Silver Lining

March 22, 2017

two of my favorite things

This post combines two of my all-time favorite things: cute babies and the Arizona desert in the spring.

Over spring break, my friend and her kids came walking with us in the South Mountain desert one afternoon. We definitely should have checked the weather beforehand, because it was a HOT day, and naturally we went at the warmest part of the day, and naturally we had to turn back way too early because we had a total of five (mostly fussy) children with us.

But! Nevertheless! I can't get over the bright colors, the yellow and purple wildflowers everywhere, and the pretty spring desert in general. It's always good for me to get outside and explore where we live and chat with a friend.

Video is so fun, and learning how to make better home videos has been my favorite after-the-kids-are-sleeping hobby lately. Although note to self: Trying to take video while wearing a baby who wants nothing more than to tug on and eat your camera strap is not the most effective.

Click here to see the video. It's 30 seconds of cute babies and the desert, so I mean, how could it not make your Wednesday better, right? :)

March 20, 2017

The Memories Captured Project: How to get your toddler to smile for the camera

Welcome to the Memories Captured Project, a series designed to help parents take beautiful pictures of their children. See more in the series here.

Last time, I explained how to get babies to smile for the camera. But toddlers? Toddlers are an entirely different game! All my strategies for getting my baby to smile went out the window as she got older and began walking (usually away from me, right when I wanted to take her picture).

Individual personalities are definitely a factor, but today I wanted to share tips and tricks that help my toddler (and my photography clients' toddlers) smile for the camera.


A lot of great photo opps have been missed because my camera was all the way on the other side of the house, or not charged! I started keeping my camera charged, with a memory card, and in the same central location in my house. That way, when my toddler suddenly thinks plugging her own nose is the most hilarious thing on the planet, I have time to capture the giggles before she moves on. If I'm really in a pinch, I know I can at least capture the moment on my phone camera, which I almost alway have with me.


Toddlers won't smile if they're not in a good mood! (I actually love this about toddlers, because you know when they do smile, it's a totally genuine and real grin.) It's also hard for a two-year-old to understand that you'll have dinner soon, if they can just smile and be happy for ten minutes beforehand. I always try to avoid photoshoots right before bedtime, or when they're super hungry.



The great thing about photographing a toddler instead of a baby is a toddler can actually understand you. When I need to take photos of my daughter for a sponsored blog post, for example, I'll tell her what to expect before it happens. "When we get to the park, you get to take a few pictures with mommy, and then I'll push you on the swing." When you set expectations with your toddler, they feel in control, happy and are much more likely to oblige and give you that cute grin for your family Christmas card.


This is my trump card and number one tip! The easiest way to get a toddler to smile is to have one of their parents or a sibling play with them. Twirl around with them, tickle them, or chase them. This is also a great way to capture toddlers interacting with their favorite people, and makes for really sweet and memorable photos.


Gone are the days where good pictures have to be formal, posed, and with a perfect studio backdrop. I've had huge success following toddlers around, being silly with them, and becoming interested in what they like. When they're in a natural environment, real smiles will come easily! Plus, you get a more authentic snapshot of what your toddler loved at that age.



Self-respect and dignity? Yeah, you don't have that when you're trying to get a toddler to smile. Play peek-a-boo from behind the camera (great for younger toddlers), whack yourself in the head with a soft toy, or make a big show of trying to losing and finding your own thumb (great for older toddlers). Guaranteed to make them laugh!


Many of my favorite pictures of toddlers don't involve a smile. I love following toddlers around and capturing the little details and candid shots that show their personality. If you don't get a good smiling shot right when you want it, that's okay!



What would you add?
Tips and tricks to get your toddler to smile?

March 17, 2017

a gallery wall for the twins' nursery

I've wanted to attempt a gallery wall for years and years, but it always seemed way too intimidating. Like, you have to collect stuff from different places? Over an extended period of time? And you have to make sure none of it matches but all of it coordinates? And you have to place everything in a pattern that looks eclectic but has actually been meticulously planned out?

It seemed too complicated for me, which is probably why I've never made one until last week in the twins' nursery.

I didn't actually start out with a plan to make a gallery wall. I just came across the "this is my happy place" sign at Hobby Lobby, and something about the simple colors, white space, and cute sentiment totally grabbed me. I brought it home, propped it up on the top of the twins' dresser, and thought, "Hey, this would be great as part of a gallery wall."

So I did it! It's not perfect, and I had surprising amounts of stress while sorting through all the decor I owned (and a few pieces I bought) and deciding where to put everything. As it turns out, even on a gallery wall that's supposed to look a little random, I kept gravitating toward right angles and straight lines and even spacing. So apparently I'm 100% left-brained when it comes to decorating.

 Can you even believe these cute animal prints? Alyssa from Alysstrations was kind enough to send them over, and holy cow I'm in love with all of them. I honestly can't decide which little animal is my favorite, and I love how they bring a little more youth and whimsy to this wall.

I have plans to stain this ampersand one of these days. It's on my "To Do Eventually" list. But also I haven't accomplished a single thing from my To Do Eventually list since I got pregnant with twins, so at this point it's safe to assume it will stay unfinished forever.
I've been surprised how much of a difference this wall makes now that it's done. The entire room seems more put together and larger.

It almost makes up for the fact that one twin sleeps in a beautiful large white crib, and the other one sleeps in a pack-n-play in the corner. Proof:
Here are my purchase sources, in case you're wondering where something is from:
Dresser - IKEA
Lamps - Target
Noise Canceller - Amazon (link here)
Happy Place poster - Hobby Lobby
White shelves - Target
Ampersand - Hobby Lobby
Animal Illustrations c/o Allystrations
Clipboards - Hobby Lobby
Square Frame - Hobby Lobby
Yellow flowers - Target
Green succulent - Target
Plant on dresser - IKEA
Arrows - Hobby Lobby
Clock - Walmart
Cactus print - an original from a "warm-up" by the talented Art Ellie
Teddy Bear - Claire's bed... can't remember the original source

So there it is! Now that I've done one gallery wall, they seem less intimidating, and a cheap way to cover a large space. Who knows, I might even get up the courage to attempt another one sometime. I'll put it on my To Do Eventually list. ;)

PS If you're in love with these animal prints like me, head over to my Instagram for a giveaway. Super easy to enter, and hey, nothing beats free prints shipped right to your front door. :)
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