Portrait Series | September

san-clemente-family-photographer-7186 san-clemente-family-photographer-7218A portrait of my family once a month in 2016

Willy: Threw his back out and has set our whole unpacking gig back quite a few steps. At the pace we’re going, it feels like we’ll be moving in for years.

Hooper: Dipped Van’s fry in hot sauce when he wasn’t looking and maliciously threw it back onto his plate.

Van: Got caught with his pants down in the backyard, taking a dump. He didn’t stop or defend his actions but simply said, “sorry, mom”.

Sonny: Now has a ‘hat’ to fix his ‘flat’. In other words, he’s under construction. Also, you don’t want to wake up next to his smelly head.

Me: All the sudden I have to hold the menu (or any piece of paper with writing on it) further away so I can see. Wtf? Like overnight flip of the switch.

Jimmie: Learned how to use the doggy door and followed it up with a butt-scootin’-romp all over the yard. It’s worth keeping him on a diet just to ensure he doesn’t outgrow that little door.

Sonny @ 6 months

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Growth & Appearance: Your hair is still lingering in the light brown stage and I’m beginning to wonder if you’ll be blond like your brothers or not. Your hair on the back part of the top of your head stands up like a rooster. You eyes are still are dark blue but they’re so dark blue that I think the majority would mistaken them for brown and I’m fairly certain they’ll be brown soon.

You’re in size 2 diapers because we still have size 2 diapers but the story remains the same; you should have been in size 3 some time ago.

You’re 28 inches long, which the doc said is the average size of a child nearly double your age (you’re over the 97th percentile) and are 18.2 lbs (55th percentile). You are the same exact size as Van at the same age and the same size as Hooper was at 9 months old.

No teeth yet.san-clemente-family-photographer-6948
Sleeping: Some nights you sleep all the way through and others you wake up just before the sun comes up, feed, and go back to sleep.

You typically go down for a nap around 10 or 11 in the morning so long as we’re home, otherwise you nap on the go but don’t get the same nice, long stretch that you get at home. You sleep anywhere from 1 to 3 hours at this time.

You tend to dose off later in the afternoon while feeding but wake up when I detach your body from mine and we keep you up until 8 or 9, when you hit the proverbial wall and either serenade us with your screams or dose off to sleep on your own. I wake you when I’m ready for bed for one last feeding and then you’re down for the night.

You still sleep in your wombie; that thing is worth it’s weight in gold. Once you start sitting, we’ll stop using it and allow you the freedom to sleep with your little butt up in the air.

You’re in a crib that’s currently in our room because you don’t have a designated space yet. I think we’ll keep you there until you’re sleeping more consistently through the night and then move you into the room with your brothers.san-clemente-family-photographer-6970

Eating: We’ll be introducing solids this month. We gave you a small taste of guacamole at dinner the other night and it proved promising. On the day you turned six months, we gave you avocado. You spit most of it out but chowed down on it the following night.

You breastfeed often; somewhere in the ballpark of 9 times per day.san-clemente-family-photographer-6956
Development: It’s like all the sudden you’ve woken up and crossed whatever barrier stands between newborn and baby. You’re well aware of your environment; you see things that you want and it’s as if you will them to move to your direction. You know when I leave a room and oftentimes it makes you cry.

That said, you require much more attention these days. You don’t like to be left in a room alone. You’re happiest being held.

You put everything in your mouth. You still enjoy sucking on your toes but your thumb is still your consistent go-to.

You love being on your tummy; so-much-so that you don’t appear to have any interest in sitting. When we try to sit you up, you topple over pretty quickly.

You’re perfectly content on the floor with some toys and can scoot yourself, via rolling, toward whatever direction you’re trying to go.
You only seem to poop every 8 days or so. And most every time it’s a complete and utter blowout.san-clemente-family-photographer-6950

Favorites: You love my iPhone, the keys, and – well – your mama.

Baja | Video

I’m falling far behind over here and just haven’t been able to give this space the attention I crave so deeply to give it. Such is life. I have a dirty diaper I just remembered that is still in my purse from Sonny’s doctor appointment this morning. That’s how life has been these days. I have so many posts I’m waiting to finish, photos that need to be culled and edited, and – oh ya – a house that needs to be unpacked… not to mention a certain six month old (how did that happen) that still feeds nearly every couple hours and two boys that are enjoying their newfound backyard freedom but have been tracking mud in the house incessantly. Needless to say, I purchased a handheld vacuum. And yet, it’s still in the box. “Box” is a nasty three letter word around here. No, no, no, ya perverts, not that kind of nasty… I’m referring to all the moving boxes that are sitting, some more haphazardly than others, waiting to be unpacked. I suppose the woes of moving are better suited for a separate post. In any event, here’s a video from our trip down to Baja, Mexico that I finished sometime ago and just got around to finally uploading. You can read about our trip and view the photographs by clicking here. Images are images and I’m grateful I have them, but these family videos are what keep me up late at night feeling all nostalgic and wondering how they grow so fast.

Fall Sessions | Photography

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Two hour session

Includes both in-home and on-location shooting

All edited high resolution images with print release

$800*

One hour session

Includes either in-ihome or on-location shooting

All edited high resolution images with print release

$600*

*these discounted rates are good for bookings made this week only

Not in the SoCal area? I’m hoping to do some travel sessions in the summer / fall of 2017 to Seattle / PNW, New York, San Francisco

Contact: ashleyjennett@gmail.com

Visual Supplement: Josh Soskin, The Untitled Underwear Project

Josh Soskin The Untitled Underwear Project“The Untitled Underwear Project is a photographic and cinematic exploration of the lives we lead in our underwear. It began simply, with the goal of capturing people in their more unguarded states in a way that felt real and intimate; moments normally reserved for your best friends, your lovers, your family.  I wanted the photos to be beautiful but also to eschew strictly traditional concepts of beauty, to find subjects spanning diverse ranges of age, race and gender.
I thought it would take a few months. It turned into a few years. As time went on it evolved and grew and what I hope it’s become is a celebration of humanity. Everything that being half-naked implies — the liberating, the banal, the romantic, the solitary, the sexy, the domestic, the moments we live for and the details in between.
I’m sure it’s not perfectly comprehensive, nothing ever is, but I’m happy with it.  And I’m happy for all that it’s taught me. This was my first photography project. And I don’t think it will be my last. Thanks for lending your eyes.” – Josh Soskin

You can check out more images from the project by clicking here. And just when I didn’t think the images couldn’t get any better, I saw the film…

Josh Soskin | Director | Photographer

Pumping & Building a Supply of Breastmilk

MattandTishPhotography-37MattandTishOh the dreaded pumping. I hate pumping, to be honest. I also hate worrying about my supply. And it’s because of the latter that I partake in the former.

I initially started pumping to build a small excess supply of milk for times I would be away from my babies, namely for return-to-work purposes. As my excess supply started pouring out of every crevice of the freezer and exceeded the amount I needed to return to work, I donated. I kept up with pumping for the purpose of keeping up my supply and donating was an added benefit. It felt great to be able to give to someone else who wanted to provide the same but was not able to. It also felt good to have a plentiful supply.

Because I had to return to work in the hospital, just after Sonny was a couple of weeks old, I started pumping once a day. I would pump just after his morning feed, when my supply was most abundant. On an average day, I froze anywhere between 3 and 5 ounces. And when our freezer started to swell, once again, I found someone to donate to. Win, win.

Looking to build a supply as well? Here’s what has worked for me:

-Start pumping early, when your supply is still calibrating to your needs. I started when Sonny was two weeks old. I vaguely recall reading advice from lactation consultants saying to wait longer. For me, starting earlier produced the best results. A reminder, I suppose, that any post I publish that may seem like it’s advice-giving is in actuality just a personal account of my own experiences.

-Use a double electric pump, as they’re most efficient. I use a hospital grade pump when I pump at work (Medela Symphony) and honestly notice no difference in the amount of milk I produce. It does, however, seem a little more efficient in terms of time, but not enough to justify the price tag of a hospital grade pump (it retails for nearly 2K — you would think for that price that it would be able to magically turn your breastmilk into straight cash. The kind you could fold.). At home I use the Medela In-Style double electric. It’s the same pump I’ve used since Hooper was born and I have no complaints.

-Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated is key when breastfeeding, even more so if you’re pumping in addition to breastfeeding.

-Pump in the morning, as your supply diminishes throughout the day. Pumping after Sonny fed first thing in the morning worked best for me; as there was no need to feel guilty for ‘stealing’ milk when he already got what he wanted / needed, first. If I were to add another pumping session, I would do so one hour into his morning nap with the knowledge that I’d be able to make more by the time he awakens to feed again.

-Stimulate multiple let-downs. There are two settings on the pump, one that is quick and intended to bring on the let-down and one that is slower and pulls the milk from the breast. When my milk more-or-less stops flowing, I switch it back to the quick setting and try to stimulate another let-down. More times than not, it works, and I’m able to draw out another ounce or more.
-Bottle training. No sense in pumping milk you hope for your baby to one day drink if your baby is unable to take a bottle. Think it’s a matter of it-they’re-hungry-enough-they’ll eat? I thought so too and the fact it’s actually a learned skill for newborns caused a lot of stress and turmoil and tears when Hooper was a baby. I have Willy give just an ounce of pumped milk once a week or so to Sonny to keep up on his ability to take a bottle. We also found that giving him this ‘recreational feeding’ works best first thing in the morning, before he feeds and just after he wakes, as he’s not as aware of what’s going in his mouth.

I’m no longer pumping. Sonny is 5 months and sleeping through most of the night (on and off) and I’ve found that my milk has calibrated to such. Slowly I stopped having any excess. But I still have a freezer full of frozen milk, so the relief lives on.

What was your experience like with pumping? Did you pump in addition to breastfeed? Any tips or tricks others would like to share?

And if anyone in the LA / OC area has a plentiful supply of stored breastmilk they can donate, I have a local mom that I’ve given my excess to that I know would be grateful to have more.

Image by Tish Carlson

A letter to first time moms

San Clemente Family Photographer-4959 I’ve always felt that the benefits of hindsight were grossly unfair; probably even more so now, as a mother.

I remember feeling so handicapped when Hooper was a baby; like every outing was now some sort of huge undertaking. Even going to the grocery store felt like an ordeal. I had all (or most) of the gimmicky stuff — the diaper bag, the stroller that I’d whip out to wheel him into a restaurant from the parking lot, an assortment of pacifiers that I never ended up using (the list goes on).

It isn’t until the second, or better yet, the third, comes around that you see just how easy you had it with one. How nothing that you thought was a big deal was, well, a big deal. How all the things you said no to – “no, sorry, can’t go on that camping trip because we have the baby” – were as doable as they’d ever be.

I recently visited a friend who is a first time mom and those early days – and all the emotions surrounding that time — came flooding back. The drastic change of going from none to one, feeling like breastfeeding owned me, the resentment I felt toward Willy.

If you’re a first time mom, or even a mom for the third time around, these words are for you:

It’s okay if you don’t goo and gaa over your child immediately. Sometimes the best relationships are the ones that grow with time. Or better yet, over a few consecutive nights of good rest. Or even better yet, when personality comes into play.

It’s okay if you hate breastfeeding. It’s not as romantic as some make it. And it’s not that people lie or try to portray it as something more glamorous than it is, it probably has more to do with the fact they’re in a different time or place than you. And that’s okay, too. It wasn’t until Sonny that I can say I truly love breastfeeding and am not overwhelmed by the commitment it entails. It also wasn’t until I grew into my role as a mother that I learned it’s best not to judge. And freeing, too, to let said judgments go.

The distance you feel from your husband is normal. It most likely stems from resentment, which is normal too. After all, our lives, our bodies, our priorities as women change tremendously. The role of a mother is one you grow into. What once felt like a burden now feels like a privilege. So if you don’t love all your new responsibilities and you feel bitter about the unequalness of it all and the mere question from your husband of how the night with the baby went makes you quiver with disgust because you wish you could bite off a chunk of the bliss that comes from his ignorance, that’s okay.

And if the time it takes your husband on the toilet is the same amount of time you’ve been longing for to sneak in a shower or rub lotion on your dry legs and you’re resentful because of it, you’re not alone.

If you want to punch the little old lady who comes up to you in the grocery store and tells you to ‘enjoy every minute’ in the face, know you’re not alone. Also know that by the time you’re her age, you’ll have forgotten all the hardships and be telling new moms the same thing she’s telling you. There are seasons to motherhood and that sweet little lady is simply in a different season than you.

And perhaps the best advice ever given to me, from my own mom no less, is that it’s all temporary. All of it. Even life. So if what feels permanent today and never-ending, know there is an end and that a change will come. Our troubles today will be traded for different troubles tomorrow. Same with our joys. And so find some sort of peace in knowing that none of it – not the good or the bad – will last forever.

Childhood Unplugged

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San Clemente Family Photographer-6067 San Clemente Family Photographer-6074 San Clemente Family Photographer-6085 San Clemente Family Photographer-6094 San Clemente Family Photographer-6087 San Clemente Family Photographer-6076 San Clemente Family Photographer-6095 San Clemente Family Photographer-6102 San Clemente Family Photographer-6096 San Clemente Family Photographer-6114 San Clemente Family Photographer-6125 San Clemente Family Photographer-6131 San Clemente Family Photographer-6151 San Clemente Family Photographer-6155 San Clemente Family Photographer-6141 San Clemente Family Photographer-6167 San Clemente Family Photographer-6186 San Clemente Family Photographer-6197 San Clemente Family Photographer-6216 San Clemente Family Photographer-6223These monthly posts really highlight how fast time is flying these days. Seems not-worth-stating since the speed of time is a given; all of us scratching our heads in disbelief. Where did summer even go? Last summer we bbq’d at our favorite spot on what-seemed-like a weekly basis. This summer? We made it out twice.

We’re heading out to Arizona for the weekend and the realization that I only recently got around to posting about our last trip to AZ and have yet to post about our more recent trip outside of Sequoia has me up in arms. If time were a tangible thing, I’d be looking for it under the sofa cushions because it’s surely hiding somewhere around here.

In any event, I hope everyone has a lovely holiday weekend; complete with the slow passing of time, children who behave, and weather that reminds us that despite the beginning of the school year it is still, indeed, summer.

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.