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 – August 2018

Dear Ariya,

And now it’s on.  The countdown till Kindergarten starts. You are so excited for school.  you are ready.  You mention your old school, and your old teachers and friends.  You miss them.  But you’re looking forward to the new adventure that Kindergarten holds.

In the meantime, we’re soaking up the sun and pool and trying to enjoy the last of summer before school starts.

Kindergarten Orientation and Meet the Teacher was a success.  You were scared about riding the school bus, but after a quick trial run at orientation of riding the bus, you were sold.  I wasn’t sold, I was nervous for you.  But the look on your face when you walked towards the bus stop said it all.  You were ready.  Your school bus driver is so nice.  You made friends immediately.  I couldn’t have asked for a better start to Kindergarten.

You loved kindergarten SO much that on Friday, when I jumped on your bed and said that tonight, you can stay up, tomorrow you can sleep in BECAUSE IT’S THE WEEKEND, THERE’S NO SCHOOL……what was your reaction?  You cried.  You cried because you wanted to go to school.  My mouth dropped wide open.  Amazing.  You love your teachers.  You love gym, art and music class.  You love playing on the playground and eating lunch with your class.  I’m super excited for you.

You’ve started reading these BOB books that Azusa Auntie gave you for your birthday.  Wow, the confidence you have, you are a rock star! I’m so proud of you.  You WANT to learn, you LOVE to learn.  Every day you ask for homework.  You wish your teacher assigned homework.  We do your fun sheets when you’re in the mood, but I don’t push it. I love that you love learning, and I want to keep this momentum up.

 

Dear Asha,

It’s the last month of summer fun before you start Preschool!!  We’ve been going to the pool as much as we can.  It’s weird having Ariya in school, with just the two of us at the pool.  You loved it.  You would live in the pool if you could.  Every day, it’s all about the bathingsuit, noodle and country club.  But all good things must come to an end.

You’ve become more opinionated about what you wear, the clothes you wear during the day, and at night.  You have your favorite pajamas, some that you’re outgrowing.  The purple elsa nightgown is your absolute favorite.  But man you are growing.  That nightgown is a 2t, and you’re already wearing 3t dresses and 4t shorts/pants.  It’s crazy how much you’re growing, you’re so tall!

Preschool orientation was a piece of cake.  You’re used to preschool because that’s where Ariya went.  You’re used to your classroom because that’s where you go for bible school when we go to church.  You start after Labor Day and I know you’re ready to start school.  And I’m so excited for you.  Great things are going to happen this year for you!

    

 

Letters to My Children – March 2018

Dear Ariya,

Destination Imagination happened!  And you rocked it!  There were some hiccups, one of your teammates was sick with strep and couldn’t make it.  We had to ask one of your friends to learn her lines.  It was tough, I know, asking your team to memorize so many lines.  Many thought you all were too young.  But I think you were excited to be in the parade and act out your play with your friends, Veer and Sei.  And you had to think quick on your feet with the instant challenge.  I think it was a great introduction to Destination Imagination.  It sounds like you all want to do it next year.  I thought it was fun, and I think you did too.

You saw your friend Marnie act and sing and dance in a play called Aladdin Jr.  And you loved it.  You loved it so much you were crying when we left.  Because you wanted to be on stage.  You wanted to act and dance and sing.  I reminded you that your ballet recital was in May and you’ll be on stage soon.  But you reminded me that you wouldn’t act or sing, you’d just be dancing, and you wanted to sign and dance and act NOW.  I guess I’ll be signing you up for some theater camps this summer.

We realized that we can now stream Netflix at home (with satellite internet, we couldn’t, and it was painful.  But now that we have a hotspot that streams pretty well, netflix is on all the time).  And you and Asha watched Leap for the first time.  And it was love at first sight.  You stay in your ballet slippers all day long.  You have Asha wearing your old ballet slippers and leotards.  You are leaping and jumping and spinning.  And Asha wants to be just like you, spinning, and twirling as well.

We’ve started swimming lessons again.  Gotta get you ready for the summer.  Practice makes perfect, right?  And you started soccer again, with a new league, BRYSA.  And you LOVED the first practice!  There were maybe 20 kids your age.  A few of them, you knew from preschool, including Asher.  And you did not want to leave.  Oh my goodness, it was so cold and windy during your first practice, but you could have stayed out there all night.  I had no idea how into it you were.

You’ve been asking for gymnastics for a little while so I finally gave in.  You’re taking classes at the Little Gym again.  And you love doing your somersaults and trying flips, jumping around and swinging like monkeys.  It’s crazy.  It’s turning out to be a busy spring.  You love staying busy.  But I have a feeling I’m going to burn out from all this running around. Between you and Asha, you girls are wearing me out. But I’m glad you’re doing all the things I used to do as a little kid.

Daddy had a week off from work, so we took advantage.  We spent a few days with Nani and Nanu in Richmond.  We went to the children’s museum, and spent quality time coloring and playing with your grandparents.  And then we went to Pittsburgh to see our good friends, Raj Uncle, Shilika auntie and Medha.  We went to the Natural History Museum, the Children’s museum (our favorite), and the Phipps’ Botanical Gardens.  It was great getting together with friends, eating out and playing in new and different places.  A change in scenery is always nice.

In April, you turn 5.  I can’t believe it, my baby turns 5.  I’m going to be a mess. We registered you for kindergarten, and I was a mess there.  I just can’t believe my baby is growing up.  I love you so much Ariya.  I can’t tell you enough how lucky I am to be your mommy.  I’m not always patient, and we have our hard times.  But please know that I’m trying my best to be the best mommy that you deserve.

Dear Asha,

Well.  You’re still not napping.  You’re still delirious. You’re still overtired and not falling asleep at night.  I don’t know what to do.  Do I need to wear you out in the morning?  It seems like the only way I can get you to sleep is if we go on a LONG car drive.  And I can’t do this every day.  Girl, you need to go to sleep!  We got rid of the bottle and that doesn’t help at all. Drinking milk out of the straw frustrates the heck out of you.  You’re so angry when you can’t chug your milk. Another way to soothe yourself, taken away.  I’m so sorry baby.  But you’re not a baby anymore.  It’s time to be a big girl.

We started swim lessons and the little gym for you.  And you are OBSESSED.  Especially with the pool.  You ask to go to the pool EVERY DAY.  You want to wear your bathing suit EVERY DAY. And you just don’t understand why we can’t go to the pool every day.  Or why you can’t swim with Ariya, even though you had your lesson already.  It’s tough.  You want what you want when you want it.

We had a snow day in March.  And you were not a fan of all the snow gear, the hat, the mittens, the snow pants and coat.  You hate wearing your winter coat, so all of this was just too much for you.  You loved eating the snow though.  Just like Ariya, you were a fan of the snow cream and the hot cocoa.  But you hated your mittens and took them off every chance you got.

I love you Asha basha. You wear me out, but I wouldn’t trade you for the world.

 

 

 

 

Letters to My Children – February 2018

 

Dear Ariya,

It’s been a pretty good month. You’re still loving your school and learning so much.  We’ve been going to many Destination Imagination meetings because the tournament is next month.  You love seeing your friends every week, but I think you just want to play with them and not have to rehears the play that we decided on, or work on an instant challenge.  I promise you, it will be worth it all in the end.  And I think you’re looking forward to actually presenting on stage.  You’re such a performer.

You’re also looking forward to your ballet recital.  It will be in May, and you ask your teacher every week if the costumes have been ordered.  I love that you love ballet.  And now you want to sign up for gymnastics and swimming.  Girl, I can’t keep up.  There’s a whole lot of activities going on, but we’ll try to make it work 🙂

Lately, you’ve been obsessed with your legos.  You love going upstairs to your room, to build your disney lego sets.  It’s pretty amazing how you went from this phase of always wanting to play, and not being able to play by yourself, to doing puzzles by yourself and legos, painting rocks and seashells.  You’re growing up so fast!  Registration for kindergarten is next month and I’m not ready.  I know you are, but I’m not.

You turn 5 in a few months.  And you keep talking about when you’re 6 and 7 and 8, when you’ll be able to drive, when you’ll be able to help with grocery shopping, when you’ll be able to put me to bed and sing me lullabies.  You are such a sweet girl.  Thank you for thinking of me, of us, of everyone around you.  You’re so good and kind.  Even when you’re going through your tantrums and fits, I know you’re still my sweet little girl.

Dear Asha,

You are still obsessed with disney princesses and playing dress up.  You saw Ariya in her princess night gown one night, and that night changed everything.  No more sweet footed onesie pajamas.  I had to pull out all of Ariya’s old night gowns for you to wear. And then I had to ransack the 2 Targets that had night gowns.  And then I had to get more matching nightgowns for Ariya.  We’re a mess.  A house full of princesses.

Binky had to go bye bye.  And you were SO upset over it.  It was the only way you were able to soothe yourself and go to sleep.  But you chewed a hole in the plastic and I had to throw it away.  I’m sorry.  I wish I hadn’t.  Because now you’re going down for your naps later and later.  And falling asleep at night is getting harder and harder. I keep reminding myself that this is a phase.  I remember when Ariya went through this, and now you are going through it too.  I just hope this phase passes quickly!

My strong girl.  You said “I love you” for the first time.  And it warmed my heart. I went away for a weekend, for a photography conference.  And you kept saying “I miss you Mommy”.  I love the little snuggles and hugs you give me.  I just want to hold on to you and squeeze you and keep you little forever.

Letters to our Children – August

Dear Ariya,

August has been a pretty chill month.  You wrapped up your swimming lessons with Asher at the Winchester Country Club.  You went down the slide for the first time and attempted to swim on your own.  But I think we need to work a little on your swim strokes.  You like to put your face in the water, but only on your terms.

We’ve also gone to the playground a few times.  It’s been so hot though, so it hasn’t been that often.  So we’ve spent a lot of time indoors, where it’s air conditioned.  You are ever so active, running around, jumping off the couch, acting like a superhero.  You’re a great helper and big sister to baby Asha.  You’re always holding her and giving her your toys.  You’re also taking a lot of your toys away from her, but we’re working on your sharing.

You had your first movie experience!  We all went to see Finding Dory and you LOVED it!  We had popcorn and lemonade.  Asha took her nap in the ergo.  And you only got up once to pee in the potty.  I’d say it was a success!  Can’t wait to see our next movie.

Nani and Nanu came to visit.  You loved doing puzzles with them and showing them your yoga skills.  Nanu even did some yoga with you!

 

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Dear Asha,

You’re CRAWLING!  You are seriously crawling, and it’s crazy how fast and determined you are.  I will turn around for a second and you’re at the other side of the room.  Now we have to watch out when Ariya pulls out her puzzles, because you love chewing on those puzzle pieces!

You’re eight months now.  We had your 8 month check up and learned that you’re not gaining any weight.  The same thing happened with Ariya at 6 months.  So now it’s time to supplement your diet with formula.  I always hoped that I’d at least nurse you for 6 months, even a year.  When we passed the 6 month mark, I thought, wow, maybe we can do this, maybe we can make it to a year? Unfortunately, this is not the case. I have so many thoughts about this.  I’m sad.  I feel like my little baby is growing too fast.  I’ll miss our moments of nursing together.  The quiet, the calm, the bond we have.  I talked to 3 lactation consultants, just to understand how it all works and where it went wrong for me.  It’s interesting how everyone’s nursing experience is different.  I may have to make this a personal photography project of mine, documenting the women that have trouble nursing successfully (and what successful means to them).  But that’s for another blog post.

I think your first tooth is coming in!  I can feel it, just ready to break through.  Wow, you’re growing so fast.  Can we please freeze time just for a little bit?  I’m not ready for you or your sister to get bigger and bigger.

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All these pictures are an assortment of film and digital.

 

Letters to our Children – July

Dear Ariya,

We’re back from the beach and you were so sad to leave.  We had a great time with family but our biggest lesson is “that was fun, and now it’s done”.  We came back to the house, ready to take more swim lessons.  Last week, you took an “intro to ballet” class, and you LOVED it.  The first day was iffy.  You kept looking for me, waiting for me to come with you.  But by the 2nd day, you were ready.  You loved the leotard, the ballet shoes.  You love twirling around.  So we’re all signed up for ballet in the fall.  I can’t wait for the recital!

This week you’re taking music camp.  The theme is America the beautiful. And this time, you didn’t even look back, you went straight for Ms Karen and was ready to go.  You’ve been having so much fun this week.  Friday is the last day, and afterwards, we’re going to celebrate by taking you to your first movie, Finding Dory.  You’re so excited to see it, and of course to eat popcorn.

 

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Ektar 100 shot on Nikon Action Touch

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Ektar 100 shot on Nikon f100

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Ektar 100 shot on Nikon Action Touch

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Kodak Gold 200 (expired) on Nikon f100

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Dear Asha,

You are 7 months old this month!  And you keep getting bigger and bigger.  You love avocado, and eat lots of bananas, pears and apples.  We’re trying out peas and spinach, but you need it sweetened with some bananas.  Your naps are getting longer and longer.  You only wake up once during the night, maybe twice, but usually just once, which is awesome.  I can see you rolling around getting from one end of the room to the other.  Next step is crawling.  And you’ve started to pull yourself up to sitting.  uh oh, watch out now.

Kodak Gold 200 expired on Nikon f100

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Ektar 100 shot on Nikon f100

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Kodak Gold 200 expired shot on Nikon f100

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Trying out some double exposures here

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Can’t wait to see where August takes us!

 

Project 365 Film edition – May 2016

So, as I’ve said in past blog posts about film, I’m obsessed.  like OBSESSED!  I’ve shot a TON of film.  Picking the best 30 or 31 for each month is no problem.  I probably have enough for the rest of the summer, and it’s barely started.  I’ve shared a ton on instagram, so if you feel like checking me out there, the link is here.

Recently, I submitted a few photos to the Analog story.  I wanted to share my story, why I shoot film.  Best decision I ever made, committing to shooting film.  Unfortunately, my husband is starting to wonder what all is involved (cost of film, cost of development, etc).  But then he loves the prints that come back.  So I’d say it’s well worth it.

Here are a few of my favorites from this month. Some Portra 160, Portra 160NC, Portra 400, Lomo 800, Fuji 400h.  Shot with Nikon f100, Pentax 6×7 and Mamiya 645AF.

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Project 365 Film edition – April 2016

This project focused solely on film has become so much bigger than I thought it would.  I’m obsessed.  The loading of the film, the guessing with the metering (I’m too lazy to pull out my handheld meter most of the time, a goal of mine is to get better at metering accurately), deciding what to rate the film at, if I’m going to push it, shoot without knowing if I got the shot, or how it will look after it’s developed, the process of packing up the film to mail out and be developed by a film lab, the anticipation of getting that email saying that my scans are ready to be downloaded, clicking on the link, and loving close to every one of my photos.  No joke.  This is a serious love affair.  I have BARELY touched my dslr b/c I’ve been OBSESSED with film.  Like, really obsessed.  Any way, I’m not going to bore you with my all of my film shots, b/c they’re mostly of family.  But I will post a few of my favorites from this month. If you follow me on instagram, you most likely have already seen these pictures, as I was too excited to wait until this blog post to share.  But if you haven’t seen these, well here you go!

Nikon f100, fuji200

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Nikon f100, portra 800

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Nikon f100, fuji 400h

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Nikon f100, ilford xp2

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Project 365 Film edition – March 2016

I’m so in love with film.  So in love.  I’m learning a ton, and I still have a LONG way to go.  But shooting film just fits with my lifestyle right now.  one thing I’m starting to hate is the time I spend on my laptop.  When it was just Ariya, I had plenty of time to sit down after her bed time and just hang out on the laptop, upload pictures, edit, etc.  Now, with a baby…forget about it.  Asha only naps for 30 minutes at a time in her crib.  She can be high maintenance at night.  And honestly, I’m just tired. At night,  I just want to sit down, watch my favorite tv show, hang out with the hubs actually have a conversation.  So the only time I want to spend on the laptop is if I’m typing up a blog post.  Like right now.  Right now, my husband and I are catching up on the OJ mini series.  Ariya is in bed, Asha is swaddled and in his arms.  And I”m catching up on blogging.

So, a few days late, but here are a few pictures from March on film.

Mamiya 645 and Portra 160

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Mamiya 645 and Kodak 400vc (Had I known how awesome this film was, I would have treated this differently.  But now I’m on the hunt for more VC. If you have any, send some my way)

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Nikon f100 and fuji 800.  This was old expired film that my mom gave me.  I didn’t know how to rate expired film, or if I should tell the lab to push it.  Had I known, I would have done things differently.  But now I know, and have some more expired film that I plan to experiment with.

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Mamiya C330 and fuji 400h

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Mamiya 645 and Portra 800

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Nikon f100 and Portra 400 rated at 200

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That’s it for March!  I’ve got plenty more for April.  This 365 project is going much better than my digital version, that’s for sure.  But, I refuse to give up!

10 on 10: April 2016

I’ve been in a photography slump lately.  I’ve taken workshops, but I’m just tired.  Running after a toddler and a 4 month old baby, it can get exhausting.  And I’m just taking pictures to take them.  I’ve fallen off the 365 wagon (digital version).  I’ve been shooting, just haven’t been editing.  I’ve fallen in love with film.  I’m not able to get on the laptop and edit.  I love the colors of film.  The only problem is that I don’t get instant gratification.  Which is why I still shoot digital.  But this isn’t a love letter to film.

The 10th happened to fall on Ariya’s 3rd birthday.  Ariya decided she wanted a Sophia the First themed party.  And what started off as a small party with a few close friends turned into something bigger.  Family came into town.  We had a petting zoo.  It was nice, but wow, it was exhausting.

So, I didn’t shoot a true day in the life, it was chaos trying to get ready for the party.  Honestly, I turned my fuji x100t on auto, thinking I’d give it to someone to shoot.  Big mistake.  a lot of the photos were out of focus.  I didn’t change the ISO to auto, so a lot of the outdoor shots were blown out and not salvageable.  I was wearing Asha in a wrap b/c that was the only way that she would take a nap, so taking pictures were not very comfortable. the angles are awkward, etc.  I shot film outside, which i have to send out to the lab, so I won’t get those photos of the petting zoo until sometime next week or the week after.  The downfall of film, the wait.

What I realized, and hopefully learned from this is that I’m no longer taking a gazillion photos at my daughters’ birthday party.  Either hire someone, or get a photographer friend to help.  But if it’s just me, I’m taking a few key photos and that’s it.  Because there was no way to be 100% present.  And a lot of my photos were not the best, so it almost doesn’t seem worth it.  Anyway, that’s me just venting.  It was a great day, just wasn’t documented in the best way.  Live and learn.

Here’s a few from our day.

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Feel free to follow the circle, and check out the talented Francesca Russell and how she spent her 10th here