~ Behind every good photographer...

Behind every good photographer....is an even better lawyer.
I've never been afraid to discuss some of the mistakes I made early in my career, Lord knows there were plenty. One of the biggest was not taking the "business side" of it seriously. My photography business shot off like a rocket so fast that I didn't ever stop to think about things like contracts, business certification, LLC, protection, insurance. Besides...I had a contract...that I proudly made myself...in Microsoft Word.
Seriously, I should get some kind of award for the crap I admit in public.
So there I was, cruising along in my business, meeting with a client named Angie, she wanted to hire me as her photographer and then mentions she is a lawyer and works for Carmody MacDonald. My stomach dropped. "Dear Sweet baby Jesus please let a giant whole open in the ground and swallow me whole" Because I knew I had to give her my "contract"...you know the "Kelly Manno Microsoft Word Special" to a LAWYER - I thought for sure she would run the other way as fast as she could.
But she didn't, she was sweet and kind and took the time to explain to me why it was so vitally important to protect my business AND my family. She has taught me so much and I am forever thankful. I have such magnificent clients that I rarely need to use her but there is the occasional trouble maker who wants to break a contract or isn't paying on time and she is there to swoop in and save me everytime. I also sleep soundly every night knowing I have a contract I can stand firmly behind.
See the cute little blonde on the right? That's Angie. She is fantastic and if you need her for your business needs you can contact her at als@carmodymacdonald.com

.....and if you don't...then don't come crying to me when Aunt Gertrude trips over your camera bag at a wedding and breaks her hip.
And for the record Carmody Macdonald covers many areas of law practice and have a fantastic team to take care of you. You can find their website here

~ Baby Bobby ~

Just before the Holidays I got to spend some time with a precious little newborn named Bobby. He was so sweet, and so sleepy, I sort of wanted to stick around and just snuggle him for a couple hours.

~ A tree that tells a story ~

I remember my very first Christmas as a "real adult" - meaning out of my parents home, as a wife and newlywed. Christmas rolled around and I knew a house was not a home for the Holidays without a tree.

It was like a good luck fairy sprinkled dust on us when we found a beautiful artificial Christmas tree at a garage sale for $1.00, we went and picked out the most beautiful ornaments with intricate designs. They were maroon and gold. We spent a small fortune on them since we got such a deal on the tree. We picked out the most fancy matching gold garland and gorgeous ruffled tree skirt. I could see it all in my head just how spectacular it would be.

We got home, set it up, and it was perfect. Every fake branch was spread and fluffed. The ornaments were symmetrically hung on each side and the garland was strung in the most perfect zig zag fashion that I was about to pat myself of the back on a job well done when I stepped back to look at our perfect tree and realized...I hated it.

It didn't look like the trees I grew up with. It looked like something that Martha Stewart would do...and I am no Martha Stewart and my home is not a Macy's window. This tree didn't feel like home.

I remember at that moment longing for the years ahead of me when my tree would tell a story of the years gone by, with popsicle stick ornaments smashed together with Elmers glue, and now, this year, as I look at my tree only 10 feet away as I type, it is perfect.

First of all it's a real tree, and it has been since that first year, and will be from now on.

The bottom 1/3 of the tree is completely bare to keep toddler fingers from snatching and hoarding ornaments.

The garland is half shredded and barely hanging on by a thread and the dog has tore the hell out of the tree skirt. And best of all? We have ornaments that tell stories.

Like a pair of figure skates that hang for Mommy for a sport she loved and was devoted to for years.
A guitar for Daddy who has been strumming one since he was 9.A wedding cake inscribed with the year "2003" to mark our first anniversary as husband and wife.3 little Reindeer to remind us of a time when there were only 3 in this house.And a handmade Reindeer from the hands of that baby Reindeer above.A time we celebrated the arrival of our first pink one...and one this year to celebrate the blue eyed baby who surprised us all. Ornaments that pay tribute to people we miss very, very much. A handmade angel for the one who loved Christmas to her core. Who set the bar so high I will spend eternity trying to give my kids the reaction to their Christmas morning that she gave to us.
Tucked way in the back up high is the most precious to me of all. Look very closely, it says "Baby's First Christmas 1978" and it is my baby ornament. Passed down from my mom. I was a Christmas baby and my Mom and Dad brought me home in a stocking.

If you look closely at our tree you will still find some of those fancy Maroon and Gold ornaments from our first year. After all, they are now part of our story, where we were, where we are, and where we are going, we hang them proudly with our felt hand prints and clay Reindeer.

I hope all of my blog readers have a Merry and Blessed Christmas with their families.

~ Hustle and Bustle ~

This morning, my 3 year old Luci, couldn't get her sparkly tights off in time to make it on the pot. She had an accident on the bathroom floor. I have never, ever been more excited to clean up pee...it made my day.

Let me back up a bit...

I have authority issues, I think rules don't apply to me, I know this and I'm working on it.

Perfect example was in October, I received a letter being summoned to Jury Duty. I didn't go. Just that simple, didn't want to go, so I didn't go. This didn't surprise my mother at all, she is used to it. We had a conversation that went like this:

Mom: Kelly, you know you HAVE to go, right?
Me: No I don't, they have like 300 people a day, they won't even know I'm not there.

It reminded me of the conversation she had with me when I was 15 and flying to California all by myself. She said ;

Mom: Kelly, you are only allowed to check 2 suitcases, you have 3 they will not let you on the plane.
Me: Yes they will Mom, they won't notice.

Well..they noticed, I sat on the floor in Lambert airport scrambling to shove my 3 bags into 2. Some old airline guy was helping me, some of my girlfriends got me a thing of "Vagisil" feminine powder as a joke and it had spilled all over in my bags. I almost missed my flight and me and the poor guy helping me were covered in Vagisil by the time we were done.

Turns out..you can't just "skip" jury duty either...

I got a strongly worded letter, something about a $500 fine and jail time. So I was rescheduled for December.

So the date rolls around. Hello, Ice and Snow storm, on the WARMEST morning of my jury duty is was 7 degrees. I had to get up at the butt-crack of dawn and carry 2 sleeping, jammied, warm babies into a cold car and haul them over to my moms house in Illinois. Then turn around and drive right back through the same rush hour traffic back by my house to the courthouse.

I was an entire hour late, still in my pajamas and didn't even take the time to put on a bra or brush my teeth. (For the record I did do the "rub your teeth on the inside of your t-shirt trick"...don't look at me like that, you know you've done it.) but this was all fine by me, it played into my "Slacker" persona. I thought if I show up an hour late looking like this, no lawyer in their right mind is going to be pick me for a jury.

I had to park 3 blocks away in the parking garage and battle the ice snow and wind to find the right building, the wind was so cold it felt like needles in my face. I arrive, check into the "cattle call" room. People had talked to me about the cattle call room. You hang out there with about 300-400 people, most people are in there all day, never get called and get to go home....sweet, this should be easy.

I settled in a chair in the back and got 2 minutes into an intense game of Mario Kart on my 6 year olds "Nintendo DS" and a Baliff walks in on a microphone and announces they have selected 30 people as potential jurors on a case...

Name # 1 - John Smith
Name # 2 - Kelly Manno


From there we were taken straight down to a real courtroom, with a plantiff a defendant, their lawyers, a judge, the works! I couldn't help but think "Dude this is just like Judge Judy" from the 30 of us, the lawyers would select 12 for the trail. I knew this was my time to shine and say something totally off the wall to get sent home, but we learned this was a trail between an oil company and an investment property firm. So the only questions they were asking us were things like "Have you ever worked in the oil business?" "Have you worked in property management", "Have you ever sued anyone?" I didn't have a chance to say squat!

Once all the questions were done the prosecuting attorney said "If there are any other reasons not mentioned that you think would make you not fit for this trail please state so now." and in a last ditch effort I stood up in front of 30 people and said...

Me: I can't hold my pee longer than an hour
Courtrooom : "Crickets..."
Attorney: Is that a medical condition, or do you have a Doctors note?
Me: No I just had 3 babies really fast and my bladder is shot.
Courtroom: "Giggles..."

For the record that is basically true, I have a bladder the size of a grape.

But I'm going to make a long story short. I was picked, I was Juror number 5 and had to spend a couple days listening to testimony, examinations, cross examinations, objections, the works. And you know what? It was kind of cool. Yes I hated and loathed the hustle and bustle of downtown working life. But once I was there, it was an honor to see our justice system in action and I am really glad they picked me. Some people will go their whole life and only see it on TV, it was fascinating in person.

I shouldn't have been such a brat and I should have just gone the first time.

When I got home and saw my kids and the end of those days it was like I hadn't seen them in years, I had to check them and make sure they didn't grow while I was gone :) I could not imagine being gone from my children from 7am-6pm every day, I could never be a working mother, I. would. die.

And then I realized....millions of parents, moms in particular, do this every day. Some do it because they have to, some do it because they want to. For those of you who have to, I am so, so sorry. To those of you who "want" to - THANK YOU! Women need a voice in the workplace and whimps like me would never survive.

The trail is now over. When I woke up my first morning home to a toddler and a puddle of pee I thought "Bring It" - THIS is the kind of crisis mama can handle....

So life is back to normal, I wake up and stumble around the kitchen with bed head hair and one eye open like a pirate, pack back-packs and lunches, send Rocky off to school. Then the girls roll out of bed and onto the couch where we watch Sesame Street and yawn and stretch out way through the morning, then we peel ourselves off the couch and head to the tub...
Then it's time for breakfast, I think this is the part where I am suppose to pretend I feed them whole wheat organic oatmeal and fiber, micro-something or other juice. But these are fruity cheerios...and they are delicious.
Libby Lu has a new trick, she can stand if she balances against the wall. She is very proud.
The rest of my day consists of the most simple and happy things. Snack time, craft time, reading time, movie time and
very little communication with any other adults.
Far, far away from the hustle and bustle of working city life.

But let's be real, I don't ride Unicorns all day. Between the good stuff there are also melt-downs because a Barbie shoe won't fit, puddles of pee to clean, crabby teething babies, smelly diapers and whole lot of other stuff that someone else may consider "Hustle and Bustle" but it's my hustle and bustle, and it's awesome.

~ Baby Lips ~

I know I haven't blogged in 13 days, very unusual for me, but I have an excuse, 2 words, JURY DUTY, not just Jury Duty but actually being selected for a jury and having my life temporarily turned upside down. But that deserves an entire post of it's own.

Let's get onto the good stuff....like sweet little soft, chapped, Baby Lips...
and wrinkly chubby baby hands...
and wittle baby belly buttons...
This baby is special, he belongs to my grade school best friend Amy. Amy is a wonderful and patient mother...she has to be...she has 3 boys! 4 if you count her husband :)
He is totally smiling in this photo...or farting.

Thank you Amy for your business. It was so good to see you and all your babies again! I am so happy for you and the beautiful little life you've built. Merry Christmas.

~ 2 more beautiful babies ~

So I think I have finally found the biggest downfall of my job, I am constantly surrounded by little squishy, squeaky, sweet smelling newborn babies, which means I constantly have "Baby-Fever" which was the case with these 2 beautiful babies. First is Mister Sam, I shot his Mommy and Daddy when they were married a few years ago.These 2 make parenting look easy, they were just enamored with the little guy the whole session.
Next is Princess Olivia! I did photos for her big brother when he was born and she is the perfect addition to their cute little family.
I'm pretty sure in this photos her little eyes say "Dad, what the heck is on my head?"

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