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How can we instill in our children an appreciation for what they already have — especially when the people around them seem to have just about everything?  Here’s our family’s holiday tip…

This fall, my two children moved from a warm and caring New York City public school where a large percentage of the students live at or near the poverty level to a progressive private school comprised of many families in (or close to) that much-scrutinized 1%, to use the Occupy Wall Street parlance.

What has the change meant for the kids on a day to day level?

One of the most obvious things is that they have come face-to-face with the stark reality of America’s income inequality.  For them, this is most apparent in the size of their friends’ homes.  While many of their old playmates live in cramped apartments in government subsidized housing, a sizable number of their new friends live in cavernous lofts and single-family townhouses.  As is human nature for children and adults alike, my kids are prone to comparing what our family has to what they perceive is bigger and better.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lecturing them about the detriment of “keeping up with the Joneses” and the false trappings of materialism, but that tends to fall on deaf ears.  I also point out endless examples of good people really struggling, including the families who experienced massive loss during our recent storms here in the Northeast. Read the rest of this entry »


I started this blog right around the time Apple launched Siri, a voice-activated personal assistant who has a response to most questions or comments you speak into your new iPhone:  “Siri – I’m hungry.  Where can I get food around here?”  Her answer:  “I have located 18 restaurants in your immediate vicinity.  They are…”   Or, my kids’ favorite:  “Siri, where can I dump a body?”  to which she’ll respond, “What kind of place are you looking for… swamps, reservoirs, etc,

I would never be mistaken for a Luddite by anyone over, say, 25.   But I am concerned that if we don’t find ways to disconnect, we will lose sight of the serendipity and face-to-face connection that make life worth living.  And, of course, there are many things that Siri can’t interpret.  This blog is about some of those uniquely human experiences — on-line and off — that make up this one blogger’s life.

My name is Barbara, and I live on the Lower East Side.  I’m a mom, outnumbered in our NYC apartment by three loving but boisterous guys.  (I call our home The Frat House, if that gives you an indication.)  I work with human rights activists from around the world by day and teach at a university by night.

Life can feel a little crazy over here at times, but writing helps me slow down and gain perspective.  I learned that last year when I wrote a blog called Last Year To Live, in which I recorded observations in living while my close childhood friend was living out her final year.

Now I’m back, and hoping you’ll come along for this new leg of the journey.

Leave a comment, and let me know who you are.  Do you blog too?  I’d love to follow your work.

Thanks so much for reading!


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