Tag Archives: pictures

There’s No Such Thing as Taking Too Many Pictures of Your Kids

cell phone

“Put the phone down.”
“You’re taking too many pictures of your kids.”
“Your eyes are the best camera.”

If you’re a parent with Internet access of any kind, you know how controversial a topic phones are in relation to your children. You can’t whip out a soon-to-be-outdated phablet without hitting some parenting “expert” or “guru” telling you what a materialistic and superficial jerk you are for posing your kids in a pumpkin patch or posting a selfie with the kids to Instagram during Touch-a-Truck.

I’m pretty confident in my parenting, but after reading so many of these articles talking about how I’m not actually enjoying life because I’m living it through my cell phone camera lens, I started to worry maybe they were right.

So one day I left the camera in the car.

I took Will and Sam on a hike through some local conservation land, and it was gorgeous. It was hot out, but felt 10 degrees cooler when we entered the forest and walked beneath the canopy of towering maple trees. The pine needles padded our steps and my boys bounded forward with youthful zeal, as slits of sunlight periodically found them and dotted their backs.

We explored the forest and inspected downed trees while wondering if a giant blew them over in a fit. We climbed rock formations and claimed them as newly discovered lands (Willtopia, SamLand, and Dada’s Village if you must know). We ran to the next trail map and studied it forcefully, as if it alone held the key to our ultimate survival.

And then we saw the butterfly.

A Monarch butterfly, you know the type. Wings a deep Halloween orange with jet black lines that made it look like an ornate stained glass window. Little white circles dot the tips of the wings and its head, as it rests on some grass seemingly weightless. It was totally still, and so were my boys. Enraptured. Until…

“Dada,” Sam whispered excitedly. “Take picture of butterfly!”


“Sammy, I can’t. I didn’t bring my phone with me,” I said with fear rising in my throat. “But that’s OK, wanna know why? Because we have something better than a camera — our eyes. Let’s look at the butterfly and study it really hard, and we’ll take a mental snapshot so we’ll always have the butterfly in our memory.”

I even did that thing where you make a camera out of your hands, hold it up to your eye and snap a “mental picture.” And I immediately recoiled in horror and felt an unyielding desire to kick my own ass.

He knew it was bullshit. I knew it was bullshit. Sam flipped out and started crying, because — well, that’s what almost 3-year-olds do. The unphotographed butterfly must have also sensed the bullshit level rise to dangerous levels, and with his moment of zen interrupted by shrieking, flew off for parts unknown.

In a desperate attempt to stop Sam’s meltdown, Will had a phenomenal idea. He reminded Sam about our geocaching adventures, and started talking about finding hidden treasure. This idea pleased Sam greatly as his sobs subsided and excitement took over as both boys turned to me for the coordinates to our next find.

Coordinates I didn’t have, because I didn’t have my phone with me.

Taking an excessive amount of pictures of your children and adventures is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a good thing. Committing things to memory and looking at the world absent a lens is overrated garbage, mainly because 1) taking pictures doesn’t always take you out of the moment, and 2) my memory sucks.

I’m a working dad. I’m up at 5:30 am, I work all day, I come home to parent, I do some more work, I go to bed. My mind is a ball of mush. It takes me at least two tries to get my kids’ names right, I poured my beer into a sippy cup last week, and the only things I truly remember are random ’90s song lyrics. So while it’s a noble thing to live in the moment and try to commit to memory the look on my sons’ faces when faced with the unparalleled wonder of a Monarch butterfly, I’d rather have my camera so I can have it forever and share it with the people I love who weren’t there.

Cell phone cameras are incredible and allow me to relive moments from years ago whenever I want. You’d be surprised how much I revisit them, especially now with Facebook’s “On This Day” feature that allows you to relive memories from years ago.

Excess can be a real problem in so many areas, but when it comes to pictures of the people and places I love most, there’s no such thing as too much. So have fun being “in the moment” and thinking you’re superior because you left your cell phone in the car. I’ll be busy happily recording memories and avoiding toddler meltdowns.

Just think, if I listened to the know-it-alls and didn’t have my phone with me, I’d miss moments like this.

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The Best Picture of Brothers Ever

I can write until the cows come home about my kids. I can poetically describe my thoughts regarding family, my two boys, and their early foray into brotherhood. Some of it might even be pretty good.

Or, I could just wait for my wife to capture a picture that encapsulates what it means to be brothers far better than my mere words ever could.

Shortly after I left for work this morning, my wife had to go to the bathroom. So she asked Will, our oldest, to watch Sam and make sure he didn’t tip over. This was what she saw when she came back into the room.


Feel free to caption this in the comments section.

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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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Thar She Blows: The Hurricane Irene Edition

One of the coolest parts of being a newspaper reporter is during “all hands on deck” situations. Elections, murders, the deaths of prominent people—if it’s breaking and it’s big news in my coverage area, I’ve been on it.

I chased President Barack Obama around Martha’s Vineyard and had a gun drawn on me by Secret Service agents while running through the woods trying to get a picture of Obama teeing off on the golf course. I was first on the scene at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy when Somali pirates seized a graduate of their school and the country anxiously waited as he was held captive until Navy SEALs could free him in dramatic fashion. And I polled grieving Cape residents the day that Sen. Ted Kennedy—the Liberal Lion—died of a brain tumor and officially ended the days of the Kennedy mystique.

But nothing brings all the reporters to the table faster than a natural disaster.

Yesterday, with Tropical Storm Irene bearing down on the region, I found myself in a strange place. My house. After all, storms and other such events always had me roving around looking for good photo opportunities and people to interview. When everyone else is ducking for cover, reporters are out looking for a scoop and keeping the public informed. And since I live right on the water, there’s never a shortage of stories during a hurricane scare.

Despite quitting the paper three months ago, I found myself unable to sit still yesterday. So I called up Karen who I knew would be manning the copy desk, and told her I’d phone in updates. She wasn’t surprised. It’s not like I got paid or anything, but once a reporter always a reporter I guess. Accompanied by a friend, we drove all around the Upper Cape and got some videos and pictures.

This is the Sandwich Boardwalk, an exceptionally beautiful spot.

I know this doesn’t look like much, but anyone from the area will know the water is NEVER this high. Usually there’s a good 10-15 feet between the bottom of the dock and the surface of the water. But yesterday, Irene churned up quite a bit of high seas and had the water just a few feet from turning the Boardwalk into a glorified dock.

And this was three hours AFTER high tide.

The picture to the right is a tree down across Woods Hole Road.

Woods Hole is a tiny fishing village in Falmouth, Mass. It is kind of a world unto itself, and this road is the main artery that goes from the village to downtown. This tree fell less than a minute before we drove up on the scene, and we watched as a bunch of good Samaritans immediately whipped out axes and hacksaws to clear the road.

It was really impressive how neighbors instantly realized the importance of clearing this road, because the only other way to get to Woods Hole is a road by the beach that was flooded. That means in case of an emergency, rescue vehicles might have been cut off from an entire section of town. But New Englanders are a hearty bunch and they were out there in a flash.

Speaking of beach roads, this is Surf Drive in Falmouth.

Normally it is an absolutely beautiful stretch of road with a multitude of beaches and a gorgeous view that includes Martha’s Vineyard in the distance. But on Sunday it was a much different story.

Water was coming over the road and flooding it, tearing up pavement and leaving huge rocks, sand and other debris on the street.

This picture to the right is not a lake. That is the road, or at least it’s supposed to be.

A few pick-up trucks and bigger SUVs were able to make it through, but a couple of cars tried and quickly realized that wasn’t such a good idea.

This downed tree was in Bourne, near John’s CapeSide Diner on Route 6. It fell on some wires but locals said the power didn’t go out. When I left this scene one guy was attempting to cut the tree himself, saying “It’s OK, they’re just cable wires.”

New Englanders are a breed apart.

And speaking of a breed apart, that leads me to perhaps my favorite picture of this entire hurricane.

To the right is the John’s Capeside Diner sign. Now it’s commonplace for people to protect their property. But while most people board up windows, someone decided to take unorthodox steps to protect this restaurant sign.

Yup. That’s duct tape folks.

Wind gusts got up to 65 MPH and wind and rain lashed the region for hours yesterday. Many large trees and even some small structures were damaged yesterday. Which all leads me to wonder how the hell someone thought some duct tape on a sign was going to make a damn bit of difference.

But then again, it’s still there so what do I know? Further proof that duct tape fixes EVERYTHING!

And finally, you always hear about the total wackjobs who either surf or swim in the ocean during hurricanes. Well, it’s your lucky day because here they are. This was taken at Nobska Beach in Woods Hole. And the incredibly attractive young lady in her underwear and thin T-shirt had absolutely no bearing on my decision to capture this footage. None at all.

But do pay attention to the 40-second mark when she gets CREAMED by a wave, and don’t forget to read underneath the video for a new Daddy Files feature!


And finally, I’m starting a new thing on this site. At the conclusion of every post, I’ll offer some featured Amazon.com products relevant to my content. Today, it’s this REALLY cool contraption I found that would be great for power outages. It’s a hand-crank AM/FM radio that also charges your cell phone, tablet, eReader and more. You can charge the internal battery beforehand and then charge your phone, crank it to charge or use the solar panels to charge it during a power outage. For less than $30 this is an awesome thing to have in a pinch!

If you guys could click on the link to buy your Amazon items, I’d really appreciate it. I only get pennies on the dollar but all of it will go towards defraying the cost of running this website. Thanks guys!

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Patriotism & Memorial Day

I took a friend to the Red Sox game last week. In addition to being a Fenway Park virgin, he’s also a veteran who served in Iraq. Twice. So it was fitting that that particular nationally televised game turned out to be “Military Night” at Fenway. I’d like to say I had it all planned out to impress him, but it was totally coincidental.

The pageantry that night was second to none. Soldiers from all branches of our armed forces were present and accounted for, hundreds of them lining the field. Distinguished veterans were honored and threw out pitches. A soldier with a prosthetic leg running the bases was a particularly poignant moment.

And then came the piece de resistance:

Fenway’s fabled Green Monster—which stands 37-1/2 feet tall in left field—was draped in an enormous American flag while the Star Spangled Banner was performed. And as you can see, our seats provided prime viewing.

It was a powerful moment. But it’s what happened afterwards that moved me most.

My friend—my tough as nails, macho, 6’5″ mountain of a friend—had tears in his eyes. And I realized in that moment how much I take for granted. I donated some money once to a non-profit organization that helps veterans and I take my hat off when the national anthem is played. Aside from that, I haven’t served my country in any tangible way.

But my friend (and countless others just like him) have done so. And then some. They’ve left their families for months and even years at a time, often missing huge milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries and even the births of their kids. They’ve dodged bullets in the desert, and sometimes those bullets didn’t miss. They’ve watched their friends die and they’ve had to defend themselves. Often by lethal means.

Some don’t come back, but even the ones who do don’t always come back whole. The missing parts aren’t as obvious as an absence of limbs either. It’s insidious PTSD, nightmares and memories that never seem to fade. It’s not being able to enter a city block without worrying about snipers, or being uncomfortable every time you’re around a large group of people. It’s being petrified about assimilating back into a society after witnessing the unspeakable.

Is it any wonder the song that encompasses all those things brings tears to the eyes of the people who have taken it upon themselves to experience the unimaginable horror of war so we don’t have to be burdened with it?

I’ve been around veterans when people from the general public come up to them and ask/say stupid things. “How many people did you kill?” “Were you shot at?” “Did anyone in your unit die?” I’m not sure what it is about that uniform that seems to give people the right to think it’s OK to ask ridiculously insensitive questions, but it does happen. And I want to punch them in the face.

I don’t know the best way to honor veterans. But personally, if I see a veteran I offer a handshake and a simple “thank you for your service.” And for my friends who served, I’m just there. There if they want to talk about what happened, and there when they want to talk about everything else instead.

When it comes to Will, all I can do is instill in him an appreciation for the monumental sacrifice our veterans make for us. And lucky for us both, I happen to have a handful of friends I can show him who illustrate that point perfectly.

Happy Memorial Day. And thank you—all of you who put your lives on the line for this country—for your service.

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