4/28/09

LOVE.....


I am suddenly finding myself in conversation with friends about the subject of love. I believe in love but too often when placed as the centerpiece of a relationship, it fails to serve. There are many sorts of love, love for family, friends, lovers, and most importantly, self. 

I think for the first time in my life I feel okay in my skin and that is the one love I have been waiting for all my life. I love the fact that I am getting older simply for the fact that I finally know myself enough to enjoy being me....genuinely, without all the mind chatter that makes you miserable. 

I saw young women on the beach this past weekend, perfect bodies, controlled movements, controlled words, and nothing out of place and smile inside knowing I no longer need to be there. I am here in my less-than perfect body feeling just fine and finally tranquility swimming through my thoughts. I am here and don't need to be anything else. How forgiving such a place is. 

As a side perk to being just me is seeing how easily people around me find it to be just themselves. 

4/27/09

Brave New Voices


Most of what's on TV is trash and does nothing to help humanity advance as a specie. For example, the military channel glorifies our big guns and big machines as if they were not made to kill HUMAN BEINGS, most cartoons have numerous shows with "funny" and acceptable violence. Reality TV has brought out the dumbest of the dumb and presented it as some form of art. Last, the "news" on TV feels like a tabloid being read out loud. 

Therefore..... I am surprisingly amazed (and beyond) by this new HBO show called Russell Simmons presents Brave New Voices. It is about The 12th annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival in DC and it follows some of the top young (13-19) poets/spoken word artists and their weeks before the competition.  

The question that kept running through my mind was where were these mentors when I was a kid!  I would have loved someone to come along and teach me how to package my  powerful, crazy emotions so that I and others could better understand me. 

Now this show brings up a problem I am perpetually attempting to solve; How to inspire and help teens come out of puberty more powerful and ready to take on their lives responsibly. Puberty has got to be one of the most difficult times in anyone's life. I often state to people that if magically offered to relive my youth I would avoid my teen years; that is how horribly difficult those years were. I have not yet solved it but I feel the answer lies in allowing teens to have varied mentoring opportunities with various adults who have, in the words of Joseph Campbell, followed their,  "bliss".  

For all these reasons I give Brave New Voices a few made up awards....
1. Most Inspirational to Youth Award
2. Inspirational Award of the Year
3. Opportunity to Learn from other Cultures and Peoples Award 

Seriously, watch it......you won't forget it...and it might just inspire you to be brave enough to speak your truth. 

4/22/09

Taking Pleasure in Small Details


I have been so drained lately. I normally feel rejuvenated by crossing errands off my beloved to-do list once completed.  Yet lately, a new errand seems to creep from around the corner leaving me with little time to recover. 

First, I was taking Luke to get his shots for kindergarten, then realizing that I needed a form from the School Registration office.  Once at the office with both kids during a bad rainstorm, I am floored when informed by a very rude receptionist that the deadline had come and gone. (Who would have imagined Kindergarten applications to be due in March!) So now I am running around trying to get proofs of this and that...then my car spilled out it's entire coolant content when parked....we had just paid $500 to get the radiator repaired just last week, so it's gotta go back to the shop....and of course I need to figure out a ride.  Oh, and just now I remembered I have to take my son to the dentist in the morning....Notary public....my roommate asks for a ride to the doctor....and the list goes on.....

So no wonder when I go to my bank and they are serving FREE coffee......oh what a HUGE treat that is. Thank you Capital One!  You made my hour!

Earth Day Resolutions


I have just finished watching Oprah and her Earth Day special and am deciding on the following manageable changes in my life:
* No more plastic bags while shopping.....
* Never buy bottled water.....EVER, EVER
* Get a water filter and a water bottle
* "Shop the periphery at the supermarket and stay out of the middle" (the stuff that does not rot). Food should be alive and eventually die. This tip if from Michael Pollan author of Omnivore's Dilemma. 
* NO fast food. 
* Donate all stuff I do not need to Lupus Foundation. (They come once a month to pick up stuff). 
* Sell/Donate kids' old toys. 
* Grow beans
* Make my lunch a waste-free lunch (use reusable bags, tupperware, etc) 
* Walk with strollers to do errands if 1 mile or less
* Do more recycled magazine art.  See my work at MiriamsArt.Etsy.com

4/19/09

It's a complainer's world, I MUST prepare


 I was not at all stressing about taking my 4 year old and my 1 year old on a 6-hour flight across the country when I made reservations. They had just traveled by car for much longer hours with no problems. 

Yet, the more I research traveling-with-kid tips online, the more I begin to think of all the bad possibilities. What if Nora nurses and gets mad that I cover her face and cries the whole way. What if Luke has one of his famous tantrums, what if, what if, what if. Most of my fears are spurred on by reading comments from passengers who claim they cringe when they see kids on a plane and hope they do not sit nearby. 

 I have run across people like that before who have very little tolerance for children noises, children talking, children anything. But this time I will not be able to just ignore them or walk away from them, I will have to be in a plane with them. I have always held a firm belief that we live in a "complainer's world".  Before my kids my husband and I would take our African  grey parrot, Nugget,  everywhere. Once we went to an outdoor cafe in Dupont Circle, DC and the cafe worker comes over to us 10 minutes later, and in a whisper asks us to leave, apparently, someone complained that it was unsanitary to have a bird at a cafe and as cute as my parrot looked on my shoulder (outdoors!).  It did not matter that the bird is a home pet and has not bugs, etc.....You see....we are in a "complainer's world" and that has me worried.  

I will have to seek inside myself and just epitomize calmness and confidence on this trip. I have a huge bag of new quiet toys to bring out one at a time. I have healthy non-sugared snacks planned to baggie separately for each child to avoid the "sharing" difficulties.....I am taking 2 laptops to play movies for them....earphones for each, paper, crayons, glue, tape....my daughter loves unwrapping band-aids, so I am taking some toys from our doctor kit and a whole box of band-aids. Lollipops to help with ear popping for take off and landing.... I am envisioning 2 very calm and happy kids.  

4/17/09

Watercolor Explorations Inspired by The Redwoods


I have been doing tons of reading on the Redwoods lately and I could not help but think about all the life metaphors found in nature and trees....
You can't reach as high without a good foundation....
Just like people, we all have our own stories to tell based on our unique experiences. 
Like trees, we need good nutrients to be healthy in body and mind.....
A little travel watercolor set I bought.....oh, the possibilities......YUM YUM!

4/15/09

Various Types of Books I Offer Through My Event Photo Packages


I am currently exploring various bound coffee-table book designs I offer through my event photography packages. I am now using these two designs below. I placed a Sharpie beside each so you can see its dimensions. 
This is an 8"x8" book with 20 pages.  Additional pages can be added. Comes beautifully bound. 
Pictures could be full bleed, or you can place anywhere from 1 up to 9 images per page.....
The back cover allows for text and a small pic....
The bind allows for text in up to 5 font styles. 
This is the second book design I use...It has a rectangular window that gives you a peak to the first page....beautifully bound....and affordable!
In my book designs I use a lot of full-bleed pages, and mix in a few pages with 4 or more images per page. 

How Does One Go On?

Devastatingly, I just read about the 8-year old who was raped (with an object) and killed by her friend's mother.  She was found stuffed in a suitcase near some creek last week.  I looked at her picture and started to cry.  The woman who committed this crime is herself a mother and I am so horrified as to how a woman could rape a girl. 

I am generally against the death penalty, yet in cases of child rape I will happily support this option....As a mother of two human beings whom I consider miracles in their own right I witness every day how TRUST is essential in having them develop into happy and emotionally healthy adults....Aside from the obvious physical damage, betray that trust when they are young and helpless and you take away their ability to trust for their entire lives.  

I have so many questions?  Did she act alone? Is she insane?  If not, why? What was going through her head? Does that mean she was abused? Does she abuse her own daughter?


This is the killer.....Her last name is Huckabee...


4/14/09

Created a Watercolor Journal Today

In preparation for our trip to the Redwoods in CA, I decided to make a watercolor journal for quick painting on the spot. 
I bought two watercolor booklets and folded each page. I measures holes one inch apart. The last time I made a book was back in college. I then used a needle to make holes at each marking.

Here are the booklets with the bindings all sewn up. 
I used the backing from the booklet to make the sides for my book. I had some white fabric and used that to glue it all together. Nora used a pencil to mark on the cardboard. 
I used manilla folder paper for the inside. 
Here are the pages inside the cover....
My daughter and I decorated the cover with collage pieces.....Nora picked out the large white ladder-like piece on the cover. 
An inside look....
The finished product....

4/13/09

Now This is a Good Latch!


I am reminded of my free lactation consultation after both my births when the word of the day was LATCH....proper latch, bad latch....latch, latch, latch.  

My mom (Lela) brought this dolly for Nora last week and as soon as Nora got it I noticed her "feeding" her baby. I guess there is no hiding the fact that I am still nursing her at almost two.

 Yet, I am so proud of the fact that I stuck through the painful days and did not cave and give her the formulas they were practically throwing at me at the hospital......Those little formula bottles seemed to be reproducing in Nora's bassinet.....no matter how many times I told them NO THANK YOU, they kept offering it.....That, plus the guilt trip about possibly starving my baby was so incredibly annoying.....

Think MORE of the Things You Want...& Less in What You DON'T Want

This is a sample vision board I found online.....I will post mine in a few days once I am done. 

I was visiting my oldest friend Jen last month in Northern Virginia and while chatting in her room I noticed a beautiful collage of images on her wall right next to her bed. I asked her what it was and she answered it was her Vision Board. 

I loved the idea of a vision board, yet did not get to creating my own until this past week. I hopped onto Google Image search and found images that fit various things I would like to have in my life in the near future. I could not help to thinking of it like some form of "bucket list". Plus, at first, I found it very difficult to list things I wanted as if I almost believed I did not deserve them.  I kept apologetically thinking, "Come on, that's too much!".   Being a proud minimalist all my life I have learned to find the hidden pleasures of not having too much.  But once I started warming up I opened up and the ideas came flowing. I began exploring out of my usual comfort zone. 

I have all the symbolic images ready....I will print them, cut them and glue them onto a  recycled stiff cardboard, then write short descriptive sentences beside each image.....Don't worry, I will post my own vision board in a couple of days......If you have one....I would love to hear what some of your "visions" are.

The Power to Inspire


Never underestimate the power of inspiration. As an art teacher I always tell my kids that artists inspire each other all the time. Children are often very hesitant to use techniques used by other artist because they feel it might be considered "copying".  Yet, I reassure them that the uniqueness of what makes them who they are will always shine through and the result will always be beautifully and drastically different than the work from which you were inspired. 



I just watched this great YouTube.com video (above) of an artist named Susan Cornelis. It made me realize how much I love and always have loved watercolor and the mixing of inner "phychologizing" into art.  I then became instantly inspired to swim right into watercolor journaling next in my creative path.  

I will be making my own sketchbook for , another for my son and another for my daughter to use during our trip to The Redwoods. My son (4) is not into watercolors as much as my daughter (1.8) who LOVES, loves, loves watercolor. She loves painting and is awesome at holding the brush, wetting the paint tray and rinsing her brush with no mess......
Check out that grip.....Since she hardly talks yet, when she wants to paint she points to the watercolor tray and brings the water bucket to the sink area and points to the faucet. 
She's not really aware yet that you wash to change colors....but she's a good imitator anyway....she looks like she knows what she's doing. What I love most is her dead serious expression. 
She "wakes up" the colors with her brush.....again, the concentration level cracks me up!! She is able to do this for about 45 minutes. Can't wait to see what her works look like as she grows. I love being a mom. 



4/12/09

Got THREE Wedding Photo Contracts this Weekend!!!


I feel bad that I have not been posting this whole weekend. But I have been meeting with potential event photography clients all weekend. I was able to successfully book THREE wedding photography jobs for the coming year this weekend and I could not be happier! 

You can view my event photography site, 
Mir's Magic Moments Photography 
at 
To view enlarge-able samples of my work 
go to my 


4/11/09

Booked a Flight to San Francisco for a Week!!


I just finished booking our seven day, round-trip flights from NY to San Francisco for the whole family. We will be renting a car and two days after our arrival, we'll be driving 350-ish miles to The Redwoods National Park near Crescent City, CA. We are a BIG nature family, so this is very exciting for all of us. Since we also try hard not to throw money away we also saved tons by booking our flights through a sale I ran across on Travelzoo. WWW.Travelzoo.com sends me a weekly e-mail listing the top 20 travel deals around the country.  One of those was the $99 one-way to and from San Francisco from NY. Last, I found an off-airport car to rent for the week for $202 total.....SWEET!  

Next,  I have to look hotel deals. We thought we'd do the SF thing for two days, then to the Redwoods for three days and then back to SF for one day. I have found Priceline's Name Your Own Price for Hotels very good at saving me lots of money. Like the last hotel we stayed at I started small talk with a woman in the elevator, I comment, "This is a very nice hotel". She smiles and responds, "Yeah for $70 is not bad at all."  Little did she know I only paid $40/night for a room with 2 double beds, refrigerator and wireless connection. The secret is (1) ordering your room way in advance and (2) the way Priceline.com "Name Your Own Price" is set up you can bid on your room and get accepted or rejected. Once you get rejected you have to increase the search area you want and ask again.  Increasing your search area placed you at a disadvantage for you might be placed in a hotel far away from where you want to be. UNLESS, you wait 24 hours and do it again in which case you can bid a wittle-bit higher and stay within your area.  So, if I get rejected, I wait 24 hours and try the next day, so I don't have to compromise on my location needs. I always get a very nice price and within the area I want to stay at. 

Last night I could not sleep thinking of the 6-hour flight to SF. I was having nightmares of both my kids being escorted out of the plane for being too loud.  You hear all those horror stories, plus we are not a kid-friendly culture. Sure we can listen to someone blab away on a very detailed cell phone call yet, a kid cries and people have no tolerance.  I am going to have to read all about ways to entertain small MOBILE kids on a plane. Nora will do better I feel....She just gets restless and wants to walk around and flirt. Luke is the one I am worried about. He has a hard time controlling his emotions once upset....Yet, he does listen to strangers who are firm with him.....Now, if I can just bribe a flight attendant to give him a "talking-to" we'll be fine....(Just kidding). 

One thing is certain, when all this is said and done, I'll need a vacation from my vacation. 

4/8/09

My 90-Year Old Grandma a Jehovah's Witness Refuses Transfusion...


              My 90-year old grandma is in the hospital for very high-blood pressure. She is refusing blood transfusions that might save her life because she's a Jehovah's Witness and they are against blood transfusions.  My mom is very worried and apparently the hospital has little experience dealing with these issues. The doctor says that any minute now she could have a stroke if she does not get a transfusion. 

             Reminds me of a story I heard while studying Buddhism about Cats and Monks that illustrates my theory on this form of stubborn beliefs. I found this story at www.citehr.com


THE CAT & THE MONK’s - STORY 

Once upon a time, there was a monastery in Tibet.

The Monks in the monastery meditated from Dawn to Dusk.

One day it so happened that a Cat trespassed into the monastery and disturbed the monks. The head monk instructed that the Cat be caught and tied to the banyan tree until Dusk. He also advised that every day, to avoid hindrance during meditation, the Cat be tied to the banyan tree. So it became a daily practice, a tradition in the monastery; To catch the Cat & Tie it to the Banyan Tree before the monks starts meditating. The cat remained tied to the banyan tree as the monks meditated

The tradition continued. One day the Head Monk Died. As per tradition the senior most monk was chosen as Head monk and all other traditions including tying the CAT to the banyan tree was continued.

One Day the Cat died. The whole monastery plunged into chaos.

A committee was formed to find a solution an it was unanimously decided that a cat be bought from the nearby market and tied to the banyan tree before starting the meditation each day

This tradition is still followed in the monastery even today. UNCHALLENGED. UNQUESTIONED.
_______________________________________________

NOTE: Look at the practices in our life and even practices in our organizations - some of those so called “customary practices” we follow - we never question it, we do not know why it is done that way and why was it started at the first place . Often we Treat these traditions/practices as commandments assuming “that is the way it is“ , "it cannot be done any other way" etc.


I looked in Wikipedia to find out more about why this is that they do not believe in transfusions and below are the bible passages used to follow this rule:

below is what I found:


Based on a particular interpretation of various biblical texts, such as
Genesis 9:3, Leviticus 17:10, and Acts 15:29, they believe the Bible clearly states that:
Blood is sacred to God.
Blood means life in God's eyes.
Blood must not be eaten or transfused.
Blood leaving the body of a human or animal must be disposed of, except for
autologous blood transfusions considered part of a “current therapy”.
Blood was reserved for only one special use, the atonement for sins, which led up to Jesus' shed blood.
When a Christian abstains from blood, they are in effect expressing faith that only the shed blood of Jesus Christ can truly redeem them and save their life.
Even in the case of an emergency, it is not permissible to sustain life with transfused blood.
Conscientious violation of this doctrine is considered a serious offense, after which a member is subject to organized shunning, known amongst Jehovah's Witnesses as being
disfellowshipped.


This is why I personally can never be part of an organized religion....I am sorry to express this so harshly, but the words above are absolute crock....We are just "tying the cat" and don't even know why we are doing it anymore. If you believe in the sanctity of the bible, then taking a human's interpretation of the bible is just that, an interpretation.....

The god I know and love is more forgiving, loving and all-compassionate and would understand your will to live.....

I am so angry right now about this......

Nice to Have SOME Good News

      
all pictures on this post 

  In the midst of all the serial killings going on around the country and the increase of soldiers in Afghanistan, the fact that we're still in Iraq ......blah, blah it was so nice waking up to good news......finally something good happens. In Vermont, Republican Governor Jim Douglas has vetoed legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage yet the House and Senate were able to override the governor’s veto!  

             Okay, so I know there are people who are opposed to this.  Perhaps they have never been around gay people, perhaps they are fervently religious......I don't know....but to come out of your house with your kids, make a sign and parade against gay marriage when there are far more severe and real issues such as drugs, poverty, hunger, war......I am in disbelief at the hatred I see here. The saddest thing is that I see kids here......a new generation fighting to deny civil rights to gay Americans. 



4/7/09

Thoughts Can Kill.....Question them


Hostages left a building near the American Civic Association in Binghamton, N.Y., on Friday
image from NYTimes.com

I have been just so shocked at all these people going nuts and killing off their entire family or a handful of total strangers. One of them I heard about, shot up his whole family because his wife was apparently leaving him. For all he knows that might have been one of those blessings in disguise. he could have gone on and found someone he connected with better, or better yet, he could have found himself. Some of the strongest people I know are divorced people who after their marriage find the strength to reinvent themselves and be who they never had the courage to be. 
The minute I heard about these serial murders I thought of Katie Byron saying that "thoughts can kill" and to question them often. As the simple question, "is that true" and to be open to all the OTHER possibilities that right off do not seem clear. Having considered myself an "oversensitive" type my whole life I have always allowed my thoughts to get the better of me and all my relationships.....I could easily turn a simple harmless comment into a full-fledged two-hour argument with my hubby.  Even if the comment was purposely hurtful I always have had the choice to not react.  Now,  MY OWN UNDERSTANDING is all I need. 

When I learned about Katie Byron and listened to all her books on CD my entire life changed. By far, my favorite book by her continues to be I Need Your Love-Is That True?  Until then, I had been a woman dragging along her painful childhood (along with other later tragedies).....She taught me to treat each situation in the present without the baggage from the past. I could very well say, she saved me from a life full of purposeless pain, she saved my marriage and all my other meaningful relationships.  

While we are on the topic of husbands and children I am also reminded of a conversation I had with a coworker last year. She belonged to an organized religion (One which escapes me) and we were having a philosophical discussion as all co-teachers do.  I flat out admitted to her that my husband and I both simultaneously think the children come first before each other. When I said it I did not mean there is less love for my hubby than for my children in any way but that if anything ever happened to my children I'd have a harder time recovering; I'd be destroyed. She said things were totally different with her and that you can always have more children, but that her husband was first always. She even elaborated that she served her husband dinner first, then her children.  She sited some bible passage which says this is the way to be.  After much thought, I still feel the same way as before. If my husband were to leave me today to be happy with someone else I would have a very hard time at first, but I love him enough to be happy for him. Would love to know what you think?


Our Two-Day Trip to DC

My friend's daughter's Bat Mitzvah was this past weekend and I had been Hayden's preschool teacher so I just had to drag the whole family to go. Despite having car problems and having an 11-hour drive in what should have been 4.5, we had quite an adventure. I love and miss DC, so it felt like I was walking down memory lane......very magical and mystical amongst the blooming trees.....Just such a beautiful weekend.  My hubby and I believe very strongly in guardian angels whom we thank profusely for keeping all of us safe in otherwise possibly very unsafe car. 

On the way back from the Bat Mitzvah I drove past the National Arboretum and decided this would be a great place to take the kids. Little did we know this would be such a magical find.  How did I live in DC for all those years an never go to the Arboretum!  What an amazing little treasure was hiding on route 50. 
What added to the magic were the endless views of stunning cherry blossom trees.......everywhere you see blue skies, and color explosions of trees. 

The National Cathedral has this amazing gated garden which friends and I used to trespass in our early twenties. The walls are made of stone and the garden has this eery vampire-movie feel when inside in the middle of the night. My friends and I would climb the fence and just walk all around the inside at night....priceless memory in my book.  Would I share with my kids this when they grow up? Absolutely. Rules are made by people and people are not perfect.... 

Oh, Nora...my little gift from heaven.  Her sweet little smile makes me want to eat her up. 

Luke and Nora at Arboretum picking weeds ("flowers").  One of the few times they are doing something together and not fighting. 

My mom has a green thumb....it skipped me and my son has it.....He picked a bunch of flowers for "Lela" (my mom). 
This picture reminds me of little red riding hood. I am entering it in a photo contest....so mystical, magical and sweet. 

Luke discovered tadpoles......we could come here for 10 years and I am sure we'd find a new treasure to entertain us for hours each time.....amazing what fun a long stick, rocks, water and mud can bring. 
A view of the water, trees, and sky. A perfect day....
My son asked for a cherry blossom bloom then ran over to this tree and started planting it. He said he'd come back in a few years and that there will be a new tree in that very spot.  My hubby and I loved this......he loves nature and trees. 
It's always interesting to me how each kid has something that makes him excited.  My son loves rocks and forests and small tools....Nora adores cats....when we go to the thrift store to adopt new stuffed toys she always chooses the cats....all sizes, colors.....this one is her current buddy....


Nora loves to "pretend" to sing. Here she is "singing".....she moves her lips and her tongue goes all over the place.....but no sound comes out. Very funny. I am learning lyrics to some songs I like so that I can sing to her while she nurses.