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Kids Get Mugged Too: 11 Ways to Help Keep Your Teens Safe
Monday, May 18, 2015
I never want my child to see this.

SCARED SMART: No parent wants their child to see this.

A group of my daughter’s friends were recently mugged.

Right in the middle of Beverly Hills.

At gunpoint.

When Izzy told me what happened my heart froze.  A group of teenagers were walking from a party at one friend’s house to another friend’s house (Izzy didn’t leave with the group). Thankfully (and that’s not a big enough word for my gratitude)the perpetrators only took the kids’ phones and nobody was hurt. But still, a friend of my daughter’s had a gun in his chest.

I was ready to pack up, leave LA, and move to a quiet neighborhood in Montana.

But would that even make a difference?

Crime is everywhere. I have no idea if it was always everywhere, but I know for sure it is now. At movie theaters in Denver and elementary schools in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Violence has become a part of our daily existence – no matter where you live.

A couple of weeks after the tragedy in Denver I remember a couple of friends and I took our kids to a movie. We sat down in our seats and scanned for “weird” people. We checked for the exits. We looked around the floor, under seats, to see if we could fit in case of gunfire. Then we told the kids “If you see anyone you don’t like or who you think looks or is acting weird – ANYBODY AT ALL – just leave. Quietly. Go out into the lobby and we’ll follow you out. Don’t even ask us. Just go.” Even as the words were coming out of my mouth, I couldn’t believe that the danger I was discussing was even a real possibility. But obviously, it was.

I know the odds are with me when I open the door and let my kids out into the world, but I also know on some level that it’s still a gamble. And it makes me sick. And scared. I can’t help but constantly wonder “What kind of world have we brought these kids into??”

As parents, all we want is a safe haven for our family and we try to find it . But whether it’s in a quiet suburb or a big city, all of these places have one thing in common. They’re in America. And Americans have guns. And Americans can get guns. And Americans will use guns. And for every person that points a gun, there’s somebody else at the other end of it. And I hope it’s not my kid. And you know what? I hope it’s not your kid either.

So what can we do?

I lived in NYC for almost 20 years and I know what it means to be street smart. I can tell you, most teenagers are not street smart.

We’ve done such a good job protecting them that they just aren’t prepared for any possibility. I don’t want to scare my kids, but I do want them to be prepared. It’s the only way to help them stay safe.

Of course, the unfortunate truth is that nobody’s ever completely safe, but there’s no reason to look like an easy target. Life is a series of “What ifs” and each and every one of them is a real possibility (something I just learned the hard way.)

So with the help of Sergeant Haefs of the Beverly Hills Police Department, I put together a list of tips you need to share with your kids ASAP – or at least before they walk out that door into the world again:

1.  Watch out for strangers: Duh! You’ve been taught this since birth. So why have you suddenly forgotten this golden rule we’ve practically beaten into you??!!! Because you’re taller now? Look up the street, Look behind you down the street. If you think you’re being followed, keep walking in the direction of your destination and cross the street; find a service station and wait until they pass. I say “Safety comes before being polite to strangers.” (Of course, you shouldn’t be disrespectful or rude either – it can start a fight) but don’t worry about being helpful. There’s no reason to engage any strangers who talks to a kid.  Even if it’s just to ask for directions. SOMEBODY IS FOLLOWING YOU IN A CAR? Take a picture of the license plate and run to a well-lit, busy place ASAP.

2.  Be smart: Please organize yourself and all of your stuff before get out of your car or walk down a street. Make sure you have EVERYTHING you need and have your keys where you can reach them (so you don’t have to stand around looking for your keys or chapstick please?) Have your keys out and ready to use before you even get to your front door and check your surroundings to make sure nobody is near your door. Use your keys quickly, and close and lock the door behind you immediately.

3.  Hide your stuff:  Keep your phone, money, credit cards, jewelry – anything of value – out of sight.

4. Make sure people can see you: If you’re going to be walking around out at night, wear bright, light-reflecting colors. It calls attention to you. Criminals would rather mug somebody people or passing cars can’t see very well.

5. Don’t get distracted: If you’re wearing headphones, keep the volume WAY down so you can hear everything going on around you. BETTER YET go without music for a few minutes and put the headphones away.

6.  Avoid dark streets: Even if it’s a route you know. Just because you walk it all the time, doesn’t mean it’s safe at night. Take a busier street and walk with friends. But EVEN if you ARE walking with friends remember #7!!!!

7.  There isn’t always safety in numbers: You think you’re safe because you’re with a group. But when a mugger sees a bunch of teens laughing, texting and oblivious to the world around them (and you ARE oblivious while you make that snapchat of your friends while you’re walking) you’re not safe – you’re fish in a bucket. Especially when the mugger has a gun. You’re DESPERATE to send a text message? Be the ONLY one texting and make sure all of your friends are acting as a look-out.

8. Be aware of your surroundings: Avoid tall bushes, hedges, alleyways, empty lots, anywhere that’s remote or where somebody could hide. Before you go to open your front door, look around to make sure nobody is lurking before using your key and providing an opening to your own home. If you’re being followed quickly get somewhere where there are a lot of people. Run there. You can even knock on somebody’s well-lit doorway.

9. Go from Point A to Point B: Stop leaving parties to walk around! Where are you going anyway?? When you leave the party we don’t know where you are. We can’t come quickly to your aid. Please don’t leave a party without letting us know you’re going and where you’re going. And if you DO need to go somewhere – get FROM where you are TO where you need to go quickly! Walking around aimlessly makes you a target.

10. Don’t walk at night if you don’t have to: If you have a choice between getting a ride (from a friend or parent) at night and walking – take the ride!


11. Give a mugger what they ask for (as long as it’s ONLY property): If they ask you to get into a car or go anywhere else – RUN! “Create distance.” says Sergeant Haef. Yell “HELP! POLICE!” or “FIRE” – just get away. But if they’re just asking for your phone, your money or your jewelry, just GIVE IT TO THEM. Nothing is more valuable than your life.

This may seem like a lot, but here’s the most important thing to remember – just teach your children to “think safe.” Adults are exposed to the dangers of the world all the time but the truth is our kids live a more insulated existence. The Women’s and Children’s Health Network suggests reminding them that not everyone is always as nice as they seem. We live in a dangerous world and the best way to be safe is to think about staying safe!

Want more information? You can check out Women’s and Children’s Heath Network. I liked their website.


Funniest Parents On Facebook This Week
Friday, May 8, 2015

Parents are funny. Especially on Facebook.

And in case you’ve been closing your computers early on weekends and missing out on my weekly Friday round-ups of “The Funniest Posts on Facebook by Parents” for TODAY.com, I’m clueing you in now.

And they make me feel SO good (and so much better about my own parenting) every week.

This week I’m ROTF because of Full Metal Mommy, Parenting On The Loose, Outmanned, Wendi Aarons, The Outnumbered Mother, That Tam I Am, The Jillist, Martinis and Minivans, Outsmarted Mommy, The Pursuit of Normal and HowToBeADad.

Check them out, LOL and get a jump start your weekend. Because these parents are funny. I mean, like, really funny. And you should meet them. You’re welcome.

Have a great weekend!




My Teen – The Orphan
Wednesday, April 1, 2015




“Yes?” I finally said, after adhering to my 3 call rule. A rule which allows me to ignore my child until they’ve called me at least 3 times, thus insuring that they’re actually vested in whatever it is they’re demanding in the moment.

Which of your ovaries did I come from?!” Izzy asked.

“I have no idea. There’s no way to tell.”

“YES! There is!”

“No, there isn’t.”

“There is! They tell you.” she said with the authority only a teenager can wield. Obviously, I’m the one who’s clueless about pregnancy and childbirth.

“No, honey. They don’t.”

YES! They DO! My science teacher told me.

Izzy’s science teacher is a beautiful young woman who I vaguely recall is recently pregnant with her first child. So as far as I’m concerned, she knows nothing. Even if she does teach science.

“There’s no way they can tell which ovary an egg came from without tracking it over time. Each month it’s a different ovary. I think they’d have to be watching you every single month over a long period of time to have an idea which side spit out which egg every month.

“They don’t. It’s something new.”

So I said “Well back in the olden days when I had you, despite going to and from my local medicine woman’s log cabin in a horse-drawn covered wagon every few weeks or so, they couldn’t tell which ovary released the egg a baby came from. In fact, we were lucky if they could tell we were pregnant at all. So sorry, we will never know.”

“That’s sad.” Izzy said. Walking away and sounding like she just found out she’ll never get to know her birth parents. I guess the fact that regardless of which ovary she came from – oh, or the fact it was my ovary, and my egg – that didn’t make up for the fact she would never know if her origin was the left ovary or the right ovary. Sigh.

“Sorry, honey. I guess you’ll have to accept that fact you’re an orphan.”

Then she squawked at me. Not sure what that meant.

Looks like the cold hard fact is that Izzy will have to go through life never knowing which if she’s the spawn of my left ovary or my right ovary. Maybe she’ll feel short changed in life because of it. Or maybe the love she has received from the owner of the ovaries and uterus that produced her will be enough to assuage her deep disappointment.

I hope so.

Or, I could just tell her she’s adopted.




Blogger’s Kids Read Mean Comments
Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I LOVE Jimmy Kimmel’s “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets.” It’s genius.

The truth is the internet can be a nasty place. Comments that no normal person would EVER say to another human being suddenly seem fine because they’re spewed from behind the anonymity of a computer screen.

In the online world, we call these people trolls and let me just say, celebrities aren’t the only people who have ’em.

You wouldn’t believe the nasty comments we bloggers receive! I’ve been told my kids would be better off if I’d gotten an abortion, that Child Protective Services should take away my kids, and that my husband should leave me (which, ironically…anyway). But I’ve learned to embrace my haters. Because I love to express myself, engage in lively debates with other strong-minded people, and for some bizarre reason I have no problem at all putting my biggest mistakes “out there” for everybody to see so that maybe someone can learn from them (because God knows, I don’t).

Listen, everyone has a voice. Everyone has an opinion. And it’s all good as far as I’m concerned, because like I always say, “If I’m not pissing somebody off, I’m not saying anything worth listening to.”

So I decided to do a parody of “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” for my fellow bloggers out there. Thanks to my blogging buddies, Alisa Schindler (www.IceScreamMama.com), Holly Rust (www.MothersGuideToSanity.com), Alexandra Rosas (www.GoodDayRegularPeople.com), and Jessica Gottlieb (www.JessicaGottlieb.com) for sharing the love – I mean the hate – with me. Guess we’re saying something worth listening to!

Hamsters Snore
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Fat Hammie

Fat Hammie

Hamsters snore. Who knew?

I gotta tell you. I was skeptical. I stared at our little Waldo for a solid 5 minutes trying to figure out if it was actual snoring or some kind of rodent “death throe.” Alas (and relievedly so) it was not. I couple gentle scratches to his head confirmed this. But I got a little nervous anyway.

So I googled it “Do hamsters snore?” and not only is the answer “yes,” but even more surprisingly there are forums and forums online devoted to hamster snoring. I sh*t you not.

Snoring is common, but it’s something old hamsters do. Which makes me kind of sad. Because Waldo is awesome. Waldo and his brother Ralph are the sweetest, friendliest boys around and we haven’t paid near enough attention to them as they deserve. They’re always happy to see us. They always let us hold them and they have never nibbled or nervously taken a bite out of any of us.

I’m glad I took a moment to stop and peek in on them while I was doing laundry and caught our deliciously fat little hammie snoring. It reminded me to savor some time with him and his brother while we still can. They are way too neglected. Sure they have a wheel. Yes they have 3 stories of cage to play in, huts to hide in and the basically sleep all day anyway. But I really think if you bring home an animal you make a pact to care for it, love it, and make it a part of your family – which means not just feeding them and cleaning up poop (of which there is an abundance), but playing with them and giving them some attention. Our hamsters don’t get near enough of this.

I think tonight I’m going to let both of them out of their triplex cage for a bit and let them run around the bathroom with the kids. I think that would be nice.

And just to insure that the kids don’t miss Waldo too much if he passes soon – I’ll make them clean up all of the poop left behind.

Bill Cosby Bought Me Shoes
Saturday, February 7, 2015
My 'Bill Cosby' Shoes

The shoes from Bill Cosby.

I posted a story a few months ago when claims of sexual assault started pouring in against Bill Cosby.

At the time, I didn’t want to believe these stories and I told my own as a way of respectfully dissecting what I was hearing. When I posted it, I got tons of responses I hadn’t expected. Outside perspectives on my strange experience that made me see there might have been more going on than I wanted to admit.

So I took another look at my story and was a little more honest this time. I took away the filter of “I’m going to be respectful here” and replaced it with what I recall was actually going on inside my head at the time. Removing my projected ideal of Bill Cosby created a very different story after all, and it left me realizing just how much we dismiss victims of crimes and even worse – just how vulnerable we all are to people we fear and respect.

So here’s the story again – this time being more respectful of the alarms that went off in my own head, than his reputation. And, like so many of readers pointed out, it’s creepy for sure. I obviously wasn’t his type, but I can’t help but feel even more sympathetic for his victims – and like I dodged a bullet:

Bill Cosby didn’t rape me.

I realize this defies the daily claims pouring in, but it’s the truth.

I do however, have a Bill Cosby story that has nagged at me for over a decade.

I was raised on “Fat Albert,” “The Cosby Show,” and Jell-O Pudding. My own dreams of being a stand-up comedian were fueled by watching Bill Cosby riff on how he fed his kids cake for breakfast, and they loved him for it. And I loved him for it too.

When I met Mr. Cosby (everyone called him Mr. Cosby. Anything else would have been rudely familiar), I was an agent representing children’s books at William Morris. It was the 90’s. My boss asked me to work with him on his “Little Bill” children’s book series and I was psyched. It was the opportunity of a lifetime.

We were in the conference room at Scholastic where we sat down at a large table and Mr. Cosby told them how they were going to publish these books. Whether or not they wanted them wasn’t even discussed. Of course they’d want to work with Bill Cosby.

After the meeting my boss told me he had to go to another meeting and suggested I ask Mr. Cosby to lunch. The events that followed went something like this:

“Mr. Cosby, would you like to have lunch?”


I suggested a restaurant but as we drove uptown he said “We’ll have lunch at my house. I’ll call my chef .”

“Uh. Okay.” Wow! This was FABULOUS!!!!!!

We got in our car and headed uptown to his town house.Mr. Cosby tapped the driver, “Pull over here.” We pulled up to a very small, very exclusive shoe store on Madison Avenue, Tanino Crisci.

He told me, “I have dinner with the Lakers tonight and need to get some shoes.”

“Uh. Okay.” I said, very aware I sounded like an idiot. I got out of the car and we walked into the store. He was greeted like royalty. He points at me and says to the sales guy “Let her try on anything she wants.”

Normally I wouldn’t think twice about trying on shoes. I love shoes. But I felt like if I tried anything on I would be obliged to buy a pair. And at $600/pair (and that was in the 90’s) I wasn’t buying anything there.

“Thank you, Mr. Cosby. But, I’m good.”

“Go on!” He said.

“No really. I’m fine.”

“Don’t insult me. Try something on you like.”

“I’m not really comfortable…”

He gave me a stern look – the kind of look my grandfather gave me when he was displeased. I did not want to see him displeased – especially since the head of my department had entrusted me with one of his biggest clients for lunch.

Okay. I could be cool about this. But I was definitely not buying shoes.

He pointed out a pair of women’s shoes to the salesman and said “She’ll try those.”

The salesman brought me the shoes and placed the beautiful little suede jewels at my feet.

I put them on. “Oh, they’re very pretty. Wow. That’s a comfy shoe. Okay. I’m done. Thank you.” I started to take them off.

“We’ll take them.” He said.

“What?!?! “Mr. Cosby….” I said shaking my head. “I can’t accept this. My mom would kill me. My boss could kill me. That’s very generous of you but I can’t. Really.”

“Don’t insult me, Sarah. Take the shoes.”

Then it dawned on me. This was a dream! Of course! Duh. I mean, if I were to tell a friend “I had the weirdest dream last night! I was shoe shopping on Madison Avenue with Bill Cosby.” Wouldn’t you laugh? I would. Because it’s impossible. It’s like Angelina Jolie showing up on your doorstep to braid your hair. It’s that strange.

So I said to him, “Can I make a phone call?” I thought if I got up to make a phone call I would wake up. I don’t know why. I was in my 20’s. People in their 20’s are stupid.

The salesman pointed to a phone in the back of the store.

I called my (then) boyfriend (who would later be my ex-husband). “You’ll never believe where I am.”

“Where are you?”

“I’m in a very expensive store on Madison Avenue with Bill Cosby and he wants to buy me shoes.” I whispered.


I know! This is a dream, right?! It’s SO WEIRD!!!! I pinched myself and mouthed “Ow!” My arm was turning black and blue from all of the pinching.

“WHAT DO I DO??!!!?!”

“Let him buy them!” he said. I should have figured. My future ex-husband loved a freebie.



“They’re like $600 bucks!”

“Holy sh*t!”

“I know! I can’t take $600 shoes from Bill Cosby!”

“Sure you can!”

“I can’t! And I’m going to get fired.”

“You’re not going to get fired.”

“I’m totally going to be fired.”

“You’re not. He wants to buy you the shoes. If you don’t take them you’ll piss him off. THEN you’ll get fired. It’s not like $600 even means anything to him.”

“I’m very uncomfortable with this.”

“Take the shoes. Be uncomfortable in $600 shoes.”

“I’m going to vomit.” And I hung up.

And then I accepted the shoes. Mr. Cosby smiled. “Enjoy them.”

“Thank you, Mr. Cosby. This is really…”

He put his hand up to stop me. “Stop.”

“Kay.” Obviously, my mother had not prepared me for the proper response in this scenario. And I have to admit, as uncomfortable as the whole thing was,
a little part of me was kind of psyched about the shoes.

We got back into our waiting car and we drove to his townhouse where he had a delicious lunch, alone in his dining room, made by his chef.

And we sat at his dining room table together, drank wine and ate lunch. He grilled me about my boyfriend and asked why he hadn’t proposed to me yet.

I don’t remember the rest of our lunch very well. Just that I was careful to avoid any really personal talk and I was awed by the fact I was having lunch with Bill Cosby in his own home. I followed his instructions to enjoy my glass of wine (which was JUST a glass of wine), lunch and new shoes.

I went back to the office and dreaded the conversation I knew I had to have. I had to tell my boss that Bill Cosby bought me shoes. I was embarrassed and uncomfortable.

I was actually afraid my boss would fire me presuming I had coaxed Bill Cosby – one of our biggest clients – into buying the shoes for me. No matter how it had really gone down, I was sure he would think I had encouraged Mr. Cosby – when in fact, I felt like I had no choice.

I told my boss what happened. Luckily, he believed me.

“Should I return them?” I asked.

“No. Don’t worry about it.”

I never wore the shoes. They were uncomfortable. And wearing them made me feel awkward.

I’m not trying to turn this story to turn it into a bigger deal than it was. The stories told by Bill Cosby’s alleged victims are horrific. At the most, mine is slightly awkward. It was essentially a young agent shoe shopping with a big client. In Hollywood that’s called “Tuesday.”

But I do feel my strange experience with Mr. Cosby gives me an ever-so-slight glimpse into the embarrassment and humiliation these women must have felt, and empathy for why they kept their stories to themselves for so many years.

Intimidation is a powerful thing. So is embarrassment. And I won’t judge them.

No one should. Not unless they’ve walked in their shoes.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dear Parent Who Doesn’t Vaccinate;

Enough. This isn’t cute anymore. You’ve taken down Disneyland, and possibly Chicago, something even Capone couldn’t do.

It’s not chic, it’s not hip and it’s the exact opposite of that great parenting to which you swear you’re so committed. You’re putting your children and everyone else’s at risk (YES, my child can be at risk because YOU did NOT vaccinate your child (click to read the latest story on PBS).

           READ: Measles Can Kill, And It’s Spreading. Sue Parents Who Don’t Vaccinate? Absolutely! (Forbes.com)

Please educate yourself on the facts. Don’t feel like reading? Does it cut into your “quality time”? Well here’s a video that lays it all out for you easy peasy and you can even watch it while you breastfeed your 6 year old.

Please do the right thing. I don’t want my children – or anybody else’s for that matter – to ever have to suffer from horrible diseases we have the ability to control.

Thank you.

“Just Deal With It”
Sunday, January 11, 2015

This kid is awesome.

$300 Pot Roast
Monday, November 10, 2014

I make delicious pot roast.

Seriously, it’s crazy good. And so easy. Want to know my secret?  Use a ridiculously expensive bottle of red wine.

None of the cooking magazines tell you this. I discovered it by accident.

I saw a recipe on SeriousEats.com.  I thought “Hey, Pot Roast! That should be easy…and cheap.”

So I crisped up some bacon pieces in my dutch oven (yes…bacon), braised the spice rubbed roast till brown on all sides and went to add wine. I reached into my wine rack and grabbed the first bottle of wine I saw. I don’t remember the name, only that it was a Cabernet Sauvignon.  I liberally poured half of it over the browned meat before I realized what I had done. My jaw dropped.

I looked at the label and realized I had used a $300 bottle of wine I had been gotten as a party favor from former-friend’s birthday celebration.  I had been saving it. Planning on using it one day for a special occasion.

But alas, while the wine aged beautifully, the friendship did not. And every time there was an occasion worthy of a $300 bottle of wine I passed this bottle over because drinking it only reminded me of her and the friendship that was gone.

But blindly I grabbed the precious wine, pouring it liberally over the tasty stew. And now, all that was left of that friendship was boiling and bubbling around a cheap cut of meat and some peeled carrots.

I could have cried.  I almost did.  But I didn’t.  I laughed.  Uncontrollably. And I couldn’t stop as whatever pain and sadness I had ever had about the lost friendship bubbled up and burned off and reduced leaving only a delicious and more palatable experience behind.

I guess it was the best way for the wine to go. Otherwise it could have sat on my wine rack for years to come – reminding me of the lost friendship every time I saw it. Without a doubt, if there was a  grown-up version of “when life gives you lemons…” this was it.

Would You Work At The World Trade Center?
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
The Freedom Tower courtesy of FishbowlNY

The Freedom Tower courtesy of FishbowlNY

This morning, Conde Nast moved into its new offices at 1 World Trade Center.

I don’t think I could do it. Even for a dream job at Vogue.

While it seems completely appropriate that the first tenants in the newly opened monument to 9/11 would be the gatekeepers of all things avant-garde, I have to admit I would be wildly creeped out by the idea of working and going about my daily business on top of (and in the same air space as) such a tragic event.

Of course, I completely understand the Durst Organization’s (the building developers) necessary publicity spin on this major piece of NYC real estate that could potentially bring in billions of dollars in profit if fully leased – it’s an ‘homage.’ They even named it’ The Freedom Tower,’ fully capitalizing on its horrific past in the ultimate PR spin.  It’s practically un-American to not want to work there. But is it? Is it really? Think of how much money Germany could make if they used the same PR tactics to develop Dachau?

I just couldn’t do it.

Initially, I felt awful having this gut reaction. Maybe I’m too close. My ex-husband lost half of his old teammates from his lawyer’s league basketball team in the tragic event. I can’t even pass the memorial to 9/11 (a twisted girder from the rubble of the Twin Towers) outside the Beverly Hills Fire Station, without a wrench in my gut.

But it turns out I’m not alone. On “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, Chris Rock, totally nailed it – “They should change the name from the Freedom Tower to the ‘Never Going in There Tower,’ because I’m never going in there. There is no circumstance that will ever get me in that building.”

The obvious conversation that took place about who will work on what floor further validated my instincts. According to Chris O’Shea’s article on FishbowlNY, Conde Nast will be occupying floors 2o – 44 in the tower. Everybody knows that in every building around the world, the higher up your office = the higher up you are in the company. Well, the higher-ups at Conde Nast (ironic pun intended) won the bid for the lower offices this time. Anna Wintour will be the 25th floor. The company’s lawyers, the 44th. Did she also forgo a corner office for one next the stairwell? Sorry. I’m just saying…

I am trying to imagine how I would feel going to work at the site of such an atrocity as 9/11. I would be deferential, humbled, and not a little terrified – especially since employees have been “steeped in security protocols.” I just don’t want to have to be that well-prepared to go to work every day, anywhere – unless I’m choosing to work in a war zone.

Am I wrong to be freaked out by this? Am I being anti-American? Or am I just acknowledging the feeling we would all have?

Either way, I’m never going in that building. Unless, of course, Anna Wintour calls.

Please discuss.