Friday, June 27, 2008

The Craziness of Facebook

Facebook has fully invaded my life. Maybe a better description is taken over. Sound pathetic? Read me sad tale of Facebook woe.

A few months back, I received an invitation from someone to join Facebook. At this point, I really have no idea who it was. Maybe I blocked it out. I was never a My Space girl, mainly because I couldn't understand it. My first thought was, what the heck is Facebook? I remembered hearing at one point that it was for college kids and maybe highschoolers, neither of which I have been for quite a long time. Regardless, I accepted the invitation, set up a quick profile and left it at that. I have no idea how or when it happened, but months later, I have almost 300 "friends" along with photos (of me AND my kids, perpetual status update, lots of little green patch plants, cupcakes, hugs and other things that thankfully right now I can't recall. I think Facebook is pretty cool for a few reasons. First, you can see which of your friends knows which other of your friends. Some weird connections have come up that we never would have known about, sans Facebook. Second, you can find out what your ex-boyfriends former classmates are up to without stalking actually have to speak to them. I'm not really anti-social, and have a bunch of friends from high school and a handful from college that I speak to on a regular basis. Actually less than a handful. But it does make it less awkward to randomly run into someone that you've already e-mailed on Facebook than if you haven't spoken to them in 20 years.

I made my old college roommate promise that she would join Facebook while she was out on maternity leave. No work, no excuse. Yeah, yeah, yeah, she said. Although unwillingly, she did join, and tells me every time we talk that she is catching up to me in friends. Then the e-mail I received from her the other day went something like this:

Thank you so much for getting me addicted to Facebook. If I get caught on Facebook while at work, I'll be sure to thank you again.
Thanks to me, she then learned how to disable her online status so she always appears offline. This is great, because her boss is one of her Facebook friends, and now he'll never know that she's surfing Facebook instead of actually doing work. I'm sure she looks busy, so it's all fine.

While there are selling points of Facebook, there are some weird things too. Like the groups - I skated every weekend at the Skate Factory in 1982 and 1983. Or how about I had a Gear Bag, Ton Sur Ton sweatshirt and had E.G. Smith Socks. Or my alltime favorite, Help....I'm Addicted to Facebook. Another weird thing is that people will friend you, but then not say anything. It's like, you want to be my friend, yet you can't send an e-mail to say "Hey, what's up? We haven't spoken in 20 years?" Or better yet, people friend me that don't even know me! Well, they might know me, but definitely don't know them. (Just a note, I don't accept).

Facebook has been proven to be pretty cool, in my book. I've reconnected with old friends, been invited to a psudo-high school reunion and been able to stay updated on new friends. So outside of being friended by my college-aged cousin and having her ask why I am on Facebook (read: you are too old) I pretty much think it rocks. So if you're on, friend me. But make sure I know you first ;)

Just Plain Nice...

Someone sent me this video and it was so nice it almost made me tear up. Enjoy....

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Star of the Day

"Why aren't you listening?" This has become my mantra to my 5 year old son. Lately he's been pretty much ignoring everything we say. If he's tapping and we say, "Stop tapping", he does it again. If he's running around the house and we say, "Stop running around the house," he runs one more time. If he's jumping on the couch and we say, "Stop jumping on the couch," he jumps a few more time. If he's...okay. I'm sure you get it.

The "stop jumping/running/yelling/spinning" is usually followed by, "Did you hear me?" Of course he did, and then we talk about going to the doctor and getting his hearing checked. "I heard you though!" Exactly! So why didn't you listen??

After a not-so-great-listening weekend last weekend, we decided that we would implement a rewards system. For every day that he is a good listener, he gets a star. After 5 stars, Daddy will take him to Dave & Busters. The first question he asked, "Do the 5 starts have to be in a row?" Smart kid, right? "Yes," we told him, "they have to be in a row."

Day 1 was good. He listened to the babysitter, didn't torture his sister too much, listened to me when I got home and was generally pretty good. Ahh, I thought, we're on our way.

Day 2 was good too. When I got home, babysitter said he was great. He had a playdate over and was pretty good, included his sister, got along with his friend, didn't whine. Well, whined once. But in the scheme of things, and thinking about our weekend, I'll take it. Wow! This is all we had to do? I should have done this reward thing earlier, it's working great. Am I going to have to bribe my kid fo the rest of his life? If all it takes is Dave & Busters (and not a car at any point), I'm good. Let's hear it for bribery!

Day 3. Not so great. First he threw up on the floor. Obviously, having nothing to do with listening, but I thought I'd throw that in there. Puking episode over and confirming that there's no fever and he's not sick, he went to his friend's house on a playdate. When he was picked up, we learned he did not listen to the friend's babysitter. She is a lovely woman, and described her day as "sometimes challenging." Oy, that's not good. What else did he do? He didn't listen. He whined. He didn't want to eat what she served for lunch. He spit on his friend. Seriously, this is a good kid. He spit on his friend? Are you sure? Spit like saliva from his mouth??

I spoke to him on the phone. "Mommy, I'm not getting a star today," he said, clearly fighting back tears. "Why?" I asked. "I didn't listen today, it wasn't a good day." I almost felt bad. Not bad enough to give him a star anyway, but still bad.

Later we talked about his day. I was much less concerned with the not listening than I was with the spitting. Who spits on someone? I cringe just thinking about it. He said that his friend "was crying, and I was just trying to help." Now, this might make sense to a 5 year old mind. It might even sound like it could get him out of trouble. But this didn't make any sense to my 30-somthing year old mind after a lousy day of work at a job that I am teetering on leaving at any given moment. "Huh?" I asked. "What do you mean, how does spitting on someone help?" He really couldn't explain it, but insisted that was what it was.

End result of the day? No star for the day. No tv or computer for the night. But we didn't dwell on it. We didn't talk about it anymore. He played Shrek Operation with Daddy and went to bed for the night. I checked on him when he was sleeping and felt this incredible surge of love for him. You know the feeling, when you see your kids and they are fast asleep, not moving, not talking and not terrorizing anyone. You question how could this little angel ever do anything wrong?

Tomorrow will be better, I thought. He's such a good boy. When I get home from work, we'll see if he gets a star today.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Is It Happening In Your House?

Harrison Neal was a 17-year-old boy living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I met with his father, Gary, and sister, Jordan, this week and listened to their description of Harrison - “everyone’s friend”, “fun”, “a great kid”, “a great student with a 3.5 GPA” and someone that “everyone loved”. What his parents and sister didn’t know about Harrison was that he was taking drugs. He wasn’t smoking pot, shooting heroin or snorting cocaine. There were no obvious signs of drug use. Harrison was a smart kid and had been educated since he was a little boy on the dangers of getting involved with illegal drugs. At 17 years old, Harrison was getting high from prescription drugs. Drugs that were prescribed to someone else. He didn’t know the dangers of these drugs or how they would interact with other medications he was taking. Like so many teens, Harrison didn’t know that prescription drugs could kill him. The day before Thanksgiving 2006, Harrison’s mother found him dead in his room from a lethal combination of an over the counter cold medication and someone else’s prescription painkiller.

Gary Neal does not want his son’s death to be in vain. He and his daughter are now vocal advocates against prescription drug abuse, using their experience to educate other parents about existence of this major problem. Meeting with them and seeing how personal this experience is compels me to put this information out to you today. Sitting across the table from them, learning about Harrison and hearing what they went through was extremely difficult, even for someone who has absolutely no connection to their family. But they are out there telling their story, repeating the events of the worst day of their lives, over and over again, hoping that other families will not have to go endure the same nightmare.

As you read this, many of you are thinking that although this may be something that happens in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it is not something that happens where you live. Not in our backyards. Not in our schools. Not to our kids. And certainly not in our houses. If those are your thoughts, you are, unfortunately, very wrong. The drugs that teens are playing around with are extremely serious: painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin, stimulants such as Ritalin or Adderal and tranquilizers such as Xanax. Statistics show that 1 in 5 American teens are abusing prescription drugs. That’s 20% of teenagers ages 13 – 18 are ingesting medication prescribed by a doctor to someone other than themselves. More than 50% of these teens obtained the prescription medications from their own home, a parent, a relative or a friend. They are taking them from their parents’ medicine cabinets and getting them from friends who are taking them from their parents’ medicine cabinets. They are buying them at school. And they are attending “pharm parties”, get-togethers where prescription drugs are exchanged and randomly ingested, in order to become intoxicated. The Internet also opens up many new doors for teens. Online, they are able to access information about various drugs and the side effects, and even gain access to “recipes”, learning what prescription medications to mix together to achieve different levels of intoxication.

Parents, are you scared yet? You should be. You should be scared enough to want to educate yourself on this crazy topic. Abbott, a major player in the development and manufacturing of drugs for conditions such as bipolar disorder, pain and epilepsy, to name a few, has joined forces with the Partnership for a Drug Free America to take action against this addiction in our children. As parents, we all need to be aware and educate ourselves on the dangers of our children abusing prescription medication. Abbot and the Partnership have launched a website called Not in My House ( which provides parents with information on topics such as teen drug culture and lingo, talking with our kids about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and abuse and how the teen brain is different from the adult brain, making teens more vulnerable to addiction.

Not In My House talks about three simple steps parents can take to help secure our homes.

  • Monitor you prescription drugs. Know what medications you have in your house and count the number of pills in your bottles. Check regularly for missing pills.

  • Keep your prescription drugs in a secure place where they are not easily accessible.

  • Leftover or expired medication should be disposed of properly. Place pills them in a non-see-through container and mix in something unpleasant such as old coffee grounds or cat litter. Seal the container and put it in the trash.
Teens are abusing prescription medications in part because they don’t know the dangers. They have been educated from a young age by the “Just Say NO!” campaign and have learned the dangers of illegal drugs such as crack, heroin and cocaine. They also feel invincible. They need to be educated on the fact that taking prescription medication prescribed to someone else can be deadly. Start talking to your kids about these dangers early, around 10 or 11 years old. Help them understand that prescription medication exists to help people who seek out a doctor. Taking prescription medications that belong to someone else can be deadly. Just ask Gary and Jordan Neal.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Finally Saw It!

Yes, I finally saw it. What? The Sex and the City movie. During my first attempt with two girlfriends on opening night, while en route to the theater, I received a phone call that my father in law had passed away, and although we continued on to the movie theater (my husband pretty much forced me to go), there was apparently a glitch with the credit card that my friend used to purchase her ticket online, and we didn't get to see the movie.

Three weeks later, I found myself out to dinner and at the movies with a different girlfriend, who was excited to see the movie although she hadn't watched the show. What? I didn't realize that there were people that never watched Sex and the City while on HBO. There can't be that many. Anyway, I, on the other hand, have seen every episode ever made. Twice. Okay, maybe three times.

So the credits roll and I'm thrilled. I feel the smile on my face. As they go through a quick backstory on each of the four women, I feel the tears coming. Seriously. We're about 3 minutes into the movie and I'm already tearing crying. This is going to be BAD. I'm so excited to see the movie that the two and half hours whiz by. Yes, the movie was two and a half hours long! It could have been two and a half days long and I truly wouldn't have cared. I would have sat with the same tears in my eyes smile on my face for the duration. And loved every single minute of it.

If you haven't seen the movie and plan on it, stop reading this post now. I'm telling you ahead of time that there are definite spoilers lurking in this post, so if you have any inkling that you might be going to see it and don't want to know what happens, STOP HERE.

I could go on and on for a good long while about this movie. To spare you, I've decided to list my top 10 comments, in no particular order, but keeping them in bullet points so I might be able to go to sleep at some point tonight.

  1. Loved Carrie's wedding dress - beautiful. Hated Carrie's wedding hair - what was with the bird??
  2. Loved that she beat Big with the flowers in the middle of the street. Literally beat him over the head with the bouquet. It was NYC of course, so no one stopped to do anything to help him. I don't know what I'd do if I saw that on the street.
  3. Hated that Samantha and Smith broke up. But truly loved that Samantha didn't go back to her old ways and wind up sleeping with the neighbor. Very tasteful, definitely have to hand it to the writers on that one. Sidenote - Samantha looked really old to me, did that hold true for anyone else?
  4. Loved the apartment that Carrie and Big bought (almost bought?). Are there really apartment like that in NYC? Every apartment I've ever seen could fit in that apartment about 10 times. Maybe more.
  5. Hated Big's first proposal to Carrie. Yuck. Loved the second. Even if he gave her a shoe instead of a diamond ring.
  6. Loved Charlotte pooping in her pants. Probably the funniest part was later when she was talking to Carrie about how perfect her life is and how she's waiting for the shoe to drop, and Carrie says, "Honey, you sh*t your pants this year, I think that's enough."
  7. Loved that Miranda went back to Steve. They totally belong together, even though during most of the movie he sort of looked a little more dorky than usual.
  8. Didn't love that so much of the movie was devoted to the time coming up to the wedding, then the months after the wedding and so little time was devoted to Carrie & Big getting back together. Would have liked to see a little more groveling (from him) and a little more of a hard time going back to him (from her).
  9. Loved that Charlotte finally got pregnant. That girl deserved it.
  10. Loved that the relationships between the women were so strong.
The last thing that I want to say is that the movie made me feel happy and it made me feel sad. Happy that my beloved characters, whom I had watched for so many years, were finally all grown up and really settled, and that I had closure on what happened in their lives. Sad because I really wonder if groups of women like the four in the movie really exist. Do these amazing group relationships truly last, day in and day out, through the 20's, 30's and 40's? It made me a little wistful for a group like that of my own. Believe me that I have good friends, but it's more one on one relationships, not in a group. All of the groups that I have enjoyed in the past have sort of drifted apart as our lives evolved into different things.

All that being said, I loved the movie. Could there ever be another sequel or is it goodbye to our NYC girls forever?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Been Awhile...

So when I started this blog, I thought I would be able to write every day and be as interesting as so many of the women I met when I attended the Disney Mommy Blogger Mixer back in April. Not that I thought blogging is easy, but I thought I'd be more interesting and have more insightful things to say, words of wisdom. One thing I've found out about myself is that I don't. Things happen in the normal course of the day, but although I have started taking my camera with me and have taken a bunch of great pictures I normally wouldn't have, the having insteresting things to say part just isn't always there.

So aside from that, here are ten things I've discovered about myself over the past few weeks.

  1. I am the mom of a pre-school graduate, soon to be kindergartener.
  2. As much as you think you do, you very rarely really know someone.
  3. I have very little patience.
  4. My to-do list seems to grow daily, but very rarely gets shorter.
  5. It takes awhile for the fact that someone is gone to really set in and become your reality.
  6. Sometimes it's better to just not say anything at all.
  7. Even at 2 years old, kids can be pretty insightful.
  8. Just because you once were organized doesn't mean that you will always be that way.
  9. Dreams are often better off staying dreams.
  10. I'm pretty good at Guitar Hero.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Fleeting Moments

Friday, May 30, 2008. 845pm. The phone call I did not want to receive. "Are you at the movies?" my husband asked. I was going to see Sex and the City with my girlfriends. "We're driving there" I told him, "Why?" The phone call seemed odd. "I want you to keep going to the movies, ok? I want you to go." The comment didn't make any sense. "What is going on" I asked. "Bill passed away."

This was the phone call I didn't want to get. The phone call that I knew I would receive one day, and probably one day within the next year or so, but the day that I hoped beyond all hope would be so far away. Far enough away to never come.

Bill to us. Papa Bill to my kids. Gone in an instant.

Bill was larger than life. Literally. Especially when I was 10 years old. "Amy, where's your fiddle," he would ask me when I was 10 and in 5th grade orchestra. I'd see him at school, and around, or when we would hang out with Michael. Years later, I would see him when I started dating Craig and we would spend time at their house. He was big. Loud. Funny. Fun. Smart. And so special.

This family became Craig's family, and later my family. Blood ties didn't matter. Craig was their son. Aaron and Camryn were their grandkids. And there was no differentiation between blood and non-blood, no thought to biology. They were all the same.

When we were 14, Bill and his family gave Craig a home. It was all legal, papers were signed and responsibility was taken. Responsibility for the life and well-being of a child who biologically wasn't theirs. But Bill and Cheryl didn't care. They left it up to Michael because he would have to share a room. It didn't matter. They became parents to Craig. Real parents. The kind of parents who make you clean your room, who sit down to eat dinner as a family together, who give you chores and celebrate holidays with you.

Craig came back to live with Bill and Cheryl after college, after Michael and Ilana had moved out. Craig and I took the train to the city every day with Bill. He would read, do puzzles and talk. Talk to everyone. Sometimes a little embarrassing because he literally talked to everyone. Whoever sat in that 4th seat with us to fill the square would be talked to the whole way home. And by the end of the train ride, they would be his friend.

Fast forward to when Craig and I got engaged. We came home from a weekend upstate and I was surprised by a bunch of friends and family at our house. Bill & Cheryl along with Michael and Ilana were there, all so proud of Craig. He was part of their family. And now I was going to be part of their family. Over the next months, we talked about wedding plans and they were so excited. Being in the garment district, Bill offered to give me the information on the designer where Ilana got her wedding dress. Cheryl said, "Just wear Ilana's dress." What? Ilana didn't want me to wear her dress! That night I got a phone call from Ilana, "I'm excited, do you want to wear my dress?" This is a family.

At our wedding, I will never forget the cheering and the thunderous applause when our best man made a speech. "I want to thank two people, without who, Craig wouldn't be where he is today," he started. "Thank you to Bill & Cheryl for everything that you did." Take the noise that 200 people can make, and multiply it by about 100. That was the volume in that room.

When Aaron was born, they were on vacation, driving home from Viriginia or North Carolina, I forget. But they came to the hospital that night, to see their grandson. They were so happy and proud, sitting and holding him. When Camryn was born, they were so excited to meet her! Their 4th grandchild! Three months later, Craig and I were trying to figure out who would perform Camryn's baby naming. We didn't have a relationship with a rabbi or even know one, for that matter. Craig had the amazing idea to ask Bill to do it. Why not? He knows us, loves us, loves the kids and was so smart, he absolutely could do it. He was so proud and honored to be asked, and spent so much time researching. He gave us a certificate for Camryn, told stories about her Hebrew name and gave so much information about the ceremony. A few months later, he performed Jara's naming ceremony at Ilana's.

Over the past three months while Bill was in the hospital, we knew that there would come a time where we would get the phone call. And there were times where we thought it was the end. But so many miracles, he pulled through the worst crises. And was okay. But Friday he wasn't. He didn't feel well, and in an instant was gone.

Camryn is still too little to understand, but Aaron understood. The first thing he said when we told him was, "So, I'll never see him again?" At 5 years old, I wish he didn't need to know this. But when he looked at me with those giant eyes and said, "Mommy, I'm sad. I'm sad because my Papa Bill died," that was the worst for me. I couldn't hold back the tears anymore.

Two weeks ago, we brought the kids to the rehab center to see Bill. He was pretty tired and we said a quick hi and left. The last time Craig saw him, he said to the nurse, "Oh, my son is here." What a special man to do the things that he has done in his life. He's someone that we will always love, remember and think about, knowing that he'll always be with us. We know he's up in heaven, causing havoc with his pals.
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