Sitting at Bailey’s soccer game Angie and I were talking about hair cuts.

My kids need hair cuts.

Her kids just got hair cuts.

My family, ME included, haven’t had haircuts since early last spring! It’s time.

But I hate scheduling ahead for an apt. at a good salon plus the money makes me cringe. And I ALWAYS hate how the cheap places cut hair. So I’ve been putting it off. Big time.

But we’re due.

So I got a WILD hair and decided I could cut the girl’s hair myself today!

They took showers after lunch and I started in on Bailey.

I started with half an inch or so.

Thirty minutes later she’d lost about 2+ inches and I’m still not sure it’s even!

It actually looks adorable, I love her in a short cut, but then I remembered how much she LOVES her ponytails that we JUST have been able to do.

I cut off her ponytail!


She’s going to DIE when she realizes this!

So as soon as C and I get back from an errand we have to do (HOUSE HUNTING!) I’m taking the girls to whatever cheap place can get them in b/c trust me, they can’t do any worse than I did!

Any stylists out there want to trade kid cuts for photos? :)

room mother hell.

Ok women. Give it to me straight. Explain the politics around being a room mother.

Because you see I signed up to be one this year for Bailey’s kindergarten class and it may just be my last time! Because when the other room moms started planning the Halloween party and talking about all these crazy games and snack ideasI decided that volunteering to make the treat bags would be the easiest option.

That is until I started thinking about how much I wanted to impress the other room moms! As if my entire life as a grade school parent rested on this ONE task.

So instead of candy I bought cute little Halloween party favors. You know, fake teeth and eye ball bouncy balls… just in case the other moms thought one more bag of candy was indecent or if my choices weren’t organic enough. But do you know how expense that stuff gets?

Then I couldn’t figure out how to bag them b/c a plastic bag didn’t seem right for some reason.

So I came up with an idea, my mother-in-law helped me execute it and well, I’ll share the idea soon. Because dude, no other room mother is stealing my idea for treat bags! Not that it’s truly original, I mean how original can a bag of crap be? But if this let’s me get my foot in the door of the other room moms, it was worth it. Because let’s face it, Bailey isn’t the only one that is under pressure to make friends in kindergarten! It’s TOUGH!

Before treat bag making hell tonight we decided it was pumpkin carving time. Are you wondering where the photos are for this post? NON-EXISTENT. Because my hands were so full of wet, slimy pumpkin goo I couldn’t have picked up my camera if I tried. And of course NONE of our kids wanted to help so C and I did all the carving. My super sweet family pumpkin carving night was so dumb. The kids thought the goo was “grossness”, it was “late o’clock” according to Grayson and they were tired. I remember hating to carve pumpkins. I also hated decorating the Christmas tree so do all kids hate these holiday traditions? Do parents everywhere just force it on them?

At one point tonight with my arm covered up to my elbow in goop, the kids running around and Terri making my bags I really wanted to yell… “THIS IS FAMILY NIGHT AND WE’RE GOING TO ENJOY IT DAMNIT!”

But I held it together, we got three pumpkins carved and we did actually have fun! Despite our kids.

Tomorrow we have a Fresh Art session in the morning, Bailey’s party in the afternoon and I’m shooting a family friend in the evening. LONG DAY.

You’d better believe it will start and end with a Dew! HA!

let Halloween begin!

In case you are wondering… tonight was dress-up night at choir for my little family of witches! Bailey is a “funny witch”, Parker is Glinda the Good Witch and Gray is a “mean witch”! Grayson started this weeks ago when ALL he would say was “ME BE MEAN WITCH” if Halloween was even mentioned. I wanted him to be a baseball player but he is obsessed with the wicked witch of the west from The Wizard of Oz (a family favorite) and it’s all he could talk about. So GoGo took him shopping where he picked out the dress, hat(s) and glitter-fake-nail gloves all by himself! Oh and the nose! Bailey and Parker I just ordered them online. Easy.

The next four days are intense with work and parties and dinners out and collecting candy from strangers.

Happy Halloween!

dear lyndsay.

I failed.

I’m back on the Dew.

Just like Chris predicted.

But see, here’s the thing.

I don’t sleep enough and I work super late at night. I hate coffee or tea (can stand iced tea but not all day+night). I hate hot drinks. There is nothing else I can do to get my caffeine.

So I made it 10 days with NO soda at all.

Then a whole crapload of stuff hit the fan and I started cheating with a Dr. Pepper here or a Coke there.

It’s like bumming a drag.

But then I caved one night, late, and ordered a soda.

And then I caved the next day and stopped at my favorite gas station.

And now I’m right back to 1-3 a day.

And I KNOW it’s shoe polish with a whole load of other crap I shouldn’t be putting in my body. And I THOUGHT I could handle no caffeine but DUDE i so can NOT handle it.

I need it to survive still.

I have no will power.

I suck.

I’m sorry.

The end.


If you have NO idea what I’m talking about read THIS. If you don’t know who my friend Lyndsay is go HERE.

one day. a year and a half ago.

I came across this video today while digging for something else and just had to post it again! It makes me SMILE and makes me SAD all at the same time. Oh how fast those hard hard days of three ages three and under went. And how LONG they felt back then.

Now that I’m working out of the house everyday I’m SO thankful for those years I could stay home full time. And yes we were broke. And yes it was hard a lot of the time. And yes I wanted OUT so many days.

But looking back it flew by. And I miss it so so much. So so much. I’d go back in a heart beat just to hold all three of those babies again. When they all fit in my lap. And wanted to be in my lap. I’m going to make another video this weekend. Once a year I want to document our day in video. This video just speaks volumes to my life back then. And I held nothing back! HA! Ordering Mnt Dew, changing diapers, two year old tantrums and everything!

So in this video Grayson is 10 months old, Parker is two and Bailey is three. Holy cow.

Isn’t it funny how much perspective plays a part in our memories? Now that I’m past that time I look back so fondly. So much that I miss it with an ache in my arms from missing those babies. But back then all I wanted was OUT most days.

Anyway, if you know me or my kids I hope this makes you smile!


Yesterday I was at the hospital for about six hours with a family who lost their baby. And it was beautiful and hard all at the same time, like it always is. But yesterday I got angry. And I realized that although I’m there to take photos, I end up acting more like a patient advocate than photographer.

And I realized this as the new mom was holding her baby in the cradle position but looked a little awkward with all of her IVs and tubes connected to her arm. So rather than stand back and keep shooting I set my camera down, walked over to her and asked if she wanted me to help her get the baby up on her shoulder so she could hug him.

It’s a simple thing. Hugging your baby. But as I watched the scene unfold I realized that she wouldn’t move that baby unless someone told her it was ok. And no one was telling her it was ok. So I stepped in, got that baby nestled in up on her shoulder so she could put her face next to his. And she looked so happy.

A mom needs to feel the weight of her baby on her chest, cuddled up next to her face so she can nuzzle him and kiss him and close her eyes just BEING with him.

I know a lot of you that read this are photographers and I know a lot of you have considered doing Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep or other organizations like them and I know a lot of you are active participants already. So I’m writing this to tell you that if you’ve done enough of them you know what’s going to happen. You know people grieve differently, you know you have to walk softly, you know you have to melt into the walls, you know you have to capture the baby plus everything happening around the baby and you know when you’ve taken all the shots you’re going to get and it’s time to sneak away. But yesterday I realized that I’ve done so many I now feel comfortable stepping in a little. In the waiting room with the grandparents I warned them of what the baby might look like so they could prepare themselves, something hospital staff doesn’t do. I made sure mom had pillows under her arms and was comfortable with her son. I wiped his nose when it leaked a little fluid, something that might make a family member nervous. I suggested to a family friend to run out and get supplies for hand+foot prints so they’d have something to hold onto later.

I stepped in.

And normally my role is to step back, out of the way, hidden, just capturing.

But yesterday I stepped in and even if every decision I made was wrong I know in my heart that that mother needed to hug her son. And I’m glad I was brave enough to make it happen.

Don’t be afraid to step in.

Now I understand that our job is so much more than taking photographs of a grieving family and a deceased baby. We are there to be the eyes and ears. We can anticipate the needs of the mother… which leads me to something else I thought of yesterday.

A man shouldn’t do this job.

I’m sorry to all of you men that are amazing at what you do. I just believe very strongly that only a woman, another mother, can truly put herself in that mom’s shoes and try to anticipate her needs. Even though I’ve never had to suffer the loss of a baby, I can imagine the pain. A man can’t imagine that b/c he’s never been a mother. And although the dad is struggling it’s the mom that needs an advocate in my opinion. But what do you think? Can a man be as sensitive as a woman in this situation? If he’s a dad can he understand as much as another mother can? I’d love to hear your opinion b/c I really do believe strongly that a grieving mother needs another mother in that room with her to put her at ease since most of the time we’re strangers walking into the worst day of their lives. Just curious if you have any thoughts.

And now, after a really hard day yesterday I need to get back to work today and catch up!

parker at the park. oh and grayman was there too.

I can’t remember what day this was, it was last week maybe? The week before? It was a day I had no sitting so I wasn’t working and was able to actually go to the park which was awesome! And for once I had my camera… and for once, in October no less, I actually edited my own photos and am blogging them! Of course I can’t remember what day or even what time of day these were taken but at least they’re going to see the light of day on the blog!

And THIS is why these photos are seeing the light of day on the blog! HA! It totally cracks me up! She stood like that for the longest time!

Of course I got a few other random pics and because this is the only photo album I have right now…

It is SO hard to hold a heavy camera out in front of you and get a good photo but since this is the ONLY way I can be in the photo I’ll take what I can get!

Oh, until I decided to try to prop it on a park bench…

Which was great except there were a ton of other kids running around and I was terrified one would knock it off! So after two shots I gave up!

My time with the kids doing fun things is becoming few and far between so I’m SO glad I had my camera that day!

alright people. let’s start crafting.

I can’t believe I actually got this done today. And truly, it was only b/c I wanted to blog it b/c I think it’s the cutest idea! So now I’m crafting for the blog. Nice.

The pressure! The pressure to blog! What in the world.


I saw this in Family Fun Magazine (I think) and I just loved the idea of crafting for myself and not just for my kids. Because this is NOT a toddler friendly craft. Unless you like your kids to play with deadly weapons. Which I’m not against, completely, if they beg and whine and argue me on no soda for long enough that it sucks all sense out of me and replaces it with an urge to have them all just SHUT UP. In that case, yes children, cut away with my super sharp and tiny knife. In fact, i have THREE so go to it and STOP TALKING TO ME.

Luckily today, although on day six of NO caffeine or soda, I was feeling ok and resisted the urge to let them cut with me. They jumped on the trampoline and I crafted. For five minutes. And those five minutes were glorious. Until I finished and got to go for a run BY MYSELF… because although the hills in this neighborhood want me crying for mercy the 30 minutes all ALONE are worth every sweat drip. Not to mention I’ve lost EIGHT POUNDS in the last two weeks! GO ME!

Sorry. Crafting.

Basically, all I did was collect some pretty leaves and then used an exacto knife to cut a jack-o-lantern face. The leaf was super easy to cut but I did tear the first one I tried so if you do this, go SLOW.

Then I cut the edges of the leaf off so it KIND OF looked like a pumpkin (I used scissors for this). I say KIND OF because it also KIND OF looks like an apple doesn’t it? Whatevs.

Then I just glued it onto a piece of scrapbook paper so it wouldn’t be so fragile.

SUPER simple!

But are you wondering what in the world to do with it now? I’m going to use them for the tags on the girl’s teacher gifts I think! You can tie the stem onto any little gift which I think would be so cute!

I was sitting outside next to the trampoline while Gray and Parker jumped and since they were still happy I took the idea one step further…

But you’ll have to wait a day or so to see what I do with these! HA!

And just to end with one more cute face…

Gray came with my mom and I today to the local pumpkin patch (at a church) to pick up pumpkins to give to KCCI clients (SUCH a great idea I think!) and I grabbed just one photo of him. So glad it was in focus!

One more show to watch and am hoping to get the rest of my to-do list done before crashing into bed! My MIL treated me to a great dinner tonight, my dad took Bails to soccer AND Terri watched P&G so I could go for a run! A quick shower with the two littles under my feet, dinner, CHERRY PIE (which kills the run but whatever!) and good tv+chatting away with Terri while we watch… a near perfect evening! We have the BEST parents in the entire world!

the written word.

Excuse me, the HAND written word.

Yesterday was my birthday (DUH) and I received over 50 Facebook messages, numerous emails, lots of texts and a few phone calls. And ONE mailed birthday card. From C’s grandparents.

ONE card!

Do you remember being a kid and obsessively checking the mailbox for cards the days before and after your birthday? I remember HATING when my birthday fell on a Sunday because it meant I’d miss the most important mail day ever!

Do I appreciate all the love sent me yesterday? Totally. It filled my email inbox with good wishes and I loved it! Made me smile ALL DAY LONG!

But I do seriously feel like there is a lack of hand writing these days.

So my main GOAL for 2011 (starting NOW in 2010) is to send a birthday card to everyone I can! And other notes too. Thinking of you and get better soon and happy anniversary and anything else I can think of. And I’m going to write a note inside that tells the person how much I love them. So they see my handwriting. Not that it’s anything special but because to me it’s still more special than an email.

I also just received a new journal in the mail. It’s black moleskin and I adore it. So far I’m writing my to-do lists and funny things the kids say and ideas that pop in my head inside but on days I want to write more I have it here with me. Because handwriting is important. And I bought THREE journals, one for each kid, that I will blog about soon because I want a place to write things directly TO my kids for them to read someday. And although this blog is a good place for that, I want them to have something tangible that they can feel and hold while they read.

Does anyone else miss actually hand writing?

So yesterday was a good day. I saw my BFF Angie in the morning when I dropped off Parker (she’s the director of the preschool now!) and she asked what I was planning on doing. I told her i still wasn’t sure and she said that I should do something so that at the end of the day I could be glad I had time for it… whatever IT is. As I left preschool and dropped Bailey off (late) I thought about what she said and decided that finishing the organizing in our bedrooms at the Allen’s would feel good to get done. So with no kids in sight I turned the radio on and cleaned+organized for 3 hours! And it felt GREAT! Then I grabbed my favorite lunch and went to my parents to hide on their couch and get some personal photo editing done. Both things felt AWESOME to check off my to-do list and although it wasn’t exactly a FUN day, it was a good day! Finished off by my favorite childhood dinner cooked by my mom, gifts from the kids and my parents, heading home to meet Daddy and get gifts from the Allen’s, kids in bed and ME in bed before 10pm! Awesome. I can look back at yesterday and am so glad I decided to spend my day like that!

Then, to really finish it off I ended up checking my phone for email at 3am after Parker woke up with a bad dream and read the sweetest email ever from Angie. Thanks Ang!

Tonight I’m going to blog my first FALL CRAFT (I hope) and will soon share WHY IN THE HELL I haven’t had ANY soda for SIX days! And why I’m not flat on my face dying from no caffeine!

Happy Tuesday! And thanks again for all the love yesterday!

The State of the Jod

Happy one year anniversary blog world (and happy 31st birthday jod),

For those that do not know me, my name is Chris Allen and I am the bald man who you sometimes see chasing our kids around in pictures. One year ago today I made my entrance into the “blog world” (link here and here) and this is becoming very similar to the State of the Union or as it will now be referred to as the State of the Jod.

Well, a lot has happened in the family the past year.

Probably of most importance, in what can only be referred to as a scientific miracle, Jodie did not become pregnant the past 12 months. That means we still have three kids, same as last year, although we are actively attempting to sell the boy. For only $15 you can now claim a 2-year old who is loaded with ADHD, openly defiant, hits just about anyone who gets in his way, refuses to eat/ sleep, and who constantly has his hands down his diaper. For some reason, we have yet to receive any interest/ offers.

Bailey started kindergarten at Edgar Road school this past August and is absolutely loving it. She is surrounded with an amazing group of teachers, she is having fun, is obsessed with her awesome teacher, learns something new every day, has friends that come over for play-dates, and has just truly enjoyed an unbelievable first month and a half of school. Jodie on the other hand is not adjusting so well. She misses her first born and I think secretly is planting the seed in Bailey’s head to drop out of school. The situation needs monitoring.

Parker, is just Parker. If you don’t know her, you should. She is wonderfully weird. I have yet to meet a child that can melt your heart and make you laugh the way that Parker does. Whereas Bailey is sweet, Parker is funny. This past year PJ realized that her mouth could make “farting noises”. While most parents may be appalled, we are immature enough that it just cracks us and her siblings up. She’s the kid that you want to discipline but she is too cute and has too much personality for that to happen. Which means she will play her mother and I like a fiddle once she gets to high school! Jodie is convinced Parker misses Bailey, and with Bailey planning to drop out and go the GED route, I doubt Parker will ever attend formalized school.

As for Jodie, probably the biggest change is this past week when she has finally decided (for the final time apparently) to kick the Mountain Dew habit. While most good husbands support their spouse in these type of endeavors, those husbands must be sleeping in the basement or something. Me, I’m personally leaving her Mtn. Dew cups that used to come from Imos all over the house. When she wakes up, her Mountain Dew t-shirt has been placed on the dresser. Because right now my strong-willed wife is very easily agitated. Last night I came to bed a little later than her and when I laid down I accidentally sat on her arm that was outstretched onto my side of the bed. Well you would of thought I had attempted to light her on fire in her sleep… Anyway, the moral of the story is… she is doing great on day four of no caffeine and we do support her.

Now, for the real bday gift.

This fall Bailey has begun playing soccer for the kindergarten team at Holy Redeemer. Now with me being a former college soccer player and now a high school coach, and with Jodie being a former lacrosse player we kind of had high hopes that she would be pretty good. After about 5 games we couldn’t be more proud of her. She hustles, she is always smiling, and she is having a great time. When it is all said and done that’s all you can ask for out of a sport. However, and I say this
with all the love a parent can offer his kid, she’s just not very good. Now granted, at this age, it’s herd-ball most of the time anyway so it’s hard for players to stand out, but Bailey often chooses to not go into the herd to dig the ball out. She runs so hard, but is always about 5 yards behind the play because she doesn’t want to get involved. After a few games I subltely tried to ask why she doesn’t go and try to get the ball and she responded, “we’re not supposed to take things from others.” Her comment made me laugh and believe it or not, love her mother that much more.

You see, I know I’m not a bad person, but I also know I am not a saint. I tend to have an edge that I can’t always explain. I do know a few certain things about myself that lead me to being edgy. One, I hate to lose in anything. Two, I want people, players, family, colleagues to work at my pace, not theirs. And three, I tend to be very selfish at times. But, with Jodie there is no edge, just kindness.

Bailey is the most kind and caring kid you will ever meet, just like her mom. There is something to Jodie that very few individuals possess. She literally does not think of herself. If she has to work until 2:00 am to get pictures edited she will do that and not think much of it. She does not let her emotions drive her actions as I tend to do. She is the calming presence that every family and home needs. She will also meet you where you are and not where she is if that makes any sense. She’s the type of friend that country singers sing about. All in all, she makes our family better, our kids better and even me a better person.

Bailey will learn soon enough that you do take things from people, whether it’s right or wrong. She will also learn that the world is not always this nice, sweet place that her mother has made for her. That sometimes she will get pushed down and sometimes people will be cruel to her on purpose. She will have to learn how to respond to undesirable situations as she gets older and then maybe my edginess will wear off on her. But for right now, I admire the traits that Jodie has passed on to our kids. I couldn’t be more proud of my wife, my life, and my family. Our life isn’t always perfect, but our kids are pretty damn close. Thanks to my wife for that.

Happy 31st Jod!