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!!

 

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.

 

One roll of film, one day – January 2020

It’s a new year, and I thought I’d focus on some new projects to get my creative juices flowing.  When my oldest was born, I used to do Project 365s, take one photo a day, to document her life.  That was almost 6.5 years ago.  When my second oldest was born, I got heavy into shooting film.  I was obsessed.  But I scaled back on the Project 365s.  I think I did 4 years total and then burned out. I kept shooting.  I just didn’t have any more reason to print photo books out.  I miss that.

So, this year will be different.  I have 2 years worth of printing photos.  And I thought I’d start the projects back up.  Now, I know me, I tend to go all in when I have an idea.  But sometimes those ideas are not sustainable, especially when I have a 6 month old at home.   I will do my best.  So, I have a film Project 365 that I’ve started.  I’ve also wanted to break out my studio lighting equipment and do 52 weeks of portraits.  It’s an excuse to break out the seamless paper that I bought and do fun portraits of the girls.  And even try to get a portrait of my husband and maybe even myself in the frame.  This weekend will be my third week of that project.

But I did join a Facebook group to try shooting one roll of film for one day each month.  Just document my day how I see fit.  I decided to choose January 1st, as it was a new year, new month, and it was my birthday.  But wow, what a dramatic roller coaster of a day.  It felt like the longest holiday vacation ever and the girls were off the chain.  Anika wasn’t sleeping well which meant I was not sleeping well.  And if I heard “Mommy, I’m BORED one more time…”

The highlight was that some girlfriends came over to help me celebrate my birthday….and of course I didn’t document that because I was having too much fun.  But here was our day.  All shot on the Contax N1 and pretty 50mm lens.  I used the flash in some photos where I knew I’d have trouble with low light.  All on Portra 400 rated at 400.

(A little context.  This was a pajama type day.  We had lunch with my husband at work, went for a short hike, and then was back home and chillin for the rest of the day.  I take a lot of pictures of my girls, I would like to slow down and document our environment, the house, all the supporting things in our life. )

 

To follow the circle, check out Celina Bailey’s post on her roll of film for the day here

Letters to My Children – October 2019

Dear Ariya,

You actually received a letter from your guidance counselor at school that you are invited to join the SCA.  You are now your class’s representative for the SCA and you get to do fun stuff around the school.  You meet once a month with other students from other classrooms and decide on important things.  For October, you got to take some time out of the day to go with the SCA to the farmer’s market to pick out pumpkins for the school.  I had a parent/teacher conference with your teacher, and she just loves you.  You excel at everything that you do.  You’re reading chapter books, you read so much ALL THE TIME.  At the bus stop, on the bus, at home, in the car, everywhere.  I love it.  I used to read like that all the time too.  I’m so happy you get lost in books like I used to.  Your daddy loves to read too.  He was the one that got us started on Harry Potter.

Let’s see, what else happened this October?  Nani and Nanu came to visit, and we went to Garba.  Daddy was off too, so we all got to go as a family.  Since you made so many friends from the Bollywood dance class, you had a blast.  You danced in the circle for garbage, you picked up those dandiya sticks and Priya auntie and I taught you and your friends how to do garba.  You ran around with Veer and Jai and Asha.  It reminded me so much of my childhood.  I remember running around with my friends at grab.  And following my mom in the garba circle, not really knowing how to do anything but still trying.  It made me so happy that you love our Indian culture so much.  You ask to listen to bollywood music, you practice your dances at home.  I wish I had that growing up, but I’m so glad that you have it for yourself.

We also took some time to go to our usual Pumpkin patch, Hill High Farms.  Right near our house, we go on a wagon ride to the pumpkin field.  A cowboy rides up to us and gives us a history lesson on the land, crops, and animals.  There’s a hay maze.  There’s also a cornfield maze, haunted house and escape room, but I think you girls aren’t ready for that yet.  Maybe the cornfield maze next year.

Let’s see, what else…  Not much…EXCEPT HALLOWEEN!  You didn’t want to go to the store and get a costume.  You wanted to make your own.  So we found this pretty dress on amazon, dressed it up with a flower crown and some wings and voila, you were a fairy.  And you loved your costume so much.  We had the Monster Mash at school.  We played games, won some candy, decorated some cupcakes.  Daddy came for a little bit before he had to go to work, but I think you were really happy to have him, Asha, Anika and myself there.

We spent our annual tradition of trick or treating with our good friends Priya auntie and Meetul uncle, and Jen and Stephen and their kids.  Azusa auntie and Uncle Ellford met us as well.  It was great…until it poured down rain.  We were drenched as we ran back home.  But we got a lot of candy, had dinner, and watched a movie.  What a great way to end the night.

Dear Asha,

It was a pretty good month.  You had fun running around at the Garba with your friends, but then you crashed pretty hard.  Good thing Nani and Nanu were there, because you were sleeping on Nani’s lap pretty much the rest of the evening.

You’ve been obsessed with this show called Haunted House on Netflix.  It’s actually a pretty creepy anime show.  After doing some googling, it’s from South Korea.  But man there are some scary concepts that you seem to think are hilarious.  You roped Ariya into watching them as well.  Well, with that in mind, when you wanted to pick out your Halloween costume, I thought you wanted to be a unicorn, or a fairy like your sister.  Nope.  You wanted to be a …….GHOUL (according to you, a ghoul is a type of ghost).  You loved seeing spooky.

We had your first field trip this year at Marker Miller.  We got to ride a wagon again and take a tour of the farm.  There was a story about Johnny appleseed, we got to pick apples and see goats.  And the best part was playing on the playground and eating your apple donut.

You came along to the Monster Mash and couldn’t get enough of it.  You could have stayed all night.  I think you can’t wait to go to Kindergarten.  Only a few more years, sweet girl.

You’re so different from Ariya.  you’re rough and tough, you love to scare, and be scared.  But you can be so girly too, with your dresses, and doing ballet and bollywood dance. You are definitely one of a kind.

Dear Anika,

You’re 3 months old.  And you’re moving, A LOT.  You’re learning to roll on your side.  Which is kind of good, and not so good.  Not so good because you’re done with the swaddle, which really helped calm your moro reflexes.  But great that you’re growing.  Now you just need to learn to move on your side and calm yourself.  I still wear you, but you’re also starting to sleep longer in your car seat, when we’re running errands, or taking the girls to and from stuff.  You are the sweetest little thing, like a doll baby. The girls can’t get enough of you.  At the garba, everyone wanted to hold you and cuddle.  I get it.  I want to hold you and cuddle you all the time too.  Slow down, please, don’t grow up too fast.

Letters to My Children – May 2019

Dear Ariya,

We celebrated Apple Blossom the first weekend of May.  Your daddy ran the 10K and we went to the fair.  Your favorite part is the cotton candy, with the rides coming at a close 2nd.  You and Asha went nuts over the rides.  And since I couldn’t ride any rides, I just ended up taking lots of pictures, as usual.  It’s a great family tradition that we have 🙂

The countdown is on. You’re ready for summer, and your class is doing the ABC countdown till the last day of school.  Which makes you pretty excited every day to go to school.  A for stuffed Animal, B for bubbles, C for Crazy hair and clothes, etc.

You also had field day.  I missed my chance to volunteer but it looked like a lot of fun!  Outdoor games, a bounce house, water guns, etc.  I think you had fun.

You’re also wrapping up soccer, with maybe a month and a half left to go.  You like seeing your friends at soccer, but going to practice and the games are like pulling teeth.  Once you’re there, you have fun.  But you don’t love soccer like you do ballet or gymastics.  I think maybe we might have to take a break from soccer next season.  We need to pare down the number of activities you have anyway.  I feel like we’ve over scheduled you.  It’s like you don’t know how to just BE.

Ballet is wrapping up and it’s time for your yearly ballet recital.  Nani and Nanu came to visit, and to see you on stage.  Asha loved watching you perform as well.  And when your performance was done, you loved seeing all the bigger kids perform as well.  It’s a pretty amazing time watching all of the dancers perform.

We also went tulip picking with our friends.  you loved the tulips so much you just HAD to save the bulbs.  I don’t have much of a green thumb, so we’ll see if they last until October when it’s time to plant.

Dear Asha,

Pre-school ended this month.  We had a mother’s day lunch and a father’s day lunch with your class.  It was so great seeing you play so well with your friends.  You’ve come a long way this year.

You also had soccer with soccer shots.  We didn’t go to as many soccer lessons.  Vacation, nap time, etc. It was my mistake planning to go at 3pm, when you’re usually so tired.  But you were awesome at chasing after the ball.  And listening to the coaches was tough at first, but you got it after a while.  I think after the baby comes, we’ll have to look into signing you up again in the fall.

Asha, you’re such a big girl now.  So big, that you get your own big girl bed!  We are re-painting your old crib/toddler bed for the baby, so went furniture shopping and picked out a full size bed with a book shelf attached for you.   In the mean time, you and Ariya helped paint the crib for the baby, which took a lot of work.  But you did it!

Tulip picking was fun for you, you were with your best friend Aliyah!  But you were pouting because you wanted to pick ALL the flowers, not realizing that Mommy had to PAY for all of the flowers.  and then you’d leave the bulb in the ground and just snap the flower off.  But that’s ok, we still had a great time!

 

 

Letters to My Children – April 2019

Dear Ariya and Asha,

Wow, it is the beginning of July and I’ve realized that I have not written a letter to you in ages.  I’m so sorry.  This pregnancy has been wearing me out, and I’ve just been trying to keep up.

April was a great month.  It was your 6th birthday!  We had a mermaid themed party at Kids First Swim School.  We invited your class and a few close friends.  You had a blast.  Asha kept thinking she could keep up with you, but I swear, she was going to drown a few times.  Good thing there was a lifeguard there!

 

Your daddy had a conference in Las Vegas, and we all got to tag along.  You both LOVED going on a jet plane.  Direct flights are the best.  We stayed at Caesar’s Palace, and you girls LOVED staying in the hotel.  You two even slept in the same bed, which was nice.  We had some fun adventures.  I was 26 weeks pregnant so walking around was kind of tough, but I wanted to show you a good time.  We walked, we ate lots of good food.  We saw dolphins, white tigers and lions at the Mirage.  We had ice cream at Sprinkles.  We saw flamingos at the Flamingo.  Asha, you had an obsession with escalators.  Every chance you got, you HAD to ride the escalator.  We hopped in the pool one afternoon, but oh man it was freezing.  You two didn’t notice, but I sure did.  Oh man, I was freezing.  But you had fun.

After the conference, we took the rental car and drove to Seven Magic Mountains.  There were some pretty cool art installations, big colorful rocks.  Asha crashed as soon as we started driving.  But Ariya, you loved posing in front of the rocks, and even creating your own mini rock creations.

We drove to Palm Springs, California, to meet our friends, the Sigmons and the Spinellis.  The air b&b was amazing!  a heated pool, a modern house within the desert oasis.  There were so many fun things to do.  We went to the Living Zoo, got to feed some giraffes and play at the children’s museum.  We even went up into the mountains and saw some snow!  And in the afternoons, we would hang by pool and get plenty of pool time in. We even celebrated Easter there!

You both were ready to come home, but once we were home, you missed Lily and Jax so much.  The slumber parties were so much fun.  Having a buddy around was really nice.  But, now it was time to get back into a routine.  But before April ended, we celebrated Holi with our friends!  One of our favorite festivals to celebrate.  It was windy and cold, and the water guns were probably not the best idea, but it was still so much fun.

  

And here are just a few favorite photos for April

Letters to My Children – March 2019

Dear Ariya,

March was a decent month.  The excitement for April and spring break, and our trip to Las Vegas and Palm Springs was building up.  We were just ready for some warm weather.   But the exciting thing that happened in March is that you started gymnastics at Shenandoah Tumblers.  And you are in heaven.  You get to see all these big kids do some amazing things on the parallel bars, balance beams, the pit.  I can tell that you definitely are more into gymnastics and dance than any kind of sport.  You still love ballet, you can’t WAIT for your recital in May.

Dear Asha,

So, we tried to start you at Shenandoah Tumblers as well.  It would have been so awesome and perfect since your class was the same time as Ariya’s.  But you were just so overwhelmed.  The class was too structured and you just wanted to run around and play with the equipment, like you did at the Little Gym.  In fact, you kept asking to go back to the Little Gym.  We’ll figure it out sweetie.  We’ll get you back there eventually.

I’ve discovered how much you LOVE makeup.  Oh my goodness.  You are obsessed!  It’s like painting…for your face!