Tag Archives: parenting

If My OkCupid Profile Was Honest

My self-summary

Once upon a time I was like many of you. I was young, single, full of interesting pursuits and hobbies I cared about. I had opinions and ideas and looked for someone who had a thirst for life and learning. Now I am just living day to day. I can’t list for you the cool places I’ve traveled to. I don’t define myself by strong personal style or taste. I just get by. I care about being honest and connecting to people and being the kind of person other people like having in their lives. I am trying to raise my two young children into competent and confident people with healthy emotional lives. And hopefully I end up sane and alive in the process.

 

What I’m doing with my life

Treading water. There are days with my kids where it is get up! get ready! try to eat! get everyone dressed! cater to fickle tastes of young children who can’t decide what they want for breakfast! get everyone in car! retrieve toys thrown out of reach of carseats when at stop lights! Get to work, breathe, work,

leave and pick up kids! retrieve toys thrown out of reach of carseats when at stop lights! discuss what we’re having for dinner and no we’re not going to a restaurant and no we’re not having dessert and why must we have this conversation every day?! amuse children with television while dinner is prepared! eat own dinner that resembles that of a poor college student! put on pajamas despite protests that children are not tired enough/too tired to go to bed! get children in bed! put them back in bed when they get up! get water and put them back in bed again!

Oh, and then there are the days when I don’t have my children and I tend to binge watch television, zone out, and gather the strength to clean up several days worth of mess before they come back.

 

I’m really good at

Um, I used to be really good at lots of things. Now I can’t even sleep in effectively. Can we talk about the things I used to be really good at instead?

I used to be really good at holding my liquor, staying up all night, reading classical literature, watching movies with subtitles and really enjoying them, having strong opinions on politics, aspiring to be a real published author, cooking slightly impressive meals, and remembering things.

Oh, I can say that I am really good at writing a personal blog. And if things really click with us you might have the privilege of being written about on the internet.

The six things I could never do without

Yeah, the thing about this question is that people tend to answer with something like “good friends” or “coffee,” but I’ve learned there are plenty of things I can do without that I didn’t think I could. So let’s do those:

  1. Sleep
  2. Privacy
  3. Companionship
  4. Friends
  5. Staying close to family
  6. Seeing my kids every day

 

I spend a lot of time thinking about

I love the idea that I think. I feel like I don’t think much anymore. When I have time to think I tend to try to not think instead. Is that bad?

 

On a typical Friday night I am

Friday night A) Getting a terrible animated movie from the Redbox with my kids and trying to find a way not to have to cook dinner.

Friday night B) Going on a date if I have one.

Friday night C) No date, no kids, attempt to stay up and watch a serious movie like I used to but instead end up going to bed early.

 

The most private thing I’m willing to admit

That I don’t really have anything that qualifies. I will admit almost anything to anyone. I have given birth with several people in attendance. I never get to shut doors in my own apartment anymore. My boundaries are basically non-existent.

 

You should message me if

The fact that I have kids doesn’t freak you out too much. It’s totally okay if it freaks you out some. I mean, they’re kids, right? They’re kind of a huge deal. Even if you already have kids, the idea of someone else’s kids is still a huge deal. And despite all of that, you’re okay with me mentioning that I have kids occasionally and referring to them as something that exists and is part of my life without you feeling terrified.

But really, you should message me if you get that we are all more than what we do and what we like and where we’ve been. If you’re happy to do a little self-discovery together, to get back to some version of yourself you once were or to find parts of yourself you haven’t found yet.

If you don’t define yourself by the places you’ve visited or the jobs you’ve had or the degrees and accolades you’ve received.

Most of all, if you think a smart girl in her mid-30’s with chubby cheeks, curly hair, and glasses who doesn’t have great fashion sense or the greatest track record with dating sounds like a challenge you’re up to accepting.

 

Graham Looks Into the Abyss

It is hard with little kids (and autistic kids) to know what is just a passing phase and what is a character trait that may continue for years to come. 

 Graham Looks Into the AbyssLately Graham has been showing some signs of fascination with the melodramatic and morbid. I first noticed it when we saw Frozen back at Thanksgiving. “Favorites” are still new to him so I asked him what his favorite part was. He said, excited, “When the girl turns into ice!!”

He’s since seen it several more times and will not budge from his opinion.

What’s his favorite part of Wall-E? “When he breaks down.”

And what about Planes? “My first favorite is the song. ‘Nothing can stop me, nothing can stop me…’ But my second favorite is when he crashes into the ocean.”

I had my own slight obsession with melodrama and death as a child. I’ve only grown out of it as an adult, and I think I’ve lost it only because I’ve stopped looking beyond a day or two into the future and have been in a very live-in-the-now mindset for the last 3 years or so. But as a kid, when I played with my toys there was an awful lot of tragedy and death in my pretend play. When I became an obsessive reader, I preferred books with heavy doses of weeping. 

But it’s completely possible Graham is just going through a phase where he’s just kind of figuring out the possibilities of death and destruction. 

Or he’s just seen too much Thomas, since that show always revolves around someone getting into trouble in some way.

He asks me about death a lot. Not in general terms, but specific ones. “What happens if you do that? Do you die?” (To be fair, he also asks about jail a lot. “What if you do that? Do you get in trouble? Do you go to jail?”

Today he reported that at school they read a book about a lady who died. It took me a while to figure out that they read a book of The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. “She swallowed lots of animals,” Graham said. “And on the last page she died. People die if they eat too many animals.”

He’s also started to show a little bit of childish fear, which is honestly a welcome change from his anxiety. The fear has been manifested lately through a question he calls out from his bed, usually when I’m climbing into mine.

Like, “Are there monsters in our world?”

And, “Do crabs go inside houses?”

The big-ness and scary-ness of the world is something I can’t protect him from and I’m glad we’re easing into it a little so I have time to get my bearings. It’s still something that’s small and new for him, not something that legitimately scares him, just something he’s curious about.

Although the other day he asked me, “Mom, when do the days end? Do they go forever?”

I didn’t know what to say to that. But then it turned out he was just wondering when night was coming now that daylight savings kept it light longer. 

Phew. One step at a time, kid.

18 Hours of Fail

Monday was my first day at work and happily it was a no-kid day. I had the freedom to get up, get ready and get going without worrying about anyone but myself. And the same with my return home at the end of the day. (I might even have gone out on an elusive Monday night date. That’s me, walking on the wild side.)

Tuesday was a half-kid day, so the morning was all me but end of the day was everybody. I thought I was primed and ready for this. I was not.

Let’s do this by the clock, 24 style.

4:00 pm  Working. Happy. Feeling pretty good.

4:13 pm  Phone rings, number isn’t one I recognize. But I answer it anyway. It is bus dispatch. They want to know why I haven’t come out to pick up Graham from the bus. I freak out a little bit at my desk (which, by the way, is out with all the other desks all open and such) and apologize that they weren’t notified that he should’ve stayed at school for the After School program. They say they can take him back to school.

4:19 pm  Call school, let them know he’ll be there in 5 minutes.

4:20 pm  Wipe tears from my face, feel like worst mother ever. Graham tends to freak out over the slightest change in routine on the bus and I can’t help but think about how upset he must be.

4:30 pm  After trying to push through for a while, I give up and decide I’m going to leave a smidge early to get the kids.

4:35 pm  Walk to the train, then catch the bus to daycare. Email their dad because apparently our co-parenting agreement hasn’t covered the finer points of school communications on days where we also have a hand-off and we both had different ideas of how that would work. New procedure agreed upon. 

5:15 pm  Arrive at daycare. Tessa is thrilled to see me and it helps erase a little bit of the mom guilt. We put on shoes and coat and take home several adorable art projects. We sit in traffic and listen to Let It Go on repeat, neither of which is my favorite.

5:45 pm  Arrive at Graham’s school. I realize that my thoughts that I could plan to leave work at 5 on kid days were misguided. No way I can make Tessa’s 5:30 pickup and Graham’s 6 pm pickup so actually it wasn’t a total loss. Graham is playing, happy, and totally chill.  We get in the car and I’m planning to drive them home for dinner instead of our normal Tuesday pancake night at IHOP (kids eat free!) but Graham’s request for pancakes comes the minute he sits down in the car and I am not quite ready to say no to him. In the car I ask him about the bus and if he was upset and he insists he wasn’t. Usually he’ll tell me if he cries but I can’t believe he made it through this unscathed. He narrates them going to our house, honking, waiting, leaving, dropping off other kids, coming back, honking, then coming back to school. I’m glad he isn’t still caught up in being upset, I was worried he’d be inconsolable, but it’s still not helping much.

6:15 pm Arrive at IHOP. Realize with a groan that it is National Pancake Day. We go to National Pancake Day every year (free short stack!) but I always take a little time to mentally prepare myself for it as it’s always packed full of people and I have to remind myself it’s for charity. Tell Graham that maybe we should eat somewhere else, he refuses. Assure him that we will have to wait a long time before we eat. He promises in his most earnest little boy voice to wait nicely. I cave. We go in.

6:45 pm Seated at a table. Lately instead of sitting with Tessa on one side and having Graham alone on the other, I let them sit on the same side. They generally amuse each other well and it’s oddly calmer that way. They actually do really well even though we’ve waited for a while. They split a short stack and there is minimal whining about the fact that these pancakes do not have chocolate chips or a smile made of bananas. Of course, it wouldn’t be eating out if Graham didn’t declare an urgent need to go to the bathroom the minute our food arrives on the table. 

7:40 pm Escape relatively quickly, but it’s already past Tessa’s bedtime and we still have to make a quick stop at the grocery store which is just down the street. Cereal, fruit and veggies, and other necessities are required. It will be a short trip, but it’s an essential one.

8:10 pm Our short trip is officially not short. Tessa has decided she wants to walk and we are slowed to the pace of her tiny tiny legs. Then we end up in line behind a woman with WIC checks. I always make a point not to huff or complain when I’m behind someone with limited money or food stamps or WIC checks. Today it takes extra patience. Tessa is all over the place. Graham is whiny. And the lady keeps forgetting she has another check and making them start the whole process again. I’ve done it, it’s not a fast process. It almost feels designed to humiliate you. When she gets to the rest of her purchases she realizes it costs more than she thought and we wait while she decides which items to take away from her choices. 

8:30 pm We finally get out of the grocery store. It is now an hour past Tessa’s bedtime and 30 minutes past Graham’s. Everyone is fussy and tired and low on patience. We get home and I pack them both off to bed immediately, before I even unload the groceries. It goes smoothly and quickly and thank heavens for one thing going right.

9:30 pm Once everyone’s down for the count I head up to bed myself. I have a lot of things I need to do this week but I don’t know when they’ll get done and I’m just too tired for now, especially since I have to be up early for my first morning dropoff before work.

12:00 am I wake up. Like really awake. Well my brain is awake and every other part of me is exhausted. I read, I look at my phone,I meditate,  I do every trick I know but I can’t get back to sleep. I haven’t had this kind of constant-brain-that-won’t-stop insomnia in years. 

2:00 am-ish I finally get to sleep.

6:00 am Alarm goes off. Not super happy. I can really feel those lost two hours. Jump in the shower, though I have to leave the door open in case anyone wakes up and wonders where I’ve gone to.

6:20 am Out of shower, kids still asleep. Win.

6:40 am Dressed, hair, make-up. Kids still asleep. Win.

6:45 am Wake up kids. We’ve got to get moving. Take kids downstairs and say we’ll have a short breakfast since they’ll both be fed after dropoff. Both turn up their noses at their usual cereal and ask for yogurt instead. T eats only a little of hers and gives it back. I lay out G’s clothes and make his lunch.

7:00 am Start getting kids dressed, change Tessa’s diaper, get my own lunch ready, realize I’ve forgotten to eat my own breakfast.

7:20 am Make coffee to take in the car since I don’t have time to drink it. Make sure kids are dressed complete with socks and shoes. Get Tessa’s hair pulled up in a little ponytail while she is distracted.

7:35 am Leave the house, 5 minutes late but surprisingly close to on time. Tessa has a suspicious cough.

7:40 am Drop off Graham, feel annoyed that I have to get Tessa out of her carseat and then back in for all of the 90 seconds it takes to walk him inside and walk back out. Also annoyed that it is freaking freezing outside still.

8:00 am While driving to daycare Tessa starts to fuss and when I turn around to look at her she throws up her yogurt. A few times. Crap. Wait until I can turn around, drive back home.

8:30 am Email work to tell them I’ll be out. Put Tessa in bed.

Yup, had to take a day off on my third day of work. Still haven’t completed a full day of dropoff/pickup. At least I found some time to post to my blog today, run some laundry, do some dishes, work on my taxes, etc. Tessa had a few down hours this morning but was perked up and normal by 11 am. And while I’m glad she’s feeling better it still has me miffed to be missing a full day. 

But I’ve been down this road before. This is my third time starting a job since having kids. They’ve all been different, but I’m definitely used to the insanity. What I haven’t had to do before is deal with quite this level of time constraint. It’s not going to be easy, I know that much. All I can do is just step up and try, and not let it worry me too much when I achieve a constant stream of fail.

Progress

With things in such upheaval, even normally “big” topics manage to get a little sidetracked. I haven’t talked about Tessa’s development since October, nearly 4 months ago.

I still haven’t had her evaluated.

That’s about to change.

I still can’t explain why I’ve been so ambivalent about her given my general gung-ho approach to early testing and diagnosis for autism and developmental delays. But I have. I suspect a lot of the delay has been due mostly to circumstances. The separation, divorce, working, moving Tessa to daycare, it’s all been distracting me. And giving me an excuse to delay. Let’s see how she’s doing. Let’s get her into a new situation and see what happens. She’s progressing, let’s see how she does.

But I’ve finally reached the point where it’s been long enough. She’s 2. We only have a year until her care is turned over to the school system. We need to move and if she qualifies for a diagnosis it’s time to get it.

I know it’s easy to see our pictures and think she’s a typical toddler. But she’s not. And it’s obvious to me. If you asked her, “Where’s your nose?” you wouldn’t get a response. Most likely she wouldn’t even look at you. 

Seeing all this, knowing it’s there, having known for a while, I’ve already moved into special-needs-parent mode. I celebrate all her small steps forward. I’m happy to see her develop in the ways she can. I appreciate her good humor when she has it. I don’t push my expectations beyond what she’s capable of.

So yeah. That’s where we stand. The paperwork is filled out. It’s getting sent off. And hopefully she’ll have an evaluation quickly. And hopefully I won’t be kicking myself for waiting this long further down the line.

 Progress

See that smile? That’s one of our newer developments. Happy Tessa has started to show up more and more over the last month or two. Happy Tessa isn’t the same as Easy Tessa, but there’s something about seeing your child smile when she normally has a vacant expression, it’s special.

And on the bright side? I see less of the gloom and doom, the worrying, the hand-wringing in myself. She is who she is. I want to help her be all she can. And maybe it’s just all the other crazy going on right now, but this feels like something I don’t need to feel anxious about. 

I guess she’s not the only one progressing.

Austin Adventures With Kids

I spent two whole weeks with the kids and no schedule in Central Texas. We found lots of things to do because we didn’t really have much of a choice. Here’s what we did and how it went:

Austin Nature and Science Center

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This was the second time I’ve attempted this one with the kiddos and it’s been a bust both times.  Austin doesn’t have a zoo, but the Nature and Science Center does have some animals, all rescues that can’t be returned to the wild. They’re mostly small and there are a good number of owls (which pleased Graham) but it only bought us 10 minutes or so. Most of the time Graham looked like this:

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This time I thought for sure we’d get some play out of the Dino Pit. A bunch of sand, a bunch of shovels and buried dinosaur bones, what’s not to love? But yeah, 5 minutes of this:

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And then he was done. Done done. “Where’s my juice, Mom?” done.

I think we’re officially done with this one. I give up.

Zilker Zephyr

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“Zilker Zephyr Zign” photo by Nathan Jongewaard

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Zephyr Zilker by Nathan Jongewaard

It does not matter how many trains he owns, it does not matter how many trains he rides, Grammer is still obsessive about them and goes completely nuts when he sees one. So every time we visit we ride the Zilker Zephyr, which you can find right by Barton Springs.

As a parent I like the fact that it’s not a two-minute ride, but also not a thirty-minute ride. The length is short enough for the teeny ones, but long enough so the bigger kids feel like they’ve got a good ride out of it. 

I also like that it doesn’t let off hideous exhaust fumes that make it dismal. The view is meh, but the kids like it. And it’s not super expensive so I don’t mind forking over the cash. Plus it’s right next to a pretty good playground so you can get a good amount of play out of it. Especially if you just went to the Austin Nature & Science Center down the road and the kids are antsy and want to play.

This one was a big success. G’s biggest issue was that he couldn’t just ride it again because it only runs every hour or so. I think you can see the delight on all of our faces.

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Blue Bell Creamery

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So this one is a bit of a trek, but when you’ve been doing the same old stuff for a while you may be longing for a bit of a trek. Plus if your kids are anything like mine, they’ll conk out during the drive there and much of the drive home so it’s a win.

Here’s the thing about the Blue Bell Factory Tour from an outsider’s point of view. Everyone near it in Texas has grown up with it and loves it dearly. So I definitely expected more than what we got based on the years of hype I’ve received. But I didn’t dislike it. It lasted maybe 15 minutes or so, had views down into several different rooms where the ice cream is packaged and processed, and had friendly tour guides with Blue Bell trivia. (#1 seller is Homemade Vanilla. #3 is Dutch Chocolate.) But it is rather short, the kids will feel like they didn’t really SEE much of anything, since mostly the rooms are made up of big tanks and pipes. 
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It is stroller and wheelchair-friendly, though your fellow tour participants probably aren’t. (We had a wheelchair and our stroller at the end of the line and people always just stopped at the beginning of the windows leaving us standing there waiting for them to scoot down. They NEVER figured this out, as we went to window after window and the tour guide told them to scoot down.) 

It’s a cheap ticket and includes a good sized “scoop” of ice cream, which is more like a Small Cup at the store. And you can get another for only $1. And this is what really makes the trip a winner. I don’t exactly take the kids out for ice cream often. (Read: never.) So they were thrilled about each getting their own cup (and a second one for Graham because I was feeling the holiday spirit) and very excited about the whole thing. Seriously. Some ADORABLE pictures were obtained on this trip.
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Gah, that picture of Tess. I can’t even!

The Thinkery

This is the new Children’s Museum in Austin. I brought my camera. I took zero pictures. (A few with my phone, but still.) Why? Because it was MADNESS. I would like to come back and review it on a weekday, or after it’s been open for a year or two. But right now it was ridiculous. Which was a shame, because we were there with friends and couldn’t keep track of each other and had to just give up on spending any time with them because dealing with the crowds and keeping the kids happy and being in the same place was just too much.

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What I liked the most was that lots of rooms had stuff for kids of different ages, so you don’t have to appease one kid at a time.

What I liked the least was that many activities were not well suited for rooms full of kids and would only really work with a small number of people around because the waiting got too frustrating.

Also I nearly had to break up toddler fist fights over the train table, which had less trains on it than any I’ve seen anywhere. When you have enough trains for 4 kids to each have one or two, but there are 10 kids at the train table, you have some real problems. Especially since one of them (not mine) will inevitably horde as many as he can. And another (mine) will only be happy if he gets the engine. 

The water room was particularly awesome, if prone to leaving your kids soaked through. If you live in the area, a membership would be great. But they don’t seem to have a very good understanding of what “capacity” is, since it was far too full when we were there. 

 The Austin Aquarium

We went because we heard people liked it. And because my kids like the New England Aquarium. It was a complete disaster. 

The kids came out okay, since we made it an expedition for the cousins and it’s pretty hard for them not to have fun when they’re all together. BUT. It was so terrible. So terrible I started taking notes to catalog the terrible-ness because I couldn’t believe it could be this bad and surely I wouldn’t remember all the ways in which it was terrible.

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I didn’t take pictures here, either. Because the lighting was just one of the many terrible things. And good luck getting pictures of the fish because the glass was all smudged and the water was cloudy. 

They have online ordering. Although they don’t actually tell you what to do. They don’t use a ticketing system. They just email you a receipt. I called to find out what we were supposed to do… and the person I spoke to had no idea and had to call in a manager. The actual procedure ended up being that they had me pull up the email on my phone and then told me to delete it so I couldn’t use it to get in again. (I am NOT joking.) They really should have a better system, since there was a line for tickets and it did not move quickly and they don’t have a lot of space for a queue.

The space itself isn’t fully built up. There are partial walls separating each section from the other, so it’s loud. Sound bounces all over the place. The gift shop is tiny and has lots of breakables, get your little ones out of there as fast as you can. 

It was pretty new so I was prepared for things to be not quite up to speed, but it was not good. Lots of tanks were empty. Tanks that weren’t empty often had signs taped up to say what they were. One above an open tank said (again NOT joking) “Caution. Fish Bite.” As there are other touch tanks (not good ones, the water’s too deep for most kids to reach anything) nearby, having an open tank with dangerous fish doesn’t strike me as a particularly good idea. Other signage consisted of fancy screens that simply listed names of fish without letting you know which were which or anything else about them.

The reptiles were decent. The kids enjoyed the small aviary with parrots or parakeets (I can’t recall which) that would sit on their fingers. 

The worst of it was a large indoor playground in the back, much like one you’d see at a fast food place. Kind of trashy, but whatever. Except the slide sent kids shooting out like bullets from a gun. The slide that comes out right at the entrance to the playground, so a kid on their way in can easily get hit by a kid on their way out. (It’s a tunnel slide, so you can’t see them coming.) Even worse, the slide lets the kids out on to the very hard floor with no padding. When we were there, they’d thrown together a makeshift pad, but I saw a child come out and twist her foot on the ground. There were no staff around supervising so I had to walk over and find someone to fix the padding and get the kids to stop coming out of the slide while they did it. It was a fiasco. I got my kid out of there. It was a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Honestly, maybe they’ll get better. But no place should be open in that kind of condition. If they weren’t ready they should’ve waited. Because it was pretty awful. Save your money. Seriously.

The Evolution of the Photographing Parent

sponsored post image The Evolution of the Photographing ParentI’m guessing it’s pretty normal for new or expecting parents to go out and get a camera. If there’s any time in your life when you want a lot of pictures, it’s when your first baby arrives.

affiliate links pic The Evolution of the Photographing ParentIn that respect, we were typical. A new point-and-shoot for baby pictures. And we gave it no additional thought. So we got pretty typical, run-of-the-mill photos.

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Graham at 2 months, September 2009

 There’s our baby. No real thought to it, just get the baby, get the smile, get the face, get the little fingers. 

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Graham at 4 months, November 2009

But eventually you have so many pictures of those little fingers and toes, that smile, that face that you want to start showing your child’s personality in your pictures. You want to have something to help remember just how it felt to be with them.

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Graham at 1 year, July 2010

Things like lighting start to matter. You want a picture to capture magic. It’s more than just getting their face and their smile. It’s about capturing the light in their eyes.

Then you have a second child and you realize you’re taking less pictures and you’re kind of overwhelmed but you don’t want to lose all that ambition you had to take those perfect pictures. You find yourself taking pictures on your phone and you start to get the parent guilt that your second child will feel inferior.

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Tessa at 1 month, March 2012

You want to put pictures of your kids on the wall, but you’re just not getting frame-worthy images. Once that looked great on your phone screen or on the camera viewer aren’t so terrific when you get them printed. Something must be done.

Then maybe you find yourself buying a fancy camera and expecting it to work miracles on your pictures. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.

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Tessa at 11 months, January 2013

Eventually, like me, you may just throw your hands up and wonder why you bother.

But it’s okay. You can still get amazing pictures of your kids. You just have to put in some time, learn a few things, and practice.

And then, almost all of a sudden, you’ll find yourself with frame-worthy pictures of your kids.

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Tessa at 13 months, March 2013

 

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Graham at 3, March 2013

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Tessa at 20 months, October 2013

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Graham at 4, September 2013

It can happen. I’m living proof.

My secret is I learned about my camera. I got help to learn how to use it. And I continue to try and learn more when I want to get better.

One of my tools along the way has been the Mom and Pop Photo School. My one-day photography class was great, but I continue to need references for advice and tools. The Mom and Pop Photo School has an excellent manual with sections on the technical stuff and settings (Cameras 101), as well as examples on how to use the light around you to get better portraits (Portraits 101). The 101 set gives you both parts or you can get one or the other. Plus it has an online community where people can upload images and share tips so you can have a place to ask all your questions. 

I’ve been in Manual mode for 9 months, challenging myself to learn my way around the camera. I pull it out when the kids are playing, I take it to camera-worthy locations and I get all the big milestones in there, too. (That last picture is from Graham’s first day of school this year. Such a keeper.)

But I’m still learning. Like how I finally decided to learn about focus and white balance, things that weren’t covered too much in my class but had sections in the Mom and Pop manual. Turns out, white balance is a lot simpler than I thought. Oh, and focus… well, I need to get a new lens since my favorite one is manual focus instead of auto and with my not-perfect vision it often gives me blurry images. See! Learning!

If you’re finding yourself ready to throw in the towel on getting great pictures, think again. And now you can enter to win your own 101 Set, with both the Cameras 101 and Portraits 101 courses plus a year of online support, a $99 value.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received the 101 Set to review from Mom and Pop Photo as one of their affiliates.