@momtog

Hello poor, neglected blog!  Well, actually not that neglected.  I’ve been posting regularly on the Real Families page, which is where my professional work can be found.  It’s hard to find the time for blogging nowadays though.  I’m sure you Mom*togs can relate, right?  I barely have time for a potty break, let along sitting down at my computer and putting together a complete sentence!  I’ve found Instagram to be the place where I am sharing my random thoughts and pictures.  Because it’s easy.

It’s funny how bad situations can turn into great situations sometimes.  The nice lady who had the Mom*tog Instagram handle recently gifted it to me.  I wanted to make it different, not just another feature account.  Because I don’t like to do the same thing everyone else is doing.  If you copy someone else that’s just being lazy.  And if you don’t do the research beforehand, well then, that’s just irresponsible.  In the 6 years I’ve been in business I have had my fair share of copycats and even people who outright steal my work.  And when you put your heart and soul into building a brand you get pissed when someone tries to ride your coattails.  I think that’s a fair reaction, don’t you?

So the idea behind the Mom*tog Instagram account is similar to my website.  It’s Real Mom*togs sharing their favorite pictures and tips, which is exactly what I have been doing here for 6 plus years.  There is so much talent on Instagram.  So many Mom*togs who are doing rad things.  And they may not have thousands of followers or think they have anything to contribute.  But, the 7 Real Mom*togs who have contributed so far have been amazing.  They have all been vulnerable and a little nervous to share their work, which is what I think makes it even better.  I have even learned things from each of them.

If you haven’t followed along yet, I encourage you to do so @momtog.  These moms are real and awesome and we have made a fun little community over there in the last few weeks.  And if you are already following along, thank you.  Thank you for supporting the OG Mom*tog.  Thank you for supporting originality and the hard work it takes to build a business.  You are so appreciated!

Here are some of my favorite pictures from our Real Mom*togs:

From Gina @ginaschlosser

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From Sam @samscrazylifeScreen shot 2015-06-29 at 6.37.56 PM

From Gina Lee @ginaleeScreen shot 2015-06-29 at 6.38.27 PM

From Zaida @mamawithacameraScreen shot 2015-06-29 at 6.38.48 PM

From Jordan @jjmaconachyScreen shot 2015-06-29 at 6.39.45 PM

From Erin @helloerinvScreen shot 2015-06-29 at 6.40.08 PM

From Heather @hecildermanScreen shot 2015-06-29 at 6.40.34 PM

If you are interested in being a contributor to the Mom*tog page, please DM us on Instagram!

That Time Kennedy Turned Two

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I can’t believe I never blogged this party.  Perhaps I had PTSD as we threw this party only 6 days after we moved into our house.  Because I apparently like to punish myself.  On the upside I got everything unpacked VERY fast!

Brayden is a Winter baby and I always envied our friends that could throw birthdays involving water.  In reality I probably could throw Brayden swimming parties because it ends up being warm.  But, there’s always that chance that it could rain.  Like at his second birthday.  Boy, did it rain that day!

Anyways, back to Kennedy.  I saw a pink ice cream truck and ran with that theme.  I mean, it was really more for me.  Because I LOVE ice cream and ice cream trucks.

The cake is, of course, from Beverly’s Best Bakery and was designed to match the cake on Kennedy’s birthday invitation.

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I used cotton candy to make the ice cream cone decorations on the table.

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For the hanging ice cream cones I purchased small styrofoam balls and wrapped them in yarn securing with a glue fun.  Then I simply tied them on strings of yarn to make a garland.

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You’ll see at my parties that I love a brown paper lunch bag for favors.  I printed on them simply using my home printer.  I find it easier to individually feed the bags through my printer.  Otherwise they get stuck.

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The bags included everything needed to make your own ice cream sundae.  Including a gift certificate to Baskin Robbins for a scoop of ice cream.

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I used paper lanterns and scrapbook paper to make large ice cream cones to hang on the front porch.  On a side note, I am SO happy we have since painted our house!

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The ice cream truck we used was Frankie’s Frozen Treats.  Not only are all of their treats amazing, but they are also the nicest people!  And SO reasonably priced.  Look them up if you are in North Orange County.  Besides the truck we put out our blow up pool and a few water tables to entertain the kids.  Hopefully one day we will have a pool to have real pool parties!IMG_8966 copy IMG_8972 copy IMG_9040 copy IMG_9054 copy IMG_9073 copy IMG_9084 copy IMG_9091 copy IMG_9095 copy IMG_9104 copy  IMG_9133 copy IMG_9136 copy

I love that my friend Jamie snapped this picture of Kennedy and I at the end of her party.  Because what happened to my diaper wearing, aci using baby?  She was completely and totally pooped.  Which means it must have been a great party!

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7 is Dinomite!

My boy turned 7 a few months ago and of course he wanted a dinosaur birthday.  Because it’s all dinosaurs all the time.

This was the first year he wanted to have a lot of input on his cake.  Cake is the most important part of a party to me.  It’s the centerpiece.  So not only does it have to taste good, but it has to look good as well.  We’ve ordered everyone of my kid’s birthday cakes from Beverly’s Best Bakery.  This year Brayden sat down with Jen, the owner, and designed his cake.  He wanted lots of volcanoes with lava.  And he picked out his toy dinosaurs to go on the cake.  The chocolate rocks that Jen used were a huge hit with the kids.  Jen always goes all out and deals with me even though I refuse to let her use fondant :)

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Aren’t dinosaurs just so much cuter with party hats on?

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I’m not a fan of party favors.  I hate the junk.  Usually I do something practical, but it turns out Brayden loves the junk so the bags were just filled with dinosaur trinkets.  I printed them on my printer.

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The cookies were sugar cookies used with imprints of Brayden’s toys.

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When Brayden was just a baby we went to a party with Prehistoric Pets.  I knew they would be perfect for a dinosaur party.  I was just expecting a couple of snakes and lizards, but they had such cool animals.  The kids were engaged and entertained for over an hour.  That’s not easy to do with 3 to 7 year olds!  I was really proud of my boy for holding and touching the animals.  They really do a great job with making the birthday kid feel special.

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I even got to channel my inner Britney Spears.  Don’t I look thrilled?  I figured if B was brave enough to hold the animals I could do it too.  Kennedy was even more excited (see her little feet in the background?).

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Parties are so much work, aren’t they?  Every year I contemplate not throwing one.  And then you see their faces and how happy they are and how they thank you a million times and tell you it’s the best day ever.  And it’s all totally worth it.  I figure I only get to do this for a few more years.  Then he might not want a big party anymore.  I’m sure I’ll then be begging him to let me do a party.  I’ll miss staying up all night making decorations that the kids don’t even notice and stressing over the tiny details, right?

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How to Pick Your Family Photographer

Below is a post I wrote for my favorite lab, Mpix.  To read the full article click on over to their blog!

With so many family photographers out there it can be overwhelming to find the right one for your family.  And, typically, it’s a big investment.  So to help in your quest to find the perfect photographer match, here are some tips I’ve come up with after 8 years of experiences, both as a professional photographer and as a photography client.

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1) The best place to start is with referrals from friends.  Referrals are great when searching for a photographer because your friend will already have gone through the entire process.  Ask your friend if they were happy with the way the photographer interacted with their family.  Did they get their images when promised?  How was the quality of their gallery?  And the most important question, would they use their photographer again?  Someone who has gone through the entire process with a photographer will be able to gauge the experience from start to finish.

That being said, don’t use a photographer just because your friend did.  Your needs could be different.  Which leads me to point two…

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2) Not all photographers are created equal. They typically have a unique style and one or two specialties. Look at their body of work and gauge whether or not their style matches what you are looking for. Don’t pick a photographer who focuses on candid images if you want all posed images.  Do you want a big, extended family portrait?  Then you probably don’t want to pick a photographer whose website only displays newborn work.  Pick a photographer who specializes in what you want done.  If you don’t, you could be disappointed with your images and the photographer will probably end up frustrated that you are asking for something they just don’t typically do.  You want a photographer who is excited to photograph the needs of your family!  I know my pictures are better when I am passionate about what I am photographing and I don’t just feel like I was hired because I have a camera and can get the job done.

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Click here to read the rest of the article!