Tips to photographing a toddler

I am pretty sure I have photographed my children everyday since they were born. Well, almost everyday. 

If your child is anything like mine they are constantly in motion. I have lots of blurry photos, lots of pictures of the back of my child's head and lots of pictures of him crying because I made him sit still. 

And while I am NOT a professional photographer and have no desire to photograph anyone other than my family I have picked up a few tricks for photographing a toddler. 

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Summer Lovin' Baby Love

Mister Mister in his Summer outfit.

Every Friday the meteorologist on our local NBC affiliate says, "it is Friday, we have made it everyone." I used to roll my eyes. But now that the baby is old enough to really have fun, I get it. 

Weekends are family time and I love them. Beardface usually gets home early on Friday, if he doesn't stop to fish on the way home. It's a hard life. 

A couple weeks ago my sister was in town and we took the baby to swim in my mama's pool. He absolutely loved it. 

Bathing suit courtesy of Aunt E.

My sweet boy will be eight months old next week. I cannot believe it. He is sitting up, eating table food, desperately trying to crawl and he says "Mama." 

How are you spending you summer weekends?

Life's a beach... or a pier... whatever you prefer

For a long time I was afraid to take the baby anywhere. I had all these really dumb ideas of all these things that were going to go wrong.

What if he gets hungry? Feed him.

What if he gets a dirty diaper? Change it.

What if he has a melt down? Ignore the glares of the ignorant and go home.

So slowly we have been venturing out of our home. Very slowly. My son is 7.5 months old. I know shame.

Friday we slathered him in sunscreen and took him to a local pier. And he loved it and it was free! He loved looking at the people, the flowers, the boats, the water, the birds and of course his Daddy.

On what adventures have you taken your children?

Raising a baby on a second hand budget: Don't forget mom


So you are newly pregnant, getting pregnant or are about to get pregnant or you're about to pop.

There are a few things you're going to need. But they don't have to be pricey.

  • Shop your closet. For me, I was able to minimize the amount of maternity clothes I had to buy by wearing things I already had like baby doll cut dresses. I was able to extend their use by buying a couple of pairs of maternity leggings for just $10 at Old Navy. I seriously recommend maternity leggings. They are so comfortable. Excuse me while I take a minute to day dream about maternity leggings...
  • Extend the life of your pants. By using a belling band you can wear your pre pregnancy pants a little longer. The Baby Be Mine band is about $16 and ranges in size 0-24. 
  • Thrift store junky. I ran to my local thrift store two weeks ago to pick up a couple things for the boy. When I was there I saw scads of maternity clothes. Cute clothes with the tags still on them! These things were selling for $1 - $4. I thought about it, a lot of women have a baby and then discard their maternity wear because they are either done having youngins' or the clothes will be the wrong season.
  • Borrow. You don't need to buy a whole new wardrobe for such a short period of your life. If you have a friend who is the same size as you borrow her maternity clothes. 
  • Bump to Bump. Bump to Bump is an online consignment store that sells maternity and nursing wear. I haven't personally used them, but is seems worth a try. 
  • Nursing bras and tanks for cheap, thanks. This is key if you plan to nurse. I am going to say this now. I really dislike Walmart. I worked there. I think I earned the right to never go back. But, they have really great, particle nursing bras that don't fall apart. I bought mine for $8. Also, Target has some that are cute for around the same price.

There are a few things you will need that are not clothing related.

  • Buy a used breast pump. I bought a practically new Medela Pump in Style from a friend for $130. And when I had my baby the hospital gave me all new accessories to go with the pump. (Bump to Bump has one listed right now.
  • Register for it. I know, this sounds terrible. But people want to buy you things. Don't be afraid to register for nursing gear. Were you afraid to register for that swing your baby naps in? No. Think of this as a necessity.

And one splurge!

  • I bought a Boppy pregnancy pillow because my back hurt so bad I couldn't sleep. It was crazy expensive- $40. Yes, I see that as crazy expensive. But by the end of my pregnancy it was so worth it.

Raising a baby on a second hand budget: Toys for boys (and girls)

Christmas, birthday, Easter, Valentine's Day, just because you are so stinkin' cute.

The gifts you want to give or are pressured to give your baby can add up fast!

But let's face it, until our children reach a certain age the toys they have only hold their attention for about a month or a minute and then they are forgotten about.

Why buy new things? I am not saying that you need to buy everything used for your child. It is okay to splurge once in a while, but why pay twice the price for something your kid plays with for a limited time in their life?

I learned this by example. My sister has three really cute kids. A lot of the toys and clothes they have came second hand. She said she was happy to get them that way, because that meant she only had to spend money on the really fun stuff.

So I have taken this advice to heart.

Earlier this where we purchased this all of this for $16:

That's a musical zebra that bounces, a light up train that my boy can ride, a Backyardigan's Play House and two puzzles.

The little zebra had never even been used!

We already talked about finding great consignment sales through Did you know that most consignment sales mark things down to 50 percent off their last few days?

That means you can get great toys that are already at a great price for half off!

We have my son's birthday and Christmas done (he is only seven months old) and both costs us less than $30!

Here a a few tips for finding great toys, books and educational toys at great prices.

  • I have been using PaperBack Swap for years. It is a great way to get great books. You simply upload your book titles and people choose books form your libraries. For every book that is chosen from you you earn a credit toward a book for your choice. It costs around $2.27 to ship each book. You only pay for the books you ship. Not the books you recieve. They have a pretty good children's library particularly for older children.
  • Girl, you gotta go to the dollar store. If you want some great board books that your little one can hold and not destruct, go to the Dollar Tree. I bought my little man some Sesame Street books on colors, shapes and going to bed.
  • Thrift Store. The other day I was at my local thrift store and I saw some new toddler toys. They were some we already had, or already had some similar to so I didn't buy. But these were things selling for $5 that were still in their boxes. When you buy at a thrift store like the Salvation Army or Good Will, you are saving money and helping a good cause. 
  • Amazon. Go to Amazon and type in the word toy. Look at all it pulls up! And look at all those used toys people are selling. I have purchased and sold a lot of things used on Amazon and I have always had good luck. And, if you're a Prime member some sellers ship Prime eligible.

What do you do to save cash on toys?

Part I: Raising a baby on a second hand budget: Clothing on a dime.

Part II: Raising a baby on a second hand budget: Already love baby gear, a dream come true?

Part IV: Raising a baby on a second hand budget: Don't forget Mom





Raising a baby on a second hand budget: Already loved baby gear, a dream come true

I was in the middle of my pregnancy when my husband pulled up to our little house, his red pickup truck loaded down with goodies. It felt like we had won the lottery.

There was a crib, mattress, sheets, changing pad and covers, a high chair, excercauser, toys, books and clothes.

He hauled everything into the nursery where a bassinet, bouncy chair and Bumbo seat awaited. The nursery was full and we hadn't paid for any of it!

Yesterday we talked about ways to get cheap kid's clothes. Let's talk about baby gear.

Again, my sister and my friend, Heather, had loaded me down with there genorosity. But what if you don't have generous people in your life?

My number one peice of advice: Ignore all the lists of things magazines and books tell you that you need to have a baby. You only need as much stuff as your budget can handles.

Here are the musts:

  • Crib
  • High Chair
  • Changing pad
  • Blankets
  • Stroller
  • Car seat - extreme caution should be used if puschasing a used carseat. I would advise against it. Here is why.

Here are somethings that are great to have but you could do without them:

  • Bouncy chair
  • Boppy Pillow
  • Baby gym

Now, I say you don't need a bouncy chair, but considering my son slept in that thing the first month of his life, maybe I should move it to the must have spot???

And here is one thing you don't need:

  • A changing table. - Seriously, put the changing pad on a dresser and move on with your life. You don't need an extra piece of furniture you will need to get rid of later.

SO how do you get the must have for cheap?

  • Craigslist- This online garage sale has a ton of great stuff! I have sold a car, a couch, a bed, a refrigertator and given away a litter of puppies on Craigslist. And there is baby stuff galore. This morning I saw a stroller, monitor, highchair and bouncy seat on sale for a combined $20! You can't beat that. Click here for tips on how to buy on Craigslist.
  • Garage Sales - This sounds like no brainer, right? It is June, so garage sale season is in full swing and many of them have tons of baby items. If you go to a garage sale make sure you have cash on hand. Be willing to haggle. While a garage seller wants to make cash, they also want to get rid of their stuff, so they will probably be willing to cut you a discount, especially if you are buying multiple items. Most local papers run a garage sale section in Friday's paper, so it won't be hard to find one.
  • FreeCycle - If you live in a rural area like I do this might not be an option for you. But if you're a city dweller, FreeCycle is a great place to find, trade and get rid of baby gear for free. Free is in the name!
  • DIY - Stores like IKEA or unfinished furniture stores offer great deals on baby furniture if you're willing to put in a little work you can get some BIG savings.
  • Buy for the future. Your baby doesn't need tiny furniture just because they are a tiny person. Go ahead and get your child's dresser, book shelves, etc. now and use them as baby furniture. That way when your child gets older they already have the furniture they need and you won't need to buy two sets.
  • Understand that everything you get doesn't have to be shiny and new. A used crib can be painted, polished and shined. A great set of colorful sheets or a colorful changing pad cover can dress up a room. Your baby doesn't care if he or she has the latest, greatest, trendiest things. They care that you love them, feed them and change them.

I found out a long time ago that when I stopped trying to impress people with what I have and how I live I was a lot happier.

Remember one of my favorite verses:  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:20-21


Part I: Raising a baby on a second hand budget: Clothing on a dime.

Part III:Raising a baby on a second hand budget: Toys for boys (and girls)

Part IV: Raising a baby on a second hand budget: Don't forget Mom


Raising a baby on a second hand budget: Clothing on a dime.

No one can deny that having a baby is expensive. But it doesn’t have to break the bank. I was amazed when registering for our baby the amount of things people think you need.

Guess what?
You don’t.

I am not a brand snob. By any stretch of the imagination. I thank my mother for that, she raised us on Payless shoes and the Dollar General.

When my husband and I were planning on having a baby our financial circumstance was a far cry from what it is now. - Within two months of my son being born my husband got a great job with great benefits that allowed me to stay home. We moved closer to my parents for said job and we paid off all $10,000 of our credit card debts and the bills we racked up from having our son. I know, it has God written all over it.

We were looking at paying for this baby on a shoestring budget. And thanks to some generosity from friends and family- we did.

So, I am breaking down to you our second hand baby. Wow, that sounds sad.
Clothing- 99 percent of my son's clothes are second hand. And we didn't pay for any of them. My sister and my friend Heather were kind enough to give us clothes. For real!
Heather's baby was born one year before mine, and like my baby he was a chunker, so his sizes match my son's in season.

She gave us great, name brand clothes. Everything from jammies to onesies and some things even had the tags on them. When I tried to pay her she shook her head and smiled.
My sister did the same thing, handing over a giant plastic container of clothes. When little bit out grows one set of clothes I break out the plastic container and restock. It is like shopping.
But say you don't have an awesome big sister, or generous friend. What can you do?
  • Thred Up - This is a great website where you can get clothes, shoes, books and toys. The clothes are always in great condition and are 70 percent off of retail. They also have this great service where you can sell your kids clothes. They send you a bag, you fill it up with name brand, gently used clothing and they pay you.

** Thread Up used to have a flat rate, but as Kristen from Trial and Error Homemaking (a terrific blog) points out "Thred Up changed the way they do things. It's more like a consignment store now - where you purchase individual items. For instance, when I went to their site just now, the first item was a plaid shirt in size 4 for $14.49. They list "retail values" to try to justify their prices (this shirt was apparently 72% off). In my opinion, it's not nearly as great of a deal."

  • Be a sales rack Diva! I got a free subscription to Parenting Magazine through a couponing site. Each month they have a 20 percent off coupon for Gymboree and Crazy 8's. If you combine that with the Gymboree sales rack at the end of the season and buy ahead for next year, that is some big bucks. I am talking corduroy pants for $2 people!
  • Buy ahead - last week we went to Target where I found pants for $1 and shirts for around $2. (I paired that with a gift card I had gotten from ebates so basically my stuff was free.) The sizes I purchased were 12 months and up. My son won't wear those for a few months, but I have put them in his closet and when he gets bigger we will be ready to go. 
  • eBay! -  So why was Heather so willing to just hand over bags and bags of kid's clothes? Because she got them for a steal on eBay. You can buy kids clothing in bulk. Need to outfit your child for the summer? No problem, just type in a size and season and many, many eBayers are selling a garbage bag full of last year's summer clothes.
  • Consignment sales- In January my husband and I went to a HUGE consignment sale in Mobile. It happens twice a year and we made off like bandits. Plus the sale was running a Living Social special so that made it even sweeter. But, a little warning, when dealing with boy clothes, consignment sales aren't always a good deal- I think boys, even as babies, are hard on their clothes. Want to find a consignment sale in your area? Check out

What have you done to save cash on clothing those kids?

Don't Blink...

My baby will be six months old on Friday, which is odd because I only had him 5 minutes ago. 

When I first learned I was pregnant it seemed it would be a lifetime before my baby arrived. Now that seems like two days ago. It goes by so fast and I feel like we, as parents, only have so long to hold our babies, to cherish their first smiles, their squeaky giggles, their chubby thighs. (Although in my family chubby thighs stick around... TMI?)

A few weeks ago I came across a new mom while sitting with a friend. She was desperately trying to get her six week old baby to take a bottle. "I'm ready for him to get on solids," she said. 

That made me sad. It would be a good three or four months before her little boy would eat solid foods, why would you wish away a portion of your child's life? But then it hit me, haven't I done the same thing. 

I remember in those first few weeks, when the baby honeymoon had ended and my son wanted to nurse every 45 minutes around the clock. I had a passing thought, "I am ready for this baby to sleep through the night." 

My boy was 4 months old before he slept through the night for the first time. Did I really want to wish away those weeks? 

My sister has three children, she is gracious and kind and always offers the best advice. When my baby was just a few days old she told me to enjoy the minutes and to look him in the face. "Not enough people do that," she said. 

I have. There were afternoons when my son refused to nap and I sat on the couch exhausted, hungry, needing to shower, surrounded by unfolded laundry and I looked at his face. My house is a mess, my hair is dirty and my shoes didn't match, but I didn't care, it is a moment I won't get back.