Posts Tagged ‘family’

On Thanksgiving Day my oldest daughter handed each of us a turkey hat she made herself. She stood by and waited as each of us tried them on for size. My son love his, and wore it all day.

I was decluttering some of our art supplies and beginning to pack up our house. I found a couple of giant Christmas themed coloring books and handed each of them one to work on. My son took his and plopped it on the ground and began to color.

Biracial siblings love

Lee Lee has is fondly amused by her big brother, so I set her beside him while I finished taping up some packing boxes. I was trying to get as much house stuff done over the holiday weekend as I could, while my inbox was quiet.

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Lee Lee kicking her little feet and watching her big brother. He noticed too and put his marker down before leaning over her for some kisses.

I dropped what I was doing and ran for my camera. I came back, thankful they were still in the same position and snapped a few shots.

This is what life is all about. Sibling love thanksgiving day. Biracial siblings

This is what life is all about. Sibling love thanksgiving day. Biracial siblings

The room was a mess, toys abound, boxes in the corner, but I didn’t care.

A special moment–A fleeing one–between brother and sister one Thanksgiving morning.

No staging or direction needed. No logos to line up. I was able to sit back and enjoy these two little faces I created smiling at each other.

It's so important to remember to be thankful for what we already have, while we're going after what we want.Click To Tweet

I’m working so hard to build something so great for my children. A place they can grow up with room to run and play. But as I looked at them playing with a handful of toys I had yet to pack I remembered we already have what matters most.

It’s so important to remember to be thankful for what we already have, while we’re going after what we want.

Quiet (or not so quiet) mornings, together. Surrounded by our favorite type of mess. With lots of love abound.

This is what it’s all about.

“I didn’t know you felt that way about me, we don’t really talk much.” Those words hit me like a pile of bricks. It’s not something you’d expect to hear from your little sister.

My youngest sister is 13-years-old. Yea, 19 and a half years younger than me, and it’s true, in the past we haven’t spoken much. We never lived under the same roof. In fact, I was married before she was born. When she and my mom moved to Texas a few years ago things didn’t change a ton. I still saw her as a little sister (little sisters can still be annoying even when you’re an adult). As time has gone by though I’ve watched her grow and mature and I’ve been really impressed with her.

She gets good grades, is a good role model, helps me with my pictures, puts family before friends…. All things I wrote in a card for her for her birthday. I didn’t really realize it but I’ve never stopped to tell her all of these things. So how could she know?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell people exactly how we feel. Sometimes a card can find the words we can’t form ourselves. And sometimes a card is the perfect channel for putting down words you otherwise would find hard to say. Writing down those words gives a gift of good feelings to relive over and over every time they read it.

Getting all sentimental and mushy isn’t easy for me. Especially not with my little sister who is a teenager now. But it’s not a great excuse for not telling people we care about how we feel.

Hallmark has launched the Put it into Words campaign. Now more than ever the world needs more caring, and Hallmark cards can help.

Being a part of this has really helped me to realize how many people in my life inspire me and make my life better. And it’s helped me see how impactful letting them know can mean for both of us. I’m making it a point to put those feelings into words and giving more cards to share how I feel. Because if not now. Then when?

Have you sent a card recently? Think of someone right now who deserves to know how you feel about them and go put it into words. Send a card and see what a difference it makes.

Visit Hallmark for inspiration or click here to see more cool stories of how cards made a difference. There you can also enter for a chance to win free cards for a year and a $500 gift card to use on someone special in your life.

put it into words - hallmark cards

“Let’s practice our fire drill!” My husband and I told our kids. Our son asked why, and darted for his headphones. My oldest daughter started to panic and ask me a series of questions.

“Why? Is there going to be a fire? What’s happening? Why do we need to practice at home?”

She took deep breaths as she awaited our response, which was simple.

“Just so we are prepared.”

According to Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen initiative, home fires are the biggest disaster threat facing American families today, yet only approximately half of parents surveyed said their children know what to do in the event of a home fire.

In fact, the National Fire Protection Association tells us that 7 in 10 structure fires actually occur in the home, and more than 8 in 10 fire-related deaths result from home fires.

We don’t want to become a statistic. Our kids practice fire drills at school, why shouldn’t we at home?

Years ago, we created a fire escape plan, and a little game of where we’d run to get out of the house depending on where the fire is. We busted that out to play again and talked about what to do if our smoke alarms went off.

“I’d grab my stuffed animals!” My daughter said. Boy, was this a great kickoff point for another safety talk.

“No, what should you grab if there’s a fire?” I asked a sorta-trick question.

“Water?” She said hesitantly.

“No…”

She thought about it for a moment and I told her it would just be one thing… Herself. Maybe her brother too if he’s still asleep next to her.

We practiced opening up the windows (something we’d never taught them before). So they would know how to do so in case of an emergency. We showed them it would be easy to pop out the window screen on their first floor windows. And run to our meet up location.

We practiced that too.

“Do you put on your shoes if there’s a fire and you’re running out of the house?”

“YES!” They shouted.

“No!” We corrected them.

“But what if we step on a nail while we’re running?” My smart-aleck daughter questioned.

“Which is worse, stepping on a nail or getting caught in a fire?”

You may think some of these answers are common sense but it was evident during our little drill that we need to continue to have these conversations on a regular basis so our kids remember what to do in case of a house fire. (Like, not stop, drop and roll).

Practice your own Home Fire Drill with your family on October 13, at HomeFireDrillDay.com!

Here’s what you need to remember as you prepare:

Step 1: Know where to go

• Pick a safety spot that’s near your home and a safe distance away. Our spot is directly down the sidewalk from the fire hydrant in front of our home.

• Explain to your kids that when the smoke alarm beeps, they need to get out of the house quickly and meet at that safety spot. We practiced leaving the house to meet at the safety spot as fast as we could.

Step 2: Check your smoke alarms

 Test your smoke alarms with your kids so they know the sound. Check them out twice a year (daylight savings is a great time to remember).

 Make sure there’s a smoke alarm on every level of your home, and one in each bedroom.

Step 3: Do the drill

• Have kids head to their bedrooms and wait for the drill to begin.

• If you have kids under 6 years old, assign adults to help anyone who’ll need it. I’m in charge of grabbing Lee Lee on nights I sleep in a room with her. And my husband is in charge of the other two (usually sleeping on the floor in our room).

• Put one adult in charge of sounding the smoke alarm and running the drill.

 Next, sound the smoke alarm, start the timer on the Make Safe Happen app and have everyone quickly get out of the house and to their safety spot.

• Once everyone gets to the safety spot, stop the timer. Try to make it there in under two minutes. (It took us 45 seconds, but we were all amped up).

• In a real fire, get to the safety spot, then call 911 and keep everyone close until firefighters arrive.

You can also learn more about Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen program and visit MakeSafeHappen.com for all sorts of tips to help keep children as safe as possible.

Do your kids need a little refresher or my kids the only ones who were a little off base on what to do in case of a fire?

Growing up, back to school season was like a holiday of its own. For me, it was right up there with Christmas. I absolutely loved going shopping and picking out my own backpack and new special lunchbox. I’d choose my trapper keeper and colorful folders. Then I’d sit and sharpen all my new pencils before picking out all of my outfits for the first week of school.

This year, there are many mixed emotions as we start the new school year. It’s my son’s first year of school and my daughter’s first year in public school after homeschooling for two years. In many ways I’ll miss the activities we did together, all the flexibility and “ah ha” moments I got to witness firsthand. Part of me wishes we could continue homeschooling together this year, and get more time in together. But with a brand new baby and move in the works it’s not the case.

That’s why I’m excited to partner with Minute Maid to show how life doesn’t have to be perfect to be GOOD. Sure there are things I wish I could do differently, but there are things we can enjoy this experience as an adventure of its own. Adventures like back to school shopping and setting new goals together.

We called a family meeting and sat around the kitchen table to talk about both of these things. The back to school shopping lists seem a lot longer than it was when I was a kid. Unfortunately I’m not that cool mom who saddles the kids up to shop with me all day for their personalized school supplies. I’m more of that messy and chaotic last-minute-shopping mom who looks for the pre-packaged supplies she can order online and pickup right before the first day of school (my son doesn’t even have his new backpack yet).

One thing I feel I’ve done right is talking about how we want this school year to look. Though we won’t be together all day every day, and we’ll have less quantity of time, I really want to make the time we have together strong quality time. Most of our goals surround this theme.

My daughter, Lil’ J’s, goals for this year are to become a better reader, and at home to do science experiments together on weekends.

My son, Big T, wants to race his new friends at school and keep our poetry tea party tradition alive, which we will try to do once or twice a month on Fridays after school.

My goals are a little more robust:

• Choose a family theme/motto: Something to live by and remember every time we leave the house.
• Morning motivational mantras: To say before they head off to school, reminding them of who they are.
• Meaningful afternoon recap questions: To see how their day at school was beyond just “fine.”
• Learn the best way my son learns: To help me navigate the best way to teach him outside of traditional school.
• Check out for a day date: Not sure how often, but I’d like to do this at some point for each of my kids. Probably coinciding with a doctor’s or dentist appointment.
• Read together every night: A tradition we’ve been hit or miss about but will definitely try to keep up this school year.

I know there are going to be a lot of adjustments. Life isn’t picture-perfect, and I’m sure it’s going to be a lot messier than I’m envisioning. When it comes down to it, some of these goals may need to be readjusted. Afternoon questions may get redundant or forgotten on busy afternoons. Science experiments may become finishing science homework before the morning bus comes.

Though I won’t be teaching them, we’ll still be busy with school. Some days aren’t going to be pretty and other days will just be a mess. But we’re all in this experience together and you better believe this is GOOD.

This post was written in partnership with Minute Maid, the brand encouraging parents to share more of their real family moments with the hashtag #thisisGOOD. The campaign helps remind parents that even imperfect moments should have us saying this is GOOD!

I hate admitting regrets, and I don’t harbor many but one that nags at me more than I care to admit is that I didn’t have any video of my wedding day. We have lots of beautiful photos, but I think videos capture the moment in a way pictures just can’t.

I didn’t video any of my births (I’m not sure if I’d want to watch that over and over). But I didn’t want to regret missing video of my big kids meeting their little sister.

Not one, but two cameras went into my hospital bag. I went back and forth trying to decide which ones to bring and ultimately packed my Canon EOS M50 and my Canon Powershot G7X Mark II.

The Powershot G7X Mark II is be easy enough for my husband, or even my daughter to use if need be, by just pushing the “on” button then the “record” button. I also planned to have a friend and photographer come to help document, thankfully because labor didn’t go quite like I’d expected. My friend Paige (who also shoots Canon, whoohoo!) came and captured some of our first moments together as a family. Many of those picture you saw featured in my birth story. Once Paige left I climbed out of bed, got some makeup on, pulled out my cameras to capture a bit more of these first moments together and get it on video.

Photographing siblings meeting for the first time

The smile the burst across my son and daughter’s faces when they walked in pretty much stayed the entire time they were in their baby sister’s presence. (Except for when they took her to get a shot and she started crying.They cried too. It was the saddest/sweetest thing I’ve ever seen).

Each of them held their hands out wide to take a turn holding her. They spoke to her, gave her kisses, and doted over her the entire time.

“You and your sisters were not like this,” my mom said to me. “You didn’t care about holding your little sisters, you had other things to do!”

Photographing siblings meeting for the first time

I knew Lil’ J was ready but I had no idea how excited my son was to be a big brother. Protective from the start, and excited to hold her. He asked me if she’d call me mommy too, and he was really concerned about her not opening her eyes (she was sleeping).

It only took a few minutes to record a video while in the hospital of our first few hours with our new baby girl. I didn’t do this with my others, and I knew creating a video was one thing I wanted to do differently this time. I pulled out my new EOS M50 and was able to create something I know we’ll cherish forever:

Tips for capturing first moments with your new baby:

 

  • -It’s not just about video, but sound too: One of my favorite parts of this video is my oldest whispering “I can’t believe it. She’s my sister!”
  • -Zoom in, get the tiny details: hospital wristbands, baby’s name tag, birth weight, and those tiny toes.
  • -Autofocus is BAE: Take advantage of your touch screen and auto-focusing to give a beautiful cinematic look to your videos.
  • -Flip your screen up: And get yourself in the video. You can prop your camera up on a nearby shelf or send it out
  • -Don’t be afraid to pass your camera along: If you can’t or don’t feel up to getting up right away, pass it along to a friendly nurse or your partner. I had my husband take the camera as our baby went over for her first measurements.

 

The best advice I can give to parents wanting to record and savor these early days is to keep your camera handy. I find when my camera is out and within reach I’m more likely to use it and record great video of our newborn. Try setting it in a place you know you’ll be with your baby. I kept mine on the diaper changer for a few days, recorded that part of our routine, then moved it near a seat where I nurse her. I’ve captured a lot of sweet moments this way.

Photographing siblings meeting for the first time

These first few months with a new baby become so hazy. The days are long but the years are short. A lot of days I can’t wait until it’s bedtime. Yet I can’t believe our little baby has already been alive a month. Years later, I know I’ll be so glad I took some time to record these moments and I’m sure you will be too!

You deserve to have great photos and video to look back on and cherish as your family grows up. I’m teaming up with Canon again to share how we capture special moments as a family and to help you learn how to capture some awesome moments with yours.

You deserve to have great photos and video to look back on and cherish as your family grows up. I’m teaming up with Canon again to help you shoot for greatness and learn how to capture some awesome moments with your family.

So did you score a sweet deal on a fancy Canon DSLR for Black Friday but don’t know the first thing about using it? Don’t worry! I’m hear to help. I’ve got tips on getting out of auto mode, what lens to get next, and more. I had several friends asking me which camera to pick for themselves/ their kid, or spouse. And I need to work on a post breaking some of those options down. But for today, I want to address another post people have asked me about that will come in handy this holiday season and beyond… Switching to video mode!

shooting DSLR Video tutorial

Capturing special moments with your family is so important. Recording them in video can help keep those memories alive and more vivid even longer. Here are some tips for using video mode on your camera to create meaningful memories you’ll cherish forever.

You don’t need tons of money and loads of gear to get started. I could give you some recommendations for a shotgun microphone if you’re wanting a boost in good sound, or tripod suggestions if you’re wanting more stability but really when you’re just getting started you don’t need all of that.

I break all these tips down in this video tutorial below, but if you don’t have time to listen, or prefer to read keep on scrolling!

1. Set your frame rate

I’m not going to get too technical aside from this point. When you’re setting up your camera to record video you’ll want to adjust your frame rate first. Usually this is going to be either 1080p 24fps or 1080p 30fps. Basically what you need to know is if you want a more cinematic look, go with 24. If you’re not going for a specific look and just wanting to shoot some video, stick with the other one 30.

2. Let your camera set the exposure

Normally I love to shoot in full manual mode when I’m taking photos, but when I’m recording video I prefer to let my camera do the work. From exposure even down to focusing. If I am going to decide one thing it’s the aperture (or f-stop). I’ll switch my camera to AV mode and set the f-stop based on how shallow I want my depth of field. For big glowing bokeh and Christmas lights that number is going to be smaller. It’ll also make it so you can focus on your subjects and blur out distractions in the background if you’d like. Or play with creative focusing movements. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

3. Use auto-focus and an STM lens

If you’ve ever recorded video before and noticed a noisy sound in the background, it could be your lens. Canon’s Stepping Motor Lens technology provides quick, silent and smooth focusing when you’re recording a video. There are several lenses with STM. If you’re shooting on a crop sensor camera like the Canon EOS Rebel t7i or the Canon EOS 80D chances are your camera came with a kit lens with STM. If you’re looking for another to add to your bag, I’d recommend the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM.

4. Get creative with your shots

One of my favorite things to play with when I’m shooting some candid family video is play with a rack focus. Basically you use a shallow depth of field and focus on one subject, then use the touch screen to tap another subject that you want the camera to focus on. It creates a smooth transition from one object to the next and is a fun and easy little videography trick. Also, don’t be afraid to use the vari-angle screen and play with angles for your video. Eagle eye shots from above are fun as is shooting up from below. And don’t forget to flip the screen out and over so you can set it up and get in the video yourself.

5. Try time lapse

Who says all video needs to be fluid? Another creative way to capture an event is by taking a time-lapse video. This is especially fun if you’re trying to record something like setting up the Christmas tree, or a holiday light display outside your home. It’s a great way to see the progression of an event that might take awhile.

6. Remember “wide, medium and tight”

When recording video it’s a good idea to remember not just to shoot a wide shot of one scene, but getting up close for medium and close up detailed shots too. A macro lens is a great option to get super close detailed video. I like to try to record more tight shots than anything, but definitely get a variety of all three.

7. Find the story

With every video you create aim to tell a specific story. Are you setting up the Christmas tree? Documenting Christmas morning? Enjoying a family dinner? Ringing in the new year with loved ones? Record key moments and think of the story’s beginning, middle and end.

Bookmark these tips so you can come back later on tonight and all year! Questions? Let me know! And don’t forget to check out my online photography course where you can watch and learn more tips for photographing your children.

From birthdays to family vacations, to holidays and more, I’ve teamed up with Canon again this year to share how we capture the moments we cherish most. I’m also dishing out tips to help you better photograph your special moments with your family. Shout out to my favorite camera brand for sponsoring this series.

 

I’ve been preparing myself to handle the “where do babies come from?” question for some time. I feel armed and ready with scientific explanations and counter responses. Instead, the question I got this week was “Is Santa REALLY real?”

My daughter hasn’t been in public school for a year and a half so it’s not like she came home from school crying about what some kid told her on the playground. My 13-year-old sister is still convinced about Santa, so no idea where this was coming from. We were watching Christmas movies and the question sort of popped up out of the blue.

‘Well duh…’ Was honestly the first thing that came to my mind. But I held back that response and instead went with “Well, who do you think brings you your presents?”

“Well I think it would be hard for Santa to do all by himself so maybe he has lots of helpers that drop the presents off,” she suggested.

“Oh, like elfs?” I asked.

“Yea,” she went on. “And they sneak into the house and put all the presents under the tree.”

“So who do they work for?” I asked her. “And who’s the guy you took pictures with?”

“Well I know some are just helpers cause I saw a string on one Santa’s beard,” she said.

“Oh ok, what about the one we saw this week?”

“He didn’t have a string, so I think he was the real one,” she said.

As if on cue the next Christmas movie to come on was a Disney short about Goofy and his son Max having the same discussion. My daughter watched the whole thing like Yea! Same questions here! In the end the moral was a mix between Christmas being about serving others and creating happy memories for loved ones (I was cool with that). And also Santa being there for those who believe (I was cool with that too).

Now that that crisis is averted for now I’m doing mental acrobatics thinking about what else to watch out for this year that I may have forgotten about. Like for one, my kids finding their gifts. After that whole talk I’d hate to blow it with a whoops like that. When I was a kid playing hide and seek with my sister I hid in a pile of dirty laundry that also magically contained our Christmas gifts. I didn’t speak a word of it. Ever. Somehow I knew better. We don’t have a ton of hiding space in our home so we may have to resort to the attic this year.

On a more serious note, another hurdle to prepare for is holiday parties and kids asking for a sip of alcohol. When we, or more likely, our parents were growing up I don’t think it was a big deal for parents to offer their kids a sip in hopes that it would deter them from wanting to drink more. But studies have shown it can actually have the opposite effect.

I couldn’t believe this statistic but 37% of kids by the age of 8 have had a sip and that number rises to 66% by the age of 12. Most 6-year olds know that alcohol is only for adults. Then between the ages of 9 and 13, children start to view alcohol more positively. Many children begin to think underage drinking is okay. Some even start to experiment. We don’t drink alcohol or have in in our home but my daughter still sometimes asks me if my sparkling apple cider is wine. I’m sure to tell her it’s not, but thank her for asking and I tell her if she’d like she can try some of it because it doesn’t have alcohol. She politely declines because “I don’t like bubbly drinks.” I’m hopeful we’ll continue to keep these lines of communication open and honest with each other. 

So being open and honest about alcohol and babies? Easy peasy. Santa? That’s another story. Now I’m not necessarily someone who is going to try to push this longer than it needs to go, but when it comes to Old St. Nick, and Disney World characters, I’m hanging onto the magic as long as I can. And if not, well, then at least I’ll get a break from moving the dang elf around.

 

Ok so I’ve got lots of questions for you today. Did your parents give you a sip of alcohol with you were younger? Do you do that with your kids? And for heaven’s sake, where are your good present hiding places?

I’m a #TalkEarly ambassador helping to spread awareness about the importance of talking to our kids at a young age about alcohol safety. Though we don’t drink it doesn’t mean it’s a topic we should ignore. You can log onto the #TalkEarly page for more information on building a lifetime of conversations with kids around alcohol responsibility. Responsibility.org sponsored today’s post, however all thoughts, opinions and stories are my own.

Do you believe in fate? Or that there’s some sort of plan laid out for you? Not that you don’t have a choice in the matter, but that some things are just meant to be?

I feel like so much of my life has been, not decided, but led by a power so much greater than me and a pivotal part of that started 13 years ago.

The first glimpse I got of him was in the kitchen of my BYU dorm room. I was 18, he 22. We were kids, meeting for the first time on a blind date.–Or something like that.


I had no idea what he looked like, or much about him, other than the fact that we had a similar taste in music and a connection to Atlanta. I knew he had recently returned from a 2-year mission trip to the Caribbean and I was intrigued… And in a slightly desperate position if I’m being honest.

We had had a couple of friendly phone conversations. One had been earlier that day. In an effort to rush him off the phone I asked him to call me back later that night. I thought I’d be on a double date with someone else, but that date fell through. When he called back, on a whim I asked if he wanted to go out with me. We took a leap, and the rest is history.

I used to wonder if I’d ever get married, what my husband might be like, and how marriage would be. I wondered if I’d have children, and have a happy life.

13 years ago all the answers to those questions started to come together.

What’s meant to be

I’ve replayed the events that lead up the that night so many different times. So many random pieces had to fall into place for us to meet and I don’t believe it was just a coincidence.

June 23rd is the anniversary of the day we met. Six months later we got married. It hasn’t been all rainbows and roses, but believing we weren’t brought together by chance has helped during the tough times.

I’ve learned to recognize that same feeling of intuition and guidance as I’ve taken leap of faith after leap of faith: Diving into motherhood, new careers, and homeschool–All with that familiar sensation of fire and excitement in my chest. Scared for the change but somehow confident in the outcome.

Yes, I absolutely believe some things are meant to be. This day every year reminds me of that. And that there is so much goodness and potential out there for all of us. We just have to listen to that still small voice, and be brave enough to follow it.

Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget



I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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