Showing posts with label Photos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Photos. Show all posts

Nuts And Bolts Of Memory-Keeping







Now that my month of memory-keeping is nearing an end, let's discuss that actual nuts and bolts of memory-keeping, specifically as moms, shall we?  I am still trying to figure out the best way to keep memories for my kids.  It's hard for me to find something that I can consistently do for each kid individually and our family as a whole, at least without letting it take over my life.

These are a few of the things I've tried so far.  As you'll see, many of my attempts have been less than stellar.  I'd love to hear any tips you all have in any of these sections!

(Note: This post contains an affiliate link.)

Baby Books

I got each of my kids a baby book and was relatively good about filling them out - but to be honest, I totally dropped the ball for my last two kids.  I was not going to be that mom that keeps meticulous records for her first child and then doesn't do anything for subsequent kids.  I made a valiant effort, and yet, here we are.

In my defense, I did keep meticulous records for all of my kids here on this blog, which serves in the function of a baby book as well.  I just need to sit down and transfer the information I typed up here into my kids' actual baby books.  I still have my baby book that my mom filled out for me, and I think there is something special about seeing her words about me as a baby, written in her own handwriting.

Photo Albums

Once upon a time, before my third child, I printed up pictures from the first two years of my first baby's life.

And that's it.

I have alot of guilt related photo albums.  There are just so many pictures, I finally realized I can't possibly print them all.  Not only would it cost a fortune, but I don't have enough room in my house for that many photo albums. In addition, it's a huge chore choosing which pictures to print, and I just haven't made time for it yet.

However, currently the only child who has baby pictures to look through is Wyatt, and this is also unacceptable to me.  I remember loving to look through my baby pictures when I was a kid, and hearing my mom tell me stories about each photo.  So a big priority for the next few months is getting some pictures printed up!

More on my strategy in another post soon maybe, but I'd love to hear if you print pictures, and if so, how you choose and organize them.

This Blog

One reason I'm glad this blog never grew too much and I never tried to go too professional with it is that it not only serves as an outlet for my thoughts, but also as a record of our family's lives.  I recorded the kids' birth stories, month-by-month updates for the first year, yearly birthday letters, and a bunch of other random memories on here.

I would like to get caught up on printing my blog into a book.  There used to be a service for this (a very basic service called Blog2Print) which I used for the first few years, but I discovered a couple years ago that they raised their prices to ridiculous levels.  So I'm on the hunt for a better way to print everything here into a book, but at the very least I can print the posts I wrote for each kid and stick them in their baby books, like I mentioned above.  That gives me alot of comfort when I'm feeling like a memory-keeping failure.  The blog is the one area in which I haven't yet dropped the ball.

(If you've printed up blog posts recently and bound them in any way, I'd love to hear what you did!)

A Memory-Keeper Book





This is my latest endeavor.  Several months ago I realized that I would really like to have a better system for writing down cute things the kids say or do.  I have been recording things in my bullet journal off and on, but I wanted something a little more polished that my kids could also look through when they get older.

I purchased a Happy Memory-Keeper on sale, and I'm giving it a try.  The pages are pretty all by themselves and rather inspiring.  The boxes make me feel organized, and I can also easily add pictures or stickers to dress it up a little.

Most of the sections look like this:








I know myself, and I know I'm not going to write something down every day, so I'm just leaving the pages undated.  I'll fill in a box whenever something cute happens, and just make a note of the date until the whole page is full.  One page might last me a month this way, because I'm not going to slap stickers in all the spaces just to fill them up in a week.

The book also has some pages for special days:




So far I'm liking how it's going!  I make a note when something about our day stands out, and I will probably add pictures in some of the boxes eventually.



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As you can see, I have alot to figure out still when it comes to memory-keeping!  But I think the main thing is that I'm trying.  It may not be pretty or very organized, but I know eventually my kids will see the different way that I have tried to capture their growing-up years, and I hope when they do they can see how much I adored them.

How do you keep memories as a mom?

Stay tuned, I might do a more in-depth post about photo-keeping strategies I have tried! Some have worked, some not, but I'm slowly coming up with a plan.

My Tips For Taking Your Own Family Photos

(Photos in today's post are from last year - I haven't been able to bring myself to sort through yesterday's disastrous photo attempts yet!)


Photos play a huge part in memory-keeping for me.  As I mentioned before, I am not great at remembering the smaller events of my life, but if I have a photo, I am able to immediately remember details that would otherwise be lost to me.

When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I realized how critical photos would be for me in my memory-keeping.  My babies all have grown too fast, and I am so glad I made sure we got some really good photos together to mark the passing of each year.  

For really big events, like maternity or newborn pictures, I've always outsourced and got my amazing photographer and dear friend to do some photos for me!  But for regular, run-of-the-mill family photos, I usually do them myself.

(Proof that I can sometimes take a good family photo with the tripod!)

Despite yesterday's photo struggles, I usually am able to get some pretty good photos each year, and I thought I would give you my best tips for taking your own family photos - or basically just tell you how I manage it.  I am still really just an amateur, hobby photographer, so your mileage may vary with these suggestions, but this is how I take our family photos.

(If you want tips for taking photos of yourself with a tripod - I can't help you, ha!  That's one tripod skill I've never mastered.  If I'm the lone adult in the picture, then it's most likely one I had Derek take for me!)

What I use:

My DSLR (I have a Nikon D5200 and a 50mm f/1.5 lens)
A tripod (this one)
A remote shutter release (this one)
My iPhone 7+



1. Scout out a spot to take photos ahead of time.  

Every time I've taken photos that have gone smoothly, it's been because I found a spot I liked ahead of time and started putting the photo together in my head.  I think about where I'll put the tripod, how I'll arrange the family, where I'll run in to join, etc.  I try to think about light and shadows and whether morning or evening would be the best.  The couple hours right after sunrise or right before sunset are best, and try to stay out of direct or dappled sunlight!  Good lighting is everything.


2. Pack an emergency photo bag.  

I usually pack a bag with things like a blanket to sit on, extra memory cards and camera batteries, candy to keep the kids happy, hairbrush, makeup, extra diapers, etc.  I've been burned before when I didn't think things through, so I try to plan ahead for problems that might arise so I'm prepared.


3. Be meticulous about getting set up.  

When we arrive at the spot I've (hopefully) scouted out, I take a couple test shots first to make sure my settings are proper and the light is good (I didn't pay enough attention to this yesterday, hence why a lot of our photos are junk).  I get my camera and tripod set up and fidget with it until it's directed right where I want the family to stand, then I have my husband go stand where I want him.  My husband is usually my focus point, because he is the only one in the family I can trust to stand still!  I get the kids arranged around him, and keep in mind to leave a space for me to stand.  

Once everyone is arranged, I go back to my camera, set the focus point on my husband, and ask him not to move his head.  Then I switch the shutter setting to the remote, go over and rearrange children if necessary, stand in my spot, and start clicking with the remote!


4. Check the photos!  

I usually have to repeat this process a few times to make sure everyone is looking good in the actual photos and everything is in focus.  I'm always sorry later when I don't take breaks and double-check the photos in the back of my camera!  I've taken a whole group of photos before, only to realize later they were all out of focus.

5.  Take a lot of shots.  

Most likely most of the shots you take with a remote are going to be just okay, but if you take a ton, you are more likely to get one that might work.

6. Be a little silly.  

In the photos where everyone is smiling, it's usually because we all just got finished yelling "chocolate cake!".  Seriously, instead of telling my kids to say "cheese", I tell them to say other foods they like.  Usually there is more giggling and general enthusiasm that way, which translates well in photos!  This is my favorite strategy for when I'm trying to get a good shot of just the kids too.  My best trick is to be a goofball, balance a pinecone on my head and then let it fall off, throw some leaves, peek out from behind a tree and make a funny face...all with my camera at the ready to catch the laughs!  It helps that my kids are quick-laughers too.


7. Tell everyone to look at one person.  

I really like a good "candid" shot, so after we try a few smiling at the camera, I usually pick a person and tell everyone else to look at them!  It turns out well when everyone is looking at one of the parents, but you have to make sure you are not just smiling blankly at the camera.  Look at everyone else as they are looking at you, or laugh a little, and it turns into a great fake-candid shot!



8.  Try tickling someone.  

When we have a child (especially a baby or toddler) who is crying, we tickle that kid.  We could be really obvious about the tickling and get more of those fake-candid shots while the kid is being tickled, like I talked about above.  Or sometimes we are really subtle about the tickling, so it doesn't cause a ruckus but leads to some good smiles.  There is a blurry line between crying and laughing, especially in photos, and sometimes tickling is the best way to save the photo session!

9.  Take it slow, and bring candy.  

When a photo session is devolving, I try to let the kids have a break to explore a little.  Often if they have time to get some energy out, they are ready to try taking another photo.   I try to take a breaks too so that we can also enjoy the experience, instead of being stressed about getting the photos done!  (Note: It's best if you start earlier than you think you need to so time is allowed for this sort of thing before you lose the light - another mistake I made yesterday.)  This can also be a good time to get more casual shots, or wider-angle shots of your kids exploring nature (I use my iPhone for this - maybe someday I'll get a better lens for scenery shots).




I have also been known to break out the candy to improve moods.  This is not normal parenting...this is parenting while trying to take photos.  Normal rules surrounding bribery do not apply.

10.  Know when to let it go.  

As I shared yesterday, sometimes photos just don't work.  I've been known to break our family photo sessions up into two shorter attempts, because little kids only last so long before they are ready to be done.  I've tried before to persevere when I could tell everyone was losing focus, and it's never gone well.  If everyone is crying and miserable, it's better just to call it quits.  You can always try again another day.  

Or you can do what I'm doing this year, and resort to getting your photographer friend to help, ha!  Some stages are just hard (ex: when you have an almost two year old), and reinforcements may be in order.  But don't let a bad attempt make you think you can't take your own family photos - it happens.  Just try again another day.


Have you ever tried to take your own family photos?  How did it go?






And A Merry Christmas To You!



Confession time: Christmas break has not exactly gone as I planned.

I had so many ideas for advent readings and crafts to do with the kids.  We were going to bake, and learn new Christmas carols and Bible verses.  I was going to continue waking up before the kids and get in a rich, meaningful personal Bible study leading up to Christmas Day.

And then the king of all colds struck us last week.  I tell you, if I ever needed a non-serious reminder of the sinful, fallen state of the world, this cold was it.  Even though we are well past being contagious, we still are struggling with scratchy voices and irritating remnants of a cough.  Derek took time off from work, and I rolled out of bed too late every morning for the past week.  Needless to say, my plans did not come to fruition. 

However, I finally felt well enough to get back to my new morning routine again this morning.  I grabbed the Christmas present I bought myself, an illuminated Scripture journal for the book of Hebrews.  I figured I'd just start by checking out the cross-references, and I stumbled across two passages that have helped set my heart back on Christ amidst the Christmas-Eve craziness this morning. (The first one is kind of long, try to take time to read through the whole thing - it's so good!).

"He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created that are in Heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.  And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have preeminence.  For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in Heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross."
Colossians 1:13-20

"For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
2 Corinthians 4:6


I just love how these passages talk about the light of Christ.  We are lost in darkness, in our sin, without Him - but when we were stumbling around in the dark, God sent us the light of Christ, the light of Himself.  He was born to make peace for us through the blood of His cross.  We are the ones who deserve darkness and death forever because of our sin, but He bore that penalty for us on the cross.  And now if we will merely raise our faces to His light, trusting in His sacrifice and what He has done to save us, we need never be lost in darkness again.





















Merry Christmas, friends.  I pray that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ is shining bright in your hearts this Christmas (and that you have more joy than Georgie in that last picture)!

Birthday Girl


Dear Georgie Bea,

A year ago, I was feeling completely miserable.  I didn't think you'd be coming any time soon, but I didn't see how I could endure weeks more with the way my back was aching.

Around dinnertime I realized that maybe I was feeling so awful because you were going to surprise me with an early entrance - and a few hours later, we saw your sweet face!





I was not expecting you to arrive early, but it was such a blessing!  And that has been your story from the start, darling.  An unexpected blessing.  It was unexpected to see that positive pregnancy test.  It was unexpected that you would arrive when you did.  It was unexpected that you'd have such a wonderfully sweet temperament.




I look at you now, and you stare back at my with your deep brown eyes and give me a dimpled grin.  I love the way your hair curls in the back, just like your daddy's.  I love how you "talk" to me and act disappointed until I reply.  I love how you stand up in your crib and bounce up and down when I walk into the room.





I didn't know we'd have a fifth baby, but there was a small part in the corner of my heart that dared to wish for you.  And the Lord saw that, and blessed me beyond what I expected.  You are my little dream baby, and I can't imagine not having you here.  I'm so glad the Lord gave you to me.







I will love you and like you forever, Georgiana.  Happy day, Birthday Girl!

Love Always,

Mama

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