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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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Miss J

Seventh grade was such an awkward stage in my past. My family moved to California from Washington and I attended two 7th grade classes in two cities (did I mention that I also attended 3 kindergarten classes  in 2 states?) We moved quite a bit, which meant I had to learn how to make friends quickly and was labeled the "New Kid" often. I remember trying to fit in (using Aqua Net hairspray helped), desperately wanting to wear the coolest clothes  (anything that matched my sparkly laces on my L.A. Gear tennis shoes) and wanting to hang out at the mall.

To say I was amazed when I met Miss J is an understatement. I learned that she can sing, dance, act, play the piano, play basketball and was involved in gymnastics. Did I mention that she's only 13? A bit of a contrast to my 13-year-old self...

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jenparkerphotography.com

 

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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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May Day

It's already May. Really?!? Well, I suppose if I kept up with my blog, I'd be more aware of the date. Perhaps I should make blogging my quarter-year resolution. Perhaps.

Anyhow, I've been having fun playing with some photos I took previously and re-editing them. I've acquired an overlay/texture pack from Jessica Drossin's Textures and I'm having way too much fun. Take a look at these before and afters...

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I took out the pole, took out my other son's head on the left and added the clouds in the sky.

This is one I took of my very good friend when she was pregnant last year. We were fortunate to catch a beautiful sunset.

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I added the clouds in the sky and changed the tone a bit.

The last one isn't a before and after, but I wanted to share these fantastic photos my 7-year-old took of my youngest and me. Looks like I'm going to have an assistant soon...

JenCharBB-R

 

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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:

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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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Summer Fun

Summer is over. Kind of. School has started for the kids, Starbucks already started serving Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and Labor Day has come and gone. But with the temperature still in the high 90s, it sure doesn't feel like summer is coming to an end. I guess I officially have 18 more days to find that out.

Summer is synonymous with popsicles, long warm nights and of course, the beach. And although summer may be coming to an end, each time I look at a picture of the beach, I can close my eyes and feel the sun on my face and the warm sand beneath my feet.

My two boys had fun at the beach this summer. One clearly likes to challenge the waves splashing in his face while the other likes the gritty consistency of the sand. Perhaps when the weather cools down, we'll venture to the nearby mountains for a hike.

 

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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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My Big Little Man

I have a 3-year old. If I had any doubts about his age, let me quickly review my condensed checklist to determine if he is, indeed, three.

  • Does he say "no" when he really means "yes" then gets upset because I didn't give him the red cup ? (No! I mean yes! {insert crying} I mean no!)
  • Does he kick and scream constantly when being put in his daily time-outs? (Let me stress daily)
  • Does he insist on wearing a short-sleeve shirt when it's 55 degrees outside?

Check, check and check.

But then sometimes I catch a glimpse of him, an unnoticed peek of him, and he looks all grown up. His brows are furrowed. His look is focused. He is deep in thought.

He's a big kid. A little man.

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Happiness

Happiness is watching your favorite cartoon over and over again, and laughing hysterically each time as if it's the first time you've seen it.

Click on the button above to see more "happiness" photos, or visit the I Heart Faces website.

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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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Mommy Goggles On.

This weeks' I Heart Faces challenge theme is: Best Face Photo from Summer 2011. How can I resist not sharing a photo of my kids?

These are the best faces from my Summer 2011. These are the best faces from my life.

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Jeepers Creepers

Where did you get those peepers? I love looking into the eyes of my kids. They show me so much feeling, so much emotion. They tell me what their words are unable to do.

Usually these eyes are telling me that he's about to get into some kind of mischievous trouble (as a 2-year-old should!) but in this photo, they are telling me that he loves me. Or at least that's how I interpret it. Or that he loves me and that's he's just about to get into some kind of mischief in the next 2 minutes...

To see more photos of beautiful eyes, head on over to the I Heart Faces Website or click on the button below.

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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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seven four eleven

Independence Day. BBQs, fireworks and a 3-day weekend. This year, I decided to introduce my kids to the magical fun of watching fireworks. They loved it. Most of the time, their little hands were covering their ears. Still, watching their faces of amazement was something I'll never forget.

And although my 2-year old doesn't know the true meaning of Independence Day just yet, I'm okay with that. He's still working on the colors and shapes of the American Flag.

 

Visit I Heart Faces to see more Independence Day photos or simply click on the button below.

 

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