Alphabet Recap, Mindfulness Challenges, and 7 Random Smartphone Photos


Seems as if there’s room for just one challenge in this coach’s bag at a time.

Those of you not participating (and probably a percentage who are) probably turned the calendar to May with a touch of gratitude. We’re cultish, we A to Z knuckleheads. We flood your inbox and social media feeds with sorcery and daily posts and crazy rules.

And who the hell blogs every dad-burn day? We do.

The cleverest among us have compiled posts of their favorite posts from each of 26 days of the challenge. Others have shared their most viewed and commented-on posts. I’m not among those cleverest, but you can bet 10 publish buttons I will next year.

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#A to Z Challenge: B is for Burgers & 3 Lessons I Learned During a Month Without Them (Plus, 3 Random Smartphone Pics)

stormtrooper lineup army

I told a co-worker that I staged a hunger strike because of her leaving the company.

BMost hellish 13 minutes of my life, I announced. This food-related sacrifice plays right into the mindfulness challenge I participated in for March. I softened it to be carnivore-friendly: March was a beef-free month for me.

Jen Schwartz’s challenge was to give up meat completely, like a liberal. I believe in miracles, yes, but also in the universe’s balance. I could no more easily go veg for more than a single bean tostada as an NBA star could expect to play every game on his team’s schedule when he’s healthy.

My own depravity – which challenged in duration the time Jesus spent in the wilderness that one time or the average drought between quality starts for an Arizona Diamondbacks starter – taught me.

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Product Review: Marie Tries Out the jimmyCASE

Photo by HMP

And then there was one.

Over the years here at Coach Daddy, two of my three daughters have written guest posts. Marie, middle child Marie, she of few words and fancy footwork, remained the lone holdout. Until today.

Marie is on the blog today to review a cool iPhone case.

She got to check out an iPhone 6s Card holder from jimmyCASE. Marie’s a girl who takes her phone seriously. She bought her own iPhone 6, with screen protectors. She’s the girl in the bunch that takes care of her stuff way better than dad ever did.

All those iPhone users out there – you really should check out the jimmyCASE.

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7 Random Smartphone Photos, and a Meat-free Challenge

photo credit: Sr. F First Order via photopin (license)

I used to fill the Wednesday gaps when I didn’t have a guest post lined up with a random assortment of photos from my dilapidated Android phone.

Sometimes, they’d include a shot of my dilapidated car, which is embroiled in a long-haul challenge with my dilapidated phone to see who can last the longest. They probably have wagered also on whether they can outlast me, too.

We’re all still alive and (mostly) kicking, and I have lots of great guest posts and #GirlsRock interviews to get me through weeks and weeks of blogging.

I miss the photos, though. I’ll bring them back, at the first of every month. I’m also involved in the 12 Month Mindful Challenge. It’s Jen Schwartz’s creation, on the Elephant Journal. March is Meat-free. (eek!)

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#GirlsRock: An Interview with Photographer Beatrice Pitocco

“Life sometimes dulls us; it confuses us, it makes us question things that are basic, like love.” – Beatrice Pitocco

I first picked Beatrice Pitocco for an interview on a blog for work.

cd-interviewsOne question into my interview with her, I knew she was a better match for #GirlsRock – my interviews with women who do cool things. Although the tools Beatrice uses as a photographer are inherently technical, that’s not the main element in her work – or her life force.

Beatrice, like many artists, is a feeler.

You’ll see that in her words here, raw and honest. Beatrice is also a consultant for companies and individuals. I believe you’ll see some of your own life stages in her words today. Through thick and thin, Beatrice lives by a simple credo.

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My Day, in Photos and Time Stamps

Stormtrooper crashes RV talent show in Cancun. (It’s okay. I already ate.)

I got this idea from a favorite blog – About 100%, by Andrea Mowry. You document a day – in nothing but photos and time stamps. You really should give it a try.

Continue reading “My Day, in Photos and Time Stamps”

Go Ask Dada, ‘Cause Mama Doesn’t Know Squat, or Vice Versa.

Tamara Like Camera here, happily filling in for Eli during his vacation. I remember when I first came to this blog, a long time ago and in a galaxy far, far away, and I worried that I would be laughed right out of here, due to my lack of knowledge (of any sort) of futebol or fatherhood. I do, however, have the market cornered on food. And Stormtroopers, for that matter. It only took one Stormtrooper photo to make me a regular reader. Also, he never laughs at me here. And so back I come, each post, learning more and more about the world through Eli’s features and his “Go Ask Daddy” posts. Now my daughter is younger than his three daughters, but she certainly has asked some interesting questions over the last week. Now let’s see what I can do with them, shall we?

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I think I remember one of the first times it happened. Scarlet and I were walking back home after our long walk to the mailbox, while (then) baby Des was sleeping, and she asked me: “Mama, what makes wind blow?” Barely looking up from my latest edition of Us Weekly, I replied, “Oh, I don’t freakin’ know.” And then we both giggled and giggled all the way home, where I made a mental note to at least look up the answer for her so she wouldn’t think I was a total deadbeat. I was not proud. Of any of it – the terrible answer OR the reading of Us Weekly while walking with my daughter through a beautiful nature path.

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Instead of consulting Wikipedia like maybe I should have, I sent her question to my husband to see what he would have said in my place. Here was his answer: “Hot air and cold air move differently. Ever notice it’s hotter upstairs? That’s because hot air likes to move up. Wind is caused by the same thing. Hot air moves up and cold air rushes to where the hot air used to be.”

Are you ever really prepared for the peppering of questions you’ll have to answer after your kids get old enough to have storable memories? I wasn’t prepared. To credit myself, I was an excellent student in school and I actually do know many things. I’m just not great at explaining them, especially in the moment. I freeze up, although her adorable face is much kinder than my childhood teachers’ faces looked when the same thing happened. I know what words mean and how weather works, but only in my mind as this big, cloudy mass of feelings and memories. How to explain that to a five-year-old? How to explain it to myself?

Sometimes I just need a little help in the matter. Sometimes we all need a little help.

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Although there are some questions that need not be researched, or even answered twice! They don’t require too much thought:

Scarlet: “What’s a bong?”
Dada: “It’s just another kitchen utensil.”
Mama: “It’s like a drum! A bongo drum.”

End of story with that one. Until she’s at least 18. Or 33.

And sometimes, especially in a Star Wars loving family, you may find yourself in the middle of a conversation such as this:

Scarlet: “Why are there only three Star Warers?” (not a typo)

Dada: “Well, they only made three but there are more being made right NOW!”

Mama: (whispering to only Dada) “So you’re not going to tell her about Episodes I, II and III?”

Dada: “Not until she’s 18.” (or 33)

Strong Star Wars opinions aside, I have compiled a small list of her weekly questions. There are certain questions that my husband can answer and I cannot, without looking to Google. And there some questions I can answer and my husband cannot, without looking blankly in my direction and asking for help. I decided to submit the questions to my husband that I had already answered to see how his answers measured up against mine! So now you can see if/how we are either screwing up our daughter, or making her even more well rounded. (I like to believe the second)

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Scarlet: “Why is there ice?”
Mama: “What? So that we finally have a good use for our Han Solo in Carbonite ice cube makers. Obvs.”
Scarlet: “Obvs.”
Dada: “Because when you freeze water, that’s what forms. But you can also freeze water and turn it to snow.”


Scarlet: “What was your favorite thing to do when you were a kid?”
Mama: “Books, books, and more books. I’d also climb trees, and read books. And I liked to eat, while reading books.”
Dada: “I used to love finding a really good stick and playing by a stream near my house.”


Scarlet: “What is Yoda?”
Mama: “A Jedi Master, he is. And a cool guy who lives in our basement right now.”

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(Photographic proof)

Dada: “Just Yoda.”
Scarlet: “What IS he?”
Dada: “A Jedi Master?”
Scarlet: “What’s a Jedi Master?”
Dada: “A good guy who has gotten so good at The Force that they can now teach it to other people.”
Scarlet: “Does Darth Fader (not a typo) think the Emperor is a bad guy?”
Dada: “He does, but right now he’s still a bad guy. He likes to hang out with other bad guys.”
Scarlet: “It doesn’t make sense because you said that Darth Fader found out that the Emperor was a real bad guy and so that doesn’t really make sense..”
Scarlet: (a minute later)…”Ok now it does. Now I know how it can.” (she never enlightened us!)
Scarlet: “Why are they called Imperial Walkers?”
Dada: “Because they’re made by Imperials and they are big, walking things.”

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Scarlet: “Why didn’t Fiona come to my birthday party?”
Dada: “Who’s Fiona?”
Mama: “She was on vacation.” (in my head, I said this:) “I didn’t invite her. Between the bounce house, the cotton candy machine, and the face painter, we had at some point to cut down the list. So sorry, Scarlet, the list could not include the girl that never invited you to her parties, the boy who pushed you down at school, and the adorable Fiona – who I don’t even know.”


Scarlet: “What do you actually do when you’re at work?”
Mama: “I pose people and take their photos. Or I don’t pose people and take their photos. That’s even better. Then I put the photos into my computer from my camera, and I sharpen them and add contrast. All while you’re sleeping, the cat is laying across my keyboard, and the other cat is farting in my lap. I also write stuff for money.”
Dada: “I spend a lot of time emailing and talking to people.”

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*Bonus Question!

Scarlet: “Why do they never pee or poop in Sofia the First?”
Mama: “There are too many other fun things to do!”
Dada: “They do, but a Poop Griffin steals it all.”

**Bonus Question #2!

Scarlet: (while watching Lady and the Tramp) “Can we get a dog like that (Lady) when Athena dies?”
Dada: “…..”
Mama: “…..”

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The bottom line and a special note. These answers are not meant to treat, diagnose or cure anything. This post is mostly in good, old-fashioned fun. We give her well-informed answers the best way we know how. Answer what you know, from your heart. We all know what we love. For everything else, look it up from a reputable source!

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Tamara is a professional photographer at Tamara Camera Photography, a mama of two, a writer/blogger at Tamara (Like) Camera and a nearly professional cookie taster. She has been known to be all four of those things at all hours of the day and night. She is a very proud contributor to the book, The Mother Of All Meltdowns. After two cross country moves, due to her intense Bi-Coastal Disorder, she lives with her husband, daughter, son and rescue pets in glorious western Massachusetts. She spends her spare time looking for moose, taking pictures of her kids, and maybe – just maybe – teaching them about photography. Her five-year-old took this headshot (below) when she was only four. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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Guest Post from Tamara: How To Photograph Children And Moose, But Not Together

Every dad blog worth its weight in bratwurst ought to have a moose photo on its pages.

I think Hemingway said that. Or maybe Socrates. It could have been Jimmy Carter, but anyway … it’s true, and I feel as if, today, I have arrived.

Please welcome Tamara from Tamara Camera Blog. I’ve said before that I can’t categorize her as a photo blogger who can write like a champ, or an awesome writer who takes incredible pictures. She’s all this. She’s the ace of the pitching staff who also hits cleanup, but on the big stage, not just a 1A high school in rural Iowa.

Be sure to visit her social-media links and check out her amazing work. I would have had this excellent post up yesterday, but I was blissfully lost out of the reach of civilization. Tamara’s words are a great way to return to my world.


Once upon a time, I figured out that I wanted to be a photographer. It is a story that I’ve told a thousand times and I’ll tell it a thousand times more – it started when I saw the sun shining through the school bus window and lighting the long, blond eyelashes of a classmate as he stood and waited for his stop. I thought instantly that it should be photographed but I wasn’t in the habit of taking one of my prized cameras onto school buses, and also not in the habit of having that boy (or anyone else on the bus, for that matter) think that I “like” liked him. I actually didn’t know him very well, but this is how rumors get started, right?

Photographing a boy’s eyelashes on a school bus. I’d be that girl. “She did WHAT on a bus?” Yup, that would have been me.

At merely 10 years old.

And so I kept silent. For a long time. And then years passed without a decent outlet for my stress/joy/love/beauty/wonder/disgust, etc. until the day an ex-boyfriend (then current) gave me my first serious camera. All heck broke loose the moment my finger found the shutter button. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t stop. I took photos of everything – trees, buildings, sunsets, events. Then I moved to portraits of animals and people. I thought they both had their advantages and challenges. I liked challenges. I would drive 10 hours to the middle-of-nowhere Maine just to photograph a moose. It’s not easy to photograph a moose. It’s not easy to find a moose.

I consider myself inspired by many things. However if you had asked me once what I would photograph if I was told I had to spend my life only photographing one thing? I would have chosen moose, hands down. I would have spent my life huddled around wild swamps at daybreak and again at twilight. It would have been a happy life – moose and me. And then life had other plans in the shape of a handsome man and a plan to settle in and find new inspiration. I found something I wanted to photograph more than moose.

Along came my baby girl. A bundle of joy. Out came a newer, more serious camera. The inspiration came hurtling out of its gated jail and it never left. It never will. I learned so much about photographing babies and then toddlers. Then I had a second baby. A boy bundle of joy. A messier, droolier and lazier version of his sister. He is wonderful, though. Dirt-smudged and all. Toothy-grinned.

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And now that we have two mouths to feed, it isn’t just inspiration. It’s survival. I’m here to take these photography skills further than they’ve gone before. Create a successful business. Sit in front of a computer until I’ve missed three days of my life doing batch processing. Then, taking a break only to dive back down to the depths of this deep, mysterious and vastly unknown dream of mine.

I photograph families, children and children-related events most of all. Like the elusive moose, there has to be discovery and intuition.

Each year … no, each month (let’s be real here, each day) – has new challenges on the horizon as children grow. I run after them to keep up, and I’m learning all the while. There are some tried-and-true methods that work for me to get the best photography I can of the various personalities I meet. Just like I once did with moose, I take in and give out tips I’ve learned to get better photos:

1. I don’t have preconceived ideas of how I want to pose kids. I never have them say “cheese.” Kids cannot easily be molded or bended into uncomfortable positions, at least with any kind of easy or natural result. I wait to see what they’ll do – climb a tree, giggle on the ground, point to the sky. I may pretend I’m checking settings, even when I’m snapping away. I may gently ask them to move an arm or a leg and I may nudge them into a certain position, but you can bet they were there or on their way there to begin with.

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… alternately, I don’t have preconceived ideas of how I want to pose moose. I never have them say “cheese.” Their limbs are not easily molded or bended. I take what I can get and marvel at its easy and natural result:

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2. Relax. And wait. Patience is key. So is continuous shooting mode. I find that a fast shutter speed (at least 1/250) is important to avoid blur. Find your moment. Find your moments. Shoot, shoot away.

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Similarly with moose, patience is important. Those suckers are really, really hard to find unless you don’t want to find them which is only while you’re driving alone on a deep, dark road and one steps out in front of your car. Generally you want to try dawn or dusk – in wet, swampy areas to actually see them, although the photographic results won’t be ideal. Always, always ask the locals. Moose can be unpredictable but if they go to a certain watering hole every day at the same time, chances are you’ll get results by going there. Obviously broad daylight is best for properly exposed and relatively non-blurry photos.

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3. Get close. Find those flattering angles – generally when you shoot from too low, you get unflattering up-the-nose shots. I use a prime portrait lens in 35mm or 50mm. When you’re close and right in their faces, talk to them. Whether they’re babies or toddlers or older kids or adults (or moose), just talk, talk away. It will show in your photos.

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However, don’t do this with moose. Don’t get close. And if you do, for some silly reason, you can take up-the-nose shots if you want. Don’t try to be taller than a moose. Unless you have a ladder. And the moose is stuffed. With moose, use a zoom lens or a long prime.

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4. Have a helper! Once I did a photo shoot with a one-year-old, and her older cousin held her favorite stuffed animal just over my shoulder. In every photo, she is laughing and glowing and clapping her hands. Sometimes I can’t entertain and shoot at the same time, especially not if my subject requires me to dance and make faces. Having a relative or friend or assistant is wonderful. I also confess that I’m not above bribery.

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Helpers come in handy when looking for moose too! I generally like a helper to drive the car and slam on the brakes every time a large, dark patch of something or other flashes in between our eyes. When you look for moose all day, sometimes you start to hallucinate logs as moose. True story. A helper will park the car safely and far enough away from the moose so as not to disturb them (remember, you have a zoom lens, right??) and will stay patiently while you take photos. Mama moose with babies and male moose in mating season are very dangerous. In reality, all moose are unpredictable. So leave your moose pheromones and moose mating call whistles at home. (Yes, they exist here and here.) You should be above that kind of bribery.

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5. This should be obvious but if it isn’t, use natural light as a first choice. Second choice can easily be an external flash or portable flash or just anything that bounces away from the children’s faces. Flash can eliminate eye-catching shadows and give the skin a flat look. If it’s bright enough, natural light and a simple prop or two will work wonders.

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And you know what’s coming. Moose like natural light too. If you shoot a flash in their face, they may charge you. And even worse, their eyes will glow creepily in your photos. Er … even worse is that they will charge you. I would also recommend against taking a moose into your photo studio.

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So I sincerely hope that clears up a few mysteries for you, should you ever come across an unpredictable child or an unpredictable moose with your camera. And if not, feel free to drop me a line anytime!


Tamara is a professional photographer, a mama of two, a writer/blogger at Tamara Camera Blog and a nearly professional cookie taster. She’s been known to be all four of those things at all hours of the day and night. After two cross country moves, due to intense Bi-Coastal Disorder, she lives with her husband, daughter and son in glorious western Massachusetts. Pets are soon to follow. She dreams about northern lights, moose and whales always.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Bloglovin.

5 for Friday: Go Ask Daddy About Camera Interference, Bar Codes, and Sittin’ on the Dock of a Bay

GAD old
photo credit: Welcome to Harkins. Theatre One Is On Your Left. via photopin (license)

Go Ask Daddy: Open for business.

GAD GRAPHICThe kids don’t ask me about the fiscal cliff, or General Petraeus, or even what the heck the BCS is going to do if four schools remain undefeated. Nothing heavy, you see.

No, the questions come out of what’s in front of them. The grocery store. Storms. Sports.

Long after I exhaust the list of blog topics, there’ll still be the questions.

Continue reading “5 for Friday: Go Ask Daddy About Camera Interference, Bar Codes, and Sittin’ on the Dock of a Bay”