Bullying Defines YOU.

Bullying is really nothing new, however today, bullying, is a whole different ballgame than from when I was younger and a certain older kid would pick me up and put me in a garbage can.  The children today are growing up with technology, mainly computers and cell phones, has enabled bullying to harm people of all ages.  Technology allows the person that is bullying to reach a larger audience.  This technology expands a bully’s reach and the amount of collateral damage involved.  While bullying is not exactly an anonymous action, the receiver of the actions may feel as if it is.  The reaction to certain words or a certain picture may hit you like a ton of bricks from a screen, before you can even identify the culprit of this devastating offense.


This phenomenon has become known as cyber-bullying.

That said, I wanted to share this particular article, posted by Stephen Schmidt, because of an assignment to “identify a story in which someone has been bullied, one in which the bullying has led to a tragic ending… retell this story in your blog.  Then list steps that you would take to have people take to counteract electronic bullying.” Corner Stones for Professionalism, Second Edition, Sherfield Moody, Page 43, Building Strong Character with Impeccable Ethics.

This particular post via the Iowa City Patch, a local newspaper/newsletter, had never been shared on any social media site, as of today.  This tragedy happened a year and a half ago.  This saddened so much that my eyes teared up until I found myself sobbing. 

This 14-year-old baby boy, Kenneth James Weishuhn, had hung himself in his family garage.  I can only imagine how sad and alone he must have felt to want to take his own life.  His death did bring awareness and action to some in his community.  However it takes awareness across this Nation to have an impact on change.  So let us finish what the University of Iowa Pentacrest started, and celebrate the life of this young man and bring awareness to his fight.

So I bring this story to you, and I hope that you will join me by sharing this article to help bring awareness.  I shared this article on on three different social media sites.  I immediately posted this to my personal Facebook page, as well as sending it out into my twitter account, as well as writing this blog.  During my life I have found that Awareness can bring change much of the time.

Here are some practical ways to help counteract bullying: 

Recognize that bullying is verbal, written or physical ways of harming others.

Respond to a situation if you suspect a person is being bullied.

Educate children with dialogue regarding bullying and intolerance.

Encourage bystanders to stand up for others as well as themselves.  Do not be afraid to intervene.

Encourage safe environments for children creating trust. 

Always be a Listener.

Educate your community if possible through schools, clubs, churches, and community leaders.

In closing, I want to mention my favorite motto.  For me, the motto can be used in different ways to help others, and you will feel better knowing that you tried to say something.  You will know that you did your best to help another that may not have been able to help themselves at that time.  “If you see something, please say something.”

Bullying, and how you react to it, defines YOU.  If this is not how you would want to be treated and it is not how you would want someone you love to be treated, please join me by taking a moment to read the article about Kenneth James Weishuhn.  Think about how his death sparked discussion in his home town.  Honor this young man by sharing this blog, share the article, tweet either of them, or simply tell his story to as many people as you can.  Let us bring awareness to an epidemic that is only going to become worse in time without actions.  We can keep Kenneth’s light shining.

Here are some great resources that I came across in my search:

  • GLSEN-Out-Online-report-location-of-sexual-harassment

Persian Shrimp and Rice made with non-GMO ingredients

Good Healthy food is a blessing and it’s something that we take for granted. With the controversial GMO foods that are flooding our groceries, it is very hard to find foods that are non-GMO and safe to eat.   Certainly there are many folks that really do not have a problem with this concern and others that still do not even know what we are talking about when we say GM, genetically modified food, GMO’s, Monsanto, or any number of tags.  However, it is my guess that in just a few years we will all know what GMO’s are and we will know some nasty repercussions of ingesting them.  My hope is to only bring awareness to these controversial foods and to share one of my many favorite recipes with you.  Because my family and myself are moving towards a GMO-free lifestyle, if this still exists, I have included in my recipe non-GMO alternatives that I have used recently.  I do not want to be the last one eating a GMO food.

The non GMO Project page is a great place to start to become more informed of what you eat.  You can browse this directory for participating non-GMO products by brand, category, or name.  There are also many other websites that offer similar services.

After my daughter Lumen Izabella was born just two years ago, I became a huge advocate for food labeling.  It seems that part of her first year of life I was feeding her GMO’s without my knowledge.  Yes, most baby food is not labeled and many parents are completely unaware of what they are feeding their precious children.  So, take the time to educate yourself so that you can make the best decisions for your child’s future food intake and sustainability.

Many Organic stores have had controversy in recent days in light of the growing concerns about GMO labeling, so you just have to make the best choice for yourself.  This does not mean that what you are eating is actually GMO free.  There are many resources online that not only educate you about genetically modified foods, but also endless petitions to help fight Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer, and Dow, who essentially dominate the seed trade.

Now I will lighten up a bit.  Sharing food with family and friends heals the soul, and let’s face it; it is a necessity to eat.

Eating desirable food since birth makes me a connoisseur foodie and being married to some fantastic cooks in my life is purely fortuitous.  Deliciously diverse foods have stolen my heart in my forty-three years on this earth, and I have managed to accumulate some pretty fantastic recipes in my head over the years from these handsome chef’s that I must start sharing for my daughter to enjoy someday.

Over the years I have gained some weight which proves the men in my life cooked good food or maybe it just proves that my love affair was with the food.

For ten years, I was married to a Muslim man born in Kuwait City, Kuwait named Ahmed Kourush Tavakouli, who was half Persian and half Arab.  He cooked meals for me often and eating them was easy because each of my taste buds dance for days afterwards.

Now I would like to finally share one of many recipes.  This particular one was the first dinner Kourush cooked for me when we met in the Fall of 1995.  His Persian style shrimp and rice was a recipe his mother cooked for his seven brothers and sisters and he learned by watching her.

Are you ready for the walls of your home to be permeated with smells of a heavenly Persian enchantment?

Let’s get started.

At times I have discovered that having a glass of wine while I create enhances my cooking experience.  Cono Sur Organic Pinot Noir satisfies my creative taste bud often.

This recipe should feed yourself and three other special guests.  Here is a quick list of items you want to start with in your cozy kitchen:

Continue reading

Lumen Izabella Tavakouli Klepp’s Baby Book

Lumen Izabella Tavakouli Klepp's Baby Book

The age of 40 in many ways re-started my life when my daughter was conceived. She is my only child and sometimes it scares me to think that there will be a day when I won’t remember Lumen as she “is” each day. Heck I forgot what I ate for lunch.

After her birth my husband and I wrote entries in her baby book, but sometimes after a hectic day her baby book would stay on the side table untouched, and memories were fading. However, simultaneously I was diligent about documenting her milestones via a Facebook Timeline named Lumen Izabella Tavakouli Klepp. I created this page a few months after her birth when I heard about the amazing “Timeline”.

On December 28, 2012 her chronicled life was deleted by Harvey, a User Operations worker for Facebook. Many times in my life I have been crushed, but this wound was the deepest probably because it affected what I had started for my daughter to reflect on someday. This was my way of making sure she knew that she was loved every day of her life. Even after a few months of mourning that day thinking only of a paper shredder eating away visual proof she is loved and we enjoy each day we share with her, I was having constant visions of vanishing firsts that I had shared with family and friends.

Her first plane ride, her first doctor visit, her first meeting with grandma, her first father’s day, her first fever, her first trip to the emergency room, her first hand fed meal, her first carrot experience (a story for another day), her first time sitting up, her first steps, and many other firsts that I will never see again without this page.

After these past few months, I think it is time to use yet a third outlet of sharing and celebrating the light of my life. With photography I document my experiences as well as her life, and my hope is that Lumen and I will help bring a smile to your face through this blog.

Since that day, Harvey is my newest least favorite name. If I hear this name or if I think about Lumen’s page and what was taken from us, I sob. My first entry is to document the devastating loss of the baby book I worked so hard on for my little light. This is my closure and I need to share it.

When I realized that Lumen’s page was missing, I immediately wrote to Facebook and they asked for my identification to prove that the page was indeed mine and that I am not underage. At this point of devastation, my idealistic side still had hope that those memories were tangible. Knowing full well that I was not underage, I submitted my identification, but also knowing full well it was gone forever at the mercy of a stranger.

On January 4, 2012 I received an email response from Harvey that would shock my core:


Thank you for your reply. Due to legal obligations, Facebook requires you to be at least 13 years old in order to be eligible for an account on the site. This also includes accounts created by parents to represent a minor. Please note that your account has been scheduled for permanent deletion. Unfortunately, Facebook does not have the ability to restore accounts that have been permanently deleted from the site. When an account is deleted, we purge all personally identifiable information associated with the account from our database.

Please also be aware that impersonating anyone or anything is strictly prohibited. This includes accounts created to represent underage children, celebrities, pets, ideas, or inanimate objects. If accounts like this currently exist on the site, it is only because they have not yet been reported and removed.

We apologize for any inconvenience that this has caused you.

User Operations

Inconvenience, was he kidding me? Really? You would think Facebook would have had a more professional chain letter of rejection than this one from Harvey.
All I could think about were the memories that I may forget because I took for granted it was on that webpage. I still have all my pictures, but they’re not in a nice “Timeline” of chronological order as they were on Facebook, and my personal messages, loving comments, and birthdays were never to be seen again.

So I gathered my thought again. And I wrote. I wrote while I sobbed.

My response to Facebook via Harvey:
To Whom It Concerns,

I find myself writing you today because I recently had an account deactivated. When I first realized this had happened I was completely devastated because I may never be able to retrieve the activity I had in that account. A week later finds me just as devastated. You see it housed memories in that account that I can never replace of my daughter who is only twenty one months old. There were pictures, videos, comments, and dates that are priceless to me and my family and will be as well to my daughter someday. It seems that I did not make myself fully aware of consequences of your terms of use rule that I unknowingly broke. So I would like to propose a solution to you that may be of interest to Facebook, and I know it would be of interest to me and my entire family.

The world is excited about Facebook. It is a tool to spend time with family and friends all in one place. It captures memories and documents them in a “Timeline”. The account in question was in violation of a child being underage. As I said earlier my daughter is only twenty one months old, so I have been administering her page myself most of the time, but also with her father’s help.

This brings me to the reason I am writing you today. I would like to make a proposal that may be a good idea for Facebook. You see when I created this account I was just excited about something my brother Jamin had told me. Back in the summer of 2011 he was playing with the new “Timeline”. At the time, I had never heard of it, but my brother and his friends had somehow gotten it early. He explained that it would allow people to have a history of their life. WOW. A history that would allow you to insert memories, dates, pictures, etc. back to your birth. And because my daughter, Lumen Izabella Tavakouli Klepp, was born on 3/31/2011, the whole Timeline idea was fascinating to me. So, I believe around June or July of 2011 I created an account for my newborn daughter not realizing I should have created a fan page for her. I had heard of people having many accounts so I guess I never thought twice about it. I used my year of birth and my daughter’s month/day/and actual name; therefore I guess I felt I had not really “falsified” any information.

I guess I was caught up in the idea that I could create a baby book for her to have memories of her life since birth. This would be a documentation of all her firsts, of EVERYTHING! When she was born, her first plane ride, her first trip to the doctor, when she met her grandma, our first mother’s day we shared, when she had a fever, when she went to the emergency room, when she ate first, sat up first, walked first, talked first, and many other memories that I will never see again without this account. I was going to add her first few months of life to the account, because I only heard of Timeline a few months after she was born. My daughter would have details, pictures, videos, and comments that she could reflect on if my husband and/or I passed away. We wrote to her on special occasions as well as on no special occasions. My point is that it documented memories I cannot replace for her. We are older parents and what better way to document her life. Isn’t that what Facebook’s new Timeline was created to do? I would be willing to bet that I personally took more pictures and videos of my daughter and posted them to not only my personal page but to her page more than ANY OTHER person EVER has of a newborn, and I invite you to look at her life.

So, I am writing you today with a business proposal. I would like to present an idea that a mother be allowed to create an account for her child on the basis that she is solely responsible for that account until the age limit of thirteen, via Facebook’s rules. After that time the parent is allowed to give the Timeline of their child to them to administer or as a parent they have the right to continue administrating it until they feel the child is old enough to take on the responsibility. I only want my personal information back, but it may be a great addition to Timeline.

An alternative request is that I have the account activated only long enough that I could back it up and retrieve our memories? Or is there a way to merge the two accounts? Maybe there is a solution that you could offer to me?

After my account was deactivated I learned the hard way that there were many rules that I was unaware of. I may never know them all, because truthfully the fine print is rarely read. I understand that I violated the terms of use of Facebook, and if you decide I am not allowed to continue her page and/or not allowed to back up the information, I will accept the consequences, and have likely not cried enough for my own punishment. However, I feel that we are talking about semantics, and if that is your decision I ask that you at least allow me to back up the personal detailed information that you store. This way I can move the data into a Fan Page that I will create for her instead.

I found what may be an actual quote from you in a letter dated February 1, 2012.

“Once again, Facebook exists to make the world more open and connected, and not just to build a company. We expect everyone at Facebook to focus every day on how to build real value for the world in everything they do.
Thanks for taking the time to read this letter. We believe that we have an opportunity to have an important impact on the world and build a lasting company in the process. I look forward to building something great together.

[signed Mark Zuckerberg]”

I would like to think that this idea would indeed allow my family to be more connected. Memories are a real value to my world and to most humans. I hope this can build something great for each of us.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I appreciate any interest you may have in my idea. My daughter, Lumen Izabella Tavakouli Klepp, will appreciate any consideration you take in her page being allowed to go live again.

Amy Paige Cundiff Tavakouli
Mother of,
Lumen Izabella Tavakouli Klepp

CC: Every email I can find

I posted this letter on my timeline. I shared it with other pages hoping someone would hear me. It was just a baby book. It was Lumen’s life. Part of me was dying with those memories.

More time went by without a word. Each day I would wonder if her page was being deleted. That shredder kept making such loud noise in my head. All I could think at times was, “Someone please stop it”. I could not search Lumen’s page from my personal Facebook page, but my husband’s page actually still displayed her default picture and he could tag her places when we were out, however he could not view her page.
This was maddening.
Finally just a few weeks ago, not even my husband could tag or view her page, and now each new day, I am trying to let it go.

So, life goes on right? I learned a valuable lesson, and that is to never let anyone take what is yours. My hope is to document her life via a different social network, a blog, and to take my lesson with me. Each of my entries will be printed and kept in a notebook in the event that this baby book gets scheduled for deletion as well.

I have documented many things in Lumen’s baby book and I kept a diary most of my childhood from the time I was 8 until I was a teenager. I am not sure why I stopped, but I suppose it was because my writing took on different forms, as well as a busier lifestyle sharing time with others. Life gets in the way sometimes of things that are the most important. However, after having Lumen Izabella Tavakouli Klepp, I try to make sure that my life does not get in the way of her success. I feel that part of anyone’s success is to know where you came from.
So again, my gift to you Lumen, is documenting those moments none of us want to forget.
I want to dedicate this entry to not only Lumen, but to her father, who was adopted by a loving couple, but who still struggles to know who he is and where he came from.

Hello to a less controlled social media.

Coghill Farm

Coghill Farm

What a beautiful day I have lived.

Walking through the San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park has been such a refreshing change. I am generally trapped in a stuffy house surrounded by things that remind me of work I need to do. It never ends and procrastination is my middle name.

Just recently I was told by my doctor that I am deficient in vitamin D, so I thought a little hike might kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

The second bird that I am trying to kill is a photography assignment. I need to do three theatrical photograph sequences that are of five photographs. I guess I could also do a series of fifteen total photographs in one sequence. The ending is yet to be determined.

There is not much time left today, because my irresistible husband and myself will be picking up our special little light, Lumen Izabella Tavakouli Klepp. She has been in school, and in a matter of minutes, we will need to be leaving.

So, now that I have this site started, I can feel like I have accomplished part of my goal, and I can feel like I soaked up enough sun to save the day.