusetts, Chris Abouzeid, suggested these three titles for tweens and teens:

Next, this piece on Babble.com by Lori Garcia, 46 Things No One Tells You About Parenting a Teenage Boy, literally made me laugh out loud. Number 38. And number 12. Also number 15. Oh, just about all of them.

You may want to get a tissue ready for The Child I Love, by Jon Ralston, about his relationship with his transgender son.

Finally, don’t miss this lovely essay by my colleague, John Herman, about—well, I’ll let you discover what it’s really about. It features Santa Claus, a sled, a bag and a fence.

Happy holidays, no matter which or how many of this season’s holidays you celebrate. See you in 2017!

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5 Things I Accomplished This Holiday Season

Posted by on Jan 6, 2016 in Growing Up, Holidays, The World We Parent In | 2 comments


Welcome Back! I hope your holidays were a welcome respite from the craziness of the rest of the year. Or, if you like to keep things going at a good clip, I hope you eggnogged-gifted-skiied-partied-relatived-toasted-feasted-gingerbreaded until you could barely eek out a “Happy New Year” when the time was right.

As for me, I managed to squeeze a few parenting-related accomplishments under my expanding belt this holiday season. Some I anticipated; most I did not. Here goes:

  1. I taught my fourteen-year-old son how to binge-watch a TV series into the late hours. I’m so proud.
  1. I got a glimpse of what my ten-year-old daughter will look like when she’s sixteen via the dressy pants, blouse and shoes I bought her to wear for her fifth-grade chorus and band concerts. It was tough to find appropriate clothing that wasn’t awash in glitter, but when we finally did—wow. Who is that sophisticated kid?
  1. I decided that my goal of changing my lifestyle in several ways to be healthier overall by my next birthday wasn’t challenging enough, so I ate my way to a few extra pounds in December just to make things more interesting. Okay, so it wasn’t so much an actual decision as it was outright gluttony. Alas, the result is the same.
  1. I talked to my kids about Donald Trump. Why is this an accomplishment?
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Posted by on Nov 25, 2015 in Holidays, The World We Parent In | 0 comments

Image courtesy Saratica via Flickr.com.

Image courtesy Saratica via Flickr.com.

It doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving. The world feels kind of sad and scary right now, not joyous and abundant like it should when the holiday season commences.

Maybe that’s appropriate. It’s worth noting that joy and abundance aren’t always present for many people. As we revel in our holiday feasts this week, let’s take a moment to think of those close to us who aren’t as fortunate and those far away who feel less secure than we do. How can we meet deprivation with open hearts? How can we meet those who sow fear and destruction with determination and reason? And how do we teach our children these things without frightening them beyond measure when we’re so afraid and uncertain ourselves?

Heavy thoughts for Thanksgiving week, but it’s a heavy November. At Uncharted Parent, we’re going to enjoy our turkey and trimmings, but we’re also going to talk about what we might do to help others this holiday season. It may not be much, but goodness knows the world can use any help it can get.

Uncharted Parent wishes everyone a very happy and peaceful Thanksgiving.

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Passover, Version T(w)een.0

Posted by on Mar 25, 2015 in Growing Up, Holidays, Tips, Recommendations & Warnings | 0 comments


The Venice Haggadah of 1609. The Haggadah is the book followed at the seder, or the Passover meal, to tell the story of the Jews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt.

Passover is less than two weeks away, and if you celebrate the holiday at your house, you know what that means: it’s time to clean out the pantry, remember where you put the good china and bug all your friends to see if you can assemble eight days’ worth of palatable recipes.

(Also, for those of us living in certain parts of northern New England, we engage in the annual hunting ritual for Passover food in grocery stores, best if approached as a drinking game. Each inquiry about Passover products met with a blank stare requires one shot of Manischewitz wine; every “Pass-what?” equals two shots. Sorry, but you have to drink the bottle if you’re directed to matzoh that states on the box, “Not kosher for Passover,” or to the deli case featuring “Ham for your Passover table.”)

So wrong

So wrong

In years past, I’ve offered “A Passover Seder Survival Kit” for families with young kids, as well as some of my personal culinary tactics for getting through the holiday. (Nutella still figures prominently in my Passover diet.) If you’ve got small children, then please do click on that link above for some ideas on making it through the seder with your sanity intact.

We’re in a different place in my family now. I’ve got a newly minted teen and a tween. (It scares me every time I write that.) They don’t need plague bags at the seder anymore, or a Sesame Street video to entertain them if the discussion goes on too long.

In fact, my son, “Jack,” is now officially an adult in the eyes of the Jewish community. To my husband and I, that means he can make his own decisions about whether or not to follow the dietary laws of Passover when outside of our house. So although I communicated to Jack that of course, my preference is for him to keep Passover, I figure it can’t hurt to provide him with some tangible encouragement. (Because, yes, it’s all supposed to be about religion and the history of the Jewish people, but let’s face it: it won’t hurt if the food is good, right? Of course right.)

Here are my plans for Passover T(w)een.0, ending with my newest strategy for Pesach culinary happiness:

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Christmas Wish List from the Kittens

Posted by on Dec 12, 2013 in Holidays | 0 comments


Dear Family:

Merry Christmas! (Or, as you prefer to say, Happy Holidays! Although we didn’t really get that whole food-fried-in-oil thing, especially as you wouldn’t let us have any, but maybe we can hope for better on New Year’s Eve?) Tis the season for love and family and hoping and sharing, so we want to do our part. We’ve been together now for almost seven months (can you believe it?), and we’ve had a chance to evaluate things around here. So here’s a list of what we, your beloved pets, would like for Christmas:

  • A change in the meal schedule: You people eat all day long. Don’t try to convince us otherwise; we watch you. Open the refrigerator, close the refrigerator, shove more chocolate in your mouths. It never stops. Yet we get a meager pile of dry kibble twice per day and you call it “breakfast” and “dinner.” Seriously? We gaze at you, we actually COMMUNICATE such that you tell each other, “Oh, look, they’re hungry,” and then you DON’T feed us until it’s time for more dusty kibble again. That’s cruel and unusual, that is. Think about it.
  • Related: we don’t “love” the new adult cat food. It sucks less than the kitten food, that’s all. And, as pointed out above, we’re hungry. Why do you think Meatball is always eating garbage, carpet fibers, bits of plastic, straw, etc.? Do you think she enjoys puking? She’s just trying to find something palatable. Do better. (And stop calling her, “Meatball the Goat.” That’s just mean.)
  • Regarding those names: Spaghetti and Meatball. “Aw, how cute.” Yeah, right. How’d you like to be called, we don’t know, Ham-hock? That’s what we thought. Cats are dignified creatures, remember? “Her Majesty” and “Diva” are names you might consider. Just as a for-instance.
  • Toys: You keep throwing out our favorites. Plus, you plugged up our main supply line. Now it’s harder than it used to be for us to find the live mice. We’re sure this is an error, so if you would be ever so kind and fix this, we’d appreciate it.
  • More boxes, bags and dangly things. Obviously.
  • It’s come to our attention that you don’t always appreciate our affections. This hurts our feelings. When Spaghetti kneads your throat in the middle of the night, she’s just telling you she loves you. Those gasping sounds make it seem like you don’t love her back.
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