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Amazing Place for an Amazing Family

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Amazing Place for an Amazing Family

I felt like I was in a novel. I could literally smell the scent of wild blackberries in the air when the breeze picked up as we walked down hiking trail. With the sun shining on my face, I followed the path until a beautiful clearing was soon discovered. And not just one beautiful place, but many breathtaking places were waiting just around the corner. I need to come here more often.

I’ve known this beautiful mama for almost 20 years. And it was such a treat to be able to take photo of her and her two handsome sons.

Thank you, Karrie, for inviting me to this beautiful spot! It’s amazing, inspiring and I’m really, really glad we didn’t run into the mountain lion that was spotted the previous day.

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A Valentine's Day Oldie but Goodie

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A Valentine's Day Oldie but Goodie

I have to confess. I'm a little bit behind. I realized the other day that it's already the beginning of February and I need to start working on the boys' Valentine's Day cards. Oops. So after school, I dragged them out to the brick wall behind a local elementary school and started snapping some photos. With snacks in tow. And after what felt like 6 hours of, "Are we done yet?" and "Can we go play now?" I was able to get some decent shots of my boys (I guess it was more like 25 minutes.)

I got silly shots.

And more silly shots.

And just sometimes, a serious shot snuck in. Just kidding. All silly all the way.

Although I wanted to do something different for their Valentine's Day card this year, for some reason, they always want to do the lollipop card. I suppose I should give in, since it is their Valentine's Day card (maybe next year, I'll do my own card, and pass it out to my friends. Okay, relatives. Okay, the mailman.)

If you don't feel like clicking on this to see my post on the lollipop card from years past, I'll show you how it's done.

First, take a photo of your child with him holding a fist in the air, making sure it isn't blocking his face. After snapping a picture that will work, print it out or have it developed (I chose a 4x6 size.)

Glue the photo to a piece of card stock (I'm able to fit 3 photos on one piece) and let it dry overnight.

After cutting out each photo, take an Xacto knife and carefully make two small cuts above and below his fist (I place the photo on a piece of thick cardboard before I cut, so that I don't cut into my table!)

Take a lollipop and slowly insert the stick in the two cuts, and voila!

Good luck, and Have a Happy Valentine's Day!

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Bump Envy

Yes, I think pregnancy is a beautiful thing. Yes, I love babies.  But no, I did not like being pregnant. At all. Maybe if I looked as good as my gorgeous client, I would have liked it more.

I love this family. They are so incredibly beautiful, down-to-earth and genuine. Really.

www.jenparkerphotography.com

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Silhouette

Summer. It's right around the corner. I can feel it. Literally.

When it's 90+ degrees, I can't believe it's still technically spring. I do love summer, but I'm dreading the days when it'll already be 80 degrees at 8am.

On the other hand, I define summer by long days filled with playing outside, popsicles dripping down my kids' arms and enjoying lazy mornings that aren't consumed with rushing around in order to get the kiddos to school on time.

My favorite time of day? Twilight. I love it when the sun has gone down over the horizon but it's still light. The moments right before twilight is my favorite time to shoot. Right before the sun sets, everything is blanketed with a warm, golden light.

I had the opportunity to take photos of a dear friend on the beach as she and her husband were expecting their first child. I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful sight for these two beautiful people.

If you'd like to see more silhouette photos, please visit www.rocktheshotforum.com or click on the button below. Enjoy, and have a good summer (oops, I mean spring!)

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Nothing Says, "Thanks!" Like a Bottle of Soap...

I can't believe the end of the school year is already here. I still have Christmas wrap I need to put away. Sigh. Anyhow, being a photographer, I feel the need to incorporate photography into everything I do. That includes the little things, like thank you gifts for the boys' teachers.

And even though I did this last year, I wasn't able to one, take photos of it (hanging my head in shame right now) and two, blog about it. So here's my chance to redeem myself.

I started off purchasing liquid pump soap from the dollar store and used Goo Gone to remove the labels. And really, this is the toughest part since it seems as if industrial strength glue is used for these labels. I found that soaking the side of the soap with the label on it in a shallow pool of Goo Gone and leaving it for a couple of hours was the best way to remove these.

After I got the labels off, I measured one side of the soap and created a template that was a wee bit smaller than the actual dimensions (I wanted to be able to stick the shape into the bottle of soap.) I made as many trapezoid shapes on a piece of paper that will fit.

Next, I had my son draw a picture (well, it's a smiley face...he IS only 4) on all four trapezoids with a black Sharpee (you want to make sure that the drawing/writing is bold and dark.) I also had him write his name on another piece of paper. And because he would rather play Mario Kart than write his name four times in a row, I scanned his name and placed it on each trapezoid.

I also had my older son write a thank-you message to his 2nd grade teacher on another template.

Then I went to Staples and made copies of the templates on a transparency. You can do this at home, but you want to make sure you use a laser printer and not an ink jet printer. Using an ink jet printer will cause the picture/words to flake off in the soap, and you definitely don't want to use soap with black flakes swimming around in it.

Afterwards, I cut out each shape, rolled it up lengthwise and inserted it into the soap, using the pump as a tool to push and guide the transparency in.

Lastly, I replaced the pump and voila!

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Valentine's Day is a Ninja

Valentine's Day is quite sneaky. I just put away the Christmas decorations (well, most of them) and here comes Valentine's Day, creeping up behind my back, ready to jump out and scare me. I've been told that if I visited Costco or Jo-Ann, I'd be more aware of Valentine's Day coming around the corner since both places already had their heart-themed merchandise on the floor the day after Christmas. 

Anyhow, I wanted to do something fun for the boys' card, but not the lollipop card, since we did that one three years in a row (would've been four if I actually had them choose!) So I took the initiative and worked on something else. Step one was to take the photos.

My boys and I ventured to a nearby park-like area and I was ready with my camera. A mixture of bribery and threats ensued.

Two hours and 729 shots later, we were done.

We took photos for only 15 minutes. The rest of the time was spent wrestling, throwing rocks into the bushes and rolling in the dirt. Did I mention that I have boys?

So of course, I got a bunch of photos that look like this:

And some like this:

And this:

Sigh. Boys, right?

But finally, I got some like this:

Ahh. Serenity Now. Okay, onto the card making fun.

I've seen cello bags with personalized toppers and liked that idea. I also saw some snack-sized sandwich bags instead of cello bags and favored that idea because one, it gives me yet another reason to go to Target, and two, I will actually use the leftover bags! It's a win-win situation!

I designed a bag topper so that I can utilize all the space. I am a photographer, you know. I need all the space I can get...so that I can cover it up with photos.

This is what I came up with:

DSC_0024-L

I took the photos and arranged them in a layout that I liked. The topper measures 5" by 7" and I folded it over (not in half) to create it. I intentionally made the front of the topper longer than the back because I wanted more room for the photos in the front. The edges of the topper do not line up and I'm okay with that. No OCD issues, here!

I filled the sandwich bag with candy, zipped it up, then taped it to the inside of the topper. I used glue dots to adhere the front of the topper to the bag.

And voila! Done! Now I just have to do some folding, filling, zipping and taping. Try saying that 10 times fast.

I also realized that with the both of them handing out Valentine's Day cards to their own classroom, I'd have double the work if I did their treats individually. So I combined them...just like their birthday parties...{insert evil laugh}

Have a Happy Valentine's Day!

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37 weeks

Being a mother is definitely amazing. It's rewarding, stressful and joyous all at the same time. For me, being pregnant was more of a challenge, but my friend Susan makes it look easy. With a toddler in tow, she makes 37 weeks look absolutely beautiful.  

 

 

 

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Fun Families Rock!

I had the pleasure of combining a senior session and family session. And I say pleasure because the family was so fun. I meet a lot of families and see many personalities and I can definitely say that his family is super-duper wacky. Oh, and the mother of the family was also my high school classmate. So I can say that. So there. I am slowly getting over the fact that I'm old (ish,) and that I have high school classmates who have children who are graduating from high school themselves. Another sign that I'm old (ish?) I'd rather go to Trader Joe's during the week versus the weekend. I'm just sayin'.

Anyhow, I want to thank the R Family for a great day, being open to my crazy ideas and going with the flow. You definitely rock.

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A New Beginning

Waiting. Expecting. Growing. This couple is expecting their little one later this month, and I couldn't be more excited. I've known the soon-to-be-mommy for quite some time. She was my best friend in high school.

When you're a senior in high school, you have so many plans, so many dreams. I remember thinking how great it will be when all of my friends and I grow up to be parents together, living in the same neighborhood, having barbeques every weekend. Reality? Everyone goes their own way. And even though we don't live in the same neighborhood, I'd like to think that having the chance to see my best friend become a mommy is pretty darn close to what I thought would be my reality.

Congrats, Kristi and Brent. I love you both!

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XOXOXO

This week's I Heart Faces photo challenge theme is: Hugs and Kisses. Well, for this photo, just kisses. And not kisses, but rather a kiss.

A sweet kiss.

A kiss between two brothers. Brothers who can be best friends one minute and enemies the next. Frenemies, right? But I guess that's how all sibling relationships are. All I know is that they will probably not like this photo (or me!) when they get a wee bit older and turn red when their friends come over and point it out while displayed on top of the fireplace.

But I love it. These are my boys.

For more "Hugs and Kisses" photos, please visit the I Heart Faces Website or click on the button below.

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I Heart Valentine's Day (Especially the Candy!)

With everything going on in my life, I have to remember to set my priorities. That's right, my son's Valentine's Day Cards come first (hee hee.) Forget the laundry. Forget the dishes.

This year, my son was prepared to take the lollipop photo. He knew exactly what to do and how to hold his fist in the air. Only Mommy didn't want to do the lollipop photo because we've done it the past two years. Mommy has a new idea! But that didn't matter. So we did the lollipop Valentine's Day card again (well, we are in a new city, and he does go to a new school...) BUT we also added a new Valentine's Day Card.

This year, I still wanted to attach candy to the card (uh, that's a no-brainer!) but do something different than a lollipop. So I had him hold up his empty palm to the camera while I took some shots (easier said than done, especially with a little brother running around us in circles, literally, and into the frame.)

So instead of getting the shot I had in mind, I got this.

And this.

And this (times 20).

Eventually got some great shots of my son. So it was time to start the Valentine's Day Cards...

First of all, I chose two poses (one for the lollipop card and the other for the "new" candy card) and sent them to the lab to be printed. Then, I glued the photos onto card stock for support.

I used an X-Acto knife to cut a small slit above and below his fist and carefully slipped the lollipop through. Do this carefully, because you can rip your card. Be sure to make a couple extra copies just in case! For step-by-step directions on how to create the Lollipop Valentine's Day Card, please refer to my post from last year, I Heart Valentine's Day (still.)

 

For the other card, I used a Life Saver. I applied a glue dot to the center of his palm and pressed the Life Saver down on top of it.

The finished product? He's holding up a delicious Life Saver or lollipop for his Valentine.

Have a great Valentine's Day and please let me know if you, too, created a card for your little one!

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Family

Happy New Year! The holidays have come and gone, and I must admit, I've been dealing with some personal issues that have kept me preoccupied. So preoccupied, I didn't realize that it's been 2 and a half months since I last posted. Yikes!

I'm in a new, much better place now, and am slowly starting to adjust.

In the midst of my turmoil, one thing I learned was that God, my family and the relationships I hung onto mattered the most.

I've met some very special families along the way, and was able to take their holiday photos for them.

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Baby M

His name starts with an M, but I think the M stands for "Miracle." Baby M was born at 35 weeks. Which is pretty amazing since his mom was admitted to the hospital at 29 weeks right after her water broke.

Weeks of bed rest, never-ending prayers and consuming hospital food three times a day paid off (maybe without the green Jello...)

Beautiful Baby M was born and proved all the statistics wrong (her doctor said 85% of patients whose water breaks early deliver within one week.)

 

 

 

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Water

An outside game of hide in seek while the sun goes down. Popsicles. Sleeping in. Summer. The only season where you can swim all day and still have time to squeeze in a picnic.

This year, my son learned how to swim. He's now an expert at cannonballs. He really loves the water and exploring each way and direction his body can move in the water, whether it's slightly moving his legs to gracefully turn or violently kicking his legs to create enormous splashes.

I love the sheer joy and excitement on his face when he's in the water...

To see more water photos, head over to the I Heart Faces website or click on the button below.

 

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Prayers For My Friend...

My good friend Nicola is expecting her third child. She's already expecting her body to go through many changes. She's already expecting to sleep in 2-hour increments when the baby arrives. But what she wasn't expecting was for her water to break. Early. She was only 29 weeks and 2 days along when she was admitted to the hospital. Things didn't look optimistic, but she hoped and prayed. Her family hoped and prayed. Her friends hoped and prayed.

Today, Nicola reached 34 weeks. Not too bad for beating the odds (her doctor said 85% of patients whose water breaks early deliver within one week.)

We're still praying for you, Nicola...

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Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! (or at least a photo session!)

Mom. She's the epitome of comfort. She kisses our boo-boos and wipes our tears. She makes us something to eat when we're hungry. She gives us hugs when we need them the most. In celebration of Mother's Day, I offered a complimentary photo session to a Mom who needs it the most. And after reading through the nominations, I felt that Sarah Seibert's submission very touching. She wrote, "My Aunt Tina has been a mom now for 17 months and has NEVER had a family portrait done."

Well, that's not right. It's time to change that.

Thanks, Sarah for telling me your Aunt Tina's story. I'd be honored to take her first family photo.

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Together

Day 16. Together. As in, "I need to be in the photo, too." Such a challenge. When was the last time I was in a photo? Being the one behind the camera, it's extremely rare that you'll find a current photo of me. It's not that I don't like being in front of the camera (um, understatement!) but I absolutely love being behind the camera. I love being the one capturing the expressions, the feelings, the moments. I love being able to look at a photo and feel what that photo is conveying.

That being said, today's assignment was not easy. The only time I am in a photo is during Christmas, and that's when I insist we all gather together and take a photo, which is a task in itself. Getting the kids dressed, keeping them clean for 10 minutes and bribing them with numerous amounts of candy and video games. If it weren't for that, I wouldn't make any appearances in our thousands of frames hanging around the house.

I don't have a wireless shutter remote, so I set up the tripod and set my camera onto self-timer mode in order to take a photo of my sons and me. Easier said than done considering I have a 2-year-old that I would describe as "busy." You know you aren't crazy when complete strangers walk up to you and ask, "Are you just completely tired at the end of the day?!?" Obviously, they have only caught a glimpse of my little one.

But 14 shots later, I think we got a great one.

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Gift From the Heart

Day 8. Gift from the heart. When I read today's assignment (well, yesterday's) I couldn't really pinpoint one thing that my husband has given me, or my kids have given me. I can think of sooooo many things but I wanted to find that one thing that truly represents my most treasured gift from the heart. And then it hit me. I looked at my little bottle of  lotion next to my keyboard (amongst the stack of papers/toys/unpaid bills at my desk) and the name of the lotion said it all. Falling in Love.

I'm so thankful that my husband has been there for me. For me to fall in love with him. For us to have a family of our own to fall in love with. I love my boys, and I tell them that constantly all day.

Love is the gift my husband and kids have given me. And I love the opportunity to love them back.

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