michelleriddlephoto.com » Family Photographer is Santa Cruz County

Masthead header

I am a great parent…

from about 9pm (if I am lucky) until 7am.

After a LONG day with 3 kids bickering, whining, asking to be fed over and over again, they finally go to bed. After I have asked them to quiet down at least 30 times and they are finally asleep, I go down to check on them and can’t believe how sweet they look. Those can’t possible be the same children I was dealing with just hours before. I open my ipad, and if I am not currently reading a good book, I start reading some of my favorite blogs and then I feel like a total ass. How is it that I can not be more appreciative of the fact that I have 3 healthy kids as I read about child after child who has died. Why do I let so many “little” things bother me day after day when I am so aware how lucky I am to be blessed with this life?

Once I move on from blogs, I head on over to Pinterest and look at things that are sure to make me healthier, prettier, better dressed, more crafty, more organized, and a better cook among many other things. By 11pm I am a new person and come morning, everyone will see the new me and all I can do. At 7am, I wake my wonderful perfect kids and get ready to start a perfect new day. By 7:10, I am counting to 10 and trying not to yell, and by 7:20, I am that mother who is lecturing my “starving” kids that they should be happy with the 3 cereal choices and 2 bread choices that we have and that kids in Africa would be thrilled with their choices. By 7:25, I have moved on to telling them about girls in other countries who would do anything to be able to go to school and they need to appreciate what they have. Come 7:35, I am yelling as we look for socks, backpacks, homework and lunches. Some where between 7:50-8:07, I am rushing them out of the car and am finally breathing a sign of relief. It is pretty amazing how just one hour in the morning can bring my parenting from a 10 to a 1.

Parenting is hard and it looks nothing like I thought it would. Added to all the “fun” we have, is the guilt that I do not appreciate my kids enough. While I read story after story about children with pediatric cancer, shouldn’t I care less and less about brushed hair, messy rooms and constant bickering?! Unfortunately, as we all know, it does not work that way.

I’m trying though. As I try and raise more funds for my Mamathon, I will write on this blog and hopefully become more aware of my actions as a mama, wife and friend. I will keep taking small steps to get closer to the mama that I am from 9pm-7am.


Well..because number 4 from above.




the shape of my head

I was having a bad hair day today and for a minute, thought abut shaving my head. I quickly banished the thought knowing that if I was ever going to do that, I would do it to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer. I then started to think about how it would probably be much easier to raise money by shaving my head, rather than just promising myself I will be a “better” mama like what I am trying to do with my Mamathon. Mamathon, another one of my silly little ideas that I am convinced is the perfect easy and fun way to get people to take that next step after being inspired at Mamas Night Out.

I have pretty clear goals for Mamas Night Out. The first two are the “easy” ones, to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer.  The other goal is the one that continues to make me question if what I am really doing is making a difference. The third goal I have set, is to hope that the 900+ women who have come to the event since 2011 have been inspired to go out and do something to make a difference. It does not have to be for pediatric cancer, I just hope that the event helps the women look beyond the things that affect their life and find a cause that speaks to them and makes them want to do something.

I know I should be happy that so many women have attended the event over the past 3 years and that thanks to the event, we have been able to donate $150,000 to pediatric cancer charities, but if I am being totally honest with myself, it is not enough for me. Don’t get me wrong, I know that the money donated is helping to make a big difference, but if the evening does not at least inspire 10% of the people to take the next step, then I feel like I have failed in my goals. That is the reason I created the Mamathon this year. I thought it would be the perfect way to help the women in attendance take the next step just by committing to make some changes in their daily life and sending an email to family and friends to try and get pledges.

Rather than asking women to shave their head, run a marathon or walk a 5k to get pledges, the idea for the Mamathon is that you can commit to being a “better” mama, wife, daughter or friend in exchange for a donation to various pediatric cancer organizations. While I have lots of ideas about ways I can be a better person, I am going to take a cue from Libby and just try every day to do better. When something the kids are doing is making me angry or upset, I am going to stop and think “Will it matter in a month“.

In addition to trying to be “better”, I am also going to blog everyday until June 1st when the Mamathon ends. I will blog in hopes that my words lead just a few more people to take the challenge. I will blog even though I am not a writer and hitting publish makes me feel a little sick.

I’ll end with this, because posts are always better with photos. While I LOVE social media and do believe that it brings so much to my life, there is also the other side of it, the reality that people are posting their highlight reels on Facebook and Instagram. Let’s be honest, the majority of our days do not look anything like what we see our friends post, and because of that we can spend way to much time questioning if we are feeding our kids healthy enough, doing enough fun activities, exercising enough, etc, etc,.

If I was to see these photos posted by a friend, I would be insanely jealous of this “perfect” family and the fact that the brother and sister seem to like each other. I would start to feel crappy about my parenting and wonder if there is any possibility that I can still do something so that my kids may actually like each other. Then, I look at these photos and remember the begging and pleading just to get them to hug and not pinch each other and I am reminded that it is all about perspective.

e&z (1 of 5)e&z (4 of 5)e&z (3 of 5)

e&z (2 of 5)

May 19, 2014 - 4:19 pm

ellen zeserson - love the pictures. can you e-mail them to me so I can print them out.

May 19, 2014 - 5:24 pm

Gina Nedney - Great write up Michelle. I am in!

Go Big or Go Home

“Go Big or Go Home”

In theory, that is a great idea, but in reality, it does not work for someone like me. I’m an all or nothing kind of person, so instead of trying something, I just assume I will fail and do nothing. I guess that would be the easiest explanation as to why there has been nothing posted on this blog in the past 2 years. I don’t want to say I am going to start blogging, only to quit after a few weeks and add something to my list of failures..so instead I do nothing. My brain is full of big ideas, but rather than starting them and falling, I just don’t try. Good way to ensure that I am successful, right?

Since I am not so slowly approaching my 40th birthday and it is the time for “resolutions”, I decided it is time to start making some changes. Rather than promise to eat right, exercise, spend less money, not yell at my kids, keep the house clean, cook more, organize 5 years of photos, etc, etc..I thought I would try writing on my blog. Hopefully in doing so, I can get to know myself better and figure out what next. I wish I had been smart enough to become a “blogger” years ago when I had my first “mama blog”, but being that I am not a writer nor am I an expert at cooking, sewing, crafting, organizing, parenting, exercising, etc, I figured what do I really have to say. Who cares what I am or am not an expert in. From my little quips on Facebook, I know I am not alone in the thoughts and feelings I have, so what not share them with 3 of you, right?

My wonderful husband bought me this beautiful MacBook Pro for Christmas. I stared at it in  he box for a week before I decided to keep it. With my goal of less screen time in 2014, I thought that adding this to my iPhone and iPad would be a bad idea. But, I decided to keep it on the condition that I don’t use it to wander the world wide web aimlessly, but to change the world. OK, I may not actually change the world, but I need to get past the idea that it does not have to be “go big or go home”, but it is more than enough to do my part to dent universe or at least dent my little community.

I’ll be back, I have much more to say. Going to put Martha the MacBook back in her box for the night. That is totally normal to put it back in the box after every use, right?!


January 9, 2014 - 9:25 pm

Christy - Love this! Love you!!! You’ve already changed my world ;)

how to love like liam & live like a rockstar

Today marks one very sad year since Prince Liam the Brave passed away. I wrote this post about him last year soon after he passed away.  I have no idea how his parents Gretchen & Larry, continue to get up every day and continue to raise money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, but they do. They continue to do it because they made a promise to Liam, they promised that they would make it better for other kids, and they will, I have no doubt about it.  Gretchen and so many other mamas are forced into a life that they did not want to be part of, but in turn take the worst possible thing that could ever happen and try and make some good come out of it. I never met Liam, but was blessed to meet Gretchen last year when she came to our mamas night out event. While I know that there is nothing that can ease her pain, I hope that knowing how her story as opened they eyes of so many people, around the country and here in Santa Cruz, can at least show her that she is making a difference and Liam lives on in the hearts of so many.

There is another blog that I have been following, that touched me in the same way that Liam’s story had, that I have hesitated to share because it is so incredibly heartbreaking, raw, honest and real. Beautiful little Ronan, had Neuroblastoma like Liam, and sadly lost his battle last year as well. Ronan’s mama, Maya, shares her story and grief in a way that will leave you crying and hopefully motivated to make a difference. You can read her blog here. If I had to pick out one post that sums it up for me, it would have to be this one: “how could my love not be enough“. Just imagine for a second being told that there is nothing more that can be done for your child’s cancer. I don’t think that we have any clue what it is really like to love a child until we hold our babies for the first time. To know that no matter how much you love them, there may come a point where you can do NOTHING to save them, is just shocking and so completely wrong.

I know many people who completely tune me out when I start talking about pediatric cancer, it is just too awful to think about and I guess that people hope that if they pay no attention to it, it will not happen to them. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Pediatric cancer does NOT discriminate, and it is thousands of moms like Gretchen & Maya who are working through their never-ending grief to make a difference so that other mamas do not have to ever feel the pain of losing your child to cancer. As a mom of 3 healthy kids, I owe it to moms like this to do my small part to make a difference.

Like many others, I could have made resolutions a few weeks ago to eat better, exercise, be a better mama, get organized, spend less money, go through 5 years of photos on my computer, etc, I would really just be setting myself up for failure. If I could just find a way to love like liam and live like a rockstar, I will be a much better person at the end of 2012 than I was at the end of 2011. I am not so sure that organizing photos or spending less money will make me a better person, will it?! I think this years resolution needs to be a bit more simple, it really comes down to this:

It is about being the BEST version of yourself, that you can possibly be.” – Maya Thompson

Ronan’s mama has this list on her blog called “how to live like a rockstar”, that I have printed out and look at every single day. For today, in honor of Liam,  I am going to focus on #6 – Educating  people around me about pediatric cancer and #18 –  Love with your whole heart, soul, mind and body. #19 is to stop freaking out because your kid colored on the wall with a black sharpie, and then peed all over the carpet. I will be glad that I have a kid to create such a creative piece of art for me. I will embrace my little guys inner spiciness. That cute one up above who walks to the beat of his own drum every single day.

Everyday, 46 Kids are diagnosed with Pediatric Cancer and 7 Kids lose their battle to Pediatric Cancer. Since Prince Liam the brave lost his battle 365 days ago, 2,555 kids have lost their battle and 16,790 kids have started their battle.

Please join the fight for Liam & Ronan, as well as for your kids, your neighbors kids and our future kids.

Do not turn away and pretend pediatric cancer does not exist. Hold a bake sale, make a donation, buy some cookies, order a necklace, make a difference and above all..LOVE LIKE LIAM.


January 28, 2012 - 6:04 am

around the web » Krista Lund Photography - [...] you heard of Cookies for Cancer? my photog friend has a great blog post- so inspiring! i’ve already asked for her help. i want to do something with Cookies for Cancer [...]

Project 52 – family – around the web

As a family photographer, you would think this weeks theme would have been as easy one, but it was not. I thought about sharing family photos I have taken of others that really capture the essence of family, but decided if I was going to do it, I would talk about my family.

Every few months, I tell Todd that maybe we should have had a fourth child. This comment usually comes when the kids are sleeping or we are out on a date. The comment is usually followed by a look that basically says.. “are you crazy, have you forgotten what your day was like?!”. Life with 3 kids under 9 is a bit crazy, but in brief moments, I am able to look into the future and see what it will be like when the kids are grown, married and have children of their own. I see that as crazy as the years with younger kids are, down the line it will definitly be, “the more the merrier”. We don’t have lots of extended family, only a few cousins who don’t live nearby and grandparents that are at least a few hours way. I figure that if our little “unit” is pretty much our family, mine as well make it bigger, right?! Another child is not in the cards for us, and I am pretty happy with our “little” family of 5 (6 if you include Cookie). I am so thankful that family is so important to Todd. He is an amazing husband and father who does whatever he needs to, to make make sure that he gives the best possible life for us. He works hard every day to provide for our family and then spends any free time he can helping create great memories for our children. While our family may not be huge or exactly what I thought it would be, it is pretty darn good and I know I owe that to Todd.

One day a few weeks ago, Todd took the day off from work. I planned to spend the entire day finishing up mama and me photos and expected him to stay home to work on projects around the house. He had other plans though. He wanted to take Ari and I on a little walk to see the tadpoles that he had seen with Eli & Zoey a few days prior. I hesitated and then decided I needed to go along. I thought about leaving my camera at home, but Todd encouraged me to bring it. Thank goodness I did. The light could not have been more perfect and I was able to  take some shots that remind me why I love photography and capture just one of the many things that make our family special.

Make sure to click over and check out what Misty Setzler, Lubbock Tx Photographer did this week.

I think this photo says it all..
I LOVE this photo, I just do.

The light and color make me happy. I could have shot ALL day right here.

We brought a container to try and bring a tadpole home and watch it turn into a frog.

My reward for leaving the house and bringing my camera, catching  my adorable little frog in the most perfect light doing his little jiggity jig.

June 24, 2011 - 2:44 am

wedding make up artist - So many different looks you captured here!

June 24, 2011 - 3:31 am

wedding PR - Great family photographer! Just beautiful Work!

June 24, 2011 - 6:05 am

Amy Mae - Oh Michelle. Great job! These are so wonderful!!!! Very sweet. Love the framing in the tunnel, too!

June 24, 2011 - 8:19 am

Shannon - Fantastic family photos! Hope you hang all of them on your wall!

June 24, 2011 - 9:30 am

Nicki - i love these images, great job!

June 24, 2011 - 10:03 am

Jenn - These are so beautiful. Love the sentiment and how you captured the little details of your outing.

June 24, 2011 - 10:56 am

liza - what a great set! the holding hands shot is killing me, so sweet!

June 24, 2011 - 12:54 pm

Michelle's mom - love the pictures thanks for sharing. he (Ari) is getting so big.soon he will be taller then his Bubbie in Massachusetts.just like everyone else.

June 24, 2011 - 12:54 pm

Megan Wold - Your little frog is absolutely adorable! And I love that shot of him and your husband in the tunnel.

June 25, 2011 - 12:59 pm

Jobrina Hofleit - LOVE these series of images Michelle, I especially love that first one of your husband and son holding hands!!!!! ;-)

June 26, 2011 - 10:02 am

Crystal K - These are all adorable but those first two pulled at the heart strings. Your composition on the second is perfection. I love how you captured your feeling toward your husband and son- so well done.

July 6, 2011 - 3:00 am

rome wedding photography - Awesome frames! This boy is so cute!

July 7, 2011 - 6:58 am

Wedding Inspiration - So much energy come from these pictures! Great!