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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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Foodie Friday: Raising a Picky Eater


Pancakes with maple syrup, hold the blueberries

My 3 year old son is a very picky eater, with an emphasis on “very.”

It’s obviously a common problem amongst kids his age, but I feel like it’s getting increasingly worse. He refuses to try new foods and often pushes his plate away, complete with a look a disgust and “blech” sound effects.

The Monkey was great with food until he was about 2 years old. At 2, he stopped drinking from a bottle, which was primarily used for milk. Since he associated milk with a bottle, he stopped drinking milk altogether. He started to push meals away, especially if vegetables were seen on his plate, and started to ask for specific foods. My child, who once devoured my roasted Brussels sprouts, scrambled eggs with veggies, and beet salads, now wants to live on chicken fingers, pizza, and pancakes.

We established a rewards system that is very hit or miss.  We would reward him with a small soy ice cream sandwich or a few organic chocolate covered pretzels as a treat after he ate his dinner. However, as for trying new foods, the reward system doesn’t even work. He would rather skip a treat than try something new. He has been known to throw a tantrum when he doesn’t get what he wants or simply refuses to eat. (continues…)

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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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Goodbye Fall, Hello “Winter”

Winter is almost here.

OK, let’s be honest. It doesn’t actually get *wintry* in my area of SoCal. Sure, many leaves have fallen and some trees will soon be bare. But the palm trees will still sway in all their glory, although they may be lit up with holiday lights. The days will be a lot cooler but the sun will mostly be shining. Some people will even hit the beach on Christmas Day and frozen yogurt shops will still be bustling through the next few months. A winter wonderland, it is not.

I sometimes wish for snow this time of year, although I’m sure people in the Midwest and East Coast are telling me to watch what I wish for right about now. We have to travel to find snow, which is the plan this winter for the Monkey’s first ski trip. The Monkey has only seen snow once, if you count a winter trip to Yosemite at 4 months old. I’m counting down the days until he will play in the snow for the first time, an experience I’m sure he will enjoy. And after a few days of building snowpeople in the brisk cold, trying to ski (that would be me), and numbing of our fingers, noses, and toes, we’ll return to the sunny SoCal *winter* where people put on a coat and scarf when it reaches 60 degrees.

So, goodbye Fall (whatever that means here in SoCal). Here’s one last leaf to remember you by.


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