Life

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“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life. I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

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The Mermade Market | The Bee & The Fox

lowresBefore I even tell you about the Mermade Market, I have to take a moment to talk about the image above. You see, this little world wide web is to thank for many new friendships over the past couple of years. Some I have met in person, some I have not and, sadly, may never. Katherine is someone who I’ve felt connected to for sometime. I’ve followed her lovely blog for years and to this day consider her among my favorites in the photography world. Talent aside, she has a heart of gold and the most intoxicating spirit that translates so vividly in her images. And she’s funny, too. Separated by both land and sea, I’m not sure we’ll ever have the opportunity to meet, but I’ll always consider her a friend.
When I started to work on The Bee & The Fox site, I reached out to her immediately. I was in need of some more, shall we say, feminine images and I knew right away she was my girl. And I’m so grateful to have a bit of her flair connected to The Bee & The Fox. So many thanks, my dear friend. Your images make my heart pound, every time. If you’re on instagram, you can follow her here.
Okay, that aside, I’m going to be selling at the Mermade Market in Dana Point May 7-9. If you live in the Orange County area, you should check it out. Here are the dates and times:
Thursday, May 7th, 10am-8pm
Friday, May 8th, 10am-6pm
Saturday, May 9th, 9am-5pm
I’ve been so busy preparing; making tags, figuring out the display, making new things to sell, folding and counting and sorting shirts and so on and so forth. We’ll be unveiling a few new t-shirt designs too; one more for the ladies, a couple for the kiddos, and even one for the babes. Fingers crossed it can all come to fruition in time and that I’m not just talking out of my butt.

 

Childhood Unplugged

cufavoritesEvery now and again I moderate the Childhood Unplugged feed over on instagram and I love it. There are so many wonderfully talented photographers out there and it brings me great joy to feature a small sector of them. Parenthood is one of the greatest sacrifices I’ve made, but when I see my boys engaged with nature or one another, trying new things, overcoming old obstacles, or even just at peace in a moment of time, I sold on the fact that it’s all worth it.
If you’re on instagram, tag your photos with #childhoodunplugged for a chance to be featured. We’ve also started a new weekly hashtag, introducing a new theme each week in addition to our regular scheduled unplugged moments. I’ll be hosting the weeks of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, so feel free to tag your images with your littles with #cu_mothers and #cu_fathers respectively.

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A haircut…

338A1052-7 338A1057-8 338A1073-14 338A1084-18…from a man named Jerry who shares my love for photography (I always email him these photos) and even holds the pose when handing my kids a sucker because he knows that’s a shot worth catching, loves to talk about Cuba, and has a little chihuahua named Princess that will bite you if you go near her.

Muddy Thoughts

ashley-38VeniceI go through periods where it’s hard for me to write.
I’ve always thought of myself not so much as a writer, but as a feeler, and – in turn – a writer because, well, I’m obviously into documenting. I used to feel everything. Lately, all I’ve felt is exhaustion; an urge to do nothing at all – like a depressed person who suddenly no longer wants to do things that once excited them. The difference being that I’m not depressed, I’m tired.
And I’m not quite sure why.
I mean, I’m sleeping. I’m eating. And on most mornings I start the day with an energy that would surely give me an edge in the super-mom competition should it actually last any longer than the fleeting 2 hours it actually hangs around. Yup, two hours in and I’m already staring at a sink filled with breakfast dishes on top of the day-before-dishes that I was too tired to wash the night before. And the thought of doing them all overwhelms me.
I start wondering what the point of it all is; why clean up the floor if 5 minutes post-kids-waking-up-from-nap it’s going to be a disaster again? Why bother washing their hands after they go to the bathroom if 2 minutes later they’re going to poke Jimmie’s butthole.
Some days feel like I’m just repeating shit over and over. Make meals – wash dishes – clean their hands – take dog out to pee – wipe their butts – repeat. So monotonously draining. It starts to feel like I’m just going through the motions.
I start to think of other things that usually drag me out of what-seems-to-be the monotony of motherhood; I think about my photography, this blog, our etsy shop — creative endeavors that give me that pep in my step, and I’m bothered by the lack of time I’m able to give. I get fixated on stupid shit like not a single shirt selling in a day or not being able to write when a wave of emotion hits at seemingly the most random time only to find that when I do have the time, the wave has crashed, the thought fled, the inspiration soaked like water into the sand. That’s just what it’s like — trying to catch water and all I’m getting is wet sand; muddy thoughts.
I’m assuming I’m not alone. Tell me I’m not alone.
Photo by Tish Carlson

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Sixteen

338A2289-14 338A2319-22 338A2348-29A portrait of my family once a week, every week, in 2015
Willy: Was golfing when I took these photos. Ya snooze, ya lose.
Hooper: Asked if it’s going to be Christmas soon. Twice. He says he wants a new dump truck (the wheels on his old one fell off). Also refers to a roly poly coming out of it’s ball as a roly poly ‘hatching’.
Van: Suddenly became interested in potty training and likes to pick out his big boy choines on his own. He refers to the small slit in boys underwear as a ‘pocket’ and makes his selection based on the biggest ‘pocket’ and then proceeds to stick his toy cars in the slit. Also, told me he was going to fart on me and then – sure enough – turned around, put his butt on my leg, and farted on me. Twice.
Me: I have too many sunglasses, really, but my favorite pair are the cheapest pair and the only pair that essentially cannot be replaced. I bought them from the Melrose Flea Market years ago. They have gone missing several times; like the time I couldn’t find them for months, blamed it on our move, and begrudgingly accepted the possibility of never finding them again. Only then they turned up in the undercarriage of the stroller, that we never use. Well, on Monday, I stepped on them. Gone for good.
Jimmie: Played with a boxer puppy at the dog park and then came home and peed in the house twice. That happens when he’s too tired to get up and ring his bell. And yes, he has a bell he rings. He’s not so dumb after all, is he?52weekproject-b

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Arizona

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There were naps, some thrifting, an evening at the food trucks in downtown Gilbert, and a trip to a local farm that has a weekly farmers market.
Easter morning was filled with egg hunts, bacon, bubbles, a wheel barrel full of toys and treats, a friendly horse named Duke, and even an adult egg hung put on by Willy’s grandparents; a yearly tradition.
We took highway 8 on the way home, which boarders Mexico, and shared stories of the past of our many trips south of the boarder. I wish it were still safe to drive down there.
It was nice to leave and nice to be back. We missed an Arlo Guthrie concert we were both eagerly looking forward to; too tired and too sore to make the extra drive up to LA. When this neck pain subsides, I know regret will set in.
Hope you all had a wonderful Easter.

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Palm Springs

338A1372-1 338A1385-5 338A1388-6338A1408-11 338A1389-7 338A1431-18 338A1409-12338A1435-21338A1422-15 338A1439-23338A1454-29 338A1466-31338A1444-26 338A1473-32 338A1474-33 338A1495-39338A1478-35We spent one night in Palm Springs before hitting the road to Arizona so that Willy could finish up some work out there. The weather was perfectly warm and we spent much of the time poolside; the boys in the pool and Jimmie hanging poolside with me while I rested my sore neck. The night was rough, with Willy snoring, Hooper kicking, and Jimmie randomly barfing, but we packed up, hit the pool one last time, and got on the road.
I’ll be sharing a few images from Easter in Arizona tomorrow.

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Mother’s Day Special

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I never tire of shooting my boys, but when given the opportunity to shoot other people – especially when it means getting us Mamas in the frame – I’m so grateful. So Mamas, this one is for you. Tell your husbands, tell your friends. Feed my hunger (figurative hunger, but let’s not kid, literal hunger, too). Mother’s Day sessions, $595, Price includes approximately an hour of shooting in or around your home and all edited high resolution images.

And to sway you a bit more, a recent testimonial: “Ashley did not just take our pictures; anybody can do that. She captured exactly who we are as a family. She has a magical way of highlighting the idiosyncrasies and quirks that make us, us. She took the time to get to know us and was so incredibly patient with our boys, who are not always easy. Looking at our images brings tears to my eyes every time because she saw all those moments that so often go unnoticed; my hand in my son’s hair, the way our boys make my husband laugh, the Cheerios required to keep them still. These are all the things that make up parenthood that we so often forget as the days pass hectically, and Ashley has frozen these moments in time for us. We could not recommend Ashley enough, she is the best investment you could make for your family’s memories”. – Amy Bell

Email me: ashley @ thestorkandthebeanstalk.com to book today.

Slow down

338A1283-73I caught myself as the words “you’ll understand when you’re older” rolled off my tongue. It was like I was sitting in the backseat and my mom was driving, only I was driving and Hooper was sitting in the backseat. What I’m trying to say is that the damn tables have turned.
We were on the way to preschool when Hooper asked me why Van doesn’t go to preschool yet. I explained that Van is still too young, to which he responded by puffing his proverbial feathers and declaring, “ya, I’m a big kid, Mama”. Only it was followed by, “but why you not want me to grow too fast, Mama?”.
I guess he’s caught on to my nagging insistence that he slow down. I’ve pleaded with him, a couple of times, during our many cuddle sessions – praise the Lord he still loves to cuddle – to not grow up so fast.
I couldn’t explain it to him, so the words “you’ll understand when you’re older” simply had to suffice. But really, Hooper, slow down.

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Fifteen

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A portrait of my family once a week, every week except for last week, in 2015
Willy: Went hunting around his parent’s yard with his brother in search of black widows (found two) and scorpions all in the name of ‘showing the boys’, but it ought to be noted that no one seemed to get as much pleasure out of his shenanigans than himself and his brother. Funny to watch the big brothers teach the little brothers.
Hooper: Told me he was going to eat me up as part of a goodnight feast. This was right after he told me that I smell good and look tasty. He also said he would cook me in the fire and put peanut butter on me. I told him, “You’re going to be in big trouble, Mister”, to-which-he-replied, “I’m not Mister, I’m Hooper”. And he went to bed.
Van: Confessed that he didn’t make ca-ca, but he did fart and that there may be boogers in his diaper. Not sure what that even means. Also, got in trouble for hitting Jimmie to-which-he argued, “but he’s licking my jammies”. I told him that Jimmie is licking him because he loves him, to-which-he said, “He don’t love jammies, jammies don’t talk”.
Me: Still battling an annoyingly achy neck, but started physical therapy (again) this week and hope to be feeling better soon. Feeling overwhelmed, too, with how busy things are going to be in the next few months. Trying desperately to stay organized while fighting the crankiness that comes with a sore neck.
Jimmie: Got his moment in the spotlight with an instagram campaign for Nutrish Dog Food. Also had several Mexican standoffs with the feral cats in Arizona.
Weekly Resolution: We resolved to open our mail every single day. Fortunately we both shrugged this one off, relief filling our veins because we’ve been doing pretty good with keeping up with the mail. We’re both dreading the week we pick that little tiny paper out of the jar that says we can’t watch any TV. 52weekproject-b

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Brothers

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You don’t even know how much you love each other. Despite fighting often, you long for one another. Whenever Van is sleeping, you, Hooper, want to make him up. And when you play together, it’s clear you adore one another. You are best friends whether you want to admit it to yourselves or not, though sometimes you do actually refer to one another as your best friend. So there’s that.
Hooper, you convinced Van to carry your boots that were bothering you on a hike. Van, you were stoked to be carrying the boots and seemed unaware that you were manipulated into carrying them.
Van, you’re better at sharing with Hooper than Hooper is at sharing with you.
You both call fire hydrants “firemen boo-pas” and Ninja Turtles “engine turtles” and every now and again you both refer to me as “Coco” (no idea why) or “Princess” (also no idea why); the latter not as delightful as it sounds when said in the context in which it’s used, “Princess, can you make me a snack?” or “Clean my butt, Princess”.
You defend each other. If one of you gets in trouble, the other one will say “stop being mean to my brother”.  Anytime you get in trouble, it’s obviously justified, but I can’t help setting my anger aside when you stand up for one another.
You both love the song “You & Me” by Penny & The Quarters. You both ask, “Mama, was dis song?” every time it comes on.
I came home to a large pile of hair on the counter. I’m pretty sure you left a bald spot on Hooper’s head that will take a least a year to grow back. Van, you can be relentless with your hair pulling. You’re lucky we shave your head.

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Tidbits

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I shared some words over on The Ma Books. You can read them here. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again… I really enjoy everything The Ma Books stands for. Such a great and supportive space.
I’ve updated my website, which is something I feel like I’m doing every few months. I’ve added some featured sessions and moved around a few things. Many thanks to Janet for her help and expertise.
Willy has been on Lexapro now for a few months. When we were in Joshua Tree, he shared that he’s the happiest he’s been in ten years. He hasn’t had any severe anxiety issues in a while. It feels good, for both of us.
I happened to stumble upon this video for Gucci. I’m by no means a designer kinda gal, but the video is just stunning. I’ve watched it several times.
I’m working with Janet on some new designs for The Bee & The Fox. Hoping to have them out within the next month. I’ll also be selling at the Mermade Market here in Dana Point in May. If you’re in the area, you should check it out.
I saw a psychic. She swears there’s a little girl on the horizon. She also said she’s going to be a spitfire. I’m not sure I believe in psychics, but I am sure that if we were to have a girl she would be a spitfire.
This lady was on Oprah and says she understands baby language. Supposedly they say five different words. She’s pretty convincing and makes all of who have mothered children and dug deep into the grab bag of tricks to soothe a crying baby look like fumbling idiots.
How did you fall into motherhood? Was it something you longed for since a little girl, something you fell into, or something that you didn’t think you’d love but turns out you do? I found this article, “Opting Out of Motherhood” interesting. I was that little girl who was always playing house.
I love photo projects. This one is no exception.
I was over on Mozi Magazine’s blog as a featured photographer and shared some tips on family photography and shared some images of one of my favorite families to photograph. You can check it out by clicking here.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. Have you read it? It’s brilliant.
Hooper participated in a jog-a-thon at school. In the days leading up to it, he told me he did not want to run. I told him he didn’t have to. When it started, however, he scrunched up his nose and furrowed his eyebrows (mad face in full effect) and off he went. He didn’t stop despite limping part of the way because he said his leg hurt.
Have you heard about the dog in Seattle who rides the bus, by herself, to the dog park? Her owner describes her as an “urbanized dog”.
I met Tish, who was all kinds of sweet. She captured some images of our family that I know I will treasure forever. I will be sharing them here shortly. If you haven’t checked out her work, you should. I was blown away. So much talent.
I love learning about new and different things other photographers are doing. Like this guy.
Seriously in love with the ‘We Are All Uncool’ campaign. I shared several ‘uncool’ facts about myself on instagram.
Claudia Rose, a wonderfully talented photographer from the UK, reached out to me and shared an interview with me on her blog. You can read it here. I am such a fan of her work, if you aren’t familiar with her yet, you should check her out. Such an honor that she even notices anything I do.
Some of the images I shot for Sweet Threads and Tori Hendrix were featured over on Mini Style Blog. You can see the post by clicking here.

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Childhood Unplugged

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Van’s latest obsessions include both the ukulele and a cowboy hat. He asks me to clap along and I always oblige.
Hooper’s latest obsession is roly polies in a cup. I guess it’s only fair on the days that we don’t get out to bring the outside, in.
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.childhooduplugged1 Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!