Best Friends

It’s hard when your best friend of 15 years lives in another state. I probably sound like a broken record. But you better believe we make the best of our time together. 
Janet and her crew were here for two weeks over Christmas. We went to the Renegade Craft Fair, thrifting, the Natural History Museum, the MOCA, the beach, had lunch and went shopping in Silverlake, as well as enjoyed Christmas Eve brunch together and many other meals at home. You’d think having twins would slow her down, but I swear that girl is supermom, even if she convincingly tells you she doesn’t feel like supermom. With as much as I got to see her and with as much as we got to do together, I kinda wish it were Christmas every month.
I’m considering a trip out to Utah to visit soon, I just don’t know about all the stuff I’d need to bring along for the snow. I can’t fathom buying all the snow gear for the few days it would be used. Hoping to borrow from friends what I can and book that flight soon because I miss her.

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An Instameet

Ten years ago, I never would have thought that I’d have a blog and be active in social media or put something ridiculously called an “instameet” together. I would have poked some fun at my future self in the same way I currently make fun of people who “vape”. Now watch, I’ll probably be vaping in a few years. Ha. I guess that’s part of the reason people tell you not to talk shit, because you never know what path life is going to take you.
Lo and behold, I really enjoy meeting new people. Several I have met through my blog and instagram have become real life friends; friends that I would have never met otherwise. I try to remind myself of this when I get all nervous and shy and awkward about the idea of arranging one of these meet-ups. Lucky for me, my girl Cindy is always down and hanging with her is always natural, easy, and a damn good time.
And this meet-up was nothing short of a good time. There was rain in the forecast and as I got in my car at the end, a single drop landed on my head; a reminder that sometimes mother nature is on our side. The kids all got on great. Everyone meshed well. There was even a dad that joined along. Some of us spotted a coyote. We shared snacks. We stopped for occasional photos. It all felt easy, carefree, and natural. It’s a group I would love to hang out with again.
It just dawned on me that I didn’t mention the meet-up here. If we have another and you’d like to come, pop over to my instagram every now and again to see if there’s another in the works. I’m sure we’ll do one again. This one was at the El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach, which I highly recommend if you have never been before. Absolutely beautiful.
Do things like this make you nervous? I get the feeling a lot of people skip out because meeting new people is intimidating. I can totally relate to that…

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Van @ 2 years, 6 months

Growth & Appearance: You’re getting so big so fast. You’re really not far off from Hooper’s height and weight. Someone the other day asked if you guys are twins. You’re able to share a lot of clothes; t-shirts and shorts, for sure, and pants depending on the length. If you can’t share pants, the day Hooper grows out of them, they go into your drawer and fit you perfectly. 
You’re fiercely strong. Even your “big squeezes” kinda suffocate the air out of me. 
You’ve had a bracelet tied around your little wrist since July. You’re great with wearing hats.  If there’s a pair of reading glasses lying around, you will find them and wear them. Always. 
Eating: The terrible twos are in full force and it shows at the table. You have no time to eat. You either eat what’s in front of you in record time or push it away and want down. It’s so hit or miss. Breakfast is usually good, but by dinner, you’re over it.
Your favorite foods are bananas, chicken nuggets, yogurt, though it all really changes day to day. The other day you scarfed down green beans and I didn’t even know you liked them.
You sit in a regular chair at the table, but we have yet to transfer the highchair into the garage. So far, so good though.
You’re obsessed with “shoda” (soda). I’m trying to convince your Papa that he should drink something better, like say water, so we can teach you better habits. Until then, you’re a magnet to the stuff. 
Sleeping: You’re woken up by Hooper every morning. On the days he has preschool, you’ll typically go back to sleep. I think if you had it your way you’d get up around 8 or 8:30. Hooper has you up closer to 7. You still nap in a pack-n-play that’s squished haphazardly into the spare bathroom. You’re in bed around 8:30.
You most always fall asleep with at least two toys and one book snuggled in next to you. And, of course, you’re still attached to your blanket.    
Talking: You had the best stutter that literally lasted for about a week and then completely disappeared. You speak in full sentences and understand concepts.
When you want to know what something does, you ask, “What’s it due’s (does), mama?”, to-which-I-answer, “It due’s ____”.
The other day I said to you, “Van, it sounds like you have a runny nose”, to-which-you responded, “No, Mama, it’s walking’ “.
You pronounce waffle as “raffle”, like you’re from the mid-west or something, mouth as “noufth”, and nothing as “nuffing”.
You also say things a little out of order, like when you dropped something and wanted me to pick it up and said, “Why you not pick up it?”. 
Development: You are stubbornly independent and want to do everything by yourself.
You took a toy truck away from a boy smaller than you at the park the other day. When he started chasing you to get it back, you threw his truck in the trash can. It was not a trash can you could stick your hand down. Way to make me look like number one mom.
You throw a mean tantrum. We haven’t had to suffer through too many in public, so I guess there’s that.
You have a big personality, are easy going, and a lot of fun. Your Papa and I have already coined you as “life of the party”.
You hit me and it hurts. I’m kind of scared of you becoming a teenager if I’m already dodging your punches now.
You have taken to potty training well and are learning fast. It hasn’t been without it’s trials and frustrations, but I gather in the whole scheme of things it’s been okay. You wear choines at all times, minus napping and sleeping. You ask, at times, to go to the bathroom; other times you simply drizzle just a little in your undies and then tell me, at-which-point I take you to the potty.
You still copy everything Hooper does or says.
You can hop on one foot.
You make the best mean face and the best happy face, on command.
You have no fear and love to jump off of surfaces that are taller than you are.    
Favorites: You love cars and planes and anything, really, with wheels. You also still love balls and ask often to play catch. You like making pretend food in your pretend kitchen. We allow you to have your scooter indoors and you ride it all around the kitchen and family room. You play great with Hooper and love to go along with whatever game he is playing. Stewart Little is a movie you ask to watch often. Also a cartoon on Netflix called “Puss & Boots”.

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A family portrait, once a week, every week in 2015
Willy: Spent the better part of the week out in the desert, working.
Hooper:  Dismissed himself from the table when he saw asparagus on his plate and said he needed to take a dump. He managed to squeeze out the smallest little nug. Anything to not eat asparagus. Ultimately we bribed him with a marshmallow. He ate asparagus. He also fell in the toilet the other day. It was a funny scene to walk in on.
Van: Made an official announcement that he doesn’t like rocket ships because, according to him, there are frogs in them. I don’t know when he decided to turn against frogs. He also made his first poop in the potty. There have been misses since, but hey, it’s a start.
Me: Had one of the best days I’ve had in a long time as a mom; it was like the stars aligned. It was such a beautiful day, too, so I have lots of pictures to share. I also did a kids fashion shoot in conjunction with Sweet Threads that featured some adorable playsuits on some adorable little girls in an ice cream parlor. I really love walking outside my box every now and again.
Jimmie: Made out like a bandit this week; got to play with a neighborhood friend,  went on a hike, and enjoyed a day at doggie daycare. He also bit through his leash while I had him tied to the front door so I could clean the car. This is at least the fourth leash we’ve had to throw away. Grrr.
Weekly resolutions: We didn’t draw from the jar this week. I knew Willy was going to be out of town and so many of the resolutions involve both of us taking part. Instead, I did a little of each one as I saw fit; I read to the boys more, I worked with Hooper on tracing his letters, I took Jimmie for a few walks, I cleaned the kitchen after dinner each night, and made some real headway in a book I’ve been reading. The bed is no longer made. That was so last week. Hoping we can get back on that train.

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Plastic Surgery

A while ago, I shared my thoughts and a link to the Nu Project over on the Ma Books. It prompted many further discussions between my sister and I in regards to woman, our bodies, and my post partum body. Then my sister turned me on to something NPR put out about Brazilian woman and plastic surgery and we couldn’t stop talking about; so-much-so that I asked if she’d share her thoughts on it here because I think it’s an interesting topic and I’d love to hear the thoughts of others as well. 
This is Erileide Barbosa Da Rocha. She’s 29, Brazilian. After giving birth, she was bothered by her “flaccid stomach” and got a tummy tuck. In her words: 
“I put on an item of clothing, looked in the mirror and it was horrible… I cried because I couldn’t get what I wanted. So for me, I think my surgery was necessary. For my own good, for my self-esteem. Beauty, for me, is fundamental. It’s the door. It’s the entry to many things…I intend to do more surgery. Because women are never satisfied. Women always want perfection.” 
And then there’s Maria Da Gloria De Sousa, age 46, who got breast implants, butt implants, a tummy tuck, and liposuction (multiple procedures). In her words: 
“Plastic surgery starts to become an addiction. You’re born perfect, but then you have children, and you know what having children does. And then suddenly comes the rebirth: plastic surgery. You can be beautiful, even more beautiful than you were before.”
And Mariza Chaves—age 33. Displeased with the extra skin left behind after pregnancy weight gain, she got a tummy tuck, thigh liposuction, breast implants, and a torso lift (yes, apparently there is such a thing). In her words:
“Beauty is feeling good about yourself. I wasn’t satisfied with my abdomen. When I saw it [after surgery], I felt like the most beautiful woman in the world. I feel privileged.
NPR talked to seven Brazilian women about cosmetic surgery and what beauty means to them. Their words shocked me. And it makes me sad to know that these views aren’t just confined to Brazil.
Most of the women’s body complaints were directly tied to having children. As Janet Da Silva Timal De Araujo, age 47, says, “Us women, we’re born with the desire to be a mother. But we’re also born with the desire to be beautiful.”
If you believe these words, you think the two can’t co-exist—motherhood, beauty. 
If you believe these words, you think it’s not enough that your body created a human; it must also look “perfect” (whatever the f—k that means).
I, for one, do not believe these words.
I guess it’s easy for me to say. I don’t have kids. I haven’t been through the body changes that come with having kids. I’ve seen my sister go through them though and I think she’s more beautiful than ever.
I would be angry—yes, angry—if my sister got any kind of plastic surgery. Why? Well, for one, I think it sends a strange message to her kids. Yes, they’re boys, so you might think it doesn’t matter as much, but it does. In my opinion (which you asked for because you’ve read this far), plastic surgery communicates, “I don’t like ____ about myself and that’s okay because I can change it completely!” If one of her boys gets made fun of at school for one reason or another and she says, “Oh honey, you’re fine just the way you are,” she’s a hypocrite. Her words carry more weight if she lives by them herself.
Now, if she has a girl in the future, I would be bothered even more. Because, let’s face it, society is brutal to little girls. Most of them are already aware of the “benefits” of being thin and attractive. Most of them already tie their self-esteem to how they look. They might not know what fake boobs are when they’re young, but when they’re teenagers, they’ll know. They’ll see their mom as someone who once didn’t like the size of her chest. They’ll see their own bodies as malleable.
If I had my way, the body wouldn’t be malleable. Not with surgery, at least. I mean, SURGERY? That’s serious business. That’s not a new pair of shoes or a fresh haircut. All of us fall victim to the little boost those things give us. We’re talking about SURGERY. Anesthesia. Incisions. Recovery time. Permanent alteration. 
The women interviewed by NPR expressed a sense of empowerment with their choices. That doesn’t really make me feel any better. That makes me think that our society is messed up. Women should be empowered by a promotion at work, not by a tummy tuck. Maybe it’s good if women walk around with more confidence—whatever the reason. But I’d be more hopeful for the future of female progress if the reason was related to their brain instead of their newly achieved thigh gap.  
There’s a bigger picture here, too, involving all women. Unfortunately, women are notorious for being catty, in competition with each other. Off the field (or the court or whatever), men don’t really have that mean spiritedness with each other. Men have more of a “let’s have a beer and chill” camaraderie. It would be nice if women had that, if we could support each other, if we could promote things like self-love, if we could stop obsessing about our faces and bodies and turn our attention to more pressing matters. From my perspective, that fight-the-power sisterhood effort is threatened each time a woman signs the elective surgery waiver for whatever “enhancement” she’s getting. Whenever I see a woman who has done something to her face or her body (because you can always tell), I sigh and think, “Ugh, we lost another one.”
Sheryl Crow sang, “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.” And in that vein, pro-plastic-surgery people will say, “You can’t argue with what makes someone happy.” Well, actually, I can. There are people who abuse drugs or starve themselves or otherwise harm themselves, saying it makes them “happy.” I can argue with that—and you probably would too. At the crux of it, I think women who get plastic surgery are misusing the word “happy.” Going under the knife to address a source of insecurity may bring a relief that resembles happiness, but I can’t believe that would last. If anything, plastic surgery just perpetuates the idea that you “need fixing.” As Erileide said, “Women are never satisfied. Women always want perfection.” Whatever the f—k that means.

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Hooper @ 4 years, 2 months

Growth & Appearance: We took you to a barber to have your hair cut. We love it and yet we’re still eager for it to be long, again. You’ve grown a lot it seems and while you fit into many 4T or even 5T pants length wise, the waist is too big, so many times you have to wear a belt. You wear your g’paw Jeffer’s old cub scout belt. The vintage pants fit you just fine in the waist, so I do my best to buy you those instead. 
You like to take you footie pajamas off by yourself, which leaves them in an inside-out mess and added hassle for when we put them back on at bedtime (but whatever, right?). You refused to wear hats for a long time but now agree to wearing beanies when it’s cold out. You have one of Papa’s old watches and insist on wearing it at all times of the day. It’s much to big for your little wrist. You don’t really care what I put you in; you have no preferences when it comes to picking out clothes. I’m gonna ride that wave as long as I can. Dressing boys has proven to be more fun than I ever thought.
You had your 4 year check-up and you are 36lbs (51%) and I think just under 40 inches tall (71%). You’re in size 4 shirts  and size 9 shoes. 
Eating: You’re such a better eater these days. Like night and day. You still need some coaxing here and there, but more times than not you feed yourself and enjoy eating. Did I just say that?
You love pizza. You eyes light up when we tell you we’re lazy and ordering pizza. You also love bacon. And french fries. You’re so obviously my kid. Despite these unhealthy-ish preferences, you do eat a considerable amount of healthy foods; you love nuts, apples, oranges, carrots, and avocado sandwiches (begrudgingly, at times).
You pick your nose and eat your boogers. The other day I caught you eating one of your scabs.
Sleeping: You sleep pattern stays fairly consistent, though daylight savings has made you get up a little earlier than normal. You’re also having a hard time holding your pee and ask often for us to “let you out” to go to the bathroom. Typically you get up between 7 and 8, closer to 7 the majority of the time. Then you nap from about 1:30-3:30, sometimes 4, and rarely not at all. We have hopes of getting you to bed before 8 but you have yet to be in bed before 8:30.
You wake up most mornings in Van’s bed. I think there are times you fall asleep with him in there, but without a video monitor I can’t say for sure. You request to nap in Van’s bed since Van still naps in the pack-n-play.
Twice you’ve taken off all of your clothes and I’ve found you in your birthday suit. That’s new. Insert big eyes with raised eyebrows here. Talking: You call park rangers “grangers” and I don’t correct you; “Mama, waz dat granger say to you?”
You pronounce ambulance with a ton of extra syllables. It sounds something like, “am-ba-tu-la-ence”.
“Spicy” is pronounced “ficey” and I also don’t correct you.
When you see a cat or a small dog, you say, “I want to pick up her”. I don’t correct you because according to the grammar police, you’re actually grammatically correct. 
Development: You got scolded at the dog beach by a stranger for hitting her dog. You were upset because the dog took your stick. It was really embarrassing, for me. It had a big impact on you, too, because you wouldn’t stop talking about how you no longer like dogs. Jimmie, you say, is an exception.
You love the letter H. You draw it often and point it out all around town. You don’t seem the least bit interested in any other letters, but you really hold that letter H in high regard.
Each morning at preschool you are supposed to trace the letters of your name. I stick around to watch you every now and again and have yet to see you actually trace the letters. Instead, you like to color in the inside of the letters… you scribble the inside of the “o”s and the inside of the “e” and “p” and call it a day. I have no intentions of correcting you, I like that you do it differently than everyone else.
You teachers say you genuinely like to help. I think this is a very firstborn, people-pleaser, trait of yours. It highlights your sweet and gentle side so well and obviously is a nice thing to hear.
On the flipside, you still come out of preschool each day with ragging aggressiveness toward Van. It’s like groundhog day; you come out the door, sock Van, and then proceed to chase each other all the way back to the car. Same thing. Everyday.
Your feelings get hurt if I tell you you’re not my friend. I realize this lets the I-stoop-to-my-kids-level cat out of the bag, but sometimes no time out or scolding seems to affect you. But, if I tell you that you’re not my friend, you cry. It’s my only leverage.
Felix is your best friend from pre-school. You talk about him at the most random times; like driving through Joshua Tree, “Felix would like this town”. Or the morning when you peed in your bed, “Felix doesn’t pee in his bed”. You guys send each other little videos back and forth confessing your love for one another. It’s sweet. And I dig his mom, so nice pick, Hoop.
You make the ugliest face by scrunching up your nose and showing your teeth and refer to it as your “mad face”. If I’m telling you something you don’t want to hear, you make your “mad face”. Or if you’re in attack mode and going crazy or pretending to be the “bad guy”, you better believe “mad face” comes out in full force. It’s unattractive, to say the least.
You go through phases of spitting. It sucks.
You have a love hate relationship with Jimmie; you love when he’s curled into a ball and you can cuddle him but you hate him when he’s going crazy and chewing up your toys or taking your stuffed animals off your bed.
Your imagination is on fire and you can be quite the storyteller. You’ve been known to tell tales of giraffes in our living room and that super great story you told Nina about Papa hitting you, which had no truth to it.
Favorites: You’re still, after all these years, into your cars. You now like to fill your bed with as many cars as you can and refer to it as a “carnival”. You give me a ticket (usually some sort of scrape piece of paper) and invite me to come. You love watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. It scared you, at first, but you didn’t want me to turn it off and now I think you’re so stoked that you conquered whatever fear you had that you want to watch it over and over and over again. It’s  a nice break from Cars and was fun to watch during Christmas. You love to read and you love to flip through books on your own and study the pictures on the pages. You go a book for Christmas that has close up pictures of lots of different insects and animals and you love flipping through and studying each page. You recently found a container of tinker toys and that’s been your favorite thing for the last few days. We went to the Natural History Museum and ever since then you’ve been into dinosaurs. There is an educational program you like to watch on Netflix over and over. The narrator has that really old man monotone museum-esque voice so I haven’t quite figured out how he holds your attention, but he does.

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The Rose Bowl

Willy and I have frequented the Rose Bowl on several occasions. In fact, before we moved and sold nearly all of our furniture, we had a garage of stuff we passed at some point at the flea market and just couldn’t say no to. We always said it’d be fun to get a spot at the Rose Bowl and sell some of the stuff we just didn’t have need or room for. And then we made our t-shirts and decided that that, too, would be fun to sell. So we bought a spot.
We left the house at 4:45am and arrived about 6:15am with eager anticipation. We got set up and cuddled under blankets we luckily had in the car, unaware of just how cold 45 degrees feels with sandals on. It was an ominous start, sitting there in the cold with what felt like hardly any shoppers. We waited for quite a while before we got our first sell. It picked up eventually and we sold a lot of the stuff that had filled our garage; an old vintage kid’s school desk, a roadrunner sting art piece, a vintage rug, a wooden crate I hadn’t intended to sell but Willy sold while I was out doing my own shopping, and a few t-shirts.
The highlight of the day was all the friends that stopped by and hung out. We both said that was the best part.
Not sure we’ll do it again, as we didn’t sell quite as much as we had hoped for. Not to mention it’s a lot of work. But what I would like to do is to get our shirts sold in more stores, either brick and mortar or online. So if anyone has any suggestions — places you think our shirts would be a good fit, let me know. Thanks guys.

5 Minute Project

I joined the 5 Minute Project and am excited to challenge myself in a new way. I love capturing everyday life and moments and hope that doing so in a small 5 minute timeframe will force me to think more creatively. My first post is this video of Van; 5 minutes of our morning together while Hooper was at preschool. I sure love this time with him.
You can check out the 5 Minute Project by clicking here and follow along on instagram by clicking here.

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A family portrait, once a week, every week in 2015
Willy: The New Year always brings new work related and financial stresses, so he’s been sleeping a little less and on edge a little more. He’s also wearing Van’s beanie because apparently he cares what you think about his unkempt hair. He got a trim yesterday. I’ll put money on the fact he’s not man enough to grow it out and will end up shaving it again. Can you tell we’ve been there, done that?
Hooper: In true firstborn fashion, has been whispering sweet manipulative things into Van’s ear; like the other day when I heard him say, “Van, pee in your pants”, or yesterday when he whispered, “Go hit Mama”. He was “star of the week” at preschool this week; clearly not for aforementioned behavior. The “star” became quite the point of contention when I had to take it away because he kept hitting Van. He’s sleeping with that little star as I type this..
Van: In true second born fashion, will listen to just about anything Hooper says. And so, I got hit when Hooper told him to hit me. Luckily I intervened before he peed in his pants. He also discovered how to use the camera remote, as evidenced by the first photo. Also looks like he got in a fight with a cat, compliments of that firstborn I just wrote about.
Me: Worked a 17 hour long day in the hospital on Monday (too many nurses out with the flu) and got watery eyes when my confused elderly patient wanted me to call her mom to let her know she was safe. Made me think of my boys growing old one day and still needing me, far beyond the years they have me. Also made me grateful for my own mom.
Jimmie: Is within a 5 foot radius of me, always. Except for when the boys are getting ready for bed; he senses it coming and beats us up to their room, every time. He likes to curl into a ball on Van’s bed and hang out while we read books and get dressed.
Weekly resolutions: We made our bed everyday this week. Willy fell off the wagon a few times, but I was able to pick up the slack. I think I’m more dedicated to these weekly resolutions than he is. Also, I don’t think anyone benefited more than Jimmie to having our bed made each day. By mid-afternoon, you could find him curled at the top of a neatly made bed, sunk into the pillows. Being a dog, you know, ain’t a bad life.

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We’ve been to Disneyland twice with the boys despite swearing that we would never take our kids to Disneyland before they were old enough to ask. That was before we had kids, when we made all sorts of declarations that were based on no experience.  
Our neighbors dog got loose the other day and was missing for two days. They were out of town and had hired a dog watcher to watch them. You can imagine the stress this poor girl was under when she came home to only one of the two dogs. To make a long story short, Willy and I ended up locating the dog and to repay us, she asked if we’d like to go to Disneyland (she works there). Because we know the value of the many bucks it costs to get into that joint, we figured it’d be dumb to turn it down. So we went. 
We got there early in the morning and before we even made it on the tram, Van biffed it on the stroller and fell face first onto the concrete. It was a fall that made us cringe and elicited that silent cry that transitioned into a full blown try-and-catch-your-breath kinda cry. In that moment, we felt we were doomed for the rest of the day.
But alas, we weren’t. We rode Mr. Toads Wild Ride, the carousel, Pirates in the Caribbean, The Haunted House, and the Jungle Cruise before sitting down for lunch. We didn’t wait more than 10 minutes in any of those lines, which was awesome. The line for the Jungle Cruise was a bit longer and getting Van to move with traffic was like moving a limp sack of potatoes up a hill. We hit up Toon Town after lunch and felt like we just about met our max. We inquired about where we could buy some beer, were told Disneyland is “the happiest place on earth”, and decided we would start heading toward the exit.
That’s when we learned that California Adventure does in fact sell alcohol and much to our surprise, our tickets were good for both parks. So we crossed over, filled our tanks, and lasted – with new found patience – all the way through the light parade.
All in all, a successful trip. And I even managed to put a little video together, which was no easy feat in the midst of switching over computers and all the technological bulls#$! that goes along with that.

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I can’t say that I’ve never had New Years Resolutions, but I can say that I’ve never made any that I was absolutely determined to keep. I’m not really a wait-’til-January kinda person; if I want to change something, I’ll change it at the time I feel like it needs to be changed. And there are several other things that I know would be better changed, but I’m just not on board with — like trying new foods or eating healthier (I’m as picky as they come). I need to work out and read more, like everyone else and their mom. I stopped going to physical therapy because the people there just started pissing me off and my strength and recovery have surely suffered some because of it. So yeah, I’d love to change that.
But resolutions like these aren’t just something you can do once or twice and put a check mark in the proverbial box; resolutions are typically lifestyle changes. And dammit, it’s really hard to change your lifestyle. Especially when you like your lifestyle. I, for one, like spending my free time doing something I enjoy. I’m not really wanting to trade it for time spent doing something that I don’t enjoy just because it’s “good” for me. I know, I’m a whiner, right? I agree.
Anyway, I was texting with my dear friend Summer when she mentioned that she cut sugar out of her diet, entirely, and has been feeling a lot better. It dawned on me that, as a family, we’ve been eating worse than usual and I’ve felt kinda tired lately. I wondered if I too could feel better if I changed my diet in someway, too. And in an instant, I felt overwhelmed and defeated before I even gave it an honest thought. I replied with something like, “ya, that’d be awesome but it’d have to involve me getting Willy on board too and I don’t see him giving up sugar”. To which she confessed it was only for a week, “to see how she felt”.
And that little seed sat in my head and just like other little seeds, it grew. And I came up with this: A new resolution each week. Because seven days is more manageable.
Sound like a cop-out? I agree, to some extent. But in my defense, I also know what I’m capable of and in the field of change, it ain’t much. I also think it will be nice to try different things and see the result; with the hope being that once we try it out, we may like the results enough to make the change stick. It will also give us a chance to try lots of different things, things we surely would not be able to commit to for an entire year because – well – we suck like that.
So Willy and I sat down and compiled various resolutions that we’re gonna give a try. We’ve written each one down on a piece of paper and have put the folded paper into a jar for us to pick out of each week. I’m planning on including a small update once a week, on our family portrait series. Here’s some of the resolutions we’ve come up with thus far:
Walk Jimmie everyday
We complain often about how hard of a dog Jimmie is to take care of. He’s got tons of energy. He has accidents often in the house. He chews toys. He, for lack of better words, goes crazy. But I’m pretty sure it’s also all our fault. Sadly, we don’t have the time – or make the time – to give him the exercise we know he needs. It’s just plain hard when you have two little ones. Then there’s times we’ve made the trek to the dog park only to realize that there’s no other dogs there and Jimmie’s left sniffing around different corners, but not expelling any energy. A walk a day would do him some good, I know it. He deserves it. We’re not the best dog owners at the moment and I’m tired of feeling guilty about it. This one, in particular, is a resolution that I hope sticks around.
No eating out
Willy cooks the majority of our dinners, which is awesome… but, you know how men are… they aren’t the best ::cough cough:: planners. So there are many times, it feels, that it gets to be that time and he’ll confess he hasn’t planned anything or doesn’t feel like cooking, and so, we end up going out to eat. I love eating out, but I think it’d be nice to save the money and eat a little healthier too. My goal with this resolution is to have better meal plans, especially since going out to eat will not be an option.
No eating dessert
This will be harder for Willy than it will be for me.
No spending money on personal items
Not that we are big spenders, because we really don’t buy a lot for ourselves anyway. But a week of conscious spending could do anyone good, I suppose.
Eat vegetables with dinner
I hate vegetables. I swallow them as whole as I can with as much water as I can. But, I know they’re good for me. So…
Clean up after putting boys to bed
As I’m sure everyone can relate, the house gets so dirty so fast. It makes my head spin. I find it hard to write and hard to create and hard to feel inspired when there is just shit strewn about everywhere. Every time we clean the house we vow not to let it get so messy again and then, by the evening, it’s messy again. I think if we did a small part, each day, it would stay cleaner a bit longer. I’m hoping this resolution can become habit, too.
No TV before bed / Read before bed
It’ll be a challenge… we kinda have our routine down… Hoping Willy can stay strong on this one. I better buy him some Astrology magazines.
Only music playing during dinner
Sometimes it becomes so easy to put a dumb cartoon on so we (meaning Willy and I) can enjoy dinner in peace. But it’s also nice when we tell them no TV and put a record on instead. So I’d like to do this for the entire week and see if we can’t kick that TV-on-during-mealtimes thing.
Willy’s hoping we don’t draw this out of the jar until football season is over. Again, this one will be a bitch for him, but fairly easy for me – I think.
Make bed everyday
How much better does a room look when the bed is made? I’m hoping this becomes habit, too.
Watch 2 documentaries
Because there’s like a thousand on my list that I’ve been dying to make time for.
Have the boys pick up their toys before bed
They’re pretty good about doing so when we ask them too. Sadly, we don’t ask them too all that much. Not sure why. I’d like to make a conscious effort at having them pitch in a little.
Have the boys help with at least one chore per day
Because they actually really enjoy helping out and it’s good for their little brain cells. Ideas I have thus far are making their beds, helping empty the dishwasher, vacuuming, and taking the trash out (the recycling bag is small enough for them to handle).
Drink the recommended 2-3 liters of water each day
I read once that everyone suffers from dehydration to a small extent. Kinda interested in if we’ll feel any different after drinking the recommended amount.
Go for a family hike
Want to make this more of a priority because I know we’ll all enjoy it, but we rarely make the time on weekends to do things like this. I want to change that.
Workout M, W, F
Because I’d fail at doing so everyday. I have a plan in mind for stuff I can do at home. Willy has a weight bench in the garage that he bought months ago and has never – as in NEVER – used.
Attend a yoga class
We want to do this together, so I’m hoping to find someone to watch the kids and maybe add dinner out onto it — yoga date night.
No checking our phones while on the road (red lights included)
It’s gotten to the point where I can’t even sit at a red light and do nothing. Having a little computer at my fingertips makes me want to utilize every second and it’s f’n annoying. I often think to myself, “gosh, what did people used to do when stopped at a red light?” — How about sit there, and wait, for a freakin’ minute. It’s ridiculous. I want to change this. And Willy’s the worst with checking his phone while driving, though he’d probably deny it.
Spend 20 min per day working on Hooper with his letters / alphabet
I’ve never had any sort of urge to homeschool my kids and I prefer them to be in school for my own reasons, but I would like to supplement his education with some education at home a bit more. Because I have the time and not doing so has been weighing on me. Especially because he’s such a sponge lately and seems to really enjoy learning ::cough cough — firstborn::  My mom gave him some great workbooks for Christmas and we’ve been using them here and there, but I’d like for it to be something he expects and can count on each day.
Read at least 3 books to the boys per day
I feel like a punk for admitting this, but I often tell them I’ll read to them later or tomorrow or when they wake up. Granted, those little manipulative boogers are usually trying to crunch it in right before their naps or before bed, so I feel like they’re just putting off sleep by asking. But, nevertheless, I feel bad every time I say “No”. So I want to carve out time during the day for reading.
Open and sort through mail everyday 
Oh my gosh, don’t mail us anything… we are the worst. I’m pretty sure our mailman wants to buy us a bigger mailbox or knock on our door and kindly* ask for us to empty the darn thing. Our accountant just dropped us because apparently there was something Willy was supposed to fill out and return, but that never happened and resulted in an email telling us to find a new accountant. Not to mention there are piles and piles of mail that still needs to be sorted all over the place. It’s ridiculous. We’re horrible. This needs to change. 
We obviously need 52 ideas to fill up the entire year but we figure we can always repeat what we have now, as doing each resolution for a second week would clearly benefit us. What are your resolutions this year? Do any of you have any ideas that we could add to our resolution jar?


A family portrait, once a week, every week in 2015
Willy: Is waiting on a pillow top mattress pad to arrive in the mail from Bed, Bath, & Beyond. When it comes to sleeping, he’s like the princess and the pea.
Hooper: Has been stoked about his recent trip to the dentist, where he acquired some random toy trinkets – a fancy ring that flashes different colors, a mini cell phone, a bouncy ball, to name a few – and has been toting them around in his little plastic dentist’s bag everywhere. He also fell off the sofa while horsing around and put a dent in the wall and a bump on his head.
Van: In true second-child fashion, is completely fearless. He’s been jumping off high surfaces as of late. Around the house, this has meant the sofa as well as the kitchen table. When we pick up Hooper from school, this means climbing up a hill and jumping off a wall that’s taller than he is. It makes my knees hurt watching his landings. He’s also been eyeing all of Hooper’s treasures from the dentist that, at one time, he had too because he too went to the dentist. Though that sneaky brother of his has a way of making his younger brother’s treasures become his own. When Hooper’s at preschool, you better believe Van rocks that fancy plastic ring on his finger.
Me: Somehow I escaped the stomach bug. Someone upstairs must have seen my report card from last year and opted to deal me better cards for the beginning of 2015. Feeling grateful to be healthy and, more-or-less, pain free.
Jimmie: Took a big ol’ fat dump in the house the other day, just when we swore he was getting more manageable. Then yesterday he dumped again in the house just after we had taken him out, ate Hooper’s lunch off the table when Hooper wasn’t looking, ran out the front door and in front of a car going by, and snuck into the neighbor’s house (they always leave their door open) and excitedly peed on their floor. He’s a handful.

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Hamburger Eyes

Can’t say the sign didn’t warn them  |  Baja, Mexico
Janet gave me a copy of Hamburger Eyes for Christmas and the collection of everyday, totally random, gritty images has yet to leave my mind. It prompted me, in fact, to go through several of my own photos; photos I snapped years ago, with a fresh eye and a comparatively shitty camera. The result has been falling in love with images I had totally forgotten I took and others I knew I had but never really knew what I’d do with; images I snapped for the same reason the folks at Hamburger Eyes select the images to print that they do: to document and record “the continuing story of life on earth”; the tragic, the comedic, the ironic. And so, I’ve spent much of my morning sifting through several of my images from Nicaragua, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Thailand, India, Egypt, and more. And now, I just can’t stop.
When I was a teenager, I used to always buy Jones soda at this little grocery store on PCH near Zuma Beach. I bought it because I liked their Root Beer, but more than that, I was always drawn to the photos they picked to put on their custom labels. They had information on the bottle about how you could submit your own photos to potentially end up on one of their labels. And they’d pick the most random, awesome, images. Hamburger Eyes, for me, is reminiscent of Jones Soda labels only with more edge and grit, because – well – not many supermarkets will carry a soda with an image of a bride sniffing cocaine. But in a world where anything would go, I have no doubt Jones Soda would have gone for it.
So grateful to Hamburger Eyes for having a place for these kinds of photos to potentially breath and live. Even if they look at my submission and tell me to eat dirt, the time I’ve spent sorting through them has been a walk down memory line and just the reminder I needed as we kick off this new year that life is short and experiences are everything.
And just like that, I sent my first (in what I hope will be many) emails to the lady who hooks us up with information on how to get back to Cuba. Let’s do this, 2015.
Ronald’s Play Place (a standalone structure, not connected to a McDonalds)  |  Panama
Protect yo’ lady  |  San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua
He’s got party confetti spilling out of his right pocket  |  San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua
Words for the wise  |  Nicaragua
Remember when Brittany Spears got a lot of shit for driving with her kid on her lap? Me too  |  Granada, Nicaragua
Piss happens  |  Granada, Nicaragua
Juxtaposition  |  Granada, Nicaragua
Juxtaposition, part II  |  Granada, Nicaragua
Street style  |  Dominican Republic
Stickball  |  Dominican Republic
Beach style  |  Dominican Republic
The birds and the bees, and the dogs too  |  Dominican Republic
Prey  |  Bayahibe, Dominican Republic
Childhood  |  Bayahibe, Dominican Republic
What Hooper looks like when carrying all his shit to bed  |  Dominican Republic
Caution: water may be shallow  |  Baja, Mexico
If the man in the painting came to life and if the scooter was moving  |  New Orleans, Louisiana
See no evil  |  Casablanca, Morocco
The tooth fairy’s recycling center  |  Marrakech, Morocco
A couple somewhere in middle America
Marrakech, Morocco
Don’t worry, it’s fake — I think  |  Malta
Did you know that VW’s trunks are in the front?  |  Alexandria, Egypt
Merman  |  Alexandria, Egypt
Move over bicyclists, share the road  |  Delhi, India
You can help by getting me out of here  |  Kashmir, Pakistan
“Fancy” ice cream is the best ice cream in town. You can find it just behind the piles of rubble and trash  |  Kashmir, Pakistan
Giving Santa Monica street performers a run for their money  |  Kashmir, Pakistan
Hopefully the little guy has a Wu-Tang sword  |  Kashmir, Pakistan
When shade is limited  |  Jaipur, India
Shop ’til you drop  |  Bangkok, Thailand
Men will always find pussy  |  Bangkok, Thailand
When American culture meets Thai religion  |  Bangkok, Thailand
The sign in our hostel that basically says no bringing Thai hookers upstairs, or up stays… you decide  |  Bangkok, Thailand
The Salton Sea, where the locals are always prepared  |  Bombay Beach, California
You can read more about Hamburger Eyes by clicking here and check out their Instagram feed by clicking here.  

Bits + Pieces

A couple shots of Carla, I miss her already // Gotta make use as much as we can of dem rain boots before they grow out of them // Christmas morning and Christmas day // A rare family pic where both of the boys have their eyes closed // Baby Leo at the Andy Warhol exhibit at the MOCA // My grandma’s 85th birthday // Various snapshots of Hoop // The way Willy works in a mid-day nap for himself // A few more of each of the boys // And the sweetest Van I ever did see.

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A family portrait, once a week, every week in 2015 (fingers crossed)
Willy: Got teary eyed watching that Apple commercial where the granddaughter remakes a Christmas song for her grandma. You can watch it here and report back to me as to whether you got tears in your eyes too. Ha.
Hooper: So sincerely thanked Willy for taking care of him yesterday when he wasn’t feeling well. That kid has a heart of gold. He’s also the third one to barf. There’s only me left. Dun dun dun.
Van: Continues to blame the potty accidents he does have on the fact he “doesn’t like Christmas”. Yesterday he added, “because I don’t like jingle bells” to the list of excuses. It makes no sense.
Me: Fretting about having to spend the weekend doing stupid stuff like cleaning up a ridiculously messy house and doing loads of laundry. But what else is new? I bet I could say this for every week throughout the year. I’ll just copy and paste this exact statement from week to week. Grrrrr.
Each year, I contemplate what I’m going to do or if I’m going to do another 52 week series. The first year I participated, I dedicated the series to Willy and posted a picture each week of him. Then, this past year, I started out by trying to capture single portraits of each of us. That only lasted a few weeks before it dwindled down to simply portraits of the boys, which was easy since they tend to be my subjects more times than not anyway. Well, this time around, I’m back to trying to capture each of us; only this time, all in the same frame. It’s my goal to snap a pic, once a week, of all of us – on the same bed – throughout the year. I’m going to do my best to concentrate less on composition, lighting, etc and instead turn my focus to simply capturing us, all of us, in one shot. 
I ran my idea by Willy first, to be sure he was up for it. I always try my best to protect my photography passion by preventing it from any potential stress. But, he said he was on board with no hesitation. So I was a bit shocked when, the other day, he huffed and puffed when I suggested we all gather onto the bed to snap a few pics. He mentioned earlier that his stomach was hurting, but I shrugged it off. He sat for a few pics, left in a hurry, threw up, and came back for a few more. He clearly has an ominous expression in that first shot, wouldn’t you say? 
And so, that’s the story behind this first, of what I hope will be 52, family portraits. Are you doing a portrait series this year? If so, share your links in the comments below!

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Childhood Unplugged

Janet was in town for the holidays so we decided to be brave and take all 5 kiddos (4 of which are 2 and under — insert big eyes with raised eyebrows here) to the Natural History Museum in LA. And true to motherhood form, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. We got there when it opened, which was smart because by the time we left there was a line out the door (compliments of winter break, I’m sure). The fact that the older kiddos were actually into exploring the exhibits made it a lot easier. And ice cream at the end didn’t hurt either. All in all, a great day filled with a few educational lessons and second-to-none company.
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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