Tag Archives: Daniel Friedman

Everybody dance now!

Kendall Glover teaches dance lessons at The Salvation Army day camp in Chandler. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

It was staff multimedia journalist Vicki Balint’s idea, not mine. But I promised to be a good sport.

We were at The Salvation Army day camp in Chandler to interview Kendall Glover, the 11-year-old hometown dance sensation who placed second in the finals of a national competition for the CBS program “Live to Dance.”

My 11-year-old niece, Mandy, was there to help me with the interview. She attends the same school as Kendall, is in the same grade and almost shares the same birthday. (Kendall’s is Aug. 2; Mandy’s is Aug. 3.)

We talked to Kendall about all sorts of things, including the role she will play July 30 in the FOX 10 Dance Day benefit to raise money for Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Participants will dance most of the day away at Jobing.com Arena, earning the money that was pledged on their behalf as they enjoy entertainment (hometown celebrity and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks will be performing) and the chance to hang out real dancers like Kendall Glover.

Kendall said the great thing about the event is that you don’t have to be a dancer to enjoy it. I am definitely not a dancer and neither is Mandy, though she’s a heck of a good soccer player. But with some urging from Vicki, who was there with her video camera, Mandy and I agreed to give it a shot.

Kendall patiently taught us some moves. We did okay, but not as well as the kids from The Salvation Army Camp. You’ll see them dancing with Kendall after our (blessedly short) appearance.

If we could do it, so can you. Register here to create a team for Dance Day.

Sparks will be flying at dance fundraiser

Jordin Sparks

Phoenix Children’s Hospital broke the news last week that hometown celebrity and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks will be the featured performer at the FOX 10 Dance Day fundraiser on Saturday, July 30.

When I heard the news, I decided it was time to unleash some sparks of my own. I’ve spent some time with another hometown sensation who will be at the event. Kendall Glover is 11 years old (for a few more weeks anyway), she has been performing since she was 4, she came in second in a nationally televised dance contest (“Live to Dance”) and I had the privilege of interviewing her last month — along with my 11-year-old niece Mandy — after she finished teaching a dance class for her volunteer job at The Salvation Army day camp in Chandler.

We had RAK staff photographer Daniel Friedman with us (all photos from here forward are his) and multimedia journalist Vicki Balint, who handled the audio and video.

Kendall gives dance instructions (Mandy and I are watching in the top right corner).

Kendall was fulfilling a volunteer commitment required of her participation in the National Charity League. But it looked like more fun than work as she taught the kids — eight girls, two boys and two additional volunteers — a dance sequence similar to one she performed on Just Dance Kids for Nintendo Wii.

Mandy and I are preparing a story about our interview with Kendall for the magazine’s September performing arts issue. But because we knew the Dance Day event was on the horizon, we also asked Kendall to talk about that.

Listen to our mini-podcast.

Recording our interview with Kendall, and with help from Vicki Balint.

Dance Day takes place from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, July 30 at Jobing.com Arena. It’s a brand new event designed to be fun for families and friends to do together. You can create your own team and dance all day (get all the sign-up details here). Need an extra incentive to get involved? Jordin Sparks will hold a “meet and greet” with the event’s top fundraiser.

Kendall Glover.

Don’t want to dance? You can also have fun watching. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for kids ages 12 and younger. Click here for more information. Proceeds benefit patients at Phoenix Children’s.

Kendall promised us that you don’t have to be a dancer to have a great time at the event. “It doesn’t matter how you dance or how you look, it’s just about what you love to do,” she says.

Tomorrow: Kendall teaches Mandy and me a few moves.

Two non-dancers learn from the pro.

Make my day: feedback

I was out of town most of the weekend, so I missed Saturday’s cover shoot with our 2011 Mother’s Day Cover Mom Contest winner. I’m eager to hear about it from Art Director Michelle-Renee Adams and Photographer Daniel Friedman when I get back to work on Monday.

Michelle notified our winner (whose name shall remain a secret until our May issue comes out). My job was to contact the two moms who were the runners up. They both wrote fabulous, heartfelt essays about their commitment to raising children who respect and protect our environment. So I felt very apologetic as I wrote to tell them they almost won.

“Your essay was a runner-up for our cover mom contest,” I wrote to each of the moms. “So while I’m sorry that you and your [son/daughter] won’t be on our cover, you will be receiving a gift certificate from Desert Ridge Marketplace/Tempe Marketplace.”

I wasn’t sure what kind of response to expect, but the messages that quickly came back were gracious and completely appreciative.

From Karen O’Regan of Clarkdale, adoptive mother of 12-year-old David:

Thanks so much!  I’m so pleased!!!  It is very exciting to be a runner-up! I have been a subscriber for years and appreciate your magazine. I especially appreciated the recent articles on adoption and handling grief.

From Molly Costa of Phoenix, mother of 1-year-old Keira:

How fun, that is so exciting we are a runner-up! I saw the [Facebook] post about the contest and figured, why not? It came at a perfect time because I’m just experiencing all of these “firsts” with my daughter and her enjoyment of nature and being outside. It is the best — amazing at what your kids teach you, right?

We give away a lot of great stuff each year — from cover opportunities to trips to tickets to new movies and live performances. We don’t always hear back from the people who win. So it’s very gratifying when we do. Shortly after I received those lovely messages from Karen and Molly, I heard from a mom whose family won tickets to the “Born To Be Wild 3D” movie sneak preview Saturday morning at the AMC Desert Ridge IMAX. (It opens to the public April 8.)

From Dana MacComb of Phoenix:

We had a great time! The movie was moving and lovely. We felt like we were right next to the animals.  I cried almost the entire time, very moving.  All of us agreed that it was a great family event.

And it was a great email weekend.

A wonderful civics lesson for all

A huge video monitor was used to share a message of welcome from President Barack Obama.

Twenty people. Nineteen different countries of origin. Anywhere from four to 52 years of time spent living in this country. Working here. Contributing.

The flag of the United States of America. The flag of the Department of Homeland Security. Girl Scouts. Public officials, including former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard.

The story of a man whose family escaped the wars in Nicaragua when he was just a first grader. A vivid description that captivated each person in the audience, including the very youngest.

The Pledge of Allegiance. The National Anthem. Trusting, innocent voices singing, “This land is my land, this land is your land….” Knowing it.

Smiles that wouldn’t stop. A baby that wouldn’t stop crying. A videotaped message from the President of the United States.

Hugs. Tears. Handshakes of congratulations. A sunsplashed patio. Fairytale Brownies and lemonade. Goodbyes. Good wishes.

Two of the citizenship candidates who were led to the ceremony by Desert View Learning Center students.

Desert View Learning Center in Paradise Valley hosted a naturalization ceremony Friday. Because several of our staff members have children who attended the school, its principal, Piya Jacob, invited us to attend. Multimedia journalist Vicki Louk Balint, staff photographer Daniel Friedman and I were honored to witness this sacred rite of passage that is something akin to a baptism, a wedding and a graduation all rolled into one.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services typically conducts these ceremonies within the confines of a courtroom. Just recently, the decision was made to offer some of the ceremonies within different venues in the community. Desert View was chosen because one of its parents is an immigration officer.

The students played an active role in the event. Their artwork adorned the programs. They made paper flags of each citizenship candidate’s country of origin. The candidates proudly carried their flags as they were escorted by the third grade class into the sanctuary of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix. (The school rents space from the church.) A Girl Scout troop presented the colors.

The entire student body was seated on the floor at the front of the sanctuary so that each student had a clear view of the ceremony. Many wore red, white and blue. The group sat quietly, respectfully, jumping up only when it was time to sing one of several songs they performed.

Piya, herself a native of India who became a naturalized citizen a number of years ago, was expecting “a wonderful civics lesson for all, and a most heartwarming ceremony.” The actual event surpassed all expectations.

Candidates take the oath of citizenship.

Questions about copyediting

Maggie Pingolt, a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communications, called our office to ask if she could interview one of our copyeditors. Ours work on contract, so they aren’t typically in the office.

“I supervise the copyeditors,” I said. “Do you want to talk to me?” I was on my way out the door but we agreed to a time later that day to talk on the phone.

Being interviewed by someone isn’t a routine event for me. I’m used to being on the “asking questions” side of interviews and I was surprised to realize how hard it is to talk about the things you do and think about every day.

Maggie: What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Me: Okay, this is kind of a joke, but not really. Keeping up with my email! I get so many hundreds of emails each day it’s beyond manageable. The rest of my job as editor is joyful. I like what I do. But the effort to keep up with my email is a constant source of stress and really eats up my time.

Maggie: Describe your office environment in one word.

Me: The first word that comes to mind is “crazy.” We always have a lot going on at once because we’re a really small staff trying to do the work of a bigger magazine. Call it “crazy,” “chaotic”…any way you can think of to say it that doesn’t make me sound like a lunatic. By the way, this isn’t going to published anywhere, is it?

Just then, our staff writer/photographer, Daniel Friedman, walked by my office door and I heard Calendar & Directories Editor Mala Blomquist call out, “Hi, fried man!”

Maggie: If you could change one aspect of copyediting, what would it be?

Me: These are hard questions! I guess the only thing I really wish I could change is that I wouldn’t miss things. We have several layers of copyeditors who read the magazine before it goes to press and yet there is no way to ever get it perfect. You’re never going to be able to change one thing that solves all the problems. You’re dealing with human beings and a complex language with all sorts of exceptions to rules. I like rules, stylebooks…they give me a sense of certainty as opposed to having to make judgment calls.

I wish copyediting didn’t take so long, but it does — to get it right. I wish it weren’t so important but it is. In this day and age, where everyone is throwing stuff up on the web without a second thought, I worry that the value of copyediting, and factchecking in particular, has been lost.

Maggie: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to go into the field of copyediting?

Me: Really know the basics — grammar, spelling…and understand how important factchecking is. Study the AP Stylebook, get the app on your iPhone and use it…basics! I can’t tell you how many freelance submissions I get on a daily basis with typos, grammatical errors, informal language…it’s disrespectful to an editor to be so sloppy. People don’t take the time they should. All writers should think of themselves as students who are trying to impress the teacher.

Maggie: What’s your biggest pet peeve as an editor?

Me: That’s an easy one: People who are sloppy. Sloppiness indicates disrespect…they couldn’t take the time. I’m a firm believer that you do something until it’s as good as it can be, and only then do you let it go.

Maggie: Are there specific examples of grammar or word-use errors that bother you?

Me: Things that bother me? “It’s” and “its”…a lot of people don’t get that you only use “it’s” when you mean “it is.” Not the possessive.

I cringe when I see “all right” spelled as one word: “alright.” And then “there,” “their,” “they’re”…people misuse those all the time.  I can’t stand run-on sentences…all of that drives me crazy.

We all make mistakes; don’t get me wrong. But when I see a freelance submission that has more than one or two it makes me want to claw my eyes out.

A chance to play Santa

Except for a brief moment of restful regrouping during the Thanksgiving weekend, my staff has been working around the clock for weeks. It’s “that time of year” for us, an annual marathon that tests our energy, our stamina, our resilience and our shared sense of humor.

Double-issue deadline time.

Our 132-page 2011 Schools, etc. book went to the printer last week. Last night, at about 8pm, I signed off on the January magazine and Art Director Michelle-Renee Adams sent the files off to the printer.

Every year we wonder why we pack this double whammy into the weeks leading up to an already hectic holiday season. We talk about scheduling the book at a different time of year but we keep coming back to the same conclusion: Parents need it in January.

January is when many of the Valley’s private schools hold open houses; for the most popular schools, registration may reach capacity soon into the new year. Even public school districts with rolling open-enrollment periods may fill to capacity well before the start of the new school year.

So we bite the bullet, resign ourselves to some late nights (for Calendar & Directories Editor Mala Blomquist a lot of late nights) and somehow we always manage to get it done.

After weeks of intense, single focus, I woke up this morning with an almost childlike sense of possibilities. No proofreading today! No frantic, last-minute fact-checking! The excited feeling actually lasted a few seconds before I realized how many other things I’ve let slide the last few weeks. Emails that need responses, articles to be assigned, planning to do.

Before I get mired in all of that, I plan to spend some time playing Santa. We have been running all sorts of promotions on our website lately. Tickets to live events and movie sneak previews, new-release CDs and DVDs. We recently closed five of those contests, whose winners must be notified today.

I like doing that myself. It’s fun to send someone a message that says, “Guess what? You won!” It does my heart good when I get an excited response (“No way — that’s awesome!” or “My kids will be so excited!”).

Continue reading

Ethiopia – operation cover shoot

I’m working on a story for our December magazine about the deGuzman family of Paradise Valley, whose Ethiopia adoption journey I’ve been following ever since I met them in March 2009. This past July , I followed them all the way to Ethiopia, where I witnessed the first moments and days they spent with their two youngest children, Solomon and Tesfanesh. And at least every two weeks since then, I’ve stopped by to visit and marvel at the babies’ growth and progress.

Jesmina mugs for my camera while Michelle checks Dan's set-up on the computer.

Yesterday, I showed up at their house at 7:45am with staff photographer Daniel Friedman and Art Director Michelle-Renee Adams. Our mission: to get a cover photo for our December holiday issue with all six members of the family, four of whom are under the age of 4. Wisely, it was decided to leave out Romeo and Lily, the two family bulldogs.

Michelle wanted to set the scene as though it were Christmas morning and all four kids had crawled into bed with Mom and Dad. When we arrived, Keri was ready. She’d purchased several sets of pajamas for each member of her family and had them all lined up on a divider wall in her living room so Michelle could choose colors and patterns she thought would work best together.

Dan got busy setting up lighting in the master bedroom while Keri calmly applied makeup and put hot rollers in her hair. Brian fed pancakes to 2-year-old Musse while Michelle took on the challenge of styling 3-year-old Jesmina’s ultra-thick hair.

Michelle took this picture of me with Tesfanesh and Solomon.

I busied myself playing with the babies so everyone else could get ready.

 

Brian good-naturedly donned baggy, navy blue pajamas for the shoot, showing no sign of stress or concern despite the fact that he had only a short amount of time to participate before he had to hightail it to Mercy Gilbert Medical Center, where he was to give a talk on women’s heart conditions. (He is a cardiac surgeon at St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center, a sister facility.)

Keri emerged from the master bath, looking radiant in blue-and-pink plaid flannel pajamas. “Yeah…like I always look this good when I get up in the morning!” she joked.

When Dan said he was ready, Michelle positioned each member of the family on the bed and Dan starting shooting.

Michelle talks to Jesmina (whose face is hidden) as she positions the kids on the bed.

I always marvel at the grace under pressure that Dan and Michelle exhibit under such circumstances. It’s tough to get six people to look good and smile at the same time. Especially when two of them don’t really understand what all the fuss is about. I think all of us were silently praying for that one, magical moment when everyone looked happy at the same time.

Tesfanesh was calm and observant all morning.

Tesfanesh, who has a beautiful smile, was calmly observant and serious throughout the entire shoot. Solomon, who is typically gregarious and charming, was curious and subdued. Energetic Musse was squirmy and squiggling;  his facial expressions kept changing at the speed of light from giggly to glum. Jesmina alternated between smiling with beauty and ease — the perfect model — and clenching her jaw in a forced smile, determined to earn the reward her parents had promised after the morning’s work: a family lunch and ice cream at the Sugar Bowl in Scottsdale.

We tried “cheese!” and even “Oreo cookies!” We squeezed squeaky toys and shook rattles. At one point I put a rattle on Dan’s head. That tactic worked for a few seconds; the two older kids, Jesmina and Musse, seemed to think it was pretty funny.

I can’t wait to see Dan’s pictures.

Musse gets a loving tickle from Mom.

Jesmina plays with a doll the ever-thoughtful Michelle had brought to give her.

After the photo shoot, a walk around the neighborhood with four kids, two dogs, a stroller, a tricycle and a bike.

Jesmina on her bicycle, a gift from her grandparents.

Solomon and Tesfanesh enjoy a snack in their double stroller.

Musse and Jesmina encounter a minor obstacle while burning off post-photo shoot energy.

After the walk, some playtime...and then naps all around.

My own Raggedy Ann story

In today’s DYK, Daniel Friedman writes about the 95th anniversary of the Raggedy Ann doll. When we first learned about the occasion, I told him that I still have a hand-sewn Raggedy Ann doll, a gift from my mother’s maternal grandmother.

I brought my doll to the office so he could photograph it. As soon as I walked into the art department, Art Director Michelle-Renee Adams pointed out something that never registered in all the years I’ve had my Raggedy Ann.

“She has blonde hair!” Michelle said, her artist’s eye immediately seeing the obvious. Before that moment, it had never dawned on me that “Nanny” had created a Raggedy Ann to look just like me.

She also created an exact replica of the dress. My mom still kicks herself for the fact that she didn’t save it. (My family moved a dozen times while I was growing up. Who could blame her?) But she did make sure that I was wearing it for a rare, professionally photographed portrait.

Mom, who lives in Green Valley, Ariz., was in Phoenix last weekend. I told her what I’d finally realized about my Raggedy Ann and she, too, was surprised and touched.

Why didn’t we notice the significance of that yellow yarn hair before? Maybe we were too distracted by a sense of awe at the careful thought and meticulous stitches that went into creating this special gift. Regardless, almost 50 years later, we both sensed Nanny wrapping us in her love once again.

Small world stories – hoops, timing and URLs

Thanks to the office flood, it’s been awhile since we’ve had regular editorial meetings. But my team is tightly knit and, not surprisingly, pretty adept at communication.

So while we haven’t had storytime at RAK in weeks, I am still the delighted recipient of “small world” stories I love to share.

Ann Meyers Drysdale with her son D.J. and daughter Drew.

Hoops connection

Our production manager, Tina Gerami, is married to Essex Bennett, a Valley educator who is working with the Phoenix Suns basketball camps at Thunderbird High School this week. Yesterday, he got to hear a presentation from guest speaker Ann Meyers Drysdale, who is featured on our July cover and profiled in “A Conversation with…” multimedia journalist Vicki Louk Balint.

After her speech, Essex approached her to say his wife works at RAK and that he really enjoyed reading the article about her. “She said she was really pleased with the article,” Essex reported. He then made another connection: Ann’s son D.J. is working at the camp with him!

Timing is everything

I heard from Calendar & Directory Editor Mala Blomquist last Friday, after her appearance on Arizona Midday on 12 News.

“So I am in the green room talking to this really nice lady named Karen when she asks me what I do,” Mala said. “When I tell her, she says, ‘Wait a minute — two people from your magazine were at my house this week!’ Turns out she is the next RAK Mompreneur! Karen said that staff photographer Dan Friedman was a hoot and that editorial intern Brooke Mortensen [who wrote the story], could not have been more lovely!”

A URL by any other name…

Our July magazine has a story about a precautionary step prospective parents in the digital age may want to take before naming their baby. Some experts at a social media conference recommended that you Google the first and last name before wrapping your heart around it.

“Ha!” wrote staff multimedia journalist Vicki Louk Balint when she saw it. “I had to laugh at that story. Robert [her 19-year-old son] Googled his name before he wrote his first story for Raising Arizona Kids, when he was deciding whether to be Robert Balint or Robert T. Balint. Turns out there is a hungarian PORN STAR named Robert Balint!”

Obviously, Robert put in the T.

Getting ready for Ethiopia: time to get serious

In May 2012, RAISING ARIZONA KIDS magazine launched a new website. You will now find this post archived here.