Archive for February, 2012

Leapin’ Lizards!

February 29th, 2012

It’s leap day, so how about a science experiment that leaps? Get a balloon, and blow it up and tie the end. Let your child pour about a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper on the table (no need to measure!). Have her rub the balloon on her clothes for a minute or […]

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It’s leap day, so how about a science experiment that leaps?

Get a balloon, and blow it up and tie the end.

Let your child pour about a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper on the table (no need to measure!).

Have her rub the balloon on her clothes for a minute or so.

Hold the balloon above the salt and pepper and slowly lower it.  When you get within about an inch of the pile, the pepper will leap up to the balloon!  (The salt will leap up too, when you get a little closer.)

What’s happening?  It’s all about static!  The same thing that gives you a shock when you touch a doorknob in the middle of winter, or makes your hair stand on end when you take your winter hat off.  When you rub the balloon on fabric, it gets a negative charge.  The pepper (and salt) is positively charged, so it’s attracted to the balloon!  (Salt is heavier than pepper, so the balloon has to be closer.)

When you’re done picking up salt and pepper, rub the balloon on fabric a little longer, and stick it to the wall.  No tape needed!

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Newborns

February 28th, 2012

Just over 3 years ago, I got to photograph little miss J.  She was one of my first newborns, and she’ll always hold a special place in my heart.  She didn’t want to sleep, and only wanted to be held by her mom or dad.  That was a difficult session, and yet it resulted in […]

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Just over 3 years ago, I got to photograph little miss J.  She was one of my first newborns, and she’ll always hold a special place in my heart.  She didn’t want to sleep, and only wanted to be held by her mom or dad.  That was a difficult session, and yet it resulted in some of my favorite newborn images to date:

Now, little miss J is 3, and she’s a big sister!  Her little brother C is here!  I love shooting siblings.  It’s so much fun to see how the older ones have grown, and how much the new one looks like his or her sibling.  And C looked a lot like his big sister!  Isn’t he adorable?

Big sister wasn’t quite sure what to make of all the baby business.  Hasn’t she grown so much?

Click here to see what C and J will get to see as they grow!

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Bribery

February 22nd, 2012

I am a firm believer in bribery.  Especially when it comes to portraits.  I cannot, no matter how I try, take portraits of my own kids without bribing them.  When I try, I get images like this: Besides my photo equipment, there are 2 things I bring with me to every session – smarties and […]

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I am a firm believer in bribery.  Especially when it comes to portraits.  I cannot, no matter how I try, take portraits of my own kids without bribing them.  When I try, I get images like this:

Besides my photo equipment, there are 2 things I bring with me to every session – smarties and lollipops.  The smarties are perfect for those moments when little legs don’t want to be still, or little people don’t want to be near their siblings.  “If you sit right here, you’ll get a piece of candy!”  Works like a charm, and smarties make no mess!  At the end of every session, if mom and dad say it’s ok, the kids get lollipops.  They did a great job putting up with the silly lady with the camera, they deserve a reward!

In addition to what I bring, it’s always helpful if you bring along a few treats as well.  Got a toddler?  A cookie or a favorite piece of candy goes a long way.  A new toy can hold off a tantrum.  (“Wow, I just found a new toy car!  Would you like it?”)  A sticker might just calm a little one down for the few minutes it takes to get the family shot.   Just remember that anything messy should be given as a reward at the end (lollipops and chocolate turn little faces into a sticky mess) and there’s a good chance new toys will end up in the picture.

Older kids aren’t as likely to fall for the candy bribe.  Fortunately, they’re also a lot more cooperative when it comes to pictures.  Your 6 year old will probably be good as gold if she knows she’ll get some new Squinkies at the end.  Your 10 year old will probably put up with anything for the promise of a new DS game.  And an iTunes gift card will turn any surly teenager into a willing participant.  (Don’t worry – I’m still going to give them all a lollipop too!)  Use what you know about your child, and plan ahead so they have a prize to look forward to.

Most kids love their portrait sessions and have a great time, but a well timed bribe is always a good thing to have on hand.

Who wants candy?

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Birdwatching

February 15th, 2012

My kids find birds fascinating.  When we had that fabulously warm weather a few weeks ago, we had several visits from a little guy now known as “our woodpecker friend”.  He was quite taken (apparently) with the 2 trees in our front yard, and Daniel and I both had a great time watching him and […]

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My kids find birds fascinating.  When we had that fabulously warm weather a few weeks ago, we had several visits from a little guy now known as “our woodpecker friend”.  He was quite taken (apparently) with the 2 trees in our front yard, and Daniel and I both had a great time watching him and checking out the holes he left in the tree.  Daniel likes watching birds, and while Noah does too, he really loves finding out what kind of birds they are, and what they do.

Birdwatching is such a great science activity.  There’s no mess, you can do it whenever you have time, and it takes very little equipment.  If you plan it right, you can even do it from the comfort of your home, which is especially nice in the middle of winter.

Little kids (most of them, anyway) don’t think much about tramping through the woods looking for rare birds.  Most of the time they make too much noise and scare all the birds off.  The best way to bird-watch with kids is by simply hanging a bird feeder and seeing who comes to visit.  Bird feeders are easy to find, and most stores carry them.  I recommend getting a squirrel proof model, because those hungry little buggers will steal all your seed.  But if you don’t want to buy a bird feeder, you can make one.

The easiest way is to coat a pine cone (or even a toilet paper tube!) in peanut butter and then roll it in bird seed.  You can make them with gelatin, or get really fancy and make bird seed cookies (a quick google will yield many recipes for bird seed cookies)!  Whatever method you choose, hang them on the nearest tree, and in a few days, you should have some visitors!

Once you’ve got feathered visitors, head over to Project Feeder Watch and you can print your own bird identification posters so you know who’s visiting!

Happy  birdwatching!

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Preparing for a session with your toddler

February 8th, 2012

Toddlers can be an unruly beast.  They want what they want, when they want it, and they rarely can be reasoned with.  This can make a portrait session a little bit of a challenge.  Here’s a few tips to get your toddler ready for their session. First things first – clothing.  We all want our […]

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Toddlers can be an unruly beast.  They want what they want, when they want it, and they rarely can be reasoned with.  This can make a portrait session a little bit of a challenge.  Here’s a few tips to get your toddler ready for their session.

First things first – clothing.  We all want our kids to look their best for their portraits.  Nobody wants a giant wall portrait of their kid in the clothes they wear everyday.  Especially if your kids are like mine and spend most days in mismatched clothes with spills down the front.  But while you’ll want your kids to look nice, they’ll want to be comfortable, so keep this in mind when choosing their outfits.  Avoid things that are itchy, tight, or don’t move well.  Use your judgement and your knowledge of your child to determine when to dress your child.  Some kids do best when they’re dressed at home, others can’t manage even a short car ride without a snack, and would do better to be dressed just before the session, after they’ve spilled everything all over their play clothes.

Toddlers can take a while to warm up to a new setting.  Arrive at the location a few minutes early so they have some time to run around and get used to being in the location, as well as getting all those post-car wigglies out.  Again, you know your kid best and you know how long it typically takes them to warm up, so plan accordingly.  Just remember that things can go wrong – traffic, missed turns, whatever – so give yourself a few extra minutes just to be sure.  If you’re running late, it’ll put stress on you and your child.

Bring some simple, non-messy snacks for your son or daughter.  Cheerios, puffs and the like are perfect.  Something they can eat quickly if they’re getting hungry, but that won’t make a mess or color their mouths.  A sippy of water is always a good thing to have on hand too.  I’ll bring candy for older kids (smarties) but be sure to bring something your toddler likes to eat.  It also never hurts to bring a favorite toy or two.  But remember – there’s a decent chance that toy will end up in some of the pictures.  (When he’s older, you’ll appreciate it.  He’s not going to be dragging that ratty old bear around forever.  When he’s a teenager, you’ll cherish the image of your two year old with his favorite bear.)

Most important, relax.  I promise, your kid is not the worst behaved I’ve ever seen.  Yours is not the only child who won’t sit still.  If you’re on edge, your toddler will be too.  So just relax, take a deep breath, and have fun.  Even if your son or daughter is running full tilt for the entire session, we will get some beautiful shots out of it.

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Ice and Water

February 1st, 2012

There are a lot of things that are totally obvious to adults, but completely bewildering to kids.  Our recent ice storm gave the perfect example of this.  As we were climbing in the car on a sunny day, Daniel remarked that the sun melts the ice.  Yes, it does.  But then he wanted to know […]

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There are a lot of things that are totally obvious to adults, but completely bewildering to kids.  Our recent ice storm gave the perfect example of this.  As we were climbing in the car on a sunny day, Daniel remarked that the sun melts the ice.  Yes, it does.  But then he wanted to know if the sun melted water too.  I explained that the sun melted the ice into water – that ice was frozen water, but he just didn’t believe me.  (And really, who can blame him – they look really different!)  I told him we’d melt some ice when we got home so he could see, but he wasn’t happy with the idea of waiting.  Then, inspiration struck.

I ran inside and grabbed a tiny clear rubbermaid container.  I put an ice cube in it, snapped the lid on, and handed it to him in the car.  He saw the ice, and as we drove, he watched it melt.  And lo and behold, it turned into water!  He was amazed, especially at the end, when I proved to him that it was indeed water – by opening the container and letting him drink it!

Sometimes science is big and fancy.  And sometimes it’s completely simple.  And it’s still equally amazing.  Daniel was truly blown away that ice and water are the same thing.  He never believed me when I told him, but when he watched the transformation himself, it became completely concrete and believable.

So give it a try.  Give your preschooler a container with ice, and let them watch what happens.  The easiest way to learn science is by doing science.

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