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Dealing with uninvolved grandparents

I grew up on my grandmothers lap and consider myself most fortunate. There is no love that compares to the unwavering ,unconditional love of a grandparent. 

Over the years , it was my grandmother’s wisdom I turned to . Her advice and counsel I saught .  I knew no matter what she would fiercely protect me and love me through  my bad moods, trials and tears.

Not all granparents are loving

When my eldest child was born , I was estatic to share this bond with her and to watch my own mother become a special star in my daughters life.

It was also round about this time that I discovered not all grandparents are cut from the same cloth.

A few examples

My mother,  was an alcoholic who viewed her grandchildren as a nuisance and reminder of her age.   Up until her death she was completely disinterested in bonding with my beautiful children. 

My father , had left the country. In the beginning he exchanged a gift or two but  he last saw any of my children 17 years ago. Not once since has he directly enquired about them. 

My ex husband’s father, who was absent through his sons life, was even less interested. After a few months of sending updates with our first child,  he firmly asked my why I didn’t have an abortion and save his teenage son the embarrassment of ‘my‘ predicament. It was right there that his involvement stopped completely.

As for his mother, she had little time for the children. She was always too busy and I would run after her trying to involve her in birthdays and the children’s other events. She always had an excuse as to why she couldn’t attend. She lived with us at one stage , and was intolerant and rude to the children around her who just wanted to spend time with  her.

Gran to the rescue

Once again I was blessed to have my grandmother fill this imensely important role in both mine and my children’s lives. Unfortunately she passed away when most of my children were still too young to remember how special she was.

Each week she would phone to find out how they were. Each weekend she baked treats and hand made toys for them. At night , when she lived with us, she’d gather my 5 older children onto her bed singing with them and telling them wild tales ;taking them on imaginary adventures. 

The times that we lived far apart from each other she would write to the children, post small parcels and phone them. 

Always she made an effort to find out about their lives, milestones and interests.

So how do you deal with a disinterested grandparent ?

Grandparents hold such a special role in their grandchildren lives and it’s both frustrating and hurtful to know your child will not have an actively involved grandparent in their lives.

 How do you cope with this?

Make an effort 

Always make the effort.  Contrary to what you may feel or believe, you never want your children to feel you isolated an important person from their lives.

Send the photos,  text the milestones,  share the certificates. Invite your parents to birthdays and school functions. If the children are older, let them phone and draw pictures. 

Make an effort to visit them and encourage visits to your home,especially if they stay far away.

You will all remember our road trip to get Bear dedicated in his grandmothers church in order to include her in his special day.

Remind them that they are special in their grandchildren eyes

Send them quotes that your children have said about them. Make a big deal of grandparents day, their birthdays, etc.  

Shortly after my divorce , i took a photo of my youngest two children’s handmade cards for my mother in law and shared them on her Facebook wall. I wanted her to see I divorced her son but she was still special to her grandchildren.

Advise them on how to bond with your child

Some grandparents are just clueless. It’s been a while since they had children and parenting has changed. They may not know your child well enough to bond with them. Suggest a shared hobby.

I remember asking my mother in law to teach my children to build puzzles as she spent hours building puzzles of her own.

Know when to give up

As much as it is important to foster a relationship between your child and their grandparent , it is equally as important to know when to stop trying.

If you have put the effort in and receive no result , you will eventually be setting yourself and your child up for failure.

Protecting their emotions is just as important, if not more so , as encouraging bonds with family. 

If the grandparent makes no effort after your attempts , it is most likely the healthier option to stop trying and wait for them to want a relationship with your child.

My father in law, now in his late seventies , wants to connect with his adult grandsons. I have left this choice up to them. They need to decide if they actually want a relationship with someone who wasn’t involved in their lives.

Moving on

Whilst it may be difficult and hurtful to step aside from disinterested grandparents know that you can break the cycle by one day being the type of grandparent you invisioned in your children’s lives.

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Caught up in cuddles

Caught up in cuddles 

(Judy dooley)
When I woke up this morning

I had a lot to do 

My goals were all set out 

And then I cuddled You!
I meant to go and shower

But I cuddled you some more

I meant to make the bed 

And sweep the dirt from the floor
I meant to do the dishes,

The washing and clean our home 

But I was sure I saw you niggle 

Or was it a little groan ?
I thought I’d just sit here

And cuddle you some more

After all I had the time…..

But now its half past four !
I haven’t cleaned the house 

The meal is left undone 

I got so caught up in cuddles

I was having too much fun

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How to chose a baby photographer


After our horrid experience with the last photographer we used (https://funmammasa.wordpress.com/2017/09/25/photography-vs-mom-her-big-ass-camera/ ) I decided to research how to chose a photographer to photograph children. 

What questions should we be asking before we use a photographer’s services and what as moms do we need to be looking out for? 

Photography sessions are costly and I’m sure I’m  not alone when I say I really don’t want to waste either my time or money on bad photos .

So these are my top points to keep in mind when looking for a photographer to photograph your baby or toddler.

Research your options 

As mamas we all want amazing photos of our babies and their milestones to look back on , share and hang in our homes and it can be forgiven for those of us doting over our gorgeous newborns to think all photographers are great with babies.

 Let me assure youthey are not.

Sadly , anyone with some equipment and a few props can set up shop and call themselves a photographer.

Today we have so many apps and tools online that anyone can take amazing photos …even with a smart phone.

So then why use a professional photographer

Professional photographers are masters of their craft. 

Artists who with one quick click can preserve your emotions, moods and personality through the lens of their camera. 

They are trained to take a photo that flatters both the light and subject but mostly they see the beauty before them and bring it to life.

Dangers of amateurs.

Aside from shoddy photos and heightened levels of frustration, the very real truth behind working with a photographer who has no experience with babies , is that they may hurt a baby or child to achieve a shot. 

In our case , the photographer was used to taking pictures of her own  daughters but had no idea how to engage with bear.  

Your photographer needs to be comfortable engaging with your child as well as handling babies.

They should also never force your child into a position or into a time slot. 

Working with children demands patience …. something an inexperienced photographer may not yet know.

Word of mouth

Always consult the moms in your circle for recommendations with regards to their experiences with a photographer you want to use.

You wouldn’t use just any gynea without researching your options…the same rings true for photographers.

If no one you know has used them , go online. 

Read the reviews on their social media and website. Look for a reputable photographer who can demonstrate a track record of satisfied clients ,high quality photos and professional service.

Review their website and social media presence. Look specifically for comments and feedback from recent customers and see how the photographer interact online.

  • Was the photographer positive?
  • Was the photographer passionate about what they do?
  • Was the photographer  good with people?

Contact them directly and ask questions.

Never just accept a booking

If you can look through their online gallery to get a feel for the type of photos they take. If they don’t have an online gallery ask them to email you example photos of what poses or props you can expect in their shoot.

Also  see if they hold any qualifications in their trade.

All this will give you some idea of the kind of person they are and give you a clear impression of how they conduct their business. 

You get what you pay for 

This saying is very true. Our budgets don’t often allow for expensive photoshoots no matter how much we would love to have one done a month , so it can be quite tempting  to use the services of a cheaper photographer. 

Sadly, cheaper photographers often lower their rates to attract clients. And whilst you may be lucky enough to get a great photographer , nine times out of ten you will get second grade images.

Someone who is good at their craft, will be in demand and therefore their pricing may be a little higher. 

But  you also know that you are dealing with a professional and this should give you peace of mind on the level of  service provided and quality of photos delivered. 

Show the papers 

Dont be afraid  to ask the photographer what their experience or accreditation’s are .

You want to know that you are working with someone who is qualified and experienced when it comes to dealing with children. 

 Safety first

An experienced baby or child photographer will be able to easily answer any questions with regards to babies safety in shoots. 

Do they display a code of conduct that shows your child’s interest’s and safety first? 

A good photographer may not have this as a mission statement on their Web or landing page but they should be able to discuss this with ease and with the ability to put moms mind at rest that baby won’t be harmed.

 Poses

For newborns especially, how will the specific poses be carried out? Will the photographer be using props or will the images be digitally enhanced? 

Please remember:

  • No photographer should ever force your baby into positions which make them uncomfortable or put them in any danger. 
  • No baby should ever be expected to support the weight of its own head or body.
  • No baby should be suspended from a height or put in a basket or box which could potentially topple over. 
  • Your baby should be relaxed and comfortable and safe at all times.

Assistants

Does the photographer work with an assistant or alone? 

If they do use an assistant to help with posing,  does the assistant have any experience with handling babies?

If there is no assistant , are you the parent, assisting with posing? 

 Age preference 

Just like all people working with children , your chosen photographer may have a favourite age to work with .

Children’s development and personalities at each age vary greatly and so a fantastic preschool photographer with years of experience may make a terrible newborn photographer because although they have the experience they have accustomed themselves to working with older children and therefore aren’t as comfortable handling babies.

Newborns

Even with newborn babies some photographers may have a preference since after the initial couple of weeks after birth, babies start to sleep less and begin to stretch out more. 

Some photographers prefer babies to be under two weeks old to achieve the curled up baby poses. 

Other photographers will photograph babies much older than this, sometimes up to 8 weeks old, alerting the parent that some shots may not be possible.

Also if baby is premature remember to ask your photographer if they are comfortable working with premature babies, who may be significantly smaller than the average baby.
All the worlds a stage 

Where will you be taking the photos ? 

  • At home
  • On location
  • At a studio 

It’s a good idea to pre-visit any location or studio before the actual shoot. This allows you to familiarise yourself with your surroundings and be comfortable during the shoot.

Ensure your Photographer understands that the setting for a newborn shoot is very important. 

It should be relaxed, warm as baby will be naked a lot of time and very welcoming. You will be here for several hours so it’s vital baby is comfortable.

Logistics

As moms we need to plan down to the last minute and then have back up plans for our back up plans so it’s important to take into account the logistical considerations: 

  • Where is the studio based?
  • What distance will you need to travel?
  • Do you know the way?
  • How long it will take to get there? Always factor in extra time to allow for traffic – it’s far better to arrive early rather than late. 
  • What time do you  need to leave ?
  • How long is the shoot?
  • Is there parking on site or nearby? 
  • How easy is the studio to access (you’ll be carrying baby in a car seat or will have a pram)?
  •  If it’s not the ground floor, is there a lift you can use? 
  • Is it clean and organised inside the studio?
  •  Is there comfy seating for parents and family members who are coming along?
  • Are siblings welcome?
  •  Are there any child-friendly facilities available or activities to keep an older sibling busy?
  • Are refreshments included? 
  • What baby changing and feeding facilities are there?

Expectations 

What we as parents have envisioned may be nothing like our photographers artistic ideas.

You may have seen examples of newborn photos that you would love a photographer to create with your baby. Make sure to discuss these ahead of the shoot.

If you can create a check list of images you require and by emailing a list of example images you can ask if your photographer will be able to create that specific poses, or not?

Always ask whether you need to buy or bring any of your own props, or whether this is included in the shoot. 

Most photographers do have an extensive range of props and backgrounds but it is worth checking in advance. 

Also if you wanting to include a family heirloom or sentimental item remember to ask if you can bring it with. 

Most photographers will likely aim to create a number of different setups throughout the shoot so there will be plenty of images for you to choose from afterwards.

Availability and fees

A popular newborn photographer can get booked up months in advance.

For a newborn shoot it is advised to book early to avoid disappointment – as soon as you’ve had your 20 week scan ideally, if not before. 

Also consider the photographer’s studio fees and the cost of their photo products. 

Prices can vary a lot so be sure that the photographer you chose falls within your budget.

Many photographers charge a session fee, and it’s advisable to note that the photos are charged in addition to this.

If you do use a photography package offered , always ask the cost of extra prints …if  you like me ,you will want them all.

To conclude

Never book a photoshoot for baby until you can you be sure that your photographer will deliver the quality of experience that you desire and your baby deserves. 

May you find perfect photos that you will treasure for a lifetime. 

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Photographer vs mom &her big ass camera

I love photos ….anyone who follows my social media accounts knows how much time I spend photographing the world around me.

I use my smart phone and one day , when I’m a big girl I’ll invest in a fancy gadjety camera with all the bells and whistles.

Until then I make do with my bloops and blunders. My blurs and my beautiful shots.

Occasionally when the budget allows, I splurge on a real photographer. 

Someone who with a keen eye and artistic presence can capture in one moment my child’s entire personality or mood.

You will all remember the remarkable Valentines shoot done for bear that I raved about , blogged about and shared until people were honestly sick of seeing the photos 😂

Bears valentines shoot 😍

He was so little there that when I saw a Spring mini shoot by a new photographer recently I knew I had to have photos done.

We arrived to a bare shoot.

 Hardly any props and a scattered background …but I had faith.

 Photographers can edit anything !!!

We were the photographers last shoot and she looked more annoyed, harassed and overwhelmed than calm.

 It’s a good thing bear plays up for the camera and smiles because I spent the whole of our ten minute shoot trying to direct him . 

I was quite dissapointed … not once until i suggested the wishing well prop did the photographer bother to try engage bear or use the props. 

She seemed at a loss as to what to do with bear.  

The result is no actual photo with the wishing well , just pieces of wood jotting out in front of bears photos 

Again, she’s the professional …right? I need to trust her.

I looked at the images and immediately dismissed all but one of the images with bear and I. 

Wow ! Every inch of baby weight and double chin was captured with the unflatteringness of a beached whale.

This is me …so I just wanted every single shot of bear forget those revolting ones of me.

I paid my R150 for 3 photos and waited for the link and invoice for the rest of what I expected to be amazing photos.

A week later I received an invoice …..

Excuse me

The invoice charged me for the already paid for photos. Said my photos were coming (just not exactly when) and forgot to add a contact number .

Eventually I got a number from the centre she used for the photos and  contacted her to get the following excuses : 

1. Photos were too large to upload

2. There were too many photos 

3. Something about Internet speed

So , taking this into account I offered a solution of placing photos onto disc , I’d even pay extra and collect.  Another excuse …this time she wasn’t in.

Well …OK then ! 

Now I dared to query her bill …to which I was rudely told I hadn’t paid.

  By now I wasnt just fuming I was loudly venting with a lot of WTF escaping my calls from the office.

Thankfully the lady at the venue remembered me paying.

Needless to say much frustration later I received a link …..

WTF

The photos were so distant I could hardly see bears face, most were off centre and that blasted wishing well was just sticks in a photo.

I’ve never been so dissapointed in a photographer.

I wish this ended there ….

But she then edited the ones I wasn’t happy with , promised that evening …nothing! 

The next day I got a link for the original pics on Dropbox …no crops or edits ! 

When I queried this …it was naturally my fault and thirty minutes later I got the edits….they still awful .

I ended up downloading the high res. Images , uploading and editing them on Instagram! 

You see , with the technology we have today ..

Anyone can be a photographer 

But

There’s a huge difference between an artist and an amateur

Something I think this photographer may want to remember!

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An early Spur celebration 

This weekend saw the start of papas anual weekend away with the soccer guys. This meant Bear and I would be alone at home.

I had hoped Kiki and Monkey would come for the weekend as I’m not a fan of  staying alone but  with both of them having German measles that wasn’t an option. 

So , It was just Bear and I. 


Friday

Early birthday celebrations

Friday morning , after quickly grabbing a few birthday gifts for the weekends birthday parties,  we collected my bestie P and headed to start our weekend.

A quick stop in at a Mommy and me tea and then to the mall.

Early birthday suprise

I decided to do a party for one at the local Spur. Bear was quickly seated with his Totem teepee pictures to colour ( and wax fatties to throw on the ground) , Indian brave headdress on his head and hungry tummy waiting to tuck into his plate of smilies. 

Ice cream smash

He had a ball and I secretly noted that he must be getting bigger as he hadn’t moaned yet to get out the baby chair. 😂😂

All too soon he was done and ready for his Chico the clown ice cream. (After all what is a kiddies birthday without Chico? )

Out of nowhere the sound of clapping and chanting caused poor bear to stop colouring and look with horror as the entire Spur staff quota made their way towards us singing happy birthday to him.

He was proudly presented with a sparkly ice cream (which also caught the serviette on fire 😄) 

Just this once,I sat back and allowed him the privilege of  a non OCD mom and handed him his spoon to tuck into the ice cream.

The look of delight on his face was gianormous. 

 I don’t actually think he spooned any ice cream into his mouth but he did manage to stick his hand in it, gets some on his nose  and try share with me. 

Finally we tidied up the melted mess and he received his toy … I’m not sure yet how he’s going to use the wax sticks but that’s a problem for another  day.

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Tell your children you love them 

The following post is copied from an old blog of mine called home bit.  It was started in 2010 to document our home school journey …somehow it stagnated as life continued.

I will be copying over a lot of the content over the next few months as most is still very relevant. 

Tell your child you love them day

On my facebook page i started an event for today called..

Tell your child you love them day!

We all tell our children that we love them daily but there are also many children who go to bed at night who have never heard their parents utter the words I LOVE YOU.

Three small simple words that mean so much more than we can fathom.

I Love you means
.you are my world
what would i do without you
you are so very special
you make my day complete
I am so happy that i am your parent
i am happy that you are my child
i am so grateful you were born
you are amazing

It means
security
protection
hope
joy
kindness
acceptance

love

These words allow our children to know that no matter what they do we will always be there for them on their side.

A child needs thse words to grow and thrive.

I make a point of telling my children every night before they go to bed that i love them.

I also like to tell them as often as possible.

Nothing brings greater joy to my heart than the words I LOVE YOU.

Tell your child you love them NOW and often.

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Keep your family memories

Are you making memories with your loved ones daily ? Or have you let life get in the way and are too busy to stop and enjoy those you cherish most ? 

Yesterday we took bear for a quick walk on the beach. We were both lazy . It was after 5pm and yes supper needed to be made, bear bathed and evening washing packed away but these are not the things bear will remember. …

He will however remember that his mom and dad loved to walk on the beach with him.

As the mom of older children with lives of their own I speak from experience when i say all too soon your precious little one is gone and you mostly have the memories of their childhood and some random phone calls and visits to show for it.

Start storing those memories now. 

Take the time to craft with your child,  do activities together, make that video, take that photo. …

Keep your memories💜

Some brilliant ideas to preserve memories are :

Build a family website 

Write letters to your child to give on landmark birthdays

Make videos

Start a Facebook page for family photos 

Invest in photo books or albums

Write annual family newsletter

Have regular photos taken as a family.

Make fridge magnets of your photos.

Make time casuals. 

Encourage journalist. 

Keep memory boxes from holidays and special events.

I know of several people who’ve lost a loved one who would give a moment of time to have some of their memories back.

Today … spend some time making memories for tomorrow.