Friday, February 28, 2014

Good Reads Book #3

Last week I finished the book Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia. This was a hard book for me to get into at the beginning. It was depressing reading about the lives of these women. 


And while it was depressing, I also found it hard to read about how rich and privileged she was....all the while, knowing that the poor women had it so much worse. They don't have a maid to rub their feet....they don't get the chance to jet off to Italy......they don't have fancy jewels to wear....or palaces built for them. 

So, I have mixed emotions about this book....as did many of the members of my book club. Will I read the rest of the books in the series, probably not. Should you read this book...well, it's not one that I would highly recommend, but I would say it's worth a read if you have the time. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dear Mama......You Got This!

Over at Still Breathing, they are doing a series of posts for mamas who are pregnant again after the loss of another child, PAL. These are love letters from those of us who have been there. These are words of encouragement. 
I decided to write my own letter and link up with Still Breathing. Take a look at my letter and then head over and check out some of the others. 


Dear Mama, 

Where to start....how do you give encouragement to someone who has had such a great loss? How do you give them hope that this time will be different? You want to give encouragement and hope, but at the same time, you know as well as I do what bad things could happen....when you come home with empty arms and huge gaping wound in your heart. 

Terror, that's what is going on right now. With every week that passes, you wonder if your baby is going to make it....if you are going to make it. You walk on egg shells. You try not to jinx yourself. You don't let yourself get too excited about this because you know how much it hurts when it doesn't work out the way you want. 

I have sat where you are sitting. I have felt the feelings you are feeling. What you are doing right now, takes so much courage....it takes so much strength. You might not feel strong now, but you are so strong. When you look back, you will realize your strength. Others wonder how you can go on day to day....you know, you are just trying to make it. A friend told me that she just didn't know how I could do this (pregnancy) again. I told her that I didn't get the outcome that I wanted. I wanted to bring a baby home. And that is what kept me going, knowing that I might get to bring another baby home one day. 

Advice.....what advice do I have for you? Try to enjoy this pregnancy. I know you are scared....it's terrifying. But, finding the joy in this pregnancy will make it so much easier. I was scared to buy anything. I was scared to prepare the nursery. I was afraid to get excited. It wasn't until I let all of this go, that I really started to enjoy this pregnancy and let myself get excited about the miracle that was happening inside my body. 

After my daughter Violet was still born, I swore that if I became pregnant again, I would never complain. NEVER! Then, I got pregnant with twins. And while it wasn't a terrible pregnancy, I did have aches and pains that I never expected having. Physically it was a little rough on my body. And I would find myself complaining...just a little :) And then the guilt would happen. How could I complain when I had been given this wonderful gift? And you know what, just because I complained a little didn't mean that I didn't appreciate the gift I had been given. Cut yourself some slack!

I'm not going to sugar coat this for you.....every OB appointment, every ultrasound, every ache and pain is going to leave your palms sweating and your nerves shot. And when you are walking up to labor and delivery, you will feel like your insides are going to jump right out. But....here comes the good part....when you bring that little life into the world and you hear those first little screams and cries from your newborn baby, the weight of the world will be lifted off of your shoulders. The relief that comes with knowing your baby was born alive and healthy is like no other. And that my friend, is the reward. That is what you have been waiting for all these months. The tears will flow at that moment and it will be the sweetest joy that you have ever experienced. Never in your dreams did you image it could be this good. 

So, I leave you with this....you can do this, can find joy in this, you too can have a happy ending. You are so strong. You are so brave. You got this!

Nancy






Sunday, February 16, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

Ah, Valentine's Day! A day for lovers! A day for flowers and candy and sweet nothings whispered in your ear! Well, all of that changes once you have kids! The day for lovers are gone....there are no more sweet nothings whispered. And really, there were never any sweet nothings whispered here. And even though Valentine's Day has changed around here, I think that I like it more since we've had kids. Sharing the day with my girls and my hubby and expressing our love for each other is one of my favorite things! 

With holidays, I really love to have traditions. Last year, Nolan and I wrote a little message to Georgia on a heart and taped it to her wall. She loved it. Actually, she left it up until just recently. This year, I bought a small note book and we both wrote little messages inside for her. It was just full of the little things that we love about her. The things that make Georgia Georgia! 

Last year, I also left her a little treat every morning from Feb 1-14. They were accompanied with a little cheesy note....like "Valentine, you are the WRITE one for me." with a little pen. Nothing that I bought was expensive.....it was all less than $1.50 per item.....with most less than $1. 

Every morning she would race downstairs to see her note and get her little treat. It was sweet. Nolan and I would get a hug out of the deal, see a smile come to our girl's face and know that she is feeling pretty great about herself. It's an easy way to build her confidence and show her how much with love her....even the little things about her, like her giggles!

Evie and June got the short end of the stick. They don't know, so it's cool right. They did each get a little stuffed monkey! But they didn't get the notes or the daily gifts. We will have to get them in on the action one of these days. 

Nolan usually brings his girls flowers on Valentine's day. This year was no acception! The girls got a little bouquet of carnations and I got a huge bouquet of daisies. I don't need roses! I would rather get a huge bouquet of daises than a over priced bouquet of roses! 

And a couple of years ago we started a little tradition....a couple years ago, we made no plans for Valentine's Day dinner. I was pregnant with the twins and really didn't feel like cooking a fancy dinner like I did the year before. So we decided to go out.....the only place we could get into was Buca Di Beppo. If you've never been to Buca, they serve family style portions of delicious Italian food. So, last year, we continued with the tradition. This year was more of the same....Nolan made us reservations and we trekked downtown, through the snow covered streets to get our traditional Buca Valentine's Day dinner! 

I love our traditions...I love the little gifts that we give Georgia....I loved to exchange cards....I love when Nolan walks through the door with a bouquets of flowers for his girls.....and I love our yummy "fancy" family dinner at Buca! 

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? What do you do to make the day special? Or is it just another day to you? 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Day of Kindness

This past October, we had a day of kindness in honor of Violet. We asked our friends and family to do an act of kindness for someone....friend, stranger, whom ever. We also asked them to tell the recipient of their kindness about Violet, if they were comfortable doing so. 

We were overwhelmed by the response that we got. My phone was blowing up all day long with emails, facebook posts and text messages about the acts of kindness for Violet. It was happening all over the world. We got notes from Italy and London and even in Afghanistan. 

Since then, I've been feeling like I need to do something more. Something permanent. Some sort of yearly event that we can do to honor Violet. It maybe something just like this...a day of kindness on her birthday or it might some sort of fundraiser to buy teddy bears for the Open Arms program. 

Last year, our family did 26 acts of kindness to honor Violet since I was 26 1/2 weeks pregnant with her when she died. I don't think that our family will do that many acts of kindness in one day...it was a lot with three little kids in tow! But, we had a great day. There were tears shed, smiles shared, and lots of happiness. I feel like we have turned something very devastating and sad into something wonderful. 

I hope that you continue to follow our journey and help us figure out what is the best way to honor Violet's memory. It warms my heart to know that others know about Violet...to know that she meant something to us....to know that she was loved so much. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Before and After

as a photographer, it's my job to make sure that your photos come out just the way you want. i'm supposed to make you look your best! when you are photographing sweet little precious babies, sometimes your settings aren't just quite right. it's not just making sure that it looks great through the view finder and getting the sweet little precious babies to smile, it's making sure that the lighting is right. it's making sure that your camera is set up correctly. with these little ones, it all happens so fast that sometimes you don't get it right in the camera. sometimes you have to do a little bit more work on that photo to get the look you want. and the great thing is that i can pop the image into lightroom and most of the time, i can make sure it looks just how i want it to look. 

take this photo of june.....she was being a bit of a pickle. i was testing out spots in our house that might be good for some photos and i wanted her to model for me. i should have asked georgia to do it since she's usually a good sport. but anyway, junie was my model and i didn't get this image just right out of the camera. failure!


cute photo, but it's too dark! oh no!!!! 

but don't worry, all is not lost! i was able to export the image into lightroom (for those of you who don't know what lightroom is, it's an editing program). after playing around with it a bit, i was able to transform it into this....

yea! june's not in the dark anymore!

see the difference? i wanted june's face to be bright. in the first one, the background is exposed correctly, but her face is not. on the edited photo, i was able to adjust the exposure so that her face brightened up. and now the background is super bright and you can't tell the detail, but that is ok. i don't really care about the background, i care about her face. 

here they are again, side by side so you can really tell the difference in the photos.....


i've heard it said to me often when someone really likes a photo of mine, "man, what kind of camera do you have? i need to get one of those." and while having a good camera does help, it's not the only reason my photos turn out well.....there is posing, lighting, knowing how to use my camera, and editing the photos afterwards to correct mistakes and do some touch ups. 

so i learned a bit of a lesson when taking these photos of june....make sure that i'm exposing my camera for the face and not the background.....i can't always trust my camera when it says that it's exposed properly....sometimes, i need to use my own judgement to get it right out of the camera! 


Thursday, February 6, 2014

what to wear for your next family photo session

before a photo shoot, i can almost guarantee that i will be asked "what should we wear?" it's hard. you are paying a lot of money for these photos, you don't want to mess it up with a bad outfit. 

this winter, we decided to have some family photos taken. so i began asking myself, "what should we wear?" here is the process that i followed for selecting outfits for my family of 5 to wear for our photo shoot. and i think our photos turned out really well! 

start with the most difficult person in the family to dress. in my family, that's me! you know...i want something that makes me look 20 lbs thinner. i want something that makes my eyes pop. i want it all. i want to look like a model when i get dressed. and really, you want to pick something that makes you feel great when you wear it. and really, that's the most important thing. so when i began to look for an outfit for myself, i started at least a month before our photo shoot. i looked online to start. i found lots of stuff that i liked, but it seemed that everything i found was either too dressy or i felt like it wouldn't look right on me. i guess i have kind of weird body shape....i have these crazy long legs, which makes dresses and skirts really short sometimes. and it seems that short skirts and dresses are the thing right now, so on me, they are super short....and that's not really the look i was going for. 

so i did some shopping locally, i hit up a nearby khol's and tried on every dress that i liked and that i thought might look good on me. and what i found was a dress that was a little bit dressier than my original plan. but it made me feel the best when i wore it.



see how the blue dress makes my hair really pop? 

next i decided to shop for the girls. since i was wearing bright blue, i didn't want them to wear blue too. i wanted them to wear something that coordinated with my outfit. i went with black, grey and w hite for them. thinking back on it, a red or yellow might have been a good choice for them too, but given the time frame that I was working with and the season, those were the best colors I could find. i did add a little punch of color with their hair bows...a little bit of red!

don't they look cute? if i had it to do over, i think that i would have picked out some different colors for the twins....the grey blends in with the background a little and the skirts are a little too bright for my taste. see how georgia's outfit pops? that's because of the black. eh, oh well, they still look cute and it looks fine for our family shots. 

and last, but certainly not least, the hubs. yes, i picked out his outfit too. he did give me some direction....he didn't want me spending too much. yea, he doesn't much care. and just about everything looks good on him, so, it wasn't too bad. i just had to kind of go for his style....pretty casual. 

i brought in the blue from my dress, the grey from the twins sweaters and the black from georgia's jacket. he was the one to tie everything together. AND i like that his shirt has a pattern. it makes it just a little bit more interesting instead of just a plain blue shirt. and while we were all wearing dresses, he is in jeans and it's fine. 

and then here is the complete vision that i had. i think that they turned out pretty well. 





all of our photos were taken by my friend autumn at www.autumnstocktonphotography.com




and friends, you can get it right too. i've had plenty of clients who have gotten it right.......


my girls and my neices



the bach family

the clark family

the stout family

and these are just some examples. it's rare when i show up to a photo shoot and i'm thinking, "why did they wear that?" here are a few things to think about when you are picking out what to wear for your next photo shoots. 

#1 don't do matchy matchy. it's only acceptable if you have twins....and even then, it might be a good idea to put them in different outfits. and please PLEASE....i beg you, don't have everyone show up in white shirts and jeans. you want similar, but not identical. 

#2 don't have too many patterns. select one or maybe two persons to wear a pattern and have the rest of the family coordinate with them. 

#3 think about your location when you are selecting outfits. if you are going to be in area with lots of trees, a green shirt, might not be the best choice. you don't want to blend into the background :)

#4 don't feel like you have to dress up. wear jeans if you want. you are going to look best in whatever you are comfortable wearing.....well, not whatever, don't show up in yoga pants :)

#5 show your personality in your clothing....are you tres chic? super casual? always classic? show it with your clothing. 

#6 go for a pop of color....a scarf, a hair bow, your dress, a hat....a pop of color will really bring your photos to life. but, don't go overboard....it can be too much sometimes!

#7 make sure it fits properly. with my dress, the belt kept creeping up. it was annoying. and in some of the photos, you could tell that it just wasn't the in right spot. dang it! make sure that your clothing isn't too tight, or too big, that the sleeves fit just right, that the length of the pants is good...you know the drill. you will find this helpful with kids....they grow out of those cloths before you know it! make sure to take a step back and make sure they aren't ready for a flood before the time comes to get your photos taken. nothing's worse than getting your photos back and seeing that little jimmy is ready for some high water with the length of his jeans!

#8 look online....pinterest is a great resource for finding a color palette you like. then go from there. 

#9 remember your shoes.....they will be seen in photos.....sometimes tennis shoes are ok...in my book a pair of converse = good decision while a pair of running shoes = bad decision. go with something more interesting than your everyday shoes. 

#10 no logos or cartoon characters. they distract from the photo. and really, do you want a picture of winnie the pooh or your kid? most people would say the kid :)




{6/52 paradise}

this time of year, it's really difficult to find paradise. in the summer, it would be easy to find paradise.......the sunshine, the hot warm temperatures, ice cream, long days, vacations....the list could go on and on. but, when you've got snow up to your ankles and the temperatures are dipping below freezing, it's hard to find paradise. what in the world am i going to photograph this week?

well, this morning my answer came. after letting me sleep in a little bit, i woke up to find my paradise in a little white and green cup sitting on the kitchen table. 


this was just a little bit of paradise on this cold february morning. thank you sweet hubby!

{5/52 noise}

as a mom with three little girls in our house, there is a lot of noise. june might be screaming squealing at the top of her lungs, evie is CONSTANTLY talking, and georgia....well, sometimes she belts out a song (in her very best opera voice). there is always noise here. and while we appreciate the times of silence in our house, i know that one day we are going to miss the noise. we are going to miss the pitter patter of little feet. we are going to miss the squeals and the singing when they are all grown up and out of the house. ok, let's not think about this too much or i'm going to start shedding serious tears. 

this week, i've chosen to photograph something in our house that makes a lot of noise, but it's beautiful "noise". it could be making noise because the twins are banging on it or georgia is practicing her lesson or nolan is playing a song or i'm trying to pick out some notes for a song that i'm going to sing. 


you may have guessed the piano. i love having it in our house. i love hearing our entire family peck away at it. it is certainly a treasured possession in our household!

Sewing 101 - Week 2 THE PILLOW CASE

Yesterday, I took my second sewing class! It is seriously so much FUN! Heather makes you feel like you are friends from the get go! She is warm and friendly and puts you at ease with your sewing skills!!! She makes you feel like you can do it! And all of the other students in the class are sweet and helpful. It's just so much fun.

My friends, I made the THE PIN CUSHION and this week I made....drum roll please........


THE PILLOW CASE



Those little woodland animals are so sweet, don't you think? I was instantly drawn to this fabric! I love the way the fabrics compliment each other. I made this for Georgia and this morning she was super excited when she saw it! She loves it. 

I can not say enough good things about Heather and her store Crimson Tate: Modern Quilter. If you have an interest in taking a sewing class, do it! If you need some fabric for your next project, go there! If you just want to browse around a super cute store, head on down to mass ave and visit Crimson Tate! 

Stay tuned....next week I will be making a zippered pouch! Zippers....I KNOW! 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ten Tiny Babies

here are a few more books that the twins are into these days. they are all by karen katz. i really love the illustrations in her books. they are just so sweet and use just lovely bright colors. i love all the little round baby faces. 

Where Is Baby's Mommy?
Mommy and Baby are playing hide n seek. This book takes you on a little adventure as Baby searches for Mommy. At the end Baby finds Mommy hiding under the blankets, in bed. I joke that Mommy was just taking a nap and Baby just thought she was playing hide n seek!



Daddy Hugs 
This one is all about counting. Daddy counts all sorts of things with Baby in this book. 


Ten Tiny Babies
Another one all about counting. This story has more babies than we do.....bless those parents!


Those are a few more of the books the twinkies are into these days. We do a lot of reading here. There are books constantly brought to me all day long. I love it!

If you haven't checked out Karen Katz books, you should....your little ones will probably love them!