I am the memory-keeper of my family. It's a role that I stepped into willingly. In fact, I think I dove in with both feet and a notepad! Now that we have two kids, I feel the need to keep track of everything in case they want to hear how awesome their childhood has been.
One of my obsessions is using travel photos to commemorate our family trips. I have made photo books for nearly every trip my family has done. In the past few years, I've branched out and created magnets, place mats, art prints, photo blankets and more. Any time I get an email from Tiny Prints, I feel the urge to check the website to see if they have any new or extra fun products that we "need" in order to highlight the fun photos my husband takes on our travels.
With the holidays fast approaching, I looked to see what holiday items Tiny Prints has this year and quickly started creating memories!
Year in Review Cards
While I'm a big fan of sharing things on social media to let friends and family know what's going on in our lives, I'm an even bigger fan of sending Tiny Prints Christmas Cards. However, I find myself handwriting a lot of bonus info on the backs of the cards to each recipient because I'm naturally a chatty person. I really like the Year in Review concept because I'm able to add more details about our year.
This year, my family moved, went to Disneyland, Portland, Vancouver, and Maui and had another baby. I started my Marcie in Mommyland blog and my husband got a promotion at work. Our toddler grew leaps and bounds this past year. The Year in Review card was needed to update our friends and family!
I really liked the selection from Tiny Prints and was able to find a format that fit our personality. I enjoyed looking through all the photos I had for this year and relived some of our top moments, especially introducing our newest family member! As a Mom of a baby and a toddler, my free time is quite limited, so I loved that I was able to put together this card in about 20 minutes (most of the time was just scrolling through photos and picking my favorites.)
The most magical day of the year in our family is Black Friday because that's when we start decorating for Christmas. Our tree has always had a global theme. When our oldest was born almost 3 years ago, we packed away all our beautiful (but extremely breakable) glass ornaments and started collecting non-breakable ones. Those can be tricky to find. We use our tree to celebrate the fun we've had as a family, so it's only natural that we'd include photos of our family adventures.
Tiny Prints does a great job of offering a ton of ornament choices that are easily personalized. This year, I wanted to celebrate the birth of our second son (and create a matching ornament for my older son) as well as highlighting some of the new and exciting adventures we had in 2016.
When they arrived, I was impressed that each one came in it’s own bag, making them an easy holiday gift for friends and family! My toddler grabbed the bags and I’m sure they are filled with some of his treasures already.
I’m already looking forward to next holiday season because I know our cards will be filled with ever more adventures and we’ll get to add a few new ornaments to our tree!
I'm not normally a traditional person. I'm all about sharing things on social media and texting photos to friends and family. However, I'm very traditional about sending real, paper birth announcements. I love adding in the statistics (birth date, weight, height, etc). Most importantly, though, is that I like to select photos and design the card myself. Besides our annual Christmas card, it's the only time I mail things to many family members.
I was so excited to plan our birth announcement that I actually booked our photographer when I was just 3 months pregnant. Then I spent a few months envisioning how I'd like the shoot to go and what I'd like the birth announcement to look like. This may sound excessive, but I wasn't able to do a professional newborn photo shoot with my oldest son so I really wanted to get the most out of the experience. Here are the steps I took to get my aviation-themed birth announcement:
Hire a Photographer
If you are able, it's so helpful to hire a photographer to take newborn photos so that you and your family can be in the photos. My husband is a great photographer and I love the photos he takes of our kids, but I also love when he gets to be in the photos, too! We like to use the Happy Film Company here in Seattle because they know how to get relaxed, candid photos of our family.
Here are some photos to get:
Choose an Outfit/Theme
Since my family is obsessed with traveling and our baby has a travel-themed nursery, we thought it would be fun to continue the theme through the birth announcement. Karen from HandMadeCraftyOne Etsy store sent us an aviation-themed crocheted outfit that was perfect for our photo shoot! I really like how soft the yarn was and that the pants were adjustable for skinny babies but could accommodate heavier ones. We plan on using the hat when we visit the Museum of Flight and other airplane-related outings for cute candid shots! I repurposed my vintage reproduction suitcase from our wedding and stuffed a Queen size blanket inside. I also repurposed a metal vintage-looking airplane to set the scene.
Order Birth Announcements
Even though it's so easy to post birth announcements on social media, there is something special about sending something in the mail. I like being able to add personal messages to the back. Plus, it's fun to see your baby's photo on other people's fridges when you visit them!
With my oldest, he was in the NICU for awhile after he was born prematurely and when we finally got him home, one of the first things we did was take newborn photos for a birth announcement. For me, I really needed to do something to celebrate his arrival and move past the emotional journey we had endured. Creating his birth announcement was such a positive experience that I knew it was just as important with my second baby.
I really enjoy using Tiny Prints because they have quite an extensive collection of designs, themes and options. They also offer sales all the time and lots of fun add-ons and customization. They make nice keepsakes and you could even frame and add to the nursery. I picked this birth announcement layout because it highlighted the aviation-themed photo and there was a spot to fill in a photo-strip with 4 additional photos. This added to the vintage travel vibe I was going with. Additionally, they offer birth announcement pillows, which are pretty fun!
Send Birth Announcements to the White House
One of the fun things you can do with extra birth announcements is to send them to fun places! My favorite place to send them is the White House because you can get an official greeting from the President! We did this with my oldest and it was really fun to receive something in the mail with his full name on it! You can send it anytime within a year after your baby's birth (but not before baby is born.) Keep in mind that because this is an election year, you should be mindful of when you send if you are hoping for a particular President to send the greeting. You can request the official greeting online (that's what I did) or at the following address:
President Barack Obama & Mrs Obama
The White House
White House Greetings Office
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Send Birth Announcements to Disney
Another fun place to send extra birth announcements is to Disneyland or Disney World.
Mickey and Minnie Mouse
Walt Disney World
1675 N Buena Vista Dr
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Mickey and Minnie Mouse
The Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista St.
Burbank, CA 91521
Send Birth Announcements to Your Favorite Sports Team or Celeb
My oldest son was born right before the Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2014 and so I sent Pete Carroll our Seahawks-themed birth announcement and he sent back a congratulatory message and a Super Bowl key chain! This was really cool for our family and it was a nice addition to his baby book. I've also heard of people sending announcements to fan mail addresses for their favorite celebrities.
I hope these ideas inspire you to create your own birth announcements that are just right for your family!
Disclosure: Tiny Prints and HandMadeCraftyOne provided complimentary products.
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I am so thankful for my PEPS group. We all connected when we had newborns within a few months of each other. After our program was completed, we chose to continue as a group and now 2.5 years later, we are still great friends and our families love to do activities together. Our favorite annual event is going to Carpinito Brother's Pumpkin Patch in Kent. This is a fun local excursion!
We love this pumpkin patch because they have so many activities and it's a great way to spend a morning. We try to go early in the day to avoid crowds (and nap times) and to get choice parking. I appreciate that they have lots of photo ops so we can take the same photo year to year to see how much the kids have grown. As the kids get older, they are able to participate in more things.
We also tend to dress the kids in overalls or plaid shirts and jeans. This makes for super cute photos and it feels very "Fall." Our group also likes to bring along pumpkin flavored treats and hot coffee (Kahlua is optional.)
The first year we went, the babies were 7-10 months old and we were able to prop some of them up on the pumpkins, which were wet and much colder than we anticipated. There was a lot of crying and some of us brought strollers, which ended up being a hassle. Not all of us brought food for the kids, so some ended up being cranky. But, we got some great photos and had a lot of laughs!
The second year, the kids were now walking and running and it was nearly impossible to get a group photo of them! We were able to take them to the corn pit, and it was fun to see them pouring kernels on each other and exploring with their hands. They were also old enough to pick out their own pumpkins and walk around the patch.
This year will be our third year and we are excited to bring our newest family member to share in our family tradition.
8 Tips for Successful Pumpkin Patch Photos
When I found out I was pregnant for the second time, one of the first things I did was secure my maternity photo shoot. I know that sounds totally crazy, but I had a complicated pregnancy last time and spent my whole 3rd trimester in the hospital. Taking maternity photos was my chance to really celebrate this pregnancy and our growing family.
I decided to schedule the photo shoot on our 5th wedding anniversary at the same place where we did our wedding photos, so it'd be even more special. It's fun when dates work out like that! As part of our wedding, we sealed a time capsule that was to be opened in 5 years. We thought that incorporating the time capsule into our photo shoot would be a great way to celebrate and reflect on how much our lives have changed in 5 years.
We filled up a wagon with our props, and umbrella and a change of clothes for everyone. My toddler wanted to ride in the wagon, too, so it was quite full. We roamed around the garden and anytime our photographer found an interesting spot, we'd grab our toddler and do some photos.
I used a photography company that's known for doing formal shots as well as playful ones because that suits our personalities the best. We spent about 1/3 of the time looking at the camera and posing for photos. The rest of the time was spent interacting with each other and mostly laughing! Our toddler wanted to run around and explore halfway through the shoot, which gave us time to get shots of just my husband and myself.
We spent a lot of time tickling our toddler to get some big grins and used some phrases that always cracks him up. We also sang songs and chased him around. If your child has a favorite toy, that would also be a helpful tool in getting genuine smiles. By the end of the shoot, our son was posing himself and smiling for the camera!
5 Maternity Photo Shoot Tips:
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Guest Post by the Happy Film Company for Marcie in Mommyland
When traveling with kids there’s a big pressure to come home with gorgeous photos but my oh my is it stressful to keep smiles on those little faces. At the Happy Film Company, we specialize in keeping kids happy in front of the camera. These are our top tips for capturing happy vacation memories with beautiful photography.
Learn to Avoid to people in your pictures by squatting down low, climbing up high or tilting your camera at an angle. Change the angle of your photo can creatively crop out the people and put the focus just on your kids and the cool background you want to capture. You can also use the crowds to your advantage and use people’s bodies to redirect the focus of the photo on your kids. You can shoot through gaps in the crowd to create a frame around your kids/family. You can also shoot behind/over people’s shoulders so a portion of your photo is blurry (creating ‘negative space’) so the other half of the photo is just featuring the kids.
#2 Kids are Squirmy and Not Smiling
When kids are traveling and they feel tired and grumpy, their smiles disappear and they lose interest in the camera, looking or running away. Instead of pouring energy into forcing them to smile, focus on helping them have fun. The smiles come naturally when they’re having a good time. When you force them to smile at the camera they probably feel like you’re not listening to them and what they feel like doing. We always let kids take the lead. Try asking your kids which pictures they would like to take, which backgrounds they think are they coolest, what kind of pose they think would look best. Get them involved in the creative process behind taking photos. You know how powerful your child’s creative imagination is - let THEM help you take better pictures.
#3 Photos are Becoming Stressful & Boring
If your kids are bored being photographed, you’re probably taking boring pictures. Remember, you’re adventuring through the world to create happy memories NOT to create happy-looking photos of stressful memories (that’s just silly!). Let go of the belief that you need to smile perfectly in every photo and welcome in the possibility that photography might be the most powerful tool for boosting up the level of fun that your family has when travel! I recommend playing photography games and having photography themes and challenges when you travel. This will turn your vacation into a photography project that keeps everyone interested (even the people back home who will look at your photos). These are my 3 favorite family photography games:
Have your kids choose a different animal they want to be at each attraction. The whole time you’re exploring that monument they get to pretend to be that animal and when you take pictures they can pose like the animal and make the animal sounds. When you get home, you’ll have a photo book full of the cool tourist attractions featuring all your little animals.
Take pictures from far away (with lots of scenery and people) and have your kids go hide somewhere in the photo so people will have to search for them. Of course, play safe - make sure you can see them or have one parent hiding with the kids.
How Many Faces
Challenge your kids to do a different face at every location. It’s like playing the license plate game when you’re on a roadtrip. How many different states license plates can you count? How many different faces can you collect and bring home?
#4 Hire a Local Professional Photographer
When traveling, take some pressure off your shoulders and get a pro to follow you around for a couple hours so you can be totally present and have fun with your family, all the while knowing that your memories are being captured in a gorgeous way!
The Happy Film Company is a Pacific Northwest family portrait photography and videography business located in Seattle, but happily working with families across the Pacific Northwest and down the West Coast. Our studio is located in Renton, WA and we love photographing and filming families all across Washington, sometimes even venturing to Oregon, California and Hawaii. Our goal is to create bright natural photos and videos that capture each family's love and celebrate the happiness they're feeling at this moment in their lives. Whether we're behind the computers in our studio, wandering with our cameras through the streets of Seattle, or out exploring in the wilderness of the Washington, we are a playful down-to-earth team of creative women who love connecting with people, playing with kids, and creating meaningful artwork that brings a smile to people's faces. Click here to book your shoot with us!
I'm a mom to a 3-year-old and a baby. We believe in traveling as a family as soon as possible and sharing our tips and tricks with other families!