Yes, I'm Still Complaining!

I have no one else to whine to so, you, dear Internet, get to hear me moan about my in-laws again. I forgot to mention one more thing on my list yesterday. My MIL has fake plants everywhere in this house. Even in pots. Outside.


10 Things I Learned About My In-Laws This Weekend

It's finally done! All the moving and driving and lifting is done. It was a HUGE amount of work and we still have a lot to do to get settled here, but things are moving along. The girls are doing well. I think they actually enjoy sharing a room, although I'd love it if they didn't wake up so early.

The hardest part has been dealing with all the crap at my in-laws house. I put together a handy little list so you can get an idea of what I've been dealing with all weekend.

10 Things I've Learned About My In-Laws

10. They have the worst cable provider ever. We don't get Noggin or Boomerang. That means no Dora, no Little Bill, no Baby Looney Tunes.

9. My MIL has tons and tons of sheets.

8. The floors were filthy. My MIL does not own a vacuum.

7. Who leaves leftovers in the refrigerator when they are leaving the country for 6 months?

6. It smells like old people here.

5. My MIL collects tupperware and plastic containers.

4. The dishwasher is disgusting. I'm not sure how old it is but there is so much soap buildup or calcium deposits or whatever that I won't wash my things in there.

3. This house is soooo not child friendly. I had to move the glass coffee table and put all the breakables on to a table in the dining room.

2. Giving the girls a bath in their tub is going to suck big time. It's way too small and they have sliding glass doors.

1. My MIL uses shampoo specifically for blondes but she is a brunette.

Oh and here's a bonus. Everywhere I look there are statues or pictures of the Virgin Mary. We even have a bottle of holy water in our room.

Needless to say it's been especially hard adjusting for me, but I think everyone else is holding up just fine.

Amidst all the moving stuff, my husband sang for the first time ever in a rock band. His brothers are in a punk band and decided to start a side project. They asked my husband to sing (which was kind of shocking to me because he doesn't even sing to the girls), and he's been practicing for a while now. They even made a CD. And on Friday they did their first live show. Here are my best shots for this fine Monday.


I'm Still Here

Just getting things settled with the move. A lot more work than I expected! In the meantime check out an interview I did with an up and coming photographer Paige. B Photography.


I'm Lost

I am overwhelmed with emotion. I feel so lost, so out of control. I don't know what to do, how to fix things.

Big J's behavior baffles me. She has been acting mean and disrespectful towards my husband and me. She talks back. She makes faces. She yells. She screams. She just doesn't listen. Part of me thinks she doesn't care either and that's the most troubling.

Today, I cried in front of her. I was so upset that I cried. She just stared at me. I think she was confused or maybe even a little frightened. I didn't know what else to do. I felt so frustrated and the tears started rolling.

It was after her bath. I asked her not to splash her sister. She did it anyway. I told her to get out of the tub. She wouldn't listen. I 'helped' her out of the tub. She stood there, looked me dead in the eye, dipped her hand back in the tub and splashed water all over the bathroom. I yelled and told her to get in her room.

We went back and forth, yelling at each other. I hate that it ends like this. It always ends like this. I don't know what to do anymore. I don't know how to handle her. I feel so guilty all the time. But I'm also frustrated. I won't tolerate being treated this way. I understand that she's only 4 but she's knows what it means to hurt someone's feelings. She understands what it means to disobey. She's old enough to follow the rules.

What am I doing wrong? How can I change things?

When Big J was little she was evaluated by a program called Early Intervention. I contacted them because of her eating problems but they also test for developmental delays that relate to behavior. They came to the house and asked me a ton of questions and observed her while she ate and played. When I found out the results I wasn't surprised to hear that they suggested a behaviorist.

I always felt that something wasn't right. She over-reacted to everything. She would have a fit if the sun was in her eyes or if it was too windy outside. Her sense were overloaded and that made it very difficult for her to deal with things someone else might just brush off. She gets frustrated easily. She feels things so deeply. I thought as she got older that it would get easier. People always say that you need give children the power to label their feelings and a chance to talk about them. Well, Big J was always really good at expressing herself. She still is. She'll tell me when she's angry or upset or sad, but her first instinct is to yell or throw something. If Little J is crying and it's too loud for her to handle, she will get in her face and scream or she'll take her arm and squeeze it.

The bathtub incident was the second time today that she was sent to her room. I brought them both to the food store this afternoon and she was acting up again. She was being rude and I put her in a time out as soon as we got home. She ended up falling asleep.

I'm worried about her. We're moving this week and I don't want all this stress surrounding us. I don't want to yell. I am tired of feeling so bad all the time. I wish I knew the answers. I wish it were easier. I just hope I'm doing right by her. I hope I'm the mom she needs to bring out the best in her.

Weekend Wrap-Up

This weekend was full of First Communions. Unfortunately, I had to miss my neice's first Communion. Instead we had tickets to go see "The Little Mermaid," on Broadway. It was so much fun! We drove to my sister's house in Staten Island and then took the ferry in to Manhattan.

Big J was so good during the show. She even sat through the intermission without a potty break. Our seats were pretty far away but it was still a great show. I definitely recommend it. The website says the show is appropriate for children ages 6 and up but Big J did just fine (she's 4). I guess it all depends on the child.

I worked yesterday and we had four first Communion sessions. Is it just around here that pictures for a Communion are a big deal? One woman spent more than $600 on photos of her daughter. I'm not sure I'll do that when my girls are of age. Maybe one or two but certainly not $600 worth.

So this week we'll be super busy getting last minute things ready for our move on Wednesday. I'm so bummed because I have to work Tuesday and Wednesday night, which means I won't be there for bedtime on the girls first night in a new house. I actually feel really bad and might ask someone to cover for me. I'll also miss their last night in this house because of work. I just hope my husband will be sensitive and talk to Big J about what's going on. I think I'm going to have to remind him. I want him to get her to talk about what she'll miss most and what her favorite memories were in this house. He thinks she doesn't care, that it's no big deal. And while it might not be, I still think it's important for her to verbalize her feelings.

What do you think? She's 4 ~ is she too little to really care about moving?


Totally Buggin

Any ideas on how to get my daughter over her bug phobia? Yesterday we had a playdate with her cousin, one of her favorite people in the world, and the whole time she kept asking to go inside. At one point, she had a complete freakout when a tiny bug flew into her eye. She was almost shaking!

Mostly her fear is of bees. A while back she was with my sister-in-law when she was stung by multiple bees. I'm sure that's why she's so scared but now the phobia extends to bugs of all shapes and sizes.

Today she has another playdate and I said the weather is going to be so nice that we can play outside again. Her first question? "Will there be bugs outside again?"

I told her that we would go to the library and take out a book on bugs so that she could learn all about them. Hopefully that will help her understand that not all bugs are bad. I'm not sure what else to do. Ideas?


The Walk of Shame

Yup, I just did it. Out of the park. Through the crowd of staring eyes. Big J had a meltdown when I told her it was time to go. She screamed the entire way to the car. I kept my cool, even though I wanted to spank her (no, I don't spank my kids, but sometimes I really wish I did!). A friend of mine was there with her son and she said she could hear Big J all the way across the park. So pleasant! I just love outings like that. Makes me want to go to the park everyday. Whoopee!

Kicking it Old School

I had a cream cheese and jelly sandwich for lunch yesterday. And I'm going to have one again today. Ever have one?


My Morning Routine

I'm not a morning person, never was. When I was younger, I could sleep until noon. I am slow to wake, too. I love just laying in bed. Now that I'm a parent those days are gone. My kids are up at the crack of dawn. Most mornings Little J is up by 6 a.m. and Big J soon follows.

It's not so much the time at which they wake up that shocks me. It's the "okay I'm awake let's shout it from the rooftops," noise. From the moment they wake up it's go, go, go. Little J is usually the first one up. Lately, she's been yelling the dog's name over and over. "Coco, coco, coooo coooo!"

Neither of my kids is very quiet. They do everything loudly. They talk loud. They sing loud. They play loud. In a small house their little voices sound humongous. I'm convinved this is the reason neither of them sleep very long. They wake each other up, which is especially troubling since they'll be sharing a room soon.

What's your morning routine? Are you the type of person who likes to lounge in bed for a few minutes? Or are you on the go the minute your eyes flutter open? What time do your kids wake up?


My Best Shot

Yesterday we celebrated my father-in-laws 73rd birthday. My best shot is from the party.

My little munchkin is getting so big and every time I look at pictures of her, I just want to freeze time. She's such a sweetie. I took this picture while she was snuggling with her favorite blanket. The quality isn't great, (something I talk about on my photo blog) but I love it anyway. It's my little slice of heaven.

Go check out what everyone else captured for their best shots.


Moving Day

Well, we finally got a closing date. April 28th. It works out pretty nice because hubby's parents will be gone by then (they leave for Sicily on the 21st). So that means we have to start packing. I mean, we've been doing little things here and there, but now we've got to get serious. I hate this part!! Ugh!

You know, I was thinking yesterday. We'll have moved 4 times by the time Big J turns 5 in June. How sad is that? I just hope and pray that things are different this time. Hubby and I are going to be smart about our decisions. We're not going to rush into anything and we're going to buy a house that suits both of us and our growing family. I hope to find something that has an extra room for me to eventually set up a studio.

This whole process has been so stressful. Last week we found out that because we are doing a short sale, we have to pay the bank a deficiency fee. It's a percentage of the short sale. Get this ~ $5,000. Yup, we basically have to pay $5,000 to sell our house (on top on closing costs and realtor fees). How friggin crazy is that??

We had our inspection yesterday and I really hope the buyers aren't a pain in the butt. Actually it doesn't matter because they're getting nothin. They are already getting an amazing deal on the house and we are paying the bank money so whatever issues they have are all on them.

Sorry to sound so bitter. Anyway, so I'll be packing and working this weekend. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!



Nothing in life is perfect, as mothers we know that well. Still, it's the imperfect moments in life that really make it interesting.

The same goes for me and the pictures I take. They aren't perfect, by a long shot. I'm still learning and growing. I take a million pictures and end up deleting so many because of their imperfections. They're overexposed, cluttered, someone's eyes are closed, or the picture is blurry. As was the case with this picture of Big J. It's out of focus but it's one of my favorites.

She's laughing. She's really laughing. She's not giving me a cheesy smile. She's not even thinking about the camera. She's just having fun. She's being a kid. It's one of those pictures that would have been deleted. It's not perfect, but to me, it captures her personality perfectly!

This is part of the Thursday Theme over at Stacy's. Go check out all the other great photos. Oh and I added some pictures to my photo blog. Anyone care to take a look and give me some suggestions, constructive criticism?


A Girl After My Own Heart

I stopped at the food store this morning after dropping Little J off at preschool just to get a few necessities. When I walked in the house and put thebags down on the table, Little J started whining. I couldn't figure out what she wanted until she started pointing to the bags.

"You want something in there sweetie?" I asked her.

I put the bags on the floor so that she could show me what it was that was making her crazy. Digging through the plastic with her chubby little fingers she pulled out a box of Brownie Bites.

What can I say. the girl loves her chocolate!


Every Now and Then

There are days as a mom that I just want to give up. Days that seem like they are never going to end. Days when I feel like all I ever do is yell. Days when I am frustrated and exhausted before before lunch.

Then there are days that are damn near perfect. There are days when my girls make each other laugh. When they make me happier than I've ever been. Little J looks up to her big sister. She wants to be just like her, to do everything Big J does. Big J can be so loving and helpful when it comes to her baby sister.

There are so many days when all I do is complain, but every now and then I have days that make me understand why being a mother is the best and most important job I could ever have.

I've been trying to pack up the house so there are boxes everywhere. I forgot how much fun an empty box could be for two small children. Today, Big J crawled inside and started drawing pictures.

As is always the case, Little J soon followed and pretended to draw like her big sister.

Then they were both inside. How cute!

Little J would have hung out in there all day if I let her.

Big J even helped me put things away for storage. She's been so good about this whole moving thing. She knows we're going to be staying with Mema and Pepa for a while and she seems okay with it. Even when we packed up some of her toys and told her that we won't be able to bring the swingset with us, she was fine. I guess only time will tell!


How to Teach Your Child Manners

I've been struggling with this as of late. My daughter has been driving me up a wall. She's got a major attitude. Sometimes I think she's 4 going on 14. It seems like she doesn't care about anyone's feelings. Everything my husband and I say she has a snide comment for. Or, better yet, she repeats everything.

Me: "Big J, come to the table, it's time for dinner."
Her: "I'm not done coloring."
Me: "You can finish after we eat."
Her: "No."
Me: "Put it away sweetie."
Her: "You put it away."
Me: "Don't talk to me like that."
Her: "Don't talk to me like that."

And on and on. A time-out would usually follow, but I'm not sure they really do anything. It just seems to be happening a lot lately. I'm so tired of yelling and punishing. Is this my fault? Is this the result of the negative atomosphere my husband and I create by always picking on each other? How do I fix it? She knows about good manners and what's polite and what kind of behavior I expect of her so why does it seem so hard?

I've also been thinking a lot about consequences. I want Big J to think, even if it's for a split second, about what will happen BEFORE she launches a ball at the back of her baby sister's head. (it was a soft ball, but it knocked her down nonetheless). I know that's a lot to ask, but she's capable of understanding the concept. I'm not happy with how aggressive she is towards her sister. I wish she could empathize a little more. She has no patience for her crying. She yells at her. Maybe it's all trickling down. We yell at her, she's feels helpless and out of control. Then, she snaps at the baby to feel more grown up and in control. Does that even make sense?

I've been really trying to examine how my relationship with my husband affects the kids and these are some of the things that are in my mind.

In keeping with my post about attitude, I snapped a picture of Big J at a birthday party on Saturday that makes me chuckle. It's a classic look for her. It's my Best Shot. Don't you just love the little scowl? Go check out all the other great pictures.


Trying a Little Harder

Last night, as I laid in bed with my husband, I told him the truth. I'm worried about how our relationship is affecting our daughter.

I'm afraid that she's going to grow up remembering how much her mommy and daddy used to fight. I'm afraid she'll grow up thinking mommy is "lazy," or "annoying," or "crazy." I'm afraid it's changing her.

Big J has always had a strong personality, but it's only lately that I've noticed her apathy towards certain things. She just doesn't seem to care when she hurts someone's feelings. At least that's what it seems like. She can be loud and bossy and completely rigid, kind of like my husband. He even said last night that she's "just like me."

I want to try and change that but I'm just not sure how. How do you make a child empathetic? How do you make a 4 year-old see that's she's being rude or hurtful? The thing is, she's not like this at school. I've never once gotten a complaint or even a mention of something mean that she's done. I even asked the teacher if there's ever been a problem with her behavior. The answer was no.

So I think it's us. Don't get me wrong, I understand that part of this is natural. She's asserting herself. She's trying to push boundaries and find her own way in this world. I think those things are important. What I'm worried about is that she's growing up in an environment of negativity. Would things be different ff my husband and I tried harder to keep our mouths shut when we're annoyed with each other or if we tried harder at not letting the stress of everyday life affect our mood when we're with the kids?

All of this came about when I found out my brother-in-law and his wife are getting a divorce. They have a daughter and she's stuck in the middle. Her parents fight in front of her. Her daddy calls her mommy horrible things (so it's being said) and now they've had enough. My neice is 7 years-old. She's sad. She's worried. That's a lot for a little girl to feel.

A while back, another one of my husband's brothers was headed for a divorce. They have 3 girls. They didn't go through with it because of the kids, but sister-in-law says that they just don't care about each other anymore. How sad is that?

So I guess I've been thinking about how my husband and I treat each other because of all that. We've been there before, we've talked about the 'D' word but we always said that's not what we want. Things are just difficult right now. It'll get better. I just hope we can change things for our daughter's sake. I want her to grow up with a loving, supportive mommy and daddy. Not just towards her but towards each other.


My Style

The theme over at Stacy's was a perfect one for me this week. I just started a new blog for photography called Stacy Mae Photography. It's going to be about the process of starting a business. I am giving myself a year to get things going, to learn everything I need to know about photography and business to actually be successful and I wanted to share all that with anyone who's willing to listen. I'm on the Internet every day looking for tools, tips, tricks, articles ~ anything that might help me in this process. So I figured why not keep it all in one place.

Anyway, part of the process of starting a photography business is developing your own style. I've thought a lot about what I want my style to be. Since I'm just starting out it's kind of hard to put into words, but I know what it's definitely not. I don't want to have to set up a whole scene while doing a shoot. Most of you know, I already work part-time in a studio. When clients come in we have to create a story for them, props and all. While it's cute and creative, it's just not me. I want to capture children in their own environment being themselves. I don't want to have to force a smile. In fact, I don't even need them to look at me. I like pictures that show emotion. I love watching children play. I would prefer to shoot a child baking cookies with their mom or chasing after a ball or blowing bubbles.

I like simple, uncomplicated backgrounds ~ a grassy field or a solid wall. I hate taking pictures in my house because the background is always so cluttered. I like bright fun photos but at the same time I am drawn to dark, dramatic pictures as well. I'm a contradiction, I know!

These two pictures are of my oldest daughter smelling flowers, the first flowers of the season. I used the new presets in Adobe Lightroom 2.0, which is really cool btw. I think they are definitely my style.


My Truth

On Monday, Tracey posted a shot of herself early in the morning, no makeup, no editing, just a raw image of herself. She was participating in a Flickr group where people post their self-portraits unapologetically.

So this morning I busted out the camera. I took three pictures with the self-timer and each one was pretty crappy. Still, I picked one that shows me as a truly am. Just when the camera was about to click, Little J came strolling over and my dog, Coco, decided to sit down in my lap. Little J is in focus, but mommy's not. That's okay though because that's how things should be. The focus should be on her, on both on them.

I'll keep trying to put more of myself in focus, to bring back the parts of me that got blurry when I became a mom. I keep getting interrupted, just like this morning. That's me ~ mom, interrupted. Still, I couldn't ask for more adorable reasons to feel muddled.