Life Isn’t A Hallmark Moment

At some point today during a scroll through Facebook I found a post about National Cancer Survivor’s Day – which I somehow thought was in June (it is).  The post was one of those copy and paste to status, so no telling when it was actually written.  But it made me think – we’re all kind of cancer survivors (at least in my house) and life isn’t a hallmark moment to be commemorated like that.

Hallmark as a euphemism for many industries – creates days and events (Santa Claus and  Valentine’s Day are the two that leap to mind first) that we commemorate and sometimes even celebrate.

I’m not sure cancer fits into that mold.

A good friend of mine and someone I’ve worked with for the last eight years or more recently beat cancer.  He and his family should celebrate that accomplishment and cherish all that life has to offer.

In the same way my friend is a survivor – I think the girls and I are survivors too.  We not only survive – but thrive in the world after Risa passed away from cancer.  In fact – I even consider the 12 years Risa battled (and beat) cancer as surviving.

I don’t think any of us think of life as a Hallmark moment – instead we embrace every day and celebrate the day for all we can accomplish and use it to prepare for tomorrow.

So let the first Sunday of June, National Cancer Survivor’s Day, be another day to celebrate the battle we all do with cancer (and all of the other diseases) and save the Hallmark moments for times you want to cherish.

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Six Years Later – The Snow Day

Through the magic of Facebook, I was reminded this week about some updates made in years gone by about snow days.  As near as I can tell I’ve written about them for six years.  Now six years later the snow day is a little different.

It’s been a while since I wrote here – not that there’s nothing going on.  Maybe its the opposite and too much is going on and getting to the end of the day and then writing just doesn’t happen.  Today wasn’t too different, except during this snow day – I took time to think about the changes in six years.

Flashback to when the girls were 10 and eight.  Snow days were much different.  The day was very hands on.  There was likely a trip to someone’s house (or having someone over), there was the juggle of trying to do work and keep the girls entertained and there was the sense that the day would never end.

Six years later the snow day is much different.  Today really started last night after 14.5 finished her tennis.  I dropped her at her friend’s house with a vague plan of how and when I would pick her up.  16.5 was home all day doing homework and working on prep for upcoming ACT and SAT tests.

I spent the day quietly working (I think I had eight calls and a constant email flow) and making a big pan of lasagna for the next couple of weeks.  Completely hands off to my kids for the day – other than cutting off some lasagna for dinner.

Six years later, the snow day is really another day – it would be nice if the girls were at school, but we all went about it.

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Four, 18, 16 – Back to the Grind

6a00d83452920069e20168e5b7589e970c-800wiSometimes timing is everything – for my kids the timing of winter storms wrapped around the weekend has meant a four-day weekend and extra sleep today.  So including today they will have four hours of education out of 18 possible since last thursday.  All because a grand total of 16 inches of snow has fallen over four days – but most of it during the height of the morning commute.  Today its back to the grind, sort of.

The nice side of the girls growing up is snow days aren’t the chore they once were.  The downside is now that the girls have gotten older, there are new challenges changes in schedule present.

For me, I still can’t get past the school being open just 22% of the allotted time over a three-day period.

You’d think running an institution in New York in the winter would prepare you the contingencies of snow without completely tossing the schedule out.

Before anyone jumps ugly, I get the safety issue.  But there is a broader issue about institutional awareness of the mission they signed up for.  Snow was falling and I was working.  Dig out the car the car and life goes on.

The girls are so immune to the whole thing, it’s just another day to sleep in for them.  There is no startled wake up at 8 or 9 thinking, “I’m late to school.”  Just lazily wander down the stairs and stare into the refrigerator and wonder what’s for breakfast – at the crack of noon.

Back to the grind we go.  Four hours of school out of 18, while 16 inches of snow (give or take) coats the grass.

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One Hour A Day

one hour a dayEvery now and then I get a question from a friend,  a comment on this blog or just in passing – and generally it goes something like this, ” Wow, you have two teen-aged girls, a full-time job and you manage to get to the gym almost every day, how do you do it?”  Usually I just shrug and say I just get it done.  I realized this week though, the truer answer is – its my hour.  One hour a day I get to be fully in charge of what I do.

Sometimes its a little longer, sometimes its a little shorter – but that is my time.  I think I deserve to carve one hour out of the day for me.

Break it down – figure 6-7 hours sleeping.  8-10 hours working.  An hour getting the girls up and going in the morning.  3-4 hours juggling events and driving from place to place.  That’s 18-22 hours of 24 accounted for.  So one hour at the gym where I don’t have to check in on anyone, I can do what I want and reach my goals seems pretty fair.

And that’s the reason why I don’t use my phone at the gym – I am “off the grid,” or at least close to it.  Through the magic of iOS in an emergency I can still be reached – but whatever the call or text is, it will wait until I’m done doing my thing for that one hour.

The reality is, that hour can vary.  Some days it’s at five in the morning.  Other days it’s at 11:30 in the morning – usually its somewhere in between.  But it’s my one hour a day to not have to be accountable to anyone but myself.

That’s not bad thing.  In anyone’s life in 2015 there is accountability to so many people and institutions.  My girls have expectations of their father.  My bosses (and I have several) have expectations.  Although lesser – there are expectations from extended family and friends.  But for one hour a day I can hold myself accountable.

Some days I push really hard.  Other days it’s a lighter workout – but it’s my decision, for one hour a day.  There are great people at my gym to answer questions and offer encouragement.  There are great resources on-line to get motivation and new ideas.

The best advice I can offer – even if the gym isn’t your thing, take the hour.  You deserve it, its yours.  Go off the grid and be in the moment for yourself one hour a day.

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The Staycation-Adjusting Along The Way

staycationIn a first for us – I am taking a week off from work, and we’re not going anywhere.  Call it a staycation of sorts – but largely we’re not home.  For the staycation to work we’ll be adjusting along the way right until school starts a week from Tuesday.

Part of the issue is school starting a week before Labor Day – so the summer that was already feeling very short just got even shorter.

This staycation starts each day at Camp Good Grief where 15.0 is a counselor for the 11-year-old group and 12.5 is in her final (OK extra) year as a camper.  Normally when we do this, I work the week from a Starbucks near where the camp is being held.  But this year I decided to take the week off – because after camp ends at three in the afternoon – more running around ensues.

15.0 has soccer practice each evening from five to seven-30 and 12.5 has softball practice three times this week from five-30 to seven-30.  In between we’ll try to eat something, get hydrated and I may even get to the gym a few times this week.

In year’s past I was able to work out my schedule to be able to do calls and meetings while the girls were at camp, and then catch up after camp.  It won’t work this year.  And because there is not another week off before school starts, we’ll still have to fit in some last-minute back to school stuff.

A trip to the mall or at least a store to get sneakers will be an evening jaunt this year.  The hour or so to set up the locker and walk the schedule looks like it will be done in stealth mode on the day before school – when the teachers are there but there aren’t supposed to be students around.

With all of that going on – and a lot of vacation time available, I figured take one thing out of the picture – so here I am on “vacation” trying to cram more into a day than normal.  For the staycation, adjusting along the way will be the key to success.

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National Middle Child Day – Who Knew?

National Middle Child DayCall it another Facebook miracle – but scrolling through my timeline while eating lunch today I found out it was National Middle Child Day.  Who knew?  Since somewhere in the 1980’s mid-August has marked the day for those of us born in the middle.

Much like so many other days – National Micro-Brew Day, National Pizza Day, National Apple Pie Day – I had no idea there was such a day until I stumbled across that fact.

In this case (although I do like micro-brews, pizza and apple pie) it at least resonates with me.  Although tucked away in the middle of August kind of gives the day some obscurity.

There is no shortage of studies on middle children and because this is 2015 there is also no shortage of memes.

I’m not completely sure it’s needed – but as a middle child (at least the studies tell me) I am a go with the flow kind of guy.  So, on this middle child day – I will take a moment to think about the times growing up when I lamented being the middle child.  The times I was stuck battling differing fights with my brothers at the same time, the times I had to share a room and put up with TV shows that someone else wanted to watch.

So for National Middle Child Day I salute my fellow middle children, remember my younger brother and say thanks to my older brother.

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The Longest Winter Days

FireplaceFor the third time (already) this winter the girls are home from school due to weather.  That’s on top of one late start to the school day and two early dismissals (one of them was after just two-hours).  Making these the longest winter days.

Without passing judgement on the school district for making these decisions, these are the toughest days for a single parent.  Plans get changed on a dime.  For me meetings are canceled (or become calls) and the day becomes part entertainer, part line cook and part clean up behind the girls.

I suppose the silver lining to all of this is being able to sit in front of my fireplace and work the day away.

From the time Risa went to hospice through every decision I make in the house, I try to manage and sustain the routine.  It’s certainly not an easy thing to do, but I think worth the effort.

But it’s not easy.  The longest winter days are the ones like today.  Where its shoveling, working and heading out with the girls.

Of course it would be far better if 13.5 actually wore gloves when she went out to play in the snow.  And maybe 11.0 can grab a drink before heading out so we don’t get all bundled up only to pull everything off 10 minutes later to deal with thirst.

It also wouldn’t be bad if either girl picked up the shovel.

But that said, another snow day in the books – and based on what the meteorologists are saying there are more to come (this week).  So, dig out the car and dig in for the longest winter days.

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Christmas Day – What’s a Jew to Do?

Chinese Say Thank YouMovies and Chinese food is the answer.  But how did that become the thing to do on Christmas Day? And exactly how did my life become so cliché? After all, its Christmas Day, so what’s a jew to do?

For starters, short of sitting at home and watching movies the combination of movies and Chinese food are about the only things open on Christmas Day.  The roots for this were set early on based on how to kill a day.

I can remember back when Risa and I were dating going to a multiplex with her parents.  For them, it was a day-long endeavor.  They would walk theater to theatre, never seeing a full movie, but sampling 10 or more.  From there it was off to the Chinese take out (egg foo young was one of the must haves).

Fast forward into our lives.  I can remember living in Dallas going with Risa to the movies on Christmas Day.  There was not Chinese food though, in the Big-D, it was tex-mex (which is actually preferable).

But the tradition truly set in eight or so years ago when 13.5 learned the stereotype.  The expectation now is on Christmas Day there will be movies and Chinese.

In our case, we’ve enhanced the tradition from straight up take out to the Chinese buffet (its our annual trip to the buffet).

So, this Christmas Day, we will set out.  This year there will be different movies for 11.0 and 13.5 and then there will be Chinese buffet.

So, this Christmas Day, what’s a Jew to do?  The answer seems pre-ordained.

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A Busy And Thoughtful Mother’s Day

Flowering MemoriesFor the third time the girls and I marked Mother’s Day as a threesome with time to remember, time to be together and time to enjoy those around us.   While I don’t want to say it gets easier, it has become more normal.  On the whole we had a busy and thoughtful Mother’s Day.

The day started with a long drive together as I got 12.5 from a friend’s house where she spent the night after another Bat Mitzvah.  She’s now inside a month to hers, the time is running down on us for that.


We visited my mom (Grandma) and brought her a plant that 10.5 picked out at a school fundraiser.  After that we did a BBQ where the girls were able to enjoy some outside time on what was a beautiful spring day in the NYC area.

Tonight, when we got home we planted a flat of annuals in the front flower beds.  10.5 picked out the flowers at the school event-and we were able to relive Mother’s Days gone by when we did this with Risa.

Those Sunday’s usually started with both girls and I at a local garden center picking out annuals and then bringing them home.  After giving Mom breakfast in bed, the four of us would go out and plant the flowers.  10.5 recalled fondly tonight planting the colorful flowers around the tree out front.  12.5 remembered her mother helping her carry the full watering can out of the garage to shower the freshly planted flowers.

And so, memories in tact and a memorial of sorts planted-we head into a Sunday night.  Ready for the week ahead.

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Opening Day and Throw Back of Sorts

Mr. MetWith significantly less planning than I used to use in my school days, I managed to be home today for opening day and as my beloved Mets hit the field at Citi Field, I could not help but think this opening day was a throw back of sorts for me-back to the days where I came up with reasons to be home to watch the season start.

It was not a perfect system (and yes I know my mom reads my blog), but by and large I manage to cough, scam and finagle a way to watch opening day most years.

Today though was a little different.


For one, by the time 8:30 rolled around I had forgotten it was opening day.  I was on my fourth call of the day and was listening to a product discussion while pouring coffee and grabbing my keys.  I knew I had a 9AM call as well.  I would head for the train station, take the call, get on the train and hit the office.

But then I found out during that call at nine I would also have a 9:30 call with some high up in my company folks, so reliability would be key.  In the office I was going to catch up with a few folks, no customer meetings today in person (all calls) so instead of parking and getting on the train, I looped around the parking lot and headed home.

It was just as the 9:30 call ended that I re-realized it was opening and here I was sitting at home with just hours to go before first pitch.  Back to the days of Lee Mazzilli in the outfield, Craig Swan on the mound and John Stearns behind the plate.  Today it would be the more updated version-but I would be able to watch opening day.  A throw back of sorts.

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