I Have to Admit I Like the Passover Holiday

Boys celebrating Passover Holiday

Boys – Pre-Passover 2012. The jackets were off before the Passover Seder began.

The Passover festival begins Monday evening an hour after sundown.

However for those of us who celebrate the holiday, the thought and preparation for Passover began weeks ago.

I’m not kidding.

Passover is an all-encompassing holiday.

Of course, like most religious holidays, there is the food aspect. And food is a major factor in Passover!!! We literally get rid of all our food from the year. We either eat it, throw it away, donate it, sell it (ceremoniously) or lock it away. I’ll spare you the rules and the specifics.

I’ve been managing my food shopping the last couple of weeks so that we will have a minimal amount of food left. This takes all of my food shopping skills.

I must admit this part is fun for me.

QUICK ASIDE: I ended up bringing up some food to work this week. Why is it that people will eat anything at the work place?

This zest to rid ourselves of our food forces us to do a Spring cleaning. Now, my family and I keep a neat house. However, we have a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old. Therefore, food travels to the weirdest places. “Hey, how did that pretzel end up in the sofa cushion?”

So, add cleaning to the Passover checklist. We pay someone to clean for us every other week. On top of that, I was down on my knees on the kitchen floor. By the way, I found a pretzel there too. Mrs. MMK cleaned the cabinets and put in new contact paper. These were among other tasks.

I have to admit I do like a clean house.

Anyway, we get rid of our food. The holiday lasts eight days. Therefore, it is not a fasting holiday. So, there is food shopping to do to replace the food you are ridding your home of. This special kosher for Passover food – and it’s not just Matzah – is pricey. We have already made multiple trips to the grocery store, and I foresee another one on Monday.

Then there are clothes. There is no law that one must buy new clothes.

However, I have adopted a custom. I wear at least one new item of clothing on the first and last days of the holiday. It adds to the special nature of the Passover holiday. I can’t be the only one who is wearing new clothes in the family. So, there is clothes shopping to do for the whole family. Well, my wife takes care of herself and the boys. I simply pay for it. On that note – does anyone know of any freelance writing gigs? The bank account has taken a hit.

I have to admit I like having new clothes.

A quick note on the background of the Passover holiday.  It commemorates the Exodus of the Jewish people from their bondage in Egypt. It is a holiday that celebrates our freedom and praises G-d for what he did for us.

Ultimately, the Passover holiday is about spending time with family and friends and recalling a special time in history.

I have to admit I like spending time with family and friends.

I have to admit I like this holiday.

P.S. As part of the holiday, I am going to take a blogging break. I don’t expect to post and will not get to read the blogs of others on a regular basis over the next week and a half.

Want to Know What is the Perfect Party for a 10-year-Old?

10 year old birthday party.

BR, friends, cake, and pizza – A Party

Have you seen the movie Enough Said? One issue brought up in the movie was parents dealing with children moving away to college.

Last week, BR, our oldest turned 10. He‘s not quite ready for the hallowed ivy of university life. He’s bright, but he’s not Doogie Howser.

Anyway, the movie made me think about the passing of time. My first born is in double digits. At some point, he too will walk out the door. It seems almost unbelievable to me.

I can’t say it seems just like yesterday BR was born. There have been too many laughs, frustrations, and challenges for it to feel like just yesterday. More than anything, the love I feel and the changes in my life since he was born have been nearly indescribable.

I am not going to regale you with some teary eyed list of memories or thoughts about my growing child as he enters a new phase.

It’s this simple: I am a parent. I have a child. My life has changed. My reason for living has changed.

And my son is my blessing.

How did we celebrate the big one oh?

Well, we gave him possibly the greatest birthday of all time. No exaggeration.

Put yourself into the shoes of a 10 year old. Actually, BR wears Crocs, but that’s another story. What does a 10 year old boy love?

Video games!

BR is a video game fanatic (so is SJ, for that matter). He goes on playdates and brings his Kindle. His friends come here and do the same. They will play Minecraft (BR even plays Minecraft with his brother!) for hours and be thrilled (Minecraft Playdate).

Whether it’s Minecraft or Madden, Skylanders or NBA 2K, I’m sure the boys you know in that age group are similarly wired.

So, video games had to be included in the party. CHECK.

Add cake and pizza to satisfy BR’s complex cuisine choices. CHECK AND CHECK.

Let me run down the details for you.

Game Away is a company which bills themselves as a mobile video game theater. That’s right – a 32-foot truck with FIVE widescreen high-def TVs and up to 20 people can play at once was parked was parked in front of our house. Game Away also sends a Game Coach who sets up the game, helps the kids with the games, and oversees the kids to encourage fun.

Video Game Truck

Video Game Truck.
Pic is courtesy of Game Away

My son got to invite up to 20 people to play video games within an awesome, comfortable truck. What 10-year-old would not love that?

Shoot, I was impressed. In fact, all the fathers who either dropped off or picked up their kids were impressed. We all wanted to get on the truck.

It was a blast. BR was over-the-top happy. Trying to get him calmed and to bed was challenging, but it was worth it.

Minecraft Birthday Cake

Minecraft Birthday Cake

Oh yeah, we had pizza and cake after the boys got off the truck.

Mrs. MMK made a Minecraft birthday cake. Of course. Some of the kids said it was the best cake ever. Those kids made Ms. MMK’s day.

More importantly, the whole thing made BR’s day.

Happy birthday buddy. I love you and enjoy seeing you grow and learn each day. I am not ready for you go to college yet.

10 year old on video truck

BR on the Game Away Video Truck

 

Video games on a truck

Guests enjoying themselves by playing video games in the truck;

Video games on the truck

SJ and other guest focusing on their video games.

My Father’s Tie

My tie is frayed. I should get rid of it. I have many ties. Getting rid of one should not be news.

My father's tie.

My father’s tie.

On November 10th, 1997, I was speaking to my father. It was a memorable conversation.  The Eagles were playing the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.

At that time, I was living in Brooklyn and my parents were living in Philadelphia. So, my father and I were talking on the phone. Of course, I called during halftime. I was taught well.

I called to wish my father happy birthday. He was 65 years old. He was coughing a lot so our conversation was brief.  He was in a hospital bed. The doctors were running some tests. Anyway, we spoke a bit about the game, and he was more optimistic about the Eagles than I was.

I should have known right then that something was wrong.

My father died the next day.  I did not make it back home to Philadelphia in time.

While he had been sick on and off for the previous few months, no one – including the doctors – were clear on what was wrong with him or the extent of his illness.

The shock was great.

My father and I could always talk about sports. However, other topics were not always as easy.  We did not bring out the conversationalist in each other.

As I got older, our range of conversations deepened and so did our relationship.

My father and I were out one day.

“Hey dad, check this one out.”  We were in Today’s Man (Wiki – Today’s Man) on Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia.

My father had asked me to come clothes shopping with him. He liked my taste in ties. He may have just wanted to hang out. My mother might have encouraged him to ask me. She also liked my taste in ties.

“I don’t know.”

“Okay,” I answered. I put the tie down. He ran a few of his tie choices past me. I showed him some more.

Eventually, we walked out of the store with a couple of ties.

His death was just a few months later.

My mother encouraged me to take my father’s ties. And I agreed to do so.

I wore my father’s ties sparingly.

I wore one of the ties on what would have been my parents 38th wedding anniversary. I wore one of the ties during the Passover Seder the following April. I wore one of the ties on his birthday the following year. The ties were always my first consideration at formal family gatherings, holidays, and bar mitzvahs.

Over the years, the ties never fully entered my rotation (between work and the Sabbath, I wear a tie six days a week). However, my father’s ties started appearing more regularly.

A few years back one of my father’s ties was showing wear.  It was brown and blue and matched a lot of my clothes.  I liked it. And it had been my father’s. I thought about keeping the tie as a memento.

I eventually got rid of it. I still had one of my father’s ties left, I told myself.

I wore that tie this past Sabbath. When I took off the tie, I noticed it had grown worn and frayed. If it were any other tie, I would have thrown it in the trash. But this is the last of my father’s ties.

It’s been over 16 years that he has passed, and the tie itself is nearly 17 years old. My father’s tie has served me well. I’ll never wear it again. I tell myself these things as I try to convince myself to get rid of the tie.

It’s part of my memory of my father. If I throw it out, it will be like throwing out a piece of my father. I could let it sit on the tie rack even if it never gets worn. All I’ll have left is his worn business card in my wallet. I tell myself these things as I try to convince myself to keep the tie.

I don’t know what to do about my father’s tie.

Something Epic Is Coming…

That title was not a tease. Something epic really is coming out.

Captain Underpants and the - Extra Crunchy Book of Fun Two

SJ squealed when he got Captain Underpants and the Extra Crunchy Book of Fun Two

And it is going to rock the MMK world.

A hotly anticipated novel is due out. You can bet we at MMK will preorder. (Well, actually Ms. MMK to be specific. She’s the online shopper of the house.)

No, it’s not the follow-up to 50 Shades of Grey.  No, Harry Potter is not returning.  And there is no The Firm Part II.

The novel I am talking about is the Captain Underpants 11th Epic Novel by Dav Pilkey. While Captain Underpants is not high-brow literature, it is loved in my household!!

As I’ve mentioned before (My Children Are Readers), SJ can not get enough of Captain Underpants. BR, while not the fan he once was, still will pick up Captain Underpants book on occasion.

The Captain Underpants books have turned SJ into a voracious reader.  Every night – when he should already be sleeping and morning when he still should be sleeping – you can find him with the blanket pulled over his head reading through a book from the Captain Underpants series.

Every week he and I create a Captain Underpants story as part of his vocabulary homework. He also made a couple of comic books himself. His teacher stopped him when he wanted to write “SJ-MAN and the Attack of The Lunch Ladies.”

Some of you may not be familiar with Captain Underpants ie those who don’t have a child between 5 and 9 (or an older child who read it when he/she was that age).  Seriously, it seems that just about every child in that age group reads and loves Captain Underpants and is breathlessly awaiting the 11th epic novel.

Don’t believe me? Go ahead and Google Captain Underpants 11th Epic Novel. Or better yet Google Captain Underpants 11th Epic Novel release date. This turned up about 49,900 results in 0.29 seconds.

After sifting through a few of those 49,900 results for the Captain Underpants 11th Epic Novel, the clearest site noted Summer of 2014 as the release date.

Anyway, the basic premise of Captain Underpants, a graphic novel is that there are two fourth grade boys named George and Harold who write comic books and love to pull pranks. Mr. Krupp, their mean principal, wants to get the boys in trouble. However, the boys are able to use a 3-D Hypno-Ring and hypnotize Krupp, turning him into Captain Underpants, their own superhero creation.

As you may have guessed from the title, Captain Underpants makes a lot of use of bathroom humor. Some may be turned off by this humor and the book has actually been banned in some places. My mother, for instance, who loves reading with SJ does not care for these books.

Me – I’m just fine with the Captain Underpants series. Besides, what little boy (and plenty of girls too) does not laugh at the mere mention of the word fart, poop, or toilet?

So SJ along with millions of other Captain Underpants fans will have to wait for the 11th epic novel.  Hey, this might teach SJ patience.

Even my mother would love that.

Here is an SJ creation (I helped a little). The underlined words were his weekly vocabulary words.

Captain Underpants and The Attack of The Blond Girl Monster

One day George and Harold were fishing at the pond.  A blond haired girl was having her birthday party at a camp near the pond. The blond haired birthday girl caught a fish that bit her and turned her into a monster. The monster smelled George and Harold’s mints and went to attack them.

George and Harold got away, but not before the Monster smashed each boy’s hand. The boys went to a doctor who put splints on each boy’s middle finger. They went to their school and found Mr. Krupp reading by a lamp.

Guess what happened next? I’ll give you a hint.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS!!!!!!

Captain Underpants and the boys went to the pond. Captain Underpants had a fight with The Blond Girl Monster. The Blond Girl Monster made a stinky in Captain Underpants and the boys face. But Captain Underpants was still able to defeat The Blond Girl Monster.  He did so by shooting his underwear into The Blond Girl Monster’s mouth which turned it back into a little blond girl.

George and Harold wrote a letter about this adventure. They put a stamp on the envelope and mailed the letter to Dav Pilkey.