Family Photos with Baby + Dog :: A. Family

posted in: Photography | 0

I photographed the A. Family when this cute little girl was just a newborn. And now here we are, doing a family portrait already… she’s grown so much!  There is nothing more exciting than getting to watch my clients’ children grow up into their own little selves.  Oh, I guess there’s one thing almost as good… and that’s when my clients bring their pets to the portrait session.  I love including animals in family photos (or any type of portrait photo, for that matter!).

infant portrait, digitally painted by photographer dexter mi
I based this digital painting from several photographs we took during the outdoors portion of their family session. It was really fun to create this, and I especially had fun painting the background of the piece.
family portrait with baby girl outdoors dexter mi
Here’s one of the portraits I am talking about. Adorable family portrait, no? You’d never know it was buggy out by their great smiles 🙂
mom with baby girl, portrait session outdoors dexter mi
We got this portrait of mom with baby girl before deciding the bugs were too thick outside …at least in this spot.
family portrait with baby and dog in grass. dexter mi photographer
Before heading into the studio, we did one last set of images out in the grass. I was hoping the bugs would be fewer in number here, but no such luck. They were great sports though! Love this one.
family photo in studio with baby and dog, dexter mi photographer
And after a bit of a break for baby, we started in on the studio portion of the family photo session.
baby sticking tongue out with mom giving her kiss, dexter child photographer michigan
It’s always cute to capture some of those silly baby faces. I love this one of her with mom!
baby smiling while mom holds her, dexter michigan baby photographer
And an adorable baby portrait where she’s all smiles!! I love it.
baby sucking thumb in dad's arms, dexter michigan photographer
Dad’s turn to hold her came next. At this point, she was more interested in her thumb. Too cute!
dad with baby, family portrait photographer dexter michigan
She was getting a little wiggly at this point, but we managed to get this one with dad and babe in arms.
mom and dad looking at baby during family portrait, michigan dexter photography session
Oh my gosh. I totally love this photo. She is looking so sweetly at the camera, and mom and dad are so happily looking at their baby. Love it!!!
outtake from photo session, prepping for baby portrait session dexter mi safe photography
This one is an outtake from the family photo session, but I wanted to share it with you because it’s important to know how much prep work goes into some of these photos. With little ones, we’re always VERY careful about keeping them safe. And then you can’t do a portrait like this with just any dog. They have the calmest, sweetest dog ever. Dad stayed right nearby the whole time, with his hand on his kiddo to make sure she didn’t fall over. That’s when Photoshop comes in handy — I do a little magic and you end up with a safely created portrait.
baby portrait studio dexter michigan photographer. baby girll with chocolate lab dog pet portrait
Seriously. Adorable. Isn’t this the cutest baby portrait ever??? I love how it turned out. And as I mentioned a minute ago, dad was holding onto this kiddo because she’s not quite ready to sit up yet. Sometimes Photoshop magic just makes sense. Safety first.
chocolate lab portrait in studio, pet photographer dexter michigan
And to finish things up, I took one portrait of this well-mannered chocolate lab all by herself. She is really such a sweet pup!!!

I’d love to talk with you about planning a fun family portrait session — whether or not you have pets to include! Call the studio today at 734-424-0472 to start planning for your next family photo.

Baby’s First Year – P. is Ready to Stand!

posted in: Photography | 0

One of the best parts of my job is getting to see repeat customers. I love it when my littlest clients come back to the studio, because it’s always so amazing how much they’ve grown! And, let me tell you — if you’re worried about planning a portrait session for your child because he or she just doesn’t behave in front of the camera — don’t worry.

That’s my job — leave the magic to me. I feel a little silly telling you this, but I’ve been called a baby whisperer by clients who were sure the photo session would be a bust. So don’t stress out. After all, that’s why you’re trusting me with your memories, with creating portraits of your loved ones. Relax, and let me do my thing.

baby's first year portrait, hand painted in photoshop, digital painting, master photographer artist dexter mi
I seriously can’t get enough of this smile. P. has the cutest expressions. I just had to do a painting from one of the priceless expressions he shared during his final first year portrait session. I am really excited about how this painting turned out!! LOVE!!
toddler baby boy with wooden car. studio portrait, baby's first year plan, dexter michigan portrait photographer
Like many little boys, P. loves cars. So when his mom told me he was super interested in anything that has wheels, I made sure to hand him a cute wooden car right away. No better way to help a kid relax and get excited about letting me take their portrait!
baby boy one year old, standing with a chair. photographer studio portrait dexter michigan.
Since P. was not quite standing on his own for this session in his baby’s first year plan, I brought out a chair to give him a little support. Now, when photographing little ones (or any clients, for that matter), safety comes first. For portraits where I have a toddler who may topple over, there’s always an adult literally right out of the frame. My rule? “If you feel uncomfortable at any point, grab your kid.” No photo is worth a little one getting hurt.
toddler boy riding rocking horse for baby's first year portrait in studio. dexter michigan photographer
I think P. smiled most of the way through his first year portrait sessions! By now, he’d started moving the chair around as a walking aid, so we switched to a new prop — this lovely wooden rocking horse that used to be one of my nieces’ toys. I’m all for repurposing well-crafted pieces. He was so excited to ride the rocking horse!
baby boy one year old, standing with chair in photographer studio. Baby's first year photos in dexter michigan
P. needed a little break, so we took the opportunity to do an outfit change. I love that his mom planned this portrait to correlate with his older sibling’s portrait at the same age. That will be so adorable to compare their portraits! Of course, the chair thing didn’t last long… but we got a couple before he was off to the races! (pretty typical for a first year session).
toddler boy standing and holding mom's hand during portrait session at dexter mi photographer studio
Here’s the closest we came to having P. stand unassisted. We tried seeing if he would let go of Mom’s hand for any length of time, but he was having none of it. Oh well. No worries, this portrait is still cute! One of the less smiley photos of P. ….but still adorable.
toddler boy with curly hair, smiling at camera. dexter mi portrait session for baby's first year.
And finally… look at those curls!!! I can’t get enough of this cutie. Isn’t it interesting how some siblings look so similar, yet have different features, like curly/straight hair? What a sweetie.

I hope you enjoyed seeing these first year portraits of P. (sigh, I can’t call him a baby anymore, he is getting so big!). If you want to learn more about planing your own portrait session with Betsy’s Photography, please call the studio at 734-424-0472 today. If you have a little one, or are expecting, make sure to inquire about our baby’s first year plan!

Potty Training – Advice from 10 Moms Who’ve Been There

posted in: Parenting | 32
Potty Training: Advice from 10 Moms Who've Been There
Photo from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.

Ok, I have to admit. I’m not all that familiar with the “normal” methods of potty training. We went a little crunchy in this department — my boys started using the potty when they were less than a year old. I’ve asked some moms to share their thoughts on potty training and what worked for them, so you can get a well rounded perspective on the topic of potty training though.

Potty Training Products

Let me start by saying there are a ton of products out there. I haven’t tried them all… I just know what worked for us. So, that being said, I’ll share some potty training products that you might like before we get down to business:
Amazon #afflinks open in new window for your convenience.

In general, for kid potties, my preference is simple.  Simpler is better. Fewer loose parts, fewer things to clean (watch out for those crevices in “padded” models).

Now that you know what products worked for me…

Advice from moms who’ve been there, done that.

Let’s hear from some moms about the ins and outs of potty training and what worked for them! I’ll share my own personal experience at the end.


I waited until my boys were ready. We read lots of books about the topic and then let them decide when it was time. Then, bam they were potty trained. One was 3 1/2 and the other 2 1/2.

Jodie

Growing Book by Book (read her post on 10 potty training books)


We started EC with my middle son at 6 months old and he did well with it and “potty trained” early at 18 months. My now 2 year old is totally different and we are following his lead on training. We cannot cloth diaper him due to skin sensitivities, so he is not as aware as my other two children were of when he is wet.

Amanda

The Educators’ Spin on It


We just left them to their own devices, when they were fed up of nappies they both started using the toilet within a day. They both happened to be 3 too, although my eldest had only just turned 3 but my youngest was nearly 4 when he decided he wanted to use the toilet.

Charlotte

Raising Wild Ones


My son couldn’t grasp the concept that something was coming out of him. The brain and little boy part weren’t well connected, so we did some naked time to help him connect that the pee came out of him. After that, it took about a week or two (daytime, nighttime took years). Here is a potty training tips post that I have done.

Tanya

Therapy Fun Zone (see her post on toddler age potty training tips)


I made it “my daughter’s business” and set up a little private corner for her potty, she was fully “toilet trained” by 20 months. (I also have a post on how I toilet learn older children in my care.)

Jennifer, Study At Home Mama


I talk to them and tell them what is going on with their bodies, up until now they have never had to actually think about peeing. I put underwear on them and wait. I usually let them pee in their underwear the first time so they recognize what is going on and then it usually clicks. Also… I sit them backwards on the toilet. For boys this is great because they have to sit when they poop anyway, and if they forget to hold down their penis then it sprays the back of the toilet and not the wall in front of them. And it’s easier to balance so they can relax when they have to go and not worry about falling in.

Leah

Socks & Shoes Not Required (read her tips and tricks for potty training boys)


I potty trained our twin girls over a long period of time. We first introduced the potty, and had them sit on it at 18 months old. They were actually doing alright with it, but life happened (car accident), and it got put on the back burner for a few months. Next time we tried the potty seat in the middle of the room,, and running around without any diapers on, and bribes (a single chocolate chip). One of my daughters though could literally squeeze out a drop of pee into the toilet every like 5-10 minutes… I think because she wanted the chocolate chip, and also because I think she was just lacking some control, so we stopped pushing her as hard, and worked mostly with my other daughter at that time. She did really well, had problem getting #2 in the potty, but once she did, she was pretty much potty trained, including overnight around 2.5 years old, though we still had accidents here and there. Her sister we waited several months, and tried again, and she did much better, and followed a similar pattern as her sister, but we kept her in a pull-up at night for a long time as she would frequently have night accidents. She was mostly trained by 3 years old, right before her baby brother was born. She continued to have infrequent night accidents past her 4th birthday, but finally stopped having any about 4 months ago (at about 4.5). My best advice for parents potty training is YOU HAVE TO BE DEDICATED! It’s really easy to throw in the towel that first day when they are doing awful. But, also know your kids.

Katelyn

What’s Up Fagans?


My oldest son basically potty trained my youngest! They are 22-months apart and we told my oldest that he would get a treat whenever his brother went potty IF (and only if) he helped encourage and praise him! He asked him every 5 minutes if he needed to go potty and then whooped and hollered when his brother was successful!

Jenae

I Can Teach My Child!


Our son finally “got it” at Old Faithful at Yellowstone. He ran across the visitors’ center, screaming, “I pooped in the toilet!” It was epic.

Jennifer

Royal Little Lambs (read how her post, The Bubba Trained Me)


3 Day Potty Training Method…it only took him 2….worked great!

Amanda

Dirt and Boogers (read her story about potty training boot camp)


My Experience Potty Training (so far)

And now let me share a little about my experience. We started off cloth diapering from the get-go … first with a diaper service, and then for our second child I manned up and did the whole cleaning thing myself. When my first was about 5 months old, I learned my grandmother (who had 4 kids under 4 in the 50s) started potty training as soon as her children could sit up. The concept intrigued me. That, coupled with observing a local mom help her infant use the potty (and stay dry)… piqued my curiosity. Out of diapers before 3 years old? Tell me more.

Today’s lingo for early pottying is either “elimination communication” or “infant potty training.” It’s not cruel, there is no forcing or punishment, it’s basically learning to recognize pre-verbal signals. It is how most of the world copes with baby elimination instead of extended diapering. In short, the concept is that babies are born with a desire to stay dry (anyone victim to getting peed on during a diaper change?). So while they are not able to verbalize their need to eliminate, it is possible to read their body language for cues (getting fussy, a particular cry, eventually signing “potty,” etc). I was dubious at first. It took me 3 months to work up some initiative to give this early pottying a try. But once we tried, my older son, then about 6 mos, caught on really quickly. It wasn’t a game of trying to get him on the potty perfectly, but a process where I could help him use the potty some (or a lot) of the time. It didn’t take long before I didn’t have to change soiled diapers anymore — just wet ones. And then little by little, we transitioned to baby underwear — without any power struggles… just his natural desire to stay dry. We were out of diapers before 2 years for sure, maybe even around 1 year, but I’d have to look through the baby book to tell for sure.

Now, a couple years later, we’re doing the same thing with my second son. When we got home from the hospital, my toddler actually told me his brother needed to use the potty… I thought, “sure… but I’ll indulge.” Yup, he did. Even though this kid is a solid sleeper, he has woken up dry in the morning from time to time (other times I don’t get there soon enough so we have a wet diaper to change). But once again, my son’s natural desire is to stay dry. So he fusses before he musses the diaper, and if at all possible, avoids soiled diapers.

While diaper changing doesn’t phase me, I have to admit it is nice, not having to clean up diaper blow outs or yucky bums. The pragmatist in me loves early pottying. I know it’s not for everyone, and there is a lot of misinformation out there about elimination communication (infant potty training). But in short, I have never forced my boys …it has always been about making things more comfortable for them. I know I wouldn’t want to sit in wet or soiled material, so it only seemed natural to change that diaper right away. And if I was going to be on top of things enough to change the diaper immediately, adapting to offering the potty wasn’t that big of a deal for me.

It may sound hard core, but for me, it was just practical. I’m a realist though, I know this method of potty training (if you want to call it that) doesn’t work for everyone. And I’ve never been one to judge. Different strokes for different folks.

What about you? I’d love to know what worked (or didn’t work) for you. Share in the comments below!

50 Things You Can Do With Your Toddler While Caring For Your Newborn

posted in: Parenting | 12

As mom of now two boys, there are days when I’ve reached the end of my creative rope, so to speak.  It’s not that I’m overwhelmed, but that I’ve run out of ideas for keeping my toddler engaged while caring for a newborn at the same time.  Activities with lots of prep work just don’t cut it.  Sure, I can put something together during my newborn’s naptime… or maybe do some prepping the evening before, but it’s really just easier to do something that doesn’t require a lot of planning.

With that in mind, below you’ll find a list of 50 things you can do with a toddler while caring for a newborn.  But first, let me list several books that you might want to have on hand if you’re not one to go clicking on links when you need an activity. I love having books like these on hand! Click on any book title below to visit the page’s Amazon listing via my affiliate link — these have all gotten rave reviews!

Seven Books for Busting Boredom

  1. Busy Toddler, Happy Mom: 280+ activities that will keep your toddler’s attention, using things that are easy to find and inexpensive.
  2. 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids: activities that stimulate creativity and imagination, no electronics!
  3. The Toddler’s Busy Book: 365 creative activities and games that use items found around the home.
  4. The Arts and Crafts Busy Book: 365 creative activities that are easy to put together
  5. Project Kid: 100 Ingenious Crafts for Family Fun: projects and basic DIY tutorials to help build a DIY arsenal
  6. 101 Kids Activities That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever!: activities for kids of any age that will keep kids from being bored
  7. 99 Fine Motor Ideas for Ages 1 to 5: activities to keep little hands busy (and practice fine motor skills)

books-toddler-activities

50 Easy Activities for Toddlers

50 Things You Can Do With Your Toddler While Caring For Your Newborn - Betsy's PhotographyAnd now for that list of 50 things you can do with your toddler.  No complex prep work, no hours of setup. Easy ideas for when your toddler needs a reprieve from boredom. {links open in a new window}

  1. Nature Art – all you need is a box and some “findings” from the great outdoors (nuts, seeds, plants, flowers, etc).
  2. Sculpture Activity With Cardboard Tubes – get creative in sculpting with curved pieces cut from cardboard tubes.
  3. Have Your Toddler Help With New Baby – five ways your toddler can be a big helper.
  4. Smoothie Bottle Bowling – pull those empty bottles out of your recycling bin and save them to use as bowling pins.
  5. String Painting + Printing – experiment with the effects of paint on string.
  6. DIY Sticker Seek + Find – a homemade matching game that will be sure to entertain.
  7. Play Flashlight Games – what kid doesn’t love playing with flashlights?  I know mine is a fan.
  8. Play Outdoors – it’s easy to find ways to entertain a toddler outdoors.  We often just “explore” …and find neat things.
  9. Clean House – toddlers love to clean.  Might as well have that energy be productive.
  10. Seaside Sensory Bottle – sensory bottles are great for calming and entertaining.
  11. Autumn Tree Craft – there’s nothing better than a craft you can pull together in minutes.
  12. Letter Recognition Game – all you need is a deck of aphabet cards and some floor space to play.
  13. Outdoor Photo Scavenger Hunt – have a camera?  Take a walk and see what you can photograph.
  14. Strawberry Planter Pom Pom Drop – pom poms are very entertaining for toddlers, especially when dropping into something.
  15. Painting With Flowers – flowers make great paintbrushes — and clean up is easy.
  16. Slime Sensory Bag – have hair gel and a ziploc bag?  You can do this activity.
  17. Sock Mopping – gross motor skills and cleaning all in one, your toddler will have a blast.
  18. Stacking Cups – not speed stacking, but toddlers love to stack and unstack things.
  19. Snow Sensory Play – if it’s snowy out, there is no better entertainment than a pile of snow with some kitchen utensils.
  20. Egg Carton Train – egg cartons are often on hand, might as well turn one into a cool train.
  21. Water Wall Painting – this activity is great for outdoors.  No clean up required.
  22. Spider Web Discovery Basket – really quick and easy activity, if you can find a spare laundry basket.
  23. DIY Reverse Kerplunk – if you’re a fan of the game kerplunk, you have to try making your own.
  24. Prism Play + Chalk Art – prisms cast cool colors.  Learn about light and trace the colors.
  25. Train Track Bowling – bowling is fun (and easier?) when you can use a train track to keep “on track.”
  26. Go Apple Picking – get outdoors, pick some fruit.  Fun activity, and good harvest for snacking later.
  27. Coin Drop – kids love putting money in banks.
  28. Pre-writing Tray – use cornmeal, salt, or another sand-like item to make a surface for drawing shapes and the like.
  29. Leaf Threading – make a necklace or garland out of leaves from your backyard.
  30. Simple Play With A Ramp – have cars and a piece of cardboard?  You can do this activity.
  31. Painting With Nature – fun activity using different items from nature to apply paint to paper.
  32. Make a Discovery Basket – a list of 150+ things you could use to make a discovery basket.
  33. Balloon Badminton – all kids love to hit balloons up in the air — and your newborn won’t get hurt if it bounces off baby.
  34. Mailing Thank You Notes – give your kid a paper and some markers, and you can send off some lovely thank you drawings.
  35. Make Spicy Paint – use spices and water to paint on paper.
  36. Animal Trackers Club – get a membership to a monthly “club” …your toddler will be excited and entertained when each package arrives.
  37. Gel Paint Mixing Experiment – mixing colors is always fun, and pretty easy to set up.
  38. Sensory Play With Jello – if you have gelatin and water, you can make jello.  And edible sensory play is always fun.
  39. Carpet Doodles – use different toys to make transient doodles in your carpet.
  40. Edible Sand Play – if you have stale bread, you can make tgis “sand” …great for a construction sensory bin.
  41. Toddler Sewing Basket – put together a basket of todder-safe sewing items.
  42. Playdough-filled Balloons – the sensory aspect of squeezing and squishing these ballons is sure to be a hit.
  43. Bird Watching – put out a bird feeder and wait to see what birds stop by.
  44. Stirring and Mixing Free Play – get some miscellaneous kitchen ingredients, let your child loose.
  45. Build a Great Blanket Fort – forts are a surefire way to entertain your toddler.  Perfect spot for playing or reading.
  46. Milk Gallon Clothespin Drop – provide long lasting entertainment with this simple activity.
  47. Masking Tape Roads – if your toddler likes cars, you have to check this activity out.
  48. Read Books – reading is an easy way to give your toddler attention when you are tired or stuck on the couch.
  49. Cooking With Toddler Made Simple – if you have to be in the kitchen, here are some ways your toddler can help.
  50. Cuddle Time – often toddlers just need “mommy time.”  Cuddles can do wonders for any big brother or big sister.
  51. Grow Pea Seeds in Jello – learn about nature and seed germination with this quick project that will last for days.
  52. Create a Childrens’ Garden – while this takes time to set up, once you have a garden your toddler will love “working” in it.
  53. Magnifying Glass Exploration – observe and explore your environment with a magnifying glass.
  54. Play With Bathtub Paint – what better place to get messy than in the bathtub?  Clean up is so easy.

Looks like we got a few extra!  Oh well, the more, the merrier.

So, there you have it.  50+ things that you can do with your toddler while caring for your newborn.  Some require a little more hands-on help from mom than others, but hopefully this list can help get those creative gears turning for you.  I know that sometimes one activity will morph into another at our house.  So maybe this list is even exponentially longer!

5 Things to Include in Your Newborn Photos

posted in: Parenting | 0

It’s always a debate whether you should include accessories in newborn portraits.  Babies are so adorable to begin with… you don’t *need* to add anything else.  But, if you wanted to add some finishing touches, here are my suggestions.

5 Things to Include in Your Newborn Photos - Betsy's Photography1. Baby Blanket

If you have an heirloom baby blanket that is special to you, I definitely suggest including it in your infant’s portraits.  There is nothing more adorable than a baby sleeping on (or swaddled in) a blanket that was handmade by someone dear to you.

2. Handmade Items

By that same token, anything handmade …with significance to you… will add meaning to your portraits.  I try to stay away from clothing items, because they will usually mask the cute little newborn folds of skin, but hats and booties?  Those are accessories that won’t hide how tiny your baby is as a newborn.

3. Cute Diaper Covers

If you cloth diaper, you probably already own some diaper covers with cute patterns or ruffles.  If you’re using disposables, be aware that there are many neat bloomers and covers that can cover the diaper area and be a little more visually appealing than a plain disposable diaper.

4. Heirloom Baby Items

If you have any family baby heirlooms that have been passed down through generations, these can be really nice to include in portraits.  For instance, I have a silver baby rattle that was mine, and probably my mother’s before me.  heirloom baby items like this add so much meaning to a portrait.

5. Headbands or Bows

Over the next weeks, you’ll see some of these in a few sessions… but for now, you can take a peek at the headbands I got.  Aren’t they cute?  I am particularly fond of the yellow one.

Baby Photos With White Eye Instead of Red Eye Might Be Cancer…

posted in: Parenting | 6

So, you’re probably familiar with red eye …it’s that pesky red dot that appears in photos when you use the on camera flash. Red eye is normal — the flash is reflecting off your retina.  What’s not normal, though, is if a child’s eyes look like a cats — “white eye” instead of red.  It could actually be the sign of a serious medical condition.

white eye
A child with a white eye reflection as a result of retinoblastoma. By J Morley-Smith (talk).Morleyj at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
I recently learned about “white eye” while at my pediatrician’s office for a newborn well visit. To paraphrase my pediatrician:

Do you know how sometimes you get red eyes in photos? If you ever see a photo where a kid has a white eye, they need to see their doctor right away to make sure it’s not cancer

I did a little research, and learned there are a number of serious eye diseases that can cause this white eye glow instead of red eye in a flash photo. There are two main ones:

  • Retinoblastoma (a rare childhood eye cancer)
  • Coats’ disease (a disorder where the blood vessels in the retina develop abnormally) .

You can learn more about retinoblastoma at Daisy’s Eye Cancer Fund page: What to Do Next.   You’ll find information on when there is cause for concern, and if the appearance of white eye in a photograph might simply be the flash capturing the optic nerve (usually if the white eye is an isolated occurrence). Retinoblastoma is pretty rare (11.8 cases per million kids, ages 0-4); if it’s caught early enough, it can sometimes be treated without vision loss. However, as Heather, one of my readers, pointed out:

Retinoblastoma cannot always be treated without vision loss no matter how early it is detected. Sometimes it develops in the womb, and by the time the baby is born, it will already have progressed too far. It will depend on the size and location of the tumors.

So, vision loss might not be avoidable, but the sooner it is diagnosed, the better. According to the awareness campainn, Know The Glow, it’s important to take immediate action, but usually pediatricians do screen for these sorts of diseases at infant well visits:
Baby Photos With White Eye …not Red Eye? Might Be Cancer. - BPhotoArt.com

If you believe you see a glow, you should obtain a referral immediately to a pediatric ophthalmologist for diagnosis and treatment. Pediatricians can easily screen for Coats’ Disease, Retinoblastoma, and a host of other serious vision disorders using a simple red reflex test. This test is generally performed by a child’s pediatrician at a well-child exam, preferably within the first two months.

So, there you have it.  This information was new to me, and I thought it was too important not to share.  I’ve included a few links below, including one where a family friend spotted this white-eye effect in photos of a young girl.  The earlier it is treated, the better the prognosis.

White Eye Resources

“Normal” Red Eye

I culled my archives looking for a sample of “normal” red eye, and finally had to resort to taking a new photo.  Guess I’m good at avoiding red eye for some reason ;).  Must be my photographic training.  So, that being said, here are my intentionally created red eye snapshots. {click on an image below to enter gallery view mode}

Red eye is typically more pronounced in individuals with blue eyes rather than brown.  Interesting tidbit, no?

Welcoming Baby Finn! (Meet Zachary)

posted in: Parenting | 4

What a blessing to welcome another healthy boy to the Finn family! Zachary arrived less than a week after his due date, after about 10 hours of labor (less than three of which we spent at the hospital).  Here’s a photo of me holding him at the hospital, I think he was still under 24 hours old at this point.

Newborn Baby Photo -Welcoming Zachary! - BPhotoArt.com

There are so many wonderful moments and memories to share with you from Zachary’s arrival and first days.  Since I have had my hands *a little* full, I figured it would be easiest to share them all as a video slideshow (like I did with Toby’s birth story).

Zachary is mellow, calm, and a phenomenal sleeper.  At birth, he was smaller than his brother by quite a bit.  We actually had to stop at our favorite kid’s store, The Little Seedling, on the way home from the hospital because our infant car seat wasn’t fitting right.  Had their carseat tech check the setup, and we ultimately left with a new carseat that fit much better.

Making the transition from one to two kids has been ….well, not without problems, but overall we are all doing well.  The cats didn’t bat an eye at the new human we brought home.  Big brother has done really well; we’ve been working on using words to communicate when Toby is feeling in need of attention.  He is such a big helper, and has been so excited to hug and kiss his little brother.  We parents are doing pretty well too.  Recovery for mom has been fantastic… as I just mentioned we made our first outing on the way home from the hospital.  Night and day difference from last time — and for that, I am more thankful than words can express

I’ll be sharing some official newborn portraits in the near future, but for now, you can enjoy the video slideshow here, as well as the snapshots I’ve been sharing on Instagram.  Here’s one of both boys at a recent chiropractic visit:

And one of Zachary sleeping, wrapped up snugly in the baby blanket my mother crocheted for me when I was a baby myself.

A Mother’s Love: That Face

posted in: Parenting | 3
I’m honored to share another snapshot story with you today, one about motherhood, how quickly the time passes, and just how important it is to keep photos on display that remind us of how quickly our little ones grow into their own.Suzette Ladouceur is a former elementary school teacher turned stay at home mom. She blogs at The Joy of Homemaking about marriage, motherhood, homeschooling, and making the most of the life God has given her.

Thank you Suzette for reminding us of the importance of a mother’s love!

— Betsy

That Face... Love. Joy. Sentiment. - The Joy Of Homemaking @ BPhotoArt.com

That Face

When my son was just under a year old, we went to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for Memorial Day weekend to spend time with some family. While there, one of our activities was spending time in their community pool. After a hearty swim, as we sat around to dry off, I looked over at my son who he had fallen asleep on my cousin. I took a quick picture, not realizing how precious the finished photo would be.

Every time I see this photo, it conjures up a whole host of emotions from my heart, but here are the three dearest to me.

Love.

I cannot believe how much I love my children. I never knew that I could love someone so much that even on my most tired nights, I would willingly wake up to care for the needs of that small person.

My love for them has caused me to evaluate my purpose as a mother and my goals for each child, spiritually and emotionally. My love for them causes me to pray and think about each decision I make because I know that my children will be affected by my choices in some way.

Joy.

I am so thankful that this little boy (and my daughter) is mine. He was a gift from God to me. Instead of looking at the blocks scattered across the house, hearing the noise he makes, or finding the negative in his 2 year old behavior, I choose to see the sky scraper he tried to build, hear the laughter in his play, and appreciate the point in time we are living in right now. I choose to experience the joy my children bring.

Childhood itself brings joy. Sadly, as we leave our childhood and enter the world of adulthood, we forget the joy of catching bugs outside, how easy laughter can come, and that the sounds of happy play and noise are two completely different things.

Sentiment.

He is growing so fast. It has been two years since that picture was taken, yet the time seems to have gone by so quickly. In two more years, he will be a four and a half year old on his way to Kindergarten.

I continually remind myself that time stops for no “mom”, and my babies will not stop growing. As much as I wish I could keep them where they are, each day is another step towards the growth that they must make. Each day takes me closer to the time when I will have to let them go. Looking at this photo of my son reminds me to appreciate each moment I have with my children.

Do you have a photo of your child(ren) that can serve as a reminder that our time spent as “mommy” is short? Can I encourage you to pull it out and keep it front and center? It will help in those moments when you forget what a gift you have been given.

— Suzette

Are you intentional in cultivating a mother’s love?

Do you find the days, weeks, and even months flying by far too quickly? How have you been intentional about cultivating and displaying a mother’s love to your children?

Do you have photographs on display, as Suzette suggested, that remind you of the brevity of childhood, and the importance of a mother’s love?

I’ve love to hear your stories, thoughts, and comments below.

Finding Balance as a Homemaker + Home Business Owner

posted in: Parenting | 2

Finding balance in life is tough, regardless of your calling, your job, or your commitments. This past week I guest posted over at KiddyCharts.com about balancing homemaking with running a home business — complete with tips for how to keep on top of both while still giving your kids the attention and activities they need.

Finding Balance As A Homemaker + Home-Business Owner - BPhotoArt.com

Here are some additional tips for finding balance when mothering a newborn amidst running a home business:

Give yourself a break

You need to recover from the birthing process, the experience, and the demands of adding another member to your family.  It’s ok to take it easy (that’s the point of maternity leave, right?  even work-at-home businesswomen deserve to schedule a break).

Plan and announce your maternity leave

Your break, or maternity leave, won’t be really effective unless you announce and publicize your plans.  Make sure to give yourself a reasonable window of time so that you won’t feel rushed back to work.

Accept help

Whether it comes in the form of meals being delivered, or relatives being willing to come clean your house, PLEASE do yourself a favor and accept graciously!  You don’t have to be super mom.  You don’t have to do it all yourself!

Be flexible

If things don’t go according to your initial plan, it’s important to be willing to adapt.  Maybe you decide it’s time to go back to work sooner than you expected… or maybe you aren’t quite ready to jump back in when you had hoped.  Either way, be realistic and make changes if needed to save your sanity.

Seek out community

Don’t isolate yourself, seek out the company of moms in similar circumstances in case you need someone to lend an ear, or give advice.  One of the downfalls of running a home business is that you don’t necessarily get out all that often.  So… make sure to venture out from your homestead, even if it’s for something frivolous!

Do You Have Tips for Finding Balance?

Where are you at in your quest for finding balance?

If you have tips for finding balance in a hectic week, or have found ways to balance homemaking and running a home business, I would love to hear from you!

Or, if you’re struggling with the concept of finding balance, know that you’re not alone. Is it tough to carve out some “me time,” or maybe dedicate enough attention to your kids? Perhaps you feel like your spouse is neglected because you’ve worn yourself out during the day and have little to offer at the end of a long day.

I’d love to hear what’s hardest for you about finding balance in your life.

Big Brother Kit (3 Busy Bag Activities)

posted in: Parenting | 4

Earlier this week I shared the fabric lovey for baby that we made as part of a virtual busy bag exchange — well, today, you’ll get to hear about the toddler-aged busy bag I created for my son. Since our new baby’s arrival is any moment, I thought a big brother kit would be the perfect topic for a busy bag!

Big Brother Kit - 3 Busy Bag Activities - BPhotoArt.com
Big Brother Kit – 3 busy bag activities for while mom and dad are at the hospital.

The Big Brother Kit (3 Busy Bag Activities)

Since big brother may need a few days’ worth of activities, I together three busy bag activities for him.  I’ll briefly tell you about each, and then this post will focus on the third one: the “Waiting for Baby” busy bag.

1. Bookworm Busy Bag

The first busy bag I assembled, perhaps the easiest.  This is a selection of travel-sized picture books in a little carrying bag. Perfect for any reader, and the small size of the books makes it easy to bring a number of different stories along.  And, needed, given that my toddler chose to read 150 books this summer through the library read-to-me program.  That’s about 4 books a day, so manageable if we keep on top of it.

2. Big Brother Kit Memory Game Busy Bag

A simple busy bag, pairs of photos printed on cardstock.  For this busy bag, I went through our photo archives (see some of Toby’s first year memories), and selected images that grandma and grandpa (who Toby will be staying with his baby brother “comes out”) could use as a “big brother kit prep” activity.  You know, sleeping, nursing, first food, first steps… all the things babies do that my son will know soon enough.

3. Waiting for Baby Busy Bag

This busy bag activity kit was my tour de force.  I spent the most time on it, and there are two components: a spiral bound photo storybook, and some photo puzzles. Both feature our family maternity portraits.  Now, onto the details of how I made this busy bag!

Waiting for Baby Busy Bag Storybook

When brainstorming ideas, I remembered how much Toby liked looking through the baby photos of himself.   All kids love pictures.  Well, since we just did our maternity pictures, I decided to put together a little storybook featuring the maternity portraits.  The storyline is pretty simple, and focuses on waiting for baby, how my son will be a great big brother, how much mommy and daddy love him, and how our family will be changing as baby arrives.

I made sure to incorporate familiar phrases from our daily conversations to add familiarity for my son — as this will be his first extended stay away from both of us parents.  Reminds me of the Berenstain Bears and the Week at Grandma’s (#afflink).

I thought about making fancy printed text for each page, but since I was trying to get a lot of things done before baby’s arrival…I took the quicker route.

Here’s a sampling of the text I wrote to accompany the pictures, plus some images of the book’s pages.

When I check on my baby,
I know he is drinking and eating,
getting big and strong. He likes
to get kisses from me and Daddy.

I’ll always be Daddy’s little man,
but soon I’ll be a big brother too.

I don’t know who is more excited
to meet our baby, me… or Mommy and Daddy.

Click on an image to open in gallery view mode.

I was really excited with how this part of the busy bag turned out, and since my son is a bookworm, I know he’ll love it.  Kids always love seeing themselves in pictures, so the personalized aspect will be a bonus.

The benefits of this activity in the busy bag?  Well, first off, it gives my son something to do (as well as talk/think about) while he is with his grandparents and we are at the hospital.  I’m hoping that the familiar phrases from our daily routine will help lessen any anxiety or concerns he may have during the extended visit.  Honestly, he’s a pretty well-adjusted guy, so I don’t expect there to be many issues, but you never know.   So I wanted the storybook’s text to remind our son that we love him no matter what, and how excited we all are to be nearing the end of the “waiting for baby” phase.

I also love that this little photo book is just his size, so he can tote it around and “read” it whenever.

The perfect addition for a big brother kit, right?

Busy Bag Photo Puzzles

Onto part two of this busy bag… the photo puzzles.  Again, I decided upon using several of the pictures from our maternity family portrait session in case our son needed to see our faces while he is not with us.  I took 5″x5″ pictures, glued them with an  to a piece of cardboard, and then cut them out once dry.  I ended up going random sizes and shapes for the puzzle pieces, more of a free-form cutting activity for mom!  Depending on the kid, the number of pieces will vary; I think the most I made for a single puzzle was 5 or 6.

Each puzzle then got packaged in its own ziploc bag.  Let me give you a tip — if you make this busy bag and do multiple puzzles, be sure to label the back of each puzzle piece so you know which ones go together — without having to assemble the puzzles during cleanup (huge timesaver)!

One other thing — Since our faces are on the smaller side in the photos, and I wasn’t using the most precise scissors, I made sure not to cut through any faces.  This may not be practical if you use a photo of a large face, but for these images, it ended up working well.

Here is a list of the supplies used for the photo puzzle busy bag (#afflinks):

Click on an image to open in gallery view mode.

So far as the benefits of this busy bag activity, puzzles are great for brain development.  Our son loves puzzles, and having portable ones that would travel easily seemed like a great idea to me.  I know these will be a big hit because they feature our family, so he gets to see mom and dad as he’s putting the photos together.

Since the backsides are labeled with different letters of the alphabet (one designated letter for each puzzle) — this could be used as a more involved matching game too — find all the letter ‘A’ pieces, then assemble each puzzle once they’re organized by letter.

Now to Wait…

The hardest part of making this big brother kit busy bag activity?

Waiting.

Usually I get to share projects like this with my toddler as soon as they’re completed.  But, since this is going to be a special big brother kit — to be opened with the grandparents, I’ll miss out on my son’s reaction as well as his first experience playing with each item.

But, that aside, I’m hoping he’ll thrilled and that these busy bags will be a good diversion for grandma and grandpa (if they need one).  I’ll be interested to hear how these puzzles are received by our son, and what he ends up doing with them.

Big Brother Kit Ideas

Busy Bag Ideas for Toddlers


Virtual Busy Bag Exchange SeriesVirtual Busy Bag Exchange Series

This post is part of a virtual busy bag exchange.

Check it out for busy bag ideas that are portable for traveling, and more or less mess free. You’ll find busy bags for the following age ranges: babies, 1 year olds, 2 year olds, 3/4 year olds, 5/6 year olds, and school aged children.

Fabric Lovey for Baby (…a virtual busy bag exchange)

posted in: Parenting | 15

Fabric Lovey for Baby ...a virtual busy bag exchange - BPhotoArt.com

This week, I’m participating in a virtual busy bag exchange with kids! Today’s post is a virtual busy bag exchange for babies, and in addition to my fabric lovey, Nadia from Teach Me Mommy is sharing how to make a textured photo book for babies. I’m so excited to share this with our new little one! Later this week I’ll be doing a virtual busy bag exchange for toddlers.

Making sure Floyd smiles for the camera
My son with “Floyd”

Now, before we get into the fabric lovey, let me give you a little back story. Earlier this summer Toby picked out two sewing projects, one for him, and one for baby.

“Floyd,” the stuffed monster to the right, was the result of our toddler sewing project (see more photos and read about the pattern book).

Since we completed the first project, someone had been on my case to make baby’s sewing project too! And, since new babies don’t really do much except for eat, sleep, and …well… you know, this lovey-style baby gift will get at least a few good months of mileage.

Making the Fabric Lovey for Baby

Making a busy bag for a baby is more of a creative exercise, since the younger kids are, the less they need to be entertained. Since we’ll be welcoming a newborn to the family very shortly, I thought this fabric lovey would be perfect for baby. Toby helped pick out the pattern (from Sew Together, Grow Together) as well as the fabric for the project.

We used a navy cotton terrycloth for one side, and a flannel caterpillar print for the other side. The ears and heart embellishments were made from those materials also. We used some white acrylic yarn for hair, and embroidery floss to make the eyes and mouth. I wasn’t originally planning to add any stuffing, but both the boys here (dad and big brother) thought it needed some, so this fabric lovey has just a little “poof” to it. To help hold everything together and define the fabric lovey’s shape, I top-stitched around the edge of the lovey, and added some top stitching on the face, arms, etc.

fabric baby lovey, first side
fabric baby lovey, first side
fabric baby lovey, second side
fabric baby lovey, second side

Benefits of a Fabric Lovey

Toby had fun helping make this, so I guess it was a toddler activity of sorts too. But in general, fabric loveys are great for babies because of their tactile sensory benefits. Having something to chew or suck on, different colors to look at, and different textures to feel — all these things make an object interesting for babies. Our newborn, when he arrives, will have to grow into all these “busy bag activity” …but that’s ok since it will extend this fabric lovey’s “life” as a toy of interest.

One other thing you can do to help a fabric lovey be comforting for babies is to make it smell like mom. You can accomplish that by sleeping with the lovey yourself for a few days, or holding the fabric lovey close to you when you’re holding your baby. That way, when baby isn’t next to you, “l’essence de mama” will still be nearby in a subtle, comforting way.

Wondering about other ways to enhance the tactile/sensory benefits of a homemade lovey? You could add little fabric tags to the edges, more colors of yarn for the hair, or multiple colored embellishments. While we didn’t add any crinkle fabric or bells to the inside of this lovey, when making a fabric lovey it is really easy to put such “sound-makers” inside.

Fabric Lovey Photo Gallery

I wanted to share some photos of how we made the fabric lovey, and also detail shots of what the finished product looked like. Click on any image below to view it in gallery mode.

Busy Bags for Babies

Here are some resources and ideas for making a busy bags for babies!


Virtual Busy Bag Exchange SeriesVirtual Busy Bag Exchange Series

This post is part of a virtual busy bag exchange.

Check it out for busy bag ideas that are portable for traveling, and more or less mess free. You’ll find busy bags for the following age ranges: babies, 1 year olds, 2 year olds, 3/4 year olds, 5/6 year olds, and school aged children.

Maternity Pictures With the Family

posted in: Photography | 8

These days, we’re in countdown mode, awaiting the arrival of baby. I’m slightly amused at how relaxed things have been this pregnancy, preparation-wise (thoughts on my second pregnancy). With our first, we made sure we had our i’s dotted and t’s crossed. This time, it’s more go with the flow, we get done what we get done — and really, we have most things already from the first time around.

bphotoart-family-maternity-pictures-20310-131

I’m excited to share some maternity pictures with you! These were taken just shy of 39 weeks (compare to 18 weeks pregnant), and I have to admit, I had been getting a little worried about whether this little one would cooperate so that we had time to do the portraits.

In case you’re looking to plan ahead and do any maternity pictures, the seventh or eighth month is usually ideal — just don’t wait too long because sometimes babies do make their debut early (that whole “due date” thing is really just an estimate).

As a comparison, here are my maternity pictures from the first pregnancy, and Toby’s first pictures as a newborn. It will be exciting to see how these babies look similar/different compared to one another… I can’t wait!

Maternity Pictures

Click on any image to enter gallery view mode

Big Brother-to-be

And then here are some of Toby with each of us. I love doing family pictures like these… they make great gifts for mom or dad’s office ;). These sets of images were a sort of “reward” for good behavior during the portrait session. Click on any image to enter gallery view mode

Pregnancy + Birth Resources

I’ve been busy pinning pregnancy and birth resources to Pinterest lately, as there are so many good ideas out there that I just want to be able to find if needed. If you’re currently pregnant, maybe some of these resources could be helpful for you too!

Follow Betsy @ BPhotoArt.com’s board Pregnancy + Birth on Pinterest.

What About You

At this point, our child’s arrival is still up in the air. Feel free to take any guesses you’d like so far as arrival date and stats. I’ll be honest, I’m just hoping that this one is ready to come out *before* two weeks “late” :).

I’m always happy to receive advice, even though we’ve been through the birth experience before. I have to say, it’s interesting to see how our perspective on pregnancy and birth changes once we’ve “been there, done that.” Any tips or thoughts you’d like to share?

Cousins – Family Pictures

posted in: Photography | 10

This month we were fortunate enough to have family in town; Toby was finally able to meet his cousin! He was thrilled to interact with baby and make her giggle, laugh, and smile. I think someone is definitely ready to be a great big brother. Anyways, while we didn’t get the whole family together for a portrait during their visit, we were able to at least get the two cousins to smile happily for the camera. Grandma was also brought into the portrait session by request of her grandson.

Cousins – Family Pictures

Here are a few of my favorites from the portraits of the cousins together:

Toby was so sweet with his cousin - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
Toby was so sweet with his cousin
Playing peekaboo with baby - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
Playing peekaboo with baby

Portraits of Grandma With Her Grandkids

And then some portraits of the cousins with Grandma. While the portrait session was really about the cousins, Grandma was thrilled to be included in the pictures with her two grandkids… but I’m sure you can tell that. It’s tough to be a long-distance grandparent!

Grandma with her two grandkids - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
Grandma with her two grandkids
The cousins with their Grandma - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
The cousins with their Grandma

Baby Pictures

Finally, here are the baby portraits. Since she hadn’t been to visit before, this was her first baby portrait session. I’m so glad we took the time to create these baby portraits! She’s such a happy little thing:

Baby can sit up already! - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
Baby can sit up already!
Such a cutie pie... - Cousins Family Pictures - BphotoArt.com
Such a cutie pie…

Video Slideshow – Cousins

Of course, I would be remiss not to include some more cousins family pictures for you to enjoy, so here is a video slideshow for you!

Thoughts on My Second Pregnancy

posted in: Parenting | 8

My second pregnancy has been a bit more laid back than the first. Instead of consulting checklists and making sure we are prepared and so forth, I’ve been enjoying the daily moments and continuing to parent our toddler. But I’ve been aware of the differences between my second pregnancy and my first. It has been interesting to see how we’ve prepared differently for our second child. We’ve let go of a lot of preconceptions, been able to avoid a lot of the pre-baby planning stress that new parents undergo.

As parents, we already have a lot of this stuff down. We have the clothing already, we have the equipment, we have our prior experience to help us.

Since this is my second pregnancy, I kind of know what to expect, and it’s actually relaxing to be able to let go of all the hype surrounding pregnancy and focus on what matters.

Thoughts On My Second Pregnancy - Maternity Silhouette - BPhotoArt.com

What Matters During a Second Pregnancy?

I have to tell you, a lot more priority is placed on someone who was the center of attention for the first pregnancy. Preparing a child to be an older sibling can take time. We’ve been fortunate in that our son is excited to be a big brother. I’ve heard (and seen) other moms have a tough time during their second pregnancy because their first child was either in denial about things, or outright angry about having a little sibling. But not our son.

In fact, he was so excited that a couple month ago, Toby told me he was going to help pull the baby out “now.”

We had a talk.

About how baby needed to grow and get big and strong, and how baby would come out in good time.

Now, when people ask if he’s excited to be a big brother, he replies: “No. Baby has to grow bigger and can’t come out yet.”

Ok, so back to the differences have I noticed between my two pregnancies:

First Pregnancy

  • Tracked every pregnancy milestone, knew what happened in which week
  • Shopped for maternity clothes
  • Read lots of books (including “What to Expect”)
  • Took Lamaze class
  • Signed up for hospital tour
  • Took new mom class at the hospital
  • Met with pediatrician(s) and decided on one (months ahead of time)
  • Took a carseat safety class
  • Attended a cloth diapering workshop
  • Signed up for cloth diaper service
  • Took prenatal yoga
  • Researched a lot
  • Registered for everything we could think of for baby
  • Made sure we had everything on the baby item list
  • Attended multiple baby showers held in our honor
  • Painted and decorated the nursery
  • Packed and repacked my hospital bag
  • Attended a few La Leche meetings
  • Took naps liberally
  • Confident throughout the pregnancy
  • Took lots of maternity and belly photos
  • Planned out how to reveal baby’s gender to the future grandparents
  • Took a couple weeks to peruse and decide on baby names

Second Pregnancy…

  • Had to be reminded by others what week of pregnancy it was
  • Pulled out the maternity clothes I kept from kid #1 (gave away what didn’t fit)
  • Read a couple books (Birthing from Within, Beautiful Babies)
  • Filled out pediatrician paperwork (a couple weeks ahead of time)
  • Took pilates (much better for me than yoga!)
  • Donated everything (well, a lot of things) we never used for kid #1
  • Moved kid #1 to his big boy room (white walls), switched up the name letters on the nursery wall
  • Threw together some stuff for a hospital bag
  • Put together a “big brother kit”
  • Lucky to get a nap once in a while
  • Fears arose during the pregnancy (related to prior cesarean)
  • Researched VBAC, natural birthing resources, etc.
  • Thought about how few maternity and belly photos were taken this time around (comparatively)
  • Toddler announced baby’s gender to grandparents immediately after ultrasound
  • Decided on baby’s name in one evening

Postpartum Differences

I’ll do a postpartum comparison of my second pregnancy to the first when we get to that stage.  But as of now, I know there are some things we’ll be doing differently.  

We had a LOT of baby stuff that we didn’t use or need.  I have to tell you, we donated probably 100+ baby items in the past year — while still keeping plenty of things for kid #2.  We donated a swing that was used no more than two times, a bunch of baby toys that weren’t practical went elsewhere, and a ton of baby clothes left for more needy homes than ours.

Final Thoughts on My Second Pregnancy

I think being a parent already makes the second pregnancy easier.  Not necessarily in a “been there, done that” kind of way… although for some moms I guess that could be true.  My experience through both pregnancies has been wildly different.

The first half of this latest pregnancy was harder for me (morning sickness, etc), but the second half has felt easier and my body hasn’t been as stressed by the weight and balance shifts. It might be from the pilates, which focuses on strengthening the core. or it could be the diet and lifestyle changes that I’ve implemented since then. Or maybe, it’s just the fact that I’ve been kept busy and active with my toddler’s antics…

Emotionally, I’ve felt like more of a wreck this second pregnancy — but that might be because I’ve been processing the birth experience and worrying about a repeat. I’ve had to be intentional about letting go of my fears and assumptions (something that I didn’t have to deal with at all the first time around).

Letting Go is a Process

To the Mom Who Didn't Want a Cesarean Birth - Second Pregnancy - BPhotoArt.comYou can read more about my process of letting go at Wildflower Ramblings, where I’m guest  posting about my unexpected cesarean birth – To the Mom Who Didn’t Want a Cesarean Birth.

Here are some other posts about being pregnant for the second time (links will open in a new window for your convenience). You may want to also check out my Pregnancy + Birth board on Pinterest.

Follow Betsy @ BPhotoArt.com’s board Pregnancy + Birth on Pinterest.

What About You?

Have you noticed differences in subsequent pregnancies? What was most noticeably different for you in your second pregnancy? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Baby’s First Year Photo Album

posted in: Photography | 14

I love designing baby’s first year photo albums! It’s always so neat to see the developmental stages and age progression of a child through their first year of life. When I design albums, I like to keep things simple so that the portraits can be the main focus of the album (see album page designs later on in this post!).

Baby's First Year Album - BPhotoArt.com

What Kind of Album For Baby’s First Year?

This is a really personal question. Most parents I know end up with a couple different first year photo albums. For instance, we have one album containing the professional portraits, plus another “boxed” set of books that holds snapshots — one book for each of the first three years for our son.

When designing albums for my clients, I’ve found many prefer to have a series of albums, one for each of the baby’s first year sessions (i.e. newborn, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 1 year). It’s really neat to have a set of coffeetable albums that you can display in the nursery (see also my post on Displaying Baby Photos in Your Home). Sometimes we’ll do an album for the newborn session, then another for the next three sessions, and a final one for the one year session. It really depends on what the parents want.

Baby's First Year Albums - BPhotoArt.com

Baby’s First Year Photo Album

Here are some examples of portraits that have gone on to become fabulous album keepsakes for the new parents. First, an actual newborn photo album, created from the family’s newborn portrait session. This particular family chose to have their album designed with images from just the newborn portrait session, rather than a “true” baby’s first year concept. See the actual album design by watching the video below:

Another family whose baby I photographed did something similar, but wanted to include another milestone — mom’s maternity portraits! This video slideshow features the photos that went into their newborn photo album, but not the design itself:

You’ll notice with newborns, the setting is usually indoors (as in both examples above, the families came to my studio). It’s generally just easier to see baby when you don’t have to have her all bundled up in outdoor clothing! When a little older, though, I find that outdoors portraits work really well for families wanting to commemorate baby’s first year. Here’s a winter family portrait session that was planned specifically to welcome a not-quite-so-new addition to the family. Here are two favorite portraits, from the sessions I did to welcome each girl into the family. For the older sister we planned an outdoor summer session, so for the younger sister, we did the opposite – an outdoor winter session. Make sure to check out the images from each, as they are really adorable (and look great as albums!)

Winter Snow Portrait - BPhotoArt.com

Summer Newborn Portrait With Family - BPhotoArt.com

And finally, here’s another family who chose to do a series of albums, one for each of the sessions their child had throughout the first year of life.  Her toddler portraits, taken at one year of age, show just how much little ones grow …and how quickly they grow up! These images below are a sampling from her sessions, which spanned from birth through the first year, plus an additional session at two years of age. I love how her albums turned out — what a great keepsake!

Include The Whole Family

My final thoughts on creating an album for baby’s first year? Make sure to include the whole family. Some of my favorite photos, both personally and for my clients, are the ones that include not just baby, but siblings and parents. It is another way to document your family from generation to generation (see what I mean by looking at the family’s separate newborn session: baby Ridge’s newborn portraits).

Here are some family portraits that did a great job of documenting a new addition to the family. Albums don’t have to exclude family members to be a “true” baby’s first year album. In fact, I prefer albums that include the whole family… and if you ask my toddler, I’m sure he will tell you that he likes looking at all the photos with his family in them too.

Celebrating Baby’s First Year

Here are some posts about celebrating baby’s first year. Links will open in a new window for your convenience.

Baby's First Year Albums - BPhotoArt.com

The Ultimate Guide to Baby's First YearThis post is part of The Ultimate Guide to Baby’s First Year — I’m one of 30+ blogs participating. Over the course of a week’s time, there will be posts on these topics:

  • taking care of new parents
  • feeding baby
  • taking care of baby
  • baby’s milestones
  • baby play
  • baby spaces
  • celebrating baby

Check out the The Ultimate Guide to Baby’s First Year for a list of all the posts on each topic.

Displaying Baby Photos In Your Home

posted in: Notes | 14

Sometimes figuring out how to display baby photos in your home is tougher than Capturing Baby Milestones on Camera in the first place! Actually, I’ll expand that sentiment to include all types of portraits. It’s great to have family portraits to document milestones — but, once they’re taken, the dilemma becomes what to do with them?

Depending on what my clients’ homes will accommodate, I do usually recommend some sort of wall display. I love displaying baby photos, especially in nurseries! All too soon, babies grow into kids, and those adorable little bundles of joy become little men and women. Where space is a constraint, I’ve found there are still options for displaying baby photos as part of your home decor — it just takes some imagination and creativity. A baby’s first year album can be displayed on a bookshelf, a floating wall shelf, or coffeetable; smaller framed pieces can grace the smallest of walls and still look meant to be.

Displaying Baby Photos – Our Wall Decor

Let me give you a little tour through my home so you can get some inspiration for displaying baby photos in your own home too!  When you first enter through the front door, there is a very small wall next to our coat closet.  It’s a little less than two feet wide.  A while back, I found the perfect shelf (with hooks!) for the wall, and created a little display that I enjoy very much.  My mother-in-law gave me this lovely frame; and while not usually my style, the frame is something I enjoy in this arrangement.  At the far right on the shelf, you’ll see a gorgeous glass frame that my cousins gave us for Toby’s baptism – it displays the correlating photograph of his baptism.  The two wooden sculptures are pieces I picked out while in Israel with my grandmother – I am so glad they made it home safely!

home decor entryway photo display - displaying baby photos - bphotoart.com

As you stand in the entryway and look the opposite direction, you’ll see our formal dining room.  This is actually an older photo — we’ve since moved around some furniture and are now displaying these baby photos in our bedroom hallway.  But I love the grid layout of these images!

home decor dining room - displaying baby photos - bphotoart.com

As you continue into the main area of our home, you’ll see the huge fireplace, and lots of windows.  We wanted to place a portrait that would balance out the fireplace, so large scale was a must.  The photo over the fireplace is actually before kids, from a trip to New Hampshire (taken in the southernmost part of Maine).  We have several small frames on the mantel holding snapshots of life after kids — 8x10s and smaller are great tabletop options for displaying baby photos that you want to keep updated on a regular basis.  Our furniture setup has changed a bit since this photo was taken — we added in a rug, and moved couches to create a cozier, kid friendly play are.  But the open feel remains.

family room photo decor over fireplace - bphotoart.com

Next, we’ll swing by the kitchen, where we have another tiny wall, maybe a foot and a half wide.  This one presently display’s four portraits from our son’s first year.  These framed art pieces are great because they fit pretty much anywhere — giving you lots of options for displaying baby photos wherever you want to see them in your home.

home decor photos baby's first year - bphotoart.com

Finally, we’re about to get to the best place for displaying baby photos — baby’s room!  Once again, if you were to visit our home today, this room looks slightly different… We’re preparing it for the arrival of our second son (and Toby got to move to his “big boy” room”).  Anyways, the focal point of the room, when we designed it, was the wall with the crib.  We set this up before baby arrived, and I wanted to have it be personalized from the start.  So, block letters over the crib were a great choice.

wall decor displaying baby photos in nursery - bphotoart.com

The nursery also holds a very comfortable recliner, in which I spent many hours.  I set up a side table right next to the recliner so that I could easily grab my waterbottle, reading material, knitting, or whatever snack I needed while nursing our new arrival.  On the wall, you’ll see a neat three-dimensional piece that has four of our son’s newborn features — who doesn’t love infant hands, feet, ears, and even belly buttons?  If you look in the reflection of the left window, you’ll see where we placed the dresser with changing table — along with a painting to match the theme of the room.

wall decor displaying baby photos in nursery - bphotoart.com

The final wall in our nursery had to hold books, of course!  Being a bookworm myself, I wanted to encourage a love of the written word as soon as possible.  We stashed age-inappropriate books (as in “too old for a newborn”) on the shelves from the beginning, leaving space on the bottom shelf for the cloth and board books.  This was a wonderful location for reading material — right next to the recliner, which became our reading chair later in baby’s first year.  On the wall, we decided on another three-dimensional piece — it has part of our birth announcement, plus a baby photo of our son.  The top of the bookshelf has a cute frame (matches the theme of the room!) — we updated this from time to time so that we could continue displaying baby photos that were developmentally on track.

wall decor displaying baby photos in nursery - bphotoart.com

wall decor displaying baby photos in nursery - bphotoart.com

Finally, what baby room is complete without a nightlight?  I love this custom photo nightlight that displays a newborn baby photo of me with our son.  It’s now in our upstairs hallway, but regardless of where it’s plugged in, the bas relief photo looks really neat.

home decor nightlight displaying baby photos - bphotoart.com

In the studio area, where I meet with clients, I have some more ideas for displaying baby photos to share.  I mentioned this first option earlier, for those with limited wall space.  It is easy to display baby photo books on a floating shelf — you can arrange multiple books, or pair with picture frames, for a nice, modern look.

home decor baby photo albums on shelf - bphotoart.com

And finally, another framed image series.  I really love these for displaying baby photos because it really demonstrates how much change there is over the course of a year, or even a few months’ time.  This particular series showcases images from birth through around the ninth month.

home decor baby photos - bphotoart.com

Not surprisingly, we do have more photographs on display throughout our home, including ones from our wedding, photos from trips, and of course, artwork.  But that’s for another time.  For now, let me just say, I hope this virtual tour of suggestions for displaying baby photos in your home has been inspiring and helpful.  I think it is so important to surround ourselves with images of those we love and cherish, to keep the memories we hold dear on display for all to enjoy.

What About Your Wall Decor?

What memories do you have on display in your home?  Are there photos you’ve always wanted to put up but have never found the “right” spot? 

I know sometimes it’s taken me several tries to find the perfect home for a piece of wall decor.  What is your experience with displaying baby photos and planning out your ideal wall decor?

Resources on Baby Spaces + Nurseries

Here are some of the other blog posts being featured today. Topics are cover all sorts of baby spaces, from – nursery ideas and to play spaces. You may also want to check out Pottery Barn’s How To Create A Frame Display (PDF), and my Pinterest board on Photo + Wall Decor. Links open in a new window for your convenience.

Follow Betsy @ BPhotoArt.com’s board Photo + Wall Decor on Pinterest.

The Ultimate Guide to Baby's First YearThis post is part of The Ultimate Guide to Baby’s First Year — I’m one of 30+ blogs participating. Over the course of a week’s time, there will be posts on these topics:

  • taking care of new parents
  • feeding baby
  • taking care of baby
  • baby’s milestones
  • baby play
  • baby spaces
  • celebrating baby

Check out the The Ultimate Guide to Baby’s First Year for a list of all the posts on each topic.

3 Poems Celebrating Motherhood

posted in: Parenting | 4

Happy Mother’s Day! I’m looking forward to a nice relaxing day with my family; I hope you have similarly enjoyable plans. In honor of all the mothers and women in my life, I wanted to share several poems I wrote this spring. There are three, actually. Additionally, you may want to read The Legacy of a Truly Excellent Woman, a tribute to my grandmother. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to share some photos of the lovely roses my mother-in-law got me for Mother’s Day either :). Enjoy!

Celebrating Motherhood - Mother's Day Roses - bphotoart.com

Celebrating Motherhood

Motherhood isn’t all fun and games.
It takes work, patience, self-control.
Being a mom can be exhausting, true.
But the blessings are more than worth it.

Consider a life without motherhood,
without bear hugs and butterfly kisses,
no delighted giggles or mischievous grins.
Life would be very dull indeed,
if children were not present.

Motherhood gives us a window back in time,
lets us recall memories of childhood,
reminds us to be grateful for simple pleasures.

There’s no job harder than a mother’s job,
but no work with greater reward.
The world is a better place with children,
and the mothers who dare to raise them.

Celebrating Motherhood - Mother's Day Roses - bphotoart.com

I also want to share a poem I wrote for my mother. Motherhood changes us, makes us realize that our mothers weren’t really all that crazy 😉 — and that we are more like our mothers than we would have cared to admit when younger. This was submitted to Positive Parenting’s Mother’s Day Contest (selected as one of ten finalists!).

A Reflection of My Mother

From birth, I was loved, unconditionally.
My mother held me in her arms,
keeping me safe from an unknown world.
As a child, my desire for and pursuit of
independence challenged her, but
ultimately she learned to let go and trust.

She prayed over me before I was born.
While I was growing, she trusted my
future to God – my life in his hands.
Faithful in prayer, she never stopped
lifting me up, whispering her hopes and dreams,
letting them go as I pursued the path
of my own choosing.

Even into my own journey of motherhood,
my mother has been there for me.
Supporting, encouraging, inspiring,
Continuing to plant in me a firm foundation
for my journey through life.

I see things differently now, through the
lens of motherhood. My mother’s actions
no longer seem so strange and unexplainable.
I can appreciate her patience, her selflessness.
Always overextending herself to make sure
her family is taken care of, nourished, loved.

I see in myself a reflection of her — different, but
echoes of the same. I am my own person,
redefined by motherhood – but defined, in part,
by the love of the mother who raised me.
she always gave freely…and she still does today.

Celebrating Motherhood - Mother's Day Roses - bphotoart.com

And last but not least, I wanted to honor those mothers who do not have their children to hug and hold. Mothering is hard, but harder still is facing the loss of a child — whether in youth or in the womb (The Miscarriage: The Secret Heartache of 1 in 4 Women). I chose to write this poem as a haiku.

Empty arms, aching heart.
Childless mother, angel babe,
Apart on earth and heav’n.

Once a mother, always a mother.

I saw a quote floating around the internet that really summarizes up motherhood: “we are blessed to be a blessing to others.”

What About You?

Are there memories of motherhood that are near and dear to you?  Do you have something special planned for the women in your life who have made the transition to motherhood?

The Ultimate Guide to Baby's First YearThis post is part of The Ultimate Guide to Baby’s First Year — I’m one of 30+ blogs participating. Over the course of a week’s time, there will be posts on these topics:

  • taking care of new parents
  • feeding baby
  • taking care of baby
  • baby’s milestones
  • baby play
  • baby spaces
  • celebrating baby

Check out the The Ultimate Guide to Baby’s First Year for a list of all the posts on each topic. Posts on celebrating motherhood are listed below!

Celebrating Motherhood Links

Here are some posts by other moms about Mother’s Day and celebrating motherhood. Also check out my Motherhood + Parenting board on Pinterest. Links will open in a new window for your convenience.



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