Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | August 14, 2011

Writing With My Son

My boys and I enjoy “Curb Your Enthusiasm” with Larry David on HBO. We watch it religiously and quote our favorite lines. The other day my oldest son and I went out for lunch. while we sat there we wondered how does Larry do it. How does he sit there with a blank pad of paper, dream up an idea, outline it and turn it into a half hour of comedic genius on TV. I challenged my son to see if we could do something like that. He took up the challenge, looked around the outdoor restaurant we were eating at and started with….”what if…”

Sure enough, a few dozen “what if’s” later we had a great idea for an episode with a main idea and a couple of subplots to it. We raced home, outlined it out scene by scene then spent the afternoon flushing it out and writing it. We think its funny. With the cast of “Curb” breating life into it it can be hysterical. We’re now looking to send it in.

If nothing else, what fun we had together writing it.

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Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | August 9, 2011

An Afternoon Babysitting

I watched my sister’s kids today. I hadn’t babysat in a very long time. It wasn’t bad. They were not only well-behaved, they were actually fun to hang out with. We went to lunch, ran some errands, then came back home to watch TV, hang with my dogs and swim. Not a bad afternoon. It was kind of fun being around little kids again. My way-too-cool teenage boys are too busy for me and when they are willing to grace me with their presence its a marathon rag-on-your-dad session. These little guys actually thought I was funny and cool. They seemed to enjoy their time with me and I think they even liked my corny jokes.

And here’s the best part, at lunch I was able to order them those super inexpensive kiddie meals that come with a fries, drink and dessert. YEAH!!!! With the steaks and seafood my boys order it was nice to be able to get out of lunch for under $20. Whoever said little kids were difficult…. not me.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | August 7, 2011

Teaching Your Kids About Money

Math, history, science, physics and chemistry are some subjects that your kids learn at school. Unfortunately, money management skills are not standard in most school curriculums. Most of us are still at a learning age when it comes to personal finance management. With every failure we learn a lesson and often we think we could have avoided many unfortunate financial results if we were taught some more lessons while we were young. Yes, it is true that money lessons must be taught since the tender age so that you don’t grow up drowning in a sea of debt and half of your youth is gone searching for professional debt help companies.

The earlier you start imparting the knowledge of finance to your kids, the better! If you teach your kids about finance management, this will ensure that they’ll have plenty of practice when they’re old enough to start taking serious monetary decisions. You may be unsure about the techniques that you have to adopt in order to familiarize the importance of money to your kid who knows nothing about it. Take a look at some kid-friendly techniques that you may adopt to instruct your kid on money management.

  1. Make them earn money in any little way possible: One of the best ways that you may adopt is to make your kids work to earn their own income. All young children can do some particular things like cleaning their room, gardening, feeding their pets. Usually, kids are more likely to spend their money more carefully when they know how much effort has been given behind the job getting done. They’ll learn to respect money if they get small amounts for the work that they’re doing.
  2. Make them acquainted with a bank: Take your kid to the nearest bank and make them familiarized with what it is and how it works. Though a piggy-bank is fit for your kid, but he also needs to be informed about the bigger picture. They must be aware of the role of banks in the financial transactions within the nation. Open a bank account for them and make them save money in that account.
  3. Teach them the significance of leading a frugal life: You go to any financial expert or visit any financial blog; you’ll find frugality to be the most important practice that can ensure a fiscally fit life. If your kids do not grow up with frugal habits, they cannot manage their money and this may lead to accumulating huge amount of debt in the near future. You too have to practice what you’re preaching so that they learn from you. Teach them the striking difference between needs and wants so that they know which one to prioritize.
  4. Set spending caps for the money that you pay them: As you’re already paying them small amounts of money for their household chores, make them spend their own money in getting some petty things for themselves. But you must set a spending cap or limit their expenses. Set a monthly budget for shopping and entertainment and if they blow off the budget in the very first month, let them know that they’ll not be spending a dime further in that month.
  5. Encourage them to get early jobs: Though the employment level is not very encouraging for your kid, yet leave no stone unturned to boost them to get early jobs. Tell them how much it is important to earn your own money and save it accordingly to avoid debt. They must also be academically alert so as to grab a job as soon as possible that is in accordance with their qualifications.

Highly disregard impulsive shopping and do not practice anything opposite to what you’re preaching them. Your kids look up to you and try to follow you in every way possible. Make sure you give the best lessons to them so that they don’t mismanage their finances and require running to debt help companies in the future.


This guest post was written by Rick Murphy

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | July 29, 2011

When Do Kids Grow Up?

When is the actual point when you as a father are no longer the center of your son’s universe? Age 13? 15? 18? It seems it was just a short time ago when my sons would eagerly await an evening out –dinner and a movie, go mini-golfing, bowling, something. Now its more like “Dad, I’m going out…can I have some money?” I am left to my own devices; alone to make my own plans. My sister’s kids are much younger and I see them still following my sister around like little ducklings. I try to think back when this streak of independence actually took hold in my boys. When it became “uncool” to be caught at the movies with your old man. But it did and its the normal progression of things. I guess I’d be more concerned if at ages 15 and 17 they still wanted to hang with me on a Saturday night.

The flip side is that we still live in the same house (not for long–college is around the corner), we still eat our meals together, we watch TV and laugh and talk, we have our dogs and there’s a whole lot of noise and energy in the house. And I’m thankful for each and every day.

Ofer Aronskind is the author of adventure books for teens.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | July 16, 2011

Summertime Surprises

So its just me and the dogs. Kids are all gone for the summer — camp and various activities. Our town is like a ghost town with everyone away or down the shore. No problem getting good parking spots. Weather’s been great. Went up to the Berkshires for a long weekend. Funny story– so my girlfriend Lesley and I are having breakfast in this tiny little coffee shop in Great Barrington, Massachusetts and as we’re talking I mention that I’d love to see James Taylor in Tanglewood. I wondered if in fact he might be playing there that weekend because JT often plays there. Our breakfasts arrive and maybe five minutes later a little old lady with a straw hat and sunglasses approaches our table and taps me on the shoulder. I turn around, look at her but don’t recognize her. The Queens kid in me wonders what’s the story here? Does she want money?

The old lady asks us, “Would you two youngsters (Lesley and I loved that part) like to go to Tanglewood tonight? James Taylor is playing and my husband and I can’t use the tickets?”

Naturally, I start looking around the place to see if someone’s playing a joke on us. Maybe Ashton Kutsher is going to jump out from behind a table or something.

But it’s no joke, no hidden cameras. I ask if I may look at the tickets …the Queens kid in me inspects them for irregularities (last year’s date, last night’s concert, something, some scam). They look good. They look great actually — seats up close to the stage in the shed. We do a bit of friendly price negotiating (lawyer in me coming out now), look both ways and exchange money for tickets. We thank the lady, turn back to each other and question ourselves whether this really just happened.

About eight hours later we are seated a few rows back at a sold-out James Taylor concert rocking with the rest of the altekakers there!!

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | June 26, 2011

Running A 5K

A couple of nights ago our town had its annual 5K run.  My girlfriend and I debated whether we wanted to run again this year.  In years past we ran but with each year we’d see our time go steadily up — not the direction you hope for.  At the last minute we decided to go ahead and run it after all. We figured let’s run to finish, lets’ not worry about our running time.  She picked up our entry tags and numbers and in the evening we walked into the center of Millburn where they hold the race.

 

I must say, regardless of the outcome, its a great event. There’s usuall anywhere from 1500 to 2000 runners and then at least several hundred spectators.  Its a lot of fun.  The streets are all closed off to traffic. People line the sidewalks and everyone is cheering you on — a real festive atmosphere and something that brings the whole community together.  At 8:00 o’clock the starting bell went off and the race began.  We tried to pace ourselves, keeping it relatively slow and steady.  The race loops through the town twice and at first the field was very tight and packed in with runners.  But soon, the real runners grab the lead and the field opens up.  My girlfriend and I stayed together the entire time.  We enjoyed our run.  We people watched.  We saw our neighbors and friends.  Sons and daughters of our friends who had grown since our last meeting.  We waved to the spectators lining the streets.  And when we crossed the finish line about 30 minutes later (nothing to brag about it — but hey, we did finish) we kept right on going toward the booths lined with cups of water.  We drank and splashed and poured water on ourselves and chatted with everyone comparing our war stories.

 

When we walked back home about an hour later, tired, sore and very wet and sweaty we looked at each other and were very happy we did it.

 

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | June 21, 2011

Father’s Day Interview With Ofer Aronskind

I was recently invited to participate in a podcast; the first for me.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I was told to phone in to a phone number and I will be prompted through the rest of it.  It was that easy.  Sure enough,
Sunday night at 6:30 on Father’s Day, I excused myself from my family and went into a quiet room and phoned the number.  I was connected to a podcast
with two hosts –Alex and Sue — on a show called extreme writing.  The show lasted about twenty minutes and was just an easy, conversational discussion about writing, getting published and all the pitfalls in between.  The hosts were personable and easy to talk to.  I enjoyed myself thoroughly.  There’s a first for everything and given this was my very first podcast, I’d give it a big thumbs up.  Thank you Alex and Sue.

To listen to my interview please visit, Ofer’s interview

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | June 12, 2011

Parenting Tips from A Camp Counselor

So I’m sitting in my backyard, minding my own business. Its hot –90 degrees — I have my dogs beside me, I have my NY Times, I have a pen to do the crossword with and I have a tall glass of iced coffee. Does life get any better? And then, the party starts. Unbeknownst to me, due to the heat, the Millburn school system decided to let the kids out at half day. And sure enough, it looks like they let them all out right into my backyard. First, a procession of junior boys being led by my oldest son. Not one of them under six feet tall (several 6’3”, 6’4”, you get the idea). I now feel like I’m lost in Land of the Giants. A TV show reference totally lost on this group of seventeen year-olds. Next come their female counterparts, towels in hand, ready to go swimming. Five minutes earlier it was just me, the Times and my iced coffee….now there’s thirty kids in my backyard. It goes without saying — there was no crossword puzzle being attempted that afternoon.

Wait, it gets better. By the time I go in the house to get drinks, snacks, order pizza…the works, the next group shows up. This time its my twin fourteen year-old boys being followed by their own procession of eighth graders — boys and girls — looking to cool off in the pool. Problem. The seventeen year-old thought he had the backyard all to him and his friends. The fourteen year-olds thought they had afternoon possession of the pool. Now the two armies — fourteen v. seventeen — are ready to engage in battle. The fact that all of them ruined my quiet afternoon isn’t even on the table.

What to do?? I jump into action and using my years as a camp counselor, I organize a game of wiffle ball for the fourteen year-olds while the big kids swim. Then later they switch and the fourteen year-olds jump in the pool. By the time the pizza arrive there is peace. That is, for everyone but me.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | June 9, 2011

Falling In Love With A Puppy

Fell in love with a puppy yesterday. It just happened. Wasn’t planning on it, already have a dog, got enough on my plate. But there she was — a 12 week-old Australian Shepherd mix — that looks more like a koala bear than a dog. Love at first sight and home to meet the family. My boys flipped for her. My dog Sammy (a husky/shepherd mix) was a bit less inviting. But she’ll come around, just going through a bit of an adjustment period. There’ll be some potty training accidents and probably a few sleepless nights while she cries as we crate-train her, but all in all an amazing thing.

Dogs bring so much love into a house. My three tough guys (my teenage sons) who don’t show emotion smother the dogs with love and shmoopy talk. The other day I was reading a book on the couch, it was raining outside. I had Sammy at the end of the couch by me and the new puppy sleeping on my chest as I listened to the rain beat down on the roof. If there’s a heaven then I got a glimpse of it that afternoon.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | June 6, 2011

Modern PROM Nite’

Yesterday afternoon was an eye opener. Prom night in suburban New Jersey. I have a son so mind you its a whole lot easier than a girl, but still. First the suit…okay normal stuff. Corsage…standard fare. But then the pre-prom parties scattered throughout the neighborhood. Pre-prom — a party before the actual party. Orchestrated by parents to get the kids together so the parents can ooh and ahh and take lots of pictures. My son and I attended two; there had to be at least a couple dozen more going on.

Food, drinks and more cameras flashing than a movie premier. All the boys together, all the girls together, then everyone all together with their dates, then individual shots with and without dates, then the family shots. Parents directing everytihng and the poor kids obliging and smiling until their teeth hurt. After about an hour of torturing our kids they are finally released from our grasp and go have some fun at the actual prom.

But wait, we’re not quite done with them yet. The poor kids only get a few hours to themselves before they come back to the …. you guessed it…the post-prom party. This is where it really gets good. Parents organizing sleep-over parties (yes, you read right…sleepover…) for their kids. CO-ED !!!!!!!!!! The kids come back from prom, change into something “more comfortable” and go to someone’s house with a bunch of other kids to sleepover WITH their dates. LIFE IS GOOD for these kids. Wow, where were these parents when I was a kid having to sneak around behind their backs.

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