NY Photo Bomb (part 3)

We spent the rest of our days on Long Island hanging out with Gamma and Pop-Pop, and even had some of Gamma’s famous homemade pasta sauce. Mmmm…

Seriously folks, it doesn’t get better than Gamma’s sauce.

And you better believe Cadence was deliriously excited to finally meet her cousins TJ and Tyler in person. After all the months looking at their pictures, learning to say their names, flying on two airplanes to New York, and waiting for them to get home from their vacation in Montauk, she couldn’t wait to play with them!

Of course, they all immediately wanted to jump in the pool…

Of course Cadence couldn’t stay in the shallow end once she saw her cousins going down the big slide and jumping off the diving board. I handed my camera over to Michele and chased after my child, trying to catch her before she climbed all the way to the top of the slide by herself. I could barely hang onto her long enough for Steven to swim over to catch her. Crazy girl!

And after that, she decided it was time to try the diving board. This time, she had a little help from Aunt Michele…

And then she decided to go back to jumping to Daddy from the side…

We did manage to get the kids dried off and inside to play for a bit. Cadence and Tyler had a blast playing with toy cars and coloring pictures together while TJ headed out to Best Buy with Steven to return a cell phone charger. Seriously, how cute are these two??

And then it was back outside to enjoy the rest of the afternoon…

And a few friends even dropped by to visit…

The kids played ball…

…gave Ninja lessons…

…explored the yard…

…searched the sky for airplanes…

…gave spy lessons…

…and danced with favorite stuffed animals…

All in all, we had some serious Long Island fun!

The Art of Raising a 2-year-old (and Surviving)

I think one of the biggest childrearing myths is what people refer to as the “Terrible Twos”.

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the word “terrible” just doesn’t quite cover it.

Sure, it’s an extremely challenging age and the temper tantrums  can drive you to the very brink of insanity, but there are also moments of pure joy, lots of laughter, and days that I would like to freeze in time and replay over and over and over again.

Living with a 2-year-old is not terrible…well, not all the time. It’s sort of like finding an absolutely perfect little chunk of land–beautiful scenery, amazing neighbors, close to all of your favorite restaurants and entertainment–and then discovering that you just built your dream house on top of an active volcano. You have to be constantly on guard. There are always little fires to put out and, even on a good day, there is always the threat of danger lurking just beneath the surface.

See, the thing about 2-year-olds is that, at any other age, they would indisputably be diagnosed as suffering from a severe combination of multiple personality disorder, bipolar disorder, hyperactivity, narcolepsy, obsessive compulsive disorder, anger issues, and narcissistic personality disorder. Hell, at any other age they would likely just be considered a danger to themselves and society and be locked up. They are little ticking emotional time bombs. One minute they’re bubbly and smiling and charming every person in the room with their sweetness. The next minute you’re wondering if you need to call a priest to perform an exorcism before the screaming little banshee who is now foaming at the mouth and writhing on the floor in front of you manages to scare any other shoppers out of the cereal aisle.

And all you can hope is that the employees watching it all unfold on the security cameras are having a good laugh at your expense.

Yet, in spite of the tantrums and the sudden emergence of the word “No!” at the top of my own personal Things That Piss Me Off the Most list, I have to say, 2 is a pretty cool age.

At this point, Cadence’s personality is absolutely her own, and it’s fun to watch her already beginning to carve her own little place in the world. She loves movies and can recite lines from her favorites. She loves baseball–watching the Mets at home with her Daddy and going to Husker games with her Grandma Jayne and Papa Duane. She’s fearless, spunky, and wickedly funny. Her Daddy taught her to fart and then point at someone else and say “You fart!” which she thinks is hilarious. And we think it’s hilarious that it’s now become “You stinky fart! Ewww!”

We can’t wait for the call we’re inevitably going to get from her preschool teacher for that one.

She’s also wickedly smart, which can be both a good and a bad thing since she’s still at an age where she lives purely by impulse instead of reason. She loves music and art. She loves to color and draw, and carries a notebook around with her to write in. She loves playing the piano and Daddy’s new practice drum kit. And she sings along to dozens of different songs. No Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or Itsy Bitsy Spider for Cadence. She likes Sugarland’s Stuck Like Glue and Karmin’s Brokenhearted and the Family Guy theme instead. And these days, she’s got some pretty sweet dance moves these days, courtesy of watching Dancing with the Stars on Monday nights with her Momma and Daddy.

I’m slowly learning that this volatile stage of development  is just as important for parents as it is for the 2-year-olds themselves. See, it’s this point, during these Terrible Twos, that you are really molded into the type of parent you’re likely to be for the rest of your life. Are you going to pick your battles, or insist on always being right and having the last word? Are you going to let your children explore and fall down and learn from their experiences, or are you going to constantly hover and shelter them and tell them no. Are you going to worry and fret that the house isn’t spotless, or are you going to get down on the floor and play and make a few messes yourself? Are you going to let yourself get caught up in the tantrums and scream back louder, or are you going to take a deep breath, wait for the storm to pass, and help your children understand their sometimes overwhelming emotions? Are you going to hug and kiss and tell your children that you love them and that you’re proud of them every chance you get, or are you going to just assume that they know?

Parenting is trial and error. No one has the perfect answer. There is no handbook, no instruction manual, no magical formula that can guarantee you will all come out of it unscathed. But you can try. You can do your best. You can learn from the mistakes, and show your children that life is not about perfection. It’s about finding the beauty in the imperfections, and finding your own way in the chaos.

Here are just a few recent photos of my own little chaos maker…

Playing in the birdbath and helping Momma water flowers
Hiding from Momma’s camera and doing a little mowing.
Running! Running! Running!
Telling stories.

Catching Up

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks around here, but I’m finally starting to get caught up!

Whew!

I still have to finish writing an article to meet a deadline tomorrow, but I managed to get all my photos done or the magazine shoot and my recent Red Thread Session. So, for tonight, just a quick share of one of my favorite photos from each session…

Silliness

In the midst of the craziness of working the past couple weeks, I decided I needed to test one of my lenses. For some reason, my 28-75mm has been hit and miss with focus, and I wanted to make sure it was in proper working order when I headed out to shoot my first Red Thread Session.

It was a little soggy outside after the thunderstorms, so I figured I better stay in the house or else have to deal with a very muddy child. After several test shots, I got the lens back in working order, but decided I wanted to test it out on a moving target, just to make sure it could lock quickly when I needed it to since my RTS session was with a family of 5 young children.

Electra was in her spot on the couch, passed out and snoring as usual. If you’re wanting to shoot still life, she’s usually a safe bet. A moving target in the Romano house, though? That’s easy. All I have to do is take the lens cap off my camera and point it at Cadence and she takes of running, jumping, bouncing, hopping, skipping, dancing, crawling, scooting, and shimmying through the house, laughing and teasing me as she goes.

Little turd.

You know, she’s pretty cute when she stands still long enough for you to actually get a look at her.

It took the better part of 45 minutes, chasing her through the kitchen and sunroom, dropping down out of sight and then ambushing her when she came around the corner to get a couple good shots. But it was worth it. Not only did the lens pass the Crazy Running Child test, I also managed to get a couple good shots of my favorite girl and capture a few of the expressions that crack me up on a daily basis.

Here are a few of my favorites…

The chase is on!
Trying to climb away from the camera
Oooh fishy light
Digging through the shoe pile
Taking a break to make a quick phone call
Haha, Momma’s so silly
My favorite, the “Gasp! He’s here!” face leftover from Easter and the sneaky Easter Bunny visit

The Madness Begins…

It’s going to get hectic around here very soon, and I have to admit, I’m a little bit anxious. Here are the highlights…

I’ve got two prom sessions to process for Miss Katie and my sister Whitney.

Steven, Cadence and I are going to tour a preschool tomorrow to see if we like it to enroll Cadence for the fall.

I’m in the middle of writing the copy for a website for a a good family friend who launched her own kitchen design business. And Monday I have an interview and photo shoot with a new fitness center here in Lincoln so I can write a feature article for a local magazine, deadline next week. Yea for new writing assignments!

I have my first Red Thread Session on May 2 with a family from Omaha.

I’m in the midst of designing and ordering some new marketing materials. Here’s the new bookmark I was working on today.

I donated 4 gift baskets with gift certificates for some local fundraisers and silent auctions.

On the 19th, I’m photographing a charity bike ride event for a non-profit cancer awareness organization. Then on the 20th, I’m sponsoring a hole at a fundraiser golf outing and will be photographing the participants. And somewhere in the midst of it all, I may also be doing some family and newborn photos for one of my old high school friends.

Whew! It makes me dizzy just thinking about it!

I have to admit, I had a little bit of a freak out yesterday. Just thinking about it all, and trying to figure out how I was going to get it all done was totally overwhelming me. Poor Steven had to listen to me rant and ramble, but I got it out of my system, burned some midnight (or rather some 4:00 am) oil and managed to get a pretty good start. I’m feeling a little bit more comfortable now, and I have something of a plan. But, as always, I imagine I will just keep moving forward, wading through whatever the tide will bring me, and enjoying the ride as I go.

If I can just keep myself sane in the process. I’m sure Steven and Cadence will appreciate it. 🙂

Excavation 2012 – Day 50 – A Scrapbooker I Am Not

There are things that I am really good at–writing, photography, listening, cooking, drawing, editing/proofreading, cutting my husband’s hair, fantasy sports and first-person shooter video games. And then, there are things that I am not so good at–math, balancing the checkbook, running (or at least motivating myself to run), returning phone calls, getting my blog done and getting to bed before midnight, and scrapbooking.

Of all the things on my Things I Suck At list, the only one that really bothers me is the scrapbooking. I’d like to be good at it, and as much as I love photos and photography, you’d figure it would be sort of a natural way to showcase some of my work. Believe me, I love a well-made scrapbook, and I am totally jealous of people like my friend Susan who create beautiful scrapbooks and make it seem so effortless.

Not for me.

Sit me down with a pile of photos, a blank scrapbook, and a big supply of scrapbooking materials and I freeze up faster than a nerdy kid getting asked to the prom.

I bought this particular magazine back in 2002, along with a small starter kit of scrapbooking materials. The plan was to make myself a couple of books full of photos from my high school and college years.

Guess what, the photos are still in boxes and most of the scrapbooking materials (with the exception of this how-to magazine) have disappeared over the years and the many moves.

So, I think I’ll go ahead and let this one go, and leave the scrapbooking to the real artists like my friend Susan. Me? I’ll stick to taking the photos.