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Four Hands (always) Full…

…with one very delightful two year old…

….and two teeny tiny two month old twins…

…makes for two super sleepy parents.

But it also makes for one awesome photo shoot. I had so much fun photographing the continuous baby juggling and I hope to get to come back again when the twins are a little bit older, because these sleepy, baby juggling days will not last forever.

As hard as it is to believe right now, the twins will eventually become better sleepers, and they will not need quite as much juggling… instead they will be on to their next growing adventure. The fun has just begun for this family of five, and I am grateful to have been able to document the starting line.

Baby Therapy…

This morning, I kind of was feeling like this…

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But then, a little of this…

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….and I suddenly felt better. I am a strong believer in baby therapy, especially if you get to borrow someone else’s baby, and then sneak away right before the smiles wear off and the nap time blues start to take over. But we got two solid hours worth of toothy grins out of 9 month old Hudson before his modeling session was declared over.

It was a good way to start a Sunday.

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That’s What It’s All About…

Congratulations to Andy and Molly… another Walker Creek Ranch dating success story.

Walker Creek Ranch is an outdoor science school in Marin County where fifth and sixth graders come for a week as their big school trip of the year. At the Ranch there are 10 Naturalists who are in charge of teaching the students science through experiential education, which means learning by digging in the mud for insects at the pond, identifying native plants while hiking, singing about the food chain at campfire and tasting biodiversity at the garden.

These 10 Naturalists, usually young, smart, attractive, and ecologically minded people all live in a communal space called the Naturalist Lodge. When I was first introduced to the Walker Creek and the Naturalist Lodge, I could not understand how there could be so many attractive people with similar interests, yet there were no good gossipy love stories… well… it didn’t take long before I learned that I was wrong.

Since my year at Walker Creek in 2002, there have been 5 Walker Creek couples to get married, including Arann and me. In fact, Susie and Walter’s wedding was the very first wedding of my photography career. I’ll have to dig those photos out, it was back in the days before digital photography and blogging, well for me anyway.

But Andy and Molly are the first Walker Creek couple, that I know of, who actually got married at Walker Creek Ranch. And, wow, was it fun.

It was a huge reunion of multiple generations of Walker Creekers, which means a whole lot of people who just want to be outside in the sun and dancing, dancing, dancing. Their wedding was a good reminder of what weddings are supposed to be about, including but not limited to the Hokey Pokey, especially if it is a barn shaking version by the Green String Farm Band.

To read how the economic crisis in California is affecting outdoor education and the amazing community of Walker Creek please click here.

I Don’t Play Favorites…

I just returned from my visit to South Carolina, where I spent most of my time with my mom. But during my last few days at home I also visited a couple of friends who I have known since elementary school, and who now have kids of their own that they wanted photographed.

And because I posted about one of the families, but did not immediately post about the other one, I promptly received a message on facebook saying there better be a post soon, and it better be good. This encouraging note came because one of the other parents was teasing her that his kid made the blog and her’s didn’t, and she wasn’t having that. Nothing like a little friendly facebook competition between proud parents to motivate me. I did try to console her by saying her kid has already been on the blog before and his hasn’t, but that wasn’t quite good enough.

So… here goes, this is Mac, one year later

Mac is an ‘on-the-go’ kind of kid. There is no hanging around for photos. It is a ‘catch me if you can’ scenario, which makes things more exciting and more sweaty in the South Carolina humidity.

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At this point, Katie, his mother, tried to tell me Mac was a serious kid. But I am not so convinced… I think he was just catching his breath. Whatever the reason for his temporary pause was, I took advantage of the moment while I could.

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And then he was off again…

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Thank you Mac for putting my auto-focus to the test… it was lots of fun, and I can’t wait to play again soon.

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This is one of my favorites of the day… these guys weren’t going anywhere very fast and I couldn’t resist the back-lit American flag in the potted plant that has seen better days. Katie said she liked moody photos and I think this one fits the bill.

Thank You Al…

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…thank you for making my best friend (since 5th grade) so happy. I am so excited to be a part of your celebration in March, and I hope you always make each other smile as much as you did today.

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Right place at the right time…

On June 16th, I was in San Francisco hanging out in the kitchen of the restaurant Town Hall, so I could have a better understanding of the food and space for our upcoming photo shoot for their book proposal. When, Mitch, one of the owners and chefs, suggested that I come down and take a photo of him and his brother Steven, with their former employer, Wolfgang Puck, at the restaurant Postrio, in Union Square.

I didn’t know much about Postrio, I had never been there before, and I am not the most knowledgeable when it comes to celebrities. I had heard of Wolfgang Puck, but I couldn’t really tell you much about him either… so I didn’t really know what to expect. I only knew what I was told, which was: this was a restaurant that had been open for some time and they were having two closing dinners… tickets for the occasion sold out in 30 minutes… and there were very long waiting lists to get in.

So I showed up and took a few photos of the chefs prepping for the night and then decided to head home for the day.

As I got my things ready to leave, Steven informed me that Wolfgang said they would pay me to stay for the rest of the night and the next night too, if I would take photos of this important occasion. Mentally, logistically and physically I was not prepared for this assignment. I did not have enough memory cards or a flash, and I was wearing jeans in a very formal restaurant… but I could sense this was an important occasion that needed to be documented… and that I had a very unique opportunity… so of course I said yes.

And my sense was right… it was a pretty incredible bittersweet reunion filled with very hard work, lots of white chef coats, old friends and colleagues, dedicated patrons, sweat, conversation, tears, hugs, laughter, celebrities, lots of wine and good food.

My favorite part of the night was meeting the different generations of amazing chefs who worked at the restaurant over the years and who now live all over the country and run their own restaurants. These chefs returned to Postrio for the finals nights and worked for free, just to be a part of this occasion.

I also met customers who had been coming every Saturday night since the restaurant opened and waiters who had been working there for the same amount of years. I met my first celebrity, a very nice and humble man, who has not been affected by his popularity, and who made so many people smile as he walked around and talked to every person in the room. And I got a glimpse of other local celebrities, including the former SF Mayor Willie Brown, with his entourage, and the William of William and Sonoma.

It was a real community… built around good food and wine. The room was filled with people who knew and loved each other.

I have worked in quite a few restaurants, but there is not a single one that I would ever want to return to, even if it were closing down forever. I was told it was the end of an era for San Francisco, and after my two nights at Postrio, I certainly believe it.

Searching for a Moon of Honey…

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I always pictured I would be swimming in warm water… with a snorkle mask if I ever went on a honeymoon. But when we compared the costs of flying somewhere warm with driving to a free cabin in Tahoe… I traded the snorkle for my very own snowboarding boots… and it was heaven.

No computers, no cell phones, no one we knew… only snow, a cabin, a fireplace, rummikube and the two of us. It was all we needed to recharge our batteries before jumping back into life as a married couple… oh and don’t forget the putt-putt…

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A lot to learn…

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It has been a busy seven months for this little one since the last time I saw her. She has learned all the usual stuff that babies have to learn… like how to hold her head up, and to sit up, and to roll over, she has a couple of teeth now, and she is practicing standing while holding on tight to mom and dad’s hands. But Elena has an extra challenge that she has to learn how to work with.

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When Elena was born, Elena didn’t pass the routine hearing check that the doctors ran. The doctors said not to worry, but to check her ears again at her next visit. After additional tests, the doctors eventually told Rich and Susannah, Elena’s parents, that her hearing is severely impaired. No one knows yet why it happened or how serious the damage is, and the solutions for correcting impaired hearing are not easy… but because the doctors were able to catch it early in her development, Rich and Susannah will have a better chance of helping her have a normal hearing and speaking life.

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After Rich and Susannah found out their daughter could not hear, they started learning sign language and teaching her signs, and they got her her first pair of hearing aids when she was 4 months old. The first day they put in her new hearing aids, their dog, Rudy, had a new squeaky toy that he was enthusiastically chewing. As soon as Elena could hear for the first time, she heard Rudy’s squeaky toy, and she started laughing and laughing and laughing. Rich and Susannah had never heard her laugh like that before. They laughed and laughed and cried too.

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I learned a lot from Rich and Susannah about what options are available for children with hearing impairments. Cochlear implants are better today than they used to be, but there is still a long way to go in repairing hearing loss. Rich and Susannah are hopeful though, especially now that we have a new president who is in favor of stem cell research. Their doctor told them that in 10 years scientists and doctors may have a better solution to help their daughter hear… and not just hear people talking, but so she can hear music too, like the other children her age.

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Just Like Fishing…

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In my last post, I confessed that I “lost” some files. And just like fishing, those were the ones that got away… so I raved and raved about how great those photos were and I woefully mourned their loss.

Well, today I found them.

I think they were bigger and better swimming in my memory. But I did get the beautifully made bed photo that I wanted, so I feel a little better after-all.

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Photography Lesson number 2 in 2009… save your files in the correct folders the first time.

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