Don’t be shy

4 Shamar (Shaan + Amar)

With all these gadgets and toys it’s easy to hide in the back of a party and immerse yourself into the wallpaper.

Put it down and get involved. Look around and get up. Change your perspective and you might see that you could have a lot more fun living life. Dancing in the middle of the floor like you don’t care. Or just giggling with your friends in the corner.

Don’t be shy to live in the moment.

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‘The Flash’ TV Series is Mom and Kid Friendly

Flash, The Flash tv show, CW, superhero, kid friendlySo I waited until after the second episode to give my review/opinion on the new CW series, The Flash.  My opinion is that it is quite good!  For those of you that enjoy watching sci-fi and superheroes and even those that don’t, I think it’s worth checking out.  My kids (10 & 11 yr olds) have loved watching Arrow and Smallville (re-runs) so I thought they would enjoy this series too.  Well, they did and so did I.  It has a lighter feel than Arrow, with a less tormented hero, so I feel less guilty letting them watch.  However, it isn’t so cheesy and young that adults wouldn’t get into it.  Grant Gustin, the actor who plays Barry Allen is very likeable and does a good job portraying a young man who is struggling with new-found abilities and secrets.  The show delves into the origin of his powers right away and now we get to see what he does with them.

The show has interesting villains who can control weather, multiply themselves and who knows what’s next.  There is also a back story about the mysterious death of Barry’s mom and how his dad is wrongly incarcerated for her murder.  There is also some mystery about Dr. Wells of S.T.A.R. Labs that will unfold over time.  I think they’ve done a good job setting this series up with some cool individual episodes as well as some ongoing storylines to keep you hooked.  There are also enough quality actors to keep adult viewers interested.  In fact the actor who plays Barry’s dad, John Wesley Shipp, played the Flash in a 1990 show.  Tom Cavanagh (of Ed fame) plays the intriguing Dr. Wells and Jesse L. Martin (of Law & Order and Ali McBeal) does a great job as Detective Joe West who is Barry’s guardian.

I think this show has great potential and our family is into it already.  Maybe by next year my son’s will want a Flash costume for Halloween.  But for now, the boys have put the Smallville re-runs on hold in favor of The Flash

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“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” Review

movie, family entertainment, kids movie, comedy, alexander and the terrible horrible no good very bad dayWe took my son to see this movie with two of his close friends as part of his 10th birthday celebrations.  This meant that our whole family had to endure it so we hoped it would be good.  I must say I was fully entertained and so were the older and younger kids.  It was barely an hour and a half so there wasn’t time to drag on the story.  Every minute was full of something amusing and it was pretty fast paced.  My only issue with the movie was that we had already seen many of the funny scenes in the preview.  The movie was short so maybe they should have done a shorter preview so as not to ruin the surprises.  Other than that, however, the movie was a great, family friendly comedy.

It was funny and yet had a message.  It was about a boy, Alexander, who has a horrible day but no one in his family seems to sympathize.  Then he makes a wish on his birthday candle that they could understand how he feels.  Suddenly, on his birthday, the whole family seems to be having a very bad day and yet they deal with it as a family.  It’s a fun ride.  It is clean humor and Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner do a great job as the parents.  Steve Carell always has such an endearing way of being hilarious.  If you’re looking for a cute, funny movie then I recommend watching it.

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‘Gone Girl’ the Movie

gone girl, movie, film ben affleck, rosamund pikeIt’s doing well in the theaters and I had read the book, so I was eager to watch the Gone Girl movie.  My husband and I watched it on our date last night.  It was interesting to see his shocked reactions since he didn’t know anything about the story.  I won’t give any spoilers except to say that it isn’t a lovey dovey date night movie or one that makes you want to run out and get married.

Otherwise, I would say it did a good job of following the book and the same issues I had with the story in the book were the same things I disliked about the movie screenplay.  It was compelling to watch and really kept you interested though.  Both Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike did a brilliant job in their roles.  They brought the book’s main characters to life very well.  They were just as I had imagined them.  I enjoyed the movie but might not have had to see it in the theater if I wasn’t curious about how they adapted the book.  Theater or rental though, it will keep you interested!

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The Good Wife- Season 6 Premiere

the Good Wife, Season 6 premiere, review{spoiler alert}  For those of you who watch The Good Wife, you were probably eager to see some questions answered from the eventful finale last season.  You probably didn’t expect that the writers would throw more curve balls at you instead.  Well, I didn’t.  Not that I’m complaining, because the ensemble of this show keeps it fresh and interesting and acts it out so believably.

Last night, I was curious to find out if Alicia would agree to run for State’s Attorney and whether Diane would be accepted as a new equal partner in Florick/Agos.  Well, all that got sidetracked when Cary got arrested for drug trafficking.  He was treated pretty badly by the police and we got to see how inefficient and awful the police/prison system can be.  Cary wasn’t even able to call anyone for hours.  Once everyone realized where he was, they also realized that this was a police tactic to get at their drug dealing client, Lemond Bishop.  This created more panic because Alicia scrambled to tell the charming yet deadly Bishop that Cary will not turn on him and they have it ‘handled’.  Meanwhile Bishop’s guy in prison was cutting Cary with a knife as some sort of test of loyalty. “Guard, guard” he barely called out and then had to say he hurt himself accidentally.  Bishop apparently accepted Cary as loyal when an ‘independent businessman’ came to give Alicia $1.3 million dollars to use for bail.  Things still didn’t go smoothly since Alicia was removed as Cary’s counsel and the bail origin is in question.

Now, on Diane’s front, she agreed to represent Cary despite fearing that her current clients may not like the drug link.  David Lee and Canning are both suspicious that Diane is going to join Florick/Agos and are planning to use Cary’s arrest to spook all her clients.  They certainly don’t want to lose $38 million dollars of revenue.

Kalinda was back in the fold too as she rushed to help Cary.  Her former ‘girlfriend’ from the FBI is back too and things are getting interesting.  Somehow this all seems connected.

In Peter’s office, Eli has been plotting and planning already to get Alicia to run for State’s attorney.  Meanwhile, he’s also trying to keep Peter and his reputation in check by making sure an intern was wearing panties.  All very amusing, as is everything Eli does.  This time we also were entertained by his bold and amusing daughter who says she’d be great her dad’s line of work.

There were so many amusing and disturbing things in this premiere.  I’m sure Season 6 will not disappoint and obviously The Good Wife is still going strong.  What were your favorite scenes?

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Is “The Maze Runner” Appropriate for Kids

Maze Runner, movie, kidsThough I never read the books, I was curious to watch the movie based on The Maze Runner.  My kids were interested too since the trailers appealed to people who liked things like The Hunger Games or Divergent.  We all did, so we were sucked in to this one too.  It was entertaining and intense.  It is based on a dystopian society where a group of children are trapped on a glade which is surrounded by a maze.  There are dangerous things that lurk within that maze that ensures that no one will leave the glade.

I wasn’t sure from the trailer if this movie would be appropriate for my kids who are almost 10 and 12.  They are boys and have seen most of the superhero movies and enjoy science fiction and fantasy.  Still, I wasn’t sure if this one was too dark and violent.  Well, we gambled after reading a few opinions on the internet and went as a family.  As we were watching, I turned to my husband and said, “I don’t think we should have brought the boys”.  There were many intense scenes of fear and violence.  There were some creepy images of creatures and dead bodies and some foul language.  I think this movie is ideally for kids that are a couple of years older than me but that’s my opinion.  My boys said they weren’t scared but they did cover their eyes during one or two scenes.  I think my kids were desensitized because of watching The Hunger Games but they had read those books and didn’t watch that on the big screen.  This was a bit more terrifying on the big screen.

I guess everyone has to use their judgement and gauge their kids’ reactions and maturity.  As far as an adult view on the movie…it was good.  I enjoyed the story, concept and the acting.  Unfortunately, I had not read the books and was left with more questions than answers by the end of the movie.  I guess they are making sure we come back for the sequel!

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Add Some Community Service To Your Life

Volunteer, Service, Community serviceWe all want a better, nicer world for ourselves and our families but what are we willing to sacrifice or do about it.  We want world peace and to end hunger or to have more services in our schools or communities.  Yet, most people around are busy wanting this all from a distance and expecting someone else to make it happen.  Of course, they may be willing to sign a petition or donate a bit of money (which will hopefully provide a tax benefit) but they just don’t have time to get involved further.  They have ‘important’ careers and busy lives and it isn’t a priority to do service.

These days it seems people only admire those with big titles or big salaries.  When I heard someone mention a relative who was starting up a non-profit organization after leaving a high-paying job, the relative was seen as an idiot for wasting his life and education.  I mean why would you give up money and prestige to help strangers or contribute to a valuable cause?  Those people then become the pariahs in society rather than the heroes.  They may only be seen as heroes again once their service or organization is picked up by the media or a rich and famous donor.  Which, again shows that we are only impressed by the fame and money rather than the intention.  An example is Khan Academy which my kids and many I know have been using to help educate our kids.  It is a free website with tutorial videos and quizzes on many subjects like math and science.  The founder of this site, Salman Khan, is highly educated and left a good job at a hedge fund to start a non-profit business making tutorial videos from his home.  He gave up the big salary to risk doing something that would potentially help people all over the world get an education.  His organization has since been recognized and backed by the Gates Foundation and has been noticed by the media and the President.  However, would his work have been any less impressive if it did not become this big and famous?  His intentions and sacrifice would still be there but people may not admire him so much which is unfortunate.

My point here is that we all hear that we should “be the change that you wish to see in the world”, but there are very few who will step away from their personal gains to do it.  Of course, most people aren’t built to do things like Gandhi or even Khan but that does not excuse us from not doing small kindnesses and volunteering in the community.  Step out of your own glory to give back to the world that you benefit from.  Help the schools, shelters, parks or wherever you can.  It will make you realize that the world is bigger than you and your personal gain.   We can  inspire our kids and future generations.  It can only help make the world a better place and make us better people.

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thankful, grateful, gratitudeBeing 9/11 today and seeing this new Facebook trend of gratitude posts, I felt I should take notice of the good things in my life.  It’s very easy to get bogged down by life’s regular issues, like health, money, work, etc.  However, we need to remember that it could always be worse and maybe our life’s journey has some hurdles that we need to learn from and grow from.  I’m glad that this viral FB trend is getting people to stop and think about the positive.

I am grateful that 13 years ago while roaming around feeling scared in a devastated Manhattan, I managed to somehow find my husband across town and make it home safely.  I’m grateful that my loved ones were also saved that day and am remembering the people I knew that didn’t make it.  I’m also thankful for each day of life since then.

I’m also grateful for the love of friends and family.  These days we get so busy with things that we don’t always get time to connect with people who matter.  Luckily, many strong friendships are able to withstand those gaps.  I am happy to have Facebook because despite its issues, it helps me keep connected with many people.  Many complain that this promotes surface friendships and is more of a brag-book.  I acknowledge that it doesn’t replace talking and meeting but there are many people I wouldn’t be connected to at all because of distance or differences in life’s activities, etc and FB makes it possible.  There are many friends I would love to talk to more but at least I can still be a friend in a small way through this forum.  I recently had issues with my son’s health and changes in his diet and many old friends rallied around through Facebook to give me support and send me resources and advice.  Some of these people I haven’t seen in years but they were still caring and I’m grateful to have them in my life.

I’m grateful, as well, that today is a nice day and I could take a walk around the Princeton campus to better my mood and health.  I’m also glad that my feet didn’t hurt in these particular shoes.  I’m grateful for a good physical therapist that makes pain bearable without taking too many drugs.  I’m grateful for the time I have with my parents too since good friends have recently lost their’s and it makes you scared.  I’m grateful for the joys and challenges of being a mom.  There are a million more things I could list but I think this was a good enough break from negativity.  Thank you God and nature and friends and family for giving me a good life.  What are you grateful for???

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Engineering Childhood for Future Success

education, stressed kids, learning, free timeWe all want the best for our children but the philosophies on child rearing have changed quite a bit over the generations.   These days it seems there are more and more families trying to engineer their kids’ childhood to ensure future success.  I don’t know if this is even possible but many seem to be trying.  They are putting their kids in extra academic classes so that they are ahead of their classmates and also participating in several extra-curricular activities.  Parents know that a child needs to be well-rounded to get into a good college or to qualify for scholarships so they are taking extra music classes, joining multiple sports, etc. Kids of previous generations also participated in many extra activities based on their interest.  The difference was that back then many of these were through the school or if they were private, it was because the child really wanted to do it.  There wasn’t as much thought about how this will benefit them on a college application.  Kids used to go to tutors and Kumon because they were having trouble in school and when they were already A-students.  Nowadays, kids are often lacking any sort of free time to just play and imagine because they are in so many structured activities.  Even if they aren’t in a class, they must practice or do related homework.

Is this level of constant pressure, increasing their chances of success?  It may be if you believe that hard work pays off but there are also other things to consider.  Will these over-stressed kids burn out faster?  Will they have less social or soft skills in life because they spent too much time in structured activities over social ones?  Are we robbing them of a precious childhood where things were supposed to be more carefree and relaxed since adulthood is full of work and pressure anyway?  Some argue that there is global competition now and the kids have to work harder because of it.  I do agree that we can’t let our kids slack off and they do have to understand that learning and focus will pay off.  I just also believe that innovation and forward thinking is most often done in free-time and not in a classroom.  I’m sure the kids that are doing all the extra work and classes will eventually get good jobs.  However, to foster the creativity and brilliance that brings amazing new ideas into the world, I think we need to let these kids have some time to find themselves, use their imaginations, make friendships, and navigate uncharted territories.  We as parents have to realize that we can give them opportunities and love but we can’t engineer their childhoods and know a certain outcome.


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Not Enough Summer Time

time-flyingSummertime comes and I have all these grand plans of what I will do with the boys but there doesn’t seem to be enough time.  I want them to be free to play and explore, swim and just hang out with friends who come to the door.  We try to make sure they do a couple of workbook pages so they don’t forget everything they learned last year.  Then, of course, there are the video games which we are a bit more lenient on when school is out.  Trying to fit all this in is hard enough but then there are also camps and classes and play dates and social events.  We also do the summer reading program at the library but they seem to borrow many more books than they ever read.  I try not to fret over it since it is summer and I want them to enjoy their childhood.

I also think of summer as the time when I will get to infuse all kinds of other experiences and lessons into my kids.  I want to meditate with them to help them be calm and focused.  I want to teach them community service by volunteering somewhere or locally.  I want to do arts and crafts with them to inspire their creative side.  There are so many more things I would love to do but time keeps running out.  Their childhood is flying by and I as a mother am trying to give them lessons and experiences that will grow them into happy and successful people but maybe I’m too ambitious.

They say “time flies when you’re having fun” so we must be having fun or just really busy.  Sometimes I just wish time would slow down so I could enjoy all these experiences with the kids and not just feel like we’re running from one activity to the next.  I’m trying my best and maybe I won’t get to everything this summer or next but I will still try to give the kids a fun summer full of structured and unstructured activities to enrich their childhood!

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