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Entries in babybitesbrooklyn (5)

Monday
Dec062010

The "fourteenth mom" from the babybites Brooklyn event!

So on Friday, I paid a quick visit to The Brooklyner, where Gina, the "fourteenth mom" I didn't get to photograph at the babybites event a few weeks ago happens to live. (Yes, she was the one mom living in the building where the event was held!)

I had Liam in tow and we all went up to the 51st floor where the lighting conditions were remarkably similar to how they were at the event... only it was quite a bit colder! Gina and Hadley were champs though and I was so glad they didn't have to miss out on photos after all.

And how cute is Hadley's little fuzzy yellow jacket?!! Adorable!

Thanks for being so understanding Gina!

nyc baby, child and family photographer & architect alethea cheng fitzpatrick is based in brooklyn. she specializes in baby photography as interior design & interior design for babies. view her portfolio of babies, children or families or send her an e-mail here!

Thursday
Nov252010

Moms and babies at The Brooklyner - a Brooklyn babybites event!

One of the things I love to do is spend a lot of time with every client. That includes preparation and follow-up as well as the session itself, which usually lasts from one to two hours in order to yield thirty beautiful images that you will love.

Photograph fourteen moms and babies in one hour? And then give a workshop afterwards? It seems kind of crazy, right? However, I wanted to give each mom attending a taste of the professional photography experience... so I did it, and I have to say, I had a blast doing so!

I wish I'd had more time with each radiant mom and beautiful baby but below is a taste of what I did get. Lindsay and Bo are featured above because Lindsay was the winner, selected at random, of an in-home photography or interior design consultation, and because, well, that leaves twelve which makes for a nice even number for laying out the rest of the images.

And if you're thinking, but wait, there were fourteen moms... well, uh, yeah, it turns out that I missed one mom. There was some confusion and she was going to wait until the end but her baby was losing it so she had to leave. OOOOPS! Luckily, she happens to actually live at The Brooklyner so I'm going to visit her next week and make sure she and her son get their time in front of the camera. I'm so sorry, Gina. Thanks for being so understanding! Next time I will definitely carry TWO lists so while one is circulating to be signed, I still have one so I can check people off.

Other than that little snafu, I'm really thrilled with how everything turned out, especially given the super tight time frame and ambitious program. These are some of my favorites (although not necessarily my MOST favorites - I selected those that looked good together in this layout and showed a variety).

Moms - check your e-mail. You each have a several extra images not shown here, and a suggested image cropped for the 10x10 canvas gallery wrap. And thanks again to Chana of babybites Brooklyn for organizing the event, The Brooklyner for providing such an amazing location and for hosting (including providing AV guys to help me with my 3-screen presentation!) and to Belli Skin Care for providing a gift for every mom.

You can read my earlier blog post about the event here.

Enjoy, and have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

nyc baby, child and family photographer & architect alethea cheng fitzpatrick is based in brooklyn. she specializes in baby photography as interior design & interior design for babies. view her portfolio of babies, children or families or send her an e-mail here!

Tuesday
Nov162010

14 moms and babies - a babybites Brooklyn photo session and workshop event!

Today's babybites Brooklyn photo session and workshop event was amazing!

First of all, it was sold out - woohoo!

And yes, after a string of beautiful sunny days, it was cloudy and threatening to rain, but actually, it was the PERFECT weather for the venue. The light was gorgeously diffuse and flattering and very easy to work with, especially given that it was midday. For photo sessions in the park, it's nice to have the gorgeous light for the luscious summer or fall colors, but in the more minimal setting at The Brooklyner (on the 51st floor no less) and for wintery holiday card photos - it was perfect (and the portraits are not all dark and stormy like the shot above)!

Not only am I excited about how all the photos came out (and the weather held out so we were able to do them outside on "The Beach") but I really loved that all the moms were so interested in the workshop and eager to get tips on taking better photos and organizing and sharing them as well. I've been planning the material I presented for a while now so I was glad to finally share it... I easily had enough for a two hour presentation (and I sped through it in under an hour) so I'm looking forward to the follow-up phone consultations where I can go into more depth and answer people's specific questions. I had a sign-up sheet with time slots and almost everyone signed up for the first week! I'm going to assume that's because they're really excited and not because they didn't realize there were two more pages of time slots...!

If you attended today's event - thank you so much for coming! The youngest baby was just 3 weeks old... amazing! I'll be following up tomorrow with handouts and links and appointment confirmations (and your photos will be coming soon). I look forward to talking more!

Thanks to Chana at babybites Brooklyn for organizing the event, to The Brooklyner for hosting, and to Belli Skin Care for providing a wonderful gift for each attendee.

nyc baby, child and family photographer & architect alethea cheng fitzpatrick is based in brooklyn. she specializes in baby photography as interior design & interior design for babies. view her portfolio of babies, children or families or send her an e-mail here!

Monday
Oct252010

Chana of brooklyn Babybites and Move It Momma: interview and family photo session

When I first met Chana, at my first babybites Brooklyn new mom's luncheon with my seven week old babe-in-arms, literally, I found her instantly relatable. She was the mom that I hoped I would be - confident, passionate, engaged, smart, outspoken, down to earth, and with a strong sense of perspective, not to mention humor. When someone loves what they do, they create such positive energy, and now that I've met Chana's husband Ted and her two boys, Ben and Leo, I can see why - her family is so high-spirited and joyful, no wonder she gave up her career as a high-powered Wall Street lawyer to spend more time with her family and her two mom-related businesses, babybites Brooklyn and Move It Momma.

Chana and her family were so much fun to hang out with. Ben is five and Leo is three and Ben even managed to turn the tables on me...

I even let them both take some photos with my camera! Photography workshop for five year olds anyone?!

We met at Patrick Dougherty's sculpture "Natural History" at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens one gorgeous afternoon - Chana's idea, which I instantly loved.

We also chatted via e-mail about life, motherhood and business. If you aren't familiar with babybites Brooklyn I strongly suggest checking it out, especially if you're a new mom or dad. Chana IS babybites Brooklyn and a great resource to have in your life (she was a huge personal help to me during sleep training for example). I've been to many new moms luncheons and events on topics such as sleep, starting solids, developmental stages and even on starting your own business, and it was through babybites that I found my moms group.

I am excited to be working with Chana now on a babybites Brooklyn event of my own, the Baby and Me photo session and workshop on November 16th at the amazing 51st floor rooftop space at The Brooklyner, a new full service residential building and the tallest building in downtown Brooklyn. Chana and I visited the space a couple of weeks ago and it is amazing! I am looking forward to connecting with some new families, talking about and taking photos and having the chance to give back to the babybites Brooklyn community. Check the website for more info and to sign up for this event!

I have also been to some of Chana's Move It Momma stroller fitness sessions and I highly recommend trying them too - it's a great workout and Chana brings the same personal support and opportunity to connect as she does to babybites.

Here's my interview with Chana.

First, a little bit about yourself... where are you from, when did you come to Brooklyn/New York and why, and what has kept you here?

My name is Chana (pronounced "Ha-Na," or if you can swing the "Ch" sound, its "Ch" as in in"Chanukah" or "Challah"). I am a native New Yorker, grew up in Queens and spent 11 years on the UWS of Manhattan before finally finding Brooklyn as my home. When my first son was 16m old, we were priced out of the UWS, and crossed the bridge to find an affordable 2 BR apt. Having been a mommy in both boroughs, I can assuredly say that being a mom in Brooklyn is better. No offense to my Manhattan friends, but there's nothing quite like Brooklyn when it comes to the community feel. Its warmer here, and I'm not talking climate.

I know in your previous life you were a lawyer. Why did you leave the profession and do you think you'll ever go back?

Yes, crazy as it seems now, just three years ago, I was practicing law at a Wall Street firm, litigating with the big guys. Though that work paid the bills nicely, in the 10 years that I practiced, I never really found my work to be satisfying and I always knew that it was not the right fit. After the birth of my 2nd child, my desire to tap into my more creative side and to spend more time "mommying" led me to leave the firm and eventually start babybites Brooklyn. Much to my mother's dismay, at this point in time, I can't imagine going back to a corporate gig.

For those who don't know, what is babybites and why do you think it's important? How did you get involved and start babybites Brooklyn?

babybites is a company that provides support and community to moms in the form of live events as well via online resources. The company was started by Laura Deutsch in 2006, initially as just a new moms luncheon forum (hence, the name baby "bites"), where Laura brought together new moms in a restaurant, gave them a nice meal, brought in an expert speaker to discuss a topic relevant to new motherhood, and offered up some cool raffles. The moms learned something valuable, had fun, and most significantly, connected with other new moms and found a community where they could commiserate and share with others who were experiencing all the same life-altering stuff they were going through. Over the years, babybites grew and started hosting all different kinds of events --not just for new moms, but for moms of toddlers, and dads, and expectant parents -- basically anything and everything that could be useful or fun for parents with children ages 0-5. babybites is so important because being a new parent is rough stuff, and being a new mom in particular can be very isolating. babybites aims to make the process just a little bit easier.

My starting babybites Brooklyn was a product of good timing and a desire to do work that I felt passionate about. When I became a new mom in 2005, I was definitely one of those moms who was overwhelmed by how transformative the experience was, and how challenging. I knew that down the road, I wanted to do something relating to mommyhood, and more specifically, something to help make the experience of new mommyhood more empowering. Fast forward to 2008, I left my job, and Laura (whose husband played college lacrosse with my husband) approached me with the idea of starting babybites Brooklyn. Three years later, I have been working my tail off to create great events here in Brooklyn and provide moms with valuable resources and a community of support. No doubt, my favorite part of doing what I do is being a personal resource to my amazing Brooklyn moms.

How about Move It Momma? What's that about?

The two things I am probably most passionate about are mommyhood and fitness, so its no wonder that I would eventually start a business that allows me to combine these two passions. I was one of those women who was fit and active during adulthood, and then packed on about 60 pounds with each pregnancy, and had a really difficult time getting my body back after each baby. After my first son was born, I joined a stroller fitness class in Central Park, which helped me get my body back, not to mention my sanity. Not only did I lose the weight, I also found comfort in squatting, jumping and lunging alongside other new moms who were sleep deprived and experiencing exactly what I was going through. It was support and fitness all rolled into one.

Having successfully run babybites Brooklyn for over a year, I quickly learned that running a business was an ideal match for my personality and lifestyle, but I also wanted to build something that was all mine. Move It Momma was born. I have been running stroller fitness classes in Prospect Park 3x per week including over the weekend to accommodate my working mommas, and I am in the process of getting certified so that in addition to the stroller fitness, I can start offering in home packages (all while baby naps peacefully in the comfort of his or her crib). My moms who attend Move It Momma jokingly refer to my classes as "Learn & Burn" because not only do they get a seriously hardcore workout (think Jillian from the biggest loser, one of my personal role models), but they also get a supportive mom by their side who will walk them through napping schedules, starting solids, sleep issues, weaning, preschool applications...you name it...all while they tone their tush and find their core again. Its a win win.

What have you found to be the biggest challenges that new parents face?

There’s little that is not challenging. There’s the sleep deprivation, the isolation, the failure to be able to take a shower within a 24 hr period, the fact that you may want to harm your spouse. Lets face it -- those first few months in particular are rough. And then again, its all so worth it cuz’ there’s nothing like that little person in the crook of your shoulder.

What are some of your favorite tips for new parents?

My favorite tips are:

  1. Enjoy every minute because the cliché is so true – it does pass very quickly.
  2. Try as best you can to not sweat the small stuff. Think big picture. This too shall pass.
  3. New moms, try to get one nap in during the day when that baby sleeps. Just do it!
  4. Be nice to your partner. New dads – tell her how awesome and beautiful she is, especially in those few months after giving birth to your baby.
  5. Find a new moms group. Chances are you connect with one or two moms who become lifelong friends.

What for you have been the biggest challenges and the biggest joys as a parent?

Other than the transition from 0 to 1, and then from 1 to 2 (boy, was that rough), I would say the biggest challenge is in the day to day management and just finding time for myself, as well as time for me and my husband. As a mom, I live for my boys and maintaining my own sense of self (other than being “mommy” to Ben and Leo) continues to be a challenge, and I suppose that will continue for a very long time. My biggest joy is just seeing how happy and wonderful they are. I remember being 30 and single and dreaming of having a family. I still look at them sometimes and think “how did you get here?”

What is your favorite thing to do as a family?

We are definitely an outdoors kind of family. This past summer, we were finally able, with a 5 and 3 year old, to start hiking together. As a couple who did a lot of camping and hiking before babies, my husband and I were thrilled to witness our sons’ enthusiastic response to climbing mountains and we intend to do a lot more of it in coming years. Closer to home, we can usually be found either in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden or in Prospect Park on most days.

Any last words before we end?

I guess I would just close with saying congrats to all the new and expectant parents out there and I hope to connect with you, either through babybites Brooklyn or Move It Momma or both. I really truly do love to be a resource, so I hope you’ll reach out. And lastly, a sincere thanks to all the amazing Brooklyn parents who have supported my endeavors through the years. You know who you are. Thank you!

Thank you Chana for sharing your story here, for all that you do, and for a great photo session! The complete slideshow from the session can be viewed here.

nyc baby, child and family photographer & architect alethea cheng fitzpatrick is based in brooklyn. she specializes in baby photography as interior design & interior design for babies. view her portfolio of babies, children or families or send her an e-mail here!

Friday
May212010

Roots of happiness, mother-in-law relations and toddler tantrums - The Mommybites Summit


Connecting, exploring, and playing with the kiddo today.

If you follow me on twitter (or have noticed my new twitter sidebar) you'll know that I went to the Mommybites Summit last night, hosted by babybites, a social and educational community for moms and moms-to-be. I'm a babybites brooklyn member and attended many great new moms luncheons last year - in fact, it was at my first new moms luncheon that I made the connections that lead me to my mom's group and babybites brooklyn will actually help you form a new mom's group now (and in Manhattan, babybites runs support groups). Definitely a resource I recommend.

But back to last night - it was a great event! There were talks and vendors and food and drinks and swag and I for once left my camera at home and kicked back and enjoyed myself. I attended the keynote as well as two other talks - all were inspiring and interesting and provided lots of food for thought. I also squeezed in a quick round of all the vendor tables and it was great to see some familiar faces as well as some new ones.

Actually, I would have loved a bit more time to mingle (maybe a full day event next time?!) but I wanted to attend as many talks as possible, and I came away with so many helpful notes I thought I would share them here. I'd love to hear about the other talks I missed!

A big thank you to babybites for organizing this event and to all the speakers and vendors for a fun and informative evening.

The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness

Dr. Edward Hallowell, author of a book with the same title as his talk, gave a keynote speech that resonated strongly with the audience, myself included. He outlined a plan for parents to give their children the best chance at lifelong happiness:

1) Connection
2) Play
3) Practice
4) Progress
5) Recognition

He particularly emphasized connection, urging parents to give their kids as connected a childhood as possible, not only connecting with them yourselves but facilitating as many opportunities for positive connection as possible - with family, friends, pets, school, activities, teams, clubs, the past, the spiritual (not necessarily religion but "that which is beyond knowledge").

He also talked about the importance of play - of imaginative engagement and exploration, including down time, free time, empty time, so that play can be repeated over and over and becomes practice, which leads to progress and recognition which feeds back into connection.

He said that our job as a parent is not so much to worry about grades and good schools and being "at the top" but to make sure our kids are making progress at something that is challenging and meaningful to them. It's the confidence, self-esteem and optimism that results from this that are the building blocks for happiness.

It's important for kids to make a dream come true - in other words, to imagine something and then to make it happen. It's important for them to have someone who believes in them. It's important that they are in a learning environment that isn't based on fear.

He also said that happiness is not about having what you want but about wanting what you have, and that if you're enjoying your kids then you're doing it right!

I think one of the reasons Dr. Hallowell's talk really resonated with everyone is because a) it makes sense and b) it sounds fun, but also c) doesn't it sound great and don't we all want these things? We could all benefit from following this "plan" for ourselves as well as for our kids.

“Oh,______! My Mother/Mother-In-Law is Coming!”

This talk was given by Karen Rancourt of Rancourt Parenting, herself a grandmother, and I think everyone can relate to the more negative fill-in-the-blank words that most typically would come to mind in this context! However, I have to say, things have been great with both my mother and my mother-in-law (and I'm not just saying that because they could both be reading!) but this turned out to be a really interesting topic anyway.

Karen has been kind enough to share her MommyBites presentation here. Because of the limited time frame, she focused on her guidelines which she has written both for new/young moms, and for moms/mother-in-laws once there are grandchildren involved. If things are going pretty well with your children's grandparents (and often there are more than two sets involved) chances are these guidelines are already more or less being followed, but I think they're worth checking out anyway, and definitely so if things are more rocky or you are an expectant parent or grandparent and worried about how things might go.

Many key points were made that really rang true for me. Karen was adamant that first and foremost, it's the new/young mom that's in the driver's seat and moms/mother-in-laws need to respect that and, as she said "defer, defer, defer." At the same time, the new/young mom needs to lighten up a little if things are not done exactly as you would (I think the same is true with spouses and other caretakers - no one is going to do it exactly as you would, but it doesn't mean it's automatically worse).

Also, new/young moms should not try to get their mom/mother-in-law to agree that they are "right" - they only have to agree to honor your wishes when they are with your children. I think the same is true in reverse as well - a lot of conflict arises when moms/mother-in-laws try to pursuade their daughters/daughters-in-law that THEIR way is right. I really appreciate that my mother and mother-in-law have both been very sensitive in this respect, and I think it's the main reason things have gone as smoothly as they have!

(And yes, it's hard to lighten up when you have a newborn, impossible even as a first time mom, but it does get easier!)

Everything Toddler

Marsha Greenberg's talk on "Everything Toddler" and was very helpful as I feel like I'm entering a whole new world of parenting. Marsha painted a very vivid and colorful picture of how a toddler experiences the world. She said that every toddler varies in how flexible they are and how big their moods are, and that you should try to understand where you toddler falls on that scale and be adaptive to their needs. "Tolerate your toddler's feelings," she said, which means that, especially with younger toddlers, you let them go through what they're feeling and redirect rather than try to talk them out of a meltdown.

She talked about how children learn through play, and how important it is to spend time on the floor with your toddler, following their lead and reciprocating. If you want to build towers and they want to knock them down, then that's what you're going to do - build towers for them to knock down.

Her final message was to "get out of your partner's way". Give your partner the dignity of struggling to find their own parenting style and build their own relationship with your child, she said. It's easier to parent with two wholes rather than two halves.

nyc baby, child and family photographer alethea cheng fitzpatrick is based in brooklyn and specializes in contemporary, natural light portraiture. view her portfolio of babieschildren or families or send her an e-mail here!