Mantra of the Week: Get rid of your stuff, people. You're going to die!

look what amazon sent me. more stuff.
"I can't believe how much STUFF we still have. Get rid of your STUFF, people. You're going to die! STUFF is ridiculous. And yet I always want me some more stuff." --Louise Plummer, my favorite professor of all time, discusses the amount of stuff she's accumulated over the past 70 years in this blog post.
Made me laugh. She always does. 

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Women's Equality Day: What I'm Reading

i am woman hear me roar from my suburban backyard. 

Each month, my kid's school hosts a book club for the parents. This year, they are kicking things off with Beverly Tatum's amazing book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race. Best title ever. To help readers take in what is being said about racism, Tatum suggests drawing on one's own experience of subordination--as a young person, as a person with a disability, as someone who grew up poor, as a woman. And since today is Women's Equality Day, I felt I would read her book by using my experience as a woman. I highly recommend reading it! Here's some of my favorite points taken from the first 30 pages.

Somewhere, on the edge of consciousness, there is what I call a mythical norm, which each one of us within our hearts knows "that is not me.". In America, this norm is usually defined as white, thin, male, young, heterosexual, christian, and financially secure. It is within this mythical norm that the trappings of power reside within society. Those of us who stand outside that power often identify one way in which we are different, and we assume that to be the primary cause of all oppression, forgetting other distortions around the difference, some of which ourselves may be practicing. 

Dominant groups, by definition, set the parameters within which the subordinates operate. The dominant group hold the power and authority in society relative to the subordinates and determines how that power and authority may be acceptably used. The dominant group has the greatest influence in determining the structure of the society.

Subordinates are usually said to be innately incapable of being able to perform the preferred roles. To the extent that the targeted group internalizes the images that the dominant group reflects back to them, the may find it difficult to believe in their own ability.

Dominant groups generally do not like to be reminded of the existence of inequality. Dominant "can avoid awareness because their explanation of the relationship becomes so well integrated in other terms; they can even believe that both they and the subordinate group share the same interests and, to some extent, a common experience. 

For those readers who are in the dominant racial category, it may sometimes be difficult to take in what is being said by and about those who are targeted by racism. To that extent, one can draw on one's own experience of subordination--as a young person, as a person with a disability, as someone who grew up poor, as a woman
I can't wait to read more. It's giving me such a new perspective.

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The Age of Happiness: 6 to 12-years-old

Summertime is over for my kids. They've traded in their bathing suits for school uniforms. It was one of the best summers yet. 6 amusement parks (Six Flags, Sea World, Happy Hallow, Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Coney Island, and (my favorite) Fete Paradiso), 3 beaches, and a ton of cousin time. I don't think we could have done much more.

This NYMag article states parents are the happiest when their kids are between the ages of 6 and 12. I remember reading it 3 years ago and pining for the day my kids fell into that category. While my boys don't actually turn 6 for a few weeks, I can already see the light. No longer do we worry about them around the pool. They swim. No longer do we worry about them being monsters on an airplane. They sleep or watch shows the whole time. No longer do we worry if we want to take an afternoon nap. They'll leave us alone. They still have tantrums when things don't go their way, but who doesn't? I had one yesterday. They fight like all siblings do and it drives us bonkers. They're too loud in the morning. But the major things? Like going to bed a 8pm, being excited to be with us, and turning on Netflix by themselves in the morning? All that adds up after a while.  

Things are just starting to get good around here. We have to stay focused though. No more babies! My brats have never been so easy. But sometimes, especially now that I'm seeing the results of 6 years of hard work, it's tempting to take the plunge again. But no. I'll enjoy these next 6 years of happiness with Rob until we have an apartment full of teenagers. I can only imagine the amount of crap we'll have to deal with then. I just hope we'll finally have 2 bathrooms to help us get through it.  

 Keep reading to see more pictures of Owen taking the plunge in our friend's pool in San Jose (although my favorite one was taken on my iPhone and posted on Instagram) . . .


NYC Taught Me About Five Pointz

By the end of the year 5Pointz, the graffiti mecca in Long Island City, will be torn down and replaced by two high rise buildings. Glad I got a look at it before it's gone forever. There's an attempt to preserve the buildings by declaring them NYC landmarks (I signed the petition), but I don't think it will get approved in time. I can't help but compare this situation to the destruction of Old Penn Station. I don't think we'll realize what we've lost 'til it's gone.
 Keep reading for more pictures . . .


Coney Island Triple Play: A Hot Dog, A Ride the Wonder Wheel, and the Beach

Before we left for Coney Island, I told the kids exactly what we were going to do: Eat a hot dog, ride the Wonder Wheel, and play at the beach. That's it. The Coney Island triple play. All my problems as a parent would be solved if I took charge like that more often. I'm really good at putting my family in fun locations, but once we get there I wonder around making things up as I go. This almost always leads to impulse buying and the kids saying can we? can we? can we? please please please. Which then leads me to escape onto my iPhone to temporarily avoid their Mom Mum Mommy demands. Not this time.

To add to my Coney Island power trip, I made them ride in the white cart, instead of the moving red or blue carts on the ferris wheel. I wanted to get the full view. The kids moaned and probably thought I was the biggest bore, but they had fun regardless. I enjoyed myself throughout the whole day and came home without breaking the bank. Things can get out of control on Coney Island, but when I run things like an organized day camp, it's all good. If only life were that simple, thrilling and predicable all the time.

PS The kids were so little the last time we went to Coney Island.
The kids were stoked when I told them they could get an italian ice. 
the russian woman in the red bathing suit behind looked like a victoria secret model. 

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Keith Pitts 2013 Photo Shoot: A Typical Day in the Upper West Side

In between our trips to visit family in Florida and California, Keith Pitts offered to do a photo shoot with us in NYC. I couldn't say no, especially after receiving these amazing photos last year. I love how Keith takes pictures of spontaneous moments that might not fit the mold of a typical family photo shoot. Oscar wants to place a loaf of bread on his head? Great idea. Owen wants to go shirtless. Sure, why not? Ella decides to run ahead of the gang? Go for it. It's in those moments that Keith captures our family perfectly.

The first time I worked with Keith, I was shocked at his unstaged approach, especially when he asked my kids about their favorite toys. I was mortified when Owen brought out his Tow Mater truck and not his handmade wooden cars. I'll never forget the "It's totally cool" shrug Keith gave me as he took pictures of Owen playing with it. The photo ended up being one of my favorites.

This time around, I took comfort knowing we could be ourselves and our evening in Central Park would unfold naturally. My plan for the shoot was simple: Meet Keith on our street corner, head over to our bodega for snacks, and then walk to Central Park to play. I wanted Keith to capture a typical Upper West Side day for us. He nailed it. The images feel unfussy mixed with a little bit of humor and love.

If you would like to work with Keith Pitts, I obviously highly recommend him. He's based out of Arizona, but loves to travel. He makes frequent stops in San Francisco, New York and Paris. Book him for everything including weddings, engagement, family, pets, newborn, and children's photography. Click here to view more work from his portfolio.
Keep reading to see our NYC night from start to end  . . .
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