Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Twas the Night Before Halloween

It's the night before Halloween and I still don't have a definite plan for the kids costumes...I know; so unlike me. We have so many random play costumes that have been handed down to us that I figured I'd just let Ella put on whatever she feels like. At the moment she says she is going to be "Tigger" (from Winnie the Pooh). I'm shocked she doesn't want to be a princess.

Apparently I don't have my act together this year. I do, however, happen to be the best and most productive procrastinator in the USA. Is there a costume for that?

Oh well. We did Ella pick out a pumpkin and carve it...with a minnie mouse face. High five to the husband for his mad art skills.

Jacob looks pitiful in this photo because he had a random 102 fever that day. He slept in my arms most of the day. It's bittersweet when your kids are sick; I hate that they feel bad, but I do love the snuggles from my otherwise wild and high energy little bits.

Happy Halloween! Check back tomorrow and maybe I'll have a costume plan.

Or not. Ahem.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Twins-a newborn photo shoot; tips for taking pictures of newborns

I don't usually share photos I take of other peoples children on this blog, but these twin girls are just too sweet to not share. (And yes, I got permission from their momma first!)

I am by no means any Anne Geddes of Newborn photography, but I've learned a few things the past few years to be able to keep my creative side happy. I feel extremely honored when someone asks me to photograph their family. I wish I had more time and energy to really perfect my craft, but I always learn something every time I pick up my camera.

Here are a few tricks for photographing newborns. People who have experience with childrens photography will already know most of these things, but I thought I'd share them with those of you of who are either interested in learning more or simply wondering "how did she do that?"

1. Newborn photos should ideally be taken with the first 10 days of birth while they are still sleepy and all curled up. After ten days, they start having more alert time (aka-crying), baby acne sets in, and those little arms and legs don't want to stay curled up close to their body (like they were in the womb) any more.

2. Heating pad: NEVER lay a baby on a heating pad. But, I do use one to warm up my blankets right before I place the baby(ies) on them. Always check with your hand first to make sure the blanket isn't too hot to touch

3. White noise machine: It's loud inside the mommies womb and babies are very comforted by white noise. I typically take one with me to every newborn shoot.

4. Space Heater: Keeping babies warm is key to sleepy baby pictures. If it is a cooler month, I take a space heater with me (and I always wear a tank top...because I am going to be sweating by the end.

Oh, and those cute photos with babies propped up on their hands? That's actually a composite of several photos layered on top of each other. Hard and tricky...I have not gotten to this level quite yet.
Don't forget the greatest newborn accessory...the parents. They are especially wonderful when you have a newborn baby who is more alert or older and not as bendy anymore. It helps if the parents of the newborn look like Calvin Klein models like the picture below:

It's a rough life photographing beautiful people and their babies.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Do red heads have more fun?

I've been a light blonde for 32 years. It was time for a change. I was thinking of brownish low lights, like the picture below:

No, this isn't me. I didn't turn into a supermodel over night.

Here is the final result: It's more red/warm than the picture above, but I kind of like it.


What do you think? Strawberry blonde? Red head? I barely recognize myself! (For comparison, look at Ella's hair. That is my normal color)

Do red heads and brunette's have more fun?

By the way, Ella keeps asking me "when am I taking that hair off?" Ha!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Someone to Watch Over Me

Sometimes amidst the busyness of life, you will feel a little tap on the leg reminding you to slow down and savor the sweetness that is in front of you. Sometimes those moments are so sweet, that you have to write them down because you never want to forget them.

The children were happy playing today while I folded laundry in the bedroom. Pandora was playing in the background. And the moment Frank Sinatra's "Someone to watch over me" came on, I felt a tap, tap, tap on my leg. Looking down behind me was my precious little boy, with his arms up in the air, wanting me to dance.

And so we did. And the song and the dance partner could not have been more perfect. He smiled and held both my hands the entire song and swayed back and forth. And at the end, he applauded and went back to playing trains.

But me...I had to go wipe away a few happy tears.

That was definitely a moment I will never forget.

I will always "watch over you" my love. And when you get married, this is going to be our mother/son dance song. After today, it is officially our tune my sweet Jacob!

I couldn't have picked a better song...so, I'm so glad you did!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Christmas in October; kids version

Although Christmas is still a good 2 months away, we have started talking a little about my favorite holiday. I'm one of those people who will pull out a Christmas c.d. in the middle of summer. Ella was even dancing around the house singing Jingle Bells today. It's ok if you are rolling your eyes right now. We've never claimed to be normal people.

I may or may not have watched two Christmas movies in the past few days. I know. I'm ridiculous. This year I'm blaming it on the Eiffel Tower tree topper I saw at Pottery Barn. Pottery Barn's Travel Christmas collection is killing my "thou shall not covet" pledge.

I usually shop early because I like to actually just enjoy the month of December and not be focused on finding gifts. There are so many other fun things to do in December and it is a relief to get the shopping done. We don't exchange too many gifts, so it's pretty easy to finish early.

Currently, we are on the prowl for an indoor tent for the kids. Basically, this would be their "Santa" gift. I've been calling all over America trying to find this particular one at H&M. Bonus points to you if you find it and pick me up one. (I'd reimburse of course)

Ella has been obsessed with "The Nutcracker" ever since I took her last year to see the ballet. She's already asked about going again this year. Since she also really loves Barbies, I scored these below on ebay. Note: You can't get these in stores. It's an older Barbie movie, so any products have to be found on ebay or something like that. (We will also take her to see the ballet again; our church has a ballet program and they put it on for less than 10 dollars a ticket. Perfect place for little ones to experience this ballet)

She and Audrey are also getting these Holiday sisters Barbies. Another ebay purchase. I would like to point out that before I became a mom I said we would not get into the whole Barbie thing. We say a lot of silly things before we become parents. You know why we love Barbie? Because it provides hours of creativity and make believe...and that's all I care about.

Besides a few books, here is the last thing I purchased for all of them. Even Jacob loves to play kitchen/tea party. The wooden cupcakes we have are one of the most played with toys in the house. So, I decided to add these play macarons to their tea party:

I've also had this Madeline doll sitting in my closet for over a year thinking Audrey would like her own Madeline doll at some point. I think this will be the Christmas she will get her own. Again, another ebay purchase:

That pretty much covers the girls. I have a couple books for each child.

Then, there is Jacob. Since his main (and really only) interest is in trains and sometimes cars, I guess we could buy a few additions to the train set. I did buy him a green double decker bus because he plays with the red one so much. I couldn't find a picture to show you. Again, another ebay purchase (are you seeing a trend here?)

I'm also trying to decide which one or two of these to get to add to our Geotrax. Yes, of course that's Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower. Do you really expect anything different from me at this point?


To me, that really seems like a lot. I know it probably does not compare to what some kids get, but we still try to be careful. It's not even so much about the money as it is that when kids get too much, many toys will just get pushed aside and never played with. We try really hard to only invest in things that we feel like will really be played with a good deal.

How do you all do Christmas? At the moment, we are thinking of saying only one thing from Santa. Ella understands that things cost money, so I don't want her to get in the habit of asking for multiple things from Santa thinking that it is "free".

We are so excited about Christmas this year!!! It is going to be a magical one this year and for a few years after.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The ten year plan

One of the things I love about my husband is that he is always up for an adventure. I love that we share the same dreams and that we both don't feel that just because we have children that our dreams stop. I think in those first ten years of marriage, there is so much focus on starting a family. And although family is what is most important to us, it doesn't mean that our desires, career goals, and our sense of adventure has stopped.

We've spent a lot of time this past week talking about life and where we feel like we are being led.  And although we have no immediate plans for the next few years, it was good to talk about where we see our lives possibly headed.

It could very possibly include this:

Do you think the Queen could spare a few rooms for a family of 5? We'll even bring our own furniture!

This is also a possibility:

Skiing anyone?

It will almost positively include this:


And then in 20 years, a very real possibility is this:

And even if life turns out to be living the rest our lives in the Southeast, USA...or you start hearing my kids say Parlez-vous fran├žais?, my home will always be this:

And, no I didn't put a picture of the Eiffel Tower on here. That's more in the retirement plan. But, hey, if opportunity starts knocking, my bags are already packed!!!

Happy Monday!

(If you are wondering my husband is a transportation engineer. His specific interests are in mass transit. I only mention that because it explains why we are interested in the places above)

Friday, October 12, 2012

A little Nostalgia: Raggedy Ann and Andy

I thought I'd share what Ella and I are reading together these days. I recently expressed my need to find a good chapter book to start with Ella. We still love all our Angelina Ballerina Books, Ella Bella Books, and Katie books, but I was really desiring to start reading a more chapter type book with her. I read somewhere that it is good to start doing that with your kids when you notice that they have a little longer attention span (usually around Ella's age...age 4) so that they stop relying so much on pictures and start learning to just listen to a story and get a picture in their head. A friend of mine suggested the old Raggedy Ann stories (these started in 1918 people!!!). I am so, so glad she did because they are the perfect transition into chapter books.

I love the more mature and eloquent language in these books as well as the storyline themselves. The virtues and values are timeless and presented in a much "classier" way than some of the silly stories you will read in modern books. If you are a lover of the classics and classic language, these are a must for your bookshelf. I really just can't say enough good things about them.  Start with the "Ann" stories. (In all fairness, we haven't started the Andy book yet, but if it is even half as good as the Ann one, it's sure to be a hit!)


 Ella also has a Raggedy Ann and Andy doll set that her great grandmother (the one who Audrey's middle name came from) had made for her when she was just a wee little babe growing in the womb. Sometimes after we read the stories, we use the dolls to reenact the story.

So, if you are feeling a little nostalgic or ready to read something on a slightly higher level to your children, I would recommend starting with these.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My new Parisian BFF

It's true. I have a new best friend who recently moved here from Paris. (If you have known me for more than one nano second you will know that I am only slightly obsessed with Paris and London. I may or may not be eyeing that Eiffel Tower Tree topper in the Pottery Barn Christmas catalog).

OK. That's not really true. But, I did meet a lady from Paris about my age the other day when we were at the train museum. She was there with her husband and 2 year old little boy. (Yes we are that nerdy that we spend Saturdays at train museums and such while every one else watches football.)

She said she moved here because they wanted to be able to have a house and because of the climate. Of course I really wanted to say "SERIOUSLY?!?! You left Paris and the best place you all could come up with was Georgia?" Instead we talked a little about our kids and I listened to her barely two year old son speak both French and English. He got double cute points for that.

Anyway, I was going to pull out the whole "hey, we should switch houses like in the movie 'The Holiday', but decided that might be slightly creepy. So, I was going to settle for being BFF's (best friends forever), but it was our turn to climb aboard to the train.

Maybe next time.

The twins and Ella with Daddy. Such a rare treat to have a picture with everyone actually looking at the camera)

My beauty queens and the little engineer

My kids seriously have the most awesome dad ever. They are so lucky. (He's a pretty fabulous husband as well)
Anyway, I was soooooo close to getting that much closer to moving to Europe, but it looks like we might be sweltering in the South for awhile longer. Le Sigh.

I'm currently taking donations for this tree topper ;)