Shotz Portrait Studio Review…

I woke up Friday morning to a 6 week old. [WHOA–that happened fast!] Right away I cussed myself for not making an appointment for baby portraits this week like I had planned to. I didn’t know who I would use since the Sears portrait studio I used for Zac had closed, and didn’t want to drive too far. I turned to the most trusted source I know… Facebook. I got a lot of negative feedback, but no helpful suggestions or reviews. Except one friend mentioned a studio in Northern Suffolk called Shotz Portrait Studio. I picked up the phone and hoped for the best.

The lady who answered the phone, Terry, the studio owner, was friendly and pleasant and booked us for a little later that day. I hadn’t failed after all! I dressed my little angel, packed a monogrammed blanket, a spare outfit, and a nursing cover– and Jett and I hit the road. Terry greeted us warmly and introduced me to her two sons who operate the business with her. The oldest of them, Kenny, would be our photographer.

We got started right away. Kenny was interested in my ideas and very accommodating throughout the entire process, helping to create a similar style shot as I did at Zac’s 6 week shoot, as well as plenty of original ideas, capturing every precious expression Jett made. Little guy was astoundingly cooperative for a first-timer! We did two outfits, tons of “poses,” and worked for just under an hour. Including the break I took to nurse! How nice they were to offer me privacy (and a cozy chair!) to take care of my baby. There was also a nursery style changing table (not one of those icky plastic foldout kinds) with wipes and disposal bags in the restroom. So baby friendly! I swear it’s the little things. When I asked Terry for “something yellow” to use as a background to compliment Jett’s second outfit, she retrieved from a stack of clean and ready-to-use linens a crisp, pastel yellow blanket which was absolutely perfect. The studio also contained numerous other fantastic props that I hope to use during other sessions.

We wound up with roughly 40 shots to work with. Kenny used his software program to help me narrow down the lot to my favorites, using side by side comparison technique. He also performed some subtle edits to complement Jett’s eyes and complexion just right. The hardest part was choosing shotzwhich poses I wanted to purchase! At only $15 a sheet, and numerous combinations of sizes per sheet, I was feeling great about it, but a little overwhelmed. They did not rush me at all and were more than happy to let me view shots over and over again while I was in full-on mommy deliberation mode. I wound up choosing one of the package deals, although I could have gone way overboard. I think I STILL have wallet sizes of Zac’s first portrait session sitting in a sleeve somewhere because I ordered twenty sheets! Ha! Rookie mom!

[A full list of Shotz products available and prices HERE]

Overall, I couldn’t have been more pleased with our experience at Shotz. The people were as kind as could be and the studio very clean and inviting. They have great hours, seven days a week. The photographer worked fast, but not shotz2rushed… understanding a mommy’s window of time! I was more than pleased with the technology they work with and the price list they offer for a variety of options. And I walked out the door with my pictures THAT DAY! A major bonus! Plus, a traditional studio session does not depend on the weather– and at 92 degrees that day, I was glad I wasn’t in a grassy field trying to capture the moment before we spontaneously combusted. Lastly, I love that I am supporting a family owned and operated business right in my home town. So give them a try… Angie’s List gives them an “A,” they are featured on Groupon, and the Dramafreemama thinks they are top notch!

Here are some of my favorite portraits from our session… not that this little nugget could take a bad picture! Or is that just a proud mommy talkin? Ha!

I am so in love with this little monkey!

I am so in love with this little monkey!

 

His wings are tucked gently behind him...

His wings are tucked gently behind him…

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Super DELISH pasta salad

I’m not usually the “I’ll bring the pasta salad” girl…. I’m more like the “I’ll bring the plates and napkins” girl. It’s not that I’m a lousy cook. I’m a really good one actually. I’m just lazy on weekends. I also don’t like keeping up with my bowl and serving spoon once I’m in cookout mode. [Read: drunk.] True story.

But the other night we had some folks over to our house and I threw together a quick pasta salad that was really awesome, so I thought I’d share the recipe.

You will need:

-a box of pasta (I used penne), a cucumber, a small container of grape tomatoes, a can of black olives, a bottle of Italian dressing, and a packet of ranch mix

Directions:

 

-cook pasta to al dente, drain and chill

-halve the olives and tomatoes, peel & chop the cuke to small (bite-size) pieces

-wisk together the italian dressing and ranch powder

-toss together chilled noodles and veggies, pour on the dressing

-mix everything until coated, chill until ready to serve

En processe...

En processe…

DELISH! PROMISE!

DELISH! PROMISE!

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I created a birth announcement…

on Shutterfly!

CLICK HERE TO SEE IT!

And I got free shipping on my order using the code SHIP30!

The dramafreemama LOVES a good deal!

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Didn’t see that coming…

As soon as I announced my second baby boy on the way, I began to speculate all of the ways in which my life would be different when I went from, “I have a son” to “I have two boys.” Whether that meant bigger, better, fuller? or Chaotic, stressful, and sloppy? Or some unforeseen combination of all of the above?? — That would remain to be seen.

I expected to lose some sleep. I expected to physically be a mess for a while– from my body, to my hair, to my kitchen.  And I fully expected some regression on behalf of  Zachary, who would soon be turning three. [Ahem–He did not disappoint.] But there are some post-baby phenomena that have taken me by surprise on round two…

Here’s the rundown…

My bad. Sorry, mom.

My bad. Sorry, mom.

I did not expect to feel confident in my ability to keep this thing alive. I certainly wasn’t the first time! Ha! But this time I feel like I know what I am doing (a little)…I mean, he tells me when he is hungry or dirty. And I can fix those things. And I’m not constantly in freak-out mode that it must be some catastrophic baby disease making him cry. It’s probably just poopy. I don’t have to leap to action the moment he makes a sound. He’s gonna be okay while I finish washing my hands or opening the mail. (Ya’ll know I really mean taking a shit, right?) So I’m rockin’ this Mom gig! And it surprises me more every day that I’m not afraid anymore. Now plants I still can’t keep alive. Maybe if they cried for water…

my angel

my angel

I did not expect to enjoy breastfeeding. At all. I definitely didn’t love it before. It seemed like constant work, that quite frankly, kinda hurt. I survived three months of it with Zac, and I was glad to have an excuse to wean when I went back to school. But these days, I am finding myself looking forward to the quiet, private time, just Jett and me. [I’m also not having to nurse him every stinking hour like Zac demanded. So I’m not staying sore and stressed round the clock.] And this is gonna sound so shallow and lame but I’m gonna say it anyway– I have an iPad/iPhone now… so I’m entertained. Nursing the baby is like a half hour break to read the Twitter timeline or Facebook newsfeed, troll Pinterest, catch up on news, text a friend, etc. It’s my excuse to not do another damn thing for that short time. Sorry, I’m feeding the baby! And no one else can do it! Now, I’m not going to keep him on the boob till kindergarten or anything, but I am pleased and proud of my nursing experience thus far this go round. And I didn’t see that coming.

Ok, this is starting to sound a little bit like “Why baby #2 is better”… which is not at all what I mean. So it’s important to share these too..

I didn’t expect my milk-production supplements (Fenugreek seed & Blessed Thistle) to make my armpits smell like spicy pancakes. And I don’t know why they do. It’s… odd. And I’m paranoid everyone can smell it. Like in a “Hey do you work at IHOP?” kind of way.

I didn’t expect to need help with the housework; I’ve always been able to manage on my own. Even when I’m busy. But I have called in for reinforcements a few times.  Between 3 dogs and a tornado toddler, I just can’t keep up! I’m worried about how much worse that is going to be when I head back to school in September. Which is a whole separate area of dread.

I didn’t expect to be so short tempered with pretty much everyone except the baby. Little things get to me, and fast. I have hurt Zachary’s feelings snapping at him. I have pushed my husband away. They love me anyway, but I don’t like this about me.

So there have been some positive surprises with bringing home  baby Jett, like how much Zac adores his baby brother– He loves to hold him and kiss him.  So sweet! And also some ones I’m struggling with. As in–My right boob is a full cupsize (maybe cupsize & a half) bigger than the left. Ugh, real sexy. And of course, being a walking waffle. But the overwhelming love I feel when I snuggle that sweet little beansprout outweighs any negative. Even the Aunt Jemima pits. 

<3 <3 <3

My entire heart and soul captured in a photo…So much love!
#brothers #bestfriends

 

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They were right…

It has been exactly two weeks since I have been able to say, “I have two boys.”

That’s two weeks of re-learning to breastfeed (–it’s easier this time, but still hard).Two weeks of fastening tiny diapers in the dark with clumsy hands and groggy eyes (–and pretending to be a fully functioning, rational adult during the day.) Two weeks of figuring out how to handle the needs of a newborn and a toddler at the same time (–the juggling never stops!) Two weeks of watching my tiny miracle sleep and listening to his whuffly breathing (–and realizing, they were right.) Your heart truly does expand to equally adore the two babies you made. You see, I HATE admitting this, but I was worried…

Having spent the past (almost) three years getting to know Zac and becoming everything he needed me to be, I was panicked that I wouldn’t know how to do the same for an entirely different individual. And how would I ever have time? But they were right. [They, being all my mommy friends (and my mommy) who have multiple kiddos.] You make time. Your lap has two sides for a reason. And the heart of a mommy has no limits. And I was smart to buy a bigger rocking chair for my little sidekick “helper” to squish in beside me when I am feeding or rocking the baby. Besides, showering every SINGLE day is for losers.

And so I’d say we are all doing a pretty good job adjusting… a few temper tantrums and potty accidents, but nothing serious. Oh, and for Zac too… HAHAHAHA I AM SO FUNNY. <sorry> No but really, my big boy has been a bit more of a whiny baby, which I expected. As in, throwing himself in the floor and shrieking “I FALLLLED I FALLLLLLLED I NEEEEEED YOOOOOUUU”– And the Academy Award goes to…!!! But we are pouring on the love and attention and exaggerating the praise when he is good. I am trying to not bribe him to behave, but a few extra rubber dinosaurs and sheets of stickers may have come his way these past two weeks. And he might have had lollipops for breakfast today. <Don’t judge me.>

So I thought I’d close with some advice to anyone expecting their second little one… but then I remembered I have no idea what I am doing and that I’m just wingin’ it, so that’s just silly. So I will close with some insanely adorable photos instead. You’re welcome.

XOXO- the dramafreemama

baby10

Sharing secrets…

Going for a walk... someone really likes his "big boy seat" in the new stroller! Like... a lot.

Going for a walk… someone really likes his “big boy seat” in the new stroller! Like, a lot.

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Eskimo kisses mean “I love you”

431864_10200596238341757_1264449864_n

Daddy time ❤
(Seriously, am I the only one who thinks that seeing a man adore your children makes him exponentially sexier???)

 

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Wordless Wednesday… New baby style.

So it’s been a considerable bit of time since my last post. My “Wordless Wednesday” post for today should provide a more than adequate excuse…

Look what I made!

Image

Jett Owen Perry
Born 24 May 2013
7lb 1 oz, 20 in

Image

Sweet little fella. Mommy is in LOVE!

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Meeting his big brothers (Age 10 & 2) for the first time… Pretty sure I’m just gonna burst. The cuteness! ACK!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have tiny toes to nibble and bitty cheeks to smooch! Toodles!

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Inspiring Blogger Award! WOOHOO!

This week, my blog was given the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award” award by Linda’s Corner , creator of the Baby in Bloom website. Thank you so much, Linda! I am beyond flattered to be included, as I love being a part of the “Mom-Blogging” community! There are just so many cool people to connect with that love doing what I love doing– being a parent!

Anyway, this award comes with the following rules:

Keeping the "Blogosphere" a beautiful place...

Keeping the “Blogosphere” a beautiful place…

  1. Display logo on blog.  (TA-DA) –>
  2. Link back to the person you have so inspired. (See above!)
  3. Tell 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other bloggers and link back to them. (Holy shit, 15?)
  5. Perform 1 random act of kindness and include it in your post.

My 7 things:

In my early twenties, I vehemently expressed that I DID. NOT. WANT. CHILDREN. I said this often and with fervor. I was mistaken. My son, (and VERY soon to be 2 sons,) are the air I breathe and the ground under my feet.

Somebody is getting promoted to big brother very soon!

Somebody is getting promoted to big brother very soon!

I don’t like television. [GASP!] Programs worth my time and mental fortitude are such a rarity these days that I don’t even bother. Except for “Good Luck Charlie.” That shit’s funny.

I am somewhat of a social media junkie… I realize this sounds contradictory (and maybe even hypocritical) following my soapboxy sounding item #2. You’re thinking, social media can’t be any more worthwhile than TV shows, right?  You’re right. It’s not. I don’t care. Tweet me, baby! @1dramafreemama

I’m hopelessly cheap, and yet too busy (read:lazy) to be a good couponer. I have not yet solved this enigma.

I am a terrible procrastinator (or an excellent one, depending on your perspective) when it comes to shit I don’t wanna do, especially school work. (grading papers etc.) I will find a million other things I “need” to do to avoid a stack of essays to score or a pile of paperwork to complete. As in, I “need” to pin 87 baby outfits…

This is my bearded hubby... he's mine.

This is my bearded hubby… he’s mine.

Some of my weaknesses/addictions include: A good clearance sale (Oh, Zulily, you just get me!) Sweet Frog (Because it’s damned delicious.) A well-groomed beard. (SEXYYYY.) Good manners. (This will never go out of style for me.)

I’ve been told that I am “creative and resourceful in the kitchen”… Translation: I’m a decent cook. I occasionally share recipes under the tab dramafreeRECIPES above! Most of them are fast, cheap, and easy… that is entirely coincidental, and not a reflection of my character. No really.

My 15 “Inspiring Blogger” nominees… in no particular order:

  1. Their World We Live in
  2. Tanis Miller
  3. Real Young Housewife of Southern VA
  4. Baby In Bloom
  5. The Shitastrophy
  6. Spit-up in the Suburbs
  7. Crazy Dad Life
  8. This Is Mommyhood
  9. Momma’s Bacon
  10. Chockababy
  11. Let Me Start By Saying
  12. Moms Who Drink and Swear
  13. Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms
  14. Bad Parenting Moments
  15. Poop on My Hands

It’s hard to give a “shout-out” to just 15… as the mom and dad blogging community has grown to be this enormous family of awesomeness. But these blog sites are where my mind (and my browser!) goes when it wanders away from work… check them out! For laughs, for parenting advice and tips, for sharing what we can all relate to… doing the best we can as parents.

My random act of kindness:

I treated my dad and his lady friend to ice cream…

Yesterday at our local Sweet Frog™ yogurt shop, the owners of the franchise donated their profits to a local family who just lost their daughter in a terrible car crash. The line was out the door, down the sidewalk, and wrapped around the building… continuously from early afternoon until 10pm. Although I didn’t know the beautiful girl I saw in pictures all around the shop where she used to work, I felt honored to be there with her friends, schoolmates, and pretty much the whole community of our small town, and to be part of the fundraising efforts for her family. I read today where the total was somewhere around $8000. (WOW, that’s a lot of sprinkles!) I know money can’t resolve her family’s grief, but it was still a beautiful gesture on the part of the franchise owners in honor of their former employee.

Rest in Peace, Savannah. hand heart

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Stuff I don’t understand…

I realize that the collection of things I don’t understand could fill a book (or series of volumes even) rather than a simple blog post… But this will have to do at present. Perhaps I will write a book when I actually feel like I understand more shit… Anyway… Lately I find myself so often saying “I just don’t get it” and so I need to air a few things. Right now.

Here is a list of some things that make no sense to me… In no particular order.

bostonOne– The capacity for human cruelty that we are all faced with every day, every time we turn on a news station or unfold a newspaper. Bombings… shootings… child abuse… bullying… and the countless other ways in which man mistreats other man (and animals) on a daily basis. I need not even provide examples. You’re surrounded by it too… and probably just as baffled as I.

Two– Where are the mommies and daddies? Teaching eleventh grade for the ninth year in a row, I am appalled at the appearance (not to mention demeanor) of some children. Hey 16 year old girl with a skirt on the size of a sheet of loose-leaf paper… PLEASE tell me your parents did not see you when you left the house this morning– And that this is solely YOUR bad judgement  as a teen, and not theirs as adults. PS-Aren’t you cold? PSS- Everyone can see your vagina.

This is not a prom dress. It is half of one. And you are a whore.

This is not a prom dress. It is half of one. And you are a whore.

Three– Justin Bieber. Seriously, good opinion or bad, (Belieber or Non-Belieber?) — why does everyone care so damned much what this kid says and does? His impact canNOT  be that significant. Pipe the fuck down, people. He’s 19. He acts 19. He just happens to have a singing career. (WHY he has a singing career also remains a mystery.)

Seriously though, why do these exist? (To be fair, i linked to the Etsy shop where you can buy them... for you Beliebers. LOL.)

Seriously though, why do these exist? (To be fair, I linked to the Etsy shop where you can buy them… for you Beliebers. LOL.)

Four– A mommy can catch  an ailing child’s puke in her bare hands and not bat an eye (Trust me, I did this yesterday)… but a week-old sippy cup that started off as milk will bring her to her dry-heaving knees. Every time.

To open and pray for stale juice... or to chuck it and cut my losses?

To open and pray for stale juice… or to chuck it and cut my losses?

Five– How a toddler can watch the same [crappy] movie over and over again… actually DEMAND to… and not get sick of it. Seriously, I’m ready to set glue traps for Alvin, Simon, & Theodore.

Worst movie ever. Seriously I want to murder it.

Worst movie ever. Seriously I want to murder it. Twice.

Six– Algebra. For real, that shit’s still hard.

For real.

For real.

Ok, so this started off serious… and I fully intended to express myself maturely today. ( No really, I swear! ) But it seems I got progressively smartassier as I continued… Alas, still stuff I don’t understand.
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Coming right along…

I’ve never participated in a “Wordless Wednesday” post before–but seeing as my 34 week mama brain is not going to permit much else today, I thought I’d share a few photo collages I created using PicMonkey… a website that allows you to assimilate your own photos into cute collages. Totally free! (Unless you upgrade to get all the fancy schmancy layouts.)

Anyway… here’s me/us at 33 and 34 weeks, respectively. Baby ______ (we are still keeping his name a secret for now) is growing like crazy. Nevermind the babies also developing in my bra…

My little family is growing by one in about 7 more weeks...

My little family is growing by one in about 7 more weeks…

I seriously love these 2 guys so much, it is hard to imagine that I am going to have another huge burst of love very soon!

I seriously love these 2 guys so much, it is hard to imagine that I am going to have another huge burst of love very soon!

The back yard at my daddy’s house where I grew up… home is where the heart is…

We don't have to talk about how cold I was... Or that Zac nearly fell in. Ha!

We don’t have to talk about how cold I was… Or that Zac nearly fell in. Ha!

Me being a nerdball in my classroom today... (34 weeks! EEEP!) #photobooth #Macbook

Me being a nerdball in my classroom today… (34 weeks! EEEP!) #photobooth #Macbook

 

Happy Hump Day, or Wordless Wednesday, or Midweek, or whatever you prefer to call it… the operative word is HAPPY.

 

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Spring Christmas?

Easter baskets are like Christmas stockings with a handle. Except the candy is egg and bunny-shaped instead of snowman and Santa-shaped. Some edible goodies, a trinket or two, NOTHING “MAJOR.” That’s pretty much it. But recently, parents are getting the wrong idea and turning Easter into spring Christmas… Ahem–I am barely recovered from actual Christmas! So may I please take pause to say, “You’re doing it wrong.”

Upon reading a post from a fellow mom-blogger over at Mommifried, I learned that I am not alone in this sentiment! So who is perpetuating this madness, with hundreds of dollars spent on extravagant gifts and toys, formal portraits, and GODHELPME, pet ducklings and bunnies to ignore after April??? I don’t know, but I’m here to tell her, (politely of course), to fucking STOPPIT– I can’t keep up… Here is what my little dude is getting in his Easter basket this year:

A Crest Spinbrush… The one Santa put in his stocking died & it’s time for a new one! He loved that damned thing– And it counter-acts all the sugary goodies, no?

So many choices! And under $7!

So many choices! And under $7!

A pack of “Big-Boy” undies… Potty training is going well– Kudos, Kiddo!

There is nothing cuter than a tiny hiney in boxer briefs!

There is nothing cuter than a tiny hiney in boxer briefs!

2 Berenstain Bears books– one of our current favorites to watch and to read. We are beefing up his collection a little each “occasion.” He got 2 from his Valentine (Ok, his mommy)… perhaps a couple more at birthday time in June!?

Paperbacks are between $3-$5 on Amazon!

Paperbacks are around $4 on Amazon!

A Dinosaur Stamp set… I found this cool Melissa & Doug one on Totsy a couple months ago for $7.99. But I don’t think they are usually more than $10-$15 at toy retailers!

Supervise-- or your furniture, walls, & linens be damned.

Supervise– or your furniture, walls, & linens be damned.

Mini boxes of raisins! He thinks it’s candy. Don’t ruin that for me.

A little sugary, but still better than fruit snacks or candies!

A little sugary, but still better than fruit snacks or candies!

Bunny marshmallows– we snack on marshmallows after school. And goodies shaped like bunnies are exponentially more delicious. That’s just science.

NOM NOM NOM

NOM NOM NOM

Lollipops! (Aka “Quiet-Makers.”)

10/$1 at CVS! And the sticks are plastic so they don't get all nasty.

These are 10/$1 at CVS! And the sticks are plastic so they don’t get all nasty.

Balloons! (Very cheap entertainment… and way fun in the bath!) Always with supervision of course!

$-Tree Hollaaaa!

$-Tree Hollaaaa!

Stickers! Because who doesn’t love stickers? (Available at pretty much any drugstore, Wal-mart, Dollar General, etc…) And what? A buck or two?

Heaven knows where these will wind up!

Heaven knows where these will wind up!

And that’s all, y’all!

My total bunny spendage comes to under $50… (I bought a nice Monogrammed 31Tote last year to reuse every year.) Remember Christmas when you spent $600 and your toddler played with the M&M candy-cane ornament and a ripped giftbag for two days straight?

Cheers to keeping it simple this holiday!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Need more ideas for keeping it simple for your toddler’s Easter loot?

-bubbles         -crayons/coloring books       -small notebooks/pencils       -matchbox cars        -glowsticks
         -mini goldfish cartons          -nutella go-packs             -small stuffed toys          -mini puzzles
-fruit roll-ups         -letter/number magnets        -sippy cups              -bath squirters          -wind-up toys
          -bubblebath/soaps        -flower seeds/mini pots         -yogurt dots           -play-doh         -sidewalk chalk

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What about you? Do you go all out for Easter or keep it to a dull roar? How do you feel about those pre-stuffed baskets? Convenient or impersonal and lazy? Comment below!

You can also connect with me on Twitter

 

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