Shine On: Ghimire Family


These are my friends, Mercie, Vivek and Harper. Last November, they drove out to Las Vegas to do another family session with me (their first shoot can be found here). We always have fun together and this time was no exception. I love all of the movement and laughter in the following images. It contrasts perfectly to the unusual and austere backdrop of the Las Vegas Wash. And most importantly, these photos reminded me that not taking things too seriously always allows our true personalities to shine through.


Positano: What dreams are made of


There’s a certain breed of people that are not Italian but feel as though the country is deep within their soul. I am one of those. I can’t really explain it other than I’ve had an intense connection to the place for as long as I can remember. It couldn’t be any further from my current home and even less like where I originally came from. It wasn’t inherited nor learned, for even at a young age, I was drawn to all things Italian. Over time, it has only heightened thanks to my ever-expanding knowledge of food, wine, art, and culture.

We’ve been slowly working our way through the country and although the Amalfi Coast has been on my radar for years, it wasn’t until 2014 that we were finally able to go. It certainly helped that my friend Jora was also going to be there with her family and we could spend time together. It was the first time I’d travelled abroad with a friend on the other side and hopefully it won’t be the last! What fun it was to experience such amazing places together and especially with someone who knew the area quite well. It was a magical 6 days.


Unfortunately, our time there was cut short due to a major passport mistake on my part. I will write a separate post about that, but it sort of changed the scope of our trip because we lost a full day and our planned rental car, plus it made for an even more stressful journey.  Thankfully, it all worked out in the end and the good news is, we will definitely be back to see all of the things we missed the first time around! 

I also didn’t take many proper photos when I was in Positano. (Most of these are from my phone.) Oh how I wish I had a better reason… but the truth is, I carried a baby on my chest 90% of the time and our flat was at the very top of the town — 695 steps up or down, multiple times a day. That number probably seems inconsequential unless you’ve been there, but let me tell you, the rest of my family heaved and ho’ed, whined and whinnied while I used it as incentive to burn off those pesky post-pregnancy pounds. By the end of our stay, we were seasoned climbers! We ate and drank nonstop and still managed to lose weight on this trip! I can’t tell you how many times we’ve talked about it since, but I dream of living somewhere I have to get a workout nearly every time I step out the front door. (Sigh, one day!) 




To Do

• Spend at least one day at Da Adolfo for the amazing food, charming location, staff, peach wine and the ultimate Italian beach experience. (Take the Red Fish boat at Spiaggia Grande.)
• Enjoy the view with a cocktail in your hand at the famous Champagne Bar at Le Sirenuse hotel.
• Stock up on gorgeous produce, wine, delicious antipasti and other prepared foods at the Delicatessen on Via dei Mulini.
• Rent a “lettino” (umbrella/sun bed) and spend the day at Bar Bagni Da Ferdinando on Fornillo Beach.
• View the coast from the water, whether it’s on a water taxi headed to a nearby beach or from a hired boat for a private tour.
• Eat a Sorbetto al Limone (Lemon sorbet in a frozen lemon; my children’s favorite treat!)

These are all the things I didn’t get to do but will next time:

• Hike the Path of the Gods.
• Visit all the neighboring villages: Nocelle, Montepertuso, Maiori, Minori, Praiano, Ravello, Amalfi, Atrani, Furore, Sorrento.
• Go to CAPRI!!!
• Sail and swim in all of the grottos.
• Beach day at Bagni d’Arienzo.
• Spend time in Naples.





GETTING THERE: We flew from London to Naples via Easy Jet. We then took the first taxi we saw to Positano. I’m not entirely sure that it was a legit driver, but we made it in a little over an hour. On our way back, we had a much better driver that drove us to Pompeii and waited in the parking lot while we looked around, then took us to the airport. It cost a little extra, but helped us kill time before our late flight.

TRANSPORTATION: You can definitely get by without a car. In fact, we were kind of glad that we didn’t have one in the end. There are a couple of private car parks but they are pretty expensive (about €25/day) and you’d likely still have to walk up/down the hill to get to them. That said, a car would be useful for visiting all of the neighboring towns like Ravello, Praiano, Furore, Maiori, Sorrento. But should you decide to not rent one, there are local buses to take you around Positano and beyond. You can also take the boats/water taxis to various nearby beaches or for a cruise around the coast. They are found in the Spiaggia Grande and some are free provided you eat and spend a good chunk of the day at their beach. Call for reservations in advance.

LOCATION: I spent a ridiculous amount to time trying to figure out where our apartment rental was in relation to the main areas of town. It was really difficult to tell how high up it was and how close it would be to everything. Turns out, it wasn’t marked correctly on Google Maps. HA! I would probably recommend staying in Positano town if it’s your first visit (ie. not in Nocelle or a neighboring village.) This way, everything is within walking/climbing distance and you can get a real feel for the town. Clearly, this town requires a certain amount of mobility. We managed to do it with an 11 month old, 8 + 10 year old — but it would be really challenging for some people. I’d also recommend you bring as little luggage as possible. There’s a great chance that you’ll have to haul it up or down stairs to get to your place (or pay a porter to do it for you). Second, make sure you have a view of the sea. It’s a lovely reward after all the stairs!

LODGING: I never bother looking at hotels because most can’t fit our family, so I spent hours perusing Airbnb, VRBO, Summer In Italy, Owner Direct, etc. until I managed to find a place. I would link to the apartment we stayed in, but it’s no longer listed. 🙁 Either way, know that Positano books up quickly during the high (summer) season, so it’s important to book as early as possible! 

FOOD: I made a list of restaurant recommendations prior to leaving and we barely made a dent in it! In the end, we had many of our meals at the beach (Da Adolfo or Da Ferdinando). We ate at Saraceno d’Oro a few times, as it was closest to our rental. Or we kept it simple and picked up mozzarella, bread and tomatoes from the deli and picnicked on our large terrace. Needless to say, we ate well the whole time, even if it wasn’t as I’d expected. (Restaurants on my list: Da Vicenzo, Il Puppeto, Bucca di Bacco, Bar Bruno, Bar Mulino Verde, La Tre Sorelle, the restaurant at il San Pietro, La Tonnarella, La Sponda, Saraceno D’Oro, Cove dei Saraceno, Le Sirenuse, Next2, La Tagliata, Donna Rosa, and La Terra.

KIDS: My children loved Positano. Some of this was because they had friends to play with, but I genuinely believe they enjoyed it for all the same reasons we did. Italy is truly one of the best places to take kids. Italians are so friendly and children are welcome everywhere. Plus, most kids love Italian food. There’s swimming, boats, cliffs to jump off of, gelato, grottos, etc. Sure they grumbled at first about the stairs but soon it became a fun challenge to see who could get to the top first. Like everything, it’s just a matter of getting used to something different. Besides, children are smart — they can sense the mystique and magic just as much as their parents. Sometimes more! My kids give Positano a double thumbs up and are also longing to go back. 


You’ll often hear Positano being called the Jewel of the Amalfi Coast, and rightly so. From the sweeping views of the Tyrrhenian Sea, to the gorgeous and colorful houses perched on the cliffs, to the bougainvillea and ivy covered walls, to the endless, winding stairs that weave through this vertical town — it’s truly hard to beat. There were multiple times where I felt like I’d been plopped into a 1960’s Italian film where beauty abounds and everything is insanely chic and sexy but at the same time deceptively simple. I think Italians have mastered that “un certo non so che.” (ie. Je ne sais quoi!



Perhaps John Steinbeck said it best,

Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone. Its houses climb a hill so steep it would be a cliff except that stairs are cut in it. I believe that whereas most house foundations are vertical, in Positano they are horizontal. The small curving bay of unbelievably blue and green water lips gently on a beach of small pebbles. There is only one narrow street and it does not come down to the water. Everything else is stairs, some of them as steep as ladders. You do not walk to visit a friend, you either climb or slide. Nearly always when you find a place as beautiful as Positano, your impulse is to conceal it.”


Different but the Same




The Bjorklund Family


I met the Bjorklund’s several years ago and Sarah quickly became my go-to for all things homeschooling related. She’s the most dedicated, hands-on, homeschooling mama I know and her kids are proof of that. Considering they lead busy lives, her husband, David, has the most calm and relaxed presence.  As for the kids, I have this philosophy that if you raise children you’d want to hang out with, then other people will too. That’s exactly how I felt with these guys. They were so smart and interesting to talk to! I can only hope my kids turn out as well.

I’ve noticed there’s often one person on each shoot that truly enjoys having their photo taken. In this case, that would be Anna. She’s full of personality and the camera loves her. She has that classic, all-American look and I’d be surprised if she’s not on stage or modeling for Ralph Lauren or Tommy Hilfiger in a few years! Then there’s Chris, the budding photographer. He brought his camera and shot photos alongside me. This was a first, for sure! His enthusiasm and inquisitiveness was infectious. Last but not least, there’s Parker. What a little ham he is! He may have some special needs, but boy does he have the greatest sense of humor! He was full of energy, quick wit and definitely kept me on my toes. Collectively, they were such a fun family to spend the afternoon with.


Slice of Life


October 2012

Over two years have passed since I took these images. My backlog of photos has reached such epic proportions, I’m not even sure where to begin — but I wanted to post these before I share the latest pictures we shot this fall. It’s astonishing how much these children have changed in such a short amount of time!

In this shoot, my goal was to capture the kids’ budding (tween) personalities, at home, surrounded by their things. At the time, Gwenyth loved Justin Bieber, American Girl dolls and cheer. John was into his phone, sports and maybe not quite as interested in having his photo taken. They’re both really fun, sweet, beautiful kids and looking back, I love how different these are compared to other sessions I’ve had with them. It makes me want to take similar photos of my own kids! Sometimes it’s so hard to notice all the changes that happen right under your nose.


Baby 3.0 – What have you done to my mother?

18 weeks.

It has been nearly 10 years since I was pregnant with my first baby and 8 with my last. Even though I don’t think any mother could ever forget the terrible morning sickness or the way it feels when a baby kicks from inside, time has a funny way of burying the little feelings and memories that go along with pregnancy. Somehow, 40 long weeks of counting down are obliterated once the baby arrives and you’re instantly thrust into a whole new line of concerns and changes. The counting of weeks (in the opposite direction) turn into months and before you know it, years have passed by in a blur. You’ll likely catch yourself wondering,

What happened to my baby? How are you 9 years old already? You’re halfway to moving out of the house! Aaaaack…

As this will be my last, I’m trying hard to relish and remember every little detail, good or bad. I want to savor the pregnancy and the early years because I know all too well how quickly it goes. 

THREE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER: Besides the obvious discomforts that go hand in hand with growing something inside of you, I’ve found the hardest thing to deal with is fear. This has been amplified exponentially due to my  “Advanced Maternal Age.” I should note that under normal circumstances, I keep most medical visits to a bare minimum. I try to sustain our health through diet and exercise, utilising medicine only when truly necessary. Ironically, my experiences with childbirth have been everything but natural. It was as though my first two would’ve been content to stay in utero for good. They were both huge babies that required c-sections and even then, they wouldn’t come out! At the end of the day, I just wanted them to be healthy and out of my body. My first OB/GYN had delivered something like 35,000 babies in his career, so I put my faith in his ability and expertise. Even though he was unusually laid back, he had an uncanny ability to make you feel like he had it all under control. He’d say things (in a strong southern drawl) like, “You never know what is gonna happen, honey. There’s no point in worrying about a thing.” Finding myself pregnant again at the ancient age of 38, has been such a different experience. I spent the first three months expecting to miscarry. It doesn’t help that “AMA” is scrawled like scarlet letters on every piece of medical paper with my name on it. As my doctor told me, our bodies are meant to have babies in our early twenties. Thanks for that, doc.

TESTS: At 10 weeks, I had a new screening called MaterniT21. It’s a non-invasive blood test that can tell with 99% accuracy if there’s a presence of Down’s Syndrome or one of the main Trisomy disorders (an alternative to an early CVS or Amniocentesis). It also allowed us to learn the gender extremely early. Following this test, I had a worrisome Nuchal Translucency ultrasound which prompted us to get genetic counseling and the subsequent 23andMe DNA tests. It wasn’t required, but I’ll admit, I was very curious to learn about my ancestry, disease risks and gene carrier status. It took about 6 weeks and I nearly had a stroke prior to opening the results for my breast cancer and Parkinson’s screen, but it was completely worth the $99 to learn as much as I did about my health. Since then, I’ve had some of the usual tests like the AFP and monthly ultrasounds with a perinatologist. Unfortunately, they discovered we have something called Marginal Cord Insertion, where the umbilical cord inserted onto the side of the placenta rather than the middle. The doctors said they would monitor it to make sure the baby was getting enough nutrients, blood, etc., as it can result in a smaller baby. In the words of my perinatologist, “In this case, it might be a blessing that you have such big babies!” Of course I went home and researched it online and it seems THE BABY MIGHT DIE. I quickly got off the internet and started eating more. Thankfully, he’s growing right on track. Lastly, we were instructed to have an Fetal Echocardiogram Ultrasound with the top pediatric cardiologist in town because there’s a family history of babies with holes in their hearts. Overboard? Probably, but at least we know his heart is healthy. Now that we’ve checked for just about every little thing that can go wrong, I’m hoping from here on out, it will be business as usual. 

As for some of the other fun changes:

SKIN: I broke out terribly with my daughter, but it was not too bad this time. However, the first sign that I was pregnant was a gnarly, tell-tale spot on my chest and then some on my back. This hadn’t happened since my last pregnancy, so I immediately wondered if I was indeed expecting.  

HAIR: My hair fell out like crazy for the first couple of months of pregnancy. I’d only remembered the stage where I didn’t lose hair, but this time around I was shedding faster than an Alaskan Malemute! Now I lose a total of 4 hairs a day and I swear it makes my face look even bigger. (lovely)

NAUSEA: I will never understand how some women feel nothing while others can be retching for months on end! Consistent with my other two pregnancies, it started rearing it’s ugly head around 6 1/2 weeks and didn’t go away until 20 weeks. It mostly began around noon and would dissipate in the middle of the night while I slept. This little one made me throw up the most though. For the worst two months, I was in bed at 5:30pm curled up in the fetal position trying hard not to dry heave while watching favorites like Downton Abbey, The Mindy Project, Girls, or New Girl on the iPad. When it finally went away, it was as though the heavens had opened! 

CRAVINGS: For someone who gets so sick, I have an uncanny ability to eat like a total gannet when I’m pregnant. The irony is, the act of eating makes me feel temporarily better and then as soon as I’m done, I go right back to feeling like I’m going to throw up. I started to think maybe chewing was the answer, so I’ve tried to supplement with minty gum whenever possible. Unfortunately, gum doesn’t satiate a never-ending appetite! Ava and Max have been completely horrified by the change in my diet. I’m normally very strict about what we eat with very little dining out and mostly natural/healthy homemade food. But everything is off the table when I’m pregnant. Candy, fast food, eating in bed at 10:30pm — you name it, I’ve eaten it. Here’s how a random week looked during the early months…  Monday: I need a Philly Cheesesteak. Tuesday: Time for my weekly In ‘N Out Double-Double. Wednesday: Must. Eat. Giant. Carne. Asada. Burrito. Thursday: Who wants Egg Salad for the 5th week in a row? Friday: Gyro Time! As it is, I’m hungry every couple of hours and have been supplementing with bowls of granola, tangy fruits like pineapple/kiwi/mango, Trader Joe’s chocolates (damn you, TJ’s!) and these most delicious scones. One final thing to note is, this is the first pregnancy where I’ve been able to drink coffee (a mostly decaf blend) the entire time. 

WEIGHT GAIN: I gained 60lbs with both of my other kids and it looks like I’m headed there again. I’m already up 40lbs. UGH! Everything hurts. My thighs are touching. I feel like a whale flopping from side to side in bed at night. I can hardly pull myself to a seated position without assistance. My face is fat. Once again, fairness doesn’t play equally, as I’m simply not one of those pretty pregnant people. (According to my cleaning lady, “At least you aren’t as bad as Kim Kardashian!” Thanks, amiga!) All of this leads me to counting down the days until post-partum bliss. As soon as the baby comes out, it’s like a reset button has been pushed and I feel normal again. I managed to lose the weight twice before and I know I will do it again. I have to.

TOOTHBRUSH GAG: Throughout the morning sickness ordeal, I also have the lovely side effect of gagging when I brush my teeth. It’s not a polite, lady-like retch but more of a guttural, my entire insides are going to come shooting out of me type of gag. Most of the time, it would cause me to dry heave and/or throw up. My children thought it was both hilarious and frightening at the same time. Please tell me that you (or someone you know) has had this before. I was *this close* to filming it because it is so weird!

NONSTOP URINATION: I’m pretty sure I must have the smallest bladder on the planet and that I pee more than most, but pregnancy takes that up about 50 notches. It could be that I consume at least 3 liters of water a day (Probably even more since that is about all I can drink right now. Who wants some fizzy water with lemon? Cranberry? How about some lime? We can pretend it is a cocktail! Oh nevermind.) I hate to say it, but water is getting old (I want wine!) and I certainly won’t miss these frequent bathroom visits one bit. My husband, as my witness, watched (in the other room, of course) me use the toilet directly before an ultrasound and 10 minutes into it, the tech made me go empty my bladder again because it was getting in the way of their view! Crazy.

HEARTBURN: I hate to even utter these words for fear they will come back to haunt me, but I have barely had any heartburn this go around. With Ava and Max, I had terrible heartburn for their entire pregnancies! Does this mean that this little babe will be bald?

EXERCISE: I never exercised at all when I was pregnant with my other two children. In fact, I counted going up and down our stairs as a good workout back then! Despite the weight gain being right on track, I’ve actually tried to stay more fit this time around. I stopped running as soon as I found out, but I try to walk and/or hike weekly. By no means am I anywhere close to as fit as I was prior to the pregnancy but at least I’m trying to counteract the scone and chocolate consumption!

MOVEMENT: Let’s face it! This best part is feeling your baby move inside. That is until it gets uncomfortable and they are kicking you in the ribs or your cervix. EEK! No matter, it makes the experience feel all the more real, however surreal it may be! I started feeling this one quite early on, around 17 weeks, but very sporadically. In the past 3-4 weeks he’s been moving much more and to some extent, on a schedule. 

So those are most of the physical changes that I’ve been going through these past 5 months. Next time, I’ll tell you about some of the other ways this baby is going to rock my world!