Sunday, December 31, 2017

Family Pictures 2017

This year instead of setting up the tripod and a self-timer in an attempt to get a semi-decent family photo for our Christmas cards, we decided to splurge and actually pay somebody to take pictures for us.  And I'm so glad that we did!  We went to Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area to take these pictures.

Taking our own pictures is always a stressful and frustrating experience for me because I can't be behind the camera.  But our photographer was so, so nice and great with the girls (who talked about Denise for weeks and played "family photographer" to reenact the fun they had at the photo session).  She actually just moved here this past year and although she doesn't practice any more either, she went to BYU Law School just like me.  And her husband is also a lawyer and works in the same building as Paul in SF!  And she took wedding photos for my cousin in Virginia!  So many weird coincidences.

Anyway, I used the picture above for our Christmas cards.  I just cropped it in quite a bit, but I liked the pose for card purposes.  But here is my actual favorite picture from the entire photo shoot.  

I would have used that one for our family Christmas cards (and was super close to doing so) except I really, really, really strongly prefer Christmas cards with the adults in the picture and not just the kids.  So I went with the one of the four of us even though as a parent, I loved the picture of the two girls the best.  It at least got used on the back of the card next to our short blurb about our family happenings in 2017.

I love the connection with Clara's hands around Rose's neck and elbow and Rose kissing Clara's cheek and holding on to her arm.  The colors, the natural smiles and posture, basically all of it.  But most especially, I just love that it shows one of my favorite moments with our girls when they are getting along and having fun and being goofy and sweet towards each other.  

Rose is our big ham and loves to give big smooches, and Clara is so goofy and fun and usually a good big sister, despite the inevitable arguments that happen between siblings.  But their relationship has grown a lot stronger in 2017, I think, due to both of them maturing and most of the time now they get along really well.  And when they don't, it's usually because one or both of them is tired or hungry and not thinking straight.

Here are some more of my favorites though of the entire family.  

Paul is reacting a little too big in this next one, which is kind of a bummer because I love it otherwise. 

I totally adored the individual portraits that Denise took of each of us.  She managed to get some really great, natural expressions out of Rose, which is definitely no easy feat.  And this is such a little, silly thing, but I'm glad to have these images captured of their smiles while Rose still has her straight baby teeth and Clara has her classic 6 1/2 year old smile with teeth in various stages of growing back in (she's lost 6 already).

Clara was VERY helpful in coming up with plenty of "1st Grade Poses" (her words, lol) and then politely instructing our photographer to "take one like this because it will turn out very good".  



Here are my top tips for getting your family photos taken (that I need to remind myself and Paul of next year since we plan on making this a yearly thing now):

  • Trust your photographer.  Let her do her job.  Especially when it comes to directing the kids.  Having done quite a lot of family photography myself by now, I've learned that the parents who are constantly micromanaging the session and bribing/threatening/coaxing/cajoling the kids make it SOOOO much harder to get a good picture!  It stresses the kids out and undercuts the easy fun play approach and feel that you really want in a photo shoot to draw out those natural expressions and family dynamics.  Denise did a GREAT job at this and I was definitely learning from her while also being one of the subjects.  Also, when it's time for individual portraits, parents should literally step back - walk away even.  I almost invariably find that if I can get the adults out of the area where I'm photographing a child, then it goes so much better for everybody.  The same thing happened with Rose, who just needed some one on one moments with Denise without us hovering too close.  I'll admit that it's fun to watch, but it's so much better to step out of the picture for that part of the session.  
  • Don't try to coordinate outfits too much.  I think most people know this by now, but it's way better to not try to put everybody in jeans and white shirts because it just comes off so cheesy.  I think it looks much better to pick classic, timeless attire that everybody feels comfortable in.  I like to go for at least three to four colors that complement without being too matchy-matchy. 
  • Along the wardrobe lines, I also like accessories in photos.  Hats (I still haven't been brave enough to do family photos wearing a hat myself, but I love them for other people - even if they aren't wearing the hat, but holding it, I think that goes over well sometimes too), scarves, jackets (for layering like I did with my jacket in these photos), and tasteful jewelry can really add a lot to photos, in my opinion.  
  • Connection is key.  At least in the photos that always end up being my favorite.  I still really struggle with this in having our own photos taken and taking them of others, but I love physical connection - arms around each other, holding hands, etc. and visual connection where family members are looking at each other and not just cheesing at the camera.    
I think those are my main things although maybe I will add to the list next year.  

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Halloween 2017 - The Nash Family Pilgrims

Happy Thanksgiving Halloween 2017 from the Nash Family Pilgrims!

Honestly, I was feeling super uninspired and unmotivated about making our Halloween costumes this year.  I didn't sew anything last year and still loved the witch costumes we put together, so I was really contemplating just cobbling together costumes again this year or (gasp) even buying them.  

But after weeks and weeks of indecisiveness, I finally just got inspired by the idea of being pilgrims.  I'm not even sure where it came from, but I went to Joann's, grabbed some patterns and bought fabric, knowing that if I did that there would be no turning back.  

And it turns out these are probably my favorite costumes we have ever done!  Although in reality, it's probably a tie between this year and 2013 when we went as WWII icons.  I just love how they turned out and how fun it was to dress as a pilgrim family!  I love the nerdiness of having thought about what colors and fabrics pilgrims might have worn and tried to make costumes that would depict something closer to reality than the cartoonish black costumes you can buy online.  And I really love that both girls were really into it, especially once they realized how twirly their dresses were. 

We took all our photos in Yosemite, which was New England looking as I could think of for our area.  We actually brought the pumpkins and indian corn to Yosemite with us specifically for photos, but Rose found the bible in the nightstand and proclaimed it to be "her favorite book ever" and carried it around the whole time we were there, so it was only appropriate to also use that as a photo prop in this year's photos. 

I even researched the Mayflower families and discovered that one of them - the Allertons - were a husband and wife with two daughters close in age to Clara and Rose.  They had a son too, but they were as close as we could get.  So to be totally specific, we went as Isaac & Mary Allerton and their daughters Remember (Clara) and Mary (Rose).  It turns out we even had a book in our home library about the Allerton children, which has been fun for the girls to read about!  Interestingly, Mary (the youngest daughter) was the last living Mayflower survivor, living to be 85 years old!

I really thought this might be the year that Clara decided she didn't want to do a family theme or begged to be something more mainstream, but she was all for the pilgrim costumes, especially when I told her I would make sure hers had purple on it.  And she out of everybody really was sold on the idea of portraying Remember Allerton, which is what she told EVERYBODY who asked her what she was.  Not just a pilgrim - it was "Remember Allerton, a pilgrim".  Love that girl.


I'm hoping that she continues to feel confident and comfortable standing out from the crowd when it seemed like a good 25% of girls her age were dressed in Disney Descendants (whatever those are) costumes this year.  We actually had a conversation about how it's fun and okay to be different from others and that can be a good thing, and she has taken it to heart.  To the point that when I tried to convince her this morning to take an actual stuffed animal with her to school for Pajama and Stuffed Animal Reading Day, she reminded me that it's okay to be different from everybody else and that she really, really wanted to take the fly-fishing fly (with hook removed for safety) that Paul got her this summer in Yellowstone.  Can't argue with that!

We carved our pumpkins the same day we got back from Yellowstone.  The girls had a lot of fun and Clara even managed to carve her Jack-o-Lanterns eyes all by herself with a knife (which was super scary to watch but she was determined).  Then she poked out a cat shape and let Paul finish carving the rest of it for her. 

Also, for the record since I haven't mentioned it on here yet - WE HAVE GRASS IN OUR BACKYARD AGAIN!  Yay!  I'm so happy about this and Paul worked so, so hard to get this done in time for our Halloween party.  There is still a lot to be done (planter beds, flagstone path, entire front yard) but just having grass back there is HUGE and I love it.

Both girls had really fun Halloween parties at school.  Rose's preschool did a little parade and performance for the parents.  Rose loved the "I'm a cat, I'm a cat, and my eyes are all shiny and bright; I jump in the tree when I hear a noise on this happy halloween night" song and had practiced it for weeks beforehand.  I might have a recording of her somewhere on my phone that I really should upload here.  

And the kids had all frosted sugar cookies to give to their parents, which was so cute.  Rose was so pleased and proud carrying those cookies over to share with me and I just wanted to capture that memory in my head forever.  


Clara's school had a parade as well, followed by class parties.  I'm room mom again so I had to organize another Halloween party this year.  But it's really not that bad since I already have a witch hat ring toss game, bean bag toss game into a Jack-O-Lantern mouth, and a carboard skeleton that we set out for a relay to grab a bone and run back, tag a teammate, and repeat until the skeleton is assembled.  I also printed out some 1st grade appropriate mad libs and a parent would worked a few kids at a time filling a story out as a group, then while they ate their treats we let their teacher read them to the kids for entertainment, which they loved and found immensely hilarious.  

We also did caramel apples again like last year in Kindergarten, which is always a big hit.  I just use my caramel apple recipe from my food blog with lots of toppings like marshmallows, candy corn, pretzels, raisins, M&Ms and googly eye sprinkles and the kids love it.  

After school got out and piano lessons were over, we went to Uncle Rich & Aunt Claudia's house for their annual pre-trick-or-treating fete with the classic donut on a string game.  The girls were hilarious (as always) trying to gnab a bite of their donuts without using their hands.  We finally told Rose she could just grab it to eat it but she tried and tried for a long time and laughed and laughed doing it!

And finally, trick-or-treating was awesome this year.  The girls lasted a long time, filled their buckets all the way to the top, and didn't complain a bit, even when Rose tripped and dumped her entire bucket full of candy onto the sidewalk and in some bushes. 

It was another fantastic Halloween and we are already looking forward to next year!