A Family Session

When Summer comes back
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around, I’ll be opening slots for up to three family sessions at the Huntington Gardens (where these photos were taken). Details to follow at a later date and time. Thanks for all your support!

Now scheduling bookings for the New Year, email me: ashley {at} thestorkandthebeanstalk {dot} com

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A portrait of my husband, once a week, every week, in 2013.
This guy has been workin’ like a dawg lately. He’s been gone since Wednesday and let me tell ya, single parenthood ain’t easy. At this point, a week in the hospital is looking more and more like a well-deserved vacation. I kid, it’s going to suck. Looking forward to his return home…
You can check out other posts in the series here.

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Welkin NYC

It’s not an easy thing to ask for help and to accept help. I discovered this truth after I gave birth to Hooper and found those first couple weeks to be difficult in terms of balancing new motherhood with recovery from childbirth.
I think asking for help when you’re an artist is even harder. When you make something, whether it be a photograph, a novel, or line of children’s wear, part of your soul goes into it. If you take the time to make something, it’s because it’s important to you. And thus, when you need help to make it all come to fruition, it puts you in a vulnerable place.
I’d like to introduce y’all to Welkin NYC. Fashion blogger LaTonya and mommy blogger Belle have been working hard on a children’s line inspired by New York City. Their clothing line is well-made, eco-friendly, and unisex.
Help spread the word! You can visit their kickstarter campaign by clicking here.

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A cut above his right eye, evidence of a new walker.
Over-sized birthday card for the newly one year old.
A shirt that’s much too small for an ever-growing boy.
Weights, in preparation for back surgery.
Sarah scratching her neck, a reminder to order flea medicine.
And shoes on the little one’s feet, because he adamantly insists.
What’s a snapshot of your life look like today?

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A day with my sister

My sister just moved into a new home down in Dana Point with her fiance, so we went down to say hello the other weekend. Willy and I both left wanting to move there; it is such a beautiful area. We had a great time hanging out by the pool, enjoying what feels like an extended summer for those of us livin’ in the southern part of California. It was a bit touch and go in regards to Willy and I actually being able to enjoy ourselves with the kiddos around the pool (it’s a lot of work, no?) but once the boys found the cats, the hose, and some ice cream it was all good.
*Side note: Can I get a little fist pump or something for the perfectly placed hoses (no irony intended) and cats, as well as some nifty cropping and/or focusing. It wasn’t easy working with two naked ones… But, you know what they say, it ain’t summer until someone goes skinny dipping. Better them then us, I suppose.

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First Haircut

I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better. -Maya Angelou
We can’t bring ourselves to cut Hooper’s hair despite the fact the poor kid can hardly see with all those blond locks constantly hanging in his face. We like his hair and, truth be told, we’re attached to it. We’re waiting for the day we can finally stick it behind his ears. Nevermind those baby hairs underneath it all that have yet to grow.
Van lost hair as a newborn and, as a result, his hair was longer in some areas and shorter in others. I won’t even mention the weird kinky texture of his hair or else you may start asking me questions about who his daddy is.
So we decided to shave his head in hopes it would all grow in evenly. Because next thing you know, he’ll be two with long blond locks and we’ll we be fighting back emotional ties anytime the thought of cutting it gets thrown out on the table.
And just like that, there’s a little ziplock baggy of dirty blond hair tucked away in his baby book with “first haircut” scribbled on a post-it.
Side note: Much love for everyones well-wishes regarding yesterday’s post. I want to clairfy, because I know the x-ray is gnarly, that I actually don’t have any pain. As in, like none. I have to have the surgery because my curve has not stopped progressing. It’s a structural

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issue, not a pain issue. I feel for y’all that do have back pain… I’ve definitely had my episodes. Wishing everyone good health. And, truly, thank again. All your comments made me emotional…

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So that’s a picture of an x-ray of what my back looks like today. It may be shocking to you, but it’s an image I’ve seen for years and years. I was first diagnosed with scoliosis when I was an adolescent. I went for check-ups and knew that, down the line, surgery may be part of my reality.
And now, it is.
The last time I saw a spine surgeon was seven or eight years ago, before I was a mother, a nurse, or a wife. I was told to come back the following year for another x-ray and, well, life started moving as fast as highway signs on the freeway.
I had to go on maternity leave early when I was pregnant with Van. I was in the worst pain ever. I don’t know how much of that was specifically related to my scoliosis, but given the fact I had significant diastasis recti after Hooper, my back had very little abdominal support prior to getting pregnant the second time. And a second 9+ lbs baby didn’t help matters, either.
And so, my spine has kept moving. So much so that I have seen two different well-renowned surgeons that have both told me I need to have surgery.
I’ll be having surgery in the middle of October. It’s a major surgery. I’ll be in the hospital for 7 days and will be on ridiculous bending/lifting/twisting restrictions for a few months. I’ve been told to expect to feel like I’ve been run over by a semi truck. I won’t be allowed to lift anything heavier than a coffee cup for the first few weeks and it will be months before I’m allowed to pick up my littlest loves (which also means it will be months before I lift Van in and out of his crib, high chair, car seat, etc… It’s going to be a rough road). Ho hum.
Life is going to be hard for a bit. I worry not for myself, but for my family. Willy will have a lot on his plate and the boys’ world will be flipped upside down. I’m trying to prepare mentally and physically as best as I can, but it’s hard to know how to plan for things you can’t envision.
I’ve invited a few friends to guest post in my absence. I’m quite behind in posting anyway so it might be a nice time to get caught up. But if it gets quiet around here, you know why. I’ll keep you updated as my surgery date draws nearer, but please send good thoughts my way.

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A portrait of my husband, once a week, every week, in 2013.
This guy always supports me and as I’ve taken the plunge to start my photography business, he’s been by my side every step of the way. It feels good having him believe in me and encourage me. He is my rock.
In other news, I feel incredibly honored to have been invited to participate in Amy Grace’s Chorus. To be included amongst so many other photographers I have grown so fond of makes my heart beat funny and the hair on my arms stand up a bit. You can check it out by clicking here.
And, I posted portraits of my children yesterday. You can click here to check those out too. Cuz’ I know y’all don’t love my hubs as much as I do… I get it. But, he is pretty fab.
You can check out other posts in the series here.

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Support a woman's right to chose.

Image by Mexico Rosel
Today I have a beautifully written post from Ama. I don’t even have anything to add because homegirl took the words right out of my mouth. So with no further adieu…
My name is Ama, I’m from Charlotte, North Carolina, and I had my son, Lane, a year ago at a birth center in South Carolina.
We had to cross the border, which sounds kind of exotic, because our options for birthing outside of a hospital in N.C. are extremely limited. Home births are illegal here, and there is ONE birth center in the state that’s too far from my city.
My reasons for choosing natural birth aren’t all that important to this story. I am basically a stress case and my dating ultrasound at my OB sent me into a frenzy of worry when there wasn’t a heartbeat at 8 weeks (only to see one at 12 weeks after I’d googled so much my fingers were bleeding). I knew that if I continued there, getting blood work, counting heart chambers, pregnancy would be a crazy uncertain time where I was constantly on edge.
So I toured the closest birth center I could find and chose my midwife at Carolina Community Maternity Center based on credentials alone, but the relationship soon became much more personal.
She calmed me.
For every prenatal appointment, I would work myself into a frenzy with a thousand first-time-mom questions and every appointment my midwife sat there with a beautiful understanding smile and listened to my concerns and hung out with me for an hour putting them all to rest. When we left the birth center each time, we were reminded why we were choosing natural birth, and we felt prepared to face a world that wasn’t sure what to make of our choice.
If you feel like delving into the specifics of our birth story, you can do so here.
My midwife was also there after the birth when I got mastitis at 2am and thought I was going to die and didn’t know what to do. I called her. Like a friend. She gave me a crazy off-the-wall remedy, something like drinking salt water and taking lecithin, but really she just told me I could beat it and assured me I wasn’t going to die.
Almost a year after Lane was born, we went back to the center and took him to his “place of origin” that had since been turned into a lactation room. My husband held Lane over the spot he was born and said, “Soak up the energy!” in this hippy dippy way and I smiled at them, thinking that if we had to have him in a hospital, we would never be able to do this….to go to the very spot he was born and pretend it could give him super powers.
I’m sharing this because that center needs help right now, and I feel like it’s the least I can do, after the beautiful experience I had, to try to help it.
Exactly a year after my son was born in a bedroom style room with only my husband and midwife present on a day where it was sunny and raining at the same time, the South Carolina DHEC suspended the birth center’s license.
The reason, taken from our local paper, the Charlotte Observer:
“The center claimed the state was enforcing a regulation that had never been previously enforced on any S.C. birthing center – that a physician be on call and available to provide medical assistance at the birthing center at all times.”
During pregnancy and childbirth, when everything is distorted and new and strange, a woman should have the right to choose what calms her.
For some of us, it’s the OB. It’s the blood work, the ultrasounds, the backup doctors and the hospital sanitation and the IVs and pain medications, and for those people there is no skepticism, no difficulty to follow that path. The US medical system supports that path.
But for some of us, we need the woman sitting there telling us we can do this when we aren’t sure if we can…telling us that we are powerful, and she will be there to help. For this path there seems to always be a fight – whether it’s with your parents who look at you like you’re crazy, or with the state who is narrowing your options.
My support group has put together a donation website for the center, to help them “pay the rent and bills” while the suspension is in place. Anything that isn’t used towards the reopening of the birth center will be donated to the South Carolina birth coalition.
You can donate towards our birth center here.
You can tour their website

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Please help us, wherever you are, keep our options open.
Side note: Congratulations to Natasha Tucker for winning the giveaway to Broken Tricycle. An email has been sent to you! And thank you to all who entered. Remember you can use coupon code STORK20 for 20% off your purchase.
Oh ya, and I’d love your vote over on Top Baby Blog… You can click the link below and vote daily ::wink wink::

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New Friends

The internet is a funny thing, isn’t it? Well, I guess social media in general. I swear I could have a philosophical conversation with you about how instagram has made a better photographer. But I guess that’s a separate post.
I started this blog nearly two years ago and it amazes me how many connections I’ve made because of it. The fact that anyone other than my family even takes the time to read what I write still makes me scratch my head. It’s been an incredibly humbling experience thus far.
Back to the connections.
We met up with Sisilia and her adorable family a little while back (I’m always behind on posting, grrrrr) and to say we all hit it off would be a gross understatement. We had plans to hang out for an evening, take some family photos, and maybe grab a bite to eat. Instead we hung out, took some photos, hung out at the restaurant until the waitress actually left for the evening before us and then the bartender kicked us out so we moved the party to the parking lot where it too got broken up by four sets of tired eyes looking at us wondering why it was nearly 11pm and they weren’t in bed. How’s that for a run on sentence? Willy and I drove away ranting and raving about Sisilia and Joshua and got a text a few minutes later that they decided to book a room at the Ace as well and wanted to hang out again the next day.
So we met up again, swam in the pool, met for dinner, and had breakfast the next morning before we said our goodbyes and reluctantly went our separate ways.
The desert heat, the cicadas buzzing all around, the cold beer, the endless flow of conversation, the boys and their cars, the quietest little baby girl, the occassional click of a camera… it was magical.
There’s a lot to be said about new friendships. I’ll be sharing some of the family shots I took of them tomorrow.
*The pool photo was taken by Sisilia and several of these are from my instagram feed. You can check out more of Sisilia’s work by clicking here.
Side note: I’ll be announcing the winner to the Broken Tricycle giveaway on Wednesday. There’s still a couple of days left to enter!!

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A portrait of my husband, once a week, every week, in 2013.
We spent last Saturday down in Dana Point visiting my sister and her fiance. The weather was lovely and the boys had fun seeing two of their favorite people. I’ll be sharing more pics soon.
Wishing everyone a happy weekend. And special thanks to everyone who has been voting for me over on Top Baby Blogs!
You can check out other posts in the series here.

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“Now then, Pooh,” said Chirstopher Robin, “where’s your boat?”
“I ought to say,” explained Pooh as they walked down to the shore of the island, “that it isn’t just an ordinary sort of boat. Sometimes it’s a Boat, and sometimes it’s more of an Accident. It all depends.”
“Depends on what?”
“On whether I’m on the top of it or underneath it.”
-A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Side note: Votes are reset over on Top Baby Blogs. The Stork & The Beanstalk finished this last round in 3rd, thanks to all of you who vote daily. Would really appreciate your vote today! Voting is easy… simply click on the button below and then again on the owl on the left side of your screen. Check out some other blogs while you’re there. Some of my favorites are: Oh Dear Drea, Inked in Colour, Lamb Loves Fox, and Hello Sisilia. What other blogs from TBB do you follow?

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Joshua Tree

Janet and I have been to Joshua Tree loads of times. There was that one time we went on a whim, just before we were set to board a plane for Thailand, because our feet were so itchy we just couldn’t wait for an adventure. We stopped again, I believe, on the way back from Louisiana. I’m totally being dramatic now, aren’t I? There were obviously a few other stops along the

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way. Then there was the time we went, just the two of us, and called it my bachelorette party just before I got married.

We spent the evening there, enjoying the cooler weather (It was 98 degrees there, as opposed to the 120 in Palm Springs) and listening to music in the back of the pick-up truck. We climbed some rocks,

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played around with my new handy dandy camera remote, and shot the shit until the sun went down and the dark sky invited us to make our way back to Palm Springs.

On the way out, I spotted a lovely couple on top of a rock. I pulled over, hopped out, yelled for them to stand up, and snapped that last picture because I’m so daring like that now (I’m being facetious. There are a thousand pictures I regret not taking. I kick myself often for that. Trying to grow hair on my nuts is always on my to do list).

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Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain is in an area referred to as “Slab City”, in Niland, not far from the Salton Sea. Slab City used to be the training grounds for the Marines back in 1942, but when operations ceased a few years later, the buildings were removed and sold. Since then, it remains abandoned with only cement foundations, hence the name “Slab City”. Today, RV campers occupy the area mostly in the winter months. Be what it may, when you ride up to it, it feels completely random and odd; Like walking through a weird dream.
We only encountered one other couple on our visit to Salvation Mountain. I guess there are some perks of going in the dreaded summer heat because I’ve read you can battle up to 100 people in the winter and well, it just wouldn’t have been the same.
Salvation Mountain was built by Leonard Knight who is currently 82 years old and resides in a nursing home in San Diego. He has volunteers that rotate watch on his mountain and are available to ask questions to if going up to a seemingly abandoned trailer in the middle of nowhere is your thing. And, you better believe, it’s my thing.
You can read about Leonard Knight by clicking here and more about the history of the mountain by clicking here.

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The Salton Sea

Oh the Salton Sea. There isn’t a place like it, that’s for sure. And any picture of the place only tells you a small sliver of the story, let me tell you. It’s kinda like looking at a picture of a men’s urinal from a dirty truck stop, you just can’t smell the urine and filth. Same same, but different.
In a photo, it looks like one of the most stunning places. Am I right, or am I right? Please allow me to ruin it for you now.
Use your senses: The temperature is 120F / 47C. It feels like you opened the oven door after you had it closed and heating for a couple of hours. The heat consumes you. It’s difficult to breath. Sweat trickles down your back and your dress becomes stuck to the back of your leg with each step you take. Your hair is crunchy, proof you’ve gone between the sweltering heat and the air conditioned car. Oh ya, and the air is completely stagnate. In 2012 the Salton Sea was confirmed as the source of the rotten egg smell in the LA Basin. The LA Basin is 150 miles away from the Salton Sea. Can you imagine how bad a fart would have to smell to travel even a mile? I’m trying to put this stench in perspective, people. I could tell you it smells like sulfur, but it’s worse than that. It’s more like sulfur with rotten egg with rotting corpse. As soon as you step out of your car, you hear the buzzing of a thousand flies. They land on your face and they invade your car. There is no amount of shooing that will stop them. As you walk closer to the water’s edge, you hear crunching only to look down and discover that what appears to be sand is really just mutilated fish bone and with each step you are making more, um, “sand”.
But oh it’s a site to behold, isn’t it?
We stopped in at a local bar in Bombay Beach to beat the heat, enjoyed some cold beer, and watched as the locals swatted flies with their oversized fly swatters. 
I mentioned the Bombay Beach documentary a while back. Here’s the trailer for it. Gotta love any documentary with music by Beirut and Bob Dylan. It was… interesting.

Want to read more about why the Salton Sea is the way it is? This article is one of the best I’ve read.

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A Girls Long Weekend, Palm Springs

Those who follow me on Instagram know I was recently in Palm Springs for some much needed girl time. I returned back just a few days later with Willy and the boys’ and had an awesome time hanging out with this beautiful family, but there will be more on that later.
I had been feeling so down and out after weaning, wondering when the funk would pass. I knew it was hormonal, but having the knowledge of the culprit did absolutely nothing in terms of digging myself out of the hole. I cried for two days. And I napped, which sounds dreamy – I know – but it was more of the depressed I-don’t-have-energy-to-do-anything kinda nap as opposed to the physically drained I-earned-a-nap kinda nap.
It lasted two days and even though those two days felt like marathon days, in hindsight it passed pretty quickly. Like having a newborn, when you’re in the trenches, not only do you not see the light but you don’t even know if you’re walking in the right direction. For all I knew, life was getting darker. Looking up depression after weaning, like everything else, was both a blessing and a curse; cool, I’m not alone… Ho hum, sometimes this lasts months?!
We had that nice weekend I spoke of here and a few days after that, I hit the road with my best friend.
And there’s nothing like the open road with your best friend. There just isn’t.
Sometimes when I’m away from the kids it feels like all I do is talk about them. But while our children came up in passing, we talked about so many other things: memories, work, dreams, travel, our husbands, things we are working on around the home, design, photography. We threw around quotes we had come across that made something clear that was a bit fuzzy before and we talked about some of the new documentaries we had watched. We listened to music, pulled over often to stretch our legs, and threw stuff in the back of the truck as if we had assistants back there to sort it all out for us.
It was just what I need and right when I needed it.
So please excuse the next few posts as I get caught up on sharing some photos from our adventure. There were no kids, so – ya know – we stopped a lot and drove a lot and photographed a lot.
Take that, you evil mom guilt. I’m not even feeling guilty about a

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A portrait of my husband, once a week, every week, in 2013.
Been thinking a lot lately about how special this man is to me. Here he is, caught off guard, looking for some new pants for work. At the moment, he’s watching a youtube video on how to tie a tie using the double windsor tie technique. And, for the record, double windsor is where it’s at. Even cooler than a double rainbow. He’s something special, I tell ya.
You can check out other posts in the series here.

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