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How To Find Your Photographer Soul Mate

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Having that picture perfect portrait of your family can feel overwhelming. Just the thought of getting kids organized for a portrait is always stressful for me – never mind worrying about how my family is going to gel with a photographer. Photography is such an intimate experience so finding your ‘photographer soul mate’ is important. Follow these 5 tips and you’ll be on your way to an amazing family portrait experience.

1) Stalk them on social media. I LOVE a photographer that is always sharing their latest family photography on Instagram or Facebook. Why is this more important than an updated website?  Nobody has time to keep their website updated daily, but that’s a different story when photographers are active on Facebook.   A photographer’s portrait location, style, placement will continually be changing. I love watching the evolution of portraits through a well updated Facebook page before making a decision to book. I knew from watching the Lark Rise House House Facebook Page for over a year, that the style and editing in her photos was a great match for how I pictured my portrait.

The below picture is from my phone as I watched Raeleigh style my girls and get them totally happy to be barefoot sitting in a barn window. It was at this moment I knew I was going to get a picture of the twins I would always treasure.

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2) Location, location, location. I think back to the stress of portraits at the Mall when my children were really young. The entire experience was anything but enjoyable. Here’s a little secret about finding the right photographer. The experience shouldn’t be terrible. A little stressful with children yes, but not something that gives you nightmares. I know my clan and they need to run around a lot. We met my photographer soul mate, Lark Rise Horse House, at a 200 year old farm with multiple barns and room to run. While my daughters were styled and photographed together, my boys got to collect owl pellets in an old barn, jumping in hay. This freedom gave me time to concentrate on getting my girls organized and not worry (too much) about my boys.

2.1) Location was one of the most important requirements on my list. Most photographers have access to a general location spot for pictures. Are you an outdoorsy family?  Or does the thought of light rain make you break out in hives?  A little mist doesn’t bother me and I was determined to have pictures with lots of leaves and Fall colours popping out everywhere. If weather elements have you concerned, does your photographer have a backup, indoor solution in case of freezing weather or rain?

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3) Will you click? Feeling comfortable with a photographer is important. For my clan, I need someone who is soft spoken, funny, and relaxed. I’m high strung enough for everyone, so having someone stay calm when you are feeling anxious about getting ‘the perfect picture’ is a must for me. I also know my children and a person that can yell “stinky farts” is the perfect fit for my kids. Getting them to laugh at the right moment or look dreamy in the next is great gift in a photographer. You’ll usually get the feel for this though their Facebook page.  Personalities shine through on social media – refer back to point 1) as it’s important.  I knew I had completely ‘clicked’ with my photographer when she showed up to our photo shoot with handmade fresh flower wreaths for my daughters and me to wear. She also brought some vintage looking dresses and vest for my girls – totally styled us all. I don’t have this ability and finding it in a photographer was SUCH a bonus!

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4) How do you feel about candid pictures?  I always end up loving these the most. They are always taken when you least expect it and it takes a certain eye to capture a perfect candid. Are you looking for a photographer that can tell a story of the day? Here is my favourite candid from our Lark Rise Horse House portrait. It was taken in a moment of one child saying ‘my mommy’ and being goofy. I love the expression on her twin sister’s face…bemused. And I’m so glad I just accepted the love of her grabbing my face rather than telling her to behave for the camera. It resulted in this candid picture I’ll treasure forever!!

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5) Referral. Word of mouth is also very important. Don’t know of a photographer in your area?  Ask your friends to show you their latest pictures and explain what the experience was like. Was it structured, relaxed, how long did it take to receive pictures, was their editing included, prints? I am one of those people that can’t wait to see pictures – if it’s going to take three weeks to get edited photos, I’m probably not a good candidate. I love seeing watermarked images shared after a family’s portrait – little sneak peeks a few days after the pictures have been taken. All of these questions can be answered by friends – a referral is so important because it means the photographer has left a happy trail of clients.

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I had been four years since I last took pictures with my clan. A few of these will be blown up on canvas as a surprise to my husband for Christmas. He doesn’t know we did this portrait and I’m sure will love the updated pictures of our kids. I am so grateful to Lark Rise Horse House for these pictures – they will be treasured forever! The below picture is the winner for going up on the canvas for our entrance way.  I love black and white pictures and all my kids and their different personalities are captured perfectly in this picture.

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Want to know one last thing your photographer soul mate will have you do?  A picture that wasn’t on your list. A picture that takes you out of your comfort zone. A picture just of you. Thank you Raeleigh. xx

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Blundstone Boot Review and Contest

Sponsored by: Blundstone Boots Canada

Hosted by: Mommy Footprint

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Have you heard of Blundstone Boots? They are getting really popular in Vancouver, but what nailed down my desire to own a pair was visiting a Tack shop before Christmas. The equestrian store was filled with horse back riding gear and they’ve carried these boots for years because of their functionality and long lasting design. That is what sold me on these boots. Listening to people that have loved this brand for many years, because these boots do what so few brands do these days…and that is last. Over and over the testimonials from adults include that they’ve owned these boots for 20 years and just get them resoled. You also hear about the comfort these boots provide as well.  What is not to love!?

About Blundstone Boots Canada

“Worth it.” That’s what people say. The only problem with Blundstone boots is that they never seem to wear out. Oh, people try. But after a few years of kicking the bejeez out of them, they’re more comfortable than ever and still going strong. Expensive? Nope, they get cheaper by the day. Blundstone Canada is the Canadian distributor of Blundstone boots.

 

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Mommy Footprint is so excited to give you a chance to win a pair of Blundstone Boots generously offered from Blundstone Boots Canada. You can choose from the original Blundstone design, canvas, kids Blunnies, and much, much more. Check out their website and fall in love with all the functional style for all members of your family. If this is the first time you are hearing about Blundstone Boots, ask a friend or family member. Chances are you’ll hear “I’ve had mine for years..love them for their comfort and look!” That is the feedback I get when I asked on the Mommy Footprint Facebook page and now that I own a pair, I couldn’t agree more. Let’s get on to the giveaway!

One lucky winner will win this

1 pair of Blundstone Boots (up to $200 value)!

Giveaway ends 02/01 at 11:59 pm ET! Open to US and Canadian residents 18+ and older.

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Good Luck!

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Disclaimer: The participating bloggers were not compensated for this post. We are not associated with any of the companies named above. No purchase is necessary to enter. Void where prohibited by law. The odds of winning are based on the number of entries received Open to US and Canada 18+ only. Confirmed Winner(s) (by Random.org) will be contacted by email. Winner(s) have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this giveaway. My blog is not responsible for product shipment/delivery. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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Brick & Mortar Living – Shopping For A Story

Teachers, coaches, and tutors. By December, it feels like my kids are with these people more than me. And when they are strong role models that help shape and define my kids into better humans, I want a gift that says “thank you”.

I have a trick when shopping for teachers gifts that helps keep me enthusiastic in the process; I always support local. I figure if I’m way off base and they don’t like my gift, I’ve at least helped a local store owner or talented person that makes original items. And when it comes to the suburbs in Vancouver, there is a store that never disappoints with locally stocked space called Brick and Mortar Living in New Westminster.

Here are 5 gift selections I found at Brick and Mortar Living that I thought were wonderful ideas for holiday gifts for teachers in particular. All these ideas are unique, handmade, and special because of the story behind how they are made.

If we could all get back to shopping for the best story, rather than the best price, our planet would be in such better shape.

My selections range in dollar value from 1 – 5 and could be sourced further abroad if you are not local to Vancouver.

Scrabble Tile Ornaments:

Displayed in cool vintage baking sheets, Brick and Mortar has saved you the time from buying up thrifted Scrabble boards to find your letters. There are so many great projects on Pinterest to make, but sticking with the holiday theme, why not make your teacher a scrabble tile ornament for their tree? You could include a message or name and it’s a budget friendly, fun DIY project!

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Mason Jar Cozy:

On-the-go convenience is important and when you can make it reusable with knit and glass, the effect is amazing. Brick and Mortar Living put together these great pieces to make transporting your favourite beverage easy. Included in this picture is a mason jar,  Cuppow adaptor, a reusable @onyxcontainers stainless steel straw, and  knit cozy from @onanaknits. I feel like the knit cozy makes this gift so festive.

brick4Gardener Gift:

A little corner of Brick and Mortar Living has flattened, vintage spoons made into garden markers. These are so cute for a teacher that loves to garden. If you have a group gift you’ve selected from, add a gift certificate to a local garden center and you’ve paired up practical with handmade!  The garden markers featured here are from @andthenagain.

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Living Gift:

Many teachers request gifts to beautify the classroom. By design Nature creates these living frames with plants or all sizes. The frame actually reminds you when it’s time to water. There are also smaller and budget friendly magnetic pots too. Cute to stick against a magnetic board in the classroom.

 

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Here is my showstopper. I just can’t think of a more creative gift than these crib boards made from up-cycled barrel staves. Teachers generally like board games and crib is a classic. The upcycled nature of this gift at Brick & Mortar Living are so unique and there is no better story behind a gift.

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It is really fun to get to the place in gift giving where after your friend, family member or teacher opens a gift and waits for you to tell the back-story of why and how their gift came to life.  Try to include some local love into your holiday shopping this year. It’s not only fabulous for your community’s health, but feels fantastic to give.

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Earth Month – DIY Personal Care

It’s Earth Month with April 22nd being the day we recognize as Earth Day. I used to feel pressure to come up with amazing one-day projects of how to celebrate Earth Day but as the years pass, I’m aware that how I live my life everyday is more important than my actions on April 22nd. Don’t get me wrong – I think Earth Day is great for learning and being inspired by children this time of year. I love hearing their thoughts on the environment and what we can do to help, but today, we are talking about YOU!  And what better way to approach Earth day then to minimize your personal waste, packaging, chemicals, money, and reuse items you already have in your pantry.  For Earth Month, Week, or Day – however you choose to celebrate, step out of your comfort zone. Try something that seems totally out there! By trying completely new ideas . . you will realize that making small changes to everyday routines are not that big a deal. And since the concept of Earth Day is NOT to go out buying a bunch of stuff to be ‘green’ – let’s keep things easy and inexpensive.

Here are 3 of the easiest DIY recipes I love because they contain limited ingredients and maximum effect. We are starting with your personal care because a lot of your household chemical exposure that is harmful to your family comes from personal care products and cleaning supplies. We are going to make deodorant, facial wash, and teeth whitener. We can make these three products with only 3 ingredients: coconut oil, lemon or lime, and baking soda. If you have these items at home – let’s go!

Deodorant:

Up until a week ago, when I wanted to use deodorant I used this recipe and I’ve always been very happy with it. It’s effective enough for me with scent and moisture reduction but when I saw a post about trying lemon or lime as a deodorant I knew I had to test it out. Why? How easy is a one ingredient deodorant and because I’m addicted to hot water with honey and lemon at the moment, I’ve always got lemons in my fridge. To use lemon or lime for deodorant simply cut a lemon in half and wipe under your arm pit. It doesn’t get easier that this. Obviously don’t use this deodorant if you’ve just shaven under your pit – common sense needs to prevail here. My 1/2 lemon wedge lasted a week at the edge of my bathroom sink, it dried on skin quickly, and is very effective with reducing scent. Reduce your exposure to propylene glycol (neurotoxin), parabens (preservative) and  aluminum (effects your brain) just by this one simple DIY deodorant tip.

Facial Scrub:

Next up – an organic and 2 ingredient recipe to create an amazing facial wash or scrub.  I’ve always used either Noxzema, bar soap, or just water to wash my face. I’ve never spent a lot of money on skin care so when I ran out of Noxzema a few months back I decided to try making a facial scrub from coconut oil and baking soda. The beautiful part of this DIY is you control the amount of ‘scrub’ with the wash by how much baking soda you add. For every teaspoon of coconut oil, I add a pinch of baking soda. I would say my face is pretty sensitive and I’ve had no problem with the natural abrasive action of baking soda against my skin. My advice would be to start with a few tablespoons of coconut oil in a jar and add small amounts of baking soda until you find the right balance. I just prefer a bit of a scrub when I wash my face. And if the first time you try this your face feels really greasy or oily after you apply the water to remove the coconut oil . . .don’t panic. Once you remove the facial wash with water, pat or lightly rub dry with a towel and feel your face. It will be super soft and perfectly moisturized. So will your lips, neck and hands. I have no desire to go back to store bought facial cleaners that I know include preservatives to keep shelf life and a host of chemicals I’ve discovered my skin simply doesn’t need or miss.

Oil Pulling:

I know, I’ve been talking a lot about oil pulling. And I’ll probably be mentioning it a lot for the next while. I love it. Since the first day I tried oil pulling I’ve been doing it everyday. My mouth misses it by the afternoon if I’ve had a busy morning and haven’t been able to ‘pull’. This act of oil pulling sounds very complicated and involved, but again – here is a DIY that only needs one ingredient. You take a heaping teaspoon of unrefined coconut oil, put it in your mouth, wait for it to melt and then you swish around with your saliva between the teeth for 15-20 minutes. Think you need super expensive and questionable ingredient Crest Strips? Do you go to the dentist for whitening treatments? Do you use mouthwash? Why wouldn’t you save your body and wallet by trying this organic method of reducing plaque, whitening teeth, reducing bacteria, re-mineralization for teeth, and gum strength. Oil pulling has also been documented for improving skin disorders and pulling toxins from not only your teeth but mucus membranes.

These are my favourite DIY recipes for personal care. You can tell I’m not much of a cook since they contain so few ingredients but keeping things simple is key for me. I’ve petered out with any DIY recipe that contain a lot of ingredients. They are always very expensive to make and I’m trying to consolidate my personal care portfolio – not add to it.  I keep a jar of coconut oil separate for my hair care. I’ve enjoyed using this as a slicker and protective coating to the ends of my hair after I’ve dried it and have frizzies. Using coconut oil to moisturize hair is another DIY favourite. The list goes on and on once you embrace all the different uses for coconut oil. This is one product that lives up to the hype but make sure you purchase unrefined coconut oil so that chemicals aren’t added during the processing stage of making the oil. Go extreme with DIY personal care – you will love empowering yourself and the look on your family member’s faces when you tell them what you’ve been up to with lemons. Okay…that might just be me. (grin)

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Sext Up Kids

I’ve become a bit of a documentary person since I watch so little TV so I discover information important to my life online. One documentary that we had great discussions via Facebook but I didn’t write an article about was Sext Up Kids  produced by CBC DocZone. I was honored to preview the documentary a few days before it aired on TV and I have not stopped talking about it since first watching it. I immediately took to social media to encourage parents to watch it (even parents with young children). I also mentioned the incredible resources listed in the documentary to our Premier Christy Clark back in October. When I see the reemergence of concerned parents with social media profiling or reading the letter written to Victoria Secret from a concerned dad about their new clothing line called “Bright Young Things” aimed at young teenagers I think of the information all parents need to know if their kids participate with adult tools like social media or devices that connect to the Internet.

The main concern of DocZone experts is our children are moving from toddler-hood to teenagers – the middle gap of childhood seems to be lost with the intense pressure of sexuality.  And the surprising (for me) reality for our sons? That they are using their widely accessible electronic devices to access porn. This is where they are learning how to treat our daughters and the amount of time spent watching porn is causing desensitization to violence by watching sex in such an aggressive forum. I can see both sides of this documentary having both sons and daughters but I have to say the learning curve on how I need to parent my sons really was a surprise to me. But it’s not hard to believe that this happens. It crossed my mind as a reality when I recently hosted a play date for my oldest son and an electronic device that couldn’t connect to the internet (only because we don’t have a wi-fi password) was  brought over to the playdate. If the ipod could connect to the Internet – what would they be watching? I still think of my 10 year old son as my sweet innocent baby, but kids profiled in this documentary say they started watching porn in Grades 4-7. ** Yes, mouth is on the floor **

And the flip side to the pornography issue with boys watching it? Girls feel pressure to become the characters portrayed online – from how to act, look, and perform. Phones and social media only intensify these online relationships with children producing images, texts via sexting, and videos with horrible, horrible consequences. We’ve all heard about children that have been tormented and bullied online from mistakes they have made sending pictures or actions over a phone or Facebook.

On the West Coast,  iGirl workshops are one proactive answer to addressing the feeling of not being enough for the pressures of society. Saleema Noon talks about the huge problem of young children receiving adult toys (Smart phones, etc.) and not fully understanding what is private and public. Teens are sending approx. 135 texts per day and social media is re-packaging their image on a daily basis. The documentary also states that girls that text the most, often are most sexually active.

Another BC expert in the fight against online bullying is Jessie Miller who talks to kids about the downside of the sexy side of social media. He tries to educate that just because kids can easily access technology doesn’t mean what they are using it for is right. His no nonsense approach with kids using social media is smart – they need to be educated if they are going to be using these grown up mediums. My favourite part of his speech to teenagers is when he tells them if anyone has a picture of a person under the age of 18 wearing less than a bathing suit on their laptop, iphone, or ipod they are in possession of child pornography. . . which is a crime. Why are we scared to educate our children about this? If we are going to give them adult tools to communicate, they need to be educated on how not to use these tools.

This is the list I provided the Premier when she reached out to local bloggers concerned about online bullying in BC. I told her our Province is already filled with experts – why not gather a team to go into schools and educate on this huge problem with a taskforce? I didn’t hear back about my suggestions. I’ve listed them again to help parents:

iGirl Empowerment Workshops created by respected sex educator Saleema Noon: http://www.saleemanoon.com/igirl/

Mediated Reality created by Jessie Miller: http://www.mediatedreality.com/ I would love Jessie to speak at my children’s school – the no nonsense approach to social media is fantastic.

Author Peggy Orenstein wrote ‘Cinderella Ate My Daughter’ award winning writer about issues affecting girls and women: http://peggyorenstein.com/

And other great resources quoted in Sext Up Kids documentary can be found here. I make lots of mistakes with parenting but I prefer to do it with my eyes wide open. Watching this documentary is important for parents to watch – even parents with young children. There are lots of examples of how to curb accelerated behavior and modelling at a young age. I talked about this documentary when it first aired and I keep referring to it. The world has changed and here is a lesson in how we can adapt.

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