Tag Archives: kids


I’m in the car with my kids, and to get from my neighborhood to the “town” part of town, we have to drive down a bit of a hill.  Lane and Jake are going “Whee!” and Lane asks if I can go faster.

“No, honey, that wouldn’t be safe,” I reply.  “If we go too fast, we could get into an accident, and one of us could get hurt really badly or even die.  I wouldn’t want any of us to get hurt.”

Lane says, “Could the baby get hurt?”

“Yep,” I reply.  “If I got hurt badly enough the baby could get hurt too.”

“Or could you die?” Lane asks.

“I could,” I say.  “If another car hit us hard enough I could die.”

“I wouldn’t want you to die,” Lane replies.  “Then we’d be lost.”

My, what a philosophical thing for a six year-old to say, I ponder.  “Well, if anything were to happen to me, Daddy would take very good care of you.”

“Yeah,” she responds, “but first we’d have to find our way home.  We’d have to walk or something.”


My kids are so cool

Lane has decided she wants to make a copy of the book Snuggle Puppy.  Which, in my opinion, is not only one of the cutest little books in existence (could those puppies be any cuter??), but also the cutest song ever.  (The song link will download the sample of the mp3 from Amazon; do not fear!!)   So, she’s using red construction paper, re-writing all the words, and drawing her own pictures.

I also decided, because they were on a good sale, to have lobster for dinner.  Supermarket cooked them for me, I steamed them a bit to warm them up at home.  I bought some jumbo shrimp for the kids, under the general precaution of them freaking out at the sight of a giant red bug on my plate and wanting nothing to do with it.  But, cool kids they are, were more than eager to try the lobster, and more than happy to also try the thyme-garlic clarified butter I made, and more than happy to eat ALL my claw meat. 

How did I luck out with such cool kids?


Lane turned five last week.

Not one to be generally sentimental about stuff, I didn’t intend to post much (if at all, given my track record lately) on it.  But Kate has this weekly thing going on, so I thought I’d join in this week as I have a couple times past and wax a bit sentimental on the occasion.

We celebrated her birthday with a two-part party; first we had some of her friends over for a couple hours.  Luckily the weather cooperated, because the planned activities revolved largely around the inflatable waterslide that was part of her birthday present from us.  It was a huge hit, aside from the small issue that our outdoor water supply is well-fed and is COLD.  The adults took turn pinching the hose so the kids didn’t get too blasted with cold water as they made their approach at the top.  The only downside was that the slide we got is only for kids up to seven, and there were definitely a few adults (myself included) that wanted a turn.  That thing looked fun!  If this slide gets a lot of use, then she might be getting a much bigger one for her sixth or seventh birthday.  😀

After a couple hours, the kids and their parents cleared out, and the ‘adult’ party got started.  I say ‘adult’ but it felt like there were just as many kids around.  I say ‘adult’ because the invitees to this part were the choice of me and Frank — his parents, my dad and stepmom (have I mentioned my dad just got remarried?), our neighbors (who have kids), and a few of our friends from college who don’t live to far away who all have kids.  We rolled out the alcohol, and barbequed, and just had a nice time.  I made a Tinkerbell cake for Lane, and I must say it came out pretty well.

All in all, it was a great day.

And, Lane turned five.  Again, I’m not a very sentimental person, but it really is amazing how she’s growing and maturing.  We still have our issues… the girl is obstinate, stubborn, and strong-willed.  She’s very opinionated, and very vocal with those opinions.  We’re working on helping her be a little more go-with-the-flow, but she often tests our patience.  At the same time, she had both a dentist and doctor appointment in the last couple weeks, and both went so much more smoothly than previous visits.  She was cooperative, and brave, and barely bothered by her polio and DTaP boosters.  We’ll see how well she does next week for the first of two additional dentist appointments to fix the cavities she has (*blush* — but in our defense, the dentist said that a couple of them (between very tight molars) probably would have happened no matter how vigilant we were), but I was really proud of her in these situations, which when she was younger would make her completely stressed out and shut down and uncooperative.  And, she’s 43 1/4″ tall — less than 5 inches shy of being 4 feet tall!  I can barely believe my baby could be so tall.

She’s such an awesome kid, living every moment with all the strength of her emotion and all the energy she can muster.  She’ll be starting kindergarten in the fall, and I simply cannot wait to see what that new adventure brings for her.  Love you, monkey.  🙂

A day in the life

I don’t know what the weather’s like where you are, but here it’s lovely.

Much has been accomplished. My garden got the bejeezus weeded out of it, and I planted some more radish & carrot & spinach seeds, and re-routed some strawberry runners. Everything got a good watering.  I ate my first salad from it.

Frank tried to fix our attic fan, but discovered that instead of a bum thermostat as we originally suspected, the motor is blown. The standard home improvement stores did not carry a replacement. Bah.

I had my neighbor friend over for margaritas on my deck, which thanks to a bunch of potting and a few purchased accessories feels very homey now.

Jake took a three hour nap.

Lane’s been playing at the neighbor’s for the past two or three hours.

I’m still buzzed from the margaritas.

Life is good.

The joy of a new camera

As I mentioned in passing recently, I’ve sort of officially started my own photography business.  I’m going to try to get some gigs shooting weddings, and portraits, and see which I like better, and which I feel I’m better at.  As such, it served as a great excuse to look into getting a second camera.  I’d hate to be shooting a wedding and not have a backup.

I weighed my options and decided to get a Nikon D200.  This is a camera that has recently been discontinued for the slightly snazzier D300.  The D300 adds a couple million megapixels which, when it comes to the effective maximum size of a print, is not a huge difference.  There’s a couple features I would have liked, such as the D300’s self-cleaning sensor and its 51-area autofocus awesomeness, but beyond that, it’s much the same camera as a D200 — and since I could score a D200 (new) on eBay at half the going price of a D300, and since I’m not quite sure where this whole photography business will end up, the D200 just made a lot of sense.  If the business is a booming success I can justify a D300 (or its successor) in the future, or even the D700 (the D300 with a full-frame sensor) or even a D3 (drool).  But for now, this is what works.

So I got the camera last week, and while it’s not like the best thing since sliced bread compared to my D70s, it ain’t too shabby.  I went outside with the kids a few days ago and took these pictures of Lane and Jake:






I wasn’t shooting with great available light, and the lens I had on the camera wasn’t very fast, but still the pictures are quite nice, with good contrast and color balance for the evening light that was available.  And the kids are just cute, so that helps.  Jake with his impy little smile, and Lane with those eyes, that grin, that lovely blonde hair, with highlights most women would pay good money to duplicate.  But I digress.

It was handy I had the new camera around to play with and learn the ropes and settings because this morning I was cajoled to take a couple new pictures of Lane.  Like these:

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I used the on-camera flash, which I am normally loathe to do, but it was essential in this case to capture detail to really tell the story.  Wouldn’t you agree?  I was also pleased with the detail it picked up in a different sort of composition:


That’s my bathroom sink.  It’s funny.  When we all went to bed, there wasn’t any hair in it.  Yet, the pictures above weren’t taken long after Lane joined us in our bedroom in the morning, as she always does if we don’t wake up before her. It’s a weird discrepancy we still have not quite figured out.

So we went on with our day, which included an unplanned trip to the mall where they have a kids’ haircutting place.  As in, grown-ups cut kids’ hair, which in a perfect world is how it would be all the time.  And we bought Lane some headbands, and then dropped her off at school.

When we got home, I decided to test out the new camera one more time, again, playing with the on-camera flash.  The detail is quite illustrative.

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I really look forward to using this camera for a long time.  Like, perhaps, in a few months when Lane has real bangs and not just pixie fringe.  And maybe a couple years from now when her hair is all caught up in length again, like it very nearly was before she took such decisive action.

Alas, the new toy does have its limits.  It can’t go back in time to capture my shock, or tears, and it can’t show how heavy my heart is to see my gorgeous little girl looking so weird.


My grandfather – my mom’s dad – was an incredible character.  Beyond his verve and caring and warmth and charm, he was a big, stocky, imposing guy who as an adult was an amazing man to know, but as a kid I was scared out of my mind of him.  He was loud, and direct, and he yelled unintelligible things at us.  When he wanted us to get out of his way, he yelled something that sounded like “Huss Kai Oh La Wah!” which in later years we learned may mean “Merry Christmas” in some Scandanavian language but as kids we were sure meant something like “I’m going to impale you with a hot rod!”.  To get us to hurry, he’d yell “Hunda hunda hunda!” which I’m not sure has any sort of translation but still made us eager to hustle as kids.  Both phrases entered our family’s common vernacular, and I find myself often yelling them at my kids in a lighthearted sort of manner, and doing so always makes me think of my grandpa and smile.

Fast forward to this afternoon.  Jake and I are going into the house from taking Lane to preschool and I’m walking behind him as we make our way to the door.  Suddenly he loops around trying to get behind me.  I’m a little befuddled and turn to figure out what he’s doing, but he grins at me and gives me a little push and says, “Go, Mommy!” so I turn to keep walking forward.  Then I hear from behind me in his cute little Jake voice, “Hunda hunda hunda!”

Say Cheese!

These days I’ve been passing a little time working in a photo studio.  It’s a fun job and I work with cool people who are mostly much younger than I am.  I’ve learned some neat stuff about portraiture, and a bit more about Photoshop, both which will serve me well as I embark on starting my own photography business.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’ve sort of had a rant building up, and working today I had one family who refreshed the rant in my brain.  They were otherwise very lovely people, a family of four.  Dad, Mom, and two kids — a boy of about 13 (and all the requisite fun and angst that comes with that age) and a daughter of about eight or nine, who was seven different ways of adorable and missing her two front teeth.  The parents were obsessed – OBSESSED – with getting these kids to smile just the absolute perfect way that they wanted them to.  But of course, the 13 year-old was, well, a 13 year-old, and the daughter was obviously self-conscious about her gappage.

These parents were militant crazy about it.  Which I don’t necessarily begrudge them — portraits at my studio are not cheap, and I know they, as every parent that comes through, wants to leave with pictures they can display and show off and that truly capture how beautiful their family is.

Luckily, I and the other photographers I work with are pretty good at pulling that off.  For babies, we know the sounds that get their attention, and that jumping up and down is almost always a surefire way to get a few smiles.  For toddlers and kids through about seven, pretending to tickle their parents is like smile gravy — and the parents always love to play along.  Shit, the parents would donate a kidney if it meant their kid would smile.  Tweens and teens nearly always can talk about video games, or the last movie they saw, and once they relax and realize I’m not as dorky as their parents are, they are usually eager to smile for me.  (Even though, yes, I’m a parent myself and in a handful of years I’ll be reduced to complete dork in my kids’ eyes.) Older kids want to be treated respectfully, and they respond beautifully to it most of the time.  The point is, there are lots of ways to get a kid, nearly any kid, to smile for a picture.  Sometimes it’s being goofy, sometimes it’s building trust, sometimes it’s being chatty, and often it’s a combination of all that and more.

But there are things that definitely, most assuredly, do not work.  Yelling at your kids to smile will never get them to smile the way you want them to.  Telling them that’s it, we are NOT going to Chuck E. Cheese after the pictures will not get them to smile at all.  Threatening them with grounding will not get them to smile, for sure.

So, here’s a bit of advice for parents.  Once your kids are old enough to follow directions, try to relax a little.  If you let your kids relax and have a little fun, your pictures will turn out great.  If you relax and have a little fun, too, they’ll turn out even better.   Try your best not to get frustrated — or at least, not to show your frustration.  It will unsettle the more resilient kids and irreversibly stress out the more sensitive ones.

Then…. there’s the other side of the coin.  The parents of the babies.  Most of the time, they hover and coo and apologize profusely when their baby isn’t the Gerber baby 100% of the time.  We love these parents.  They keep their babies happy, and safe, and they are ten shades of thrilled when their beautiful baby makes us look like photography geniuses.

Of course, not every parent is as easy to work with.  There’s the moms that decide feeding their baby after the shoot is wiser than feeding him before the shoot.  There’s the parents that don’t consider naptimes when they schedule their shoot and, halfway though, say something like “he’s usually so happy, he must be tired, usually he’s napping right now.”  And then, there’s the glaring example of stellar parenting we witnessed recently:  a couple came in with their baby, got her set up for the shoot, and then DISAPPEARED FOR A HALF HOUR.  Without a word, they left and went to get lattes and left their baby in the hands of people they’d never met before.  The photographer started taking pictures, turned around to ask them something, and they were gone.  (The shoot did not continue any further.)

For the two-and-under set, the hints I can offer are simple.  Bring in a child who’s been fed (or even bring snacks with you – I’ve had more than one parent feed their kids Cheerios or Gerber puffs in between pictures).   Make sure your baby isn’t tired or sick.  Then once the shoot begins, pull out all the little tricks to get your baby to smile.

Oh, and if you really want a latte, get it ahead of time.