Crazy Days Redux


So. I have a shoot at 2. I have to pick up the girls from school at 3:15 (I insisted 2 was not good time, but client was certain her baby would be perfect and we’d be through.)

Then Emily has a birthday party for her best friend at 4:30. I also have a shoot at 4:30.


3:00 Finish shoot.
3:15 Wait in car line to snag girls.
3:30 Dash home.
3:45 Get Emily dressed in “glamorous gown” for “red carpet” party.
4:10 Wait, wait, wait as long as possible to avoid being too early.
4:15 Run her over to party, just a smidgen before party starts. Thankfully in neighborhood.
4:20 Console crying Eliza who thinks she deserves to go to fancy dress party.
4:25 Skid to a stop before my own house. Pray clients not early.
4:30 Do second shoot, involving a bazillion small children (like seven…or eight.)


This might be less stressful if I have Emily ride the bus home. Eliza can stay later.

Then I can have some room to finish shoot and not worry, Emily get off bus, pick up Eliza, get Emily dressed, drop Emily off at party, and do shoot.

No. Not enough time to get Emily dressed.

How about this.

Emily ride bus home. Get her dressed, pick up Eliza at 4. Drive over to party and drop off Emily a bit more early, more time to console upset Eliza, get back at 4:15 and hopefully clients not waiting.

Okay. So now I just have to call the school and notify both teachers I’ve changed the way they go home.

This is the sort of day I’m having.

Don’t get me started about the weekend. It makes this schedule look very very tame.

Irma–so sorry I have to miss your party!
Sean and Tessa–so sorry I have to miss yours too!

It’s not fair, all this stuff happening on top of each other!

Five Christmas parties.
Four shoots with families.
Three upset clients.
Two kid recitals.
One crazy mama.
And a big glass of red wine every day.

Crazy Day

So, I am a photographer at Christmas. Not all photographers have big holiday rushes–those who focus more on weddings or commercial work or models have a big slowdown.

But I photograph kids. So the onslaught begins mid October and is unrelenting until the day I cut them off, which is this weekend.

Because I had such a rough Saturday (five shoots, almost all with multiple kids), I pretty much just stopped and left my work to be taken up again on Monday. I answered no emails, returned no calls, and didn’t update anything.

So if you’ve ever wondered what the first hour of Monday morning during Christmas season might be like for a family photographer, here is mine:

8:30 — Listen to five voicemail messages. Four from the same anxious client not sure when she might ever be able to pick up images. Could I mail them even though she hasn’t paid?
8:35 — Restart 22-hour print job of 250 watercolor cards. 10 hours to go.
8:37 — Open Outlook to find 23 emails, five are new orders.
8:41 — Get interrupted by phone call wanting to redesign cards we made Saturday. Agree to redo them.
8:44 — Begin writing up orders from emails and replying.
8:59 — Phone call from worried client saying husband doesn’t like what they wore in picture, what to do? Promise to crop at shoulders.
9:05 — Back to writing up orders, faster this time.
9:06 — Realize printer silent. WTF! Try to figure out why not printing.
9:09 — Printer pissed about canceling old job on Saturday. Where is work ethic, it asks. I tell it to print or I will toss it out on its ethic. Restart job.
9:11 — Return to writing up orders–even FASTER.
9:14 — Enter orders into Quickbooks.
9:16 — Look over difficult shoot from a few days ago. Try to figure out what to send the lady since she insisted composite images are never believeable and mine would be no exception. But, her kids did not ever stand by each other. Not within five feet, even. Wants card with both kids. Rapidly create new design featuring two separate images. Email it. Hope she approves.
9:28 — Suddenly remember I will not work tomorrow to prepare for photography party. Just promised five clients images will be here by Friday, but not possible unless do all the orders by 2:00 today. Printer senses another work ethic violation and paper jams.
9:30 — Puts head on desk. Rethink whole photography career.

Candy Hearts-Warming

Emily has 22 kids in her class. Eliza has 19. This means that Valentine’s Day lasts for a week or more with leftover candy and sweet sentiment (and wrappers and sugar highs.)

Today in the car, Eliza, who is three, opened a little packet of candy hearts–the chalky kind with the little sentiments like “Hug Me” or “I’m Yours.” She wants to be like her big sister, so she often pretends that she can read.

“I know what this one says!” she announced, holding up a pale orange heart.

“What’s that?” I asked, glancing at her via the rearview mirror.

“It says, ‘I really like you and you’re my friend and I gave this to you for Valentine’s Day!'”

We all paused.

“And that’s all!” she said.

“All that fits on the heart?” I asked.


Emily giggled behind her cupped hand. “Elizabeth! That’s too much!”

“It is NOT!”

She popped the candy in her mouth as if to prevent authentification.

“Guess what this one says!” She held up a purple candy.

“Let me guess–shot through the heart and you’re to blame, you give love a bad name?”

Both girls giggled. Mama and her 80s lyrics.

“NOOOO! It says, ‘You’re a stinky-poo!'”



“Nobody says that to somebody on Valentine’s Day!” I turned to look at her, kicking her legs in excitement. We were stopped at the light.

“I did!”

“You called someone a stinky-poo on Valentine’s Day?”


“Was that nice?” I asked, gearing up for a teachable moment.

“It was just a boy. Daniel. Boys are stinky-poo.”

I almost defended boys. Came within an inch. But really, I couldn’t argue with that.

Easy Cheese

This post is probably going to subject me to more ridicule than yesterday’s cheesy Statesman letter (“photo gives us hope…”good gracious…) But I press on anyway.

I accidentally became a slacker mom Monday. I am in charge of snacks for Elizabeth’s preschool class this week, and when I got home yesterday from picking her up, the teacher had surreptitiously slid me a note among Eliza’s feather collages and finger paintings reminding me of my error.

This morning I practically careened to the grocery store to pick up finger foods and get them to her class even though she does not attend on Tuesdays. Back when I signed up for snack time, I had visions of cute hand-made food toys. Now I had to rush just to get something for the kiddos to shove down their gullets.

I remembered a few years ago making a candy train. The base was a pack of gum, the engine compartment involved two “Now and Later” candies, and a kiss made a smoke stack with the little paper curling up. The wheels were circles of peppermint.

I was not allowed to use sweets for the snack, so I dashed about the grocery store, trying to come up with the components of the choo choo without involving allergy foods like peanut butter and anything sugary. As I stocked up on blocks of cheese and pretzel sticks and wheel-shaped dried cherries, I wondered how I would hold the concoction together. The pretzel sticks might break the cheese apart, and I could not fall back on the mainstays of peanut butter or frosting as edible glue.

Then, beckoning at the end of the aisle, glittered the shiny white rows of Easy Cheese. I held up a can, compared artificial flavors. I avoided looking at sodium or fat. Or ingredients.

It’s sticky. It’s squeezable. It would work.

In middle school I had an addiction to Easy Cheese. Not so bad I would squirt it directly in my mouth, but I could pile it so high on a single cracker that the threat of it toppling was well assured. I didn’t have much access to it, as my parents wouldn’t buy it. But if I went to a party (I come from a long line of gatherings involving Ritz crackers and Easy Cheese) I never strayed far from the siren call of a long lovely flow of yellow cheese product.

My Easy Cheese obsession was abruptly halted at a party in my early 20s. Some friends hosted a Halloween gathering in their double-wide trailer and served, naturally, my favorite pressurized snack. I was sitting at the bar when a drunk guy grabbed the can, pushed the nozzle, and fed the family’s dog a hard dose of Easy Cheese. The dog licked the nozzle and whined for more. The man laughed and set the can back on the counter with the food.

My stomach heaved. I snagged the can along with the others and dumped them into the trash, washing the dog slobber off my hands afterward. I imagine dogs licking it, people licking it. I couldn’t take it anymore. Never again.

But today, it seemed the solution. I bought it, vowing NOT to eat the stuff, although the sweet little yellow top screamed, “Open me!”

I spent a good half hour working with pretzels and cheese and cherries to get it to work. I did not have to use the Easy Cheese. I could even, I thought, throw it out without breaking the seal.

But something was missing. Smoke. I imagined the little curl of yellow spreading upward from the cheese cube engine. I couldn’t resist. I popped the top and pressed my finger on the slender white nozzle. It sputtered at first, showering a splatter of yellow on the counter. Still strong, I wiped it with a sponge. I shaped a little twist of smoke, but it fell off the side. Without thinking, I cleared it off the train with my finger.

Oh, a finger full of Easy Cheese. What to do? I eyed the sink, the faucet could wash away my temptation.

But no girl with my history could resist for long. I licked the finger, the salty sharp cheese flavor flooding my senses. And I, sadly, was lost.

We’ll see if the can makes it to the end of the day. It’s hidden, but I know exactly where to find it.

Christmas Bliss

Two red shirts, size 3T and 6, bought in a frantic 5-minute blitz at JC Penney: $19.95

Two sets of pictures, printed instantly on a dye-sub printer Deanna now covets: $37.85

Cost of items requested during the ensuing discussion–2 Glow-in-the-dark Doodle Bears: $49.90


Eliza, age 3 and Emily, age 6


A tear-free Santa visit! (Kid-wise. Mama gets the waterworks going at just about anything.)