Category Archives: Photography

Amsterdam Playgrounds

The playgrounds in Amsterdam are phenomenal.

Starting with two that are in Artis, the zoo, which in itself is an incredible place.

The little kid playground is creative, playful and colorful. You climb up rungs between the giraffe’s hind legs, enter the butt area, and slide down the neck.

The owl side has back stairs and a spiral inside. I think she liked it.

The bigger kid playground strongly demonstrates the sense of personal responsibility that is assumed in Dutch playgrounds. See that netting that Anja is traversing? It’s a straight drop down into WATER.

The slides and play structures here are HIGH and large.

And certainly made for children older than 4 and a half. No barrier for my kid, she is determined, I must give her that.

The climb up this section was 3 times her height, and only started at her shoulders.

And that was the only way up. Her stance says it all. And it was a long slide down.

On our bakfiets day we discovered a cute little sidewalk playground.

And we also explored all of Vondelpark. Including two amazing playgrounds. This  rope tower and slide blew my mind. I cannot believe Anja did it. Only through sheer determination. It was several stories high, and the ropes inside were all askew, irregular, with wide spaces between. Again, clearly designed for older kids. Anja chanted to herself the entire time, I think partly focus and partly self encouragement. “climb, climb, climb, climb, climb”  Did I mention it was lightly raining? Making everything wet and slightly slippery; I could barely watch. Of course upon accomplishing it once, she had to go up and do it again.

While on the playground subject, I can’t miss this gorgeous climbing structure… I mean tree.

This playground had three mini personal sized trampolines built into the ground.

Another day, this time in Osterpark: a pedal powered merry go round.

A zip line.

A mini size kid swing. Just her height.

And to top it all off… this thing: it spun around, it bounced up and down, it was sort of a teeter toter, sort of a spinning thing… and made for loads of laughter.

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The land of bikes

Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities. Everyone is friendly, it’s beautiful, they have a bike priority culture, they are welcoming to kids, there’s a wide variety of food and the playgrounds ROCK. More on that in another post. For now bikes:

Canals:

And a canal boat ride in the rain. Severely jet-lagged too.

Golden Girl

This pictures speaks to me. As her mother, who finds her _everything_ beautiful. As a photographer, in love with light. And as a human being, who loves bodies, skin, shapes.

That gorgeous golden winter morning light. Precious after days of shadow, foggy, cold. How it plays across the developing muscles of her back, how it catches the dishevelment of her morning hair, the back of an ear, the curl at the nape of the neck. The space within and without, light and shadow.

She was getting dressed on a chilly morning in a ray of light. I had mere seconds to grab my camera. Three year olds don’t tend to cooperate with breath-taken mama’s.  Delighted that something of the moment lingered on in my image.

Heart explosion

Happy New Year everyone!

It’s been a few weeks of absolute heart explosion around here. My brother and sister in law had their second baby. A lovely, gentle home birth. I am so proud and thrilled for them, and my heart is wide open for this new little guy. I was able to fly east for a mini visit. It was breathtakingly amazing to hold the miraculous life of a newborn. But the biggest gift of flying from California to Philadelphia- alone for the first time since my daughter was born- was the chance to connect deeply with my niece. She’s 3 years old. Exactly 6 months younger than my daughter, and therefore ALL of my previous time with her has been mixed with being mommy to my own little one, and helping the two of them navigate baby/toddler/preschooler playing. One on one time was sweet, precious and deep. And, I believe, very appreciated by both of us.

While there, for 24 hours, I squeezed in a mini photo shoot. I have been struggling with my camera lately. Shutter issues. Focus issues. It’s immensely frustrating. And add to that the enormous challenge of doing a newborn shoot. In 10 minutes. With a house full of guests, moment’s before a Bris is about to begin. Yikes.  I came out with a few decent shots and LOTS of lessons learned.

Most of all. Gratitude for family that I not only LOVE, but also like.

Anja and I fly back in two weeks to spend a full week with our east coast family. Praying for snow, for my girl, I want her to see the magic of flakes falling down.

Seeing self

this self portrait is striking me. feeling seen, by *me* feels powerful. it partially roots and grounds me, partially shakes  me, sending me flying. this is who i am. this is the look in my eyes. i know this person to the depths of her soul. i feel her fear and doubt. i feel her love, fiercy and deeply. i know what she is capable of, and I know when she holds herself back from shining fully. she is me.
taking pure self portraits is intense work. i hadn’t really realized it until just now. previously when i’ve done self portraits i hid. (these were often assignments for school, well over 15 years ago)  i had masks and poses, mirrors and smoke. mostly figuratively. i’ve never looked at me straight on, without the shields. made an image and then really LOOKED.
let this gaze be a reminder to me. of who I am and who I want to be. of how beautiful and strong I am. of what I want to do and what I need to do to get there. being and owning my truth. my authenticity.
and loving myself. being enough. and valuing, cherishing and adoring me.
how about you? let’s see your true self. what does it feel like to sit looking deeply into yourself?

Today’s gratitude list…

Today I’m grateful for…

1. This burst of unusual color in my yard. I have a crush on orange and pink bougainvillea.

2. Painting pumpkins! Which focuses my 3 year old for a good chunk of time AND we’ll get to carve the same pumpkin later this week.

3. We have clean running water. And a cozy warm home. And all that goes with that.

4. For photography. And for yoga. And for tea. And for the sanity check that any of these can bring me.

5. Meyer lemons on my teeny tiny dwarf lemon “tree”. (it comes up to my knee)

5. Halloween!

And lots more, like the stormy skies, the zinnias from farmers market, my husband cooking an incredible dinner, our good health, amazing friends, and my parents coming to visit this week.

Free range camping kids: AKA 3 moms, 5 kids and a campsite

Okay, this post is about 4 weeks late. But better late than never, right?

In early September Anja and I went camping with two other moms and their kids. We called it the 3 moms, 5 kids camping trip. And it was spectacular. Truly one of our best camping trips ever. Sharing the meals, sharing the kid coverage, and an ideal gang of kids in which to explore and play. Ages 3-7. And all sweet, considerate and intelligent kids.

Additionally, we lucked out with a natural sliding board IN our campsite. An ancient tipped redwood stump, smoothed by years of kid butts sliding down it, was the perfect play thing for the kids. They ran, biked, climbed, and on rare occasions sat down to draw or play with toy figures.

My biggest lesson of the weekend was a practice of free ranging the kids. We were at Memorial Park Campground, in San Mateo, only an hour from home. We were deep in the redwoods and felt miles away from it all, including being off the grid (iphone wise). It was the weekend after Labor Day, and although there were people around, it was a relatively quite campground (save for our posse of kids whooping it up).

Our kids would bike the loop of the campground together. Circling around our “block.” A few of the younger kids were on balance bikes, the older kids were on bicycles. And at first, they went as a group. But as the weekend wore on, there were times when some wanted to go and others didn’t. At one point Anja wanted to go by herself. (Brace yourself fellow parents and please reserve any judgement.) I paused for a moment, asked her what she would do if she saw a car on the “road” and after receiving the exact answer I was looking for, said yes. I allowed my 3.5 year old to go do the loop by herself. <gulp> I felt my heart strings tug as I watched her excitedly and confidently roll away from our campsite.

She returned full of pride and thrilled at the rush of independence and asked to do it again. After her second loop she came back, dropped her balance bike and joined the other kids in whatever game they were current up to. And something big had changed. For me and for Anja.  I’m still a little rocked, in a very positive way, by this experience.

And now, a few of my favorites from the weekend:

Julian (6) & Annapurna(5) on top, and Anja(3), Adrian(3) & Kenyon(7) stuffed into the top shelf of the raccoon pantry (amazingly).

Brothers

Buddies

Siblings

Stunning blue eyes, every single one of them.

The gang, on our last day. A little dirty…

and a lot silly.