Saturday, November 8, 2014

amid mandarins and cloves | a poem

amid mandarins and cloves. 
It was the close of the summer I spent a chameleon
when the soap in the coffee shop
smelled like you
and I returned to it often
in the weeks after a kiss to the corner of my eye
gave me away
and all I could do was carry you
tucked away in the
back of a notepad
as black as the curtains
keeping us from the world,

your words of gods and colors and the moon

the closest i would get.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Meet my Movember motivation (and listen to me be a sentimental sap)

This is my favorite picture in the entire world. I didn't take it, I don't know where or when it was photographed, and I don't know even an ounce of the story behind it.


But I do know this is my grandfather and my grandma being grossly in love far before my time, and it makes me smile every time I see it. They were both hands-down the best grandparents any kids could ask for, but it was no surprise to anyone that I was my Papa's girl. He beat out even my mom as the only person who could calm me as a colicky newborn; I could do no wrong in his eyes besides bite my fingernails; and to this day I still compare every man I know to him.

Each birthday, I'd come home to a message on our answering machine (what up, the '90s) from him and my grandma singing "Happy Birthday" off-key. He flirted with all the Applebees' servers every single time until they gave us free desserts. For every year him and my grandma were together, he'd get her that number of roses; and as a 16-year-old working at Conroy's, I had the pleasure of taking part in this as their delivery woman the last time he was able to do it.


And my favorite of all time: For years and years, he'd force my mom to hide margarita glasses in my diaper bag so he could swipe them from restaurants and add them to his collection back home. (Me and my mom still do this in his honor. It's not stealing when it's sentimental, and no one will ever talk me out of that one.)

He was quite possibly a functioning alcoholic, but boy did he make it look good. Always a glass of Jack or wine in his hand, but also always a big-bellied laugh, a hug, a protective watch over us grandkids as we played in the pool, his silhouette in the screen door comforting and definitive.

My best memory of Papa comes from one of those summer days; playing pretend as Ariel and King Triton in the jacuzzi when I was struck with the notion that I all of a sudden knew how to swim (spoilers: I definitely didn't yet know how to swim). I demanded he let go of my hand, proclaiming loudly and probably with an attitude foreshadowing what my mom would have to deal with in 10 years that "I'm nooooot a baby anymore, Papa." I sank straight to the bottom because - no shit, Sherlock, no one knows how to swim just because they're an asshole of a 4-year-old who thinks they can. He let me panic for a few seconds because I damn well deserved it, and then he reached down, swooped me up and let me cuddle in his lap the rest of the afternoon, recovering from my near-death experience.

That's the kind of man he was - he'd let you fall, because if you believed in you, then damn it, so did he. And then he'd be right there to pick you up when you refused to admit you were wrong. He was tough, but his love was unconditional. You never felt judged or ashamed; you never felt anything but safe with Papa. Another afternoon during the fourth or so year of my life (it was a crazy time), we went down a corkscrew slide together, leaned the wrong way on a turn and fell straight to our demise atop the concrete playground. I landed smack dab atop his belly and bounced off like a trampoline to a safe patch of nearby soft grass. One way or another, he was always going to catch me.

Papa died when I was 17 - too caught up in being a shitty teenage girl to have spent enough time with him, to hear his stories and absorb his lessons. If I had had the foresight to, I would have asked him to tell me about courting my grandma (he stole her away from another boy with his charm and Paul Newman-esque looks, the story goes); I would demand he teach me how to know when it's right to love and when it's right to walk away; I would force him to retell the story of the night Daddy stole his car as a kid to impress a girl, getting the van stuck on the beach and himself arrested in the process, until I knew the entire bit word for word.

Papa had prostate cancer, and it was blood flooding his brain as a complication of treatment that finally did him in. In a grand gesture of love and childlike optimism - and maybe a bit of selfishness, he didn't tell anyone how bad it was until he was already too far gone; he wanted every second he had left with us to be about life instead of death. My grandma was furious at him when she found this out; I thought it was the fucking most romantic thing I'd ever heard.

I joke about Movember fundraising, wanting a mustache trophy and being so competitive that I can't handle another person winning, and there is no doubt that this all rings true. But I should have never lost a grandfather at just 17 years old. He should have seen me graduate high school; I should still be having weekly dinner dates with him; and he should have gotten to meet the man I'll eventually call my husband. I've never told this to anyone, but if Papa were alive, it was always the plan to ask him to walk me down the aisle at my wedding.

Bugging people for money and donations isn't something that comes the easiest to me. Papa will always be my favorite person in the entire world, and he's a huge part of why I'm hassling you all for your support of my Movember fundraising efforts. If you find yourself so inclined, head over to MOSISTA.CO/jacquelynrachel and donate what you can spare. All proceeds go toward research and projects fighting for a cure for prostate and testicular cancers, and every dollar counts.

I mean, c'mon: Papa was rocking a 'stache before it was even cool. Being a hipster must run in the genes.


Even if you can't spare a donation, learn more about Movember and the cause in general at Movember.com.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

the garland family | maternity

I shouldn't even try for words on this one because I won't ever be able to find the right ones. One of my best friends, Brittney, is 8 months pregnant with Baby Slater. While I've joked for months that this little guy is collectively "our group's baby," it is no joke; Slater will be more loved, looked after and spoiled than any baby I know by his real grandparents and aunt -- and all of us unofficial ones as well. This is the first one of our group to have a kid, and I couldn't be happier or more excited about it. It's been surreal to feel Slater kick in her stomach, hear Brittney tell stories of how sugar makes him move more, or see the crib Greg put together all assembled and ready in the kid's soon-to-be first-ever bedroom. The family and I (Louis included) spent an afternoon in San Juan Capistrano to capture what life is like for Baby Slater these last few weeks before he joins us out in the real world. I hope the Garlands cherish these photos and enjoyed the shoot as much as Slater's unofficial Aunt Jackie did. More than anything, I can't wait to meet this little dude.

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flinn family | portraits

It's official - after this shoot, I've decided nothing is cuter than twin toddler girls. These two made for the most fun afternoon of chasing them around a park, taking breaks to give hugs and capturing some truly adorable photos. The energy of kids is always contagious, always the best and always my very favorite type of photo shoot.

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kristen + nick | engagements

Meeting up with Kristen and Nick for their engagements a few weeks back was the best adventure! They choose one of the coolest places I've ever been in Southern California: Torrey Pines Natural State Reserve in San Diego. Kristen's sister is one of my best friends, and their whole family are hands-down one of the most fun, loving and adventurous groups of people I've had the pleasure of having in my life the past few years. And Nick made sure to match that energy and happiness during our shoot - he was equal parts subject and shoot director, and I loved how much his love for Kristen and excitement to be engaged was obvious during the afternoon.

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

kacey+trevor | engagements

I've known Kacey for nearly as long as I've known by best group of friends, and I count her as just as much of a blessing in my life. In just the past year, we've shared rooms during bachelorette parties and watched her sister and my friend get married, so it was an honor to get to spend an afternoon in Venice Beach shooting her and husband-to-be Trevor's engagements.

The best thing about Kace is her heart - everything Kacey does comes from a place of unfiltered love and curiosity for the world and those around her. She's unabashedly honest, she loves her family more than anything, she's always fun and she has absolutely met her match in Trevor. He is the most kind, down-to-earth, genuine guy I've met, and nothing is more evident than how much he treasures Kacey. I can only hope these photos do justice to how perfect these two are for each other.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

john+lydia {wedding}

title

This blog post is long overdue, but here it finally is - John and Lydia were married in May at the beautiful Rio Honda Golf Course in Downey. It was the most perfect summer day, with just the right amount of sun and shade, and the cutest flower girl I've ever seen (OK, those who know me know why I'm a bit biased there but I'm sticking to it). John and Lydia's wedding encapsulated them as a couple: charming, comfortable and chalk full of joy and laughter. It was a honor to shoot their special day, and I wish them both the best as newlyweds.

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