Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sense and sensibility

Saturday afternoon as I was riding up American Fork canyon, I noticed two things: 1) there were a lot of cars driving up and down the canyon; and 2) a much higher-than-normal portion of these cars had families in matching outfits who were occasionally stopping at the roadside to have their pictures taken.

One of these matching outfit families was having its picture taken by a woman in a fashionable print blouse, $200 jeans, and some high-heel sandals that would have been difficult to walk in if one were just going to the end of the catwalk and back. Except she was walking along the side of the creek. Over round river rock. I actually slowed down to watch, expecting her to fall and/or break an ankle at any moment.

Now I know these semi-pro photographers (semi-pro because they don't make a living at it, but they actually charge you for their work) think of themselves as artists. But seriously, you're that committed to looking the part that you couldn't put on sensible shoes for two hours when you were, you know, going to be walking around in the mountains for an afternoon? I don't get it.

I think Utah has to have the highest concentration of these semi-pro photographers in the world. Because pretty much every single mommy blog (not that I read mommy blogs, except for my sisters') is either written by a woman who thinks she's good enough to charge people to take their picture or has a friend that she pimps for who thinks she's good enough to charge people to take their picture. The only qualification any of them have is that they own a DSLR, most of them purchased at Costco.

But guess what--just because you have a nice camera, it doesn't make you a pro. I'm no Ansel Adams or anything, but I've taken a few photos in my lifetime that turned out good enough that we hung them up in our house. That's out of thousands and thousands of frames, most of which sucked. A blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. The difference between me and these mommy blog semi-pros is that when I got those good shots, I didn't think "hey this one turned out great, I should try and make a living at this." I just thought "cool, I got lucky. I wonder what the heck I did to make this one turn out when the thousands of others didn't?"

Who am I to complain though. Live and let live, I guess. If someone wants to try and make a buck, good for them. I'm not above trying to make a buck or two, which is why I'm going to go to law school. Not right away or anything--I've got 15 years at least before the field I want to practice in really starts booming. And since there's going to be so much business that it would keep an army of litigators busy, I'm not going to try and hide my intentions: I plan to be counsel for what will doubtless be thousands and thousands of cases of children suing their parents.

What for? Let's look at an only-slightly-exaggerated fake mommy blog entry to find out.

I can't tell you how ExCiTeD! I am about our little Omaha McDonalds Mortenson. He rolled over for the first time today! He's three months, 26 days old (as of today), and when we took him in for his three month checkup, the pediatrician said he should be able to roll over soon. When it didn't happen that week, I got nervous and started looking into developmental specialists we could call to help make sure he doesn't fall behind. We want to send him to this new preschool that offers AP courses, not some remedial preschool where the other kids don't even know how to read or do trigonometry yet.

And guess what else we got to do this week? OK, you probably figured this out on your own, but we filed our taxes with him as a dependent for the first time! So cute, I know! Here's a picture of his little social security card!

My husband started calling him our little tax deduction. I think that's just AdOrAbLe!

BFF Commenter1: I just LoVe your blog posts! They're so cute, and the new layout with your family picture that I took at the top and the plaid background and the soundtrack of your L&D mix is the sweetest thing ever. It makes me feel so good about being a mom. When I'm overwhelmed and out of meth and not sure I can make it through another day of just being a mom, your sweet posts remind me just how wonderful my little Topeka is and how much I just love love love being a mom. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! BTW, we're still on to do four-month-old portraits Tuesday morning, right?

I know most of these moms are just really proud of their kids and want to share, in excruciating detail, every aspect of their lives as sort of an online scrapbook. But how many of these kids already have mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards in their names that neither they nor their parents know about simply because mom has absolutely no sense of what kind of information should and should not be shared on the Internet?

I'm predicting that when these kids get to their mid-20's to early 30's, there's going to be a great deal of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Because they're going to be buying their first car or their first home or their first whatever-that-requires-credit and will discover that before they even took out a loan, their FICO score was in the basement thanks to identity thieves taking advantage of all the personal information mommy posted on the Internet.

And when that time comes, and these kids are livid with their parents, they're going to sue.

If in 20 years today's children are not suing their parents over identity theft, they are going to be legally changing their names. Rachel's brother and his wife are trying to come up with a baby name right now. So last night, as a joke, I made a list of baby names to give them some ideas. I wasn't serious about any of the suggestions. But here's the funny thing--the names they found most humorous were names I've actually heard, most of the time being shouted by Alpine/Highland stripper moms at the soccer field or as they bid their kids farewell when dropping them off at school.

I'm sure people think my kids' names are common and pedestrian and traditional and boring, but in my defense they are 1) names the average person can spell, 2) names that a substitute teacher will know what gender the kid is, and 3) names that are not also given to part of a rooster's anatomy.

I don't pretend to be a good parent. In fact, I feel like a slacker parent most of the time. But I am willing to dole out two helpings of parenting advice. First, before you name your kid, rewind to sixth grade and think about all the derogatory derivatives of that name you could come up with if you were an 11-year-old making fun of another kid. If you can come up with three in less than a minute, or if any of them rhymes with a four-letter-word, you should probably come up with another name. Second, if you're going to share everything under the sun on a blog about your kids, make it private. Because the identity thieves and child molesters and voyeurs and kidnappers are, in fact, looking. Maybe not at you, maybe not right now, but they're looking.

Oh, and as some bonus advice, if you're getting a family photo taken, make sure you're wearing something you'll enjoy making fun of in 15 years. You're going to make fun of it no matter what, so may as well make it easy.


  1. you're off your meds again, aren't you?

  2. There's a minor flaw in your fake mommy blog. The grammar is correct and the sentences are full.

    I also think you have something with the Alpine/Highland stripper reference. I call 'em "Implants With Tight White Shirt." Stripper is much more concise. I like concise.

    Incidentally, I was disappointed to learn this post was not about Jane Austen.

  3. that made me laugh. for a minute i was confused about whether or not you were serious about going to law school. actually, i'm still confused about that statement (i think you should). then i looked at those awesome family pictures and was so disturbed that i completely forgot what your post was about, so i had to read it again. then i laughed. again.

  4. Funny thing is that now you'll have a bunch of blogger mommies reading this post in hopes that they'll find the Cliffs Notes version of a Jane Austin novel. Gotta have something to talk about at the next book club meeting, you know.

  5. Since you know my last name. Think about all of the difficulty we had naming our kids. Harold was not a choice. My parents made the mistake of naming my brother Michael. Mike and my last name. The kid was very tough by the end of 8th grade.