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6 Good Reasons To Skip the Picture People for Good

standard June 17, 2011 11 responses

On Friday afternoon I brushed C and Little L’s hair, made sure they were wearing cute dresses, and headed to the nearby mall for their annual-it’s-time-for-Father’s-Day photo shoot.

We had an appointment and we were a full week away from Father’s Day so I thought we were in great shape to get in and get out fast.


I arrived 15 minutes early, moments after a woman who was explaining to the cashier that she was there way early for her appointment.

1st mistake – assuming that they’d honor my appointment time

45 minutes after our appointment time we were finally ushered into a photo studio (20 minutes after the family whose appointment was after ours). By now we’d been there for a full hour and the kids were bouncing off the walls. I was beyond grumpy. At no point did anyone apologize for the wait or thank us for our patience.

2nd mistake – Letting the photographer call the shots. 

She was bossy and had us pose in various ways, barely tolerating my advice and antics to get my kids to stop making fake “cheese” smiles and in 10 minutes we were done. I hate all the shots she took of the three of us.

3rd mistake – Assuming they’d listen to reason

So there I was, tired, cranky, and really done with trying to keep my active kids contained. So…. brilliant mom that I am… I realized that I could take them home and come back the next day without them to review the photos in peace and make smart choices. I could even look at the photos online and decide from the comfort of my couch!

No. According to the Picture People employee, that couldn’t happen.

You see, there’s a new policy at the Picture People.

They delete all photos at the end of the day. If you’re a member they give you a full week. So generous.

4th mistake – Assuming that they’d be smart and modern.

Even better. They no longer give you the option to view your photos online or to buy prints at other stores.

So there I am, two hyper kids who’ve already been in the store for an hour and a half, being told we have to wait to see our photos, and that we have no option.

5th mistake – not admitting defeat.

I couldn’t exactly admit defeat, so we stayed put.

And then more frustration ensued.

They no longer let you view the pictures on your own. The staffer has to sit there with you, manning the mouse, giving you the endless sales pitch. You know, despite the kids begging to go home, scaling your body like a jungle gym, and whining louder and louder.

I wasn’t my most patient and nice.

You’d think the story ends there wouldn’t you?

It doesn’t.

We got our photos (after waiting more for them to be printed). Paid for the damn membership so I’d be able to come back and get prints for my mother-in-law and went home.

6th mistake – GOING BACK for more abuse. 

Yesterday I went back to get her prints.

You’d think that to simply get prints I would have been in and out in 10 minutes.

You’d be wrong.

It took over an hour for a staffer to be able to sit with me and look at the pictures. (You know, because God forbid I should be allowed to man a mouse by myself.) Took 20 minutes to go through the damn sales pitch again. Another 15 for them to print the photos. And yet another 10 for them to reprint the photos I had actually asked for.

When I finally left the store I could barely speak I was so mad.

Four hours to get pictures – from a place that promises photos in under an hour.
Staffers who were so frazzled from dealing with irate customers that they could no longer function correctly.
And photos that are cute… but nothing mind-blowing and that I overspent on because of the overbearing marketing tactics being used on me and the threat of imminent deletion. 
As for my increasingly irate tweets and Facebook messages? They’ve been completely ignored by the Picture People social media team.


I’ve always resisted going to a professional photographer because it always seemed easier to just hop over to the mall and be done in under an hour. After 6 years of doing this annual shoot and watching the Picture People customer service and care go slowly from mediocre to bad to worse, I’m officially done and telling everyone I can.

Skip the Picture People. Find a local photographer. Give one of your community members the business and take back the joy that should be a part of a family photo shoot. You’ll thank me in the end.

It’s not about the Happy Meals, it’s about the parenting

standard December 17, 2010 19 responses

I’ve admitted in the past that we are regular McDonald’s consumers. I’m not ashamed of it. We make pretty decent choices when we’re there. The kids get Happy Meals with apple slices and milk. We get a side order of apple walnut salad and the kids eat more fruit than fries.

No one gets a toy until they’ve eaten all their apples and finished their milk.

Could we be eating at home? Sure.

Could they be eating better that night? Probably.

Do I let my kids tell me what they’ll eat and when? No. Never.

It’s a treat. It’s an easy way for us to eat together without having to run home and cook first. It’s counterbalanced with well balanced meals at all other times. My kids love their veggies and eat them easily.

We eat at McDonald’s and my kids still know all about nutritional eating. They usually eat their apples first.

So when I see stories about people suing McDonald’s because (and I quote) “The woman, Monet Parham of Sacramento, claims that the marketing of Happy Meal toys has interfered with her ability as a parent to provide her two children with a healthful diet.”

I’m sorry, what? This article and law suit have made my eyes bug out with unanswered questions.

Let’s start with this: marketing is interfering with her parenting?

Does her TV not have an off button? (It’s the red one on the remote if the TV doesn’t have one.)

Does she not control what her children watch? (Pst! PBS. No commercials. DVDs. No commercials. No TV. No commercials.)

Is she not the boss of her children? (Who drives them to McDonalds? Who does the grocery shopping? Who has the power to say no?)

How about, instead of blaming marketing and large institutions, we accept the responsibility that comes with having children.

Marketing exists. Things that are unhealthy exists. The world is not clearly labeled for easy and healthy consumption. It us up to us to teach our children to make good choices. The world will bombard them with information and sometimes the information is going to be brightly lit in attractive colors and come packaged with fun toys.

We have two choices. We can see what the world is throwing at our kids and teach them how to handle it. Or we can let our kids see us turn around and blame the people doing the throwing. The first option leads to grown-ups who stand on their own two feet, have a solid sense of their values, and know how to navigate the world. The second option leads to grown-ups who blame everyone around them for their problems.

What’s next for this woman and others like her? Blaming ToysRUs for the clutter in their kid’s room?

Stop blaming everyone. Grow a backbone. Start parenting your kids. You’re the boss. Not the TV.

Starting the week out of sorts

standard November 8, 2010 1 response

I spend most of my mornings working away on my laptop at my favorite corner table at my favorite Starbucks. I know the baristas and the regulars. It’s my little haven of peace. If I can start the day off there with a perfect cup of coffee, working on my novel, it doesn’t matter how the rest of the day goes, I can pull on that sense of peace and accomplishment and feel good all day long.

Starting my day at that particular Starbucks has been my routine for over two years now. Until Friday I always felt at peace when I walked through the doors and smelled the brewing coffee.

Then they moved the furniture around.

And I know that it sounds ridiculous to say, but now the place just doesn’t feel the same. All the tables used to be in the quieter, warmer side of the store, with the arm chairs and coffee table in the louder, colder section near the bar where drinks are served. Since last week the tables are now in the louder section and the quiet section has been taken over with the more social seating.

I walked in on Friday and stood in front of the door, somewhat perplexed as to where to go sit. I found an empty table near and outlet and I sat down, but it was loud, drafty, I wasn’t facing the way I usually face, and I just couldn’t find my groove. I left shortly after, not even bothering to order my morning coffee.

I’ve reached a point in my editing where I can’t even just get lost in the work and I’m all our of sorts about how my Monday is going to go. Do I go and brave the new layout, try to get over the noise issue? Do I go try to find another haven? Where do I take my printed draft to read it over?

I can deal with change as long as I have constants in my life that keep me grounded and help me find my calm center. When the constants are what is changing I have trouble dealing. Which makes me whiney and starts the week off all wrong.

How about real Breast Cancer Awareness?

standard October 11, 2010 10 responses

I’m not playing the “I like it…” game on Facebook this year. I didn’t play the bra color game last October either. Not because I don’t believe in Breast Cancer Awareness, quite the opposite in fact.

I believe in doing it the right way.

Last year the game seemed silly to me even before reading Susan Nieber ‘s– aka Why Mommy – post on the subject. Then it seemed downright cruel.

People were trying to raise awareness for a cause by flaunting the very thing that women who were in the thick of that issue could no longer use – bras.

Most women who have had mastectomies no longer wear bras, so, as a whole, they felt shut out of this viral campaign. Ironic? Right?

This year the campaign tries to be more inclusive by focusing on purses instead of bras. But at the end of the day the issue is a bit the same.

Breast cancer isn’t funny.

Susan Nieber once again wrote a post decrying the point of this campaign, this time she posted it at Salon.com. She wants to know why people are joking around while women are dying.

Here’s the thing as I see it. You slap up a pink banner on your site, you buy a pink t-shirt, you post a quippy “I like it in the backseat!” post on Facebook. And then you walk away. You feel like you did your part and you can give yourself a nice pat on the back.

But really? What have you done to further the cause of Breast Cancer Awareness? Did you share some stats and information with someone? Do you really think that the 10c from the proceeds of that shirt are going to make an impact on Breast Cancer research? Do you really think that funny Facebook post did any good?

Breast Cancer is becoming that thing. The “oh yeah! Breast Cancer, it’s a problem, right?” thing. All the pink t-shirts and ribbons are having the opposite effect. Instead of raising true awareness they’re raising acceptance.

And you know what? Acceptance is BAD. We don’t WANT people to become jaded and accepting of this disease that’s killing women right and left. Women YOU know. Women YOU see every day.

So instead of posting a funny post to my Facebook page I’m posting this post and sharing Susan’s letter. And I’m not going to tell you not to play, but I am going to beg you to ALSO post a link to a place where people can get information or where they can make a real difference.

Visit the American Cancer Society to learn about Breast Cancer and all sorts of other cancers, find out what you can do to help raise awareness and money for research.

Buy a Tiny Prints Breast Cancer Awareness Greeting Cardhttp://www.tinyprints.com/greeting/promo/bca.htm. The entire proceed for the cards go to The Pink Agenda for Breast Cancer research.(Sorry, I work there, but I also happen to be really excited about this campaign which helps people on every end.)

Join the Army of Women and do your part to further the research.Whether or not you have had breast cancer or are high risk, you might have the information someone conducting a study could use. Sign up. You never know.

And before you buy something with a pink ribbon on it, do a little research about how much of your money is actually being donated. Lots of companies are taking advantage of the pink to make a lot of extra bucks. 

So? How about it? Are you participating in the Facebook “game?”

(FYI: This post was cross posted to Yahoo! Shine and received interesting comments over there.)