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Thursday, November 24, 2011

c/o '01

You would think lil mama stuart would have tons of Thanksgiving related food/décor posts this month, right?! But lately all you’ve been seeing are photos of random kids and families! Gotta edit edit edit so people can get their holiday cards out in time!

Another reason why there’s been a lack of Thanksgiving related posts is that I’m not hosting the big feast this year L Unlike most people, I love all the fuss preparations and time in the kitchen from the second I wake up til the second family arrives. I love creating a big delicious meal and decorating my home with the coziness of fall where our family can get together. Even when it was just the four of us growing up, we’d dress up, get the tablecloth and candles out and stuff our faces with the big dinner that my mom prepared. I want Mia to have the same warm and fuzzy memories of family holidays and traditions like I did. J

But…with trying to coordinate with everyone's schedules and two 10-year high school reunions, hosting Thanksgiving was just not in the cards for us this year. So instead of a warm and cozy turkey dinner with all the fixin's at our place, Doug and I will be drinking heavily reminiscing with our friends from the class of ’01…
Happy Thanksgiving! May your bellies be full of good food and laughter with those you love. ♥
There's so much to be thankful for...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

DIY Advent Calendar - Printable Numbers

When I did Noah’s 3 month photo session at Christine’s house, I noticed her super child friendly and useful family schedule board. Since then, Christine updated the board to be more functional, complete with free printables for you to use!

I know lots of DIYers/moms/bloggers are overlooking Thanksgiving decor in full holiday decorating mode, including advent calendars.  If that’s you, Christine’s free printable numbers file could be super useful! Hop on over to download her numbers to use in your DIY advent calendar.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fall Portraits in the Neighborhood

Again, we've been blessed with beautiful warm weather on the weekend. Thank goodness! I was afraid we'd have to bundle up for my last family holiday card portrait session this year.  But we didn't, and I was able to capture this little monster enjoying the falling leaves in his neighborhood.
Unlike wedding and engagement sessions where couples are all about kissing, I often get this kind of reaction when I  ask moms and dads to kiss each other during a family shoot. Why?? Married couples still lovingly kiss, right?! 

Don't you love Tre's hot mama outfit? Her blog aims to fight frumpy mommy syndrome! Get outfit details here.

After strolling around the neighborhood, we needed to keep Jonathan entertained stopped to play some football.
Kid's got a really good arm. I was impressed!
But what's better is his happy dance. I love how he stomps his feet around with arms up in excitement!
All that playing and dancing makes a boy hungry. Snacks - I always tell mamas to bring some!
I won't show you Baby J's signature one finger in his mouth, one in his belly button pose (kids have the silliest quirks).
But his little belly just did not want to stay covered J
Walking up and down a hill kept this 18 month old busy for awhile. And he loved to wave at passing airplanes.
And dogs. And trucks.
We ended our session with (numerous) trips down the slide. Head first! Boys are fearless I tell you.
Thanks for a lovely afternoon guys! Being a repeat client, I must be doing something right J
 **Don’t see any family pictures in this post? I don’t want to spoil their Christmas/Holiday card!**

linked up here:
Sweet Shot Day

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Coordinating Fall Family Portrait Outfits

At the last minute (after seeing Mia all dressed up but no time to be in pictures with her cousins), I wanted to take family portraits this year. We are loving life with our baby girl and I don't want these fleeting moments to be forgotten. And I actually want to be in some pictures for a change!

Since my wardrobe doesn't fit this post-baby body like it should, I hurriedly hit up the mall to find something that would fit properly match Mia's outfit.  I'm no fashionista and seriously need help throwing looks together for myself, let alone to coordinate with other people. With tips from Kristen Duke on how to coordinate family portrait outfits without being matchy matchy, here's what I picked to wear...
Baby girl's sweater and dress are from Old Navy with DIY leg warmers and flower (turned hairpin) made by Great Grandma.

I also think my friend did a great job of coordinating her family's outfits in gold and cream. If you need ideas on how to put together family portrait outfits that photograph well without donning matching winter sweaters or the same shirt in different sizes, check out Kristen's tips on what to wear. I doubt mine or Doug's purple shirts will show through in the actual pictures. And I didn't even wear that necklace and chose a different pair of earrings. But at least I felt like we were put together! And that's what will show through. J

Just like I say with my clients,  **Don’t see any family pictures in this post? I don’t want to spoil our Holiday card!** 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

{Jenelle} - 3 Months

What would’ve been Jenelle’s 3 month session for her {Baby’s} Getting So Big series turned out to be more of a family session. Sorry Jenelle, it’ll be all you next time!
 Baby sister (3 months) and big sister (1.5 years old)
Absolutely adore how toddlers get so excited by playing peek…a boooo!
Playing hide and seek behind the bushes got me some more smiles J
At this time last year, Maya had a single long curl on the top of her head. Now look at all her pretty curls!
Here's Maya's same time last year comparison, under the same tree at Grandma's house.
Mommy kisses and Daddy and his girls...
*aaaah* A calm moment for everyone to enjoy baby...
Or not! I had to give you a peek behind the scenes of a family portrait session with toddlers.
You have to be patient and have lots of tricks work hard (by being silly) for real smiles!
The cousins stuck around and I finally got Drew to be silly! 
I tried, Grandma Z!
**Don’t see any family pictures in this post? I don’t want to spoil their Christmas/Holiday card!**

linked up here:
Sweet Shot Day

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fall Family Photos in the Forest Preserve

To have pictures ready in time for Christmas/holiday cards, October is busy busy with family photo sessions. Luckily this October was very sunny, warm and dry in Chicago. To take advantage of the weather and avoid blinding sunlight, we headed out to the nearby Forest Preserve in the late afternoon.

It was so tiring much fun running around with Drew (6) and Jack (3).

Jack was full of energy and smiles!

What's a fall Sunday without football?

I love how the boys want to be firefighters, just like both Grandpas.

Bear hugs for mama!

Happy (early) birthday boys! You did great!
**Don’t see any family pictures in this post? I don’t want to spoil their Christmas/Holiday card!**

linked up here:
Sweet Shot Day

Friday, November 4, 2011

Kids Portraits at the Park

Before the neighborhood Halloween parade I did a quick mini session with my niece and nephew for my SIL’s Christmas cards. Mia was supposed to be in the pictures too, but she was napping L When we came back up to get dressed in costumes for the parade, Mia was all ready to go in her fall sweater dress and Uggs! Wah wah, maybe next time!

I’m not sure why, but apparently Ryu is digging the one knee down and two thumbs up pose.
Mom and Dad always said he could've been a model. I think this one's a framer!
Typical 6 year old, with a missing tooth!

Kira’s best captures are always by surprise…

Check out the MJ pose! Doug gets offended when kids don't know who Michael Jordan is.
On the other hand, Ryu was shocked that Doug was young enough to know what Starbursts are haha.

Check out last year’s post to see how these two have changed. And how I've come along in my photography.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

MonSTAR 1st Birthday Party: Decorations

We all know I love a challenge, right? I helped a friend plan her baby girl's first birthday party. A monster party. At the same venue as my last monster party. Dah! I didn't want the two monster parties (did I mention at the same venue?) to be alike. Luckily, mom and dad already had plenty of ideas in mind. Since their little girl didn't end up being a little princess/angel (you never know what personality your child will have!), mom and dad came up with a monSTAR theme instead. It was more fitting, and fun! Check out our inspiration board for Reese's MonSTAR 1st birthday party here.

Mama Kaye wanted the Dessert Table to be a focus for the kids. There were plenty of colorful treats for everyone!
The Backdrop consisted of strings cut from one bundle of yarn pom yarn and hung with tape. Super easy!
A 3M hook kept the 1 Year sign (idea from HWTM) up, love those things!
Cupcakes from Deerfield's with DIY cupcake toppers.
Star Cookies and Cake Pops from Danielle Shannon.
The Cake Pops are displayed on styrofoam cones wrapped with yarn and googly eyes.
$7 Smash Cake from Jewel decorated with a DIY yarn pom banner.
Lollipops from Michael's displayed in a vase filled with styrofoam, wrapped with yarn and googly eyes.
Mom painted wooden letters (base coat and then glitter coat). And made all the yarn pom monsters.
The tablecloth is the flatsheet from Mia's bedding set. 
I told you kids love cake pops!

The Entrance greeted guests with hanging yarn pom monsters, which are easy to make and super cute!
Yarn and googly eyes carried the colorful theme throughout the party.

Centerpieces were made from Gerber snack cans (FREE!) wrapped with yarn and googly eyes (inspired by Craftaholics Anonymous). They also displayed monthly pictures of the birthday girl.
 Free printable monster coloring pages via were scattered to look like table runners.

The Photo Booth was another activity for the kids (see how I made the sign here). Dad made lots of props and a disposal camera was set out for the kiddies to take pictures. The polka dot backdrop is just wrapping paper taped up. Love those yarn pom monsters!

I think the kids liked the monSTAAAAAAARs J

The two monster parties at the same venue turned out to be different in their own fun and colorful ways, don't you think?
Looks like the birthday girl enjoyed her party!

All your hard work paid off, mom and dad! The party looked amazing!

Mama Kaye also learned some Party Hosting Lessons along the way:
* Start planning/crafting early! (1-2 months)
* Give yourself time to set up before the event. (2 hours)
* Stick to your PLAN. Don't brainstorm ideas up to the last minute when there is no more time to execute!
* Stop browsing/shopping and spend more time DOING.
* Make a detailed checklist of what to do and what to pack (like your camera's memory card!).
* Pack a day or two before the party. You don't want to waste energy running around  beforehand.
* Bring flat shoes to prep and clean up.
* Accept help from friends and family when offered!
* Get some rest the night before the party. As Lil Mama Stuart said, "You don't want to look like sh*t for the party." J

No supplies must go to waste! See how I used both monster parties leftovers as last minute Halloween decorations.

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 I Was Featured at Baby Lifestyles