have it your way

29 03 2010

Today was a banner day for the Mankin family.  Long-time readers of this blog know of Peter’s reluctance to eat a variety of foods types.  He does very well in the school cafeteria, but he has an extremely narrow diet at home.  Those of you who know Peter have probably witnessed the futility of negotiating with him.  No means no to food items.  We should have bought stock in Pepperidge Farms Goldfish when he was born.  We have invested millions already.

Taking Peter out for any length of time has always mandated bringing a separate bag of his favored food items – juice, goldfish, chips, peanut butter sandwich – his staples.  For some reason, Peter decided that he wanted to go to Burger King this week.  He was very insistent that we go.  Actually, there was no living with him until he was taken to Burger King.

There was the obligatory bag of juice, Goldfish & peanut butter sandwich packed in the car for our outing.  Peter mentioned over & over that he wanted to go to Burger King.  Burger King it is.  We asked Peter what type of kid’s meal he wanted.  He replied confidently “hamburger’.  Kathy unwrapped the burger, sat down the bag of fries next to it, and off he went.  He tore into the burger, and when he was through, only a sliver of bun was left.  It was a sesame seed roll, by the way.  He ate all his fries, and drank his juice box until it was virtually empty.  When he was through, Peter placed his spent wrappers & juice box in the trash can.

Most parents wouldn’t be boasting about their kid eating at a fast-food place.  I’m not inferring that this was a nutritious meal for him.  The important thing to note here is that this was a family meal… without special prep or a compromised menu.  We all went and had a quiet (?) meal together.  No big deal to most – a BIG deal to us!

Oh sure – the day had its share of frustrations for Mom & Dad today.  Lunch, however, went like clockwork… for the first time EVER.


pepsi, ketchup & swapping flags

5 11 2009

Mel_MankinMy father passed away when I was just two years old.  Melvin Mankin was only 29 when he died.  Mom & her two sons carried on without him.  Mom remarried years later, and my brother Phil came along after that.  We had occasional contact with the Mankin side of the family, but they were all in Brooklyn, New York, and we were at the New Jersey shore town of Lakewood.  I knew of my cousin Barbara, and that I had some aunts and an Uncle on the Mankin side, but I rarely saw them, and never really knew who was who on my father’s side.

At one point in my youth, I asked my mother the Mankin’s country of origin.  I no-polandknew my mother’s family came to Ellis Island from Lithuania.  She told me that the Mankins were Polish.  Honestly, it was so long ago, I’m not sure if she professed to know for sure, or that she merely assumed their Polish heritage, but she definitely told me that I was half Polish.

A few months ago, I received a voice message from Meryl Turco.  Merly is my cousin –a 1st cousin on my father’s side!  She is my Aunt Marion’s daughter.  I called her back and we spoke for over an hour.  I had made the presumption that there was no one on the planet who knew my father and could tell me about him.  I have so many unanswered questions regarding my dad.  Suddenly, I had a resource!  She is more than a dozen years older than me, and remembers my father vividly.  He much preferred Pepsi over Coke – me too.  He was a ketchup fiend – me too.  He loved to tinker with things – me too.

RomaniaFlagA few months had passed, and I received a phone call from my cousin Barbara – my Aunt Ruth’s daughter.   She was putting together a Mankin cousins reunion.  This reunion was held this past weekend, and my family and I drove to New Jersey to meet and spend time with newly rediscovered family.  I know so much more about the Mankins now.  Here’s one – we are NOT Polish.  We are Romanian!  My great-grandmother, Rebecca Goldstein, came to the US from Bucharest in 1888.

My kids have the last name of Mankin.  We now have some stories to share with them about their heritage.  Romania – I think I’ll go listen to some Enesco.  I just may hear something I’ve never heard before.

undercover dinner

22 07 2009

Peter has always had a very narrow diet.  There are a few staple foods he would always eat, but so many that he should, and simply would not.  In recent months, Peter has added to his ‘repertoire’, and will even ask for items such as a hot dog or a chicken sandwich.

hide_sandwichLast evening, Peter asked for a chicken sandwich for dinner.  It was prepared as always, and cut up into six wedges.  In keeping with his wily mood, he looked at the sandwich a few times, but ran away from the dining room table, laughing & being rather defiant.  Nothing new for this little guy, but he did something different this time.  On a return trip from the kitchen to see if Peter had finally started to eat his dinner, I discovered that his sandwich… and the plate on which it sat were gone.  A quick inspection of the dining room & living area uncovered the sandwich and plate… hiding under a blanket on the living room sofa!

Moral:  You can lead a horse to water, but he may hide the river in his stable if he’s feeling goofy.


27 06 2009

blueberries 002 [800x600]Last fall, I took the kids raspberry picking.  They had such blueberries 023 [800x600]a blast, we went apple picking a few weeks later.  Since they continued to talk about it all winter long, we have been waiting in the wings for mother nature to bring forth more pick-your-own crops.  Strawberries were in season a few weeks ago, so we all squished our way through the rain-soaked strawberry fields.  Yesterday was prime blueberry picking season, so off we went to the farm once again.  The blueberries were huge, and the ones allowed to reach full ripeness on the bush are amazingly sweet.

blueberries 021 [800x600]This morning we had blueberry pancakes for breakfast, Emma & Kathy baked banana blueberry bread, and the rest of the harvest was packed into a fabulous blueberry pie!  Blackberries are right around the corner… we’ll be there!

dragon joe

25 05 2009

To a half million vets & Harley riders who participated in yesterday’s Rolling Thunder event, Joe Lozano is “Dragon Joe”.  Joe is a Viet Nam veteran, and travels these days from Georgia each May to participate in Rolling Thunder.  His wife, Mee owns & rides her own Harley Davidson motorcycle as well, and is a veteran of the US Army and of Rolling Thunder.

To us, Joe & Mee are also our former neighbors from our first apartment, and we try to see them each year after the Rolling Thunder events have wound down.  We met them and several of their military brothers at an old favorite restaurant – Magic Wok in Springfield, Va.  We even saw our original waiter from the 1990s there.  He remembered all of us.  It was a great reunion!

There are a half million brothers & sisters of Dragon & Mee in town, and we salute them all with gratitude.  Thank you for your service & sacrifice.

David, Mee, Joe & Kathy

David, Mee, Joe & Kathy

Sam – Rest In Peace

28 04 2009

Sam   1994 - 2009
1994 – 2009

a great knight

18 04 2009

Good friends and neighbors had an extra ticket available for last evening’s game between the Washington Nationals & The Florida Marlins.  I was invited, and gladly accepted.  The seats were right behind home plate – couldn’t ask for a better vantage point to watch a game.

knight_scoresI noticed that seated just a behind us was a familiar face.  It was 1986 World Series MVP Ray Knight.  He was the 3rd baseman for the New York Mets that year.  Met fans have the image of Knight crossing the plate after the infamous Mookie Wilson to Bill Buckner ground ball forever in their mind’s eye.  OK – it wasn’t a crazy coincidence that he was at the game… he does the post-game wrapup show for the cable broadcasts of the Nats games.  Still, there was a sports hero of mine just a few yards away.

knight_ray-natsI was (naturally) wearing my blue & orange Mets jacket.  Between innings, I stood up, gestured to him (as my friend yelled “RAY!”) and he looked my way.  When he spotted my wave, I tapped on the big Mets logo on my chest, and gave him a big thumbs up.  He smiled, nudged his fellow broadcaster Johnny Holliday to get him to look over as well.  He returned the thumbs up, put down his scorecard & clapped, winked and nodded approvingly.

In today’s age of athletes and their multi-million dollar salaries & egos, it was terrific to be able to extend a greeting to a baseball superstar and have it humbly returned with genuine appreciation. Class.

Very special thanks to Jeff, Kristi, Jeremy & Alena.  What a great evening!