Tell me about baby pictures…

I am doing a project for school that involves baby pictures, so I have been thinking a lot about them, the ones I’ve taken informally, the professional and semi-professional ones I have had taken, the ones I’ve seen on other blogs, on Pinterest, on Facebook.

First, let me say I love baby pictures.  They make me unbelievably happy.  But they are also a source of anxiety for me.  What clothes should the kids wear?  Will they look cute in the pictures?  Will they behave for the photographer?  How many prints should I order?  What do I do with all of these pictures?  You get the picture.

And now, we have Pinterest with so much family photography inspiration.  We have props and over-sized hats and flowers.  There are iPhones and Instagram and Facebook newsfeeds.  Baby pictures and kid pictures seem so complicated and yet so simple.  What does all this mean for us as mothers, keepers of childhood, preservers of those precious smiles and wispy hair and gumdrop eyes?


But maybe this simultaneous stress and pleasure is mine alone.  I am curious how other mothers feel.

Dear mommy readers, 

What do baby pictures mean to you?  Do you have a favorite?  What is the picture-taking/memory-capturing process like for you?  Do you have a schedule?  Do you have albums full?  Do you wish you had more?

I would love to get your feedback and insights.  I would be really appreciative if you could leave me a comment with your thoughts about baby pictures.

I also would like to put together a collection of baby pictures to try to capture certain trends and themes.  If you are interested in emailing me some of your pictures, that would be great, too.

Thank you!



This is why I love fall…

1.  Pumpkin swirl coffee from Dunkin Donuts.  If I could, this is how I would start every day from around September 15 until Thanksgiving (after that, bring on the peppermint mochas!).

2.  Butternut squash lasagna.  Recipe from Women’s Day.  I made this over the weekend, and it has lasted for three dinners and three single serve lunches.  And wow, is it good.  It might be one of the best dinners I have ever made.  I cannot wait for my children to appreciate more complex yellow food.  And sage and nutmeg.  One day. 3.  Corn maze.  We headed over to the Athens Corn Maze on Saturday.  Had a ball.  Definitely did not find all six checkpoints in the maze, and we would probably still be in there if we didn’t have a map.  The best thing about the corn maze was the corn box.  Really, just a box full of corn kernels for the kids to play in.  They loved it.  Riley especially. Adrian took a little break to go visit with the animals.  He said hi to every bunny, duck, pig, and horse.  So cute. 4.  Fantasy football.  Sure, my bench team usually beats the team I put in, but I am on a two-game winning streak!  I like that this is something Shawn and I do together.  It keeps us in touch with some of our distance friends, and adds a little fun to our Sunday afternoons.

5.  Halloween cakes.  Last night, the kids helped me make and decorate a confetti cake.  They decked the thing out with all sorts of sprinkles and candy corn.  I told them this was our warm-up Halloween cake, seeing as how it is still only September.

6.  Candy corn.  The kids convinced me to get our first bag of candy corn at the store on Sunday.  But really.  I have a big Halloween bowl I just set out in the dining room, and what is a big Halloween bowl without candy corn?   (Adrian wanted some last night, and to reach the bowl, he pushed over our play table from Ikea and climbed right on up.  Such a resourceful candy-holic!  Boy after my own heart.)

7.  Fall projects.  My parents brought the kids Halloween crafts and an activity book. We’ve been stringing together spider webs and coloring monsters like mad around here.  This weekend, I may have the kids help me make twig candle-holders.

8.  Next week, the weather might be cool enough to break out our new fire-pit!  I’ve already bought chocolate for our first round of s’mores.

Did I mention this is my favorite time of the year?

How to NOT dine out

1.  Do not want to cook on a Friday night.  Instead, show up at IHOP with three happy children and two hungry parents.  Scan menus.  Play with sugar packets.  Feed baby yogurt pops.  Wait.  Start stopwatch timer.  Play with salt shakers and syrup bottles.  Wait.  Color kids’ menus.  Wait.  Feed baby more yogurt pops.  After fifteen minutes, ask a passing manager if she knows who your server is because you still don’t and now the happy children are morphing into hungry not-so-happy children.  Patient yogurt–pop-eating baby starts to fidget in her high chair.  Manager takes drink order and assures you server is on her way.  And she is.  So you order.  Make only one special request, like no hot peppers in the egg skillet dish.  Start waiting again.   Big kids start crawling and squirming in the booth.  Baby throws straw, spoons, her sippy cup on the floor.  Only wants food.  Food that you don’t have yet even though everyone around you, even those seated after you, has theirs.

Food arrives.  Egg skillet dish has hot peppers in it.  Send it back to the kitchen.  Cut kids’ food up.  Pour syrup.  Give pancake bits and pieces to baby.  Let husband have your bacon while he waits on his egg skill dish with no peppers.  Eat as fast as you can.  Any minute, squirming quasi-eating kids are going to morph again, this time into syrup-hyped-bouncing creatures for whom the Booth is Not Enough.  Resist the urge to savor your banana bread french toast which is delicious, really, but would be more delicious if it had arrived, say thirty minutes ago.

Upon arrival, have egg dish immediately packed up.  Flee.  Take all three children to parking lot while husband puts at least half of each item ordered into to-go containers.  Make comments like, “We’re never coming here again!”  “No more going out even for free kids’ meals on a Friday night.”  “I wonder if I can find a recipe for banana bread french toast on Pinterest?”

At home during movie night, finish eating dinner.  Let kids run around playroom to exhaust their syrup energy.

2.  Celebrate grandparent arrival with a trip to Olive Garden, grandma’s favorite restaurant that just so happens to have a coupon that expires today for free kids’ meals.  Decide this is dining out destiny.

After water appears on table, wonder about bread sticks.  Watch bread sticks, then salad appear at other tables.  Let fifteen minutes pass.  Bread sticks show up.  Shake off the wait.  Kids are still entertained by grandparents, playing I-Spy, and sleep.  Place order.  Make two requests for sauce substitution.  Wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Tell husband you think it’s your family, that you are black clouds in restaurants.

When the entrees arrive, know you are black clouds.  Both sauce-change requests have been ignored.  Send them back and start waiting again.

At the end of the meal, flee with kids to the bathroom and then the car while they are still happy.  Meanwhile, have waitress lose credit card in her apron.

3.  Take everyone, grandparents too, to Moe’s for Moe’s Monday.  Be excited that the dining experience at Moe’s is not contingent upon servers.  Declare this a fail-proof eating out adventure because you have done it so many times.  What could possibly go wrong today?

Start ordering at counter.  Halfway through husband’s burrito order, have baby boy throw up on husband.  Finish burrito order while husband and baby boy go get cleaned up.  Hear sounds of more throw up over by bathroom.  Pay for everyone’s order and get food to the table.  Blame over-excitement and consequent throw-up of baby boy on a successful trip to the dentist appointment, a bouncy ball, and fluoride.  Sit down to eat with half-naked baby boy sitting on husband’s lap.  Dig into nachos.  Feel splatter on shoes.  Look over.  Try not to look down at the floor.

Have grandpa ask for a mop and wave goodbye to husband and clearly sick baby boy.  Finish meal with the rest of the family.  Talk about not going out to eat for a long, long, long time.  Bring home candy as a consolation prize for husband who had to change his clothes at least five times in a two hour period because baby boy either a) did not have a bucket or b) possessed underdeveloped etiquette and/or skill to utilize bucket appropriately.

By morning, be sick.  Everyone except baby, that is.  Take a vow not to eat out for a month.  Maybe a year.  Maybe longer.


My twin sister has been telling me about a book called Babywise recently.  I haven’t read it.  I actually haven’t read any parenting books.  It’s funny.  My list of books to read seems impossibly long and I am always adding to it, but it never occurred to me to read a book before we started having kids.  I was on Babycenter a lot, though.  I consulted message boards online pretty frequently.  Then we had Riley in 2008, and we sort of just jumped right in.  I remember how Shawn and I used to check in with each other once we brought her home:

“Is that too much cream?”

“Is the bath water too warm?”

“Am I holding her right?”

“Is her poop supposed to be that color?”

On and on.

At least the night we had Riley was the same night that we had signed up for a baby care class, and Shawn was able to go since we were at the hospital anyway.  That night, he learned how to swaddle.  I’m pretty sure that’s his favorite baby skill: the un-ninja-able swaddle.  He’s good.  I’ll give him that.  Not quite nurse good, but he’s good.

So now fast forward: four and a half years and three kids later.

Now, I actually feel like a mom.  Like a real mom.  Sometimes I’m more confident.  Sometimes I still flounder.  But I like the feeling that being a mother feels integral to my identity now.  And so I thought I would take a moment to remember and note a few of the things I have learned along the way.  Here’s what I came up with this morning:

1. As soon as you figure something out as a parent, there’s five more things you need to know.

2. Hug and hold your babies as much as possible.

3.  Read regularly.

4. Never say no to fruits and veggies. (Riley likes to remind me, “Mommy, you said we could never have too much fruit.”

5. Invest in at least one soaking bin and quality stain-fighters (I like OxiClean) right from the get-go.

6. Smell your baby’s hair after every bath.

7. Parenting is fluid ground.  Kids ‘likes’ constantly change; their habits, their moods are fickle.  Be fluid.

8. Embrace redundancies.  (I once say ABC’s to Adrian for a solid 45 minutes without pause.  It was the only way to survive a solo car trip when he was just a few months old.)

9. Quiet moments are fickle.  Embrace them.

10.  Crying-filled, crazy moments are fleeting in the big picture.  Get through them and move on.

11. Ask for help.

12. Be ready to try new things until you find something that works.

13. Prep kids for major routine changes (We started moving up Riley’s bedtime to get her ready for the school year a couple of weeks before school started.  She eased into it really smoothly.)

14. Set boundaries for things and time.  (I still struggle with this, but I am getting better.)

Now, it’s time to get some writing done so I can meet Riley for lunch.

What’s Trending on Pinterest Today

Maybe it’s because of a certain project I’m working on for a class.  Maybe it’s because my other class is studying databases and I’m thinking about redundancies.  While browsing Pinterest yesterday and today, several trends stuck out.  Pumpkin was sort of obvious now that we are into September, but salted caramel is everywhere! And it is too bad I just finished my jar of Nutella…

Salted Caramel (and Apple Cider)




Nutella Treats

Source: via Louise on Pinterest


Eye Shadow

Source: via Breann on Pinterest


Up-dos involving braids

What We’re Stuck on…


White Collar (My new series to watch on Netflix.)


Spanish translations (at least until my test on Wednesday…)

Baby pictures (for a school project)

Coding (just finished my first website, hand-coded in HTML5 and CSS…will post a link once its live.)


Gymnastics (She has one sad-looking cartwheel.  Imagine a turtle attempting such a feat!)

Hugs (I gave her 17 hugs before bed the other night.  A good night.)

Fast shoes (aka her sneakers)

School.  (She tells me all about it at dinner…centers, books, jobs, lunch, kids that misbehave, etc.)

Sorting. (The other day, she put a penny, cup, button, and straw on each desk in Shawn’s classroom.  I take full credit for her amazing sense of organization.  One of these days, I am going to turn her loose on my closet.)


Songs (“twinkle twinkle star,” “boat ride,” and “bus ride” are his favorites.  And grandpa has at least a half dozen verses in “the wheels on the bus.”)

Sitting on the counter in the kitchen (“Up, please.  Up, please.  Up, please.  Up, please.  Up, please.  Up, please.”  That is how our days start.)

Any activity that involves a ball (soccer, basketball, baseball, golf, egg-toss, ping-pong, etc.)

Stuffing food into his face so he can be considered “done.”

Helping me prepare dinners and bake.  (From his counter perch, he can be quite helpful.)


Eating (Peas, poofs, cheerios, toast, mango, banana, sweet potato, etc.  Girl loves her food.)

Standing up and cruising

Crawling on top of me when I attempt push-ups and sit-ups

Sophie the Giraffe  (Her new favorite toy.  One squeak and she is all smiles!)

Riley and Adrian (She can sit and watch them play for hours.)


In a word, Atlantica.


Oh, and stickers.  We all love stickers.  I would post the pictures of the kids covered in them, but they are minimally clothed.

A Thank You Note

Dear Mrs. C.,

You should know I’m still a teacher, Mrs. C.  I think you had something to do with that.  You should know I’m generous with my students.  I expect a lot, but I listen to them.  I care about them.  You should know you modeled that for me.  Among other things.  Like patience.  Like passion.

I remember how we used to eat lunch together, you at your desk, me at the one next to yours up in front of the rows of desks.  I was freezing, and you were always hot.  I wore long underwear every day under my clothes, and you kept the room set at 60.  But now, when I look back on the months we spent together in your classroom, I don’t remember the cold.  So many of my memories of living in Northern PA are steeped in a chill that made me long to live somewhere warmer, but not from 7 until 3 when you were my mentor and I was your student teacher.  I had soup every day that fall.  I can barely eat cans of chicken and wild rice, creamy tomato now, maybe one every six months or so.  I don’t miss Progresso in my life.  I do miss you.

Thank you for teaching me how to be a teacher, what it means to be a teacher, a good teacher, a great teacher.  I want to be great in the classroom.  I’m working on it.  Every class.  Each lesson plan.  I’ll keep at it.  For you.  For my students.  For my future students.

I hope you know how much you meant to me.  I was a newlywed, a recent college grad, and six hours away from my family.  I needed a strong, kind woman in my life.  And you were so much more.