Big risks. Big rewards. This young lady's first ski jump is a wonderful reminder that believing in yourself is an activity to be repeated many times, in a lifetime. And that angst can quickly turn to exhilaration. Beautiful!
Surprise! Courtesy of Ba Ngoai for the Chinese Lunar New Year, Lulu received a Kickboard MiniKick today. And it's everything she ever wanted. We quickly scooted down to the beach so Lulu could take her new wheels for a test drive. And after hours of pushing around, she happily passed out at home.
Big bro Julian lives down the street on the Venice side of Dogtown. He's usually flying all over the world speaking at some something-or-nother conference, but lately, I've been seeing him check in on Foursquare at skateparks all over the country. Wasn't he just at the Venice Skate Park yesterday? There he is, documenting the variety of life that is living and breathing down by our oceanside, outdoor, skatepark capturing everybody: locals, tourists, old pros, next gen's top skater and their families. He's even shot us a few times, hanging out.
Julian's always got some awesome project happening and when he told me about Hello, Skater Girl I got really excited. I've always been a fan of the sport. Silvio was the lead artist for the blockbuster videogame, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Lulu's godfather is a former pro-skater, and much of our community including the one reading this post are life long friends and family from the sport.
It's no secret that I would love for Lulu to be an astronaut-pro-skater someday. She's got her first deck, so really, nothing can stop her, right?! I think the Hello, Skater Girl book would be a great addition to Lulu's bookshelf. I hope you enjoy this interview I put together with my photographer pal:
I'm doing a photography book project. The subject is girl skateboarders. I told myself I was doing a book project because that was the easiest thing to wrap my head around. What I really wanted to do was understand skateboarding culture more than I already did, and I basically didn't really understand it at all — so the project was a way get to know what skateboarding was all about.
Why focus on girl skateboarder?
At first I naively convinced myself that no one else was trying to capture and document girl skaters through some sort of visual medium. That was stupid to assume, because of course it's not true. But — if you look at much of the core skateboarding communities and magazines and the big brands, you don't see much photography of girl skaters at all. That's just the way it is and I understand the systemic issues as to why, even if I don't understand why not — the lost opportunities.
That's what drew me to the project because I love creative projects that go against the grain — that do something that "no one" else is doing. And, of course I know that's just a creative start. As soon as you think no one else is doing something you immediately start finding all the people who are doing that thing. The creativity comes in finding a way to do what other people are doing in a unique, individual way. That's much more fun to be amongst a community of similarly motivated folks and find your own style and technique.
Okay, so..how would you describe your style?
It's easier to "see" than describe but — what I'm trying to do is a bit photo-geeky and technical but I try to set up portrait-like photos of this very dynamic, very kinetic sport. I'm shooting for a look that is studio-like — something with big, curated light and the background fall-off you might see in a portrait shoot. I think this is atypical in the canon of skateboarding photography where you often have very big compositions: the big skater/ultra-wide/fisheye look; or the landscape shot with a small skater amidst a big street/urban-concrete setting. I guess I was going for something different just to be different — a wide-ish lens with little distortion; no motion blur; strong visual separation between the skater and the background. That's geeky.
How'd you get into skateboard photography, anyway?
I moved to Venice Beach awhile ago. The town got a skatepark right on the beach a couple of years ago. Going there and shooting was a better way to learn about the history and culture of this place I'm now living in than reading about it or going to town council meetings.
I support the skateboarding community, young women, and my big brother Julian who launched this Kickstarter campaign to finish a photobook about women and skateboarding. Kick in some change and help Hello, Skater Girl get published.
More about the project:
"Hello, Skater Girl" is a photo book that captures the spirit, determination and playfulness of girls skateboarding over a year in 2011. It mixes image, illustration and text to document the lives of several skaters doing what they love to do: skate — at competitions, alone and together at parks, backyard pools and favorite skate spots.
Keep an eye out for our exclusive in-depth interview with photographer and tinkerer, Julian Bleecker soon!
Michelle dared me to do handstands for her birthday. I hadn't done one in years but I knew I still could. For me, it's like riding a bike... and for someone who spent a lot of years upside down, it all came back easily and naturally. It took me a couple of kicks but I got up quickly. Not bad for someone nearing a 39th birthday!
I was having so much fun, Lulu asked me to help her do a handstand to, so I scooped up her legs and held her upside down. She's been wheel barreling since since six months and is a natural gymnast. I'm confident Lulu's inherited my daredevil tumbling genes.
If you've ever wanted to learn how to do a handstand, go for it. It's simple. It's fun. It's easy. Here's a pretty cool tutorial if you want to start practicing in your living room:
Lulu loves her Ryan McGinness skateboard. Like, a lot. She demanded that I unwrap the plastic for her but I didn't. I did however, let her kiss the board as much as she wanted. Unlike the other boards she has, this one's going up on her wall.
Outfit: American Apparel Infant Baby Rib Long Sleeve Lap T
The Redondo Beach Pier is located at the end of Torrance Boulevard, just west of Catalina Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway.
OR follow one of these routes:
From the Harbor (110) Freeway, exit Torrance Blvd. west to the Redondo Beach Pier.From the San Diego (405) Freeway, exit Inglewood Blvd. south to 190th St. west to Pacific Coast Hwy. and veer left on to Catalina Ave. to the Redondo Beach Pier.From Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy. 1), veer right on Catalina Ave. if you are driving south or turn left on Torrance Blvd. if you are driving north to the Redondo Beach Pier.To get to the pier by public transportation visit the Beach Cities Transit, Los Angeles Metro trip or bike planners:
Nearly 34 million people have watched the incredible daredevil Baby Breakdancer clip. I know I am responsible for at least 138 views. After watching the video, how many of you dreamt that should you have a child someday, that your baby would bestill your heart with a lil breakdancing (and say cool things like, "My name is Octopus.")?! Guilty.
At a year and a half old, Lulu's having lots of fun with her body. She can jump, run, and do incredible stunts. Because babies are natural born dancers, I thought I'd give it a shot teaching Lulu how to bust a few moves. My body might be old and rickety, but my coffee grinder's still embarrassingly good.
Breakdancing Lesson 1: Flares
Breakdancing Lesson 2: Top Rock
Breakdancing Lesson 3: Rubberband
Lulu's performance wasn't as spectacular as I had hoped for. But it wasn't bad. I know we have a lot of work to do. If anything, we had a blast dancing together. And yes, I know I should outfit her properly. We'll throw on the adidas jumpsuit and trainers when she's ready to do them justice! Enjoy!
* Psst. Please don't take any of this seriously!
I was hoping to post about the beautiful new bike we purchased so I could take beach rides with Lulu, our new helmets, and her super styley seat, but sigh, I had to return the kid seat today. I bought the bike seat from a Dutch company knowing they take biking seriously but failed to remember that they are also the tallest people on the planet which rendered their front-mounted child seat useless for my 4'11" frame. So instead of hemming and hawing about our new ride, feast your eyes on my little Helmet Head!
The world is one big jungle gym to Lulu. I'm often surprised and amazed by her ability to get from point A to B by sheer ingenuity, muscle, and determination. If I write something like that and you read it and believe it then hopefully, you won't report me to Child Welfare for starting Lulu's Olympic workout regimen at the ripe old age of 17 months. 100 more press ups Lulu! Hut! Hut!
Here's a one minute clip of Lulu watching skateboarders practice at a legendary spot in Dogtown. Prior to me shooting this video she was laughing up a storm. In this clip, she is much more serious about what she's watching! I'd like to believe she was noting the fancy footwork, but I think she was really only interested in the movements and noise.
Outfit: Fierce Hugs retro guitar baby tee. *Receive a 25% discount with promo code "IRONFISTS" at check out!*
Lulu's godparents Bod and Theresa stopped by to give her a present -- a skateboard! The board art is by English artist James Jarvis and is sooooo cute and rad! Lulu, the baby skateboard tester, received one of two prototypes created for little ones. The mini skateboard is so cool, so cool, so cool. She really loves pushing it around. She's even kissed it a couple of times. Thank you, B and T!
Lulu saw this skateboard at a barbecue and immediately ran up to it. Without our prompting, she started poking at it. A few seconds after this photo was taken, she flipped the board over, wheels-side down and put her knee on it. She rocked back and forth on it for a short while and then moved on to the next interesting object. Lulu has no idea how exciting this is to me.
I try to take Lulu to the local skatepark every week. It's not far from home and it's a nice ocean front walk. Lulu likes the noise and the fast-moving action. She often squeals happily as the skaters pass by. I have grand delusions that she will someday be a pro-skater. And an astronaut. Is that too much to ask for?!
I know some of you are reading this blog and you're not pregnant yet, but want to be. And I know that you're thinking about the things you want have to do before getting pregnant. Promising yourself to quit smoking and drinking, exercising, or eating better after the fact is probably not the best approach. Having a healthy pregnancy means being mentally and physically strong before you actually are pregnant.
I wanted to be pregnant but not before I made some lifestyle changes. I felt I didn't deserve to be knocked up unless I gave up some bad habits. I wanted to prove to myself that I was an adult and ready for the huge responsibility of parenthood.
For the most part, I had strayed away from my many years of dance and sports. I was 35 and thinking, "I gotta get my shit together." I'm not much of a runner anymore. And I'm not a fan of yoga. Having been a competitive athlete, I am most comfortable with teachers who bark orders at me. When I committed to the idea of getting pregnant, I started researching my options for living a more fit and healthier lifestyle.
In early summer 2008, I made a goal to get in tip-top shape. I convinced Silvio to join me at a morning boot camp with an interesting set up in Santa Monica. Our friend Dana discovered it while looking to get fit too. Play More Fitness offered "one-on-one quality personal training in a group environment at an affordable price". If boot camp could look fun, this one did. I met with the founder, Raitis Stalazs and instantly knew, this guy with the big smile and sincere enthusiasm is going to help me get back in shape!
Silvio and I signed up for a month of kick-my-ass-classes. It was hard as hell to wake up early and exercise, but we did it. And we convinced a handful of our friends to join us after they had seen the change in us. Fast forward to nearly the end of summer. Silvio and I were both feeling better than ever. We had completed three straight months of intense morning workouts and Raitis had become a part of our family. As did the rest of our peers in the morning class. Breaking a sweat with people creates strong bonds (think: team sports). Exercising was once again, fun!
A couple of weeks after completing our last session with Raitis, we were pregnant. I credit Raitis and Play More Fitness for helping me achieve and maintain the level of health I craved after a decade of inactivity. I highly recommend Play More Fitness if you are looking for a way to kick start your pre-pregnancy health regimen. Sign up today and tell Raitis that I sent you! For the record, I'm not getting any kickbacks, I just love Raitis and I know you will too!
I'm pregnant in this photo. It was a beautiful summer day and some pals and I decided to roll down to Malibu to climb a few rocks. I didn't know I was pregnant at the time, but I'm glad I went. I just finished three months of early morning boot camp and was feeling strong and fit.
Exercising during your pregnancy is important. I know it seems like a big fat nuh doi, but I want to remind you to keep moving. It's easy to trick yourself into playing it "safe" by chilling on the couch all day. Even if you're not going to hit the gym, go outside and walk... a lot! It's important to remain fit because endurance is going to play an important part for the long labor and delivery. And keeping flexible helps with various birthing positions.
For the most part, I walked or rode my bike for as long as I could and although I didn't formally exercise daily, I sure as hell moved around a lot. I don't regret that I didn't sign up for any organized programs during my pregnancy. No yoga for me, but I maintained an active lifestyle. I live six blocks to the ocean so walking outdoors in sunny southern California was fine by me. That said, nearly all my pregnant girlfriends enrolled in some prenatal yoga class and loved it. Following are the teachers/classes they highly recommend:
Patti Asad - Yogaworks
1426 Montana Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Isabelle du Soleil - Exhale Venice
245 South Main Street
Venice, CA 90291
Shayna Reid - Santa Monica Yoga
1640 Ocean Park Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Every person's going to have a different recommendation/requirement/threshold, but for me, I felt good if I stretched and walked a good bit several times a week. Consult your doctor to figure out what's best for you and better to bust a move than to bust a gut!
Lots of families enjoying skating together in Dogtown, the legendary beachside community straddling Venice and Santa Monica. One day, maybe Lulu will learn to surf and skate. She seems to be a natural with balance as seen in this video with her godfather, former pro-skater, Bod Boyle. She has friends that are already skating. And there's a new local skatepark! Whatever happens, I hope that Lulu will take full advantage of growing up with the Pacific Ocean as her front yard and that I won't be too paranoid to let her run free! I long for my kid to get to roam the streets the way I once did too! And what better to do it on, then a skateboard?!
Charley Harper: Charley Harper ABCs
Beautifully illustrated ABCs book, Lulu is mesmerized by the letter O for owls!
H. A. Rey: Curious George's Are You Curious?
Read along to see if your little monkey is as mischievous as everyone's favorite George!
Dr. Seuss: Hop on Pop-Up
Fun with words.
Anastasia Suen: Subway
An early favorite of Lulu's, she loved the rhythmic words and sing-song feel of the book. A must for all urban dwelling tots!
Maurice Sendak: Where the Wild Things Are
A family favorite. Lulu loves the party part of the book (maybe it's our sound effects)!
Ed Emberley: Where's My Sweetie Pie?
Lift flaps to uncover and discover secret treasures.
Amy Wilson Sanger: Yum Yum Dim Sum
What a great book to teach Lulu about a family food favorite. The words are catchy if not a bit hoakie.