2014 Family Pictures with Samantha Kelly Photography

September 25, 2014 By: Jenna Category: family, Photography

We haven’t had an official family photography session since Kelli Nicole (Houston) photographed us in our Chicago apartment before T2 arrived on the scene, and since that time my ideas about photography and my dream family session have changed a lot. It’s less about the perfect posed portrait with everyone looking into the camera, and more about trying to capture who we are and what we are like at this stage in our lives. The kind of thing I want to provide for my own clients.

I tried to fly Samantha Kelly (Utah) to the Bay Area by recruiting one of you to hire her as well, which I didn’t make much progress on. But then I lucked out and she was able to squeeze us in for a session during a romantic getaway with her husband. We talked about a few different settings, but I kept coming back to the beach. I wanted something that documented the glorious beauty of the California coast, and would capture how much we love living in an area that looks and feels like this. We don’t make it to the beach very often, but when we do T1 can chase the waves for hours. It took a lot of tricky maneuvering to keep him dry as long as we did!

After I decided on Cowell Ranch Beach for our location (crossing my fingers that it would be one of those rare sunny days in Half Moon Bay) I poured far too much time into putting together our outfits. I actually put together two separate combinations for each person because I wasn’t sure if it would be warm or cold, and it was a top priority for me that everyone be comfortable and relaxed. I didn’t want “props” to pose with, but I did want to bring a few things that would keep the kids engaged and distracted (before we turned our oldest loose in the waves). I packed a quilt from the thrift store, a few different headbands for both kids to play with, a cupcake sand set for pretend snack time, white and dry snacks that the kids could snack on without dirtying their outfits (tip: clear gummi candies allowed TH and I to get a few photos alone while the kids took a little snack break), and a dozen mini beach balls from Amazon.

One really important thing to note: We told her that we didn’t care if there was a single photo of all of us looking directly into the camera and smiling. That’s not what this is about for us (and it probably won’t be what any of our photography sessions are about from now on.) If you’ll allow me a moment to get on my soapbox – in the age of Instagram and Facebook, our nearest and dearest know what we look like. They see our selfies and snapshots all throughout the year. The best photo, in my opinion, is the one you look back on 50 years from now and smile on because it shows what you were really like at that stage in your life. A slightly happy polished version, but still, reality.

Samantha shot the entire session on film, and returned so many amazing photos that I had a hard time narrowing them down for this post! I can’t believe how spot on her exposures and focus were as we dashed all around the beach. We picked up the film photography bug around the same time and I’m in awe of how fast her skills are developing. I can’t recommend her enough if you’re looking for someone to photograph your family. She’s based in Utah but I know she’s interested in traveling sessions as well!

We don’t just love the result, we loved the process. Even That Husband said he is looking forward to doing this again next year. (I promise you guys, he said it and meant it.) Taking these was as enjoyable as they seem. There’s something about the bond between the people you feel the most passionate about that is hard to capture, but I think the images below come as close as I dreamed they would.
The family of That Wife Blog, photographed by Samantha Kelly Photography (Utah) at Cowell Ranch Beach in Half Moon Bay, CA. The family of That Wife Blog, photographed by Samantha Kelly Photography (Utah) at Cowell Ranch Beach in Half Moon Bay, CA. The family of That Wife Blog, photographed by Samantha Kelly Photography (Utah) at Cowell Ranch Beach in Half Moon Bay, CA. The family of That Wife Blog, photographed by Samantha Kelly Photography (Utah) at Cowell Ranch Beach in Half Moon Bay, CA. Read more →

Mini Golf

September 23, 2014 By: Jenna Category: Adventures

This weekend we found another family activity that everyone enjoys – mini golf at Golfland! The location had three courses and was completely empty when we showed up, which allowed T1 to move ahead of us as he pleased while I attempted to best TH. I started things off with a hole-in-one, but it was beginners luck and it all went downhill from there. I can’t tell you the final score because the kids didn’t last that long, but I was happy to have an easy morning where everyone got to do something they liked. For T2 the thing she liked was holding a ball in her hand, sometimes putting it down and attempting to whack it with a putter sized for adults and taller than her. It would be a little out of our budget to do this full price on a regular basis, but maybe we can make it a Saturday morning treat, and I’m sure they run promotions in the winter months to try to keep business up.
mini golf mini golf mini golf mini golfT2 still has enough of her baby fat that I can’t envision her future self very well, but T1 has reached an age where I feel like I can glimpse what he’s going to look like as an adult. Kapow! Our genes mix well, don’t they TH?

 

One Day Per Week

September 16, 2014 By: Jenna Category: Adventures, family, Parenting

We went through a period where That Husband was working every single day of the week and I was emotionally depleted by the lack of family-togetherness time. It was really hard for me to enjoy my time with my kids when I was constantly jumping back and forth between meeting the needs of one or the other. I craved an easy afternoon where we would laugh and play and be in love with each other, all of us together in the same place . TH could see that the everyday working arrangement wasn’t a good long term strategy for our marriage, and so he promised me Saturdays as a family day. So far he’s been able to stick with it and we are all so much happier! The kids get to interact with him and show him their newest skills, and I get to go to Happy Hollow and have someone to chat and sit with as the kids do their kid things.

Speaking of Happy Hollow, once we figured out we were going to spend time together, we had to agree on what to do. Not an easy task when one partner likes to explore and try new things and the other likes routine and predictability. I want to sit down with the Red Tricycle emails and plan a different sort of outing every weekend, focusing on all of the food festivals that have a little something for the kids and a little something for me too. TH has won out for now, and most of our Saturday mornings of late have been spent at Happy Hollow, a little park and zoo not too far from our house. We can wear the kids out, feed them lunch, keep them awake in the car, and have some quiet time to ourselves in the afternoon. T1 loves it there, so much so that every time his teacher asks him what he has been up to he describes trips to Happy Hollow. Even on the weekends when we don’t go :).

I’m not a huge fan of zoos, but I do have a soft spot for the meerkat exhibit. Those little guys are really committed to being on the lookout at all times.  Read more →

One Roll for the New School Year

September 12, 2014 By: Jenna Category: School

To celebrate the new school year I decided I would treat myself to a mini-session in the front yard with my kids, using a full roll of medium format film in one sitting. This is an indulgence because the cost for the film+development+scanning for the 15 frames I shot was $23.20. I only kept 8 of the images from the roll, which means each photo cost me $2.90, not including any time spent editing. It’s an expensive hobby to pick up (digital images would be free!), but when I scroll through these images I think it’s worth it.

This is an evening in our front yard, eating watermelon with the cookie dough scoop my great-grandma gave me on our wedding day, dancing to a Spotify playlist, shouting with excitement each time a neighbor walked by with a dog.

Mamiya 645, Porta 400 (b&w images converted in LR)


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Like, Aren’t We A Bit Early For This Milestone?

September 05, 2014 By: Jenna Category: Parenting

If I asked T1 to title this post, that might be how he would write it out. Last week my four-year-old came home from preschool sounding about a decade older than he really is, introducing every other sentence with “like.”

We saw this a few months ago with even. “Even I had a nightmare last night.” “Even T2 wants the milk.” “Even I drew this for you at school.” I used my default approach for these little quirks and didn’t draw attention to it, hoping it would go away. The even overuse seems to be something he’s moving past, but the introduction of like makes me nervous because it’s so pervasive throughout our culture. We, his parents, use it all the time ourselves, though not as often as I think the generation below us does (how much worse is it going to get for those who will be in college in 20 years?). It is hard for me to describe an experience I had with Person A to Person B without peppering my speech with “I was like” and “She was like” and “It was like, the best thing ever.”

My understanding is that there are two basic schools of thought when it comes to linguistics:

  1. There are rules, and the only correct way to speak and write is to obey the rules.
  2. Language is a product of the environment it is spoken in. Dialects and linguistic trends become valid over time as they are regularly reproduced in everyday use.

If the second description is true, then I don’t need to worry so much about T1′s new habit. The old guard will fight against it, kids will be marked down for using it in their speeches in class, and eventually it will become a generally acceptable practice. He will need to learn boundaries and try to curb it enough to match societies expectations in order to achieve his personal goals, but I don’t need to assume this is going to hold him back in a permanent way.

If it’s the first description then… what do I do? Like, what are the other parents out there doing?

      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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