Letters to My Children – July 2020

Dear Ariya,

The countdown is on.  We have been packing packing packing.  The offer on the house is in, we need to get the house inspected, and we need to go go go.  In the middle of the chaos, you had a few summer camps on zoom.  You did Storybook Ballet with SCAA.  That was a pretty fun week.  Your teacher had an activity planned every day.  You had story time and you did arts and crafts, along with a dance learned.  What a fun thing to do, even if it was through zoom.  You also had ballet once a week for the rest of the month. On top of that, we wrapped up your swim lessons.  You are getting better and better each time.  Once things go back to normal, we can look into joining a swim team, because I really think you’d enjoy it!

Grandma came to visit and help us pack the house up.  It was so great to have her here and you got to spend all of your time with her.  Asha and Anika loved their time with Grandma too.  And even Charlie and Emmy loved her attention and missed her when she left.

By the end of the month, we had the house cleared out, the movers came, and we tried to say goodbye.  It felt so rushed.  We drove down to Richmond to stay with Nani and Nanu for the next 2 weeks before our townhouse was available for rent.  No, our house is not done with renovations.  They are still working on it, and it should be another month or two before we can move in.  So Ariya, you’re going to have to get used to sharing a bed room with Asha.  It’s going to be tough, living out of a suitcase.  Hopefully we can get through this.

Dear Asha,

You had your own summer camp too, the Art Start Carnival, with SCAA.  You had the same activities as Ariya had.  But your story books were different and your dances were different.  We just love SCAA and our teacher, she is the best!  You got to see your friends on zoom, you got to dance and be silly.

You also had ballet once a week, which I’m so glad that you’re doing.  It’s nice to have activities just like your big sister.

You have made SO MUCH PROGRESS with swimming!  I was amazed to see you jump off the diving board into the deep end and SWIM.  I’m so proud of you.  And now I don’t have to worry about you as much.  You are still very fearless.  And you still make me worry.  Just not as much.

It’s funny, when we said goodbye to our house, I didn’t realize that you all wouldn’t be as sad as I was.  I know it’s just a house, but you and your sisters were just excited to be on the road, to spend time with Nani and Nanu.  I guess this was great planning on our parts, to have something exciting to look forward to.  Lots of Indian food, lots of hanging out with Nani and Nanu, lots of playing with Anika and showing her the ropes with all the toys that you have saved up at their house.

Dear Anika,

Oh my gosh, in the middle of all of this chaos, YOU TURNED ONE!!!  I am bawling my eyes out on the inside, because my baby, my last baby, is one.  You stopped nursing, you transitioned to a bottle, we went through all of the frozen breastmilk that I had saved up, now you’re drinking whole milk, and eating lots of different foods.  And you had cake!  Like your older sisters, I scheduled a cake smash for you.  And you were not a fan.  All the tears.  It didn’t help that the photographer, a good friend of mine, had to wear a mask.  And you couldn’t see our faces.  Everything was just weird.  The texture of the cake, the icing was different.  The whole experience.  It was interesting.  But really, I think you were just hungry for something you were comfortable with, and you were tired.

We had a pool party for you.  Grandma was here, and we had a few close friends over that we trust.  The kids had a blast.  You got to eat some pizza and then had some of that famous cake.  And you LOVED it.  It was a baby shark theme.  I couldn’t go all out like I wanted, but it was important that we were together with friends and family, and we were all happy and healthy and safe.

You became more and more comfortable in the water, which was awesome.  I think for our next session, we may have to learn survival just for water safety.  You haven’t started walking yet, but you’re still a crawling machine, and I’m worried that you’ll fall in and not know how to float.  So that’s next on our list of things to do.

We said goodbye to your room.  And it made me so sad.  You won’t remember anything except for the pictures we show you.  The backyard that we loved to hang out in, watch the dogs run around, watch the girls do their arts and crafts outside.  The kitchen where you pulled out all of the spices and would use them as shakers.  The tupperware that you would bang together in in the kitchen while I cooked dinner.  The basement where the big girls played and created jumbo castles made out of legos and then put you in.  The family room where the girls would watch tv and you would just play with all of your baby toys.  The bedroom where you would pull all the books off the bookshelves while I put away your laundry.  The driveway and front yard where we would just hang while the girls rode their bikes.  Man, we are going to miss this house.

But we’re going to see Nani and Nanu!!!  You haven’t seen them since February, and I don’t think you’ve ever been to their house.  So this will be nice.  So much Indian food to stuff your face with.  So many different toys to play with.  So much quality time with Nani and Nanu.  It’s going to be great!

Letters to My Children – April 2020

Dear Ariya,

We are going through week 4, 5, 6, and 7 of quarantine.  And you are missing school so hard.  You turned 7 on a Saturday, the day before Easter.  It was tough.  It was so tough.  I tried to make it special for you.  I asked all of our friends and family to send me a video clip for you, wishing you a happy birthday.  And man, that video was 14 minutes long.  So many people love and care for you.  And even though Daddy was working so much, I tried so hard to make it special for you.  I ordered a peacock cake from Crumbs and Crumbles. I decorated the eat in table with peacock colors, balloons and streamers.  I tried not to go overboard with the presents, but I think you favorite present was a new bike.  A NEW BIKE.  To celebrate your new skills.  You are 7!!  Where did the time go?

Dear Asha,

It’s crazy not having a regular schedule.  Ariya has her school work to do, and we try to do school work, “fun sheets” for you.  There are times when you say “what can i do?!?!”  We color.  we do crafts.  We paint.  You ride your bike and scooter with Ariya.  You have your zoom ballet lessons just like Ariya.  And it’s been tough while we’re trying to get this house ready to sell.  We had to move a lot of the toys.  Your stuff is packed up, in storage, in the other house.  You just want things to go back to normal.  You just want to see and play with your friends.  You just want to go to the park and swing on the swing set, or slide down the slides.  Sorry, sweetie, there are still too many unknowns.  But we’ll figure it out, I promise.  In the meantime, you are so great with baby Anika.  You love to make her laugh and you play with her, with her toys.

Dear Anika,

You’re 9 months old!!  And you started crawling!  Stop growing so fast.  It happened all of a sudden.  One minute you were on your hands and knees.  The next, you were rocking back and forth. And then you were off!  I still can’t believe it.

What can I say?  You love saying da da da da, ba ba ba ba.  You love playing with your toys.  But really, you love following your sisters around everywhere.  Whatever they are doing, you want to do too.  If they are cuddled on a blanket, you want to play with that blanket.  If they are sitting down, you’ll crawl into their lap.  They love you so much.

As we’re getting the house ready to put on the market, I have so many mixed feelings.  This was the house that we brought all of you home to.  Ariya and Asha had so many firsts in this house.  So many memories.  And I’m sad that we won’t have those memories for you.  But I’m trying to focus on the present.  And I’m trying to take as many pictures as I can, to try and remember everything.

 

Letters to My Children – March 2020

Dear Ariya,

Grandma joined us on our trip to California!  We had a layover in Chicago, but then finished our flight to San Diego.  We rented a car and checked in pretty late at the Bahia Resort.  You girls were knocked out, I think you didn’t even bother eating dinner.  But what an exciting time. I attended a photography conference called the Hybrid Collective.  You got to go off with Daddy, Asha, Anika and Grandma and go explore.  I think it was tough for you, you kept asking where I was, why I can’t hang with you all.  I did manage to escape for a few outings.  Our hotel was on Mission Bay, so you did get to play in the sand and water.  We also went to Cabrillo state park to look at the tide pools and go on a mini hike.  You had so much fun in the water and the sand, and learning about all of the things you’ve seen.  Uncle Eric joined us, which was nice, and he brought his girlfriend too. It was a nice mini reunion, with Grandma and Daddy and Uncle Eric.

Then, we went drove to Anaheim to spend the day at Disneyland!!  Oh my gosh, what a magical place.  We met up with my friend Erin from TheLeoLoves to take our pictures and it was so nice to have professional photos taken at the happiest place in the world.  You were so excited to meet all of the princesses, and get their autographs.  It was pretty cool.  There was a moment where I thought I lost you.  We had some minnie mouse ice cream, and you saw Donald Duck.  I told you it was ok to get in line, but did not realize that Donald Duck was walking AWAY from us. When I turned around, you were gone.  I swear, I lost it.  Daddy and Grandma had no idea what was wrong.  I just turned my back for a second, and just freaked out.  We ended up finding you, first in line to see Donald.  And I was so happy and upset, I didn’t even realize that I made you get out of line, to give you the biggest hug ever.  I don’t think this has ever happened to me, and of course, it happened in Disneyland. But you were ok, we were all ok.  whew!

You were pretty fascinated with the Star Wars part of the park, but there wasn’t really much for you to do there.  And at the end of the night, when the parade and fireworks started.  Wow, you were all amazed.  It was the perfect end to the night!

We came home on a direct flight from Los Angeles to Dulles.  You got to spend a week at school, and you were so happy to see your friends. You’ve been talking about your birthday party, and celebrating with your friends.

And then the coronavirus hit the rest of the United States.  You weren’t able to go to school.  We weren’t able to have play dates.  The gym shut down.  No more ballet, or theater class, no more bollywood dance.  At first, you were excited.  It’s like one big staycation.  I was worried.  I never signed up for homeschooling.  But I knew I wasn’t going to let you have a ton of screen time day in and day out.  So there was a lot of scrambling to keep you girls busy.

In the middle of all of this, we closed on a new house.  We started our search for a new house in January, and never thought we would be buying a new house in the middle of a pandemic.  But here we are.  The house is great, it has a pool, it’s on 5 acres.  There are horses behind our tree line.  The inside will need a lot of work, but we’re excited to make new choices.  You and Asha won’t have to share a bathroom, so there’s that.

Most of all, we’re just thankful that we’re healthy and safe.  Daddy has to work a lot, but that’s the same as always.  It’s just business as usual for him.  If he’s not stressing, we’re not stressing.

Dear Asha,

You were so excited for California.  The idea of having a sleepover EVERY DAY was your idea of a dream.  You got to cuddle with Ariya and hang out with Grandma.  It took some time warming up to Grandma, but by the end of the week, you were sad to see her go.  In the meantime, we did some fun things.  You had no care in the world when you rushed into the bay.  It was breezy, it was not summer time.  But you just love the water.  Your pants were soaked.  Even when we went to Cabrillo State Park.  Shoes off and pants slightly rolled up, you were so excited to be near the water.  And overtime the water crashed on the rocks, you squealed with glee.  But every time you got near the edge of a cliff, I think you gave me a heart attack each time.

Disneyland was so exciting!  You were super excited to see all of the princesses, and to have your very own autograph book, just like Ariya had.  You could have cared less for the lines, you were just so excited to ride the rides, and eat all the junk food and see the next best thing.  But I think the best part was the parade and the fireworks at night.  You were on Daddy’s shoulders and you were in heaven!

You had school for just 3 days (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) before we realized that you weren’t going back to pre-school.  You pre-school was just following the county’s guidelines, and the county realized that there was no way that we could go back to school before the end of the year.  So, no more school until hopefully the fall.  In the mean time, you’ve been playing a lot with Ariya and Anika.  You are so excited to have Ariya home.  We’ve been trying to do some school work, some coloring, practicing writing, reading lots of books.  But you are obsessed with tablet time.  But sometimes, it’s the only way I can get some quiet time, to do stuff around the house.  No one’s complaining though.  As long as there’s a good balance, we’re all ok.

 

Dear Anika,

Oh my goodness, your first plane ride is to California!  And you were a rockstar!!  You were so content, not a lot of fussing or crying.  You nursed, you slept, you played with your sisters.  And Grandma and Daddy held you when you got tired of being with me.

The time change was interesting.  Your napping and bedtime schedule was way out of whack.  It was tough getting you to sleep in the crib and by the end of the trip, you were in bed with us.  Do what we have to do to survive right?  I think you were happy to be in bed with us too.

You got to attend your first photography conference 🙂  I like to start you girls off young 🙂 Daddy wasn’t able to get you to nap when you went off on adventures with Grandma and your sisters, so I ended up wearing you so I could hear my favorite photographer Jonathan Canlas talk.  And then I nursed you in the bathroom (good thing they had a cute waiting area with the most awesome light, of course I had to take a picture).  You met some of my friends from the photography world and were the best baby ever.

Disneyworld was nice for you, because you were either being worn by me or daddy, or in the stroller with Grandma driving you.  You could have cared less for the rides or the princesses, but at least we have pictures of you there.

By the time we got back, the world was in the middle of a pandemic.  And you were just happy to have your sisters home with you.  I don’t think you even remember what it was like to be on your own, because the girls were with you every second that you were awake.  And you love them so much.

Letters to My Children – February 2020

Dear Ariya,

February was a normal month.  The usual events happened.  You had theater class on Mondays, ballet on Thursdays, Balvihar and bollywood dance on Sundays.  We’ve had some pretty busy weekends, hanging out with friends.  You’re loving school as always.  But you’re really looking forward to our trip to California with Grandma the first week of March.  There’s this thing going on, this virus called COVID-19 (or coronavirus) that’s been spreading across the world, and there were some cases in California.  I was worried about going to California, but we had been planning this trip for a while, and everyone else thought it wasn’t a big deal.  So we decided to go.

Dear Asha,

You are thriving so well at school.  You’re learning so much and you’re so happy with all of the crafts that you’re doing there.  You come home with a cool craft every week.  You started doing a sports class at the Little Gym on Tuesdays, and one of your friends from school is there.  So that’s been great, having Ariya and Anika come to see you do your thing.  And you have so much energy.  Oh my gosh, you have so much energy.  Apparently ballet, the little gym and bollywood dance is not enough for you.  You are excited to go on an airplane to go to California.  And you can’t wait to sleep in a hotel, it’s like one big slumber party.

 

Dear Anika,

You, my sweetheart, are driving me crazy.  You are not sleeping at all.  You fall asleep for a few hours at a time.  Nursing you to sleep did not help.  I was at my wit’s end.  I ended up calling a sleep consultant to help.  We thought we’d get some healthy sleep habits established before we go on our trip.  And wow, you were a rockstar.  We figured out a nap schedule, you ended up only waking up once a night.  It was amazing.  So worth it.  We are all well rested because of it.  And next month, you’re going on your first plane trip to California!!

 

Letters to My Children – January 2020

Dear Ariya,

It’s a new year, and I think we’re all over this holiday vacation. My birthday was January 1st, and you all really wanted to make it special. Daddy was working so we decided to go have lunch for him at work. It was a nice day, I think you all were just ready to go back to school. We tried to go for a walk but Anika started fussing, and then Asha started fussing and you were so frustrated.

Not much happened this month at school. There was visitor’s day at ballet, where we could see all the hard work you’ve been putting in there. It was cute watching you dance and seeing all that you’ve learned.

I gave you and your sister a disposable camera, for Christmas and finally got those developed, so I thought I’d share a few of those. Also, I wanted to try a weekly portrait project, so you and Asha have become my main subjects for trying portrait photography, with backgrounds and lighting. Thanks Ariya!

 

Dear Asha,

The Christmas season was so exciting, but I think you were ready for (or needed) a routine. School couldn’t start soon enough. Other than getting back into a routine, not much was happening. You had a visitor day at ballet, and it was so sweet seeing you show off your moves. I enjoyed it thoroughly. At the Little Gym, you’re now 4, and one of the oldest in the class! You’re still enjoying it though. You also enjoyed taking photos on your OWN disposable camera.

Dear Anika,

You’re six months old! It kind of breaks my heart that you’re growing so fast. You’re so curious and always aware of everything going on around you. I have the hardest time nursing you with a cover, you’re constantly grabbing at it, wanting to see what’s going on around you.

You’re trying new foods! You’ve started with apple puree, and then pears and sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados and carrots and green beans. Of course you like the apples, pears and sweet potatoes best.

Here are some photos from your disposable cameras, along with our January.

One roll of film one day – February 2020

Ok, so it’s already 2 months into the new year and I gave up on my film 366.  I don’t know what happened, I had dedicated one film camera (the Rolleiflex SL66)  and one film stock (Portrait 400).  And then I forgot about it until the end of the day, so I picked up the GA645w and used the pop up flash to take a photo.  And then I got all out of order, and then I gave up.  And I JUST got the roll back from the first 16 days of January, and most of the photos were OUT OF FOCUS.  So, I guess maybe it’s a good thing I gave up on it.  Or I’ll just keep trying, I don’t know.

I also kind of gave up on the 52 weeks of portraits.  I haven’t given up on the idea of portraits.  I do break out the strobes every week.  I break out the seamless paper.  But sometimes, the photos just don’t turn out.  I’m still trying though.

But, this project is pretty easy to stick to.  I thought I’d pop a roll of Kodak Tri X 400 in my trusty Nikon f100.  At first I started with a 24mm lens, but realized it was too wide for me, so I went with my trusty 35mm lens.  I rated it at 800 and pushed +1.  I did something else, I thought I’d try a new lab, just see what else was out there.  Nope, this experiment failed, I think I’ll go back to my default lab that I’ve spent years with.

Here was our day.

To follow the circle and see some pretty talented film photographers that are doing the same challenge, please check out Lillie Duncan here

Letters to My Children – December 2019

Dear Ariya,

It’s December!  The countdown is on for Christmas.  And you are so excited for Christmas break.  Asha turned 4, which was a nice day to celebrate.  Daddy went to Florida for a conference so it was just us girls for a week.  When he got back, it actually snowed so you had a few snow days, made snow angels out of the dust, ate a lot of snow.  But we did not have enough snow to make snow cream or go sledding.

We celebrated Asha’s birthday at the little gym.  You had fun with some of the older siblings, like Myra and Addison.  I think your favorite part was the cake because it made your lips look like you were wearing makeup.

We baked a lot of cookies for the holiday season.  We actually went over to Asher’s house to bake and decorate cookies, and hang out with Asher and Marni.  You missed Asher so much.  We also saw Marni perform in a play based on a Junie B book.  The play was interesting and you were enthralled with the acting.  I think you want to start reading the Junie B book series.  Personally, I’m not a fan, and I hope you realize that too.

Christmas vacation was nice.  Nani and Nanu came to visit.  A lot of relaxing, a lot of hanging out with your grandparents.  Daddy was off of work, so that was nice too.  You girls were spoiled for Christmas.  Santa must have thought you were a very good girl.

New Year’s Eve was pretty chill.  Daddy had to work.  I think we just watched a lot of tv and hung out at home.

Dear Asha

You turned four!!  Oh my goodness, you’re growing up so fast!  Daddy and I came to your class with cupcakes and to sing happy birthday.  We just wanted to make you feel special.  Afterwards, I took you to the hair salon.  You made the decision to chop your hair off, and we all love it.  It fits your personality so well.  And it’s so much easier to wash and brush your hair.  You don’t fight us anymore when it’s time to do anything with your hair.

Your friend from school, Lelia, turned four, so we went to her house for a princess birthday party theme.  oh my goodness, she had princess dresses to try on, jewelry to take home, makeup to put on.  You and Ariya both had a ball!  You decorated crowns and small jewelry boxes to take home.  I think you two had a blast!

Your friend Emme turned four too, so we went to her birthday party at the Little Gym next.  It was a pretty long fun filled day.  I think we were all exhausted that day.

We had a few snow days and had to miss your Christmas program at your pre-school.  What a bummer.  You missed the Christmas program last year because we went on vacation.  And now we missed it again because of the weather.  I don’t think you were too concerned, you were just happy to be on Christmas vacation.  We made a small snow man and you helped shovel the driveway.  But the snow wasn’t too impressive, not enough to go sledding or anything

You would think you’d be tired of the Little gym, but nope, we had your birthday there a week later.  You had so much fun, you just love the Little Gym.  The theme was outer space.  The cake looked like a galaxy.  It was pretty delicious too.

Christmas was a blast.  And lucky girl, Nani and Nanu gave you a bike for your birthday/Christmas gift.  A Frozen bike!  You love it so much, you don’t care how cold it is, you want to ride your bike in the back yard all the time.

I think your favorite present was the makeup set.  Any chance you get to put make up on, you’d take it.  You can be such a girly girl with your makeup and wanting to put on my heels and wear dresses.  But then you turn around and tackle Ariya to the ground and are so rough when you’re joking around and wrestling.  You are a character girl.  Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Dear Anika,

You are now five months old!  oh my goodness, you just keep growing and I can’t handle it.  You’re still waking up in the middle of the night all the time.  But that’s ok, we’ll get through it.

It was your first Christmas!  How special, spending it with all of us at home.  You have no clue what’s going on, but you are starting to pay attention to your toys, feeling different textures, grasping things with your hands. so that was pretty cool.

The girls love you so much.  They always want to hold you, or touch you. And you love staring at them.  Asha is always acting silly to make you laugh.  And you do, you laugh so much!  You’re giggling all the time at Asha.  And Ariya jumps around and tries to make you feel better every time you start to cry.  You are so lucky to have two pretty awesome big sisters.