That Time We Drove Ten Hours to Cedar Point, Then Turned Around and Drove Back

We’ve been getting Goo excited over our trip to Cedar Point since, well, February-ish when we first booked our hotel. As the date got closer, her excitement rose higher than the Top Thrill Dragster, until she was asking every day how many days left and jumping up and down with giggles when we’d give her the answer.

Sometimes the universe has other plans, though, right?

Sometimes the universe just sucks. Continue reading


I Don’t Always Bring a Camera and That’s Okay

One thing I’ve been trying to work on is to live in the moment and to stop planning for that “someday…” I’ve always had a “big project” and when I don’t have a big project, I have a “big hobby” which is usually part of some “big project.” But I had an epiphany shortly before starting this blog: it’s okay to not have anything “big” going on. I don’t have to be immersed in a “what if” career. I don’t have to trudge toward a future that may never come to be. I don’t have to work on anything other than being a better me, a better mother and wife, a better person in general.

Still, that little voice in my head has been saying: you didn’t take pictures today. You didn’t blog. You’re slacking off.

In the past, that voice terrified me. If I didn’t work on my revision, or didn’t think a book plot was strong enough, or didn’t think my photography would ever “get there,” that little voice would tighten around my heart like a fist and squeeze. Anxiety attacks and feeling like a failure were part of my daily ritual. I was always irritable. I got lost in my own head.

But ever since I realized that “progress” comes in many forms, it’s been easier to brush the voice aside and widen my eyes at the vast, colorful, exciting world around me. I don’t always pull out my phone to take a picture of Goo at the park, and I don’t always take my camera with me on hikes, and that’s okay. Sometimes I just want to bring a book, or a journal. Sometimes, I really really just want my hands to be empty for a change. What a freeing feeling!

Leaving my camera behind has taught me a few things. I’ve learned that avoiding the shutter release gives me a newfound appreciation for the photos I go out of my way to take. I’ve learned that not carting around a giant DSLR and three lenses makes me about ten pounds lighter and allows me to hold more hands. Without a camera, I’m forced to take mental pictures instead of storing them onto an SD card so I can look at them later. By then the moment is gone, and I have to ask myself these days if I really enjoyed that moment, or if I just thought it would make a good picture.

No amount of cropping and sharpening can give me that moment back.

So, I don’t always snap selfies of us at the zoo. I don’t always have a good picture to show for our bike ride. I don’t always grab my camera when Goo starts making funny faces at the table. And that’s okay! Because it means I’m creating actual memories.

They’re blinks. They’re Haikus. They’re Polaroids. And they’re so fleeting that they could be already gone by the time I get the right aperture.

These two are the most important people in my life. They are everything to me. And not only do I want to have more hands-free mind-free experiences with them, I also don’t want to be behind a camera every single time they remember our best days.

Images © Lina Forrester

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Dear Goo: Sorry I Haven’t Written in a While

When I found out I was pregnant, I started writing letters to you. You were, at the time, no bigger than a poppy seed. I’ll never forget when they gave me my first ultrasound and you bounced around like a little bean. Today, you shake the house when you leap from things. There is no couch too tall, no drop too high. You still can’t stop talking about the rollercoaster you rode during the Fourth of July fair. You’re just like Daddy. I swear he does a mental dance when he hears you babbling on about said rollercoaster.

“That’s my girl,” he often mumbles under his breath with a twitch at the corner of his mouth.

It’s one of the reasons I’m really pushing Cedar Point this year. You went when you were a little over one-year-old, and you had a blast even then. It was neat to watch you nap in our hotel room to the rumbling sound of the coasters we could see from our window.

You took a picture with Snoopy. You rode the swing ride a thousand times. It poured rain on our second day and Daddy and I quickly pushed your stroller into the Starbucks, freezing and looking forward to a latte, only to learn their steamer was broken. We laughed, and as he shivered and nursed a frappuccino, I told him we would always remember that moment.

This year I plan on staying in the park until dusk so you can see the fireworks, yet another one of your favorite things. Don’t even get me started on the beach.

You’ve kept me so busy, with your acrobatics, your ballet, your pestering the cat, your constant growing–I told you to stop that–that I haven’t written to you since a few months after you were born. But I want to start writing to you again, because one day all three of us are going to look back on these letters and grin.So I suppose I should tell you where we are today. You turned four just a few weeks ago. FOUR. It never really occurred to me that you would one day be this old. You told me on your birthday “after four, I’m going to be five,” and I said “noooooo we’re not talking about that right now!”

You make up silly stories and tell me about your dreams. The other day, we braved the cold to put birdseed out on the porch and this is what you said:

“The birds are going to be like, ‘what’s that?’ and then they’re going to be like, ‘oh, that’s just my food.'”

Then you added: “They’re going to be like, ‘is that bugs? Nope, that’s just birdseed.'”

You now say cereal like I’ve taught you. Instead of see-yole, you say it the right way and you might think it’s weird to be proud of something like that (if I weren’t a parent, I would probably think it was weird too) but I am. I’m proud of a lot of stuff. But enough of that mushy nonsense.

Ballet is a hit, and so is the indoor playground at the mall. You and your auntie V are best friends–and I hope that continues–and your favorite food is (still) salad with extra cucumbers and ranch. One of your warm-weather pastimes is cooking soup in the birdbath outside. You’ve also used up all of your Instax film–oh yes you have–and your goofy faces are a hit with the family on Facebook.
You’re asleep right now–on Daddy’s side of the bed–so you aren’t aware yet of what’s on the way. Can’t wait to see your reaction to the thundersleet.

Spoke too soon, you’re awake now and asking for ce-REAL!

Until next time,


P.S. I think this was your favorite moment of 2016:

All images © Lina Forrester


Goo started ballet a few weeks ago. She got a pink tutu on her birthday, a pair of split-soles to match, and on the evenings after class she shows us what she learned. She talks about it all the time. Her teacher says she’s “giggly.” It’s exciting to sit in the waiting room and listen to the music play in the other room. But it didn’t dawn on me until just a couple of days ago that I haven’t gotten out the DSLR to get some pictures.

Might not seem like a big deal, but she just turned four, and her doing ballet is something I always fantasized about while pregnant, and I feel like this is more than a new and fun thing for her to learn. It’s also a milestone. She’s gone from chubby and toddling, to long and limber, and for the first time I can actually *see* that she’s growing up right before my eyes.

I didn’t have a lot of time before her class, so I quickly got her dressed and put her in the nearest area of natural light. I was on the floor and shaking and changing lenses and standing on chairs and wobbling and freelensing. She was very good…probably because I bribed her with chocolate.

For the editing, instead of going black and white, I decided to go with (very faint) pink highlights and crushed blacks for a “filmy” look. I also lowered the vibrance to make the pink more subtle.

What I learned:

  • Always make sure your window is clean.
  • Keep an eye on frames and make sure they’re straight.
  • Keep an eye on wood floors and make sure the boards are straight.

All images © Lina Forrester