The Motherhood Memoirs | Fresh Cuts

When I was a little girl, your grandma never allowed your auntie, or I get a haircut. She'd point to one of the ubiquitous Sears photo studio shots of us and our glorious manes, exclaiming, "You want someone to chop off all of this beautiful hair?!... The answer is NO!" Ugh.

The "before" shots.

The "before" shots.

Classic Vera.

Classic Vera.

So. Ready!

So. Ready!

But, I rebelled. Second grade picture day rolled around. I just *knew* the super-short, asymmetrical bang look would work for me. And I went for it. Your grandmother was none too pleased. At five, I promised myself I'd NEVER make my children endure such brutal oppression.

 
Lookin' fly with my sweet bangs.

Lookin' fly with my sweet bangs.

 

Flash forward thirty years. It's bath time. You two 4.5-year-old divas are reenacting Mama Imelda's epic rendition of La Llorona at Ernesto de la Cruz's sunrise spectacular.

Then a pause.

"Hey, moooooom! When can me and sissy get our hairs cut?!"

Time to uphold my childhood promise. We went for it. Found example images. Despite the disappointment of not being able to get longer hair, or change your hair from curly to straight (and vice versa) we trudged on.

Ru, as usual, your inner *spa girl* took the reigns. You sat up on that chair, said "I'm the qweeen  of the wuuwld!" and let the professional do her thang. Delightful. Every few mins since you've done a little hair toss, mixed with a duck face lip pucker. Big success.

Vera, you cracked me up. Always suspect, I was SURE you'd end up changing your mind the second we walked into the shop. Your excitement to have a new 'do won out, however (thank GOODNESS). Anyway, even though you were letting her cut your hair, your face said something closer to, "Is she sure, I mean REALLY SURE, she knows what she's doing?" But, every single time I pointed the camera at you, you smiled a huge sh@t-eating grin. Eventually, I got a shot of your classic "Vera the Skeptic" expression. It was all worth it. You hopped up and down for joy after checking yourself out. Too good.

Gotcha!

Gotcha!

All in all, it was a lovely day with you newly-coiffed cuties.

Spring Has SPRUNG!

Had a blast running around with some awesome families (lots of growing families in the bunch too!) at the UC Botanical Garden for this year's spring mini-sessions! You guys gotta see these cutie patooties!

Quick reminder first. If any mommas with babies under 12 months are looking for fun activities tomorrow, join me, along with the 510families crew over at Studio Grow and celebrate the launch of Allyson Downey's new book, Here's the Plan: Your Practical, Tactical Guide to Advancing Your Career During Pregnancy and Parenthood. There will be some light breakfast, goody bags, a raffle, pictures by yours truly... and of course fun for the kids at Studio Grow too ;)

And, don't forget (okay, a couple quick reminders), May's Capturing Childhood workshop is coming up! Check out all the info >here<. Scholarships available to those in need!

Now back to a glimpse at these beautiful families enjoying spring!!! WARNING: cuteness overload!!!

 

 

The Dynamic Duo | An Oakland Family Documentary Photo Session

Meet Oakland parents Temi and Matt and their beautiful twin sons, Isaac, in mommy's loving arms, and Abraham, gettin' all cleaned up by daddy (don't worry, more of their cutie faces soon):

Been catching up on some blogging and I have been getting so much joy from looking over this awesome family's photos again! Temi, a fellow Twins by the Bay mom, reached out to document her family right at the cusp of her sons' first birthday. Fully expecting to arrive at our consultation to meet two babies, I was (pleasantly) surprised to meet two exuberant, active FULL-ON young boys. I discovered, shortly after contacting Temi and Matt, that not only are they die-hard USC Trojans fans, but also that Matt is a basketball coach - so the fact that Ike and Abe were active and athletic little dudes was, in hindsight, absolutely no surprise!

Being a twin mom (and twin) myself, I feel like I have heard "it all" when it comes to beliefs/superstitions surrounding twin-dom. But, Temi, being of Nigerian ancestry, shared with me the coolest information regarding beliefs about twins in Nigerian culture. Check it out:

"Two of the most common destiny names among the Yorùbá are Taiwo (or Taiye) and Kehinde, which are given primarily to twins. It is believed that the first of the twins is Taiwo (or Taiye), whose intention in coming out first is to perceive whether or not the environment that they are about to enter is a good one for his or her superior to be in. When he or she is so satisfied, he or she grants the other twin, Kehinde (sometimes shortened to Kenny), the go ahead to come out."

Super cool, huh?

Mr. smiley and curious Abe:

Mr. Ike - making sticking your tongue look cool ;)

Brothers!!!

This family's energy kept me on my toes and was truly refreshing. The love they shed upon one another was abundant and I felt right at home with their welcoming nature.

What an honor to get a glimpse of this beautiful family's everyday life. Can't wait to for the next time!

For My Daughters: La Clase De Música

Just a funny little story about daddy, love bugs.

This week, because of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, dad was able to join us at your beloved clase de música on Monday. I think he was able to see how enraptured you two are by the songs, dancing, singing, playing instruments. It made me think of a sweet story that I thought you girls would like too.

Daddy had just gotten home from a show in the city and was especially impressed at how the 8-piece ensemble (metal band at that) was able to stay in sync so well with with one another. He was so impressed, in fact, he stayed to chat with the band and when he asked, somewhat rhetorically, "how the hell do make music like that?!" the man guffawed, and said, "the only thing you need to make music are two ears... (then placing his hand on his chest) and a heart."

Poor daddy had to learn the hard way that you turn into drama-mama when your shoes get taken off in music class.

Poor daddy had to learn the hard way that you turn into drama-mama when your shoes get taken off in music class.

Vee, you NEVER have been more excited to be in music class. You were showing off your moves to daddy from the moment you walked (more like sashayed) through the door.

Vee, you NEVER have been more excited to be in music class. You were showing off your moves to daddy from the moment you walked (more like sashayed) through the door.

You twirl the ENTIRE 45 minutes in class, Ru. As you can see I'm always quite amused by it :)

You twirl the ENTIRE 45 minutes in class, Ru. As you can see I'm always quite amused by it :)

Dancing with scarves is your very favorite thing to do in music class. Vee, you love getting goofy with them too. Silly billy!

Dancing with scarves is your very favorite thing to do in music class. Vee, you love getting goofy with them too. Silly billy!

Then of course you love to jam at home.

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Hoarding the recorders (I won't tell sissy!)

Hoarding the recorders (I won't tell sissy!)

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Sis was serenading you, Vee. hehe

Sis was serenading you, Vee. hehe

I love you my little musicians,

Mom

Mini-Session Wrap-Up

What do you get when you mix a beautiful California fall backdrop, one super goofy photographer (a couple rad assistants I might add), a bunch of cutie patooties and their amazing families? Any guesses?! Some INSANELY FUN mini-sessions, that's what!

Here's a little sampling from my fun fall sessions at The Little Farm at Tilden Regional Park and UC Berkeley. Be sure to drop me a line >here< to stay up-to-date on future mini-session dates and other offers.

Enjoy!

As you can tell, I LOVE what I do!

Quality Time At Home | An Oakland Family Documentary Session

Back in June, I donated a photo session to Twins By The Bay's annual consignment sale raffle, and was thrilled to discovery this beautiful family had won...

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And I Feel Fine | An Alameda Twin Newborn + Family Documentary Session

Meet new mommy, Sharon, new daddy, Ian, and their beautifully basking twin daughters, Lillian Ada (in dad's arms) and (in momma's arms) Matilda Eliot...

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"I'm A Big Sister!" | An Oakland Newborn + Family Photography Session

Meet proud mommy and daddy, Diana and Greg, very excited big sis, Emma, and the newest addition to their joyful family, Payton:

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Serendipity + Smiles | An Oakland Family Photography Session

I met this lovely family the DAY of their session, due to some (quite unprofessional) circumstances with a photographer they had booked for a family session. Her loss = my incredible luck!

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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:


For My Daughters: Twinheritance

Hi boo boos,

We had some friends over last night to watch the Warriors game. You two have really made progress in your reaction to daddy -- well, pretty much everyone in this case -- hootin' and hollerin' at the top of their lungs when something exciting happens in a game. In fact, you even joined in; flailing your arms up in the air and shouting "yeah! yeah!" when you noticed the commotion. Vera, you have always been especially sensitive to abrupt noises. I'll never forget, when you were just a few months old daddy had a little cough and you would WAIL each time he cleared his throat. It made for some long nights, but was certainly adorable. So NOW, your growing ability to pause and determine the type of reaction you have to those loud noises, it just makes me so proud of you.

 
Here you are, Vavvy, strutting your stuff at Hazel's school carnival last month

Here you are, Vavvy, strutting your stuff at Hazel's school carnival last month

 
Daddy asked you to pick out your own outfit on Saturday, Ru. You got SOOO excited and, when you did your fashion show for me, holding your plush doggie "Door" tight in your arms, you giggled with delight! Then daddy and I did too!

Daddy asked you to pick out your own outfit on Saturday, Ru. You got SOOO excited and, when you did your fashion show for me, holding your plush doggie "Door" tight in your arms, you giggled with delight! Then daddy and I did too!

Girls, I've had something on my mind lately that I want to share with you. Two days ago, on June 6th, you turned 21-months-old. I think for any other mom in the world they might say, "Today you girls are 21 month old! Only 3 more months until your 2nd birthday!" Something of that nature. But, for me, you girls turning 21-months old immediately made me think of one thing. My mom. Your Grandma Melody. 

I'm very sure, by the time you read this, you will have been told approximately 1,000,000,000 times that it is "sooooooo amazing" that you are twins that have a mommy that is a twin and uncles that are twins. Well, at the risk of sounding redundant, I will tell you that it truly is amazing, love bugs. In fact, back when mommy was just a few months old, your uncles, auntie, and I were photographed by the local newspaper in Fresno and your grandma and grandfather were interviewed for a little article about just how unusual it is to have two sets of twins! Kind of cool, huh?

This article says "19 months," but I think your grandma may have been too tired to do the math. Oh well!

This article says "19 months," but I think your grandma may have been too tired to do the math. Oh well!

Aside from the sheer amazing-ness of you girls being twins, I often times ponder (and probably even more often am asked by strangers to ponder), "How in the world was your grandma able to manage so many children at once and (on days when your Great grandpa couldn't help) on her own?!" As, shortly after this, your grandfather was no longer in the picture. Then, sadly, my next thought is "I'm not sure she did manage."

Eight days old. Eight. Days. That is how old your siblings would be today if mommy (and daddy) had a second set of twins at exactly the same interval as your grandma Melody did. I've been thinking a lot about how it would be to incorporate two newborns into our family. Even with the wonderful support system our family has, it would be a struggle. A struggle financially? Sure. A struggle physically? YOU BET! A mental struggle? Let's just say, I am sure I would probably be too stressed for my own good. Period.

You were so fascinated by your cousins' slinky, Vee. You knew you were being silly and just kept on doing it. I love that about you!

You were so fascinated by your cousins' slinky, Vee. You knew you were being silly and just kept on doing it. I love that about you!

Ru, you want to be a big girl so bad! I think these girls were jealous of your sweet shoes ;)

Ru, you want to be a big girl so bad! I think these girls were jealous of your sweet shoes ;)

I think I may be subconsciously skirting the main reason I want to share this with you. So, I want to be frank. When I said that I am not sure your grandma was able to manage all four of us at once, what I am saying is that she allowed that stress to get the better of her.

Your grandma Melody had Bipolar Disorder.

Simply put, when she was up, she was up -- extremely energetic, creative, impulsive. It was during these "up" episodes that she would go on her vision quests, of sorts; once vanishing for a couple weeks, returning home to tell us she had been seeking out her biological family, spouting off tales of her adventures; never alluding to her real goal of trying to find understanding and acceptance of her own childhood struggles.

And, when she was down, she was down -- erratically violent and abusive, recklessly self-medicating, and deeply depressed. It was during this time that I would find myself pacing outside her room, told "LEAVE ME ALONE!" in my 8-year-old effort to comfort her as she loudly wept behind her locked bedroom door. My heart still breaks for her in recalling those low moments.

Because she is no longer living, the only way to recollect those very dynamic moods is through the hindsight of memory. Unfortunately, however, in an effort to protect both you girls as well as myself from the pain of my past, it's difficult for me to ruminate on your grandma's mental condition. So, for these thoughts to cross my mind, upon you girls reaching 21-month-old, I wanted to be open and honest about them with you.

I guess the big thing I want you to know is that you don't ever have to be ashamed of your feelings. Right now in your life you are both unabashedly honest about how you are feeling and what is on your mind. It is an admirable quality to be freely expressive of your emotions. Even if it is not the most positive of emotions sometimes.

One of your very favorite books is "Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You" by Nancy Tillman. Whenever we get to the page that reads, "So hold your head high and don't be afraid to march to the front of your own parade..." I repeat it emphatically, as the thought that you would choose to be anything other than YOU in an effort please others would be depriving the world of the unique marvel of Ruby Joan and the unparallelled wonder of Vera Kathleen. So, I'll reiterate it again:

 

 

Hold your head high

and don't be afraid

to march to the front

of your own parade.

If you're still my small babe

or you're all the way grown,

my promise to you

is you're never alone.

Promise promise.

Being chased by daddy on the UC Berkeley campus. You are so beautiful Ruby!

Being chased by daddy on the UC Berkeley campus. You are so beautiful Ruby!

I love this expression, Vee. You were NOT happy when we first arrived at Hazel's carnival (you CANNOT deal with no nap), so we left and decided to try going again after you girls had eaten and calmed down a bit. I'm so glad we did. You were roaming all over that elementary school lawn like you owned the place. Love that sass!

I love this expression, Vee. You were NOT happy when we first arrived at Hazel's carnival (you CANNOT deal with no nap), so we left and decided to try going again after you girls had eaten and calmed down a bit. I'm so glad we did. You were roaming all over that elementary school lawn like you owned the place. Love that sass!

At Illum's 2nd birthday party, you girls wore your new swimsuits that your cousin gave to you. Ru, you were most excited to swim...

At Illum's 2nd birthday party, you girls wore your new swimsuits that your cousin gave to you. Ru, you were most excited to swim...

and Vee, I think you were most excited to show off your new suit :)

and Vee, I think you were most excited to show off your new suit :)

I love you so much boo boos,

Mom

 

 

 

Featured on Fearless & Framed | "Turn Bring Your Kids to Work Day into a Documentary Photo Shoot."

So honored to have been featured on the fantabulous Fearless & Framed blog today! I'm especially proud of the fact that it was a post originally written For My Daughters. Link to the feature can be found by clicking on this photo:


21/52: Clouds or Sky


Little tongue in cheek this week.

This is Skyler, otherwise known as "Sky." Sky has been a friend of my girls since they were all under four months old; *meeting* each other when I attended a local “new mom" group in January of 2014. Now, my girls almost 21 months and Sky just over 18 months, I have the privilege of witnessing not only the blossoming of their friendship but also that of each individual child's personality.


This past week we met up for a play date with a few of these moms group buddies (for what felt like the first time in waaaay too long) at a local park. It was almost surreal to see how so many of the teensy weensy babies I met nearly a year and a half ago are full on toddlers!

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.