Sonny @ 4 Months

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Growth & Appearance: The left side of you head is still flatter than the right. You prefer turning your head to the left and even if I turn your head to the right, more times than not, two minutes later you’re facing the left again.

Your eyes still appear blue, but a dark blue. Nearly gray. If I had to bet on your eye color at this point in time, I’d guess they’ll ultimately be brown.

Your hair, it seems, is on it’s way to blond. It seems to be closer to Hooper’s in texture; soft and fine as opposed to thick and wiry like Van’s. It has grown significantly in length.

You’re in size 2 diapers and on days that we put you in clothes, you seem to be in the 6 month range. And on the days you’re in clothes you’re usually wet, from all the drool. Lots and lots of drool these days. The amber necklace is worthless, but beautiful, so we keep it.

You weigh 17 lbs, are 28 in long, and have a head circumference of 17.5 inches. You are above the 97th percentile for both height and weight.

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Sleeping: You still sleep next to me, in your wombie. I say it every month and one of these months it will finally take place, but the plan is for you to go to your crib as soon as we move into our new home. Until then, the crib has remained in the garage and you’ve remained next to me. We have no intentions of continuing to co-sleep and I’m eager to get you set up in your own bed.

You tend to fall asleep around 9:30pm. I wake you up before I go to bed (around 10:30), feed you one more time, change you, throw you in your straight jacket, and put you down. Nursing still puts you to sleep but you’re fine with putting yourself to sleep too, it seems. You’ve slept through the night several times, waking up about 6am, sometimes 7am. If you wake at 4 or 5 or 6, you’ll feed and go back to sleep. If you wake at 7, we start our day.

You never cry when you wake up; instead, I’m awoken by you lifting your legs up in the air at a 90 degree angle and then slamming them down on the bed, making a loud thud. The thuds get closer together the longer I ignore you. We refer to this as “the whale flap”; Papa, “did the whale flap wake you up this morning?”, Me, “sure did”.

If you’re not waking me with your whale flap, you’re waking me with your monstrous, man-sized, farts.

You nap throughout the day, with no noted routine. san clemente family photographer-3349
Eating: You nurse every two hours, on average, during the day. You’re much quicker and efficient, taking about 10-15 minutes total during most feeds.

You love to grab at my shirt when you’re feeding and you watch your hand catch my shirt and release with fascination.

I’ve tried pumping after your morning feedings but am getting very little extra now that you’re sleeping through the night and my milk has regulated to such.

You seem to have some awareness of what goes into my mouth and like to watch as I eat. san clemente family photographer-3344
Development: You love sucking your thumb and your toes.

You’ve rolled from your tummy to your back a few times and are able to scoot, without rolling, over enough of the bed that it’s unsafe to leave you unattended. You’ve rolled from your back to your tummy a few times as well, but it’s hardly a regular thing; more of a fluke.

You smile with your whole body and are happy most always.

Everything goes in your mouth. You love to get ahold of your onesie and stick it in your mouth. You also like putting whatever blanket is on you in your mouth. My favorite is when you grab my fingers and direct them to your mouth.

Your hand-eye coordination is still developing but every now and again, by chance, you’ll get a grip on something. Like the other day when I left you on the bed and you caught hold of a candlestick and smacked yourself in the face with it.

Your little legs never stop kicking. Always in motion. san clemente family photographer-3327

Van’s 4th Birthday

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I know everyone always says how fast time is moving but for me, right now, is the fastest time has ever gone. I can’t seem to get ahead and more and more I’m having to confront, and accept, that I can’t do it all. Motherhood sure makes you reevaluate what makes a day successful, doesn’t it? In any event, Van and I both celebrated birthdays this month. We celebrated his over the weekend with family; BBQing, piñata hitting, and cake cutting. A day complete with legos I’m already cursing and a pair of cowboy boots to replace the pair he wore into the pool the last time we were out in the desert. Dear year four, please be better than your reputation (::cough cough:: fucking fours, I’m talking to  you).

Happy birthday, Van. I love you more than a bear loves honey.

Baja

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In any event, we nearly opted not to go two hours into our drive when we realized we left our passports at home. Passports, that in all fairness, were not needed years ago when trips down to Baja were our summer norm. Before, you know, you heard stories of families being carjacked at gunpoint, the mother raped in front of her children, and the family left roadside with no means of getting home.

Willy and I gave each other pep talks on the way back home to retrieve our passports, taking turns calming one another down and promoting all that good attitude shit that’s really the last thing you want to hear when you’re sulking in your own despair and watching minutes turn to hours all the while questioning the safety in Tijuana after dark. Especially when one member of our gang whines a whine that makes even a desert lizard’s skin crawl about having to pee. Roadside piss stops in Tijuana after dark? Let’s just say we were happy to have crossed the border and made it through Tijuana while it was still light. Never mind the other member of ours that hurled all over himself and his carseat, the mere turnabouts in Tijuana causing whatever food we had thrown back at them to quiet them on a drive that turned out to be double the amount of time we had anticipated (all because of said passports) making its way back up. And out. And all over.

It was only after cleaning up the barf that we could begin to tackle how to get to where we were going. There was added frustration having had no address for our destination provided and instructions that included “turn left at the Cali-Mart”, only there were several Cali-Marts, and “turn right after the first speed bump”. Fortunately we were able to laugh about most of it because, well, Mexico. It’s all part of the experience, verdad?

The next day was a bit of a debacle. With the loan on our new house (we’re moving at some point this summer) closing, there were documents that had to be signed. Time sensitive documents. We spent the day with broken cellular connections trying our best to figure out a plan with our loan officer who ultimately, bless him, met us – well after dark – on a secluded road outside closed businesses, halfway between where we were and the border. We signed those papers in the back of his car with nothing other than a lone street light making the dotted line visible. We turned down a street vendor selling some stale shrimp on a questionable wood platter (because, Mexico), took a picture with our loan officer (because, memories), and headed back on the road in search of that damn Cali-Mart we missed the first time we passed it.

And from there, it was smooth sailing. We ate dinner at the same roadside restaurant, nestled amongst dilapidated homes and stale stagnant run-off outlets from the ocean, each night. It was the kind of place where everyone learned your name and our waitress, Brenda, traded me a margarita for Sonny as soon as I stepped foot in the door each night. The boys hung out in the room adjacent to the bar, crashing balls on the pool table into each other. And no one even gave us stink eye. Because, well, Mexico.

We had hoped to ride some horses along the beach but Willy veto’d that idea, questioning the safety of the boys on horses we didn’t know in a country with a less-than-desirable reputation. And truthfully, when I saw the state of the horses available for riding, I too agreed — more for the horses sake than for the safety of our kids. It seemed abusive riding horses so weakened and dismal appearing.

We stopped to get gas one evening, however, and adjacent to the gas station were some horses that I told the boys we could go look at. Next thing ya know some sweet Mexican man is lifting Hooper up on a horse and giving him a tour of the questionable surroundings. I posted a picture of him on the horse on instagram and practically spit out my margarita when someone commented saying that they too were offered a ride on a horse in Mexico and when the woman asked the man the name of the horse, the man replied, “I don’t know. It’s not my horse”. Oh, Mexico.

Thinking back, I can’t even recall the boys fighting much. I’m sure it happened, but it’s amazing how something that can downright ruin your mood in the moment it’s occurring can all be but forgotten some weeks later… after the stiff margaritas have worn off, I suppose.

In any event, we made it back – albeit a two hour wait at the border (during which I took Van to pee three times) – sans barf, with some homemade tortillas, some salt still on our lips, and plans to return again. Hashtag: poor man’s Big Sur.

Visual Supplement: Simone Lueck, Cuba TV

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“It happened by chance. In 2000, I tagged along with a good friend on a two-week trip to Cuba. I took my 35mm camera and a bunch of film. The first thing I noticed in Havana was that the city was dark at night. There were no streetlights, porch lights or living-room lamps. It was pitch black except for the faint colorful glow spilling out of open doors everywhere, and it came from the TVs. The light captivated me. For the next two weeks I wandered around, slipping in and out of strangers’ living rooms. Each time I came across an open door and a working TV set, I would ask if I could take a picture of it. The answer was always yes. Nobody seemed to think it was an odd request and it was usually accompanied by a Cuban coffee or rum.

There were some fascinating developments in the living rooms of Old Havana. Many of the sets that I saw in 2000 — 1980s Russian models and mid-century TVs from the U.S. — had been replaced with shiny new imports from China. The cheap, new TVs were surrounded by the same vintage fans, rickety ornaments and faded family photographs. It seemed the only thing that had changed was the TV itself.

In Cuba, TV seems to carry even a weightier cultural role than it does in the U.S. During broadcast hours in Cuba, all TVs are on. The TV is on during the day, when it is background noise or the main event. At night, each airing of the latest telenovela is like a sacred viewing party when friends and neighbors gather. My sense is that watching TV is a cherished activity that everyone looks forward to, especially when favorite telenovelas and Hollywood movies are aired. …

The stories that I take from Havana are mainly in the photographs. I was welcomed without hesitation into so many living rooms, which is telling of the openness and generosity of the people I met. My living room stays were often brief, as I don’t speak much Spanish. The encounters consisted of animated gestural exchanges fueled by the ubiquitous cafe Cubano, almost always offered by my host.

People introduced me to family members in framed photographs who had left for the U.S., and who remained perched on top of the TV set. I often watched a little TV with my hosts in between making photographs, because it was a shared experience and almost a form of communication, as we could all react to the broadcast. After a final smile and thank you, I would take off down the street in search of another glowing TV set and an open door.”

Simone Lueck  |  Cuba TV

Children, dogs, & perspective

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I remember a philosophy class in college where the professor presented the option of living as we are now; with all the realities that encompass life as a human, or trading it all for the simplicity of life as a dog. I mean it is tantalizing to think of being fed and cared for and loved unconditionally. I think one stoner kid in the back raised his hand, willing to make the switch. The professor proclaimed that he found it odd because typically when we have insight into what an evolved brain is capable of, you wouldn’t give it up. In other words, even with all the challenges and strife, it’s hard to trade the good, more complicated emotions, for the life of a dog, who could never truly experience such.

A while ago, I met up with my friend Cindy and we had a conversation during dinner about how ignorance, at a time, truly was bliss. She had her daughter very young and in-looking back in hindsight, she said the only way she got through it was ignorance; not knowing what she didn’t know.

It’s interesting to me that we spend so many years maturing and it’s looked upon as a good thing, an evolutionary thing. And yet by the time we’re more-or-less mature adults (am I mature adult — I dunno) we yearn for the ignorance, the simplicity, that filled our early years that so many waited for us to grow out of.

I was reminded of this just the other morning when Van was with me in the bathroom, shoving a q-tip deep into his ear. I asked him, “are you excited to go to school tomorrow?”, to-which-he-replied, “but first I need to clean my ear”.

Children know nothing more than the moment. And it’s something that they’re lack of brain cells allow for and ours kinda don’t. They’re kinda like dogs. It’s a struggle as an adult to know all we know and still stay present in the moment.

So I pose the question to you: would you trade brain cells for a life of simplicity, a life of living in the moment? Or do you chose the realities of adulthood, which includes the heavy, hard emotions and forethought into what needs to be done in the coming weeks, months, even years… but also includes the ability to watch a kid stick a q-tip in his ear and see the beauty in it?

Tricks of the trade

San Clemente Family Photographer-6656 San Clemente Family Photographer-6661I’m no expert on raising children and I’m far from having this newborn thing down because there have been tear-filled days and tired bickerments and all the other shit that comes along with adding a third child to an already chaotic household. While we are the first to admit that our children, in general and in varying degrees, are the biggest shits at the table, we’ve been rather blessed when it comes time to put them down for a nap or to sleep at night. And I’m sure it has nothing to do with what we’ve done or haven’t done; I’m sure it’s the luck of the draw more so than anything else.

With that said, there are things we have done that I think were helpful. And this third time, especially, (thus far, at least) has been rather seamless.

Here’s what’s worked during the night:

Breastfeeding in the side lying position. While I’m not comfortable falling fully back to sleep while Sonny is nursing, it’s nice to at least rest and keep my heart rate on the slow side. Each time I have to get up to nurse, and subsequently raise my heart rate, I’ve found it harder to get back to sleep.

Using a white noise maker. I’ve always felt that doing so signals when it’s time to sleep in addition to drowning out any excess noise. But drowning out the excess noise takes a backseat to signaling that it’s time to sleep. As a matter of fact, we do very little to create a quiet environment, other than the white noise maker. And thus far, when it comes to Sonny, we only use the white noise at night. During the day we’ve gotten him accustomed to napping whenever and wherever he is, whether it be in his carseat or on the floor and in spite of whatever it is going on around him (usually rough-housing).

Keeping the TV off. With Hooper and Van, I used to sit on the sofa in the wee hours of the night and watch TV while I nursed them back to sleep. I remember the Olympics were on the summer Van was born and served as the perfect midnight treat. But it’s also hard to flip the switch and fall back asleep so this go-around I’ve considered it off limits and prefer to maintain the sleep environment for both of us.

Co-sleeping. Totally an individual preference. What I will say is that it sure is easier in these early days to not have to get out of bed. There’s nothing like getting back into a bed that has since become cold. I much prefer to roll over, position Sonny in a side lying position, and feed him while I too drift just slightly off rather than to get up and leave the warmth of our bed only to return to cold sheets. As soon as he starts to sleep for longer stretches, however, we will move him to a crib. In fact, we’ve had intentions to do so already as he’s waking less and less during the night; but with an impending move later this summer, co-sleeping is just what works best for us. In other words, no need to break out the crib if we’ll have to break it down again in a matter of weeks.

The wombie. We’ve used one of these after spending months struggling to maintain a good swaddle with a blanket when Hooper was a baby. It was so frustrating. Enter, the wombie. It’s been a dream. I also think that once Sonny is zipped up and straight-jacketed that he knows it’s time to sleep. The more sleep signals this early in the game, in my opinion, the better.
What kinds of things have you done to help your infant into a sleep pattern?

Seattle

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Posting anything after all the tragedies that have taken place as of late feels inherently wrong. I get stuck in a sulking rut, feeling a bit down, burdened by the lack of motivation to move onward and trying to balance moving onward with making sense of all that has occurred in our troubled world. Thinking hard about the future and the children I’ve brought into this world who hopefully will shape it to be better than it is today. My heart goes out to all the families who are suffering because they’ve lost someone dear to them. Trying hard to hold onto hope.

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I spent a few days visiting Janet in the beginning of June. In so many ways, it feels like yesterday when it was just the two of us, kicking cans on the side of the road in a town we didn’t know; when adventures of the like were’t so well documented and, well, cool. Fast forward a few years and six kids (between the two of us) later, not to mention moves beyond state lines and, well, it’s hard to get any sort of quality time these days. And by quality time, I mean slowness that allows for silence only the closest of friendships can feel comfortable with. With her husband and kids back in Utah for the week, it was just us girls (and Sonny), working side by side (so many new shop updates to come), mostly, drinking beer and ordering take out and catching up on all things big and small. Just what I needed, just when I needed it. A thirst only a best friend can quench.

Hoping to make it back before Summer is over and the rain rolls in; If you’re in the Seattle area, I’ll be offering a few sessions during my next visit. You can read the details here.

Travel Dates | Photography Sessions

travel-sessions-3-webSan Francisco | August 11 – 16

Seattle/PNW | September 8 – 13

New York | October 5 – 11

Details:

One hour in-home shooting

There will be one slot for a one hour on location (outdoor) session per day (first come, first serve)

Price includes all edited high resolution images with print release (approximately 100 images)

$700

Contact: ashleyjennett@gmail.com

A Family Session, with The Fischers

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I met the Fischer family here, in San Clemente, at a home they’ve been renting for the last several months in an attempt to escape the winter in their hometown of Colorado. I suppose I use the word ‘hometown’ freely because if you entered into conversation with these guys, you’d quickly learn that they’ve lived all over the place. All of us here in San Clemente were lucky to have them for the (relatively) short time they were here; myself, a bit bummed I didn’t run into them a earlier in their stay. I mean three kids nearly mirroring the ages of my own not to mention a dog; and an anxious one at that. One that, not unlike Jimmie, you could hear yelping from the window after we left for a walk down to the beach. We actually got the dogs (and kids) together a few days later and despite Van stepping on a cactus, all had an enjoyable time.

In any event, we spent some time playing inside, the boys quick to show off their legos, shoot me with their guns, and engage in a throwing-stuffed-animal fight. It was like I never left home. Later we made the short walk to the beach, the coastline covered in a heavy marine layer with June gloom inviting itself in just in time for this lovely family to pack up their car and make the trek back to Colorado, where hopefully the sun was waiting for them.

Interested in hiring me for a shoot? Send me an email: ashleyjennett @ gmail.com.

The Bee & The Fox | Sale

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Lots of new shop updates coming soon, with new designs and new items and a few other things that have been in the works but aren’t even worth mentioning because nothing around here seems to happen in any sort of orderly fashion. In any event, we’ve extended the 4th of July sale we have gong on — use code USA20 for 20% off your purchase of $50 or more through today. And check back toward the end of the week when, with any luck, new designs will be added.

Hoping to get caught up here in the coming days. We just got back from a trip to visit family in Arizona and I still have images from our prior trip to Mexico to go through, as well as some video footage (which always seems to take me longer). Today is my birthday and while I’m looking forward to homemade pancakes in bed surrounded by the ones I love, I’m also hoping to get a quiet hour to myself in which I don’t have to yell at anyone for continuously touching their butt or hitting their brother or whining. You get the idea.

Childhood Unplugged

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Life with now three little ones has kept moving. No rest for the weary, so they say. We had a nice smooth transition for the first month or so, with neighbors and family pitching in with loads of helping hands and warm meals. What followed soon-there-after was a few stress-filled weeks with Willy unexpectedly having to travel for work and a few other curve balls that all seemed to be thrown at once, from different directions and at varying speeds.

The baby is not what makes having three children hard. It’s the other two, who oftentimes resemble caged animals; the kind that will eat the young of those that travel into their habitat.

In any event, sometimes getting their energy channeled into one direction is as simple as putting on some music, seeing who can count the most red cars on the road outside our window, and talking about all the different colors that paint the sky as the sun goes down.

And sometimes, it’s not.

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.