Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Family Pictures

As I mentioned last week, Rachel (of Rachel Takes Pictures) came to our house and captured our life at home like it really is. Okay, I’m wearing makeup, but everything else is accurate. It's a little too accurate: there is a bed frame on our front porch, a vaccuum on our back porch, and I barely fit into any of my clothes.

Here's a glimpse of what it's like at the end of the day when Daddy comes home.

After spending hours looking these perfect pictures of our imperfect life, I decided to make our family photographs more of a priority. Chris and I have been married four years, and we’ve hired a professional photographer four times. It hasn’t been one photographer per year, but we end up with a couple “family pictures” every year even if we didn’t hire someone.

I like the idea of having a system, but I don’t think I could commit to one thing for the next few decades. I know some people have the same photographer every year, and they take the family pictures in the fall. There’s such a warm, loyal feeling about that. But also? I want to get our family picture taken in Hawaii. And one year I want to have everyone wear the loudest plaid patterns I can find. Oh, and I want to have a family picture with a mariachi band (a marching band was my first choice, but Chris vetoed that). How cool would it be to have your family portrait painted one year. And obviously I want to try out an editorial-style studio shoot sometime.

It would be amazing to have your regular family photographer every fall in addition to the madness described above, but $$$$$$$$$.

What is your system for family pictures? Do you have a system? Have I put an abnormal amount of thought into this?

b perry

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


This morning I woke up thinking, “Thanksgiving is in two weeks.”

And I know this is technically a “blog” but this isn’t a post about Thanksgiving traditions or Thanksgiving crafts or Thanksgiving recipes or Thanksgiving etiquette. So I should rephrase. I woke up this morning crying, and thought, “Thanksgiving is in two weeks. This holiday already makes me feel pain about the suffering of my Native brothers and sisters. What will I be thankful for this year?”

I’m sad and disillusioned today. The sky is falling. But I’m a rich white lady with a very easy life, so of all people, I can get a jumpstart on the thanksgiving. Today I am most thankful for my husband and my children. Rachel, of Rachel Takes Pictures, came to our house last weekend to get a few pictures of Zoe in her Halloween costume. There weren't going to be pictures of anyone else... so this is what the rest of us looked like. Imperfect. Well, not Chris, he’s got his life together, but I sure as shooting don’t.

I’m not expressing gratitude as a way to “move on” from all this political discussion because retreating from this nightmare is privilege, a luxury that many marginalized people do not enjoy.

I’m just trying to say that Thanksgiving is in two weeks, so I can find some peace and love and gratitude in my broken heart this morning. And for as long as I can, I’m going to listen, to donate, to reach out, to let that glimmer of peace and hope expand, to fill me, until I can arrive at my dinner table in the spirit of thanksgiving.

b perry

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Five Favorite San Luis Obispo Moments

Right before we go on vacation, always, I think I'm a genius. I research, I have options, and I truly believe that the vacation will be perfect. Not in that "hopeful and optimistic" way, in that "pride cometh before the fall" way.

Chris and I hoped San Luis Obispo would be the perfect place for a family vacation before the holidays, and it ACTUALLY WAS the perfect place for a family vacation. Now, a super picture-heavy collection of my five favorite moments.


1. Arriving at The Madonna Inn 
We chose San Luis Obispo because I have this theory that while we're traveling with little kids, I need to optimize for the place where they sleep. The most important things for me are 1) the kids need their own sleeping space and 2) there have to be kid-friendly activities on site.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

No More Sunday Dinners

there are stickers on the table, and it's old sourdough, but come over for french toast

During pregnancy (with all the pukes and exhaustion) I don’t really see anyone because we don’t get out much, and we rarely host. So at the end of both of my pregnancies, one of my top priorities was to get back in touch with friends I hadn’t seen for the better part of a year. My default invitation is dinner, but with two adorable children in my life, dinner feels like a herculean task. Menus. Cooking. Cleaning. I didn’t want to do it. And I didn’t for over two months.

Then, inspired by the cats, I decided I didn’t need to make dinner to invite someone over. You don’t even need food. You can just go on a walk together. You can play cars in the living room. But food is also pretty great, so I started inviting our friends over Sunday afternoon snacks. We’ve had root beer floats, or chips and salsa. Or -- and I’m not suggesting this, I’m just saying it’s happened before -- you can text them at 9:30 at night to invite them over for Costco muffins and salami. Then, because they’re your friends, because they’re good people, because they don’t judge you for this kind of stuff, they immediately text you back with a, “Hell yeaaaaaaahhhh.”

Have you sat down and shucked a pomegranate with someone you love lately? I’ve done it three times in the last two weeks, and I highly recommend it. The pretense of dinner isn’t what makes time with your friends so wonderful; It is your wonderful friends.

b perry

p.s. Five Rules for Hosting a Crappy Dinner Party (and Seeing Your Friends More Often) I read this article when I was a few weeks into my Sunday Snacks routine, and it resonated with me because I also gave up on dignified dinner invitations, and I’m seeing my friends more often.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Today's To Do List

let's title this Simpler Times

When I lived in Washington, D.C. I went to an art exhibit about lists. There were hundreds of lists on display, mostly written by famous people, mostly very poetic. Eero Saarinen wrote twelve things he noticed about his wife, “First I recognized that you were very clever.” Janice Lowry’s titled one list, “Fifty people I need to forgive.”

The exhibit was inspiring to me, so I bought the book and had it signed by the author. I dearly hope it’s somewhere in my parents’ basement because I can’t find it in California. Yet, even without it in front of me, I can paraphrase the introduction: Lists give us the illusion of control in an otherwise chaotic life. Or, a little more darkly, the illusion of triumph in what feels like an unaccomplished life. 

I have always written lists. And this Sunday, like every Sunday of my life, I wrote down weekly goals and taped them to my wall.
  • Take Kylee Martinelli’s 
  • Finish the Shadow of Man 
  • Have lunch with Rachel 
  • Buy outdoor Halloween decorations 
  • Invite someone over for Sunday 
  • Exercise four days this week 
  • Return Reija’s spatula 
  • Listen to General Conference talks 
  • Write up next week’s SLO itinerary 
  • Brainstorm Christmas cards 
And you know? It’s Wednesday night, and both my kids were happy today. I should have written that on my list. It’s one of the only things I’ve really accomplished in days, and I need that illusion of triumph.

b perry

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Special Family Picture Collection

Two-ish years ago I read Happier At Home by Gretchen Ruben. She talks about why we should have photographs in our homes, the importance of family ritual, and how buying physical possessions for happiness is okay too (it’s not just about buying “experiences.”). And I can’t remember if she recommends this specifically, but I wanted to create a family photo collection of some kind, preferably around some holiday. 

It’s tough to find a consistent set of Perry Family pictures for any holiday. Every December my mom brings out thirty years worth of Christmas pictures, and I wish I could replicate that for my own family. Sadly, Christmas is not my day for family pictures. Christmas is my day for staying inside, never putting on makeup, eating every carb, and watching all the movies. Every Easter it feels like Instagram is exclusively family pictures. We don’t take Easter pictures? There’s no reason, I just haven’t done it. Nothing for Valentine’s Day or St Patrick’s Day or Flag Day.   

But you know what holiday I always take a picture for? Halloween. I even have the three Halloween pictures where it’s just Chris and me (before we started creating the next generation of adorable geniuses). 

I wanted to get a special collection of Halloween frames to go with those pictures, but I quickly learned that if you’re looking for non-tacky, non-homemade, non-$billion, Halloween picture frames, you’re out of luck, Bucky. In two years of earnest searching I’ve only bought one. So I’m pretty sure I’m going to stick with a color palate, and buy Halloween frames if I’m ever lucky enough to find them. 

This week while Zoe napped, I turned on Toccata and Fugue, and Jack and I brought out the collection. His enthusiasm for the whole experience was infectious. He loves looking at family pictures, loves opening boxes, loves putting things in their proper place. And I loved it too. It's so sweet to start traditions with Jack. It’s exciting to see how our family has grown in five years. It’s fun to have our home reflect the change of season. 

I like the idea of doing this together every October. 

b perry

p.s. This yellow frame is what I bought for this year's pictures. There are two photo spots so we can have one family picture and one that's just Zoe on her first Halloween. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How To (not) Road Trip with Babies

 "Mommy? Racoon. Buckle."

When we got the minivan Chris pointed out that we would see our family so much more because we could just pick up and drive home. It was a comforting albeit amorphous concept to think about road-tripping with our children to see grandparents and cousins more frequently and theoretically whenever we wanted. 

Those amorphous, theoretical road trips became a reality two weeks ago when we decided to go to Idaho and then 24 hours later we left. We drove to Idaho Falls, a drive that took a little over fourteen hours from our house. Then I drove from Idaho Falls to Salt Lake, that drive took four hours. Then Salt Lake to Southern California, which took ten hours. Then back to Redwood City, seven hours.

Thirty-five hours, five states, and eighty zillion miles.

After two weeks on the road I felt like we had tried most of the road trip options you read about: a whole day of driving, a half day, mornings, afternoons. By our last trip (Apple Valley to Redwood City - omg that sounds like such a charming journey. It was not.), we were all desperate to be home, so we decided we would drive through the night when both kids were sleeping.

An hour into the night I thought I had everything figured out. I told Chris this was the way of the future! We were only driving through the night from now on! It’s so easy! Zoe is happy! Jack isn’t whining! Why did we ever try anything else?!

I’ll tell you why. After two hours behind the wheel I was delirious with drowsiness. By 10:00 Chris was driving and I was out cold in the passenger seat. I don’t know what we’ll do when we drive home for Thanksgiving, but we won’t be driving through the night.

It turns out when you are a sleep-deprived mother of two with a penchant for narcolepsy, driving through the night is not your safest option. Also? Road trip tips welcome.

b perry