Saturday was quite a day. We had a photo shoot lined up late in the day for Erin’s new business website, and had lots of work to do around the house before then. The kids went off to see Grandma and Pop Pop for a while, Erin and I enjoyed a quick brunch, and then went to local nursery to get some plants for our garden planter and backyard flower pots. We figured if we were having any outdoor shots taken, it would be better if things didn’t look dead and desolate back there.

Back home, Erin handled the planting and I cleaned up the house to get things ship shape and presentable. Everything was going pretty smoothly, and Erin went up to get ready while I finished some last minute tidying.

Now, we’ve had this on the calendar for weeks and were feeling a little nervous, hoping it would go well. The two big X factors, of course, were the weather and Henry. We were hoping for day sunny enough to take some pictures outside but not so sunny that everything would be washed out. And we also hoped Henry would be in a good mood and game for some family photos.

Well, as it came to about an hour before the shoot, the weather was looking like it could storm at just about any minute. OK, we’ll adjust. Maybe it’ll blow over. And then the kids came home, and as soon as he got out of the car, Henry was angry and pouting about the fact that he got to me about 4 seconds after Amelia did, because HE wanted to tell me they had a fun day.

OK, things weren’t looking great on the Henry front. He seemed kind of tired and cranky, so I figured I had an hour to get him soothed and settled down to a point where he could hopefully at least make a few pictures happen. I got him a snack, and he immediately asked to watch the California Raisins Christmas special I mentioned in yesterday’s blog.

Sure thing, buddy. Let’s do it. As I also mentioned in yesterday’s post, this particular special isn’t available on any streaming or digital service, so we only have it on DVD. And as luck would have it, this day of all days was the day that our DVD player, which we’ve had for years, decided to just die.

It wouldn’t power on, it was just dead. I broke the news to Henry and he immediately started to cry. A LOT. Like he really broke down. So Erin and I were scrambling, trying to see if there is something else he could watch, but no, it had to be the California Raisins.

I remembered we had a VERY old DVD and VCR unit in the basement. I ran down to see if I could make that work. The first thing I noticed is this was way before HDMI cables, so I also had to dig around to find some old RCA cables to use.

Got those, and managed to get the old player up and running. Success! We were in the home stretch now. I excitedly told Henry and then it hit me. I still had to get the disc out of the old player, which was now just a hunk of metal and plastic, imprisoning the California Raisins DVD in its iron grasp.

I tried to pull out the DVD tray, and that would not budge. So here we were, like 20 minutes before the shoot we were preparing for all day, and I was prying apart an old DVD player with my bare hands in hopes of extracting a 1980s Christmas special in the vague hope of soothing my son, who was still bawling his eyes out.

Yup. Just like we planned it.

I DID get it taken apart.


Then I spent the next several minutes trying to pry open the tray so I could somehow slide out the disc without breaking it. This was surgery both delicate and brutal, and eventually I managed to get it out. Woohoo! She put the disc in the ancient player, and then of course discovered the remote control doesn’t work. I figured it was the batteries, and opened it up to find the batteries had corroded and melted. I spent several minutes prying those out, only to discover the remote was fried from the acid anyway.

So I had to manually fast forward through another holiday special on the disc to get to the one he wanted to watch, and at last, Henry was at relative peace. Just then, the photographer arrived and we frantically finished getting ready.

Now in spite all of this insane preamble, the shoot went remarkably well. After all that drama, Henry wound up being amazing. He cooperated, had fun, and was his happy, goofy self. Amelia was also great, and the photographer did a wonderful job working with both of them. I think we got some really good stuff, and the kids had fun parading around in their fancy clothes.


With that done, we had bribed the kids beforehand with the offer of having anything they want for dinner if they cooperated, so when the shoot was done, I went off to get some Panera mac and cheese and cookies. It was a relief to have survived all that.

Part of the adventure of parenting is not knowing what piece of electronic equipment you might need to rip apart and what obscure decades old holiday special you might need to watch to soothe one of your kids. Every day is a bagful of surprises.