Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Root Stupid Canal

So I finally went to the dentist yesterday about my tooth pain. I went to a new place, Fairview Dental Care. Everyone was so nice there. I really like it there. (If you need a dentist choose them and let them know I recommended you. Then we both get a $25 credit on our accounts… just FYI…)

It turns out I need two root canals. TWO. Apparently some dental work I had done around 17 years ago just sort of expired and that’s what came out when my tooth “fell out”. I begged them to just pull at least one of the teeth out, but they said they didn't recommend it because I'm so young and apparently that particular tooth is important for chewing or something. The way I see it an extraction cost $159.99 compared to one root canal which cost $1,287.50. Times two is $2,575.00! An extraction is more my budget. Oh, and not only does it cost that much but they said it can't wait. BOO. 

Oh well. I guess I can try to write another letter to Ellen. I'm starting to think she sin't getting them. 

If you would like to help me out with my root canals you can transfer money to me via Paypal using the e-mail address Sara.Leeper@gmail.com. People probably won't give you money unless you ask. They probably won't give it to you either way, but you have a better chance if you ask. I guess.
Above: I wore this necklace that I made to the dentist. Everyone loved it!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Number Three: Bake Petit Fours

I didn’t actually bake petit fours. I made rainbow cookies instead. They are sort of the same thing. When I think of petits fours (which are these French pastry things… Petit four Wiki page) I think of several thin layers of pound or sponge cake with raspberry between the layers cut into teeny, tiny little squares, covered with chocolate and decorated. Rainbow cookies are much the same, just way more awesome.

Rainbow cookies are an Italian-American dessert, mainly New York-Italian-American. For the longest time I thought they were a Jewish thing, but on Long Island, Italian and Jewish are essentially the same thing. Seriously ask any Jew or Italian from Long Island. One and the same.

Anyways, Rainbow cookies are SOOO Italian that they are even made to look like the Italian flag. Each layer is colored either green, red, or white. Well, the white layer is actually yellowish and is not colored, but is just left in its original cake color to represent white. The layers are made from an almond cake and there is a raspberry or apricot jam between each of the layers. And then the whole thing is topped with chocolate. Sometimes people add sprinkles.

I grew up eating these every Saturday after services at our synagogue (which is why I thought they were Jewish). I would go from cookie tray to cookie tray trying to find as many rainbow cookies as I could. There were only a few of them per tray and always cut so small. Then my friends and I would take our cookie finds to the coat closet and share. Another great thing about them is they can be made to be kosher for Passover. Which I love because my birthday usually falls over Passover and I hate not getting to have cake, but I loves me a whole tray of rainbow cookies!

These were easier to make than I thought they would be. However still a little complicated. Well, more time consuming than complicated. I decided not to make mine Italian flag colored. They were supposed to be lime green, orange and purple, but I ran out of purple coloring and tried to mix blue and red, which didn’t work. So they are dark redish purple, green and orange.

I am very happy with the results. They taste is a little extra almondy, because I took the advice of the pastry chef who commented on All-recipes.com saying they always add almond extract. I might skip that step next time. Don’t get me wrong though, I could still eat the whole plate. But I won’t. I promise.

Get the recipe HERE

So one more goal down. 30 days left and 9 more goals to go…
Above: Never used parchment paper before, but it rocks!
Below: Just out of the oven!
Above and Below: At this point in the process it didn't look very promising. I was getting worried. Especially when the entire green layer broke in 3 pieces... but I glued it back together with raspberry jam.
Above: But hey, they turned out great!
Below: And Delicious!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

10 Goals & Only 31 Days Left!

So guess what? I DID learn to knit. And I’ve knitted myself a nice, purple, cozy 4”x 7” rectangle! I also opened my Etsy store and begun planning a big surprise for someone (that I cannot discuss on here yet because IT’S A SURPRISE). Also, I got a bike so I am one step closer to riding my bike to work. It’s really cold out though so “Have A Lemonade Stand” and “Ride My Bike To Work” are not going to be fun. And who is going to buy lemonade from me in 32 degree weather?

I have just 10 goals of my 25 left to conquer. Will I really make it to Arkansas? Judging by the busy schedule I have these next 5 weeks, probably not.

I have just felt really unmotivated to write lately. You know how that is, yes? Have you never had anything you just didn’t feel like doing? Something you wanted to do, that no one was forcing you to do, but you just kept putting it off anyway? No? Then that makes you a freak mutant and I want nothing to do with you and your freak mutant ways.

Here are some photos because I said so. They have almost nothing to do with this post, but I worked hard on the descriptions to make them seem like they fit here. Ok, I didn't work that hard.
Above: My parents came to visit a few weeks ago. They are the ones who brought me the bike!
Below: Some new things I'm working on for my Etsy shop. Andy set up this amazing work space for me. He got me a table and little storage drawer things, a drill for screwing holes into LEGOS and other toys, and some other awesome stuff. He's really awesome.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sara, You're Really Having Your Brows Waxed Again?

(Yikes! I need a haircut.)

So I decided that it’s time for another haircut. Someone very nice in my office had a gift certificate good for a haircut and (gasp) an eyebrow waxing and she gave it to me. I know, anyone out there that remembers (how could you forget?) about my first very unfortunate eyebrow mishap which left me with an Uno-Brow (pronounced “ooo-no” like the game, and meaning one- not “Uni-brow” meaning two eyebrows united to form one) will think I am nuts for letting hot wax even come near my face. I've let my hair and eyebrows go crazy over the past 4 months or so. I look like Lanie Boggs in She’s All That before the makeover. So not hideous, just in dire need of a haircut, eyebrow touch up, makeup and maybe a new shirt. Anyways I think it’s time I just get my eyebrows taken care of. Maybe go a little crazy with the hair. Pray for my eyebrows.

(Right now I have eyebrows. 
They grew back quite nicely after the mishap thanks to RevitaBrow.
I took a picture to remember them by just in case.)

On another note, I finally opened up my Etsy Shop, the Banana Boutique. I am very excited about this because I have wanted to have an Etsy shop for a while and have been working on it since August. I only have eight items in there now, but I will have more in there as soon as I take some photos of my new pieces.
Banana Boutique has lots of handmade jewelry crafted by yours truly.  I love super cute things and vintage Disney park and film stuff. So there is a lot of that in there. I also love those plastic bell clip charms from the 80’s that were obnoxiously large and we wore on obnoxious brightly colored plastic chains. I am using them to create some fun stuff. Check it out because the holidays are coming and you will need to buy stuff for people. You may as well spend your money with me. At least you know it’s going somewhere awesome; my pocket. 

Link to my Etsy Shop: Banana Boutique
Cinderella Bottle Cap Necklace using an image from a vintage 1978 Disney children's book
Hello Kitty Large Charm Necklace on a metallic pink chain with a heart shaped toggle clasp.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Spider Cupcakes II

So I made the cupcakes. I had to change a few things though. For instance, I made this big deal about accuracy and spiders having 8 legs. That only works if you buy enough pocky to make a zillion legs. I bought 3 boxes. I should have bought about 6 boxes, so my spiders have only six legs. I was WAY too lazy to make the eyes from chocolate, so I found some sugar “creature features” at Michael's that Wilton makes to use as the eyes. Also, I couldn’t find black cupcake liners (well I could have, but I forgot to look while I was at Michael's and didn't feel like going back over there), so I used black liners that had a Halloween pattern on them instead. The cupcake batter sort of soaks into the liner so it’s still really dark anyway.

I brought the cupcakes in to work early this morning and heard someone say “Whoa! Who made these spider cupcakes!?”  SUCCESS.

Above: Aren't they beautiful?
Below: Lilly "helping" by eating the cupcake batter
Above: The eyes I used
Below: Spiders pre-legs
Below: Assembling legs

I'd say my awesomeness level is pretty high.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Spider Cupcakes

I really wanted to make some type of Halloween cupcake this year, so I Googled "Halloween cupcakes" and found a bunch of photos that gave me some ideas. 

I am really scared of spiders. Some of them jump, some are poisonous, some are the size of my head. I am really scared that a spider the size of my head with giant fangs filled with poison venom will jump and fly at my face while making a screeching sound and then chew my head off. Or something equally as ridiculous, yet scary enough to make me shudder. So, naturally I am fascinated by them and I decided to make spider cupcakes.

I looked around for the best way to make them and I like the use of Pocky for the spiders legs the best instead of limp licorice or straight pretzels...

Here is a random story before we get started... last year I put a fake spider on the windowsill thinking it would scare Andy, which it did not. The fake spider however is still there and has gathered dust, so it's started looking a little hairy and a little more real. At least once a month I go to open the window, forgetting it's there, and it scares the crap outta me. I have successfully scared the crap out of myself with this stupid fake spider at least six times. And yet I leave it there on the windowsill. 

Ok, here we go...

Disclaimer: I haven't made these yet. I hope to make them this weekend. I have no idea how they will turn out, so I wish you luck if you decide to try this before I do.

2 Boxes Chocolate cake mix
24 Black cupcake liners
A bunch of brown/black sprinkles
White chocolate for melting
Milk chocolate for melting
Chocolate frosting
Vanilla frosting
4 to 6 Boxes of chocolate Pocky
1 Bag candy corn
1 Piping bag with small round tip

Most of the above quantities are total estimations. Good luck.

You might need at least an hour to two hours for this project.
Makes approx 24 cupcakes. Probably more. 

1. Make cupcake mix as directed on box
2. Fill each cupcake liner in pan about 3/4 with cake batter. You need to fill the liners higher than usual so that you have rounded tops later.
3. Bake as directed on box (might need a few extra minutes in oven)
4. Take out of oven and let cool
5. Assemble legs from Pocky and melted milk chocolate. Let dry on wax paper. I would go into detail on how this is done but I just don't feel like it at the moment.
6. Make the white chocolate dots for the eyes on wax paper from melted white chocolate (can use a different color such as yellow, green or red for eyes if desired)- Let the white dots harden then add little milk chocolate dots on the larger white dots. This works best with a piping bag. Let dry on the wax paper. 
7. Frost the cupcakes generously with the chocolate frosting. 
8. Fill a small wide bowl with chocolate sprinkles.
9. Dip frosted side of each cupcake in the sprinkles rolling it around to cover.
10. Carefully push the Pocky legs into the cupcakes. It might be helpful to make holes for the legs first. Remember: Spiders have 8 legs and if you're going for accuracy, so should your cupcakes.
11. Using the piping bag, add a small dot of vanilla frosting for each eye and attach eyes. The frosting is your glue. You can finally eat glue. You should feel happy about this.
12. You can add candy corn fangs or other features if desired. Use the piping bag and pipe on small dots of icing to attach fangs and other random things you come up with right now because you want to keep attaching things since you're having so much fun.
13. Admire and eat your spider-cakes. Do not eat the cupcake liners. They don't taste very good.
Now for your enjoyment, a few Halloween photos from my childhood:
I'm the one in the poodle skirt. My sister is Pebbles Flintstone. Batman and the devil are our friends Alanna and Julian.
With my cousin, Laurin, when we were like two and half. I am Minnie Mouse and she is an inside out shirt. Really though I'm not sure what she was supposed to be. Maybe a ghost? I am not sure she remembers either.

Friday, October 21, 2011


My tooth fell out. Not the whole thing but a large chunk of it. It is severed in half vertically not horizontally. I haven't been to the dentist in almost two years because it is so expensive. I am grateful that this is the only problem I am having since I do not have health insurance and it isn't something more serious. Judging by the pain in my tooth, I think I may need to have a root canal. When I was 17 I was hit in the face with a volleyball in gym class and I had to have a root canal then. This hurts much the same way that did, which is A LOT. I really need to go to the dentist and I am avoiding it for three reasons: 

1. It is expensive and I can't even afford an office visit and a cleaning much less dental surgery. 

2. I am soooooo lazy and I'd really rather not think about it. My tooth fell out about three weeks or a month ago and it hadn't hurt much since then so I've just tried to keep food out of the hole and forget about it. I just want to ignore the whole situation. I am so good at ignoring things. I was pretty sure this would work.

3. I don't like going to the dentist. I don't like to hold my mouth open for so long, it makes my jaw hurt. I don't like saliva pooling in there and I can't swallow or spit and the dentist has the spit sucker thing in the wrong place. I don't like the taste of the gritty toothpaste. I don't like it when they scrape my teeth or poke at my gums. I don't like how the dentist asks me questions while he is working on my mouth. The least he could do is phrase them so they only need a yes or no answer. I don't like the GIANT needle they use to numb you. I don't like how dry and crackly my lips are when it's all over. I don't like that all I have to show for it at the end is a toothbrush. I may be 27, but I'd still like a sticker. Or better yet, some chapstick for my dry crackly lips that were not dry or crackly before I saw you, Dentist person.

My main concern right now is just the money thing. Who has an extra $2000 laying around for dental surgery? I know that I will need a filling, or a crown, or root canal, or a fake tooth. Whatever it is I need it will be expensive and there is no way around that.

I have already contacted a few talk shows that offer help for small things like this. I'm not sure if they will help me, but I really hope someone does! It would really make the whole situation a little more fun and exciting if I got to be on TV! The chances of that happening are very slim. So slim you can't even see that sliver of the pie chart with the naked eye (the pie chart which hasn't been created but gives you a visual of my chances- OK, fine. I'll draw a pie chart). I am hoping to make a video to also submit to the shows. Maybe that would help convince them a little?

Whatever the case, I think the tooth fairy should come and give me a little something-something for my tooth chunk. I hear from kids these days that she has been pretty generous. I remember getting $1 from the Tooth Fairy, but I've met some kids who lost their tooth in recent years and made up to a hundred bucks! So not fair, but that's inflation for you, I guess. 

OK so now it is time for your opinion. Should I...

A. Make a video for the talk shows and cross my fingers they will help
B. Stand on a corner with a sign saying "Help me get dental surgery" and a bucket
C. Have a lemonade stand to raise money
D. Keep ignoring it
E. Buy some chapstick

Please comment with your response.

Bellow are some photos I sent to the Ellen DeGeneres show to try and get her to help me out. I also sent  in to a few others including one I'd never heard of. These photos were just for Ellen though.

Above: There is a post-it on my chin. I try to point out where the tooth chunk is missing. It's really difficult to see in this photo. This makes it look like it isn't as bad as it is. It's not so easy to take a picture of the back of your own mouth.

Below: When I took this photo my mouth hurt so much I didn't even want to open it. The note says "that's a tooth not a scribble" and refers to the little picture I tried to draw of a tooth.

Below: That pie chart you requested

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Number 18: Ride A Horse (And Not Be Scared)

I just haven’t felt like writing the past few days. SO MANY things have happened this past weekend that it isn’t that I haven’t had anything to write about, it’s that I am so overwhelmed with all I do have to write about that I have been avoiding it. But I feel bad about that, so I decided to just suck it up and write something, since I don't want you to fall behind in the terribly fascinating story that is my life. 

On Friday night we premiered our film Marceline at the great old historic Uptown Theater in Marceline. It was fabulous. We are very happy and excited over the positive response to our film. I just can’t believe how many people came out to see it and that everybody loved it! Afterwards we headed over to the El Cimmaron Mexican restaurant for a little “after party”. They stayed open late just for us! It was great, we talked and ate and drank (I drank more on Friday than I think I have all year- but that doesn't say much as I don't drink much usually- I do remember one point in the evening where I leaned over to Andy and whispered loudly "I feel awesome- I might should drink more days. Yeah?" or something equally idiotic) and we made lots of new friends. But as we had a very long day ahead of us, we all decided to turn in around midnight.

The following day was Toonfest! I LOVE Toonfest! We had breakfast at Ma Vic’s and then watched the parade. Andy and I got an award after the parade and, along with other special guests of Toonfest, were presented with a special Dreaming Tree plaque. What an honor! Not long after that, Andy told me he had a surprise for me… I simply couldn’t imagine what in the world it could be…

He told me we had to walk to “meet” the surprise. We walked up the street to the grocery store parking lot and he told me we had to wait there. It seemed like a weird surprise to me… Within minutes I noticed a girl leading a horse right to us… Andy had asked her if I could ride her horse to fulfill my “Ride a horse and not be scared” goal. The problem is, is that I WAS scared. I got on the horse, but I had a little trouble at first since my legs are only like, 2 feet long (that’s an exaggeration, people!). I was definitely nervous and a little scared at first, but then I started having fun! Then Andy took the reins and led the horse around. I was thinking; Please don’t kill me, Andy! Please don’t kill me! Good news, he didn’t kill me. It was a lot of fun! I even let go of the little knobby handle thing and gave Andy a “Thumbs up” so he could take a picture. That doesn’t sound too wild and crazy to you I am sure, but that was a big step for me! All in all it was a very fun weekend (and this wasn’t even half of it!). I’ll write more about the weekend soon. Probably. 

Above: I was a little nervous at first....
Below: But then I got the hang of it

Above: Andy leading Ranger and I around (Ranger is the horse)

Friday, September 9, 2011

In Search Of A Sundae

(Ok, I want to start off by saying that I am very, truly, sorry that this may sound a little complain-y)

I am an ice cream snob. I have been searching for the perfect ice cream sundae in Columbia, Missouri for three years.  Ice cream is very important to me as you shall learn as you continue to read... We have lots of fabulous ice cream places, but none that fit the demands I shall make now:

  1. My perfect ice cream place will be a sit-down restaurant. They don’t have to sell ice cream and sweets exclusively. I’m not quite sure why, but I don’t want to watch you make my sundae. I want it to be a glorious mystery. I also like the relaxed feeling that I’m here to get my ice cream and stay. Not get it and bring it home, or eat it standing up outside your crowded establishment. For the sundae to really, truly be enjoyed I must be comfortable and relaxed. I think the atmosphere is very important and eating ice cream at home doesn't quite feel the same. Plus it melts on the way there and the consistency is very important to the taste of the ice cream. If I wanted cold liquid cream I’d buy cold liquid cream.

  1. They will have a minimum of 25 flavors at any given time and choices of at least 15 toppings, both wet and dry. Flavors are important. I want to be wild and adventurous while not risking too much. Toppings are equally important. I want to create perfect pairings of sweet and salty, chocolate and fruit… The perfect pairing of ice cream flavors and toppings is an art and a science and should be treated as such.

  1. They will not mix the ice cream and toppings together into a cold mush. If I wanted cold mush I’d let my 1 year old daughter make me an ice cream sundae. Yes, I admit, I used to love Cold Stone. I thought it was soooo great. But then, I realized all their ice cream has the weirdest consistency after they added the “Mix-ins” and it didn’t taste very good. I don’t want my ice cream played with. Or tasting like chemicals.  P.S. Hot fudge should be just that, HOT. Chocolate syrup is NOT hot fudge. Chocolate syrup is that cheap stuff you buy to make chocolate milk with. It doesn’t belong in an ice cream sundae.

  1. The toppings would be layered at least twice, meaning there would be ice cream, toppings, then ice cream again, then more toppings. That’s how you do it. This is just good sense.

  1. They will have WARM brownies for their ice cream sundaes and WHOLE bananas for their banana splits. Part of the reason why a warm brownie tastes so good with an ice cream sundae is the contrast of the hot and cold. A brownie must be also be warm to really soak in the flavor of the ice cream. As far as bananas go, even in their off season they do not cost more than a dollar a piece. Charge me a little more if you have to, a banana split is not a banana split unless you split a WHOLE banana in two. I didn’t order a banana half. Geez, and I was trying to be healthy!

To be perfectly honest, I have only found a very select few places in my life in various locations that meet all of these requirements, so Columbia, Missouri is not alone here. The single greatest place I have ever had an ice cream sundae would probably be Serendipity. Well actually I also really enjoyed the “Everything But The Kitchen Sink” sundae at the PCH Grill at the Paradise Pier Hotel at Disneyland. It is served in a kitchen sink…

Famous, expensive, and wonderful, I have only been to Serendipity twice, but it was worth the trek to Manhattan from Long Island and the $15 bucks. One of my life goals is to try their Golden Opulence sundae, which at $1000.00 is a Guinness world record holder for most expensive Ice cream sundae in existence. It even has its own Wikipedia page. It freaking has REAL gold in it. And caviar. I don’t much like caviar, but for  thousand bucks I’d lick that little caviar dish clean.

The “Everything But The Kitchen Sink” sundae at the PCH Grill has 10 scoops of ice cream, 2 candy bars, 2 cookies, 2 brownies, and a ton of amazing toppings served in a large bowl fashioned to look like a kitchen sink with a faucet and everything! Too bad hot fudge didn’t flow out of the faucet…That would be killer…We went there for my birthday in 2007. There were four of us, and even though we worked together, we couldn’t finish that sundae.

I do really love Sparky’s, it’s a local Columbia, MO ice cream shop and all the ice cream is homemade. They have very interesting and delicious flavors. Back in the spring when the cicada’s were plentiful, they were serving up chocolate covered cicada ice cream. But they also have some less bug filled flavors like a red wine and chocolate, honey lavender (one of my faves), and occasionally maple bacon. Though they don’t meet a few of my requirements, I would never pass up a trip to Sparky’s!

So in conclusion, I think I should open up a fancy schmancy high-end ice cream restaurant. I would hire my sister and her boyfriend, Mike, to help because they make their own ice cream that is super incredible (or so I hear). We would also serve pancakes. And Crepes. Maybe waffles.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor and who makes it? I need some new suggestions for new flavors to try! Do you know of any great places to get an incredible sundae that would meet my demands? Do tell! I’m willing to travel!

Above: Grand Opulence Sundae by Serendipity 3
Below: "Everything But The Kitchen Sink" Sundae by PCH Grill, Disneyland (you can't tell from the photo, but the bowl has a faucet to make it look like a kitchen sink! And this bowl is the size of my head. My whole head.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Preparing for MARCELINE

Andy and I have been spending every night and every weekend finishing up our film, Marceline. The film is about Walt Disney’s ties to his boyhood home, as well as the town and its people. This is what has been consuming every non working hour of every day and why I haven’t been posting too much on here. 

Andy began work on this film five years ago when we still lived in southern California. The idea came on our first trip to Marceline in December of 2006. Being avid Disney fans, Andy and I decided we needed to visit Marceline, especially since we would already be visiting his family for Christmas just an hour and half away.  

Though we arrived on a cold, dreary afternoon, and although the shops and museum were mostly all closed already for the day, we could still feel the magic of this incredible little town. We visited the barn near Walt’s dreaming tree. Inside the barn they had markers and people had scribbled messages and notes all over the walls. You could really see how much Disney means to so many people just reading those notes. We found the perfect place to scribble our note, right above the door and we knew what we wanted it to say; “Here you leave today and enter the worlds of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy” the same note that is inscribed above the tunnels that go under the railroad and lead out to Main St. USA at Disneyland. But we forgot exactly the order in which the inscription was written. Andy and I are very big on accuracy, so we called Disneyland (yes, I keep Disneyland on speed dial) from that spot in the barn. The cast member that answered couldn’t remember what it said either. He put us on hold and went down to Main St. to check for us! I don’t think I’ll ever forget about that moment on our first trip to Marceline.

We knew we had to capture this town on film. Andy decided to head out there with our friend Frank while I was in school. Andy spent nearly two months filming Marceline and its people and then he came back to California and went back to school and back to work. A year and half later we moved to Columbia, Missouri and began making regular trips to Marceline to film or visit the new friends we had made. We finally had enough footage to begin editing.

Editing can be a really long process. Especially when you have 25 hours of footage and the editors already have full time jobs… It has taken a really long time to get to the point we are at right now. The film is nearly complete. We are just now in the process of adding a few finishing touches.

During the making of this film Andy and I moved 5 times, got engaged, graduated from college, got married, and had our daughter, Lilly Belle (she is named for Walt Disney’s private train car, The Lilly Belle, which Walt named after his wife, Lillian- yes, we are Disney FREAKS). It’s been a long journey to get to the point we are at right now.

I am so excited for the people of Marceline to see this film (and nervous too!) The film premieres in just three weeks during Marceline’s Toonfest weekend at the historic Uptown Theater.  There will be a pretty fun and exciting party afterwards- at which point I think we will finally be able to relax!

Toonfest is a fabulous FREE festival celebrating the art of cartooning held annually in Marceline. They have guest artists come from around the world and speak about what they do. There’s a parade, food, games, a princess tea party and a pirate treasure hunt, a dreaming tree celebration and so much more! I recommend that any fan of Walt Disney or Cartooning visit Marceline, especially during Toonfest.

Marceline will premiere on Friday September 16th, 8PM at the historic Uptown Theater in Marceline, Missouri. Andy and I will be on hand for a Q&A following the screening.

There will be an encore screening Sunday September 18th at 2PM at the Uptown Theater. Andy and I will also be at this screening and available for a Q&A after the film.

Did I mention both screenings are FREE!?
Above: In front of Walt Disney Elementary School during my second trip to Marceline in 2007
Above: With Kaye Malins at Toonfest 2008
Below: Trace Jennings, me, Andy, & Walt Disney World Ambassador, Sara 
Above: Trace Jennings, me, & Andy in front of City Hall, Marceline MO
Below: Artwork for our film, Marceline, drawn by Jason Zucker

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Ok, my confidence has been shaken. One of the women who I believe is an incredible mother and all around amazing person made a very valid comment about the way I feel about letting Lilly cry herself to sleep. I kept thinking about it all afternoon and evening until now when I couldn't take it anymore I had to write something. First off this is what she wrote: 

"Sorry, but we completely disagree with the idea of letting a baby cry it out for any prolonged period of time. Of course every parent has to do what they have to do, I suppose, but it has been proven time and again that babies cry for a reason, even if you cannot figure out the reason. It had been said that it may cause emotional detachment and a sense of abandonment, especially in newborns/infants. Strongly dislike, we NEVER did this with [our daughter] :("

Then here is what happened... We pickedLilly up from daycare and she grabbed something out of nother little girls hand, which caused the other little girl to fall over and cry! I thought OH GOD! my daughter is a bully! Mel was right! We shouldn't have let her cry it out! Lilly might feel like we have abandoned her. We may have ruined her life. She isn't going to grow up to be a well adjusted adult after all...

But then I thought back to the time that we let Lilly cry it out. A time where I could feel my hair turning gray. A time where I cried a lot too. We just didn't know what to do. So I thought about it. We allowed Lilly to cry without comforting her for a total of five hours before she began to fall asleep on her own. It sounds like a long time, but those 5 hours were spread out over 4 days. Just to be fair I'll tack two hours on to that to add up any other time we may not have been able to go to her right away. And we didn't just let her cry all day long. Every other time of day that she cried we would run to her and rock her and hold her. Could these seven hours have ruined her life? Did these seven hours make her feel abandoned? Does she not like us? Is this why she throws tantrums sometimes? 

Maybe. But I really think she throws tantrums because she is a toddler and we told her she can't run around holding a pen, or that she shouldn't rub the bluray disc back and forth on the brick hearth. 

I'm pretty sure she does love us because she lights up when we walk into a room (an incredible feeling). She runs to us and hugs us and kisses us almost as much as we hug and kiss her. Her life doesn't seem ruined. But is this one of those things where the effects won't begin to surface until she is older?

Every night before, during, and after we let her "cry it out" I would bathe her, feed her, rock her and read her a story.  I was trying to get her into the routine and spend some quality mommy and Lilly time together. Now, for our own personal reasons, I was only able to take two weeks off of work. I had just had a C-section that I did not want to have- wich by the way is kind of like major surgery- I was in a lot of pain and I was tired. Lilly would scream all night long and then I would go to work. I am beginning to cry right now just remember how truly awful this time was...

I remember walking around the house holding her, bouncing with her, rocking her, feeding her, and just feeling really sad that she was soooo unhappy. I just wanted to sleep. I just wanted the house to be clean. I just wanted to take a shower. 

Andy and I both began feeling really angry and screaming at one another. Both of us just needed sleep. We both had to go to work the next day. We didn't know what to do. We were both angry zombies and we got to the point where we just couldn't do it anymore. The first night that we let her "cry it out" was less a conscience decision to let her "cry it out", more out of necessity of needing to get at least 3 hours sleep instead of just the one or two and to distance ourselves briefly from the source of our anger and frustration.  The second night we thought hey we will do this just one more night. and then she cried for less time and we thought maybe she will cry for less time tomorrow! And what do you know? It worked. Within a few weeks we had managed to catch up on sleep and begin to truly enjoy being the parents of the best little girl in the world. 

I am glad to hear my friends opinion. I may not have gotten so upset over all this had Lilly not taken that book away form the other child at daycare. I am glad that not everyone does things this way. Every child and situation is different and we don't love Lilly any less. Maybe when and if we have another child this will not be the right way to handle things. I feel better now having written this. I wrote it more for myself. I was feeling like I need justification. But I don't really. This is my opinion and this is how we decided raise Lilly and that is our choice. I do think that this works. In most cases I would say you should wait to let them cry it out until they are older (the child in the original scenario was six months old), but we were desperate. 

My First Bit Of Advice As A Mother!

I just read something that really annoyed me. Someone on Yahoo Answers asked how long they should let their baby cry after they have put them down for sleep, wondering if one, two, or three hours was ok. There were 9 answers. 8 of them appeared to be from the same person who wrote answers like (I did not correct their spelling, grammar or punctuation purely for your enjoyment):

Uh I'm all for self settling and letting baby cry for a few minutes but an hour? Give me a break. This has to be a bull**** post, no mother would let their child cry that long surely! If this is for real you really need to get him up and comfort him. If he cries too long he'll just get so worked up he'll never goto sleep.

 “thats disgusting an hour?? i hope this is fake...i dont let my baby cry it out. i had him for a reason.

And my favorite; “Shame on you for letting your helpless baby cry for over an HOUR!! Your sick and twisted. You shouldn't even let a baby cry for 1 minute!!

The person who answered this post not only set out to make the curious parent feel like a monster, but has no clue how to raise a well adjusted, happy baby. “You shouldn't even let a baby cry for 1 minute!!”? Really? Is it even possible to pick your child up before they’ve cried for a whole minute every time? I’m pretty sure it’s not. A baby will not spontaneously combust if it cries for more than a minute. He will not grow up feeling neglected and unloved.

I am so happy for you that you have a child that must not cry very much, lady. That you must never have felt that deep frustration and anger I have felt after listening to my poor child scream for hours, trying everything when nothing worked. I am no expert, (I cannot stress this enough) but if this is the parenting style you choose to continue, your child will no doubt be an obnoxious spoiled brat. A well adjusted adult will be able to soothe himself after a disappointing day. He will understand that sometimes we don’t get our way and be able to deal with that. A child who is comforted for every little thing will not grow up to be a well adjusted adult and a parent who drops everything at the sound of a whimper will be stressed and tired.

Lilly had a lot of trouble sleeping for her first two and half months. She cried and cried all night long for several nights in a row. We changed her, fed her, checked to see if she was hot or cold or uncomfortable in any way, made sure she wasn’t sick.  We tried swaddling her (which she actually HATED) and changed her position in the crib. We rocked her, read to her and gave her several drops of Mylicon. Nothing worked. Eventually Andy and I had reached a level of frustration and anger no person should experience, but a level I am sure every parent reaches at some point. The doctor had told us not to let her cry for more than an hour at time. “But WHY?” we asked. We asked several parents and pediatricians and not one gave us an answer that was better than “You just shouldn’t!”

We decided that if they couldn’t give us a legitimate reason why we shouldn’t let her cry after we had tried everything else, we would let her cry it out. The next time we got to that point, that point where we could have screamed in poor little Lilly’s face, that point where instead of screaming in Lilly’s face we screamed at each other, slammed doors, and threw, with great force, any object that might have gotten in our way, that instead we would put Lilly in her crib, close our bedroom door, and let her cry it out. At this point it seemed absolutely necessary for all of our well beings that we just walk away from the baby in the crib. We aren’t bad people, we aren’t monsters, we love our little Lilly Belle with all our hearts, but several weeks straight of sleeping no more than an hour or two each night and working all day has a very scary effect on people. We weren’t ourselves.   

The first night we left Lilly to cry, she cried for at least two hours before she finally fell asleep. We were scared and nervous. The crying just didn’t seem to let up. Should we go to her? What should we do?  But we decided that we would just wait it out no matter how long she cried.

The second night she only cried for an hour. For a couple more nights after that she cried for an hour before falling asleep. Then, one magical night, she fell asleep after crying for only 20 minutes! I remember that feeling of relief and our celebratory high five. We fell asleep and the next morning we didn’t wake up until . We turned Lilly’s baby monitor all the way up and didn’t hear a peep. OH GOD! She must be dead we thought. We raced upstairs and I put my hand on her chest. “She’s still breathing” I whispered to Andy feeling a little confused. We very quickly and quietly tip toed out of her room and closed the door. We were in complete disbelief! She slept all night long! She didn’t cry once! Will she do it again? She did. Every night she cried for about 10 minutes and then fell right to sleep!

Lilly is now 19 months old and she likes to go to bed. She enjoys hugging her little blanket. We put a couple of books in there and she has a soother that lights up and projects pictures onto the ceiling, which she knows how to turn on herself. Sometimes we peek in on her and find her reading her books by the light of her soother. She knows when she is tired to put the books down and go to sleep (how she learned that part, I have no idea). Most nights we put her down and don’t hear a peep out of her. Sometimes she cries for a few minutes, but she knows how to soothe herself and how to entertain herself and these are invaluable skills for a one and half year old, or for any age for that matter. They have kept both Andy and I sane and happy people. Allowing her to "cry it out" was the best thing we ever did (other then have her in first place!)

Lilly knows we love her. We shower her with hugs and kisses and tell her we love her at least twelve times daily. She is happy and not the least bit neglected. I think we did the right thing. It was right for us. Not everyone can handle all that crying and screaming from their poor helpless infant. Many people have more patience than we did. Good for them. But I am here to tell you that if you are like me and like Andy and you can’t take it anymore, it is OK to let your child cry it out! They will not explode, or die, or grow up to feel neglected (at least not when they grow to 19 months, we have no experience past that time-yet). In the end you will be helping them learn to self soothe, an important life skill. 

Below: A few of Lilly's crying moments... and a sleeping one!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Number 2: Learn To Swim

Concentration; It’s why I didn’t learn to swim when I was five and my mother sent me to a very expensive day camp. Not my concentration, while that was definitely part of it, that wasn’t the reason. I mean the, um, what would you call it? A game? “Crack an egg on your head let the yoke drip down, let the yoke drip down…” Do any of you know what I am talking about? (See below for explanation if you don’t).

Anyway, instead of wanting to jump in to the frigid pool for an hour each day for swim lessons, I preferred to sit on my Tropicana Orange Juice towel, which my mother or grandmother no doubt got for free for saving all the proofs of purchase, and would play concentration along with the other non swimmers. I think of this “game” now and it’s really ridiculously pointless. But back then we thought it was the coolest thing. I went to this day camp for at least three summers in a row, everyday attending swim lessons. And everyday I refused to learn how to swim.

Summer camp was not my first time refusing swim lessons.

Four years earlier my mother took me to mommy and me swim class. Being that we lived on the beach with the Atlantic Ocean in our backyard, swim lessons must have seemed like a fabulous idea. My mother took me to the first few classes where I screamed my head off for a while before she finally gave up.

So now I am 27 years old and I can’t swim. Don’t get me wrong I can tread water for at least 20 minutes at time (I know because I’ve timed myself at the gym), longer if my life depended on it. I can easily get from place to place in the pool, but I am tired of looking like a golden retriever doggie paddling with my head above the water. It looks especially ridiculous when I swim laps at the gym next to people with swim caps and goggles who can complete 6 laps in the time it takes me to get to the end of the lane.

Lilly is 19 months old now and loves the water. I am of course going to want her to learn to swim. How can I expect her to learn if I never have? Soon she’ll be saying, “Mommy, you can’t go play in the pool without me because you can’t swim and I can!”  Plus swimming is just one of those basic life saving skill things I should just know how to do by now. Being an adult that can’t swim honestly makes me feel kind of stupid. So this is why I want to learn.

It’s funny that I have a husband who I’ve known now for over six years, who is an incredibly strong swimmer and I still haven’t learned, not that he hasn’t tried to teach me. He just assumed (and rightfully so) that since I am an adult in my twenties I would catch on much faster than say, a five year old. Unfortunately when it comes to anything involving rhythmic breathing I can’t seem to be able to do two things at once. In fact, at the gym, when I lift weights or use the machines, Andy has to constantly remind me to breath. Breathing out under water, in out of the water, turning my head, kicking my legs, moving my arms… it is just a lot to be able to do at once.

Andy and I have been going to the gym for six and half week’s straight now, nearly everyday (I’ve lost 8 pounds so far- he’s lost 35-uhhhh, but don’t get me started on that…). Last week instead of hitting up the treadmill and the machines as usual, Andy decided he would teach me to swim.... More than once that evening he referred to my swimming attempts as that of a “drunk mental patient” (the same term he used to describe my first person shooter abilities while playing Call Of Duty). I am sure I swallowed more water than a small child would while learning to swim (I burped up what tasted like chlorine at least twice that evening- gross I know). However I did begin to get the hang of it. I had trouble opening my eyes under water and then lifting my head out of the water because, for some reason, my first instinct was to then close my eyes when out of the water and this kept messing up my breathing causing me to reverse and swallow large amounts of water. So I kept my eyes closed and swam into the wall at least four times. All in all I made some progress. More than I ever had before. I think the reason for that is because this time, I was really determined.

The following night I went swimming at the gym by myself with some goggles. Being by myself suddenly made me really aware of all the other people at the pool watching me, a grown woman, struggle with trying to swim (and even worse, get overly giddy when I did something  right)- I am sure many of the other swimmers were questioning my mental abilities at this point, but I had to just forget about it and not care. The goggles really helped! I stopped worrying about opening and closing my eyes and about swimming into the wall. I made it all the way across the pool twice (so one lap, but not consecutively). My only problem was I then got so excited that I actually did it that I began smiling and forgot to breath…

I am almost there. I think a few more weeks working on it at the gym and I should have it down. I am glad I have gotten over the feeling stupid part because I can’t swim. Lots of adults can’t swim. I couldn’t possibly be the only one out there. And if I am, then soon the world will be rid of all non-swimming adults. Then my work here will be done.

Above: Age 5, being helped by my grandfather Louis, the one Lilly is named for, at my Aunt Hope's pool.
Below: Age 7, still with water wings, at Ed and Ariella Angert's pool. Seven and still wearing "water wings" and for some reason holding an umbrella...
Above: Age 10 after swimming at my Aunt Randee & Uncle Mike's pool. Uncle Mike would always throw me into the pool. I hated that. It certainly did not help me want to learn how to swim.
Below: Last summer with Lilly (age 7 mos) having a night swim at the condo pool.

Above: At the Dead Sea in Israel this past January. So much fun to be able to just sit there and float... No swimming required!
Below: This summer "swimming" with Lilly (18 mos) at the condo pool.  

Let's pretend you're doing this on somebody named Shaniqua (why Shaniqua? I don't know): Ask her to close her eyes and throughout whatever you're saying, tell her to think of her favorite color, unless it's black. It can't be black.

Crack an egg on your head (slap her head)
Let the yolk drip down (run your fingers down her back)

Let the yoke drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Let the yoke drip down (run your fingers down her back)

Concentrate, Concentrate. (say this while tapping your hands on her shoulders)
People are dying
Children are crying

Concentrate, Concentrate
Stick some pins in your back, (poke her back with all your fingers simultaneously) Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)

Stick a knife in your back, (make a fist and gently punch her back with the part of your fist with the thumb and forefinger)
Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Let the blood drip down (run your fingers down her back)
Okay, you're at the empire state building, way at the top. You're walking, walking, walking... Suddenly you hear someone call your name. (Call Shaaaaaniiiiqua.... in one ear, then the other) You look up(angle her head up), down(angle her head down), side(turn her head to one side), to side (then the other). No one there. You keep walking. Then you hear it again(call Shaaaaaniiiqua... again). You look up down, side, to side (whole tilting thing again). No one's there. You keep walking. Look, you've reached the edge of the building. look, there's cars below you, can you see them, way down there? Your name again, but you ignore it. Suddenly you feel a PUSH(push her so she steps forward, but not hard enough to push her down)! Ask her what color she thought of and which one she saw when she got pushed. 

When they open their eyes they’re supposed to see the color they were think of… I think it only works if you were thinking of red.