Letters to My Children – April 2021

Dear Ariya

I can’t believe you’ve turned 8. You’re such a big girl, and have grown so much within the past year. We have had to encounter a lot of disappointments this year. COVID and missing your friends has been a huge thing. Homeschooling was not what you (or I) thought it was be. But wow, you have turned into such an amazing big girl. Sometimes I feel like I can see into the future and see what you’ll be like as a teenager. So much sass. And a little bit of attitude. But generally, just the sweetest girl I know.

You’ve turned into quite the reader. You are now obsessed with anything Rick Riordan. You’ve read the first book in the Aru Shah series. We gave you the Kane Chronicles for your birthday, which is all about Egyptian Mythology. You also got a copy of the Land of Stories series, and have already re-read the series again a few more times.

April was full of fun things. Anytime the weather turned warm, we hit the road and took an adventure. The bluebells bloomed, so we went for a hike on the BlueBell trail at Shenandoah River State Park. You bought your science journal, drew a few observations, walked along the river, saw frogs mating…It was a very interesting day. I think you could have spent all day along the river.

We went down to Richmond to celebrate your birthday with family. Uncle Eric, Uncle Kashiff, Auntie Anjuanette, Grandma and the cousins came along, as well as Nani and Nanu. Daddy made sure you had a piñata, and a bubble blower. We celebrated at Deep Run Park, where you ran around and played on the playground and danced with your cousins. I’d say it was a good day.

We also made the drive out to Burnside Farms. A farm filled with tulips, a bounce house, farm animals and lots of photo opportunities. Yes, I couldn’t resist. We go every year and we couldn’t go last year because of COVID. I felt like we needed a pick me up so off we went! You’re a pro at picking tulips by the bulb.

I promised you a horse riding birthday party this year, so that’s what we did. We invited a few of your closest friends and went to this new farm called DeVaux Farms. They taught you how to groom the horse, you made a craft, and then you all got a horse riding lesson. Cupcakes shaped like horses topped it off. I’d call it a success.

The Apple Blossom fair came to town, and we were all so excited! We couldn’t go last year, so we more than made up for it this year. Lots of rides, lots of cotton candy, lots of games. I think you and Asha were obsessed with this gravity ride that spun really fast in the air.

Ballet changed from zoom to in person and man were you excited! You had to wear your mask and keep your distance, but man was it great being in the building with everyone else.

Dear Asha,

April has been a weird month. I think you’re starting to miss your friends, miss school. Seeing Ms Mary every week is nice, but it’s not the same thing as going to school 4 or 5 days a week in preschool. You still zoom your ballet classes and I think you’re starting to lose focus on it. Again, it’s no fun when you’re not there in person.

The bluebell trail was so much fun. You were fascinated with the frogs and their really cool sounds. You saw a few frogs on top of each other, giving each other a piggy back ride, haha. I think you could have stayed at the river all day.

For homeschooling, you asked to raise caterpillars and see them transform into butterflies. I think you were fascinated with the whole process. You watched them every day, you were concerned when you thought they were hurt, shaking as a chrysalis. I had to google to make sure everything was ok. When they were ready to be released, we went to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley because they had some pretty flowers blooming, and we thought the butterflies would make a good home there. You had fun releasing them, and one even landed on your hand! I couldn’t get a picture of that, the butterflies moved too fast! But it was still a good day roaming around the grounds.

Ariya’s birthday celebrations were great as well. It’s always fun when you have cake and family and horse riding. At Deep Run, you were the one that broke the piñata and got all of the candy out! Well, you knocked the piñata off the string, saw the opening where the candy was and then dumped it out for everyone. So smart. And as for the horse riding party, you couldn’t wait for your own turn to ride the horse. I was so proud of your patience! You ask about your own horse riding lessons all the time. But it was definitely fun times for everyone.

Dear Anika,

What can I say. You are getting bigger and bigger and bigger. You’re following your sisters everywhere. You were able to walk the bluebell trail for so long, and you didn’t need much picking up. You loved picking up sticks just like your sister, playing in the water just like them. You’re watching everyone and everything.

You had so much fun at Ariya’s birthday party at the park. I think it was the first time I put you in a swing and you were in heaven. You had fun with the family, as long as they had cake for you. You were dancing up a storm with your sisters and cousins. It was lots of fun.

Your first trip to Burnside Farms! I was happy to get pictures of you in a field of tulips. and you had so much fun. You tried to pick flowers, but it was more like picking the flower petals. But you still had a good time.

And you visited the fair for the first time! You didn’t get to ride as many rides as the big girls, but you still had a great time. You ate a lot of cotton candy and junk food. You tried to play at the games, but you ended up just picking the prize. That’s the way to do it.

The butterflies had you curious. You wanted to get close to it like Asha, but we were worried that you would get too rough. When we went to the MSV, after we released the butterflies, you had fun walking through the gardens though, exploring, playing with the girls. It’s been a pretty good month for all of us.

Letters to My Children – November 2017

Dear Ariya,

Diwali happened!  You loved seeing Nani and Nanu come up from Richmond to help celebrate Diwali with us.  Your favorite part is dressing up.  But what was fun this year was that Grandma and Auntie Carmen came!  And our friends that aren’t in Balvihar came too! You played with Sei and Hideshiro, Declan and Ayden, Sheya and Feye.  And who could forget Asher and Marni!  You miss Asher and Marni so much. Hopefully when the holidays are over, we can find a time to all hang out!

Let’s see, what else happened. It was election day (time to vote for the Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and our delegate) and school was out.  So we made a day out of it and went to the Air and Space Museum near Dulles.  It was cold and rainy.  But seeing all those airplanes and rocket ships was pretty cool.

This past April, I went to a film workshop and we went over flash photography and lighting.  So, I got this GREAT idea to bring all of my lighting gear to our friends’ house and having a “photoshoot”.  When your friends are around, you don’t have a problem posing for the camera, and I loved every second of it!

You’ve been practicing for your Thanksgiving feast.  You and your classmates dressed up as pilgrims and sang songs.  It was the sweetest thing ever.  Asha had a ball and really enjoyed dancing to all of the songs!

We drove down to Richmond for Thanksgiving.  We stayed and Nani and Nanu’s house, and while you love seeing them, you were so excited to play with your cousins at Auntie Anjuanette and Uncle Kashiff’s house.  And Uncle Eric was there!  And Grandma!  so much fun!  But the fun didn’t stop because then everyone came back to OUR house so we could celebrate Phelix’s birthday!  You were so excited to have Jayden, Mekai and Phelix there to play with you.

Your baby sister is turning 2 in a few days.  And you’re in heaven picking out presents for her. I think you’re just picking out presents that you would love to play with.  But that’s ok, because sharing means caring! I think you’re having a hard time understanding that we’re going to have a party for her a few weeks later, at Nani and Nanu’s house, and not on her actual birthday.  Daddy has to work on her birthday, so maybe we’ll do something small.

Dear Asha,

So, you weren’t a fan of Diwali.  You woke up from your nap so cranky, and how dare we make you dress up in pretty Indian clothes! You played with my phone pretty much the entire time.  You did love the Indian food, and were happy mixing the rice and daal up.  And when the stage was open and full of kids dancing, you were all over it! I think you even tried to take the stage backdrop down!  That’s when we knew it was time to go.

We’ve been going to music classes at SCAA with Ms Karen.  And you love it so much.  You’ve been saying YAY every time we go.  And you’re singing your baa baa baas with the microphone.  You’re definitely enjoying music class, dancing with scarves, and playing with the instruments.  I’m so glad I can do this with you.

You loved seeing Ariya perform with her classmates at the Thanksgiving feast.  I could see you dancing a long and spinning in circles.  I think Ms Jeanne thought you were going to steal the bells, and tried to lure you away, but you were not having that!

Your schedule was so out of whack for Thanksgiving weekend.  Weird naps, weird bed times. But it was all worth it, to spend time with family.

I can’t believe you’ll be 2 soon.  Where did my baby go?  I’ve been looking at a lot of pictures and videos of you as a baby.  It just makes me wish I could go back in time, just for a second.  Let’s see, your favorite things right now are to tell me animal sounds.  “What does the cow say?” “MOOOOOO” “What does the horse say?” “NEIGHHHHHHHH”  And you love saying No, even when your joking, I guess.  Like, if you’re taking unzipping your coat when we’re outside, and I ask “Are you unzipping your coat?” you’ll say “Nooooo” with the cutest smile.  And you love it when Ariya says her favorite joke, because you’ll join in on the punch line.  Ariya will say “Knock knock” and I’ll say “Who’s there?” and she’ll say “The Interrupting cow” and I’ll say “the Interrupt-” and you BOTH will say “MOOOOOO”.  Yeah, she got that joke from Home.  And you both love it.

Soon, we’ll be getting ready for the holidays.  And spending time with family.  And we can’t wait!

 

*all images taken on film except for the last 3

April 2017 – Film Project

April was the month of trying new things.  I attended the first ever FILM SCHOOL hosted by the Find Lab and Jonathan Canlas in Utah (to find out more, email jon@thefindlab.com)  It was a pretty great experience, trying new things, talking film with people that are passionate about shooting film.  Got to try strobes and different setups..  We did some night shooting and panning.   It was pretty amazing.  We took a tour of the lab and got to work with the scanning techs to see what goes behind the scenes with our film, which was very enlightening.  But I honestly think one of the best parts was eating Callie Canlas’ food!  I brought way too many cameras and lenses, but I mostly shot with the Pentax 645nii and Contax G1. I tried shooting with the Rolleiflex 2.8E, but I’m horrible with manual focusing so those photos were not awesome (unless there was a happy accident).  Here are a few from the workshop.

Contax G1, Portra 400

Pentax 645nii, Portra 400 and strobes

 

Rolleiflex 2.8e and HP5

Pentax 645nii and Portra 400, +3

Pentax 645nii and Portra 400

After I came home, I felt so passionate, energized about film photography.  I ended up buying some strobes, a soft box, some honeycombs.  And they sat.  It was just so intimidating.  In the meantime, I went with what I know.  I practiced manual focus with this new lens that I acquired, the Leica Summicron fitted on the Pentax 645nii.

Pentax 645nii, Portra 160 rated at 320 + 1

And then I experimented with the Contax G1 and TLA flash.

The strobes didn’t sit long.