Thursday, September 17, 2015

6 Tips for Taking Sibling Photographs with a Newborn

It turns out there is no higher goal, nor greater challenge, than capturing loving and beautiful pictures of newborns with their big brothers and sisters. You guys have no idea how many times I have dreamed up perfect pictures in my head, only to find myself unable to execute said plans because of uncooperative baby or siblings. Sigh. 

That said, here are 6 of my best tips for taking the best possible pictures of your new baby with their older brothers and/or sisters. disclaimer: I'm no expert, and best-possible doesn't equal perfect!
1. Don't force it - It's so tempting to try and take pictures on my timeline, when inspiration and convenience strikes. However, forcing pictures when the four year old isn't feeling it? Doesn't work out great . . . and I only end up frustrated. Instead, try and have your camera ready so that when your older ones are feeling loving and cooperative, you can capture the magic. And then pretend it happens all the time. 
2. Notice good light - Repeat after me: It's all about the light. I love love the light in our back hallway right when the sun starts to set. So the other day, I asked my more cooperative child (Jayci, obviously) if she wanted to sit in the pretty light and hold her brother for a minute. Because a minute is usually all it takes, really. Find that interesting and pretty light, and notice where it falls in your house during what times of day. And then take pictures in said light (but again, don't force it if the kiddos aren't feeling cooperative).
3. Use windows in your own house. Because it's hard enough to get out of bed these days, let alone out of the house (am I right?) Bonus tip: wrap baby up in a cute swaddle to keep hands from blocking face, and then you dont even have to fuss with trying to pick an outfit and wrangle him into it! 
These pictures are on the ground under a window in the master bedroom. I like taking pictures on the ground with a newborn because there's fewer chances of falling, rolling, jostling, (and so on) by an exuberant four year old. Also, remember if you're taking pictures yourself without someone to help/spot to be extra careful (safety first folks).
4. Remember, it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. The unscripted moments are my favorite. In this shot, Jayci was cracking up because Isaiah just farted. Real talk. But I love how it turned out because you can see her missing teeth, his cute expression, the interesting light . . . 
Maybe it's just me, but I'd much rather an authentic picture of our real (messy, beautiful, far-from-perfect-but-still-amazing) life in this quickly-fleeting newborn phase, than anything that's perfectly scripted or posed. How else will we remember it all through the haze of sleep deprivation and overwhelming love?

I promise this is a gentle hug and not a headlock.
5. If all else fails, hire someone fabulous. Especially if you have a super-talented friend who will deal with all-your-crazy (thanks Megan)!
And here's my tip for a professional photographing your kiddos: trust them. I left Megan alone with my kids to work her magic and capture them all together. Because studies show that children are 800% worse when their mothers are in the room

Also, you could hire me. Just saying. 
 6. Finally (and importantly!), print your pictures. I have a really bad habit of leaving all my lovely pictures sitting on my computer, though the lucky ones will possibly make their way to fb/blog/instagram. My goal this year is to figure out a good/manageable system for printing pictures and documenting our lives in tangible ways that my kids can treasure and share and look through for years to come.
I printed these with Artifact Uprising, whom I love and highly recommend. Plus, sign up now and they'll give you 25 free prints! 
*Note: Artifact Uprising doesn't know I'm writing this, I just love them and what they do. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Being the Biggest

Dearest Jayci, 

You and I, we've had a rough last couple weeks together. You are struggling a little to adjust to being back in school (and having another little brother), and I am flat-exhausted from feeding your squishy adorable baby brother, and the combination hasn't been ideal. I hope you know, even in the midst of disagreements and tired flopping into bed after many tears (from both of us), how deeply and fully I adore you. 

And so, as you venture into first grade, and we grow together as mommy and big sister to this newest little one, I wanted to put down on paper some thoughts and prayers for you.  
You are, quite simply, extraordinary. And while my heart squeezes painfully when I think of how big you are getting (not to mention how quickly you are getting there), I am also incredibly proud of who you are and who you are becoming.

Every single day I notice you becoming something new. Or rather, becoming more of who you are made to be. You discover your strengths and can articulate your weaknesses. You love reading, and most nights I find you with a flashlight under the covers long past bedtime (which sounds familiar, because mommy did the exact same thing - and still does sometimes). You are empathetic and sensitive, noticing people who others overlook and doing your best to include and love everyone. You are tuned into people's needs and into the Spirit, and you pray with a wisdom that astonishes me.

One night before Isaiah got here, you asked if we could pray together before bed. We sat on the couch, with Caden leaning on my huge belly and you told us to wait just one minute. Running to Isaiah's room, you came back with his sock monkey and blankie, and said we needed to pray over them. You then proceeded to pray that little Isaiah would be safe, that he would have a good life, that he would know how much we loved him, and also that he would come soon. Tears immediately welled up in my eyes, because how did you become so wise and attuned and even know the value (or ability) to "pray over things"? I can take no credit, and thus my pride and joy and delight is completely in the Lord and how He shaped you, and how you are growing into that identity every single day.
At your kindergarten parent-teacher conference last year, your teacher lowered her voice and asked me what my secret was.

My secret? I asked, raising an eyebrow.

I mean, she went on, how did you get her to be such a great kid? How did you teach her to read so well already, and to behave so perfectly?

To which, of course, I desperately wanted to respond with some wisdom regarding my stellar parenting. Unfortunately, Caden was throwing a temper tantrum at my feet, and I had to admit that I think it was mostly luck. We just got an exceptional kid.
And I'm certain as you begin first grade, and step into yet another new role as "big sister to two little brothers," that you will continue to be extraordinary. I know the transition hasn't been easy. I know that long days of school are hard on an introvert (trust me sweet girl, I totally get that), and that we ask a lot of you as the biggest kid around here. And you help your parents and you love your brothers, and you do it with great grace (most of the time). I want you to know that we see that. We see you, we see your heart and who you are, and we are beyond grateful that we somehow get to be your mommy and daddy.
So as the year tumbles from summer to fall, as dusk comes earlier and temperatures (finally) dip below ninety, my prayer for you is that you will continue to find your footing. That you will discover more and more about yourself and grow in confidence and strength. That you will know the joys of being who God made you to be, because you are an amazing creation. That the pressures of finding friends and learning and helping will never weigh heavier than your delight in the Lord and in His plans for you.

Love you my sweetest girl -
Mommy
*Side note: I realize things around here are basically a lot of BABIES and CHILDREN and hello-mommy-blogger. As it turns out, however, our days are pretty nuclear around here lately. That still means kiddos dropping by after school and joining us for church and such, but also mostly a circling of the wagons. Welcoming new life and stretching our family has meant a little bit of growing pains for the two older ones, which has necessitated intentional time as a family and lots of attention and focus on the littlest Stanleys. At some point, I will probably write more about ministry and neighborhood and such again. Sorry to everyone who might be uninterested in the minutia of our children's lives. 
** Another side note: some of these pictures, once again are by the lovely and talented Meg Davidson

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