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Santa Baby | Photographing My Kids

When you already have themed outfits from the first kiddo, you must subject the second kiddo as well!

Just like my first kiddo, itty bitty was not having it when it was time for the elf shoot. Maybe it’s the location, or time of day, or something, but that shoot went down hill VERY fast and I just gave up. The Santa suit went MUCH better…just like the first time around. Probably because it was out in the open with loved ones around to watch!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I know I did!

 

 

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Making Time for Myself as a Mom | Photoshoot Fun!

Mom’s have this great ability to take care of others. We often are running around wiping noses, making dinner, doing chores, running errands, and generally just going all the time. During all of this hustle and bustle its easy to lose ourselves, or forget to work in time to “feed” ourselves. Everyone has something, or multiple things that bring them joy and peace. For some it’s reading, or sports, or simply being outdoors. Whatever it is, we all try to make time for it in our lives to stay mentally healthy and happy.

My personal joy is art. Specifically photography.

Photography has always been my art outlet of choice. I have loved all things creative since I was very young, but photography is more my strength. (You don’t want to see me draw!) Art is like therapy to me. It makes me happy to create images, and it also allows me to dream up ways to express feelings and thoughts through images. Sometimes my photography is “deep” in meaning, and sometimes I’m just being goofy and having fun capturing those that I love.

No of course my faith, family, and friends all bring me great joy, but my photography is my form of self-care. Some people like to get spa treatments, some people want nights out on the town, or vacations. I want to create, so I do. As much as I can. I have learned from experience how depressed I can get when I let photography take a FAR back seat to everything else in life. I don’t like the person I become to those I love when that happens, so I take a lot of photos.

When I had my first kiddo I had an instant live in model. And he was super cute! (Still is!) Creating a baby book for him was my creative/photography outlet. My husband rolls his eyes at my giant baby books (and I even restrain myself a tad), but it’s my outlet and joy. Motherhood has also brought on a desire to document our family. Not in a vain way, but in a memory type of way. Life can be amazing, rough, long, and short all at once. I love being able to look back at photos that tell our family story. I love the idea of making that now so that my kids can have it later. I would LOVE to have more images of my parents or my family. I want to make sure my kids have that. That desire has also caused me to make sure I get in FRONT of the camera more…and capture my family more as well, even if I know they aren’t huge fans of being in photos. I know what it’s like to lose family and wish I had more photos and reminders of our time together. I want my kids to see how much their family has always loved them and spent time with them!

For these reasons and more I take lots of photos of my kids. I create themed photoshoots for them that makes my husband question my sanity, and I’ve recently started photographing my sister-in-law…because why haven’t I been taking advantage of a model that I already enjoy hanging out with?!?!

So just know, I will probably start sharing those sessions more on here. I might share some behind the scenes details as well. My mother was always curious how I got such great shots of the boys until she was present for a session and saw just how badly they can go. You just run with it and usually there’s still some great captures!

For now, here’s some of the ones from Little Man’s first year. I’ve gotten better with time, because kids are not my strength, but I’m learning and growing the more I try.

 

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The Minimalist in Me

Some will read this and think I’m crazy, others will think, “good luck while having kids!” No matter the reaction, this term has been on my mind a lot the last year or so.

I’ve always been intrigued by the minimalist movement, and I was kind of thrown into it last year. We decided to move, which meant showing our house. I needed a way to make sure I would be ready for sudden appointments. So I packed up half the house.

I got rid of things, and I boxed things up and put them in closets. I reduced the dishes I had out to two of everything (because only Joey and I were using them at that point) and packed the rest. I put away all but a few toys so cleaning the toy mess was simple, and looked nice once cleaned up. I made simple meals so that the kitchen never got too messy. I of course cleaned as I cooked and prepped, but never letting it get too crazy in the first place allowed days of exhaustion, frustration, and baby meltdowns didn’t hinder having a quick clean up.

After doing this for a couple of months until our house sold, I realized how much I loved it! It was so nice having less to do around the house to keep it nice. Especially while having a kid, expecting another, and never knowing when being a mom would mean letting the house take a back seat to my kids!

Eventually I discovered Allie and the Facebook group she created for Purposeful MomLife. I never invested in her material, but I’ve read through a lot of her blog and the group itself. Her ideas instantly resonated with me. Clutter and STUFF was filling my life and time, when I really wanted to be filling my life and time with things I loved…like family, being outdoors, photography, travel, etc.

When we moved to our new house in January, I started pairing down. It wasn’t really new for me. I always purge after a move. Nothing makes me want to get rid of things quite like having to box it all up, move it, and unpack it all! I paired down our dishes and purged our kitchenware. I don’t need 10 of everything! Why were we holding on to things we hadn’t even used in years…even for large gatherings? It’s was just taking up space and stressing me out.

Why do my kids (only one at that point, but now two) need a million clothes?! Yes, they had a million. A MILLION! I paired down to 4 pairs of PJs and maybe 7-10 outfits that fit. I keep them in a laundry basket on a shelf in my closet. Easy access, limited space, no folding or hanging needed. Power to the awesome moms that fold, hang, sort, and/or iron their kids clothes. It looks awesome and I love it in photos, but this mama just doesn’t value it enough to take the time to do it. The way we wear and use clothes, it doesn’t matter if they are wrinkled…or even matching.

I cloth diaper…which does sometimes make me itch with how much “stuff” it accumulates, but I love it more than disposables, so it stays. I have my seasons where cloth diapering can wear thin…like when Little Man was peeing through EVERYTHING…and while Itty Bitty is pretty tiny. He’s just now starting to get to a good size where I find my cloth fitting him well. He’s been in mostly cloth for about a month.

I paired down our towels to 2 per person and 4 guest towels. We have 2 hand towels for each bathroom. I weeded through the toys and paired down greatly and removed about half to rotate out later. Little Man hardly plays with toys at home, and his favorite “game” is dumping the toys and then ignoring them. I’m constantly going back through them and evaluating their value and whether they are even being used. Sometimes I will just put some away to see if I change my mind or toss them in the long car trip toy bag for distraction, and sometimes I send them off to Goodwill immediately.

I’ve also simplified our meals. I’ve meal planned for years, but now we have three of the same meals each week and I just rotate other meals in between them. It gives us some variety, but also some simple meals each week. I’m getting ready to overhaul our meal planning even more to be even more simple. I will write about that after I figure it out the details and see how it goes!

I don’t want to spend my days drowning in laundry, dishes, and cooking. I want my kiddos to have healthy, delicious food, and clothes on their back…most of the time, but I also want to focus on spending time with my kids playing, laughing, exploring, and reading, and I want my down time spent doing things that fulfill me instead of drain me.

All this does is allow for a more peaceful, simple home life full of quality time. This is my hope and dream for my life and our family. Hopefully it continues on for years to come!

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Stop Buying My Kid Toys | The Abandoned Playroom

Ok, you don’t HAVE to, but don’t be surprised if he hardly touches it, or if it leaves the house.

When hubby and I moved this year, we were house hunting for a place that included a toy room space. Hubby wanted to contain toys away from where he spent his time in the evenings and on the weekends. I jumped on the wagon, thinking it was a great idea. Eventually we found a house that had a dinning room we didn’t need, but was conveniently located next to the kitchen/living room, so that I could keep an eye on him.

He hardly used it. Even if I was in there with him, he would move on quickly. It was kind of driving me insane. Eventually the weather warmed and we were able to go outside more, so his attention and energy had a better outlet.

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Because bubbles are best eaten from above.

As time went by I knew he wanted to be wherever we were, which was not his toy room, so I moved a few toys to the living room. I land more in the minimalist department for toys, so I just had two bins: one for books and one for toys. I only
kept out what fit and the rest was donated or put away to rotate later. He plays with them occasionally (most often when he’s trying to look busy at bedtime), but still not much.

What do you do with a kid that doesn’t really like toys? He never really has. He mainly plays with toys when he’s in a car, and even then sometimes he prefers to stare out the window. (If you take him to either grandma’s house though, he plays with toys for days…even if they are the same ones as at home ?)

One day I was thinking about the toy room and started a discussion with my husband about how our kiddo is just more physical. That he would much prefer to climb than build, to explore than work a puzzle. Hubby agreed.

Occasionally we will “color,” or do a puzzle, or stack and tumble blocks, etc., but mostly we go outside, play in water, go for walks, climb rocks and walls, explore new items, kill flowers (we are working on that), or play with bubbles. I’m okay with that. That it just how my Little Man likes to do things.

Inside he loves to climb up and down the stairs and up, across and down tall beds. He enjoys closing doors and drawers behind me (Daddy approves!), and playing blanket hide and seek with Daddy.

I will say that more recently, since I have brought out the baby gear and placed it in his “old” toy room, he does enjoy going in there to bounce in the bounce seat, jump in the jumper, and carry around the floor gym. ? Baby gear must be so much more exciting when you’re a toddler, because I think he uses those things now more than when he was young enough for them!

So don’t get upset if my kiddo doesn’t have a ton of toys, or play with them all the time. He just prefers a different approach to the world, and that is okay. Will it always be that way? Will his little brother be the same way? Only time will tell, and that’s okay too!