Off the Dial

America At Home (part 2)

Okay, so it wasn’t a disaster, but it didn’t go exactly as planned either. Friday night, photographer Gayle Shomer came to my house as part of a nationwide project called “America At Home.”

Her goal was to capture our family on film during the weekly Shabbat dinner. This past Friday also marked the start of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, so my parents were in town. It also meant we were racing out the door for a 6:30pm service. My daughter gets out of school at 3:30 and my husband had to be at Temple early so we had a pretty small window.

As soon as Gayle started snapping pictures, we had trouble. You see, she started with Benny. So Lea decided she was being left out and would have nothing to do with any of us. You can’t make a five year old get in the picture and smile, so we went on without her. After we were well into dinner, she decided to come back and Gayle got some great pictures. By that time, though, Slade had left! I don’t know what she’s going to wind up with. It’s going to look like we either only have one kid or no dad. Oh well.

I think the book comes out in November – it’ll be fun to see if any of our pictures make the cut!

America At Home (at my house)

If you had to create a snapshot of your family at home, what would it look like? What would you want it to look like? It’s a question I have to answer this week.

Remember those “A Day in the Life” books back in the 80’s? Photographers fanned out around the country and took pictures all during the same 24 hour period. They’re doing something similar this week called America At Home and they’re coming to my house.

I met the photographer a few months ago when she did a story on our congregation for the Charlotte Observer. She took some terrific photos of our service celebrating a new Torah we’d acquired. So when she called to ask if she could include us in this project, I was excited to say yes.

Now, however, I’m wondering whether this is really a good idea. My idea of a perfect family picture has nothing to do with the reality of my family. I’m thinking of a beautiful Shabbat dinner, with challah and candles, my children dressed in their best and smiling as they share in a special family moment.

What usually happens on Shabbat is that Benny starts grabbing food before we can say the HaMotzi prayer and then he tries to blow out the candles. That’s while Lea is telling me she doesn’t want to eat what we’ve made for dinner, she’d really prefer pasta and can she have dessert first? And unless they’ve spilled enough to constitute an actual change of clothes, they’re still in their mucky school clothes with some leftover lunch on them.

Friday also begins the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur so we’ll all be going to temple right after dinner. That’s probably a good thing – we won’t have very long to take the pictures so I can only stress out for so long.

A couple of years ago, I was profiled in Little Ones Magazine here in Charlotte. Taking the pictures was so stressful for me that Slade and I decided to set a policy on family pics in the future! Rule#1 no outside shots when the temperature is above 90. Rule #2 no sleeveless shirts Rule #3 Stacey will remember that we are not perfect.

I’m not sure what the odds are of actually getting into the book. I’m probably getting all worked up for nothing!

Early Hours

My alarm clock goes off at 3:20am. Sometimes I hit snooze, but I’m usually out the door by 4am. Not a lot of traffic, but it looks like that might be changing.

USA Today this morning does their cover story on what they call “commuting creep.” (Funny, I wrote that first as “creeping commute,” which pretty much describes our rush hour traffic.) The article talks about how we’re all living farther from work and leaving earlier just to get there on time.

What’s great about the article, at least to me, is that it goes on to talk about how this has changed other industries. Fast food places open earlier to serve drive-thru breakfast or coffee. Radio and television stations adjust their broadcast day.

I experienced that first hand in Syracuse. I was hired to do the morning show at the NBC affiliate there. The broadcast started at 6am and ended at 7am, just before The Today Show. The following year, they moved the show back to 5:30 and added a co anchor (Jeff Glor, now national correspondent for The CBS Early Show). The next year, they moved us back to 5am. I got sick of getting up in the middle of the night and moved to Charlotte for better hours. We all know how that turned out!

Funny story about that time in Syracuse. When we moved back to 5am they sent me and Jeff to New York City to tape a promo with Katie Couric and Matt Lauer. They do a bunch of these with local anchors from all over the country. We were pampered in their makeup room and then herded out to the set. We had our 5 minutes (it was probably less) with Matt & Katie, making small talk and then saying our lines. I wish I had some tape of that promo – I probably look scared out of my mind!

A Day At The Fair

We recently took the kids to Tweetise Railroad, out in Boone. We had a terrific time – as the ads say, it’s a blast from the past! A big steam engine train, carnival games, rides even my 2 year old could enjoy. I’m not sure it holds up for older kids (maybe older than 10?) but we loved it.

My parents joke that they took us to every amusement park up and down the East Coast. I do have some great memories of Story Town in NY which is now called Great Escape. We used to make my dad take us on the scrambler. My mother refused to go – now I do the same thing with my kids. Slade is the designated throw-up ride guy.

We lived pretty close to Rye Playland and I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to ride the Dragon Coaster. I remember when I finally got to ride it, I was absolutely terrified. That click-click-click as your cart inches up the first incline, knowing that a huge drop is coming and then the turn into the dark as you head into the dragon!

We went to Hershey Park at least once. I have never seen so much chocolate in my life. I seem to remember a ride where your boat actually floated on a chocolate stream. Is that possible?

My town had two big events during the year. The Fireman’s Carnival and the Grange Fair. The Fireman’s Carnival was all about old fashioned rides like the tilt-a-whirl and carny games where you could win the big teddy bear. It was a big deal when you got old enough to run around the Fireman’s Carnival with your friends on your own. That was usually 8th or 9th grade. The Grange Fair was more about agriculture I think. I remember muddy shoes.

We had the Westchester County Fair, too, but I don’t think we ever went. They had the best commercials! Rides & attractions! Nonstop action! At the Westchester County Fair! I can’t believe I remember that jingle.

We left Tweetsie worn out, dirty and smiling. Benny says he needs a rope and a horse to go along with his new cowboy hat. Nice try.

What was your favorite amusement park or carnival as a kid?