Growing Pains: A Short Story

i've been having this weird feeling for the past month that 2013 would be the year of growth and maturing for me.  pulling up my pants, tightening that belt, and getting shit done.  do it now and do it right. you've had TWO children, therefor you KNOW life is not about you.  extend that selflessness to the rest of your loved ones and save the selfishness for shoes and make up.  nothing compares to the joys of retail therapy...  

so for those of you who are not on (my) Facebook or those who are and didn't get it in your feed, you may not have known that kev and i contracted the Express Flu that hit the kids a couple days back on New Year's.  it hit Friday, shortly after receiving a last minute bail my weekend's wedding.  i was feeling a little rough but having the kids over at my mom's made it less noticeable as i was so thankful to be lying in bed undisturbed with nobody to cook for/clean after/change/lecture. 

the news of the wedding cancellation was music to my ears.  as much as i really wanted to have a wedding under my belt, the relationship just didn't feel right.  (plus i may have just booked another one for March!)  the most important advice i offer to inquiring brides-to-be is what has allowed us to maintain a relationship with our wedding photographers:  Choose your photographer(s) as if you were choosing your friend(s).  you want people who get you.  you want people who relate to you and your tastes and your weirdness.  it makes everyone happy and worry free. 

it is not to be taken personally, but the feelings were never mutually as engaged as i am used to with clients i have worked with the past couple of months.  that should have been a sign.  anyway, the cancel worked out better than i could have imagined.  i set out to Vancouver to pick up the last piece to the puzzle of my lighting set up: the softbox.  Kingsway and 12th.  that is right by Taryn and Taryn is working today!  we should have lunch!  so i had a lovely lunch with my dear friend.  we talked life, photos, and girl stuff.  it was a huge breath of fresh air to be out and free and with a friend whom i love and miss so much.  my body was happy.  i even walked her back to work (teen style) and we had the longest mom hug.  on the way to the car i rang up Lindsay since she is in the area as well.  on her way out to a meeting, we just had a quick chat, also about life and photography and meeting up this week for some editing comparisons.  

drove a few blocks up to pick up the equipment from another super nice asian dude.  been having fantastic craigslist experiences with the asian dudes!  YEAH I'M RACIST.  asians are sooooooo nice.  who else will open everything up and show you the product to help you feel satisfied and then after chatting about one another's photography will say thank you and goodbye with a couple head bows?  seriously.  asians.  even i do the head bow.  so weird.  ok, at least the chinese asians  not the filipino asians.  i can say that.  i'm filipino.  and chinese.  i'm in trouble.

i had messaged Nicole that i had time on my hands to throw around and that i would love to make a quick visit since i was in Vancity and she had Fridays off.  yay!  i dropped by at nap time and had the pleasant surprise of having Brock there as well.  Nicole made tea with home baked cookies and Brock showed me how to do a few things with the camera that i haven't been able to figure out!  i was having such a lovely visit, i ended up staying for dinner before heading to my mom's to pick up the kids.  great  friday with so many friends!!!!!  however, by this time i was feeling pretty gross.  my head was aching and my muscles were feeling weak.

i got worse once i got to my mom's and i finally forced myself to leave.  thinking i looked pretty bad, she sent me home and kept the kids for a second night.  as i drove home, i knew it was going to be a night of throwing up.   and i was right.  11:30pm: rocking back and forth,  my eyes half rolling in my head, my arms around my stomach and my hips swaying back and forth as if i were in labour, nasty chills that seized my back muscles...  TASTES LIKE BURNING.  had to run a hot bath near the end as my chills were getting really painful.  thank god the children were not home to see my writhing on the floor in a pile of clothes and towels.  i almost fell asleep in the bath. and about an hour later, kevin hit the porcelain.

i passed out for an hour and spent 20 minutes on Pinterest while slowly restoring my body with fluids.

and all this time, i was supposed to be prepping and testing my new equipment for Saturday's photoshoot with my cousin and her two kids, visiting from Toronto.

i called my mom in the morning to ask for my aunt's number.  my aunt wanted me to do the photoshoot.  i gave her the bad news that i would not be able to do the shoot as i was still aching and a running a low fever.  kevin had to oversee the new person installing his headliner, so heading out to River Rock for a buffet lunch with the kids in tow was already more than enough for me without having to pack up all my equipment and drive out to downtown Vancouver for a photoshoot.  

i didn't participate in the buffet.  my stomach was not ready for that and it would not have been worth the $25 for a bowl of soup and crackers.  my conscience and my tired body duked it out and in the end, kevin drove home to pack up all my equipment and brought it out to River Rock.  we packed it all into my mom's car and we transferred the two carseats so i didn't have to drive out.  every parent just twitched an eye thinking of how much they hate taking out/installing a carseat nevermind TWO carseats...

i would then have to set up all this new equipment on my own for the first time, test it, take the photos, and take everything down in less than TWO HOURS.  my aunt had reserved the party room from 2-4pm and there was another "big" party coming in at 5pm.  we didn't leave River Rock until about 2:15pm.  

i had a few freak outs during set up.  i thought the bulb was out/dying but i had forgotten to take off the lid.  i also had the speedring backwards and had to disassemble the 6ft octagonal umbrella/softbox that i just spent 15 minutes putting together and start over again.  i did a few tests with 20 minutes left to shoot.  

it went AWESOME.

seriously.  these first three are within the first ten shots.  these kids are naturals!
we haven't seen them in a year and as we moms all know, a year is an eternity of growth for these young kids.  i love how i can see their mom in both their faces even though they look so different from one another.  they have the sweetest personalities and amazing energy.  penelope had been practicing her poses all day only to be told to roar like a monster.
1... 2... 3... JUMP!!!
now... DANCE!
with their beautiful mama
 i remember hating the thought of my daughter being girly and wearing pink
but now i totally get it.  it's not a punishment.  it is undeniably super fun to wear pink.
and this is where my stomach turns.  not from the Express Flu but from a twinge of recognition and enlightenment.  from a warm place in my heart.  i had been so set on getting all my things together and had focused so much on how ill i was feeling that i did not consider how anyone else was feeling.  my feelings were at their usual place of self-centredness.  i didn't consider that i would have missed taking photos of, quite possibly, the happiest Great Grandfather on earth.  this was not just another client.  this was my own family requesting that i honor them with my talent by giving them what i offer to my clients: photos that they are going to love forever.

they had the whole experience.  actually had more!  they had to watch me scramble to set up!  they watched me test.  they watched me interact and direct.  they watched me click and move and click and move.  this must have been something for my Gung Gung because it is one thing to see your 16 year old Granddaughter working at a service desk or hear that she is a receptionist in a very reputable Developer's office, but it must have been something very special for him to see me working my ass off doing what i love.  any parent really just wants their child to be happy and i think he was feeling this.  his son, my father, rests in peace and we all have a huge hole in our hearts, but i'm quite sure that it brought him joy to see me thriving.  i can not wait for him to see these photos because i know he is just going to lose his senior citizen shit over his crazy beautiful great-grandkids who all know and love him.
if i had made the choice to head home instead of doing this shoot, i would have also missed out on this great photo of my auntie Ping with the kids.  my siblings and i have hundreds of photos with our auntie Ping.  always making faces, always being silly, always smiling and always laughing.  to me she is my aunt, but i forget that she is also the sister to my father and "grandmother/great aunt" status to my kids.  she loves them the same way she loved us as little kids.  she hasn't lost her goofiness which is the same total goofiness that my dad had.  i am fucking crying right now.  

as you can see there are no props in these photos.  i love props.  i'm all about them.  it wasn't in the cards for this shoot and i think the lack of props worked to the shoot's advantage because this side of my family has not had photos like these in years.  so much sadness has swept over my dad's side of the family and when i look at these photos and see how happy everyone is, it reminds me how much joy people can really get out of pictures.  it also reminds me that although others might not find that same connection, the family, the client, will embrace and fall in love with the members they see in the photos.    they will see the huge smiles and their hearts will grow and melt with fond memories.
these family sessions are a moment in time to gather and and say 
"HEY!  THIS IS WHO WE ARE! THIS IS MY FAMILY!"

i'm so happy i made the decision to do this, to fight through my discomfort in the effort to return all the love, generosity, and kindness that my family has shown and taught me from the very beginning.  all  was worth it.  having my mom drive me back to River Rock was worth it.  having to transfer everything and two sleeping children and their carseats was worth it.  not eating anything until 8:30pm was worth it.  who knows if i would have ever gotten these photos in the future if i had not made the decision to do so.  what a huge loss it would have been for everyone.  my mom was so happy that i pulled through and i know that my Gung Gung, my two aunties, my cousin and her kids are going to love and treasure these photos.
and all of us would have missed out on the relationship that bloomed between the 4 kids.  last year moses was barely 3 and chloe just a year old.  this year they were all able to connect.  the boys stood side by side for minutes as they both played video games on adult cell phones while Penelope took little Chloe Bear under her wing, holding her hand, guiding her, sharing with her, explaining things to her and being a total doll.  it broke my heart that they couldn't have more time to play together but now i have memories of this day.  now i can look at these photos and remember how much fun we had together.  the kids grow up too fast.  how else can we be expected to remember them?  i already can't remember a damn thing and i'm not even close to being old...

thank you for whomever took the time to actually read all of this!

xoxo

hope you all had a lovely weekend...


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