Welcome To The Dollhouse

Care.com Doesn’t Care at All

CareEveryone,

I cannot tell you how stunned and disappointed I am with Care.com. If someone had told me that I would be so mistreated by an organization with “care” in its name, I wouldn’t have believed it. Let me tell you what happened.

In May, my husband and I hired a Care.com housekeeper with high hopes, though she proved herself to be terribly incompetent. Despite her glowing recommendations, during her 3 hours of work, she tried to wash clothes using fabric softener, put non-dishwasher safe pans in the dishwasher after being told that they needed to be washed by hand, and was terribly, terribly slow. After 3 hours, not one room had been cleaned. There was no way that she was going to be able to clean the entire house in the allotted 5 hours. Abruptly at the 3 hour mark, she said she was ill and was going to leave. On her way out she demanded payment in cash for the full 5 hours. We normally paid our previous housekeeper with a check, so her wanting cash was unexpected. She lied and said that she had talked to me about only accepting cash and then tried to add a 10% surcharge to the 5 hour wages. Right after she left, my husband found my daughter’s hand made sweater knit by Auntie Lisa in the dryer! She had been told that this, and many other items, needed to be hung to dry. That was the last straw for my husband who was there that day. He called and texted her to return the key to our house as we would not require her services any longer. She told him that she would get it to us later. She had to be pressured into returning the key that day. The whole experience was a disaster. Luckily we were able to find a wonderful housekeeper through word of mouth and we have been very pleased.

Yet, I returned to care.com earlier this week in order to post another position as I needed in-home after school care for my daughter. The same housekeeper from May came up in the childcare list. She had one 2-star review (out of 5) posted by another client who wasn’t too happy. At that point I decided to add a review of our experience with her. It was accurate but fair. I wrote a scaled down version of what I described above. The next day after reading the review, she used the Care system to send an abusive and insulting message to my husband (who she thought had authored the review). She then blocked our account from being able to reply to her through Care. In going through my old e-mails, I found the email address she used when she was hired in May. I replied, calling her on her unprofessional behavior. What followed was a long exchange where she said we were pigs, called my husband “special needs” and “gay,” commented on why we adopted our daughter, and then became racist, talking about “you black people.” She also threatened to call the police on me (I told her to please go ahead) and found some number for me through Vitals.com and said she was going to call my manager (I gave her their names and asked her if she needed their numbers as well.) Another threat she made was that she was going to get me banned from Care because of my manipulative lies.

As soon as Care.com opened yesterday, I called and spoke to a rep, telling him everything that had transpired. He was shocked. “This is beyond unprofessional,” he said, “it’s just WRONG!” He made copious notes and said that he would pass it all on to security. I asked if he wanted me to send the collected e-mails as evidence, but he said that security would contact me if they needed this information. He apologized to me on behalf of the company. I also warned him that she had threatened to get me banned. He told me that there was enough here for the security team to work on.

I hung up the phone and felt very satisfied that the matter would be handled appropriately. And then I received the following email from care.com yesterday evening:

Dear Liana, We are writing to inform you that we have terminated your Care.com membership. Under our terms of service, Care.com has the right, among other things and in its sole discretion, to terminate your membership for any reason or no reason, with or without notice. In addition, Care.com is authorized by the terms of service to notify other members with whom you have corresponded of this action. As indicated, Care.com may terminate a member for any reason or no reason. Accordingly, we have notified members that our decision to terminate your Care.com membership does not constitute and should not be interpreted or used as information bearing on your character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living.

I was dumbfounded! I was the victim here of retaliation for an unfavorable review. How could they terminate my membership? I still was looking for after school child care. And I had done nothing wrong!

I wrote asking for the reason that my membership was terminated. And this is what I was told:

Dear Liana, Pursuant to the Care.com Privacy Policy and Terms of Use, Care.com is not required to release the specific details as to why an account has been closed. However, below is a list of common reasons why an account may be terminated. As a membership-based online community, Care.com reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to remove a member’s Care.com membership for any reason or no reason, with or without notice. If we terminate your registration, we have no obligation to notify you of the reason, if any, for your termination. Reasons why we may remove a member from the Care.com community include, but are not limited to:

  • The individual does not meet membership criteria (e.g., is underage)
  • Care.com does not offer its services where the member is located
  • The member is not active in the service
  • Care.com determines that the services offered by the member are not being sufficiently utilized
  • The member has misrepresented himself or herself and/or has provided false information to Care.com
  • We were unable to verify the information the member provided when he/she registered
  • The member has posted or searched for inappropriate words/phrases and/or content on Care.com
  • The member has been alleged to have harassed other member(s) of Care.com
  • The member has been accused of, arrested for, or convicted of a crime
  • Allegations of theft, abuse, or neglect have been brought against the member

As stated above, Care.com may remove a member for any reason or no reason. Accordingly, any decision by Care.com to remove a member’s Care.com membership does not constitute and should not be interpreted or used as information bearing on the member’s character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living. I have refunded your last charge of $40 and your card will no longer be billed. Please note that the refund may take up to a week to show on bank or credit card statements.

I made clear that I had committed none of the listed violations, so there must be some reason that I was kicked out of the site. I called and spoke to a rep who basically said that they can kick me off the site without giving me any reason and there is nothing I can do about it. I am banned for life. I asked to speak to a manager. She said that one would contact me before the end of the day. I later found this in my inbox:

Dear Liana, As per your request I have reviewed your case and unfortunately the decision to close you account is irreversible. Furthermore, when we terminate an account we are not required to disclose the specific reasons as to why the account was removed. Per our Terms of Use, Care.com reserves the right, among other things and in its sole discretion, to terminate your membership for any reason or no reason, with or without notice. I apologize, but you will not be able to re-enroll on Care.com. If you have any further questions or concerns please refer to our Terms of Use. Section 5, which I have included below, provides the exact information pertaining to your concern. 5. Termination of Registration In any event, Care.com reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to terminate your access to all or part of the Care.com Site, to remove your profile and/or any content posted by or about you from the Site, and/or to terminate your registration in Care.com, for any reason or no reason, with or without notice. If we terminate your registration, we have no obligation to notify you of the reason, if any, for your termination. Best Regards, Benjamin Care.com Member Care Supervisor

This was just madness.

I tried reaching out to Sheila Mercalo ([email protected]; @smercalo), the president of the company, hoping that there could be some reason applied to my situation. Alas no, I received this last e-mail:

Dear Liana, We have received your concerns addressed to Sheila Marcelo, and unfortunately, the decision to close you account is irreversible. Furthermore, when we terminate an account we are not required to disclose the specific reasons as to why the account was removed. Per our Terms of Use, Care.com reserves the right, among other things and in its sole discretion, to terminate your membership for any reason or no reason, with or without notice. I apologize, but you will not be able to re-enroll on Care.com. If you have any further questions or concerns please refer to our Terms of Use. Section 5, which I have included below, provides the exact information pertaining to your concern. 5. Termination of Registration In any event, Care.com reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to terminate your access to all or part of the Care.com Site, to remove your profile and/or any content posted by or about you from the Site, and/or to terminate your registration in Care.com, for any reason or no reason, with or without notice. If we terminate your registration, we have no obligation to notify you of the reason, if any, for your termination. This e-mail serves as our final communication on this matter. Best Regards, Janice Care.com Member Care Supervisor

So there you have it, my friends. I give an accurate but fair review, get harassed and threatened by the reviewee, and Care.com bounces me from its site, without cause. Please tell me that you think this is as ridiculous as I do. I guess no honest review goes unpunished.

Update: September 4, 2013

They banned my husband!

In the latest development from Caredotcom, they have proven themselves to be liars. I asked the customer service person that I spoke to on August 29, 2013 whether there was any issue with my husband’s creating a membership on Caredotcom. The representative said that my husband was indeed free to create an account. My husband then created an account on September 3rd. Today, September 4th, he receives a notice indicating that his account has been terminated from Caredotcom. Again they refuse to give an explanation for this termination. This is just not OK! They have gone from ridiculous to absurd. Will they next ban my sister or brother? My friends? We cannot let this stand.

Update: September 4, 2013

The Caredotcom petition just received an unbelievable response from Martha Fan, Co-Founder and VP Service Delivery and Operations at Care.com. She writes:

“We understand that Ms. Clark is upset by, and disagrees with, the decision that was made to remove her from the Care.com website. The removal of her membership is, however, in no way, a result of the caregiver feedback that she provided. Ms. Clark’s concerns regarding the caregiver in question were shared with the appropriate department and necessary actions pertaining to that caregiver were taken. We remove users from our site for a variety of reasons, and while we can’t share the details surrounding this particular account, we can say that we don’t make these decisions lightly. Upon enrollment, Ms. Clark acknowledged and agreed to our Terms of Use, which clearly state that Care.com reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to terminate members access to all or part of the Care.com Site, to remove their profile and/or any content posted by or about them from the Site, and/or to terminate their registration in Care.com, for any reason or no reason, with or without notice. If we terminate their registration, we have no obligation to notify them of the reason, if any, for their termination. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause Ms. Clark and do hope that she is able to find the care that she is searching for. Regards, Martha Fan”

Ms Fan wants us to believe that my membership termination OCCURRING ON THE SAME DAY that I reported the horrible harassment from the housekeeper I had just reviewed is simple coincidence. They *just happened* to decide to terminate my membership for a reason *completely unrelated* to my having let them know THAT VERY DAY about the vicious retaliative harassment I suffered from the housekeeper I hired from their service! The woman who threatened me with the police, threatened to call my job, and said she would have me banned from caredotcom. No, the membership termination on that very day was just coincidence. Right…

The more I read about Caredotcom on the web, the more I see that this is their pattern of behavior. I mistakenly thought that my situation was a one-off, but now see that they terminate memberships at will. One can only surmise that they are seeking to suppress negative reviews of their caregivers especially after cases like this one from Denver (http://denver.cbslocal.com/2013/06/22/babysitter-convicted-of-sexual-assault-on-child-hired-from-website/)

Caredotcom executives need to work a little harder to make us believe that my termination was just “a coincidence.” Let us keep up the pressure! They cannot suppress negative reviews!

Sign my petition on Change.org to get my account reinstated: Petition


The Things You Learn About Shapewear

Despite my major love of shoes, I must confess that I’m so not good at being a girl. It pains me to wear dresses, mostly because of my hatred of stockings, but also because I suddenly feel that I have to look better when I wear a dress or a skirt. I start hunting for makeup (which is an entire ordeal in and of itself), locating accessories (and I must consult a book in order to successfully wear a scarf), and coordinating jewelry. I just suck at all that stuff.

Adding insult to injury, I also have more loose and jiggly bits than I ought, and this requires the use of shapewear. Normally when I find myself in need of shapewear, my shapewear then decides to hide from me on general principle. It is always nowhere to be found. So seeking to remedy that problem, I stocked up on various pieces during a Rue La La event and then got a clear shelf box from the Container Store to trap all these items and keep them from running away.

Thus yesterday during the 2 hours it took me to get ready for my big presentation, I was, in fact, able to find my shapewear and successfully use it to keep my jiggly bits stable for the day. Unfortunately, however, my total girl ignorance created another problem that I only discovered as my bladder was about to explode.

Right before the talk, I had to use the loo in the worst way. All the fluids I had taken in to help my laryngitic throat ran through me at breakneck speed. I ran to the bathroom and discovered in the stall, that I had created a major problem for myself.

Because I didn’t know any better, I had put on my pantyhose first and then the full bodysuit shapewear thing (had like a bike short bottom). Now the shapewear people knew what they were doing because they put a nice opening in the crotch of the bodysuit for such a need as I was then having. Yet because I’m ignorant of the girly ways, I found this crotch opening to be blocked by my non-crotch opening pantyhose! Who knew that shapewear goes first and then the pantyhose?! Do they teach you this in girl school somewhere?

Yes, what ensued in the bathroom was fascinating in its complexity. I’ll spare you the details. But good goodness, lesson learned!


Seriously?

Last Saturday I dragged Z across the bridge to New Jersey in order to pick up my order from The Container Store that I was too cheap to have shipped to the house. She was pretty excited to go to New Jersey, which, in her imagination, she thought of as a place to go have an adventure. Unfortunately the adventure was being led around Crate & Barrel to look at housewares AND THEN to go next door to The Container Store and do the very same thing.

Despite her boredom, she was a really good sport. She was pretty cool about helping carry things and only had one bit of upset that I didn’t get her a large fuzzy pillow. The child needs a $50 fuzzy pillow like she needs a hole in her head, so that didn’t happen. But Mommy got some cool things like a fab summer cocktail pitcher and stirrer, an individual serving brownie baking sheet, a doughnut pan, a sheet for rolling out dough to size, herb scissors and (so cute!) a powdered sugar sifter. (I’m a major sucker for kitchen stuff!)

As we waited for my order to be brought up in The Container Store, we did more wandering to see if there were any more items left to buy after the enormous order I placed during an insomniac night. In one aisle, I found a fabric covered grocery/laundry cart thing with wheels that I thought would be a great way to cart around my blankets and props during a photo shoot. Zara was more than happy to be responsible for wheeling it around the store.

When the time came to check out, both the cashier and the floor clerk who had helped me with my online order retrieval fell under the spell known to me and Mason as The Zara Effect. The kid has a magnetic pull that makes most people forget that either of us are standing with her. And when she gives them the dimpled smile, they are totally smitten.

The floor clerk asked her the obligatory, “how old are you” question. To which she gave the standard, “I’m 5 years old but am turning 6 on May 2nd.”  They did a little more chatting (what school do you go to? what grade are you in?) while I watched my purchases add up on the cash register.

Then the lady asked her, “Do you know what shape this is?” pointing to one of the large dots on the cart I was buying. Now, I’m thinking to myself, if my almost 6 year old daughter cannot recognize a circle at this age, I would need to be home educating her ferociously rather than shopping away for home furnishings. The kidlet, though, gives her a look that’s a cross between do-you-think-I’m-stupid and is-this-a-trick-question?

“It’s a circle,” she declared, choosing the former interpretation over the latter.

“Very good!” enthused the floor clerk. I rolled my eyes.

“Or it could be a sphere,” Zara then posited. “Or an orb.”

“Well yes,” declared the clearly stunned woman. “It could be a sphere or an orb. You are right.”

My eye roll turned into a smirk. Don’t sell my kidlet short. Circle, my ass!

I then turned to wink at the best kid in the world. She flashed that beatific smile in my direction, and all was right with the world.


Fake Tree, Fake Apples…What The Heck?

I’ve returned to my long-ignored blog because I saw something yesterday that I need the help of my internet friends to help me figure out. I just cannot make any sense of what my eyes saw. None whatsoever.

I was exiting a conference room at work on Wednesday and passed what looked to be a fake ficus tree decoration. I had never paid any attention to this fake ficus, because, after all, who pays any attention to fake trees in a workplace? Unless you are a workplace that sells fake trees.

This time, however, I spent a nanosecond more viewing the tree than I normally did and saw this:

Do you see what caught my eye? I’m sure you do. The apples.

Yes, indeed, there were fake apples hanging in the fake ficus tree:

Note that they are hooked to the tree with twist ties. Let me re-state this for it to sink in. Some person or persons took the time to get a bunch of fake apples and hook them to a fake ficus using individual twist ties…for a conference room decoration!

What possible reason could he/she/they have had for doing such a thing?!! This is not the apple tree conference room. And the job does not involve trees or apples (or twist ties for that matter) in any way. So what would possess someone to decorate a fake ficus with fake apples?!

I have no answer, but it puzzles me nonetheless. I’ve tried to come up with some possible explanations, though none of these are very convincing.

  • A flash mob gathering to decorate conference room fake ficus trees with fruit.
  • A person who really likes to ponder the beauty of apples while stuck in an interminable meeting
  • Someone who seeks to confuse analytic people like myself (why the hell are the fake apples attached to the fake tree? I MUST know!)
  • Left over from some teambuilding event involving attaching fake apples (to represent the employee) to a fake tree (to represent the team).
  • Cleaning people with too much time on their hands

I just don’t know, my internet friends. But this was just too weird a sight to pass by. I had to share.

 


Must See Fireworks!

I shot some great fireworks photos on the fourth. Visit the Eclectic Journey Photography blog and prepare to be amazed!

Fireworks!

And yes, one day soon I will write a real post here again. I promise!


You Mean You Don’t Worry About That Too?

You Mean You Don’t Worry About That Too or Reason #207 Why I Love My Husband

What? You mean that you don’t worry all the time that your car is going to blow up every time you start it? Are you telling me that fear isn’t common or (gulp) normal?

Well…I don’t know what my problem is, but I do have some unusual fears. These aren’t paralytic or run-screaming-from-the-room fears, but they are the self-talk-needing, get-that-thought-out-of-your-head type fears. It all began with lightbulbs.

I’ve very hesitant to change a lightbulb for fear of electrocution. (Wha? You’re not afraid of that too?) I blame the Girl Scouts for this fear. Yes, the Girl Scouts!

During my tender years long, long, long, long, long ago when I was but a little Brownie in the GS, we were shown a film (not a video…a film on a reel with a projector) about CPR and first aid. I think we were a tad young for such a film, but it was shown nonetheless.

The initial scene was one where a carnival worker reached up to change a light bulb on the outside of his booth while standing in a puddle of water. As I watched in horror, he was electrocuted, requiring someone to perform CPR and send him on his way in an ambulance.

However, to my young mind, this was an astonishing event to witness. The idea that something as simple as a light bulb and a puddle could combine to cause death was just dumbfounding. It imprinted in my mind at such a young age that every time I go to change a light bulb, I still look down to make sure I’m not standing in a puddle (yes, I do this in the house, even). It’s ridiculous, I know, but that image of the electrocuted carnival worker made me look differently at light bulbs.

Now the whole car-blow-up-when-I-start-it fear comes from heaven knows where. But it’s real as I sometimes find myself holding my breath as I press the starter just waiting to be incinerated into a crispy critter before my brain can even log what’s going on. I truly have no freaking idea where this fear came from. Perhaps I watched too many crazy movies of the week. I just don’t know.

The funny thing is that this is a fear I must have forgotten to share with AdoringHusband. So he was a little taken aback when I blurted out, “I hope the car doesn’t blow up” as we were making our way in the parking lot after a lovely Valentine’s Day dinner. I can blame the Cosmo for making me speak aloud my silly thought, but it resulted in one of the funniest conversations we’ve ever had.

“What do you mean, ‘I hope the car doesn’t blow up‘? Why would it blow up?” he asked in confusion.

“Well you know,” I stammered, “cars do blow up some times?”

Where do cars blow up sometimes?”

“They blow up sometimes. You hear about it,” I insisted.

“On the news. In the Middle East.”

“No, they blow up here too.”

“When’s the last time a car blew up here in SmallSuburbanTown? When’s the last time one blew up in Philly?” he pushed.

“I don’t know,” I exclaimed huffily, “but it still could happen. Don’t you worry about your car blowing up?”

“No. Of all the things I worry about, that would not be one of the them.” he said flatly.

“Well what if someone put a bomb in your car? That could happen!”

“Why would anyone put a bomb in my car, for goodness sake?”

“It could happen! Like what if someone put a hit out on me…”

“What?!,” he interrupted, “Wait a minute! Why would anyone put a hit out on you, suburban pediatrician without enemies or vices?!”

“I do have a weakness for cheesecake. That could be considered a vice.”

“So a hit would be put out on you because, what, you bought too much cheesecake and didn’t pay for it?! Your cheesecake loanshark is going to blow you up for that?!”

“Well maybe would put a hit out on me because, well, I took the parking space they wanted.”

“Someone is going to be so mad that you took his parking space that he’s going to follow you, find out who you are, and pay someone to put a bomb in your car?”

“Maybe they’re angry and obsessive…”

“But to pay a hit man?! If he’s going to take out a hit over a parking space, there would be dead people all over the city!”

“Maybe the hit man would accidentally put the bomb under my car when it was meant for someone else. He could have confused me with someone he actually wanted to blow up.”

“So let me get this straight. This lazy and careless hit man is going to think you’re the target, not bother to verify this in any way, and then spend the time dangerously wiring a bomb into the ignition of the wrong freaking car!” His eyes were wide with incredulity. “Hit men who hit the wrong targets are really not good business investments. The guy would have to find another line of work!”

“Well maybe he just wouldn’t care that it’s the wrong car because he likes killing people!”

“Oh, well that’s different! So now we have a lazy, serial-killer hit man who likes to kill people by blowing up their cars even if they are the wrong target of the hit?!”

“Ok, so maybe he’s not a hit man. Maybe he’s a serial-killer, car bomber who will decide that I should be his next victim!”

“A serial-killer, car bomber, huh?”

“Could happen!”

“But why you? Where is this putative serial-killer, car bomber even finding you to decide you are the one who should be blown up next?”

“He could have just happened upon me getting out of my car at work and then decided that I was next.”

“What’s he doing in your work parking lot? Is he an employee? Do you work with serial-killer, car bombers?”

“Maybe he was passing by, saw me, then decided I was the one.”

“So he passes by, sees you, circles back, goes into the parking lot, pulls out his bomb materials from his fanny pack and gets to connecting?”

“It could happen!”

“Wouldn’t someone notice him messing under your car?”

“Maybe he’s really fast…”

“Oh so now we have the suburban, serial-killer, car bomber with superhuman ability to get into your funky ignition wiring with his bomb materials, hooking it all up in 2-3 minutes with no one noticing?”

“Well, it could happen,” I pouted. “All that is possible.”

“I think the likelihood of all that happening is less than the likelihood of your winning the lottery 3 times in a row and THEN getting hit by a comet.”

“Could still happen…” I grumbled under my breath. “And start the damn car, already!”


Happy 9th Anniversary to my AdoringHusband, a man willing to address head-on my likelihood of being blown to smithereens by a suburban, serial-killer, car bomber with mad installation skillz. For this and for so much more, I love you.
RecolorWed


Why Bother?

Ever since the months of steroids, feeling like crud, and dealing with hypertension and other maladies, my general approach to my appearance has been “why bother?”

This is not to say that I leave the house wearing raggedy sweats and days of body odor. Not at all. I’m clean. My clothes are clean. But the pains I use to take to enhance myself have gone by the wayside.

I was getting my nails done last Sunday (still do that otherwise they fall off) and the woman asked me if I wanted my eyebrows waxed. Though its been about 700 years since my last waxing, my answer was, “why bother?” It just didn’t feel worth the effort since the wheels have already come off the track, as it were. And we won’t even speak of the dire condition of my feet that need about 70 pedicures before they look human again.

AdoringHusband is all, “stop putting yourself down!” but the truth is that I don’t think I am. I’m just feeling that these acts, these embellishments that I used to do because they enhanced how I felt about the person I saw in the mirror are just no longer worth it. I’m old, too heavy, and too tired to bother.

But today, something felt a little different. Today, here in N’awlins for a conference, I woke, showered and suddenly thought, how about putting on some mascara and lipstick? And before I could even mentally say, why bother?, I ran to my trusty travel makeup bag that sits alone and unloved in my suitcase and grabbed the eyeliner and mascara. Took a second and I had lashes and defined eyes. Another second and I had some peachy gloss on the kisser.

First though upon regarding myself in the mirror was, good for you. Though I did hear someone in my head muttering, you shouldn’t have bothered, I chose to ignore it.


Checking in on Valentine’s Day

Hello friends,

Life has been extremely busy but I did want to jump in and wish you a happy Valentine’s Day!

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I Am A…

Cross-posted from Eclectic Journey Photography

Clickin Moms, my home away from home, has a great project going on now to benefit RAINN, an anti-sexual assault organization. They call it the I Am A Photographer project, but it is really about sharing who you are apart from being a photog or a mom. You are to shoot a photo of yourself (or have someone else shoot it) holding a sign that completes the sentence, “I am a…” It can be serious or light-hearted. And for each submission, CM will donate $1 to RAINN.

I had so many possibilities swirling around my head for weeks, but it took until today, the final day submissions are being accepted, to land on the right one. The result is not fancy, but it is honest and real.

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I strive every single day to be a better role model for my daughter than some focus-on-my-looks-must-appeal-to-a-man-someday-my-prince-will-come-to-rescue-me stupid Disney pink princess.

Thank you CM for starting such a great project!


Anatomy of a Family Photo

Crossposted from Eclectic Journey Photography

Hi Friends,

So here’s the question for the day: how many photos does it take to get the ideal Clark-Schecter holiday card picture? Now before you answer remember that this involves my being in front of the camera and not behind it. That added a degree of difficulty of about 200%.

What do you think?

  • 5 shots
  • 50 shots
  • 100 shots
  • 200 shots
  • 417 shots over 3 separate sessions

If you chose any option other than the last choice, well, you must be one of those optimists!

Our first foray was on December 4th. I was going for a sun-going-down, golden hour look. It was unseasonably warm and the kid was cooperating. Honestly after that shoot, I thought I had nailed it then and there. Got some great shots. Rocked the backlighting. Of course when we had started, I had forgotten to tell AdoringHusband to take off his damn Transitions glasses! Those things have plagued me for years. I’ve spent way too long in previous years attempting to restore visible eyes behind those sun-darkened lenses.

But that notwithstanding, I was able to find some goodies. I then posted the ones I was considering for the card on Clickin Moms to get some feedback.

So I’m thinking to myself, these both look pretty good, if I do say so myself. Though I prefer the second one to the first because of Zara’s expression, I think the softness in our features from the backlighting might make it the weaker choice.

And then the feedback started to come in.

Gorgeous shot, but that tree is too distracting,” one commentor said. From another: “I agree with the previous poster. Wish you had positioned yourselves differently.”

And I’m thinking to myself, OMG, there is a tree growing out of our heads. Am I mental? How did I not see that?!

The truth is that I had seen the tree but ended up at a loss about how to position us in relation to that tree. Somehow I thought that if there were three of us, it wouldn’t look as if the tree were growing out of all of our heads. But there is it, up close and personal. The tree IS growing out of our heads!

Other commenters attempted to assure me that those I would send the card to would not be nearly as distracted by the tree as we photogs are. Of course, by that point, I could see nothing in the photo BUT the tree! I decided to reshoot.

Unfortunately Saturday the 10th was nothing like Sunday the 4th. It was about 20 degrees colder and the ground was wet and mucky. The kid was cold and uncooperative and the hubby was surly because she was cold and he felt that I hadn’t dressed her warmly enough. I ended up rushing the shoot despite doing all I could to keep her in the warm car between set-ups. I then made the mistake of asking her to smile showing her teeth. She’d never had any problem with that in the past, but after getting back to my computer and uploading the images, I found that my kid must have decided that she was a beaver! I saw some of the most silly faces she has ever made.

I was so sad that night. What kind of photographer did I hope to be if I couldn’t even get a photo of my own family?! So my dear, supportive husband made me get right back in the saddle. The next day, he insisted in going out and doing it all over again. He’d dress Z in more layers and he would stop breathing down my neck in order to allow me to relax and do my thing. Of course Z ended up in one of her oppositional defiant modes again, but a total of 417 shots later, we had some good photos that didn’t have trees growing out of our heads!

Here are some of the outtakes:

Note the wonderful Transitions lenses in these:

Yes, this still has the tree, but I love this shot!


So which photos made it to the card?

Front:

Inside top:

Inside bottom, flanking holiday message:

Back Panel:

Not so bad, despite all that work, right? I’m going to use these to make a canvas wall photo collection for the house.

But I do have to show you guys the beauty of digital editing, though. Now you all know that I’m massively huge these days thanks for my steroids. Even though I’m in a feel good about myself because fat is better than dead place, I still shuddered a bit at how round both Mason and I looked in these images. I opted to use a can-be-used-for-good-or-for-evil editing tool called liquify. Using this PS tool, I managed to give us a bit of a digital diet in some of the photos:

Before is on top and after below. We lost a good 20 pounds with the use of technology! Mason wanted me to go even further, but no. These tools cannot be used to suspend all connection with reality!

So there you have it, my friends. The fun of a family photo shoot when you are both photog and subject!

Hope your holiday was wonderful! Best to you in the new year!


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