April 19, 2014
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Oh, boy, I’m so far behind on my blogging. These portraits are from last November! I’ve been so busy writing for SLR Lounge and doing some commercial photography and graphic design, that my portrait work and personal blogging have fallen by the way side. Did anyone miss me?

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Here’s my cute Cyrus at age 8 months. He has been such a blessing to our family. He’s a total mama’s boy and prefers to be in my presence at all times (usually he would like to be held by me and me alone).  I snapped these photos very quickly one evening, in about three minutes. Babies have such a short attention span. The trick is to get everything set up before you’re ready for them, and when they seem to be in a good mood, plop them down in front of the camera. Voila!

Stay tuned as I hopefully get caught up on updates for the entire winter (what happened?!) I seem to have been hibernating and come out of a deep sleep into spring…

 

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March 24, 2014
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Hi everyone. I’ve had a few things on my mind to share with you. Here they are:

1. Re-subscribe To My Email List

If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of my loyal friends or family members who enjoy reading this blog. Thank you! I only want my weekly email to go to those who want to read it, so I’m paring down my email list. If you want to continue to receive my weekly email, please resubscribe to this list by clicking here.

If you want to receive a weekly email containing links to my photography tutorial articles at SLR Lounge, subscribe by clicking here. Even if you already receive this email, I need you to resubscribe. Also, if you know someone who would benefit from reading my articles, please invite them to subscribe, too!

2. Help Me Reach My Goal by Giving a Gift

A little over a year ago a friend gave me a cute baby shower gift in a reusable tote bag from Thirty-One Gifts. It had a pack of diapers, an outfit and some other baby items stuffed in all the pockets. The diapers are long gone and the outfit too small, but we continue to use the bag as our “swimming lesson” tote to take to the gym. I love to give gifts, and really like the idea of giving one in a bag that can be used over and over. I always think of my friend when I use that bag.

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I’ve since given baby shower gifts, birthday gifts and bridal shower gifts in tote bags from Thirty-One. I love to see my family members and friends use their bags again and again. I have their products all over my home to help me stay organized and use them to carry my photography accessories and camera gear. Since I use them so much, and love to show them off, I decided to sign up to be a consultant.

I’ve set a goal to get a quick start incentive and need to reach a certain amount of sales by April 13th. Will you help me?

How can you help?

1. Earn Free Thirty-One Gifts products by booking a Party. If you live near me in the Spokane area you can host an in-person party. If you aren’t local, we can set up a catalog or online party. I’m having a party at my house this Thursday (March 27th) evening. If you want to come, please contact me.

2. Shop Online. Visit www.mythirtyone.com/thebagjunkie to shop for products. Make sure you shop from that page so I get the credit.

3. Connect with me on Facebook. Join my private The Bag Junkie facebook Group where I’ll post special sales, auction off my inventory of bags for cheap and share ideas for how to use your Thirty-One bags. Everyone loves a good deal, right? This is where you’ll find them.

Here’s an idea for upcoming Easter. Why not get your kids a bag they can use again and again, that folds up flat for storage (I hate trying to find a place to store a bulky Easter basket!) and they can be personalized with an initial or name. So cute! These must be ordered by the end of this week to receive in time for Easter. The Little’s Carry All Caddy ($12), Mini Utility Bin or Keep It Caddy (both $22) would all work out great as an Easter basket.

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4. Tell your friends. I swear I will not be clogging up this blog with bag promos, but I would certainly love it if you would spread the word for me. One thing I have loved about the Thirty-One Gifts company is that there is no spamming, deception, high pressure sales or any of the other creepy things that seem to go on with most multi-level marketing experiences I’ve had in the past. In fact, I swore I would NEVER do anything like this. For me, this is just a way to share a product I personally love, with you!

5. Join my team. Could you use an extra $300+ per month? Would you like a fun way to meet friends and a reason to get out of the house every once in awhile? If so, ask me about the business opportunity Thirty-One Gifts has to offer. It could mean extra spending money for you, or groceries for you family, depending on your situation.

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March 12, 2014
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89 strollers. 89! All lined up on aisle three at Babies R Us. The “wall o’ bottles” is even worse. An entire wall, filled to the ceiling, of bottles, nipples, pacifiers… It’s enough to overwhelm anyone, not just a first time expectant parent. Does a newborn really need all this stuff? Of the items that are truly necessary (like a car seat,) how do you decide which is best?

After having three babies I’ve tested a lot of products, read countless reviews and feel confident walking into that mecca of baby stores now. One of my best friends from high school and her husband are expecting their first (Yay! So happy for them!) They’ve asked for some recommendations so here are my 12 Baby Gear Must Haves for New Parents. I hope others will benefit from my past experience and this list.

1. Philips AVENT BPA Free Bottles
With our first baby we tried at least a dozen different bottle types. Even though I breast fed, it was nice to let Daddy or Grandma give the baby a bottle every once in awhile. We liked the Avent bottles best. Here are a few more of my favorite helpful products for breast feeding…

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Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump with On the Go Tote
Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags
Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads

2. Comfort & Harmony Deluxe Nursing Pillow & Infant Positioner
An infant support pillow is really versatile for support holding the baby, nursing, propping the baby and helping them learn to sit. I originally used a Boppy pillow, but recently discovered the Mombo and it’s a lot better. Check out my review of it here.
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3. Baby Trend Expedition Travel System Jogger
After reading review after review, I constantly heard the Bob brand jogging strollers were the best, but I just couldn’t justify spending $600-$800 on a stroller. So, we went with the Baby Trend and it has been great. It’s sturdy, great for jogging, walking or shopping around town. The infant seat was large enough for use through almost a year for our baby. We have the double jogger version of this stroller as well and my six-year-old still fits in it.
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4. Graco Pack ‘N Play Playard
Our Pack N Play has probably been the most convenient and helpful piece of baby gear, especially when traveling. We use the removable bassinet and changing table portion for the first several weeks of baby’s life so he can sleep in our room. Later, the play yard is handy for keeping baby safe while I shower and get dressed in the morning. We’ve taken it camping at Yellowstone, the Oregon Coast and the Cascade Mountains, not to mention weekends at Grandma’s house and many hotel rooms during road trips. It’s also handy to have around when visitors with babies come to stay. I’m keeping my Pack N Play until it wears out. And I will mention, it’s held up perfectly through three kids and still going strong.

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5. Skip Hop Duo Essential Diaper Bag
Honestly, I have yet to find the perfect diaper bag. In fact, I may have plans for creating one in the future. In the mean time, I like the Skip Hop Duo. I used this for all three of my babies. It’s large enough to carry all the stuff I need but not so big that I feel like I’m packed for an entire weekend. The cross body strap is a must, because I need my hands free and I love the external pockets so I can easily grab my keys and phone. The nylon material is durable and there are so many cute patterns to choose from.

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6. Fisher-Price Healthy Care Booster Seat
My husband I debated for a long time whether or not to buy a traditional high chair. We lived in a tiny apartment at the time, so this little booster seat you can strap to a chair seemed like a no brainer. Now that we have a house, I would still choose this. It fold up compactly for storage and you can even throw it in the car to take to Grandma’s house. My mom actually bought one of these to keep at her house anyway, so we don’t have to worry about that. This is another one I’m keeping even after the babies are grown. It takes up so little space in storage and will be nice to have when nieces or nephews come to visit.

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7. Summer Infant Contoured Changing Pad
Regardless of what you choose to use for a changing table, a changing pad like this one comes in handy. We use a dresser/changing table from IKEA in the bedroom and I actually have a changing pad set up on top of the dryer downstairs for a second changing station. Don’t forget to get a couple slip covers, since blowout diapers are inevitable…

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8. Fisher-Price Infant To Toddler Rocker
While an infant seat isn’t an absolute necessity, this one was really nice to have. The fact that it works for an infant and then converts to a toddler chair is nice. My older kids still like to sit in it. My babies were all born in the winter and it was nice to have a place to set them up off the floor for awhile when I needed a break from holding them or had to go to the bathroom or cook dinner. The vibrating feature was a life saver on a few occasions when nothing else would calm the baby.

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9. Fisher-Price Cradle ‘n Swing with AC Adapter

Speaking of not being able to soothe the baby, we found a swing to be indispensable for the first few months. While this isn’t the exact model I have, we liked the Fisher Price brand because it comes with an AC Adapter and battery option. If you do chose to use a swing and infant seat, just make sure you don’t leave the baby in them for too long, which can cause their heads to become flat. I used these items for moments of desperation…

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10. The First Year’s Infant To Toddler Tub with Sling
Probably the most nerve wracking responsibility as a new parent, for me anyway, was bathing the baby. I was so afraid to do it by myself after my mom left. This little bath with the sling for newborns was a life saver! Plus, you can use it on the countertop or kitchen sink so you won’t break your back. When baby is older but not quiet sitting up, you can place it in the big tub for bathing so her splashes won’t make a mess. Don’t forget hooded towels and soft wash clothes. Choosing gender neutral stuff will save you money if you’re planning on having more than one baby.

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11. Diaper Genie Elite Diaper Disposal Pail
While not a total necessity, a diaper pail is really nice to have. Especially when you’re changing diapers in the middle of the night and don’t want to run the stinky diaper out to the dumpster. A Diaper Genie keeps the smells at bay. You’ll need refill bags for this one.

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12. Summer Infant SwaddleMe Adjustable Infant Wrap
My babies slept relatively well, and I swear the Swaddle Me blankets had a lot to do with it. I tried various other types of blankets, sleep sacks and swaddles. These are the only type that would stay on the baby. Get a fleece swaddle for winter and cotton for summer. Make sure you don’t over dress your baby or they’ll get over heated.

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Probably the single best tip I could give first time parents when shopping for baby gear, is to buy gender neutral stuff as often as possible. Our first car seat was blue and when we had a girl second time around I was just kicking myself. Get green, yellow, brown or grey and you’ll be good! I could go on and on about baby gear to buy and what to avoid. For now, these 12 will have to do. Of course, everyone’s lifestyle and values are different, so you have to choose what works best for you. Make sure you read the reviews and use your judgement. Keep in mind, you don’t need everything the product manufacturers recommend. Ask yourself, “Will this item make things easier? Do we have room for it? Is it safe?” Always use caution when buying used cribs or car seats and do your research.

If any of you experienced parents have a recommendation for a “must have” baby product, please leave it in the comments!

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February 26, 2014
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In October I entered a few photos in the Liberty Lake Art Society Art Show at our little library. I was surprised to learn I won second place with this composite illustrative portrait of Cyrus entitled “Special Delivery.” I created it using photography, watercolor and textiles on a flatbed scanner. This illustration is part of a larger project I have in the works, so stay tuned!

 

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February 21, 2014
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Sometimes your oldest gets home from Kindergarten and the other two kids just happen to still be taking a nap, so you sit down at the table together to have a snack. And the most perfect light is coming through the sliding glass door, illuminating the face of one of the most precious people in your life. So you say, “Wait! Don’t move.” And you run and get your camera. And he smiles.

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Like childhood, the light will fade quickly, so you’ll both move closer to the window. And you know you’ll remember this moment forever, even though it seems pretty insignificant.

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Then you’ll let him take your picture with “the good camera,” even though you haven’t showered, combed your hair or put on any make up.

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And it will be one of the best pictures you’ve ever had taken of yourself. The end.

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February 17, 2014
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I spent a couple hours on Valentine’s Day taking pictures at a fundraising event benefiting American Childhood Cancer Organization Inland Northwest and The Emmett Paul Snyders Foundation. Those who attended the event may view and download their photos by clicking here.

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February 11, 2014
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Clearly I’m way behind on my blogging here. These are from Halloween! Trying to get caught up. These count as Cyrus’ 7 months portraits. I’m slightly obsessed with Kids Halloween Costumes and technically this one could work for Spring, too. He couldn’t quite sit up on his own at this point so I put him in this little laundry bucket. What a cutie.

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These are just taken in our back yard right before we went out for Trick-or-Treating. Gorgeous “golden hour” light was streaming through the trees from behind and I used a flash inside of an umbrella modifier for a little fill light in the front. Equipment used:

Canon Speedlite 430EX II Flash
Umbrella Modifier
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 Lens

I guess you might as well see the other kids in their costumes, too.

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Happy Halloween a few months late!

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February 10, 2014
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Grey clouds filled the sky all morning, heavy like an overstuffed comforter and threatening rain at any moment. “Ding!” Text message from Emmylou.

“Should we cancel? Looks like rain.”

“Let’s play it by ear. I’ll call an hour before.”

Sooooo glad we went ahead with Emmylou and Aaron’s family portrait session at the Liberty Lake County Park last summer. The overcast sky gave us the most perfectly diffused light and not a drop of rain fell during our walk through the park. Emmylou and Aaron were coming up on a milestone wedding anniversary and I was so honored to get to photograph their family. Their kids were perfectly behaved (seriously!) and I enjoyed getting to know this family I admire while we laughed, talked and got a little goofy.

I’ve been dying to show you the photos, but decided to wait until after the holidays because I knew the images would be given as Christmas gifts to extended family and I didn’t want to ruin the surprise.

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I’m now offering custom designed, hand crafted flush mount albums with portrait sessions. What’s a flush mount album? I custom design each album based on your particular photo session. Then the pro quality photo prints are mounted on a thick matt board and hand bound into a hard cover book. The pages are flush mounted, meaning there’s no seam between the pages and the photos extend all the way to the edge of the page. If you’d like to see and touch a sample, just ask me. I love to show them off! They are also available with a more traditional leather cover.

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And here are images of the entire layout of the book…

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February 04, 2014
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“I think that’s the most fun we’ve ever had getting our picture taken,” Heidi exclaimed, as we said our good-byes. Her energetic and bright eyed children had captured my heart during our one-hour portrait session. Being allowed to play in the leaves, climb the fence and show off their horses at home was key to capturing the every-day essence of this loving family.

The Donnelly’s secluded Hayden Lake property, shrouded in evergreen trees, had been basking in the perfect golden hour light. The colorful autumn leaves even matched their outfits. So perfect! I got a work-out chasing these kids around, but I feel children’s portraits are so much more authentic when you let them play, rather than expecting them to sit still in a stuffy studio, in clothes they usually never wear.

During our viewing session a couple weeks later, I was reminded why I love photographing children. Bottling up a memory that brings tears to the eyes of parents is so rewarding. They grow up so fast. Life changes so quickly. And we forget what it looked like back then. We just do…

Contact me to book your lifestyle portrait session in the Spokane, Washington or Coeur d’Alene, Idaho area. I’m also available in the Tri-Cities and Seattle areas at times.

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January 28, 2014
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Lying in the dark next to my sister, I wiggled my tooth back and forth, back and forth with my tongue. I still remember losing my first tooth. It was so exciting! I’m not sure why children are in such a hurry to grow up. I was in a BIG hurry myself. So much so, that I often look back and wish I’d enjoyed my carefree childhood more.

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Calvin lost his first tooth months ago. Way back in October. I’m so glad I snapped a picture, because now he’s lost several, and having those baby teeth gone just changes his whole look. He’s losing that baby face. The last six years have flown by so quickly. It’s hard to imagine I’ll have a pre-teen in six more years.

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Kindergarten has been an adjustment for Calvin. At first he loved it. He was excited to learn and make friends. Now I hear reports of “School is so boring” and “The kids make fun of me at recess.” These statements break my heart. I hate seeing the inevitable realization that peers are mean and you may never actually be Superman when you grow up. On the other hand, hearing Calvin read a book to his sister and seeing him blossom as a helpful and compassionate citizen makes my heart swell with pride.

Sigh… Why do kids have to grow up?

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