Polaroid Cameras, a Dash of Humility, and a Sense of Humor


In a world of Pinterest and over-the-top themed birthday parties with hand painted cookies and petting zoos, we are truly robbing our children of the reality of life, which is why I strive to capture every moment of perfect imperfection.

Do you remember back when your parents hand sewed your Christmas outfit and took one photo of you in front of the tree with each family member? Weeks later they ran the camera out of film, dropped the film canister off at the local Walgreens and waited 3 weeks just for a blurred image of what appeared to be you, only with your head cut off and the dog licking itself in the background? Yeah, our kids will never have that. In a day of smart phones, we take 694 shots just to get the perfect one, slap a filter on it, and post to Facebook and Instagram to show just how perfect our holidays are in hopes of garnering “likes” and positive comments.

Well, not the Bradens! 

Hip Hop Phase Thanksgiving 2018


The Christmas of Christopher Columbus: 1990

It all started in 1990 with what is known as the epic Christopher Columbus outfit. It was a balmy 86 degrees and my mom and grandma had hand sewn a monstrosity of a Christmas outfit for me to wear to church. It was a sight to behold – hand crafted black velvet and teal taffeta with a matching outfit for my doll and a ridiculous hat (which I later found out was the inspiration for the outfit). Of course I was in that awkward stage and likely too old to be carrying a doll with me, and I was surely sweating in this South Mississippi Winter heat wave, but alas I was gussied up for what would haunt me my whole life. Behold Christopher Columbus Christmas.

1990 Christopher Columbus

This image is the perfect example of humility. I’m 36 and just posted it on the internet for thousands to see and mock, forever preserved online – why wouldn’t we want that for our own children? The point is this: I don’t remember any other Christmas outfit because, well because none were captured with such embarrassment as this one. I’m sure in 1990, this Simplicity pattern was top notch. However, looking back, I’m pretty sure mom and grandma didn’t quite hit the mark.

With Quinn being an only child, he won’t have siblings to tell him how ridiculous he looked or how he embarrassed them when he refused to wear pants for 6 months straight. So it’s just as important to capture these memories – the ones that will haunt them for the remainder of their lives.

You see, with Pinterest, it’s so easy to take a great idea and want to make a beautiful photo. I’ve given up that hope, as my lot in life has certainly taken a different twist.



Quinn’s first Halloween certainly set a standard. I saw this adorable picture on Pinterest of this cute baby sitting in a pumpkin surrounded by fall foliage. I’m sure you all have seen the image I’m talking about, many of you have likely successfully gotten the awesome photo of your sweet bundle of joy sitting in a pumpkin. The baby on Pinterest looked so happy and content to be hanging out in a pumpkin while his mother captured this beautiful moment. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the same experience.

Pinterest Fail: Pumpkin Baby



After the oh-so-successful pumpkin photo shoot, it was time to step it up a notch and take him to a professional. Clearly I wasn’t able to capture that moment, but I was not going to let Christmas pass me by. Off we went to meet Santa at the Beau Rivage. It was the first day he would be there for pictures with the children, and since this precious photo was going to redeem me, I needed to be first in line. As we walked up, we saw the line snaking around past the coffee shop and down toward the main entrance where we eventually settled in – lucky number 122. We waited nearly 2 hours to see Santa, and he did not disappoint! 

Christmas Photo 2012



I think by the time Easter rolled around the following year, we had both forgotten the trauma of the pumpkin and Santa. So we figured we would capture a lovely picture with the Easter bunny. (I think this may be considered re-victimization, but I’m not totally sure.)

Easter 2015



So, after that,  we decided to stick with candid shots and safe holidays: like Mardi Gras, President’s Day, and Thanksgiving. I mean no one is traumatized by Thanksgiving photos, right? After years of trying to figure out which end of a turkey I am supposed to stuff and how to get the innards out of the cavern without exactly touching it, everyone gave up on me and now we go to New Orleans and dine at the Red Fish Grill.  Of course this presents the perfect opportunity for more holiday pictures…. or not.

Thanksgiving 2017

So, my lesson to you is this: Don’t just capture the perfect moments, as those aren’t the moments that will stick out over time. Capture those ugly moments, the funny moments, and the ridiculous outfits. Capture the attitude and the phases so that you can look back on those times with your children and explain why he insisted on only wearing aviators and blazers or why she made you call her “Princess Tootie” for 7 months. Let’s work together to make sure we are raising humble little humans and give them a few reminders that they too had Christopher Columbus days, and it’s all part of growing up. (Just remember to get the proof!) 

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Lauren Rhodes Braden is a native of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, where she resides with her husband, Eric and her son, Quinn. She has perfected the art of balancing better than most trained circus acts. She is a mother of one, and recently completed her J.D. at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is co-owner of Braden Valladares, LLC, a mediation and arbitration firm. An alum of Ocean Springs High School (2001), Ole Miss (B.S. in Criminal Justice 2006), Delta State University (M.S. in Criminal Justice 2008), and Mitchell Hamline School of Law (J.D. 2018), Lauren plans to take the Mississippi bar exam as well as the Louisiana Bar Exam to move Braden Valladares, LLC into an all-inclusive legal services practice in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, specializing in areas of litigation such as family law, juvenile law, elder law, adoptions, guardianships, conservatorships, and dispute resolution such as mediation and arbitration. She is one of the first incoming classes of the new hybrid J.D. program at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, allowing her to meet her Docket Divas and future law partners, and blog about their journey through raising families, attending law school, continuing to work full-time, and still maintaining shreds of sanity. Lauren has written for all court levels in Mississippi, the U.S. Federal District Court, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and most recently the United States Supreme Court. As a non-traditional mom, Lauren brings a fresh perspective of being a career focused mom, encouraging moms to go back to school or focus on their careers while still being an attentive, fun, and loving mom. Additionally, Lauren was raised in a multi-generational home and has chosen the same path, as her mom plays a very important role in their small nuclear family, making sure that Quinn makes it to hip hop class on time and ensuring that there is a hot meal on the table- cooking was never Lauren’s strong suit (along with cleaning… laundry…. outdoor projects….etc.) When not having dance parties around the house or attending concerts, Lauren and the family can be found in their second home, New Orleans. They enjoy shopping the local markets and stores, attending festivals, eating all of the amazing food the city has to offer, and parading like fools! Her philosophy as a mom is to live and enjoy the moments- both big and small, and to not take life or parenting too seriously. She has been known to blast Taylor Swift and sing to the top of her lungs as a solution to having to listen to a whiny kid, and rescue a giant hundred-pound dog on a random Monday after a tough day at work. It’s a good thing she is a juggler, because at the Braden house, it’s always a circus!