September is probably my least favorite month. (No offense to Nacho who is turning twelve on the 29th. The 29th is practically almost not September, anyway!) What I think it is is the shock of normalcy, and the fact that September, though it's "fall," is really the hottest month of the year in these parts. Temperatures have been in the high 90's these past few days, and will be in the hundreds starting tomorrow, and, according to the weather forecast, rising to 106 degrees on Tuesday. 106!

Anyhow, we've been easing into our crazy weekly "fall" schedule which consists of, on top of the kids' regular school schedule and Imo's irregular work schedule, six hours of photography classes for me, three hours of karate + three hours of soccer for Nacho, and seventeen hours of gymnastics for the girls. I'm really not complaining because, other than all the driving I need to do, the gas consumption and added expenses, this schedule is good for us. It brings order and purpose to our days. The kids are learning time management and self-discipline. At home, I feel more efficient and less bored. At the end of the day, I am dead tired. No time is wasted lying in bed awake for hours, ruminating, getting depressed, though these past few days have been really emotionally taxing (for other reasons).

I've also been cooking more. Since last month, we've been getting twice monthly CSA box deliveries, which forces me to use up all those vegetables and fruits (because they are locally grown, organic, and not cheap). I feel such a sense of accomplishment when nothing goes to waste! I've become pretty adept at throwing seemingly random ingredients together. The other night I made a vegetable ragout with stuff that was lying around in the fridge: heirloom tomatoes, broccolini, artichoke hearts, fresh herbs, and served that over spaghetti. Last night, I made a salad with leftover romaine and butter lettuces, baby arugula, radish. I recently read this article, which pretty much tears down the ideal of the home-cooked meal because it is burdensome for working mothers. Heck, cooking is burdensome even to stay-at-home mothers. But I don't hate it. I get tired, and am sometimes resentful, but ultimately, I find cooking and feeding my family a fulfilling task. I don't know if I will feel the same if I were working, so I start to think that this is actually a good thing, my being jobless and career-less and broke, because then I get to really take care of my family. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I am a joke. No, but seriously, I love to cook. And when I need some kind of affirmation, there's always Instagram. Ha! Sigh.

Speaking of Instagram (that is, photo-sharing), Camille and I are on hiatus from grace. I know that we probably should've posted some kind of note on there instead of just not updating, but we figured that since she and I told each other, we'd pretty much made the announcement to all the people who follow our blog. Haha. I have to admit, though, that it feels good to take a break after posting every day for more than three years. It was good practice, and every now and then, when I think about the daily photos and reflections I haven't been making, I miss it, but I need to rest my eyes (and my mind). I need to come out from behind my big camera and go through the daily mundanities of my life without feeling the need to document or frame or elevate them. I need a moment to think about what I really want to do with photography, and what it's come to mean in my life. More and more, I've been thinking about my photography practice as it relates to being a tourist, and recently -- especially after having read a few pages of The Decolonized Eye -- how it may function as a tool of colonization/decolonization. (Sarita Echavez See writes in the Introduction, "Not surprisingly, literary and cultural scholarship on the colonization of the Philippines and its aftermath has been dominated by photography and the technologies of colonial surveillance [emphasis mine].") I also feel that I need to go back to my first love which is writing -- I've found that all the image-making has somehow rendered me speechless, and there are things that I want to say that my photographs aren't saying. Or at least I think they're not.

Anyway, this is it for now. I will be back soon. I hope.



We stayed at a hotel in Santa Clara, had dinner in San Jose, spent the whole of Sunday in Santa Cruz, and on the drive back to LA, took a detour through Santa Nella for lunch. This was the second part of our NorCal trip after camping at Big Basin. It was nice to not have to drive the 371 miles back to LA right after camping, and instead come home to relative comfort only an hour away. My kids love hotels (so do I, actually, because I don't have to clean and I love complimentary breakfast buffets, haha). We got to swim twice in the hotel pool -- right after checking in on Saturday, and right before checking out on Monday, which was the best because we had the pool all to ourselves!

all showered isaiah & nacho on the way to downtown san jose san pedro square crossing the street the hotel pool all to ourselves isaiah floating yumi & noodlescabanas

In Santa Cruz, we visited the boardwalk and the kids got to go on the rides. All of us went on the Sky Glider, which was fun and terrifying. In the afternoon, we hung out at the Natural Bridges State Beach where the kids played at the edge of the water (it was cold!) and we also saw tide pools. The tide pools were my favorite -- there were mussels and snails and anemones and different kinds of seaweed in them. Pretty darn cool. But let me just say that that entire day in Santa Cruz, I didn't have my camera with me. I discovered too late, as we were driving into town earlier, that I had left it in the hotel. I was so annoyed with myself and seriously wanted to cry! Anyway, I managed to make it through the day without it and was able to take a few photos with the iPhone. Santa Cruz is definitely worth visiting again because there was so much we didn't get to see and I really need to take some proper photos of it!

boardwalk behind us below us laffing salcreepy as sh*t natural bridges state beach natural bridges state beach asha, bubs, yumi asha

I was a little sad to go on Monday. The trip felt bitin, I'm not really sure why, though my body was exhausted. Driving back home on the 152 (our music choices got better this time, by the way, care of Imo, who had We Are Twin and Mapei on his Spotify play list -- so awesome), I saw a big advertisement for Pea Soup Andersen's, saying it was only 30 minutes away, and it piqued my curiosity. So I Yelped it, saw it got only 3.5 stars, but one review had me (and Imo) at the mention of Huell Howser. Anyway, the restaurant had a Danish theme to it; it even had a huge windmill outside. The food was traditional American diner food and wasn't that great, but, hey, it was an experience.

roadside signs, the drive home before going back on the road

We'd had a good vacation (from which I needed a vacation), and with our bellies full of pea soup, hamburger, fries, mac & cheese, and pot roast, we travelled the remaining 275 miles home.


core bulok club goes camping

This summer's second camping trip was with Irving & Baloo and the Mendozas (a.k.a. Core Bulok Club) at Big Basin up north. We left at 10 a.m. on Thursday and reached the campsite at 4 p.m. This is, to date, the farthest we've ever gone camping. We love going on road trips, so the ride up there felt like part of the adventure, even though most of the drive was on the long, monotonous 5 freeway. We kept ourselves entertained by listening and singing along to AmericaHall and Oates, Mr. Big. (Our song choices get progressively more baduy and awesome the more miles we travel.)


Baloo and Irving were already at the campsite when we got there. Save for the camp "amenities" -- the picnic tables, fire pits, big metal boxes for storing food in, water spigots, and toilet shacks -- it was like camping in the forest. Redwood trees surrounded and towered above us. The place was quiet because most of the other sites were still unoccupied, and the weather was surprisingly warm. The Mendozas arrived late from having to make numerous stops for Isaiah, who kept crying in the car. But we all got to pitch our tents, prepare and eat dinner, and clean up before it got completely dark. There were mosquitoes! And bats, and close encounters with a very bold raccoon (Baloo's "best friend"), as well as a deer sighting. The kids roasted jumbo marshmallows, which I had promised to get for Bubs, and made s'mores.

irving & imo dinner, first night my plate bubs eating jumbo marshmallow isaiah in their tent stars in spaces between trees

The next day, after having breakfast and packing our lunch, we set out for a hike. We had originally planned to hike up to Sempervirens Falls, but were told that it just dried out that day (!), so we pretty much just walked around the park, stopped to eat our lunch (and fight off bees), and visited the small museum, then bought cold snacks in the cafe/gift shop. We walked back to camp, took showers, made dinner, made more s'mores, then played three rounds of the Werewolves of Miller's Hollow, where Nacho got to be Werewolf and Irving was the Little Girl all three times.

breakfast c/o baloo & irving crossing a bridge the quibs on the trail "how old is this tree, bubs?" stopping to have lunch bugs quib kids with bubs yumi, olivia & bears dinner, 2nd night baloo's s'more around the firepit

It was kind of a lazy camping trip, haha. So relatively inactive and slow, a complete opposite from the one we'd gone on just a couple weeks before. We didn't do much but eat; we didn't even really get to talk! And we were always surprised to find daylight running out on us. We did eat well though, as always. We had chicken kebabs and tabbouleh, buttermilk pancakes made from scratch, pour-over coffee, artisan sausages, grilled shrimp. We joked about putting together a cookbook of fancy camp food. (Baloo and Irving's bike-camping mushroom bourguignon deserves special mention here. This is just how we roll.) Also, the kids were so... sedate. And though I had anticipated it, there was no need for the well-stocked first aid kit (in case of Nacho) or sleeping aids (in case of Isaiah).

redwoods warming up a cup of coffee

On our last morning, we had breakfast and packed everything up without incident -- except that Bubs threw a major fit shortly before leaving (this was totally Kat's fault, haha). I had never seen or heard her lose it like that before! But she calmed down eventually and we all got to take the requisite group photos before going on our way.

group photo

I got to thinking about the nature of these family outings, and how it changes as the kids grow older. It's funny how the grown-ups are the same people, and the trips are essentially the same, but the kids, they are different each year, and so everything changes. 11, 9, 7, 3, and 7 months is kind of a tricky combination of ages. I wonder what our camping trips will be like when they're 16, 14, 12, 8 and 5. Maybe then we can go on longer (i.e. actual) hikes. Maybe then they can look after and entertain each other, and we grown-ups can enjoy each other's company better, and the tasks of pitching tents, preparing food, cleaning up, etc. will be easier. Maybe five years from now will be the prime camping year for us. 2019. It seems so far away, almost like science fiction. Or could it be that we, the Quibs, have passed our prime camping year, when many things were new and everything was exciting? I hope not!

time capsule

There was a marker for a time capsule at the park headquarters that said it was buried in 1978, and will be unearthed in 2028. Joms was born in 1978. In 2028, he will be 50. We did the math and could barely wrap our heads around it: Nacho will be 26, Asha 23, Yumi 21, Olivia 18, Isaiah 15. It was too much for us to imagine.


*Family camping trips through the years:
McGrath State Beach, 2010
Lake Isabella, June 2011
Joshua Tree, October 2011
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, 2012