Category Archives: Modern Life

Bar mitzvah #2 in the books!

Hey kids– remember me??

It’s good to be back! I’m finally coming up for air after a few months of nuttiness. I like the full-time job but it’s kicking my ass– lots of hours and intense focus required. I was producing our local “Listen to Your Mother,” show in May, and Aden became a bar mitzvah this past weekend.

Lots of planning, hours on the computer, and stress. I’d like to say I took it well, but I was a frazzled mess for much of the last month. I’d work 10 hours a day and read emails on the train home.

Aden practicing torah reading with our cantor

Aden practicing torah reading with our cantor

After dinner and getting the kids to bed, I’d be up til the wee hours working on the bar mitzvah video invitation, montage, invite list, and general party planning.

The invitation came out great, thanks to Aden’s swagger. You can watch it here.

We’re taking a trip to Israel with two sets of grandparents and my cousin and her boyfriend in August to celebrate Aden’s bar mitzvah. We’re going for 10 days with a guide and chose lots of outdoorsy activities seeing animals and sights, which Aden should love.

Because of the trip, we were trying to keep the local celebration low-key. But all of our family is out-of-town so we knew we’d be hosting meals and events all weekend, and low-key is hard for me when it comes to parties.

I like things to look a certain way. I wanted the celebration to be personal and make Aden feel special, without the dancers and a photo booth.

Bar mitzvah logo on cake

Thanks to the one and only Able Baker for the delicious and beautiful cake!

I think we accomplished all of this, but it required a lot of work and angst to get there. I’m happy with how it all turned out. But let’s just say I needed the help of my dutiful mother,  a lot of friends, and Ambien. Even with the sleeping pill, I didn’t sleep more than 5-6 hours a night for weeks!

Aden was wonderful on the bimah, and our kiddush lunch was intimate and fun. We had some friends and family over for a backyard party Saturday night– which closely resembled a college keg party– and turned out to be one of the highlights of the weekend.

At the end of the day, of course it’s really about the people and love in the room and we are so lucky to have amazing friends and family to share in our pride and joy in Aden.

I’ll blog again when I get the official photographer’s pix– my one regret from the weekend is that I did not take one photo. ACK! I was trying to be ‘in the moment’ and too distracted by all the people and planning.

But my mom took a few at the kiddush during the speeches.

Bar mitzvah candle lighting

Bar mitzvah candle lighting

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from my speech to Aden… who was poised and charming through it all. Unlike my other two boys, Aden doesn’t like so much attention– which is why we planned the Israel trip– but he rose to the occasion in a big way– rocking a bow tie.

Aden’s independent thinking and self-confidence from a very young age has always left me envious and made my heart swell with love and pride.
 
He’s a complicated dude.  

He’s quiet and poker faced… extremely sensitive, thoughtful and sweet. He can be icy cold and pissed off one minute, and hugging and kissing you an hour later. He is my most challenging child– often stubborn, sometimes obstinate– and yet I know with unshakable certainty that he’s the one who will take care of me when I’m old.
 
He’ll play NBA on PS 4 all day, and read poetry in bed at night. Aden can tell you more about the two-toed sloth than you ever needed to know and play you ”Ode to Joy” on his guitar.

He’s a talented athlete, but always takes the field or court on his own terms. He plays hard and as a pitcher and point guard, handles pressure with ease and grace. While he may be hard on himself at times, he always supports his teammates and cheers them on.

He’s our own little Renaissance Man.

Jand E gave a short congrats speech to Aden.

Jand E gave a short congrats speech to Aden.

One of the best parts of throwing a bar mitzvah and going through all the angst and stress is to celebrate your child at an important time in his life. We know who Aden is to us in our family, but now he’s a teenager and has his own place in the world and life outside of home that we sometimes know little about.
 
The teen years are a challenging time for kids – everyone’s trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be.  I love the opportunity to take a moment to recognize every part of Aden and celebrate what makes him special to so many people here today.  

Anyone who’s planned one of these events knows how much time and energy it requires, and there may have been moments when I questioned why it’s necessary to have a big party to celebrate this milestone. 
 
But then I saw Aden on the bimah working with the rabbi and cantor, reading Hebrew– focused, committed and unafraid. I listened to the words of friends and family describing him for the montage: compassionate, smart, funny. I watched him try on a suit, choose a bow tie, lace up man shoes, and nod approvingly in the mirror. 
 
And I realized what we are celebrating is Aden growing, maturing, and becoming his own person. 

Today– at least in Jewish tradition– he became a man. I can’t wait to see what kind of man he’ll be. I feel so lucky to be a small part of this Renaissance Man’s journey. I hope he carries the sweetness of this day throughout his life….and I hope his confidence and talents help him realize all his dreams.”

Mazel tov kid!

Visiting the grandparents’ Florida gated community: Top 7 observations

Florida gated community grandparents visit on carpoolcandy.com

I took Aden and Eli to West Palm Beach last week to see their grandparents at the posh gated community where they live for six months of the year. It’s an annual tradition that’s always fun and relaxing.

It’s also pretty predictable. Visiting their community– which shall remain nameless so I don’t sully my mother’s good name and reputation, perhaps resulting in her losing the best tennis court on Round Robin days– is like Groundhog Day meets Edward Scissorhands.

After so many years of visiting I’ve gathered some notes on life in the land of roses and retirees…

The grounds are stunning, but all the same. There’s not a blade of grass out of turn. The roads are perfectly paved (potholes probably filled under the cover of night when all residents are tucked into their 1500 threadcount Egyptian cotton sheets)…the landscaping is rich with palm trees, exotic plants and animals, and lush ever-blooming flowers compliment meticulously manicured lawns.

Florida gated community grandparents visit on carpoolcandy.com

All exactly the same

But every street in the property of 1600 homes looks basically the same. They aren’t permitted to personalize their homes or landscaping. On the plus side, no one has to think about upkeep or aesthetics, and it looks beautiful and feels calmingly familiar. But after a week, I find myself longing for my overgrown bushes, chipping window panes, and cracked driveway.

Florida gated community grandparents visit on carpoolcandy.com

Bike riding in the hood

There’s always something to do. I can’t imagine anyone ever suffering a moment of boredom, especially if they’re seeking activities. In the week we were there, the boys played basketball, swam in the pool, soaked in the hot tub, hunted alligators on the golf course, rode bikes, and played pickle ball. They could have also played tennis, golf, bridge, canasta, or Mah jongg. There are book clubs, charity events and wine tastings. It’s like college with no homework. Not a bad way to live.

Florida gated community grandparents visit on carpoolcandy.com

No less than 5 different rules signs in the pool area.

So. Many.Rules. It’s probably most apparent to parents of young children– especially mine– who enjoy testing boundaries and resisting anything that restricts a good time.

Florida gated community grandparents visit on carpoolcandy.com

Within the week, there were kids kicked out of the hot tub for being too young, turned away from the clubhouse dining room for wearing jeans or short shorts, and scolded for climbing on a waterfall in the pool.

Florida gated community grandparents visit on carpoolcandy.com

I have adventurous boys. How can they see that waterfall and not want to climb in and jump off??

The pool takes strict to the extreme.

Florida gated community grandparents visit on carpoolcandy.com

You can’t throw a ball, float on a raft, or give your kid a snack on the lounges. I heard someone call it the “no fun” pool! Though my kids stayed in the water til the sun went down so there is fun to be had.

Florida gated community grandparents visit on carpoolcandy.com

Florida gated community grandparents visit on carpoolcandy.com

More food than an Elizabethan banquet. It’s a constant feast– like cruise ship amounts.

Florida gated community grandparents visit on carpoolcandy.com

Only one third of the buffet line.

My kids love the overflowing bread baskets they bring at every meal and indulging in the buffet, where you can eat yourself silly. Hot gourmet, cold sandwiches, a salad bar with someone to chop it up if you like. Desserts are plentiful– the most popular being piles of large fresh-baked cookies and all you can eat soft serve yogurt with sundae toppings. Heaven!

No need unmet. On a bike ride with Eli, he got very overheated and tired and we were far from home. Within 2 minutes I found a water station near the golf course that not only had ice-cold water but a fridge packed with cold wet neck towels. Eli had an instant recovery. There are several water and “free” Gatorade stations near the tennis and golf club. Every locker room is stocked with every imaginable amenity and plastic bags for your wet clothes.  Many afternoons there’s an ice cream freezer by the pool loaded with tempting treats. (Of course you can’t eat them by the pool, but still!)

Florida gated community grandparents visit on carpoolcandy.com

Chipwich near the pool

We took a tour of the card rooms and there was a counter full of snacks, including M&M’s, and yogurt covered raisins and filling their fists with free goodies may have been the highlight of the boys’ trip.

Baci at Florida gated community grandparents visit on carpoolcandy.com

Learning to play baci

No shortage of competition. Besides the aforementioned sports and card games, my boys discovered Baci– allegedly the fastest growing sport in America– shuffleboard and Pickle Ball–

Pickle ball at Florida gated community grandparents visit on carpoolcandy.com

— a combination of tennis and ping-pong played on a hard court with small wooden paddles and a wiffle ball. We got hooked.

Pickle ball at Florida gated community grandparents visit on carpoolcandy.com

It has its own subculture. There are certain customs you learn when spending time at grandma’s gated community. Seats at the clubhouse pool are coveted, but can only be saved for an hour, so don’t linger at lunch!

Pool at Florida gated community grandparents visit on carpoolcandy.com

It’s ok to cram as many bodies as possible into a golf cart with no seat belts because you’re only going 20 mph with little traffic.

Golf cart at Florida gated community grandparents visit on carpoolcandy.com

Most golf carts here have the owner’s name painted on the sides.

You need to stop and say hello to every one of your mother’s acquaintances because she’s been telling them intimate details of your life over coffee all season. The friends need to check you out and mom needs to show you off. It’s a grandparent’s sacred rite!

I tease because it’s fun but in all honesty it’s a pretty fabulous place to vacation with kids and we are lucky to be invited every year.

Thanks Nan and Papa Pat! Can’t wait til next year…..

Pool at Florida gated community grandparents visit on carpoolcandy.com

Big news! I’m back in showbiz!! (I got a new job)

I have exciting news!!!

You may have noticed I’ve been laying low on the blogging front lately. Much of my energy has been focused on interviewing for a job that seemed so well-suited for me, I was worried if I thought about anything else or spoke too much about it I would jinx it forever and be doomed to live the rest of my days wondering what could have been.

I had FIVE– count ’em five– interviews, and a few restless nights and hand- wringing days waiting to find out if I got the job. And I did!

Photo credit: Kathryn Huang photography

Photo credit: Kathryn Huang photography

You’re looking at the new Editor of Entertainment video for the Associated Press!

A former colleague who works at the AP told me about the position a few months ago and it seemed too good to be true. I’ve been looking for the right job for several years but like Goldilocks, could never seem to find the right fit.

I was working part-time at Fox News as a news editor for the World and U.S. pages and freelance writing for several websites. It gave me great digital experience, but I found writing about Islamic extremist bombings in the Middle East and Africa and the refugee crisis in Syria draining. I was always peeking over at the Entertainment page and pitching feature stories.

In this new job, I’ll be managing producers covering TV, movies, music and arts with no agenda– just straight entertainment news. During the interview process I was warned there might be some travel…. to help cover awards shows like the Golden Globes and Oscars.

oscars 2016 promo

That’s a sacrifice I’m eager to make!

As the interview process continued and the job became more real, I started to feel  drawn to it and realized it’s the gig I’ve been building towards for many years. It combines my TV and management experience with my love of entertainment and pop culture. And it’s at one of the most well-known and respected media companies in the world. The world, people!

During one interview, an editor told me one of the best parts of working for the AP is that when news breaks anywhere– from Capetown to Nashville– they have a bureau and contacts there to cover it. AP has reps on red carpets all over the globe. And someday soon I could be one of them.

ap logo

It’s also the right time to go back to working full-time in the city. My boys are older and more self-sufficient, and college tuition fees loom large. Jacob will be leaving in two years!

I’m thrilled to be going to work every day to talk about entertainment with people who love it as much as I do. I always wanted to be a journalist– you get paid to know what’s going on in the world and every day is a new opportunity to learn and tell a story. I’m excited for a new challenge.

And since I mentioned the Oscars, I’d like to take this moment to thank everyone who helped me get to this place….

Mom and me

My mother has been the Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith) to my Rocky: always in my corner, wiping sweat and tears off my face, pumping me up with encouraging words and loving support, even when I was bruised and beaten down by life’s disappointments.

My aunt Jane was my very own Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) — an inspiration ever since I was a little girl. She was the first journalist I ever knew (ironically she worked for AP’s rival, Reuters, for more than 30 years) and made the career seem fascinating, educating… and most importantly possible, even while raising a family.

Family friend, Anne Rosenbaum who gave me the best professional advice I’ve probably ever received. She had quit her high-profile TV job at ABC several years prior and told me– when I quit my full-time job in TV at Fox– to always keep my resume alive. I’ve been a freelance writer, digital editor, live show producer, blogger, essay writing tutor, and book reviewer.  I’ve kept busy and current in the changing media world and that helped tremendously when the time was right. She’s my Glenda the Good Witch.

thelma and louise

My girlfriends. Like Thelma and Louise…Violet, Doralee and Judy in 9 to 5, the southern belles of Steel Magnolias, and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants …… I love my gal pals. If I start to mention names I’ll surely forget and offend so I’ll just say you know who you are. Thanks for listening to the minute-by minute drama of each job opportunity, for the calls and texts of encouragement, and for sharing wine and making me laugh when I needed it.

My former (and future!) colleague, Alicia, who alerted me to the job and showed me how my past experience had prepared me for it. I promise never to encase your stapler in Jello mold.

And no, I won’t pull a Reese Witherspoon/Hilary Swank and forget to thank my loving husband, Wilson. That guy has put up with more worrying, complaining, frustration, and indulgence than anyone, and took on the responsibility of primary breadwinning while I tried to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. You’re the best honey. Even better than Clooney.

ap logo

If you want to read more about the job, you can check out the AP announcement today here.

I start next week. Expect several posts about the transition back to full-time and my first celebrity sightings!

 

Why is my 12 year old so pissed off?

It starts in the morning. Aden never wants to get out of bed, and pre-teen hormones and angst have not improved the situation.

I quietly pad into his room and gently sit down next to him on his bed, careful not to get too close. (DON’T POKE THE BEAR!!)

I stroke his still soft cheeks and whisper, “It’s time to wake up….” and then cringe inside. He usually pretends he doesn’t hear me the first time and after several soothing prods, I might get a guttural groan that translates to “GO AWAY!”

Always wary with a hint of a smile

Always wary with a hint of a smile

I’m not allowed to turn on the light or open the shades. I can’t say too much, and God forbid I ask what he wants for breakfast or lunch. It’s a delicate dance on eggshells each day.

He takes his sweet time to get ready– like, longer than Sofia Vergara on her wedding day, with the same attention to his hair — and often screams downstairs at me if one of the only two pairs of sweatpants he deems worthy, is dirty.

There are no smiles, just snarls and eye rolls galore as he rushes through his cereal (Life with carefully sliced strawberries,)  grabs his backpack and slams the door behind him.

Despite kind requests, pleading, scolding, and groundings he often doesn’t text me when he gets out of school, lingering in town with friends, and making me worry. When he strolls in and I ask him about homework, he hisses at me “I did it already!” or  “I don’t have any!” If I dare follow up with a question on what he did have, he throws his head back in disgust.

“OH MY GOD MOM!!”

Not totally sure of the subtext. Could be “Leave me the hell alone,” “Why do you care?” or “”It’s none of your damn business lady!”

Hard to know.

What I do know is that every word out of my mouth is the most annoying  ever uttered in the history of parenthood. I am useless, irritating and an obstacle he must remove to get to his room, where he will slam the door (once so hard the knob fell off and remains broken.)

funny teen cartoon

He lies on his bed staring at his phone– participating in a group chat, spying on friends on Instagram or obsessively playing his STOP app.

He’s 12. Middle school. I get it.

But wow is he hard to live with sometimes.

12 seems to be the worst age because they’re certain they know everything, but the one thing they know nothing about is themselves. How they appear and sound to people who aren’t 12 seems  inconsequential. Every thought they have is the most important and must be expressed, no matter how nasty it is.

London with kids on carpoolcandy.com

Sometimes he likes me

Of course Jacob went through this too. I went back to the blog archives and found this excerpt from when Jacob turned 13…. sounds very familiar…..

Jacob has slipped into the inevitable yet loathsome phase of believing that every member of his family is a dunce. He barely listens to our conversations, unless they’re about him– because we are clearly not worth his time. When he does grab a detail he deems worthy of his attention, if he doesn’t approve, he snarls his lip, squints his eyes, and cocks his head.

He stares incredulously with contempt and I can only think he’s wondering how he could be related to people so moronic. When we tell him to do something– anything, really– from flipping a light switch to completing a term paper– he sighs loudly and shrugs so deeply I’m surprised he hasn’t injured his shoulders. We’re such a burden, I don’t know how he tolerates us.

So yes, it’s a phase they all go through. But Aden has always been more moody and internal so he’s teenish times ten, and his contempt for me (and poor Eli, his other target) seems more visceral and intense.

But what choice does a mother have but to bite her tongue to resist the temptation to put him in his place…. and maybe even laugh at his remarkably consistent overreactions to anything that offends his fragile sensibility.

Some day– sooner than I think or want to admit– I’ll wish I had a 12-year-old home to frustrate me. So I’ll tiptoe into his room again tomorrow, and be happy he’s still waiting for me under the covers.

 

Holiday wrap-up: guilt and gluttony

I’m baaaaaack! Did you miss me? That was the l o n g e s t stretch I’ve ever gone without blogging people, and it didn’t feel good. But I had a lot going on with work and a new business, and there are only so many hours in the day!

Rockefeller Tree on carpoolcandy.com

The holidays only complicate things with all the customs and expectations to keep up. The gift-buying and wrapping, house decorating, party attending, family hosting, calendar/photo book making, card sending, cookie baking, good deed doing, and tradition keeping all make me want to OD on sugar cookies and eggnog and sleep for two weeks.

Something had to give.

I felt terribly guilty neglecting the blog and spent much of these holidays worrying that no matter how dog tired I was at the end of each day, I had not done enough. The to-do list loomed.

I hate that.

And I missed getting my ya-yas out in this space and hearing feedback from you guys. It feeds my soul! So please keep reading.

I have much to catch you up on so I’ll break it up into bullet points and photos.

–I started a college essay writing/editing business.  I’ve been doing alumni interviews for Tufts for 12 years and I’ve offered to help several friends’ kids with their college essays over the years so this year I decided to hang up a virtual shingle and make a go of it. I did a lot of research last summer on what colleges are looking for and interviewed several people involved in the admissions process. Then I sent an email with info on my background and experience to friends. Within two days of sending the email I had a few clients, and between October and January first, I worked with 12 students on more than 35 essays.

keep-calm-and-write-the-essay-4

I loved it. Working with someone else’s kids was a fun and enriching experience, I relish the editing process and helping kids express their bests selves, and I’m getting an invaluable education in the college application game before I have to worry about my own kid. Some of the students I worked with applied early and already have been accepted to Columbia University, Rhode Island School of Design, Villanova, University of Vermont, UC-Boulder, and University of Michigan!

Only down side was that every spare minute in the last six weeks– right up until December 30th– was spent reading and editing essays (hence the lack of blogging.) And now I probably won’t work with another kid until the summer!

— Hannukah came and went. It was all too early and too fast. I didn’t get a chance to properly shop and wrap. My boys don’t need anything so it was a challenge finding gifts that were fun, surprising, and useful.

Hannukah

Some highlights were Eli’s Kindle Fire for Kids, Aden’s video drone and a guitar, and Jacob’s Giants jersey and gift cards to Bagel Chateau and the sushi place in town.

IMG_3971

We also got to celebrate with family and friends, which is always the best part.

Hannukah

Family Hannukah party

— We saw the Giants’ season ripped away. Always fun and mercifully not subzero temps. It was an exciting and important game against the Panthers.

Giants game vs Panthers on carpoolcandy.com

It looked like a blowout before the Giants came back and went into OT…only to lose moments later.

Giants game on carpoolcandy.com

Lots of long faces in the car ride home.

Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

–We honored our annual tradition: training into NYC to see the windows on Christmas Eve. While the warm December temperatures are a treat, they made getting around Manhattan even worse over the holidays.

Bulgari holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

The area around my midtown office near Times Square was a nightmare and Fifth Avenue on Christmas Eve was a mob scene. You’d think the NYPD were giving away iPhones on every corner from the endless lines of people streaming through the streets.

Barneys holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

We hit Barneys first… where they had an ice sculptor creating holiday works of art in the window. Eli could have sat there all night.

Barneys holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

His brothers, not so much.

So we moved onto my favorite, Bergdorf Goodman.

Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

Most of the fantastical scenes were made of Swavorski crystals. Divine.

Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

Saks had an around the world theme, featuring the Seven Wonders… which was lackluster.

Saks holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

But we do love Saks’ light show to Silver Bells music which lights up the entire facade of the 5th Avenue storefront.

Saks holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

Macy’s had Snoopy and a message:

Macys holiday windows on carpoolcandy.com

We let the kids in on one of New York’s best kept secrets at dinnertime. Arguably one of the best burgers in the city, we snuck behind the velvet curtains at the Parker Meridien in midtown to try The Burger Joint.

Burger Joint NYC on carpool candy.com

It’s a hole in the wall smack in the middle of a posh hotel, that serves great burgers, fries, beer and wine. The boys loved the food and the down and dirty scene.

Burger Joint NYC on carppolcandy.com

— I ate and drank a lot.  From candy canes to Cabernet…. latkes to honey-baked ham, I laughed in the face of moderation.  Hey, it’s the holidays! But my jeans say I’ve paid for it.

We watched Star Wars episodes 4, 5, and 6 before seeing The Force Awakens. When you’re the mom of boys– who happened to grow up with a brother who talked Wookie and had every single spaceship and action figure in the galaxy– you become versed in the ways of the Force. I’ve seen the movies multiple times and I know my bounty hunters and droids.

star wars force awakens movie poster

(LucasFilm)

We got tickets to see the new one on Christmas Day so we stayed up late Christmas Eve watching Star Wars and Empire, and then watched Jedi the morning before our afternoon showing.

Aden, Eli and I loved The Force Awakens, but Wilson and Jacob felt only lukewarm and left wanting more. One of my complaints about 1, 2, and 3 were they were too long and the stories were convoluted. I thought 7 captured the tone of 4, 5, and 6 and was well written and edited, funny, and fast moving. It was full of cool special effects and charming characters, and I loved that the protagonist is a badass woman. Harrison Ford was great and I can’t wait for the next one!

I’d like to say my holiday week was relaxing but I was working a lot and hosting family and friends so there wasn’t enough down time. I did manage to squeeze in two other movies.

The Big Short movie poster

(Paramount Pictures)

The Big Short is a compelling, well-acted story about the collapse of the housing market in 2008, but I don’t think it’s a terrific movie. There isn’t anyone to root for and it underscores everything tainted, greedy and shortsighted about this country. Sure, there’s Brad Pitt, Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling (va-va-voom) but they all wear such terrible wigs it’s hard to remember how hot they are. The breakout star for me is Jeremy Strong, the tough, gum-snapping trader who doesn’t suffer fools and is probably worth $50 million. One to watch.

(Open Road Films)

(Open Road Films)

Also made Wilson take me to Spotlight— about the Boston Globe reporters who uncovered the epidemic of pedophile priests and the major coverup by the Catholic Church, exposed in a 2002 Pulitzer Prize-winning  investigative report. I’m always amazed when a filmmaker can take a familiar story with an ending we all know and still build tension and drive. The performances  (by Michael Keaton, Liev Schrieber, Rachel McAdams, and Mark Ruffalo) are understated and the story is very powerful. Disturbing topic, but great movie.

hamilton---digital-album-cover---final_sq-6aec6877614608af10cf4169380c490a7e78bf5f-s300-c85

We’ve become obsessed with the Hamilton musical soundtrack. U.S. history set to cool rap music from a Broadway musical?! I’m in heaven and Aden and Eli are hooked. Nothing makes me happier than when my little sports junkies appreciate art and culture!

2016 cookies on carpoolcandy.com

–We spent New Year’s Eve with family and friends sharing cocktails, good food, and lots of laughs. Hope for more of the same in 2016!

Good to back sharing. Happy New Year all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 7 things I learned losing my iPhone, chasing it down and reclaiming it

I was walking to a friend’s house with Brady this week when it started to rain. As I began to run, my phone must have slipped out of my jacket pocket. You’d think I would have heard it– it’s in a heavy Mophie battery case– but I didn’t even realize it was gone until an hour later when I left my friend’s house.

I retraced my steps on the two-block walk twice, scanning the piles of leaves for sign of my phone, as the panic began to set in. Losing your phone is such a pain in the ass.

I remembered that two leaf-blowers were at my neighbor’s house as I passed by and thought if I dropped it near her house, maybe that’s why I didn’t hear it fall. The blaring sound of leaf-blowing rivals a plane landing.

As a concoction of angst and anger began to boil in my stomach, I went to my computer and tried to get on the “Find my iPhone” app through the iCloud. It proved challenging.

Our muse

Our muses

The rest of the story was like an episode of  Thelma and Louise meets Hart to Hart: two broads taking justice into their own hands and attempting to solve a mystery with no detective experience.

I got my phone back and I learned a few things along the way.

Put your Apple ID info somewhere other than your phone. Duh! Seems obvious yet I couldn’t find it anywhere so I had to reset my password and wound up on the phone with Apple support for 40 minutes straightening out my ID and iCloud information.

find my iPhone screen on carpoolcandy.com

Make sure  your “find my iPhone” feature is on at all times. Luckily I had just checked to make sure it was on so I was able to use the locator and find out where my phone was in real time. When I first logged in, it was at least 12 blocks from where I lost it. Someone had taken it. I wanted to believe that someone intended to return it. The support guy helped me put an alarm sound on the phone and message on the screen that said “This iPhone is lost. Please call this number and I will come pick it up. Thank you!” Then I waited.

An hour went by. Nada.

Have a good friend who has your back and is willing to face possible danger. My pal, MaryEllen (you may remember her from adventures in London) sprang into service as soon as she found out my phone was missing. “I’m coming to pick you up and we’re going to find that phone!” she exclaimed fearlessly. Within minutes she raced into my driveway in her shiny silver minivan, with her adorable Cavachon puppy, Rocket,  in the back seat, ready for action. (Rocket is Freeway from Hart to Hart in this scenario.)

She might as well have been wearing a cape.

I’d been tracking the phone on the locator and it had moved three times in 90 minutes, all through our neighboring town. My guess was that the leaf blowers across the street either scooped it up in a bunch of leaves and didn’t know they had it…. or one of them picked it up. Why else would it keep moving locations every 30 minutes?

Police don’t go after lost cell phones. Apple told me to call the police and report the phone as stolen. When I did, the lady on the phone impatiently dismissed me, saying “they don’t go after stolen cell phones.” I explained I could see where it was but she didn’t seem to care. She said I could come into the station and file a report and a detective would get to it when he got to it. Didn’t sound like it would be anytime before Christmas.

Police don’t care if you do! When I kindly suggested that I couldn’t wait that long because my moving cell phone might be out of the county in an hour, the aloof police lady seemed too be rushing me off the phone. “So you’re telling me I have to go after my phone myself?” I said in disbelief. That seemed like asking for trouble.

But there was no way I was going to let that phone just wander away, never to be seen again.

Friends on carpool candy.com

Don’t we look like badassses? Or at least phone detectives!                                        (This is a file photo as I had no phone to capture the moment and we were using hers to find the truck.)

So ME and I drove towards the address where the phone was last spotted (having someone at home watching the locator would have been ideal but no one was around to help,) not knowing what we would say or do when we got there.

We rode into Newstead in that Honda Odyssey with fire in our bellies and hair flapping in the wind, ready to take back what was mine.

Sure enough there was a leaf blower truck right in front of the house and a guy packing up. I asked him politely if he had found an iPhone and he instantly said yes, his co-worker had found one earlier. He claimed it was locked so he couldn’t call me (true if neither of them had their own phone) and we chose to believe he had good intentions. Although I’m not sure what his plan was with the phone after his shift was over.

He handed the phone over easily and we rejoiced.

leaf blower truck on carpoolcandy.com

We spotted the truck!

Put a sticker on your phone case with name/address and or phone number so there’s no excuse not to return it.  For years, I’ve always taken those printed address stickers you get free in the mail from charities and put them on the back of my phone and camera, in case they get lost. But since I got my Mophie case, I haven’t put a sticker on. Maybe if the leaf blower had seen the sticker and realized the address was RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET, he might have returned my phone right away. One woman on Facebook said her screensaver has a photo of her kids holding a sign that says “If this phone is lost, please call this number” so even if it’s locked an honest soul could get it back to her.

Back up, back up, back up! In those two hours without my phone I saw my life flash before my eyes: blog post and story ideas, contacts. calendar, photos! If I hadn’t been regularly backing up, I would have been crushed.

Yes, yes, I see the irony — flashing in neon lights– that just a few days ago, I blogged about trying not to be so attached to my phone and just be in the moment.

But completely without it? Out of the question!!

Have a funny story about losing your phone? Tell me about it in the comments!

Can you survive an hour without wifi? A test.

I had time to kill in Manhattan last week between work and dinner with friends. That hour or so turned into an interesting experiment that shed light on where I am on the scale of phone addiction.

iPhoneIt was one of those amazing unseasonably warm evenings we’ve been having here in the Tri-State area (thanks global warming) and I was on the Upper West Side and had to get to east Midtown so I decided to take a subway and walk.

There was no cell service in the subway and it’s awkward to read your phone while walking, especially in New York, where you can run into a street sign, construction zone, or really pissed off person in a hurry if you aren’t looking where you’re going. I forgot my headphones so listening to music or a podcast was not an option.

So for about an hour I didn’t look at my phone. No big deal, right?

Have you done it recently? Have you been out and about — not at work or in a movie or exercising or distracted by life at home– but out in the world during prime texting/emailing time and not felt compelled to look at your smart device?

It’s probably more difficult than you think.

I consider myself a thoughtful, balanced person who knows that I should not be sucked into screen time and should live in the moment and enjoy what’s going on around me. I’m constantly scolding my boys for excessive screen time. “Your mind will turn to mush if you watch one more episode of Hawaii 5-0!!” I yell emphatically. “No phones at the dinner table!”

cell phone ban graphic/ carpoolcandy.com

But there I was walking up Broadway holding my handbag on one arm and clutching my iPhone for dear life in the other, willing myself not to look at it. Once I sensed my anxiety, I started to become acutely aware of the temptation to check for a new text or email, or to scroll through Facebook or Twitter.

Then it became a game. I wanted to prove to myself that I didn’t need to check my phone as I walked through the crowded streets during rush hour. I could use the time to think.

Remember free thinking?

I often find I come up with some of my best ideas while in the shower. That 10-12 minutes of warm water and meditative sounds provide clarity. I remember things for my to-do list, generate story ideas for articles or blogs, and even work through tough writing tasks for ongoing projects.

But in the shower I have no choice. Looking at my phone is not an option.

On the street, I started to feel restless. I was surprised and a little embarrassed as I realized my co-dependence on that small screen in my palm. I forced myself to use the time to look around, take in the people-watching– no place better than New York for that– and see where my thoughts would lead me.

It was a humbling exercise.

When did I turn into such an information addict? I know intellectually that so much of my attention spent online is wasted.

Social Media Relationship Rules

Social media sucks me in the way TV consumed me when I had more time to watch it. I’m a pop culture and news junkie, and I’m interested in people so I find it all impossible to resist.

But there’s something to be said for being with your thoughts. I know I’m not allowing myself that luxury enough. Are you?