Summer Adventure Series - Minnesota Children's Museum

For my big, summer vacation OFFICIALLY doesn't start until next Friday, but I'll make an exception for this one. We were invited to the MNCommunity's instameet at the almost-reopened Minnesota Children's Museum, which happens to be one of our FAVORITE places. We've been going through major play withdrawals since they closed for renovations in December. Let me tell you a secret. They totally made up for it. Children's Museum, I'm not even mad you closed all winter. It was COMPLETELY WORTH IT. 

You guys. It's so pretty. And light. And clean. And fresh. And and and. Remember the Forces at Play exhibit? How it was this crazy breath of fresh air? The entire building is just like that, but better. 

Wilson's favorite spot (after the new Our World and delivering boxes) was the water table in the Sprouts Gallery. 

Sprouts is the new take on the old favorite, Habitots. Who didn't love Habitots? I sure did. But I don't even miss it (Okay... I do miss that giant window...). This place is HUGE, and their stroller parking lot is impressive. 

 

We left absolutely soaked, but it was totally worth it. Wilson (clearly) loved the water table, while Matilda explored a tent perfect for playing house or reading books and (carefully) climbing. It'll definitely be a spot we frequent in the fall, once the big one goes back to school and Wilson and I can hang out in toddler-zone without the grade schooler. 

One of Matilda's favorite spots was definitely The Studio. Full of art supplies and all things to create, you can color and sew and cut and make. It's beautiful. Of course she loved it, my tiny artist. 

I have a feeling we'll spend most of our time in Our World. Wilson moves boxes and drives fire trucks. Matilda sets up shop and serves food. 

My new studio - Quincy Studio 300

Rarely do my Pinterest projects go as planned. Let's be real, I've stopped even trying most of them for fear of the impending failure they're sure to bring. I have really good intentions, but the execution is always a little hurried or I'm missing something or it's just not quite what I had in mind. 

But you guys. This time, I knocked my Pin out of the water. Or my husband did. Either way, it totally happened. 

In the middle of January, my lovely friend Krissa at Vintage Magnolia Photography and I were approached about a pretty quick opening in our building. We'd been dreaming and planning of OUR studio space and the beautiful things we would do to it. We started a board and pinned to our hearts' contents. We had begun to get a little discouraged because there were no openings anywhere we wanted to end up. The spaces weren't right. They were too big. They were in the wrong city. The building was full. Nothing worked. Tears were shed. And then we got the call. And we DID IT. We just dove right in.

Our lease started February 1st and we've been living between the Home Depot and our new studio. We're tired. Our homes are dirty. Our kids spent way too much time on iPads. Our husbands are really sore (because we made them make our Pinterest dreams come true). But you guys. It's here. It's done. It's READY. 

I made my husband build me a giant movable wall. Because I saw one kind of like it on Pinterest and it was EXACTLY what I wanted. And he did it. And it's perfect. 

Oh, and you can rent it by the day. Check it out here. 

Of course, my kids were my test subjects. 

It's wonderful, having this space. It's so wonderful. It is so much of what I've been dreaming of and after so much work, here it is. <3 

Chilly Thursdays and sunny afternoons.

The kids played in my room yesterday a lot. The morning was spent playing school in bed, looking at maps and building sentences and writing new sight word cards. Maybe we're just so sick of every other room to play in that mom's room is best. Whatever the reason, the light is lovely and I just painted, so I won't complain. 

Kindergarten, by the way, is the coolest.

The afternoon was full of racing cars and love notes (or like notes). And since when did my child start writing notes to friends? I can't even handle how big she is. How quickly her brain grows. And Wilson. Wilson is saying new words all day, every day. He hears more than I'd care to admit and repeats it, too. Which is wonderful.

The sun is out longer and later and more often. Days are brighter, summer is coming. And this long and lonely winter will soon pass. You guys, brighter days (literally) are coming. So I'm working harder at embracing the now - enjoying the chilly, quiet days, locked in our bedrooms and searching for light. Summer is coming, but winter is here.

Grey days are good days, too.

You know you're a Minnesotan when, you bust out the bikes as soon as the ice melts off the road. It was 40 and wonderful today. Cloudy and misty and grey, but wonderful. The kids played outside and ran and laughed. We biked and scootered. They played tag. 

The fresh air did everyone good. It was wonderful. 

Today, as that first teaser of a nice day always does, left me itching for more. For the days that we can spend at the playground all morning, swinging and laughing and running. Spring is coming, and while I'm trying my hardest not to wish away the days, appreciating the here and now of cold, dreary weather is hard. 

Blue skies are coming. Until then, we'll enjoy biking in snowpants. 

Project 365. Week 2.

Here it is. Week 2 of this year's photo a day project. I am loving it as much as ever. I'm not even going to lie, I've made taking photos inside a little easier than this time last year... I've painted A LOT white, and it's wonderful. And I rearranged my living room. And then I painted more white. I can't be the only one who decorates around photos. 

This week, we have lazy Sunday mornings. My hour-by-hour project. SNOW DAY. Valentine photos and lighting photo date and dance class. School and lease-signing celebration coffee (wait. WHAT. Oh yeah. We signed a lease!). Playing with Sissy's favorite trinket and way passed out. Princess party at The Wishing Tree and checking out MicroMachines catalogs from the 80's. 

The Minnesota Project: My Minnesotan December

We're going nutty. Winter is hard. I do not like the cold and only like the snow long enough to take a few photos of my kids being Minnesotan and adorable and then I'm done. 

We've been itching to find places to run around and burn off some energy. And it's been so hard to stay inspired with such short days and artificial light gets boring and we're just getting antsy. 

But guys. You should really check this place out. Have you been to The Wishing Tree Cafe in White Bear Lake? Do you have kids under 8? Run. Don't walk. RUN. And when you get there, sit back and drink a celebratory cup of delicious coffee and enjoy the peace and (relative) quite while your kids play for hours in a clean environment. 

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We LOVE it here. Matilda loves it just as much as Wilson, which can be hard to find, and both kids can stay entertained for more than an hour. Let's be real. That's kind of a miracle. 

And can we talk about their food for a second? Because it's AMAZING. They make crazy amazing crepes and if you feel like eating super healthy, their salads are AMAZING. Wilson and Matilda approve of their grilled cheese with chips. 

It's almost spring, but they say it's darkest before the dawn (which makes NO SENSE, but whatever.). That just means that winter is about to get longer. And more winter-y. And we're going to get more antsy. And man. This place is a breath of fresh air and it feeds my kids, too. Everyone wins. 

Now go check out Erin's Minnesotan December adventures! And make sure you read the rest of our Minnesotan Blog Circle! 

 

Day in The Life.

My friend Sandi over at Sandi Harkness - Photographer proposed a photo challenge. An hour by hour challenge. To take a photo every hour throughout your day. Today was my third attempt. 

And I did it. 

Starting at 5:30 this morning, when my children woke me up once again and I was almost able to see straight, I took photos every hour on the half hour, and a few in between because those were moments that were important to our day. It turned into more of a day in the life challenge, but I love it nonetheless. 

I am so refreshed, after being in a bit of a funk the last few days, and I am so excited to do it again. 

Here is our day. Nothing crazy. Woke up at the crack of dawn (or well before). Lost our dang minds. Made eggs, because that makes life better. Went to school. Met Matilda for lunch. (World's shortest) Nap. Laundry. Cars. Shoveling and new umbrellas (isn't it ridiculously pretty?!). Dad gets home and we lose our minds. And time for bed. 

Have you done a Day in The Life project? Any tips and tricks? I found taking a photo of my clock to help me while culling and editing. 

Project 365: Week 1.

Week one in a nutshell. I'm taking pictures of my children every day. There are more goals associated with this like 1. Get in the frame. I didn't do that this week, but I did it LAST week, so that counts? 2. Artificial light and OCF. YES. I sure DID do that! 3. Play with light and shadows. Yup. 

January 1. We went to the zoo after a date at my studio because Timehop reminded us that that's what we'd done the year before. What a wonderful way to ring in the new year, exploring the fish and the monkeys and the penguins at the Minnesota Zoo

January 2. Wilson playing with trucks. Matilda playing The Lice Lounge AKA doll hair salon. 

January 3. When you wake up at 4 am and don't nap, you crash early on dad. No one complained. Matilda. Your table manners are exceptional. 

January 4/5/6. Life. We life'ed. NBD.

January 7. We went to a Twin Cities Mom Blog event at Children's Learning Adventure in Maple Grove, which was THE BOMB by the way. I want to go to daycare there. 

{Valentine} Minis.

Valentine optional. 

Mini sessions are coming! January 28th. My adorable NE Minneapolis Studio. It's going to be wonderful. I know one of MY resolutions this year is to be IN more photos with my kids. Here's your chance to get in photos with yours. <3

I love love, but I'm not a huge fan of overpriced flowers. I'm a sucker for sequins and hope you are, too. 

Want to book your own mini session? We can hang out and take lovely photos that you can keep seasonally, or forever. Snag yours now! 

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Happy New Year!

This weekend we booked a last minute staycation to the JW Marriott at Mall of America. We wanted something close and easy and fun. Just enough to get away from home. It was so perfect. And, man. The hotel was GORGEOUS. 

Wilson wakes up really  early, so we were able to convince him to take a 10 am nap. We headed out and arrived mid-afternoon, dropped off our bags, checked out the room (and the tub. Seriously. Just stay there for the tubs.), and then headed out on an adventure. 

We went on some rides, hit up the Minnesota Children's Museum MOA Pop Up, ate dinner. It was wonderful. And EASY. And so fun. Did I mention it was super easy? I really like easy, especially on the tail end of stressful holidays. 

We could have stayed longer (we missed the fish and could have done a few more rides), but the kids were (definitely not) tired and wanted to play with their new toys, so we headed back to the room pretty early. 

gave the kids too much sugar, turned on Netflix (the hotel lets you connect to your account!), and stayed up too late watching some silly movie. 

I think Matilda's favorite part was tucking in her million friends. Wilson appreciated the patterned carpeting for truck driving. I liked that Caribou Coffee was a quick walk (inside) away. The rooms were big and comfortable and clean. The staff was so friendly. I'd definitely go back. 

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365.

What a year! Last year, I tried a 365. I failed. Miserably. I made it to March, maybe. I got overwhelmed and discouraged and uninspired. I had a million excuses. I gave up. 

And then I regretted it.

This year. This year I promised that I would do better. That I'd take a photo of my kids every day just life-ing. No more rules other than one of Matilda and one of Wilson every day. I brought my camera everywhere. I tried new things. I shot in new light and tried new lenses and experimented with shadows and artificial light and off camera flash. 

I worked my tail off. I had amazing mentors and friends who encouraged me along the way, who inspired me. It's been a year of growth. Wonderful growth. This year, I found myself, my style. 

I am so proud of where I started, and so so proud of where I am now. And the hundreds of thousands of photos I took in between. I'm gearing up for my 2017 365 and photography goals. I want to work more on my lighting game. Be IN more photos. Shoot intentionally. I'm so excited to see what the next 365 days have in store. 

Who else is doing a photography project this year? 

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Five and a half.

Matilda's been waiting anxiously for her half birthday. I'm not sure how we got started celebrating it, but this is the second year we have, so it's safe to say it's a thing now. She's been asking about it, counting down the days. When she woke up yesterday, she requested a party with cake and games. At her house, because that's where she likes her parties. 

How do you say no to that? You don't. Or I don't. So we did. Matilda let me take some photos of her at my studio. Something that doesn't happen much anymore now that she's in school. We went to the cake store. We were set to party.

She set up different stations - a game table for when people wanted to play games, a coloring table for when people wanted to color. She cleaned her room. She waited really, really patiently all day. Her number one partner in crime and family came over to celebrate. There was pizza and cake and candles. It was wonderful. And she was so, so happy. 

So happy half birthday, Matilda. You're officially closer to 6 than 5 and you're growing up in front of my eyes. You amaze me every day. You are so incredibly creative, I love watching you draw and create and dream. Your pictures amaze me. You are so very imaginative. You love to play school and house and with your little animal families. Your favorite toy, by far, is Samantha, your American Girl doll. She's a member of the family and comes everywhere with us. I'm so happy that you love her so very much. You're learning to read. You're so independent. You are crazy good at explaining stories and situations and directions. I'm amazed at the things you say. I am amazed by you. You're so caring. Even when Wilson drives you absolutely insane, you love him. When you two get along, there is nothing sweeter. He looks up to you so much. He watches you, he learns from you and you love to teach him. You are the best pair.  

Happy, happy half birthday. Thank you for always finding reasons to celebrate and for making life so much more. So full of light and happiness. I love you. 

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Baby B - Minnesota Newborn Lifestyle Session

I've known this little lady's mom forever, for so many years. It was an honor and a joy to meet her tiny baby and hang out with them for a few hours. There's something wonderful and exciting about new babies.  

I can't wait to see her again in just a few months for her 6 month session! 

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Merry Christmas.

It was a really great day. No crazy presents, no hustle, no rushing. I barely cleaned my house before my family came over for food. And I got photos with my kids and my husband in front of the tree (which, let's be real, was my favorite Christmas present.)

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Just Another Light Source Review

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Just Another Light Source Review

Minnesota winters are long, the days are short, and it's hard to stay inspired. Twelves months in to my project 365, I'm more passionate than ever about getting daily photos of each of my kids life-ing. But winter is HARD. When Melissa over at Melissa Hines Photography announced that she was releasing an e-book all about artificial light, I was SO PUMPED. Upping my lighting game is a goal of mine, but it's not always practical to have a flash around. I wanted to get more comfortable shooting in any indoor lighting situation. 

Melissa Hines Photography's latest e-book, Just Another Light Source: A Guide To Shooting In Available Artificial Light, is AWESOME, by the way. After reading her book, I was so inspired to find new and interesting light sources inside and figure out how to make that light work for me. It's okay to shoot in fluorescent light. It doesn't have to be even. Shadows are your friend. And Kelvin... Kelvin is something I need to practice. 

Her book is all about working with what you have available to you, without dragging out additional gear. I love my flash and my Ice Light 2 (oh, I LOVE my Ice Light), but I want to be comfortable enough to not depend on those tools if I don't want to, and, more importantly, to be confident on our adventures to know how to shoot in any lighting condition. 

Melissa has helped change how I look at - and for - artificial light. I highly suggest you check out her e-book and get yourself inspired for these long winter months. You won't regret it. 

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