Childhood Unplugged | The Salton Sea

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Before we dropped Willy off at his meeting he told me, “Just don’t let the boys touch the fish or go in the water”. But within minutes, fish were touched and there wasn’t any winning that battle; pieces of fish bone crunching beneath their sledge covered shoes and falling through the crevices between their fingers. Holding up varying degrees of rotting carcasses, “Mama, is this one okay to pick up?”, proving needless to answer given the fact whatever fish they were inquiring about was already in their little grubby hands. “Van, keep your thumb out of your mouth” the only request I could muster at that point.

The Salton Sea; so beautiful on the eyes, so hard on the nose. This trip, however, proving not so bad on the ol’ sniffer. Not one complaint from the boys, actually, who – in the past – have been turned off by the stench of those rotting carcasses.

They climbed rocks, fell on rocks, made footprints in contaminated mud that made me cringe about the thought of those shoes later having to come off and me, invariably, having to touch them to do so. But as the sun fell and the water turned to glass I opted to rely on a faint hope that I would find some hand sanitizer in the car and with that hope I let go of whatever reservations I had. I suppose that’s what happens when in the presence of beauty. We watched the birds fly overhead, a line of other photographers slowly lining the shoreline and mimicking the arrangement of the flying birds themselves; one evenly spaced, straight line. Reflections of wood posts that used to anchor yachts that have since left for other waters, cleaner waters, mirroring the reflection of the mountains and making it all look like a Salvador Dali painting leaving one to question which end is up. Fish carcasses tossed back into the waters that have discarded them – killed them – breaking the glass-like appearance and sending ripples outward, stillness turned to movement; the silence broken. The color palette of the sky subtly changing.

We made our way back, the nights sky illuminated by what appeared to be a full-moon. The water turned back to glass, silence reigning once again in the wake of the exit of two little boys who did their damnest to return those dead fish to their home in the sea, the Salton Sea; ever beautiful, ever polluted. One of life’s most interesting conundrums. One of my favorite places.

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

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An evening spent digging, chasing, climbing, and – in true kid fashion – ripping flowers out of the ground, roots n’ all.
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.

Polly Alderton, on Childhood Unplugged

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“I want my children to be art literate and to understand as much as they can about my processes. If I have a set idea in my mind, I’ll ask them to do it and if they like the sound of it they will. Sometimes they don’t like the sound of it and they wont. I have a picture I like of my oldest son posing in a flower crown in our back garden, he looks so serene and earthy, he was at the time sitting giving me a list of reasons why he should be allowed to have a computer games console in the house. Another time I let him stick his fingers up to swear as part of a photo trade. I am trying to move in a bit of a different direction with my pictures at the moment and pose them less. I’m really just trying to catch them as they are, I like this idea of collecting a series of what may look like film stills. I realised that the kids were starting to get bored by me, and I was of myself too.”

I posted an interview I did with Polly Alderton, from @dollyandfife, over on the Childhood Unplugged blog. You can check it out by clicking here.



Childhood Unplugged

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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


“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

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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.

An Interview, with Jesse Burke

Jesse Burke is not only the newest member of our Childhood Unplugged group, he’s also the author of “Wild & Precious”, a collection of images he’s shot of his daughters in nature over the last few years. He’s tremendously talented, has a clever vision, and it’s my honor to introduce you to both him and his work. With no further adieu…
Perhaps we should start off with a general introduction. Tell us where you’re from and three things about yourself.
I’m from Stratford, Connecticut but I consider myself a New Englander at large. I spent many days, weeks, months traveling around all of my life. We live in Rhode Island these days.
Things about me:
I’m a huge, nature nerd. I take my family, which is comprised of my three daughters, Clover Lee, Poppy Dee, and Honey Bee, and my wife Kerry, out and explore nature a couple times a week. I think it’s so important for them to be physically in touch with the natural world.
I spent most of my life as a skateboarder. This may not seem like a major thing but it as truly shaped who I am as a person and parent.
In addition to being a photographer I also teach at Rhode Island school night. I went there for school and feel a deep need to stay connected to academia and help students become awesome artists.
I notice you shoot a lot of commercial work but I’ll bet your heart lies in your personal work, which I feel like is common for many photographers. Give us a brief synopsis about your personal project, Wild & Precious.
Wild & Precious documents the road trips I embark on with my daughters in order to get them intimately connected to the natural world. It also serves as a love story between father and daughter, man and nature and children and nature. It shows all of the adventures we have on the road, where we sleep, what we eat, and the objects and animals we come in contact with.jesseburke3Maybe this is too personal, but I’m curious about your own upbringing. Did the way you were personally raised play a direct role in how you are in-turn raising your girls?
I think as parents we take the things we think worked from our own upbringing and push them forward onto our children and we discard the things we don’t think worked very well. I find myself taking a few of the things that happened between my parents and I and utilizing them but I’m really trying to do something different than what my parents did. I’m in a very different situation than they were. My career affords me the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my children and include them in my artwork which really is a magical opportunity.
To teach about nature you too must know the ins and outs. Is this something you tackled as an adult or grew up learning from someone else? What kinds of things, in regards to life or nature, do you make a point to teach your daughter, Clover?
As a child I spent a lot of time outside in the woods. I became very familiar with the indigenous species where I lived, which wasn’t all that rural. So I guess you can say I am self taught.  When I moved back to New England after college and started my first real art project I got very invested in the landscape of the natural world of New England. I took it upon myself to really learn about animals and nature. This has of course parlayed into me teaching my children about that, as seen in my Wild & Precious project.  The two things that I really try to instill in my children are compassion and love towards creatures and the earth in general. We’re all ethical vegetarians, so in a simple way they understand the dynamic there and why we make the choices we make. One of the most important things to me is that my children feel a connection to the earth and the animals that inhabit the same space that we do. I don’t want them to be afraid of animals so I’m go out of my way to teach them about the creatures and how they should interact with them. It’s quite amazing to see the babies not afraid of spiders or bees. We have a beehive in our yard and they have zero concern.jesseburke7
I understand you have two younger girls who are too young to join you on these adventures. Are they eager to join in? Do you worry about how the dynamic will change between you and Clover when they are old enough to tag a long? I imagine it’s been a great bonding experience for you and Clover. Maybe you can touch on the bond between you and Clover, too.
I think Poppy, my four-year-old, is very eager to join in because she understands what’s going on. I actually took her on our first 3 person shooting adventure last fall. It didn’t go all that well. I think she is still too small to really endure the hiking in the woods. She got tired really fast. With that said, I’m really excited about the next phase of this project. Including the two little kids into the mix is something that Clover and I are waiting for. Clover often says she can’t wait to teach her sisters all the amazing things that nature has to show them. The bond that Clover and I have is undoubtedly partially due to our experiences together on the road. In fact the introduction to my book is a letter to Clover from me chronicling how I feel about our experience on the road. And the conclusion to the book is a letter from Clover to me. The letters are my favorite part of the book. Even more so than the photographs.jesseburke8How does your wife feel about these adventures? Does she ever want to tag along? How do you think these trips would change if they involved the whole family?
My wife loves that I take the girls out on the shooting adventures to document the process. She doesn’t feel left out because we spend a lot of family time out in the wild as well. But she knows when I take the girls on a road trip to shoot for the series that it’s work and not all fun. She respects the difference and can totally appreciate it. I feel so lucky to have a partner that encourages and supports my artistic practice.
My motherly instinct is very attracted to the Free Range kids movement, which – in short – is about trusting our children to do more for themselves and allowing them independence. I feel like what you are doing is very in-line with this kind of parenting. Would you agree?
I totally agree. I think we need to let our children be as independent as possible and learn things from experience. I’m a big fan of nature play and free range parenting.
You’re raising three girls. What are the more important lessons you want them to take away from life?
To be kind, patient and understanding, to love the earth and each other, and to be confident and strong.jesseburke10
How would Clover describe these trips? Are there ever times she doesn’t want to go or is it something she always looks forward to?
I believe Clover would describe the trips very much like I do. She looks forward to them as a getaway, a vacation of sorts. She looks forward to the opportunity to spend time alone with dad and go out into the world and explore these amazing locations. The kid has seen more amazing things and done more amazing things than I have and she’s only 9.
Curious how long a typical trip is and how you work around school. Are you okay with her missing a few days of school for the sake of learning outdoors? 
Usually the road trips last between three and five days. We try to take them when there’s a break from school, but I am okay with her missing a day or two for the sake of this. I think she learns a lot out in the woods in a different way than she could ever learn in school. Different things but equally important.jesseburke2
I love the images of Clover in the hotel rooms. Can you touch on what those images represent and why they’re included in the series?
The sleeping images are meant to represent a resting point, both literally and metaphorically, in the bigger adventures. They serve the more precious end of the scale. She is tired and vulnerable and I see that working with the wild child you see in the other images. They are meant to also serve as moments of pause in the book, moments of reflection on what we encounter that day and what may come tomorrow. They are spread out across the book like a backbone. In fact the first and last picture you see are her asleep. This is meant to give the viewer the experience that possibly the entire book is a dream. The sleeping images came into play one night when we were back at our hotel and I decided to take some pictures of Clover sleeping because the stripes on her shirt looked amazing against the stripes of the sheets. When I woke up in the morning she said she had been dreaming of salamanders, that we were out in the woods and she was catching them. Later on that day our plans got sidetracked and we ended up parking in some random spot and hiking into the middle of nowhere. We stumbled upon this stream where Clover found tons of salamanders and ended up catching them and playing. The dream acted as a premonition in some way to the day that was about to come. I took that as a special sign to continue to photograph her sleeping. In fact, I photograph her sleeping every night now when we’re in the hotels. I started to take pictures of the two girls sleeping together on the two most recent trips.
Where has this project taken you?
We spend a lot of time in New England, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts. We spent some time in North Carolina, Virginia, lots of time in the northwest corner, the Olympic national Park in Washington state. We’ve also been out to the desert of Arizona and the coast of Eastern Canada.
I notice the bloody nose and the broken arm. Do share.
There are images scattered throughout the project and book. They are meant to act as gut punches. Images that make you feel an immediate emotional reaction to the physicality of being young and fragile. These images often come in the form of injury. Clover had eye surgery when she was three, a broken wrist at summer camp when she was six, and a basic bloody nose. These images are meant to allow the viewer to feel the vulnerable and precious side.jesseburke6
Tell us about all the dead animals and why you feel drawn to capture them. 
I think the animals in Wild & Precious act as supporting characters in the play. We often desire to be connected to the creatures we encounter but it’s impossible because of their fear of humans. So oftentimes the only way we get to touch them and be physical with them is when they’re dead. My children have overcome the fear of dead animals. It’s not strange to touch a dead animal but rather a way of experiencing a deeper connection with the animal world. On a side note, death is so closely related to sleeping that the animals also appear to be sleeping in the pictures, which mimics the sleeping of Clover. There’s also a notion of masking throughout the series where faces are secured, both animal and human.
The feel of your photos remind me some of Sally Mann, who is one of my favorite photographers. Can you discuss some photographers that have influenced you over the years?
Sally Mann and Wynn Bullock have served as endless inspiration for me. The way that they capture portraiture and it’s relationship to the landscape is absent particularly when Bullock’s images of his daughters at the beach and in the woods.jesseburke4
What do you think is the most important lesson Clover has learned since you started this project? 
I think the most important lesson she could have learned from any of our adventures is to be courageous and confident. She does things and acts in ways that often make me feel very proud to have helped her acquire such secure grasp on who she is and what she’s capable of.
How about an important lesson you, yourself, have learned?
One of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned in my life came on these roads trips. Clover taught me to let go of being in control and to collaborate with her. To have confidence in her abilities and to see her as a partner and to not be such a dictator. I have a tendency to be a bit of an overlord when it comes to producing my photographs. She showed me that the best opportunities come from working together and experiencing the moment not as a dictator with the subject but as a teacher and a student where the relationship is reciprocal. I’m stubborn, it took me many frustrating experiences to get to the point where I am today. But I thank her for that, because in the end it’s what makes the images more unique and special.
Your project is going to be released as a book, which is awesome. Can you tell us a bit about what that journey has been like? When will the book be released and where can we find it? 
Yes, the book will be released this fall to coincide with a solo show at my gallery in New York, ClampArt. The book is being published by Daylight Books. It’s been an amazing partnership and experience to bring this book and project to life. Creating the book, editing the pictures, talking about the ideas with essayists, have all brought the project full circle and into much more clarity in my mind. Sequencing the images in the book has also helped me establish relationships between pictures that I never thought possible. It’s a precursor to how the exhibition will look and feel in the gallery space.
As for where you can get the book, I will be setting up a pre-sale website. So stay tuned for that. You’ll be able to buy the books directly from me and also some goodies that come along with the book. We’re in the progress of creating objects and items that will be Wild & Precious affiliated that will be for sale on our website. Things such as hats, stickers and other things. This part of the project is really fun for us.jesseburke5
Will the book contain any images from your instagram feed? Would love to hear your general thoughts in regards to mobile documentation. 
Ah yes, one of my favorite parts of the project has been shooting with my phone in addition to my camera. I approach photography in a very different way with my phone so incorporating the images from my Instagram feed and iPhone into the project was an amazing opportunity to bring two seemingly disparate worlds together. The work is all created at the same time from the and the same mindset so it only made sense that they were family and live together in the book and exhibition. I’m really excited about this because I feel that the Instagram images are much looser and more fun in someways to my formally composed camera pictures. I can’t wait for people to see this book and experience the adventures we go on and hopefully be inspired to take their own adventures. It’s a wild and amazing world out there and we as parents need to make sure our children are aware of just how magical it is.

Speaking of mobile documentation, Jesse is moderating the Childhood Unplugged Instagram feed this week. Hop on over to say hello and check out his features. Thanks for your time, Jesse, and best of luck with Wild & Precious

Dara Scully, on Childhood Unplugged


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

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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

“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
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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

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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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