The Spark Within

On my return flight home from San Francisco a few days ago, I chatted with a young man sitting next to me.  We talked nearly the entire flight, from take-off to landing, only stopping to take sips from our drinks. I don’t usually chat with strangers on flights since I value that precious alone time. Plus, it’s usually the only time I can actually read a book. But this young man was very friendly, obviously kind, and clearly wanted to chat. So I took out my earphones and put my book down.

He had spent a weekend at home and was headed back to college, where he is a pre-med student. It was obvious that he is very passionate about his studies and career choice and had already decided on what field of medicine he wanted to study (cardiology). I was intrigued by this 20 year old man because he seemed so confident and self-aware. He told me that he has known he wanted to be a doctor since he was very young and had been preparing himself his whole life for the challenge. The sacrifices, the studying, the long hours, and lack of social life…he said he was ready for all of it. I believed him. But I was curious. Where did his drive come from? Who or what inspired him? And did he feel any pressure to become a doctor? His Asian ethnicity made me immediately think of the recent Wall Street Journal article about Chinese Mothers and I could not help but ask questions about the mother who raised him.

His mother was an immigrant from Vietnam and, although she encouraged him and his brother to do their best, there was never any pressure to study for a certain career. While he is studying to be a doctor, his brother is studying to be a filmmaker at a local art school, something that their mother supports and encourages equally. They were allowed to play sports, play any instrument of their choice, spend plenty of time with friends, and pursue whatever interested them. I said that his mother must be so proud of him and his accomplishments and goals, to which he replied with a modest shrug. His mother worries, he told me.  She worries that he works too hard and encourages him to spend more time with his girlfriend, friends, and to enjoy his college years. He brushes off her concerns, saying that if he doesn’t work hard enough, he will not achieve his goals. She certainly didn’t sound like a “Chinese Mother” to me. (continues…)

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Guest Post: Parent-Archivist (Thoughts and Tips from a Shutterbug)

Shooting Monkeys

The Dude photographs monkeys of all kinds.

One Sunday morning at the beginning of last year, I read this piece in the New York Times Magazine, which postulates that parenting today is defined by the process of archiving digital media of our children.  More morosely, it explains that

American children in 2010 have a bright, clear reason for being. They exist to furnish subjects for digital photographs that can be corrected, cropped, captioned, organized, categorized, albumized, broadcast, turned into screen savers and brandished on online social networks.

Tongue even more firmly in cheek, the article describes the initiation process into digital parenthood:

The marching orders come immediately, with the newborn photo, which must be e-mailed to friends before a baby has left the maternity ward. A conscientious father . . . must snap dozens of shots of the modestly wrapped newborn. . . . Back at a laptop, he uploads the haul, scrutinizing pixels. . . . He selects a becoming one. The mother signs off, often via e-mail, from her hospital bed. . . . Thus a parent is minted.

Indeed.  And it doesn’t stop at the hospital. We all take virtual piles of pictures now that digital cameras have become nearly disposable in price and cameraphones ubiquitious.  But for all of the advantages of digital media — immediacy, bottomless storage, etc. — there is one serious disadvantage: It takes but a small computer problem to lose it all.  Anyone who’s experienced a hard drive crash can attest to just how many precious memories can be lost in an instant.  And, disaster aside, I think we’ve all grown a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of files and sources of our digital media.

So, given my role as Archivist-in-Chief in our household, Aimee thought I might be able to give AYMB readers some helpful advice by describing what we do in terms of documenting the Monkey, how we archive/curate it all, and how we secure and back it up.  But first, some background.


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Mama's Year End Review, 2010

Back by popular demand (here you go, Dad), here is my second annual year end review. Want to read my 2009 review? Check it out here.

It’s pretty common for those who work a 9-5 job to get some kind of annual year-end review. For those of us who work the 24/7  job, otherwise known as stay-at-home parents, it’s my belief that we should get a year-end review, too. The only problem is that our bosses typically lack the verbal skills to express a year’s worth of achievements, failures, and everything in between. If my 3 year old boss could actually give me a year-end review, I’m guessing it would go something like this:

Well, Mom, here we are again. Another year is over and it’s safe to say that it’s been an interesting ride. I’ve developed into a fairly typical 3 year old boy.  I am obsessed with trains, planes, cars, and anything else that has wheels. I like splashing in puddles and playing in dirt. I like bugs but hate worms. I could live on peanut butter sandwiches, french fries, and chocolate covered pretzels, if you let me. I’m a little shy, especially around girls, but once I get to know someone I don’t want them to leave. I don’t like to share my toys or leave the playground. And I definitely let you know when I’m pissed. I still treat you like a servant yet you STILL smother me to death with love and kisses. I have to admit that I still love the kisses, hugs, and snuggling and I think I’ll still be OK with all that for at least another year or two. So enjoy it while it lasts. We had a lot of hits and misses this past year in terms of behavioral training. (continues…)

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Foodie Friday: The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora!

Muppets KitchenI headed to the Disney Studios yesterday in beautiful downtown Burbank to help celebrate the launch of The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora!

As a huge fan of Swedish Chefs and Iron Chefs, I was thrilled with the invite and opportunity. The Muppets Kitchen is a wonderful new online video series starring celebrity chef Cat Cora and Muppet Chef Angelo (who, with his thick Italian accent, is clearly not Swedish). However, Chef Angelo is a close friend and apprentice to the Swedish Chef and, as I quickly learned, is just as entertaining and lovable.  His cooking skills, however, are questionable.

The online videos, which are featured on Disney’s and websites, are not only entertaining to watch but are filled with helpful cooking tips and ideas for little eaters. As a mom herself, Cat Cora has a ton of ideas for healthy and delicious food that even the pickiest eater will enjoy. There are no surprises and sneaky methods with her recipes. Cat believes that educating your children about what’s in their food and where it’s from is the best way to go. As she explained to the audience, knowing the ingredients of her food and trying everything at least once has not only expanded her own palate but helped her become the incredible chef she is today.


Watching Cat Cora, Chef Angelo, and Pepe explain how to make trail mix popcorn

Cat and Angelo demonstrated how to make a delicious snack called Trail Mix Popcorn. You can make the popcorn with the nuts and dried fruit on their own or add the melted sugar, corn syrup, and butter for an extra treat. Either way, it’s going to taste great! It’s a Moms and Muppets approved snack. Check it out! (continues…)

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A Love Story: The Short Version


His & Her jeans. Guess which is which.

The Dude is about 2 inches shorter than me. On a good day.

There are days when we’re about the same height, like when I’m in flats and he’s wearing his fancy Cole Haans. And then there are days when I’m about 5 inches taller. Those are the days I wear heels. Those days are few and far between. It’s not because I care about being so much taller than the Dude. It’s because I’m clumsy enough as it is wearing flats.

I’m 5’9 and, before I met the Dude, I usually only dated men taller than me. I didn’t have anything against dating shorter men. Really. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Shorter guys never approached me and I was much too shy to approach anyone, let alone a cute shorter dude that didn’t even look my way. As soon as I sprouted in junior high to become the 2nd tallest girl in the class, the guys immediately stopped teasing and flirting with me. Instead, they asked me to play on their recess basketball teams. In high school, the cute short girls snagged all of my crushes, many of whom were my height or shorter. I never saw tall girls and short boys together. It was only when Tom Cruise married Nicole Kidman that I believed that there were people out there that didn’t give a crap about height.

How many times have you heard a woman say that she would never date a man shorter than her or a man say that he only likes women a certain height?  It’s the kind of stuff I heard in high school and continue to hear well into my 30′s. What gives? (continues…)

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