25/52: Dancing


Ohhhh my Ruby girl,

We went out to see your cousins, Auntie Laura, and Uncle Marshall in Fresno back in May. Hazey was playing "Frozen" songs and even put the movie on one night. You have been OBSESSED (no exaggeration) ever since. Your favorite song, by far, is "Love is An Open Door," or, as you like to refer to it, "Door." You've begun to get the song stuck in your head and sometimes I'll peek over at you, reading or doing a puzzle, and you'll just start singing to yourself, "doooooo-or-or." I'll sing it to you while you're having breakfast and you fill in the blanks to all the words. Just too cute. 

Whenever I put the song actually ON you just lose it - twirling, clapping, stomping your feet; adding any number of self-choreographed moved each new time. Here you are, yesterday, in the backyard. Jammin' out as only my sweet, spunky Ruby tudes can. (Don't worry, lovebug, your arm wasn't disappearing - I just wanted you to see how smooth your moves were by slowing down the shutter speed).

I love you baby,

Mom

Welcome To This Vibrant World - Part Two | An Oakland Newborn + Family Lifestyle Photography Session

Who can forget this amazing family?

If you need a refresher, check out part one of their family photo session collection riiiiiiight here.

What a pleasure it was to not only meet this local East Bay family but to get to hang out with them TWICE in a matter of just a few weeks, I mean, how lucky am I?! For this second newborn and family session I had the privilege of meeting Sean, Milo and Liam's loving grandfather. When I say loving I mean completely, utterly, undeniably smitten grandfather. Take a look:

I think Milo's sweet smile says it all! This is one deeply loved grandfather. And, of course, any child with that capacity for love, must have an amazingly loving family to demonstrate it right back:

And, what could be more important than self-love? Liam knows what I'm talking about:

Documenting this family is a sheer joy. I can't wait for the next time!

Featured on Life + Lens Blog | "Father's Day Inspiration."

The Warrior's took home the NBA Championship last night. I was woken up by a kiss from my amazing (and amazingly happy) husband. The girls were in great moods all morning and went down easily for nap. I flipped a perfect omelet and actually had my tea while still hot. How could this day get any sweeter, you might ask? How about getting FEATURED on Life + Lens Blog's "Father's Day Inspiration" post!

Two features in two weeks!? (okay, one day over two weeks but "two features in 15 days!" just didn't sound right). What an honor!

On Memorial Day, Joe, Ruby, Vera, and I walked up to the UC Berkeley campus, as it is a quick twenty minute walk down the street. On the way we stopped to grab sandwiches and when we got to the campus, laid out a blanket to have a low-key picnic on the grass. The girls had other plans! The moment they got out of their stroller, they were on the GO. Daddy, to the rescue, found a nook (California Hall) to read the girls a book in. But, that was short lived. I think the stairs were far too tempting. Then, as per usual, Ruby wasn't too happy about being put back in the stroller, so daddy caved and let her play some more. What a softie.

I'd have to say what made this day especially memorable was, as we were strolling through campus preparing to exit, we heard "The Star Spangled Banner" resounding from the bells of the Sather Tower. It was a lovely reminder of why we were able to spend the lovely day with one another.

Some more photos from Memorial Day:


23/52: Rule Of Thirds


Vee Vee,

Whenever anyone asks me something like, "What makes your girls' distinct? How are their personalities different from one another?" I always, first of all, think to myself "What kind of question is that?! I mean seriously, how the heck am I supposed to answer that while standing in line at the grocery store (or wherever we may be)?!" Then I take a deep breath, in an effort to gather my abbreviated version of just what makes you and your sis unique little humans. Then I usually look at you and say, "Well, Vera here *while stroking your hair* she is our bashful one; she has to get to know you before she opens up. But, once she does, she's the biggest goof ever!"

Now, that may be true when it comes to you and about 95% of the people you meet. But, NOT with your Uncle Nick. I swear, Vee, you not only have been smitten with your Uncle from the first moment you met, but, he brings out a side to you that your daddy and I have never seen before. One time you sung and spun around in circles (aka dancing) for an entire song (and, believe me I KNOW you would have stopped would it have not been for your Uncle Nicky watching). Very impressive. 

Yesterday your Uncle came over to watch the (amazing!!!) Warrior's game. We played in the backyard for a little while before the game started and as usual, Vee, you were showing off your skills -- this time of sitting at your picnic table like a *big kid* --  for precious Uncle Nick.

I love you you cutie pie,

Mom

Welcome To This Vibrant World - Part One | An Oakland Newborn + Family Lifestyle Photography Session

Meet (from left to right) Padraic, Milo, Joanna, Liam, Ruth, and Jeff:

The first thing that comes to my mind when thinking about this family is JOY! The second would be BOUNDLESS ENERGY. Well, from one member of the family in particular ;)

Joanna reached out to me in hopes that I could do an in-home family lifestyle session while her parents were in town meeting their (here 12-days-old) new grandson. I was more than happy to oblige, and, am so pleased that I had the opportunity to meet this fellow East Bay family!

The abundance of love that each member of this family exhibited toward one another was inspirational. They were unaffected by the presence of my camera and, because of that, the spirit of their individual personalities really shined in each image.

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of returning to this family’s home for yet another lifestyle session; with Padraic’s father visiting this time. Stay tuned for Part Two.

I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful family to document!

20/52: Framed


Hazel, my 6-year-old niece, photographed here, had a carnival at her elementary school last Saturday. She found a trick to jumping extra high in the bouncy house.

Disclaimer: This was taken with the last eight days, not seven. But, I’d say it’s okay to break the rules sometimes.

For My Daughters: Mommy's Special Day

Hi lovebugs,

Some say that when you pass away, scenes from your life flash before your eyes. If this is true, I like to imagine this as presenting in animated vignettes; spliced together from all of the significant, powerful, or inspirational moments of my life. It also might involve Joe Cocker's version of "With A Little Help From My Friends."

Yesterday was one of those days for me.

It was Mother's Day, and you two made it an unforgettable day, indeed. Now, I know *officially* it was my second Mother's Day, but I consider it my third, as when I had you two growing inside me, our strengthening bond was growing as well. I must say, though, with you two now being increasingly able to interact with the world around you, days like yesterday come to feel much more unpredictable; spontaneous; sublime. 

For eight of the nine or so months I was pregnant with you girls, we lived in Daly City, just south of where mommy was going to grad school, and north of where daddy was working. During the latter part of that time I would get wiped out pretty easily. On the weekends, feeling exhausted from the demands school, teaching and pregnancy had taken on my body during the week, I'd beg your daddy to take me to the beach. To me, there is nothing more centering than the ocean; its humbling expansiveness; its fresh, restorative breeze; its unhurried, lapping tempo helping to re-sync amidst the fast-paced rhythm of daily life.

As you can tell, I really liked to go to this beach.

Vee, you showed me where that sound of crashing waves was coming from ;)

Vee, you showed me where that sound of crashing waves was coming from ;)

Ru, tactile one you are, immediately dug your hands into the freezing, wet sand. I was sure you'd begin to cry.

Ru, tactile one you are, immediately dug your hands into the freezing, wet sand. I was sure you'd begin to cry.

But I was mistaken.

But I was mistaken.

It became a regular routine. On Sundays, daddy and I would drive down to Pacifica, only about 10 minutes from where we lived, have crepes (and I'd have about a gallon of fresh orange juice) at The High Tide, and afterward, stroll down to the beach. It became a really nice ritual.

When we moved out here to Berkeley in August of 2013 and, shortly thereafter, when welcomed you beautiful girls into the world, that ritual quickly became a thing of the past; and, truthfully, the last thing we considered trying to fit into our new-twin-parent schedule.

That is, until yesterday. As a special Mother's Day excursion, your daddy and I brought you two to our special spot. We had breakfast at the High Tide and you two could not get enough of the beach (really though, Ru I think you brought back as much as you possible could with you!).

There was a really nice woman sitting behind you, Ru, gushing over you two. I decided ask her take our photo. Vee, you were too busy with you banana pancakes to look up; I think that amused you, Ru :)

There was a really nice woman sitting behind you, Ru, gushing over you two. I decided ask her take our photo. Vee, you were too busy with you banana pancakes to look up; I think that amused you, Ru :)

Vee, you've been SUPER into drinking your water out of a straw lately. You have a new technique where you bite down on the straw then purse your lips in and out while drinking.

Vee, you've been SUPER into drinking your water out of a straw lately. You have a new technique where you bite down on the straw then purse your lips in and out while drinking.

In action.

In action.

"Hey! What are you lookin' at me for?!"

"Hey! What are you lookin' at me for?!"

Ru, you were content singing songs with your precious daddy!

Ru, you were content singing songs with your precious daddy!

My sweet Ruby ♥

My sweet Ruby ♥

It was, by far, the best, most exhilarating time I had ever had at that beach. I look forward to many more.

Thank you for such a special day baby girls (and daddy).

I love you,

Mom




18/52: Silhouette


Yesterday I had the pleasure of doing a family photo session with a lovely family here in the East Bay. You’ll be seeing much more of them in the weeks ahead. When I arrived at their home, this man opened the door, greeted me with a welcome smile, and alerted to his wife -- nursing their precious 12-day-old son, photographed here as well -- “honey, the photographer’s here!”


What a beautiful life.

For My Daughters: Tuesday Tomfoolery

Hey boo boos,

You two have grown increasingly more sweet with one another over the past few months (thank. GOODNESS!). Now, unlike a few months ago, when daddy or I ask either of you to "give a [insert toy/snack/pacifier/musical instrument/book here] to your sissy" you actually DO! I'm afraid with your *terrible twos* rapidly approaching, that magnanimous attitude may change a bit, so I'm going to relish in it for now.

On Tuesday, you were being particularly silly and sweet. Quite a lovely combination of traits for me to witness. I decided it would be the day I would open up your Minnie Mouse instrument set you got as a gift for your first birthday. It said it was for ages 3+ so, being the worrywart you know I can be at times, I held off for a long time to open it up for you girls. Only thing is, it had a transparent case. You poor things had to stare at the maracas, whistle, castanets, A RECORDER; all without the ability to actually PLAY with them. So, when I finally pried open that case, you two were hysterically giddy...

You were very inventive, Ru, utilizing the recorder as a drumstick. Much better grip. Vee, you weren't so taken with the innovation.

You were very inventive, Ru, utilizing the recorder as a drumstick. Much better grip. Vee, you weren't so taken with the innovation.

for about five minutes.

During those minutes, though, we sung and played "If You're Happy and You Know It..." because that's how mommy gets you girls to do silly commands like, "touch your nose, dance around," or, of course my favorite, "give sissy kisses!"

Moments before a sissy smooch!

Moments before a sissy smooch!

You were battling a bit, Ru, with the whistle. I showed you how to play it several times. But, you just couldn't quite get it. After you got frustrated and threw it on the couch, sis took her opportunity to snatch it. Didn't look like you minded.

There's a grin on that cutie face. Nice snatch, Vee!

There's a grin on that cutie face. Nice snatch, Vee!

 
"I don't need no stickin' whistle!"

"I don't need no stickin' whistle!"

 

After a while I thought I'd try "If you're happy and you know it, pretend you're sleepy" 'cause you've been so silly with fake snoring lately; especially you, Vee. Instead, you girls did the SWEETEST thing. You laid your heads really gently on the couch and just looked right at mommy. I kept the camera down so my eyes weren't blocked by it (and hoping it wouldn't be a distraction). I could cry even right now just looking at the sweet expressions on your faces here:

The moment was short-lived.

You started up with the shenanigans once again.

When daddy walked in the door, he grabbed the camera, thinking the light looked cool on my face, and took these photos of me. I figure you might think they're silly.

mom.jpg

I love you,

Mom

For My Daughters: Temps

Hi lovebugs,

Yesterday was "Take Your Kids To Work" Day. So,  I decided that it would be fun to dress you up in band t-shirts and head over to daddy's work for the activities they had planned. What a fun day it was!

First order of business: mess with the blinds.

First order of business: mess with the blinds.

The sun was shining so brightly on your face here, Ruby. But, I wanted you both to see how elated your dad was to have you two (and mommy) come spend time with him at his office.

The sun was shining so brightly on your face here, Ruby. But, I wanted you both to see how elated your dad was to have you two (and mommy) come spend time with him at his office.

Ru, you were fascinated by the enormous window overlooking the streets. We counted the cars and whenever I would get to 3, you'd say "niiii... ten!" A for effort, my love.

Ru, you were fascinated by the enormous window overlooking the streets. We counted the cars and whenever I would get to 3, you'd say "niiii... ten!" A for effort, my love.

There was a band there just for kids your age! They were called the "Alphabet Rockers" and performed songs all about things you girls love: animals, the ABC's, food... very heady stuff.

Your first concert! You go INTO IT, Ru!

Your first concert! You go INTO IT, Ru!

Daddy's company brought in a frozen yogurt cart, as well. Needless to say, you two were ALL OVER that. Good thing there were plenty of distractions, otherwise I'm afraid, when I took away your yogurt, we would've seen the biggest tandem tantrum (you see what I did there?) in Schmidt history!

Vera, your eyes were on your prey!

Vera, your eyes were on your prey!

Cool kids with your Beatles and Bob Marley shirts.

Cool kids with your Beatles and Bob Marley shirts.

Vee, you took a while to warm up to the whole new environment. You set in the comfort of daddy's lap for quite a while, but, as soon as you were acquainted with your surroundings, there was no stopping you (literally, you were running circles around your daddy and me!).

Vee, you took a while to warm up to the whole new environment. You set in the comfort of daddy's lap for quite a while, but, as soon as you were acquainted with your surroundings, there was no stopping you (literally, you were running circles around your daddy and me!).

Daddy and his girlies.

Daddy and his girlies.

At one point, dad went downstairs to grab your diaper bag and I was chasing after both of you like a crazy person! One moment I stopped you, Ru, from pulling down a (very expensive yet unmanned) laptop from a table, then turned around to see you, Vee, about to take a sip of an abandoned, opened soda container. By the time your dad got back, I had worked up a sweat and, almost certainly, everyone in the place knew your names (middle included) from me bellowing them loud enough for you to know I meant business.

Chaotic as it is at time, there's no way your daddy or I would change a single thing about your exuberant, budding personalities.

I love you two crazies!

Mom

For My Daughters: The Music Man

Dear Vera and Ruby,

Yesterday, your daddy took a giant step -- a nerve-wracking, well-considered, brave, giant step. But, before I get into that, I first want to tell you a little story.

Back when we were in our late-teens and early-twenties, your Auntie Minette and I would go to see foreign films at these historic movie theaters scattered across Seattle, called Landmark Theatres. I can assure you both, this is a super cool thing to do on Friday and Saturday nights.

I always knew the film was just about to start when the lights would dim and, faintly through the theater speakers, a singular, clear, monotone voice would begin delivering the following phrase -- the first whispering, but the volume escalating with each new voice in each new language:

 

"Le cinema est un langage universal...
El lenguaje del cine es universal...
Paha des filmz es ooneeverzel...
Egano! Kotobowa! Sukyteki!...
El linguaggio del cinema è universale...
The language of film is universal..."

 

The language of film is universal. What did that mean to me?

It meant that, for one, although a movie may have been written and filmed in a completely different language than my own, it didn't mean that I couldn't have access to it by way of reading subtitles, studying the actors' body language or even taking note of subtle intonations in their deliveries (though, I must admit, subtitles were certainly the most convenient). Even more so, however, the language of film is universal meant that, when I observed a particularly moving scene, one in which an actor -- whether male, female, living in another era, from a distant part of the world, or even on another planet, younger or much older than myself, you name it -- going through a situation or experiencing an emotion that resonated with me, I had the right to interpret that scene through the always-mounting, ever-fluctuating experiences of my life. It spoke to my soul. Period. Now that is a powerful language, don't you think?

Okay, I get it. You might think I'm a big film buff, considering what I just said.

But, you know what, boo boos? Here's a secret: all forms of art have the power to speak to your souls, so long as it rings true to you. In other words, if one day you're in Paris and find yourself overwhelmed with emotion while strolling through le jardin du musée Rodin then, to you, in that moment, the language of sculpture is universal. If, on the train one Sunday afternoon, heading to meet a friend for lunch, you read an excerpt in your book that doubles you over with laughter then, to you, in that instance, the language of literature is universal.

Let me give you an example of this in your present life:

On Tuesdays, we regularly attend a story-time at our local library. It is one of your very favorite activities at this time in your lives. I use the term "story-time" loosely, as nearly the entire 45 minutes is filled with singing songs. No matter how exhausted, cranky, or disheveled we (all of us) may be, the very instant the first song begins... "Good morning, dear Earth. Good morning, dear sun..." we transcend to a state of goofy, fun, melody-filled contentment. It's in that contentment that, for us, the language of music is universal.

Story-time with Grandmom and Grandpop while visiting last week!

Story-time with Grandmom and Grandpop while visiting last week!

Your favorite story-time song these days, Vee, is "The Hippo Bus," where you drum your lap and do silly animal sounds (I'll tell you all about it if you'd like). You were all set to do it and Mr. Michael, our librarian, skipped over it! Fortunately, you weren't too disappointed about it. :)

Your favorite story-time song these days, Vee, is "The Hippo Bus," where you drum your lap and do silly animal sounds (I'll tell you all about it if you'd like). You were all set to do it and Mr. Michael, our librarian, skipped over it! Fortunately, you weren't too disappointed about it. :)

This leads me back to your daddy's giant step! (But first, just to be ornery, here are a few photos of your daddy and his precious girls)

 
Ru, here you are with daddy at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, while we were visiting your cousins, Uncle, and Auntie over Valentine's Day weekend. This expression you're making here, sucking your top lip down a bit, is just too cute!

Ru, here you are with daddy at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, while we were visiting your cousins, Uncle, and Auntie over Valentine's Day weekend. This expression you're making here, sucking your top lip down a bit, is just too cute!

 
Vee, (yes you're there under that coat!), this was from our trip to the East Coast for the holidays. We went to the Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on New Year's Day 2015, something that your Grandmom did with her grandmother! Very fun. Very cold!

Vee, (yes you're there under that coat!), this was from our trip to the East Coast for the holidays. We went to the Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on New Year's Day 2015, something that your Grandmom did with her grandmother! Very fun. Very cold!

Yesterday your dad started a brand new job. After over two years of commuting from our home in Berkeley to San Francisco (which may not sound too far, but feels it when he has you two waiting at home for the moment he walks in, so you can squeal and yell "DAAAAAAADDOOOOO!" while running up to him, beaming from ear to ear), he made the decision to seek other employment that would ensure he had more time with you two (and mommy, of course). I know you will understand this one day, but, it isn't easy to go through a process that could potentially lead to rejection, especially while working another full-time job. But, your dad persevered and was rewarded for his effort and hard work.

So, what does this have to do with the language of [insert art form here] being universal? You might ask. Well, your daddy started working at a company that helps a whole lot of people have access to all different types of music in their lives. In fact, we stream music into our home by way of its services every single day.

How cool is that?!

We went to the Oakland Zoo a couple weeks ago, Vee. Here you are, in your cute pony tail, with daddy, waving "hi" to the hog.

We went to the Oakland Zoo a couple weeks ago, Vee. Here you are, in your cute pony tail, with daddy, waving "hi" to the hog.

Ru, you are, without a doubt, 100% a daddy's girl. One morning, while visiting your Grandmom and Grandpop in New Jersey in December, you woke up pretty upset. Guess who was the only person that could make you happy? :)

Ru, you are, without a doubt, 100% a daddy's girl. One morning, while visiting your Grandmom and Grandpop in New Jersey in December, you woke up pretty upset. Guess who was the only person that could make you happy? :)

The thing is, the minute you two were born (you were born in the same minute, so I can say that!) your daddy and I realized something. We realized that movies, music, story-times, and statues all have one thing in common: they inspire wonder. They make us see the world as something more than a small public library or a crowded BART ride. They make us smile. They give us a true sense of joy and purpose. You girls fill us with wonder everyday, and all we want to do is be there to share that with you.

I love you,
Mom

P.S. I've been thinking about this very literal example of "the language of music is universal" lately. It's one of my very favorite songs, teleporting me a carefree, warm, summer's day; at times I even find myself jumping around and spinning in circles when I hear it (the way you and your sis do when you're dancing). It's in Icelandic. I don't know what a single word means.


14/52: Self-Portrait


Just for the record, I could have gone several more weeks -- forever, really-- without the “self-portrait” challenge.

When I first saw that self-portrait was this week’s assignment, I envisioned setting aside the time this weekend, in which Joe would take the girls out to the park, on a walk, whatever. The time to shower, do my hair. I’d attempt to feel beautiful and appear refreshed by applying foundation over the dark circles and curling my falsely darkened lashes. I’d set up the tripod, my shutter release timer. I’d set up a space with the best lighting in our home, compose myself, breathe deeply, and go for it.

Needless to say, this did not happen. I’m sure, at some other time and in some other space in my life, I would have relished the thought of being assigned to photograph myself. But, in this time and space, that TYPE of self-portrait is more daunting that I can fully comprehend. Not because of the girls, or the fact that Joe was not supportive. The time was certainly there. What I wanted for this self-portrait, after much contemplation, was to be an honest portrayal of what my everyday experience is.


So, here I am, at a local educational play center with my daughters and their grandparents (visiting the Bay Area last week for spring break). Vera and Ru had been painting at the easel and I thought I could get all of us in the reflection. They bolted off before I even had the camera in my grasp. Before chasing after (at least one of) them, I took this (hence the, “screw it, now is as good a time as any” expression). Now, THAT is an accurate portrayal of me at this time in life.

For My Daughters: Your First Snow Day Revisited

Captured January 2, 2015 | 7:20PM - 7:29PM

Dear Ruby and Vera,

Here you are, frozen, in awe at your first ever sight of snow. (Bad pun intended. Sorry girls.)

We were celebrating the holidays (Christmas, New Year's, and daddy's birthday) at your grandparents' home in New Jersey. This evening in particular, we'd been playing in the basement, going through the normal routine before bedtime -- well, normal for being on vacation -- of reading books, playing with some toys, being all-around goofy. I had come upstairs from the basement to perhaps grab your sleep sacks or pacifiers (I don't recollect exactly now), glancing peripherally through the sliding-glass door in the kitchen, I immediately shot my head up after recognizing that flickering movement, filling with giddiness for you both, but admittedly in awe myself. The snow was coming down hard yet I still felt the need to sprint downstairs and beckon everyone up, as if in mere seconds it would cease, and the snow would evaporate back into the atmosphere, without you two getting your first chance to see the buckets of tiny, frozen, white droplets fluttering like feathers down from the gray, dome-like sky, seemingly out of nowhere.

But, you DID have the chance, and you found it as magical as I'd hoped. If only for a few seconds.

Ru, you uttered, "woooooow" while placing your hand up against the cool window pane and gazing out. And my sweet Vee, you did what my sweet Vee does...

You waited for your chance to be alone and, once more, tip-toed up to the glass, this time situating yourself square in the center, and stared in babbling, sing-songy contemplation at the beauty before you.

I hope you always see the world with such wonder, love bugs.

I love you,

Mom