Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Perfect Family Photo

I have to admit, I was not looking forward to our family photo shoot last week. Why? I have several reasons.

First of all, well — just look at me! I’m not exactly photogenic thanks to a face that would make a train take a dirt road. That’s a fact that’s magnified tenfold when you put me next to my gorgeous wife and son. But what I dread even more than that is all the other crap that goes along with the family photo. What are we gonna wear? Where do we take the pictures? Do we all have to match? When can we do it? But the most important question — at least to me — was choosing the right photographer who is not only affordable, but who wouldn’t land us on one of the many websites solely devoted to awkward family photos.

And that’s when I got a timely email from an old college classmate.

In addition to being one of the very first readers of this blog, Meri Belanger is the owner of Sootie Studios where she is — wait for it — a professional photographer. I remember her being very talented in the arts at school, but I was nervous to take her up on her offer of doing a family photo shoot. Mainly because I was worried about not liking the pictures and then not being able to give her a good review. The dangers of working with friends and family.

Luckily, that turned out to be a non-issue.

As you can see by looking at these pictures, Meri is insanely talented. But there are some other things you need to consider that make these photos even more impressive:

  • It was hotter than 90 degrees that day
  • We were sweating like crazy
  • There was a 4-year-old involved
  • There was a crazy golden retriever involved

That’s no easy task to be outdoors in a public place (Borderland State Park in case you were wondering), with a kid and a dog in suffocating heat. But Meri not only took great shots, she did it quickly and efficiently. Probably because she’s also a mom of two kids so she gets it.

The other thing I really appreciated was Meri’s prep work. I really wanted to avoid the studio setting with a canvas background and stupid poses, but I wasn’t sure where we should go. So Meri suggested a few places and we settled on a great state-owned park in Easton, Mass. She did some advance scouting and had a bunch of specific spots picked out ahead of time. And she listened to my requests about not posing and just capturing us in our (mostly) natural state, and was able to get some really terrific candids.

You guys know I don’t do many reviews and I don’t recommend products or people I wouldn’t use myself. But I can promise you with absolute certainty that if you choose to go with Meri at Sootie Studios, you’ll be incredibly happy. And you’ll probably go back because she does newborn/maternity pictures, kids birthday parties, senior pictures, graduation pictures, weddings and any other event you can think of. That’s why it’s my

pleasure to recommend someone who is not only a professional and wonderful

photographer, but also a fellow parent and a friend.

So if you’re in southeastern Massachusetts and you want some fantastic pictures that don’t break the bank, done by a truly nice person who’s also a mom, check out Meri here or here and follow the contact information on her website to set up an appointment.

And on a personal note, I want to thank Meri for our awesome photos. Not only didn’t I end up on Awkward Family Photos, we now have a bunch of pictures that will grace our walls for years. We’re even going to give them to family members as gifts. I’ve never been happier to be wrong in my life!

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Hung Like a 4-year-old

Sexting has been in the news a lot the last few years. And now it’s hit far too close to home. I was at work earlier this week when I received a disturbing phone call from MJ. Here’s the transcription:

MJ: “So we’re gonna have to have a talk with your son.”

(I knew Will was in trouble because every time he does something wrong he’s my son)

ME: “Uh oh, what’d he do now?”

MJ: “Well, apparently he was using the digital camera and one of his pictures was…inappropriate.”

ME: “Of what? Did he sneak up on you while you were sleeping, or get a close up of the dog’s butthole or something?”

MJ: “No. He, ummm. He took a picture of his, uhhhh…”

ME: “Spit it out babe, I’m at work. What was the picture of? I’m sure it’s nothing.”

MJ: “His penis.”

Now I admit, I’m seldom left speechless. But I had nothing at that moment. Apparently Will was walking around in the buff and decided to take pictures of a bunch of different things. The TV, the wall, the coffee table, the dog — and his junk.

It really shouldn’t come as a surprise since he’s been more than a little preoccupied with his package lately. He pulls on it like taffy and he’s been creatively aiming it when he pees in the toilet. Most recently he asked me in a very annoyed tone why, every time he poops, his penis gets really big. He told me in no uncertain terms he does not like this and wishes for it to stop.

Yikes.

But being a good parent, I decided to turn the whole thing into a teaching moment when I got home from work.

ME: “Will, tell me why you took a picture of your penis.”

WILL: “I don’t know Dada. Is that bad?”

ME: “Look buddy, your body is nothing to be ashamed of but you’re too young to use the camera to take a picture of your penis. If you’re going to do that, you have to wait until you’re older — at least 12. And don’t use a camera, use a cell phone. Otherwise you’ll have no way to send it to that older girl you’re crushing on. Try to use an untraceable burner phone and don’t have anything in the background that can incriminate you. We don’t need another Brett Favre situation on our hands and we don’t want her identifying you like Tiger Woods. After all, this is what sports stars exist for — to teach us valuable life lessons. Got me bud?”

WILL: “Got it Dad.”

OK, so that last part was made up. In reality we told him our private parts are just that — private. And that neither he nor anyone else except for a doctor should be taking pictures, looking at, or otherwise touching his private parts. We explained how someone could steal the camera or look at the picture accidentally and see his private parts, which is not something that should happen. He seemed to understand.

Yet little did I know, the most humiliating part was yet to come.

After Will went to bed, MJ and I were up talking about the whole ordeal. We laughed, shook our heads in disbelief, and generally marveled at what a bizarre, roller-coaster ride parenting is at times. And then this conversation happened:

MJ: “You know, when I first saw the picture I was REALLY mad at you.”

ME: “Me?!? Why the hell would you possibly be mad at me for our son taking a picture of his dick??”

MJ: “Because when I first saw the picture, I thought it was you.”

Boom. Game, set, match to MJ.

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The FatSlap Conclusion & A Half Marathon

I don’t usually toot my own horn, so this feels a little odd and foreign to me. Like Lebron James winning a championship. But we have some loose ends to tie up around these parts and while I don’t say it often — I’m proud of myself dammit.

I know I’m guilty of letting the FatSlap updates slide around here, but it’s not because I abandoned it. In fact, I won the last two rounds! I don’t have the final pictures of Alex and Dave because those lazy bastards haven’t gotten them to me yet, so I’ll give you my final stats. Or better yet, they say a picture’s worth a thousand words. So here you go:

Before: 281 lbs After: 224 lbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Weight Loss: 57 lbs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the dust settled, I lost a total of 57 lbs. From 281 lbs on Jan. 1 to 224 lbs now. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not there yet because I still have 25 lbs to go — but I’m pretty proud of myself. I made a commitment to tracking everything I ate, eating less, eating smart, and exercising. I ran in the freezing cold, snow and through the predawn blackness. I ran on the treadmill, basically lived on the elliptical machine, and even lifted a few weights. I pushed through injuries, did a lot of research, surrounded myself with people in a similar position and fed off the enthusiasm and support from everyone — especially MJ and Will.

But most of all I ran.

Perhaps the best thing about this experience was falling in love with running again. I did cross-country in high school and loved it, even getting down to a 5:55 mile at one point. Not nearly the fastest time, but I was always built for comfort and not speed. What I lacked in quickness I made up for in endurance. Which is why I nearly quit in January when I couldn’t even run a half-mile without keeling over and nearly passing out.

But I stubbornly kept at it. Each time I ran a little farther and a little faster. One mile, two miles and finally up to a 5k distance. It was slow and ugly, but that’s kinda my thing. And by March a funny thing happened — I stopped dreading morning runs. Instead, I began looking forward to them. Needing them even. You could almost say I craved them. And as my distances began creeping up even higher, a very strange and mystifying thought occurred to me.

“Could I possibly run a half marathon?”

Running 13.1 miles all at once seemed crazy. It might as well have been the moon. It was MJ who told me I could do it. Insisted I could do it. And then demanded I do it. If not for her unwavering confidence in me, I’m not sure I would’ve signed up for the Old Sandwich Road Race in Plymouth. But I did. Less than 5 months removed from weighing a whopping 281 lbs and not being able to drag my fat ass up the stairs, I ran the race and hoped for a best-case scenario time of 2 hours and 20 minutes.

I ran it in 2:14:13 instead.

I finished in 176th place. Usually I’d scoff at receiving a medal for finishing 176 out of 220 and want to punch anyone who was bragging about it. But not this time. This time I’m just immensely proud of myself for setting a goal and following through.

It is not easy to run a half marathon — especially for a fat guy with shin splints and bad knees. But I did it.

I did it for MJ because she picked up so much extra slack during the last five months while I went to the gym and for long runs. Even though she would NEVER admit that I was so fat she became less physically attracted to me, I know that’s the truth of the matter. She could barely get her arms around me before, and now — well, let’s just say this weight loss has been good in more ways than one!

I did this for my son. I didn’t want Will to have a fat dad who can’t do anything physical. It’s not fair to him that I got out of breath playing simple games and couldn’t chase him around the yard for more than a few minutes at a time without having a heart attack. As an added bonus, Will is paying attention to what he eats and asking if certain foods are healthy. He also recently asked me if he could run with me when he gets older. I nearly broke down in tears I was so happy to hear that from him.

But most of all, I did this for me.

I joked a lot about being the funny fat guy, but I always hated it. I hated being fat. I hated being unhealthy and grotesque. They say fat is beautiful and we should all just be ourselves — screw that. I didn’t want to be fat anymore because it’s not a healthy situation, so I did something about it.

And now I just feel…better. In every respect. I feel full of energy because I’m exercising and eating right. But more importantly, I feel confident for the first time in years. I know I’m still a big guy and I have more work to do, but I don’t mind looking in the mirror these days. And I can fit into all my own clothes — clothes that don’t involve XXL on the tag anymore. Shirts that button around my neck. Pants that actually close around my waist. It’s nice to wear garments that don’t double as Xerox copy machine covers.

I’m not giving out advice because who the fuck am I? All I’ll say is it’s never too late to get started and have success. You just have to really, truly want it and be willing to sacrifice to get it. But let me tell you, when you work for months and get to literally cross the finish line and complete a goal you thought was impossible — it’s all worth it.

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