Holiday Photo Tips

Tis the season for holiday decorating, overeating, over spending and family gatherings.  If you’re like most Americans, you will most likely be toting a camera around with you on these occasions.  How do you capture these moments and what are the best tips from the pros?  Lucky for you I have some great tips for even the most beginning novice.

You don't need the whole tree in there to get they're in front of the tree.

Don’t have a super fancy DSLR?  No worries, the point and shoot cameras that are available today take some really amazing pictures. Even I don’t carry around my big pro camera to family functions, I carry my small Canon Powershot.  The first tip I tell everyone is to READ YOUR MANUAL!  Get to know your camera and the different settings.  For example, you should be able to switch between having the flash fire automatically or turn that baby off.  If you want a moody shot of the neighborhood Christmas lights, you obviously don’t want the flash going off automatically, you need to know how to turn the flash off.

Decide what is your subject.  This is a HUGE one that I tell people all the time, especially my parents.  Every time my parents come back from a trip there are always pictures of my mom, about the size of an ant, the huge skyline, the trees, cars, etc all in one picture.  What is the focus?  If you’re going to do a scenic photo, take the people out, if you want a photo of a person, make them the star and don’t worry about all that scenery.  Too often I see holiday pictures with the huge Christmas tree, the stockings hung, and the kids in about 1/4 of the photo.  Trust me, if your kids are the star of the photo and take up 75% of the frame, the viewer still understands and sees they’re in front of the Christmas tree, you don’t need all 8 feet of the tree in there.

Get creative with your shots!

Be creative. We always try to do something different with our holiday pictures, whether its a fun picture of the kids wrapped up in a ton of Christmas lights, just a picture of their feet in front of the fire, or funny angles of their toys.  That’s the joy of the digital age, you can take as many pictures as you want, so go ahead and be creative!
And finally… edit edit edit.  I am a AVID believer in editing.  We have way to many pictures stored on our hard drives these days.  We didn’t use to have 150 pictures from Christmas, maybe a roll of 36 exposures right?  Just because we took the picture does not mean we have to save it.  We don’t need a picture of every toy that was opened, or the back of the kids when they were playing with their cousins.  Instead edit the pictures down to a solid 30-40 pictures that represent this holiday season best and get them into an album of some sort.  Whether is an online album to share with friends and family or a printed album get them off the computer and into a place that your children can look at!  Don’t hand them a hard drive when they’re all grown, get these memories in print.

The Photo Addict runs a retail photography studio location in Fullerton, Ca.

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Reading with iBooks

I used to love to read. However, these days between my children, husband, school, my business and household, I barely have time to cook let alone read for pleasure. When my husband recommended I try the iBooks app on my iPhone, I scoffed at him. As if reading on my teeny-tiny iPhone screen was going to fill that void of pleasure reading… HA!

Screenshot of the "bookshelf"

Every once in a while I’ll go into the app store and try on a new app for size. Give it a go so to speak. I saw the iBooks app and decided I’d try it. I downloaded the trial version of Eat, Pray, Love. The trial version probably gave me the equivalent to 10-15 pages but of course on a iPhone screen it was about 198 pages.

Boy do I stand corrected! After about 5 pages I was hooked. Not only on the book (yes, the book was amazing!) but on the app. Since the only time I ever have time to read is in strange 5-8 minute bursts, like say pumping gas, waiting for water to boil, or in a doctor’s waiting room I can read a few pages, and since I always have my phone on me its super convenient. I can highlight, or bookmark something I want to remember, and every time I open the app it goes to where I left off.

Now of course it’s not as cool as the kindle and the screen is not nearly as easy on the eyes as the kindle, but if I had a kindle I doubt it would always be on my person. Whereas my iPhone never leaves my side. Sure it’s not as relaxing as sitting down with a glass of wine and a good book, but considering I love reading, I enjoy my little 5-10 minute stolen moments.

Thank you Steve Jobs and all the wonderful people at Apple… keep ‘em coming!

Works for me!

Works-For-Me Wednesday

Summer Traditions

The aftermath

My family has a lot of traditions, for instance our family 4th of July party.  It’s been a family event since I was a young girl.  We also have the Easter egg hunt which involves plastic eggs filled with money that all the kids hunt for.  This started in Arizona with my dad’s family which my mom brought back and has kept up the tradition in our own immediate family.  But for me, it’s important to start some family traditions within our own family.  One that we have started is our Summer Seafood Boil.

It all started with my husband’s birthday.  We were past trying to “celebrate” it in normal terms, he’s too old now to be celebrating every year with birthday cake and presents.  After watching a particularly fun episode of  Alton Brown and his perfect seafood boil we knew we wanted to try it.  I LOVE to entertain.  If I were rich I would host very elaborate parties… all the time!  I just love it.  I love doing the invitations, coming up with a menu, the details and of course the actual socializing.  To me, there’s no better thing.  So after watching this episode we decided it would be super fun to host a seafood boil at our house.

I don’t know what it is about boiling a bunch of crustaceans throwing them in a big pile in the middle of the table and eating with your hands that is so much fun, but it is a blast!  It was such a hit that everyone started asking for it for birthday dinners and all, so instead we make everyone wait until the first weekend in August, for hubby’s birthday for our annual seafood boil.  We are preparing as I write this for the big day this weekend.

So what are your new family traditions?  Do they include just your immediate family or are friends and extended family included?  Do you think it is important to start these new traditions?  Comment and let us hear your ideas.

Oh, and one more thing… Happy Birthday today to my wonderful husband!  You are my everything babe, you make life so much better!  I love you!

Starting Preschool

If anyone knows little C, they would agree that he is “spirited”.  Don’t get me wrong, he is an absolute sweetheart, but he wants what he wants when he wants it, and nothing will stand in his way of getting it.  I know this is a trait that will only benefit him as an adult, but as a 4 year old, its rough on the parenting front.  I really wanted to skip preschool, I loved being home with him and felt that going to play dates was enough interaction for him with other children to help socialize him.  However, since I needed to go back to work due to financial issues, I decided to put him in preschool two days a week.

Little C doing "Creative Play"

The first day was a little rough, he did in fact cry for me when I was leaving.  I didn’t know if it was best if I slip out the door, hug him goodbye and leave with him crying, it was so difficult.  His teacher told me I should just kiss him goodbye, let him know I’ll be back in a few hours and leave.  Gosh was it tough, I could hear him crying down the hall.  I was so worried all day.  How is he doing?  Is he still crying?  Will he bully the other kids?  Will he yell at the teacher the same way he yells at me?  When it was time to pick him up, just 4 hours after dropping him off I peeked into the classroom.  He was playing with one of his classmates at the table.  When I walked in he shrieked MOMMY ran over, gave me a hug and then told me “just a minute”.  When I told him it was time to go, he started crying again, this time he wanted to STAY!  He got his taste of what preschool was all about and loved it!

I can honestly say I have seen a huge difference in little C since starting preschool.  He plays better with other children, he no longer bullies his cousin and actually shares.  He potty trained which was a huge power struggle and his speech is getting better.  There has been no tears since that first day of preschool, just praise and happiness.  According to his teacher he is “Mr. Personality” and is the welcome wagon to every child  that arrives.  When we leave he waves goodbye and tells every child by name, “see you  tomorrow Parker”.  He loves his teacher and asks for her by name.

Preschool has been a blessing to us.  I’m certainly in no rush to put him in 5 days a week, but if I did, I’m sure he would have no complaints!

Rainbow Hair Kids Styling

Its been a wile since we’ve reviewed some place.  So if you’re not in the OC area, I apologize, but hopefully you have one of these by you.  I take both my kids to Rainbow Hair kids haircutting in Fullerton.  This place is wonderful.  Not only is it totally kid friendly with a playhouse and toys in the waiting room, but each of the “styling” chairs entice the child to sit on it.  The chairs are shaped like cars.  Each station also has a little TV monitor playing your kids favorite shows, our usually has an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba playing.  When the child sits down for their haircut they get a little bucket of toys to occupy them and distract them while the stylist cuts their hair.  If you have a little girl, you are really lucky because they do the cutest little flowers in their hair.  At $18 a haircut its not on the cheap side, but its worth every penny!  We love Maria, but all of the stylists are fantastic!

Rainbow Kids Hair Styling
127 West Orangethorpe Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92832-2901

(714) 441-1016

Make sure to let them know the Gen X Moms Blog sent you if you decide to check them out!

I Am a Working Mom

Living in Southern California is expensive, and living in Orange County is no exception.  I have been fortunate to stay home with my children for the past 5 years. It didn’t come without sacrifice though.  I also took a part-time job as a waitress to offset some of our bills.  It was a good fit since I love being around people and it allowed me to be home with my kids during the day.  But when I broke my ankle and had ligament replacement surgery it kinda made it painful to waitress for 6 hours at night.  And to be quite honest… I felt too old to be serving now, my body would ache after a long shift towards the end there.

Photo Addict at the studio

I have been a working photographer for 7 years now, never enough that I would say my primary income came from it, but its always been there. I recently made the switch in January from commercial work to families and children. It’s been a great change and it feels like I finally found my niche, and I’m really good at it since I’m so good with kids. The thing is, due to finances I had to make a very pivotal decision, we knew we couldn’t afford all our bills on one salary. We also knew that waitressing wasn’t an option for me anymore. So the question really became, find a job or accelerate my 5 year plan?  What is my 5 year plan you ask? Well for me, I wanted to slowly work on my career as a photographer for 5 years, so that when little C started kindergarten, I would open a studio and have my open hours be when he was in school.

When researching jobs I realized the problem I had before I had little C, no one really hires part-timers anymore, and no boss is going to give me the flexability I need. What if there is an amazing playdate I want to take little C to? There’s no way an employer would be okay with that. What about t-ball practice? Parent-teacher conferences? I just didn’t want to sacrifice this time with little C. But my family needed more income.

My husband and I decided to take a leap of faith and open my studio 2 years ahead of schedule.  It’s been by far one the hardest and scariest things I’ve done. One of the main things that’s been difficult is that even though I can take my child to work with me, I’m still working and not paying 100% attention to him. I have put him in preschool 2 days a week which has been great for everyone since he is mr. personality and loves it. But it’s really hard to get a business running successfully in the first few months on 2 days a week. It’s a really tough decision to go back to work. I don’t know how the women do it after 6 weeks. Little C is almost 4 and I get that “guilty” feeling if he’s watched more than one movie at the studio with me. It’s such a hard balance working mothers have to live. I know I’m extremely lucky that I can take little C with me, or decide to take him to Disneyland for the day, but don’t be fooled, even flexible jobs are still work.

I stll have a hard time saying it out loud…
I am a working mom.

WFMW – Calming the Witching Hour

Little C on a recent walk

Little C is a “spirited” child.  He is extremely stubborn and moody by nature, so I’m sure you can use your imagination as to how the witching hour can go in our household if we don’t take control of it.  You know the hours, its usually the hour s right when daddy gets home until bedtime.  The kids are tired and crabby, you’re tired and crabby and everyone wants to tear each other apart.

Well in our house, there is really only one way to calm this dreaded part of the day… OUTSIDE.  Now I realize we are lucky to live in Southern California where going outside until 8:00 pm is totally beautiful and comfortable and not everyone will be able to solve their witching hour with this solution.  But for us, getting outdoors is pretty much the only solution.

Not only does getting outside help with the crabbiness, its great for the family for bonding and for your health.  What good is plopping in front of the boob-tube after dinner?  Instead, get outside, ride your bikes and go for a nice walk.

Works for me!

Works-For-Me Wednesday