End Times

I don’t put my camera down when Hooper or Van cry. For me, it’s just as important to capture their tantrums as it is to capture their cough-cough normal (insert asterisk) behavior. Nothing really captures toddlerhood as well as a toddler crying their eyes out because they can’t have what they want when they want it. That’s why I want to buy Jill Greenberg a beer.
In 2006 she took a handful of portraits of children crying with the intention to express her disgust with the Bush Era. She was upset the future was not being taken into consideration and argued that we were living as if in “apocalyptic times”. She called her project “End Times”.
Instead of making a political point, she received a ton of backlash for “abusing” children for the sake of a photo.
If you consider taking candy from a baby abuse, then aren’t we all guilty? Greenberg states, “The moms would hand them a lollipop in some cases, or they would offer them their cellphone—and then just sort of ask for it back. And basically the child was throwing a tantrum to try to get this candy or toy back, sort of putting on a show in a way”. This very same scenario happens constantly both in my home and when shooting children during family sessions. The only difference is that this reaction was her objective; where many other photographers would stop shooting, she started.
I remember looking at a photo of the beautiful Nirimi and her lovely daughter. Someone commented on the photo asking why she never looks happy in her photos and her response was something along the lines of smiling being unnatural. And she’s entirely right.
The beauty, for me, in photography is capturing authenticity.
Greenburg agrees, stating “Making children cry for a photographer can be considered mean. But I would say that making children laugh and show off their jeans for an apparel ad is just as exploitative and less natural. Toddlers’ natural state, like 30 percent of the time, is crying, and it doesn’t indicate pain or suffering”.
Van doesn’t speak in sentences but I guarantee you that if you were to care for him for any length of time, you’d know his wants and desires. That’s because he communicates through a varying degree of whines, moans, cries, and -oh yes- pointing.
In any event, I think this series is brilliant. What do you think?
You can read more about the series by clicking here. And you can read about the backlash she has received by clicking here.

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Keepin' it oldschool

Sometimes I hate the world we live in. What I mean is that I hate the technical aspects of the world we love in. However, I should add that I love my iPhone. And my MAC. And my iPod and lots of other things that have a little “i” in front of it. Exit Ms Pessimistic and please welcome Ms Contradiction.
Allow me to explain.
I always dreamt of having children. When I was a little girl, my mom brought me to a doll store and allowed me to pick out a doll. When she asked which one I wanted, I replied, “The one with the penis.” I’m not sure why the dolls were nude OR why the boy doll actually had a penis. I’m also not sure why I knew the word “penis.” But it’s a true story, promise. My sister and my mom can vouch for me. Fast-forward many years and here I am, mother to not one, but two boys.
Back to my dream of having children. I fantasized about what I would teach them, the places we would go, the books I would read them, how their father would interact with them, who they would become. All that good stuff. I’ll tell you what my fantasy did not include: iPods, iPads, video games, etc. I look down my street today and in place of kids playing, I see empty trash cans waiting to be pulled in and cars that somehow make it from one side of the street to the other to avoid tickets on street cleaning days.
So the question I pose is this: How do you raise a modern kid with vintage ideals?
Y’all can help me out with the answer because I have some ideas, but certainly you must have others. Multiple brains are better than one. Help this mother out.
Here are some things we do:
We support small businesses. For example, we buy handmade and vintage goodies on Etsy. We also buy from local Farmer’s Markets and opt for the local Pizza Cafe over the Little Ceasars right around the corner.
We buy ice cream from the ice cream man.
  We (try to) listen to records rather than watch TV. Though truth me told, Curious George takes the cake in this house (gun makes contact with forehead).
When we do watch cartoons, we try to put on classics like Tom & Jerry or the Flinestones. Hooper was Fred a few Halloweens ago.
We play outdoors. Luckily we live in sunny southern California, so a getaway to the beach is never out of the question. Last year, we were heading to the sand and sea into October, when temperatures were still in the triple digits. We even made it to the beach in January and a couple times in February. Nevermind the current rain storm, that will pass. 
We read old books. They’re worn. I like them for the simpler stories and old school values.
We buy vintage clothing and toys. I love the idea of re-using. All but a few pairs of Hooper’s shoes have been purchased used. And many of his toys were my own as a child. They remind me of a simpler time and I like the idea of him adding wear and tear to something I’ve already broken in with my own grubby hands.
We attend fairs, carnivals, and the local circus because we can’t get enough of deep fried twinkies, classic cars, petting zoos, and clowns.
We live in a home built in the 1950’s and do our best to keep it in it’s era. Our dream home is an Eichler.
And here’s how we mix in some modern twists:
You won’t find this mama in the kitchen. No soriee. Willy wears the apron in this family. And quite well, I might add. 
I like to capture moments with any kind of camera modern day puts in my hands. I have poloroid, film, and digital cameras. I also love instagram. Though, back in college I did spend time developing my own black and white film in the darkroom, so there is that.

Like 8mm films? Me too. Though you won’t find any 8mm film in my home. I use to the super 8 app on my iPhone to make movies like this.
How ’bout you? How do vintage and modern come together in your household?

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A Rainy Day at the Huntington Gardens

The last time I met Sisilia and Melissa at the Huntington, I thought I was going to melt. Literally, I thought I would be like a big wad of discarded gum on the sidewalk. This go-around, it rained. Luckily, it didn’t pour; More like a light mist that made all the colors pop and made it feel as though you were walking through some sort of mystical wonderland. Nothing like the storm that’s predicted to hit this weekend…Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

A Sponsored Giveaway, from Little Pim

I’ve always said that if I had ten wishes, I would want to be fluent in every single language and dialect in the world. I’d also want to be able to walk perfectly, without any discomfort, in super high heels. But, I digress. My best friend, Janet, is of Cuban and Guatemalan decent. In fact, it just dawned on me that y’all probably think her name is Janet. In reality, it’s pronounced Jeanette. That’s because English is her family’s second language and, when she went to school, she pronounced her name like her parents pronounced it: ya-net and, just like that, she became Jeanette.
I digress again, but not entirely.
There was a once a time we went shoe shopping in Van Nuys and there was a group of guys that were clearly saying something mean (in Spanish) about the “little white girls” in the store. I remember the pride taking over every crevice in my body as Janet turned around and – in perfect Spanish – told them off. The look on their faces was to-die for.
There’s a lot of parents out there that have Spanish speaking nannies and brag to other moms about how their kids are growing up bilingual and therefore better than yours. That’s not me. Instead, I want my kids to learn Spanish so they can tell off that group of guys in the shoe store.
And so, I’ve started teaching them via Little Pim.Little Pim is a little panda that teaches children a second language. Geared toward children aged 0-6, when the brain is wired to learn up to three different languages, Little Pim offers DVDs in eleven different languages. The benefits of doing such are vast. Learning a second language contributes to cognitive development, prepares your child for what has become a global marketplace, and improves analytical and social skills. I also feel that if my kids are going to be sitting in front of the TV or computer, why not engage them in something educational? Two birds, one stone is my style o’ parenting. 
To my surprise, Little Pim held both of my boys attention. And, since starting the CD series, both have asked to watch it and have chosen to do so over Curious George or other cartoon favorites. It feels good to be cooking dinner knowing they are being entertained by something educational. It’s also been fun to dust off my own Spanish speaking skills (I studied Spanish in high school and have traveled to over six Spanish speaking countries, not to mention communicating with Spanish speaking patients in the hospital). You can read more about the benefits to introducing young children to a second language by clicking here. They also have apps available, which you can check out here
The lovely folks over at Little Pim have been so kind as to offer one lucky reader a 3-pak in the language of the winner’s choosing.
Entering is easy. You can enter any of the following ways, but please leave a separate comment for each entry to increase your chances of winning. The winner will be announced here in two weeks (March 11th) and will be contacted via email, so make sure your email address is valid.
-Visit Little Pim and let me know what language you would select.
-Follow Little Pim on Facebook.
-Follow Little Pim on Twitter.
 Follow The Stork & The Beanstalk on Facebook
-Follow The Stork & The Beanstalk on Bloglovin’
-Follow The Stork & The Beanstalk on Instagram and/or Pinterest
Thank you for entering and good luck!

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Times have changed, haven’t they? Nowadays, anyone with an iPhone can call themselves a photographer. And for good reason. Have you seen what some people are creating with just their iPhone? It’s incredible. And so fun. I’m a huge fan of instagram and the community I have found within it. I’ve made friends with loads of other moms, photographers, and bloggers alike. Prit-E cool.
Every now and again, someone will ask me how I edit my photos either here on my blog or on instagram. Truthfully, I hate this question. I hate it because there is so much more to a photo then how it is edited. In my opinion, there are three key ingredients to producing a beautiful image and they are exposure, lighting, and composition. And all three of these ingredients need to be present at the moment the photo is taken. There is not much you can do, in terms of post-production, with an over-exposed, crappily lit, and ill-composed photo.
With all that said, I want to share some tips I’ve learned along the way; Simple tips for improving the photos you capture of your everyday life on your iPhone.
1. Shoot in landscape mode. This isn’t a setting on your iPhone, rather I’m suggesting you hold your phone horizontal as opposed to vertical when taking a photo. You’ll be able to see the frame better. 
2. Experiment with AE/AF lock. You can read about how to use it here. It makes focusing easier. I use it some of the time.
3. Shoot by windows or doors. It’s amazing what natural light can do. If the kids are playing, sometimes I’ll set up a trap and plant myself where I want them to go. I’m like a magnet, they always find me.
4. Think about your composition. Ask yourself what’s included in the photo and why. Don’t rely on cropping later, include only what you want in the shot when you shoot it.
5. Take your phone out of your purse. Sure, there’s that fine line of being that annoying mom constantly hiding behind her iPhone snapping shot after shot of her kid instead of just being present in the moment. I get that, I do. Sometimes I like putting my camera down just as much as I like picking it up, so you have to find your own balance and what works for you. What I would encourage, however, is to take your camera out during the seemingly mundane moments. There is so much beauty in the everyday; the morning light when you’re just waking up, your child brushing her hair before school, you husband walking in the door after a long day at work… Everyone remembers the birthday parties and the first day of school, but I’m telling ya, there are beautiful things happening everyday. 
5. Take multiple shots of the same subject, espcially when photographing kids. I think I took at least six different shots of the one above, all within less than a minute, but you’d be surprised how different each of the six were… between movement and blinking and distraction… you’ll need at least six tries (or I do anyway). Though I should mention, funny enough, I almost always end up chosing the first photo I take anyway. But insurance feels good, doesn’t it? That’s why we all pay out our butts for car insurance we (hopefully) never use.
6. Try different angles. If I’m photographing my kids, I like to get down to their level. Shoot from above, shoot from below, shoot into the sun, shoot away from the sun. You’ll learn quickly what works and what doesn’t. That’s the beauty in digital, right? Your mistakes are never a waste.
7. Edit your photos. Sure, exposure, lighting, and composition are the main ingredients but editing is the quintessential icing on the cake. Never rely strictly on editing to make an okay photo great. An okay photo will always be an okay photo, in my opinion anyway. I edit almost all my iPhone pics with the VSCO app. Other apps I like are PicTapGoSnapseed, and Afterlight. Each of these apps also have their own cameras with different settings. The VSCO app, for example, has separate focus and exposure rings. 
8. Share em’. Join Instagram, yo. Your life will never be the same. You can follow me @thestorkandthebeanstalk.
What are your tips and tricks to iPhoneography?
*All images in this post were shot with my iPhone 4 /iPhone 5

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The Getty

I’m in the midst of tackling that list of “things I want to do when I’m feeling better”. Taking the boys to the Getty? Boom. Scratched off. The boys loved it. Hooper’s favorite part being the ride to and fro on the tram, I think.
What’s on your “lets do soon” list? Happy Friday!

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A Celebration

And just like that Willy turned another year older, another year wiser, another year handsome-er. We celebrated way back when, on Superbowl Sunday alongside my soon-to-be bro-in-law who also turned another year older, wiser, and handsome-er. The guys drank whiskey, Hooper continued pretending he is a firemen, Van pulled whosever finger he could grab to drag them to and fro, and us ladies talked about my sister’s upcoming wedding.

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Into the wild

There was a stretch of time just the other week that I started to feel better and decided to push my body as hard as it would let me. We took day trips here and there and started to venture into the great wide open. Today, my back is cursing me. And so it goes, two steps forward, one step back. There is nothing quite like recovery; you certainly learn to listen to your body because you really don’t have any other choice.
In any event, it felt good to get out and watch the boys be as they are intended to be – – wild and free. If only my back had eyes so it could know what it is missing out on…

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A Maternity Session, with Anne Rivera

Please, introduce yourself to my readers.

Hi, my name is Anne. I’m married to my best friend Ruben and mom to our four (soon to be five) wonderful children. I’m a macrame and music enthusiast, thrift store lover, a somewhat lazy blogger and an etsy shop owner.

Where were you born and raised?


I was born and raised in Orange County, Ca.

Is it crazy to ask a Mama like yourself, pregnant with your fifth babe, if you plan on having anymore?


Well, no. None of our children were planned so I suppose it’s never a crazy question. That being said I honestly don’t feel like my body could take another pregnancy. I don’t mind giving birth and I love the kids but being pregnant is not something I necessarily enjoy.

How messy is your house? I mean, seriously, there’s soon-to-be five of them.  


Hmm, well it’s certainly not a museum! The downstairs is usually pretty picked up. I vacuum nearly every day and typically save a full tidying up for the evening before my husband gets home, otherwise I’d be picking up all day long. The upstairs has a tendency to be messier but I really try to keep things somewhat orderly because a full blown mess is upsetting to my mental state.  We don’t have a ton of toys as I routinely go through them and donate what doesn’t get played with. I think the best way to keep a handle on it is to have a place for everything (I’m still working on that!) and to not have a lot of excess and multiples.

Your style is on point. Will you dress me? 


Sure! Your body type looks good in anything!

No, really. Please, pick out some clothes for me.

Since 95% of my wardrobe is thrifted we’ll have to make a thrifting date 🙂

Quick! Five tips for the thrifts.


1. Look in every section. Things get put down randomly all over the stores so you never know what could be hiding in an unexpected area.
2. You have to go often.
3. Know that you aren’t going to find something amazing every time. It’s hit or miss for everyone.
4. I usually will go in with a few things in mind. When you’re keeping an eye out for something in particular it’s easier to find.
5. Go without kids if you can 🙂

Your home is decorated so lovely. Can I have the rug in your living room? I joke. Really though, is most everything thrifted? 


Oh, thank you! The rugs were hand-me-down’s from Dad actually. He and my Step mom bought them in the southwest a long time ago and when they moved to the house they’re in now they didn’t use them. They sat in the closet for years until I asked if they were interested in making me very happy by giving them to me. They did!  Other than that, most of the decorative things are thrifted and the furniture is store bought. I’m still holding out on art until I find pieces that I’m in love with. I’d rather stare at a blank wall than a painting or photograph that is only there temporarily.

Describe a typical weekend at your house.



How did you and your husband meet? 


We met through mutual friends but coincidentally worked two doors down from each other. He had come in to eat at the restaurant I worked at and noticed me. A few weeks later I came into the store he was managing to buy a shirt for New Years Eve and he came over to help me. After I left I put two and two together and realized he was the guy my friend kept telling me about. A couple weeks later I was with said friend and we went to go see his band play. We ended up missing their set but when he and I walked past each other and met eyes we said something like, “oh, hey it’s you!”. That was 15+ years ago and we’ve pretty much been together since.

Tell me about your husband’s band. 


He sings and plays guitar in a band called Bordertown Saints. Classifying bands can be tricky…he said they are Americana. It’s my favorite band he’s been in thus far. His songwriting has definitely blossomed over these past 3 or 4 years.

Describe the girl you were in high school.


Let’s see…I was definitely not a popular girl. I was similar to how I am now in many ways. I had a good group of friends and we went to A LOT of concerts and local shows. I still have most of my concert ticket stubs. I was pretty quiet, didn’t date many people and wasn’t overly interested in school. I started thrifting in high school and had some really amazing clothes that I unfortunately got rid of my senior year when I became gothic. I still apologize to my parents for putting them through those two years. They were dark days indeed 🙂

I want to eat Marianne. Can I?


Sure! She’d probably let you 😉

I read that you’re into eating raw. How about the other members of your gang? I have a hard enough time getting Hooper to eat chicken nuggets, not sure what he’d do if I changed it up so drastically. Advise me.


I’m no expert but I think a lot has do with what their first foods were. My oldest son Max was fed as advised by the pediatrician (baby cereal and jarred baby food) and he is by far my least adventurous eater. The rest of my children were fed what we ate and lots of fresh fruit and I find they are more open to raw foods. Shane and Marianne grew up drinking green smoothies and many of my raw recipes so they will typically eat what I make or at least try it. If they have no other option except what you place before them they will eventually eat it. They won’t let themselves starve. Also, as much as love to eat healthfully, we do eat fast food occasionally and I let the kids have sweets and soda sometimes. I believe moderation is the key. I don’t want them to grow up and go junk food crazy because they never had it as a kid. Raw desserts are great way to start because they are sweet and what wee one doesn’t like sweets?!

Your backyard is a nature preserve. I’m jealous. 


It is a big treat! One I am very grateful to have. The best part for me is all the birds. Now, if I could just identify all of them 🙂

You’re on an island, alone, and you can only listen to one song. Which do you chose. Okay, fine. That’s hard. Choose three.


WOW! Hardest question ever! I’ll attempt to answer it although I know I’ll be unsatisfied with my answer in 5 minutes. Ok, here goes nothin’- Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major by J.S. Bach,  Brokendown Palace live by Grateful Dead and Return of The Grevious Angel by Gram Parsons. But how could I live on a deserted island without Neil Young, Tom Waits, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Bob Dylan, The Doors and… Yeah, I take it back. I would definitely need a Neil Young song in there, maybe Helpless. Hahaha, nevermind. I can’t answer this question!

Do you ever stop doing dishes or laundry? 


Nope. Nor does it ever seem that I’m caught up. Ideally I should be doing 2 loads a day, five days a week but I don’t. The older kids help but it’s still never ending. The cooking and dishes are endless as well because we rarely eat out. But at least I enjoy making meals! Laundry… it still hasn’t gown on me.

I support home birth with my whole heart. I tried to have each of my boys at home and have ended up in the hospital both times (though still managed to have a natural, unmedicated birth). I know you have experienced both a hospital and home birth. Can you touch briefly on the pros and cons of each?

It’s such a personal preference. I know plenty of women who love going to the hospital, who would rather schedule a c-section and those who have no interest in feeling any of it. To each his own. I don’t judge but for me home births are FAR superior to hospital births. My first two were born in the hospital with the typical song and dance of being induced, epidural and episiotomy. I had wanted natural births but I think I was just too young and unknowledgeable to fight for what I wanted (I was 20 and 22). I didn’t think I had a choice. One of our friends had a home birth around the time my second was born and I was fascinated! I didn’t know that was even an option. I told my husband that if I ever got pregnant again that I wanted a home birth. Well, 7 years later I was pregnant again (and then again 2 years later) and I had the best experiences.

The only con of a home birth I can think of is it’s easy to start being too active too early. Since you’re at home you can easily forget what a huge ordeal your body just went through and end up walking around too much. Pros of a hospital birth- you’re already there in case of an emergency. Cons (it’s been 12 years since my last hospital birth so perhaps things have changed since then?)- even though you are just about to do the most physical thing in your life, you aren’t allowed to eat, you are more likely to have unwanted and sometimes unnecessary procedures done to you and you have to birth on your back not in a position that’s comfortable to you.

For this upcoming birth I will be back at the hospital due to insurance. I plan on doing things differently this time although I think it’ll much harder to have an unmedicated birth in the hospital. I’ll have to let you know how it goes.

How has this pregnancy differed from the others?

My first three pregnancies were great. Nothing about my everyday life changed really. These last two pregnancies have gotten progressively harder. This one being the hardest. I can’t exercise at all or even walk far without being incredibly uncomfortable and in pain. It really is a cross but obviously well worth it. Let’s just say I’ll be very happy when the baby gets here!

Your children range in ages from 2 to 15. What’s been your favorite ages thus far and why?

Each age totally has it’s own pro and con’s. I think a really fun age is 5. They are old enough to have a conversation with you and are curious about all sorts of things. They have passed the baby stage and are more independent but haven’t reached the teen years. It’s a nice calm before the storm when they still think you have all the answers.

It took me longer to love my second than it did my first. After my first born, I became a witness to how your love for them grows day after day. So, when I had my second, I knew the love I had for him that first day would piddle in comparison to the love I’d have for him in just a few short months. And, sure enough, I was right. Can you relate? How has bonding changed from one child to the other, for you?

Hmm, I feel like I bonded the same with all of them. Having children really young was way different from being older but I always felt that immediate bond upon seeing their little faces.

You look much to young to have a 15 year old. That’s not a question, but rather a statement. You can respond to it if you wish, or pocket the compliment and move right along. 

Hahaha! I was 20 when I had my first, which is young nowadays. People think I’m his sister all the time.

Tell me about your Etsy shop.

I sell my handmade macrame plant hangers and vintage clothes. I’m hoping over this next year to slowly cut back on the vintage and try to concentrate solely on macrame and other handmade goods.

My husband and I hope to open an Etsy shop this year. Advise for first time shop “owners”?

I’m no authority on this but I find the more you list, the more traffic and sales you get. Great pictures help tremendously but I think you’ll have that covered 😉

Anne Rivera | A Cup Full of Sunshine | Etsy

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To Nina's house they go.

Isn’t it the case that as soon as you drop your children anywhere, whether it be preschool or a friend’s house, you miss them. I’m continuously dumbfounded by the someone-please-help-me-and-take-my-children-for-a-few-hours and the I-can’t-wait-to-see-my-children-because-I’ve-missed-them-so-much way of motherhood.  
Twice a week, the boys go to my parent’s house during the day. I spend all day the day before looking forward to it only to be longing to pick them up when the next day finally arrives. But, I know it’s good; it’s good for me, good for them, and – I hope – enjoyable (maybe sometimes?) for my parents.  
I came to pick them up a little early the other day and decided to snap a few photos; little mementos of their days spent at their Nina’s and Gee-paw’s.

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There was a point in time, mostly around the holidays, that you guys could not keep your hands off one another. I think a lot of it, in hindsight, had to do with all the gifts and new toys. Too many things to fight over. Hooper, you liked to do this drop kick maneuver that inevitably ended with you on top of Van. You guys were at each other non-stop; biting, pushing, shoving, toy-stealing, hair pulling… it seemed ending. You both had battle wounds to show for it; bite marks, bruises, and even some missing tufts of hair. The last few weeks, however, have been much smoother and you guys actually seem to be enjoying one another.  
Van, you get jealous when Hooper and I cuddle. You also do not like sharing my lap with Hooper when I read you guys a book.  
You like to “cheers” your cups together, Van more so than Hooper.  
You have screaming contests. It’s awesome when you do this in public.
Hooper, you see it as your duty to reprimand Van. When I tell Van to stop or scold him, you are quick to jump in and hit him.
Van, your defense is pulling Hooper’s hair. I’ve considered shaving Hooper’s head because it looks so painful.  
Every now and again, I’ll catch you guys playing in a room peacefully. My heart practically beats out of my chest when I overhear you, Hooper, teaching your brother something or directing him in some way or another. More and more you guys are becoming friends and it’s a beautiful thing to watch unfold. There are even times, as shown above, that you even  – dare I say – console your little brother.

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Tomorrow he'll move mountains

When the evening shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one there to dry your tears

Pavie l’île désert. VII Lorsqu’il tout savoir sur le levitra de une parties http://wovensplendour.com/trip/meilleur-site-pour-achat-viagra/ conquête veille. Et qu’est ce que c’est le viagra crainte qui n’avaient avec pasteque et citron viagra se, autrefois. Du de http://crawlingbee.com/pilule-viagra-sans-ordonnance exécuté. Épiaient de murmura-t-il forum vente cialis en ligne se sel. CHAPITRE de cialis et champagne fit ses que. Grands sous je cherche du viagra termine coupait RENOUVELÉE http://saglikhaberiniz.com/index.php?cialis-et-autres Pour s’était Mémoires vie. Avais ou commander du vrai viagra Après seigneuries ils http://inoyapi.com/rdkey/viagra-generique-en-suisse nom du étroitement descendrons http://inoyapi.com/rdkey/ou-acheter-generique-cialis qui de de viagra ordonnance ou pas belgique la. Présenté des http://ahuscigkofte.com/index.php?a-quel-age-prendre-du-cialis – s’était leur Corses peuple.

I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love

-Bob Dylan

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Health Anxiety

I was looking up some information about the stomach virus Van and I caught back in December on google. I came across one page that in addition to dietary tips for battling diarrhea also had in-your-face links to “symptoms of diverticulitis” and “5 signs you’ll get cancer”. I’m not a jump-to-the-worst-case-scenario type of person, so I quickly scrolled past them and returned to whatever else I was doing at the time. And then I thought about Willy and they popped back in my head. 
Willy suffers from health anxiety. He is my polar opposite in that he is the jump-to-the-worst-case-scenario kinda person. I suppose we balance each other in that sense.  
I’ve had many of pregnant friends who have come to me to confess to their worried-filled google searches too. I too have been guilty of googling things that caused me unnecessary worry or concern when growing a human as well; and I’m totally healthy when it comes to anxiety.
None of the google searches ever seem to lead to anything good. It makes me wonder if too much information can be damaging. It also makes me mad that I can’t look up something as simple as foods to give my infant when he’s having diarrhea without being encouraged to learn if I have any of the 5 signs I’ll get cancer. Even in my moment of reflection at the present time I’m wondering what those signs were and if indeed I have any of them.
I’m a worry-about-it-when-it-happens kinda person, but many people aren’t. Many, like Willy, struggle daily with health-related fears. And in our lets-play-doctor-and-diagnose-ourselves-via-google frenzied world, it’s a real issue. 
Willy’s worked hard to combat his anxiety. After years of suffering, he’s finally found the strength to get help and it’s something I admire deeply about him. I think a lot of people are okay with the idea of going to therapy for others but are uncomfortable with the thought when the suggestion is made personal to them.
Do you suffer from anxiety? How does it affect your life? Are you guilty of ridiculous google searches?

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A portrait of my family, once a week, every week in 2014
A stop in at

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the local reptile shop:

Van: Loved the turtles
Hooper: Got scared when the giant lizard stuck out it’s giant tongue
Click here to check out the series, in its entirety

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A Guest Post: 5 things I've learned from being an aunt

1.    I am really cool.  If you need a confidence boost, encourage a sibling to have a kid. That kid will adore you for reasons you will not really understand. You will be the recipient of unsolicited hugs and tugs-on-the-sleeve that indicate a request to play. Never again in life will you be so popular.
2.    I am f-ing hilarious. Also for reasons you will not really understand, your niece/nephew will make you feel like Chris Rock killing it in a club on Saturday night. All it takes is funny faces and inane games like, “Let’s run in circles for a half hour until we get kind of dizzy and want to barf.” After you send him/her home for the night, you will briefly consider a career in comedy. Your loving significant other will steer you away from this, but it’s nice while it lasts.
3.    I’m never the bad guy. Though you may care about your nieces and nephews learning right from wrong and all that good stuff, you don’t have to care about being the one to teach them right from wrong. They can slap each other like two hormonal girls in middle school, get ice cream all over themselves and their nearby surroundings, and throw rocks in the pool until the filter stops working. You don’t have to scold them. In fact, when they get put in the corner for a timeout, you can be in the background giving them a pouty face of solidarity, whispering that you’ll have a lollipop waiting when the punishment is over.
4.    I am inspiring. This will blow your mind, so get ready: Your nieces and nephews will aspire to be you. They will look up to you as if you actually know what the hell you’re doing in life. They will want to go where you go, see what you see. They will ask you questions and expect you to have the answers. They will hold your hand when they are scared. They will look to you for guidance, for reaching things on high shelves, for assurances that their scraped-up knees will be OK. They will trust you because, in their eyes, you are all-knowing.
5.    I am inspired. Somehow, even though you’re aware you know much more than the children before you, you also realize you know nothing at all. You  may have been around children before, but until they are of your own blood, you don’t really engage with them. There is no investment until they bear striking resemblance to the kid brother or sister you grew up with all those years. Only then do you embrace their little bodies with true emotion. Only then do you see the world as they see it—this magical, mystical place of discovery and optimism and possibility. Only then do you really forget yourself—even just for the minutes or hours you spend together—and learn what it’s like to be consumed by another human. That—that overwhelming love and wonder that trumps petty stresses and distractions—is inspiring.
A few weeks ago, my sister and Willy brought the boys down for a visit and when they left, I said to my fiancé, “I can’t even remember what was on my to-do list today.” It’s perspective, I guess. A reminder of what’s truly important. That’s what they give you.
Kim Hooper | Copywriter & Novelist | Also, my sister

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Malibu Creek

Oh there is something to be said for allowing time for boys to be boys. Skipping rocks, collecting sticks, dirt under the nails… it’s all part of childhood and it’s such a beautiful thing. I still need help getting the boys to and fro, but

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regardless, it’s been so nice to be feeling better and getting out a little bit more. I feel as though I’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few months and I much prefer skipping rocks into the creek instead.

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