Guest Post – Get Rid of the Cereal

Today, I have guest post from Betsy of Parenting is Funny (parentingisfunny).  I’ve been following Betsy’s blog for a while now. The posts always make me smile as they focus on short funny scenes that any parent can relate to.

Betsy has three beautiful and inadvertently entertaining daughters, now aged eight, five, and three. Unable to keep their antics, and those of her friends’ children, to herself, she began the parentingisfunny blog almost two years ago. In addition to poorly keeping up with her blog, Betsy homeschools her two oldest children and works part-time from home writing weekly e-newsletters and managing a blog for a non-profit organization. Having always wanted to be a book editor when she grew up, Betsy is currently contented starting novels and children’s stories that may or may not ever get finished. She also has a book titled “101 Tips for a Happier Marriage” due out at the end of October.

Image is courtesy of Google.com

Image is courtesy of Google.com

“No, you cannot open a new box of cereal until you finish some of the plethora of nearly finished cereal boxes we already have,” I told my six and four-year-old girls.  They agreed and began eating some of the old cereal without complaint. So, I walked away to get some work done.

After a while I noticed that it had gotten rather quiet in the kitchen. Too quiet.

When I went in to investigate, the girls were still eating their cereal, as quickly as they could, but the oldest had also made additions to her baby sister’s food. The 19-month-old’s high chair tray was littered with three different types of cereal, as was her lap, her hair, and the floor all around her.

Apparently trying to enlist the baby’s help, my oldest daughter had poured a small mound of different cereals in front of her. The plan was effective only in that I had to sweep most of it off the floor, and when I lifted the baby from her high chair, a deluge of Rice Krispies rained down once more.

I made the oldest help clean up. And no, the new box of cereal was not opened.

P.S. Go to Betsy’s web site to check out a guest post I did for her. I promise you will laugh. http://parentingisfunny.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/teaching-the-basics/

Go Ahead: Dunk-a-Teacher

My Elementary School.

My Elementary School.

Ten cents will get you a hotdog or a hamburger! You heard me right. No, I have not gone into the culinary business.

A vivid memory I have from elementary school (Joseph J. Greenberg – in Northeast Philadelphia) was the annual June Fair. It was the best day of the school year. I emailed my oldest friend MG to ask him about his memories of the June Fair. Firstly, he said “I used to look forward to the June Fair all year long.”

Like me however, one of his vivid memories of the fair is that at the end of the day, the burgers and hot dogs would go on sale. He and I did our utmost to make sure no food was wasted. I remember saving my money till the end knowing this sale was coming while MG remembers downing six burgers, never happier that our bus was one of the last ones to leave the school.

Now of course, it was not only about food, there were different stations, carnival type games, a jumper, etc. It was always a drag going back into class when the bell signaled recess had ended. I got in trouble every year pretending I did not hear the bell.

I bring this memory up as it came to mind recently. This year, the school I work at had its first ever field day.  They had various sporting activities, an obstacle course, dancing/DJ, and a dunk tank. There were no classes that day, and each staff member had to volunteer or be assigned to assist in some way.

Guess who volunteered for the dunk tank? Well, I was encouraged, but it did not take much. It would be my revenge. I would be rude and disrespectful and suffer few consequences. Revenge was going to be sweet.

Here are some of my favorite quips:

You are even worse at this than writing essays.

I could have brought a book up here.

No wonder the softball team didn’t make the playoffs

I know why you can’t throw straight – you’re from Jamaica. Go play soccer.

We all laughed. I laughed when they sunk me, and the students laughed at the comments.

When I got out of the tank, I wandered around and talked to students and watched others participate in the various activities. I noticed something: there were smiles everywhere.

Students lined up awaiting their chance to drop me.

Students lined up awaiting their chance to drop me.

Locked in and ready. Go ahead - make my day!

Locked in and ready. Go ahead – make my day!

 

 

 

 

 

I think one day long after the students graduate, they will look back on high school and recall Field Day as one of those cherished memories. Now, I need to make my way back to the June Fair. I could go for a 10-cent hot dog.

BR comes to work and is ready to teach my class. No, we don't have a smartboard in my classroom.

BR comes to work and is ready to teach my class. No, we don’t have a smartboard in my classroom.

12th graders happy to be done with high school.

12th graders happy to be done with high school.

What I Really Want

“How bad do you want it?  Not bad enough.” Don Henley

Does fate brings us where we are? Is everything just coincidence?

An interesting statement arises from this week’s Torah portion. King Balak is afraid that the Jews, while on their way to Israel, will make war and defeat his people. So, he asks Bilaam, a sorcerer, to curse the Jews. Balak sends a delegation to make this request. Bilaam asks G-d and is told, “No, you can’t curse the Jews.” Balak sends another delegation of greater prestige, and G-d agrees to let Billam go as it is clear this is what Bilaam wants.  There is much that can be discussed regarding this scene and the portion itself. One point the sages gathered from this exchange is that G-d leads us in the way we want to go.

I’ve been wondering what that really means. If I really want to win the lottery, will G-d make it happen? I want a date with Sofia Vergara (if I weren’t not happily married, of course), so will G-d set us up? Maybe, this wanting thing has to be more personal. I want to play third base for the Phillies. How ’bout it? Is G-d going to put me on the team?

Picture courtesy of Google

Picture courtesy of Google

Many of us probably realize these situations — while certainly in G-d’s capacity — are far-fetched. The sages probably did not mean this when they were talking about the wanting thing. Okay, so no date with Sofia.

Then what did they mean? I brought this issue up the other day with my wife. And we both agreed that a person needs to put in their effort. They can’t just sit back and say “I want to play third base for a professional baseball team.” They must practice for hours over years and years. Maybe that magic number of hours it takes to attain greatness is 10,000 hours, as Malcolm Gladwell said in his book Outliers, which is based on a study by Anders Ericsson.

Book cover picture courtesy of Google

Book cover picture courtesy of Google

Doing something just over 416 days 24 hours of a day (I did the math) would certainly quantify as wanting something. Yet are you telling me that everyone who ever wanted something and achieved it put in that sort of time? I highly doubt it.  So, maybe effort, while significant, is just part of the equation.

It has often been said that Michael Jordan sees everything as a competition and wants to win every time. While that doesn’t sound like someone I would want to be around, maybe it takes that kind of intensity to succeed.  You have to want something and not let anything get in your way.  I’m certain that kind of singular focus could only enhance your potential to achieve what you want. Yet, I still question if that is enough. Have you ever seen commercials for American Idol? Potential contestants are left crying when they are told they are not going to Hollywood. Clearly, they desperately wanted to be part of (and win) the competition to be America’s next idol.

Jordan and his championship rings picture courtesy of Google

Jordan and his championship rings picture courtesy of Google

Can you want for someone else? I want so very badly for my boys, BR and SJ, to achieve great things, to be happy, to be decent and to live long, fulfilling and meaningful lives. I am sure I am not the only parent who wants such things for his/her children. Of course, some parents see this want go fulfilled and others do not.

Ultimately, I do not have the ‘answer’ to this. However, I would like to share some thoughts. First, it is important to be clear on what you want. Being wishy washy is okay for choosing your favorite ice cream flavor, but not achievement. Second, I think one must be willing to put in the time to achieve his/her want. Lastly, having some form of support — whether it is family, friends, mentors or colleagues — is imperative to help one deal with and overcome the inevitable bumps in the road.

Finally, I do believe that G-d does lead us in some form or fashion to where we want to go. One question you have to ask yourself if you have not attained something you want is: How bad do you want it?  Maybe, the answer is not bad enough.

Bloggers Wanted

Photo courtesy of google.com

Photo courtesy of google.com

I got into blogging for selfish reasons. I loved writing but my commitment to it swayed. There were times I would write regularly and then go months and write nothing. It’s not as if I did or did not have ideas. What I didn’t have was commitment.

When I finally committed to blogging (a few people had suggested that I do it), I decided that I would post regularly. I also figured that I would put it out there and people would read it. After my first blog post, I contacted everyone on my email list and let them know that I was now a blogger. I invited them to come take a look at the blog. Fortunately, a number of people did. I felt content.

As I continued blogging regularly, I noticed something. Comments on the blog were rare and the views dipped dramatically. Didn’t everyone want to read my brilliant, comical, insightful pieces? Weren’t those readers compelled to react? I didn’t understand the lack of reaction.

Six months after I began the blog, I was speaking to a friend of mine who is tech/new media savvy who also happened to like my writing. He asked me, “Do you read other people’s blogs?”

“Huh?”

“Other people blog too you know. Read theirs and that will encourage them to read yours.”

I had never thought of this. As I said, I was blogging to write, not to read. However, the blogging felt empty. I was pushing myself to improve and desirous of feedback but never thought that others might be in the same position. I told you I was selfish.

A couple of weeks after the conversation, I had a day off from work. I resolved to read and comment on 10 other blogs. After doing so, rather than wondering where did the time go, I felt exhilarated. I was engaging in (electronic) conversation with people all over.

While I would like to say my blog took off, and I have never looked back, that is not 100% true. (http://larrydbernstein.com/growing-past-the-plagues/).   However, I have gained something greater: a community.  A number of my fellow bloggers have become friends with whom I am in contact outside of the blog. We have shared in each other’s lives, given opinions, shared advice, offered sympathy, and appreciated successes.

So, while I started blogging for selfish reasons and still look at it as way to work on my writing, I have gained a great benefit.

On that note, I want to expand further. I want to find more blogs to add to my repertoire.

Let me tell you what I do and don’t look for in a blog. First, I don’t care for blogs that are a laundry list of what a person/family did day after day. I enjoy blogs that can find humor in the every day or humor in general. I also like when the blogger is truly willing to dig deep and share. I don’t care for posts that are too long or too short. Lastly and most importantly, I like a blogger who will engage – respond to comments and will also reciprocate and offer comments on my blog posts. However, it is not a tit for tat.

So, do you have or can you recommend a blog for me?