I have been tossing this idea around for several months, but I think I am ready to take the next steps in making this a reality. I am very excited and I am hoping that the classes will fill up and that I get to see many smiling faces covered in paint and glitter!
These are classes designed for your children ages 2 years to 6th grade. We will be doing age appropriate activities. Each child will receive a tote filled with art supplies and a four classes a month.
To sign up for classes please email me at email@example.com. I will be giving a free month to those families who refer three other families to my classes.
I am so excited to be show casing this awesome project! My husband isn't a "build it" kind of guy. He's a "you do it" or a "just buy it" kind of guy. I've been begging him to build projects with me and I've never gotten very far with that. With the weather turning much warmer, our girls were going stir crazy inside the house. They love to play in the front yard with the cars and bikes, but I can't always be outside. So hubby decided to just build this awesome sandbox. I was beyond excited and was practically skipping through the new Menard's that opened up a few weeks ago here in town.
My dad always tells me that his favorite smell is the smell of lumber. There was loads of it here. We used the Menard's treated lumber for the base for two reasons. One: We have a sprinkler system and don't want the wood to rot out in a few years. Two: the Menard's treated lumber is pressure treated without arsenic. Which is huge for me. We used cedar for the top to try to keep the bugs to a minimum.
Hubby checking his phone for the plans. *Sigh* what a good looking man that is!
That is a TON of sand. We paid about $170 for all the supplies, including screws, sand and lumber.
This guy helped us with finding a lot of the supplies. Menard's was HUGE!
Set up in the back yard. This project is very beginner friendly. My husband has never really used this type of saw before and he's NEVER built anything with his own two hands. And he did an AMAZING job!
Here is the base.
Sparkle wanted to help him every step of the way. She even did her school work outside with him because she didn't want to miss a moment of the progress.
Filling it with sand.
Sparkle and Shine just couldn't wait to start playing and the top benches weren't even done yet.
And....drumroll please..... FINISHED!
The top is awesome because it acts like a cover and then flips open to make benches!
And those benches are extremely sturdy. I'm loving it! And the girls do to!
We did a few different things, like using the treated lumber on the bottom and used way more sand than the plans suggested.
I've been experiencing chronic joint pain for about two months now. Its frustrating, it's limiting and agonizing. I have never been a "take it easy" kind of gal. I like to work and I enjoy being busy during the day cleaning, cooking and playing. To me, that brings me happiness. But with swollen joints and pain so intense that it brings me to my knees, all those activities had to almost stop. I had blood tests run last week and when I received that phone call today that I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I broke. I sat in my truck and cried. My shoulders shook and the tears ran down my face. I could feel my husband put his hand on my shoulder and just hold me as best he could while driving. So many thoughts bombarded me. Being on drugs is last on my list, like most people. I am setting up an appointment with a naturalistic doctor for this week to find some remedies that won't cause even more damage on my body. Right now, I was perscribed 800 mg of motrin to try to ease the pain.
I am told frequently that I look tired, terrible, exhausted.... It hurts. I wear make up to try to conceal it and I thought that my Origins eye cream was failing me. As it turns out, chronic pain drains your body even when your sleeping, which makes you appear even worse than before. I feel like a statistic. I already have a blood clotting disorder, infertility, repeat miscarriages, what more could I add to my plate. I have to give myself injections for blood thinners while I'm pregnant. I wanted to scream. This morning I had to cancel going to a music class because I was in too much pain. I thought that this was just a mental game that I had to play with my body that wasn't cooperating. That I could just push through the pain and the ligaments that felt like they were bending in the wrong direction. I climbed the stairs in my home this morning and became very angry. Angry that I couldn't move freely, that I felt like I was 90 years old, and that I felt like God was ignoring me. Give me something to punch and I would go at that thing for hours. Well, that is, if I could even hit the stupid thing. I can't even begin to describe what this mental challenge felt like. The phone call was bittersweet. I was so thankful that I finally had answers, after my family doctor didn't really do anything to help and my chiropractor didn't really know where she could help. She referred me to a nutritionist, which I am still going to do. But RA? I am only thirty. How could I have RA? Why would God give me one more thing to keep track of? I find out that RA can be brought on my female hormones and child birth. Fabulous. My husband already doesn't want anymore children and I desperately do. Now he has even more ammo in his arsenal. Which breaks my heart even more.
My brother called me his awesome, beautiful sister on Mother's Day. I cried. Surrounded by things that make me feel very unbeautiful, having someone tell me that I was lovely felt amazing. I have found that my self-image has spiraled very low. Probably because I've been bashing myself for not having a clean home, not being able to play with my children, sitting on the couch for hours in the morning because I can't move, and not doing everything that I used to do before. I want to be whole. I don't want a body that kills my children, attacks itself and gains too much weight. I want a body that makes my husband find me sexy, that works like it's supposed to and doesn't hurt anymore. But I am human. And this is what God has done for me. I know He has good planned for me with my life. Every part of my life. Even the crappy parts that I don't want to deal with.
Yesterday I wrote about the crazy number of photo sessions I do of my girls every year. I took these about two weeks ago. In between two horrible blizzards that shut our city down for two days each time. It was actually pretty funny! I bought these darling outfits at Gymboree and planned to buy myself a Mother's Day gift that was two years in the making. When I first found this album it was about a year before I got pregnant with Lovely. But I just couldn't justify the cost right then.
Anyway, I bought these outfits, and thought I was going to have to wait until June to use them in photos. I was super bummed when the forcast kept showing snow, as much as I do love snow. But it was almost MAY for crying out loud!!! I would prefer some good thunderstorms like Michigan has instead of blizzards! I bought the album template last year in April during the Mother's Day sale my favorite designer was having. It was a $50 template and one that I couldn't justify at the moment. But a sale....ooooh....that's a different story! So I splurged and then I found out I was pregnant. I wanted to wait and see if the pregnancy was sticking around before I designed the album and ordered it. And it did. I have Lovely. Well I couldn't have this adorable album that I wanted so badly with only two of my children in it right?! So I waited. I had the folder sitting on my desk top reminding me that the next Mother's Day was going to be amazing. I waited my whole pregnancy while clicking on the folder every few months looking at the pages that I would soon be designing.
When Lovely arrived, I had so many gorgeous photos taken by my friend, but I wanted photos from when she was a little older and I could see her react with me while taking photos. So again, I waited. I waited through every snow storm and forecasts of record low temperatures. I waited even though I was getting very excited because I now had their outfits. When the day came for their photos I was beyond excited!!! But Shine wanted nothing to do with the session and Lovely was being carried by dad who was wondering around the property. Didn't he know how excited I was about this sessions? Didn't he know how long I've waited for it? Why doesn't he just stay over here where I need him and then hand me the baby when I need him to!?!?! For crying out loud?!?! Wow. Didn't I sound like a spoiled little brat. While it did frustrate me, I still had gorgeous photos on my hands.
Shine wanted to be like her sister and how she was standing.
This is her personality in about a two minute time frame.
My gorgeous oldest daughter.
At the last minute I asked my husband to snap this shot once I got us all positioned. He did great, didn't he?!
My darling youngest daughter.
And guess what arrived yesterday too?!?! My album that I've waited for two years for!!!! I am beyond excited!!! I am making them available to my clients too. Won't they be excited?!?
Have you ever noticed that while you love the professional photos you have done of your children, it's the mundane photos that you cherish even more? I am a professional photographer and I even notice this in myself. I take my daughters' photos professionally more than most people. School starting, fall photos, Halloween photos, Christmas photos, birthday photos, spring photos, Easter photos....etc... The list is crazy. But I adore the photos I get when we are just playing. One of my most favorite images I have of my two oldest is of them watching the clouds overhead. Another one I love is when my oldest was about four years old and we were in the rose gardens. There is a small fountain there and she was sticking her fingers in it and making it spray everywhere. It's these memories that I love and that make me smile. I promised myself last year that it would be the year of learning and improving my skill as a photographer. I bought everything I could about capturing moments and true smiles. I improved greatly last year. I shot over 200 sessions in just last year. I was incredibly busy.
This year I have promised myself to get better at catching my kids being just them. I promised my husband that I would start scrapbooking again. He loves looking through them and remembering the things we did. He bought me a Project Life kit and I bought myself another one so I have two just sitting on my shelf... There were some months last year where I barely took any photos of my own children because I was so busy taking photos of everyone else's that I was just plain worn out. I will not do that again. I will never get that time back with them. Never. And I didn't capture any of it. How dare me? It actually makes me very sentimental and sad. Cell phone photos are great, but for me, I need something a bit better. I always hear that the best camera is the one that you have with you. Which is very true. My iPhone is always on me. And my business iPhone is usually on me. So I go everywhere armed with my Nikon D300s and two iPhones. The chances of me having an excuse to not capture a moment is nil.
I've starting using every opportunity as a chance to capture some part of my daughters' personalities. Shine is literally a monster. This morning she colored all over herself, my carpeted floor and my foot while I was simultaneously nursing Lovely and talking on the phone trying to arrange an event. I am a mother of three. I run a business, a blog, a household, and I homeschool. And I'm in constant physical pain. By the grace of God I am able to do it all. I have to take things very slow some days.
I shoot with a professional camera, but all these things that I am talking about you can do with any camera. Even an iPhone. I shoot with a shallow depth of field because I love to make my subject pop. And that usually means that one of my daughters is always showcased in an image more than the others. I will lengthen my depth of field when I want to feature them all.
Yesterday, we had bible study in the morning and it was such a beautiful day. I grabbed *shudder* McDonalds on the way home and we had a picnic right there in the front yard. I pulled out every toy we had in the garage that had wheels and let the girls play. We all curled up in a quilt and then I tickled the snot right out of them. And I captured it all with my stationary 50 mm lens. Shine was climbing on the neighbors fence, Sparkle was FINALLY riding her bike all by herself...yes...it still has training wheels on... Lovely was cooing in the shade of the stroller. It was almost magical. I will remember that day for the rest of my life. It was just plain fun.
We had crazy hair from rolling around in the quilt, we were loud and obnoxious even though our neighbor had her screen door open, I even nursed without a cover... *gasp* the boobies were out ladies. Watch out.
Sparkle is known for having just bizarre hair. It's like she can't tell when her pony tail holder is falling out. And Shine just doesn't care. She is as tomboy as they come. She loves dresses and tutus but she doesn't care one bit if they get dirty.
We gardened the day before. And here are some tips for catching great shots even if it's just the mundane things.
Look for good angles. My default mode should always be to look for this, but as a busy mom I tend to lean towards, "Just get A shot, not a GOOD shot." During a photo session, this is habit. But I tend to get lazy when it's my family. The result of this thought process, is images that I don't love and would never frame or scrapbook. Which means you wasted your time. I almost walked out of the house and just snapped a photo, but I decided to stick to my goal for this year. And I am very happy with this image. You can tell what she's doing and I included some of her tools in this shot. There will eventually be a day where these tools are too small for her and I want to remember when they fit her perfectly. And remember her windblown blonde hair that she can't control for the life of her. When she's a teenager and fussing over those same strands, I want to be able to look back at these fond memories. And she can rock pink Chucks... just sayin'.
I also got some close up shots of what exactly she was doing. Gardening is new for her and she needed some lessons in how to dig and where. There will be a day that she won't need my help anymore and like before, I am trying to preserve these memories. If all the images on your wall are always the same, as in the same distance away, the same angle, the same...whatever...it's boring and leads you to be bored with them. Shake it up a bit. Details look amazing when you're scrapbooking too.
Here's one from yesterday during our picnic. This is where my shallow depth of field came into play. I could have lengthened it to make Shine more in focus too, but there is a focal point in this one. Sparkle is busy exploring her Happy Meal while Shine stuffs her face. It transformed it from just a snap shot to a photo. Notice Sparkle's Winx fairy by her leg that she got for her birthday the day before. Little things that you can include in each shot to bring about more memories down the road.
Shine is my very fair skinned little one. Sometimes I can't believe someone that pale was grown in my belly. Sparkle and I turn into blonde, dark skinned ladies in the summer. Shine just burns.
Tiny little feet. One of my most favorite images that I almost didn't take the shot, was in the Bahamas when Sparkle was almost three. I put my hand next to her little foot print in the sand. I am so thankful that I took that shot because her feet are so much bigger now and I treasure that image. These are Shine's little tootsies. Look how small they are.
One of the hardest things when shooting in full sun, is making sure there aren't shadows crossing your subject's face. In this one, Shine's back is towards the sun and making her whole face in the shadows. Shoot for the shadow when setting up your f-stop and aperture. When you edit your image you can fix the rest of the image much more easy that trying to uncover the shadowed portion.
Pull back from your subject and position them in the rule of thirds to get a feel of what surrounded them. There will be a day where this tree is much bigger or gone. I want to remember what Shine was like when she was standing next to it. This image is slightly back focused, but I love it anyway.
Here's a close up of her climbing on our neighbor's fence.
And I pulled back in this shot so you can see what she was doing more clearly and I made sure to leave our picnic evidence in the background so I would remember what we were doing that day.
And little Lovely. Still blinking with new eyes into the harsh sky. I moved her to her stroller right after this shot so she wouldn't be squinting so much.
One of our aspens in the front yard died last year. Hubby cut it down but left the stump because it was connected with the tree next to it. We call it our child seat. Shine likes to climb it and Sparkle likes to "protect her" from falling off it. With moving in close you can tell that she was hugging the tree and that Sparkle was helping her. If I was too far back you wouldn't have caught Shine's expression as well or Sparkle's crazy hair.
And these last two images are my absolute favorites. They buried themselves under the quilt and I was pulling it off them after I tickled the snot out of them. Their expressions are completely natural and they were laughing their butts off. Nothing makes me happier than knowing I am making my kids happy. Not that the toy I bought them made them happy. But me. Plain ole mom.
Sparkle has been my little model/helper since she was about three years old. Its hard to catch natural expressions from her because she has this
"smile" plastered on her face the second the camera goes up to my eye.
So when I catch natural smiles and expressions on her, I treasure
that...a lot. She's cake when I am doing professional sessions, but she
doesn't know how to turn that training off when its play time. Shine
is always natural. There's no faking to her. If she doesn't want to
smile, she isn't going to. When I was an amateur photog, I only wanted
those perfect shots, which is where Sparkle learned it. Endless
practice sessions with her until she was fed up completely. That was
nearly five years ago. Now I am truly about seeing the personalities in
each of my subjects. One of my sessions had three little girls, very
close in age to mine. And all three were totally different. A shot
that I got with them turned out to be my very favorite, and I would have
thrown it out three years ago. It's the mom's favorite image too.
So go out and try capturing your children with better images and not just snap shots. Try getting close ups, super close ups and far away shots. Keep to your rule of thirds and you'll be much happier with your images.