Showing posts with label Kids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kids. Show all posts

May 19, 2019

@IsraelFest By Andy Blumenthal



Singing competition @IsraelFest. 

A little of Yom Ha'atzmuet and Eurovision combined. 

(Source Videos:  Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

January 22, 2019

Take Off Those Shoes

So this was pretty funny. 

We have a sign in our house that people should take off their shoes when they come in. 

Heck, it's part of being a neat freak and somewhat germaphobic.

But of course, the kids invariably don't follow the house rules and we get the shoe dirt all over. 

And guess who has to always clean it up?  

Well the other day, my daughter was looking to purchase a condo, and when she found a place she liked, she was walking around the apartment and saying:
When I have my own place, everyone is going to take off their shoes.

Hmm, when the place is yours and you have to clean up the messes, all of a sudden the house rules are in effect and big time.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 23, 2018

And On That Day...

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, All Will Know G-d

In the true story that I recount, a little Ethiopian girl tells me:
There is no reason to fight because we all believe in G-d and that He created us.

Similar to what Zechariah prophesized (14:9)
The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.

I hope you enjoy this piece on faith, unity, and hope for the future. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

April 24, 2016

To Little Jonah

So swimming in the pool, I meet little 7-year old Jonah. 

He sort of made himself known to me when he decided he wanted to race me on the swim board.

I was going just a little faster--and I reminded him that I had a key competitive advantage, fins. 

He said, "Darn I should have brought mine!'

He asked how old I was, and I said a little older than you. 

Not satisfied, he pressed the question, saying "I can tell you are an adult."

So I had to cave and admit that, and pointing to my heart, added that "I am young at heart."

Jonah's in 1st grade, and wanted to know what grade I was in. 

His guess was 4th grade, and I said "That's about right."

Jonah is from New Orleans visiting his grandmother for Passover. 

She was watching him in the pool and smiling with grandmotherly nachas, ear-to-ear.

I told Jonah to make sure to treat his grandmother nicely. 

But Jonah at this point had jumped into my swim lane and was in mock superhero fighting mode, and said "I want to punch you."

I thought to myself, hmm it's not only my wife that feels that way (LOL).

Anyway, it was clear that I had made a new friend with Jonah, who was off bobbing up and down in the water well over his head. 

Bye Jonah--have a good time visiting for Passover. 

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

September 25, 2015

Kid's Games, For Survival Mostly

Some nights, I dream of fighting and others of running for my very life.  

This last night, I woke up from the dream, and thought how these instincts of fight or flight are so pervasive in our lives, and even in our sleep. 

But more than that, we are literally from the youngest age, programmed for survival (of the fittest). 

Ok, here's a simple hypothesis about kid's play:  

Kid's play is not just play, but rather the preparation through acting out of these basic human survival instincts.

At it's core, kids games mimic the fundamental human tendencies of fight or flight. 

Think for a second of some of the most popular games that kids play...the ones that mostly have been around forever, and kids from the youngest of ages gravitate too.

Tag -- Running after from someone else running after you. 

Hide and Go Seek -- Running to hide from someone looking to find you.

Play Fighting -- Fighting an opponent to see who is stronger and can overcome the other. 

Action Figures -- Often superheroes and villians that once again, fight each other.

Dress Up -- Girls often dress as the beautiful princesses to be admired by boys who are in turn dressed as (macho) heroes that seek to protect them. 

Video Games -- The most popular ones, first-person shooter (fighting) and racing (running away, faster than anyone else, and over the finish line or into the safety zone). 

Whether we are playing games, sleeping and dreaming, or going about our daily life activities, make no mistake, we are in survival mode. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

September 8, 2015

Smelt It Dealt It

As kids, there always used to be someone who would run around holding their nose, and yelling at the smallest sign of someone's flatulence...Eew!

In turn, the other kids would all chime in: "The person who smelt it, dealt it!"

Might as well push the responsibility where it rightfully belongs--uh, maybe. 

This is what kids do--they are not politically correct in the slightest!

Are adults any better really?

I've seen grown men and women start holding their noses and waving their hands in front of their faces when someone is stinking up the local air.

In particular, this happens quite a bit on places like the crowded Metro and elevators...going down. 

People are unforgiving when the air is foul. 

Personally, I am very sensitive to bad smells and hot air--my A/C is running full blast all around the year...even in Winter, seriously!

When I saw this sign in a storefront window that said, "Free Smells," I thought to myself, gee we got enough smells to last a lifetime, and that's why fresh air and nature is so appealing to the good 'ol olfactory senses. 

Free smells...unless it's fresh flowers or some savory dish to eat--you can have it--free or not, I frankly don't give a damn.  

My personal belief is that an odor is far more likely to cause you a gag sensation than put a refreshing smile on your ugly face. 

Good etiquette, keep your smells to yourself. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

August 18, 2015

Doggie Psychologist

I took this photo of a sign in Florida advertising a "Dog Psychology Center."

I think my dad would say that anyone taking their dog there should have their head examined!

Apparently, Cesar Millan is a fairly well-known "Dog Behaviorist" who works with especially aggressive dogs to rehabilitate them--soothing the savage beast!

There are enough people with mental problems that don't get the help they need that it seems somewhat excessive to have dogs going to the psychologist, but people are still homeless and in rags on the streets of our cities. 

At Country Inn Pet Resort your dog can be "mastering the walk," be socialized, get obedience training, and even learn to swim. 

Sounds nice to send your pet to a "resort," but do they really need a psychologist or do you just want to ignore your pet the same way you ignore your children?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

June 21, 2015

I Can Catch You



I gave chase to the ducks. 

In the vein of British Comedian, Alfred Hawthorne, stage name Benny Hill.

Made the kids laugh. 

Only 3.5 weeks post-op and I am waddling more than the ducks. 

My wife says, "You belong on TV!"

She calls me a natural entertainer. 

How did an introvert like me get like that? ;-)

(Source Video: Dannielle Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

April 18, 2015

G-d Gave Us So Many Gifts

Today, I just wanted to share the words of this beautiful Israeli song that a friend shared with me in Synagogue. 

It is called (in Hebrew) "Elohin Natan Lecha Bematana,"which means G-d gave you as a present.

It's about everything wonderful that G-d has given us, and we just ask for one more gift...peace. 

Hope you enjoy (it brought tears to my eyes)! 

****************************

Chorus:
God gave you as a gift
Something great, something wonderful
God gave you as a gift
The life on earth

Gave you the night and the day
Love, hope and dream
Summer, winter, autumn, spring
Good soul to look around

Gave you green fields
Flowers and blooming trees
Rivers, streams and seas
Sky, moon, stars

Chorus

Gave you feasts and Sabbaths
Israel, the fathers' land
Hands and head to fulfill dreams
Gave you all the wonders

Gave you such nice things
To bring kids to this world
Listen to songs, see colors
Oh, so many are your deeds, God

Chorus

God, oh, please give me just one more gift
A small gift but a wonderful one
God, please give me just one more gift
The peace on earth

***************************
Share/Save/Bookmark

February 5, 2015

Teen Lounge Chair

I took this photo of a cool teen lounge chair. 

Stretch out and relax or study on this oversized lounger. 

The fabric is emblazoned with:

- PEACE
- FREEDOM
- LOVE 
- FLIRT
- BEAST
- ROCK
- POWER
- EGO
- SHINE

I think this would look pretty good in a kids room.

How about you?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

January 17, 2015

Almost Started A Food Fight

So something has gotten into me the last few days...

Tonight, motzei Shabbos, and we're at the kosher Pizza store. 

There is a table next to us with some semi-rowdy boys and girls. 

We're sitting there minding our own business--really--when all of a sudden I get a spit ball (yes, a spit ball) right in my ear. 

I look over at the kids and this guy is opening a Toblerone chocolate and smirks and says, "Oh, sorry" and goes back to his friends laughing at what they did. 

So my wife is eating her seasoned fries, and I pick up a long one at the end, and am holding it--and all of a sudden, i don't know what happened, but the fry just flicks out of my hand and up into the air.

My wife and daughter and I just stare at each other...like OMG, you didn't! 

But I did and then a girl at the next table shrieks as the fry hits her in the head and she's looking accusingly at the boys at her table asking, "Who did that?"

We're still sitting sort of frozen staring at each other, holding in our laughter. 

The store manager comes over to the kids and starts yelling at them about throwing fries around the store. 

At which point, we couldn't contain our reaction anymore and started cracking up. 

I think the kids at the next table figured it out. 

My daughter who thought these kids were so obnoxious goes to me, "That was so cool Dad!"

So what is going on with me lately...not sure, but I think I like it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

November 16, 2014

Anime Kicks Butt

Japanese Anime is so cool.

They have these amazing characters that any kid would like to have. 


With swords, shields, guns and well-honed fighting powers, these champions are ready for battle. 

This one was at Barnes and Nobles for $34.95 this holiday session. 

If I was still a kid, I could wrap my imagination around this, and help save the world from all the evil and stupid characters out there--unfortunately, both fictional and too often real.   ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

October 16, 2014

"The Chief"

So swimming in Florida last week, I couldn't help but think about my years back at Eagle Day Camp.

First as a camper, then counselor, and finally lifeguard at this fairly large Orthodox Jewish children's camp in Rockland County, New York. 

As a camper, I hated swimming and the smelly, musty, and overcrowded locker rooms.

When I was only about 6-7 already, I told my parents, I would only go to camp, if I didn't have to swim--after a lot of fuss, I got them to agree.

But years later, I learned to love swimming--the gorgeous outdoors, calming water, and health and therapeutic effects. 

I worked with "The Chief" (Norman Garfield, pictured at left) for many years...he was a radio talk show host and actor, and in camp played the starring role of Chief Taka Zeis, last of the Gutta Neshamah (Yiddish for Good Soul) Tribe.

He entertained the children like no one else could--with made up chants of "Tzitsamagoo!", his silly outfits (notice the unmatched socks in addition to the feather hat), and to songs like "Let the Sun Shine In," he was always someone that could be counted on to safely watch the children swim, teach them, and make them laugh. 

One Summer, The Chief, encouraged us (the other lifeguards) to sign up for the Red Cross Swim and Stay Fit program, and I think I swam 20-30 miles in between lifeguarding over about 6-8 weeks. 

Those were some fun times with The Chief and some of my old friends like Mark Stadtmauer, Elissa Rothman (Brodsky), and many others. 

Today, just a few months post hip surgery, I once again appreciate the swimming, and try to go as often as possible for health reasons. 

I am thankful for those years and for the ones granted now. ;-)

(Source Photo: Who The Heck Remembers)
Share/Save/Bookmark

August 21, 2014

We Need More Rabbit

This was a funny scene down at Foggy Bottom today.

The Nesquik rabbit was giving out chocolate milk bottle samples.

On a warm August day today, this was nice. 

But also, it was refreshing to see a little light-heartedness downtown. 

We all--adults and kids--need more of this--to enjoy life.

It was interesting how we are so going in the opposite direction these days.

Not only with all the bad news around the world...

But even with how hard we have to work just to keep up (24/7) and with a world where our kids are having to work and miss out on what is supposed to be some more or less carefree exploratory years to find themselves. 

Now it's SAT prep, AP classes, internships, volunteer opportunities, and extracurricular activities--all the time. 

In this regard, in the Wall Street Journal today, there was a review of a book called Excellent Sheep.

The book's author explains how "For many students, rising to the absolute top means being consumed by the system...[where they] sacrifice health, relationships, exploration, [and] activities...[those things] essential for developing souls and hearts."

The kids are often working so hard that they are anxious, depressed, and often miserable. 

When getting ahead and becoming wealthy (a priority for 80%!) becomes the prime reason for our young adults' existence, maybe we have missed the boat in terms of finding true meaning and joy in life. 

Hard work and striving for success is a good thing, but worshipping the proverbial "golden calf" is not productive. 

Like the rabbit, I would give a thumbs up to those for whom a more well-balanced life rules the day--where success, meaning, and joy all play an important part, and we can drink some chocolate milk and not take everything so darn serious. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

August 2, 2014

Fruit Juice Want Some

I took this photo in the supermarket.

It is of these Good 2 Grow juice bottles for kids with cartoon sip tops. 

Everyone from Ninja Turtles to Scooby Doo is here on the shelf.

And peeping out in the middle from the back is none other than SpongeBob SquarePants. 

I guess if I were still a kid holding hands with my mom coming down the aisle, I would stop right here and start yelling and jumping up and down for these.

Juice Smuice...I just like these fun, happy cartoon characters. ;-)
Share/Save/Bookmark

March 14, 2014

Guns And Roses

This was an interesting student portrayal showing decision on whether someone is a friend or foe--I like it!

On the face of it, is a computer screen "head" with pictures of a drone for surveillance and a fighter jet for carrying out battle. 

In the right hand is a rose for the friend, and in the left hand is a gun for the foe. 

On the bottom, it says "You Decide" with little pieces of hanging paper marked "Friend"or "Foe" and you pick one.

To me, the kid that designed this is pretty smart--smarter than a lot of adults today,

Why? 

To many people, everything is black or white--for example, liberals may default to everyone as good and trustworthy until shown otherwise, while conservatives may take the alternate track where they assume people are bad and we should be cautious with them and be prepared to defend ourselves. 

Neither is simply right or wrong--it's just how we approach things--although for me, it's definitely you have to earn trust, and still it's important to verify!

The kid that made the friend or foe robot apparently realizes that we have to discriminate between those people that are friends and those that are enemies--and act accordingly. 

Surveillance is a good thing and being ready to defend ourselves is a very good thing. 

Sometimes, those that masquerade as friends are really foes, and those that challenge us may really be our best friends. 

We must be very discriminating in determining who is who--and be ready with both rose and gun. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

November 1, 2013

Why Memorize?

G-d, I remember as a kid in school having to memorize everything for every class--that was the humdrum life for a schoolchild.

Vocabulary words, grammar rules, multiplication tables, algebraic and geometric equations, scientific formulas, historical events, famous quotes, states and capitals, presidents, QWERTY keys, and more. 

It was stuff it in, spit it out, and basically forget it.

This seemed the only way to make room for ever more things to memorize and test out. 

In a way, you really had to memorize everything, because going to a reference library and having  to look up on the stacks of endless shelves or microfiche machines was a pain in the you know what. 

Alternatively, the home dictionary, theasarus, and encyclopeda were indispensible, but limited, slow, dated, and annoying. 

But as the universe of knowledge exploded, became ever more specialized, and the Internet was born, looking something up was a cinch and often necessary. 

All of a sudden, memorization was out and critical thinking was in. 

That's a good thing, especially if you don't want people who are simple repositories of stale information, but rather those who can question, analyze, and solve problems. 

Albert Einstein said, "Never memorize something that you can look up."

But an interesting editorial in the Wall Street Journal by an old school teacher questions that logic. 

David Bonagura Jr. proposes that critical thinking and analysis "is impossible without first acquiring rock-solid knowledge of the foundational elements upon which the pyramid of cognition rests."

He says, "Memorization is the most effective means to build that foundation."

As a kid, I hated memorization and thought it was a waste of time, but looking back I find that more things stayed in that little head of mine than I had thought. 

I find myself relying on those foundations everyday...in writing, speaking, calculating, and even remembering a important story, principle, saying or even song lyrics.

These come out in my work--things that I thought were long lost and forgotten, but are part of my thinking, skills, and truly create a foundation for me to analyze situations and solve problems. 

In fact, I wish I knew more and retained it all, but short-term memory be damned. 

We can't depend on the Internet for all the answers--in fact, someday, it may not be there working for us all, when we need it. 

We must have core knowledge that is vital for life and survival and these are slowly being lost and eroded as we depend on the Internet to be our alternate brains. 

No, memorizing for memorization's sake is a waste of time, but building a foundation of critical skills has merits. 

Who decides what is critical and worthwhile is a whole other matter to address.

And are we building human automatons full of worthless information that is no longer relevant to today's lifestyles and problems or are we teaching what's really important and useful to the human psche, soul, and evolution. 

Creativity, critical thinking, and self-expression are vital skills to our ability to solve problems, but these can't exist in a vacuum of valuable brain matter and content.

It's great  to have a readily available reference of world information at the tips of our fingertips online, but unless you want to sound (and act) like an idiot, you better actually know something too. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Chapendra)
Share/Save/Bookmark

October 5, 2013

The Baconator


So I went to Cabin John Park in Rockville. 

In the park was this Baconator machine. 

It is a pig for collecting garbage (and not being a pig and trashing the park). 

When you press the bottom on the upper right, the pig tells you what to put inside--paper, cardboard, and soft drink cans, but not bottles or broken glass.

The kids seemed really curious about it, but also were sort of scared of it--especially when it says, "I'm hungry, hungry, hungry!"

The Baconator will eat your refuse, but then who would want to eat the Baconator?

Plus as my niece used to say when she was very little, "Piggy isn't kosher!" ;-)

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

June 17, 2013

Wheelchair Kids

So I was swimming in the pool and noticed a dad playing with his kids in the shallow section. 

One kid--the littler and younger one--was swimming this way and that and playing in the water.

The other kid--bigger and older--was in a flotation tube, and she was clearly struggling.

First, I misinterpreted the girl wiggling around in the tube as her just jumping around and having a good time with it. 

Then, I saw she was uncomfortable and having some real difficulty, and I noticed the mini-wheelchair for a child parked at the side of the pool. 

I saw the dad go over to her in the water tube and help settle her, stabilize her, and he pushed her hair out of her eyes, and poured some cold pool water on her forehead and over her hair.

I held back tears watching the love of this father for his disabled daughter and for the challenges that the disabled regularly have to endure.

The girls little sister started to jump around her sister's tube and wanted to play with her.

The whole scene was sort of surreal. 

As it happened, a day later another man in the hotel elevator started talking about how he arrived at the hotel but had so many problems: he lost his wallet, his room had a flood and his family needed to be moved, and he was dealing with a six year old child with cancer. 

When I see these children suffering, I really feel emotional--they are too young and innocent to be so sick. They haven't had a chance to fully live and they can't look forward to the same things that other healthy kids can. 

That doesn't mean that they can't live purposeful lives, just that they have great challenges for little people.

I think how terrible it is to be confined to a wheelchair or bedridden--instead of being free to run and play. 

I hate seeing anyone sick and suffering, but with children it's worse, and I remember my dad telling me as a kid when times were tough: "If you want to see real problems [in life], we should go over to visit the children's hospital!"

He was right--I will never forget those words or the plight of sick and disabled children--may G-d have mercy.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Joanna C. Dobson)
Share/Save/Bookmark

May 8, 2013

Fun, The Good 'ol Fashion Way

This was a funny picture today on the street in downtown D.C. 

This guy was getting a cheap ride down the thoroughfare in a bin. 

She was pushing and he had his arm raised as the winner of the big race. 

It reminded me of when we were kids and used to ride go-karts down the hill--and only after we picked up some speed did we realize that the breaks didn't work that good.

Oh well, a little flip and some chuckles and no worse for the wear. 

Those were the days, young and carefree--nothing to worry about except whose house we were going over to, next, to wreck some havoc. 

I remember, one day we were having a huge wet paper towel fight and one kid ran into the garage to escape the barrage, I gave chase and unwittingly pushed against the glass in the door to follow and oops my hand went right through.

Not a pretty sight, but I thank G-d lived to tell my kids about it, and now they got one up on me when they do something a little out of bounds and fun--actually they are a lot better than I was at that age. 

And it wasn't that I was a bad kid, I was actually one the good ones--or so I was told--but before we all had computers, the Internet, social media, and smartphones, we had each other. 

It wasn't the technology that drove us, but rather the evolving web of interactions (today my new best friend is...), the challenges we made up (let's bike up to Tarrytown in 100+ degree heat), the fun we found ourselves in (from the board game Risk to early gaming on the Atari, or just cleaning out a friends garage for a few bucks)--times were simpler, more innocent, and in a way better.

When we went home at night from work or for the weekend, our time was our own--were weren't glued to email and always on call. 

When we attended an event, we didn't check our Facebook and Twitter, but paid attention to the company we were in. 

When we ate dinner together, maybe the one rabbit-ear TV was going in the background with one of the 3 networks stations, but everyone wasn't being pulled away for gaming, blogging, or some Internet shopping. 

Don't get me wrong, I love my technology as much or maybe more than the next guy, but I also miss just being me in the physical world with my family and gang of friends, and not just so much TheTotalCIO in the office and in cyberspace. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark