Thanks Top Coat for the great nails! (check out the instagram feeds of @beenailed on the left and @animininails on the right)
"Nourishing a child’s mind in the first five years of life is as essential as feeding her body..." -Hillary Clinton, for Too Small to Fail. I'm going to be doing some work with Too Small to Fail and couldn't be more excited! Next Generation and the Clinton Foundation have teamed up to provide tools and build the skills needed to help children succeed. Research shows that early years are crucial to a child’s success. Through their Too Small to Fail initiative, the organizations hope to close the word gap and improve the lives of children 0-5. #gomighty4kids
In the spirit of Too Small to Fail, we took our kids to Steep Ravine, a cluster of rustic cabins on the California coast. We spent a few glorious days in a cabin on the edge of the world. We did lots of talking, singing, exploring, with our sweet kids- serious quality family time, y'all! Located near Stinson Beach (North of San Francisco), Steep Ravine is pretty much the most magical place ever and I'm thrilled to have shared the experience with a few other families. Here are some photos from our very cold trip (record lows!) last month.
Our families were in 4 cabins… 8 parents and 7 kids under the age of 5. And we had the best time ever. The beach was a little hike down the rocks and we had the whole thing to ourselves. We saw sea lions, starfish, urchins, and loads of barnacles :) We even found a dead deer carcass on our hike. It was amazingly cold, but I'm not going to complain because this was our amazing view. Special thanks to Meghan who shared this place with us. Ok- photo time...
Building a dam with Dad...
Our slew of families...
Isn't he the cutest?!
Meghan's youngest boy loves twirling her hair and snuggling.
There's an ocean over there...
Materials for my Christmas wreath (instagram!)
Cabins, rocks, ocean, and the world.
The cabin had a beam (not all of them have beams) and we were able to hang up the baby's hammock. It was so so cold, but we were blessed with wood burning stoves- thank goodness because the temps were in the low 30s at night. But what really warmed my heart is this moment where Chris is playing and singing lullabies to our boys. Our older son was falling asleep in the other room. (don't you love the book, Jenga, and beer bottle?!)
The family minus the big kid, who was too busy to be bothered for a quick pic.
Aw- these guys are a pair :)
Lots of great singing and playing and good family fun
The kids playing Uno and Vida cooking up some greens. This is the extent of the kitchen. There was also a grill out front. But no sink or any other kitchen-type things ;) And no bathrooms in the cabin either.
My husband is a genius. And I've never heard of Hobo Stew... wrap up hamburger, potatoes, and carrots (with salt & pepper) in some foil and toss it on the grill. Boom- there's dinner. It rules. Thanks, Chris!
I love the sleepy, nursing days with my baby.
I wish you could have heard this show. Christmas carols and kids and guitar by the warm fire.
"reading" lyrics to the 12 Days of Christmas
My husband's grandfather was a great musician. Chris was given the violin about 20 years ago, but it was in pretty rough shape. For Christmas, Chris and my dad decided to fix up the violin. It's so beautiful! Kamimoto Strings did a wonderful job fixing it up. They opened up the violin and learned that it was handmade in Czechoslovakia about 100 years ago. It sounds so beautiful, but I need to learn how to play it ;) Here are a few photos of it. The black and white photo has Chris's grandfather playing the violin in the late 1940s. It's so amazing.
Next up: lessons. Probably in person, but maybe online? Any thoughts on learning how to play an instrument?
I think this is the best Christmas present ever. Thanks, Dad, Chris, and Grandpa Orin. What is the best gift you've received?
I do love writing down a few goals for the new year. I've done it in the past and feel pretty good about the results. You can read about 2013 here. 2013 was a total bust with regard to reading, but I had a baby in March and he was sleeping in our bed until last week. I'm definitely giving myself a pass on that one since I usually do all my reading at night before bed and didn't want to risk waking up the baby by turning on the light.
1. Read grownup books. I love Roald Dahl and all the other kid books we read, but darnit, I want to read something for me. Even if it's just for a few minutes before bed. I have a slew of books (<photo at bottom of post) that I bought last Christmas break.
2. Volunteer. This is a follow-up from last year's goal, but I have found the organization I'd like to work with: Nurse Family Partnership. It is "a maternal and early childhood health program, fosters long-term success for first-time moms, their babies, and society." New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof says NFP may be the most important earliest intervention. More details to come on this partnership :)
3. Waste less food. I don't think we waste a lot, but I'm going to strive to do better. First test: the pineapple I bought today. I'm going to cut it and juice it because kale, celery, and pineapple juice is the best thing I've ever had and I don't want to pay Whole Foods $6 for another Kale Yeah.
4. Take violin lessons. I got the raddest violin for Christmas (there will be a whole post on that!). And I want to take lessons this year. I'm ok knowing that I'll never be the next Andrew Bird (omg- his striped socks!) or Tin Cup Prophette (I held her baby boy during this show so she could perform. I love her).
Hello my long-lost loves! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Ours was lovely & warm. I'm excited about a big project coming up in the new year and I need your help finding awesome families to model for me!
I'm looking for families with children ages 0-5 who are available in late January or early February for a photoshoot in San Jose. To be considered, please email me with a few photos, contact info, and the age of the child/children.
"What should we wear for family photos?" I get asked this question every time I book a family photography session. I have lots to say about this, so I thought I would put together a little post for y'all. The boys are asleep, it's Monday night, and Pinterest just isn't cutting it tonight. So you're in luck- Here are a few tips to make your family look naturally awesome.
Tip #1- Keep it Simple. This is the nice way of me saying no words, logos, brands, characters or pictures on your clothes. Not even a little logo by the chest pocket of your shirt. Logos and designs are super distracting. And you'll be much more pleased with your photos over time if you're not a walking advertisement. Solid is probably best, stripes are totally ok, and patterns are sometimes ok if done well.
Tip #2- Not too Formal. Be yourselves! Think about wearing a slightly nicer outfit than you usually do. Also think about the location… you don't want to be all dressed up if we're taking photos at the park. You don't want to be all dressed up if we're taking photos at your house.
Tip #3 Color. Please don't get all matchy-matchy on me. Think about coordinating different shades of a color, or similar colors that compliment each other. I would choose your outfit first- I'm making the assumption that you're the mom reading this ;) and then help with your spouse (if necessary… some dads can totally rock this out on their own) and kids (see Tip #4). It's so important for everyone to be comfortable in what they're wearing and generally speaking, the moms are usually the most self-conscious and critical of themselves. So make sure mom is super happy in her outfit. (Feel free to get your hair done… I feel downright amazing when I take the time to go to Drybar and get my hair all done up smooth and right).
Tip #4 Getting your kids to wear what you want… Ahhhhh, this is tricky, right?! Guess what? You can't make them wear something they don't want to. If you have a little fashionista or a stubborn love bug, let's keep the kids happy and give them a choice of 2 things. Give yourselves enough time to get ready so that you don't have to rush the little ones and make sure everyone is fed before the photo session ;)
Tip #5 (optional!) Shopping. Again, totally optional. You can definitely minimize your cost by planning around what you already own. But if you're looking for something new, I'm generally pretty happy with Anthropologie, Zara (kids, too), J. Crew (crewcuts!), Flora and Henri, Olive Juice Kids, Kidscase (euro alert), and Mini Boden. My super favorite splurge clothing companies for kids are Fith (sold at Cotton Sheep, SF), Neve and Hawk, and Wovenplay. Cool online retailers for kid clothes: Thumbeline, Estella, Poppys Closet, Little Vida, and Trommpo.
That's my list. Hope this helps… is there anything you'd add? Share any other ideas in the comments. Here are a few photos from a photo session last year for some inspiration.
Hooray for our sweet birthday boy! We celebrated our son's 5th birthday over the weekend. It was crazy times with 27 kids running and riding vehicles all over. One of our favorite children's book author/illustrator is Richard Scarry, so the whole party was centered around it. We should probably donate money to his foundation or something as payback for all the images we scanned and printed. We had a goldbug hunt, hopscotch, and a general drive-around free-for-all! My brother drew out an amazing 30 foot banner/mural of Busytown. We originally were going to have the kids color it in, but it turned out so awesome, that we changed our minds.
Able Baker Charlie, Farmer Alfalfa, and Grocer Cat provided the snacks and cupcakes. It was a crazy afternoon, but I know my boy had an amazing time. Special thanks to Stephen Wahl for the last 2 photos.
I'm fresh off the plane from Palm Springs and the Camp Mighty event and I'm super proud to let y'all know that I've already unpacked my suitcase. Boom. I'm nearly certain that I've never unpacked my bag on the same day as returning from a trip. Heck, I still have a bag half-unpacked from a trip a few weeks ago. I even had a baby with me so I deserve double points because I unpacked his stuff, too. Generally I'm a bit scattered. But Camp Mighty was such a nice retreat for me. While it was a work trip (official photographer, holla!) and I had my baby, I loved every minute of it. And loved all the attention that my super sweet baby got. He was a champ, for sure, and deserved every bit of that attention. Special thanks to my friend, Angela, whom I brought with me to enjoy the event and help a bit with the baby.
I went to Camp Mighty last year (blog here, here, and here) and loved the motivation and inspiration it brought into my life! Here is a great description from their website: "Camp Mighty is Go Mighty in real life…an annual retreat for bloggers, Go Mighty members, online content creators, and life list enthusiasts who want to do good for themselves and for others. Each year more than 150 people attend Camp to trade ideas, gain motivation to start new projects, and find the support that can help make things happen." Here's my Go Mighty list of things I want to make happen. And here's my Life List on my blog from last year. Here are a few photos from my jammin' awesome weekend.
Soundtrack to this evening's post: M.I.A. & Supertramp
my super-trooper Camp Mighty baby!
Larry (6 Word Memoirs), Maggie (Go Mighty), and Piper (Orange is the New Black) taking a very proper self-portrait (ooh, I have a hard time saying 'selfie'). Larry founded the 6 Word Memoir Project and his shirt rules: "Our prision visits were surprisingly romantic."
My pal's 6 Word Memoir:
"Are you taking a photo of my wife's leg?" And then I was instant friends with Leah and Simon from agirlandaboy. Love them!
Anna Dorfman, of Door Sixteen, talked about how Life Lists really aren't her jam. She showed us this rad Chuck Close video. And yes, she's just as cool in real life. I was too shy to talk to her. Damn, Kate! UGH.
Just in case we didn't think Palm Springs could be any more gorgeous, we were treated to an amazing full moon!
Mid-Space Party, Lori decides to go for a swim instead. She is stunning. The End. We can all go home now.
Leah & Simon spacing it up!
We all wrote 5 goals we want to accomplish and posted them on the back wall. We were encouraged to read others' goals and leave notes if we had ideas on how to help them accomplish their goals. But a few, very special tags just had lovely words of encouragement and they made me so happy!! My list can be seen here. I think I'll write a post about my 5. Because I need help. And accountability.
Closing dinner by the pool. Yes, please.
And this is me, carrying my sleeping baby around. Tamara (@TamVanHorn) said something super rad to me on The Twitter today:
Best "business card" goes to The Paper Mama. Chelsey nailed it with these wooden rings she handed out.
And then we checked out of the Ace and came on home. Lickety Split. Cheers, y'all.
I was delighted when Shilpa emailed me to ask me to come photograph her family! She has a 6 week old baby, and almost 4 year old. Everyone was so happy and giggly. We did some photos at their house and some at the park across the street. Here are some of my favorites.