• Catch the Moment: Week 27

    This is the start to our much needed summer vacation. We are staying local and trying to keep the boys as busy as possible! Of course that means lots of wonderful photo opportunities. Day 183-July 2, 2014 Today we celebrated Adrian’s 36th birthday. The boys were very tired after we got home from dinner, so… [Continue Reading]

    Catch the Moment: Week 27
  • Catch the Moment: Week 18

    Phew the weeks are flying by! I officially have just 30 more school days left and couldn’t be happier about that. The students have summer on the brain and my paperwork load is beyond crazy. This week I made it a point to bring my camera upstairs, since I’m always shooting downstairs where the light… [Continue Reading]

    Catch the Moment: Week 18
  • Catch the Moment 365: Week 11

    Day 71- March 12, 2014 It may be cold and gross out, but our flowers are powering through. Spotted in our front yard the first early bloomer flowers. Hooray for the Crocus! Day 72- March 13, 2014 This boy and his smile. He has four teeth just waiting to bust through. Day 73- March 14,… [Continue Reading]

    Catch the Moment 365: Week 11
  • Project 365: Week 44- Enjoying Fall Foliage

    It’s hard to believe this year is almost over!  Sheer craziness!  It was a week of enjoying fall foliage and the remainder of the warm days.  As I sit here writing this post, it’s 48 degrees and the temperature is going to fall into the 30′s later this afternoon.  This I am not happy about!… [Continue Reading]

    Project 365: Week 44- Enjoying Fall Foliage
  • Project 365 Week 26: Still Waiting for Baby

    I probably should be sleeping right now but instead I’m wide awake. I’m also ready to meet my little peanut.  Seems that baby is snug and in no rush to join us.  Today I’m oficially 39 weeks!  With this being baby #3, I didn’t think I would make it this far but here I am… [Continue Reading]

    Project 365 Week 26:  Still Waiting for Baby
  • Project 365 Week 28: My 3 Sons

    My one and only goal for yesterday was to write my birth story, but it didn’t happen. By the time I sat down to relax it was 11 pm and I’m just wasn’t feeling it. I haven’t opened my computer all week and didn’t miss it. I know the newborn stage flies by and I… [Continue Reading]

    Project 365 Week 28:  My 3 Sons
  • Project 365 Week 10

    Day 60- March 2, 2013 This boy loves books and his kitty Day 61- March 3, 2013 After breakfast play on a lazy Sunday morning Day 62- March 4, 2013 My favorite part of the day- daycare pick up! Day 63- March 5, 2013 My boys love to play in the windowsills, which is a… [Continue Reading]

    Project 365 Week 10
  • Project 365 Week 7- Xander’s 4th Birthday

    We started out last weekend with Xander’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle 4th Birthday Bash. Grandma Stavish has been visiting all week and Adrian had most of the week off. The boys have fully enjoyed a daycare free week. It has taken me all week to edit Xander’s birthday party photos. Since his actual birthday is… [Continue Reading]

    Project 365 Week 7- Xander’s 4th Birthday
  • Project 365 Week 23: Thankful for Warmer Weather

    This week the weather has been WONDERFUL and I am so thankful for the arrival of spring/summer.  You see, we have seemed to skip right over to summer, with temps in the mid 80′s all week.  I’m not complaining!  I especially love that I can wear of all my maternity dresses now.  Since the weather… [Continue Reading]

    Project 365 Week 23: Thankful for Warmer Weather
  • Project 365: Week 36- Transitions

    Day 229- August 17, 2013 Saturday we went to the Farmer’s Market/Amish Market. Ryker napped in the Ergo the entire time. Love carrying him! Day 230- August 18, 2013 Sunday’s are made for couch naps. Day 231- August 19, 2013 In order to start the transition back to reality, the boys went back to daycare… [Continue Reading]

    Project 365: Week 36- Transitions

Kindergarten: Preparing to Let Go

This post is brought to you by Schoola, the best place to buy discounted kids clothes all while give back to schools in need.  Click here to learn more about Schoola.  Click here to see what people are saying.

DSC_8490In less than a month my first born will begin a whole new adventure, as he begins his academic career.   I am not ready physically or emotionally for this major life milestone.  Like any other good mom, I started a shopping list for “back-to-school”, but where exactly on the list do I put the following items:

* worry about how he will adjust to being in a new environment, in a place where he doesn’t know anyone

*  hope that he remembers his manners

* wish for a kind, patient, yet somewhat strict teacher that knows how to have fun, but also takes command of her classroom

* enjoy these last few months of summer, taking extra time out of the day to play and laugh with Xander

I want to pause time here and now.  I’m not ready to let go of my baby.  In a few weeks, he will spend seven hours of his day creating, learning, and growing.  He will make friends, encounter bullies, play games in gym class, pick out books at the school library, and paint in art class.  Then he will come home and most likely answer the question, “What did you do in school today?” with a short one word answer, before getting on the floor to play with his brothers.  He may even run up to his room to play, demanding he be left alone.  The though sends a sharp dagger through my nurturing mama heart.  The thought that my boy will no longer need me to be his playmate.  


As we venture into the next phase of parenting, I also feel a bit excited.  I can’t wait to help Xander learn to read and learn about numbers.  I wonder what subjects in school he will excel in and what he will struggle with.  Xander will be attending a public elementary school, that offers the core subjects, as well as the specials art, computer, music, and gym.


 I am thankful that our county has worked hard to avoid budget cuts in the areas of specials, like other schools in the US, such as KIPP Academy in the Bronx.  This small school supports mostly low-income families.  Many students at the school receive special education services.  The student population at KIPP Academy is facing budget cuts that is threatening to end their much-needed music program.  

By shopping for Xander’s school wardrobe for gently used clothing on  the website Schoola, I’m helping fund part of the music program.  Plus I’m getting great deals on brand name clothing.  Join me in helping KIPP Academy continue to enjoy the music.  Here’s how:

SHOP: For every transaction that is tracked through this post,  Schoola, will donate $1 to KIPP Academy.

DONATE:   For every person who requests a Schoola donation bag using this referral code , Schoola will donate $1 to KIPP Academy.   Even more exciting, when you donates the clothes and fill out the  school information, $2 of every $5 made from the sale of your donated items will go back to the school.  Schoola will mail you a postage paid bag to donate your clothes.  It’s that easy!    

 In case you needed any more of a reason to shop or donate to help out KIPP Academy, here is a video of the sweet students that absolutely adore their music program. 

Why not get a head on your back-to-school shopping by browsing Schoola or cleaning out your closets and donating your children’s gently used clothing that no longer fit?  Stay tuned in the next few weeks I’ll be doing a post of all the adorable outfits I purchased for Xander through Schoola.  

Has your local school district faced budget cuts that have impacted your child’s education? 

Toys Stavish Boys Like: Vol 2- Construct + Nanoblock Giveaway

As a boy mom, I’m always looking for new toys that will keep little hands busy and brains working. Like most toddlers and preschoolers, Xander and Noah love to construct. From boxes to canned foods they can and will stack just about anything! Over the past year, their interest in smaller construction blocks has grown.


We recently discovered one of the smallest building blocks on the market, Nanoblocks. Nanoblocks have received several awards this year and are becoming very popular among kids and adults. Since they are microsized, Nanoblocks allow you to build in great detail.


I’ll admit, I do not have much patience for following toy instructions and putting them together. I sat down last Saturday to help Xander build the White Terrier Dog and lasted about 10 minutes. He enjoyed giving me orders as I attempted to assemble the tiny pieces. I completed about 4 steps, before leaving the rest for my husband. The Nanoblocks are made out of good quality plastic; however, because they are so small require precise technique to put a kit together. It was a good project for Xander and I work on together though, as we spent some time talking about the instructions and counting the blocks.  If you are looking for a challenge these are your blocks!  
building nano blocks

Nanoblock is currently hosting a fun contest for the builder in your family. Put your child’s building skills to the test with the first ever national nanoblock® Award: Build It Your Way Competition. The competition runs until September 1, 2014. In order to apply enter an original nanoblock® creation into one of two categories, under 500 pieces and over 500 pieces. Submissions are accepted at www.YourNanoblockCreations.com. All submissions will be reviewed by a panel of judges consisting of a mixture of toy industry opinion leaders and Ohio Art representatives. The top five finalists will be selected and notified around September 15, 2014.

Prizes: One grand prize-winner will receive a $4,000 travel voucher for a free vacation and crowned TATSUJIN: Master of nanoblock® . A first and second prize winner will be selected in each category (under 500 pieces and over 500 pieces). Two first prize winners will receive an iPod nano and nanoblock® sets (one set per month of their choice) for an entire year. Two second prize winners will receive nanoblock® sets (one set per month of their choice) for an entire year. Winners will be announced around September 21, 2014 and featured on The Ohio Art website and the official nanoblock® Facebook and Twitter pages.

Nanoblocks can be found at Target- as if you needed another reason to visit the bullseye! For more information on Nanoblock products visit their website or like them on Facebook.

One reader will win 2 nanoblocks sets- 1 mini series and 1 Sites-to-See. Good luck!

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Catch the Moment Week 29

Day 197- July 16, 2014

After Ryker’s visit to the allergist, we went grocery shopping before picking up Noah and Xander.   I ended not having any of my carriers with me, so Ryker rode in the cart.  He made it about halfway through the store before he was over it, because he was so tired.  I just love this little face even when he is grumpy!

Project 365-Day 197

Day 198- July 17, 2014

It’s been awhile since I have captured breakfast before daycare.  I just love this one!  

Project 365-Day 198

Day 199- July 18, 2014

We checked another item off our summer bucket list by having a playdate with some friends at a local spray park.  Xander and Noah had an absolute blast in the wading pool.  Xander even put his head under and was swimming with a life vest.  He asked to take a picture of him and Noah wearing their vests on our way out of the park.  How could I say no to these smiles?  

Project 365-Day 199

Day 200- July 19, 2014

It’s rare to have more than one photo of all three boys together!  Now that Ryker is done with his bouncer, we moved the train table back into our family room.  It’s so much fun to see all three boys playing trains together.  Although they rarely get along this well when it comes to the trains!  

Project 365-Day 200

Day 201- July 20, 2014

Saturday afternoon the boys and I were sitting outside painting, when all of a sudden this huge bug flew onto the table.  I of course posted a photo to Instagram and soon learned it is called a Katydid.  

Project 365-Day 201

Day 202- July 21, 2014

Just some more summer flowers from our garden! 

Project 365-Day 202

Day 203- July 22, 2014

It looks like I have a hat trick with this photo- three pictures of the boys together in one week is some sort of record for me!  I can’t even believe how big they all are getting!  

Project 365-Day 203

I hope you captured some great everyday moments last week too!! Don’t forget to enter our Celebrate Photography giveaway, with some pretty amazing prizes!


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3 Toddler & Preschool Learning Activites with Mr. Potato Head

Toddler and Preschool Learning Activities with Mr. Potato Head.jpgMy favorite toddler and preschool toy is the classic Mr. Potato Head. He is inexpensive, doesn’t need batteries and easy to wash.  My boys have a bunch of different themed Mr. Potato Head parts that we have collected over the past few years, including Xander’s favorites Bumble Spud.  They also have multiple pairs of eyes, shoes, glasses and more.  Mr. Potato Head play is a great time to get on the floor and embed language concepts into the activity.  Here are three  ways to engage your child in a fun language learning activity.  

IPad Matching Game

1.  Prior to pulling out Mr. Potato Head for your child, build a few different combinations and take pictures of them with your phone or IPad.   When it’s time to play, have your child choose what Mr. Potato Head to build from the pictures.    
2.  Two-year-old level:

At this age, lay out just the pieces that match the photo.  Help your child learn body parts and clothing items by holding out two items and asking, “What piece should we put on?”.  If your child does not know the body parts yet label them as you hold each part up.  (“Do you want the eyes or the teeth first?”. )  If your child does not provide you with an answer as they reach out for one of the items, label the body part again.  (“Great you picked the eyes.” ).  Continue this way until Mr. Potato Head is fully dressed!  

Three-year-old level:

A three-year-old should be able to select the appropriate pieces from a large pile of pieces to match the Mr. Potato Head in the photo.  Limit the amount of pieces to no more than 2 types of each part.  For example, a green pair of glasses and a yellow pair of glasses.  As your child builds the Potato Head, work on color identification by asking about each piece.  

Four-year-old and Up: 

Have your child build their own Mr. Potato Head behind a barrier wall, which could just be a cardboard box or a large book.   When he or she is finished building, have them take a picture of their creation with the IPad.  Then have them take apart the Potato Head and put the pieces back into the pile with all the pieces.  Next have your child describe to you how to build Mr. Potato Head to match his or her picture, without showing you the picture.  This activity works on sequencing and using specific directions and descriptions.  

2.  Mr. Potato Head Direction Following


A great way to work on listening skills is to play the “Mr. Potato Head Says” game (instead of Simon says).  

2-year-old variation

Since most 2 year-olds have a very limited attention span, eliminate the phrase “Mr. Potato Head says”.  Instead keep your directions  to a simple phrase. Examples include:

* Put his hat on. 

* Find his mouth.

* Give me the ears. 

3-year-old variation

 At three your child will be able to listen and follow 1 and 2 step directions, such as “Take off his hat and then take off his shoes.”.  Depending on your child’s listening skills and language comprehension skills they may or may not be able to play by the rules of “Mr. Potato Head says”.  

4-year-old and up variation

Many 4-year-olds will begin to understand the game rules for Mr. Potato Head says.  At this page, you can begin to teach the concepts of before and after.  As an example: “Take off his hat after you take off his

3.  It’s All About Emotions


Mr. Potato Head may just be a spud, but you can use him to role-play situations and teach your child about expressing his or her emotions.  Using the various mouth parts you can manipulate the pieces to demonstrate emotions such as happy and sad.  You can also role-play with your child certain scenarios that lead to specific unwanted behaviors.  Show your child the the right behavior or way to express themselves using Mr. Potato Head.  

I bet your kid has some toy just waiting to be rediscovered in a different way!  Stretch your imagination and you may be shocked with how easy it is to adapt toys to target specific developmental skills. 

This fall Playskool is launching the new Mr. Potato Head  Transformers Mixable, Mashable Heroes featuring Optimus Prime and Grimlock.  They also will be releasing mini superhero spuds such as spiderman.  Look for them at your local toy retailer soon!  

What are your kids favorite classic toys? 

I received the new Mr. Potato Head from Hasbro for purposes of this review.  No other compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own.  

Celebrate Photography with Catch the Moment 365 Giveaway ($650.00 of prizes)

Here we are beyond the midway point of the year and Catch the Moment 365.  It’s quite incredible!  I love the community we have built and the new blogging friends I have made through this awesome project.  I love that I have a group of women who “get” the photography thing and cheer me on along the way.  Most of all, I love all the wonderful images I have captured during the first part of the year.  In celebration of reaching the midway point of Catch the Moment 365, the hosts of CTM Sarah, Stephanie, and I are bringing you an amazing photography giveaway. Please enter and share the giveaway with your friends!


THEITThe Lula Bag

THEIT creates camera bags for photographers that value both style and substance. With designs that aim to capture classic modernity with a sense of playfulness, this philosophy exemplifies the essence of the THEIT customer: someone who is independent, inspired, and full of life, who cannot help but to capture the beauty in her world through the lens. An homage to the well-known fashion term “the it” bag, the brand represents more than the most coveted piece for the season, but a new wave of design enabling style, function and versatility for the fashion-minded photographer. Inspired by the runway and the streets, THEIT’s vision is to uphold a fashion standard that helps photographers live their dreams in style.

Canvas on Demand16×20 Canvas PLUS free shipping

Capture your favorite moments in pictures and create spectacular wall art for your home. With Canvas On Demand, your treasured memories suddenly transform into smile-coaxing masterpieces…that you can appreciate every day, large as life, in beautiful canvas form.

Professor Kobre’s Lightscoop

Ken is the inventor of Professor Kobré’s Lightscoop®, a camera accessory that instantly and dramatically improves indoor photography by bouncing the light from the pop-up flash. Bouncing the flash eliminates red eye, unflattering shadows and that deer-in-headlights look so common with indoor flash photography.

Picture KeeperPicture Keeper PK16

We have developed a simple photo backup solution that we made easy enough for our moms to do without needing our help. We load our Picture Keeper software onto custom USB drives – simply plug it in and click “Start Backup” to get started finding and savings your digital photos. Picture Keeper software works on PC and Mac and can be used on multiple computers – also great for moving pictures to a new computer. When one Picture Keeper fills up, just plug another one in and it picks up where the last left off. Did we mention that we skip duplicate photos also?

Camera CoatsA Camera Coat of your choice!

Protect your camera with a padded, waterproof, stylish Camera Coat! Our recently patented design keeps your camera safe whether its around your neck, in your carry-on, or stuffed into your diaper bag! All of our products are made by local women & each item is packaged and shipped by adults with disabilities. 
-Strong Velcro closure to ensure a snug fit.

 -Sturdy buckle attaches directly to your camera straps so you won’t lose your Camera Coat while you shoot!

 -3 pockets on the back are perfect for your lens cap or extra SD card.

 Camera Coats come in 5 sizes along with matching camera straps! With over 20 styles to choose from you are sure to find one that your camera will love!

Shop today and get 30% off your order!
Code: Celebrate25
Expires: July 31, 2014

Ink and Elm Backdrops: 5ft x 5ft Backdrop of Winner’s Choice

As photography junkies, we found that there were a few aspects of photography that were toilsome to control; location, lighting, and weather. After many exhausting photo sessions, we decided to come up with a way that would enable us to have direct control over lighting, weather, and location! And so, Ink and Elm Backdrops was born, bringing the location, controlled lighting, and perfect weather into your home! Ink and Elm backdrops are extremely user friendly and can be set up in minutes! You can go from standing in front of a barn to sitting in front of a beautiful damask patterned wall to leaning against a vintage worn down fence all in one photo session and all under one roof, regardless of weather and lighting! Ink and Elm backdrops are printed on strong, durable, tear resistant vinyl using the longest lasting inks and state of the art technology. Backdrops are printed on matte, waterproof material and are great for cake smashing sessions! The best part? They are easily portable! When you’re done with your photoshoot, simply roll up the backdrop and stick inside the packaging tube they are delivered in for simple and easy storage!

Janie Lane Studio: Camera Strap Cover of Winner’s Choice 

I’m a wife and mom to two young boys who absolutely love dirt and trucks and Legos. It makes me so thankful for nap times when I sneak away to my sewing room to design and create bags, scarves and Bloomin’ Headwraps. My shop, Janie Lane Studio, has been the feminine and creative outlet I need to balance all the boys in life. I’ve been making and selling locally for a few years, and this year I’ve focused on growing my Etsy shop and online presence. A few years ago a photographer friend asked me to make her a camera bag. Designed to be a beautiful and hardworking partner, the “Claire” bag has become a bestseller in my shop, both locally and online. Camera strap covers are a natural addition as I seek to serve photographers. Stop by Janie Lane Studio on Etsy and Facebook or find me @janielanestudio on Instagram. Leave a comment – I’d love to get to know you!

Pop of Happy$25 Shop Credit

Hi, I’m Laura, owner/creator of Pop of Happy. Pop of Happy is an Etsy shop filled with pom garlands, paper garlands, letter banners and fabric garlands perfect for any photography backdrop, birthday party or happy home decor. Pop of Happy also offers paper mobiles and custom designs made just for you! As a mom of two, I understand how busy things can get so let me take care of your birthday, baby shower or nursery decor for you!

Crafty Staci: DSLR Camera Strap and Lens Cap Holder

I’ve been sewing and crafting for as long as I can remember. My Etsy shop, Crafty Staci, focuses on accessories for photographers and I happily fulfill custom orders for everything I make. I enjoy mixing fabrics, and I love how excited my customers get that they can design an item that reflects their personality. After making thousands of camera straps, lens cap holders, memory card wallets and other photography accessories, it still makes me happy to see the final finished item and to hear my customers talk about how they’re using it.

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