by Katherine Betts
'Why I'm a Mom of Multiples Hero' aims to celebrate our inherent awesomeness, and share our parenting and personal wins. As parents of multiples we can be guilty of criticizing our choices, or feeling like we are not offering our children everything we would be offering a singleton child. It's easy to torture ourselves about the difficulties; but what about what we have achieved? Every one of us have overcome challenges, so lets share our wins and get to know each other in the process.
I'm kicking off the Mom of Multiples Hero series to share a little of my own story and showcase some of my triumphant moments. We'd love to have some other Moms do the same, it's just five questions, so please get in touch!
Why I'm a Mom of Multiples Hero
Q: Please introduce yourself. How old are your children and what's your favorite thing about them?
A: My name is Katherine. I'm British, and used to work as an Architect, but have been home with my kids since we moved to the US three years ago. My daughter Elsie is seven and I adore her sense of humor; she's insanely sharp and absolutely hilarious. My identical twin boys are 21months old and I love how different they are in personality. George has the most adorable facial expressions, he can express so much in just one look. He's obsessed with crayons and stickers at the moment and I love his creativity. Arthur is a man of adventure, he'll climb to the top of a slide and throw himself down on his belly without even a blink. It gets him into trouble all the time, but I love his curiosity and his cheekiness.
Q: What's the one thing you wish you'd known before having your multiples?
A: I wish I'd known more about preemie babies. I was aware it was likely my babies would be born early (the boys arrived at 36wks), but I didn't realize how different a preemie baby would be compared to my daughter who was born full term. Feeding preemie babies is tough because they are really really sleepy. It sounds great that the babies slept, but not when you desperately need to fatten them up! Preemie babies can also struggle to latch, I really had no idea breastfeeding preemie babies had additional challenges.
Q: How do you practice self-care? What do you do to pick yourself up after a tough day with the kids?
A: I've found the twins particularly exhausting recently. As toddlers, they are able to do so much so fast, and yet giving them instructions or rules to keep them safe seems futile... it's exhausting! I'm a stay-at-home mom, but when the boys were about 15months we employed a Nanny for two days a week to give me a break. Although expensive, it really has been a life-saver. Getting out of the house alone and sitting in Starbucks with my laptop (I blog) is my absolute fave. I love my mom dates and nights out on the town with friends, but when the kids have been running circles round me all week, being alone is the best come down.
Not everyone wants to sit in Starbucks and sip iced tea, but get yourself a pedicure, go to the library and read (another of my favorite hangouts... it's so quiet!!), or go to the movies on your own... I highly recommend it. It reminds you that you're actually an independent, choice making, living human being (easy to forget when you live for the little people).
Q: what has been your biggest struggle and how did you overcome it (or how are you currently work on it!)?
A: My biggest struggle was the timing of our twins. My father passed away in England when I was 11wks pregnant, and we moved from Texas to Arizona when I was 20wks pregnant. We had absolutely no family and friends here, I even put our realtor as our emergency contact for my daughter's school as she was the only person I had a number for. I struggled to find an OB that would take our insurance, and others said they wouldn't take me because I was past 20wks. We were in an Air B'n'B while we house hunted, and I packed and unpacked every box myself with a twin bump. I was alone in the hospital with the twins for the first five days because my husband was home with my daughter. It was a grueling year.
I knew I only had so long before I entered the housebound world of newborn twins, so I did my best to get out there and meet people before the babies arrived. I joined the PV MOMs group and went to the Fall picnic with my mega bump; I joined a moms support group at the hospital (I still go two years later), I started conversations with every mom I met at swim class and dance class. I found playdates and mom dates through the 'MeetUp' app and did my best to surround myself with some kind of support. Not all the people I met became good friends, but it's worth the awkward moments... You need friends when you have kids!!
Q: What has been your Mom of Multiples Hero hero moment? That moment you gave yourself an internal high five because you were totally bossing it?
A: I Took my three kids to the beach in California... alone! The twins were 7months old and we all bundled into the car and off we went. The stroller wasn't an option on the beach so I had to get the twins into their carriers on my own, set up a tent, carry towels, food, bottles (breastfeeding didn't work out for me), and my daughter was insistent on taking all her sand castle paraphernalia. We were quite the scene, and although the beach was full of people watching, only one person got up and offered to help, just as I was leaving... honestly, what is wrong with people?!
I totally nailed it though... I dug two holes and molded a sand version of two Bumbo chairs so the boys could sit and eat their porridge. They weren't sitting up very well at that point so I had to improvise! They even both napped after breakfast in the tent, we had a bit of grumbling but I stuck with it and rocked them in turn until they fell asleep. I then got to build a sand castle with my daughter, happy times. My husband joined us later that evening to hit up Disney for the weekend and I must say I felt like a total champ!
Calling all Moms of Multiples... we would love to feature you in our 'Why I'm a Mom of Multiples Hero' series! Please get in touch if you'd like to answer our questions and share your awesomeness with other moms. We all need a little help sometimes, and focusing on the little wins can be the perfect pick me up on a tough day. email@example.com or connect with me on Facebook.
It doesn't matter how much assistance you may have, if your babies sleep through the night at 12 weeks or 12 months, all I know is that first year, YOU are in SURVIVAL mode 100% of the time. There is no amount of preparation, reading, personal advice you receive, that will prepare you for the emotionally charged roller coaster and life altering change you will be enduring from day one. Those sleepless, helpless at times, nights, left me wringing with a type of rage and despair I never knew I was capable of feeling. This is not a black and white scenario that you can be ready to check off each accomplishment. It’s messy, confusing and draining to even the strongest people I’ve encountered. Every person will adapt differently and may never experience an ounce of postpartum depression/anxiety/anger. Mama, I just want you to know, that it is OK to not feel yourself post birth, but it is NOT OK for those feelings to linger longer than that first month without seeking a professional's opinion.
We celebrated the twins 3rd birthday this past April, which always spurs on the emotional rollercoaster of events that transpired two years ago to date and my anniversary of embracing the fact that it was time to evaluate ME. Why at times during my first year of motherhood had I felt more like I was constantly failing and overwhelmed?! I felt I had lost all intuition as a mother after strenuous months with breastfeeding issues, sleep issues and a failing marriage. I acknowledged that this was NOT going to be my new normal.
Two years ago, I was tearing down pastel colored streamers from the twin’s 1st birthday party, which my Type A personality had been planning tirelessly for months prior. All the while, preparing emotionally for my husband to be working abroad for the longest stint since the kids had been born. We had been in a constant sleep battle with one of our kiddos and I don’t think I had even slept more than a handful of three hour stretches at a time in that first year and felt numb to the constant fussy cries in those first four months. Naps were a disaster the day after their first sugar rush and I had slammed the back door to run out into the middle of the backyard screaming louder then I knew possible and was left staring at my shaking palms. Panting trying to catch my breath between the sun drenched tears that were streaming down my face and the complete and utter helplessness I felt while coated in this dark anger.
There was a constant battle of differing opinions being thrown at me, criticism for following through on advice from others, managing a velcro baby that needed me 24/7 and having so much guilt that I felt almost zero connection to Baby B. I felt like I was suffocating in my own life and I wanted to slap myself ten times over to just get “with it.” I kept telling myself, I was 12 months into this parenting gig, shouldn’t I have my sh*t together by now. I kept wavering in and out of what life was like pre kids to what felt like a constant uphill battle in my current state. I turned my head to face the big picture kitchen window and saw those chubby cheeked cherubs waving their hands at me. In that moment, I texted my OBGYN and whittled out a quick and semi-coherent message telling her that I needed help; serious help.
My OBGYN immediately had me connect with a twin mama, through PVMOM that had a counseling background and girls that were one year older than mine. This season was still semi-fresh for her, so she was able to grant me encouragement. I had my therapist on speed dial and my PVMOM mama on text message to get me through the next 24 hours of next steps.
Everyone’s postpartum is going to look a little different and mine wasn’t the typical baby blues depression, much like what you hear about. My therapist was quick to acknowledge that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture for a reason! Through months of mindfulness training, hours of talk therapy, sleep scheduling for myself, emdr therapy to eliminate some of my triggers and LOTS of self care time, I was able to lift myself out of the fog right when I joined PVMOM in August 2015. I’ll never forget the instant relief I felt while speaking to a few mamas (now my best friends) that had littles the same age about their current struggles. I immediately felt relief and strength that I could make it through this journey of motherhood. You are never alone!
Images (c) Mama Beth G.
1. Be in the Know Before You Go.
Understand airline polices before traveling. All major U.S airlines allow lap infants to travel for free with the purchase of the legal guardian’s ticket. You can purchase an additional ticket for a child of any age should you want extra space. You can put a car seat in this seat if needed or use a child safety restraint.
Most airlines allow one car seat and one stroller to be checked per child and will not go against your baggage allowance (place in gate check bag). Keep in mind lap children don’t get additional baggage allowance so any other bags will be lumped into the accompanying adult’s allowance.
You can also check the car seat and stroller at the gate if you prefer. Just keep in mind you need to proceed to the ticket counter at the gate to get the items tagged. *As of June 2017, American Airlines has a weight limit for gate checked strollers at 20lbs, limiting most double strollers as being overweight for "gate checked" only.
Note if using car seat during takeoff, taxi, landing: Any child restraint system manufactured since February 26, 1985, must have both of the following labels: "This child restraint device conforms to all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards" and "This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft."
If you are traveling solo with infants, you can try to request an airport gate pass for a family member to accompany you through security. This is subject to the airlines discretion, the "cause" for the assistance and agent you are working with so call ahead to confirm and play the "multiples card."
2. Take Your Entire Trip into Consideration
While a 5-hour flight can seem daunting, it is best to fly directly there and avoid a layover.
Don’t forget to take into consideration any travel time to and from the airport as there is nothing worse than a long road trip with cranky babies after being on an airplane. You can consider an overnight stay at a hotel to allow everyone some rest.
3. Babies’ Schedules
It might seem backwards, but I highly recommend selecting a flight that has a departure time as close to nap time as possible. More often than not the noise and movement of the jet will put them right to sleep. Sleeping baby = happy mama.
Don’t forget to map out any feedings. You might want to arrive to the airport earlier than anticipated if it means getting a feeding in before the plane ride. Often times I held off feeding until during takeoff as it helped with their ears and also put them right to sleep. Also note, that if you are pumping or formula feeding, you are allowed to bring pre-made formula, breast milk and even water in bottles for the kids through security, just be prepared for some extra screening at security.
If your kiddo is no longer on the bottle or nursing, you can still do mealtime on the plane. Invest in a bento style lunch box for a pre-packed lunch and build your own snack boxes using bead boxes. This is another thing that buys loads of time!
4. Seating Arrangements
If you are flying an airline that allows you to select your seat during the reservation process make sure you do it! There is a trick to seats when it comes to flying with little ones. If seat selection is not available, make sure you know when family boarding is as that typically guarantees you good seat options.
TIP: Per FAA guidelines there cannot be more than one lap child per row, unless the third seat is empty because of the number of oxygen masks available.
If flying with someone, you should both select aisle seats in rows across from each other. This makes it easy to get up and down, access overhead compartments and the restrooms as well as pass children (or things) back and forth to each other. This also gives more elbow room!
We typically choose a seat towards the back of the plane – as it is close to the bathroom and a flight attendant should you need one. And let’s face it, if you checked bags or gate checked items you won’t be in a huge hurry to deplane.
5. Make that List, Check it Twice
It is easy to think you need everything under the sun when traveling with kids, but I am happy to report you don’t. Having too much stuff can actually be overwhelming! It might be hard, but only pack the necessities. Not to mention each bag only has a 50lb limit and all those diapers, wipes and toys add up quickly.
6. Keeping the Littles Occupied
Depending on age and length of flight, keep the ipad and electronic options for when you desperately need them. Download their favorite show/movies plus a few interactive apps such as
Wrapping small gifts from the dollar store, dollar section from target that the kiddos can open every 30min-1hr is bound for endless entertainment.
Ideas: New books, crinkle toys for infants, soft blocks, finger puppets, enclosed shape sorter, buckle toy or bag of buckles, play-dough, small cars, figurines, mini animals, trains, mini etch a sketch or mini white board, window gel clings from $1 section, circle stickers, any sticker book in general, reusable sticker books, magnetic blocks, pipe cleaners & whiffle balls or wikki stix, colored pom poms, water wow books, aquadoodle, foam puzzles, crayons/markers/pencils with coloring books, felt books, lacing shapes/animals, mini lego box, mini magnet box, animal/shape/letter card games. Pack in binder with school supply pouches or labeled ziplocks. Peruse our Amazon list.
7. Prepare, then Plan for the Worst
We all know that it is when we have the perfectly mapped out plan that all hell breaks loose! When the twins were about 6 months old our flight got delayed and it turned into an 8 hour stay at the airport…and that happened a few times. The first time, I wasn’t prepared…the most important thing is diapers and food.
Make sure you plan out the logistics as well. This includes drop-off, parking, check-in, security and boarding the plane. Make sure you have your transportation mapped out both to the airport and once you arrive at your destination.
Enjoy the ride and take lots of photographs to remember the crazy memorable times!
Oatmeal Raisin Lactation Cookies
Maryann Kamitian, Newborn Beginnings
1 cup coconut sugar
1 cup raisins (and/or chocolate chips)
Recipe author, Ashley Thomas.
New moms, have you considered hiring overnight or daytime support once your new ones arrive? I am a Newborn Care Specialist, Postpartum Doula and Lactation Educator. I can support you during the first few months after your babies arrive. I can help you get more rest at night when I work overnight shifts or daytime hours to work one-on-one with you. Sometimes I will even live in to give that added support for your family. I look forward to helping guide you through the 4th trimester!
Learn more about Maryann and her services with Newborn Beginnings.
Will having kids really be doomsday for your relationship? Do romance and satisfaction die when crying and poopy diapers arrive? I have two young children and a husband and I know how life-changing children can be, amazing gifts of life for which I am so grateful, but also very challenging to my marriage. I set out to look at some research to find out what it says on the subject. Although much of the research points to the conclusion that having children results in a decline in relationship satisfaction, a newer study by Herbst and Ifcher looked at the more recent generations of parents (defined as anyone raising children, not necessarily biological) and non-parents and found that parents' happiness was increasing overall and they were happier than their non-parent counterparts (2015). Researchers in that study hypothesized that the increased happiness found among parents today may be related to those persons choosing to have children more intentionally and those persons being more social and connected to their communities due to having kids, preventing the ever growing trend toward isolation.
While I think those reasons are important, I think the answer of why parents often experience more happiness in spite of the challenges is tied to spirituality and a sense of meaning. I think this may explain why there is so much joy and satisfaction from being a parent and having a child, even though it is the most difficult, exhausting, consuming, heart-wrenching endeavor you will ever undertake. The importance of raising a human being, being responsible for giving them a healthy life and teaching them to love, learn and be responsible, productive, caring people is of the utmost importance - reaping consequences and benefits for generations to come.
Looking at a child or baby reminds us that the world is big and we are small, kicks in our parental instincts to nurture and protect our young, and connects us to a higher calling and meaning. We walk around forever with a purpose - and no light one at that. It’s important to recognize that this sense of meaning and purpose for a couple who are parents can be an incredibly powerful source of connection and shared meaning. The mutual goal towards raising healthy children can be a bridge that helps cover the gap when stress, lack of sleep, household duties, and balancing external and familial commitments feels overwhelming. The challenges and struggles are much more serious, yet the moments of joy and meaning are so fulfilling.
The array of feelings between you and your partner become much more complex after children. You now look at them as not only your best friend and lover, but the other half of your team when it comes to figuring out this parenting journey together. Sometimes you wonder if you will ever be the "same" or "how we used to be" as a couple again. The answer is no, probably not. You will never be the same as a couple or individuals- you have transformed and you are now parents. But there is the opportunity for an even deeper connection and love in your relationship than ever before because you are doing something incredibly hard and so rewarding together - hopefully, as teammates. Your partner is the one that you can both laugh and cry with, who makes those “up all nights” and dirty diapers easier to get through and silly faces and sweet moments even sweeter because they are sharing them alongside you. They can take your mind off being a parent and remind you that you are still a man, woman, lover, friend. At the end of the day, your relationship has the potential to be even stronger and deeper than ever before if you make it a priority. The most important gift parents can give their children is modeling and having a healthy relationship.
Although your relationship will change and be challenged as you shift into a new stage of life, remember that the two of you are on the same team and want to support each other. Find ways to keep your connection alive and know that Therapy With Heart is a resource for you!
To learn more about the team and service offering please visit, www.therapywithheart.com (480) 888-5380.
Hold Me Tight Workshop
This Couples Workshop utilizes principles from Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) and is facilitated by therapists who have advanced EFT training and experience. This workshop provides you with new relationship tools, opportunities to practice communicating in a new way, and assistance in getting stronger in your relationship. Cost: $595/couple (mention PVMOM for $45 off)
Visit http://therapywithheart.com/couples-therapy-packages to learn more and reserve a spot.
All workshops, except 6/23-24, are limited to four (4) couples, held at the TWH office and facilitated by a TWH Team Member.
*The June 23 - 24 workshop will be held off-site and facilitated by Rachel Thomas, MA, LMFT, Certified EFT Therapist and Owner.
When you are in nesting mode, you're mind is probably racing with questions on how you are going to "do it all." Well first off, lets quickly get you acquainted with the fact that you WON"T, and that is perfectly normal! You are already going to be superhuman after birthing multiples and you will and need to be ok with asking for as much help as humanly possible to help raise these munchkins of yours! It takes a village and there is no shame in that. Some mamas will need to go back to work full time and others may just be in need of some good self-care alone time. Thanks to Beth G., we want to help guide you through the process that has worked for many of our mamas when it came to finding the best nanny for their families.
I know I need a nanny, what do I do next?
You will need to answer a few questions on your end before beginning your search process.
Where do I search for a nanny?
If you would like to do the search on your own, use Care.com or SitterCity.com. You can also use a nanny agency, such as NannyJoynt. For more babysitters or sporadic nannies we recommend Busy Bees or UrbanSitter.
If I want to search on my own, how do I go about the search process?
It is highly recommended that you pay for at least 2 months with the online sites of Care or SitterCity. In order to search all applicants and speak with all individuals, you need to be a paying member. Do not wait for applicants to reach out to you, they can only contact 5 people a month, so you must reach out to nanny applicants and be proactive. When reaching out to them, ask them to complete a simple task such as emailing you a resume or 2 references to see how their basic follow through is.
I’m ready to interview a few candidates, how do I go about this?
Check our files tab on PVMoM's facebook, for a list of suggested questions and adjust as needed. You can screen candidates with phone interviews, or solo in person interviews, but it is highly recommended that you see how the candidate interacts with your children prior to hiring them. You can either do a short working interview or an all day interview/trial. Just remember, you can tell a lot about a person when you see how they enter your home and interact with your children. It may be nerve wracking to welcome strangers into your home, but if they are the right one, the candidate will no longer be a stranger.
I have a candidate that I am interested in hiring, what do I do?
Do your homework! It is highly recommended that you complete a background check and a department of motor vehicle check on your candidate, even if they won’t be driving your children. If you do want your nanny to drive your children, make sure to discuss their type of car, knowledge of proper car seat safety and have them do a test drive with you to gauge their driving abilities. You cannot know too much about the person caring for your children. You may also want to have the candidate complete a personality test. Begin drafting a contract to cover at least the basics: pay, tasks, holidays, travel, paid time off (if desired/negotiated), and more.
Why do you recommend a contract?
An employment contract is helpful for both parties to be on the same page when providing a service and can keep both parties accountable. It protects both parties when there is a dispute. Also, be specific about their duties so there are no questions as to what needs to be accomplished in a day. We’ve found contracts are very helpful when a nanny may not be meeting your expectations or maybe asking for extra days off or calling in sick a lot. While the document likely won’t hold up in court, it was helpful when discussing performance and accountability.
Are there any tax-free benefits I can offer my nanny?
Yes! There are many tax benefits that residents of AZ can take advantage of is hiring a nanny. A few of these are, but not limited to:
My candidate has checked all of my ‘boxes’ and we agreed on pay, now what?
Discuss a starting date and plan a training period. It is highly recommended that you plan at least a day or two to ‘train’ your nanny on how you would like things done before you head off to work or to complete solo tasks. Most nannies will know how to care for a child, but they won’t know how you would like your laundry completed, your daily schedule and more. If you are super particular, write things down and take a couple extra days to make sure things are satisfactory for you.
My nanny has started working with our family, what can I expect in forms of communication?
Be sure to set expectations early. Most nannies will provide photos throughout the day if the parents are not home and communicate via text message as needed. It is important to not ‘high five at the door’ meaning that you take time to have a quick 5-10 minute discussion at the beginning and end of each day to speak about any important topics or changes. It is also recommended that you provide ground rules on social media posting about your family along with what warrants a phone call to you as the parent.
We advise to start looking for a nanny at minimum 2-3 months prior to your ideal start date. Most mamas have shared that it took them two solid months of interviewing at least 10-12 candidates to solidify the right match. Sometimes the best fit, yet hard to come by, can be a recommendation of a available nanny or look for a nanny share via friends.
Remember this person part-time or full-time will become an extension of your family. Don't rush this process!!!
How is it February with 1.5 year olds, and we're already stressing about WHAT preschool our children are going to be attending in the Fall?!?!
"YOU ARE KIDDING ME?!" was my initial reaction to a girlfriend, who informed me preschool registration started like, TODAY. I broke out in a sweat and could not even fathom the idea of my little, itty, bitty munchkins waving goodbye to me at school.
At first glance, preschool "shopping" is an incredibly trying task if you have no starting point. You need to be smart about it, and break it down into a few categories that will best fit your families needs. This will quickly clarify a path to a few schools that you can further research.
I never imagined this to be a make it or break it component, but after one year of preschool under our belt and prior wavering between a school that was a 5 minute drive versus a 25 minute drive, I now see the light. I would advise not having to drive more then 10-15 minutes to a school. This is truly going to narrow down the playing field of contenders.
2. Discipline/Conflict Resolution Style:
If you are placing your child in a preschool at the young age of two, I've found it important to find a school that will mimic what you, yourself do at home when there is a conflict. You are in the beginning moments of building your communication, conflict resolution, boundaries style for your littles; you want this to be consistent. In our case, our school not only encourages the style of discipline we use, it has empowered me as a parent to use new techniques that I may never have been exposed to otherwise.
3. Curriculum Style:
Truly preschool is just that. "before school." Find a program that you believe in and fits your child's personality. A place that will challenge your children to learn at their own pace, and in an environment they feel confident to excel in. For some that may look like a child-directed play based curriculum. For others it may be a faith based curriculum that helps teach those building blocks of faith early on. We gravitated towards a co-operative curriculum that is creative based and implements Reggio Emilia principles. We wanted to foster an environment for our kids that would continue to allow them to be kids and learn cooperative and expressive communication skills very early on. This Reggio Emilia style is closest to how we parent and discipline at home and is a perfect extension for them to attend twice a week..
Be sure you and your partner make it a priority to tour each preschool that is on your list. Have a list of questions that you can ask the Director during your visit (see Questions to ask). Don't let them shy you away from viewing a class "in session."
Narrow it down to your top three and set a 2nd appointment for your children to come and shadow a classroom as well. Don't let the lack of "readiness" cues your children might show discourage you when shadowing. The other children have acclimated into their settings and routines over the past year and developmentally matured since their first day, so don't compare!
While you are going through this process of elimination, be realistic and recognize the school setting, the educators, the director, should feel like an extension of your home. If anything was off-putting during a visit, go with your mother's instinct and choose a different school that you feel will work for your family during this pivotal transition for your kiddos.
5. Ask Questions:
Don't shy away from asking any/all questions you may have for each school. If you want to narrow down your long list of options, ring the schools and ask to speak to their Director. When you start touring your favorites, make sure to sit down with the Director and ask additional questions. (see Questions to ask)
It is this time of year that you can find the parks and secret spots around town filled with photographers chasing around families trying to capture that one special photo for the holiday card. PVMOM is fortunate to have a wonderful photographer who has captured memories of so many of our very own families. We asked her to share a few tips that to help make family photos a little less stressful and a lot more fun!
Of course we had to share some of the beauties from the mini session fundraiser she did for us! Thank you Sara Waterman for not only these photos but your generous donation to PVMOM.
Think coordinating not matchy matchy (except the kids, kids can always match especially multiples). What does your dream family photos look like? Is it elegant? Then think cream colors, tans and browns or black and white, flowing light fabric can look gorgeous in a little wind. Do you want a modern and fun feel, then choose coordinating colors, I love yellow and blues, deep purple and yellows, jewel tones then add a pop of accent color, add a scarf, headband, boot socks for a bit of fun. Keep in mind darker color clothing will frame your face better (the eye travels to the brightest part of the picture) so typically that should be faces. Please remember that it is important for no one member of your family to draw attention away from the group with a bold outfit that stands out. Layer it up! I love jackets they really polish the look for a man, a cardigan can be slimming for a women and also makes it easy to take it off for a quick change of look.
Cheese is for nachos:
Mom, dad…. leave the “say cheese” at home. If your having your pictures done by a photographer don’t stand behind the photographer and hollar “smile, say cheese”. Demanding kiddos to look at the camera and smile will cause anxiety, rebellion and will most likely result in that fake smile you can feel a mile away. A photographer will interact with your kiddos to produce those beautiful natural smiles, if your doing it on your own I find that for 3-6 year olds talking about farts and dad’s stinky feet, which usually does the trick. For the itty bitties, I use a feather duster… works like a charm! Try picking up your kids and tossing them in the air, give your kids kisses, go in for a family tickle… all ways to create genuine moments of family bliss. Bonus tip: For posing your kiddos, try a fun game of simon says!
Time your session:
Leave ample time to prepare for your photoshoot, when mom shows up to the session rushed and frazzled it sets the tone for the session. Eat before your session and have snacks on hand. Kids and adults get cranky when hungry and become unwilling participants when their bellies are rumbling. Try not to plan your shoot during nap time or “cranky” hour. A good photographer can shoot anytime of day, and happy kids trump perfect lighting any day of the week!
Where will you be displaying your images? Think of the colors of your home. Will graffiti walls background look odd in your Mediterranean styled home? What are you going to wear? You don’t want to be wearing high heels and pearls on by a rustic fence in the middle of the Sonoran desert. Where do you feel comfortable? You want your images to show your family and the joy you have together. Think of a location that helps you feel comfortable, relaxed and where you can be yourselves.
If your doing them yourself even if you have the most scenic, beautiful location on earth, if that location does not offer good natural lighting, then your photos will probably turn out poorly. You need to consider the lighting conditions at your location before you commit to it. Your best light for taking photographs outdoors typically occurs in the hour or so after sunrise and then again during the hour or so before sunset. Also if taking pictures of your kids, make sure their back are to the sun, you don’t want harsh shadow or squinty eye. Bonus tip: a covered porch where the family is under the porch and your camera is outside, will most always produce near perfect lighting - seriously try it.
PS - aren't our families beautiful!!!!?
All photos were used with permission and taken by Sara Waterman Photography.
Visit her Facebook page to learn more and see her gallery.
By Jill Scott
Hi, my name is Jill, and I love to coupon.
Now, you may have seen shows like Extreme Couponing where people come away with 94% savings on shopping trips. These usually give them a lifetime supply of small toothpaste tubes and 100 yogurts that are going to expire in a week. I am not one of those couponers. I am, however, a parent of three young boys whose family is having a go at being a one income household.
The cost of diapers is a nightmare. I was blessed with a six month supply from friends and family after the birth of the twins. Like all things, it ran out while the cost of living (and formula for another six months) remained. This led me to research and try out the many methods of saving money out there.
There are tons of options for buying diapers on the cheap and not one of them works all of the time. What does work is knowing your options, having a game plan and following through with your couponing.
Step 1 - Gather coupons
Companies like Proctor and Gamble, Kimberly Clark, and even Fry’s generic brands want to introduce you to their products. Coupons are marketing tools to get products into your home so that you will buy them again. This means companies are in constantly putting coupons out there. Here are a few ways to get them.
Lost coupons never get used. Even worse, they stick to the graham cracker crumbs and uncapped lip balm in the bottom of your diaper bag. Do yourself a favor and buy an organizer to keep in your bag everyday. Find one with sections and label them (food, baby, cleaning, health, Target, etc). Put the new coupons in the back of each section and purge expired ones at least once a month. This is the model I have been using for a while.
Step 3 - Be Loyal
The reality is that joining Fry’s Rewards programs or Safeway Club Card allows retailers to track your purchases and keeps a tab on your spending habits. While this may have you hiding in your master closet wearing a tin hat, the upside is that it allows businesses to customize their offers to you. Fry’s knows we’re a young family and is very generous with their coupons and specific-to-our-family promotions called Best Customer Bonuses often on young child items (including diapers, but also food pouches, eggs, and breakfast sausage - don’t keep the Scott Boys away from their turkey sausage).
Step 4 - Throw All Loyalty Out the Window
Children have sensitivities and allergies and preferences, but if you want to make things really work you can’t have a favorite brand. Cartoon logos might be different. They smell different. Certain styles may hug them more or allow more movement, but overall diapers are all the same thing. Huggies and Costco’s Kirkland diapers are made in the same place as are Pampers and Luvs. So long as they don’t leak or cause an irritation, buy everything.
Step 5 - Stack Stack Stack
Some retailers have really cool ways to extend savings. Target for example, has its seasonal promotions on diapers ($25 gift card for $100 purchase or $15 off instantly of $100), What they’re not telling you is that the boxes sold are generally at a higher price. However, you can bring in a Manufacturer’s coupon, a Store coupon (often found in those mini coupon books for newborns), and add on Target’s Cartwheel (again an electronic app with offers that download to your phone for 5%, 10%, etc items). If you aren’t brand loyal, you can walk away great savings on diapers to create a small stash (not stockpile) of diapers that will keep you in business until you breathe a sigh of potty-trained relief or another promotion is offered, whichever comes first.
And two brief bonuses for overachievers:
Many stores price match if you bring in a physical ad of a competitor. If you know what’s going on at Walmart, Target, Fry’s, etc. most stores will honor the price to keep your business.
If prices drop within a week or a new promotion is offered within a store you shopped, you can normally bring in a receipt for a refund.
It's that time of year; school started, holidays are encroaching and before we know it, we'll be looking in the mirror wondering how the hell it was possible that we would be ringing in the New Year already. We have exactly 92 days people! Lets get the goal setting started early and finish the 2016 year with our finances in top shape. Who doesn't love to save some money on a daily basis? Checkout our favorite grocery and finance/budgeting apps.
Basket gives you the knowledge you need to make the best grocery purchasing decisions. Create a shopping basket at home, on the go or in the store. Compare in store prices & see available sales and coupons for your favorite items at nearby stores. Shop at stores recommended by Basket and Give back to the community by sharing prices and sales.
Every Thursday morning Checkout 51 updates your offer list. All you have to do is pick the products you like, purchase them at any store, and upload a photo of your receipt. When your account reaches $20, you can cash out and we'll send you a check!
Ibotta is a free, fun, and easy way to earn cash back for buying your favorite brands at your favorite stores. Ditch the coupons and get cash back the fun and easy way. Ibotta has exclusive rebates at your favorite grocery stores, retailers and online shops, updated all the time. And, they work with other offers, coupons, and discounts, so you know you’ll be getting the best deal every time you shop.
Shrink is a brand loyalty app that makes it fun and easy to discover awesome brands and earn exclusive perks like discounts and freebies.This app focuses more on the organic, all natural, artisan type brands.
You can scan your grocery list to match products online at lower prices and free shipping, or you can add items manually and shop by what’s on sale. You can compare prices and add items to your list from various stores near by, providing the best prices. Lists can be organized into aisles and categories, and you can sync your lists between devices. You can even buy items online directly from the app with the "Buy Now" feature.
Shopping at local farmers markets is a great way to buy seasonal produce and save money on bulk items. For the best pricing, buy in bulk, seconds or make purchases in the last 30 minutes before close. You can also inquire/sign up for a local farmers CSA. The farmstead app will help you locate your local markets information.
Passion for Savings
This app and online community combines great products with Heather's passion for a great deal! Her goal is to teach you how you can save on all the things you need so that you can splurge on the things you really want. You can also find links to the best Internet Coupons, articles on ways to save and make money online, and links to free samples and product offers.
Finances, Money Saving
To help you see, understand and do more with your money every day. Mint, available online and mobile, brings together your total financial life—bank accounts, free credit score, credit cards and investments—and offers personalized tips and advice to help you make the most of your money and get more out of life.
To help you better manage your money to get more out of life, by giving you a personalized, engaging and integrated experience. MoneyStrands is the free mobile-only personal finance app that helps you achieve your goals. Download it and connect your banks. You’ll get instant access to your account balances, transactions, spending habits and budgets. All you need to make smarter decisions.
Level Money simplifies financial control and eliminates the need for antiquated budgets. Level seamlessly and automatically tracks cash flow, reinforces positive habits and provides necessary insights about spending and saving behaviors for an empowered, do-it-yourself approach to personal finance and long-term financial success.
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