Saturday, October 31, 2009

A slight difference of opinion

"The only thing wrong with this buy-one, get-one-free bacon is that it's thick."

"So what's the problem?"

"Well, one slice is like four regular slices."

"I ask you again, so what's the problem?"

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Before anyone gets too excited about our monkey/banana trick-or-treating combo, Allison's butterfly costume came in the mail hours before her party last weekend. And SHE LOVES IT.

Every morning this week she has eaten breakfast in her wings and tutu.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Newspaper column: Yearly hunt for Halloween costumes is a nightmare

When I was growing up, store-bought Halloween costumes were unheard of in my house.

Not only can my grandmother sew with her eyes closed, my mother is a drama director and has unlimited access to a huge storage room overflowing with wigs, makeup and clothing in all shapes and sizes.

My brother and I simply had to use our imaginations, and our ideas could easily come to life.

A few stand out in my mind over the years like the flower-power hippy costume I devised complete with actual clothing from the ’60s or transforming into the Chiquita banana lady by hot-gluing a pile of plastic fruit together to form a hat.

But my favorite by far was when my neighbor and I decided to dress up as conjoined twins. We sewed matching sweatpants and sweatshirts together so it looked like we had three legs and two arms.

Even though having to walk in tandem seriously impeded our ability to trick-or-treat as fast as our friends, we had a blast.
The nostalgia of those memories always creep into my head this time of year. And now that I’m responsible for getting a costume for my daughter, I want her to have the same experience I did growing up.

But even though I own a sewing machine and have adequate skills to accompany it, I can’t ever seem to find the time. The start of every October has me brainstorming ideas and perusing craft stores, but the end of October has me running around in hopes of finding something to toss over her head.

This year, I gave up early after realizing that the cupcake costume I had planned to make by using a lampshade as the base wouldn’t allow her to sit down.

So I tried to find a happy medium by purchasing a costume at an online craft site that someone else made. Plus, I loved the idea of supporting another mom who is trying to make a little extra money with her talents.

The only problem is that the beautiful homemade butterfly wings and matching tutu haven’t arrived yet. I want to be mad, but I picture that other mom locked in her sewing room frantically trying to put together costumes for other people’s children.
I think I’d be suicidal.

Even worse, my daughter has two costume parties this weekend — one at a friend’s house and another at church. So despite my best efforts, I found myself at a store Friday night combing through the racks for something suitable.

Translation: Anything that would fit her.

It was miserable. I had to fight all the other parents who waited until the last-minute just to get close enough to see the options. Once I did, I found two that were the right size and settled on a boy’s gorilla costume because my daughter loves monkeys.

Then, on my way to the registers, still feeling completely defeated, I spotted a dog costume for our terrier in the shape of a banana.


A monkey and a banana.

I guess store-bought costumes aren’t all bad.

And the bonus of waiting until less than a week before Halloween?

A headache-relieving 40 percent off.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I recently introduced boudoir sessions because I know the majority of women have no idea how beautiful they are. It's not about losing 10 pounds or choosing the perfect thing to wear -- although any excuse to shop is always a good thing in my book. It's about finding your comfort level and a little bit of attitude. When that happens, you've summoned your inner goddess. And whether these images would be a gift for your guy or just for you, no woman should be afraid to show her inner goddess off.

Here is the stunning Alex, who after a little reassurance really allowed hers to shine.




Monday, October 19, 2009


I was very excited to meet little 8-week-old Ryan because I had done his mother's maternity shots over the summer. He didn't disappoint. Ryan was very lovable and had lots of smiles for mom.






John & Amanda

I recently did an engagement session with John and Amanda. We went to a few different locations, but my favorite by far was their new house. They have an amazing grape vine flowing over their back porch that provided much inspiration. The leaves were even shaped like hearts!






Friday, October 16, 2009

Thought some of you might like to vote

I'm running a contest today to win a free portrait session. Check it out.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

1 year, 11 months

Dear Alli,

This was the month of song. You’ve always loved to sing, and when prompted, you would nod your head back and fourth and repeat a word like “Toby” over and over again in a singsongy voice. But now you sing actual lyrics to actual songs.

It’s just one more example of you surprising me with how much you know.

A few weekends ago, we took you and your big cousin Emily to see a performance of “Harold and the Purple Crayon” at Penn State University. More on that later. But before we left, you and Emmy were playing in your room, and she was singing “Old McDonald.”

At first, you just made the animal noises when the time came, but by the end, I heard your little voice chiming in. “Old ... Donald ... farm. ... Eeee ... yiii .... ohhhh!” The two of you singing together was the sweetest thing in the world to listen to. In fact, I’d be willing to bet it could stop wars.

A few days later, as I was walking you upstairs to take a bath, I asked you to sing me a song. And then, in the middle of the dark hallway, it turned into one of those moments of motherhood that I will cherish for the rest of my days.

You got very quiet, contemplated how to start, and then burst into your own compilation of your favorite songs.

“Aaaay Seeee Deeee Geeee. Da itsy bitsy spidey. Uppa waterspout. Down camea rain an WASHA SPIDEY OUT! Rocka baby ona teetop. Ina wind blows. Had a farm. Eeeeyiii Eeeeyiii aaaayyy.”

You make my heart sing.


So back to that play we took you girls to see. I figured I was being a bit overzealous to think that I could take a 22-month-old to a live performance that doesn’t produce enough noise to drown out a toddler who just had ice cream, but it was one of my favorite books as a child, and I was really curious to see how actors could make it come to life.

You were just a good excuse to go.

(Shhh. Don’t tell anyone that parents secretly use their children as beards to see Pixar movies and other kid-geared shows in public.)

So we made a day of it. We took you both to a little ’60s diner and played the table jukebox before our lunch came. Then we went to the theater early, where they had an activity room full of purple crayons, coloring books and angels handing out juice boxes and fruit snacks.

When it was time for the show to start, we had the bad fortune of sitting a few seats away from a woman with a baby. YOU. LOVE. BABIES. You want to hold them and squeeze them and call them yours.

If it hadn’t been for the free fruit snacks, I never would’ve been able to lure you back to my lap. Until the show started, I feared that you would simply scream “I SEE BABY?! I SEE BABY?! I SEE BABY?!” until I had to crawl for the glowing red EXIT sign.

Instead, this crazy thing happened. You were completely enamored. You loved the show. And even though there were some scary moments, you mostly sat on my lap and pointed to what was unfolding on stage.

By the end, you were overtired and cranky, and I’ll only briefly mention the public meltdown from hell that had Emily covering her ears. But once you stopped, we played a game of “I spy” on the drive home that had you screaming for “MY TURRRN!”

You always want to be in the thick of things, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.


I recently bought you a plastic kitchenware set, and it quickly rocketed to one of your top favorite toys. You love playing “cups” and walk around every morning passing out utensils to me and Bunny and Bear.

At some point, I realized you were saying “cups” funny, so I asked you to say it again.

“CUP ... sssssssss”

You say the singular word, pause, then add a long “s” at the end. It’s damn hilarious. I’ve tried to get it on video numerous times, but apparently I keep catching you at the wrong moment. So, instead, I have a ton of videos of you whining at me asking for milk.

It applies to any plural word, so we ask you to say things purely for our own entertainment.

“Hey Allison, say blocks.”

“BLOCK ... sssssssss.”

(Stifled laughter)

“Now say socks.”

“SOCK ... sssssssss.”

(Repeat with various words for as long as you’ll do it.)

You can get us back when we’re senile.


I was given yet another example of your ridiculous language skills from your aunt Amy after she watched you for a few hours while Dad and I attended a friend’s wedding. She had gotten the OK to bring you to a birthday party with your cousins, and the next day in Sunday school, all Dad heard was how much fun you had.

Apparently some people said you had more fun than the birthday boy.

Here’s how Amy relayed the story to me:

“She kept asking, ‘I want da red boon (balloon) peese.’ Then, ‘I want da yellow boon peese.’ And everyone kept saying, ‘How old is she?’ They didn’t believe she wasn’t two yet because she knew all her colors and always said please.”

That part alone made me really proud because we’ve been working on both of those things at home.

“Then Dan thought he’d try to show her up, so he said, ‘How many blue balloons are there?’ And Allison looked up, pointed at them, and said, ‘One. Two. ... Two blue boons.’ Dan just laughed, tossed his hands up and said, ‘OK, she’s really smart.’”

Way to show ’em up, kid.


This does, of course, lead to some interesting conversations. Now that you’re able to talk back, we aren’t left guessing what you want or what you’re pissed off about.


We don’t have a child anymore. We have a dictator.

After one particularly brutal lunch where you screamed to watch a show through the entire meal and we refused to give in, Dad just laughed, looked at me and asked what life would be like if adults acted on every emotion like toddlers.

The concept alone had me laughing, but then he got up, tossed a fork on the floor in a mock rage and stomped around the kitchen barking demands. I ran for the sink to spit out the gulp of water I had intended to swallow, and you immediately quieted down to watch him, well, act like you.

Then, after about 30 seconds, you started screaming, “DADDY, STOP! DADDY, STOP! STOP DADDY!”

Oh, man, if only that worked on you.

So now we spend our days dealing with constant requests for snacks, showers and shows.

Stupidly, I let you come in the shower with me one afternoon when I was desperate. You now think the tub is a waterpark. As if keeping you out of the bathtub wasn’t hard enough, now we have to come up with reasons you can’t spend your entire life in there.


But when you ask for things like, “Snuggle, Mommy?”

It makes all the rest of it disappear.



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The price of success

I’m sure it hasn’t gone unnoticed that I haven’t been able to blog lately. My days are so unbelievably crazy that I’ve had to make a few tough decisions and set some priorities.

I am basically working two full-time jobs now.

My business has taken off in ways I only dreamed of, and I have a constant workload to balance — photo sessions, toning and uploading images, corresponding with clients, marketing, corresponding with my ad reps, ordering prints, maintaining my website and all of the other little things that arise from day to day.

Like painting the dressing room at 2 in the morning because that’s the only time I have to do it.

So, as you can imagine, I have very little time to myself. So little that I cherish my shower every afternoon like it’s a precious commodity. Well, the ones I’m able to take without Allison dancing around at my feet, anyway.

But through all of it, I’m having a blast. I love my work, and I’m thrilled that everyone who has had a session with me raves about the results.

I have so many photos to share, I could easily do 10 blog posts. There are tons of Jerryisms I haven’t written down. And I’ve found myself telling Allison she has to stop doing so many adorable things because I can’t possibly cram them all into this month’s letter. Which I need to write by Thursday. Right.

I’ve pushed myself to extremes before, but this is a new level. I’ve always thrived under deadlines and pressure — perhaps why I felt drawn to journalism in the first place — so I’m just going with it.

Starting my own business has proven very demanding, but it was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made in my entire life.

For those of you who have been reading for a long time, this will ring a bell. I started this blog shortly before opening a fortune cookie that read, “Write and the answer will come to you.”

And I’d like to think that it did. This blog has forged many friendships (and subsequent advice), it led to a newspaper column, and allowed me to make sense of many difficult times in the past few years that I otherwise never would have.

I taped that fortune to the top of my computer monitor.

Now I have a new laptop.

And just last week, I opened a fortune that read: “The skills you have gathered will one day come in handy.”

That day has come. And they are.

Now I just need to tape it up.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Next she'll tackle the MMA circuit

We took Allison to get a flu shot this afternoon, and I was fully prepared for a meltdown of epic proportions.

When the nurse came in, she got Alli to laugh by making silly sounds while rubbing her leg with an alcohol wipe. Then, when the nurse asked me to hold her arms down, I braced for the screaming.

Here’s what happened instead:

Nurse: Okay, this will be a little poke.

Alli: Ow.


Alli (while laring at her): All done?

Nurse: Yes.

Alli: Good.