If you read last week’s post “Hurricane Sandy – Yes, It Was THAT Bad”, then you know that I was already feeling compelled to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy just a day after it struck the Northeast. What I didn’t realize at the time was that just a few days later, after dozens of my friends, neighbors and strangers came into my home, we would be dropping off 3 large vehicles filled to the top with donations and supplies to 2 separate locations: Hoboken, New Jersey & Sayreville, New Jersey.

When we lived in Weehawken, NJ (which sits on the Palisade overlooking Hoboken), I joined a Mom’s group – NJMM – which introduced us to so many wonderful families, people I am still in contact with to this day. The ball started rolling when I told my Philly girlfriend, Maureen, on Facebook that several of those friends were without power and she asked if there was anything we could do to help. That was at 11am on Thursday.

I began emailing, texting and FB msg’ing many of the young families and the leaders of NJMM to see what we could do. I was told that Hoboken had suffered a lot of damage and flooding. The Hoboken High School was acting as a distribution center and were accepting all donations, in particular: water, food, blankets, coats, toiletries, batteries, flashlights and warm winter accessories.

I sent out an email to my local Manayunk moms group and let them know what we were thinking of doing, did anyone want to help out? The response was overwhelming!

Over the next 24 hours, I replied to over 150 emails, had approximately 50 people come through my front door, had our local Patch write a story about our efforts and quickly lost our large dining room to all the donations. I was so excited to bring everyone who stopped by into our home so they could see the incredible amount of donations we had already received, including donations from Target and Acme grocery store. I felt like I was having a mini-therapy session with everyone – the same story was discussed time and time again – we all want to help, we don’t know where to start.

The plan, at first, was to fill our Avenger with the donations and to go to Hoboken on Saturday. I soon realized that that wasn’t going to be enough space, so my husband rented a Nissan Quest (those cars are massive!). Then we realized that we’d have to make another trip to Hoboken on Sunday. Finally, we still had too much for us to manage on our own, so we got the help of our good friends’ mom to bring her SUV and filled that to the top, too!

After dropping off our donations in Hoboken, an email thread started in my moms group that helped us understand just how devastated small communities have been. Sayreville NJ, a small town where our friend, Frank, grew up, was still without power and many homes had simply been washed away with the flood waters that reached 7 feet at the height of the storm. We decided to change our plan, realizing that Sayreville may not get the attention and help that the bigger cities are getting. I’m glad we went there.

When we had emptied the car, Elliott and I were waiting for Jon just outside the local church (Our Lady of Victories Parish) and a woman passed by in tears, saying how grateful she was to everyone for showing their support. A little boy, maybe 6 or 7 years old, was asked by a church volunteer if he had shoes – yes, he’d found a pair – did he have a warm coat – his mother answered that yes, he had also just found a warm coat inside the church. At that moment, and even now as I write this, I broke down in tears and held Elliott a little tighter. All of our efforts were an attempt to try to make a difference, if just for one person. And here I saw an example of the people we would be helping by coming together as a community. I am so proud of everyone who helped make this possible and even happier to see how inspired we all are to continue making a difference.

To all of Hurricane Sandy’s victims, we are sorry for your loss.


Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to all the monsters and goblins out there! We had so much fun trick or treating with our friends tonight and our toddlers stayed strong til the end!…Here are some of the highlights!

Seeing our pal Jack for the first time in a couple days…Elliott missed him tons!

Local grocery store out of water Saturday AM – 2 days before Sandy makes landfall.

I have to admit, I’ve never been so anxious because of a storm. No, it didn’t help that the news was very dramatic. But something told me that this time, they believed what they were saying and really wanted us to listen. (I guess that’s the problem with sensationalism…it’s hard to know when to take it seriously.) They also predicted a direct hit with Philadelphia. So we took all the necessary precautions: bought non-perishable food; filled ziplock bags with filtered water and stuck them in the freezer for many varied uses if needed; removed any outdoor objects/furniture that could cause damage in gusting winds; and did all the laundry, dishes and baking we’d need for a week. I had to do something with my nervous energy.

Sandy came and went. We woke up this morning in a dry home, with power and all of our things intact. We were the lucky ones.

Here’s what I can’t get over. I’ve already heard/read several times today, comments from people (real people, not television speak) saying that the hurricane “wasn’t that bad”…And the only thing I can think is “It wasn’t that bad for you“. I try to keep my blog posts as upbeat and positive as possible. First, people have their own issues and don’t need to be burdened with mine. Second, life is too short to focus on the negative. But I can’t help but be tremendously irritated with anyone who, for whatever reason, wishes they had personally dealt with a more violent and damaging storm and are disappointed with their own experience.

So out of respect for the mothers and babies who were evacuated and carried down 9 flights of stairs from NYU Langone’s NICU (the hospital where less than 2 years ago, Elliott was born); for those who have lost their belongings and homes; and for the several people, including children, who lost their lives because of falling trees, please remember that it did get that bad…just not for you.

As a small but meaningful gesture, Carolyn Clement Photography will be donating 10% of all sales through December 31st, 2012 to the American Red Cross.


You may remember almost a year ago when I had to give Elliott his very 1st Epipen injection. Well, it just so happens, the whole experience is much less frightening and stressful the 2nd time around…I went through the motions of checking for symptoms – in Elliott’s case, he started gagging and threw up thick clear mucus, this within minutes of ingesting dairy – immediately knew it had to be done.

What led to Elliott’s allergic reaction was a mistake. But it was mistake that could and should have been prevented since it was an adult who was well-aware of his severe allergies. And it only took less than 5 little cheddar goldfish crackers to cause him to go into anaphylactic shock. However, instead of dwelling on one person’s carelessness, I’ve decided that spreading awareness to those around us is a much better use of my time and energy.

I feel so silly (and a big part of me wants to use a stronger word) and irresponsible. When we moved to Philly just after his 1st episode, I didn’t want to introduce Elliott to our new friends with the warning “he’s severely allergic to all things dairy, (and nuts, peanuts, eggs, fish, neosporin, cats, dogs, molds and dust)”.  I guess I’d hoped that I could manage his allergies on my own, or thought that people would be less interested in playing with us since it meant that they’d have to be extra cautious, even inconvenienced, and I didn’t want to be a burden. Ugh.

Now I understand that these mothers, neighbors and members of our community WANT this information! I can’t even imagine how terrible it could be to accidentally give someone else’s child a food that they are deathly allergic to and to have a tragic outcome as a result. But not being given this information in the first place would be even worse…for everyone.

Since this last episode, I’ve emailed my Mom’s group a detailed list of all the things Elliott is allergic to, where to find his Epipen (there’s always one in his little bag, the one with a green tractor and his name embroidered on it) and the peace of mind of knowing that Jon and I give our consent to anyone who feels the need to administer his Epipen if we are not around, and to call 911 immediately. I’ve also been showing everyone how to use the Epipen by carrying around his Epipen Training Device (an injector without a needle or medicine).

The simple set of instructions is as follows: remove injector from plastic case, pull out blue tab at end of injector, hold firmly in your fist, swing out and push orange tip firmly into the upper thigh (clothing does not need to be removed), hold for at least 10 seconds, remove injector (needle will no longer be visible) and lightly massage injection site for 10 seconds. Call 911 if you haven’t already done so and dispose of used Epipen in a safe manner.

Allermates Wristband

As another step towards awareness, we just received Eli’s Allermates Dairy Allergy Wristband and he’s been wearing it for the past 2 days. He seems excited to show all his friends and teachers. We are determined to tell everyone we know that he is, under no circumstance, to be given foods without our permission. I always pack many types of snacks so there should never be a reason to give him anything.

And so, it takes a village. I am very thankful to the wonderful friends that we’ve made here in Manayunk/Roxborough – they are already making our new reality much easier to deal with and I know they will keep an eye on Elliott! If you see this kid around town, please don’t feed him! If you are a parent or guardian who has recently discovered that your child has a food allergy or you’ve had years of experience in coping with allergies, I’d love to hear from you. Knowing we aren’t in this alone is extremely comforting. To be continued, I’m sure…

Remember Little Man C’s session just a couple months ago? Well I’m proud to present his little sister, Baby K. With a toddler, a newborn and  a feisty chocolate lab, there is no shortage of love and energy in their home!

She was so alert on the day of our shoot, eager to take everything in.

Congratulations to this beautiful family, may you get some rest and enjoy the ride.


It feels like forever since my last blog post but this offer makes it easy to jump back in! Treat is offering a free greeting card (for any occasion) to everyone today.

Whether you need a personalized card for a birthday, boss’ day, anniversary, or for any of the hundreds of occasions on Treat’s site…or even just to say hello, you should check out this offer.

Head on over to Treat now and choose from one of their thousands of designs. Then personalize. You can change the text, the font, and the colors, add a picture or four, and truly make it your own. Then just use the code TREATXOXO at checkout to get it completely free (including shipping). You only have to pay if you choose to have Treat send it to the recipient ($0.45 for the stamp).

That’s all there is to it. The offer expires tonight at 11:59pm PT so head on over now.

Since we moved to Philly last Spring, the three of us (Jon, Elliott and I) spend our days, evenings and weekends park surfing – alternating between several local parks. One of our favorites has been Gorgas Park, especially on those really warm Summer days because it sits at the top of the ridge and almost always provides park-goers with a refreshing breeze. We also run into lots of friends there, no matter the time of day we visit.

This Saturday, September 15, Gorgas Park will be the place to be when they hold their “Party for the Park” event from 7pm-10pm. As described on the website:

“Celebrate our park in serious style. Enjoy an evening soiree in Gorgas Park that will feature delicious hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine and live music. Dine and mingle among our award-winning gardens and discover what lies ahead for our beloved Gorgas Park.”  

There will be a silent auction and among the terrific bidding items will be a family portrait session + a mounted & laminated print (over $300 value) from Carolyn Clement Photography. And I will also be extending a special offer to all who attend this event.

I’m excited to be a part of this event and hope to see many familiar faces on September 15th. Please come out and show your support for our local park. For tickets and more information, click here.