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contests & giveaways family fun photography

The Amazing and Heroic Adventures of Super Smize Girl

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Mommy Shorts is running a contest with Method called the “METHOD POWER POSE-OFF” and it’s going to pit a bunch of kids’ superpower stances against eachother Justice League Vs. Avengers style. Seeing her pictures of Mazzy posing like a Super Hero, I was itching to do a similar photo shoot with little BB. They have a very similar sass and I had a feeling it would be a fun photo shoot. BB did not disappoint!

BB knows a fair amount about super heroes for a little girl who is Princess Obsessed. Her brother is all about superman, spider man, batman, and all the others (::cough:: Doctor Who ::cough::) and often talks her into playing Super Heroes with him, so she’s no stranger to Wonder Woman, but when I asked her what her Super Hero name was, she told me without hesitation, “Rapunzel” – she plays by her own rules, you know.

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BB’s super powers: her Super Smize and her Powers of Posing

I cannot  get over the fact that just casually taking snapshots of her running around the bus stop can often result in beauty shots that a Top Model contestant would kill for.

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“Why are you so obsessed with me?”

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Of course the most important part about being a super hero is looking the part. BB wastes no time tying on her invisible cape before running off to save the day!

I think my favorite part of the photo shoot was just listening to her narrate her adventures and to see the look of absolute joy in her face as she ran around saving the bus stop from invisible villains.

I also love that she continues to draw her own lines and live by her own rules. She can be a princess and like super heroes. She can wear baggy cotton capris, a ruffly leopard print skirt and a crisp white collared tee and golden sandals – and look fabulous!

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I know she’s going to grow up to be an amazing woman someday!

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contests & giveaways family fun motherhood photography

Taking pictures of children: the good, the bad and the blessed.

This week I was practically glued to my camera, taking almost 100 pictures a day of the kids as part of the month-long photoberfest challenge at Katie Evans Photography that I am participating in – this week’s theme was simply “kids” and I worked my DSLR butt off trying to get the perfect shot (you can still vote for your favorite picture here today).

I went into this challenge pretty cocky; being blessed with gorgeous children, a good camera and better than basic (but only just) photography skills, I figured I probably had this in the bag and submitted my first picture on Monday. It was a picture of MM enjoying a tootsie pop that afternoon on the walk home from the bus stop. A picture that still frankly takes my breath away and I thought it would be pretty popular. Cute expression, nice b&w processing, rich contrast, eyes that pop out of the picture. Maybe I’m biased though.

that gorgeous boy of mine

I got one vote. One sad, lonely vote. And it kinda took me down a peg. Is this picture not as beautiful to the rest of the world as it is to me and if so, how do I feel about that? Now, maybe this challenge is a popularity contest and not a true measure of our of skills – maybe I could have taken the most stunning picture in the world and still wouldn’t have gotten many votes. I don’t know.

But the point is, the low amount of votes was sort of a gauntlet being thrown down for me. I thought, “If that amazing picture of MM won’t render any attention, then clearly I needed to step up my game.” So I spent the rest of the week hell bent on getting a great picture but I never managed to take a picture that I considered better than the first one I submitted and thus I never entered any more pictures.

I had a few things working against me: like my very contrary morning model – a little girl much more interested in the work of play and the art of ignoring mommy than in getting her picture taken. I had messy faces that weren’t cute messy, just, “Man, how did I not notice that before?” messy. I had strange hair days, bad lighting, a camera hell bent on not focusing the second my children were being perfectly adorable at just the right moment and probably a lot of just second guessing myself in general.

And somewhere along the way, I kind of lost sight of the real purpose – that this isn’t about taking a picture worthy of winning a prize that in the long run doesn’t matter to me – but about learning to cope with all these basic truths of child photography and rolling with the punches and coming out on top with beautiful pictures of my children and beautiful memories, too.

But now that the week is over and the challenge is closed, I find myself with a week worth of pictures that I frankly love anyway. Maybe they are not perfectly composed, probably some bad lighting and messy faces are involved – but still they are pictures full of love and happiness and the most beautiful models a mother could ask for. And really, who needs votes when I have this?

The real prize: a life worth living and a family worth loving the heck out of every second.

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contests & giveaways

She Knows 2010 Parenting Awards: Who Will Get Your Vote?

she knows 2010 parenting awardsHave you heard of the She Knows Parenting Awards? Each year parents are asked to vote for their favorite products, companies and brands. She Knows writes that the “SheKnows Parenting Awards are a direct reflection of our readers’ opinion on specific products. Our goal is to give our readers all the information they need to make the best informed decisions in their everyday lives. All products or companies in nomination are reviewed by our team and handpicked accordingly for each category. Each winners are determined via an organic voting process performed by our SheKnows readers.”

Some of my favorite companies and parenting products are in the runnings this year, like Barley & Birch – one of my favorite eco-friendly children’s clothing boutiques and the Kaboost portable chair boosters – such a unique alternative to a traditional booster seat! I hope you’ll head over to SK and support your favorite companies with a vote in the She Knows 2010 Parenting Awards.

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contests & giveaways reviews

Giveaway: Minimize Morning Madness with Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-a-Clean Power Sprayer! (CLOSED)

"Minimize the Morning Madness" gift basket from Scrubbing Bubbles and SC Johnson

I recently received this gift basket from SC Johnson promoting their Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-A-Clean Power Sprayer. My husband, the unofficially appointed Cleaning Guy in our home immediately ran through the bathroom to try it out. He’s been using Scrubbing Bubbles ever since his mother first taught him to clean the bathroom as a kid (clever momma!) so he knew what he was comparing this to. And while he didn’t necessarily find it revolutionary compared to the original Scrubbing Bubbles product, he was just as happy with the product as ever – it’s definitely a brand we know and trust to get the job done.

I think the whole idea of Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-a-Clean is genius. I’m all about anything that can make my cleaning routine (or my husband’s) easier and the Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-a-Clean Power Sprayer is all about making it easier. Here are some quick FAQ’s on their newest bathroom cleaner:

  • Active cleaners work overtime to keep your bathroom cleaner, longer
  • Invisible grime barrier is activated each time bathroom surfaces get wet, working for up to 4 days
  • Power Sprayer provides better coverage for easier cleaning
  • Makes bathroom cleaning simpler, easier and more manageable

I love that it continues to clean up the grime a little more every time the surface gets wet, which is quite frequently in our home with a four year old who is constantly washing his hands after getting dirty doing all the things four year olds do! Now when he’s washing his hands, he’s also reactivating the cleaning cycle in the bathroom sink, too, without having to do a thing!

The gift basket they sent me has also been put to good use – especially the really cute coffee mug which I’ve been using for everything from hot cocoa to ice cream, just because I can. It is so cute and classic and sturdy – the perfect mug.

And that notepad you see in the picture? Totally not just a note pad – it’s called AquaNotes which means you can literally get it wet – like go ahead and put it in your shower and it will dry off and be just like new. They want you to get this sucker wet and make sure you never let another idea go down the drain again! Too cool!

WIN IT!

One (1) lucky reader is going to win a gift basket like the one I received (pictured above) including a Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-A-Clean Power Sprayer, Starbucks Via and a mug, a travel alarm clock and more. Here’s how you can enter to win:

  • Tell me: What do you do to minimize the morning madness in your home? 

This giveaway is open to U.S. readers only. It will end on June 4th at 12 pm Central Time.

Although I was not compensated, I did receive the items pictured above free of charge courtesy of SC Johnson for this giveaway and review opportunity.

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contests & giveaways photography

i heart faces: SMILE

four blackberries can go a loooong way

My bloggy buddy Jen @ Our Daily Big Top encouraged me to enter this in the iheartfaces photo challenge this week. The theme this week is rather fitting – SMILES – little miss BB is certainly donning a big grin in this picture – blackberries are apparently pretty awesome in her book – AND the picture makes me smile, too, so that’s like bonus points, right?

Have you got the perfect picture of a terrific smile? Be sure to link up with it this week at iheartfaces!

i heart faces weekly photo challenge

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contests & giveaways photography

Spring Photo Contest: A Perfect Spring Day

feel free to bask in her cuteness

When you think of Spring, what do you think of? Beautiful weather finally coming out to play? Flowers blooming? Sweet little babies? Yeah me, too. And I love that this picture kind of represents all of those things. I took it on one of the first “perfect” days this Spring when we were able to shed our jackets and go outside to play. It was also one of her first times getting to crawl in the grass and really touch nature (and taste it!) first hand.

Something about the angle of this picture really speaks to me and it’s the first one that came to mind when Karen announced this year’s Spring Photo Contest – so I hope you like it. If you’re participating in the contest, let me know so I can check out your picture, too!

Photo Contest at writefromkaren.com

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contests & giveaways photography

Winter Photo Contest: Building The Perfect Snow Ball

Photo Contest at writefromkaren.com
It’s time for the Winter Photo Contest at Write From Karen! It’s very easy to enter – just post a picture that best represents winter to you, then link up at Write From Karen.

After perusing some of my winter pictures, I decided to enter the following picture, which I took last month while my son was playing in the snow with his daddy.

Some of my favorite pictures of MM are like this one, from behind. He is a mover and a shaker and it’s often hard to get a picture of him “posed” so I have better luck just capturing the moments of action where I can. I’ve come to love these “behind the scene” pictures a lot.

I’d be honored if you’d vote for my picture in Karen’s contest.

trying to assemble the perfect snowball

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contests & giveaways

i heart faces: happy birthday!

i heart faces photo challenge

This week’s i heart faces photo challenge is a little different than the normal challenges. They are celebrating their first bloggy birthday next week on January 12th. To kick off the celebration, this week your photo entries will have to have their logo in them somewhere. Confused? Check out more about the guidelines here. I had a lot of fun sneaking their logo into my pictures and it was harder than it looks! I have a lot of “attempts” that I won’t embarrass myself by posting but here are the two that I think came out the best…

he also hearts coloring

she hearts that I speant an hour putting this together for her this morning

actually, I lied, I’m going to post one more picture … I can’t resist her cuteness.

i heart my babies

If you play along be sure to link up your post here – you can post up to five pictures for this challenge, which will close at 9 p.m. central time this Friday.

disclaimer: I am submitting this photo into the I Heart Faces logo photo contest. By entering, I am granting I Heart Faces LLC permission to consider my photo for use in the marketing and promotion of their website.”

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books & reading contests & giveaways

Fall Into Reading 2009: Wrap Up

Fall Into Reading @ Callapidder DaysWinter is officially upon us, a fact that seems laughable when we’ve had a foot of snow outside for a few weeks now. But the end of Fall also means the end of the Fall Into Reading challenge hosted by Kat @ Callapidder Days. If you aren’t hip to Kat’s reading challenges, you should be – it’s the epitome of open ended challenges – you design your own rules – how many books do you want to read and which ones? I’ve never successfully finished a challenge of mine as my eyes are always too big for my “reading stomach” but it’s always fun to challenge myself and then look back and see what my reading pattern was really like. In September I challenged myself to read – eleven – books because I am absolutely crazy.

Here are the books I successfully read this fall from my FIR challenge:

  1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Finished December 5, 2009 – This is the new “it book” going around the reading blogs. Post apocalyptic of sorts, it chronicles a very disutopian society and their annual hunger games which are sort of like the Olympics except it’s a fight to the death. I really, really enjoyed this book – it definitely lived up to it’s hype. – full review
  2. Finger Lickin’ Fifteeen by Janet Evanovich – Finished November 20, 2009 – This series has had some ups and downs, not all books as good as the others but Evanovich has definitely still got it. I really enjoyed the fifteenth installment of the Stephanie Plum series. There was a lot of good food, a lot of romance and a lot of cars totaled. All the things I love in a good Plum book basically.
  3. Queste by Angie Sage – Finished October 23, 2009 – I always enjoy the Septimus Heap series and this one was definitely no different. I love how the story is progressing and it’s always fun to read about magyk and physik especially how the two fields cannot get along at all. I thought the whole “place where all times do meet” thing was very cool and of course now I’m really looking forward to reading Book 5, Syren.

Non-challenge books that I read (it’s my own fault for not just adding these to my list – which is allowed – but I’m not very organized apparently:

  1. Close Encounters of a Third Grade Kind by Phillip Done – Finished November 8, 2009 – I really enjoyed this book. While I am neither a teacher nor do I have plans of becoming one, I found Done’s musings from 25 years of teaching in Elementary to be something a lot of people can relate to. It brought back memories of my own childhood and had me looking forward to the future with my own children. – full review
  2. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – Finished December 15, 2009 – I devoured this second installment in the new Hunger Games series. I don’t want to say too much for fear of giving anything away, but Book 2 is very fast paced and what you think you know, is rarely true. Collins has written a very intricately deceptive book where the rules seem to constantly change and nothing is all that it seems. I am, like all fans of Katniss and the Games, now anxiously awaiting Book Three.

And for the past week or so I have been reading Odd Mom Out by Jane Porter which I won in a giveaway on the Mom Lit Facebook Group. I have never read any of Jane Porter’s books before but OMG they are good – they are a classic example of why chick lit books became popular and I am anxiously looking forward to reading all of her books now.

So while I didn’t finish reading all eleven books on my list (let’s be honest, we all knew that wasn’t going to happen) I still enjoy participating – I might have read more this Fall because of the challenge than I would have otherwise and I always find it interesting to look back over my reading habits from time to time.

To wrap up my Wrap Up of the Fall Into Reading Challenge, I thought I’d announce my favorite book of Fall 2009. The winner is:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I think this might be the best book I read in 2009 period. I know this book is being collectively applauded all over the internet and I want to put it out there and agree – this book really is that good and you really should read it immediately if you haven’t yet.