Life is Beautiful. I love serving the world by capturing beautiful family memories, encouraging others to believe in life’s greatest possibilities, and inspiring others to realize their full potential. Everyone has a story... make it a beautiful one.
I posted on Instagram about how our lives are like a blank canvas. We are each given a canvas to choose to do with what ever we want with it. We have the choice to paint our own beautiful story with imperfections or we can choose to do nothing with it and keep it blank.
This inspired me for this weeks Friday photography tip. It has been so much fun taking the boys out and doing our own photoshoots during winter down time from regular photography sessions. Down time is a perfect time to get inspired, go location scouting, and get the creative juices flowing, all the while I am creating and capturing my own story.
Last Valentine’s day my husband bought me my first tripod. I always thought tripods where silly and for the really serious pro photographers. I always classified myself as being the having fun and breaking the rules kinda photographer. Up until this last year being at home mom with Ethan and Nate, I have whole heartedly embraced the tripod.
I taught myself to use the tripod and timer on my camera. It has allowed me to create a story of me as a mom, with my kids, and telling my health and fitness journey.
I set up my tripod where I want it to be and I will use Ethan as my focal point of where I want to stand. I focus and set all my settings in my camera and set the camera on the tripod. Most tripods are super easy to use.
With the knowledge I have learned by using a tripod and camera timer, I’ve been able to create self portraits.
I can do fun action shots with my kids.
Or just a fun snuggle photo with them wether they like it or not ha!
I have also been able to create photos to share my health and fitness journey too.
You can create such a beautiful story by using a tripod and camera timer and if anyone where to ask me what camera equipment is a must have… a tripod is at the top of my list! It has been a such a blessing in my life!
Health and fitness was always in back of my mind even before kids. Growing up wasn’t easy. My family wasn’t super into health and fitness and through this I experienced first hand what unhealthy habits can do to a person over time and its one of the hardest things to see to some one you care about.
I knew I wanted to live a better life for me and my future family, but the truth is, I didn’t know how. Before having kids, I had the personal trainers, lost weight and all the things but after having to cut costs, I had to figure it out on my own and that is when the weight came back because I didn’t have the accountability, tools, or the know how.
In 2013, I found out I was pregnant with my first son. His pregnancy was very challenging and exhausting. I found out I had gestational diabetes with him and doctors told me if I didn’t change my life around I’d have it even after birth. I retained so much fluid that my foot size expanded 2 shoe sizes! I had to adjust my diet, exercise (Yeah that was so fun when I was so heavy with water weight), go see a nutritionist once a week, prick my finger twice a day, prick myself with a needle in my belly every night before bed, and see the doctors twice a week. Man, it was relief when they scheduled my delivery.
It didn’t end there when I ended up with an unexpected c-section, baby going to NICU, and me with severe anemia for blood loss. Three days later after feeling I was going to die because I was so weak and not being able to see my baby in the NICU, I finally I had a blood transfusion and a nose tube (which by the was is the most unpleasant feeling and totally NOT needed).
This experience gave me drive to take the knowledge I learned during the pregnancy and gave me motivation to get healthy because I did not want another pregnancy like this again. So I did the things, got my butt out and started my running journey and continued working out at a local cross fit gym.
My second son Nate, his pregnancy I was doing all the things… running, push ups, wall balls modified burpees you name it.
After his birth, I ended up with severe PPD. Nate blessed me with the gift of mental health.
With two kids, it made sense for me to start working out at home and I wouldn’t have it any other way with all the amazing tools I have in the comfort of my own home and don’t have to waste time on babysitting, or gas.
Many people have wondered how I find the time in my busy schedule and with two energetic boys to fit my work out in. I am sharing a few ways that have helped me to workout at home with kids.
1. Priorities. I’ve made it a priority because I knew I didn’t want to live my life pricking the heck out of myself everyday. If it isn’t a priority it won’t happen that simple. If you want it to be a priority… Then just get up and get it done. No excuses. If it’s your priority, your kids will start to get it and adjust to your schedule. It’s all about the mindset!
2. Schedule. I do my workouts or running almost every single day at the same time. This has allowed me to make it a habit and easily fit it into my life style and its helped train my kids to know when I work out so they expect it from me. It’s not an easy process, but over time it will start becoming part of your life style. AND another tip I keep them 30-35 minute workouts.
3. Help! No Naps! If your kids nap, that is the perfect time to get focused, but if your like me and your kids won’t take naps, you still can make it happen. Get creative! My oldest Ethan will join in with me which is great because it’s teaching him how to be healthy. He even has his own weights. Depending on how the day goes, I’ll put Nate, my 2.5 year old) in his room for a quiet hour and get it done. If quiet hour/naps don’t happen, I turn on a show I know that will keep him occupied. On push up days I let him get on my back for pushups (you can use your knees if needed). Nate loves it and gets him involved too.
4. Don’t give up! Just find the system that works for you and stick with it. The more you create it as a habit in your daily life, your kids will follow and start to realize it too. They will start to become your biggest cheerleaders and accountability partners. Ethan noticed during one of my recent workouts he could see I was tired. He says, “mom, I know your tired, but you got this!”
Making yourself a priority is hard… I know! But I also know that if it is something you want to change, it CAN and WILL change and your kids for the better through being their example of what living a healthy life is all about.
I get asked almost daily how I get my boys to take photos. The truth is, it takes a lot of trial and error and not everyday is going to be perfect especially if you have young kids. I will share with you some of the secret weapons I’ve learned over the past 7 years that I use at my photo sessions and with my own kids.
Sitting down: I have a 2.5 year old that always want to be on the move no matter what I want him to do so getting him to sit down for photos can be a challenge. What I have learned is smarties is key. I can get him to sit still for at least one shot if I give him a couple smarties to munch on. sometimes they make into the photo but HEY its real life. Giving a child something to play with like a book, toy or something from nature in the location your at can help keep a child occupied. Playing peek a boo or singing a song works great too. For older kids, you can talk about what they are into like a sport or if they have a favorite superhero let them talk to you about it, ask them questions.
Let them be little: I prefer the candids over the super posed images and letting the kids do their own thing makes them happy. Sometimes you just have to go with it. It may not be what you envisioned, but sometimes the best photos are the ones not planned.
Do things together: Get in the photo with them and do things you do together in real life. Not only does this tell a story of your real life moments and capturing a memory of you with them, but it also can help a child to feel more at ease to be photographed.
Real Life: Capture them in real life. Not every moment is perfect, but the moment may just tell the perfect true story.
Play: A child at play makes some pretty awesome photos. I love capturing my kids doing things they love to do like playing basketball or swinging. It captures them in their element and happy place… and it is a great memory to look back at what they used to do as a child.
Things of comfort: Allowing a child to have something that comforts them or they like to hold on too can really help them to cooperate for photos. Ask them to show you what they have and why they like that particular item. Having a conversation with them if they can talk can make a world a difference when taking a child’s photo. Don’t want the item in the photo? I will . take whatever the item is as the photographer/mom and do something silly with it like put it on my head.
and if all fails… BRIBERY is a word you must come to familiarize yourself with. Somedays if I want a photo that bad, yes I bribe with candy, cookies, and milkshakes.
The art of photographing your own kids or other kids takes practice and patience. My advice is go in with no expectations and just go with it. There are plenty of times I have found this picture perfect photo I wanted to try to do but then I go to recreate it and it ends up in disaster because the kids weren’t into it. Your kids are different than others kids and like different things so don’t go in with great expectations for this picture perfect photo session.
Just let them be who they are and find the things that make them happy to take photos. If you stress doing photos, They will stress too. So turn up the music, get the toys and candy out and just do it.
December 2016 was one of the toughest months of my life. I was 6 months postpartum with my second son and the truth is, I felt like years of all the things just came crashing down on me all at once to the point I hit rock bottom and felt nothing. No happiness. No sadness. Nothing.
People around me who loved me told I needed to find help… I denied it. I knew deep down there was something wrong, but I thought it would just go away on its own.
January 2017 after so much emotional pain and seeing that it was hurting my family, I decided to seek help. I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression.
It wasn’t an easy road to recovery. At first I was embarrassed and thought people would think I am crazy and seeking attention. SO much STUFF just kept coming up with self-confidence, self-worth, and alway comparing myself to others that I just wasn’t good enough.
I went through some pretty dark moments suffering from full on panic attacks, the ones that you are aware of your surroundings but you have trouble breathing, you hold your legs in close tight because you feel paralyzed and can not move, and essentially you feel like your going to die.
This journey has led me to find more compassion with myself and to learn to love myself more. To understand that I am worthy of all the good things and that I have been given my own unique talents and gifts to share with the world.
Today, I’d love to share with you the top 10 things I have learned on this journey of self love and hope that these things I have learned can help you in some way.
1. Exercise: this has been my number one way to balance my emotions is through exercising daily and fueling my body with healthy food. It is the one time I am able to get out of my head, push myself just a little more. I do strength training in the comfort of my own home through what I call Netflix of workout programs. I have been running since after my 5 year old was born, but I have recently pushed myself to go a little more further and running races. This part of my life has been so rewarding for my self love routine its made me stronger, confident, and most of all happier.
2. Personal Development: personal development has been perceived in many ways in todays society but the truth is, this has really been an important piece in my self care routine. I love reading books and few of my favorite authors are Rachel Hollis, Tony Robbins, John C. Maxwell, Brendon Bouchard, and Darren Hardy. Any book from them is worth picking up and reading. Podcasts are also an modern day essential in the personal development world and they are great to listen to when you are on the go. My favorite is Rise from Rachel Hollis.
3. Seeking the opportunity to communicate your feelings: being able to communicate how you feel has really helped me overcome a lot of hurdles in my marriage and with myself. wether it be with a professional, your spouse, a trusted friend… being able to communicate is key. Its not complaining. Being able to talk about whats on your mind helps get those emotions out. I talk to my husband all the time now even when I go to deep and he doesn’t understand… He still listens.
4. Doing something for you: wether it be soaking in the tub, a walk through Target without the kids (seriously just as good going to the spa), getting a message, finding a few moments for yourself each day or taking up a new hobby do something that makes you happy. My photography has really helped me to create some wonderful happy thoughts over the last 7 years and my recent endeavor of creating Bei: Be Beautiful hair accessories with a story.
5. Gratitude: finding gratitude in your day is so essential. I write down 5 things I am grateful for each day. It can be as simple as being grateful for your toothbrush to being grateful for the strength you receive everyday. No matter what just be grateful for what you have NOW. If you focus to much on the things you don’t have, that is huge trigger for anxiety to creep in.
6. Tell yourself everyday how awesome you are: This may sound so egotistic, but the truth is its not. We need to reassure ourselves that we are doing our best and the we are good everyday.
7. Serving others: serving and adding value to other peoples lives has been a great way to help me to forget about the negative thoughts going inside my head and being able to do something bigger than myself. How can you feel bad if your helping someone else? You simply can’t if you are doing it with intention.
8. Make your bed everyday: make your bed every day. It gives you a sense of accomplishment that you started the day with getting something done.
9. When a negative thought about yourself comes up, replace it with something good about yourself: This one can be challenge but once you can train your brain, you will become more aware of the negative thoughts you tell yourself. Every time a negative thought pops up, replace it with a positive thought how exceptional you are, that you are doing your best, how talented you are etc. Set reminders on your phone for certain times throughout the day to remind yourself how awesome you are,
10. Be patient and have grace: the road to self love is not easy when you have nagging negative thoughts every day. Be patient, have grace, and forgive yourself. You are doing better than you think!
Be Awesome today,
Today is LOVE day and I am so excited to celebrate the day with you! What a wonderful day to remind ourselves to spread LOVE all around 365 day of the year! I am bursting with joy to share with you this amazing beautiful family. Amanda, A beautiful mom and local business owner of Western Wanders beautifully crafted accessories for pretty little girls and of course bowties for the little studs in our life. I had an incredible time with her and her little tribe in their home playing and laughing. Such a beautiful family inside and out! AND they have some wonderful news to share… They are expanding their tribe in August from 3 to 5!
As a LOVE day treat, I interviewed Amanda on Motherhood and Love.
BMP: What surprised you the most about being a mom?
AP: What surprised me the most about being a mom was how full of love your heart actually really feels. It’s as if your life is just beginning and your heart could never be more full. Also that running on caffeine is a real thing.
BMP: What do you find being the most challenging thing being a parent?
AP: Patience. Children require an abundance of patient and just when you think you don’t have any more left to give, you have to remember that every move you make you have little eyes on you. Leading with love and by example is extremely challenging but so worth it.
BMP: What would be your best advice to other moms?
AP: Do what’s best for you and your family. Comparison truly is the thief of joy and if your constantly comparing your child’s stage compared to another’s you will never fully enjoy or live in the present moment. Be patient, love, and love some more.
BMP: What is one thing you do that helps you stay balanced in your life?
AP: Taking care of myself has always been a must. If I’m not in a good state of mind mentally and physically it is a lot tougher to get through the day. Make time for yourself even if that means drinking your coffee hot during nap time. Soak in every moment of your time.
BMP: What do you love most about Valentine’s Day?
AP: I love spreading love! Valentine’s Day is just a day to remind you that you should be spreading love all year round! Also the sweets and pretty flowers are always a plus!
BMP: Do you have a tradition?
AP: We don’t have a tradition in our house but now that we have a daughter and soon to be two more Babes I want to come up with a yearly tradition for the kids that’s meaningful and not just about the gifts you receive.
BMP: What was the best advice you ever received on love?
Love is work. It’s never all sunshine’s and rainbows but if it’s worth it then working for it should be all that matters. Forgive often and love hard!
Thank you Amanda for sharing your beautiful thoughts today! Congratulations on the exciting news!