Monday, January 16, 2017

A Question I Must Ask

Its been a long time since I have posted on this blog. Pretty much from the time I got pregnant with my third child and now almost 4 years later here I am with a new blog finally.

I wanted to start blogging again, not for anyone out there to read or to brag or to confuse anyone with more ideas and opinions or fake news. There really are a million blogs out there these days so why is mine important really? What I want to do is catalog my journey and how I am trying to live a deliberate life and how it is going to affect different parts of this journey. This is for myself, but if you happen to read it and it inspires you please continue reading.

One of the things that I have been thinking about lately is how much I consume. I might buy used items a lot and I am constantly on resale sites buying and selling, but that isn't my only problem. Every 1.5-3 years I have been getting a new to me car, I think since my oldest was born I have own 6 different cars and he is only 9 years old. I have this constant need for new things and to feel the thrill of that new thing. I am telling myself, 2017 I am going to stop this trend in myself and start living deliberately.

Now this can mean so many things to so many people. For me its going to manifest in the form of minimalism and making conscience decisions about what I consume in my life. Although Carl and I have talked about purchasing a minivan because we love the new Pacifica Hybrid, I said, lets hold off on that idea. Let's experience more and consume less and its my new moto.

The first phase of this is probably food consumption. Years ago the waste of my family drove me crazy and the lack of plans for dinners and eating out and the amount of money we were spending on something that was so preventable with a little bit of planning. About 4 years ago I started meal planning and writing lists and getting myself together in the kitchen. This is great in two ways. It limits duplicate purchases and my cabinets and fridge are almost empty at the end of the week. I also signed up for a website called www. which helps me find creative meals for my family and creates shopping lists for me. I don't use it every week, but its been helpful in cutting down waste.  These is what I feel I am doing right, so now its on to the next step.
Meal plan for this week

My cabinet on grocery shopping day

I just watched the documentary "Minimalism" and let me tell you I was inspired. I think to a certain extent I have always been a minimalist by nature, be is because I grew up poor and couldn't have much or just because its my nature, I see similar tendencies in my oldest child. That being said, I remember a conversation with my best friend about 20 years ago as I was getting a job, getting a house, and just moving up in my life. I can remember saying to her that I hope the need for the next best thing and the need to consume doesn't get to me and I hope I can stay true to my poor routes and the lessons I learned growing up as I did.

Here we are 20 years later and I am not sure if I have to been true to myself. I am now a stay-at-home mom of three wonderful boys and the need to consume as soon as I had those babies got to me. I needed the latest baby gadget, the latest baby wrap, the perfect diaper bag and it just went on from there. Soon whole websites were created for me to get the best item at 30% off and I was buying. Clothes, bags, toys, you name it I was getting it. Soon I learned my lesson and stopped looking at all those websites, but I still didn't quite get it yet.

As the main shopper in the house I am at Target and Costco a lot. Especially when I was buying diapers for my three kids. Clothes at these places are so accessible. So I would stop by get some diapers, buy a bra, buy a new pair of sweats, buy a tank top. What I wasn't doing is buying deliberately and buying quality. So much of these items getting purchased were worn a couple time often they didn't fit well and I just kept it. What I wasn't asking myself enough is what purpose does this item serve and do I really NEED this item. Money is easy for my family so I kept buying.

So when I watched this documentary I started a discussion on Facebook. During this discussion my husband pointed out my shopping problem and he was right to do so. I was getting a handle on food waste and basking in my new found organization, but I have been reading those articles on disposable clothing, I have been reading about capsule wardrobes, I have been reading the 33 project, but I thought that isn't me. I love fashion, I love bags, I love shoes, I NEED these things. But then I thought back to just last December. For one ski trip I bought 3 new pairs of boots, 2 new plaid shirts, 4 sweaters and 2 pair of jeans. This is the just the clothing I bought for myself. I haven't worn the 3 boots really, I like my old pair better, I am donating the two plaid shirts because they were a bad fit and the sweaters and jeans I am wearing daily. The plaid shirts were $5 at Ross. No skin off my nose for one purchase right?

Then I took a closer look at what my spending sprees were doing to my closet. It was getting so bad I couldn't even hang up all the clothes I owned, my closet is HUGE in this new house, but somehow I was letting my stuff own me and decided it was time for change. So today was the big purge.

First of all here is a picture of my before closet. It was a mess and I am an organization person. It was actually embarrassing how badly this had gotten out of control.

This is my "dresser" I had taken my underwear out for this picture, but clearly I'm spilling out of this whole thing.  
Dresses and short sleeve shirts

Long sleeve shirts and jackets
So my first project was to tackle my "dresser" area and figure out why it was such a mess. My first project was underwear. Let me tell you I have been pregnant 7 times in the last 10 years, between all the miscarriages, pregnancies and nursing my body has changed a lot. My closet reflects these changes. I was unwilling to let go of what my body was and accept what my body has become and a lot of my clothes I was holding on to reflected what I wanted to become.

Inventory of my dresser:

Tank tops21813
Workout Pants18711
Sentimental Shirts734
Bathing Suits514

In total I removed 75 items from my dresser alone. Now a lot of these items I owned for many years, but I am ashamed to admit that many of these items I bought and never wore and intended to either loose weight and wear or I purchased without trying on and then it sat in my closet. I removed so many items that I only needed two of these "dressers" and can used one for hats. If I had these hats organized I would have discovered I already owned two ski caps already instead of purchasing a new one when I went to Colorado this year!

This is where I need to live a life deliberate. I am starting fresh. Before I buy an item I am going to ask myself, will I really use this item or will it add to the waste and is just building up in our landfills?

New an improved dresser
Next was my closet. Here is tricky. I got myself into a bit of a bind last year. I told myself I didn't have time to go shopping anymore for personal clothes that are quality so I joined Stitch Fix. All Stitch Fix made me do is want to add one of two pieces I didn't need every couple months. I mean I did find some gems that I wear a lot, but so as to not waste my $20 styling fee I always bought something whether I liked it or not. Remind me to not do that again... Its just as bad as those discount sites I got so addicted too.

Short Shirts522824
Long Sleeve Shirts732944
In total I removed 65 items and am amazed at the closet space I have. I have more hangers than clothes now where I had more clothes than hangers before I started this process today.

Shirts sitting on my suitcases because I ran out of hangers and just set them there. 

Some of the extra hangers in my closet after this process

Just as a synopsis I removed 140 items today, but I still own 179 items. That is a long way from the 33 that people discuss. I have a long way to go and its hard emotionally to separate from some of these items. I couldn't ditch my college sweatshirt I never wear, or my honeymoon shirt, of my Phish concert t-shirt I will never wear again. On the other side I could easily get rid of the 4 softball shirts I owned for teams I don't play on anymore, or the shirts I haven't worn in 2 years. 

Some things I learned about myself while trying to get down to more of a minimal wardrobe. Daily I really only grab for about 5 items. I know right now capsule or a 33 wardrobe isn't my next step, but I will ask myself a question of what purpose this item adds to my life and what value does it add before buying it. Like my water bottle collection, when is there enough? Before this I was a multiple shopper. For Carl's Christmas party this year my 2 year old was acting up, I was in a really inexpensive dress store and I couldn't decide. I bought 2 dresses one of which I still haven't worn yet. I have so many stories of purchasing and not wearing and this is where I am going to try and make a change. I know minimalism is a process and even 1 year ago when were were getting ready for our big move I got rid of half my wardrobe and I really wish I got those numbers because it was probably in the 500s!. My stuff is getting smaller and smaller and I am accepting that this will be a process, but I am going to continue to ask myself how will this item impact my wallet and our environment and my life. So this is a reminder to myself to be deliberate and not let the easy consumerism get in the way of experiences and a life well lived. 

After pictures of my shirts

After picture of long sleeve shirts

Sunday, April 14, 2013

{Sneak Preview} Lydia Turning 1

It has been my pleasure and fun to photograph my niece Lydia as she has grown up this year. I can't believe it, but this doll of a baby is turning 1 in just 10 days. Time really flies and its been fun to get to know my niece and spend time with her during her first year of life.

For today's photo session my sister in law wanted studio pictures of Lydia in her birthday outfit, in a tutu with pearls and some with a balloons. It was fairly obvious the balloons weren't going to work in the studio so we switch to the yard for those pictures.

I don't open up and create my "studio" often. Its only on special occassion when a client really want a shot that I will break out my old equipment. I do love the empahsise on the props and the subject with the simplicity of the studio. Although my love is really taking the lighting outside and trying to create with props, stylizing and environment. This is where my heart goes lately.

Here is the princess for her first birthday pictures.

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Then here are two pictures of my helpers today. They were heading off to baseball practice, but I enlisted their help to get the lighting right since my studio only gets set up once in a while.

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Toluca 4s

Rounding out our baseball this weekend was a little baseball for my almost 4 year old. Since he was so jealous of his brother's baseball playing we decided to sign him up for Toluca 4s this spring. Usually I would wait until he is 4.5 but I realized he'll probably be playing soccer next fall and we're signing him up for Burbank Little League next season so he'll get at least one session of t-ball instead of going straight to coach pitch, so that means my 3 year old started today.

I will give a hand to whomever is running this organization now. This league is way more organized and better run than when Erik was in the program. It just functions well and I felt like Elliot was really getting something out of it.

The way 4 year old baseball works is that each child moves from station to station and learns skills. I think they get about 15 minutes in each station before having to move on.

Elliot first station was a ball throwing. It confused me at first because they were basically throwing a wiffle ball at Elliot's head. Then Carl reminded me it was so the kids wouldn't be afraid of the ball and I thought it was brilliant. It was pretty darn cute to watch.





The next station was practicing throwing the ball. I was impressed with Elliot because he actually stepped with the right foot a majority of the time. Way to go Elle-belly.



This is a concept that is actually hard for most t-ballers let alone 4 year olds, when to run. So in the next station they practice running through first base and then practice running all the bases. Elliot is still working on the fact that he needs to hit all the bases, but he is a work in process. Honestly though this was his favorite station. He told me "I was so fast, I won the race." And every time it was his time to run he jumped for joy in excitement.




Elliot's last station was hitting off the tee. He struggled with this one a lot. Definitely something he is going to have to practice.

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Overall we officially have a baseball player and one who was very proud to be heading to his own activity that was all his.

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Also while watching Elliot practice we got a surprise visit from a certain cousin. The kids had the best time playing in the park afterwards enjoying their time.




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Easter Egg Time

There are certain milestones year after year that I have to set up a photo session to capture. Coloring Easter eggs is a must for me. I personally don't have pictures of me with these big childhood milestones and since I am picture obsessed I just wish I had one or two morsels to remember this yearly event. Instead I rely on feelings and vague memories to remember this time in my own childhood. For me its very important to have a picture to go with those memories since my memory isn't that great and when my kids are gone all I'll have are these books of their childhood. Everyone says it goes by so fast so I just want to capture as much as I can.

I know its two weeks before Easter and there is tons of time for egg decorating, but in our house we eat eggs like candy. A dozen last less than a week so why not have a little fun for a couple of weeks with some decorated eggs. That and in a moment of dad brilliance my dear husband bought two egg decorating kits instead of just one so I have to use them in some way. Well probably do this again in a couple weeks.

So in my fridge I had two dozen eggs for us to eat this week and thought, it was a perfect time for us to get started on some coloring. Here is the before picture, one dozen for each boy. No muss no  fuss.



Waiting for the eggs to die is the hardest part for the 3 and 5 crowd. I was impressed today they had more patience than normal. The would look at it decided it wasn't dark enough and put it back. This my be my darkest set of colored eggs yet.




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Then viola we have finished eggs and they are ready for sticker and all that crazy junk that makes no sense in the egg decorating kit.




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Then off to the fridge they go, good enough to eat. Although Erik did have a moment of sadness when he realized they would be gone. I asked him "what did you think we would look at them forever, they are just extra pretty and fun for us to eat this week." He got it and then we thoroughly enjoyed an egg each. Yummy!



About Heather

My photo
I am a Los Angles based photographer and mom of 2 wonderful boys. Photography has been a passion of mine over 15 years now, ever since I picked up my first camera in journalism school and started developing my black and whites in a darkroom. The instant an affordable DSLR came out on the market in 2002, I had to have one and have been shooting digital since. Once I became a mom I realized how much I enjoy photographing children and how much better I could understand their nuances so it became a passion of mine. Their is such innocence and beauty in their pictures and I feel privileged to be a part of that. I am constantly trying new approaches and tuning my skills to create the art that is in my head, not just the art that I can create right now. I am very interested in off camera flash, and the depth and clarity it adds to my photographs. Sometimes I take breaks from my blog and photography, but it seems to never leave me completely. I always come back.