15/52: Balance


P52_Balance-2.jpg

Dear Lovebugs,

The moment your daddy and I discovered that we were going to have you both (at once!), we were thrilled and, believe it or not, relieved. As you know, your Auntie Michele and I are twins, and your Uncle Marshall and Uncle Marco are, too. So, we weren’t as surprised as others in the same circumstance may have been. But, that didn’t mean our jaws didn’t drop when the midwife, quite taken aback herself, asked me to “count the heartbeats” on the ultrasound monitor. It gives me goosebumps, even now, just thinking about that moment.

The several weeks leading up to that first ultrasound, I had experienced horrendous morning sickness; feeling extremely queasy all day; displeasing scents within what seemed like a mile of me setting me into fits of dry-heaving, resorting to shamelessly lying down on any stable surface as an attempt to calm the perpetual spinning in my head. You can ask your dad to tell you the stories about just how bad it got. At points in those first weeks of your gestation, I certainly asked myself, “How the hell do women do this more than once?!” No fun, to say the least. Yet, at that moment, when we discovered that all of that morning sickness was due to the fact that there were two of you -- and, more specifically two robust, life-giving placentas -- within me, I learned to embrace the discomfort, knowing that with every twinge of nausea was a sign of your further, healthy growth. In the cheesy, infamous words of John Mellencamp, it hurt so good. Bad, I know.

On the day you were born, once FINALLY in our arms, a new type of feeling overwhelmed me; fear. Not fear of being a good mother to you two. Not fear of being able to feed you two. More so, I feared that I would be able to strike the right balance when it came to dividing myself between the two of you. What if you both needed me -- to nurse, to wipe your tears, to stroke your head, to kiss your boo boos, to read your favorite story, to dance cheek to cheek, to go down the slide with -- at the same time, and, I simply couldn’t attend to those needs without hurting one of you by tending to your sister first?

I will say, in the last 19.5 months, some days it has been very difficult. But, really not as many as I had feared. You see, one thing I had taken for granted is the times that you two would, indeed, not need me whatsoever! For instance, a couple days ago, Vera, you were playing with one of your toy boxes and ended up dumping it out and climbing inside of it. I grabbed you one too, Ru, as you were giggling uncontrollably at your sis sitting in there. Needless to say, you two were blissfully unaware of mommy’s presence.

I love you silly girls,

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

12/52: Same Subject, Different Angles


A vignette of a picnic lunch with my Vera girl.

We went to the Oakland Zoo yesterday. Unbeknownst to us and JUST our luck, there was an event called "Feast for the Beasts" in which kids can throw food into the elephants' area and watch them eat. Not exactly our cup of tea. But, we made the most of it. Needless to say, the place was jam-packed, so our first stop was the large, uncluttered grassy area where we could lay out the blanket and have some lunch.

Vee, although a bit coy, has delighted herself as of late in roaming up to complete strangers, looking up at them while giving a little grin, seeing what their reaction is, then cowering from shyness before sauntering away. Such a sweet soul.

11/52: Hands


Jessica, photographed here, and her fiancé, Joel, canoodled around Tilden Regional Park with me yesterday for their engagement session. Shamefully, especially because I live in Berkeley, I hadn’t ventured up there until our session and now, well, I basically plan to take the girls there for every single outing or playdate we go on. Every. Single. One. Such a lovely place.

The beautiful hummingbird necklace that Jessica wore was a symbol of her beloved grandmother, whom had always loved hummingbirds and, therefore, strategically arranged hummingbird feeders around her home. In January of 2006, Jessica’s Meemaw, her mother’s mother, was diagnosed with lung cancer and, in June of that same year, actually the day before Jessica’s high school graduation, she passed away. While in hospice, her Meemaw’s one request was that her bed be beside a window, and that that window overlooking one of her precious hummingbird feeders. Jessica explains that “from then on hummingbirds have held a very close place in my heart” and her family has preserved her Meemaw’s tradition, placing multiple hummingbird feeders in their backyard.

I know that every time I now see a fluttering hummingbird I will reflect on the strong woman that helped to create the caring, generous, beautiful, loving woman that I have the privilege of calling a friend. Love you Jess!

10/52: Outtake


The girls often play peek-a-boo with the curtains in their room (after an exhaustive, fruitless effort I finally stopped saying, “baby girls, you’re not supposed to play with those curtains!” every time they went for them). On this day, I decided to try and photograph them right at the moment that they popped their heads out. Didn’t quite work out that way.

This is Ru’s imitation of her favorite animal right now. Any guesses?

8/52: Out Of Focus


“My beautiful daughters, I was blessed with two of you...

You will never know how proud I am of all the things you do.

 

You came into my world, so tiny and so small...

And I was in awe at the wonder of it all.

 

Then you placed your little hand in mine...

There was no denying, my heart was yours 'til the end of time.”

-Debra L. Cash

 

This week I decided to try something a bit more experimental for me; do a family self portrait. I had initially taken a half-hearted “out of focus” photo a few days ago. But, took my camera along with us to the park today. The girls (and us) LOOOOVE family dance parties. So, we boogied in the park a little bit and decided to document it.

7/52: Dramatic Light


From the moment my daughters could reach up and grab at my face, they have tried to pull off my glasses (and, many times, have succeeded). The other day, with a particularly hectic day transpiring, I became especially flustered at their fervent efforts to rip off my spectacles. I hate feeling frustrated with the girls and, even more so, when I realize that their actions are directly related to their curiosity of the world around them; something I will strive to never quell.

So, while popping another load in the wash I had a moment of *mom-spiration*. If the girls had their own pair of glasses, they could explore that fascination without, ya know, making me pretty much blind.

They loved the idea.

6/52: Red


When my sister-and-law, Laura, and I discovered that we would be pregnant at the same time (only two months difference) we were thrilled. When we found out that they would ALL three be girls (mine twins), we couldn’t help but giddily forecast the future relationship of these three little ladies; envisioning the day that all three of them would be running around, giggling, gabbing, getting into trouble. As the girls, and all of their cousins, get older we make it a point to make trips to see them as often as we can.

As such, this weekend we drove here to Fresno to spend the long weekend with my brother and sister-in-law’s family. We arrived and after knocking on the door a few times, realized that everyone was playing in the backyard on the new trampoline. When we got back there we were greeted by all the kiddos boisterously playing and just the sweetest sight: Ms. Olive, barefoot and in her red Valentine’s Day dress, enjoying a sunny California day.

5/52: Negative Space


An Entry from Ruby & Vera’s Journal:

February 21, 2014 - Thursday 6:09PM (5.5 Months Old)

“Hi babies,

I can’t believe I’m crazy enough to write in your journal at this hour (since daddy’s not home). I just wanted to make a quick note about just how much your personalities are developing. I really notice them in moments of utter exhaustion or hunger (as with adults too!). Ruby, you are fiercely independent and could just sit in you Bumbo and be content all day sucking on the straps or chewing on a book…

Love you girls SO MUCH! -Mom”


I find it amazing how strong characteristics of our personalities shine through from, really, the moment we’re born. My Ruby girl, photographed here exploring our local park, has always exuded an air of independence and curiosity. While I strive to nourish these traits in her, as well as her sister, I don’t think she’ll ever realize how much of an inspiration she has been in my own journey. Isn’t is incredible the influence one can make when existing in a pure, unADULTerated manner?

Multiple Exposure Fun


While I have a lot of refining to do in this area, I've really been enjoying playing with the multiple exposure feature of my new camera. Finding the balance of exposures and composition is much more challenging than I had anticipated. But, that will make it that much more rewarding when I nail them (at some point!). These are the few (including the P52:4 from a few days ago) I'm reasonably happy with. Fortunately, I have some good base photos to work with (as you'll see the first and last photo have the same base exposure). So if I happen upon a particularly interesting floral cluster or other pattern that would work well for a second exposure, I can play with it some more.

Getting there!

4/52: Black & White


Exposure 1: My sister-in-law photographed here, Meggie, has been very patient with my most recent creative endeavors -- one of which being playing with my in-camera multiple exposure features.

Exposure 2: A few weeks ago Joe’s Uncle (also Joe) told us about the book “Telegraph Ave.” I was interested in picking it up, as it’s set in an area of the East Bay that we live in. There’s a house in our neighborhood where the owners set up a sort of book exchange/drop/pick-up wooden cubby. I was strolling by the other day and, lo and behold, a crisp copy of the book right before my eyes.

Exposure 3: Bamboo lines the outer perimeter of our backyard. Cool shapes, easy location to get to :)

3/52: Texture


On Black Friday, my sister-in-law, Laura, and I like to go shopping. It’s been a tradition of hers for a long time, and these last few years I’ve joined in. We’ll strategize our trip the evening before (after feasting, of course); cut out coupons, see if something we want will magically metamorphize into something we need, plan the best route to avoid crazies (‘cause we’re not crazy, just smart; waking up early to shop is a vacation for two stay-at-home moms that wake up early to WORK every day anyway), and then eat pie.

During our 2013 trip (I’m pretty sure but the hormones that were flooding my brain at that time may be making my memory fuzzy) Laura bought a new griddle. As their now old griddle was still in working order, we happily brought it home with us.

Since then, I’ve used it to make pancakes pretty much every weekend; most times dark chocolate chips join the party too. When I first started, I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait for the day when the girls would be able to eat them with us. I actually think it’s to the point, now, where if they could fully articulate it, they’d say, “MOOOOM, ENOUGH WITH THE FREAKING PANCAKES!”

Ah well.

A Well-Documented Holiday Vacation


For the first time in over five years (i.e. when I dragged my Jersey-boy out to California), we went back East for the holidays. This was the girls' first, we'll say interactive, Christmas & New Year's, as they were only just over three months old last holiday season. So, what did I do? DOCUMENTED IT! Not to mention, Santa brought me a new, amazing camera that I call the girls' "new sister." So, I had a lot (understatement) of fun putting her to use.

Here's a video montage. When I showed the girls yesterday, they watched it intently, then clapped and said, "YEEES!" Hopefully you enjoy it in a similar manner :)

Below are a few photos from our amazing celebrations. To see the lot, go >here< to check out the gallery.

Hope you all had a lovely holiday season! Thanks for taking the time to see a taste of ours!

Melissa