Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Bitsy Boxes | A Sponsored Post

Have y'all ever received a subscription box? I hadn't until recently, and it is so fun! While I was in Arkansas last week my husband told me that our Bitsy Box had arrived, and it basically felt like I had a Christmas gift sitting there just waiting to be opened. As soon as we got home we dug right in to see what kind of goodies were inside.

In case you haven't heard of Bitsy Boxes, it is a subscription service for a box full of fun goodies tailored to your child's age as well as a thing or two for mama. Score! It is a fun way to try new products and treat yourself and your little. Who doesn't love a surprise package?! You can choose how often you want to receive them, and they would make such a fun gift for an expecting or new mama.

Our box was a 'Little Chef' theme so we received a plush shortcake toy, a can of the cutest stuffed ravioli, Neat Cheeks flavored wipes, and my personal favorite, a set of 3 reusable snack bags by Dr. Brown's. We used Dr. Brown's bottles exclusively with Henry, and I am excited to try these DISHWASHER SAFE snack bags! For mama, there was a Glow Organics foot soak and a Maria Shareen hair tie bracelet. You can bet I tried out that foot soak the first night!

If you have been on the fence about trying something like this, it definitely makes for a fun mail day. And just imagine if you forgot it was coming (like me), and then you come home one day to find a box of goodies for you and your babe. Does it get any more fun?! If you order now you can get 50% off your 1st monthly subscription box + FREE SHIPPING with the code BITSY50, so it is the perfect time to give it a try. Let me know if you do!


*This is a sponsored post, however, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Every Mom's Must Have Camera Accessory | Janie Lane Studio

I recently shared the three reasons every mom needs a DSLR. It is probably pretty clear by now that I am super passionate about getting quality photos of your kiddos now instead of waiting to realize during their senior year of high school that every photo you have of them was taken with your busted old cell phone with a smudge on the lens. As I have stated before...you don't have to spend thousands of dollars on a camera, and you don't have to have professional experience or a degree to learn how to take great shots of your family. There are tons of free resources out there, and with a lot practice, shooting in manual can become second nature!

There are so many options and price ranges when it comes to DSLRs and their accessories. My newest and favorite accessory is my camera strap from Janie Lane Studios. When I was shooting sessions for other families I got away from using a camera strap. As a mama, I need my hands free to keep Henry from jumping off things and eating gross stuff, so this is so perfect. My favorite feature is that it can be worn comfortably as a cross body. I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW PERFECT THIS IS. Instead of leaving my good camera behind because it is a bit really bulky, I can use this strap, toss the camera behind me when needed, and still have quick access so I don't miss the shot. The cross body feature prevents my heavy 5D from falling forward and conking my kid in the head when I bend over, and it has the perfect contour around the neck so you don't have a lot of uncomfortable fabric bunching up on your neck. It's perfect, I tell you.

Okay, so I lied. Can I have two favorite features? Of course I can, this is my blog. My other favorite is the storage. There are little pockets that hold my backup battery and memory card right on the strap. The one for my battery has an elastic opening, and the one for my card has a snap closure. I don't have to worry about things falling out, and I can leave my heavy camera bag in the car without worrying about space or battery power. Genius.  

A few other things I love about these straps are the number of fabric options, various designs to suit your needs, and that the maker is just too sweet. Dana is a real life mama making real-life, gorgeous and perfectly functional pieces of art. Go check her out on Insta where she shares all of her awesome key fobs and clutches in addition to the straps, and definitely head over to her shop to look around. Dana is offering 15% off all camera straps (good through September 15th) to my awesome readers with the code GOODANDLOVELY15. So go ahead and pick out your favorite fabric and which style suits you best. You will NOT regret it.


*This is a sponsored post, however, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Three reasons every mom needs a DSLR

Around ten years ago I had a small photography business. I was inexperienced but passionate and trying to learn all I could while in college, working, getting married, and then moving 6 hours from home. It eventually turned into something that was taking up too much of my weekends and family time, so I decided to call it quits. I am so thankful for the knowledge I gained during that time, but I feel so strongly that you don't have to have professional level equipment and a fine art degree to take great shots of your family. That is why I like sharing things I have learned with you all.

One thing I do STRONGLY recommend is investing in a DSLR, or a digital single lens reflex camera. Some people think there is nothing a DSLR can do that their phone camera can't do, but this assumption is just not true. Others think you are going to have to spend thousands of dollars for a DSLR, and you can, but you definitely don't have to. There are plenty of entry level DSLR cameras out there, and there are plenty of reasons to take the leap and get yourself one.

1. Clarity

Have you ever taken a photo on your phone that looked great on the small mobile screen, but when enlarged on a computer or print it just doesn't look that great? A DSLR will give you sharper images with more contrast straight out of camera. The image sensors in a DSLR will allow you to capture sharp, detailed images, even in lower lighting. Also, unless you choose a prime lens, you will be able to zoom without compromising clarity like with the digital zoom on your phone. This can be a game changer.

2. Speed

A DSLR is much faster. You can take one shot after another without having to recharge like a point and shoot or wait for your phone camera to catch up (especially if it is always bogged down and nearly full of casual snaps of your kid like mine is). Another way they are faster is the shutter speed. You should be able to capture motion much better with a DSLR than with your phone camera. Keep in mind this is dependent on the level of DSLR you purchase, but overall I would say you should see a noticeable difference even in automatic mode when shooting in less than ideal lighting situations.

3. Control

You have so much more control over things like lighting and depth of field with a DSLR. You can really use your camera as a creative tool once you decide to dive into manually controlling these features! You can learn to overcome backlit photos (like below). You can learn back button focus and get amazing action shots. You can get close and really focus on your subject with a shallow depth of field. So many options open up, and the fun really begins when you start learning how to manipulate your camera's manual settings.

Don't get me wrong. I use my phone camera ALL THE TIME, but when I want really great shots, I always reach for my "good camera". It doesn't matter if you choose Nikon or Canon. Either will have the capabilities and features necessary to take your photos to the next level and capture some really precious memories of your people.

One thing you must realize before purchasing is that having a "good camera" will not automatically mean you will get good photos. A DSLR is not a magic fix for your photos, and you will not get professional level photos if you stay in automatic mode. However, starting in automatic mode to get comfortable with your camera and then easing into aperture mode and eventually manual mode makes perfect sense. Practice is key. It will take a little research and education before you figure it out, but it is totally doable. You will feel so great when you are no longer missing the shot because of less than perfect shooting conditions.

If you want to learn a few tips you can use with both your phone and your DSLR, be sure to subscribe to have my Top 10 Photo Tips delivered to your inbox! 

If you are wanting a DSLR and don't know where to start, the first thing to consider is what you need it to do both now and after you have gained some experience. Some newer models offer crazy advanced features that you may never use, so there is no reason to pay for them. DSLRs are not like cell phones. An older model can serve you just as well as a brand new one, so don't be tricked into spending more than necessary. Things to compare when shopping are image quality, available features (ISO, apertures, focus points), and design. Be aware that some listings will be for the camera body only, and some will come with a kit lens that you can upgrade once you learn more about the features. It can be overwhelming, but there are lots of resources, and it is totally worth it.

What about you? Do you have a DSLR? What is your favorite thing about it?


Sunday, July 15, 2018

He is watching, Mama

One day a few months ago Henry was sitting on the bathroom sink (with me holding on, right behind him) while I brushed his teeth. He saw my earring on the counter and tried sticking it to my ear. While he was playing outside that same day, I started pulling some weeds and putting them in a nearby wagon. He stopped what he was doing and started picking up anything he could find and putting it in the wagon also. That very same day while I was working out, he started jumping around and mimicking me just as I was mimicking the instructor on TV. It was this day when I realized just how closely he is watching everything I do. In all my regular day-to-day actions I am teaching him how to do life.

No pressure there.
Okay, there is pressure...so much pressure. There is a lot of weight in knowing that I am shaping his vocabulary, his habits and his character. He won't just copy the good examples, but he will mimic every slip up when I stub my toe and every ill word I speak when someone cuts me off in traffic. He will learn from my relationships with other adults and what it means to be a good friend. He is watching my relationship with his father and how we respond to each other in both good times and bad. He sees that we go to church on Sunday come rain or shine, and he sees us pray over our food before a meal. He watches me playing on my phone when I should be doing something more productive. He feels when I respond to his actions with frustration instead of love. He is a sponge, and I need to be more aware of what he is soaking up.

Brave Mama Shirt by www.thebravemamaco.com.

Just like so many things in life, I have a choice. I have a choice to teach him about the importance of taking care of the body God gave you. I have a choice to teach him how important it is to honor your word and be a dependable friend. I have a choice to teach you not to accept things at face value. I have a choice to teach him that it is always best to be kind to others instead of judging and gossiping about them. Never have I been more aware of the areas in my life that need work than when I realize I am teaching this precious, little person how to do basically everything. Even when I don't mean to teach, my actions are lessons. Some things are born in us, and those things we cannot help, but so much of who we are is a result of our environment and our response to it. It is more than just please and thank you and 'get your finger out of your nose'. As a stay at home mom and the person he is with 24/7, I have to be careful to curate an environment that will give him the best opportunity to grow into a strong, healthy, kind, Jesus-loving adult. That is heavy stuff.

This job is not an easy one, but it is so incredibly important to me. I know I am failing daily. I say things I shouldn't, roll my eyes when I should smile, and complain about things that don't matter. But I am trying to give myself some grace because I have learned over time that beating myself up about it is not going to make it better. Instead, I remind myself of the boy who hugs and loves generously. I remind myself of the boy who reaches for our hands before we eat so we can say grace. I remind myself of the boy who smiles at strangers, shares his food (though he probably didn't learn that one from me), and confidently makes new friends. He such a tiny little blessing, and while I am teaching him all day every day, I think I am the one who has learned the most.


Bitsy Boxes | A Sponsored Post

Have y'all ever received a subscription box? I hadn't until recently, and it is so fun! While I was in Arkansas last week my husband...