Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Sunday Post ~ Sears Portrait Studio Review

So, this Christmas we decided to do a family portrait. Just when I was looking for a photographer I found a deal through LivingSocial for the Sears Portrait Studio. It was $35 for a $159 package. Convenient AND cheap... what more could I want?

The portrait session went well. I made the appointment. We showed up, had our pictures taken and then got to look at the digital photos on screen and choose the ones we wanted.

Now, this $159 package included the session, 4 8x10s and 2 10x10s. That's it. And when I say that's it, I mean it. The picture CD was an extra $100 which I opted out of. Extra print sheets were $20 a piece (that would be an 8x10 or smaller sizes ganged up onto an 8x10 photo paper).

Unexpectedly, they told me that the photos would take a week to come in. I hadn't expected this. With digital photos it's easy to print from just about anywhere. So, I had planned on walking out of there with my pictures. No such luck. They gave me a date and time for pick up in about a week- cutting it close for Christmas.

I arrived at Sears at the appointed time to pick up the photos. I was told that they had changed their computer system and that the photos actually wouldn't be ready for another week. Firstly, any IT guy that decides to change over a computer system in the middle of the holiday rush should be fired on the spot. There is no reason why it couldn't wait until after the holidays and was, I'm sure, only an excuse and not really the truth. The photos would not be ready in time for gifting and I was told I had no recourse.

I came back after Christmas to get my photos, all six of them.

Had I paid the full $159 I would have been royally pissed. Seeing that I only paid $35 and that I am able to retouch photos myself, I was less pissed. I basically paid the girl to snap a couple of photos. But there was no correction to the photos at all. In the future I'll just pay my wedding photographer at $200 an hour for a portrait session. That price comes with the CD and the retouching.

Okay, so what was so wrong with the photos?

1. The backdrop was wrinkled and had red fuzzies or stains on it.

It's true. Now, I didn't save a copy of what the photos looked like with the original backdrop. I wasn't planning on writing a blog post about my experience, but some friends talked me into it. But had I not had the ability to retouch that out I would have been very upset about an extremely wrinkled backdrop behind me. It looked like an unlaundered bedsheet. And I'm not talking about the draping, I'm talking about that sheet having been rolled into a ball and stomped on by a herd of angry toddlers wrinkled. I can hang up a wrinkled and stained bedsheet at home. Why do I need to pay Sears to do that?

2. The lighting was all wrong.

Now, I wasn't expecting award-winning work from the photographers at Sears. Let's be honest, here. I fully walked into it not expecting to see Ansel Adams standing there. But if you're going to snap a portrait, you have to have decent lighting. In some photos the exposure was too dark and there was no light on the face, but instead almost back-lit. In others, the lighting was so strong the colors are blown out.

Allow me to present three examples, keeping in mind that the "originals" already have the backdrop retouched to remove the majority of the wrinkles and the red stuff. The top photos are the "original" and the lower photos are the retouched ones. Remember that these are 8x10- they look different small in the blog post, so click on them to see large.

Example #1:

Example #2

Example #3- That Wrinkled Mess- look closely

I would not go back and I would not recommend Sears Portrait Studio to anyone that I liked. Maybe even people I don't like.

Fortunately, I didn't lose too much on this package and I can fix it myself, but others are not so lucky. 

Buyer beware!

January 25, 2013 ~ Snow!

Billy wanted to help shovel. This was Daddy's solution.

Friday, January 25, 2013

January 24, 2013 ~ The Calm Down Song

Okay, I'm way too busy to draw Drawn In, so bear with me. You'll just have to wait until next week.

In the meantime...

Billy was out of control yesterday, as Grandma can attest. He was wild, tired, and tantrumatic (that's like traumatic, but full of tantrums).

He refused to go to sleep and wanted me to sing to him, but he was too wild even for that. So I made up a song on the spot.

I said, "hey Billy, want to sing the 'Calm Down' song?"

"Yes!" he shouted and bounced up and down. (Dear Lord this child is wound up).

To no particular melody and remember I made it up on the spot:

Let's calm down, let's calm down
No more running all around.
Let's calm down, let's calm down
No more shouting all around.

Let's calm down, let's calm down
It's time to sit ourselves down.
Let's calm down, let's calm down
Everybody CALM DOWN.

Well, apparently this song is so amazing (to a two year old) that he made me sing it to him eight times. That's right- eight times. But you know what? He calmed down!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 23, 2013 ~ Lucky Number Seven

I've known for awhile that Billy can count... to two.

I make him count out 20 seconds when he goes into time out. Here's what it usually sounds like:

"One, two, four, eight, nine, ten, fourteen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, fourteen, nineteen, twenty!"

Three and five are always skipped. The other numbers are hit and miss.

Well, Billy was helping me empty the dishwasher and he was counting out the number of Billy plates there were in the top rack (those would be the plastic plates). I asked him to count all of them. He counted out six and he was right! (and he didn't skip numbers).

So, testing this new-found knowledge of numbers I asked him to count the cups. Fourteen. Um... okay, maybe six was just a lucky guess.

Well, Daddy asked him to actually count out the cups just on one side of the dishwasher.

"One, two, three, four, five, six..., seven!"

Yes, there were actually seven and he counted them out correctly. I'm not saying he's got this counting thing down yet, but two out of three ain't bad.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 22, 2013 ~ Gone Purple

In honor of the Ravens going to the Super Bowl, this blog has gone purple. We'll be purple at least until the Super Bowl and if we win? Much, MUCH longer.

Billy loves football, Billy loves the Ravens. So, it's appropriate.

As Billy would say, "Go Ravens!" "Go Flacco!" (actually, he says 'go, flag, go') "Go Rice!"

He has no idea what this means, but he loves to cheer them on anyway. and he'll gladly show you how to kick a football or throw it across the room. He's pretty good. Watch out Flacco, Billy might want your job some day.

Billy even know that the number 5 is Flacco's jersey. He specifically requests to wear his Flacco shirt between his two Ravens shirts. Yep. I've inspired a life-long football fan. I couldn't be prouder.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 21, 2013 ~ Proof of Pink

Billy wears pink. And I promise that no one will mistake this child for a girl.

Monday, January 21, 2013

January 20, 2013 ~ Pony Rides, Lollipops, Cupcakes and Ravens

Sunday was a jam-packed day of activity.

We started the morning with a trip to the Horse Show with Miss A. She's big into horses and Billy loves them too. I am happy that she wants to share her passion with him. He wanted to ride the ponies, so we did. Then he got a lollipop. You would have thought it was the best day ever. Maybe it was...and it was only just the morning! Billy also clapped for the first time that I've seen. I don't mean baby clapping. I mean sitting ringside and clapping at the appropriate moment when the horse jumped over the jump. It was terribly cute.

After nap it was off to a gymnastics birthday party. Billy clung to me like a spider monkey. He wouldn't let me put him down. He was so terrified. And these were all of his classmates. He sees them daily. But still, it was a lot to process. Finally, he warmed up and went to play.

Blogger is having issues and won't let me insert a photo. Photo to come here.

Then after the party we went over to Cub's house to watch the Ravens game. The boys got to stay up for the whole game, because, let's be honest- we were going to leave the TV to go spend a half hour getting them down. Nope. Forget it. Better to just let them watch.

Billy really got into it. He doesn't understand the game yet. But when the adults screamed joyfully, he did too, running around saying "Go Ravens!" "Go Flacco!" and "touchdown!!!"

AND... Billy only had one accident this weekend. So thrilled with him. He pooped in the potty like a big boy. He asked when he had to go potty and held it until we got to the potty. He even (when naked just before bed) went and pottied by himself in the dark bathroom and came and got me to tell me he peed. And I can't blame him for the one accident. It was right after the Ravens won the game. Honestly, I was so excited I almost peed my own pants!

Highlights from this weekend:

"Mommy, I reach up and touch the stars and moon. But I need ladder first."

"Mommy, when you say 'no' to me you make me sad."

The Sunday Post ~ Real Men Wear Pink

Have you ever seen a little boy dressed in pink? Probably not.

Boys don't get to wear pink. It's off limits, too girly, a total no go. Sure, girls get to wear blue. No one complains if a little girl is dressed in blue. But a boy in pink? For shame.

What will become of that little boy if he wears pink? What if he's becomes to girly? What if he grows up with a permanent fondness for pink? Have you ever stopped to wonder about this? (Okay, probably not).

But I have. Why?

Well, Billy's favorite color is pink.

We go to the store and he wants the pink one. I have to tell him, no honey, boys don't wear pink.

Well, here I am at an impasse. Billy wants his own knitted hat. The one in the previous pictures was a gift and has gone on to its recipient. So, now he is without a knitted hat to wear. I happen to have a ton of different colored wool laying around and let him pick the color he wanted. He wanted pink.

What to do? Intervene? Tell him no? Break his heart? Or make him a pink hat...

Well, I compromised. I made him a pink hat and I am now making him a blue hat. He can wear both. And I won't tell him no to pink.


Plenty of grown men wear pink. Daddy certainly owns a number of pink shirts and ties. So does Grandpop. So, if grown men can wear pink, why not a little boy? Tell me that. The truth is that real men wear pink. And now so does Billy.

January 19, 2013 ~ Big Red Race Car

Billy tried out his car on the street for the very first time.