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I’m not the best photographer in the world.  (If you’ve seen my blog photos, you’d never mistake me for a professional.) I’d say that I’m in the lower tier of picture takers, about two steps above “How do I turn this thing on?”

So when I had to take the kids somewhere to get official passport photos done, I put great faith in their abilities to take an excellent picture. I mean, if you have a big freaking sign on your window saying ‘PASSPORT PHOTOS HERE’, I have no choice but to imagine that there’s some degree of competency in this field.  As I would find out later, my imagination needed to stretch a whole lot more….

Store 1 (A fairly popular franchise postal store) –

“Hi, I’d like to get some passport photos done.”

“Ok, come with me.”

“Well, it’s for my kids.”

“Oh, we don’t do children passport photos.”

“Um, why?”

“They’re features are smaller and harder to get on film.”

“Ah, ok.” (Translation: I think they’ve been adequately capturing children on film for over 100 years, but maybe those were baby gorillas. I don’t know.)


Store 2 (An even more popular postal, printing, and shipping store)

“Hi, I’d like to get some passport photos done for my kids.”

“Sure, we do that. Hold on while I get the camera.”

She pulls out a big gray box the size of a bowling ball and leads us to the white screen. It takes her a minute to set up and I focus on trying to get my kids to smile for the shot. They smile beautifully and I’m excited to be done with this before lunch time.

The box prints out the photos 2-3 minutes later. (It was a knockoff Polaroid.) I think about how amazing it is to have the technology of that big camera packed into a cell phone…and then I see the pictures that came out.

“Sir, the images are too light.”

“Well, can you set it up so that it adjusts the white balance automatically?”

“I really don’t know how to use this camera.”

“So, what do I do? I thought you guys did passport photos?”

“Well, you can go to XYZ and have them do your photos. We won’t charge you for these.”

“Ok, thanks.” (Translation: Really? You’re not charging me for photographically removing my son’s nose and daughter’s shoulders. That’s kind of you!)


Store 2 and the mysteriously disappearing body parts…


Store XYZ (The holy f’ing grail of passport photography)

“Hi, I’d like to get some photos of my kids for passports”

“Ok, follow me.”

He pulls out a standard point and shoot digital camera, you know, the kind people would carry in their purse or pocket before the phone cams’ drastically improved. I think to myself “Well, it’s better than the last camera we saw. At least this one uses transistors instead of vacuum tubes.” and we walk over to the familiar white screen.

“Now you sit right there. Great.” Click!

“Now you can come over and sit down here where your brother was. Great.” Click!

Um, WTF? No direction. No smile. No prep. No anything. If I didn’t prompt my kids to smile, it could have been much worse…no, actually it couldn’t get any worse. They both look like they’ve eaten a handful of rotten brussel sprouts.


They’re cringing from so much happiness.

I was pretty damn angry at this point. The dude didn’t even look at the photos he snapped. Nonchalantly, he rang up the total. I paid the $26 bucks for the photos and left, knowing that I shouldn’t have paid a cent for them. But had I stayed in XYZ one more minute, I likely would have grabbed a toilet brush from the shelf and crammed it into this fella’s ass ear. My head was going to explode. It was now lunch time and I had just spent 2 hours trying to get some pro passport photos of my kids realizing that my dog could do better…and he’s got no thumbs.

We finally had to make an appointment with a “government subsidized” postal company and even after the lady’s exacting methods of chin tucking and head tilting, the official shots still look better when viewed in complete darkness.

The bar is now set really low for the kids’ next passport pics. On the bright side, we’re ready for a real family trip out of the country!




and the littlest one hasn’t quite bought into it.  Two months ago, our vivacious, athletic Smushie (with an impressive resumé of sports such as Slap Face, Dirty Diaper Sprinting, and Who Can Give the Meanest Stink Eye) performed countless hours of community service in the form of play vacuuming, Swiffering, and couch cushion fluffing, to try and lock in a spot at the nearby daycare.  Even with a 0.0 GPA, her physical pursuits capture the eyes of school administration and they had to have her.  A full ride scholarship was out of the question due to Smushie’s off-campus antics, but the school did offer us a multiple child discount for enrolling her!

This is the Closest I Could Get Them to Stand & Pose For a Picture...

This is the Closest I Could Get Them to Stand & Pose For a Picture…

Worm was going twice a week to daycare for half days until the spot opened up for the Mush Monster.  Steph and I had decided that once they both were in school, that they would stay there for the entire day, allowing the children time away from me to grow and prosper in ways that I just couldn’t provide.  (Translation:  I would get some free time to recover from the insanity of child rearing.)  We consulted Smush for acknowledgement or opposition to our plan and her response was to cram a handful of strawberries into her mouth.  We took that as an OK.

Smushie is still adjusting to life as a pre-pre-preschooler.  It’s been three weeks now.  (I know, I’m slow at keeping up with my blog!)  She has her good days and her bad days.  She wants to be held by the teachers often, which is out-of-character because at home, the Meatball is all over the place, not shy about anything, and slaps us if we try to hold her.

I’ve got mixed feelings about keeping her in school twice a week, but everyone I’ve talked to has insisted that the emotional scars of daycare will only last a few decades.  Worm was 2.5 years old when we put him in daycare.  Smushie is 1.5, a full year younger.  Is she too young to be away from me?  Should she only be at school for half days?  Does she feel abandoned?  Is she going to hate and resent me for this?

The deeper personal conflict is that I feel guilty for rushing her into daycare so soon.  But after 3 years of stay at home parenting, I need a break.  I’m burned out.  I’ve been noticing that activities with the kids in the past months have felt more like work than like fun.  Not all of them, but definitely more than I’d like.  And that’s no bueno.  I can’t give the kids 100% of myself right now and my performance is lackluster.  I don’t want them to think I don’t care, but I also don’t want to neglect my own needs, much of which I’ve been struggling to meet.  So this daycare thing is as much about me and my personal growth as it is about Mushie and hers.  I give myself a C+ in parenting 101 and have been for months.  I can only hope that this situation will improve as Mushie and I try to improve our lot…otherwise, we may both go crazy!

This is the First Day of Daycare Together! Someone's Weak in the Knees, Either From Fear or Excitement!

This is Their First Day Heading off to Daycare Together! Someone’s Weak in the Knees…Either From Fear or Excitement!

After rereading this blog, I must say that I have to give the Worm a point for this.  In the past 3 weeks, he’s been uber-helpful and has stepped up to the plate as a big brother to help Mushie get adjusted. 

Gavin – 33; Honeydaddy – 20 (I love you, boy! And I know Mushie loves you too!)

The Smushter likes to eat!  And that’s great, but what’s more important here is that I LOVE to eat.  When I’m hungry and can finally fix myself a meal (which usually happens after I’ve spent 90 minutes feeding the helpless ones and my stomach starts to digest itself), I make just enough food to get satiated.  No more.  No less.

I prepare to sit down and eat a peaceful, stress-free meal at the coffee table in the living room.  (The words “small children” and “peaceful” have never gone together in our house, but on the days full of morning beers, I feel like I’ve got Jedi powers…and I try to use the force to merge the two.)  As soon as my plate clunks the coffee table and my butt hits the floor, the vultures children congregate, one performing FDA inspection of the plate contents, and the other poking my food to make sure it’s dead.

The older “inspector” doesn’t usually grab pieces of food off my plate.  He’s mostly just looking at it.  But 9 out of 10 times, my food doesn’t pass his standards and the punishment has him climbing on my back with arms wrapped around my neck choking me into unconsciousness oblivion.  Even that’s not that terrible, because when enough oxygen gets back into my head, I can shovel a morsel into my mouth.  It’s the younger “food critic” that’s worse.  She’s uncouth, picking and poking at my dishes.  She tests and taints my meal when it doesn’t meet her approval.  And her reaction is always the same.  She pulls the wet, half-chewed food out of her mouth and places some on my plate.  Then she spits the rest of the pieces onto my face and food in disgust.

It was time to put my foot down.  If I didn’t stop the madness, I’d die of starvation.  (I guess I could die by asphyxiation, but that’s much worse than keeling over with an empty stomach.  Much worse.)  So I devised a plan…mainly against the Smush, because she can ruin a whole meal for me just by spitting on it.  I decided that I’d buy some spicy potato chips and bait/entice/lure her to pick and poke away at my food.   When she loads up her mouth, she gets hit with a blast of mouth burning discomfort.  (Yes, I even amaze myself with my own cleverness!)

Let’s just say that my ruse worked like a charm!  Smush grabbed a fistful of chips off my rigged plate and got a faceful of hotness!  I couldn’t help but fall over laughing at the look on her face.  That’ll teach her to just put any and everything in her big boca!

What better way to stop a baby from grabbing handfuls of food from your plate than clubbing her?  The answer is clearly jalapeno potato chips.  It’s a technique that’s not in the textbooks, but it’s great for those parents that just want to eat in peace…or some semblance thereof.


Ha ha ha ha!  Now, who has the last laugh!  I'm still on top, Mushy Mushy!

Ha ha ha ha! I Got Ya, Mushy Mushy!

Gavin – 30; Honeydaddy – 20 (I know it’s a win against Smush, but I’m giving myself the point here.  I’m just too excited and tickled about this!)

Worm, I wish you a happy birthday.  Exactly two years ago, you were born and you haven’t been out of my heart since.  Our life together has been very special and I cherish it.  I am excited to see what the future brings.  I love you.
Your proud father,
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