Sunday, February 23, 2014

Music Class Fun

The music store where I teach my lessons also offers toddler music classes, so we've been taking one since September. The boys were pretty quiet at first, but now that they know the other kids and the teacher, they have a lot of fun! They really love the piano (mostly pushing buttons and adjusting the volume) and any other instruments. They are finally starting to sing along more now; they really enjoy Jingle Bells and Twinkle Little Star. Their awesome teacher Mr. Todd also lets them do Ring Around the Rosie each class because they have so much fun with it! 

Valentine's Day Party: Cookies and Milk

Henry and Holden decided to throw their 2nd Valentine's Day Party, and we had a lot of fun! I wanted to try my best to keep it casual and easy, and for the most part that happened. :) I was able to use a lot of what I had last year (decorations and craft supplies) so I didn't need to buy much new. My red table cloth that I've had forever really goes a long way. And Target always has some cute felt banners, and I made some of my own from printables I found on Pinterest. I decided on the cookies and milk theme for the "menu" so I didn't go overboard with other snacks. I did make the Valentine's snack mix again, but gave it as Henry and Holden's Valentines to take home. I also wanted to have a little photo area, so I did splurge on the photo booth kit I found at Target. But this party is such a fun way to show our friends we love them! And the kids really just like hanging out and playing with all the different toys, so it doesn't have to be over the top.
I made three types of cookies, a Lofthouse-style sugar cookie, an M&M chocolate chip cookie, and a strawberry flavored sandwich cookie. I browsed Pinterest for ideas and had a hard time narrowing it down! I served strawberry milk out of my glass bottles with some fun heart straws I found at Michaels. I also wanted to do a hot chocolate bar for the moms. I made a crockpot hot chocolate recipe to try and keep it simple, then had fun toppings and mix-ins. (Think different chips, butterscotch, mint, chocolate and white chocolate, caramel syrup, pirolette cookies to stir, sprinkles, and tons of marshmallows and whipped cream!) Everyone brought something to share, so I snapped a picture before all of the fun marshmallows got there. I also did the fun Valentine's snack mix, which can be anything you want! I like that the party isn't full of candy, since the kids are all so young still, and this mix is plenty sweet without it. This year, I did Teddy Grahams, strawberry yogurt raisins, any kind of yogurt puff (strawberry again, since it's pink!), strawberry-flavored Mini-Wheats, and dried strawberries. You can use frosted Cheerios or some other cereal to add some bulk if you'd like, or any other flavor combos if you're not a fan of strawberry! I packaged them in the small snack-size baggies and stapled a little printable I'd made on top. I thought they looked pretty cute!
The craft was just making Valentine cards. I covered a card table in brown craft paper and got out the dot markers, crayons, and foam stickers. I had most of it already, and just let the kids go to town on some heart shaped cardstock and blank cards. No need to overthink at this age. Some kids will want nothing to do with it, and for most of them, dot markers are exciting enough! Maybe next year we can do something crazy with glue or glitter, but this year is simple.
The photo booth area is always fun, even though it's hard to get the kids to sit still for it. I covered a wall with some seamless paper that looks like wood (also from Michaels) and put up my heart banner. We tried to get the kids to use some of the props from the kit, with varying degrees of success. It had glasses, lips, hats and some cute little sayings. I was hoping to re-use it, but it was just cardstock and didn't hold up that well. But it should be easy to re-create if I want to do it again! I always like to try and get the moms in the picture with their kids, since I know how hard it is to get a cute one with mom in it! So those are some of my favorites. 
So I would say the day was a great success! Kids playing with toys, crafting, and of course eating cookies, while moms got to chat and have a cup of hot chocolate. Win-win! I'll leave you with some more pictures from the party. Hopefully we will keep up this new tradition! 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

365 Project Week 8

Feeling so behind again...apparently my blog is turning into just my 365 Project! That seems to be all I have the energy for right now, anyway. Hopefully I will get caught up with some other posts soon.

It was another push through it type week. But I'm glad I'm sticking with a photo a day (even if it's just one of the dog on the floor...haha.) We had some sun and snow melting so we were at least able to go outside the last few days. I was really frustrated with my camera earlier in the week when I was trying to shoot inside around bedtime (with all the lights on in our house) and my camera was saying it was too dark. Gah! I also wish I had the time/energy to get outside and take some more creative pictures. The days just seem to go by so fast, and I usually work all evening. (I should try and go out in the morning sometime...really, I should try!) Hopefully when things start blooming again I'll have a few creative ideas. I did get to try my hand at maternity pictures for a friend. Again, I get frustrated and am not happy with the results, but I've got to start somewhere and every shoot is a learning experience! I just want her to be happy, so maybe I'll get to take some more of her before the baby is born and try a few new things.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

365 Project Week 7

It was another weird week, photography-wise. On one hand, I'm totally over the winter weather and the lack of light in my house, and just feeling very blah and uninspired. Took a quick snapshot of the boys Monday, and took a picture of my cookie baking stuff Wednesday, not great. And I've been wanting to take pictures of the birds at our feeder and just don't know how! If I go outside I know they'll fly away, so I need to figure out some way to sneak more pictures of them.

On the other hand, I got to do a few really cool things this week! I made my own backdrop stand and took my first "studio" picture of a friend's little girl, which was so fun! Ignore the fact that the trim doesn't touch the floor...didn't have a way to cut it down yet! :) And on Tuesday, I got to take pictures of my friend's hours-old baby girl in the hospital! That was so amazing to get to be there and to feel like I got some good shots for her. I still feel like I don't know what I'm doing most of the time, but I felt like I took some nice pictures she'll be happy to have! On Saturday, we had our second toddler Valentine's Day party. It was fun, and I'll blog about it more on its own, but it's frustrating photography-wise. I never know what settings to be on, or how to get the quick shot right in the moment. (A brand new baby isn't doing much moving around, while a room full of toddlers definitely is!) Lighting is still so tough in my house, even during the day. And I always end up wishing I'd taken more pictures, especially of set-up and d├ęcor type stuff, but I always run out of time.

So like I said, a weird week, but at least I've kept it up every day. I'm almost to 50 days, so at least that's something! :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Leah's 30th Birthday

So I turned 30 this year! Felt kinda crazy, end of my 20s and of a decade, but it helps that most of my friends turn 30 this year too. :) The weekend before my birthday, my mom made dinner for all of us, and a cake. I was so happy Alex got these shots of us blowing out the candles together. The boys really understand "cake" and "blowing candles" since they still talk about their birthday cake sometimes (I put candy on the top....they will never forget!) I was hoping they'd sing to me but they were too amazed with the fire... ;)
My birthday is always right around the Super Bowl, so we didn't do much that weekend. Alex tried to get a few more shots of me reading with the boys, since I always like having some new pictures of me actually with them! (I had my camera on manual and he didn't change it back so the lighting is a little off!) Wish we had gotten a family shot, but didn't think of it; I really need to get my tripod out more! My actual birthday was a Monday this year, which was weird since that's the day the boys go to Mom's Day Out in the morning. So I dropped them off, worked out, got Starbucks for breakfast and had a little time to myself. Then I did have to teach all evening, so it was a little sad to not see Alex or the boys much that day at all.
Saturday was my actual party with friends. I wanted to try someplace "fancier" than my usual fave, La Hacienda, so we did a Mexican place downtown called Bakersfield. It was a lot of fun! I thought the food and margaritas were good, and it was cool to try someplace different. The service was a little slow, but it was packed! And I must be getting old, since I felt like it was too loud and too hard to have a conversation with friends. Overall though it was great to get out with my friends and without the boys. (They stayed overnight at my parents', which is a treat in itself!) All of my favorite people were willing to get a sitter and come out to dinner, so I felt very special! My friend Emily even traveled from Boston to be there! (Ok, she came for some other things too, but it was awesome to have her at the party!) I didn't get a group shot, or as many pictures as I wanted, since it was super dark. But I got a few shots of me with my friends, so that's good enough to remember the day! Emily and Ashlyn came back to our house after the party and it was fun to catch up and talk.
Emily and Ashlyn came over again the next morning before her flight left, since she wanted to see the boys and how they'd grown. I snapped a quick picture of Emily and Ashlyn reading with the boys! Too cute! :) So all in all, it was a great birthday week!