Hair Grows


I don’t know if it makes you a horribly vain person to think your baby is no looker but there it is. The first time I laid eyes on my daughter I remember thinking: Oh Dear, her hairline starts at her eyebrows. She was born with a whole head of hair, dark and long and silky smooth. But it started low on her forehead, literally, right above her eyebrows, and progressed all around her head, sticking out in every direction and ending in a bitchin’ mullet. And, poor thing, she had a cowlick. I’m sorry to say, she got that from me.

I also don’t know if this makes things sound better or worse but I’ll tell you I wasn’t alone in my thinking. My husband, who was deployed to Afghanistan when our daughter was born, took one look at her first picture and thought: Well, she’s my baby and I guess I’ll love her no matter what she looks like. Let me just say it was not a flattering picture. And I didn’t take it.

Our daughter never exactly lost her hair but as the weeks went by it seemed to get lighter and shorter. And lighter and shorter. Except for the mullet. Her hairline retreated from her eyebrows back to a normal position on her forehead. I remember musing one day that she was getting cuter. Only when her grandfather piped up with “it couldn’t go much the other way” did I realize I had said it out loud.

Not long after that her bald spot started coming on. It spread like wildfire until it consumed the entire back of her head. The mullet, of course, survived unscathed. Without hair the back of her head looked as flat and wide as a blank billboard.

Eventually hair took hold and her bald patch started to fill in. The new hair grew like a weed until it was neck and neck with the mullet. But while the back and top were sprouting, nothing was happening around her face or on the sides.

By nineteen months my daughter’s hair was as wispy and flyaway as could be. Cutting it seemed counterproductive since I’d like to see it grow long, but something had to be done. And so, last Thursday we went for her very first haircut.

The second we entered the salon my daughter knew something was afoot. She clung to me and buried her face in my legs. She was none too happy when I sat her in the chair, but once her body disappeared under the kiddie cape I think she was afraid to move.

For the next 20 minutes the stylist worked her magic. I wish. She did shape up the raggedy ends and trim the jumble that hung in my daughter’s eyes but she was done in two minutes. I guess I was hoping for an artistic transformation but she didn’t have a lot to work with. There wasn’t even enough hair to save.

Though my daughter may be follicly challenged I could not have hoped for a lovelier child. She’s the sweetest thing. Dazzling and delightful. Divine in every way. And, thank goodness, hair grows.

Latina - March 10, 2012 - 7:35 pm

Now this was funny. LOL. I’m so glad I am not the only one this honest. NOT all babies r cute period. But yours IS a lil angel I love her big brown eyes. Thanx for the laugh.

Gaby - March 10, 2012 - 8:18 pm

I’m still smiling… I feel your pain, especially because I have quite the opposite problem with Sol, she was born with a full head of hair, it was smooth and silky and has evolved into a full fro! And it is so hard to take care of, I’m afraid she’ll grow up with a fear of combs and hair products… Watch her get dreadlocks when she’s 16!!!!
The photos are gorgeous, she may have thin hair but your girl is a looker :)
Thanks for sharing.

Kristyn - March 10, 2012 - 11:01 pm

Too funny! Growing up with baby fine hair myself, I feel for GiGi. But no matter what, she’s gorgeous!! : ) xxxx

Lynn - March 11, 2012 - 11:58 am

I love your wit and writing style, Cindy! This cracked me up. Gigi is precious and beautiful. When can we see her again?

Linda - March 12, 2012 - 1:25 pm

How funny. When we were considering adopting a biracial child, I have to admit that hair was my biggest concern. I was afraid her hair would be nappy, and I wouldn’t know how to take care of it. It started out thick and fairly straight, but has gotten curlier the older she’s gotten (and also the least of my challenges with her!) As far as looks at birth, GiGi had Claire beat by a mile! We adopted her sight unseen, and after I saw her first pictures, I was SO GLAD that they had not provided those. She was the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen. I’m sure I would have said no.

I love these pictures. She’s so serious. I’ve always thought GiGi was a cutie pie. Can’t wait to see her again!

Scott Higdon - March 12, 2012 - 6:36 pm

Great comments and the humor in this is great. I noticed that in the latter pics, there was a nice sucker provided to the victim of the first haircut. Just for the record, I used to rock the mullet…a few years ago.

Tamara Broughton - March 13, 2012 - 10:45 pm

All my girls rocked the mullet – and thankfully, they all have a nice head of hair now. Virginia, my baldy for the longest time, has gorgeous thick hair. You just never know. Gigi looks adorable! I hope to meet her this summer.

Will-o’-the-wisp

The little girl who lives down the hall is delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for a toddler. Her voice is faint and sweet. Her laughter tinkles about her like music through an open window. She is enchanting, ethereal.

At least that’s the will-o’-the-wisp I know by day. Bedtime, apparently, is her witching hour. Sleep is her nemesis which she fights with otherworldly powers. Some nights she sobs, inconsolable, for hours on end before finally giving in to sleep.

This charming being is my daughter’s best friend. Exactly one week apart in age, two greater opposites do not exist. By day my daughter is a tempest. By night, an angel. She goes to bed blowing kisses and babbling softly to herself before drifting off to a peaceful, untroubled slumber.

In one way, and one way only, the two are perfectly alike. Awake, they are unceasing motion. That makes it all the more satisfying when I’m able to capture those fleeting expressions and details of playthings and outfits that might otherwise be forgotten. The “now of toddlerhood,” a friend described it.

Since these photos were meant as a Valentine surprise from the will-o’-the-wisp’s mama to her papa I didn’t want to post them before their own celebration, which was last night. Her mother hoped she would hold up a simple card. Te quiero Papa. I love you Papa. And she did. Out of the mouth of babes.

Gaby Griffith - February 17, 2012 - 5:41 pm

Your description of Sophie is perfect, I agree she is the most delicate and feminine little girl, and oh so lovable! The pictures are perfect, they must have been such a wonderful surprise to her loving daddy, especially the shot of her smiling face, she has such resemblance of both her parents on it! What a wonderful gift idea :)

Jill Cordes - February 18, 2012 - 2:44 am

beautifully written!!!! Seriously. Made me weep. Of course.

Got Luv?

Here’s a quirky Valentine’s Day fact: There are more of those little candy Conversation Hearts in the world than people.

The New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) produces eight billion Conversation Hearts for every Valentine’s Day. Brach’s makes about another billion. That’s nine billion candy hearts, each year.

Conversation Hearts outnumber the world’s population, which, incidentally, is projected to reach seven billion in 2012. In just six weeks all those candies sell out and once again the scales are tipped in favor of people (some of whom eat more hearts than others).

What I want to know is who is eating all those candies? They taste awful, which is no surprise seeing as how the ingredients are chalk, some sugar and more chalk held together with gelatin and mixed with a little artificial color and flavoring.

Still, on Valentine’s Day nothing says “I love you” like a Conversation Heart. Should you find yourself at a loss for words you can always try out one of the 100-plus sayings printed on the hearts.

Earlier versions, which must have been quite a bit bigger than today’s, had longer messages such as “Please send a lock of your hair by return mail,” and “How long shall I have to wait? Pray be considerate.” Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I’m partial to some of the newer sayings like “You Rock,” “Sup Babe?” and “Got Luv?” Not feeling the romance? How about “No Way,” “Get Real” or “LOL.” Ouch.

I realize this has absolutely nothing to do with photography, I just got curious when taking these photos and did some digging. I find it interesting that these little treats have been around since the early 1900s (which might explain the chalky taste and pasty texture), and that those timeless, sugary messages have been printed on candy hearts since 1866.

“Too Cool.”

Birthday Ball of Fire

Today is my husband’s birthday. We’ve been together 20 years now (gasp!) yet I still never know what to get him. I’d say he’s hard to shop for but that’s not exactly true. He’s not particular in the least, he just doesn’t want anything. If I ask him what he wants he tells me nothing. Unlike me when I say nothing, which really means surprise me with something spectacular, he really means nothing. It’s true. He’s fully content with what he has. Or maybe that’s what I tell myself because I hate to shop. No really, electronics or gadgets of any kind, clothes, material stuff in general—not his thing.

If his birthday falls during the week I would normally cook him his favorite meal or dessert, maybe both if he’s lucky. If, like this year, his birthday falls on a weekend we might go out to dinner at our favorite restaurant. This year though we’ll be on the road so I’m SOL. Or he is. One of the two.

When I couldn’t come up with anything I decided what he would really enjoy is pictures of our daughter. She’s 18-months-old and a ball of fire so it’s not all that often I chase her down with the camera these days.

It’s true I’d rather take photos than shop but I think he’s really going to like these.

jill - February 11, 2012 - 1:14 am

I love these! And not only are we kindred spirits in the cleaning dept, but also in the shopping dept. I hate shopping too! Zappos has saved us both. And Phil never says what he wants either. So I feel your pain on all levels.

Tricia - February 13, 2012 - 3:13 pm

Cynthia, charming pictures of GiGi! I especially like those where she’s reading her fairy tales. Here’s hoping that Paul’s birthday was special. Look forward to seeing you three sometime soon!

michela - March 24, 2012 - 9:43 am

GREAT PICTURES CINDY!!! I’M SO ENVIOUS!!! LOTS OF LOVE miki

Zoned Out » Cynthia Roelle Photography - January 12, 2013 - 11:46 pm

[...] out. As sweet as I think she looks, I’d much rather see her running around the house like the ball of fire she [...]

Let Innocence Shine

There’s not much more maddening than trying to get a kid who doesn’t want his picture taken to smile. Except maybe trying to get a kid who can’t get enough cheese! to lay off it for a minute. Or trying to get a baby who doesn’t know what a camera is to look anywhere in your general direction. You get the idea.

Photographing kids can be challenging but, truth be told, it’s the parents who make it really tricky. They hover and coax, beg and plead, clap and coo, anything to get their child to smile for the camera. I confess that I, too, have some experience in this area. But whether you’re a parent or a photographer you know these antics rarely work. What you may not realize is how unnecessary they are.

My friend Jill Cordes blogs for parents.com and earlier this week she blogged about trying to get her two-year-old daughter to pose for pictures. Her post, Milestone Monday: (Not) Posing for Pictures, got me thinking about what makes a great portrait.

To me, a truly beautiful portrait is not one that merely captures a child’s smile, but one that radiates the child’s uniqueness and conveys all the excitement, mischief, wonder and joy of being a child. Every moment is photo-worthy—nap time or play time, ball games or parties, rehearsals or holidays—and anything goes, missing teeth and cheesy smiles included.

The day will come when your child is ready to turn her eyes to the camera. When it does my job will get a little easier. But as Jill realized, until that day it’s okay to simply let their innocence shine.

I’ve included a few photos here which I think do just that, not one in which the child looking at or smiling for the camera. You can see more examples of my kids’ portraits here.

Linda - January 14, 2012 - 6:11 pm

I’m so guilty of trying hard to get them to look and smile. With my slow digital camera it was next to impossible to catch those fleeting baby smiles! When Claire got older I resorted to bribes. I remember trying to get a Christmas card picture and bribing her with cookies. Finally she got so frustrated with me, she yelled out, “Don’t want ‘ny cookies!” :-)