Bike rides and Angry Birds.

I really miss the summers when Thad was small enough to hang out in a little 2 inch pool on our back deck. He was perfectly content in that situation.


Not so much. Lol. The pool is gone, and it has been replaced with chalk drawings on the sidewalk, scooters, and bike rides.

And, when we get inside to cool down from the heat, he wants to play Angry Birds and monster trucks on my iPad.

It's weird how summer has changed so much. I like it, though. And I'm soaking it up. 

Because pretty soon, the only time I will get to see Thad during the summers is when he is either (a) grounded and unable to use his car, or (b) when Tom and I force him to partake in a 2-week family vacation at some campground location by the lake.


Ain't he handsome?


I already lost on my own bet to take one photo of Thad for 365 days.

Today, Thad was in bed by the time I got home from studying and class.

So I had to get creative.

I like to call this the "what a photo would look like if the newborn was 29-years-old" picture:


I think it's actually kind of cool.

And creepy.

I've done it again.


I don't know what comes over me when I commit myself to these 365 projects, but whatever it is attacked me like a rabid dog.

And tonight, I uploaded this photo to the interwebz:

And then, I gave it this title:


As in, "three hundred and sixty four more to go."


But it was time. I was beginning to notice that while my processing has improved, the overall composition of my photos was turning to shit. My photos were getting a bit boring, and I was noticing that my range and motion in photos was a lot better...two years ago.

So yeah.

I hope to make this one entirely about Thad. Sorry for those of you who - like my husband - think that's a little bit of overkill. But I love my kid, and I would love to take 365 photos of him for an entire year.

Now, that being said, it will probably only take one whiny temper tantrum before I change my mind.

See you tomorrow. :)

Totally guilty.

In [almost] four years as a parent, I think I can count on two fingers (get it?) the number of times that I have really, truly lost my cool with my child.

One of them was when he was about 18 months old and he and I were flying home from Colorado. We flew into Chicago because it's about a million times cheaper (flight-wise), and then drove to Grand Rapids from there. Fresh off my diagnosis, my breathing was probably at one of its worst points. Plus, I was on about 437 prescription drugs - 436 of which I am certain were making me bat shit crazy.

When we got off the bus in the long-term parking lot, we were faced with a pretty decent walk to our car. Being late in the afternoon, Thaddeus was without a nap and ready to call it a day. He insisted that I carry him. The problem was that I had my big suitcase, his big suitcase, a camera bag, and a laptop to carry first. He had no choice but to walk.

Of course, being 18 months old, he didn't quite understand this. And of course, being stubborn as hell, I opted not to bring a stroller because (a) I hate strollers, and (b) it was just one more thing to deal with that I wouldn't have been able to deal with. So, he refused. He threw himself down on the sidewalk, kicking and screaming, insisting that I carry him.

When I began to walk away, he began to chase me, kicking and screaming (still) to the car. When we finally got to the car, I was hot and sweaty, out of breath, tired, and completely unable to handle one more scream from my own child. I remember yelling at him loud enough in the parking lot to make him cry even harder.


I felt like Mother of the Year in that single moment. I think I even blogged about it.

So, here I am - over two years later. And guess what. Yep.

Yesterday, I totally lost my cool for the second time around.

And before I get into the gist of the story, let me clarify a few things:

(1) When I say "lost my cool," I am, in no way, referencing any kind of physical violence towards my child. While, yes, there are moments when I think a good swift kick in the ass might do my child some good, I would obviously never act on that impulse.

(2) I have learned that "losing your cool" is something that all parents go through at some point or another. I have read stories from people who I was certain made better mothers than Martha Stewart and Mother Theresa combined, only to find out that even they have moments of weakness.

(3) I have learned that those parents who insist they have never "lost their cool," are either emotionally unattached to their children, or they are lying. Or, their time is near.

And (4), "losing your cool" can be something as simple as having a total emotional breakdown at the overwhelming sense of being a parent to a child who refuses to listen, or refuses to behave, or refuses to stop throwing his baseball in the house, or - in my case - all of the above.

For me, losing my cool happened at a moment yesterday when I was at my peak of being stressed out.

Thursdays in the Jeter household typically mean that I am preparing to teach 3 classes in 3 days, while simultaneously preparing to attend 2 classes in those 3 days as well. Tom is at work, and then in class, so I am all alone in my endeavors to be a good parent, a good teacher, and a good student. And let me tell you, there has yet to be a week where I succeed at being good at each of those things all at once. (I'm not even sure it's possible).

Parenting definitely gets put on the back burner on Thursdays. When Sunday thru Wednesday involve total and complete attention toward playing baseball, playing basketball, taking walks, taking bike rides, having picnics, watching movies, cuddling on the couch, drawing pictures and taking pictures, Thursday needs to involve creating lesson plans and handouts, reading up on Securities Regulation, and outlining for Modern Real Estate Transactions.

Yesterday, while doing just that, Thad was stuck in the house because the weather was shitty and I didn't really think it was appropriate to send him out to play in the rain. When it's raining and mommy has work and school to do, that means you either need to (a) pick a movie to watch, (b) draw or paint a picture, or (c) entertain yourself with Legos, Matchbox cars, and that 200lb train table Grandma and Grandpa bought you for your second birthday that is slowly but surely turning into a storage unit.

But, being [almost] four-years-old, Thad didn't want to do any of the above.

He wanted to bang on my keyboard when I walked away from my computer to make a cup of coffee.

He wanted to play baseball in the house, and throw things at me when I wasn't paying attention.

He wanted to chase Mystic around the house with a tennis racket.

He wanted to drink 14 gallons of juice and cry when I insisted that, no, he could drink water instead.

He wanted to jump on the couch, and show me how he has perfected his belly flop.

He wanted to play Monster Trucks on my iPad, but only if it meant having the volume all the way up, and being able to navigate the different videos on You Tube that show up on the bottom right corner of the screen.
He wanted to stick his fork in the fan.

He wanted to open the sliding glass door and use the screen door as a net for his indoor soccer game.

He wanted to take a shower when I took a shower, and screamed and cried when I insisted that no, he didn't need one.

He wanted to stand at the sink and drink water from a Dixie cup while my curling iron was on high, not even a foot away from him. And when I insisted that he stay away from the curling iron, he wanted to throw his cup of water on the floor to show me just how unhappy he was that I wouldn't allow him to do such a thing.

He wanted to slam his door hard enough to cause my hand mirror to fall off its hook on the wall when I insisted that he throw his temper tantrum in his bedroom, and not in the bathroom.

He wanted to throw his miniature baseball bat at the window, to prove to me just how angry I had made him in the whole Dixie cup fiasco.

I am pretty damn sure that my child wanted me to lose my mind. It's really that simple.

And, for a moment in time, he succeeded.

Because right before we were set to leave the house so I could drop him off with the babysitter and head to work, I suddenly realized just how little I could handle from that point forward. I looked at my child, who didn't have a single tear coming from his eyes, but was sure as hell yelling and "crying" like it was the end of the world, and I sat down in front of him.

And I started crying. And yelling, "Why are you crying!? You're driving mommy absolutely crazy!!"

And of course my crying and yelling only increased his crying and yelling.

Suddenly there was not one, but two three-year-olds sitting on the living room floor, crying and yelling.

I had reached an all-time low in my personal parenting book. But at the time, I didn't care. I was just completely fed up.

As soon as I finally came to my senses, and realized how ridiculous I was acting, I immediately felt guilty. I didn't feel guilty for the fact that I was crying, but for the fact that I was yelling.

Suddenly all of the crap-tastic stunts he had pulled between the hours of 9am and 3pm didn't seem so bad, and the fact that I was yelling at him could only mean that I was the worst mother in the world, and I was for sure going to hell.

So, I stopped. And I picked Thad up. And I held him.

I didn't even care that we were already 45 minutes late - at that point, it was no longer about making other people happy, but about ensuring that my child knew and understood how much I loved him, how much I was sorry for having yelled at him like that, and how much I needed him to understand that when mommy tells him to do something - he needs to do it.

Then of course, to clearly kick me while I was down, Thad - through the sniffles and the hiccups that only come after a good, long cry - said, "Mommy? It makes me sad when you yell at me."


Parenting fail.

I really wish he had chosen to just take a dull knife from the kitchen and stab me with it over and over - I am certain that it would have hurt less.

So there was more apologizing, and more cuddling.

And then there was, "Mommy? Can I have some gum?"

And it was like the world was whole again.

And everything went back to normal.

And I am happy to say that today, I am feeling a lot less like a crazy person. And I can assure you that today will involve me spoiling my child in some unnecessary way out of total mommy-guilt.

But oh well. He's worth it.

Happy Father's Day!

Tom told me that he just wanted to relax today, enjoy the nice weather, and maybe take a drive down to the beach.

So we did.

And it was nice.

We had lunch at Porto Bella's (where they serve phenomenal pizza, OMG), and then walked around downtown Holland.

Then...we hit the splash pad.

When we took Thad to the fountains a couple years ago, he screamed and cried the entire time. The shooting water from the ground totally terrified him. 

This year?

Completely different story. He loved it. And I loved the opportunity it gave me to take pictures, lol.

Hope you all had a wonderful Father's Day!

Thad's first heartbreak.

So Thad pretty much gained a lot of independence this past Spring. 

As soon as the weather warmed up, we let him go outside with his friends, run around, play, and have a good time (without us hovering over him every 22 seconds screaming, "Thad! Put that baseball bat down!" or, "Thad! Hitting girls is not ok!"

Through his time with friends, he latched on pretty tight with the little girl next door.

She was allllll he talked about when we were on our way home from California. He couldn't wait to see her and play.

It turns out, just a couple of weeks since our return, she and her family had plans to move away.

Today, as I pulled up after work, the Uhaul was in the driveway. 


So, I took them into my studio and we did a quick little photo session. Mind you, they're both sweaty, and dirty, and probably pretty tired. But I think the photos turned out great.

And I love the idea of Thad having these photos to look at in 30 years when he gets his first girlfriend (ha!) and she is curious to know what his "other" first girlfriend was like. Lol.

Friday night.

I'm editing photos tonight.

It's been a long day - I had class. Then I taught class. Now I'm editing. You'd think I would go to bed (and trust me, that's very soon) - but no. I'm still up.

Anyways, I loved this photo when I was done playing around with it. Every now and then I find something that, to me, is worthy of some textures and vintage colors.

Then, I came across this next one.

Which totally made me laugh.

I definitely went into the photo booth at the wedding.

By myself.

And took a picture.

Of myself.

I mean, after all...

...that is what they pay me for.


More bathtime fun.

I've had these storyboard templates sitting on my Desktop for what seems like ages, and I told myself I'd start using them when I had the time to throw them together --- and the perfect series of photos to use.

I think Thad swimming in yellow water (because of Crayola tablets --- not because of what you think), spitting water at me, throwing buckets of water on his head, etc...is perfect!

That last one looks a little odd, lol. I'll have to play with it some more...

It never fails.

Inevitably, if I walk outside with my camera to try and capture close-ups of the gorgeous flowers we have blooming all over the front of our townhome, someone always feels the need to walk out and strike up a conversation about cameras.

And pictures.

And my photography business.

And Thad.

And it's not like I can just walk away and keep taking pictures - that would be rude.

So I suffer through the conversation (yes, I said suffer - sometimes, that's the only word to describe it, lol) and then make up some excuse about how I need to get inside and do some housewife-type duty.

Then, I go inside and I complain to Tom because I was only able to snag a few shots.


Oh well. I'm glad we live amongst friendly people, but I really can't wait to own a home on like, 400 acres of property.

With  no neighbors.

And, on a happier and less jaded note...

I am still waiting on a few things before I put a storyboard together, but Thad and I had fun the other night while he was taking a bath.

This is the only time in his life that I let him continuously spit water at me while I held a camera in my hand (and really, ever) so he was soaking up every second of it.


Dear Cousin Kellea,

I did it! I did it! I did it!

(And if you don't know what I am talking about, let me show you a previous version of this photo):

I'll email you later. Lol.

One of those days.

Each of the Disneyland fans that see this photo is going to appreciate it.

And each of the photographer lovers that see this photo are going to appreciate the fact that I was drinking when I created it.

We're back.

Thad and I left for California last week to see my little brother graduate from high school, and to throw my little sister a surprise party for her recent engagement.

We were supposed to come back on Sunday, but we extended our stay until early Wednesday, instead.

I am so thankful for those extra days. It gave me time to get caught up with other members of my family who I had not yet seen, as well as time to get all my laundry done so I didn't have to do it when I got home. Total bonus.

Alright, so here's a re-cap.

I have a feeling this is going to be a long post. :)

Day One: Our day was spent entirely on travel. Our [5 hour] flight left from Detroit in the evening, and got into LAX pretty late. The drive from the airport was pretty long, too. So if we weren't in a car, we were on a plane. And vice versa.

But it all worked out. Airports are like Six Flags for 3 year olds. Didn't you know that?

When I say he ran up and down these moving walkways for two hours, I'm not exaggerating. What was even more concerning was the fact that he didn't even fall asleep on the airplane.


Day Two: My baby brother graduated from high school.

I am so, so thankful that it worked out for me to be there to witness this (since I missed it when my sister graduated). We literally had all of 10 minutes to snag some "formal" photos, but I think we got some good ones.

And, looking at these, I can only see a little toddler boy - one who was so little so long ago. Now he's all grown up, ready to start college in the Fall. I can't believe it!


He's so handsome! And funny - although, not nearly as funny as his oldest sister. Ha.

No but really, Travis and I figured that this was the very first time that he and I ever got to spend a lot of quality time together. I don't know why - maybe it's the age gap, or maybe life has always just gotten in the way. But this time, it worked out. 

Travis and I spent time together at Disneyland. Shopping. Listening to the new records I bought him on his record player. Driving around. It was awesome.

Speaking of Disneyland...

Day Three: The Happiest Place on Earth.

I like to tease my sister because she got engaged to Ryan at Snow White's wishing well, and she wanted me to bring my camera along so I could get some photos of the two of them there. So I did. 

And this was literally the only photo I took:

We were all on the tram into the park, and clearly I didn't have enough space to fit them both into the frame.

Later on, my sister decided that she wasn't "feeling photos." So I took my dinosaur camera to the park for nothing. Lol.

However, I will say that we got a ton of cute photos with HER camera...and as soon as she emails them to me (hint, hint, Brandi!), then I will post them!

Day Four: I fulfilled my Matron of Honor duties on the fourth day by managing to pull off a surprise party for my sister, and her fiance, Ryan. I, of course, didn't do it alone---the Maid of Honor, Emily, was a huge help (as were my stepmom and Craig!). Keeping a secret from Brandi is like attempting to keep spray tanner away from a body builder - it's impossible.

But we totally pulled it off. She was shocked.

The party was complete with 6-foot subs (Ryan's dream), cake, and champagne; as well as family and friends (about 60 people, total).

Travis and his new girlfriend. We were playing the game "Things" and one of her answers was, "Michael Jackson's balls."
It was like instant acceptance into the family.

The couple of the hour!

Day Four: We pretty much slept this entire day. I don't even think I took pictures at all. 

Literally woke up around 10. By 2, we were all asleep again. We DID go to Bennihanna's for dinner that night, though - OMG, yum.

Day Five: This was the day Travis, my stepmom and I all went shopping. It was fun helping Travis pick out clothes - I don't think I've ever shopped for a guy before. Thad is too  young to be considered "a guy" and Tom has a very unique taste --- I won't even attempt to buy him clothes.

But, alas, no photos of this day.

Day Six: On this day, we had one last visit and took a few photos together.

Day Seven: My cousin, Randall, is a big lover of snakes. He has several of them that he takes care of, that seem to get bigger and bigger each year. 
Randall is in a contest right now for a $10,000 snake, and so he wanted some photos to submit.

I was happy to oblige.

But then, of course, Thad had to get in on the action. It didn't worry me a bit - Randall knew what he was doing, and Thad wasn't the least bit scared. I suppose it helps that I'm not afraid of snakes, either. Lol.

I will say, though, that Thad can't stop talking about snakes now. He wants us to buy him one. 

Yeah. Not going to happen. Lol.

This one is my favorite. Thad is making a funny face at the same time that the snake is sticking his tongue out. Lmao.

So yeah, that sums up our last week. I'm glad to be back with my husband, catching up on everything I have fallen behind in, but I definitely miss my family.

Oh well. Three more months and I will be back!