Van & Carla

Van and Carla are seven days apart, which is really kinda crazy when I think about all Janet and I have experienced together; it only seems fitting that pregnancy be on that list. It goes without saying that we’ve had plans for these two… lots of “I can’t wait for this” and “I can’t wait for that” conversations. Our dreams were somewhat shattered when we got the kiddos together in July because there was a lot of bickering and toy stealing and whining and tears between the two of these rugrats. But this last visit, all of that was behind them and they were – dare I say – buds. You know what they say about beginnings… they’re messy.

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Potty Training

I’m convinced of two things: 
1. There ought to be a service available to come by and potty train your kid (as suggested by a kind person on instagram, though really I don’t think anyone other than myself or Willy could actually do the deed — so I guess this is kinda a joke, but not really, because really, it sucks and there’s lots of services for lots of things that people have deemed as shitty-to-have-to-do-themselves… like Molly Maids).
2. Because there is no number one (no pun intended), there ought to be an alcohol and massage distributor that comes and makes deliveries for those suffering through the stab-myself-in-the-eye-out-of-boredom and rub-my-back-and-neck-because-I’ve-been-wiping-a-lot-o’-butt-and-floor-and-toilet-and-hands days of potty training. I guess I should be careful what I ask for, because I think there are a lot of people that are actually in the business of dispensing alcohol and massages, if you know what I mean ::nudge nudge::
I don’t really remember potty training Hooper, to be honest. I know I did it because, again, no number one existed. I also know that I followed some sort of methodology because I recall writing posts on it — posts I would probably benefit from going back and reading.
The actual peeing-in-the-potty part has been going well. The accidents all occurred on the first day and have been seldom since. Well they were seldom and then we had a few days where we were lazy, or went to Disneyland, or just said “screw it” for the sake of our sanity. Since then, there have been more accidents. We’ve ventured out without a diaper on, which feels risky in the same way as leaving the house without a tampon when you know your period is coming feels. And, no accidents in the first week or so. Then we went out to eat and left the restaurant with wet pants after Willy and I both ignored his request to go potty because he had just. went. potty. It’s draining, people, let me tell you.
The hard part, this go-around, has been dealing with a fiercely independent and downright stubborn two year old. Things like insisting that he get on and off the potty by himself, flushing the toilet for even the littlest trickle, flushing the toilet multiple times before the water has even refilled, insisting on playing with the gross plunger or the toilet bowl cleaner, sticking his hand in his urine stream, flexing his “weapon” while his peeing so the urine goes up and out of the toilet, asking why he can’t pee when it’s “big”, pulling all the toilet paper off the toilet paper roll, going potty – getting his reward – then immediately going potty again and asking for another reward (manipulative bastard, I tell ya), and throwing a tantrum because farting on the toilet is not the same as pooping on the toilet and he cannot pick a “special prize” until there is an actual log. Oh ya, and we’ve said goodbye to at least 4 toys that he has dropped in — some intentional, some accidents.
I was prepared for the patience it would take to clean up after a butt-booty-naked toddler running around and was pleasantly surprised when he caught on to where to make the mess relatively fast. But my patience has wavered considerably in dealing with everything else. Like the dump he took on the floor the other morning. Though, arguably, he did make up for it when he requested to hug and kiss the “baby” piece of poop and went on to call it “cuuuuuute”. The video of that has gotten me through some of the more challenging spots during the last few weeks.
Deep breaths and a cold one (or two) for the next few days, weeks, and months. Wish me luck.

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A portrait of my boys, once a week, every week in 2014
Van: Loved handing out Christmas presents.
Hooper: Stoked on his new “race car”.
And just like that, another portrait series is in the book. I have an idea for the coming year, but we’ll see how it goes — I never want this space to be stress-creating, so it’s to be determined. Are you doing any sort of portrait series for 2015?

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A Christmas Tree

It’s never exactly how I envision it to be. I have delusions of grandeur; of us trekking out into the woods and actually finding and cutting down a tree — much like the Griswold’s. Then I’m reminded, immediately, upon entering the lot that we live in California; where we wear t-shirts in December and deck our trees out in some fake white shit we desperately try to pass off as snow.  
Nonetheless, the wood chips under our feet, the complimentary popcorn and hot chocolate, and the smiles from all the kind workers made – more or less – for a festive and successful outing. And with that, I’ve added “vacuuming pine needles” to my daily weekly to-do list.

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50/52 & 51/52

A portrait of my boys, once a week, every week in 2014
Van: Found a bouncy ball on the ground, then had it taken away from him and thrown down the street.
Hooper: Got in trouble for throwing his brother’s bouncy ball down the street.
A portrait of my boys, once a week, every week in 2014
Van: Is all about the reward aspect of potty training.
Hooper: Is also all about the reward aspect of Van potty training.

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The Bee & The Fox | One day only sale

I’m a last minute person, I know how it goes. So here’s your last chance before Christmas. All orders placed today will be shipped via USPS tomorrow. Use coupon code holidaybustle over on The Bee & The Fox to receive 20% off your order today only. Here’s what’s in stock: 
Happy Camper – sizes 2,4,6
Homegrown – sizes 2,4,6
Boys will be boys – sizes 2,4,6
Free as a bird – sizes 2,4,6,8,10,12
Keep on truckin’ – sizes 2,4,6,8,10,12
Mama bird – sizes S,M,L 
Are you on instagram? Follow along, @thebeeandthefox / #thebeeandthefox. And, as always, thanks for your support.

Christmas Cookies

Two years ago (wow, where does the time go?) I wrote a post about baking Christmas cookies. Well, not actually baking them… because we never ::cough cough:: got around to actually making them. They sat on my counter and taunted me, “hey you piece of shit mom, why don’t you forget about those dirty dishes and bake me already”. I swear they gave me a complex; so-much-so that it’s been two years and I can still remember writing that post and the feeling I felt by never getting around to baking those cookies. 
I giggled to myself with the thought of that post in the back of my head as we went into the store, once again, to buy cookie-making ingredients. I tried to move through the aisles as quickly as possible for fear that Van would forget he didn’t have a diaper on. I was imagining the stream of urine falling off the cart like a waterfall. We made it through with only a few items torn from the shelves from happy little grimmy hands that don’t like to keep to themselves. We bought two packages of sugar cookie mix (ya, that’s right — I’m a-good-for-nothing-mom-that-makes-nothing-from-scratch-and-I-don’t-care), some icing, sprinkles, a couple cookie cutters, and some butter. 
The boys were a bit disappointed when we got home and they asked for the cookies and I revealed we had to actually make them before we ate them. Next thing you know, the counter that I had just cleaned that morning was filled with flower and small globs of cookie dough and the happy-to-help (oh he’s so happy to “help” these days) hands of a two year old would not stay out of the raw egg batter. There were tears and, obviously, a mess.  
I had to ask a neighbor to borrow a rolling pin. Mom fail. Then I couldn’t get the batter not to stick to the rolling pin despite the amount of flour I used. Mom fail times two. 
The boys were over it at this point anyway, so I made the executive decision and said screw the cookie cutters and opted instead for little round balls because let’s face it — shit tastes the same. When the cookies were done, there were more tears because they could only have one. Then there were spilled sprinkles. 
And the moral of the story is this: Buy Christmas cookies from the bakery for $5 and go home and eat them. Making those damn cookies was the only thing I’ve ever had on a list that didn’t feel so good to scratch off.

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Tiny: A Story About Living Small

Before I met my husband, I had never been backpacking. I’d been day hiking and camping, and kind of lumped backpacking into the same category. Then we did a week-long trek through the Sierras and I realized it’s so much different.  
With backpacking, there is no car packed full of supplies. There is no cell phone coverage. There are no toilets. It’s just you and the trail. Suddenly, magically, your needs get very basic. A tiny tent becomes home and everything that matters to you is strapped to your shoulders. You get to know every pocket and pouch of your backpack. You arrange everything just so—head lamp, toilet paper, trash baggies, bandaids, sunscreen, snacks. At first it’s jarring to live this way. But, after a day or two, there’s something so wonderful about it. It’s liberating. You don’t have anything to worry about but getting from point A to point B with those things strapped to your back. And you learn to look forward to something as simple as a warm fire at the end of the day.
When I started hearing about the tiny house movement, I was intrigued. It didn’t take long for me to understand the appeal of confining yourself and all your belongings to a small space. My husband and I have talked about how we love our small-ish 1,000-square-foot house because it limits our ability to collect shit we don’t really need. But, the tiny house movement is not about 1,000-square-foot homes; it’s about 100-square-foot homes, like playhouses you might see in the backyard of a McMansion owned by parents insistent on buying their toddlers the very best. I mean, 100 square feet is small, really small.
“Tiny: A Story about Living Small” follows the journey of Christopher and his girlfriend, Merete, as they build their tiny house. There are many months of building, some setbacks, lots of how-to YouTube videos, doubts, frustrations, and, ultimately joy. Christopher purchased cheap land in Colorado and built the home in a friend’s backyard. When it was done, he towed it to his land. And that’s that—home.
Christopher and Merete are not alone in doing this. There are lots of people living in tiny houses. It’s hard to count all of them because most are doing it secretly. See, it’s not legal to have a home this small. Building codes demand a minimum square footage. Why, you ask? Well, it has to do with money, as all things do. The housing, banking, and insurance industries profit by selling the idea that “bigger is better.” There’s not much money to be made on tiny houses. They’re cheap to build and often mortgage-free. Many people get around the building codes by putting their tiny houses on wheels so they’re considered “temporary structures.”
Jay Shafer is one of the loudest spokespeople for the tiny house movement. He says:
“The primary asset you get with a tiny house is freedom. The world gets a lot bigger when you’re living small. I can afford to do a lot more now in terms of cash and time. The whole world is now my living room.”
Here’s what other tiny house owners say about the beauty of the lifestyle:
  • “Less to heat, less to furnish, less to maintain, less to pay for. No mortgage in certain cases. All around, you’re kind of beating the system” –Deek
  • “Time is a nonrenewable resource that you don’t get back… Do you really want to spend your time working at a job you hate to buy stuff you can’t afford? One of the great things about simplifying is I have the freedom to make choices about my career. What I do for money now is fun…and I don’t think a lot of people can say that about their jobs” –Tammy
  • “I get this one shot at life and I want it to mean something…I wanted to be larger than the small person I was in my big house” –Dee (Side note: The New York Times wrote an article about Dee here)
People choose tiny houses for different reasons. For some, it’s purely financial. Others are passionate about having less of an environmental impact. Everyone, though, talks about an improved quality of life. Living small is about stepping back from rat race, simplifying so the mind is free to focus on what it really wants. Too often, we get so caught up in this idea of the American Dream—mortgage, marriage, cars in the driveway—that we lose ourselves. There is simply no time to dedicate to being who we really want to be. Just like with backpacking, when you live small, you have mental clarity. Suddenly, everything becomes meaningful because there is no excess, no distraction.
Of course, most of us aren’t ready to pack it all in and move into 100 square feet. Many of the people in the film understand that and say it starts with small choices. It starts with making a conscious effort to determine needs versus wants. It starts with focusing on what matters in your life. It starts with “editing”—deciding what should stay and what should go. The film ends with one tiny house owner encouraging all of us to “think of living as an experiment.” I think those are good words of advice. There is no right or wrong. Just remember, we only get to do this once (as far as I know).
“Tiny: A Story about Living Small” streams on Netflix.
You can learn more about the film at their website.
Want more? Check out another documentary “We the Tiny House People” on YouTube.
This post is written by: Kim Hooper | Writer


An Interview

Dear Hooper & Van,
My days with you two are rarely easy. You both have a ton of energy and when you’re going, you go non-stop. And yet, I don’t want these days to ever end. I want to remember everything about them. Here’s a small attempt at doing so. I hope one day you will enjoy these videos.

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A portrait of my boys, once a week, every week in 2014
Van: Terrible twos and to the umpth degree, at times. Everything is “by myself” and on his own time. This week, I’ve felt like he might be the next dictator.
Hooper: Has his bed covered with cars and demands I come up to his “carnival” each day. He finds old business cards in the trash and provides me them as “tickets”. Such an imagination these days.
Jimmie: Is my best friend when Willy is around but the straw that broke the camel’s back when he is away. Sometimes I think a third baby would be easier – Ha. But I love him all the same.

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The Desert

Leave it to open dirt roads, two sleeping toddlers, and a bag full of snacks to bring out life’s big questions. Willy and I love dreaming and scheming and creating together. We spent a couple of days out in the desert and came back feeling inspired and energized. It’s easy, as a mother, to get caught up in mothering the kiddos but every now and again I find myself wanting and needing to take a step back and appreciate the man that’s helped build this little family of ours. He’s really something special and I’m so grateful.  
The boys have gotten easier and easier to travel with and any troubles they caused on the trip are already forgotten; memories shaped instead by the photos of a few special moments along the way. Pit stops, mostly. And a few of that spectacular little ranch we stayed at.  
Tonight, when I go to sleep, I’ll be dreaming about open roads, sleeping toddlers, and snacks. And maybe cacti too.

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Americans In Bed

Fact: Over 70% of online daters believe in “love at first sight.” Fact: America has one of the highest marriage rates in the western world, but half of marriages end in divorce.
So, what’s going wrong? Do we go into love with unrealistic expectations? 
“Americans in Bed” is an HBO documentary that tries to answer those questions by looking at one of the arguably-most-important parts of marriage—sex.
The documentary lets us visit with different couples—old couples, young couples, gay couples, straight couples, faithful couples, unfaithful couples—in bed. Yes, they’re actually in bed when they’re interviewed.
Helen and Red started dating when she was just 16 and have been married 71 years. While he laments, “Time does things to us,” she counters and says, “He still makes me feel young.” These two are legit, the real deal. And their sex life? Well, here’s a glimpse:
Helen: “We’ve had plenty of sex. Did I ever say no to you?”
Red: “Never. You never had a headache.”
Helen: “I never had a headache. Never had a back ache. I was always available. I’ve never refused him sex, ever. I had a very good lover and he taught me all I know. If there’s more to know, I’ll never know.”
Much of what they say about their sex life is past tense, but I didn’t get the sense they love each other any less. In fact, she said, “He cannot die until I die. I don’t want to be left on this Earth alone.” Yeah, I’d say they’re pretty solid.
Deanne and Guy are younger than Helen and Red, by about twenty or thirty years. She admits, “Our sex life is nil. We don’t have sex. It’s not available, so you just move on with your life.” See, he takes certain prescription medications that, as he says, “take him out of the picture in that regard.” She’s quick to say she has a vibrator. She’s just as quick to laugh. Do they seem happy? Yes. He sums it up: “We like to fight the world off together.”
Joe and Patty are in their forties, dealing with the usual distractions of having a family. They talk about how it was so exciting in the beginning and now they have to figure out a time and place to do the deed. Joe adds, “I gotta get you drunk now.” As Joe says, “they have three kids up our butt” and a bed-sharing dog he calls a “cock blocker.” Patty says:
“In my thirties, I was a lot more wild. Now it’s more of a chore… It’s not like, if we don’t have sex today, we’re gonna break up. We both know we’re busy, the privacy is an issue, or whatever…Sometimes, it’s a mutual ‘let’s forget it this week.’”
They laugh a lot, but get serious when they talk about the future, how they can’t wait until it’s just the two of them again. As Joe says, “It’s not about the sex… It’s about affection.”
But then there are other couples whose relationship seems to revolve around sex—and you have to wonder what will happen to them when they’re older and things no longer…work.
Leon and Blanca claim to have sex every morning and every night, and sometimes midday—so, yeah, that’s 2 to 3 times a day. As of the filming date, they had broken up and gotten back together 26 times. The main issue? Leon considers himself polyamorous. As he says, “Monogamy is painful to me.” Blanca is clearly not 100% on board with his ways, but she stays with him. It’s…interesting. 
Randy and Julie seem proud of the fact that they can call their relationship “hot.” Julie says, “I think sex is the most important thing in a relationship.” She prioritizes the chemistry over the nuances of life—the boring stuff like sharing a bathroom together and paying bills together. They seem passionate…but also combative. They admit they need to work on communication and how they fight. Quite honestly, they seemed to have the most tension of any of the couples.
There are five other couples. Fatima and Kevin are working through the betrayal of him cheating on her. Antonio and Roberta have had similar trust issues over their years together. Linda and Margie are lesbians who seem like truly affectionate partners in this life. George and Farid are gay guys who waited to have sex for a while, had a “terrible” first time, stayed together anyway, and are parents now. Yasmin and Mohamed, in accordance with Islamic tradition, did not even hold hands until after their wedding, and maintain that waiting made everything more special. They were the sweetest couple, in my opinion.
So what did I learn? Well, every person, every couple, is totally unique. I think people talk about sex a lot (I’m thinking of my girlfriends and I at Happy Hour) in attempts to ascertain what’s “normal.” How often should we have sex with our partners? What kind of sex should we have? Are there certain rules we should live by? Are you noticing a common word here? Should, should, should.
“Americans in Bed” shows that there is no should when it comes to sex. What makes one couple happy may horrify another. What one couple considers a rule breaker may be a way of life for another couple. The real issue is: Are you happy with your sex life the way it is—however it is? If not, why? Can you meet your partner in the proverbial middle so you’re both content?
I’m of the belief that sex is not the most important of a relationship. At all. There are plenty of life things that matter more. That said, I think it’s important to see sex similarly to your partner. Someone who wants sex twice a day, for example, probably won’t work with someone who wants sex once a month. Someone who has a foot fetish probably won’t work with someone who insists on wearing socks during intimacy. You get what I’m saying. But, if a couple wants to stay together for the long haul, there has to be some acceptance of things changing over time. We can’t be necking in the backseat like teenagers for forty years. Or, maybe we can. I feel like Helen and Red just might.
This post is written by: Kim Hooper | Writer


Cindy Loughridge, Lifestyle Photographer from on Vimeo.
“My hussle is just shooting everyday and trying to improve my game”.
Now there’s a quote worth tattooing on my body.
My friend Cindy sent me this video some time ago and I haven’t gotten that statement out of my head since. Every now and again I’ll receive an email from someone asking for guidance with either blogging or photography and my advice always seems to be super mundane and cliche; I say things like “just do it” or “practice makes perfect” like I’m either a Nike shoes salesmen or an elderly piano teacher. But that’s the reality of it. Practice has been my secret; though it’s no secret at all. Anyone can scroll back through my archieves and see where I started from. Sure I upgraded my equipment along the way, but none of that was as invaluable as simply shooting everyday. For me, the will to do so has come naturally, but the technical stuff I have had to learn.
Do you have any hobbies that kind of eat at you until you give them proper time and energy?

Childhood Unplugged

Just after a long afternoon nap, with a wooden plane he got as a gift for his birthday, on an unmade bed, as the sun went down. Childhood forever.
Please join me in supporting the other photographers participating in the Childhood Unplugged movement by clicking here to see all our submissions. You can also follow us on instagram (@childhoodunplugged) and be sure to use #childhoodunplugged for a chance to be featured on our Instagram feed.

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