Daddy did dinner.
Yesterday I did something that I rarely do. I strapped on my camera and purposefully (ON PURPOSE) headed to where I knew there would be crowds of peoples; The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. I know I live in Berkeley, but I certainly wouldn’t consider myself estranged from San Francisco enough to refer to myself as a tourist. Well, pathetically, I guess I was mistaken.
This weekend was the annual “ClickinWalk 2015.” This is a meetup activity put on by the popular women’s online photography community, Clickin Moms. As described in the info page, “ClickinWalk is an opportunity for women who know one another in the virtual world to come together in the physical world and bond with others who share their passion for photography.”
Pretty sweet, huh? Well, I’m sure it would have been, had I not gotten lost for the first 90 minutes I was there. Classic Melissa.
On the up side, though, I took that time to roam around, take a bunch of photos -- including this one in which I stood, primed to press the shutter for what felt like five minutes, waiting for this seagull to flap its wings -- and chat with a bunch of the sweet vendors at the market. Also, when I finally DID get my internal compass calibrated I had a chance to meet some very lovely fellow photo geeks. So, all in all, it was a good day.
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,
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.
As of late, I’ve been geeking out on teaching my sister-in-law, Meggie, the wonders of photography. She’s a VERY quick study. Today, I enlightened her as to what back-button focus was all about. Her reaction, shot from the hip.
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.
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!
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?
“In a cabin in a wood,
Little man by the window stood
Saw a rabbit hopping by
Knocking at my door
‘Help me! Help me! Help me!’ he said
‘Before that hunter bops my head!’
‘Little rabbit come to me,
Happy we will be!’”
At least until breakfast
“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.
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.
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.
An Entry from Ruby & Vera’s Journal:
February 21, 2014 - Thursday 6:09PM (5.5 Months Old)
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?
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 :)
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!”
This one is particularly literal. But, I have good reason.
We just returned home to Berkeley after going back East to see my husband’s family for just about two weeks. Unfortunately I brought back a bit of a sinus cold/ headache. So, for the last couple days we’ve stayed cozy in our jammies, said “the hell with it” to taking down holiday decor (scant as they were), flipped through our books, jammed to our music, and basked in this lovely California sun via the light of our living room window.
It’s good to be home!
I decided that this year, to challenge myself as well as keep myself taking photos regularly between (potential) clients, I would participate in a "Project 52." So, for any that don't know what that is, I thought I'd do a brief explanation.
A "Project 52" is essentially a weekly photo assignment in which you are to post a photo each week of the year (hence "52") in accordance to a specific weekly theme. Many times, and as is the case for me, you are held accountable by the support of other participants. So in that sense, over the 52 weeks, friendships are forms, critiques are given, your craft is (theoretically) fine-tuned and, above all, you have 52 images, that you wouldn't normally have prompted yourself to take (as they are "just a regular day"), to cherish and reflect upon at the end of the year.
Every Sunday I will post my "Project 52" Theme, Image, and Brief explanation as to why I feel they all coalesce. So, let's get this P52 party started!