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Moving On Up

A conversation between a man and blog:
MeMyselfandKids: So, how you doing?
Blog: Where you been?
MMK: Huh?
Blog: Huh? What do you mean huh? Last time you spoke to me was July.
MMK: Well, actually, every time I post I am talking to you.
Blog: Don’t give me that.
MMK: You don’t have to be so cranky
Blog: Oh, so now I’m cranky?
MMK: Can we move on?
Blog: Fine, what is it?
MMK: I wanted to let you know we’re moving.
Blog: Moving? Is it somewhere warm? I like warm.
MMK: Huh? Anyway, I don’t think you’ll notice much of a difference.
Blog: So, what you are saying?
MMK: Remember, I told you about a website?
Blog: Wait! Are you dumping me? I can change. I’m sorry I was cranky before. I was just feeling lonely. You didn’t show up on Thursday.
MMK: I’ve been really busy.
Blog: Don’t try and let me down easy. I can take it. I know it’s me.
MMK: No, really it’s true. It’s the end of the term, and I have a ton of marking to do.
Blog: Really?
MMK: Yes, really.
Blog: Oh, what a relief! Tell me more about the website. By the way, didn’t you talk about this months ago?
MMK: Yeah, well things don’t always go the way you plan.
Blog: Sheesh! You screwed up didnja?
MMK: No. Wow, you are cranky. My friend was…
Blog: Now, you are going to throw your friend under the bus?
MMK: Shut up and listen. My friend worked on it for me. Issues came up. Anyway, now it is ready to be unveiled.
Blog: So, is it all finished? When are we moving?
MMK: Well, I want to edit some sections. Plus any website needs to be attended to on a regular basis. Despite that, this is my last post from this address.
Blog: Wow. So how does that affect the followers?
MMK: For those who do get it delivered directly to their e-mail, there will be no change. Those who don’t get it delivered directly to their e-mail will have to re-subscribe.
Blog: You expect everyone to follow you there?
MMK: I certainly hope so. I very much appreciate my readers and try to put out quality posts. Besides, I am going to be joined by some special guests.
Blog: Who, who? Tell me who.
MMK: Well, I want people to be surprised.
Blog: Spit it out.
MMK: Well, I am going to have some of my blogging friends, members of my writing group (I think), the Website designer, and Ms. MMK.
Blog: Cool. When are the guests coming?
MMK: Over the next few weeks.
Blog: Anything else I should know.
MMK: Yes, our new address is http://larrydbernstein.com/me-myself-and-kids
Blog: Well, that sounds great. Any worries about the site?
MMK: Well, I don’t photograph well.
Blog: Nah – you’re just ugly.
MMK: Shuuuuut up. Seriously I can’t smile on demand. Anyway, my picture is on the website, and I am a bit sensitive about it.
Blog: It’ll be fine.
MMK: I guess you’re right. Want to hear a quick story?
Blog: Sure.
MMK: Today, Sunday the 20th, is my 11 year wedding anniversary.
Blog: Happy anniversary.
MMK: Thanks. Anyway, people kept asking me before my wedding, “Are you nervous?” I said no, and I really meant it. Now, of course, I was on some level. But there was one thing I was really nervous about.
Blog: What’s that?
MMK: The pictures. I was worrying about smiling for the pictures. I was afraid my lip would start quivering during picture time.
Blog: Did it?
MMK: Not so much. That’s what happens when you’re happy.
Blog: Ain’t that sweet.
MMK: I think so. Anyway, take it easy and see you on the on the website.
Blog: Sounds good.

Thanks to all of my followers. I hope to see you on my website. I appreciate the community that we have created, and I am so grateful for your loyalty, for your comments, and for your acquaintance. I hope you (and all your friends) will join me on my website. Take care and thanks again.
Larry (MMK)

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Not Narcissistic

I was going to write about my SJ turning 6 this past weekend.

I was going to mention how proud I am that he learned to read  on his own.

I was going to convey how he cracks me up when I am washing him with his instructions as though he is getting a massage, “A little to the left. Ahh.”

I was going to tell you about how he is still obsessed with Thomas.

I was going to relate to you that he is a bit of a klutz.

I was going to note to you that he is a great hugger and loves to fall into your arms.

I was going to speak of his discovery of the deliciousness of chocolate.

I was going to reveal to you that he is always loud whether he means to be or not.

But then yesterday, I was roaming around WordPress. I was looking to read some parenting blogs as I am wont to do on an increasingly regular basis.  I was on for just a few minutes when I lost track of how many bloggers were writing about their children’s birthdays. Was another one needed? Last night my writing group friend mentioned that bloggers, and much of our society, are narcissistic. Of course, he said, “Present company excluded.”

I had been thinking the same thing. After all, does anyone outside of family and friends really care about SJ and the habits noted above? Does this information have one iota of impact upon anyone in the blogosphere?  After all, how many people had birthdays on Saturday, November 10th? Does 100 million sound reasonable? Hell, even in my family we had another birthday. Had my father been alive, he would have turned 80.  So, do I really need to share this information?

After all, I’m the kind of friend that has 20-minute conversations where I spend the first 18 minutes asking about the other person. Unless, I really have something to say, I’m quite content with that breakdown. Isn’t that the antithesis of narcissistic? In addition, I have neither time nor interest in reality shows (Okay, I often watch pieces of Project Runway with my wife. Yes, I did the same when she used to watch America’s Next Top Model. That was just because I was trying to be a good husband and take an interest in her interests. Really. Promise).

No, I am not narcissistic (well, I may have some of those traits but this is not one of them). I can’t accept that label. Am I hiding behind a blog due to my shyness? Maybe I do, a little. I look at my blog and the blogosphere as a way to form community. I look it as a way of shrinking the world and bonding over common concerns. I look at it as a way to learn/grow my writing skills while doing the same for others.

Maybe there is a bit of narcissism and hiding involved in blogging. I don’t care. So, what was I saying about SJ?
 
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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Want To Be There

“Okay, fine, good.” These are the answers I get when I ask my children about school. None of the responses – including the good – go along with enthusiasm. When I ask for more details, it is as if the children were trained by the CIA and refuse to give out information. However, there are those rare days when the children are excited about their school day. Those are great days, and I love to share their enthusiasm. SJ had just such a day on Monday.
I work 5 days a week. I am out of the house by 6 A.M. and return at approximately 4:45 (work often continues after the children are asleep). My wife works five days a week. For three of those days, she is in the city. She leaves just after she drops SJ off for school and returns home by 7 P.M. The two days she works from home she is expected to be working her standard eight hours.
I am thankful that we are both employed and have managed to stay so throughout the recession and the tepid recovery. We have not had to fret over bills (though I occasionally forget) and have not had our salaries reduced.  We have been fortunate. No complaints despite the long hours. That’s life, and we accept it.
When SJ gets excited, it is hard to understand what he is saying. He talks fast, and his details are all over the place. Yet, on Monday he was very clear. He was happily rambling on about a Thanksgiving Festival his school was going to be having. SJ informed me that BR, my wife, my mother, and I were all invited and there was room for everyone. He would be singing songs. There would be food for everyone. The details kept spilling out of the smile that was his mouth.
He was thrilled, so I was excited. Of course, I would go to see this grand performance. “When is it?” He had no idea.
“Come on daddy. Let’s look at the note in my back pack. They sent a note home for you.” He hurried down to the kitchen, opened his back pack, took out the note and gave it to me. He instructed, “Read it.”
I read the note and was sickened. The big event was on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving at 1:30.  Why? Why do they make these events, psyche the kids up, and then schedule them during the workday? Of course, the notice mentioned how we must reserve as the event has been a tremendous success in the past with many family members attending. How can they attend, I wondered? Don’t they have jobs, daily responsibilities?
I’m sure all of the parents have daily responsibilities. However, many find a way to fit this event into their schedule. But I can’t. I can’t go. I feel guilty. I feel like crap. I have a limited amount of days I can take off of work – like everyone else – and have used some already. My wife does not know if she can make it either as she is in the office on Tuesdays. Lastly, we don’t want to pull my other son out of school to attend. My mother, however, will be attending. Thankfully, she is retired and enjoys attending the children’s events.
So, SJ will have representation. Despite this, I am angry about being put in this situation. As a father and educator, I am thrilled to see my son excited about something at school. I am glad the school has gone to this effort which is motivating students (well, at least one). It is no one’s fault.
Sometimes, it really would be nice to be in two places at one time!
 
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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Clean Slate

When you read this, I will be in the midst of celebrating, Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Like most religious holidays, it includes prayer and food.  However, it is so much more than that. It is the holiday of second chances.

Beginning tonight with Rosh Hashana, which commemorates the anniversary of the creation of the world, and concluding ten days from now with Yom Kippur, we are being judged. Scary connotations, I know. Who hasn’t gone astray? Done things they should not have? Said things that were hurtful to others? Let their potential go unfulfilled? I am confident when I say the answer to that series of questions is everyone. I know, for sure, I have.  That is why we have this period, which is known as the 10 days of repentance.

Often behavior noted above leaves me disappointed with myself. Whether it is losing my patience with my children, arguing with my wife, gossiping about friends, or not showing the proper respect to my mom, (I‘ll stop there – no need to fill you in on all my dirty laundry) I have a whole load of missteps that I need to work on. I am not expecting perfection, and I am confident G-d does not expect that. In fact, I read somewhere that one of the major aims of this time period should be set up a plan and goals on how you will strive to be that better version of you.

Anyway, I think my reaction to my faults is probably typical. Wallowing, frustrated, disheartened are obviously feelings no one wants to experience. That is where the beauty of this holiday and time period come in. We can say: I’m sorry, I made a mistake, I’ll change. I will do better. And an all knowing G-d will hear us and recognize our sincerity. Get this – G-d can wipe the slate clean.  It’s a burden lifted and an opportunity to move forward and strive to be more like the person you desire to be.

Isn’t that beautiful? I believe it is. So, while this is certainly a heavy time (and I don’t mean because of all the delicious food around – that’s a whole other topic) of year, it ultimately is a time of lightening one’s load. So, tonight and through these next 10 days, I will strive to let go and begin anew my quest to become a better me.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Nervous

I’m nervous. I don’t want to make a fool of myself.

On Saturday morning at around 9:00 a.m., I will be chanting words from the weekly Torah portion. Well, chanting is what I am supposed to do, but with my voice, that is an optimistic thought. Anyway, I will be doing this in front of a small group, maybe 20 (my wife and children won’t even be there). The portion I am doing is tiny – less than 100 words and will take me (should at least) less than two minutes.

So, there is no real reason to be nervous, but yet, I am.

What’s the worst that could happen? I could butcher the words, sweat profusely, or choke uncontrollably.  Or, I could feel embarrassed and disappointed in myself.

Why am I putting myself through this? Am I a glutton for punishment? Maybe, but I have a reason for wanting to chant the Torah. I’ve never done it before. My bar mitzvah was nearly thirty years ago. I did not read from the Torah but instead read the haftorah. I was nervous. While sitting in front of the congregation, which included all my family and friends, awaiting my moment, I got the hiccups. That helped my nerves. I used to get the hiccups all the time as a child, and they could last for up to an hour. Somehow, I overcame the hiccups and got through the reading. The reading went pretty well, though I could have been louder, if I do say so myself.

Since I became a regular synagogue goer about 15 years ago, I have wanted to read from the Torah. It is an honor and a privilege. I have been especially thinking about taking the leap this summer. I had some time to put into study, and I am not sure when this spare time will come again. So, now I find myself anxiously awaiting Saturday morning. Till then, I am practicing and practicing. Well, at least unlike my bar mitzvah, I don’t have to worry about my voice cracking though I do still get the occasional zit and hiccups.

Uggh, more things to worry about.

Wish me luck.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Stretching My Memory

Me: I went roller skating with my friends.

Grandfather: I haven’t done that in 60 years.

Me: Then we went to the movies.

Grandfather: I haven’t done that in 20 years.

Me: Then we had a snowball fight.

Grandfather: I haven’t done that in 50 years.

As a child, I had many such conversations with my grandfather. It seemed whatever I told him, he had not done in some amount of years which were impossible to conceive for a nine year old boy. It was as if time had frozen for him about 20 years before. To be fair to him, he did spend his days taking care of my grandmother after she had a second stroke which proved debilitating. However, I could not conceive of 20 years let alone 60 years passing.

My birthday passed earlier this week. I am at the age where the celebrations are low key except when you get to a number that ends with zero. Anyway, my memory is stretching back further and further. Recently, my mother mentioned a plate that I made in kindergarten. On the plate, I traced my hands and wrote the year – 1977. That was 35 years ago, and I remember making it and seeing it in our kitchen underneath the hanging cabinet and next to the yellow flowered shape clock. I remember going on an airplane for the first time – 31 years ago. I remember my first time driving a car myself – 25 years ago. I remember moving out of my parent’s house (for the last time) – 17 years ago. I remember when my father passed away – 15 years ago. I remember when I got married – 10 years ago. Strangely enough, there are days when I can’t remember what pre-children life was like, but that’s another story.

This summer, marks the 20th anniversary of a significant event in my life. In July of 1992, I completed college, boarded a plane, and began a string of traveling summers. For a kid who had rarely left Pennsylvania, my world truly grew. I met people who were just like me and yet so different. I saw places that before seemed to exist just in books or movies. I experienced cultures which made me curious and empowered me to both question and more appreciate my own. You could say that I found myself via my travels to the Middle East, Europe, and the West Coast of America.

So, as I blow out the birthday candles on another year, I stretch my memory a little further. I appreciate the people in my life now as well as in the past. I consider my experiences and how they have shaped me. I look forward to another year and wonder what I will take from it to share when I am the grandfather.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Very Manly, I Must Say.

Men, hide your women. Women – go into your homes and lock the doors. I am feeling virile.

Let me explain – I’m not necessarily the typical guy that you see pictured on Father’s day cards — I don’t own power tools, I don’t eat red meat (I don’t even own a barbecue), and I feel great indifference towards car.

All that changed last Friday. My family and I were on the way to my sister-in-law’s house for the Sabbath when, all of a sudden, the car started making noises. At first, I thought it was another car on the road but then realized it was our own Honda Accord that was experiencing a malfunction. When we got to our destination, I got down and looked under the car. That’s right, I did – damn it! Okay, so I was still in my suit and put a towel under me, but I still had a faint smell of grease on me afterward. The next night, along with my brother-in-law and nephew, I jacked up the car and took a look underneath. I even attempted to fix the car so that we could get home safely. My fix — which included duct tape, McGyver-style — lasted until about two minutes into the drive home. The next morning we were supposed to go to a pool party at my brother’s house, several hours away. After some research (thanks to my wife and Google) we determined that the culprit was the heat shield, and that it could be safely removed. So, once again I jacked up the car and — with the proper tools — I removed the part. I saved the day. My family and I were able to go on our road trip. Pretty manly, I’d say.

But wait, there’s more.

This past week, I got a power tool for father’s day. I really wanted it too. I now am the proud owner of a weed whacker. I look forward to using it and whacking some weeds. They’ll know whose boss after I’m done.

Then, there was yesterday. My neighbor and I rented a power washer. There was no stopping me. I cranked that sucker up so that the dirt and mold that had invaded the siding of my house didn’t stand a chance. No sir, not on my watch they didn’t. I pushed into bushes and climbed the ladder all in the name of cleansing my home. I even washed the car and cleaned up the oils that formed on the side walk. This is my castle, damn it. I insisted my boys take a turn using the power washer despite their fear of the noise it was making and the vibration. After all, one day they will be men too, and I must prepare them.

So, how do I top off this manly feeling? I was thinking of grilling up a steak and watching Gladiator. Unga Bunga!

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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