A Few Quiet Moments

A Few Quiet MomentsAlthough it wasn’t by (my) design – I had the house to myself last night.  But it’s a few quiet moments this morning – while the girls are sleeping upstairs that seems more relaxing to me.

Maybe it’s because I’m a little better rested this morning.  Maybe it’s because I’m not in a flurry of text messages with the girls over who is where and when they are coming home….

Or maybe it’s because I tend to be a morning person (now).

There was a time when I was able to sleep well past 10 in the morning.  Now sleeping to 830 is sleeping in for me.  But that time has become some of the most productive of the day for me.

Whether I am out getting the weekly food shopping done, getting to the gym, heading out to the trails for a bike ride or a run – or simply catching up – getting a few quiet moments in the day isn’t so bad.

Despite having those moments last night – there is no way to gauge the productivity as I sat on the couch watching Chopped and hockey.

So, coffee at my side I get some writing done here and on a few work projects (even on a Sunday) and try to figure out how else to make use of a few quiet moments – before getting into the crux of the day.

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January and Snow – Imagine That

StormTotalSnowFcstHere it is early on a Saturday morning.  As usual, the girls are asleep and I’ve been up for a bit.  Early Saturday is my prime time for getting things done.  Food shopping, dry cleaner and other errands generally fall to the time between 7:30 and 10 Saturday mornings.  Today, its January and snow – imagine that on a Saturday morning.

If you’re all geeked up about the weather, check out my friend and meteorologist Joe Cioffi’s weather page – it has all of the information you could ever want and presented in a usable way even to non-weather geeks like me.

I’ve decided to kind of live blog the snow storm today and all the twists and turns.

UPDATE 6:30 PM

I just realized I’m really hungry.  I did a bunch today (including the fire see?) and really have not eaten since around 11 this morning – outside sampling what I was making.  So it’s dinner time.

The pulled pork is done as are the plantains.

Took a quick peek outside, the snow is still ripping pretty good and the winds have picked up again.  The reality is, not making the trip to Brooklyn for the Islanders game is a good thing – so thanks to the NHL for preventing a mistake.  15.5 and I were just talking about all the games we saw at the Coliseum on blizzard nights – some of the best games.

The crowds were sparse (5000 tops), but loud and the home team always won which was amazing.  It made the slip and slide on the ice and snow home kind of enjoyable.  I guess those days are done and now if the LIRR is down so are the Islanders.  Such is progress I guess.

UPDATE 5:30 PM

fire placeDone with the cooking portion of this blizzard.  Made a banana bread with marshmallow icing (you work with what you have), roasted cauliflower, cauliflower burgers and a pork butt that is about to become pulled pork with plantains for dinner.

Since some things never change in my house, while cooking the smoke alarm went off, and true to form none of my kids even flinched.  It makes me feel good that nothing will ever happen.

On the upside of this snow day, the freezer has 10 cauliflower burgers in it for meals when I get hung up in an office somewhere and we’ll have a yummy pulled pork for dinner tonight – there is that.

I also have to get the fire going, once I do I’ll add a picture of that.

Otherwise, the Sick Day beers are really pretty good.

UPDATE 4:15 PM

Shoveling done – at least a path to my car.  As I was pushing through the snow drifts I wasA lot of snow wondering why I was doing all this.  Afterall, I have a Jeep and I’ll just drive over the snow at the end of the driveway.  Then I remembered.

There was a period of time when Risa was doing chemo over a weekend there was a better than 50/50 chance I’d have to get her to a hospital – either by driving her or by ambulance – so I would always have a path to the front door.  I guess old habits die hard sometimes, right?

On a brighter note, I almost forgot my purchase of a beer called Sick Day from Long Trail Brewing.  It’s pretty good.  Going to have a few of those, stoke a fire in the fireplace and work on some roasted cauliflower for the girls.

UPDATE 3:30 PM

Going to try to dig out at least a path from the front door to the car – just in case.  As I mentioned earlier, the snow drifts pretty high in the front of the house and it will take a bit to get through the piles.  It’s better now, than in case there is some kind of an emergency later tonight.  Out I go, back into the frozen tundra.

UPDATE 2:15 PM

road signWorkout done, and I feel better.  I’ve written about it in the past, I am one of those people who just feels better after working out, and I feel better during the day.  And I think I’m a better person.  I did the exercise routine I outlined at 11:15 – a nice 45 minute Tabata workout.

Even doing short intervals, working out gives me time to think, and given the “historic” designation this storm is getting – I thought back to hurricane Sandy.  So many of the issues we faced here were due to a crumbling infrastructure – that is largely the same.

Last night when 13.0 and I went out to dinner there we long lines at the gas stations.  On some of the Facebook groups there were reports of stations being out of gas.  There is only one reason for that – the lessons of Sandy and the reality that nothing is different so it’s on us to make sure our cars are filled, the generator cans (if you have one) are filled etc.

Then there is this gem of social media.  One of the variable message boards from either the Long Island Expressway or Northern State Parkway.  They are there in theory to convey important information.  How many times do you pass one that looks like the one in the picture though?  Yeah, its funny – but it’s no joke.  These are the problems that were here years ago and remain unchanged.

Enough of the soapbox.  Now back to your blizzard conditions.

UPDATE 12:15 PM

As is usually the case on the weekend, come the crack of noon both girls are up now. what-should-you-be-binge-watching-on-netflix-righ-1-22956-1374011179-42_big The usual weekend pattern has me coming home from the gym at this point, and 15.5 would be asking me for a ride to the gym (generally she does not like to be there when I am there).

Instead, I just took a banana bread out of the oven and I’m about to head downstairs to burn off some energy.

I’m looking over at the fireplace and I think after I take a shower it’s time to light that up.  I was just reading on Facebook a story about a family near our house that had a fire in their chimney last night, a solid reminder to get my chimney swept out.

At some point I’m going to put a pork shoulder in the oven for dinner tonight.  In the meantime, I’ve been watching Netflix for so long this morning it actually stopped to ask me if I wanted to continue watching.  That seems a little strange, but I guess bandwidth is bandwidth.

UPDATE 11:15 AM

6a00d83452920069e20168e5b7589e970c-800wiOne decision made – the NHL actually cancelled the Islanders’ game tonight, so 13.0 and I don’t have to venture out into the snow, and I don’t have to keep on top of the trains to make sure we don’t get stranded in Brooklyn.

In lieu of getting out and shoveling the drive way, I’ve decided sitting on the couch and binge watching Netflix is a better plan (for now).  I do have a banana bread in the oven, so there is that to look forward to I suppose.

At some point in the next hour or so, I’ll head downstairs and do this workout:

Set a timer for 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off
Go through this 6x:
1. push ups
2. dips
3. alternating t-rotations
4. supermans
5. glute bridge
6. flutter kicks
rest 1 min

To be honest, this is pretty much the plan I was going to use at the gym today, so not going isn’t the worst thing.  I find I’m more motivated when I trek out and go to the gym (or head out to a trail for a run) than when I workout in the basement.  But in these trying times of Snowmagedden ’16 we all do what we have to.

UPDATE 10:15 AM

So my plans to hit the gym are scuttled.  Just found out my gym closed (shortly after maxresdefaultopening) an hour ago.  I get it – it’s not safe on the roads and it’s not safe to keep employees in place.  But it is a service industry.

So, I’ll get a little workout shoveling snow today.  At our house in snows like this, we get a HUGE snow drift against the garage door.  It should be a solid workout knocking that down.

It will also give me time to think about a trip to Brooklyn to see the Islanders later.  As of now I’m thinking no, but that’s a decision that is still six hours or so away.

Despite the snow and the behest of many TV and radio reporters (who I did not even tune in to see or hear) I ventured out for my Saturday errands.   All in all its about 50 miles round trip to get produce, meat and staples from Trader Joe’s.

(As an aside, I never knew the mileage round trip until today, that seems like a lot for food shopping, gas and dry cleaning).

A couple of observations, as the morning wore on conditions definitely got worse.  Visibility went down considerably.

I also noticed there is a part of the population who clearly believes traffic laws become optional in the snow.  It wasn’t bad enough driving around on packed snow, dodging people running red lights in limited visibility was not so easy.

Also, for the part of the population who are already afraid to drive on a clear day – you’re the ones who need to stay off the road.  I get it’s snowing, but less than 15 MPH on a four lane state highway – even in the snow is just dangerous.

Once home (it took me more than 90 minutes round trip) I discovered my BBQ actually blew over in the winds.  So back out I went to re-right the grill and make sure there was not a propane leak.

Check back throughout the day I’ll add more as things unfold.

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Holidays – Time for Family, Tradition and Our Own Things

netflix and chillWith Thanksgiving 2015 behind us, and the hustle of the holiday season hitting crescendo until New Year and the start of 2016 – I was struck by the evolution of our holidays.  It’s a time for family (we did that), tradition (we have that) and now we can each do our own thing too.

Over the four days of Thanksgiving, along with dinner Thursday with family and friends around the table – we spent time together in the city, at home and doing things we like (watching hockey and just goofing off).

During the Thursday dinner – as much tradition as we have was on display – with Turkey, cornbread stuffing and mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows.

But what made me realize that we also are able to break away and do our own things came to me on Friday.  I was up early and playing pond hockey (even though it was in the 50’s).  13.0 had to sit through the game so I could take her to meet up with a camp friend.  While all of this was going on 15.5 was heading into the city with her friends to celebrate one of their birthdays and see a play.

Saturday 15.5 and I headed into the city to meet up with 13.0 and we headed downtown with some friends for fried chicken on the lower east side.  After wandering around some – we were home in time for the second and third periods of the Islanders’ game (they won).

Sunday the girls spent with Netflix (but not the chill) before we had some dinner.

So yeah, the holidays (2015) are here.  Time for family, tradition and our own things.  There’s plenty of time for them all.

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Moments Shared Are What They Are – Golden

family timeAs the father of two teenaged girls, I’m pretty happy my kids are still willing to do things with me.  I speak to other parents – single parents, only parents (like me) and married couples who have kids about the same ages as mine and the time they are able to do things with their kids is limited.  Every parent knows, those shared moments are simply golden.

If you saw the girls and me recently on the Steve Harvey show, the answer that elicited laughs from the studio audience and friends was when they asked 15.0 what she did with her dad.  The answer was, “Well, we go to hockey games.”

If you missed the Steve Harvey show, here’s a link to the video:

I’m honest enough with myself to realize that we don’t do a lot of girly things together (although I have gone with the girls and gotten a pedicure while they had manicures).  But there is a pretty healthy list of golden moments we share:

  1. We’ve gone to dozens and dozens of hockey games.  Sometimes we go together, often is me and one girl, but it’s time we spend together.
  2. Four out of the last five years we’ve gone skiing.  The only winter we missed was when I blew out both knees.
  3. Over Mother’s Day weekend this year we completed our second Survival Race as a family.
  4. In two weeks we’re all going to run through our hometown in the Joe Keany 5K
  5. As of today – the three of us are all members of the same gym.
  6. We’ve seen more than a few Broadway Shows over the last few years.

Yeah, we don’t do a lot of shopping, and we have not hosted high-tea often but we do a lot together.  I suppose I’ll find out in the next 7-10 years if these are the “right” things or if I should have been more attentive to nail colors and hair styles.  For now though, the girls and I have moments shared – and they’re golden.

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The Person Shaving In The Mirror

man in the mirror shavingPerhaps its cliché in this space, you be the judge:  the best yardstick I have for myself is if I can stand up in the morning and look back at the person shaving in the mirror.  If I can, I’m doing OK.  Not that everything is great.  Not that I don’t have things to work on.  That look back at the person shaving in the mirror is my way of saying to myself go ahead and get into the day.

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Some days are better than others.  I try to take a lesson out of the day and apply it going forward.  The reality though is you really can only control the present – and be present in that moment.  The past may or may not impact you, and the future is out of your reach.  But in the moment, in the present is your sphere of control.

As the single parent of a teen and a pre-teen I try to give my girls appropriate space to make decisions and guide them to make the right choices.  Case in point, 11.0 and I were going to a hockey game last night.  I gave 13.5 the better part of the day to make a decision on how she would spend her evening. Yeah, it cost me a few hours of my Saturday, but to me that was a small price to pay to allow 13.5 the chance to make a choice.

11.0 gets her chance to make a choice that she will have to live with as well.  There’s another hockey game tomorrow night.  For a change, she does not have Hebrew school, so she can go.  The trade-off though is she needs to get up Tuesday morning for school with no complaining.  She’s up for it, and I’ll give her the chance.

I’m willing to make a sacrifice in time and effort to give the girls a chance to experience life on their terms.  Hoping I’ve given them the right guidance to make the right choices.  It’s a full-time job for me, but that’s what parenthood is, right?

So, there’s this guy looking back at me in the mirror each morning when I shave.  Not such a bad guy.  Maybe rough around the edges, but no need to look away when shaving.

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The Pizza Blog

pizzaA not so hidden fact about myself is that I love pizza.  While I don’t go out-of-the-way to try every pizza place I can, given the opportunity, I’ll try a new pizza place over just about every other type of food.  The girls and I visited one of the better pizza places I’ve discovered this way recently, and 13.5 suggested the pizza blog.

We were out and about on New Year’s Day and reached about three in the afternoon and none of us had eaten lunch.  I played hockey early.  13.5 woke up late and 11.0 spent the morning with a friend.

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After a brief family caucus we actually set out for tacos, but the place was closed.  That’s when I realized we were right across the street from one of the better pizza places I’ve ever visited.  So I suggested pizza.

The girls were pretty happy and 11.0 asked me how I knew about the place.

So I told her.  Back in my second go round with Cablevision, this place was not far from my office.  Some nights I would stop there and grab a slice or two before heading across two bridges to get home.  I tried the place one night out of my zeal to eat from every pizza place I pass.  I kept going back because the place was that good.

So, on the first day of 2014 I returned.  The place did not disappoint.

I am a plain pizza guy.  Sometimes Sicilian, usually triangle and rarely with anything on it.  The sauce has to be rich and tangy.  The bottom crisp enough to support the cheese and the crust with just a little crunch.

While eating, 13.5 thought I should create a pizza blog and share my pizza experiences.  Of course, there are times I have enough problems keeping this blog updated, I could not imagine keeping another one.

However, if you need a pizza recommendation, let me know.  I keep the places cataloged in my mind.

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Kids Club of Single Parent Homes

Travis Hamonic and my girls in the Islanders locker room.  Post game Oct. 19

Travis Hamonic and my girls in the Islanders locker room. Post game Oct. 19

Although it’s not a club my girls asked to join, the same it’s not one I asked to join when I was seven-the Kids Club of Single Parent Homes is something I have in common with my girls.  Last night they had the chance to meet Travis Hamonic of the New York Islanders, and he shared him membership in that club as well.

Through Camp Good Grief and other places, my girls know they are not alone.  But I think hearing from as 13.5 called him “a famous person” that they are not alone had to help.

It wasn’t lost on me, and I hope not on girls the circumstance.

Background first:  For the last few seasons on the Islanders, Hamonic has invited children who have lost a parent to be his guest at a game.  As he shared with the girls last night, he lost his father suddenly to a heart attack when he was 10 years old.

Support Dad the Single Guy’s Cupid Undie Run in January 2014

Last night after a tough loss on the ice, and increased playing time during the game, Travis came out and cheerfully greeted the girls and took us all back into the locker room for a tour.  For more than half an hour we chatted about hockey, growing up, his dog named Bauer after his old equipment contract and other things.  In the trainers room, we saw Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas doing their post game routine.  In the hallway he wished Brock Nelson well in his game at Bridgeport today, “We’ll see you Monday Nelly,” was the indication that Nelson was loaned to the minors.

Then in the locker room we sat and talked some.  Travis told my girls the story of how he watched his father die when he was 10 and the impact it had on him.  His mother took him to an NHL game in Winnipeg two weeks later and supported her son on his odyssey through junior hockey and to the NHL.

I hope the take away for the girls is that there is nothing holding them back and they are not alone.

They each left with an autographed hockey stick, signed hockey jersey and a memory few other will have – and I hope a message that will come up as they look back every now and then and resonate for a while.

(Special thanks to Travis Hamonic, Ann Rina and the New York Islanders for making all of this happen for my girls).

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Sacrifice and Juggle, Another Day For the Single Dad

Islanders Playoffs 2013A month ago, with the Islanders on one of the best tears they have been on since they last played in the Stanley Cup finals in 1984 I decided to give my self a birthday gift and I got tickets to the playoffs.  Then the schedule was set, and low and behold, even that would require sacrifice and juggle just to get through the day as a single dad.

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On the calendar before the playoffs started was a pair of Bat Mitzvah events for 12.5.  I knew I would have to take her out to NJ on Saturday, she’d sleep at a friend and then go into the city with the friend for the Sunday event and I would meet her in the city.  Around that would be the playoffs-or right in the middle.

I got two tickets, figuring I would alternate the girls to games (this is the their first playoff experience) and work everything around that.  Admittedly it’s a crap shoot of sorts, but a noon Sunday game? UGH.

Part of what made the whole weekend such a juggle was trying to get all the other stuff done.  It had been two-weeks since I was at the dry cleaners, so that could not wait this weekend.  Fruits and vegetables needed restocking, so that was not something that could push.  Then there was Friday night.  We were the family doing the coffee and cake (oneg) after services so we had to be out of the house by 630.

That was also the night 12.5 decided to try ghost-pepper hot sauce.  She also drank a quart of milk, so there was no pushing a trip to the store to get more milk.  In fact, 10.5 called me out on that Saturday morning while I was driving 12.5 to NJ.

So, a full plate of errands, crisscrossing the Hudson twice and the East River four times and a stop at the Coliseum for playoff hockey were all on the schedule for the weekend.

Now at 7 on Sunday night we’re done.  The big sacrifice?  10.5 and I had to miss the OT at the Islanders game in order to get into the city to get 12.5.  These are the things we do.

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I Am Now Officially Old

With some regularity I deny being old.  Whether is physical, mental or emotional-I just don’t feel old.  I’m not as spry as I was 20 years ago, but I am not old.  At least not until my beloved New York Islanders felt the need to add an official tattoo parlor.  For the first time as parent I am ready to say that’s enough.

For background for those who do not know-I work in and around sponsored media.  I am a huge proponent of freedom of the press and major backer of the First Amendment.  But this corporate sponsorship may be enough to make me say there are no more visits to the Nassau Coliseum for me and the girls for a hockey game.

I have an opinion on tattoos-but this has nothing to do with that.  I also have an opinion on beer sponsorships, the semi-clothed Ice Girls and sushi at the arena.  But this has nothing to do with that.

No, this is about a family event that now has a red-light district.  I can hear Roger Luce now on PA during the game, “Brady Bakery the official cupcake of the New York Islanders is now available in between periods outside Gate 5.  And while out on the concourse, take a trip over to Gate 10 and get some ink from Tattoo Lou’s the Islanders’ official tattooist.  And along side Tattoo Lou’s make sure to get your official Islander’s leather thong from Lingerie Diva, the official team lingerie of the New  York Islanders.  And fans don’t miss out, Glock is the official handgun of the New York Islanders.  Get a background check now at Gate 1.”

Yeah, that sounds semi-family oriented.  Perhaps the Islanders can set up a red light district for sponsors at the Coliseum?  It would open fresh new revenue lines for the cash (and arena) strapped team.

Maybe in the area behind the visiting team bench they can set up an S&M section for bondage during the game.  Masters and Mistresses can keep a captive audience so the seats look full on TV.

It all starts someplace-and for me, I think my path to old age starts here.

So, let’s go Islanders.  I’ll be watching all season.  It’s pretty unlikely though that I’ll be at a game, and very unlikely it will be the family event it’s always been.  And now that the team is getting better (finally), that’s too bad.

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Family Time

Islanders

Family time at the old barn in Uniondale

On a late winter Saturday afternoon my girls indulged me some, and didn’t complain too much as I took them to an Islanders game at the old barn in Uniondale. I have a lot of great memories of going to Islanders’ games when I was their age, and later in life.  I am one of the rare breed of hockey fan in New York, and the even rarer breed of long time and stall worth Islanders’ fan.

Generally, they like going to games-and they know I love going to games so it is a chance for us to do something together, which is really the point.  And while I am at the game with the girls, I am less inclined to be on Twitter, less inclined to share videos on Facebook and not really looking for more conversation than what the girls want.

Ultimately, I don’t think it matters what the element is, as long as we are doing stuff together.  Skiing last week, Islanders this week and some extended family stuff next week.  It important for the girls to know there is stability in their lives and things will settle down.

I guess the win is that with Skiing its something we all can enjoy.  With the Islanders, while watching a game at home with them is a little tough, they love going to the live game and the excitement of being in the Coliseum.  They even had a chance to meet a few people along the way yesterday.

And making sure they have the opportunity to try things-both with and without me is so important to me.  I am comfortable being a dumb guy, I really am.  I know something about hockey, something about baseball and little bit about a bunch of other stuff–but I don’t know much about shopping, spas and the “girlie stuff.”  Its why change days are as important as my trying to work it out and being there with the girls.

So, thanks to my friends at the New York Islanders and the friends I saw at the game yesterday, and into another week we go.

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