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Trying to Explain Baseball

Do you enjoy sports? Do your children? Well in my latest blog post, I tackle the issue of sports and cheating. How do you tell an 8-year-old about steroids? Click the link to read about our conversation.
http://larrydbernstein.com/trying-to-explain-baseball

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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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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Fishing with Lou

Calm waters, bonding time, thrill of the pull. Yeah, I have no interest in fishing. Seriously.
My Uncle Lou passed away when I was 10. Unfortunately, I only have vague memories of him. My uncle fought in World War II, marched in the Mummers Parade, and was a September call up for the Philadelphia A’s.
Uncle Lou was the type of uncle that would buy you ice cream even though you were about to go home and eat dinner. He was the uncle who would come to your baseball games. He was the uncle who would make every trip seem interesting.
And he was the fisherman of the family. My father could get sea sick during a long bath. So, if my brothers or I were to go fishing, it would be because Uncle Lou took us. However, the majority of the fishing trips were for my two oldest brothers. I was too young or at least that is what I was told.
One day my next older brother, NG (by two years) and I were playing with our new fishing rods that Uncle Lou bought for us. It was a particularly slow summer day. NG and I stood next to each other in front of our house. We were in competition as brothers always are. The goal was to see who could cast their line further. I don’t remember who won, but I do remember it made me want to go fishing.
Eventually, Uncle Lou decided that NG & I were old enough to go fishing. And I caught a fish. Well, sort of. I had a bite on my line and pulled it in under Uncle Lou’s tutelage. I was excited and dreamed of telling my older brothers about my big catch. So after a moment, the fish became visible – barely. The fish was no more than six ounces and three inches and bloodied from the fight with my line. The pathetic thing eventually fell off my line – becoming lunch for some other sea animal.
Shortly, thereafter Uncle Lou called it a day. The fish weren’t biting, and the weather was ominous. We stopped at a diner on the way home. Uncle Lou congratulated me on my near catch and told NG he would do better next time.
Unfortunately, there was no next time with Uncle Lou. He died rather suddenly leaving everyone sad. He was one of the good ones.
Anyway my next and last fishing trip was just an excuse to drink beer with a couple of friends. Oh well.

This was a semi-elaborate way of saying I am taking a break from blogging. You know like they say – I’m gone fishing. I don’t where that term comes from. I’m sure I cold Google it, and I just might eventually. Anyway, I won’t be posting for the next week to 10 days. I need a break. I just might pop on WordPress and make some comments, and I might not. The lack of commitment. I am a guy you know.
Lastly, I want to wish Happy Holidays to all of you who will be celebrating Christmas next week. May it be a wonderful, peaceful, and joyous holiday.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Lump in My Throat

There’s a lump lodged in my throat.

The gymnasium was packed on Friday morning at my son’s elementary school in Fair Lawn, NJ. The large crowd had gathered for the annual holiday show. The show, which began at 9:00 a.m., featured each grade from K-5 performing a song to celebrate Christmas and Channukah. There was dancing and speeches as well.

Children beamed with pride as they performed the numbers that they clearly had spent time preparing. Teachers nodded with satisfaction. Family members smiled, waved, and photographed.

My 6-year-old son’s kindergarten class took the stage last. He sang, did the hand motions, and bopped with the music. He blew a kiss to my wife from the stage and had her heart.

Joy, innocence, cheer. These words summarize the Holiday Performance. Everyone left happy.

The scene, the numbers, the insanity of it all makes the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School seem earth-shattering. Six- and seven-year-olds, shot multiple times. They probably loved cotton candy, Lego, and Spongebob. What did they dream? What did they wish for? What did they hope?

These mass shooting tragedies are getting too high to count. We shake our head and pity those involved. Then, the incidents meld into each other. And the number of victims and families torn asunder add up. What do we as a nation do to deal with our collective survivor’s guilt? Surely every parent has embraced their child a little tighter thankful for the opportunity to do so while wondering about the horror of those parents who no longer have that blessing.

Maybe, we can’t send our children to school anymore. Or the mall. Or the movie theatre. Maybe, we should all lock our doors and go on Facebook. A virtual connection is at least a safe connection.

Of course, living a completely isolated life is practically impossible and undesirable. So, instead, there will be talk.

We’ll get advice and details over the next few days. Pundits will pontificate, police will report, and politicians will bloviate. What can they tell us? This is why it happened, we have it covered, keep living, it’s okay to be scared, etc. Does that make anyone feel better? Does anyone feel safe now?

A mass tragedy can happen anywhere, anytime, and to anyone. That is the lesson learned from this horror. Period.

On Monday morning, I will enter the classroom where I serve as a teacher. Certainly, I will teach a lesson, hope the students learn, encourage them to participate, remind them of homework, and push them to try their best. However, the mark of a successful class will be everyone walking out safely together when the bell rings.

The world has changed.

I have a lump in my throat, and it is not going away.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Do Shirts Count?

Do Shirts Count?
Eight presents for eight nights. That’s the way Chanukah works in our house. Each night the drama begins anew. We say some prayers, sing a song, and presents are distributed.
And I hold my breath. Praying that the children will be happy with their gifts.

A friend of mine was holding court recently. The topic was Chanukah presents. Specifically, can clothes be given as presents? Now, there are no holy books with great sages’ views on said topic. So, we are left to our own wits. My initial reaction: “Of course it counts.” However, my friend, whose youngest child is in 11th grade, presented his three children’s arguments. Clothes don’t count. They are a necessity. It is a parent’s obligation to clothe their child. I think my friend might have a lawyer or two in the bunch.

From this Jew’s perspective, Christmas gift giving seems less dramatic. If the children are given a slew of presents or even just a few, you can throw a shirt in or something similarly practical. The child might be disappointed, but with the knowledge that the next present is right there, waiting to be opened – hope remains.
However, with Channukah, the next present is 24 hours away – an eternity to a young child. Each night there is pressure. My wife is the gift buyer in our house. She puts in major hours scanning the internet to find the ‘right’ presents for the boys. I am both impressed with the effort and care and a bit scared. She’s intense. So, if the children aren’t happy, it is my wife who feels more of the sting.
All of this being said, when BR received a shirt the other day he freaked out. By the way, it was a Lego Ninjago shirt. He loves Lego. He also got a scooter that he can use indoors. Anyway, he was not happy and did not feel any need to refrain from showing his displeasure. Through tears, he kept repeating, “I don’t want a shirt. Why would you give me a shirt? I want toys.” (At least he was rolling around on the scooter while he was bawling.) We tried to reason with him, but he was in meltdown mode. Better to back away and let him cool down a bit.
Part of me was pissed off. Doesn’t he know how much his mother works to find the right presents for him and his brother? Doesn’t he know that some people don’t get any presents? Doesn’t he know that one should always express gratitude when given something?
I’m sure he knows all of this – on some level. It is our (my wife and I) job to make sure BR and SJ grow up to be gracious and appreciative – even when they get a shirt.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Making My Way Home

On a brisk grey Tuesday afternoon. A packed New Jersey Transit bus number 164 made its way to the Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel. I glanced up and took note of the people standing – sorry for them but happy that to not be among their ranks. It had been a typical day of work for me – frustrations, battles, and maybe some small victories and learning. I was anxious to get home.
As I settled down, I turned back to the day’s distractions. I had a book and my phone. I typed in WordPress and began blogging away – reading, commenting, and responding.
Moments later the bus stopped– traffic back up. Yuck. I glanced at my watch. 4:05. Okay, I reasoned, decent time so far. Let this clear up quickly, and I can still make it home on time. Back to blogging.
Finally, the bus picked up speed, and we got off the New Jersey Turnpike and on to Route 80. Time check – 4:10. Okay, we are definitely late. Damn – I’ll have to make lunch after we pick up BR at karate. As long as we can get BR’s homework started by 6:15, otherwise heavy duty negotiations will be needed to keep him on track.
Full stop. Uh-oh. I looked out the window. This was not good. I called my wife who was still in the city.
“Call E (babysitter), and see if she can take them to karate.”
I called.
“Big favor to ask of you. Can you take the boys to karate? Traffic is backed up, and I am not sure if I am going to make it.”
“No problem.”
“Thank you, thank you. I really appreciate it.”
“Sure. Will you meet me there like last time?”
“I don’t know. I can’t say with this traffic. It doesn’t look good. Let me call you back in a little while when I have a better idea.
Five minutes later and little movement.
“Hi. It’s L. Yeah, this really doesn’t look good. Would you mind taking the boys and bringing them back from karate? I have no idea when I will be home.”
“Sure. No problem.”
“I really appreciate your flexibility.”
Various home schedules depending on arrival time ran through my head. I picture it a rapidly moving rolodex.

It was 5:18 when I finally walked in the door. The kids would not be home for another twenty minutes. Alone time. In my home. Did anyone else hear the angels sing halleluljah? No, I didn’t fall on my bed, blast the music, or run around naked. I did consider all those options but the rolodex turned to productivity. I got dinner started, made my lunch for the next day, set out my clothes for work, and ran the boys’ bath. Deep sigh – enjoy moment of quiet.
Then the storm hit.
“Where were you? “Why were you late? Why didn’t you come to karate? What’s for dinner? Did you leave the computer on?”
I barked back, “Dinner is being made, put your jackets in the closet, and take your shoes to your room. And go up take a bath.”
“Why do we have to take a bath now? We haven’t even eaten yet. We take a bath after dinner.”
“Change of schedule. Bath first and then dinner.”
“But..”
“No buts.”
“We are already off schedule, and I don’t want a late night.”
BR, already stripped down to his underwear as he had removed his Karate uniform, said fine. He pulled off his underwear and headed to the bathroom. He presented the full monty.
“Wait till you get to the bathroom next time.”
I looked over at E (the babysitter) and tried to laugh it off, “Sorry about that. You know – kids.”
“SJ you have to go to.”
“Fine,” he whined. He walked up the steps and removed his underwear, affectively mooning E and me.
Great. I have two exhibitionists.
I turned to E, “Well, I um. He’s. Uhh. Well.” Shaking my head, I finally became coherent, “I don’t even know what to say about that.”
With a laugh and good night, E left me with my soon to be clean free spirits. It was nice to be home.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Feeling Better

102.3! No, I am not referring to a radio station.

“I told you I didn’t feel well,” I said, vindicated. I was shaking, my teeth were chattering, I was itchy, and I felt a perpetual need to pee.

And I was scared.

The last time I had a fever was about 30 years ago. I was 10. I woke up on Saturday morning, excited to play little league basketball. As a child, I lived for little league; some of my best memories come from me playing on various teams for the Bustleton Boys Club. I played basketball and baseball. My soccer career ended after one year when I didn’t even score one goal (I was robbed!), and my team was 1-7-1. Anyway, I woke up and called for my mom. Five minutes later, she removed the thermometer and diagnosed me with fever.

“But doc, I want to play. My team needs me.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Ahh mom. Come on. I’ll be fine.” I tried getting out of my top bunk bed. Was it me or was the room spinning? It was me, and I was done. I resigned myself to missing my game. Turns out the flu bug was going around, and many kids had to miss the game.

So, you could say I am not used to being sick.

My family and I had been at a synagogue event – parent/child learning. My wife was the organizer, so she was running around making sure everything was going smoothly. As the hour turned to 8:30 pm, SJ was getting cranky, and I was feeling more and more uncomfortable.

“Will you take me home? Daddy doesn’t feel well. So, can you take me home?”

SJ said through muffled tears, “What about mommy and BR?”

“They can get a ride home from someone.”

“Okay. You can take me home, and I’ll take you home.”

“Thanks buddy. I really don’t feel well.” BR told my wife we were leaving. She was ready for this contingency. A meltdown can come at any time at that hour. She just did not expect me to be the one melting down.

A rough Saturday night of Advil and fitful sleep followed. However, upon waking up Sunday morning, my fever was gone. G-d bless drugs. I probably should have relaxed and taken it easy, but I didn’t. After all, I am not used to lying in bed sick.

102.3 is back to being a radio station. And that is music to my ears.

 

 
49 Comments

Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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