Tuesday, 2 September 2014

What Iz loved - August 2014





Here is what Iz loved this month…

1 - Getting *out* of her first bath
2 - Sleeping
3 - Her first car ride
4 - Being born
5 - Doing a naked and not-so-naked photoshoot
6 - Meeting her big brother
7 - Post boob cuddles

You can see what her brother liked doing here :)

******

If you want to do your own "What baby/toddler loved" then link up with Rachel @dinkythinks - you can see her latest post here :)


What Doofy loved - August 2014





Here is what Doofy loved this month…

1 - Looking after his new sister
2 - Cooking with daddy
3 - Suddenly being very grown up now there's a baby in the house
4 - Dressing up as a dinosaur
6 - Footprint art (blog post coming soon)
7 - The park

You can see what his sister liked doing here :)

******

If you want to do your own "What baby/toddler loved" then link up with Rachel @dinkythinks - you can see her latest post here :)



Coloured ice play



So I thought I blogged about this a few weeks ago... but I didn't. Blame baby brain... Anyway summer is nearly over but here is a really fun activity to do outside when it's hot, or even inside (on a smaller scale!) if its raining. 

It does take a little prep work as you need to make the ice cubes in advance - so not very complicated but just a bit of forward planning. 

What we used:
- selection of ice trays
- food colouring
- paddling pool
- water 
- enthusiastic toddler

A few days before I thought we'd do this I made up a batch of coloured ice cubes - just water and food colouring so perfectly safe if Doof decided to eat them. I made a tray of each colour which produced enough ice cubes for at least 3 different sessions (or 1 mammoth one I guess!). The advantage is once they're frozen you can leave a bag on the freezer and then they're instantly ready when you want them :)


Not the neatest as I used a variety of different shaped ice trays!

 
On the next sunny day (which actually ended up being a week later) we filled up the paddling pool, emptied the ice cubes into a tupperware and let Doof explore...

First he started to pick the cubes out one-by-one 


 Then he got impatient and tipped the whole box upside down


 Next he enjoyed swirling and splashing the water and watching the colours come off the melting ice cubes



Then he picked all the cubes out of the water (well, the ones which hadn't already melted!) and put them back in the tupperware 


 Before emptying them all again :)




And splashing around until they all melted

 

All-in-all it was a really fun activity, especially when it's hot. Doof had fun exploring the different texture and temperature of the ice cubes, as well as seeing the different colours. As he gets older we'll be able to talk more about each colour and different object states (eg solid/liquid). So educational aswell as fun :)

Next time I might freeze some objects inside the cubes so they are released as the cubes melt. Freezing rice in the middle could make a nice sensory activity as once the ice melts you'll be left with a rice 'beach' and melted water for the 'sea'...

Final clock update



So here it is - the final verdict after a month of using the *magic* clock...

[you can catch up on my previous posts about it here and here]

WE LOVE IT!!

I'm not promising miracles for everyone but it definitely has worked that for us! Doof has gone from waking up (and insisting on getting up) at 5.15 every morning to sleeping til 6.45/7!!! Amazing!

Yay for sleeping past 5am!! :)
Sadly we are still rather lacking on the sleep front but that's due to the newest addition to our family and not Doofy ;)
 
A rare moment of peaceful sleeping...

But thank you rabbit clock for getting our toddler into such better sleep habits! Best £45 I have ever spent... 


******

Ironically I wrote this post last night during a late night breastfeed. And then Doof woke up at 6.15. Hah! But that is a massive rarity these days AND he stayed in his bed until 7 when the rabbit woke up so I stand by my complete love of the clock :)


Monday, 25 August 2014

DIY newborn photoshoot - part 2


So since my last post (DIY newborn photoshoot) I found our portable heater and so thought I may as well try the whole naked-baby-photoshoot while Iz was still little.

So here are some shots. What do you think? Is a naked baby a lot more cute than a dressed one or not? I do like the way that she is awake in some of these pics. I'd love to hear what you think in the comments section :)



 






And yes, for those of you who are wondering... there was wee and poop everywhere :(



Tuesday, 19 August 2014

DIY newborn photo shoot


I'll start off saying I am not a professional photographer at all, I'm just an amateur who enjoys taking pictures, especially of my babies :)

When Doof was born I spent the first few weeks in a hazy fog of endless feeds, no sleep and general first-time-mum-trying-to-make-sense-of-it-all. Sure I took lots of pictures but 99% were on my iPhone - nice but nothing special.

Photos from Doof's first week - lovely memories but not exactly technically great!

Since then we got a DSLR and so this time round I decided to try and take some better quality photos...

There is loads of information available online - I read this blog which had some really useful tips (but was a bit more serious/involved than I was planning to be):

********

Equipment and timings:

-         selection of 'backdrops' (dark blue towels, white embroidered bedspread, patterned giant muslins)
-         blankets & muslins
-         hats and cuddly animals that Is had been given as presents
-         beanbag
-         chairs (to hang backdrops off)

Not exactly high tech equipment!

I used a DSLR camera with a 50mm lens (so I mainly played around with the depth of focus). Most of the pictures I took in the evening - definitely not the best time if day light-wise but definitely the best if you have an active toddler running around the rest of the time!! So because of this I used a flash but with a diffuser so the light wasn't too bleaching.

The advantage of taking the pictures myself was (cost aside obviously!) I took the photos over several days - just doing 10-15 minutes of prep and shooting a day, dependent on when she was at her most sleepy.

Shots:

So below are some examples of shots I took, with various props, backdrops and coverings. 

Positions

The main poses Is did were on her tummy and side-lying. She didn't really want to do any others and I wanted natural looking pictures and definitely didn't want to force her into any positions she didn't want to be in. 

Prone and side-lying positions on a variety of backgrounds/drops


Angles

Think about shooting from different angles. I just experimented and tried lots of different views. Some looked good, others not so much. That's the joy of a digital camera - you can just delete the shots you don't like!

She was in the same position but I just moved around her
The top and bottom pics were taken without moving her position, whereas the middle one was taken after I repositioned post-feed

Props

You don't need to go crazy buying props etc. I just had a rummage around and used things we already had at home. two of the hats were knitted by a friend (one for Doof and one for Is) and the other came from Baby Gap. The two cuddly animals had been given to Is as presents so I thought it would be nice to include them in some pictures. 

Modelling Baby Gap hat

Her new monkey is about the same size as her!

Cuddling her rabbit - a bit more classy than Doof's collection of muslins!
Focus

Play around with different areas of focus. It's really easy on a DSLR to change the focus depth so just have fun seeing what looks good.

In the top pic the focus is on her hands, whereas in the bottom one it is on her face

Details

Make sure to get some detail shots too. Their hands and feet don't stay this tiny for long! And these shots can look beautiful in black and white so try converting some.



Clothing vs nakedness

Even though all the professionals like babies to be naked I didn't strip Is off for several reasons:
- our house isn't warm enough and I couldn't find the portable heater
- it took away the spontaneity of taking the photos as if she fell asleep after a feed, she would definitely have woken up if I faffed around trying to undress her
- poop and wee would have been guaranteed to end up everywhere
But the bottom line is I don't think babies need to be naked to get cute photos. Sure, put them in an outfit you like, but I think naked pictures can look a bit forced whereas clothed ones look a bit more natural.




Extra special things

Think about anything very precious you have which you might want to include. Is' granny died a few weeks before she was born and so sadly never got to meet her. So I included one of her bracelets in some shots and was really pleased with the result.


"Different" shots
 
And lastly, not every photo needs to be of a peaceful sleeping baby. I took this one just as she woke up (just before I stopped shooting and fed her!). I think it is quite sweet :)

She only cried for a second but I managed to capture it!

********

So there it is - Is' first photo shoot :) although the pics definitely aren't professional-standard I'm really pleased with how they turned out. The only shame is it's impossible to have yourself in the pictures too.

I'd love to hear any other tips people have or if you try doing this at home yourself :)


Friday, 8 August 2014

Sensory bags


As I'm currently overdue with baby number 2 I've been looking for slightly more sedate activities to do with Doofy. So this week we've made a few sensory bags - easy to make and very non-messy (as long as they don't burst…!!).

******

1. Gel bag

Gel bag ingredients and final result

 
 What we used:
2 tubes of hair gel (meant to get clear gel but bought blue by mistake - it didn't matter though)
1 large ziploc bag
Duct tape
Selection of different shaped buttons, sequins and glitter 

Details from inside bag

This is the first one Doof played with and he was quite fascinated by it. He patted it, squished it and scrumpled it up into a ball. I then showed him some of the different objects inside and he loved trying to find new things - we were both very excited when he managed to find the star button that was hidden in a particularly deep pocket of gel!

Doof enjoying his first play with the bag

 ------

2. Foam bag

Foam bag ingredients and final result

What we used:
Shaving foam
Red and blue food colouring
1 large ziploc bag
Duct tape
Small silver baubles (used in cooking) 

Initial squidging of the foam - before it turned to grey mush!

This was the least successful bag. I filled it with foam and then made 2 small pockets of food colouring – the thought was that Doof could then squidge them all together and create coloured foam inside the bag. However I think my mistake was adding the silver baubles as when Doof played with it (it was the next day so maybe that was another problem?) the foam instantly turned to a greyish mush and the quite quickly lost its original “bounciness” that had made it feel so nice when first made. So if I make this one again I will definitely leave out the baubles and might also try it with a single colour first. Or maybe make coloured shaving foam outside the bag and then add it to the bag after…

------

3. Paint bag

Paint bag ingredients and final product

What we used:
Different coloured paints
1 large ziploc bag
Duct tape

I only had 3 colours to hand when I made this bag (all our cool neon ones were in Doof’s room and he was asleep so I wasn’t chancing waking him!) so it’s not the most exciting colourwise but Doof still enjoyed squishing the colours together and they made quite a nice orangey/green after mixing. I also added a few of the silver baubles to add a bit more texture to the bag.

Doof especially enjoyed stamping on the paint bag!

******
 
How each bag looked after it had been played with - you can see the middle foam one was definitely the least successful!

So there you go - three non-messy bags which toddlers can enjoy playing with time and time again (although the mixing will obviously happen mostly during the first play). Doof’s favourite is definitely the hair gel one – I think because it is the most “full” and so feels very soft and squidgy, like a gel cushion. It also feels really cool which is great in this weather!

Have you made any sensory bags with your kids? Or I’d love to hear any other ideas we could try?