23 March 2013

Sonoma Birthday

After an enjoyable morning touring the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield (free samples, best birthday ever!), we arrived in Sonoma Valley and were greeted by rolling hills and bright fields of mustard plants. We played at the park, window shopped in Sonoma Plaza, and bought a scoop of delight at Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. In our wanderings, just one block from the Plaza, we found this beautiful fellow.

As you can tell, he rather liked having his picture taken.
And of course, J is always ready for his close-up.

22 March 2013

365 Photography Project

This year I have been improving my photography by taking a picture everyday ( a 365 project or Project365, I've heard it both ways). It turns out that practice makes perfect. Who knew?

Three months into it and I am feeling mildly successful. I am in nowise perfect but I feel more confident with my camera and the images I am able to create.

In January I was following my daily prompts, taking pictures (sometimes all at once to catch up), and wondering if I was really going to stick with it. Some prompts made me feel inspired and creative. Others I left until the last day of the month and then forced myself to take poor pictures just so I could say I did it...
(see sink of dirty dishes).
{ resolve }
{ sunset }
{ snuggle }
By February I knew I had to do things differently or else I couldn't keep with it. I tried sticking with the prompts and thinking about them more creatively. It worked for a while...and then I started making up my own one or two word prompts to go with a picture I had already taken (cheating?). Oops again!
{ anticipation }
{ shadow }
{ abandoned all prompts at this point on...}

By March I finally realized that this was MY 365 photo project, for my benefit only. There were no rules and I could make up my own prompts, do the opposite of the prompts or, get this, not have a prompt at all and just photograph something that inspired me. Wow, thank you Capitan Obvious!
I am now so excited to see what happens in April! Thanks to all my friends and family on facebook that suffer through a picture day after day. Posting and sharing my pictures with you has been so fun and I appreciate all of your kind comments and support.

20 March 2013

The Making of a Cake Smash

So you want to have your little one smash a cake? Are you sure

Last month we celebrated J's first birthday with a cake smash photo shoot and I was surprised at how much thought and planning went into it. For me I wanted J to have a fun experience (it WAS his birthday) but I also wanted to use it as a chance for me to put my photography skills to the test. I mean, an energized little boy covered in cake making messes on brand new carpet, who could resist! 

These are some of the things I considered while planning our cake smash session:
Location: My location needed to have great light, provide a clean background, be warm (hello nakie baby!), and be close to a clean-up station (aka bathtub). Oh, and it needed to be easily cleaned or at least unable to be damaged too extensively by little frosting hands.

My first choice was to set up outside in the open shade of a nearby building, but then the thought of trying to carry a half-naked boy with frosting everywhere AND my camera back to the apartment scared me straight.

My second choice was suggested by my husband (who has a knack for simplifying what I insist on making complicated), "Why don't we just do it in the living room?" I went through my checklist and sure enough, it met all the criteria!  

We are blessed to have huge south facing windows in the living room that let in lovely natural light. The only thing that worried me was the (gulp!)... new carpet. Simple solution, a white plastic tablecloth from the dollar store that doubled as a reflector and bounced white light onto precious J's face.

Cake: When deciding on a cake I knew that dark colors would contrast with his light skin and would make it easy to capture on camera. After the flavor was decided (chocolate, surprise!) I needed to decide how to best to make a small cake for J to smash.

I initially liked Janssen's mini cake in a mug, but I didn't have an oven-safe mug with straight sides. AND when I tried to look online I ran into stories of mugs shattering in the oven... Being my overly-cautious self I settled for two bread pans (9x5-inch) and a round cake pan. Result: One cake to be cut in half and stacked for J's cake smash, one cake to be saved in the freezer for later (which didn't last long), and one round cake for an actual birthday cake for us to share as a family.

Camera Settings: Because I knew for a fact that my little guy wouldn't sit still and wait for me to play with camera settings, I made sure to set up the scene and check my lighting.  

In Manual mode I set my camera to the lowest ISO (ISO 100), aperture f/3.5 (making J and the cake in focus, blurring the balloons), and shutter speed to 1/250 of a second (to freeze the movement that was sure to ensue). After snapping one shot, it was underexposed to my liking and so I moved my ISO to 200 and shot again, perfect!

Thanks to having a husband on hand to keep J on the tablecloth, our cake smash session was a success! There is nothing like an hour or two of planning and pinning for something that takes 15 minutes to be destroyed.

18 March 2013

Month 13

Dear J,

At thirteen months old it is plain to see that you are no longer a baby. You have begun to do little boy things and it is amazing to see how much you have changed in just the last month.

You finally accepted that shoes are not the end of the world (despite your initial assumption) and are actually pretty snazzy.
You were blessed with two more teeth. (Only four teeth in and I'm ready to be done with teething, forever!)

You helped mommy pick up (and then dump) your toys over and over again.

You decided that running everywhere is SO much better than walking. Especially when you are running straight at mom with the camera...
You learned to clap for yourself when we exclaim, "Yay J!"

You discovered what the knocker on the front door is for, and use it often.

You touched a toad
You faced your fear of the vacuum.

You flew on two more airplanes (and made us realize that you are no longer a lap-child).

You experienced big boy slides and playgrounds.
Oh, and you still are the sweetest, silliest boy that I have ever met! Love, Mom

08 March 2013

Little Reader

We have a little reader on our hands, which makes for a very proud mama. 

I love finding J tucked away in his room in a pile of books, just silently turning pages and occasionally barking at the dogs he finds.

He sits on the books, he holds them upside down, but he loves them!

07 March 2013

Mr. One

We had a cake-smashin' good time at our house a few weeks ago. The homemade chocolate cake, (my first attempt, who knew cakes didn't only come from boxes?) 
I baked for J was at first only admired from afar and only causally poked.

It wasn't until a baby fork was provided that J realized the cake was for eating. 
And whatever else a one-year old does with free reign of a cake...

The cake was such a success that J decided to use his afternoon nap time for singing and dancing in his crib...for an hour...and never falling asleep. Thank you excessive sugar, we will be keeping our distance from now on. Sincerely, mama of the boy who needs to sleep.

Want to see how we did it? Check out my "Making of a Cake Smash" post.

06 March 2013

Boy and His Dog

We love to play. Today despite the winter weather, we set out in snugly sweaters to enjoy our time at the park. Broderick tagged along to join the fun!

J has formed a rather sweet relationship with Broderick over the past few weeks, and I couldn't resist capturing their time together exploring the park.

Happiness for $3.88

I found happiness today at Target for $3.88 plus tax. As J was pushing the cart along (not kidding, he stands and walks behind the cart) rather slowly I was able to browse the shelves. Patterns caught my eye and I stopped to find a lovely clearance pile of daily planners for the new year! Yes, the new year that started three months ago…

Anyhow, I needed a planner and I found one that I absolutely love! So what if I won’t use all the pages for January and  February? That just means when I am late getting a new planner NEXT year I will have blank pages to use until I find another planner (also on clearance, also three months late). 

So I paid $3.88 for a $12.99 planner, I win!

Now I just have to be brave and write in it. Spend out right?
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