Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

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.

I looked at my kids bundled up in new coats bigger than any they’d ever worn before. Wearing boots thicker than ever before, and gloves, for the first time in their lives.

Their faces showed a mix of excitement, confusion and hesitation. They were standing in a pile of cold white stuff with more of it floating down from the sky. My kids were experiencing snow for the first time.

Tips for Playing in Snow: Photographing kids in snow.

Growing up in Atlanta I saw snow from time to time. Oh we loved snow days. We’d wake up, look out the window and see our yard covered in white. School was canceled and we had a day or two if we were lucky, to attempt to make a snowman.

My sister and I bundled up from head to toe. I distinctly remember my mom putting plastic bags over our hands before the mittens went over top. Looking back, I’m not sure how wise that was but it worked! Kept our hands dry.

Winters in Georgia were pretty nice: Moderate with occasional snow. It lasted just long enough to enjoy, but not long enough to make my winters miserable.

Fast forward to college. For years, I dreamed of attending BYU and planned on studying broadcast journalism. What I didn’t plan for was the brutal winters. Snow, snow and more snow. It seemed never-ending.

Tips for Playing in Snow: Photographing kids in snow.

My husband and I met in Utah, but decided we’d try to move away to someplace warm as soon as we could.

After graduation, before we knew it we were packing our bags and heading back south to Austin, and there we’ve been ever since.

We’ve lived in Austin for seven years, and the handful of times we’d visited Utah with the kids, it was always in the summer. Every year our daughter would get excited, but then let down because there was no snow. We had to explain that the snow comes in the winter.

This year we decided we’d take a trip to Utah for Thanksgiving. And maybe we’d even see snow! When we arrived we saw snow on the mountains, but not the ground near my in-law’s place. I didn’t want to give up. My one big hope was to take my kids sledding, or at least to a place where they could finally experience snow.

Tips for Playing in Snow: Photographing kids in snow.

Luckily we discovered a park in the hills of Park City with snow machines. They’d been building tubing lanes for weeks and opening the day after we arrived. This was our chance!

One mini shopping spree later, we were geared up with enough clothes to stay warm. We didn’t go all out with the snow pants (I figured that would be a waste for a one-time wear), but we got some secondhand coats and boots. I had to persuade Lil’ J out of layers of dresses into layers of pants. She didn’t want to wear jeans because then “everyone won’t think I’m beautiful.” Goodness.

We stood at the base of the hill, both of my kids giving me anxious looks. I asked if they wanted to go down the hill.

My son was all for it. My daughter, hesitated, but joined us at the top.

Tips for Playing in Snow: Photographing kids in snow.

“Choo choo!” My train-loving toddler cheered as we rode up the moving ramp. Snow filled his fro because he refused to wear a hat.

We tied our tubes together and got a push down the hill. My daughter’s eyes widened with fear, then transformed to delight.

They both filled the air with laughter.

“AGAIN!” They yelled when we reached the bottom.

My son’s shivering didn’t stop him from wanting to stay in the snow, slide around and go down the hill again and again.

When it was time to go my son left with tears in his eyes; not from the cold, but from sadness for leaving all of the fun.

“It’s so COLD!” My daughter confessed as we were leaving.

“But worth it right?” I asked her.

“What’s ‘worth it’ mean?” She asked.

“So fun that it’s ok that it’s cold.”

She looked up at me with a big grin and nodded. “It’s worth it.”


Allstate is here to help protect your firsts and the moments in between. Share your first with #HeresToFirsts.


I learned a few things from this experience about getting ready for heading out in the snow:

1. Bundle up in layers, but don’t overdo it. You want to make sure they can still freely move.
2. Remember the heads fingers and toes. Scarves, mittens, boots and beanies will do the
3. Keep an eye on the temperature. Kids get cold faster than adults but sometimes are having too much fun to want to stop. Take breaks and change out their wet clothes for warm ones when necessary.

This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. As the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most–but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day.


More family holiday traditions from other bloggers:

Holiday Family Activities & Traditions

Toya of Mrs. Toya Carter

Cynthia of Mrs. Wright Writes

Holiday DIY and/or Home Decor

Sheena of Sophistishe

Bee of Bee So Simple

Erin of Live Pretty on a Penny

Britney Britney Dearest

Which would you rather do with a thousand dollars? Plan a trip someplace you’ve never been, or buy new things for your home or family?

Fun experiences or fun things? It’s really a matter of personal preference.

Years ago, hands down I would have gone with a shopping spree over any kind of vacation.

Perhaps I’m getting old, but I can feel myself shifting away from preferring traditional gifts and appreciating experiences and memories.

Cute biracial siblings- Whimsical photos with Santa Claus- behind the scenes

For the last five years I’ve felt like one of my greatest achievements day to day is being the reason my kids laugh. I love finding ways to make them smile. Not just with gifts, but activities, and other things I think they’d love.

My husband and I decided Christmas is going to be pretty “small” this year. Our 11th anniversary is two days before Christmas, and my birthday is 20 days after. We’re wrapping it all into a family vacation a few weeks before the holiday.

There will be less gifts on Christmas, but I think more fun overall. Some of the gifts will be wrapped into pre-Christmas memories.

I ordered my husband a new blazer and saved $100 during the Sears members only Black Friday sale over the weekend. The last suit he bought was before his mission and he recently mentioned wanting a new one. I conspicuously measured his chest so I could pick the right size, then did an in vehicle pick-up where they brought it out to my car so the kids and I didn’t need to face the craziness at the mall (you can also use this service for returns and exchanges).

Now see, I’d save the jacket for Christmas except he could use it on the cruise. So it’ll be a gift that starts giving a little early. I’m thinking the kids will help pick out another gift to give to daddy, and the Christmas memories we make together over the next month will be the real treat.

Whimsical photos with Santa Claus- behind the scenes

Yes, there will still be Santa (we do Santa) but I’m going to invest in making this year’s Christmas extra special not just on the day, but all month long. From the music, hot chocolate, decorating, and giving back; the time we spend together will be a huge part of the magic.

It’s not just my husband’s gift I’m arranging a little early. I’ve always thought there was something extra special about Christmas tree trains. I’d surprise Big T for Christmas but what’s the fun in not having it up until next Christmas? I’m planning to order one for the family and set it up around the base of the tree to start a new tradition of decorating that I’m sure we’ll all love for years!

When Lil’ J met Santa for a photoshoot last weekend, she leaned over and whispered in his ear. While wearing her surprise bright red Santa dress from Sears.com, she told him she wants Playdoh, a BYU Cheerleader outfit and pink pom poms for Christmas. I think he can handle that. And us? Well, there may not be as many presents under the tree, but we’ll be arranging the magical memories I hope will last a lifetime.

What would you do with $100 from Sears? Get someone a gift? Start a new tradition?

Share in the comments and you’ll be entered to win a $100 gift card from Sears! Giveaway ends December 1st. Good luck!

Winner alert: Random.org winner #13: K. Elizabeth. Congratulations!

This story was written in partnership with Sears as a part of the Sears Bloggers Squad. Check out the early Black Friday deals and more taking place November 26th and 27th. And be sure to visit Sears.com shop from the comfort of your own home and find out more information about the sales.

If you’re from Utah or have ever lived in Utah you may be familiar with a popular bad joke:

“What’s the difference between a University of Utah bride and a Brigham Young University bride?”

–At the U of U wedding the bride is pregnant, and at the BYU wedding the bride’s mom is pregnant.

*ba dum dum tsss*

Fun family games: Sometimes aunts can feel more like sisters. So I was the stereotypical Utah bride (appearances aside). 18 (almost 19) marrying my 22-year-old RM (return missionary) and my mom was pregnant with her 5th child (whoops!).

I suspected something was up when one of my younger sisters told me she had found baby gear and pregnancy tests hidden around the house. Then at my wedding open house at my parents house I pulled her ultrasound photo off the side of the fridge so it wouldn’t be mistaken as my own.

Fast forward 10 years. My sister Kimberly is now nine and I have a daughter of my own just five years younger. She loves and admires her.

Fun family games: Sometimes aunts can feel more like sisters.

The greatest thing is when she comes over, Lil’ J (and Big T) immediately cling to her for entertainment… Which means a break for me, YAY!

To keep her happy and coming back for more fun, I try to come up with fun ideas for activities they can do while they’re at my house. It can be something as simple as a new library book, puzzle, coloring pages, or an activity I found on Pinterest.

Fun family games: Sometimes aunts can feel more like sisters. Fun family games: Sometimes aunts can feel more like sisters.

Kimberly is off from school this week and she came over to try some new games I had set aside. The hilarity at followed was awesome.

Fun family games: Sometimes aunts can feel more like sisters. Fun family games: Sometimes aunts can feel more like sisters. Fun family games: Sometimes aunts can feel more like sisters.

I smiled as I watched them aim the snowball cannon at the targets, danced around to silly prompts like “wiggle your reindeer tail” “stir the hot chocolate” and “ski down the mountain.” And finally, they chased each other around trying to put rings on each other’s elf hats (Kimmie knelt down to make things a little more fair).

Fun family games: Sometimes aunts can feel more like sisters. Fun family games: Sometimes aunts can feel more like sisters. Fun family games: Sometimes aunts can feel more like sisters. I’m so thankful that my little sister, who I only got to see a couple times a year, now lives just up the road, and gets a chance to grow up with my kids and be a good role model. I’m thankful I get the chance to be a big sister again, though in a very different way than I was growing up.

I’m thankful for so much this year: My family, my home, my faith. And I’m thankful for a sweet little sister, who’s become a big sister to my kids.

Are you and your siblings spaced out or close together?

I’m passionate about making and saving memories, I’m partnering with Hallmark to share some of my life’s special moments and occasions including getting ready for Christmas! All opinions (and typos) are my own.

LIASO Footer

I can’t tell you how many offers I get in my inbox asking me to write about, or represent a product or brand. I’m not saying this to brag, but to try to paint a little bit of a picture of how things are on my end when it sometimes seems like I’m writing sponsored post after sponsored post.

I am extremely selective of the companies I work with. I don’t want to waste their time if I don’t think you will be interested. I don’t want to waste your time when you expect to read something personal from me, and I don’t want to waste my time writing about things I don’t really care about. And if it’s not a topic I won’t be excited to go back and read about a few years from now, I pass.

When Sears asked to partner with me for the holidays I thought it would be great and relevant because I’m all about the holidays and it being my favorite time of year, I can write about this stuff day in and day out. Then, when they wrote to me about a video campaign they’re promoting I thought ‘Oh no, this may be hard to write.’ I don’t do commercial posts. They give me the heebie jeebies.

So I sat down to watch the video links they sent me about their #MoreToYou movement I wasn’t expecting what I saw. And I am not lying when I tell you each and every one of them moved me to misty eyes.

But how do I tell you this and share a video or two without coming across like I’m just trying to pimp a product? Let me try.

I’m not going to go through each of the videos, you can watch them here. But I’ll tell you how one of them touched me. Instead of describing the whole video first just watch it:

Ok, my kids are 1 and 4. Why am I boohooing up in here like they’re about to leave for college next week? This mother who thought her son wouldn’t SURVIVE his first year of life, and doctors told her he might not grow, is now buying size 15 shoes for him.

After he flew away for college, his mom surprised him with a tablet and other college supplies, and you catch a glimpse of his little sister was bawling cause she misses her brother *cue the waterworks*

Maybe it’s that time of year, maybe I’m just emotional, or maybe now that I’m a mom I’m a sucker for any video about a parent’s love for their child. Well played Sears, well played.

making shopping with kids easier

Though the story was about a son leaving for college, I noticed how they weaved in the fact that you can order items online, and have a gift ready for pickup at another store. Or, in another video you see how a mom uses the in-vehicle pickup service so they can bring your items (big or small) to you once you pull up at the store. No need to unload all the kids. If every store did this I’d go shopping with my kids a lot more.

I’ve mentioned before how I will go to great lengths to not have to go shopping with both of my kids. Unless we snag one of those little pimped out shopping carts, forget it… I’m on a time limit. The idea of pulling up to a store and getting all my good loaded in my car without having to unbuckle anyone or even turn off the Kidz Bop tunes?… Dreamy.

I’m sure by the time my kids go off to college all of our groceries and supplies from the stores will have some new way to get transported. Who knows, maybe by then someone will have invented teleportation and 2-day shipping will seem like snail mail. Until then, I appreciate companies making an effort to make things easier for me.

Like I mentioned, each of the #MoreToYou videos touched me a different way. Check them out if you have some time. What did you think of the video(s)? Do you think you’ll use the in-vehicle pickup service? Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a $50 Sears gift card, sponsored by Sears. Contest ends Wednesday November 19th as 11:59pm.


Holiday recap

I’m not sure I’ve ever just been like “SEE YA!” on my blog before, without the “SEE YA!” notice. I just felt like I needed a tiny break but didn’t feel like making a big deal about it.

Sure, I could have stretched stuff out to make several little posts, but why not just slap it all together in a holiday recap?

via Jackie Willome Photography

First of all, Lil’ J is OBSESSED with Santa. For the second year in a row we did photos with Jackie Willome Photography and Santa, and I just love candid photos we get, and the one-on-one experience she gets with one of her idols. Santa read her a Christmas book and pointed and said “That’s you!!” It was the sweetest thing. She fell in love when she first met him at the mall and just had a chat with him about what she wanted for Christmas. That evening I said he’d bring her presents on Christmas if she was good and the rest was history. She literally saw four different Santa’s five times and had a blast each and every time. Each time she requested “princess shoes” so of course Santa was sure to bring some Christmas morning. Here are some of my favorite photos with Santa(s).

Here are some pics with the classic Mall Santa, the first one she had met. She didn’t mind that he hadn’t fattened up yet. Photos of kids crying with Santa make me laugh so hard, they’re so classic, but hers are almost the exact opposite of those.My father-in-law came to town the days before Christmas and Christmas morning and I’m just now realizing I didn’t take any photos of them together, dangit!

My husband and I were able to get away for a night for our 8th anniversary. I believe it was our first whole night away (together) from our daughter since she was born. It was fabulous and much-needed. I had been craving a nice hot chocolate and got one along with a steak and shrimp dinner plus dessert.

Here was us as a couple of young pups 8 years ago.

I baked and cook more in a few days than I normally do in a month, and I still haven’t cleaned up the mess. Christmas Eve we had ham, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole. Christmas morning I made what I called a “Pinterest creation” but my father-in-law recognized them as “sticky buns.” I also made french toast, eggs, and bacon. Go me! I’m regretting not buying paper plates as just about every dish in our house needs to be washed and our dishwasher sucks.

Lil’ J was so excited to come out of her room and see what Santa brought, which was too many toys. Among them, dress up dresses, a tea party set, a little people princess castle with extra princesses, a basketball hoop, take apart airplane, and other things I’m probably forgetting. Grandma and Grandpa also got her a LeapPad, so I’m hoping this means I’ll get my iPad back soon.

Leechie did get one baby toy. A giant Melissa and Doug giraffe for his/her room, and Lil’ J has already broken it in.

I got a new camera lens that I’ve been wanting for months. A Canon 100mm 2.8L macro. I wanted something good to capture the pretty newborn features I’ll be soaking in soon, and a nice portrait lens, and this brings both to the table. It’s also my first L-lens, so I’m just enjoying the heck out of it.

Somewhere in the middle of this all, Lil’ J seems to have become potty trained I was too scared to “announce” it and jinx myself. I don’t know when kids officially have it down but for months now she’s been using the potty. At least six months. Then at school she started wearing panties, and stopped having accidents, and the same thing happened at home. Now she only wears a pullup at bed time, but usually wakes up dry. I think when we transition her to a big girl bed and she can get up at night we’ll see if she’s ready for panties at night too. So proud of my big girl! To anyone wondering “how” we did it… I didn’t really do any “training” just offered the potty a lot, and insisted when I knew it had been a while. I did put some of her Halloween candy in a jar and label them “potty prizes” but most of the time she forgot they were around.

Anyway, for the first time in six years, I took Christmas and the surrounding days off so I could enjoy some time with my family. Sadly, my husband has still had to work Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Years, but the days we have been able to spend together have been so nice. I’m especially loving spending so much time with my little girl. She cracks me up.

Now that Christmas and the holidays are wrapping up, I think I’ll be going into mega-baby prep mode. I’m already envisioning how I’m going to redo the office/craft room into a nursery, and how I want to change up Lil’ J’s room into a big girl room.

So much to do and so little time. There’s what… 3 months left? Sheesh! I need to get my butt into gear. Including back into blogging. Not that I need to apologize for living more of my life and blogging less of it, but I do miss my little space here. I owe some of you a pregnancy documentation photo tutorial, and I need to continue my 30 things my kids should know about me series.

I hope you all have been enjoying the season as much as we have. Happy Holidays!

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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