Oh, how I love to make up a good word now and then.
Today Brad Stone of the New York Times wrote this article about the Internet Safety Technical Task Force's charge to study the extent of threats to childrens' safety on social networks. The task force was lead by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. This was prompted by parents' fear of child predators' use of sites like myspace and Facebook to target kids.
The report found that bullying among children, both online and offline, was a far greater threat than sexual solicitation of minors by adults online. Don't get me wrong, bullying is a terrible problem and I don't mean to diminish it here. But, I am particularly happy to hear the news about the lack of predators in online communities.
As a mom of 'a certain age' I often hear my peers voice their concerns about allowing their kids to partake in new technologies and online communities. I am not talking about young children, as with any tool or socialization, young kids need to be taught about the dangers and learn appropriate behavior. But there is a hyper-vigilance to 'protect' kids from technology. Facebookanoia.
As I see it, this is their world. For better or worse texting, Facebook, video chat, BBM; these are all the ways in which they communicate. Does it have a downside? Sure. So did the telephone when it first came out. I would bet critics proclaimed the end to true interpersonal relationships with the loss of eye contact and the art of letter writing. But that is evolution.
I find it funny that our generation, the one that has 'been their done that', can be so fearful of change. Yes, it is frightening to think about how technology has changed socialization for our kids. But look at the upside. Facebook has changed the way our kids leave for college. They can meet people online and join groups before they ever step foot on campus. Many choose a roommate and start connecting long before they drop their bags in the tiny dorm room they will share. They can keep in touch with friends, yes and even parents, far away with video chat; making the world seem smaller and their loved ones closer.
Not so bad when I put it that way, right?
I will leave you with this quote from John Cardillo, chief executive of Sentinal Holding which maintains a sex offender database and was part of the task force, "This [study] shows that social networks are not these horribly bad neighborhoods on the Internet. Social networks are very much like real-word communities that are comprised mostly of good people who are there for the right reasons."
Ok, that is a bit of a stretch. But look at all of us. A bunch of mid-century modern moms, blogging away. We are like the poster moms for social networking!
Yikes! Did everyone just wake up from the big sleep? Only two work days into the new year and I am crawling to the finish line of the day. Not that I am complaining, I am thrilled to have the work. Isn't that what we are all supposed to think in this economy even when we are cranky about all we have to do in a day?
I have been thinking that there is a good chance there is a camera in my office and people are trying to see how long before I lose it. Do all my clients check in with each other and scheme to call me at the same moment? Oh, and my mother too? Hey everyone, at 5:04 on the dot, call Amy with something 'that can't wait'. Funny, even people I can never get on the phone and a client I have not heard from in months all surfaced today.
There was a point during the day today when I realized I had been meaning to go the bathroom for over an hour and never got the chance. Don't worry, no accidents, not that old yet!
It is always funny to me that people can go from being so lazy to productive on overdrive with the turn of the yearly calendar page. The same people who did not take off their slippers and sweatpants for 48 hours straight are now marching through work transferring things from their to do lists to mine at break neck speed.
Honestly I am old hat at this pace, I can handle it. Sort of.
Until someone asks that most dreaded question of all,
"What's for dinner?"
My answer? "I'm not up to that yet?"
So what if it is 7PM, we like to eat late, don't we?
Lucky me, the holiday fell on my usual posting day. Come to think of it so did last week. What did I write about last week? Oh right, the latkes. You will be happy to know the house no longer smells from those.
So it is New Year's Eve day and everyone is scrambling around trying to think up resolutions, be celebratory and reflective, make plans and predictions.
Um, hello! Quite frankly the world is kind of on fire. Anyone else notice this? So, do we fake it? Or do we dial it all back and distill it down to what is REALLY important to us? What will we let in and break us down? Better yet, how will we fight back and still remain optimistic?
I think the first miracle is the countless ways the word is spelled; Channukah, Chanukkah, Hanukkah, Hannukah. The last one is still my favorite. Although nothing is quite like the Ch for that hair caught in your throat sound of the Hebrew pronunciation.
Miracle #2, my daughter finally made it home from college. After 27 grueling hours (ok, maybe a hotel stay in Chicago is not all that grueling) she made it home in between the storms of the last few days. Wisconsin to NY via Chicago and Columbus. Nothing like 4 states in 2 days. She handled it like a trooper and showed how truly grown up she has begun.
Now miracle #3, this is the one I love the most. After being coaxed to make the most favorite holiday delicacy of them all, a dear friend let me in on the secret of the true miracle of Hannukah...
how your house can smell like latkes for 8 crazy days after you make them.
Now if you will excuse me I will go wash my hair for the first of many futile attempts to lose that greasy scent.
If you own a Blackberry you are familiar with the Blackberry Messenger. It allows you to Instant Message to another Blackberry as you would text message but without the fees. This is a great thing to have when your kid is away at college.
This is finals week. My daughter has been spending all her time in the library so the only way we are in touch is through BBM. Here are a few of the more entertaining comments she has sent:
I got your package. Thanks so much. I love the little chocolate bars, they make a great library snack.
I wish you could see the three girls across from me in the library. They all have different shades of red hair, big bright glasses and the weirdest clothes. The funny thing is that they do not appear to know each other.
and my absolute favorite:
It smells like farts and oranges in the library.
This all makes me think about how much my mom missed when I was in college. I would call once a week on Sunday when the rates were lower and that was it. Sometimes I feel sorry for our kids. They are so in touch it makes it hard for them to disappear for awhile. Wasn't that a big part of being a college student when we grew up?
Then again, how could you not share the smells of the library with a mom who is as infantile as I am?
Forgive me for cross posting this here this week from my personal blog. Time is of the essence and my holiday wish is to help these families reach their goal.
I have written about my kids experience at the summer camp that both my husband and I attended. Friendships made there are ones that run deep and last a lifetime. My son spent this past summer as a waiter; the ultimate summer at this camp. For those who do not know the culture it is hard to understand how seven weeks can make such an impact on a young man's life. But for the lucky few there is an understanding of what it means to know that each and every one of their boys will always have their back. It is a sense of belonging that can not be duplicated.
Sadly, one of these young men is battling a very serious illness and we all need to have his back. This is a 16-year-old boy that we have known for many years. He is part of our extended camp family and when he falls we bleed.
In less than two years the Chordoma Foundation has done some VERY promising research which could lead to new treatments in time to benefit those living with chordoma today!
But this research cannot happen without funding. Many researchers have projects ready to start immediately but are simply waiting for one thing - money.
Please join me in helping these families reach their goal of raising $300,000 by the end of 2008. If all 594 patients and family members pledged to donate and/or raise $500 by the end of the year they can get pretty damn close. Any amount will help, it all adds up.
It is a custom in our family to donate one night's hannukah gift to a charity. This year it is an honor to do so to help our friend. I urge you all to consider a similar donation, one less present at the holiday is a small price to pay for such a huge gift to those in dire need.
This young man's brother has created an online Chordoma Community. Through this website, donations made in his name can be tracked. Please make your donation in honor of his mom, my friend Diane Seaman. This season let's give this family the gift of hope.
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
Bloggers and Twitterers, please link, digg, kirsty, stumble, RT and whatever else you can do to help pass this along. Follow me on Twitter @amyz5 with the hashtag #chordomahelp.
I am pretty sure I have become one. Yes. Me. A mommy stalker.
No, I am not stalking young mothers with strollers in the park, that would be concerning! I am the mommy and I think I am stalking my kids. Certainly my daughter.
She is 19 and away at college. Really away. Like halfway across the country away. Still not sure what we were thinking when we were supportive of this. But how could we not be. She is so happy there and her college life is all that she dreamed it would be. As a good friend once said, "It's good for THEM." Us? A whole other story for sure.
The tough part is not being able to see her often. This coupled with her summers away working at a sleep away camp and last year's trip to Israel in between, we are hardly together.
Here is where the stalking comes in. We were sitting at dinner during Thanksgiving and she caught me...
Not just looking at her. I have to admit I was really staring at her. Trying to drink her in I suppose. If you are parent of a child who has flown the nest you get it. Really get it. Lump in the throat and pit in the stomach get it. But if you are a 19-year-old young woman all you get is that your mom is becoming...
I have posted this on my personal blog but felt the need to cross-post here to help a family in need. I urge you all to pass this along and maybe together we can help this family realize a miracle.
Since I have begun his crazy world of blogging I have witnessed some of the most remarkable outpouring of caring I have ever experienced. Friends ask me about the 'relationships' I have forged here and give me that look of skepticism when I tell stories of true connection. You know that look, the yeh, right these are your 'friends' kind of look.
People voice fear of stalkers and weirdos, perverts and losers. Ok, so the web has its share of these social misfits but, hello, so does the real world. Do we put ourselves at risk when we venture into social media forums like blogging, Twitter and Facebook? Sure we do. But in my estimation the benefit undeniably outweighs the risk.
We have seen acts of kindness beyond description through the tragedy suffered by the Nielson Family. An online auction spear-headed by a single post on a poplular blog, designmom.com, began the fund-raising efforts that have reached almost $250,000 since August. Team Whymommy supports a fellow mom blogger living with inflammatory breast cancer. These stories are countless and part of a future post I am planning so on to the point of this very special Time to Cry Tuesday appeal.
This one hits so close to home as my sweet daughter is coming home for Thanksgiving. We feel so grateful that she and her brother are healthy and thriving. As a parent, the experience of a child with a serious health issue is your worst nightmare. If you have lived through it on any level, you know first-hand. If you have not, it does not matter for you project and pray for the families who do. But you need not be a parent to be touched by this story.
Please join myself and countless bloggers and twitters who have stepped up to help spread the word about a family in dire need. The Domestic Diva, a blogger and mom, has sent out a plea for help. Her 15-year-old daughter is in desperate need of a kidney. For those who hate to click the link here is the abbreviated story:
She has been moved to NY Presbyterian-Columbia University Hospital (NYP) in hopes their additional living-donor kidney programs will save her life. Not only will NYP consider family members as donors, but are willing to evaluate EVERYONE (friends, associates and kind strangers) who wants to donate a kidney. That’s right…EVERYONE regardless of blood type, antibody mismatch, age, etc.
Please help spread the word. If you do not blog you can still help. Send this link to your email list, post it on your Facebook or other social network page. If you do blog, consider posting about this.
As an illustration of how powerful the blogosphere is, check out what my blog friends Jessica and Amyhave to say.
UPDATE 11.25.08 10PM: The Domestic Diva has informed us through Twitter tonight that the hospital has never received so many donor applications. If donor is agreeable and further testing goes well docs want to schedule transplant for the day after Christmas. The power is amazing!
For reasons I will leave out of this post, my 16-year-old son has been grounded for the past 2 weeks. For most parents this means a sullen, mope with an air of resentment hanging around the house and sucking the air out of every room they enter.
Surprisingly, or not so given his personality type, my son took it like a man. It was not an unreasonable length of time and fortunately for him nothing really important was going on socially. That is not to see he was all that happy about it, but he did not make it unbearable for me.
In fact, it was just the opposite. I cannot remember the last time we spent this much time together. Let's face it, going to the mall with mom or having to dinner together is better than house arrest. OK, kind of a left-handed compliment but I will take it where I can get it these days.
I try to make the punishment fit the crime, and since this offense was not technology-related he still had his cell phone and computer.
The whole experience had a bizarre twist to it. The day he was grounded he started a discussion with us about positive and negative punishments and reinforcement. He went into great detail spewing back what he was learning in his Psych class and pointing out how we were doing this whole grounding thing correctly.
Um, thanks for the critique son.
"Wait, is this friggin' normal? Shouldn't you be sullen and angry at us, slamming doors and giving us the silent treatment?", I asked. "Actually, no", he said. "You were justified in giving me the punishment so I get it. I don't like it, but I get it."
Oooookkkkk... where was the camera? Seriously, there was no grey area in what prompted the grounding so I guess he figured sucking it up would make it go better.
And it did. We spent some nice time together. Did things we don't normally get a chance to do anymore. And it is surely safe to say...
He is SO out of here come Friday night! 'Love you mom, but really, you need to hang out with your own friends now."
Me? I is it bad that I hope on some level he screws up again so we can spend more time together? Ok, Ok, that would make me pathetic. I get it.
Not everyone, but it is beginning to feel that way. I mean I have one for G-d sake, and who the hell am I?
A friend told me the MOST hysterical story the other night. She had her annual gynecologist's appointment last week. The doctor came into the exam room and right before she began the exam said, "Did I tell you I have a blog?"
Ok, seriously. Is this what we want to hear from our gyn right before she says, "Can you slide down just a little bit further?" I challenge anyone to tell me that their gyn does not ask them to slide down a little more. There have been times when I swore my ass was almost hanging off the edge of the exam table in some bizarre yogic position with my legs in the stirrups and the doc still asks me to 'slide down just a little bit further'.
Oops, I digress. So, here is my friend in that lovely pose and all she wants to ask is, "What is the name of your blog, The Vagina Monologue?" Luckily she was able to curb the impulse to be a wise ass. (something I could never master). She said something like, "oh, really. how nice."
Does this make anyone else nervous? We sign the HIPA form and think we are done. But are we featured on some med blogs as a Jane Doe of symptoms? Kind of creepy if you ask me.
No worries, it turns out the blog is a medical info type thing that she writes with a group of other docs. Sorry, that is nowhere as funny as where our runaway imaginations can take us.
Now if I find out my dog groomer is blogging I am really going to be furious.