Angie Warren » Angie Warren

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Summer in Black & White.


It’s late nights, glow sticks, fireflies. It’s dollar scoop ice cream and homemade sunscreen and sleeping in.

It’s time to breathe, to capture, to work on just being.

It’s black and white.

It’s the smell of charcoal and watermelon. It’s sticky Popsicle hands and sand filled shoes.

It’s full of light but it’s black and it’s white.

Summer is coconut candles and road trips. It’s late night drives with windows open.

It’s black and it’s white and it’s my favorite.

August 3, 2014 - 2:28 pm

Jen - Mine too. Gorgeous shots and true words.

Crying with the jellies and celebrating 11 years.

For six months my middle son has been begging to go to the aquarium for his birthday. At just five, this was the perfect birthday adventure. So we planned, invited my husband’s parents, and decided on a date.

Yesterday we piled in the car and drove the two hours south to Monterrey. Birthday boy was excited, I mean, really excited. I was too, until, we got there.

Like a heavy, humid, thick wall it hit me. The last time we were here was with my own parents. My subconscious new we had come before with them, two years prior, but I didn’t expect it to be so tangible. It began as a ridiculous argument with my husband that escalated into a full blown grief attack.

We ascended the stairs to floor two, the family ahead of me, entering the jelly fish exhibit, when I really felt it.

It poured through my veins, slow at first, then pushing as though it were suffocating and grasping for air. Blooming softly under my skin, then with rage.

Grief. Aching. Sadness.

The darkness of the jelly cave was my saving grace, that and my husband and in-laws who were with the kids. I stood there, lifeless, surrounded by the black of the exhibit, and by beautiful orange jellies puffing their way up and around. It was intoxicating in the worst way. Slow and graceful they were, slow and painful were my tears.

I moved out of my trance, bit my tongue with the hopes that I could stop crying, and walked in circles for a moment. Soon, realizing I could no longer control it, I sat. Against a dark stone wall, hidden beneath the Moon Jellies.

I cried, gut-wrenching sobs. Shoulders heaving, blowing my nose into a disposable diaper, for it’s all I had at hand.

“WHY NOW!” I found myself panting. “WHY today?!”

But grief isn’t polite. It doesn’t ask ‘hey is now a good time?’ or ‘do you have an hour or day or week to spare?‘. No, it just, happens. It knocks down the door of peace and acceptance and barges in. Messing up your clean floors and insisting it stay for dinner.

Anger began to fill me. I dabbed at my eyes, sure I was a mess by this point, but realizing I should likely find my family. The dim light in the cave led me around the corner where I saw them. Standing just at the glass of the giant aquarium wall. They were laughing and yelling for me to come look. They were so, happy. And I was so, angry.

How dare grief come today. How dare my mom’s memory fill me. How dare it do this to me, right now.

The tears came again and I walked out of the darkness into the open. I stood at the balcony for some time looking out over the ocean, unable to control my crying, realizing people were staring and holding my breath as decided I simply didn’t care.

I knew I could turn the day around and be present, that’s what my mom would have told me to do. But the kids would see my swollen eyes and they would ask. So, I stepped out of myself and in a robotic way, went about the day. I was there but I wasn’t. I smiled at them and talked about the sea turtles but I was done. I was ready to go. The walls of Monterrey Bay Aquarium were closing in on me. Every corner, every exhibit, even the bathroom, held visions of her, of my mom.

I saw her lifting Luke up to see the penguins. I saw her taking Danny back to the Touch Pools for the fourth time so I could rest my very pregnant self on a bench. I closed my eyes and heard her say “Let’s go to Bubba Gumps!” for lunch, even though eating out was something she never wanted to spend money on.

So as I watched my family, my amazing in-laws, go about the day, making new (and necessary) memories – I just, couldn’t. I wanted to allow them to, yes, but I couldn’t for myself.

This bled into the rest of the day. It was our 11th anniversary yesterday, Justin and I. His parents took the kids overnight and we had plans to go to dinner. We weren’t really speaking however. Me lost in my mom’s memory, poor him, lost in not knowing what on earth was going on with me.

It took everything in me to get up and dressed. I felt as though I wore weighted clothes, absolutely pinned down by this heavy, awful feeling. But, I did. I got dressed and we left.

Driving down the freeway my heart raced, knowing I must say something. I pressed the power button on the radio and spoke.

I’m sorry for today, but I don’t want to talk about it.“, hoping by not talking about it I could avoid crying again. Mistake. Speaking the words sent the signal through my veins again and I was back at square one. Instead of trying to speak I exploded. Hands safely on the wheel, pressed hard on the wheel, I screamed out.


He simply, softly, said “I know.

photo 5

You see, eleven years ago when we exchanged those vows, in front of everyone we held dear, we didn’t know it would come to this. To a drive down highway 4, seated in my mom’s car, trying our best to come out of the hardest year of our marriage. We said “I do” with excitement and giggles, and youth and time on our side.

And there we were, driving to dinner, seated beside each other, realizing grief and pain and tragedy,  it all doesn’t just go away – and the only way to do this, to have another eleven years and more, is to do it together.

By the time we got to dinner I finally began to feel it lift. Slow and steady, the opposite of how it came on, I was once again free to be. The chains released from my arms and my heart and I smiled, and laughed. Eyes still swollen, face feeling sticky and lacking the makeup I had just put back on, but smiling none the less.

You see, grief does it’s thing, and if you’re lucky it comes and goes in a few hours or a day. It isn’t always this way, and you just have to be in it. Step into it. Hate it and be angry at it and wish it away, but step in. There’s just no other way.

I hope to return to the aquarium again some day, to be able to walk into the Jelly Cave free from the lead blanket on my heart, but likely not any time soon. And that’s okay. I’m simply thankful for a husband who stands by me and accepts this part of me now. It’s just another chapter in our story, after all, and only we get to write the rest of it – just like the jellies, puffing our way upwards, towards the top. We’ll be just fine, he and I.


The Fourth – a Series
Six years ago my oldest son was just four, the sun had dipped below the horizon and we went to our back patio to do “poppers” with him. This was the night I would fall madly in love with grain. It’s also the night I would begin (without intention) a series so precious to me, I begin to think about it in the spring.

I creatively call it, The Fourth.

Each year since, as the sun descends, we head outside to do the next image of the series. And each year my heart races as I do it. I’m watching before my eyes, the body and hands of my little boy – turning ever so slowly into the body and hands of a bigger boy.

He obliges me, with a willing heart. And as the holiday passes with each year I look forward to the next, to creating this thing that makes my heart burst, both as a mother and an artist.

I’m thrilled to share with you the latest installment, seen above. Coming in as a close favorite, just behind the very first image shot in 2009.

(below are the years we’ve done thus far)

On turning 32 without my mom.

Happy, happy birthday, my firstborn! Here is your story…

And now, Angie, your birth story… I was only 17 and terrified when I found out I was pregnant. Yes, I wanted to be pregnant, but when I found out I was… I was scared to death about how you would exit my body. There were some scary times. My doctor was an old German man who was hard to understand… (wow, he is still practicing... Aunt Vicki still sees him). I remember hearing your heartbeat the first time. I was amazed and so thankful. I was hospitalized for dehydration for 4 days (morning sickness was awful). I turned 18. Then it was nearing the time for your birth. I went to the hospital (in Wheeling, WV) 3 times for false labor and jokingly (not really) said I wasn’t going back until your head was out. Your due date was July 10 which came and went. On July 15, 1982, I went to bed then woke up with contractions (been there done that). But, these seemed different. So I sat up all night and realized this was it! I woke your dad and we headed for wild, wonderful West Virginia. I was only dilated to 2. After hours of pain i.e. screaming (nurses and doctor told me I wouldn’t be able to talk the next day.. they were right), it was determined that I was ‘failure to progress.’ So it was C-section time. It was now evening of July 16. I didn’t care, I was exhausted and feeling like I was going to lose my mind. Since it was an emergency C-section, your Dad could not attend. I remember right before they put me under… the feeling to push (wish I would have told them to stop). The next thing I remember is them waking me in surgery to say, “Look at your beautiful baby girl!” You were born at 11:17 pm. I looked over at you in your bassinet and fell in love, then fell asleep. My formerly size 0 body was a mess with pain and baby weight gain… but it was so worth it! Everyone was there: Daddy, Nanny and Pa, Grandma and Paw Paw, aunts and uncles. My friends came to the hospital to determine you were the most beautiful baby and had perfect lips (haha lips from your dad). We went to Nanny and Pa’s upon our release from the hospital and stayed for a week. It was pure joy to watch my parents fall in love with you, their first grandchild. Never been a size 0 since, and it’s ok… you were so worth it. I love you more than anything, my firstborn. Thank you for growing up with me.

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Last year, for my 31st birthday my mom wrote the words above. My birth story. A story so personal to her, and to me, the story of my entering this world. The account from the woman herself, who felt the pains of labor, the defeat of a resulting c-section, the joy in holding her first baby.

The joy in holding me.

She made me her usual, a coconut cake and treated me to a pedicure. Two things she had done for countless years past. However, the words of my story, the beginnings of my story, will forever be a gift.

The writing of her children’s birth stories began in February with my brother – at the time she had no idea cancer was surging through her body. She simply felt compelled to write it. This continued with my sister in April, me in July, and finally my youngest sister in September, just a month or so before she would die.

It has me feeling overwhelmed with gratitude. Swirling with sorrow. Held underwater, near suffocating with an aching for the woman who gave me life. The very being that incubated me for 40+ weeks, the vessel in which our two hearts beat together – that body, in the end, failed her.

So on the eve of my 32nd birthday I’m flooded with emotion. Entering into a year without my mom. I’ll always think about my life henceforth in two categories: birth to 31 (with my mom), and 32 and beyond (without her). I’m scared and I’m empowered. I’m terrified and I’m ready to make decisions that will honor her, that will change me, that will make 32 and beyond not only liveable, but amazing.

She thanked me for growing up with her, and I can’t help but feel thankful that I got to do the same, with her.

Missing you muchly, mama. xoxo

July 16, 2014 - 12:41 am

Tara (tvtt) - Those words from you mom…. what an amazing gift. Hugs to you <3

July 16, 2014 - 12:49 pm

Jen - What a beautiful gift to you that story was. Wishing you a very lovely birthday filled with love and laughter.

Lavendar Sunscreen – a DIY.

I was crazy inspired by an article my friend Tiffany wrote called “UV Ray Advise From a White Girl“. I’ve loved and sought out her thoughts on health related issues for years now and know she researches the heck out of everything she does. She feels strongly. She protects her babies fiercely. She wants to honor the body God gave her. I adore her for all of this.

It got me thinking about the products we have been using for years. Namely sunscreen. So, I’ve been whipping up “potions” in the kitchen like a crazy person, and this sunscreen has to be by far my favorite recipe. Today while at the park with Danny’s class, I gave it a try and not only does it smell AMAZING but worked GREAT. Like really, I promise. I adapted it from a recipe I recently found on IG and am really happy with it!

Here’s what you’ll need:


1. Using a double boiler method (I used a Pyrex measuring cup) bring water to a boil with all ingredients in the Pyrex. Stir to melt.

2. Once melted, stir a few more minutes and take away from heat.

3. Let cool a few moments then slowly add lavender oil (which has amazing healing properties) and continue to stir.

4. Finally add the zinc. The more you add the higher your SPF, I felt like 2T was perfect for us. (Also keep in mind the more zinc, the more white as you put it on.)

5. Pour into your jar (I like these 8oz wide mouth jars personally). It filled two for me.

6. Stick it in the fridge to set, mine were ready in ten minutes.

This will last about 6 months and has an SPF of 15-20. I loved not only the smell, but how it feels. The beeswax definitely helps cut some of the greasiness of the coconut oil, it’s a perfect balance. Went on smooth and my babies smell amazing now. No need to shower them as soon as we’re back inside either, and their skin is crazy soft.

Oh and I put some on my lips, delish lip balm too!

Happy potion-making, friends. xo