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We’ve all seen the signs of distracted driving in one form or another. How many times has the vehicle in front of you swerved from side to side or stayed at a standstill even after the traffic light turned from red to green? While these are relatively harmless occurrences, the reality is that distracted driving – and especially texting and driving – can have deadly consequences.

Distracted driving is particularly dangerous among teenage drivers as their inexperience behind the wheel makes them more likely to be involved in an accident.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers is the under-20 age group. A full 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving.

More notable facts:

  • Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.
  • 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving.
  • Of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashes, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction (18% of fatalities in distraction-related crashes).
  • In 2009, 5,474 people were killed on U.S. roadways and an estimated additional 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving.

Here are some tips to keep young drivers safe. First, educate your kids. Talk to them about the facts and the extreme dangers of texting and driving. features a campaign “The Faces of Distracted Driving.”  These are faces of kids who have died, or lived through the death of a loved one or best friend because of distracted driving. The message is somber, but effective. It only takes a moment to be distracted and be in a terrible car crash.

Next, set the example. Don’t text and drive. If you need to take a call, use a hands free device and keep it brief. Finally, be conscious of when you are trying to reach your child or anyone you know is driving. Wait until you think they’re off the road to get in touch.

Texting and driving is not just dangerous, it’s illegal in New York. Texting while driving is a primary offense where drivers can now be pulled over for typing text messages, surfing the web, or playing video games on their smart phone while behind the wheel.  Violators are subject to a $150 fine. Additionally, the penalty for using a cell phone without a hands free device is three points on a driver’s license.

Andrew Finkelstein is Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners Personal Injury Attorneys. The firm has a “Commit to Quit Don’t Text and Drive” campaign and encourages you to have your teen driver take the pledge not to text and drive. Call 1-800-Law-AMPM (1-800-529-2676)
1279 Route 300 Newburgh. Offices also in Wappingers Falls, Kingston, Middletown, Port Jervis and Spring Valley.



(Guest blogger, Laura Pink)

Yes, I am one of those moms.  You know the ones that I am talking about – the ones that always have their phone in their hand.  I admit, it’s like an extension of me.  The few times that I have forgotten it, I felt like part of me was missing

When I got my first smart phone a couple of years ago, it was more like a shiny new toy.  As my life has gotten busier between my kids, my husband, my job, and writing, it’s become more like a lifesaver.  Ok, that’s exaggerating some, but it really does help me every day in many different ways.

Here is a list of ways that it helps me to keep things together at least a little bit.  

1.    Calendar:  I put EVERYTHING in the calendar in my phone.  If there is any question as to if we have anything going on, I can quickly check it no matter where we are.  I also set it up to send me reminders of appointments and such so that I don’t forget them if I am out and about.

2.    Notes:  I have used the notes function on my phone for many different things.  I have typed in the number of the fields my girls’ soccer games are so I don’t forget when we get there.  I have typed in my license plate number that I had to turn into the state park when we were camping.  I think you get the idea – pretty much anything I need to remember I have put in the notes so that I have it with me.

3.    Blogging:  It’s hard sometimes to find the time to sit down at my laptop and get a post out.  I love that I get publish a quick post from my phone.  Just this morning I wrote a quick blog post while I was waiting for the kids to be able to go into school.  It’s so easy to blog on the go.

4.    Email:  It’s so easy to shoot off a quick email from my phone no matter where I am.  I can send an email to my mom, my husband, or a potential writing client.  If I am waiting for an important email from a client, I don’t have to sit at home at the laptop.  I always have my email with me. 

5.    Entertainment for my kids:  We were in the car for a bit the other day unexpectedly, and I just handed over my phone to my 5 year old so she could play a game of Angry Birds and then watch some cartoons on Netflix.  This is not something that I do often, but it’s nice to have the option sometimes. 

6.    Camera:  My phone has a great camera and since I always have it with me, I can take pictures of my kids (or whatever) anytime.  I can even upload them online so that my dad in Florida can see what we are up to at all times.

7.    Reading:  I have the Kindle app on my phone.  If I am waiting somewhere, I can pull up the current book I am reading and sneak in a few pages.  As a busy mom, I have to read  when and where I can.

8.    Cloud computing:  I use various apps such as Evernote and Dropbox so I always have my important documents with me if I have a minute to do some writing or need to reference something.  It’s so convenient to have that right at my fingertips.

9.    Social networking:  I can check Facebook quick or even Twitter.  I don’t have a ton of time to spend on these things, so it’s nice to be able to check them quickly from my phone if I am waiting at the doctor’s office or for my girls to get done with school.

10.  The Internet:  I don’t do a lot of browsing online from my phone, but it’s nice to have the option if I want to look something up quickly.

Honestly, I would so lost without my phone.  I don’t know how I functioned without it.  As a busy mom of two girls who works full time and is also trying to manage a freelance writing career, it’s seriously a lifesaver.

Guest blogger, Laura Pink is a writer/editor at Not Just 9 to 5 and blogs at the Working Mother magazine mom blogs.  She will have a piece published soon at Liberating Working Moms.


(editor’s note: We at HV Parent magazine hope parents with teens, or who know teens, will have them read this blog.  It’s an important message to teens from one of their own.)

Hello, I’m Chris, the summer editorial assistant at HV Parent. I also write for the website and was given an article to write on Texting while Driving. New York State recently passed a law increasing the fine to $150 (this is without the court charge) and three points on your license. Even as a teenager, and an avid text-fiend, I admit this is long overdue.

When I was younger and in the car with an older friend, I would be shaking in my seat when he sent a text, evidently he had decided that a miscellaneous girl was more important than my life, and his. I admit I  didn’t stop him from texting though; I was happy just to be in the car with the kid and wasn’t about to scold him.  But that makes me just as guilty. That’s something I think is important to tell your kids. If you’re in a car and the driver starts to text,  it’s your job to stop it!

It’s not enough to have your kid know not to do it because, like it or not, their lives will be in the hands of others.

I don’t expect a kid to scold an older friend, though; I would expect them to act like me. However, there is a way to prevent it without sounding like a nag. Tell your child just to offer to text for the kid. I do this now and ask my friends to text for me when I drive. This is a much more practical solution because it keeps the driver from texting and most important to your kid, doesn’t put the kid into an uncomfortable position. They won’t encounter any resistance either because texting while driving isn’t done for a cheap thrill, it is done because people feel the need to respond. Therefore, your kid is actually helping the driver instead of bothering them about their awful habit. Telling them to stop might not work because (I’m sure you know this by now) teenagers HATE being told what to do, yet if you ask them and are reasonable they might actually respond, you just have to watch out for that rebellious urge that kicks in when you yell at them or tell them not to do something. A simple “Hey, I’ll just answer that for you,” can help save lives.

Now when you’re driving alone and you get a text it’s quite simple, don’t answer it! I’m sure your kid has seen those commercials about the incomplete text that killed a car full of people, but what they usually watch on TV is probably more violent. We associate TV with violence and exaggerations making those realistic PSAs virtually meaningless. The important thing to do is to talk to your kids about it, sit them down and explain to them what a crash is like. The second you say some vague line used on commercials and preached to us in school, your kids will tune you out, that’s what I would have done. It’s important to make the dangers real to your kids, share a personal story of an accident (caused by texting or not) or maybe a friend’s story, just some way to drive home the reality of car crashes.

The new law doesn’t just apply to texting either, the fine is for “using handheld electronic devices while a vehicle is in motion” so that means no mid-drive iPod selections. That can be just as bad as texting, yet I’ve seen it done much more often, and a playlist of songs you like to hear while driving can fix that problem so easily.

One more thing I feel is important to mention is that in a crash, it’s not just you or the people in your car that get hurt. You might walk out with a few scrapes but the poor mother you hit could be seriously injured, or worse. Also, if something awful happens to you, then you’re hurting your parents, family, and friends as well. If you just get hurt it will take them a long time to recover, and your death, well they will never recover from that. So make your kids realize what driving a car means, what getting into a crash means, and how texting while driving is the dumbest way to ruin or maybe even end your life.

The cover is a hoot.  A boy peeks out from under his bed, his pet dog (or is a stuffed animal – not sure) lies beside him; his bed above is covered with toys, and musical instruments.  We see another boy sitting on the bed blowing into the tuba, and next to him, what looks like his baby sister banging away at the drums.  Well, no wonder the title of the book is  “I Wanna New Room.”   Author Karen Kaufman Orloff has created a story that many kids can probably relate to:  the need for privacy.  Poor Alex has to share a room with a brother who barks like a walrus, and a new baby sister, who, well, who does baby sister stuff.  Orloff’s newest release is Talk,Oscar, Please, about a boy who is sure his dog will talk.  Page after page, he tries to bribe his pet with his favorite things, like “bacon with cheese,” if only he’ll talk, Oscar, please.    TTYL, mj

Orloff makes a guest appearance at our Cover Kid event, Sunday, May 1st from 11 am – 3 pm at the Galleria, Middletown.   

The Orange County Commissioner of Social Services released a statement at 12:32pm today updating the public on the 10-year-old who survived last night’s tragedy in Newburgh. 



April 13, 2011                       

Contact: Orysia Dmytrenko

(845) 291-2721



Goshen, NY – Orange County Commissioner of Social Services David Jolly released the following statement today in response to the tragic drowning of a mother and her three children in Newburgh last night:   

We extend our deepest condolences to the families involved in last night’s terrible tragedy.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to them, the community of Newburgh, and all Orange County residents as we to try to understand how such a tragedy could occur.

The Orange County Department of Social Services Child Protective Division (CPS) has been involved with the ten year old child who survived last night’s tragedy.  CPS has offered assistance to the police department, as well as to the community.  Our main concern will continue to be the health and well being of the surviving child.  We can report that the child is safe, and that we will be offering ongoing support as he begins to mourn the loss of his mother and siblings.       

Although we appreciate and understand that members of our community are interested in knowing of this child’s status, please understand that it is not in the child’s best interest to reveal any information regarding where the child is currently located or how our CPS Division will proceed to insure his ongoing safety.  We respectfully request that interested parties understand the need for privacy during this difficult time. 


Connie Cobbler: Toy Detective

Author James DeSalvo has penned an engaging mystery for young adults in his intelligent and humorous new work Connie Cobbler: Toy Detective. The titular sleuth is a private eye and a soft toy doll, who has retreated from the limelight of her successful television acting career after a tragedy on the set. Connie and her amusing cast of characters are reminiscent of Strawberry Shortcake, that 1980s dessert-themed doll and her gaggle of friends. In Connie’s case, she is friends with an assortment of Pastry Pals, including Tiffany Tart, Priscilla Pie, Debbie Danish and Tracy Turnover.”

from the ForeWord Clarion Review

I already love this guy, James DeSalvo.  His website is sketchy, his book has little bio information, and he is keeping his private life a mystery.  Is this brilliant marketing or just a busy schedule?  His blogs run no more than a sentence or two, and chronicles more or less the frustrating steps to self-publish.  While we don’t know anything more about this fellow than he lives in Fishkill, I like how he has fashioned this story with character names like Tiffany Tart.  Join all of us at the next HV Parent Cover Kids Event and meet this mysterious new book author who writes like this, “Unable to save her friend and spurred on by grief, Connie Cobbler turned away from show business and became a hard boiled, root beer swigging private detective, dedicating her life to protecting the toys of Toy Town.”

I gotta meet this guy.  Ttyl, mj


Meet James DeSalvo at our Cover Kid event, Poughkeepsie Mall, Sunday, April 10; and at Middletown’s Galleria on Sunday, May 1  from 11 am – 3 pm.

I just started reading the first Undercover Kids Book, “The Trunk in the Attic.”  And immediately, liked the bits of information author, Gloria Smith Zawaski, weaves into her story.  It’s about two curious kids staying at their aunt’s farm, and embarking on their first adventure.    How did I know these kids were curious if I only just started reading it?  By the second paragraph.  “Their parents are professors.”  I read.  “Mom teaches languages and speaks quite a few.  Dad is an archaeologist and spends summers in foreign countries…” That alone lets us know right away that this book will be filled with interesting facts and details from other cultures, and these days, that’s a good thing for young readers to understand. 

The Undercover Kids: Katie, Jake and Cooper

Gloria Smith Zawaski appears  at HVP’s Cover Kid event, Sunday, April 10th at Poughkeepsie Mall; and Sunday, May 1st at the Galleria in Middletown, from 11 am – 3 pm.  Come on down and say “hello.”  

Our publisher, Terrie Goldstein, attended a conference on adolescent development and she was lucky enough to interview one of the leading experts on adolescent development, Dr. William Damon. He feels that parents can support their kids in two ways: 1. Have open and honest discussions with your kids about your life and the life around you, and 2. Share your own stories about you, what you are doing and how you got to where you are. Listen to what he has to say.

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The Hudson Valley Parent publishing group has just created a part time position (16 hours @ $10/hr). You would be responsible for updating our calendar of events and developing our online guides. For the first 2 months you are required to work in our Newburgh office and, after that, there may be opportunities to work from home. This is a daytime position.

We are looking for someone who is:

  1. Social media savvy
  2. Knowledgeable about the area including its organizations, schools, health care groups, etc.
  3. Good speller
  4. Detail oriented
  5. Experience with Microsoft Office products.

Interested in this position, then send your resume to

If you have an adolescent in your family, are a volunteer in your community who works with young people or are an educator, you may be interested in the second annual conference on adolescence being held on the campus of Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh.

Those middle years are the wonder years…you just wonder if you are going to survive them. And that may be the time we all need the most parenting assistance. If that applies  to you be sure to mark your calendar and attend this conference. I am sure you will walk away with insights that will help you during those crazy times when you wish you could have a permanent “time out” for your kids.

The Mount Saint Mary College Center for Adolescent Research and Development (CARD) is  holding its annual full-day conference “Adolescence in the 21st Century: Fostering Agency, Purpose, and Engagement” on Saturday, April 2, 2011 at the college. The event is being held from 9am until 3pm.

The keynote speaker will be William Damon, PhD, from the Stanford Center on Adolescence. He is the Director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence and Professor of Education. Damon writes on moral development through the lifespan. Recently he has begun a study on the development of purpose during adolescence.

There will be four presentations introduced during the day plus panel discussions. The fee is $35 which includes lunch and breaks.

You may register online

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