what up?! i'm michelle one of the curators at the coco gallery {gives hug}. i work out of orange county. i'm also "grin" of frexNgrin. "frex", the other half, would be curtis. he used to be my favorite subject but now we have our lil coffee bean, kaya and our lil blonde roast, dia.

welcome to my blog where i share my life, my latest adventures, photo projects, random nuggets and the occasional stray thoughts.

for clients: to view my portfolio just click on this link - theCOCOgallery.com. to book sessions please send me a message through theCOCOgallery.com or contact me via michelle@thecocogallery.com | 949.734.0604



Monday, August 25, 2014

five years of blogging

i started writing my blogs as an extension of my journaling. it was a way to keep everyone informed of what was going on with curtis and myself while we took a life break in the philippines back in 2008. this blog eventually evolved into an extension of my photography business. a documentation in words and images of the people i met, photographed and loved. i had a remarkable following considering the little bit of effort i put into it and i was amazed.

after coco gallery was created i moved away from my own blog since maintaining 2 of them (coco had one too) was tedious. my work life and my personal life were too difficult to keep separate. i felt like i was being redundant.

now i'm turning a corner again and this blog is going back to being my personal journal. i'm fairly certain that my readership has diminished to almost nothing or just family. and that's ok. i know that blogs are kind of out dated now. people don't have the patience to read more than a few lines on a fb post. but i do it for me and for my kids. i actually print out my blogs into books. i was printing it once a year. i want to pass them on the girls. it's a legacy of my thoughts, i want them to understand who i am, who they are, who we (curtis and i) are. i don't want them to regret not having asked me about me as i do about my own mom. by the time they are of the age to be curious about who i really am, i'm pretty sure i'll be some cranky ol' lady who won't want to answer those questions ... or i'll be senile. so i want to give them the current version as it occurs. while it's still fresh and while the feelings are genuine and the events have more truth than colored memories.

so here's to five years of blogging. maybe some years were skipped (or barely touched). the point is... it's still here and still going.


Friday, August 22, 2014

just a mish mosh of thoughts

it's 9.30 pm on a friday night, the house is finally quiet and i have time to string some thoughts together. there's no rhyme, reason or connecting thread to them. it's just a series of thoughts, musings and bits of memories from today, from this week, from the past two months.
  • i'm stretched thin and it's my fault. i do it to myself. there is nobody to pressure me but me. there isn't even a compelling reason for me to drive myself to this point other than ... i guess i want to?
  • i miss my family and they miss me. all week kaya has been snuggling and rubbing her head against my arm like a little kitty cat, verbally expressing how much she misses me. dia gets up early in the morning before her normal routine to sit with me in the bathroom as i get ready. when it's time to go she refuses to give kisses which is highly unusual for her. i suspect she understands that the kiss is a parting gesture. curtis has actually said that he feels like he hasn't seen me all week. this patient man has been so patient with me. all this makes me tear up.
  • i spend a lot of time second guessing myself and doubting my abilities. i stress about it so much. when i finally step off that insanity and relax, i realize that i didn't need to. i really did know what i was doing. i was right. i wasn't crazy. i was right.
  • today i worked the day job from home. kaya was throwing up last night and running a fever. we decided it was best to keep her home today and i would be here with her. i'm so glad we did. she had the fever on and off all day with only a dose of tylenol to keep it at bay. i'm so grateful to have a job that allows it. i'm so grateful that technology has advanced to the point where that really isn't an issue anymore. i'm grateful to have co-workers that understand.
  • i'm not as rusty as i thought i was although i still think the pregnancies replaced some of my smarter brain cells with forgetful ones maybe even some dumb ones.
  • kaya was home with me but dia was at the sitter's. i guess i haven't realized just how much time they spend together. by 1 o'clock kaya was asking if it was time to pick up dia yet ... then she would repeat the question every 15 mins until we finally did. apparently, on the other side of the city, dia was doing the same.
  • milestones and accomplishments feed the soul and give me renewed energy. especially when i came so close to quitting.
  • there is a light at the end of this damnably long tunnel but it isn't till november and somehow 2 1/2 months feels sooooo far away.
  • i've worked from home for too long. i have to hone my communication skills again. 
  • working out of home has made me lose weight. not a bad thing. i still don't have time to work out. might not be a bad thing either.
a flashback to the first time curtis met kaya





Sunday, June 22, 2014

Driven by Need, Enlightened by Necessity

i was driving home friday and in looking at the time realized that i had a little under 30 mins before i had to be anywhere. i found myself considering tucking off to a bar somewhere and just having a cold beer. then it hit me. wow, curtis! N O W i really do get it.

people always give me a look of incredulity when i tell them that curtis gets to go out every friday night. yes, EVERY friday night. it actually used to be thursdays. doesn't matter, the point is he gets one night a week to go spend as he pleases (within reason) and he chooses to spend it bar hopping in search of pool tables. just like other bread winning men, curtis plays full time employee, full time dad/husband and full time brother among other roles. for a social butterfly, it gets awfully tough on the system to not have a section of time in there for himself. and by that, i mean, he needs space to go have fun unencumbered by responsibility to anyone. honestly, i get it. when he doesn't have space to decompress his ability to perform the required functions of breadwinner, spouse and family counselor starts to deteriorate. he has his own version of meltdown and it's not pretty. so i give him space. mind you, i don't always give willingly. there have been times when the space was begrudgingly accommodated and that's usually when i'm exhausted but i  know that when he comes back from his night out he's ready to step in (full force) again. i need him at peak performance as much as possible ready to take over when i fall into my own meltdowns.

these last three weeks have been a serious challenge to my system. i've been pulling off full time employee then running home to be full time family girl and squeezing in photography entrepreneur somewhere and everywhere. rinse and repeat. there's michelle time in there. i've found them in the little gaps between responsibilites ... shower time, toilet time, drive (by myself) time, fb mins, sleep. they aren't much but they are sacred to me so don't scoff. those 30 mins i suddenly found last friday was a heavenly chunk that i didn't even know what to do with. it made me giddy with possibility. i considered, target, costco and a beer. 

i've got a few more weeks of this required level of performance coming. there's a light at the end of the tunnel i know, but while i'm in it, the tunnel seems to be getting longer. i know i can do this. i might cry a couple of times along the way out of sheer exhaustion and throw myself a pity party (coz well... somebody has to). but i'll make it. curtis has been pulling this shift for over four years now. so yes. now i really really really get it. he totally deserves that one night off a week and when things wind down a little for me i might be scheduling my own one day a week to get balance again.


shot with a sony rx100 mkii . edited with LR VSCO presets







Thursday, May 8, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

dear mom,

it's been a while i know. i've been busy. yeah, i always say that. but it's true.

so.. you have 3 grand kids now!! holy cow! who would've guessed? i remember when i thought i wanted to have a baby at 27 just like you did. that didn't quite pan out. it's definitely one of my greater regrets that you and mama weren't around for the first set of grand kids. had i followed through with that notion you would have at least met my first child but then .. it wouldn't have been this child. engh, things happen for a reason right?  i still wonder what you would want to be called coz i know it's not "lola" hahaha!

kaya just turned 4 mom! i can't believe how quickly that happened. one moment she was prancing around in a tutu and next thing i know she's telling me quite clearly that she hates pink, won't wear anything with flowers and unless it has pockets i can forget it. was i ever that head strong? little dia is almost 2 and she's gotten to be a bossy little thing. tita clem swears that all their tempers came from you. i'm definitely not the one to refute that. i can see it for sure! but they also have your dimples so maybe it's a balance?

ina has a baby now too. that just blew everyone away. we were so surprised and i was so worried. her pregnancy was so tough and she had me in knots. well, ina always makes me worry but i can't always tell her coz you know how she gets. i can't upset the balance. i'm not supposed to play mom coz you know.. nobody can really replace you. turns out there was nothing to worry about. she's an amazing mom! little yuki is a smart little cookie and whiter than milk! adorable and cheeky and just so full of smiles. nobody eats better than that kid and anyone of us would sign up to take her plate in a heartbeat! ina's such an awesome cook. i don't think you even ever got to experience that talent of hers. it would have made ina so proud to have you try her cooking.

fourteen mother's days ago i would never have thought that ina and i would be celebrating mother's day without you and much less that we would be mothers ourselves. it really would have been nice to sit down to a photograph of three generations with you, me and ina and our girls. more girls. we are such a strong family of girls. thank you mom. for the strength. tita candy and tita clem do a great job of picking up where you left off. managing us and keeping us strong. we miss you lots.

happy mother's day.


three generations of strong, happy women