Portrait Series | January

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A portrait of my family once a month in 2016

Willy: Used some choice four letter words to a woman who gave us the stink eye, followed by the finger, after Sonny let out a few ridiculously excited, albeit loud, sheiks at a restaurant we love but will no longer be returning to.

Hooper: Sported pull-ups during his third bout with a stomach bug cuz, hashtag shits, no giggles. Two days after he recovered he made himself lunch that consisted of moldy sandwich meat and proceeded to tell me, “don’t worry, I ate around the dark circles”.

Van: Attests that if you put onion in your eye it makes your eyes ‘sour’.

Sonny: Pooped out a small green lego.

Me: Got hit on at the 99 cent store while visiting a friend in the Valley. It’s worth noting.

Jimmie: Refuses to eat his own barf despite my encouragement for him to do so.

Sonny @ 10 Months

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Growth & Appearance: You hair is lightening, but still brown. It is fine like Hooper’s but similar to Van, you have a lot of it. And it’s long. As in you seemingly will need a haircut soon. Or we’ll just let it grow. TBD. Your eye color still has me scratching my head. Still no teeth, but your upper gums are swollen and white and at least 4 teeth are ready to pop through any day now. Or at least I’m guessing any day now.

You’re in size 4 diapers and have grown out of 12 month clothing a while ago so I’m buying more 18-24m, which is a little big but a nice amount of room to grow into.san clemente family photographer-5004

Sleeping: I can’t remember the last time you woke during the night and am happy to say those days are behind us. Every day is more or less the same and the predictability is nice. You wake up around 7:15am and are ready for a nap around 10:30am. If you’re not awake by 2pm, I wake you up but usually you’re already awake and just sitting quietly in your crib. You run amuck and are ready for your evening nap around 4:30pm. I wake you up around 6pm because there’s just not enough time in a day for all these naps. Ha.

We moved your crib out of our room mid-way through your 9th month. The transition was seamless and you’re now sharing a room with your brothers.

Generally you’re awake when I put you down for the night and you go to sleep on your own with ease. You’re a blueprint of both of your brothers in this sense.san clemente family photographer-5001

Eating: Breastfeeding can be a struggle at times. I feel as though I should have mentioned this months ago as it’s not necessarily a new development. To keep your attention I feel like I need a bottomless bucket of distractions set to the side of me, to distract you enough to get you settle enough to eat. It’s probably a sign that I don’t need to feed you as often as I do and we have cut out another feeding, so I think we’re working to find a middle ground. I feed you 7 times a day; first thing in the morning, before and after your morning nap, before and after your afternoon nap, before you go to bed, and then before I go to bed.

You still love solids but aren’t as agreeable as you once were. If you don’t like what’s in-front of you, you throw it wildly off your highchair. Your favorites remain the same: banana, avocado, sweet potato. You now like apples and berries so long as they are warm and soft. You’re not the fan of vegetables that you once were; you’ll eat a few, but you’re not a bottomless pit for broccoli like you are for banana.

We introduced scrambled eggs and you love them.

You eat three meals a day.san clemente family photographer-4931

Development: Last month made this month look more-than-promising in regards to walking but lately you’re simply not interested. You can walk with a push toy and enjoy doing so. And you’ve taken several consecutive steps here and there. But your main mode of transport is still crawling. You’re more speedy that way and lower to the ground, which serves your need to put every-damn-thing-in-your-mouth well.

You can stand for minutes unassisted and like to do squats, where you bend slightly at the knees and push back up again. You can also squat all the way down to pick up a toy and stand back up again.

You wave on command and it’s the sweetest wave we ever did see. But you’re stingy as all getup with your kisses; you’ve given ten and refused hundreds.

Jimmie came running into the room the other day and clear as day you said “dog-gee”. We did a double take and were just about to write it off as coincidence until you repeated it, clear as day, about five times in a row. We think you also say “bye” but aren’t totally convinced just yet.

You nap often but when you’re awake you’re moving a gazillion miles a minute. If left unattended for more than a minute, you’re most often found at the base of the stairs or – if you’re near a bathroom – at the toilet. You can climb all the way to the top of the stairs in seconds flat.

Bathing you is an absolute nightmare. You throw yourself all over the place, could care less about going under water, and have zero hesitation to pull to stand on every slippery surface. In fact, as soon as you see the water filling you’re at the baths edge, ready to launch yourself overboard head first. The sink may be the best bet but I’ll be damn if there is ever a time it is clean and empty.

You’re more independent and are able to entertain yourself for a bit when we have to put you in the gated off area. But the more I walk by you, the more pissed off you get. In general, if you can’t see us, you’re fine but if you see us, you want us. Especially me. Cuz, well, I’m still your numero uno.san clemente family photographer-4999

Favorites: The stairs hold your attention more than anything else these days and if you had your way you’d spend your entire day climbing the stairs. I only wish I had the same passion.

You love being chased and teased. Remotes and iPhones still rank high on your list. And me, you love your mama. But really and truly, the stairs rule all.

Making a House a Home | Birch & Pine

ashley jennett-4When we moved over two years ago we knew the townhome we purchased would more-or-less be temporary. We were eager to get into the area and though it lacked a yard, we fell in-love with the vision we shared for the interior. We gutted it immediately upon purchasing it and did what we could to make the inside stand apart from the outside, which appeared exactly the same as all the others it was attached to.

We added reclaimed wood floors, painted the walls white, and when noting the memorial day sale on the kitchens at Ikea, jumped at the opportunity to upgrade the kitchen too. All the decisions were made rather fast because, well, they had to be. Once you buy a home, the rug kind of gets swept out from under you. There wasn’t a lot of thought that went into much of it though in the end I was pleased with most of it, except for the kitchen because black countertops were just a huge mistake and ikea, well, they’re great for somethings, but having an ikea kitchen is something I’m happy to move on from.

Case in point, I knew when we moved again that I’d want more time to plan, more time to translate thoughts and ideas into demos and purchases.

We looked at several homes and even put an offer on another that we didn’t get and in hindsight wasn’t right for us anyways. And when we did find ‘the one’, just as before, things started moving super fast. The escrow period, for starters, was much shorter than we wanted but was also not something we were willing to lose the house over especially since we were contending with an all cash offer.

I should digress, because it’s worth digressing.

The first time we saw the house we now call home was on a Saturday. It was the day before a scheduled open house and we figured we’d drive by and check it out from the outside and get a feel for the neighborhood. As we passed by, we noticed the owner was having a garage sale. Willy and I both turned to each other and in nothing other than eye contact communicated the fact that we both knew this was our ‘in’. We got the kids out of the car and struck up conversation with the older woman who owned the house and were quickly introduced to her grown children, who were helping with the garage sale. Next thing we know we’re being given a personal tour and sharing life stories and an hour or so later we departed with a woven basket she was selling that she had purchased in Africa. We went to the open house the next day for a second look and put an offer in on Monday. The rest, so they say, is history. Case in point, personal touches sometimes supersede all cash offers.

And so, once again, things started to move faster and I found myself fumbling with everything. Imagine a glass plate with food on it being put on a metal roller pin conveyer belt, the food bouncing around and every now and again, falling off the plate. That’s what life felt like in that moment. Sonny was brand new and I just had no time to get on top of anything.

It had only been two years since we had last remodeled a place and we knew the process well enough to greet it with both anticipation and with dread. Knowing well that things get hung up along the way, costing more time and more money than originally anticipated, I made it a point to not contribute in anyway to any delays. Meaning, I wanted everything decided and ordered so that the only hang up would be with installation. Because the good Lord knows that things arrive broken while other things take a month or longer to be delivered and so on and so forth. Point being, I didn’t want to be responsible for the remodel to take any longer than it needed to.

Nothing can steal the joy in purchasing a new home faster than the laundry list of things you want done before you move in. Flooring, paint, moldings, doors, stains, handles, fixtures, furniture. It’s all the stuff that’s fun so long as you have the time to to give it. Otherwise it all becomes a burden and stress. Whereas we knew our last home was a temporary arrangement, this home we hope to stay for a bit so the decisions that needed to be made carried more weight.

In steps my girl, Kate, who – over the past few years – has become a friend, and a solid one at that.

Last time we went to Cuba, Kate and her family (who were on-the-road travelers at the time) stayed at our home. Knowing she has a great sense of taste and a love for design, I asked her for a few opinions on things around our townhome that I had kind of ran into road blocks on. It resulted in me rearranging the furniture in the upstairs bedroom, which opened it up and gave the room a totally different feel. I also had her sketch out a custom credenza for the entryway, which turned out lovely. Point being, she gained my trust and I knew with this next go-around that it would be in my best interest to bounce ideas off her once again.

I didn’t know then just how helpful she would prove to be. I mean I already knew she rocked as a friend, but having a pseudo ‘working relationship’ was beyond what I thought it’d be. She was so on top of everything. She helped me create mood boards, suggested products, talked me into the wood countertops I really wanted but didn’t think I’d be able to care for (no joke she sent me an entire page of thorough research that also contained an argument for the design element they would add that I couldn’t argue with. And truthfully didn’t want to argue with, because all the heart eyes). She made phone calls, hunted down products, sent me options.

It. Was. So. Helpful.

My struggle with interior design is staying cohesive, which I think is an issue many share. I’m drawn to buying what I like, what speaks to me, without much consideration of where I will put it or it ‘goes with’ the other items I’ve chosen to bring into my home.

Take our kitchen, for example. We opted to get rid of everything except the cabinetry, which truthfully we weren’t crazy about but we also didn’t hate enough to rip out and drop thousands to replace. We opted instead to paint them. That aside, they have a flat facade and clearly fall into the category of modern. The fixtures I had originally wanted didn’t suit the modern finish of the cabinets at all. It was Kate who reeled me in and pointed out that I need to work with it and not against it. Her vision was not only beautiful, but it worked with what we already had. And the wood countertops were the perfect pull away from the modern feel of the cabinets.

I also tend to go off on tangents. Like lately, I’ve been drawn to everything wicker. Which has resulted in several thrift and craigslist finds like a full on sofa wicker set, a wicker rocking chair, a wicker bench… not to mention the pieces of wicker I already owned. Point being, it’s easy for me to get carried away and I’ve made many purchases over the years with the pretense that I could always sell it if it didn’t work out. Which really has just resulted in a garage that no cars can fit in.

Kate, on the other hand, is a minimalist. I remember a post she wrote once where she actually counted the number of items in her living room and came to a grand total of 50 or something. Mind you, this included plants – and their pots – as two separate items as well as books. I love the idea of being more selective, of the less is more mentality, so it was helpful to have the gentle reminder to not over-do it and to reconsider my buy-it-now-and-figure-it-out-later mentality.

The other thing I like about working with Kate is that she makes decisions based on reason over preference. For example, I sent her two daybeds I was debating between for the sunroom and the response was more of a ‘this one will work better because…’ as opposed to ‘I like this one’. Point being, it was never about what she liked. Instead, she took everything I liked into consideration and helped me make decisions with the design of it all at the forefront.

I’ve been pushing Kate to make the business leap for sometime. Her and her wife have renovated an airstream prior and are currently working hard on their second and they just have all kinds of talents that need to be shared with the world. She’s now offering her services online and I’m so proud of her for doing so. It’s no small feat to start a business and to follow what you love. Working with her, even with all the states between us, was such a breeze and such a pleasure and such a stress reliever.

What are your thoughts on interior design? Would you, too, find it helpful to consult a designer? What do you love / hate about the design elements of your home?

You can check out Kate’s site here , the services she offers here, and her newest airstream renovation by clicking here.

Woman’s March

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Hot damn the topic of politics can bring out some rippin’ and roarin’. While the majority of what people posted on social media (and by ‘social media’ I mean instagram because I’ll be damned if I have time for anything else these days) seemed to be with good flavor, I have a twinge of a bad taste left from a few of the comments on one image I posted on our shop feed as well as some of the other less-than-supportive sentiments I came across on the feeds of others. And it’s just like those bad tastes to ruin your palate all together, isn’t it? In any event, we marched the good march; not so much in protest because what’s done is done. But we marched for solidarity.

I had intentions of attending one of the larger marches but having just come back from Arizona the night before after lying Willy’s beautiful grandma to rest, the local march here – in San Clemente – was about all we could muster the energy for. And in hindsight standing amongst our local neighbors and fellow sisters was meaningful in a way that I needed.

It was fast and rather uneventful; the boys chasing their sweet friend Hazel, Sonny drifting off to sleep, and the rest of us walking amongst the honking horns in a sea of homemade signs reminiscent of so many that came before them; we shall overcome, a women’s place is in the revolution, and so on and so forth.

Prior to the march, I spent time talking to the boys about what it means to be a woman, a human, and how we can better support women and each other. For me, it’s not about bashing our new President as much as it is about talking about what’s right, what’s fair, and what equality means. We talked about respect and compassion and what those seemingly cliche words mean. We talked about embracing differences and practicing tolerance. All concepts worth introducing, regardless of the weight they carry.

And so, they carried their signs, they gave some hugs, they marched. But mostly they ran and laughed and played. Because while we’re busy working on their future, they’re busy staying in the moment.

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An addendum: I think so many of us harbor good intentions but meet road blocks when trying to transition said intentions into any sort of meaningful action. The sheer volume that turned out to the marches is great, but for many, it ended when the march ended. And not so much out of apathy but out of paralysis; paralysis stemming from just how big the issues we’re facing are. So big that it’s hard for any one individual to conceptualize what needs to be done and so, many of us end up doing nothing.  I’ve been mulling over a few ideas in my head in ways I can help and contribute on an individual level. Aside from the teaching I’m doing at home, because that goes without saying.

How about you? Any ideas of how to take action?

All images shot with my iPhone after taking my camera out only to realize I had no battery life. Ho hum. Long live the iPhone. 

A Family Session, with The Tajvaris

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One of these days I’ll get caught up — so many posts in my draft folder, so many sessions waiting to be shared. The holidays got the better of me so several of the sessions I shot during that time are buried somewhere on my hard drive. Who am I kidding, much of what I shot in 2016 is buried. Alas, here is one of a beautiful family on the brink of welcoming their third, shot in their home in Los Angeles.

Interested in booking a session? Email me: ashleyjennett @ gmail.com. 

Family Video | December

December came and went faster than I can remember any of the Decembers past. A combination of having a school aged kid and a retail shop both in conjunction with holiday travels and other get togethers that seem to trump ordinary life, like doctor appointments, that typically fill the little ol’ boxes on the little ol’ calendar. A whirlwind that has me wondering how it’s January and I’m still standing.

I remember writing a post about Christmas cookies that I never got around to making when Hooper was a toddler. The post spoke to the infamous ‘mom guilt’; how in an instagram snap-happy world of decorated mantles and garland-line banisters I couldn’t even manage to put some damn cookies in the oven. Fast forward to present day, where we had dinner with friends with intentions of having the kids all make cookies; ending instead with a big mound of dough, an unhealthy serving of sparsely spread out large groupings of sprinkles, and a few contaminated droplets of wet sneeze all to prove that no one cried over cookies that were imperfectly perfect and questionably editable. That despite long to-do lists and short days the magic of Christmas runs in a child’s bloodstream the same way liquor seems to take over ours.

And so it goes; what is a whirlwind for us is a wonderland for them. Christmas cookies, two visits to Santa, an evening at zoo lights, way too many presents (it deserves a post of its own, but seriously, how do you combat the amount of toys and stuff people get your kids for Christmas… it’s insane), a road trip through Arizona, a load of celebrations with family and dinners with friends, and so on and so forth.

And now, in January, nothing but a shit load of pine needles I recruited Hooper to help me vacuum up the other morning and a fake Christmas tree stuffed back into the top cabinet it came out from seemingly yesterday.

Entire seasons coming and going, kids growing and maturing. All of it way too fast. And so, I record what I can, write down the tidbits I want to remember, and suck up the fact that it’s not at the speed that I want but it is, indeed, everything I want.

Ventura

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In any event, we spent Thanksgiving in the Ventura area where we met up with my side of the family and enjoyed the company of a cousin I have not seen for 10 years. So nice to reunite and to catch up. I had a family session in the area as well because, well, two birds, one stone (with any luck I’ll find the time to share some images from it soon). Willy met up with some of his friends over the long weekend as well, while I caught up on some work (like I do) and tended to the wild beasts (like I do). And we managed to swing over to a friend’s birthday party where we learned Sonny will fight for balloons and where Van had his head buried in the lap of one little girl in particular for much of the evening. Mark my words, that kid is going to be trouble with the ladies. We swung by downtown briefly in hopes of finding some fabric we need for an upholstery project but couldn’t find a local shop that had any holidays sales, though we did hit up a used bookstore and let the boys each pick a few books (which, if you saw their room, is clearly not what we need more of — the current book situation is near the top of my tending-to-our-home-and-finally-unpacking list). And while Sonny napped in the car and the boys flipped through their new-to-them books and Willy streamed the football game, I jetted in to a few of my favorite consignment and thrift shops and came away for a few finds. Oh yes, and breakfast at the same spot each morning (homemade biscuits for the win).

Minus some rain and some chilly weather, an enjoyable holiday break.

Childhood Unplugged

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In any event, we spent part of an afternoon at the stables here in San Juan, where our friend Sarah has a few horses she was kind enough to let us visit. And ride. And pet. Hoping to bring the boys back more often and maybe even squeeze in a lesson or two as Hooper, especially, has always had a love for horses. And Van, well, cowboys.

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.