Portrait Series | November

san-clemente-family-photographer-2241 san-clemente-family-photographer-2269A portrait of my family once a month in 2016

Willy: Earned the title of ‘piñata king’ at Hooper’s birthday party after arguably having more fun manning the piñata than the kids did trying to hit the damn thing and then promptly fell backyards over the grill, landing flat on his back and proving that it might be best to limit your alcohol intake at your kid’s birthday. Or not.

Hooper: Turned six and is all the sudden so grown up.

Van: Protested, “My legs are too tired. I can only walk to my candy”, said after we requested he work for his candy by doing a little jig.

Sonny: Like both of the boys that came before him, found the dog food and liked it.

Me: Hid in the shower after asking Van to close his eyes and count to five. We weren’t playing hide and seek. Catch my drift?

Jimmie: Isn’t a fan of the gates we put up on the stairs and can be found whimpering at either end whenever the dreaded separation from one of us occurs.

A Bath

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san-clemente-family-photographer-0015 san-clemente-family-photographer-0021 san-clemente-family-photographer-0024 san-clemente-family-photographer-0017 san-clemente-family-photographer-0026I haven’t been picking up my camera for the sake of purely picking up my camera lately. It’s easy to feel inspired when we travel or celebrate but the everyday gets so hectic, now more than ever, that I’m shooting less. I suppose that’s complicated by the fact we are still unpacking and getting situated and the environment I live in at the moment doesn’t lend itself to the inspiration I need to feel motivated enough to actually pick up the damn camera. It’s a work in progress though and if I’m being honest it’s more the everyday mess that makes me turn the other way as opposed to what sits unfinished or in progress.

In any event, I stuck Sonny in the sink the other day and captured these images, which proved a more  dangerous endeavor than I anticipated. And more wet than I had hoped for. But, alas, a clean baby, clean counters and floor, and these images to look back on. Dedicating myself to revitalizing my love for shooting in-home, starting with my own in my own home.

The Bee & The Fox | Sale

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Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving. I’m not quite in the mood for the self-promotion stuff, but we are having a sale over on The Bee & The Fox so if anyone is interested, I figured I’d post here. We also recently launched a new site and added loads of product and I would, of course, love it if you’d check it out. Use coupon code GOBBLE for 20% off your purchase of $50 or more. Thank you for your support.

Mercy Now

From a blogging standpoint, it’s always a little precarious to carry on after major events that impact so many of us and tear me, on a personal level, away from whatever comfort I find in this little corner of the web. A place I’ve spewed tidbits of my life I’ve felt compelled and comfortable sharing with a larger audience for years now, since Hooper was a baby. But fear is not easy to discuss and so much of what happens in these tumultuous times is better written about from hindsight; the story still writing itself. Still being understood. The fear, circling, but the story, not yet written. I’d like to say that the space in-between has room enough for hope, but that sounds like a clique we say to make ourselves feel better. It feels a bit like sweeping things under the rug that are too big to fit, or sweep for that matter.

There’s not much to say that hasn’t been said about the election. And no matter what side of the fence you sit on, the times, they are a’changin’. I only hope that we can all come together and that the dust settles before anymore separation occurs; before we grow so separated we forget what it was ever like to stand together.

This song by Mary Gauthier brought me to tears. Because I let it. Because sometimes sitting with emotions and allowing them to take over feels right. In any event, I hope today – on a day we are all to reflect on gratitude – I hope it hits the same spot for you that it did for me. Here’s to hoping that the unity we need as a nation, as a world, can start today on the family level, with the spreading of love and the acknowledgment of all we have to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Baja

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The border crossing was our most eventful yet. Flooding the border were hundreds of Monguls, the border police scampering to herd them like cattlemen corralling sheep. Only the cattlemen had assault rifles and the sheep were anything but, well, sheep. And for whatever reason we got lumped in with them, Willy’s tattoos – perhaps – causing concern enough to subject us to a thorough search. If you saw my post on Instagram, you know Willy’s balls took a few days to recover. I asked to take Sonny out of the backseat so I could feed him and a few of the border policemen actually made a barrier to protect me while I opened the door and took Sonny out. As if there was going to be a gun battle. It was crazy. After some questioning they realized we had no affiliation and basically told us, nicely, to get lost. And we did.

We visited our regular haunts, returning to the same restaurant we frequented the last time we were in the area; the waitress as happy as ever to scoop a not-so-little Sonny back up into her arms to parade around the restaurant as if he were her own. The boys, impatiently waiting their turn for the pool table where they crash balls into each other and where we buy a round of beer for the few patrons that have to put up with such. Where the fish is fresh, the drinks strong. And where one night we forgot to bring cash (because, Mexico) and had our bill taken care of by two nice gentlemen we had seen eating there the night before.

We spent one afternoon just driving and exploring, making our way down dirt roads and pot-hole-ridden back roads, weaving in and out of the outskirts of downtown Ensenada. Trying our best to teach the boys that there are so many different ways to live. That while some are poor and live without many of the niceties they’re used to that there’s still life and love and happiness. Hoping that one day they will feel the gratitude I know Willy and I both feel for the lives we live. That they will feel and experience the same warmth from giving.

Sunsets on the beach turning the wet sand into glass, their little shell-collecting-bodies reflected so beautifully. Days spent at a pace slower than we’re used to, the door open, flies roaming in and out as if invited, and Sonny – sweet Sonny – happy as pie to be anywhere we are all together.

We’re hoping to do another trip south of the border soon, adding a few more stops and towns along the way.

You can view images from our last trip here and the family video I made by clicking here.

Plagiocephaly

san-clemente-family-photographer-6236 san-clemente-family-photographer-6237I’ve mentioned it a few times on his monthly updates, but Sonny has finally been fitted and received his Doc-band helmet for head re-shaping. It’s thrown me off a few times while holding him when I go in for the head kiss only to be met by the helmet but other-than-that it’s been a seamless transition.

Sonny has a ‘moderate’ case of plagiocephaly, which I could probably tell you more about if I took the time to consult google but there’s really no point. It’s quite common (so common in fact that the cynical part of me wonders how much of it is gimmick versus necessity) and I feel it most likely developed in utero, when his 10lbs frame was cramped in my tiny frame. Very early on, he preferred to have his head turned to the left (again, I think this was his positioning in utero) and, as a result, a flat spot developed on the back of the left side of his head.

His condition was never associated with torticollis, which is when an infant displays a head tilt to one side or shows difficulty in turning the neck to one side. Rather, he was able to hold his head up straight and turned both ways with ease, but whenever he’d go to sleep, he’d always turn his head to the left. He simply favored that side (again, most likely – I think – based on his position in utero).

In any event, Willy insisted we get it looked at. I was more on the ‘nothing’s wrong’ committee but after his initial visit, where his measurements defined his case as moderate over mild, I started to wrap my mind around the idea of treatment.

Treatment consists of head re-shpaing via the Doc-band, or helmet. The amount of time needed in it varies from case to case. When we took him in to be evaluated at 5 months, we were told to expect 7-10 weeks of treatment. We’re in our 7th week now and because he didn’t actually start treatment until he was 6 months, we’ve been told to expect another month or so of helmet wearing. He’s adjusted to it fine and despite a smelly head come morning, we’ve all adjusted well to him being in it. And with two wild brothers, I figure safety first anyway. In fact, it’s saved him more times than I care to admit. There’s even been times I’ve found myself relying on the damn thing; like when he’s in his jumper and jumps so hard he thrashes himself into the door frame. The other day I took him shopping and left the helmet in the car (he wears it 23 hrs / day) and giggled as he threw his head into the handlebar in a fit of excitement stemming from a stranger smiling at him; he looked up to me as if to say, “why has that never hurt before?”. Perhaps we’ll keep it around longer than is necessary cuz, ya know, added protection.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask! I chose these two images (take prior to treatment) so you can see the roundness on one side in comparison to the flatness on the other though it’s most noticeable when viewing from above.

Finding Peace

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Most days it feels as though my entire mornings are spent feeding Sonny; breastfeed first thing in the morning, then again before breakfast, then solids for breakfast, then breastfeed again before his morning nap. Throw in the usual distractions: butts that need to be wiped, gun holsters that need to be fastened, and the gazillion relentless requests for more Halloween candy and it’s easy to see why I no longer get any real work done in the morning. No shop orders filled, no emails replied to, no dishes cleaned, no moving boxes emptied.

Trying my best these days to cram in whatever work that needs to be done, rooms that needs to be cleaned, and dare-I-say, any time for myself into the couple hour window in which Sonny is asleep and – fingers crossed – the older boys are playing nicely (or in school). The struggle is real and it’s reflected in my absence here. A guilty pleasure I yearn to indulge but typically sits at the bottom of any to-do list, if it even makes the list at all.

The other week was especially grueling; a week loaded with appointments / check-ups, a bad case of the barfs for Van, and then Hooper, Halloween festivities, birthday parties, a bedridden sick husband, and about a thousand loads of laundry that are collecting wrinkles and so on and so forth.

All this to say, I’m still here. Juggling. Like we do. Setting aside to-do lists and finding peace – or trying to anyway – with slower, unproductive mornings in the hurry-up-and-get-shit-done-American-way-of-life sense. Enjoying these boys; all three of them. With vinyl spinning in the background, the occasional lashing out – like siblings do – and a busy little baby that really just wants to be in the mix.

Halloween

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This year, Hooper did not have school on Halloween. Or the day after. The school has conveniently used the week for fall conferences. And I get it; they don’t want to deal with the few who may not celebrate the day or the few that may be put off by costumes deemed ‘inappropriate’ or ‘scary’ or – let’s face it – the sugar loaded savages that are our children. I get it. In it’s place they held a school sanctioned trunk-or-treat, turning what used to be one night of candy into two. And it was fun, don’t get me wrong (minus my inability to wrangle the 5 children I had with me and being called more than once up to the center to retrieve a lost child). Guess I just miss the simplicity of having one costume, one night, one round of candy.

Maybe I’m Scrooge. I mean, the boys had a blast at all the festivities and I suppose that’s all it’s about. Yes, I’m Scrooge. I must be. I guess in the end it doesn’t matter — more candy for me to steal.

Hope you all had a wonderful Halloween, free of clowns and drenched in peanut butter cups. Unless your kid has an allergy. In that case, drenched in twix.

Childhood Unplugged

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An evening on the beach, from our first night in Baja, Mexico. Feeling the kind of freedom and surrender that is sure to follow hours spent coupes up in the car. An evening spent collecting shells under cotton candy filled skies on a beach we practically had to ourselves.

More from Mexico to come.

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.