Childhood Unplugged

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San clemente family photographer-9144 San clemente family photographer-9150 San clemente family photographer-9181 San clemente family photographer-9186 San clemente family photographer-9210 San clemente family photographer-9237 San clemente family photographer-9277 San clemente family photographer-9278 San clemente family photographer-9240San clemente family photographer-9217 San clemente family photographer-9284 San clemente family photographer-9306 San clemente family photographer-9353 San clemente family photographer-9343 San clemente family photographer-9364 San clemente family photographer-9372There’s much to be said about the light in the Pacific Northwest. But there’s even more to be said about an evening, with 6 kids, that went better than any script we could have wrote. None of the usual tantrums or whining or fights. Just kids playing late into the long summer night; complete with pizza and ice cream and all the things we could throw at them to keep them busy and contained. Kids being kids, forming friendships and bonds and memories with my dearest friend’s kids. It doesn’t get better. Long live summer. Also wishing said dearest friend the happiest of birthdays today. Happy Birthday, J. Love you. 

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Seattle

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Posting anything after all the tragedies that have taken place as of late feels inherently wrong. I get stuck in a sulking rut, feeling a bit down, burdened by the lack of motivation to move onward and trying to balance moving onward with making sense of all that has occurred in our troubled world. Thinking hard about the future and the children I’ve brought into this world who hopefully will shape it to be better than it is today. My heart goes out to all the families who are suffering because they’ve lost someone dear to them. Trying hard to hold onto hope.

——————–

I spent a few days visiting Janet in the beginning of June. In so many ways, it feels like yesterday when it was just the two of us, kicking cans on the side of the road in a town we didn’t know; when adventures of the like were’t so well documented and, well, cool. Fast forward a few years and six kids (between the two of us) later, not to mention moves beyond state lines and, well, it’s hard to get any sort of quality time these days. And by quality time, I mean slowness that allows for silence only the closest of friendships can feel comfortable with. With her husband and kids back in Utah for the week, it was just us girls (and Sonny), working side by side (so many new shop updates to come), mostly, drinking beer and ordering take out and catching up on all things big and small. Just what I needed, just when I needed it. A thirst only a best friend can quench.

Hoping to make it back before Summer is over and the rain rolls in; If you’re in the Seattle area, I’ll be offering a few sessions during my next visit. You can read the details here.

Cuba

cubaSurely I may come back from this trip screaming at each of you to never partake on such an adventure with children of this age. But I do have a game plan. And I’m reminding myself often that there are several way more daring than me. I mean there are people that travel in recreational vehicles across state lines, with children, permanently.

So my game plan is this:

-Return to a place you have been before. This way, even if we miss out we don’t really miss out. No patience left to hit up that museum you visited 4 years ago? No problem, you saw it 4 years ago.

-Pick a place worthy to return. I’ve always traveled under the guise that I would never go anywhere twice and this is nothing more than a testament to the fact that I love to travel and see new places and returning to somewhere I’ve been before feels a bit lacking in purpose. But Cuba? There is no where in the world like Cuba. And when Castro is officially six feet under, things will change. It’s already in the process of change. But man, so much has stayed the same. A lot of people feel like they should have been born in another generation; sometimes I feel the same way. Well guess what? Taking a trip to Cuba is like taking a time capsule to decades past.

-Convince your friends to go with you. Thankfully this wasn’t a hard sell. Janet and I have traveled all over the world together and she, too, has been to Cuba before. Convincing her to come along with one of her babes (she’s leaving the little ones with family) and hubs in tow was as simple as sending a few screen shots of Havana to stir up old memories and borrowing a few quotes from the trusty ol’ guidebook, “Cuba is like a prince in a poor man’s coat: behind the sometimes shabby facades, gold dust lingers. It’s these rich dichotomies that make travel here the exciting, exhilarating roller-coaster ride it is. Trapped in a time warp and reeling from an economic embargo that has grated for more than half a century, this is a country where you can wave goodbye to Western certainties and expect the unexpected. If Cuba were a book, it would be James Joyce’s Ulysses: layered, hard to grasp, serially misunderstood, but – above all – a classic”.

I’m envisioning a date night with Willy, when we can leave the boys with Janet’s gang (and vice versa), best friend time while the guys either sleep or smoke cigars along the malecon (boardwalk), and plenty of group hangs where despite tantrums from hungry and sleep deprived kids we feel that camaraderie that only seems to come along with being in the company of others who are suffering right alongside you. I know it won’t be easy… I don’t like travel to be easy, but I do know it will be memorable.

Added bonus: Spanish is Janet’s first language (she’s part Cuban, part Guatemalan and despite looking ‘white’, her mom doesn’t even speak English).

-Limit your itinerary. We took this to the extreme in that we have no plans. In fact, at the time of writing this post I’m not even sure where we’re staying. But I also know Havana has loads of warm and friendly families that are happy to invite you into their home and I’m kinda looking forward to showing up and figuring it out. We’re limiting our traveling around to no more than two different places and we’re not even sure, aside from Havana, where else we’ll go. And even while we’re in Havana, we have nothing on the itinerary other than ‘hang out’.

-Shorten your stay. Typically I won’t go through the hassle of flying somewhere far away and spending money on a hefty plane ticket unless I can stay at least two weeks. We’re staying shorter this go-around and I think we’ll be glad we did.

-Prep your husband. Attitude is everything when you’re traveling with kids. This will be our first time traveling international with kids and international travels brings a whole new set of annoyances: time changes, language barriers, pillows literally stuffed with cotton balls, the list goes on and on. And so, we’ve talked a lot about being patient with each other and with the kids. I also think having friends there as a buffer will help. Struggles are always lessened when shared.

Not sure what kind of cell service we’ll get, if any, but if I have service I’ll be sure to post a few images via instagram along the way. I have a few posts scheduled during the time we’ll be gone and loads of photo sessions I hope to get caught up in sharing once we get back… along with laundry and shop stuff and now I’m getting stressed about coming back. Wish us luck. And for those who have done a lot of traveling with little ones, got any tips?

images found on Pinterest

Janet & Co.

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Janet recently moved from Utah to Seattle and given the fact I had never been to Seattle (and wanted to see her, duh) I scheduled my flight.

I took on a few sessions while I was there, which turned out fantastic despite my mode of operation to practically drive myself into a panic attack beforehand. Both families were sweet as could be, a delight to photograph, and the images turned out great. I hope to open myself up to more travel sessions in the future… I gotta give my nerves some practice.

I spent the first day there entirely on my own, with intentions to explore the city, meet Janet for lunch, and pick her up at the end of her work day. I barely made it out of the shower before wanting to climb back in bed for a nap. I could blame it on first trimester or I could blame it on standing in line for an hour and a half waiting to pick up a rental car from Hertz the night prior. Seriously, don’t use Hertz. In any event, I didn’t make it further than Whole Foods – where I stopped to pick up some things to make for dinner – before taking a nap in the car; the windows down, the sun shining through the window. By all accounts, perfect car nap ingredients if you were to ask my dad (who himself is well versed in both car naps and face-down-on-the-hallway-carpet naps). I didn’t see much of the city and I nearly convinced myself that traveling, at all, while in the first trimester is a complete sham.

I felt better the next day. We packed a few things and hit the road for Portland, where both of my sessions were. The traffic reminded me of LA but we made due with good music and good conversation and a relatively good toddler that sat relatively quietly in the backseat.

We learned quickly that gone are the days that you can roll into a city, pull up at the first hotel you see, and get a room. Times sure have changed since the summer we spent on the road, driving all the way to Louisiana and back without a single reservation or even a hint of a plan. Needless to say, we opted for the Travelodge, which appeared to be the only option in town with only one room left and a front desk employee who had never even heard of a pack-n-play and proceeded to scratch his head when we described it as a “travel crib”.

We spent much of our time exploring the city and surrounding areas, stopping in at the occasional Denny’s which seems to fulfill whatever pregnancy cravings I’ve had thus far (hello magnificent butter-melted-belgium-waffles and french fries with those little salt canals engraved into their salty potato goodness). We met up with a few friends in the area as well, which makes this big world we live in feel just a bit friendlier. I shot my sessions and we headed back to Seattle, albeit sitting in traffic for much of the way, and I flew home the following morning, before the sun was even up.

I always longed for the day Janet moved from Utah; always assumed it’d be back to California. And yet visiting the path her life has taken her on has proven almost as fun. Almost. Still longing for the day…

Utah | At home

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I flew to Utah with both boys on my own which isn’t as gutsy as it sounds. For the most part, they’re good travelers. Sure, the guy sitting in front of Hooper may have stories about a particular tray table that kept going up and down and the flight attendant may have had to talk to Van about keeping his seat belt fastened, but all in all it was trouble free. Perspective is everything, right? Van’s insistence with pushing the suitcase actually paid off because when you add up the number of car seats, suit cases, and carry-on bags and compare that number to the number of willing and able hands, I’m clearly outnumbered. Janet (pronounced Jeanette) met us at the airport and helped out from there.
The weather was cold, much colder than it had been in the weeks prior. I would have whined more, but Hooper and Van did enough whining for all of us. Determined, we refused to let any whining or cold weather or hungry babies or nap times slow us down. We had a list of things we wanted to do and we damn near did them all. As for our time spent in the home though? Well, in looking at these pictures now, it’s painfully clear that the majority of our time at home was spent feeding people. Namely babies. But the bigger kids, too.
More from Utah to come in the days to follow… lots of adventures were had.

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Best Friends

It’s hard when your best friend of 15 years lives in another state. I probably sound like a broken record. But you better believe we make the best of our time together. 
Janet and her crew were here for two weeks over Christmas. We went to the Renegade Craft Fair, thrifting, the Natural History Museum, the MOCA, the beach, had lunch and went shopping in Silverlake, as well as enjoyed Christmas Eve brunch together and many other meals at home. You’d think having twins would slow her down, but I swear that girl is supermom, even if she convincingly tells you she doesn’t feel like supermom. With as much as I got to see her and with as much as we got to do together, I kinda wish it were Christmas every month.
I’m considering a trip out to Utah to visit soon, I just don’t know about all the stuff I’d need to bring along for the snow. I can’t fathom buying all the snow gear for the few days it would be used. Hoping to borrow from friends what I can and book that flight soon because I miss her.

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Van & Carla

Van and Carla are seven days apart, which is really kinda crazy when I think about all Janet and I have experienced together; it only seems fitting that pregnancy be on that list. It goes without saying that we’ve had plans for these two… lots of “I can’t wait for this” and “I can’t wait for that” conversations. Our dreams were somewhat shattered when we got the kiddos together in July because there was a lot of bickering and toy stealing and whining and tears between the two of these rugrats. But this last visit, all of that was behind them and they were – dare I say – buds. You know what they say about beginnings… they’re messy.

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Desert or Bust

Janet signed up for Designer Vaca back in the beginning of the year and I assured her I would go – for moral support, ya know – when the time came. The time came and it also happened to be her birthday, so it was nice to celebrate together. The boys tagged along and we joked about how no matter when we get together, there’s some conglomerate of kids around – be it hers or mine or some mix of the both (all of hers stayed back in Utah this time around). The event was held at the Ace, so the boys and I hung out by the pool while Janet attended conferences n’ whatnot. And I’ll tell ya what, Palm Springs with two boys is a lot easier than Palm Springs with two boys and a dog. Just sayin’. And the weather has finally cooled just a bit, the high 90’s being a welcomed retreat from the triple digits. Looking forward to more trips to the desert now that the weather has cooled. Who wants to watch Jimmie? Ha.
And as a side note, what do you do with kids once they’re too big for the pack-n-plays? Hoop is far too big to be sleeping in one of those and despite his insistence on doing so when we travel, it just ain’t gonna work much longer. Even as is he looks like a drunken man who fell asleep while leaning on a wall and kinda haphazardly slid down the wall into a hunched over sitting position. It’s horrible. I’m considering a blow up mattress or just getting a room with two beds. What do y’all do?

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The Great Salt Lake

My kids whine a lot. Hooper more so than Van, due to his age. I don’t think that they are any different than any other kid; all kids whine. I know “I’m bored” is in my not-so-distant-future, but at this point in time it’s a plethora of moans and groans that make my hairs all stand on end and makes me wonder why I drag my kids out of the house ever.
When we first parked at the Salt Lake, it was tantrumville immediately. Being 100 degrees out didn’t help. Nor did the smell of pungent sulfur. Or the abundance – or shall I say downright invasion – of flies or whatever those bugs are that hang out at water’s edge in droves. They whined about going in the water, then they whined when they got in the water but the salt burned, and then – as if a miracle from above – they got over it. All of it. And they, well, enjoyed themselves immensely.
Kids have split personalities. I’m sure of it.
And as the sun went down and we hosed the salt off their skin and clothes, they whined about leaving. And so it goes.
Motherhood: the never ending test of patience.

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The Colorado River, Utah

 We had stopped to get gas when we ran into a car with three guys in it that introduced themselves as “river guides”. This explained the rafts they were hauling and given the fact we had no plans and a full tank of gas, we joined them. We spent that night on a sandbar underneath the stars.  
Fast forward eight years later; driving down the same road reminiscing and praising the angels above that nothing bad ever happened to us, ever, on any of our travels together. And there were many. We passed the same campground we camped at back then; memories of doing our laundry and putting together scrapbooks from our overseas travels we were on before we decided to hit the road. Who knew that visiting a town would unlock little mementos of tiny little memories that would have otherwise been forgotten like leaves falling from a tree and blowing away. Something as simple as a sign alongside the highway that caught your interest way back when, but did nothing for you this go-around. 
Back then, we had no iPods and no iPhones. We made CD’s for the road and blasted our favorite ones over and over again. We had a book the size of the yellow pages full of campgrounds and directions of how to get to them. We had maps, for goodness sakes.
As we glanced behind us in our rented minivan, we couldn’t help but giggle about how much has changed; the kids, the car seats, the twin babies on the way, the husbands back home, Siri telling us to “continue to the route”. Damn Siri and her route. Sometimes I just want to tell her to shove it. Or at least hold on for a minute.
But one thing remained the same. Every time we passed a “view point”, we giggled again, thought of Dan Eldon (who was at that time was our idol and in many ways still is), and were reminded – as we were years ago – that the view is always all around you.
We splashed around in the same river that allowed us to rest our tired heads on it’s banks years ago. Janet, feeling weightless. Carla, feeling brave. Hooper, feeling free. Van, dropping a load in his pants that would later roll out and surprise us all. And myself, feeling grateful to add another memory with my best, most treasured friend to the proverbial banks.

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Childhood Unplugged

A few snapshots from our time spent in Utah.
Little Sahara State Park, Utah
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.

It was a Merry one, indeed.

This Christmas was more low-key than any thus far. We stayed close to home since I’m still recovering and quite limited. Every time I go out, I feel like I can practically see the gas in the tank running out.
But I’ll tell ya, nothing pushes your limits more than a best friend.
Janet and I met up a few days before Christmas to take the kids to see Santa at the local animal shelter (Sarah got
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to go too). Carla and Van weren’t having it and if you could see the amount of make-up Santa had on, you’d probably want off his lap too. The next night we grabbed a bite to eat and took the kids to the candy cane lane in Moorpark. And then, on Christmas Eve, we hosted a little brunch.

I have loads more pictures from Christmas day to upload, so I’ll share those next week. Happy Friday, y’all!

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A day with my best friend, part II

It surprises me every year when we find ourselves at the beach in the “dead” of winter. This day was particularly beautiful; a warm 70 degrees and no wind. Sometimes the elements just come together when your soul sister is in town. After the beach, we grabbed a bite to eat at my of our favorite local joints. It was a day for the memory bank for sure; all of them, with her, are.
You can click here to see a little video Janet put together of our time at the beach. It definitely brought me through some dark days of recovery.

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LACMA

The day after The Huntington Gardens, we hit up the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Good company, good art, good food (complete with

bottled Coke from Mexico, because um, he-low it’s the best)… are you believing me when I tell you, again, this was the best weekend ever?

Gonna be in the LA area? The LACMA better be on your list.

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Ten Things

This is my beautiful best friend. Ten things off the top of my head:
1. We went to high school together but were not friends. Then we roomed together in college and became inseparable.
2. We have babies that are seven days apart.
3. We’ve traveled to Singapore, Indonesia, Guatemala, Mexico, Thailand, India, Malta, Egypt, Morocco, and Belize together. We also drove from California to Louisiana and back. We ate a lot of eggs, which we kept unrefrigerated in the back of the car. We returned early when my nails started mysteriously falling off. Like seriously falling off. It was not related to the the unrefrigerated eggs.
4. We used to go to a hole in the wall Indian restaurant on a regular basis to drink tea. The man that worked there took a liking to us and would have our tea ready once he saw us getting out of the car. We also used to frequent dive bars throughout the valley. One bar offered to “hire” us to hang out there to draw men in. We declined. It was weird.
5. We burned a tire on the beach in Mexico because we were freezing. It made for a big, warm flame but the smell was horrid and I have a feeling it was not good for the environment.
6. Dan Eldon was, at one time, our hero. He’s still pretty up there in my book.
7. There was a period of time I wasn’t dating anyone and Janet I spent so much time together that my dad thought we might be lesbians. He’ll say this was a joke if you ask him about it today, but my mom will confirm that, indeed, he was serious. It’s good to know he loved me all the same.
8. There was a time that we lived together, worked together at a coffee shop, and took the same classes together. And yet the only fight we’ve ever had was on a 24 hour bus ride in India. I couldn’t even tell you what it was about.
9. We went shopping in a huge market in Singapore separately and came out donning the same exact bracelet.
10. And, oh ya, she’s the designer behind this blog. She’s also helping me with something new I have in the works. You can check out a small portion of her work here. She has a blog as well, but despite my persistence, it’s private. I consider myself in the “in” crowd.

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Bits + Pieces

I spent this past weekend in Utah, visiting my best friend and her new baby (Carla is one week older than Van). Years ago, Janet and I were road trippin’ scoundrels. Back then was my first time visiting Utah and I came to associate the state with freedom, the open road, and pleasantly lost souls. We spent our days back then scouring the outskirts of cities big and small for a campground to rest our road heavy and stoned eyes. And now we’re adults, or whatever, looking for quiet corners to breastfeed our young. My oh my how things change and evolve. I’ve spent the last week contemplating and appreciating the beautiful ebbs and flow of life.
In case you missed it, you can check out the videos we made here and here. Happy Saturday!