Still Talking

Still TalkingIt’s been nearly a month since I’ve managed to carve out the 20 minutes or so needed to update my blog.  Not that there haven’t been 20 minute stretches where I’ve been sitting around doing nothing, but rather just finding the mental (and sometimes physical) energy to compose 250-400 words in a coherent order has been tough lately – but that doesn’t mean I’m not still talking.

Most of my energy over the last month has been focused on getting started in a new job.  Without really meaning to, I went from one really large company to another.  While the job is very similar, it’s very exciting to be starting out on a new path with new challenges.

That new path has included two trips to Atlanta (corporate offices for this job), Toronto (to meet with customers) and a few extra runs into the city to meet with colleagues and customers.

Now a month in – I think we’re starting to find the groove and get into a rhythm of work and balancing the rest.

The spring also brings with it the bigger track season for 15.5, the more important softball season for 13.5 (including the school team) and the start of obstacle course races for all of us that get sprinkled in.

In looking at the school calendar, next week is also the close of the third quarter – which means its time to start getting into the home stretch of school and get the summer all teed-up.  This year 13.5 is going back to camp (we’ll do some shopping) and 15.5 (who will be 16 in the summer) is staying home and working.  No telling what that means just yet.

So yeah, I’m still talking – just more of it out loud (and often to myself) than on here just because for the only parent – spring is the busy season.

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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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Once Again Bat Mitzvah Time

Torah-ScrollOnce again, bat mitzvah time is upon us. It was around this point before 15.0’s bat mitzvah two years ago I wrote about having to knock the details off the list. I know because I looked back, and because once again, it’s all about the details.

But this time – and maybe it happened two years ago as well, I find myself less in my head on the details and more thinking about what life has been and could have been. Unlike the last time – this time I know what I want to say to my daughter as she marks a milestone (and on her 13th birthday). Two years ago, I was working on my speech the night before the bat mitzvah.

With one less detail to worry about there is no shortage of other things to focus on.

Sure there is the stuff to do – gifts for the tutor, the rabbi, the cantor etc. But this milestone that 12.5 will soon cross is one for me as well.

At some point in 1998 or 99 – after Risa’s surgery and before we had our first daughter we talked about what the lives of our children would be like. At the time 13 or 15 years out seemed like an eternity, and given all that transpired perhaps it has been.

Yet here we are, achieving one of the biggest goals Risa had for her children – celebrating their bat mitzvahs. No one should feel sorry that this celebration will go on without their mother. Instead we are going to celebrate the fulfillment of a wish a mother had for her children – both unborn at the time with a future that was on its best days cloudy.

So, on the second Saturday of October we’ll celebrate a milestone reached, a goal achieved (and a bunch of tasks and details tackled).

As for my part, we’ll see how it all plays out. The details aren’t the stressor this time, it’s a feeling of completing a promise as once again we reach bat mitzvah time.

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My Plan to Stop Planning

stop making plansAnyone that knows me, knows that planning is not my strong suit.  I tend to be a little last-minute and not anxious to commit way ahead of time.  So you would think those rare times I take the time to plan things should be smooth.  After this week, its my plan to stop planning – it just doesn’t work for me.

The plan for the week was a relatively quick business trip to Indianapolis and then home to get the girls and head to Vermont for the weekend to ski.  On paper it would have all worked out.  We missed out on skiing over Christmas break because it was so warm and the friends I knew who went skiing all came home early.

I found a place in Killington that was fairly cheap, booked discount lift tickets – and the plan was set.  Ferry after school, trip up to VT, get a good night’s sleep and hit the slopes for two full days.

Then 12.0 started feeling a cold coming on.  Nothing serious, but enough to make me think.  The same night of the onset of symptoms, 14.5 told me she was feeling really tired.  She is not one to complain about something like that, and she’s been doing track and some other after school stuff – so I could understand that.  With one chasing a cold and the other feeling wiped out maybe a quiet three-day weekend at home would be a better option than a long trip and two days of skiing.  So with input from the girls, I decided to cancel.

Not nearly as simple as it should be though.  The room is guaranteed, so I have to hope they re-sell it before I can get my money back on that.  The lift tickets they refunded, but I lost out on the booking and handling fees I paid.  So, assuming I get a refund on the room, not skiing this weekend ended up costing me more than $150.

The last time I tried to make plans for a school vacation was two years ago for winter break in February.  That was also the school year Hurricane Sandy swept through the Northeast.  The girls lost a week of school for that, and then more time in the early part of that winter to blizzards.

The school district announced it was taking away the winter break to make up for lost time.  That was also the year I booked travel plans to Florida.  So I promptly canceled the plans and broke it to the girls they would be going to school.  About two weeks later, the school district announced they would make up time a different way and winter break was on.

By that time I had already canceled the trip – and not going to Florida cost me nearly $500.

What all of this tells me is planning is not my strong suit.  So, lets see how it goes as I plan not to stop making plans.  It certainly wouldn’t cost me as much.

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Well, We Did It

13.0 At the HoraWell, we did it.  We all made it through 13.0’s Bat Mitzvah.  I’ll be honest, there were times over the last 6 months (and the last 6 weeks in particular) I did not think we would make it.  But, we did it.

And not only did we do it, I think we did it well.

There were some tough moments for sure, but the fun and good memories certainly over-shadow the rougher edges.

Starting with the temple service Saturday morning, 13.0 was on the money.  She knew her material and put so much of herself and her personality into the morning. How could I be anything other than proud?


Then came the evening.  Some gorgeous pictures at the beach near our house than off to the catering place for the party.  It could not have gone better.  A great happy hour, pictures mostly done and everyone able to have fun.  Finally, a chance to relax.

The DJ and his crew kept the kids (more than 40) engaged through the night.

13.0 and I left just before midnight.  Exhausted, but both thinking we had a lot of fun.

I want to thank all of our family and friends who traveled (through a tropical storm in most cases) to join us.  Without you, we would not have had nearly as much fun and we can’t express that with words.

Next up-10.5’s event in October 2015.  UGH!!

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Of Planning, Family and the Battle

party-planningWe are now at the three-month mark to 12.5’s Bat Mitzvah, and while we are picking up the pace of planning and getting things done, I have to admit the list of things to do still outpaces the list of things done.  While that’s OK, some of the PITA (pain in the ass) stuff has started as well.  When the extended family weighs in to battle for a piece of what they feel is right and just.


On paper, the Bat Mitzvah is a day for 12.5 to be the center of attention and enjoy her moment both on the religious side and on celebration of an accomplishment in her young life.  As part of that there is the list of those who are invited.  For 12.5 the list tends to morph from day-to-day, but that’s among her friends.

I have to navigate the waters of family.  Mine and Risa’s.  Who we should invite, who we have to invite and who are we going to invite.  This will play into the seating that I will have to figure out down the road.

During the Bat Mitzvah, 12.5 gets to invite family to join her during the service.  The Hebrew word is ‘Aaliyah’ or ascending to the front of the temple to take part in 12.5’s day.  It’s an honor to be called and we are striving to be fair to everyone and respectful to the wishes of our temple.

But then the planning and family clash.

Already expectations are being voiced over who shall do what.  Normally, my reaction to this is “screw” and I’ll do what I want.  And ultimately that is what I will do.  But for the next three months I can hear and feel the outrage both voiced and implied.

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School Year Week One-Its Done

After another summer that seemingly was once again too short, the girls are back at school and life is slowly returning to a sense of scheduled normalcy.  And that’s probably not so bad.

While I like to think we run the house in a state of over-controlled chaos, the reality is the rigidity of the school schedule helps us all.  We know what time we are waking up, what time we are heading out, what time we get home and what time we’re going to bed.  Built around all of that scheduling is the rest of our lives.  For 12.0 this year it means completing her studies for Bat Mitzvah.  She also wants to do some school sports (right now volleyball is the target) and along the way I am sure there will be four or five other things.

For 9.5 we have her 10th birthday to plan next month.  She also has Hebrew school to do and an assortment of friends and sports to keep up with.

Somewhere in all of that, I’ll find time to be a guy in a relationship and be successful at that.  Oh yeah, I’ll also try to advance myself in my career, keep rehabbing my knee-I should start running in the next two weeks and find time to do some fun stuff with the girls: Mets game, apple picking, pumpkin picking etc.

So a week into the school year and a sense of predictability (more so than normalcy) sets into the house.  Not a bad thing mind you, and I think it’s something we all can be happy with.

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Chopping Away

Venturing to where no relationship (of mine) has gone in the past (although it’s a relatively small sample size), Health Club Girl and I did a meeting of our children a few days ago.  In not so unusual circumstance for me, I tried to read up on best practices and get some insight from others who had trodden down this path.

Unfortunately, most of the advice out there was pretty bad.  So, HCG and I went with heart and tried to make it fun and easy for the kids.  The upside is we had success.

First off, timing wise, HCG and I seemed based on blog reading and family pundit “experts” to be doing this early.  It felt like the right time though, so we decided to head down the path.

Rather than simply putting the kids together to play or sit down to dinner, we made it interactive and were able to include a shared passion we have and involve all four of our kids.

Since we both like to cook and are both self-proclaimed foodies, HCG and I staged a modified episode of the Food Network show Chopped with our kids.  First the four girls descended upon a local food store to buy four ingredients that would be in our “Chopped basket.”  She and I would then have 10 minutes to pick up staples we would use along with other pantry items already in her kitchen.

HCG and I sat down in a market cafe while the girls shopped with my credit card.  They came back with 1.5 pounds of scallops for each of us to cook.  Two jars each of apple-banana baby food, two artichokes and a box of oyster crackers.

After HCG and I did some quick shopping we hit the kitchen with our older girls (hers 13.5 and mine 12) as our sous chefs.  The younger girls decided to play together and relax-which was fine, no pressure.

At the end of the night, HCG won with a scallop and pasta dish, edging out my pan-fried scallops and bacon.  The side dishes I think is what won it for her-but in the end, the awkward part of our girls knowing one another was finished.  The night ended sitting around a table at a local ice cream place with all the girls deep into bowls of ice cream and toppings.

Win all the way around.

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The Inverse Ratio

Under normal circumstances, the moments to sit on the couch and just “veg” are pretty few and far between for me.  With the girls and school plus events, working, commuting, keeping the house on track-the need for time management as I note here often is paramount.

I tend to think that near constant level of hustle and bustle actually helps me get more done.  Sure, I’d love to have more hours in a day, but I usual can fill a day pretty well.

Flash to today.   The girls are at camp so the house is quiet.  I’m now 15 days post surgery and doing well.  Rehab is on or slightly ahead of schedule and I can walk around some without crutches and brace.  But I also have to keep using the brace for another week (until July 9) which has created a whole set of secondary issues.

The brace goes from about mid-shin to the top of my thigh and it keeps my knee locked in straight position.  As I move around with the brace on, my ankle and calf take on a lot of the work normally done by the knee and quads.

That extra demand has left me with a grade 2 strain of my calf.  It was so bad at one point yesterday I just stopped moving completely.  In an effort to let it calm down and heal, I’ve tried to keep the brace off most of the day today and really tried not to do anything.

It’s been plenty of couch time.  But that has not inspired me to do anything else.  No writing (even this blog has waited all day until after 9 to get to).  There’s no pressure to get anything done-so I am not.

I suppose “every now and then” that’s not such a bad thing, right?  But at the same time I can’t help but think I should have gotten more done today as well.

The inverse ratio at play-the less I have to get done, the less I get done.

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Without Divide It’s Conquer or Be Conquered

It’s 6:30 this morning.  Both girls are sort of up and moving about getting ready for school.  Today is the fist day of the New York State ELA test. When they accuse teachers of teaching the test, in NY this is the one they are talking about.

As for me as I sip coffee I am rolling through my mind the mountain I will have to move between now and four this afternoon, when a second mountain needs to be moved.  Today is one of those days when a two parent household could divide and conquer-with some effort but nothing Herculean.

Here, it’s a sense of keeping the balls in the air long enough to check things off the list and avoid being conquered since there is no way to divvy up the tasks.

Along with a full schedule of meetings and deliverables I will take on via VPN since there is no way I could survive the day with four hours of commuting layered in, I also need to call two doctors and set up appointments (one for me and one for 11.5).

Because of the opening day festivities for the girls softball season over the weekend I need to swing by the place 11.5 will have her Bat Mitzvah and put down the deposit and book it.

Then I need to print out the medical forms for summer camp and get them up to the pediatrician’s office (and pay off the balance for camp).

All of that needs to happen by four-because then it’s time for the second mountain.  9.5 has a dentist appointment (cavity in a baby tooth that needs to be taken care of) and straight to softball.

The reality is that’s just a lot of running around and timing to make it all work.  But that all comes after a day of running around (NYC commute, home, change, 11.5 softball).

I suppose to divide some of this would be easier, but right now it’s just trying to avoid being conquered.

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