Thursday, February 28, 2008

I'm a Crappy Disciplinarian

Funny that MomLogic  ran an interesting post today about discipline throughout the decades and tonight I failed miserably at keeping my kids in line.  Picture the scene:  A toy store.  We're on a mission to buy three gifts for parties that are scheduled this weekend, the store is closing in less than 20 minutes and my kids are like kids in a candy/toy store.   In a word, wild.  After spending 10 minutes getting gifts and cards, the kids meandered to the front of the store and then the touching began.
My daughter was obsessed with the webkinz display and kept on "girlhandling" every animal she saw.  My son in the meantime was attached to the candy section - pawing the sour gummy worms and chocolate and while I attempted to pay I tried to use the sternest voice I had to keep then in line - but do you think they listened and put their hands down?  Oh no.  Not my two little angels. It wasn't until the store manager told them to stop touching the toys that they finally stopped.  Thoroughly embarrassed, I grabbed our gifts and we left the store and I proceeded to inform both of them that they wouldn't be seeing the inside of a toy store for several months and they shouldn't expect any more goodies until their birthdays (in April and May).  
Then we drove home and I realized that I had bought them a gift (before they had acted up) and while I initially planned not to give it to them, I was tired and I acquiesced and gave them the toy anyway.  Bad move.  
Later that night when my husband came home, he instantly sent the kids to their rooms and after having a heart to heart with my son, he discovered I bought them a gift despite their horrendous behavior.   And so, now I'm being made to feel guilty for buying my kids a gift as punishment for misbehaving.  Okay - I know - I'm a pushover but I had been working all day and all I wanted was peace and quiet.  Is that so bad?  I guess I should have put the toy back and let my kids cry about the fact that they were going home empty-handed, but instead, I did the opposite and now feel like a total loser. I can't keep my kids in line in public and my husband thinks my kids walk all over me when I tell them to stop being bad.  I'm not a bad mom.  Just a tired one.   

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Boynton Beach Memories, Take 2

For those of you who have been following Role Mommy for awhile, you may remember that last year my family and I took an unexpected trip to Florida after my dad suffered a heart attack.  Thankfully, my dad survived and he's back on the tennis courts and golf courses in Boynton and looking as young as ever.  You may also remember that when I wrote about my experience last year, I tried to capture the essence of Boynton as overheard by the many senior citizens who populate the cafes, beauty parlors, supermarkets and malls.  And so, this year, when I returned to Florida for a few days my comedy antennas were ready to pick up some priceless material and here are a few of the conversations that took place within earshot of my table.
Scene 1:
Man and friend sitting at the Palm Isle Cafe talking about their final resting place:
Man:  So my wife and I bought our cemetary plots.
Friend:  That's nice.
Man:  Oh, but that's not all.  We arranged so that if I go first, I get the front of the plot.  
Friend:  What if your wife goes first.
Man:  I still get the front.
Scene 2:
Woman and friend sitting at Lucille's Barbeque talking about fruit
Woman:  I really enjoy eating oranges.
Friend:  That's nice.
Woman:  But I don't eat any old oranges.  I like to buy my oranges near that store over by Walmart.  Sometimes I'll eat more than one orange a day, but then it gives me gas, so I try not to have more than one a day.
Woman:  That's nice.
Scene 3: 
My dad giving us a tour of Wellington street in Delray Beach
Dad:  You see that hospital over there?  That's the hospital where Uncle Harvey had his heart attack.
Me:  That's nice
Dad:  Oh - and you see that medical center over there?  That's where your Aunt Bevy had her cataract operation.  And over to the left is the hospital where your Uncle Abe just passed away.  And a few blocks down is  the hospital where Aunt Kay visited before she died.
Me:  Dad...can you change the subject?  Your world famous Florida hospital tour is making me very depressed. 

Monday, February 18, 2008

Technology Addict

I have a big confession to make.  I am an addict.  But not just any addict. I don't pop pills, I'm not a boozer and while I love chocolate, I'm not an overeater either.  So what's my addiction? Technology, that's what.  I am hopelessly addicted to my computer, my iPhone, my blackberry and my cell phone that my husband is going to wring my neck if I don't stop typing on the keyboard and put the gadgets away.
It started out pretty innocently.  A few years back, in an effort to master my work/life juggle, I invested in a BlackBerry and proceeded to use it so that I could be with my kids, run errands and never miss a moment of the office goings on.  But then, when I quit my job and started my own business, I started loading up on more technology.  An iPhone for my anniversary, a MacBook pro, my old BlackBerry which I couldn't give up and my verizon cell phone.  Does one person really need all that technology?  I know I could downsize, but for the life of me, I can't seem to give up my habit.
When I'm out with my husband and the kids, I'm sneaking furtive glances at my BlackBerry to see if the red light is flashing.  When I'm back home, I flip on my Mac to check my emails or to IM with friends.  Then I'm cruising YouTube, or playing Webkinz with my kids or writing my blog or researching a story and by the time I turn around, the day has flown by.  
Today as I sit her typing away, my husband and kids are at the Brooklyn aquarium enjoying a day off with the dolphins.  Should I have gone along for the ride and given the gadgetry addiction a rest.  Absolutely.  But for some reason, I can't seem to shake my addiction and it only seems to be getting worse.
Tomorrow we leave for Florida so hopefully I'll have the willpower to put everything away and not look at a single email until I return.  Okay, that might be a bit harsh but I do know I've got to do something.  It's time to get my head out of my iPhone and start enjoying the world around me.  I know it's a cliche, but I have to say it.  Life is too short.  For the sake of my family and myself, it's time to put the BlackBerry away and enjoy a technology free least for a few days.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Meaning of Success, Leather Couches and Procrastination

I don't know why I procrastinate. I just do. If given the choice to head into my freezing cold office to write something scintallating, that spells right, has proper grammar and will make people laugh, I will most likely think of 15 other things I can be doing at that moment before planting my butt in a chair and hunkering down. Frankly, the older I get, the more I get sidetracked.
I'm supposed to be writing an essay about what it's like to be a successful female entrepreneur but I've been procrastinating on that assignment the moment I landed it. What does it mean to be successful? Hmm. Successful is as successful does. (thank you Forrest Gump). Do successful people work in basement offices with space heaters and get yelled out by their DH every time they forget to take the plug out of said space heater after a long day procrastinating?
Do successful people go off on tangeants? I mean, I can start writing about a topic that interests me, like say, home decorating, then in mid-stream, as I'm writing about a chocolate leather couch, my mind starts wandering to my pantry and I fantasize about a treat that would really help me craft some mouthwatering adjectives. Then, after I've inhaled the last chocolate cake square from my box of Weight Watchers snacks (1 point for anyone who's a WW lifer), I'm back to business, writing about things that strike my fancy. But then the mail comes. And I realize - I better pay some bills. So I whip off my writer's hat again and do a little online banking for a good 15 minutes. Ah, now that my mind is clear, I can write.
Now what was I writing about again? Oh yeah, chocolate couches and what it means to be successful. Forget the couches, let's just talk about success. Are you successful if you make a lot of cash? But what if you're working around the clock and you never get to see your family and you hate what you do but you're still making a boatload of money? Is that success?
Is a person who makes half as much as a workaholic but does what they love the true success story? While money is nice, I do firmly believe that before you can truly make wads of it, you've got to figure out how to crack the code of making money at pursuing your passion. Some people have made a fortune doing just that - just look at all those people in The Secret (no, I am not linking to that book because they don't need to increase their sales on my watch) who preach on about how positive people attract other positive people and blah, blah, blah. I actually never believed the BS in that book until I started giving it a shot and I do have to admit, that positive kharma is infectious. You do wind up attracting lots of successful people, but a lot of times, those people are penny pinchers who want to use your positive energy to help build their own empire or inflate their ego. So when you start using those tools from The Secret, be careful - steer cleer of users there are many of them and don't start doing business with people unless you know them for at least a few months and can trust that they won't drive you nuts.
It's sort of like dating. If you met a guy for the first time and thought he was amazing, would you marry him right off the bat? No, you'd be an idiot if you did. But why is it that in business, if we meet someone we really like we'll hire them on the spot or take them on as a client and then three months down the road realize they weren't as great as you thought they were.
As I attempt to build my business from the ground up (literally), I've begun to grow wary of hiring people to help or taking on problem clients, unless of I've known them for years or they've come highly recommended from someone I trust. I'm trying not to overextend myself and more importantly, I am focusing my efforts on doing what I love. It's certainly not a cakewalk because doing what you love doesn't pay the Con Ed bill but someday, I know it will. And when that day arrives, I will hopefully have moved my empire from the cellar to a room with a view. Dare to dream. I better go, this successful entrepreneur needs to shut off her space heater before it burns her leg.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Am I Right, Am I Wrong?

I received some sad news today.  My uncle Abe, who used to take my brother and I around in his Wise potato chip truck and who was best known for his infamous phrase, "Am I right, am I wrong?" passed away last night after battling a host of illnesses that left his body too weak to fight anymore.
While I'm not broken up about my my uncle's death, I do have to say that it's sad that his final years were spent combatting the effects of several strokes, diabetes and the breakdown of his kidneys.  From what I remember of my uncle, he was always an incredibly opinionated man.  In fact, he pissed off so many people in his time that I remember holidays when you could cut the tension with a knife because Uncle Abe opened his mouth and uttered an insult that left a family member ready to bolt for the door.
I guess my uncle didn't really care that he was making people angry at him when he spoke his mind.  Abe escaped the Holocaust, hiding out with his family as they attempted to escape Poland.  And somehow, they managed to get out.  And so, when he came to the United States, he didn't care who he offended, he was free, he was safe and he was alive.  
Over the next several decades, Uncle Abe made lots of friends with his biting sense of humor and generosity but if you crossed him, well, watch out.  Abe's relentless insensitivity hurt many of my family members - so much so that my parents actually stopped talking to him and my aunt for several years.  
When my mom retired, she eventually mended fences with my aunt and now that Uncle Abe is gone it'll be interesting to see how things will change now that he's not around.  It is sad that at the end of his life he truly was a shell of the person he used to be.  So I choose to remember my Uncle as the spitfire he was. Sure he was a loose cannon, but when I think back on the time I spent with him what I do remember is that he always was good to me.  I guess that's what counts - remember the best in a person once they're gone.  In the end, Abe's famous line, "Am I right, Am I wrong?" is a testament to his life.  Whether he was right or he was wrong, my uncle lived his life on his terms.   

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Raffle Ticket

Is it just me or have kids become obsessed with gambling? Or is it just my kids? Let me explain. Whenever we go to the diner, my son and daughter beg me to shove 50 quarters into "the claw" and inevitably, we never win anything. You can watch that metal thing swaying in the lucite box with tons of stuffed animals crammed inside just there for the taking and no matter what my kids do, they never win.
Another thing we never win - raffles. I must have spent hundreds of dollars on raffle tickets over the years and no matter how you slice it, I've never won a single prize. A few weeks ago, my kids even had me spend 20 bucks on raffles for games they already have and they were stupefied to discover they had lost...again.
But here's the icing on the cake. I don't mind if I'm the one buying the raffle tickets or wasting my hard earned quarters on the claw, I draw the line when my kids have been given money to spend at the Valentine boutique and they proceed to hand over $10 to some woman selling raffles and she willingly takes the cash from them without another adult present.
I mean, I know I'm an idiot if I buy a raffle ticket that'll get me no prize, but is selling raffles to little kids even legal? I don't think so and if it is, it should be outlawed. When my daughter inevitably lost the money in the raffle drawing she came home that day in tears and frankly, I was steamed. I still haven't figured out who I should air my grievances too (most likely the PTA president) but either way, I'm cutting out the raffle habit pronto. Maybe then we can have extra cash for the monster gumball machine or some month old skittles that they peddle from the machine at the movie theater.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Face Plant

This week, in my haste to squeeze in too much in one day, I managed to do something I haven't experienced since I was a kid.  I fell down the stairs.  But it wasn't just your average tumble where you grab onto the railing and stop yourself mid-stream.  Oh no.  I was too busy carrying my Jenny Craig pizza in one hand and diet coke in the other to protect my fall.  
Picture the scene.  Me, balancing my yummy pesto pizza, a tall glass of my favorite beverage and a sharp knife while navigating the stairs and subconsciously thinking about all the things I had to accomplish that afternoon.  I made it to the third step and then somehow, my foot slipped and I went flying right along with my food.  The diet coke splattered across the left half of my basement carpet, the mozzarella cheese landed on the bottom step, the knife flew in another direction and I tumbled face first to the ground without having my hands free to break my fall.
For all intents and purposes, I should have broken my ankle, been stabbed through the torso, or blacked out from a mild concussion.  Miraculously, I managed to escape major injury except for a fat lip, a bump on my forehead and nose and some minor bruises on my arms and legs.  Within 10 minutes of my tumble, I had to shake it off and hop in my car to head to an assignment in Manhattan. Still in shock, I grabbed a few chips of ice and a paper towel for my bloody lip and raced out the door.  
When I arrived home a few hours later and had a moment to grab an aspirin, I thought about what had happened to me earlier that day and realized it's time to make some changes in my life or else next time, I won't be so lucky.  Nothing like a face plant to make you painfully aware that you need to slow down.  Or at least not carry a personal sized pizza, steak knife and diet soda while walking down a flight of stairs.  

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