Category Archives: Parenting

The healing power of coffee

368028111_0776c55399_zMy dad’s decline was rapid and dizzying: He bounced from a routine chemo visit to an outpatient transfusion to the ER to a hospital room to the ICU in the course of 12 hours on a Thursday a few weeks before Christmas. We’d driven to his oncologist’s office for a morning appointment, telling his wife we’d be back by lunch with plans to catch a matinee of Brooklyn that afternoon, unaware he would not be coming home again. Continue reading

H is for hippocampus


Source: Wikipedia Creative Commons

The word of the day is ‘hippocampus,’ I told C as we drove home from Whole Foods on a late October afternoon.

Why do you say that? she asked.

I came across the word three times today, I said. First listening to the radio: I heard a song by Hippo Campus, that band you’re going to see in a few weeks. Then I got an email from Hippocampus, a magazine that only publishes essays. And last I got a call from an old friend who works at a foundation, asking me to write a press release about four neuroscientists who just received awards for their research on memory. They all study the hippocampus.  Continue reading


bleeding hearts“What are you going to plant in your garden?” asked the physical therapist as he worked the ropy muscles along my spine, a preemptive visit on my part in hopes of avoiding future strains.

“Oh, tomatoes and peppers, carrots and lettuce, something like that,” I said, brushing him off; that’s not what I meant when I told him I garden. Those vegetables that I’ll put straight in the ground from farmers’ market containers and seed packets are not what make me a gardener at all. What I meant, I realized, is that I weed. Continue reading

Making a life here

ImageEvery now and then our family uncovers little signs that each of us are finding our place in Berlin. We’re surprising others as well as ourselves.

This first one happened in the fall. Our tenth grader, S, was leaving school after a long day steeped in German. She was tired and minding her own business when a group of American tourists came across her and asked: “Can you tell us where the nearest subway station is?” Continue reading

Playgrounds of Berlin – A photo essay

Wood, rope, metal, recycled tires. Sand, grass, brick, cobblestones. Benches, foliage, shade. Inventive, inviting designs. Suitable for little kids, engaging for pre-teens, durable enough for adults. Whimsical. Surprising. Never boring. All over the city. No two alike.


Trampoline Park, Prenzlauer Berg


Trampoline park, Prenzlauer Berg


Rope swing, Frankenstrasse, Schoeneberg

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The crazy world of Schülerladen

IMG_3353Last night M made a large batch of fried rice, enough to feed fifteen people. This morning I made a pan full of apple cake. Around noon we walked down our block to deliver this food to our Schülerladen, where E and a dozen other children and a few adults are now enjoying their school lunch, homemade by parents. As they do every day.

Schülerladen still boggles my mind. It is unique to Berlin, I’m told. A German friend visiting from Bavaria, a teacher in training, said she’d never heard of the model. And Berliners have told me it can only be found here. So I think it’s worth taking a few minutes to describe it. Continue reading


Nikolassee S-BahnhofYesterday morning I got off the S-Bahn at the Nikolassee station as I always do, and as I walked down the stairs toward the street I heard a distinctive tapping sound behind me. I realized that “The Blind Tobias,” as Helga once referred to him, had gotten off the train a few cars back.

I hadn’t yet been introduced to him, so it didn’t seem right to go over and greet him just because we’d been on the same train. But the walk to the boathouse is long and quiet, and few cars ever pass, so as loud as his tapping was to me, my footsteps on the stone sidewalk surely echoed to him as well. There are no real destinations between the station and the boathouse, no cafés or shops or even many houses, so it’s pretty obvious that anyone getting off the 9:40 a.m. train walking in this direction must be a rower headed for the 10 a.m. session.   Continue reading