Saturday, May 31, 2014

Moments Matter: June Photo Prompts

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Last month, I shared the new Moments Matter monthly photo challenge.  The concept of the photo challenge is to focus on the small details of our days and to connect with our loved ones in the midst of our hectic lives.  Because it's in these little moments that life happens, love is shared, and memories are made. 
 
There are several ways you can join me in this project:
  • Use the photo prompts to capture moments in your day that fit them.  Join me on Instagram and share them or keep them for just you and your family to enjoy.
  • You can also use the prompts as inspiration for activities for you to do with your children. 
  • If you can’t participate every day, no worries.  Just post when the prompts speak to you and relate to the moments in your day.
  • Share whatever photos you like with the tag #momentsmatter to share the special moments in your day.
  Here are the photo prompts for this month:

 

Don't forget to use the hashtag #momentsmatter when you share!  See you on Instagram!
 
 
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Check out Why Does My Teen?, which is an informational site for the parents teens.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

5 Tips for Taking Great DIY Maternity Photos

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Pregnancy is such an amazing journey.  And it goes by so amazingly fast.  There are so many amazing maternity photos out there and even more extremely talented photographers able to take those photos.  But professional shoots and photos can be pricey.  And if you're anything like me, that type of thing can also be a bit awkward feeling (being the center of a stranger's attention).  If you're thinking of giving it a go yourself, here are a few tips for taking great DIY maternity photos.

Dressers and children can make the best photographers.
Don't think that you absolutely have to have a tripod.  A dresser, stool, or countertop can do just as well to set your camera on. Another method if you've got the time to let them experiment, is to give your kiddo the camera and invite them to take pictures of Momma's belly.  They're at just the right height and their perspective and ability just might surprise you.  This is an example of a free shot taken by Bear {5.5}.  All I had to do was crop it down a bit.
Set the self-timer.
For the book shot below, I set the camera on Bear's dresser, turned the self-timer with the continuous shot setting.  I focused the camera on where I would be sitting.  After pressing the shutter button, I ran to the bed, quickly found my position, and sat there.  Using the self-timer function can require a quick dash to your pose position, but it works for simple pictures.
Send a message.
Make a statement in your photos by holding a book, sign, or handwritten note that means something to you.  The message can geared towards your new child or a message to family and friend who are viewing the pictures.  For the image below, I chose the book Oh, The Places You'll Go!  You could also use books like Love You Forever or Guess How Much I Love You.

Keep it light and simple.
Lighting and wardrobe choice are important.  I chose Bear's bedroom which gets the best light in the house in the afternoon.  The light in there is bright and clean without being direct sunlight, which could make the colors and shadows really harsh.  I also chose an outfit that was fairly plain, fitted around the tummy, and coordinated well with the surroundings.

Editing does wonders.
Editing.  It can do amazing things to photos.  Don't let editing intimidate you.  I couldn't navigate Photoshop if my life depended on it.  I love the site PicMonkey to edit photos.  It's easy to use and most of the functions are free. {Though I will say that the paid version of $4.99 a month is well worth it for the amount that I use it.}

Using just a few functions, I was able to convert this picture below from a quick, candid shot into a photo that I'll treasure for years to come.  To achieve this, I first converted the image to black and white.  Then in the "Exposure" section, I increased the shadows and contrast until the shelves on the right side were virtually gone.  Then I used the clone function to mark out any existing light spots.  To make the shoes colored, I used the Lip Tint to color them in. 
Once you're past the maternity stage and have that adorable newborn to take photos of, use these great newborn photography tips from MamaSmiles.  I'm excited for these ones, too.  I've already got some great props made and ideas set up!



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Friday, May 23, 2014

Jungle Activities for Preschoolers

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A while back, I found some super cute jungle animal erasers in the dollar section at Target.  We've used them in several activities, but these jungle ones were Bear's favorites.  {I'm super late in posting these activities.  They were done when Bear was 4 yrs old}
 
To practice fine motor skills, I mixed the erasers and some shredded green paper in a tub.  Bear got to "save" the animals by using kitchen tongs. 
 
After he had saved all of the animals from the trouble in the jungle, he sorted them out by type in a muffin tin to practice some basic math skills.
 
We also explored pattern-making with the animal erasers.  I started each pattern by placing 4 erasers down.  Then Bear was able to complete the patterns using the rest of the erasers.  I set patterns in AB/AB, ABB/ABB, and ABC/ABC format. 
 
Once we were done with those activities, Bear even came up with one of his own using animal-striped craft pom poms, two of his plastic giraffes, a beaded necklace, and a plastic tub.  Jungle ball was easy to play and very fun because he got such a kick out of the fact that he made up an activity for me to do.  The goal was to throw the little craft balls through the necklace the giraffes were holding and have it land in the plastic tub behind them.
  
We actually ended up doing this activity for the longest of them all.  It was fun and challenging for both of us.  Again, I think the most fun part of it was the fact that he came up with the idea.
 
 
 
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Check out Why Does My Teen?, which is an informational site for the parents teens.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Summer Fun with Dollar Tree

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This post is sponsored by Dollar Tree. All opinions are my own.
 
It's been a hectic spring here in our house as we prepare for Little Miss Sunshine to be born.  I've been squirreling away little gifts and trinkets to give to Bear at random times when his little hands get bored and I'm busy with the baby.   That's why I am pretty excited about Dollar Tree's Summer Fun line of toys, summer tableware, colorful flip-flops, party supplies, and more items designed to help kick off summer with style and fun.

I'm a frequent Dollar Tree shopper and have picked up lots of supplies for both our learning and play activities.  I've done car play in dry coffee, used Dollar Tree flashcards for a letter scavenger hunt, and shopped there for hygiene items to donate as a way to teach kids compassion.  And I have so many ideas brewing for how to use their new line of summer toys. 

Dollar Tree's Summer Fun product line has a whole new set of beach toys like shovels and pails, sand molds, and beach tools for the summer (some in multi-packs).  I'm thinking the sand molds will come in handy if I pair them up with some moon dough.  The new water noodles, swim masks and goggles, water squirters, beach balls, swim rings, and kickboards will make for nice little prizes on the days Bear goes over to his gramma's house to spend some time.  They'll also have hula hoops and flower shaped pinwheels that I plan on using to make the baby something with!  And in Dollar Tree style, all Summer Fun products are just $1 each (products vary by store).  Be sure to stock up now, supplies are limited!

If you shop at Dollar Tree as much as I do, you can sign up for their free loyalty program, The Value Seekers Club, for exclusive crafts, recipes, and ideas every month.  Just go to ValueSeekersClub.comLearn more about Dollar Tree products and contests as an email subscriber.  Sign up for weekly emails here.  You can find more of Dollar Tree on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. 




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I was selected for this sponsored opportunity with Dollar Tree as a member of Blueprint Social and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Three to Five: Playful Preschool 3-5 ebook

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This post contains affiliate links.

There's a new ebook that's hitting the blogosphere that is packed with hands-on, play-based learning activities that focus on math, literacy, science, language, art, and play ideas. The Three to Five: Playful Preschool ebook was put together by the talented Cathy James at NurtureStore and I'm so thrilled to be able to list myself as one of the contributors.  The book contains great activities from lots of my favorite bloggers.   The best part is that the ideas are brand new, created by us just for you in this book and it's only $8.99!
 
In getting ready for the new baby's arrival, I've been trying to stock pile ideas to do with Bear during the summer while we adjust to being a family of 5.  The activities in the ebook use household items that many of us already have.  So, that makes it a great resource for me.  I can open it up and let Bear pick out an activity that appeals to him.  Each activity is complete with wonderfully clear photos, ste-by-step directions, and printable resources (if needed). 
 
  • 25+ ideas for preschoolers
  • 10 printable resources for a city playscape scene, alphabet play mat, building block challenge cards, numbers game, weather chart, recipe card, conversation cards and more!
  • And additional links to over 50 more activities
 
Get a sneak peak here:


 
 
Buy Now
 
The Three to Five: Playful Preschool ebook is available worldwide.  PayPal will handle the currency conversion for you.  You can purchase it on any device and download it later when you are ready using your order confirmation email. 
 
 
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Check out Why Does My Teen?, which is an informational site for the parents teens.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Talking about Step-families with Kids

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this post contains affiliate links

"Momma, who's tummy was Pip in?"  This question from Bear {5.5 yrs} caught me completely off-guard.  We were in the family room, going through boxes and downsizing.  We happened to come across a picture of our family prior to Bear's birth.  In the picture, my step-daughter, Pip, was about 10 years old.  Bear had been sitting and studying it when that question emerged. 
 
As there's no relationship between Pip {18 yrs} and her biological mother and I've since declared her my "heart daughter", the fact that I'm not her "real" mom rarely comes up.  I hadn't thought talking about this fact would be an issue for many years until Bear was old enough to do the math and see that she had been born 10 years prior to my husband and I's marriage.  So you can imagine why I was surprised and momentarily stunned.  So I bought some time.  "Whose tummy do you think she was in?" I responded. 
 
Bear thought and thought.  "Nana's? No.... {little laughter}.  That's not right.  I just don't know.  Not yours, because you said I was your first baby."  And that's when I realized that not only had I set myself up for this conversation, but that this small child had put those pieces together at the tender age of 5. 
 
And so I began, saying something to the extent of  "Well, your sister was in another mom's tummy."  To which Bear countered, "Whose?"  That's when I decided to make it simple.  "It doesn't matter whose tummy she was in, because I'm her mommy and that's all that matters."  He responded with a simple nod of the head and a sweet smile to show me he understood and then turned and began playing with some toys. 
 
I think that in the next week's time, I'll start working in books like Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born, God Found Us You, and a few others just for a little bit of reinforcement. 

I still really can't get over that he put that all together...

What's a tough topic your kiddo has asked about? 
 

 
Keep in touch with Crayon Freckles on Facebook to get daily post previews and hear about other great activities! You can also follow Crayon Freckles on Pinterest and Twitter.
Check out Why Does My Teen?, which is an informational site for the parents teens.
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