gone home, too

I am shooting more and more families like this one, who traveled from all over the states to Newport Beach for a family vacation! Grandma and Grandpa, their five kids, each of their spouses, and all of the grandkids joined in this fun.

Each shoot is beautifully unique to every family and their own story, and when they leave I feel like pieces of me have gone home with them.

A Perfect Sunday and a Dive into Underwater Photography

A Sunday where little was planned, little was scheduled, except just being together. Lazy morning, a great day at church, easy, delicious pasta salad for dinner and then: THE BEACH. We are a little obsessed with our raft. 

I cannot wait until I offer underwater photography SESSIONS! I will soon! Here in Seattle I'm sure it'll be a huge hit (baha)! But seriously, how fun is this?!?! I was just using a GoPro, but the shots are stellar! I'm saving my pennies for underwater housing.

Tyler and Annie snuck up on us. They loaded up in the raft around the corner from us who were sitting on the beach already. Tyler had thrown a tennis ball in the raft and started rowing when he saw it floating in the water beside them. Annie said, "No, I no wike dat. No wannit." What Annie wants Annie gets. I love her Spanish syntax combined with English words. Hearing her language develop brings me so much joy. She stutters frequently, but I'm not worried right now. (Kids often stutter when they are learning to talk because their brain is moving faster than their mouths can keep up - add another language and they have 2-3 times the work to do, or sounds to assimilate.) I think she is doing amazing learning two languages, and I hope she sees the value of knowing two languages as she grows. 

After Tyler and Annie make their grand entrance Will and Zoe jumped in the raft too, and they all sailed out to sea. 

Annie and Zoe are brave souls. They loved playing in the water and couldn't get enough. Even though they were shivering badly they wouldn't come out to dry off. Will would tell Zoe, "Zoe, don't go out that far, be careful." And she would respond, "No, I'm big girl." And add something about how she was fine walking straight out into wide open waters (in her Patagonia dress). Kate kept saying, "I doe in 'ere. I doe in 'ere" while pointing to the water. She wanted to swim in it like Annie and Zoe but when Tyler would drop her down she would say, "no, no, no."

Zoe grabbed the seaweed she kept saying, "It's grass!" and put it on her head.

When we got back in the car Annie said she needed the heater cranked. When Tyler or I tried to turn it down she made us turn it back on. I love my water babies - who needs a heated pool to learn to swim in Seattle...? 

I love pictures that are fresh, new to me, and outside my comfort zone. I'm crazy excited to see where this goes...

Living the Summer Solstice Dream

@nicolebcheung said it best, "Our summer solstice parade is better than your summer solstice parade." Naked babies running around wild and who are stained red and blue by fistfuls of blueberries and raspberries, delicious meals, Target and Old Navy shopping sprees, pony rides, swimming for hour and hours, complete freedom, walks into the sunset, the world's greatest dress up armoire, and even some pole fitness adorned our week long mommy-baby trip in Wenatchee. I leave Cyndi's house feeling so thankful for what feels like infinite love that continuously pours out of her.

One of my favorite memories: It was evening, before the kid's bath time, and Annie was SUUUUPER cranky from so much fun in the sun and no nap. She smashed Jonah's finger in the door (of course while they were all goofing off) and then was smiling at me with her hands covering her eyes while I *attempted* some sort of discipline (who's not winging this parenting thing....?) Basically I told her she "was done" and it was bedtime for her. I shut the door while the other kids were getting ready for their bath. I was so frustrated with Annie by that point that I could have banged my head repeatedly against a brick wall. I went downstairs to get a cheese stick for Kate, and complain to a mom who had been there and done that - 8 times, mind you! - about what I was having to deal with right then (which included a very sad screaming Jonah because of a smashed finger and a sad screaming Annie by this point because I keep trying to put her in bed but she kicks at me and covers her eyes and isn't listening and then she is laughing at me and! and! AND! AANNNDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!) and ALL CYNDI DID WAS LAUGH.

So much of my life was thrown into perspective in that moment. All that I fret about, the control I try to have, the chaos I try to manage, the tantrums I try to calm, the fighting I work to settle, the hitting, kicking, bugging, teasing, the "Annnnnnieee scremememing me...!!!!!" that Kate loves to cry about (as if she has never intentionally screamed at Annie to make Annie cry...)... All of it had never felt so menial. In the instant Cyndi laughed my whole life with kids flashed before my eyes and I saw clearly that I always have a choice to make: frustration or calm. I do not talk lightly about that! That choice is SO hard, especially past 4 pm. 

Parenting is hard for me because I want to raise sweet, well-behaved children, but when and how do I demand that behavior when right now I really. just. don't. care. to fight for it? Or maybe, I don't have the energy to fight for it. I really just want to put them in their room, close the door, and walk away. When they don't stay there is when the war begins and I want to lose it. Many times I do let my girls' crankiness get the best of me, but I want to try harder at not letting it affect or control my emotions and actions. And I wonder, if they could see that their problem was never my problem, maybe they wouldn't continue to do the annoying things that deep down do get to me (like run around like crazy people when they are clearly exhausted and it's bed time and they're supposed to lay down and stay there). I can never clearly articulate my thoughts and feelings in words but all I'm trying to say is, "I want to laugh it off more, and self destruct less." 

Anyway, life is perfect in Wenatchee, and here is the proof:

Camping at Mt. Hood

Tyler and I joke that it's a good thing our friends do cool things otherwise we would never go anywhere. And the Pollocks! They are always up for a trip and Mt. Hood didn't disappoint. Our campsite was an Airbnb on some property in Carson, WA. The host lives in an RV at the top of the hill, and at the bottom of the hill by the creek, lies the campsite, a fire pit, a table and chairs, a porta potty, a sink with potable water, a shower in a tent, and firewood free for the taking. 

We ate hot dogs every night followed by s'mores. Rebecca and Will even cooked corn in their husks, in the campfire, that turned out delicious! We began day 1 on a hike around Mirror Lake, where once again I got sick of carrying a baby and Tyler ended up carrying two (and he's so hopeful I can do Shi Shi soon--insert laughing emoji here). We passed a mom who was helping her son fish with a little plastic fishing pole that reminded me of my Shamu fishing pole from years past. My dad would take my brother, sister, and I fishing, each with our little plastic fishing poles in the deserted lakes of Modoc County in northern California. I remember him spending looootttttssss of time untangling the string that knotted up inside the whale. 

At the U-Pick farm hung a ginormous swing. There are some photos of Annie and Tyler blurring by and they remind me of this paradoxical life that moves so fast, yet too slow. I recently found a video of Kate as a baby cracking up in her pack-n-play while a teenie-tiny-less-than-two-year-old Annie was repeatedly hopping over the edge of it tickling her. In the video they look so small. So small, even though it's only months ago! And while I still feel I am drowning in babies and crumbs and chunks of who knows what under the kitchen table, it seems those days were soooo long ago. I suddenly missed my baby, tiny girls: their short hair, their curls, their huge mouths in comparison to their little bodies, tantrums mostly about not wanting to be left in their beds at night, their teeny hands and arms wrapped so tightly around my neck. I wish I could go back in 15 minute increments that didn't involve diapers and dishes and laundry and nursing - but did involve sleep, lots of sleep. Seems like the grandparent life really is the best life. (A lady on the bus today told my fussy girls, "When you're my age you get to take naps all over again." I responded smiling, "Can't come soon enough." And then she said, "Then the doctor tells you, 'Just go take a nap' and you say, 'But I've been doing that for hours...'")

Speaking of babies growing up so fast and too slow all at the same time: I never want to forget Kate's waddle down our hallway: legs, thighs, bum jiggling, jiggling, jiggling, as she runs from anyone who will chase her. Sometimes she tries to run so fast she looks like she's on an elliptical, propelling her jiggling self forward with each step, laughing so hard she can't keep herself upright and she's tilted forward the entire time. My dad once said, regarding my life home with babies, "Not a care in the world." I think he's right.

When our Mirror Lake hike came to an end Tyler made multiple wrong turns to finally land us at the U-Pick cherry picking farm we had seen on the drive up. There is a system to cherry picking, I learned: sign away your life on the release form for a ladder. Wait for said ladder. After you meet the 12,693 requirements for being able to climb the ladder you can pick the cherries: beautiful, juicy, sweet Rainiers and Bings bursting at the seams. Will began the picking adventure since he was the one who signed the release form. He picked - making sure to keep stems on as advised - tossed to Tyler, who then handed to Annie, who in turn passed to Zoe, who happily put each one in the bucket. Then Kate would eat some. After we filled our 5 lb. bucket, and our bellies - and took loads of photos - we headed to the lavender farm.

The field was one giant air freshener wafting pure deliciousness through the air. I could have eaten everything lavender infused while sitting beside those thousands of lavender bushes. They should sell lavender-infused brownies with a side of lavender milkshakes. This pit stop was slow-moving and refreshing. We practically had the field to ourselves, as they had just closed the shop, except for an older lady standing in the middle of it painting - for good reason as there was a gorgeous view of Mt. Hood. Tyler and Annie had some daddy-daughter summersault time, and the photos are some of my favorites from the trip. Moving on from the lavender fields we stopped on the Columbia River to watch endless amounts of kite surfers!

Photos of our family were taken by Rebecca Pollock, and Tyler even picked up my camera at the Lavender Farm and took some photos of Kate playing with the sign, sitting in the lavender, and eating a big fistful of dirt!

Camping at Ohanapecosh

At the last minute our friends found a highly coveted spot at the Ohanapecosh Campground in the Mt. Rainier National Park (which to our celebration was someone else's cancellation). Tyler and Steve were chatting on the bus the day before their departure, so we got lucky and were able to tag along with them! They packed amazing food - chorizo and eggs and tortillas for breakfast - and Tyler and Steve packed their fly fishing poles. For some reason I did not pack us to sleep near snow and glaciers so we were a bit under packed, still it was one of the best camping trips we have taken to date! I found some freshly cut cherry wood - that was hard to light and had us worried, until it finally caught fire and burned long and hot! -  and we packed two huge bags of it. The girls slept the entire ride down which left Tyler and I free to talk and listen and laugh together. After arriving after dark, Tyler put all his skills to work setting up our tent.

This specific campground is the start and finish points for multiple hikes of all skill levels, and of course, everywhere you look is breathtaking. We mostly laid low, sitting by the campfire eating s'mores, doing short hikes, stuffing ourselves with delicious camp food, and exploring the raging river that runs through the campground. Annie peed her pants while taking a nap in the car on the way to Paradise, so in our lack of preparation she was left with a swimsuit to wear - which she loved every minute of, as did the people standing by taking pictures of her playing in glacier water (I still don't know what to say to those people; sometimes I just stand in front of them...) Tyler only packed one shirt and of course Kate's poopy diaper leaked on it so he ended up in one of my extras (which makes him look like macho man in one of the photos).

While the swimsuits were strategically packed so we could enjoy the Ohanapecosh Hot Springs, we later learned they "aren't the swimming kind" per the lady at the Visitor's Center. With a laugh we walked the 20 minute, and .01 mile, hike through the hot springs - that were more like trickles of water running down the side of the rock. Tyler and Steve took out their fly fishing poles one evening, and their only excuse for not catching any fish is: this river doesn't have many. Oh, and the ones it does house are really small. (Insert laughing emoji here.)

Hiking with these two littles is kinda hilarious. While Annie runs ahead saying, "Mom, mom, run! Mom, run! Running! Mom, run! Dis like Annie!" Kate waddles behind swinging her arms across her whole body while her bum dramatically moves back and forth. And to top it all off says, "I too heavy. I too heavy." When she is done, she turns around and walks the other direction, despite all of our hollering for her to come back. She sneakily stares us down and when we continue forward she starts all over: running, swinging arms, waddling bum, "I too heavy. I too heavy" and we can't do anything but crack up and playfully roll our eyes. I don't know how Kate sees every single teeny tiny bug on our path but she screams, "Bicho!" ("bug" in Spanish) and wants to stop, squat, stare, then says, "I touching? I touching?" asking if she can touch it. She squeals and squeals while it scampers for its life. 

Right now Annie is a creative dancer. She was swinging her shirt all around while kicking her feet up sideways and dancing to the banjo music in the campground. Lately while walking she raises her hands up in the air and I feel a rush of this-is-my-daughter-and-she-will-be-whoever-she-wants-to-be. The most important thing I need her to know if life is that I love her. A close second to that is my desire to infuse confidence into her - I wish I could fill her with so much confidence that she would not notice when others aren't being kind, and that she would have the ability to love them, and more importantly love herself, regardless of their insecurities and treatment of the world. 

This weekend was a much needed break from all of lifes' demands, and we took full advantage of our time together. The last two photos are of: 1. the view from the sunroof on the way home. We were racing past thick, white clouds as well as views of Mt. Rainier I didn't even know existed from the road. And, 2. Annie and Kate had to take 2 baths when we came home they were so filthy. 

Thank you to Steve, Karen, and William for the getaway (and getting some photos of me with my babes!)


Thoughts on Creativity

Sir Ken Robinson gave a TED talk about creativity and referenced Dane Gillian Lynne. Gillian was given her title by the Queen due to her contributions to dance and theatre. Gillian choreographed Cats and Phantom of the Opera, and many other shows. She is now 88, still dances, and is married to the love of her life, who is 27 years younger than herself. Her life story is incredible.

Sir Ken Robinson and Gillian had lunch one day. When he asked her how she became a dancer she said she was helpless in school. Her mom took her to the doctor because she couldn't take it anymore. The school, in the 30s, wrote to Gillian's mom and told her they thought she had a learning disorder. The teachers told Gillian's mom they would call her "wriggle bottom" because she didn't have an attention span and couldn't stop moving. Gillian's mom took her to a specialist. While Gillian sat on her hands for 20 minutes this doctor talked with her mom about all of her problems. After a bit he went over to Gillian, sat by her, and said, "I need to speak to your mother privately. We will be right back. We won't be long." The doctor and Gillian's mom left her, but, before walking out of the room he turned the radio on. Outside the room the doctor told Gillian's mom to stand and watch her daughter. "And the minute they'd gone, I lept up, I lept on his desk, I lept off his desk, I danced all around the room. I had the most fabulous time." Said Gillian. Outside the room the doctor said to Gillian's mom, "There is nothing wrong with this child! She needs to learn to dance. She is a born dancer." He told her to take Gillian to a dance school. And she did. Gillian told Sir Ken Robinson, "I can't tell you how wonderful it was. We walked in this room and it was full of people like me. People who couldn't sit still. People who had to move to think. Who had to move to think." Gillian eventually auditioned for The Royal Ballet School. She became a soloist, had an incredible career there, graduated, and founded her own ballet school. She Met Andrew Lloyd Weber, is responsible for some of the most successful musical directions in history, has given pleasure to millions, and is a multi-millionaire. Gillian says she owes the doctor her life and her career. She said he saw an energy in her--and she feels she was possessed with one of the most unusual energies, "And he saw it." 

NPR: "If you can teach creativity, where do you start?"

Sir Ken Robinson, "...inspire interest in passion, curiosity, and light up peoples' imaginations with the interests they themselves have for a particular discipline or field of work." 

This is called freelensing. I am learning a lot about photography and even more about my style and even mooooorrre about what causes me to run around the house shrieking with joy - what sets off fireworks inside me because I made something my own. These photos' imperfections are exactly what makes them perfect to me. I took a risk and the most beautiful part is: the outcome doesn't matter! This newfound journey is one of growth and practice, as all things in life are, and I am not in a hurry to get anywhere - I want nothing more than to fill my cup to overflowing with creativity and joy.

As an aside, there were four artists/CDs that blared through my family's house (and car) while growing up: Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, and The Phantom of the Opera. My mom would only cruise with the windows down, her foot hanging out the window of the car, and Whitney blasting through the speakers. And that was in 110 degree Sacramento weather. My dad would crank the stereo in the house and "THE PHANNNNNNN-TOM OF THE OP-ERA IS-SS THERRRE.....IN-SIIIIIDE MY MIND......" Oh, the good, good childhood memories. We went multiple times when I was younger to see The Phantom of the Opera because my dad loved it so much, and I'm happy to now know the inspiring story behind the choreographer. I even feel thankful for the doctor that told Gillian's mom to put her in dance class, and for her mom who took some great advice.