On Friday, my daughter asked me why I don’t wear shorts.
I paused before I answered because I know she is watching what I do, listening to what I say. I do not want my daughter to develop body insecurities like mine. I have tried to hard to do better, to not talk about how much I dislike my body. I’ve tried to be more comfortable, more confident in my skin, even if it’s hard, even if I feel insecure, even if I strongly dislike the way that I look. But shorts? Oh my God. I just can’t bring myself to wear them, to show my thighs. I just can’t. So, I wear skirts and jeans all summer long.
I took a deep breath.
“I just don’t like shorts very much. I prefer skirts.” was my reply.
She looked at me and said “Mommy, you just need to accept your legs and wear shorts.”
I said “You are absolutely right!” And I bought my first pair of shorts in more than 10 years.
This post is sponsored by Canon but all opinions are my own.
Last weekend I celebrated the high school graduation of my second child. As I scrolled through his baby and childhood photos, I cringed at the terrible quality of the photos I had taken of him. I didn’t know the first thing about photography when my boys were little. I just knew I wanted to capture every moment that I could. I snapped away on my disposable cameras, clueless about things like composition or exposure. Luckily, by the time my daughter was born, I had discovered blogs and photo-sharing sites and was able to start learning and understanding how to capture and document my family’s life in a creative, beautiful, more meaningful way with a Canon DSLR camera. I know that understanding photography can be a bit overwhelming, so I’d love to share some simple tips for seeing your family through the lens of your camera and capturing beautiful memories that will last a lifetime.
Get to know and understand your camera
Don’t play the guessing game when it comes to getting a good shot. Knowledge is power! When you truly understand how your camera works you can make your camera work for YOU. Get to know your camera’s capabilities and functions. You will be more confident behind the lens and be able to capture memories without stressing out or missing out on precious moments.
Turn off the flash and use natural light when possible
Flash can be harsh, creating unnatural skin tones, overexposed subjects and red-eye. Take some time and learn exposure. Understanding basic exposure can be a game changer when taking photos of your family. I have boxes full of pictures of terribly exposed photos of my boys that are mostly unusable. I wish someone had said to me “hey, you should learn about exposure!”
Change your perspective
When photographing children or moments in our lives, it’s so easy to simply point the camera and shoot straight on. Try a different perspective. If your baby is sleeping, step out of the room and take a shot while looking through the doorway. If your baby is playing on the floor, get down on their level and capture the moment from their perspective. If you’re outdoors, lay down on the grass and shoot looking up. Move around, try different angles, different points of view. Get creative!
Always keep your camera close by and ready to use
Life happens fast when you have little ones and you don’t want to be caught off guard. Make it a habit to keep your camera accessible with a charged battery (or an extra one ready just in case!) and plenty of space on the memory card. Also, don’t be afraid or intimidated to take your camera with you when you’re on the go to be able to capture moments you experience with your children while out living life.
Invest in a prime lens if you’re using a DSLR camera .
A prime lens is a lens with a fixed focal length. Using this type of lens means having to move around a bit more to get a shot. Since it cannot zoom in or out, you have to move to get closer or to back away. But prime lenses are quicker, sharper and allow more light in. This makes them ideal for low light situations. Some prime lenses can cost a pretty penny, but Canon sells an EF 50mm f 1/8 STM lens for under $200. It’s one of my favorite all time lenses and is usually the one you will find on my camera.
Not all pictures of your children have to be their smiling faces. Try capturing them in their surroundings without asking them to smile, or to look your way. Don’t focus so much on getting a perfect shot. Life isn’t always picture perfect. The little moments are worth capturing too and will be so much fun to look back on. Your baby’s sleeping face. Your toddler’s favorite shoes. Your child reading on their bed. Pick up the camera and shoot when they’re not looking or expecting it.
Get in the picture, mama!
Hand that camera to someone else and ask them to take a picture of you with your kids! This is one of my absolutely biggest regrets. There are so many holiday pictures, family gatherings, family trips that I documented with my camera, but never thought to include myself in the pictures. Or, invest in a tripod and remote so you can take pictures of yourself with your family. I know sometimes as women, we prefer not to be in the photo. But if you take one thing away from this post, PLEASE LET IT BE THIS. You will want to remember being there with your family. It can be painful to look through albums and not see a single photo of you with your children at big life events. Twenty years down the road, you won’t care about how much you weighed, or if you had a terrible hairstyle, or if the dress you were wearing was hideous. Trust me.
Back up your photos!
I can’t stress this enough! I once lost thousands of pictures when my computer got a virus and was destroyed. It was devastating. That will never happen again. I currently back up my photos on a hard drive and also upload all photos to Dropbox. Find something that works for you and BACK! UP! YOUR! PHOTOS!
Now, the most important thing I can tell you is that you just need to pick up that camera and start shooting! Take the tips that I’ve shared that work for you and put them to use. Find photo blogs and photo sharing sites that inspire you. The more you shoot, the better you’ll get and the more comfortable you will feel. Remember you are creating a visual history filled with all kinds of wonderful, emotional, funny, adorable stories to pass down to your children. That is what really matters. Have fun, be creative and don’t forget to enjoy each moment you are capturing!
What is the single best tip someone has shared with you about photographing one’s family? Or do you have advice of your own to share? I would love to hear from you!
Mostly things that involve The Middle Child. He played his last season of high school basketball, probably his last season of basketball ever. Because he doesn’t want to play in college. He wants to focus on college. I respect his choice, but if I’m being honest. I’m heartbroken. He’s played since he was three years old. City ball. Travel ball. Junior and High school ball. What will I do when next year rolls around and there won’t be any games to attend to cheer for #3? Though the sadness will linger, I’m sure, I’ll always have the memories. And oh, what wonderful memories.
A photo posted by Yvonne Valtierra (@yvonnemarie_v) on
On April 27th, we made if official. Our boy will be attending Vanguard University this fall.
I hope to not make it another seven months before I write here again. Now that all Things Basketball and High School are coming to an end, I will have a bit more time to focus on other things besides driving the basketball team to tournaments.
(Or, maybe not because I may find myself in a corner crying because MY BABY IS ALL GROWN UP AND DOESN’T NEED ME ANYMORE EXCEPT HE TOTALLY NEEDS MY MONEY BECAUSE… COLLEGE.)
We have two more events to attend. Senior award night tomorrow night and his high school graduation ceremony on May 20th. I can not believe how quickly this all happened, but you know what they say about time, flying, and fun.
Before I leave, there is one more thing that I must mention because out of all of the great things my son has accomplished in high school, this is the one makes me the most proud.
I grabbed my camera and headed out for a drive last night because I was feeling restless and nervous about things. Photography always soothes my soul, so I thought I’d drive around with my camera, to see if anything photo worthy caught my eye.
I drove past a church parking lot that I used to go to weekly for boot camp. The sun was setting and I noticed how beautiful the tall, white cross looked with sunlight behind it. I turned into the empty parking lot. I sat there for a few minutes, just looking at the beautiful sunset, thinking about life and people and all of the crazy, fun, challenging workouts I’ve done in that parking lot.
“Life was really good 2 years ago.” I thought to myself.
I want life to be good again. Last night I realized I’m the only one in the way of that happening.
I love her free, playful spirit. I love that she think she’s too “grown up” to kiss me goodbye in front of her friends at school, but not too grown to ask me to swing with her at the park. She is the perfect mix of little girl and young lady. I imagine us swinging together, laughing at life when she’s in college and I’m old enough for senior discounts at restaurants and that thought makes my heart soar with joy.
Last weekend I spent the entire Sunday making bracelets with my daughter. They turned out adorable. I posted a picture of the bracelets on Facebook and a few of my friends asked how we made them. I was all “I will post instructions on my blog tomorrow!” It is now a week later, but better late than never, yes?
This takes a while, but it’s super easy. Simply open the pin, place beads onto the open prong. It’s important that you leave enough space to close the bracelet. After we beaded each pin, we added glue to the top of the safety pin to ensure that it doesn’t not pop open. This was very time consuming, so we gave this job to my husband to help cut down on the time. I’m not sure this is necessary, so you could skip this step if you don’t want to spend so much time with this step. (It took exactly 42 pins to make a bracelet big enough to fit my daughter’s wrists.)
Step two: String the safety pins together.
This is the fun part! (HA HA HA NO IT’S NOT) Cut two pieces of cord long enough to a) fit around the wrist b) have room to tie off string. (I taped the end of the string to a piece of cardboard so the pins didn’t slip off while I was working.) Start by putting the string through the top opening of the safety pin, then alternate and string through the bottom opening making sure the beads are facing the same way each time.
Once you finish this, you will need to repeat this process to string the other side together. Be very careful to tie off the loose end so that the beads do not slip off while you’re working on the other end.
Step Three: Tying both ends together.
This is simple. You will tie the strings from the top row together, then tie the strings from the bottom row together. I double knotted each side and then added some glue to keep things in place. (I made the mistake of not taking a photo of this step. It’s pretty simple, but if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments.)
This is a sponsored post. I have been compensated for the time I spent writing it, but the thoughts and words are all mine
I was asked on behalf of MamasLatinas to participate in the Walmart Family Routine campaign. I was told I’d be given a gift card to purchase a variety of health and wellness products from Walmart. My first question was “will I have to write about products that help with gas?” When I was assured that wouldn’t be the case, I was totally in.
I’ve been a mother for twenty one years. I have lived through many flu seasons. I know it’s important to do my part to keep my family healthy. What do we do to stay healthy? First and foremost, I make sure my family gets their flu shot every year. I make sure to keep healthy by eating healthy, nutrient foods, that we take our vitamins and get good sleep.
I also make sure that we keep germs and viruses.
That involves a lot of me telling my kids to “wash their hands! Wash them good!”
And that is where one of the products I was able to purchase comes in handy.
Clorox Disinfecting Wipes have been a part of my “keeping germs away” routine for a long time. I use them to wipe down door knobs, light switches, etc to keep things free of bacteria and viruses. I also love to carry the travel wipes with me every where I go. (Shopping carts get THE FULL ON WIPE DOWN EVERY TIME.)
I can’t lie, I was super excited to be able to buy these products for my family without breaking into our checking account (I’m still unemployed. DO YOU FEEL ME?)
Cold and flu season is the worst, is it not? What steps do you take to make sure your family stays healthy during that time?
Products I was asked to purchase and that are pictured in the cart: Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, Zyrtec Allergy Medicine, Tylenol Cold & Flu, Bayer One-A-Day Multivitamin (Men or Women), Six Star Protein Bar/Shakes, and Flintstones Kids Gummy Multivitamins.
My baby girl will turn 10 on Sunday. I have feelings about this. I will write them soon, but I wanted to share what I wrote back in 2008 when she turned 4. Time is such a jerk.
This is what you looked like at 6:39 am the day you turned 4 years old.
When you were a baby, I labeled you a “Drama Queen.” I know that it’s not nice to label people, but Girlfriend? There was no denying your dramatic ways.
This past year, I learned that your Dramatic Nature isn’t always a negative thing. Your flare for being a little bit over the top is proving to be an amazing asset. You can charm people where ever you go with your random singing. You don’t care who’s listening or where you’re at, if you want to belt out “Umbrella”, you belt it out with facial expressions and hip movements to boot. You almost always make the people around you smile or laugh out loud. When people tell you how beautiful you sing, you always say “Thank you so much! Have a great day and come visit me at my house, ok?”
Of course, not everyone finds your singing to be as precious as we do. Some people give you dirty looks and you’ll ask me “why is that lady mad, mommy?” I want to say “because she’s heartless witch!” But I usually tell you something like “not everyone appreciates hearing other people sing, because they like peace and quiet.” You’ll find out in time that there are jerks in the world who don’t like for other people to be happy in their presence. And you’ll learn to ignore them and keep being who you are, because you are wonderful and joy and sunshine on a cloudy day.
Can I talk a little bit more about your singing? Your singing is one of my favorite things in life. It brings me joy, laughter and sometimes, you’ll bring my to tears with the sweetness of your voice and the expressions you make while belting out a tune. I don’t know many people in the world who can take the numbers and turn them into a theatrical production. In fact, I’m pretty sure you’re the only one.
When I think back on this past year, the two things (because singing and pink!) that come to mind are “Lipstick” and “Hair” because OH MY GOD THE LIPSTICK AND THE HAIR.
You’ve pretty much destroyed/took over every tube of lipstick that I own, but you especially loved my bright red Estee Lauder. You had to take it with you everywhere that we would go. You’d apply it repeatedly in the car on the way to wherever we were going. By the time that we would arrive at our destination, your lips (and most of your face) would be covered with bright, red gloss.
Oh, the shiny, red joy!
You eventually decided that lipstick just wasn’t enough and every single day, I’d find you in my bathroom, painting your face, Tammy Faye Baker style.
I don’t mind sharing my lipstick with you. Lipstick makes you happy and the one thing that I want for you in life is for you to be happy. But do you know what I do mind? The fact that you’ve become obsessed with a hairstyle called “The Princess Fiona.” Basically, TPF is when I pull your hair back into a pigtail and then leave a few long pieces in front for you to flip around all princess like. I have no idea why you named it that, but every single time that I do your hair you say “I want it like Princess Fiona” and I will get annoyed and say “how about I do it like Princess Leah!’ And you’ll start to whine and say “No! I want it like Princess Fiona!” and I’ll say “How about I put a beautiful braid!” And you’ll get REALLY ANGRY and say “MOMMY JUST PUT IT LIKE PRINCESS FIONA BECAUSE THAT IS HOW I LIKE IT.”
I get frustrated because you have the most beautiful hair in all of the land and I could do so many beautiful things with it, but you are unwilling to let me. Except for once in a while, when you’re in a really good mood you’ll let me do something beautiful with it.
But, it never lasts for long. Before I know it, you’re ripping out the braid or buns and asking for me to put it like Princess Fiona.
I have proof of how much you love the Princess Fiona do. A few weeks ago, you were in your room quietly reading books. Or so I thought. “Mom, don’t worry. I cut my hair beeeeeautiful.” You shouted from your room.
My heart dropped. I ran to your room and found you standing in front of the mirror with the scissors in your hand, a mass of hair on your dresser and freshly cut, very short bangs. You were very proud of yourself until you realized that, um, you had very short bangs and you could no longer do your hair like Princess Fiona because OH MY GOD THE BANGS ON YOUR FOREHEAD.
This went on for a couple of hours. You’d stop crying, then you’d feel the bangs on your forehead, try to rip them off and when you were unsuccessful, the tears would began to fall again. It was probably the most traumatic experience of your 4 year old little life and I am sorry that I laughed, but I’m sure by the time you’re old enough to read this, you’ll laugh too.
I’m not quite sure how to end this post. There is so much I remember, so much I want to tell you, so many things that I want everyone who reads this to know about you, my sweet Lil G. Because…You? You are simply wonderful in every way.
Some of your characteristics have the potential to get you into trouble in life. That is why I take my job as your mother very seriously. I want to steer you in the right direction, correcting you and setting you straight when it’s called for, but also never wanting to break your spirit. I know what it’s like to have your spirit broken. I know what it’s like to be told your dreams will never come true. I know what it’s like to be too ashamed to stand up for yourself. So, I will make sure you know the power of your voice, but also know that there is a time to be quiet, listen, learn and plan your next move. I am and will always do everything in my power to make sure you choose the right path for you.
Before I end, let me say one (or 10) more thing(s).
I am in awe of you and always will be because you are the daughter I never thought I’d have. Thank you for bring joy into my life. Thank you for “fixing my hair” when “it’s so ugly.” Thank you for “helping me clean” (even if it really means “making more of a mess.”) Thank you for telling Daddy he should make me eggs for breakfast when I’m working. Thank you for reading me stories. Thank you for not saying “Asshole” anymore because that could have got me into a LOT of trouble with Gramma and Grammpies. But mostly, thank you for bringing joy, love and perfectly timed farts into my life.
He walked into the kitchen while I was finishing up the dishes. This Old Love by Lior came on.
“This song reminds me of us.” I said as he walked past me.
He had never heard the song. I walked over to him, wrapped my arms around his neck and looked up at him.
I begin singing along while looking at his sweet face.
“We’ll grow old together
We’ll grow old together
This old love will never
This old love will never die”
He smiled, buried his head into my neck.
We stood there, slow dancing in the living room. I held him tighter as we swayed back and forth in time to the music. It was just like a scene out of a romantic movie, except for the part where I was wearing sweats with holes in the crotch area and he had wood shavings all over his bleached out ugly green shirt.
We were having A Moment.
I felt the tears welling in what my husband likes to call my “40 Eyes.” I didn’t want to cry because THERE’S NO CRYING WHILE SLOW DANCING IN TORN UP SWEATS IN THE LIVING ROOM!” But I couldn’t stop the tears. I didn’t want him to know that I was crying, so I sneakily wiped my tears with his dirty shirt.
The song ended and we just sort of stood there, holding each other. I finally pulled away and kissed him on the cheek.
“I love you, old man.”
“I love you too, pretty girl.”
I went back to cleaning the kitchen while he headed back into the garage to do whatever it is that he does in there with all of that wood.