Letters to My Children – September 2019

Dear Ariya,

September was a good month.  First, we started off with your uncle’s wedding.  Rikin Uncle and Eesha auntie are getting married!  We had to take Friday off, because you know how Indian weddings are.  We went to Pennsylvania for Pithi and Mehndi night. It was great to catch up with everyone, and you had so much fun playing with your big sister, Mala ben.

Saturday, we drove up to Connecticut for the garba.  Niraj mama and Hyeon mami came ALL the way from Singapore with your favorite cousins, Eila and Kailas.  It was so good to have someone to play with your own age.  You loved wearing the same dress with Asha, and we got to dress up too!  We saw all of the cousins perform a dance, how cool was that!

Sunday was the wedding and it was at a botanical garden in New York.  Wow, was it a beautiful wedding.  You had so much fun playing with Eila outside, enjoying nature, making up games, becoming forest children.  You didn’t want to say leave at the end of the night, to say goodbye.  But all good things must come to an end.

We’re still getting into the swing of things with school and your activities.  Since Claire is no longer doing gymnastics, we decided to move gymastics to another day.  We still find ways to see your friend Claire though.  There was an event at Blandy, called Nature Nutures.  It was so cool, there was a woman dressed up as Mother Nature.  You and Asha made a fairy house, and you worked with Claire to do a scavenger hunt.  There was even some stone soup and mud pies to be made, held by the local Tinkergarten group.  So that was a fun afternoon for both you and Asha.

You still have Bollywood dance, which you LOVE.  It’s time to get ready for your performance for Diwali in November, and you and Asha practice all the time.  And then ballet, which I don’t think you’ll ever give up because you love your teacher so much.

School is great.  You love school, you love your teacher.  You talk about your friends at school all the time.  Especially this boy named Luke.  I don’t know who Luke is, but your say his name a lot.  There was the Back to School picnic, which was fun seeing you in your element, playing on the playground.  And then there was Back to school night, where your daddy and I got to meet your teacher and understand what your day really is like.  We like your teacher too, and glad you are in great hands.

We still manage to make time for our other friends that don’t go to your school or activities.  You still go to Balvihar and see Priya auntie and Veer and Jai.  And we have dinner at their house every so often, which is always nice.  We made time to go peach/rasberry/blackberry picking wth Daddy at Marker Miller.  But we all get busy as the school year gears up.

Dear Asha,

School has officially started for you, after Labor Day weekend.  You are so happy with your teachers and your friends in class.  Your best friend Clara from last year is in your class again.  You’re learning so much, and always have fun crafts and reading to do.

The wedding was a success.  You only had school for a day before we went out of town.  Man, were you TIRED.  the whole weekend, you were just done.  You had a great time with your cousins.  Shiven bhai especially, I think he’s your favorite cousin.  But by the time the reception rolled around, you were laid out on the chairs asleep.  Oh man, it was tough getting you girls out of there, because you all were just dead weight.  I’d say it was a great weekend for us all.

On the days that you’re not in school, on top of the Little Gym and Bollywood Dance, we signed you up for ballet.  Finally, FINALLY, you get to have your own activities.  You have the same teacher as Ariya for ballet.  And your friend from school, Emme, is in your class.  It’s the sweetest thing seeing you two play and dance together.

You love love LOVE Bollywood Dance.  It’s kind of amazing, how you practice dancing along with Ariya.  We sing the songs in the car, and you even practice your dance moves in the car.  You’ve got that rhythm, you always find the beat.  Speaking of rhythm and beat, you have a new favorite album, a soundtrack for the movie Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse.  To see you sing “What’s Up Danger” cracks me up.  And I think your absolute favorite song is “Sunflower”. You could sing this song, and this album, over and over and over again.  I think Ariya is sick of hearing it.  I don’t mind though, I like it.

We are still working on your stubbornness.  Girl, you just won’t listen.  And you want to love up and hold Anika all the time.  You might actually love her a little too much.  But that’s ok, it could be worse, you could actually hate her, and that would not be good.  But no problem there.

Dear Anika,

You are 2 months old.  And you are the sweetest thing ever.  You fuss when you’re tired, you wake up crying because you’re hungry.  But once you’ve nursed, you break out in the biggest smile.  I still wear you a lot.  It’s hard trying to get into a routine with you.  You’re basically on the go whenever we drop Asha off at school, or if we take the girls to their activities.  But you do roll with it, and I’m so thankful for that.

Letters to My Children – August 2019

Dear Ariya,

August is an exciting month.  You start the first grade this month!  You found out who your teacher was, and was so excited to meet her. We found out that you know a few friends from last year, including Ethan from music class and little gym (back when you two were babies), and Addy from pre-school.  The first two weeks weren’t too bad, pretty basic stuff, just a refresher on what everyone knows.  Your teacher knows that you are an avid reader, so she gave you a chapter book to read, a book from the series the Magic Treehouse.  We’ve started reading the 2nd Harry Potter book, a Chamber of Secrets.

You’re still doing gymnastics and Bollywood dance.  and next month, you start ballet!  I think you’re pretty relieved not to do soccer this season.  And I can tell how much you love gymnastics, you’re doing handstands and cartwheels all over the place!  I think the one downer is that your friend Claire will be ending gymnastics, so you won’t get to see her at class anymore.  We’ll just have to try harder to make a playdate happen.

Dear Asha,

You finished up camp at preschool the first week of August.  And you’ve been restless ever since.  You miss Ariya when she’s at school.  You can’t wait for your school to start.  Don’t worry, September will be here before you know it.  In the meantime, we did have orientation and you got to meet your teachers and see your new classroom.  That was pretty exciting.

You also started the Little Gym!  You have been BEGGING for the little gym classes since last spring, and now that you’re finally there, you can’t contain yourself.  This has been probably one of your most favorite things to do.  I’m so happy that you get to do something for yourself, instead of getting dragged to all of Ariya’s activities.

You also started Bollywood dance with Ariya.  You’re young, and it’s tough to hold your attention for a full hour.  But you did great at your first class!  Keep on dancing!

Asha, you try my patience like no other.  I love you so much, but wow, you are so stubborn, hard headed, and you just don’t listen.  What am I going to do with you?  I have to keep reminding myself that these qualities will serve you well when you’re older, but right now, I wish you’d just listen to me and do what I say when I say it.  Why does everything have to be a battle of the wills?  Please tell me this is the longest phase of our lives and it will get better?

Dear Anika,

What can I say, Anika, you are just the sweetest little doll baby.  Your smile fill me with such happiness.  You still won’t sleep on your back, and still want to be held all the time.  I’m actually wearing you right now in one of my wraps.  Even your daddy has started using the wrap, when we discovered that you’re not a fan of the ergo carrier.  You sleep so soundly when you’re worn in a wrap.  You do sleep for long stretches at a time when you’re in our arms.  And sometimes, if we’re lucky, you’ll stay asleep if you’re swaddled and in a swing. But it would be great if we could start putting you in your crib….  We keep trying.  You keep growing.  We all love you so much.

Here are some pictures from Grandma’s visit, and Nani and Nanu last month along with this month’s photos:

Letters to My Children – July 2018

 

Dear Ariya,

The countdown is on….for beach week!  It’s our annual beach trip with the cousins!  Your Grandma, Auntie Anjuanette, Uncle Kashiff, Uncle Eric, Mekhai and Jayden were with us for most of the week and it was glorious.  It rained…alot.  But there were pockets of time when the sun was shining, and we would race to the beach.  We did spend the day at the aquarium.

The waves were fun.  You tried boogie boarding for the first time and you loved it.  You were so sad that we didn’t have our own boogie board.  I think next year, we know what we’ll need to bring to the beach.

Mekhai introduced us to youtube kids, and you were hooked.  What is up with the obsession of watching OTHER kids play with their toys?  It just boggles my mind.  But you loved it.  Watching the tablet, watching youtube kids, was an addiction.  When we came back home, we had to wean you off of it, because wow, did it put you in a cranky mood.  20 minutes of tablet time was never enough.  You wanted more more more.

 

Dear Asha,

We spent a lot of time at the pool.  You watched Ariya and followed her lead.  You started taking a deep breath, putting your head under water, kicking.  I had to sign you up for swim lessons, because you were getting it.  You wanted to jump off the diving board after Ariya (with your noodle, of course).

The beach was great.  you loved playing with the sand….a  little too much, if you ask me.  You would eat it.  I don’t know what the big deal was with sand, but you wanted to eat it.  Drove Daddy and me crazy, but you loved eating sand.  You were a huge fan of the water and the waves.  Spending time with Grandma, your auntie, uncles and cousins were great too.  You got to stay up late, and sleep in.  There was a bunk bed and you always wanted to sleep up top.  But Daddy and I thought you were maybe a bit too young to sleep up top by yourself.  You were not happy about that, but you did love sleeping with Mommy in the king size bed.  Poor Daddy had to sleep with Ariya because she didn’t want to sleep by herself.  Maybe next year, you two will be able to sleep in the same room together.

 

Next month will be the last bit of summer before kindergarten starts for Ariya and pre-school starts for Asha.  Let’s soak it all in.

 

The Film & Roots Workshop Review Part 2

A few weeks ago, I had written Part 1 Review of the Film & Roots Workshop here.  For the afternoon session, we did a family session.  I decided to try some B&W film and used Kodak Tri-X 400.  I’ve never shot black and white film before, and this experience was interesting.  There were some situations where I was like “oh man, I wish I had color film to capture this really neat sun flare”.  But it was cool to see how the shadows and contrast translated in the film.  I underexposed quite a few frames, but hey, this was my first time, so I give myself a pass.  Anyway, if you want to find out more about this workshop, click here.  Without further ado, here are my favorite shots from this session.

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The Film & Roots Workshop Review Part 1

I’ve always loved capturing moments.  First with a point and shoot olympus film camera in high school, and then on to a Nikon dslr.  As I’ve reflected on my personal journey of photography, I’ve always found an appeal with film photography.  The fear of loading the film correctly, not knowing whether I got the shot or what it will look like, the anticipation as I send my roll in to be developed, receiving the prints or scans and reliving that day.  It’s a great feeling.  As I’m learning more and more about photography and editing, I long for a simpler time, where I don’t have to spend as much time in front of the laptop, staring at a photo, trying to get it right.

Some time last year, I “met” Jennifer Warthan through Facebook, on one of the film Facebook groups.  I’ve always loved her work, and when I saw that she was offering a workshop, I jumped at the chance!  I won a Nikon F100 off ebay and shot a roll of film, playing around with the settings.  I still need to send that in to be developed,  I had no idea what I was doing!  Thank goodness for Jennifer!

The workshop was amazing.  It was from 10am – 6pm, set in the beautiful peanut country of Waverly VA, at Jennifer’s cottage.  There were 2 other lovely ladies in the workshop along with me, so it was nice and intimate.  Jennifer provided breakfast, lunch and snacks, refreshments, and we had everything we need to feel right at home.  But I was anxious to jump in.  As soon as we entered the cottage, there was a table FULL of different film cameras and film stock.  And I was drooling.  Just 2 days after attending the workshop, I’m already searching for a medium format camera.  Jennifer went through the difference between 35mm and medium format cameras, and then moved on to the different film stocks out there.  She had an easy way of explaining how to apply the exposure triangle to film.  It was hard not to trust my camera sensor and to let go.

Shortly after our discussion, our sweet model Ally came.  She was the perfect model, up for anything.  I already had Kodak Ultramax 400 loaded in my Nikon f100, so I used that roll for part of the session.  Then, as we moved outdoors into the full sun, I switched to Kodak Ektar 100.  And throughout the morning session, every time I took a picture, I would look at the back of the camera to see how it came through.  The anticipation was killing me.  However, shooting film did cause me to slow down, really think about what I wanted to shoot, carefully compose and then go for it.

After our morning session, we broke for lunch.  Jennifer showed us how to develop our film, which was pretty cool stuff.  Not sure if I trust myself to develop my own film just yet, but it was neat to know that I could if I wanted to.  She then scanned our film rolls using her Pakon scanner.  It was amazing seeing some of the shots that we took.  It really was like Christmas, the anticipation, not knowing if any pictures came out ok. There were definitely more than a few keepers.  The colors were amazing!  The detail in the sky came through.  Honestly, I did not have to do much for post processing.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

These are Kodak Ultramax 400.

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These are Kodak Ektar 100

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Watching the pro in action

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We shot a family session for the afternoon.  I thought I’d try a black and white film stock, Tri-X 400, I believe.  I hope they turned out ok,  I still need to send it in to be scanned.  I’ll keep you posted!

If you’re in or around the Waverly, VA area, you have got to check this workshop out!  You can find more info here.  You won’t regret it!