Friday, September 19, 2014

Breakfast of Champions {Photo Friday}

What can I say?  Photo Friday has become Toddlerfest-Friday.  I can't help it.  She's a convenient and mostly willing model.

Plus she looks cute when having ice cream for breakfast.

We were camping!  We HAD to eat it before we left.  Something about not having any more room and/or ice in the ice chest.

Boy did we EVER pay the price for this little junk food / no nap / no bedtime binge!

She went feral big time.  Plus, her tummy wasn't so happy either.  Luckily she recovered in time for a whole new set of bedtime battles this week.

On a much sadder note, although this lawn chair was sort of a blue-green turquoise, I think it is blue enough to dedicate to this week's post to Blue for China.  Blue for China is an easy and no cost way to help a child whose best friend passed away last week in a pedestrian-car accident (the friend was walking).

Take a photo of yourself with a blue shirt on and tag it #blueforchina on Facebook or Instagram.  It's that easy!

I'm not sure whether or not the official campaign is over, but I know for certain that doing something so very simple has made a positive difference in the life of a child.

You could do it too.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Vegan / Paleo Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie - Sugar Free, Gluten Free, Yet Still Amazingly Edible!

This is the last in my "secret ingredients" series, which is to say ingredients that you think are going to taste all kinds of eeew until the very moment that you blend them together in a smoothie and it tastes so wonderful that you can hardly wait for breakfast each morning.

I mean, I can hardly wait for breakfast ANYWAY, because I just like food that much.  But this is a seriously yummy smoothie.

It comes out all kinds of thick and creamy.

In fact, it's just like Friendly's ice cream except not as cold and it doesn't have any milk.  Or ice.  Or cream.  Or bright food color.  Or whey protein concentrate.  Or mono and diglycerides for that matter.

But aside from that, it's EXACTLY like Friendly's ice cream!

If you haven't made friends with avocados yet, you might want to head back to this vegan / pale Chocolate Mousse Smoothie recipe first.  It's an amazingly delicious way to convince yourself that fruits and vegetables aren't the enemy after all, no matter how healthy they are.

And try this recipe for my Naturally Sweet Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie if, like me, you regularly mistake dates for giant cockroaches.  It turns out that if you grind the daylights out of them in a blender, they actually sweeten things up quite nicely!

But there's a THIRD ingredient lurking in this recipe, and you might notice it in the little striped bowl pictured above.  It's spinach.  Yes, spinach is part of the reason this recipe, unlike Friendly's ice cream, needs no food color at all.

And guess what?  You can't even taste the stuff!!  Seriously, you can throw in way more than what's pictured and still have no idea it's in there.  Just ask my boy.  He never knew until I told him what he was eating.

Of course, you have to get that delicious peppermint flavor somewhere.  I get mine from the Jeannette Kauffman's at Young Living, because Jeannette is a photography buddy of mine.  Young Living brand is completely edible (this is something you want to research if you use a different brand - eating stuff that is not food can be unsafe!).

You seriously only need two drops of this stuff in the smoothie.  And you can even start with just one drop and take a taste.  It's that potent.  Three or four drops will leave you trying to remember whether or not you actually like peppermint.

This is NOT a sponsored post.  Believe me, all of Blogsilvania will know about it if and when I do a sponsored post.  But this is not it.  This is just a recipe and that's all.  Happy weekend everyone!

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Friday, September 05, 2014

Life, the Universe, and Everything {Photo Friday}

Hi!  Here's me pondering life, the universe, and everything.  Don't I look thoughtful?

JUST KIDDING!  I've really just brought my hands down from atop my head in order to mess up my hair and declare this photo session OVER, thankyouverymuch.

Just in case the entire internet hasn't already been notified, Mom took me to the department of motor vehicles yesterday for two and half hours!  That is a whole special category of fun!

I hope everyone else has had as much fun as I have this short week!  Happy weekend everyone!

The Boonga

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

How to be Mean Using Technology: A Tutorial on Making Your Kid Stay on the Same Old Boring App No Matter How Many Foot Selfies She's Already Posted to Facebook and Snapchat:

Some of you may already be aware that The Boonga is quite comfortable with technology. That would probably be because she sent you a foot selfie. Or two. Or twelve...

Although not ALL of them are foot-selfies.  Some of them are quite respectable, as selfies go:

The point is, she sometimes tells me she wants to "pay emmoh" (play on the Elmo App), and I agree, setting the timer for a reasonable 10 or 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, she starts her phone rampage by disabling the timer and follows up with spamming the known universe with pictures of her foot.

Somewhere on the internets I found the secret to only letting her use ONE APP at a time!

It was hard enough to find that I decided to write instructions for when I forget how.  And also in case anyone else wants to know.  Sorry children of readers, but it's pretty easy:

Go to "Settings":

Then press "General":

Then "accessibility":

From there you have to scroll down kind of a long way.  Like, I thought I was on the wrong screen.  But it's there, under the balance for left and right audio volume balance.  Whoever put it that far down the screen was serious about his or her audio and was NOT the proud owner of a technology savvy toddler I'm guessing.

Then you just move the little switch thingy-me-bobber from off to on, let it guide you through entering a password, and then watch your child's utter despair as "Emmoh" refuses to grant access to the many wonders of the virtual world.

I had to turn the "Accessibility Shortcut" on (slide over to green) on the iPad, but not when I did it on my iPhone, so that part may or may not be optional.

For whatever reason, Older Gal took not just one, but TWO videos of The Boonga's anguish as I reacted in equal or greater heartache (It's HEARTBREAKING and DIFFICULT to set limits, but so very worth it):


I'm sure the internet users of the world will be falling all over themselves thanking me for the general reduction in foot-selfies.  Until The Boonga figures out my password, that is.

 Good luck parents (and teachers) of the world!!!!

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Friday, August 29, 2014

As We all Know, The Best Part About Presents is NOT the Present. OR the Wrapping {Photo Friday}

It's the ribbon.  Of course.

Sometimes The Boonga likes to stand around with a ribbon on her head wearing moose jammies.  Nice of me to have a birthday so that she could accessorize.

We're into moose these days.  Hope everyone has a great long weekend!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Don't Everybody All Run Out and Get Pregnant All at Once Now But: Introducing Renee Bergeron!!!!!

I am so excited to introduce Renee Bergeron of Little Earthling Photography!!!!!  I was lucky enough to meet Renee two summers ago when she and her daughter Tilly came to Houston seeking medical help for her son Apollo.  

I had read Apollo's birth story while pregnant with The Boonga and was both terrified (I hadn't even known that "cord prolapse" was even an option, much less a life threatening situation) and in complete awe that she had saved her own child's life.

I came to respect Renee more and more as I got to know her better.  I'm sure Renee has her down days like all other earthlings, but the life she leads is so very giving.  You should definitely check out her family blog if you're into the daily life of amazing people!

So...without further are Renee's tips on birth photography! I know she makes it look incredibly tempting, but try not to all run out and get pregnant at once folks!  She's got fourteen kids of her own to raise, after all, and can only be so many places at one time!


Birth photography was something of a happy coincidence for me. I had been photographing families and newborns for a couple of  years when I photographed my first birth. I mustered up the courage to ask a young woman from our church if I could photograph her birth…and amazingly, she said yes!

That first birth I really had no idea what I was doing or what to expect, but I enjoyed every single minute.

After that first birth, I was hooked and I now specialize in birth photography. I am energized at every single birth I attend. I will never get over the sheer miracle of  seeing a baby enter the world and take his or her first breath.

I have photographed nearly two dozen births. I have witnessed home births, birth center births, hospital births and even a c-section.

Here are a few of my favorite moments to capture during a birth:

1. Older siblings

I love these photos of mom and soon-to-be last moments as the “baby” of the house. 

A sibling’s first look at the new baby

I love this image of Daddy occupying his little girls as they await the birth of their sister.

2. The mom’s first reaction

No words can adequately describe a woman’s feelings the moment her baby is in her arms. But with my camera, I can freeze that moment in time.

3. Dad’s interactions with his new baby

4. Tiny details

Just look at those itty-bitty buns!

And those little fingers…still wrinkly and wet!

5. Details I know the parents will miss

Just look at that amazing umbilical cord! After the hard work of labor, parents want to see their baby’s face, but I love capturing these details for them to admire later.

I take a very definite photojournalistic approach to birth photography. I don’t pose; I don’t rearrange. I try to be a silent observer and capture the raw, unfiltered moments.

Every single time I attend a birth I marvel over the fact that I have the best job in the world.

                               More in the"Tips for Improving Your Photography" Series: 

Getting Your Kids in the Picture: The Subtle Differences Between Bribes, Threats, and Good Natured Cajolling by Me and reposted here

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Me and The Boonga {Photo Friday}

As I predicted, I am already ready to throw in the towel on "Photo Friday".  This was my first week of school, The Boonga and My Boy's first week, and we sent The Sweet Pea to college.  Suffice it to say that we survived.  Besides...what's one little photo?  

This one was taken by my friend and former coworker Robin when I met up with her at the park this past summer.  Thank you Robin! 

I am SO excited that the next photography guest post will be from Renee Bergeron!  She is not just an incredible photographer, but an very inspiring person all around.  What she goes through on a daily basis just to advocate for ANY of her children would leave me gasping for breath, but she keeps a house full of fourteen little earthlings running!!!! 

The non existent janitor would have had his work cut out for him if it were me.  Because I would be flat on the floor, needing to be mopped up.  But she not only does it with more grace than I could ever manage, not only takes absolutely lovely photographs of those little earthlings, but with the help of her husband, she literally saved her youngest's life and continues to do so.  

I can't wait to see her post!  I have word that she's working on it even as I wrote this post!  Until then, happy weekend all!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Getting Your Kids in the Picture: The subtle differences between bribes, threats, and good natured cajoling

(In which I reveal the TRUE magic words while referencing Frozen)

I was guest blogger on Megan Love Photography and delivered this all important information to people everywhere. Unlike Meg Kelly Anderson's valuable insights about getting better photos GIVING UP control, people far and wide (at LEAST three of them) learned to clamp down and force their kids in front of the camera #fercryinoutloud (Sorry. I didn't manage to take over the internet this summer, so I'm trying for that one hashtag).

Unfortunately Megan Love's blog has some technical problems, so I am reposting here. Because sometimes you gotta stick your kids in front of the camera whether they like it or not.


When Megan and I decided to swap guest posts on our blog, I was just a teeny bit intimidated. Although interested in photography since I got my first camera at age 7, I didn’t get a DSLR until just a few years ago. What could I possibly contribute?

Then it happened that some choice parenting words fell out of my mouth (probably, “No eating the cat food! Cat food is only for the cat!”) and I realized that with four kids, eleven years of teaching, and thirty three years of childcare in various settings, one thing I’ve learned a little bit about is...well...children.

Whether or not I can utilize this knowledge at any given moment is another story, but here is something that might help get your kids to cooperate when you’ve been getting “The Hand”.

NOBODY likes getting the hand.  But I can pretty much guarantee that giving “The Hand” isn’t any fun either.

I got “The Hand” for years.  At least, it felt like years.

Threats are one option, and quite honestly some children respond to them rather rapidly.   However, threats are rarely going to make for that heartwarming captured moment picture you may have been hoping to capture.

I know, because here’s the picture I got when I told my boy, “If you don’t come out and let me take your picture, your cat will probably get eaten by a coyote”:

In my defense, I needed the subject matter, so it was a choice between him and the cat.  And there ARE occasional coyote sightings in my neighborhood. 

Compare this to the picture I get when I tell him, “Try not to look too much like a terrorist” and you’ll see that humor has distinct advantages: 

Bribery works for a lot of children.  When my boy was a preschooler, he would clean his entire room for four chocolate chips.  But there is an even better way to get that coveted photo from a kid who wants nothing to do with being in front of a camera. 

The magic words are…

(I hate to say “wait for it” but how else to emphasize the anticipation of it all!?!?!) 

Wait for it...

The magic words are: "AS SOON AS"!
Pretend you are ten years old and you hear the following offer, stated three different ways.  Take at least a moment between each one to see how it pretend makes you pretend to feel.

A) If you don’t finish the dishes, we’re not going to see Frozen!

B) If you do the dishes, we’ll go see Frozen!

C) As soon as you finish up the dishes, we can go see Frozen!

Neither you nor your parents are going to have a great time with A, whether or not the dishes get done.  The atmosphere is already one of threats and not so conducive to having fun.

B is better and is fine if it works, but notice that the word “if” gives the child an out.  It puts the ten year old in charge and gives a choice about whether or not the dishes get done.

In my mind, the best is “AS SOON AS”!

“As soon as” combined with a touch of humor and playfulness can work wonders.  In scenario C, it doesn’t matter if the dishes get done or not.  The responsibility was still with the child, and the child has no one to blame but him or herself if the dishes don’t get done. 

Scenario C leaves the parent with options that aren’t really available in A or B.  If it’s getting close to movie time and the child has been working diligently, the parent might say, “I think you can finish up on time to see the movie!  Let me give you a hand!”

But if the child has been balking or lollygagging, the parent might say something along the lines of   “Oh well.  We can see Frozen tomorrow night no big deal.  Maybe we’ll still have time for a game of yahtzee before bed if you hurry.” (No skin off mom or dad’s back either way).

The key to this strategy is the true belief that “It’s my way way or the highway” that just isn’t present in option B.  Option B has that element of pleading that gives the child the clear indication that mom or dad really isn’t in charge.  The “in charge” feeling is more present in option A, but not in that “feel good way” that produces a good photograph.

The above pictured boy does his best to avoid babies at all costs.

More in the"Tips for Improving Your Photography" Series that might ACTUALLY help your photography:

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