Is 2016 the year where you FINALLY get your family’s photos taken, or maybe update photos of you and your husband since you haven’t had any as a couple since your 1976 wedding??? Maybe the past few years have brought big changes to your life and your family, and you want to honor your family. If any of these scenarios resonate with you, you may want to enter the HUGE giveaway currently going on over at the Facebook page. As a bonus, you can see the beautiful video I am so excited to introduce, which gives you a bit of a sneak peek into what a session with me entails.
The giveaway closes Thursday night, so you don’t want to miss your chance! When I say a huge giveaway, I really mean big… as in $1000!!!! Go. Enter. Now.
But maybe you aren’t even ready to think about a session of your own, and you just want to start using the camera yourself!
Is 2016 the year you’re going to take control of your camera? Or maybe you just want to start setting solid goals for your photography? Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’re welcome at our women’s photo group, held the third Wednesday of every month. The group is typically hosted at my house, and I love gathering women together to share a hobby, some fun, and some chit-chat. Join us next week for our first session of the new year. It’s “bring a friend” night, so no need to feel uncomfortable if you’re new! To find out more details, join our Facebook group or email me!
Another year is almost in the books, and that means another batch of 10-on-10s is done! Today I continue the annual tradition of my best of 10-on-10, my personal favorites from all the 10-on-10 photos I’ve posted this year. I’m teaming up with my usual 10-on-10 partner in crime, my dear friend Elizabeth Wendland.
2015 was a year of loss, love, and new life, too. It wasn’t an easy year by any means, but it is still good to look back and see that in the midst of some hard times, there was a lot of joy as well. The kids grew a lot, and my husband and I grew a lot (in different ways, of course), too. And then there was the new baby, who continues to bring us so much joy and is a constant reminder of how blessed we are.
Here are some of my favorites from my 10-on-10 photos. You don’t even want to see what my personal archives from the year look like! I finished with a restrained 2200 images. Ha!
Will you think about participating in 10-on-10 next year with me? Are you doing another photo challenge instead? Let me know in the comments!
And in the meantime, let’s visit Beth’s blog to see her favorites from the year, too!
One question every mom faces is what to pack in the hospital bag for her birth. On my fourth-time around now, I can now consider myself fairly experienced at prepping for a hospital birth. Over the years, I’ve streamlined what I take along to the hospital and also made a few adjustments based on the type of birth I tend to have (quick, hard, unmedicated). So what to take along to the hospital, and perhaps more importantly, what should be left behind? Here are my favorites… and the good news is that almost all of the items would be right at home in your diaper bag AFTER baby’s birth, too!
I’m skipping a few of the obvious items (toothbrush, clothes for mama, nursing bra–nobody needs to see my “unmentionables” but here are some essentials I can’t live without:
- what to pack for baby: Most hospitals provide a little t-shirt and the ubiquitous pink and blue striped blanket for swaddling. For clothes *in* the hospital, I prefer the newborn gowns with an open bottom, which makes access for heel pokes and diaper changes easy. For the ride home, I like something easy to wear in the carseat (and easy to put on), like this zippered sleeper. I prefer zippers to snaps. A NICU nurse friend of mine pointed out that for NICU babies where access for monitors and leads is necessary, snaps are needed, but fortunately we haven’t faced that with any of our kids.
- bath wash for baby, and a few sample-sized toiletries for mom: hospitals usually have Johnson & Johnson baby wash, and I just prefer to use something tailored for sensitive skin. My favorite bath wash for my kids is California Baby Super Sensitive body wash. Target has some gift sets with sample sizes that make lovely baby shower gifts for a new mom. The 2-oz. bottle pictured above is perfect to take along to the hospital. I also scrounge up a couple sample-sized toiletry items of my favorites so that I can feel refreshed after birth. Nobody wants to feel grungy and gross. And yes, I know some people prefer not to wash baby for several days after birth, but after my second child was born and was the cheesiest, most vernix-y child you’ve ever seen, I’ve learned sometimes a bath is just a must!
- lip balm: the hard work of labor can dry out lips. I am a lip balm snob, and EcoLips is my absolute favorite. Usually available in the “natural foods” section of grocery stores, or at places like Whole Foods.
- phone chargers and spare camera battery: easy to forget in the heat of running out the door, but very inconvenient not to have
- essential oils: this time around I’m taking along a few essential oils. Test them beforehand and make sure you have no smell aversion to them, as smells that are only slightly annoying when not in labor can become REALLY annoying when laboring. For me, I’m taking along citrus bliss and spearmint (a lovely invigorating mix), deep blue (designed to ease muscle tension and pain), and some peppermint beadlets (I am really sensitive to funky breath tastes/smells when laboring). I have been fortunate not to have really prolonged labors in the past, so I’m able to take a fairly minimal oil selection. This isn’t a must-have, but is a definite “nice to have.”
- Bible and birth affirmations/verses: I love my small ESV journaling Bible for portability and church, and it’s coming along with me to the hospital. This time around I also copied some of my favorite verses and inspiring quotes onto some Project Life cards and hole-punched them for quick reference during labor if I need a boost.
- swaddle blanket: hospitals will provide the usual pink & blue striped blanket, but I also like to take along a white swaddle blanket (the bamboo Aden & Anais brand is ultra-soft and big enough to make swaddling easy). The white blanket also acts as a beautiful natural reflector for photos of baby in the hospital, and of course as a photographer I have to consider these things 😉
- ring sling: I’m a babywearing addict, even in the hospital. I find ring slings my favorite choice for newborns, so I’m taking along a Sakura Bloom ring sling.
- wet bag: the orange bag above is a “wet bag,” a bag designed to hold wet items and prevent leakage. These have become indispensable for any trip I take, and the hospital is no exception. I fully expect to have some dirty baby clothes to pack up, clothes from me from laboring, and more, and the wet bag is an awesome way to segregate your dirties. And really, every mom needs one… great for swimming, potty accidents, and more.
Now, what to leave behind? I am basing these recommendations on my own experiences at two different local hospitals. Independent birth centers and hospitals out of the US may provide different items, so you may want to ask your care provider ahead of time. But here are items I have found are best left at home.
- diapers (yes, cloth AND disposable): the hospital will provide diapers. I love using cloth, but really, you are best leaving the cloth at home. You will likely only be at the hospital 1-3 days, and it is just one less thing to keep track of… and nurses are often NOT used to cloth diapers and that can be an issue, too. I’ve found it best just to leave the cloth at home, where I know it’s safe and no chance of being mixed in with other laundry.
- tons of baby clothes: again, you likely won’t be there long (and if you are, someone can bring more clothing). Most of the time baby is swaddled and close to you. This is not the time for a fashion show. Minimize the luggage and leave lots of outfits at home. Focus on a couple things that are easy to dress baby in.
- birth balls: check ahead of time, but most hospitals (at least in the Seattle area) do provide access to the big exercise balls for use in labor.
- pre-pregnancy jeans: seriously, just don’t. You don’t need that kind of pressure (or possible “downer”). Wear comfy clothes home: a maxi skirt or maternity yoga pants are a good choice.
What are some other items that you found were must-haves during your hospital stay? Leave a comment below to let me know, and let’s chat!
It’s been quiet on the site lately, and for good reason. Life is made up of different seasons, and while we have enjoyed times of health and abundance and new life in the past, February and March were not that for us. We battled some serious medical issues with our kids, and today we said goodbye to my father-in-law at his funeral, after he passed away only 37 days after being diagnosed with cancer.
I cannot even put into words all that has gone through my mind in the past month and a half… fears of losing my second-born as I struggled to watch him breathe, processing a diagnosis for my father-in-law that we never saw coming, and then realizing that his time with us would be far shorter than any of us anticipated–all of it was gut-punching and breathtakingly fast and has left us reeling a bit.
In the midst of it all, though, I have found solace in the tiny moments of joy that I see around us, even in the midst of pain. And more than ever, I have been thankful that my children and I have many photos celebrating our loved ones and their place in our lives.
As I thought of my father-in-law, Bill, I knew there were a few photos that I had taken last year that really captured my favorite things about him: his love for my kids, his smile, his vibrancy. As I went on my computer to find them, I realized they were taken last year on April 10. I don’t take nearly enough photos everyday of my family, but on the 10th of each month, I’ve made it a discipline to cart along my “big camera,” even when inconvenient, and force myself to take 10 photos. I am so grateful now that I was “forced” to do this, and that my littlest one will have some images that show just how his grandfather delighted in him.
These photos would likely not exist without 10-on-10. And likewise, I have some true gems from last year that I was “forced” to take because I was participating in Project 365 (a picture a day, everyday, for a year).
10-on-10 is the easiest personal photography project I have undertaken. Ten photos on the 10th of the month. It is achievable, contained to less than 24 hours, and even though it may seem like these photos are unimportant, you cannot possibly foresee now just how important they may be in the future. At the very least, your children will be able to enjoy seeing a glimpse into your everyday life and know just a little bit more of you, even if you are just chronicling a “boring” day.
If you feel ready to take on something even more ambitious, try the photo-a-day challenge. I let my Project 365 slip this year, but I’m ready to tackle a photo-a-day again for the next 100 days, for the Choose Joy 100 Day Challenge (yes, I just made that up). It just so happens there are 101 days between April 10 and my anticipated due date for baby #4, so it seems fitting to approach the next 100 days as I ready for this child with a heart of gratitude, joy, and hope.
Because for me, that is what a personal photo project is all about: each photo should be an affirmation of the joy, love, hope, and faith that embody your everyday. This is why I am so passionate about photographing your “blessed everyday”–because I love seeing the real-life, unvarnished love that we share as families and humans.
Please join me for one of these challenges (10-on-10 or the Choose Joy 100 Day Challenge), and please comment below if you do so! Embrace this opportunity to celebrate your lives and your loved ones. Your photos don’t have to be award-winning or meet some invisible standard; just let your love and “you” shine through.
In the meantime, I want to share the photos that I am now so grateful for, from last April’s 10-on-10 collection.