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Baby’s 1st Birthday, Part I

Our sweet boy turned one a couple of weeks ago and we hosted a baby soiree at our house.  We’re in that weird young child stage of life where our kids don’t really have their own friends, so I just make my BFF’s from high school and college pretend like a baby party is exactly where they want to be on a Saturday afternoon.  This year as I was making the guest list, I realized that we have a lot more friends with kids than we did just a year ago, so the party actually became a pretty kid-ish party, which was chaotic but fun!  Looking back at the pictures from Effy’s 1st party in 2012…boy howdy, the ones from this year are SO much better.  Just trying to be more intentional with how I composed the pictures has made a huge difference.  Also, getting out of manual and using the aperture-priority mode more (like I practiced here).

2012. Mediocre photography. Delicious food.

Effy’s party in 2012.
Mediocre photography.
Delicious food.

From Hans' party. Delicious food. Delightful pictures.

From Hans’ party.
Delicious food.
Delightful pictures.

For the visual inspiration (invitations, party decor, tablescape [yup...I said tablescape]), I drew from Hans’ baby quilt made by my super sweet sister-in-law.  I sent pics of the quilt to a graphic designer and she made invitations and I was able to use the digital file I had purchased to make a variety of items for the party.

Inspiration Quilt

This child always has a drumstick in his hand.

Invitation Collage

Printed with love, at Wolfe’s.
AND they gave me free envelopes. Bonus!

When my daughter turned one, the focus of her party was all the food.  She always loved to eat so I made grown up versions of all of her favorite foods. Hans was not as obviously interested in food the way Effy was from the get go.  After attending a friend’s daughter’s birthday party and seeing how much Effy enjoyed getting her very first party favor, I decided to focus less on the food for Hans’ party and more on creating super fun party favors themed around some of Hans’ favorite things.

The piece(s) de résistance were some custom photo gifts Hans included in his favors.  Waiting on our kitchen table with the favors was a custom magnet board I had made.  The magnet board was similar to something pre-made like this, but the same store was more than willing to do a custom board for me using the quilt graphic.  Now I can put this board in Hans’ nursery — totes adorbs [yup]!  On the magnet board were custom photo magnets for all the kiddos in attendance.  The most important person in a kid’s world is themselves, so ego-centric gifts are the way to go.

Magnet board

Each favor box had a custom luggage tag on it using the quilt graphic (shocker).  Usually these would include name and address and such, but I had the designer at Wolfe’s just use each kid’s first name for longevity.  I imagined them going on school bags, lunch boxes, etc.

Favor Table Collage

Also in the favor box:

a tiny tambourine


a train whistle

and a custom photo puzzle for each little attendee

Photo Puzzle

For the photo puzzles, I used a variety of pictures.  Some were of the kids themselves, or perhaps their dog, or maybe a picture of some artwork they’d created.  So stinkin’ sweet!

This post is getting pretty long (at least for me…and I’m getting hungry [shocker]).  I still have some more party decor pictures to share so perhaps I’ll save that for another day and let this post be party favor-centric.

I know this was a lot of energy to put into a child’s birthday party, but on the day of, it didn’t feel forced or overly-pinteresty.  It was very simple and just focused on our sweet baby boy.  I love love love him.

Hans Birthday


Point & Shoot Chatter

Hi friends! I recently received a question on my Facebook page and thought it was an excellent question.  I decided to answer it here because the perfectionist in me wanted to bold and hyperlink in my answer!

Question from Kat: What camera would you recommend for someone wanting a nice camera with zoom to take better pictures, but not necessarily wanting to learn more than point and shoot? This one seems good I think.

Picking a Point and Shoot

Answer: What a good question & thank you for asking it because it makes me feel SO LEGIT that you trust my opinion!  Point & shoots can be so great and they don’t always get the credit they deserve.  The image you get from a point & shoot camera is significantly better than with a cell phone but is much quicker to learn and use than a DSLR (and less spendy as well ["spendy" is much more fun to say than expensive, don't you think?]).

Kat has found a reasonably priced camera and it is a well-known (and reliable) brand.  However, most cameras like the one she found have one major weakness: the only viewfinder is the LCD screen on the back of the camera.  This causes two problems: (1) It is hard to accurately frame your photo in bright outdoor situations because you can’t see the screen very well!  Pictures at beaches, swimming pools, snow or other locations are really tough. Problem (2) with only an LCD screen on the back is that when you take a picture, you’re holding the camera up in the air instead of bracing it against your forehead and, therefore, you are more likely to get some camera shake instead of really sharp photos.  Camera shake happens a lot in low light situations, like when Kat is in her house taking pictures of her sweet little boy, for example.

The solution to these two problems is to find a camera with an eye level viewfinder (the traditional hole you peak through) in addition to the LCD screen.  For only $40 more than the camera Kat found, I would suggest this guy.  Not only does it included a second viewfinder but it has a 40x zoom lens instead of the 30x zoom lens on the camera originally researched.  I would say the Fuji is a far better value for the dollars spent.

Also, with my “shop local” hat on, I would totally suggest getting the camera from Wolfe’s in Topeka (which is where my link took you to).  You can buy it on their website and have it come to your house if you’re a bit outside of the Topeka area (which I happen to know that Kat is).  This wonderful camera store includes a $25 print gift card with a camera purchase (for prints, enlargements, canvas wraps, whatever) as well as a free photography class to help you learn some photography basics to feel more confident behind the camera.

I am more than happy to answer any other questions as far as product recommendations!  Comment here, write me on Facebook, comment on my Instagram (@lovablelens).  Let’s talk!


Hans’ First Birthday

Friday was our sweet Hans’ 1st birthday!  It was a year ago that I was in a hospital room dilating faster than Hot Pockets cause diarrhea.  4 hours of labor and 3 pushes later, Hans Ward joined our crazy family.

To celebrate Hans’ first year, my husband took the day off work and we lined up Effy’s favorite babysitters (Grandmama & Grandpa) and we took Hans out for some 1 on 2 time for his birthday.  Before we left, he opened up his birthday gift (a toolset…which is great because I love toys with 20 pieces).  We set off for his Kindermusik class (the last one of the school year), and then went out to lunch.  I am SO SO glad I brought my DSLR with me.  One month ago, I definitely wouldn’t have.  I felt ridiculous taking it in public because I was so fumbly and under-practiced that I just focused so much time figuring out my camera that I missed whatever was happening right around me.  I’ve been trying to practice with my camera around the house more so taking it out for Hans’ birthday was no big deal.  Scott even noted the same thing — at the restaurant I was snapping pictures and it seemed natural.  This is not something I anticipated happening so quickly.  I met Cathy Mores (a photographer and photography teacher) a few weeks ago and sat in on a one-hour class with some quick photo tips.  She was so encouraging and positive that I actually got a little twinge of confidence and have been consistently taking pictures ever since.  I’ll be taking a full-day class with her in just a couple of weeks and I am SO SO excited about it!

Below are a handful of my favorite pictures of the day, all taken with a camera comparable to this one.  I am also toying around with photo editing a little bit but have done no editing to the images below.  Is it strange to say, “I am proud of these pictures?”  Because I am!  They might not be professional quality, but I would totally print them and hang them on my wall.  That is a big step up from where I was at not that long ago!

Happy birthday to sweet Hans Ward!  I’ll be sharing some details from his first birthday party soon.  {Spoiler alert: there were presents and cake}

This is the May spread of the "Seasons of Hans" calendar.

This is the May spread of the “Seasons of Hans” calendar.

Kindermusik is our jam.

Kindermusik is our jam.

Tiny hipster jeans.  Baldwin should make baby jeans, no?

Tiny hipster jeans. Baldwin should make baby jeans, no?

Chicken salad sandwich at Westside Local.

Chicken salad sandwich at Westside Local.

The peek-a-boo king himself.

The peek-a-boo king himself.

Little Freshie for dessert.  I would have food pics, but the fat kid in me came out and I ate it too fast.

Little Freshie for dessert.
I would have food pics, but the fat kid in me came out and I ate it too fast.

Hans was just happy trying to eat his leaf.

Hans was just happy trying to eat his leaf.

And a chocolate fu manchu to finish of the celebration.

And a chocolate soul patch to finish off the celebration.