A New Chapter

It’s hard to believe it’s only been a year since I started this blog called Ave & Jay. I launched Ave & Jay with the mission to reach and encourage others. I didn’t realize in the process I’d find so much healing and restoration.

I’ve always loved to write. I haven’t always been great at it, but I caught the bug (from my mom) at a very young age and embraced all of the disciplines to becoming a better writer. Many times in college I even threatened to change majors from nursing to English in order to further pursue my passion for writing.

I didn’t, and I’m glad I stuck out nursing school (even though I’m on an extended sabbatical from that profession now). Regardless, writing has always been a near and dear friend.

When I decided to start Ave & Jay, blogging was already very familiar to me. I’d blogged for years on another personal blog and as a contributor for others. This was a safe and comfortable and incredibly low risk space.

Looking back I can see that I was stepping out of a dark and vulnerable place and needed to be reminded of my strengths again. Most days I felt like I was failing miserably at everything but being able to stretch those “writing muscles,” to exercise the parts of my brain that had been muddled by sleep deprivation and extended periods of high stress, brought energy back into me.

I’ve said so many times within the last several weeks, with praise to the Lord, “My brain is better now.” It’s apparent to others as well, not just myself. Is it 100% because of blogging? No. Definitely not. But blogging here has nurtured my gift enough to remind me of dreams I wanted to pursue in writing that I had put away.

These dreams I’d like to pursue will require a lot more stretching. A lot more time. But, my brain is ready to tackle a new challenge. (Again, all the praise to God!)

This blog has become a little retreat for me: an outlet that’s been incredibly therapeutic, and I’m so grateful for the support its received and to my blogging buddy Krissy for holding my hand while I started this journey. But it’s time to close this chapter and start a new one.

I’ll still be around on the gram, if you aren’t already following me there. And who knows, in the same way the Lord stirred the passion and vision for this blog in my heart one summer day last year, He may very well call me back here. But for now, the calling is elsewhere. And I can say with teary eyes that I am incredibly excited to be emotionally and mentally ready to take on the new project before me.

Thank you for following along,

❤ Lindsay

Summer Sanity: Grocery Adventuring

Hi friends! If you’re just now joining us, this is my third installment of the Summer Sanity series. If you want a list of ideas of things to do with your kiddos, Pinterest is full of long lists; most of which overwhelm me mostly because I can’t see how that idea would really mesh with me, my kids, our schedule, and what’s accessible to us. Hence this series!

I’m not seeking to give you a summer check list here. My goal is to give you an IDEA that you run away with. I talked about chores in my first post, which maybe inspired you to start a new daily routine with your kids of picking toys up before dinner. Or maybe you went all out with a sticker chart and end of the month pizza party when your kid filled up his chart. I didn’t say to do that- but maybe the idea of introducing chores to your kids sparked another idea in you that works for YALL. That’s the goal here: to light matches and stoke fires.

I remember once reading one of the above mentioned checklists when my first born was still an infant, and we were in the throws of nap-strikes mid-summer. I got to the suggestion of “visit a farmer’s market” and rolled my eyes.

“Yeah right. In the summer? By myself? In the heat? What if my baby blows her diaper out inside the Moby wrap while I’m out there where there is no restroom let alone a changing table? Puh-lease. No.”

And I closed that window like it was hot and opted for playing in the baby pool on our deck instead.

However, visiting a market is actually my third summer sanity suggestion, and if you live in the thick Southern heat like me, you’ll appreciate where my suggestion differs from the stereotypical outdoor farmer’s market setting.

My suggestion: visit a grocery store (ideally one with AC) that you don’t usually go to. Maybe one that you NEVER go to, but you’ve been to before, so you know where the bathrooms are (necessary if you’re going to be out and about with your toddler).

AND, have one item that you need to purchase there that is not from the produce section.

A gallon of milk.

A box of pasta noodles.

A loaf of bread.

Load your kiddos however suits you best, in a cart, in your baby wrap, on their leash (no judgement), and begin to explore. Walk through the produce section, which is normally near the entrance, first. If you remember that you could really use a head of lettuce, let your toddler help choose one. Walk up and down the aisles and talk about what you see with your kids, making your way into the neighboring section, and eventually to wherever that item is that you do actually need. But, have fun along the way. Linger where you can. If they’ve got cheese samples set out, let your kids enjoy one. If the baker is chatty, let your kids answer his questions and practice good manners / conversational skills.

My kids have loved our special grocery adventures. We usually use online grocery pick up, so they rarely go into the grocery store, and when they do, it’s always the same one that’s closest to our home. So, on those special occasions when we “pop into” a new grocery store, everything is really different to them. It’s like you can see the synapses forming between the neurons as their eyes take in new sights and their noses new smells. Meanwhile, the motions of going through a grocery market are still familiar and safe.

I remember when I was a little girl the rare occasions when my mom would take us to this GIANT grocery store that was a bit of a drive from our house. It was sort of the Whole Foods of our area, only twice as big as any Whole Foods I’ve ever been in. I never did anything different than what I normally did when we would go there, just walk next to my mom while she pushed the cart and did the shopping, but the experience was far from usual: the huge fish laid out on piles of ice, the lobsters swimming in tanks, the rows and rows of fresh fruits, including tropical fruits that I didn’t recognize, every single kind of nut, each in a giant see through container that seemed to reach the ceiling, ALL of the cheeses…

In every way it was a productive field trip: mom got whatever groceries she needed, and our five senses were engaged.

In essence, that is exactly what my suggestion to you is: take a productive field trip to a grocery store you rarely frequent.

As you know if you follow me on Insta, we’ve been out of town for awhile, and yesterday my kids were in a funk from being out of their routine and home and schedule, so we went to Trader Joe’s in the morning (their very first visit since we don’t have one in Arkansas). They had the best time just seeing things that were packaged and displayed differently, walking around, and getting little samples of lemonade. I had a couple things I knew I wanted to get, which honestly I probably could have gotten at the Publix just down the street. Even though the Trader Joe’s was much further away, I knew the experience would be different than what my kids are used to, so we opted for the little adventure over convenience. And everyone was glad we did.

I’ve got more summer sanity suggestions coming your way, so stay tuned.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

The Peach Sweater

Originally published October 2013 on another blog I authored.

This morning I carefully folded our laundry, like I do almost every morning. When I came to my white and blue stripped cardigan, the one I’d worn on my wedding day, I smiled. I was grateful the butternut squash soup from yesterday hadn’t left a stain. I hung it over a hanger and hung it up next to my most beautiful sweater of all: the peach one I’d bought this summer.

The one with delicate fabric. The one I’d paid more for than I had planned on when going on my shopping endeavor to find something warm to wear to a wedding in Colorado. It was so beautiful, and I knew it would go with everything. I adore that sweater, and I’m glad I bought it. It is beautiful and soft and really does go with everything.

However, this morning, in horror, I noticed it’s shoulders had been stretched out by the hanger it was hanging off of. And as I looked closer, I saw a hole right there in the shoulder.

I quickly grabbed my sewing kit from the closet and found a light gold spool of thread… I didn’t have peach, so gold would have to do. Carefully, I examined the seems and determined the best way to pull them back together.

Carefully, I tended to my beautiful sweater. I’m not proficient enough to do it quickly. So, I took my time. I carefully folded the fabric over to check my line; to make sure it’s straight.

I finished mending the hole in the shoulder and noticed the tag was pulling at the delicate fabric. I wished I hadn’t accidentally put it in the dryer that one day. I knew the damage I was fixing was a consequence of my negligence in the past.

When the knots were tied and the thread cut, and I held up the sweater to assess it’s condition, I happily realized my work would suffice. My sewing skills were satisfactory. No one will notice anything had ever been wrong with the sweater.

But, I can’t help but wonder, how would the designer of this sweater have fixed it? Of course, she never would have accidentally put the sweater in the dryer, so she wouldn’t have had this problem to begin with. But, if I knew her, and could ask her to repair my damaged sweater, what would she had done differently?

She would have used the right color thread. And her lines would have been perfect, because she knew exactly how they were supposed to be to begin with. She would have considered more than I did. How would her repair hold up during future wear? Would her repair affect the purpose of the sweater? Would it still be beautiful?

I was just trying to fix a hole so no one would know it had ever been there.

She would have considered more. She would have considered the whole picture.

A realm I do not understand, because I know so little about sewing and fashion design.

But she would know everything. And my sweater would be in better hands if they were her’s and not mine.

Isn’t this our life? We have so many holes as a result of our negligence, or shortcomings, or weaknesses, and we try to patch them and fill them, all by ourselves, so no one will know we ever had anything wrong with us.

Some of us might do okay, for a while. We might even be able to convince others that the holes are fashionable. But, inside, we know that wasn’t how it was designed to be. And we know we don’t have the skills, or knowledge, or strength to keep fixing and filling anymore.

So let’s stop trying to do something we’re not equipped to do.

Let’s give it back to the Designer.

He’ll repair the holes. He knows the best way how. The method of stitching might hurt a little. But, when He’s finished, we’ll be whole again.

Shying Away from the Fence

Hey all! Kristina here. It’s been a minute since I popped in, but I wanted to share what I was feeling today.

I wanted to tell you about my Lou and how she helped me realize a great little nugget of truth today. She is a feisty, soon-to-be 6 year old bagle hound. Right now she is on probation from our backyard, as you can see from her leash in the image below. 

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Lou, refusing to look at me because she’s embarrassed about her leash.

We have new neighbors and with those new neighbors came two very large dogs. At first, one of them was particularly aggressive against our adjoining fence when our dogs were outside. We chose to live in a city closely near people, so this doesn’t bother me since he is contained in his own yard. 

However, Lou has become TERRIFIED of this dog. He’s about three times her size, but not to sound cliché, he’s all bark and no bite. Instead of just shying away from the fence when she has to pass by to get to the grassy area of our yard, she has started retaliating anytime he comes near her… even though there’s a privacy fence. 

Now, if you have never heard the thunder in the voice of a hound, you probably wouldn’t know that they don’t bark. It’s long, incredibly loud bay. Basically, it’s like a horn blowing. Repeatedly. Without warning.

Needless to say, for the past couple of weeks, I have gone as far as running outside barefoot in the snow to prevent her from waking up the entire neighborhood at 7 a.m… or midnight…. It seems only to happen at very inconvenient times. Every single time she comes back in the house she is SO proud of her accomplishment. She looks at me, wagging her tail like, “Did ya see that?? I told the big doggo off for being mean to me, mawm.” 

Lou has NO idea that her baying does her absolutely no good. The big dog simply doesn’t care what Lou has to say, and he’s going to go about his business. It’s his yard and that side of the fence is his fence. Even though her intentions are to protect her own yard, Lou gets in trouble for baying while the other dog is virtually unaffected. 

I think this is so relatable when you think about the world of social media. This morning I woke up to less than desirable comments plastered on my newsfeed, and my initial reaction was to retaliate. It wasn’t even my post. In fact, it wasn’t even a friend of mine, but I still wanted to give them a piece of my mind because I felt I knew more to the story than what was being told. My initial reaction was to protect, to tell them off for being mean. Maybe even “bay” at them a little bit. Emotions are good like that.

Luckily, I was able to calm myself down, finish my coffee, and take my dogs out without saying anything. It wasn’t until I was coming up the steps to our completely fenced in backyard that I realized that I knew exactly how Lou feels. This is her yard… her life.  She should be able to protect it. But at the same time, does the other dog’s barks truly have any affect on her? 

Nah. She gets to come back in her nice, warm home to people and other critters that love her and care for her. The other dog has zero control over her life, but sometimes it’s hard for her to see past that. Again, emotions are good like that.

You know what happens when I walk outside with Lou on a leash? Not only does she stay quiet, but the other dog does as well. He’s simply bored now that there’s no ammunition coming from Lou. She has guidance.

My guidance when it comes to social media just happens to be a scripture. I probably say way more than I should, but I’m pretty good at not needlessly fighting for a virtual battle I can’t win. According to the New Living Translation, Psalm 21:23 says, “Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.” Wow… That one line is so straightforward, right? Stay on my side of the fence. Good stuff!

I would like to point out that there are times when you should absolutely speak up, especially if someone is being hurt or bullied. However, if it’s not one of those situations

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Lou & Kristina while visiting a Rocky Mountain mining town.

or it doesn’t directly impact our everyday life, perhaps it would be easier on our mental health if we could just let people bark. It’s not easy, but if you find a good leash and practice shying away from the fence, you’ll be able to control the amount of stress allowed into your mind… To move on and go about your life.

I truly hope that someone else can helped by thoughts as much as I have today. Until next time, friends!

xoxo,

Kristina

Kristina: I spent 8 Months Focusing on my Skincare Routine

Hey friends! Kristina here.

So I love makeup. I truly do. Not only is it super fun, it just makes you feel like a million bucks to feel polished and pristine, awake and fresh. It also washes off, so it’s fun to try new things. So why on earth did I quit wearing a full face of makeup 8 months ago?!

*cue hazy, cheesy flashback scene*

It was the summer between 5th and 6th grade. I was at our city pool, enjoying the last few days of summer before another school year. To make a long, painful story short, a friend of a friend approached me. The first thing out of her mouth is “woah…you have tons of zits on your forehead now.” *facepalm*

And thus, my struggle began…

This past February, (nearly two decades later, I might add…) I realized I was still fighting

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The usual breakout for me. I believe this one was in 2016. Ouch!

the same ole fight with my skin. Occasionally, I would think everything was under control, settling for a few new blemishes a month…then at the drop of a hat, my acne

would come back with vengeance. I had tried literally everything I could over the years… doctor’s visits, pills, topicals, hormonal birth control, over the counter regimens for acne-prone skin, natural remedies…you name it. Most blemish shrinking products just made my skin more angry, and the ones that worked would only work for a little while.

I was ready for something drastic. Thanks to Lindsay and her love for good skincare, I had learned years ago that taking care of my skin was way more important than covering up the problems on my skin. So… I said ‘goodbye’ to my daily makeup routine and here are my results on focusing on care instead of covering up blemishes.

  1. My acne has pretty much disappeared.
    • The only time I have had blemishes pop up over the past several months, I was under SUPER stressful situations or forgot to wash my face at night. They were usually in my chin area, small and went away within a day or two. I can now go multiple weeks without a single blemish, which is something I haven’t done in YEARS.
  2. My skin is the healthiest it’s ever been.
    • My skin feels fantastic! It’s soft and my pores don’t appear as large. I’ll admit, I do have a strict skincare routine but it is SO worth it. I use a face wash and moisturizer twice a day, and I will wash my face directly after exercising or being outside for extended periods of time (pollution will build up in your pores). If you can’t take the time to fully wash your face, I recommend wiping it with a damp microfiber, silver-infused cloth (I use the Body Cloth from

      TimeWisePeel

      This is absolutely my favorite facial peel!

      Norwex). I also use a charcoal mask three times a week. On occasion, I will use a facial peel to exfoliate but I’ve learned I don’t have to do that as often since I’m not putting as many products on my face every day. For cystic blemishes, I use a drop of tea tree essential oil* because it contains anti-bacterial properties and promotes healing.

  3. I am not as self conscious about my appearance.
    • Yes, I have imperfections. The area under my eyes has a purple tint and isn’t smooth. I have acne scars and divots. I even have a few “wisdom lines” here and there. In this age of technology, it’s become more and more difficult for us to accept imperfections on our bodies. Forcing myself out of my security blanket of makeup made me realize that this is just how I look…naturally. I was created this way. I take care of my skin and it’s healthier than it’s been in decades, and I should be proud of my effort to be happy, healthy, and comfortable in my own skin.

My advice to you today is not to quit wearing makeup. In fact, I’m back to wearing it regularly. I personally had to take drastic measures but we are all different as far as our skincare needs go. I do want to encourage you to focus on taking care of your skin, recognizing issues and addressing them. Even if it’s just a face wash and moisturizer, twice a day every-single-day. If you do wear makeup, remove it before going to bed, and don’t forget to exfoliate. Another great tip to keep in mind is that companies often formulate their products to work in unison. If your skin-demons are out of control, consider sticking to one brand so there are no negative interactions between ingredients.

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December 2018 – I apparently did not keep any images of myself over the past 8 months without editing out my acne. Here I am today though — Zero airbrushing on my skin!

If you’re not sure where to start, I will link the skincare I started with HERE. Don’t be afraid to try new things until you get your skincare regime right. I have adjusted several times over the years. Most importantly… don’t give up on your skin!!

xoxo,

Kristina

*I am not an expert concerning essential oils. I only know their benefits based on my own experience and research, so please be sure find reputable sources and companies to review more information before using! They can be very potent and wonderful remedies if used correctly.

Kristina: An Empath’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays

Yes… We are here again. The Holidays… (said in my best Eeyore voice) With Christmas quickly approaching, so is the anxiety for your friendly neighborhood empath. What is this ’empath’ you speak of? Well friend, let me break it down for you before we dive in to my own personal survival techniques.

Most of the time, people consider empaths to have this unnatural, almost paranormal, “sixth sense” that allows them to sense and physically feel the emotions around them. For me, this category also includes your introverts, quiet folk, peacekeepers, shy ones, and the Meyers-Briggs INFJs, so this is really for anyone who falls under those labels. We simply have more empathy in our souls than most, and that makes us painfully aware of our surroundings. In other words, you will not find us throwing elbows at your local big box store for a cheap television on Black Friday. I shudder at the thought.

So, that sounds pretty harsh, right? The one time of year when emotions are running at their highest, a little family drama is inevitable, and we are destined to feel every single eye-roll at the depths of our soul. Never fear, my friends. We will survive, and here’s a few tips to keep your tinsel from getting tangled.

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1. Avoid guilt-tripping yourself.

Let’s just start off with a big one… Say it with me friends, “I cannot please everyone!” I am from a family with several divorces and remarriages. I have never seen this as a hinderance, but more of, “I just have more people to love me!” And it’s true, but the problem is that I had to teach myself that it is not possible to attend every single family gathering. It is not your fault that time travel hasn’t been invented yet…probably. Do your best to focus on the gathering you have chosen. There’s no use in feeling guilty the entire time you’re at one party because you will likely subconsciously distance yourself from the people you chose to be with. That’s no fun for anyone!

2. Book, but don’t overbook.

Going along with the last tip, you really do need to schedule your holidays to avoid the anxiety that goes along with being pulled from all directions. Decide. Make it known. Stick to it! If you volunteer to bring or make something, plan ahead of time and choose something simple. My husband and I planned the menu for our Thanksgiving dinner a week ahead of time. We ordered our groceries via Walmart Grocery Pick-up* and had them loaded into our car by an employee the Sunday before. It was truly a life saver!

3. Master the art of smalltalk.

Total cringe. Being an empath has made me so incredibly aware of things like awkwardness, mistakes, embarrassment, silence, tension… Trust me. If it’s uncomfortable, I’ll feel it. You really have two options when it comes to smalltalk when you’re not good at it and your BFF isn’t available. One, stick to the most extroverted people in the room. While the conversation can be a little overwhelming, you won’t have to do much talking. Just listen and be present. Now, if for some reason the extroverted people are engaged in a conversation or activity you don’t want to be a part of and you’re stuck with awkward, quiet cousin Bob, remember that there’s a good chance he feels the same way you do. Instead of focusing on how YOU feel, try making it your goal to make Bob feel more comfortable. Ask questions. People love to talk about their hobbies. Find out what they are and become genuinely interested in learning more. Even if something might not sound cool to you, it might mean the world to cousin Bob and this is the quickest way to give people the opportunity to open up. If cousin Bob’s quietness isn’t wavering, it’s ok embrace it in silence. Somehow our society has decided that silence is awkward. Personally, I am a firm believer that can be beautiful too. It all depends on your perception!

4. Don’t be afraid to step away for a moment.

I am the QUEEN of sneaking off for a moment at holiday gatherings. My head will often become a jumbled mess, and I can’t even speak if I don’t take a breather from a crowd. I have learned over the years that this is totally fine because it’s what my mental health requires. While the family is playing a crazy party game that sounds like pure torture to your quiet soul, go grab a slice of Mema’s semi-famous coconut creme pie, bundle up if it’s cold, and head to the porch for a few moments. Take a walk. Lock yourself in the bathroom if you have to (guilty), but one way or another, give yourself a few moments of peace. Your brain will thank you later.

5. Do something for YOU!

If you don’t take away anything else from this post, please consider this most… People will tell you the holidays are about family right? While I do agree, I also believe that the holidays are also about love, appreciation, and peace. You deserve all of these things, even if it’s coming from yourself. For real… Treat yourself! Have a favorite menu item that you decided not to make because you’re afraid no one else likes it? So what?! Make it anyway. You might be surprised at who might like it, and remember that even if it is a bust with your friends and family, you get to take home all the leftovers! Feel as though you have nothing to wear? Find a new-to-you outfit. Even if you don’t feel like you have the money to purchase something brand new, check out your local thrift stores for a deal, or ask a friend if you can borrow something fun! Still dreading gathering because you know you’ll be drained afterwards? Set aside some time to do an activity you love that very same day, even it means you need to leave a little early.

Friends, if you’ve paid attention, you’ve probably noticed that there’s really one common trait amongst all my tips. Focus on controlling your thoughts and actions instead of focusing on how you feel. Emotions are a wonderful thing, but sometimes they can get the best of us. Especially for those of us who not only feel our own feelings, but the feelings of others as well. The holidays are absolutely the most emotional time of the year, and our environment can truly be overwhelming. I hope that I was able to give you a few tips to help you survive the chaos, but if not, please don’t be afraid to open up to a friend about your concerns. Remember, you deserve love, appreciation, and peace, and I hope you are able to not only survive, but thrive this holiday season!

xoxo, 

Kristina

*Note: This post is not sponsored but by clicking “Walmart Grocery Pick-Up” in the text above, my friends and family can save $10 on their first pick-up order of $50 or more (pre-tax)! Walmart does all the in-store shopping. It’s so easy! You place your order online, pull up to a specially marked parking spot after scheduling a time for pick-up, and an associate will load the groceries your vehicle! How awesome is that?!

Kristina: 5 Things I Want Toddler Moms to Know Before Family Photo Sessions

Hey friends! Kristina here. Did you know that I’m the “official” Ave & Jay family photographer?

After ten years of being in the photography industry, I had the chance to experience all sort of different types of sessions. I originally began my photography journey in sports. My passion was for telling a story… not so much on capturing portraits. When I decided I wanted to make a full time career out of wedding photography, I realized one thing: I needed referrals. What was the fastest way for referrals in Small Town, U.S.A.? Family portraits.

I began working with families in my hometown and business quickly started growing outside the area. No matter where my clients were from, I noticed one thing: Moms stress and apologize during sessions. A lot. 

Well I am here to tell you, after years of experience, you truly don’t always have to apologize, Mama. I also don’t want you to feel stress over what should be a fun experience, so here are some things I want you to know before your family photo session to help you prepare.

1. Book Early

Fact: There are really two times of year when families want to have portraits made. The first being Spring. It’s not quite too hot, but the scenery is fresh and floral. Fall, which is here in all it’s copper and golden glory, is the number one time of the year that families want their portraits done.

Problem: Photographers are swamped during the Spring and Fall. Spring blossoms depend on the Winters and frosts. This season usually last a bit longer depending on the heat. Unfortunately for those who love fall, there are usually only two weekends a year when the leaves have changed and are still full in the trees. This depends on the region and amount of rain the area had during the warmer months. All it takes it one good storm to make the trees bare, whether it’s Crepe Myrtle blossoms in the Spring or the rusty leaves of Maples in the Fall.

Solution: Different photographers will open their calendars at different times. My first tip is to look at the previous year to see what your area looked like when you are thinking of having a session done (leaves changing, green grass, fruit trees blooming, flower gardens, heat index, etc.). It’s not a perfect method, but a way to get an educated guess. Then, I recommend reaching out to your preferred photographer at least 6 months in advance simply to ask when they will open up those spots. Full-timers can usually give you an tentative date in advance, while part-time photographers will usually have to book closer to the season. Set reminders in your electronics. Staying on top of things will help you get the exact look that your going for and it is so worth it!

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The ”official” Ave & Jay family portrait! (Kristina)

2. Scheduling a Time

Fact: Most photographers love what’s called the Golden Hour. It’s that time of day when everything in the world seems magical and warm, typically an hour before sunset. It’s the most flattering light for portraiture, so naturally, this is when you’ll want to schedule your session.

Problem: Depending on the time of the year, the Golden Hour can sometimes interfere with schedules. I mean, I don’t have children but I was a nanny for over two years so I did realize that most children have a pretty set routine. I’ve often heard moms arrive flustered and immediately apologize for their child not being ready because they were at daycare or in the middle of the nap. This sort of stress can usually be prevented with a little extra planning.

Solution: I recommend giving your child at least 15 minutes between getting ready for the session and the starting time of the session. To do nothing… no electronics, no playgrounds. Good-old fashioned visiting with mama. I get that life is crazy in our fast-paced world but taking a moment to slow down can not only make your images turn out better, but give YOU a chance to live in said moment. I also know that little ones can fall asleep on the way to session locations, so just be sure to arrive early enough to give them a moment to take in their surroundings. They are likely not used to getting dressed in the middle of the day so rushing can cause stress right off the bat for a tiny, developing brain. Always try your best to build a session around your child’s schedule. The younger they are, the more important this can be.

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Baby J is all smiles in between snacks and naps. (Kristina)

3. Mentally Preparing Your Child

Fact: Appearance is important for photos, right? So moms will spend hours, if not days, browsing the web for that perfect family look. Some will even book hair and makeup appointments. Photographers love this, by the way, so keep up the good work!

Problem: While your child will physically be the cutest thing you ever did see, most of them will be out of their element at a photo session. Their schedule was interrupted, they might be in a place they’ve never been to before, and they’re wearing a brand new outfit that mom has asked them repeatedly not to get dirty. Because of advancements in technology, the majority of children in our time will grow up knowing what it’s like to have a camera in their face. However, today the camera is bigger and the person behind it is usually a complete stranger (or someone they only see once a year for family photos). Moms will naturally want to apologize when their child is being shy, especially when they aren’t usually one to hide their face. It’s ok.

Solution: Talk to your photographer beforehand to get to know his or her personality, and ask them personally what to expect from a session. Many photographers are just naturally great with children, but regardless, this will help YOU help your child if both of you have time to mentally prepare. Then, talk to your child about the session. Casually mention it several times, days or even weeks before the session but try not to overwhelm them. Balance, my friend, and only you can know how your child processes this sort of information. You can even show them what the photographer’s camera will look like with a quick web search (most are more than happy to share what model they use).  Lastly, this is also another reason why arriving at sessions a little early is a good idea. Most photographers will show up a little early, so you can have time to introduce your child to the photographer if they haven’t met, or get reacquainted if they have.

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“A” needed a little moment to be little. (Kristina)

4. Let them be little!

Fact: Kids are exactly that… kids. Their brains work differently than adult brains. No matter how well you try to mentally prepared them for the session, they might not stand perfectly still with that magazine-worthy smile you had them practice over and over again in the bathroom mirror.

Problem: On average, I’ve learned that toddlers will be able to listen maybe 15-20 minutes before their mind starts to wander. Some might even be completely done by this point. I’m talking Meltdown City. I believe in all my years, I only had maybe two toddlers last an entire 60 minute session without making a peep. As frustrated as you might be, I feel confident in saying, this is completely normal.

Solution: Breathe, Mama. No matter how much you want to throw in the towel when your little one is so done, give them the benefit of the doubt. Here’s a tip that might sound complete crazy to some: do not scold or punish them during the session. Of course, SOME guidance will always be needed with teaching little ones, but just let them be little as much as possible. As I said before, their entire day has been interrupted. They are either nervous or so excited their tiny bodies can barely hold it in. Their mama has taken them on an adventure! They are little. And you, my dear, are human, so don’t feel as though your child’s ability to be easily distracted is a reflection of your parenting. The  session does not have to go “picture perfect” (ironically enough). Some of my all-time favorite photos of children are ones where they are playing, laughing, running, and even CRYING. Yes, I said it… crying. It’s part of their every-day lives and someday you will look back at those photos and be so proud you were able to save moments from all the stages. Trust me, you don’t have to apologize to photographers for kids being kids. And if you do, I recommend finding a better fit for your family. You should be comfortable and confident around your photographer, and it’s ok if you have to try someone else.

If anything, while your child is needing sometime to chill out, use this as an opportunity to grab some portraits with your special someone, or just yourself to update that profile pic! You’ll only be this young once, and you’d be amazed at how many times I’ve heard, “Oh I didn’t even think of that!”

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Mom and Dad are changing too. Be sure to capture your life as much as you capture the life of your littles’. (Kristina)

5. Photos are precious memories.

Fact: Even if you don’t feel it now, your family will someday appreciate the precious time it took you to put a family session together. The years will pass and your little ones will grow. Their tiny faces will change and your photos will be the only tangible form of your memories from that stage of life.

Problem: In the age of digital photography, it’s so easy to upload our images to social media and forget they exist after the likes and comments slow down. Technology can fail. Period.

Solution: Print. Your. Photos. Even if you just end up with shoe boxes full of 4x6s in your guest bedroom closet, those are your memories on which you spent good time and money. You earned them, Mama. Ask your photographer if they can provide an online backup service, or purchase more than one copy of your images. Also, place them on your computer or external hard drive. Photos are and investment. You deserve to be able to go back at anytime and look through your images one way or another.

xoxo-

Kristina