Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | September 2, 2019

What I learned from accident attorney letters

I finally went through the stack of attorney letters about our recent car accident. Because I’m weird. Here’s what I learned:

-Don’t bother spending the $5 to download the official police report from the (Carfax) site. Because 80% of the attorney letters provide a copy for you. Some provide the full report, some just 1 page. Some block out the drivers’ dates of birth. Some highlight the driver name. Some don’t.

-As a free gift, some attorneys provide a “police report decoder,” which sounds like the red film contraption you get in the cereal box to decode secret messages. In reality, though, you match up to the report to the decoder to see how the police entered certain things like road conditions, cell phone use, other factors that may affect who was responsible for the accident.


-Great advice from one attorney: “So, give me pictures of your injuries (do it NOW while our cuts and bruises are still fresh…it gives a better impression of just how serious your accident was.)” Read More…

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | August 28, 2019

The college move-in

It’s not good to start college with strep throat. Or even to move in to college with strep throat. But the Sunday before move-in, Dori was in bed all day. We let her rest, not putting too much stock into the huge, painful lymph node in the back of her neck. Oops. The fancy Sunday night birthday dinner for Mark and farewell dinner for Dori overlooking New York City was cancelled. Mark and I celebrated his birthday at a local restaurant and hurried home.


thermometer, by Wikicommons

By Monday morning when she still didn’t want to get out of bed, I called the pediatrician’s office begging for an early appointment. Rapid strep test: positive. “We’d like to see you in a few days to make sure your fever is gone,” the doctor said. Uh, we’re leaving on a jet plane early Tuesday morning. For college. Hopefully those antibiotics will kick in quickly. Read More…

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | August 3, 2019

Ambulance chasers of New Jersey

Last week someone in our family was in a minor traffic accident. We were rear-ended, and not at fault. We’ve not had an accident in a really long time. The police officer provided a card with a URL and report number – we could get this report online in a week. Turns out the site is owned by (a fine example of government outsourcing). We had to pay $5 to get a download of the report. Granted, I don’t know how it usually works – would we have to go to the police station and pay copying costs there? The town offered no information on its website.

Well, some attorneys also apparently paid for that report, or had someone at the police station sorting through the latest accidents.

The next three days, our mailbox was bulging (and who knows what’s to come). So far we’ve received 13 attorney solicitations. I’ll open them all up during happy hour this weekend.

attorney letters

Hopefully we won’t need any of them.

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | April 11, 2019

Call me by my name: Deborah Abrams Kaplan

A few months back I got an email. A writer wanted to use photos from my Manishewitz matazh factory tour for a Bobov Hasidic publication. The magazine story, written and published in Yiddish, would also be part of a book compilation on matzah production throughout the world. The Newark Manischewitz factory has since closed (I believe reopened in another part of New Jersey, but I have no details).


Manischewitz factory. Copyright DEBORAH Abrams Kaplan

Since it was a Jewish publication and I figured this would not be a big moneymaker, I told the writer he could use a few photos at no cost, provided that it was one-time rights, that I received a PDF of the article/book chapter where my work was used, with photo credit reading “Deborah Abrams Kaplan,” and noting in publication that the photos were used with permission. He agreed. Read More…

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | March 25, 2019

Project Runway – the baby project

We just finished the Baby Project. This is the stupid project sophomores at our high school have to do, where they carry a doll around for a week at school (and sometimes leave it in their locker overnight and on the weekends), to simulate what it’s like to care for a baby. You have to make sure to bring it with you, as the teachers warn there are sometimes baby kidnappings at school. Yeah.

As I’m sure you can tell, Zack is now a baby pro. He’s nursing the baby through the sling.


Dori hated the project too. After Dori had to drive Zack around to his activities one weekend last year, she proclaimed “this is so much more effective than the baby project. Every teen should have to drive their brother around all weekend – then they’ll never have sex.” She then thanked me profusely for all I do as her mom, and proclaimed that being a mom must suck. Read More…

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | August 11, 2018

Letters from Camp: Jetski and Other Drama

I’M BACK (again)! So I fell off a jetski… I took a turn too tight with the speed at max(70ish kmph) and I got thrown off with my clothes and watch on. My watch is fine, thanks for your concern. A craaazy thing happened. Some boys from bunk 37 got kicked out after raiding canteen without anyone else knowing(they broke in). The best part? they got a box of candy for every bunk in our camp and gift wrapped it, writing “happy holidays” on it. It was quite the enjoyable surprise. After canteen we went up the big hill(dori can tell you what that is) then a bunch on non-teen camp kids came up after. They got yelled at until one of the counselors told them to go back down the hill telling them teen camp isn’t a shortcut. It was pretty entertaining. Scuba diving sucked, the guy there is extremely rude. My friend was borrowing a friend’s ipad with wifi and he accidentally dropped it and the screen cracked all over, rendering it completely useless. I finished the woodshop project for you guys and almost finished another. If you know a young child who likes crappy wood projects, let me know cause I have a gift for them. We had chinese food but no fortune cookies ):
Love ya! Bye!
P.S. I’ve been trying to find the battlebots fight cards on these computers but there’s a firewall. 

jetski action

Zack jetskiing on a different day when he didn’t fall off.

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | August 3, 2018

Camp Canada Highlights

“Hi mom, dad, dori(and my entire extended family, judging by the fact that they all said they liked it). I’m back from canada! Everybody brought their phones since you were supposed to bring them just for canada, but not me. Ima go over the highlights. Talking with my friends on the bus was a lot of fun. I ate a lot of ice cream and gelato. Quebec was very nice. Montreal was very nice. One person in my bunk(a camper) was asked at the border, not if he had firearms, but “How many firearms do you have with you?” La Ronde [Debbie note: Six Flags] was great. One guy fainted on two coasters at the corkscrews. I went on every ride i wanted to except for one of them, but I heard it wasn’t that great. Anyway, today was “super day” it was kind of like a competition between bunks(we did not win), but I did get to eat donuts off of a string, so there’s that. Love you guys lots and can’t wait to see you again!

Back to Debbie. Based on camp pictures posted on the website, the campers also did some volunteer work unloading boxes from a truck, took a boat cruise and had a dance party on the boat (and took a lot of selfies with those phones they were apparently allowed to bring only to Canada – maybe I’ll read the instructions next time), and visited the Olympic stadium. This is my favorite picture from the camp trip.


Not Zack

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | July 27, 2018

Letters from Camp: The Boy is Growing Up


not an official camp photo, but one taken as he left for camp (thanks for the photo, Jonathan)

Zack is in a new division of camp this year – “teen camp” – and that means that that when perusing camp photos each night (and morning…and midday) it’s hard to tell who the counselors are and who the campers are, because the males all have tons of body hair, muscles and height. And the females…well you can guess.

Aside from a bunk photo and one on the first day when it appears Zack is getting ready to have a lice check (though on second thought, it might just be kids schmoozing while one girl plays with another girls hair as she sits on a stool – nah, probably lice check) there haven’t been any Zack photo sightings.

Zack is famous in our house for writing very short emails, if he writes them at all. Or he sends them to Doug Kaplan at gmail, instead of Debbie Kaplan at hotmail. Doug is my BFF every summer.

So I was shocked today to get a long email, that was not only impeccably typed, but full of information and LONG. Some highlights:

“I wrote an entry every day and now I’m typing it up to email it, now that I’ve realized my writings are completely illegible…

I came to camp today(obviously). Almost none of my friends from last year are here…The food was as expected(bad).

Hello again! I just came back from playing cards against humanity with my bunk (I did not win). Lunch was quesadillas and one person in my bunk who had 12 of them got terrible diarrhea. Half of fishing got rained out, but we did find a snake. In woodshop, I’m working for something for your bathroom. Light’s out is at midnight, so I don’t get a ton of sleep…

Day 3
One laundry bag(that didn’t have my stuff in it thankfully) was not brought in tonight so they won’t have all their clean clothes for canada [Debbie note – this is a five day teen camp trip where they drive to Canada and back, though I don’t know why they’re doing laundry after three days]. In animal center, we took out the chinchilla and it was very fluffy. While looking for a worm in fishing, I stepped on a snake and it scared the bejesus out of me. some guy cam in to talk about the art vs artist debate and the BDS-Movement. He came in with a clear opinion to push.

Extra thing! I will describe/write out some of the stuff written on walls/beds in my bunk.
-A llama with a penis as big as it’s neck next to a house as big as the llama.
-“Dave loves dick”
-the word mom about a line with the word wow reflected below it.
-“a dick in the bush is worth two in the pussy”
-“100% gimel”

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | May 6, 2018

Tulip time

We went to Amsterdam this summer, and in spite of my vow not to buy tulip bulbs, I bought them anyway. We brought home three bags of bulbs, which I planted in the fall. Imagine my surprise this spring when the blooms appeared – and looked nothing like the bulbs which were supposed to be in the package.


Bag 1: what I expected

Read More…

Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | April 26, 2018

How to get your driver’s license in under four hours

I’m going to make myself look bad, so that when you take your child to get their driver’s license, you can do it the right way. That’s why it took us almost four hours for Dori to get her license (spoiler alert).

First a bit about New Jersey. Driving rules here are a different beast than what I grew up with. You can’t get your license until 17, and your permit until 16.

Kids in our town take driver’s ed at school sophomore year. They can take the driver’s test there, and don’t have to set foot at the MVC (Motor Vehicle Commission – though I’m used to calling it DMV) until they get their license. They normally take 6 hours of individual professional driving instruction (we pay for that), and the instructor gives them the eye chart test at their office. They collect the birth certificate and other info, and go to MVC to get the permit for your kid. THAT part is nice. Also, if your kid hasn’t taken their driving test at school, they can take it at the driving instruction office – and from what I hear from several people, the instructors are known for giving hints and making sure they pass the test.


This line will take 45 minutes to get to the front – with an appointment

Read More…

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