FIFTY years. Holy smokes, my parents have been married for 50 years. Marriage isn't easy, but I feel fortunate that my parents stuck together all those years and provided a home for my brother and I full of love, support, adventure and endless laughter. They have set the bar high for my own marriage and I'm constantly in awe of everything they've accomplished together. We all traveled to Hawaii where they honeymooned FIFTY years ago, only this time the kids and grand-kids were there to celebrate as well. The kids collected fallen plumeria blooms so I could string them together with dental floss to make lei's for everyone, we decorated the cottage, Uncle Nate manned the BBQ, and the kids ran around and climbed tree stumps with their Grandma Bon Bon and Grandpa Dino masks while we sipped champagne and watched the sun set. Happy anniversary mom and dad.



cousins, bathtubs, mobile saunas, and chickens | seattle tacoma documentary family photography

It's been far too long since I've blogged, but spring has arrived and I've been shooting a lot lately. I'm also *very close* to fully recovered from major knee surgery last year (more on that coming in another blog post) so I'm ready to start photographing families again! While Viggo competed in his very first chess tournament last weekend (you can see my Instagram post here), Leo got some quality time with his cousins. Documenting the day with his cousins was a great reminder that we can include extended family and cousins in your photo shoot. I would love to spend a morning or day in the life with your family, your littles, and their cousins. The cousin relationship is pretty special, whether they are all close in age, or years apart, it's such a fun, unique dynamic. I'm not sure which was more fun - 3 cousins in a bathtub or 3 cousins in a hammock. We have a bathtub (but the light isn't nearly as pretty) but I'm convinced that we definitely need a hammock.  Back at the house after a long day of chess, Viggo sat proudly for a photo with his trophy before we all jumped into the converted horse trailer that is now a mobile sauna. We warmed up in the sauna listening to the pouring rain on the metal roof of the trailer, snacking on bowls of goldfish, when Leo shouted "chicken bawk bawk!" and sure enough we looked out the little windows to see one of chickens running down the alley. The kids all jumped out to chase the chicken but he was long gone, leaving four sopping wet cousins scrambling to get inside and warm up in front of the fire. It was everything that a day with cousins should be.

halloween part II

We were at a Halloween party over the weekend and someone asked me how soon I start working on our costumes, to which I replied "September". But realistically, Halloween was just a few days ago and I'm already thinking about next year. So yeah, I'm that crazy person. Luckily, my oldest has acquired my love of all things Halloween and is already plotting our family Star Wars costume next year. Baby brother was quick to agree to his plan, claiming "Dawth Vadah" for himself. And if you don't believe that a 6 year old won't change his mind over the course of an entire year, think again. Last Halloween he decided that we would be vampires and while he briefly considered the Incredible Hulk, he stayed the course and we all went as vampires. Luckily I got one photo of the boys together in their costumes, because in a classic toddler move, as soon as we started trick or treating Leo refused to wear his vampire cape and looked more like Angus Young from AC/DC.  Viggo held his hand for the first few houses and before we knew it, Leo was climbing stairs, desperately trying to keep up with the big kids, saying "twick or tweat" and collecting his candy all by himself. 

forty in antigua

The big 4-0 was approaching and even as we boarded our plane in Seattle, I had no idea where we were off to. And trust me, it’s hard to keep a secret from me. It was only while changing planes in LA that I discovered we were returning to one of our favorite places - Guatemala. We first experienced Guatemala in 2006 when we travelled around the country with my family and our trusty guide and new best friend Eduardo. We went everywhere that everyone should visit at least once, from Tikal and the lesser known Quirigua ruins where we stayed in little bungalows deep in the jungle surrounded by Howler monkeys, to Panajachel and Lake Atitlán where we traveled by boat to the little town of Santiago de Atitlán and offered up cigarettes and “fire water” to the evil saint Maximón, to mountain town of Chichicastenango to witness the famous Sunday market.  

We also visited the beautiful colonial city of Antigua, and after spending only 1 day there, we vowed to return. We stayed at our favorite Hotel Casa Santo Domingo, a retired 16th-century monastery, with views of the surrounding volcanos from the pool, and where hundreds of candles lit the hotel every night. For a smaller, more intimate experience, I recommend the Posada Del Angel on the edge of town. We are creatures of habit so we found a few favorite restaurants and bars and kept returning for more. The meals we had at Izakaya were some of the best I’ve had all year in Seattle.  The chef and owner got his start working at Nobu, and it’s amazing what they were able to do in that tiny, poorly lit kitchen. I’m still dreaming of the beef and fish tiradito. Guatemala is known for its coffee, and we enjoyed our daily coffee from Cafe Condesa, an institution on the west side of the Parque Central. We quickly discovered the best place to watch the sun set over Antigua and her volcanos, was the rooftop bar Café Sky. Almost nightly we would grab a seat, order a mojito, and on several occasions witnessed the Volcan de Agua spew lava. And legend has it, every year around New Year’s, a priest and hundreds of people hike up Volcan de Agua for an annual soccer game inside the volcano’s crater. As night descended we would make our way over to Café No Sé to hang with locals and young backpackers in this dark, candlelit bar serving cheap Gallo beer, illegal Mezcal, and our favorite Ron Zacapa Centenario rum. There’s live music most nights and a secret bar in the back where you can visit and make your offering to Maximón.

During the day we wandered the streets of Antigua, taking in the famous sites like the convent and ruins of Las Capuchinas, the church of La Merced, the ruins of San Jerónimo and La Recolección, and the iconic Santa Catalina Arch built so that the nuns of the 17th century could walk across the 2 sides of the convent without being exposed to the outside world. We saw a procession for La Quema del Diablo (burning the devil), a tradition held on the eve of the Immaculate Conception, where families build bonfires outside their homes and burn all the bad from the previous year and start anew from the ashes. We travelled to neighboring villages where we witnessed a funeral procession, saw women doing the wash in the public wash pool in Santa María de Jesús, and we were lucky enough to meet up again with Carolina and her fellow weavers at her workshop co-op in the village of San Antonio Aguas Calientes, where the women make and wear the most exquisite huipils.

Mostly I’m drawn back to Guatemala for the warmth. The warmth of the people and the colors that flood my dreams like a painting. I am in awe of the craftsmanship by local weavers and the intricate, vibrant huipils, each one unique, representing different villages. I love walking along cobblestone streets past low buildings drenched in bright pinks, yellows and blues, past smiling, curious girls selling their handiwork. I love getting lost in the rush of energy, language, colors and smells coming from the market, seeing cowboys hanging out of pickup trucks on their way into town and the ornately painted chicken buses blowing by.  I can’t wait to return.

another summer, another doe bay fest | orcas island, wa

If you've talked to me anytime in the last six months, chances are I've mentioned Doe Bay. We make the trek up to Orcas Island every winter and then wait patiently to return in August for the Doe Bay Music Festival. We take the foot ferry and camp with several families and our gaggle of kids, and have even met some pretty amazing new friends along the way. And that's the thing about Doe Bay - by the end of the long weekend strangers aren't really strangers anymore. Faces become more familiar and all those strangers become your extended Doe Bay family. The music is always great, that's a given, but it's a lot more than just the music. When you create a community of creative people in one of the most beautiful places in the world, magic happens. It's the side conversations while looking for crabs on the beach, morning swims in the Puget Sound and soaks in the tubs, secret shows in the woods at midnight, lazy afternoons sipping margaritas on the beach while watching your favorite musicians play what seems like a private show just for you, the smell of salt water and popcorn as the sun sets, a glimpse of a family of deers walking past your tent, seeing Joe waiting on the beach to greet your water taxi as it comes ashore, sweaty nights rocking out in yoga studio feeling the floor vibrate beneath your feet, kids running around yelling and laughing and waving their glow sticks while bands play the main stage, raw oysters and hula hoops, dancing at twilight, meals of mouth watering food from the cafe with friends, moms wearing their babies and bigger kids wearing headphones sitting on their parents shoulders while they bob their heads to the beat and wave their hands in the air, afternoon naps on the beach, the daily morning brass band processional through camp while you sip your coffee, and so much more. 

And for me, the best part is how inclusive the festival is of all of the kids. Like Joe says, "Doe Bay Fest is a music festival primarily for kids. Adults are allowed too, especially when accompanied by kids". We are fortunate to be able to participate in this community of magic makers that come together every summer and that our friends and family get to be a part of it. I'm already looking forward to next summer where we get to do it all over again.