Childhood Unplugged

San Clemente Family Photographer-4671

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It was quiet, the dew on the leaves a lingering reminder of the rain that fell on our drive out. We climbed some trees, followed a dirt path to a patch filled with wild cacti, and ended the morning at the playground (which is within the wilderness park as well and is most always empty).

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.

Childhood Unplugged | Cuba

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Delving into my images from Cuba feels like a daunting task given how many images I snapped while there. But starting here, with some childhood unplugged (the abroad edition) feels like a good start. In fact, this is the very reason taking the boys – despite the possibility they may never remember such a trip – was important to me.

An excerpt from Lonely Planet (my go-to guide book for all international travel — not sure how anyone functions without it): “Welcome to a culture where children still play freely in the street and wait staff unconsciously ruffle your toddler’s hair as they glide past your table on their way back to the kitchen. There’s something wonderfully old-fashioned about kids’ entertainment here, which is less about sophisticated computer games and more about messing around in the plaza with an improvised baseball bat and a rolled-up ball of plastic”.

Five years ago when Willy and I went to Cuba sans kids (well, Hooper was growing in my belly), we brought an assortment of baseball cards, balls, and t-shirts. We had less room to bring such niceties this time around, but we did manage to bring some coloring books and matchbox cars. Both kids were rather disgusted about giving away brand new cars, but Hooper quickly came around when he witnessed the joy it brought other little boys. Van… not so much. And that’s okay (he is 3, after all).

There is so much life and energy on the streets of Havana; women sitting in simple lounge chairs on the sidewalk, men playing dominos on the street corner, and kids – tons of kids – kicking soccer balls around or playing a game of stickball. It’s so different from the sterility that fills the majority of neighborhoods here in America and perhaps the number one thing that will always draw me to Cuba.

All groups of children were inviting and allowed the boys, despite the inability to speak the same language, to partake; the older boys actually bringing balls over to the boys to give them more of a fair chance at play.

I’m always amazed by the stray dogs and their ability to navigate the streets; their know-with-all and ability to survive the same streets that has me holding my boys’ hands a little tighter despite the fact I most always trust them to walk independently. The kids of Cuba are the same way — street smart; they’re little hearts don’t even seem to miss a beat as they hop barefoot over a pile of who-knows-what, collect their balls and their makeshift wooden goal posts, and move to the side to let some exhaust blowing classic car zoom by. No parents rushing to their rescue, no parents even overseeing the fairness of the game nor the safeness of the field.

The boys also had a blast with the kids that lived next door to the house we rented a room in… crazy, again, how not a word spoken is understood and yet they all run and slam their cars into one another the same. Those boys that lived next door were so warm and inviting and it was Hooper’s favorite pastime during the few hours when Van would nap. And, perhaps the part that warms my mama heart most, he was always invited. Always (as was I – and my camera, for that matter). And each time, the group of kids seemed to change… cousins or other neighborhood kids added in or taken away from the core few.

I’ve always more-or-less advocated for the free-range childhood movement and Cuba seems like the epitome of such; only without the stupid gimmicky title. Over there, it’s not some sort of renegade parenting cliche, it’s just the way.

I’m not sure what the boys will remember of Cuba years from now, but I hope images like these joggle memories and remind them that their parents put up with a lot of the hardships that come with traveling (do I even need to add “with children” because shit, traveling alone is hard) because we believe in it’s importance.

More from Cuba to come… no promises on how soon because, well, the house is an absolute disaster… we have construction that seems to start and stop whenever our super great (please read my sarcasm) contractor decides to start, stop, and restart again (I won’t even mention the fact that we had an upstairs bathtub leaking into our downstairs kitchen), piles and piles of laundry, a growing list of things that need to be sold / donated / thrown away, and the ever-present upkeep with The Bee & The Fox, which following the weekend holiday has me wondering if I can stay afloat.

In any event, 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.

Jess Soper, on Childhood Unplugged

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“I don’t think you need to live in the country to let your kids have this freedom though.  Nature is everywhere, it’s in that patch of grass on the corner of the road, it’s in that wet, muddy puddle, it’s the slug hiding under the bin.  When I stand in the playground and hear parents telling their kids off for getting dirty hands, or mud on their school tops, or telling them to put down that ‘gross creature’, my heart shatters.

Letting your kids get mucky, letting them explore and be free is so important.  It fosters excitement and respect for the world around them. Nature is all around us, accessible and free which is hugely liberating to most children who spend so much of their lives being told what they can and can’t do. They can really push their limits, creatively, intellectually and physically, when they are outside. The sense of achievement from things like, lighting  your own fires or climbing trees is never forgotten.

Let your children embrace nature, and let them be free and unrestricted, let them take off their shoes and get mucky, let them swim in the sea with all their clothes on, let them laugh when they tread in a cow pat and I have no doubt your kids will be 100% happier and more confident as adults. In fact, I think in many ways, it is the only hope for the human race, without these people with a love and affinity for this world we are doomed, hopefully our kids will do a better job than we have.” – Jess Soper

I had the wonderful pleasure of interviewing photographer Jess Soper over on the Childhood Unplugged blog. You can read the full interview by clicking here.

Childhood Unplugged

San Clemente Family Photographer-21

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When you’re a child, you seem to simply accept the world for what it is; trees that are over a thousand years old don’t take your breath away in quite the same way as it does when you’re an adult. I guess that’s why living through your child’s eyes is all the more exciting… because you get to experience things that – with any luck – you may have experienced years ago but with a whole new appreciation and outlook.

The boys enjoyed their usual: collecting sticks, stealing the far superior walking sticks Willy and I would come across, and yelling loud enough to hear their echoes. Given the fact we were in the company of the Redwoods, they also enjoyed climbing in, under, through, and on top of the roots and fallen trees.

We drove up the hill, past the Redwoods, to catch the sunset at a spot I had located the day prior when shooting a wedding. From the clearing, we had an expansive view of the mountains, all covered in trees; the light draping different colors amongst the different layers as the sun settled beyond the horizon. The boys ran amuck, per usual, catching the occasional lizard and proving their lizard-catching-skills to be beyond the stage of requiring help or assistance. The handling of said lizards, however, is another tale.

Not pictured is the dinner that followed that consisted of numerous timeouts outside and a screaming three year old face down on the concrete sidewalk. In that moment, I longed to be buried back in the Redwoods where perhaps the echoes of his own yells could scare him silent.

More pictures from our time in Guerneville soon to follow, with any luck at least…

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.

Dara Scully, on Childhood Unplugged

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A while back I featured an image of Dara Scully’s on the @childhoodunplugged instagram feed and immediately it drew a lot of attention; a few were disgusted by her work while others defended it. I’ve loved her work ever since I first laid eyes on it and I embrace the fact that some of the images make the viewer a bit uncomfortable. With all due respect to the artist, I wanted to give Dara an opportunity to discuss her vision and her philosophy of childhood. I think her thoughts on it all are very beautiful and raw. You can head over to the Childhood Unplugged blog to check it out. Please show her your love and respect.

Childhood Unplugged

San Clemente Photographer-41

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The calendar says it’s fall and minus the fact it’s getting darker a lot earlier, it still feels a lot like summer here in California. That didn’t stop us from diving into what has become one of our favorite fall traditions, however, and we set out to Casper’s Wilderness Park to BBQ and, of course, hunt for bears.

Hoping that despite the busy fall schedule we can continue with this fall tradition; so simple and yet so enjoyable (minus the fact that baths are a must as soon as we get home). If only they allowed dogs… that’s my only complaint.

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.

 

Childhood Unplugged, with Alain Laboile

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“Time goes by so quickly. I would like my photos to allow my children to dive back into their childhood when they are adults and feel past emotions. These photographs can be a good help to build themselves as parents. We understand our children better when we remember the child whom we once were and how we lived.”

There’s a fantastic interview with French photographer Alain Laboile over on Childhood Unplugged that I urge all of you to check out.

Childhood Unplugged

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I just went in to peak on the boys sleeping. You know how some nights you just have to do that to remind yourself of their innocence? A reminder, I suppose, that they didn’t mean it when they spit at you or told you that you’re not their friend because the milkshake you bought them with dinner was not, in fact, a dessert because it was served with dinner.
I’ve been so exhausted lately and this weekend was no exception. Willy was in Austin for a bachelor party and given the fact it was the first week of school, and the dreaded school schedules – which is relatively new to us anyway – it was a hard, long week. And despite having an immaculate house on Friday, by Saturday morning, just about every room was in complete disarray. The pizza box from Friday night’s dinner is still sitting on the bar top.
It’s been harder to keep the boys entertained in the house. We live in a townhome, so every time I have to tell the boys “no” to going outside or to riding their bikes, I feel like a chump. I wish it were as easy as opening a screen door and letting them run free while I watch from the kitchen window and, oh I dunno, throw away that damn pizza box.
More times than not, it’s just easier to pile everyone in the car – Jimmie included (because he’s still anxious as ever about us leaving) – and head to the beach. And so, we did.
When we got to the local burger joint, I realized I forgot Hooper’s shoes and instantly felt gratitude for the forgiveness shown by living in a beach city. I also laughed to myself as I looked at Van, fully decked out in socks and shoes (the kid is quite particular about what goes on his feet these days), and poor Hooper with his dirty, grungy feet (who never even pointed out the fact he didn’t have shoes because, well, quite honestly it happens often).
We got to the beach just a bit before sunset and lined up next to the regular campers that seem to line Doheny in the summertime, and year-around, really. The boys finished their milkshakes and made a haphazard attempt at eating enough of their cheeseburgers to make a parent feel adequate about calling it dinner before running off to touch enough things that made picking their cheeseburgers back up not really an option anyway (how’s that for a run-on sentence? I’m tired. Did I say that?).
We stayed just long enough for the calm to wash away whatever difficulties the weekend had brought and when the boys made the argument that the milkshake they had with dinner was not dessert, I had just enough to patience to hold strong and explain, albeit numerous times, that it was indeed a treat.
And now, as they sleep so peacefully, clinging to the blankets they’ve had since they were babies, side by side in a shared room, I can look back on the day and feel good about it. And even better about the fact that the nap I literally snuck in earlier today granted me the energy to stay up and put thoughts into words; which is a luxury I have not had enough of as of late. childhooduplugged1
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.

Childhood Unplugged | Springerville, AZ

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The other week we spent some time up in the mountains in Arizona with Willy’s family. While there, we met up with family in Springerville and spent the afternoon at their home playing with the chickens, smoking meat, and driving the backroads into the White Mountains to shoot guns.
The boys had a great time hanging with the men and finally warmed up to pulling the non-proverbial trigger all on their own. I shot the first gun I can remember ever shooting — hard to believe I had never shot one before considering my grandpa’s collection. Willy, on the other hand, grew up shooting and couldn’t wait to give his AR15 – his Father’s Day gift to himself – a whirl.
We shot for some time, the air lingering with heavy dew from the rain prior in the day. The boys explored the surrounding area, lush with greenery and the loveliest of wild flowers, and collected the casings off the ground to pile in their miniature toy tractors. Sometimes when I see flowers so beautiful in the wild the thought crosses my mind that my boys, being raised in suburbia, may only every associate such beauty with florist shops. The chicken-or-the-egg scenario plays over a lot in my head as I raise my boys and I remind myself often that all I can do is point out the beauty when found in it’s natural element and hope that it sticks.
We drove home along the dark road, the rain coming down harder than I have ever seen in all my years of living only to break and clear, allowing us to take notice of the herd of antelope alongside the road, before picking up and dumping once again. 
If only we could transplant that kind of rain to California. And those wild flowers. childhooduplugged1Please 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.

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Childhood Unplugged | Yellowstone National Park

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Taking kids to over 2 million acres of preserved beauty is kind of like making them sit in a calculus class; it’s just over their heads.
I remind myself often that it’s not about the understanding of the enormity but about the experience, the feelings, and the memories created in the presence of such enormities. So when a geyser explodes a hundred feet in the air and the boys are too busy digging dirt with their bare hands, I let it go. And when they’d rather tantrum on the boardwalk, I let that go too.
That said, they did appreciate all the wild animals (even the Bison poop, that Hooper sunk his hand into thinking it was a piece of wood) and handled all the time in the car like the true car dogs that they are. We got home after midnight so it was a long day for all of us. And yet, I can’t wait to do it again. I’m so grateful for our National Parks.
I’ll be sharing more images from our time in Montana soon. childhooduplugged1
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.

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Childhood Unplugged

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The Childhood Unplugged group posts once a month and most months I I have something to share without putting much thought or intention into it being for Childhood Unplugged; we unplug naturally and often, if you will. But this month was a different story and with all of our comings and goings as of late, I realized that we had not been out much… away a lot, yes, but not out… not taking in local nature…
Traveling is two sided in that sense; on one hand, it’s nice to explore new (or even already known) places and on the other hand, waiting for you to return is a long laundry list (pun intended) of things to catch up on. And that’s where we’ve been — trying to stay afloat the piles of dirty laundry, the overflowing trash bins, and the list of things around town we need to do… like register Hooper for transitional kindergarten, which brings with it it’s own scavenger list of ‘to-dos’.
So I shot this month’s Childhood Unplugged post with intent and, for me, last minute. We went down to the harbor and let the kids run and climb and toughen their bare feet.
The boys made quick friends with another little boy and together the three of them explored, had sword fights (of the urination variety), and ran as free as the breeze. We talked with the boy’s father who shared the loss of his wife (she died during childbirth) and it dawned on me that going out and talking to strangers is a lost art. People are so stuck in their own worlds. And yet we all have such important and interesting and captivating stories to tell. All of us.
I won’t be waiting until the end of next month like I did this go-around.childhooduplugged1
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. Please also tag your photos with #cu_mothers and #cu_fathers, as I’ll be taking the feed the weeks of Mother’s and Father’s day.

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Childhood Unplugged

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An evening spent at the beach, eating pizza for dinner and ice cream for dessert, watching the trains roll by, the sunset, and “gunning” all the passersby who very kindly obliged by stickin’ them up, each and every one of them; boys being boys, kids being kids, barefoot with snot running from their noses, and one happy dog who ate all the left over bits of crust. Childhood, unplugged.
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. Please also tag your photos with #cu_mothers and #cu_fathers, as I’ll be taking the feed the weeks of Mother’s and Father’s day. childhooduplugged1

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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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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!

Childhood Unplugged

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Spent some time, while in Arizona, at a local dairy. Saw some cows being milked, some newly born cows, some sick cows, but mostly just splashed around in the puddles of mud.
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

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Childhood Unplugged

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Some blocks, some tunes, some fighting. Am I the only one that finds unplugging the hardest to do while at home? It’s like we’re all comfortable with our in-home routine; some cartoons, some scrolling through things on my phone, etc. But it’s nice to shake that up every now and again and join my boys in an activity. I’ve been trying to do more of this lately; I suppose we all are. It hit home when a reader of my blog mentioned feeling like a ghost in her own home because I can totally relate. In this New Year, I hope to unplug with my boys even more and even more so within our own home. How have you been unplugging as of late?
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

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Childhood Unplugged

Janet was in town for the holidays so we decided to be brave and take all 5 kiddos (4 of which are 2 and under — insert big eyes with raised eyebrows here) to the Natural History Museum in LA. And true to motherhood form, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. We got there when it opened, which was smart because by the time we left there was a line out the door (compliments of winter break, I’m sure). The fact that the older kiddos were actually into exploring the exhibits made it a lot easier. And ice cream at the end didn’t hurt either. All in all, a great day filled with a few educational lessons and second-to-none company.
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.

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Childhood Unplugged

Just after a long afternoon nap, with a wooden plane he got as a gift for his birthday, on an unmade bed, as the sun went down. Childhood forever.
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.

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Childhood Unplugged

I think every mother out there would agree that getting out the door is the hardest part of getting out. But every time we do, I’m reminded that sometimes unplugging can be as simple as a car ride. Willy and I refer to the boys as “car dogs” because they love the car; if they could hang their heads out the window, they would. They love pointing out “old” cars, beatles versus bugs, cement trucks (and any truck for that matter), and the train that runs along PCH. On this evening, we stopped off at a park that overlooks the ocean and spent the last minutes of daylight running around and watching the sun go down. Outings like this are good for the soul.
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.

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Childhood Unplugged

I have no doubt that one of the hardest parts of raising children, specifically toddlers, is getting them out of the house. Sometimes Willy and I will have extravagant plans to clean a room (not the house, just A room) and it proves to be a nightmare because it’s all based on the assumption that the boys will entertain themselves and not fight and not require our assistance with, well, anything. Reality is much different. 
But when we’re out, it’s much easier. Something about the combination of fresh air and the lack of toys to fight over creates a rather peaceful environment. Not to mention we too are pulled away from all the things that distract us from parenting; even real things like dirty dishes and laundry. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at Willy and said, “See, we just needed to get them out”, but what I really meant is we all just needed to get out.
These photos were taken just off the highway in Palm Springs. And it looks like it had been well enjoyed well before we got there 😉
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