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FAMILY PHOTOS WITH KATE LEIGH

Family Photos with Kate Leigh, Philadelphia

Way back in October, Chris and I hired photographer Kate Leigh to capture our family out and about in Philadelphia in honor of Theo’s first birthday. We had professional newborn photos taken of both kids and did a one-year shoot for Isla so we really wanted to document this milestone with Theo, too. I also have literally thousands of photos of the kids but not many of the four of us. We’ve done professional photos in our home and at a studio, so this time we wanted to use the city as our backdrop. Philadelphia is so beautiful and we loved running around the museum properties and streets with the kids. It felt more natural and they cooperated much better being out and about rather than posing in a studio. Wild (city) animals in their natural habitat! But, really, I give all credit to Kate. She was incredible! These kids did not want to sit and smile and I was certain she’d come back and say, “Sorry, I only got five photos with everyone’s eyes open, and P.S. your kids are total monsters!” Nope! She worked her magic and I had a really hard time narrowing down which photos to share with you because there are so many and they are gorgeous. She was great with the kids and it shows in their relaxed smiles!

Thank you, Kate, for capturing our family and helping us commemorate our little guy’s first year!

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Baby

ELEVEN MONTHS

Theo 11 Month photo shoot in Opposite of Far fox maskI almost cried this morning when I realized we only have one more of these photo shoots left. I’m not quite sure how that happened! This has been an amazing but blurry year, and I wouldn’t change one second of it. More on that next month though.

The kids were super exhausted during this photo shoot this morning thanks to a crazy wedding weekend. Isla kept jumping in front of the camera right when I was about to snap a photo of Theo, which surprisingly resulted in a couple of beautiful close-ups of her. Theo technically turned 11 months yesterday but my cousin got married on Sunday so we were still down the shore. These cuties were amazing all weekend despite all the chaos. Theo was a little overwhelmed by all the noise at the wedding itself so he didn’t show off his killer dance moves (you can see them here), but both kids were troopers and they looked so sweet in their wedding outfits. Chris and I were very proud. A few pictures of the kids and their cousins dressed to the nines coming soon. But first, Theo’s 11-month update.

Theo is officially talking and almost walking! He says hi, bye, moo, woof, boo, mama, da and his very first word was Isla! He actually yells it all the time (as seen here) because I’m sure that’s what he’s used to hearing (she is always in trouble!). If he wakes up before her he screams her name and giggles from the crib until she wakes up. It’s pretty much my favorite thing (except the whole waking her up part). Theo can stand on his own for a few seconds, mostly while clapping and dancing, and also while nursing. Seriously. It’s super awkward when we’re out and about and he’s standing on my lap with his butt in the air while nursing! Crazy kid. When Isla meows at him he barks back (I can’t make this stuff up). He visited his first pumpkin patch and attended his first wedding over the weekend (bow tie and all), where he was loved by all the ladies. He can now climb on and off of his rocking horse by himself, loves to snuggle and give people hugs and sometimes even blows kisses. He is truly the sweetest little guy ever. After I wrote a recap about baby-led weaning with Theo and bragged about what a good eater he is, he decided to become the pickiest eater ever, so that’s been fun. His favorite thing is throwing food across the room and looking us right in the eye while he drops it on the floor. Defiant is the most accurate word to describe both our children. His favorite songs are “Send My Love” by Adele, “Cheap Thrills” by Sia and anything by Ellie Goulding and on the Raffi radio station. He also booty shakes like he’s auditioning for a music video. It’s incredible and totally inappropriate.

This month we’re going to celebrate Theo’s first birthday a couple of times, get dressed up in what I hope will be an adorable brother-sister costume for his first Halloween, pick some apples, enjoy our daily dance parties and cherish these last moments of our little guy’s first year.

Happy 11 months, Theo! We love you more than your sister loves cats.

(Theo at ten monthsnine monthseight monthsseven monthssix monthsfive monthsfour monthsthree monthstwo monthsone month andhis birth story)

Baby 11 Month photo shoot Baby 11 Month photo shoot Baby 11 Month photo shootBaby 11 Month photo shoot Baby 11 Month photo shootBaby 11 Month photo shoot Baby 11 Month photo shoot Baby 11 Month photo shoot Isla BeeOpposite of Far bat mask Opposite of Far bat mask

Baby

FIVE TIPS FOR TAKING MILESTONE PHOTOS OF YOUR BABY

Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby{This blog post is sponsored by Pampers. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine. Pinky swear.}

I have taken so many photos of my kids, my husband had to buy a separate server to store them all. I just can’t help myself. One of my favorite things to do is look back at the images and remember the moments and milestones that now seem like a lifetime ago.

When Isla was a baby I started taking photos of her in the nursery to commemorate each passing month (I call it 12 months of Isla). She wore a one-piece with the corresponding number for her age on it and I let her play with her favorite toys while capturing as many of her facial expressions and mannerisms as possible. Then I wrote down all the things she learned and did the previous month and made them into a hardcover photo book so I’d never forget my first baby’s first year. She loves that book almost as much as we do so I decided to do it all over again with Theo, this time using a light box to indicate his age. Trying to photograph a moving baby with a rambunctious toddler around is no easy task but the pictures are priceless.

Almost every mom I know takes some sort of photograph of her baby to commemorate each passing month, so I’ve teamed up with Pampers to share a few tips for how to take fun monthly photos the whole family will cherish. I am by no means a professional with a lens, but after two-and-a-half years of baby wrangling I have a few tricks up my sleeve!Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

1. Choose a unique backdrop/setting. I recommend finding a space or backdrop you love, whether it’s your baby’s nursery, a playroom, the living room or even a little corner filled with your baby’s favorite toys and a fun blanket to be used as a backdrop. I knew right away I wanted to take these photos in our kids’ room. It’s my favorite room in the house and it gets the most natural light, which in turn produces the best quality photos. I love the design on the rug and the overall colors in the room make for bright, happy photos. The sofa, in particular, holds special meaning for me so I knew I wanted the kids photographed on/with it. It’s been passed through my family for decades; we have photos of my mom on that sofa when she was a teenager and plenty more of my sisters and me throughout our childhood during visits to my grandparents’ house. Seeing it in my kids’ room brings back beautiful childhood memories. Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

2. Find a milestone prop. As I mentioned, my daughter wore a one-piece with her age (“7 months”) ironed on it for each of her monthly photo shoots. One of my dearest girlfriends made us a 12-month set and they were the perfect way to document her age. I wanted to change things up for my son so I bought a light box with changeable letters and shapes so I could spell out his age. There are so many fun ideas out there you could try, like spelling out the month with kids’ blocks, crayons or even flowers, or, if you’re good with graphics, you could simply add the words to the photograph later. The possibilities are endless and Pinterest is a great place to find cool ideas.Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

3. Use repetition. Looking back at how quickly these babies change and grow is bittersweet. Time truly is fleeting. As a way to document your baby’s monthly growth, consider including the same stuffed animal or favorite toy in at least one photo every month. For example, each month, I take a few photos of Theo lying on the floor with his favorite kitty stuffed animal so I can look back and see how tall he’s getting. In the beginning that cat was bigger than he was! Now that he’s older (10 months), I can’t quite get him to lie still long enough for a photo, but the kitty is always close by. The sofa serves a similar purpose as I watch him learn to sit up on his own and soon he’ll be climbing on and off of it!risa_page_for_pampers_114. Be candid (and flexible). I’ve found my kids take the best photos when they’re playing together in a calm, comfortable environment. I dress them comfortably and in their Pampers diapers so they can move around easily (Isla’s in Pampers Easy Ups now because she’s potty training like a pro and loves her “Dora pants”). If they want to dress up in fun costumes I’m all for it, but I don’t force it. Comfort is the key to a happy baby and a much more pleasant photo shoot. Of course, I try my best to be funny and goofy to get those gummy smiles and giggles, but I stopped begging them to “say cheese!” or “look at mommy” a long time ago. In the end, I love the candid photos so much more anyway because their personalities shine through when I let them be themselves. In these digital times, you can always delete any photos you don’t want so I recommend you snap away, stay calm and hope for a few good ones.Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

5. Have fun. Smiling moms and dads = smiling babies. This one goes along with number four. My favorite photos are the ones with cracking up babies and parents. We sometimes play music, sing songs or play games to get the kids laughing. Isla loves to ham it up for her brother and I love when we can catch it on “film.”Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your BabySponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

Bonus tip: Theo’s one-month photo shoot was chaotic because Isla was running around like crazy, stealing Theo’s cat and mixing up the letters on the light box (all while he slept). This was my first attempt at baby photos with a toddler in tow so there was a bit of a learning curve. If you have a toddler, try enlisting him or her for help while you take photos of your baby. Giving the older sibling a “very important task” might help you reign in the chaos a little bit as you try to capture these sweet moments. Isla has a kids’ digital camera so she likes to take her own photos of Theo while I take mine. She also loves loves that light box and will sit and smile sweetly if I let her hold it for Theo. I’ve used it for other holidays, too, because it’s sometimes the only way I can get them smiling together in a photo! And there was that one month when she moved the letters around, misspelling “months,” and I didn’t realize until I looked at the images on the camera later. Those are now some of my favorite photos because that’s a true depiction of life and motherhood!Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

I hope you find these small tips helpful when taking photos of your little one. When all is said and done, it’s those big baby smiles you’ll cherish forever.

Happy snapping!

(p.s. striped blanket c/o Max + Moose)

Baby

DOCUMENTING ISLA’S FIRST YEAR WITH ARTIFACT UPRISING

Artifact_Uprising_Baby_Book_4I bought a standard baby book to document Isla’s milestones not long after she was born and I don’t think I ever removed its packaging. I knew I wanted to create a book for her eventually, but I couldn’t put my finger on how I wanted it to look. Then I found photo book maker Artifact Uprising on Instagram and slowly the idea took shape. I decided to turn my monthly blog posts (12 Months of Isla) into a book, complete with a few pictures from those fun nursery photo shoots and the text from each post, as well as her weight and height that month, if I had it.

I’ll discuss the book itself and my thoughts on Artifact Uprising in a minute. First, let me tell you how sweet it was to sit with Isla and show her the book when it arrived. I wasn’t sure she’d be interested and was very concerned she’d rip the pages, but instead she was so gentle and loved looking at every new page. Funny story though, she kept saying, “Mommy, Daddy, Theo!” She thinks every baby she sees is Theo and will not be convinced otherwise.

The book itself is 50 pages of Isla’s first year only. I started with a personal note to her explaining the book, then added photos from her professional newborn shoot, followed by her birth story, the monthly photos and text, her professional first birthday photos, two pages of my favorite Instagram images from her first year and, finally, my favorite family photo of the three of us on the beach. Each page is absolutely gorgeous, and I’m not just saying that because it’s my sweet bee’s face on each one.

And this brings me to Artifact Uprising. I had a wonderful experience making this book. I found the online editor to be for the most part — minus a few glitchy things I’d change or add — very user-friendly and intuitive. Mostly, I loved that I could log into my account, work on the book and save the project for later when I needed to walk away or tend to the kids. It took me a few weeks to get all the text and photos aligned exactly how I wanted them and the perfectionist in me rejoiced at being able to stalk my project and continue tweaking it until it was exactly how I envisioned it. The editor offers a bunch of great templates for photo layouts so you can customize each page, but since my book included quite a bit of text I was own my own for some of the pages. As a result, I got stuck a few times when text and photo boxes weren’t lining up exactly (the lack of a ruler when creating your own template was the one element in the editor that was lacking for me). I contacted customer service for help and was thrilled when the woman offered to take a look at the book herself to help me make sure everything looked right and she even sent me a PDF when I was nearly finished so I could get a better idea of exactly how the book would look when printed. That was incredibly helpful.

A few details: I chose the 50-page, hardcover book with a landscape layout, full dust jacket and ‘smoke’ colored fabric. I used size 11 Theano Dido font and my friend Susan, of Letter19Design, created the monthly ‘chapter’ headlines and cover title.

In the end, the book arrived looking stunning and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve already started working on Theo’s first-year book, a wedding album (because I never bought one!) and I think the kids need one of these books documenting every new year!

I only hope Isla finds as much joy looking back at these memories as I felt living them.

Keep scrolling for a peek at how it turned out.

{Disclaimer: I contacted Artifact Uprising about working together so this book was a gift from them and I offered to share my thoughts here on the blog. Those thoughts, as always, are all mine. Pinky swear.} 

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Baby

THEO’S NEWBORN PHOTOS BY NICOLE ALBERTSON

Newborn Photos by Nicole Albertson PhotographyFor Theo’s newborn photos we hired Nicki, of Nicole Albertson Photography, because we loved the photos she took for Isla’s first birthday photo shoot.

Theo, who in those first few days of his life did nothing but sleep (sometimes I couldn’t even wake him to eat!), decided to stay wide awake for the entire three-hour shoot. He was content, thankfully, but wide awake. Luckily he blinked a few times though so we were able to pretend he was sleeping. He may have also peed on his own head mid-shoot when I was changing his diaper. Oops. Isla, on the other hand, was less than thrilled to be there. She screamed (with a capital S C R E A M E D) every time we tried to get her to pose for a photo, which means we were unable to get a happy, smiling family photo. Bummer, but I love her anyway. Despite all that, these photos of my sweet babies are gorgeous. Though I suppose I’m bias.

Here are just  a few of my favorite photographs from the shoot.

(Take a look back at Isla’s newborn photos, taken by my sweet friend Tiffany Brown.)

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