Author Archive

Blankets, Bears, and Baby Feet

You guys have asked some questions about newborn photos, Teddy’s birth announcement, Clara’s four year photo & annual video, and what I got for Mother’s Day, so this post is a smorgasbord of all that documentation. As I wrote this I thought “maybe John and I are more ‘document-happy’ than most people” – you know, to take so many photos and make a yearly video, etc. But then I realized that most people with a blog probably lean towards a love of capturing things, and a ton of our non-blogging friends and relatives have phones and computers full of videos and photos of their kids. So I think it’s just easier than ever thanks to cell phones, and maybe we’re not that unusual after all.

We did stash our phones and break out the good camera to snap some casual newborn photos when Teddy was just a week old though, so here’s our favorite one on the cover of his birth announcement. We just used a template from TinyPrints, added the picture, and bought a few dozen.

As is the case with most photoshoots, it gets a lot less glamorous when you zoom out. Yup, we snapped the photo above while John stood between a giant box and a plant in the office.

Teddy was just seven days old when we did this, because we wanted to capture his sweet squishy newborn stage. Our amazing brother-in-law Todd (who’s a professional photographer) also offered to take some family & baby photos for us, so it was nice to know that the pictures we took wouldn’t be the only ones. It took the pressure way down, and made it nice and fun. John and I both got in on the shooting action, and we even got some sweet pictures of Clara and Teddy together.

As for the tools we used for our casual little shoot (professionals we’re not, so these really came in handy), we used the diffuser I got John for Christmas, a soft surface that we created with a pile of blankets and a Boppy on our office desk, and a step stool to help us take some shots from above.

The difference of the diffuser was pretty dramatic. The shot on the left is one we took without it – and then we held up the diffuser to even out the light and took another picture. These baby-in-a-basket shots make us laugh because he straight-up looks like he’s in the womb. I think good pro photographers can pull off setups like these, but after snapping a few we moved on to simpler shots of him sleeping, John holding him, Clara looking at him, etc.

We took these photos with our Nikon D3200 and our nifty fifty lens (it’s an AF-S Nikkor 50mm lens that we’ve had for a few years now). It’s great for shooting detail shots and creating that blurred background, but we never use it for full room shots (we use the stock lens that came with our camera for those).

We also tried to include things with meaning to us in the photos…

… like this sweet blanket that my brother’s wife Ali knitted for us (it was the first one she ever made – and it came out awesome!).

Baby foot intermission. I still contend there is nothing cuter.

I love this photo that captures Teddy’s cute hair and John’s wedding ring with a simple light background. I still can’t believe how much hair he had at birth since Clara had hardly any for a while.

Here’s one with eyes, was a total coup for us since he was still pretty sleepy and squinty at seven days old.

We also wanted to get some shots of Clara with him, so we used our bed as a casual background.

This one melts my heart. This girl LOVES her brother.

We liked these shots so much that we used a series of them on the back of Teddy’s announcement.

These photos were taken the next day, just randomly when they were laying in our bed.

They’re a pretty hilarious pair, these two.

Which leads us to Clara’s latest photo project picture. A bunch of you started asking where her four year shot was after we shared her birthday party (thanks for the reminders! It had completely slipped our mind between party stuff and general newborn happenings).


It’s pretty crazy to see how much she has grown since we started the project. One of our favorite things to do now is to take Teddy’s weekly photo and then look back at Clara’s photo from that same week. She loves studying his photos next to hers, and it’s fun for us to pick out a few similarities and differences.

We also got some pretty great outtakes from Clara’s four year photo. The one on the right kills me. She saw it and said “I look like a flamingo!”

And here’s her annual video (you can see the other three here, here, and here). Makes me all mushy and weepy. Sometimes I just want to freeze time.

And now for my mother’s day gift. It made me full on ugly-cry. John secretly put together a little photobook full of Clara Conversations for me.

Every page had me doing that smiling-with-tears-running-down-my-face thing. It’s one of my favorite things ever. And such a huge surprise. I have no idea when he snuck the time in to make it.

John even thought to leave the last page blank so Clara could draw our family. Look at us, all holding hands. I also like how Daddy is smaller than Teddy. And the Easter stickers are a nice touch too.

Update: John made/bought the book through MyPublisher, which is also where we order our family yearbooks (although this book is smaller and thinner than those).

How are you guys documenting things these days? Is your phone full of photos? Have you make any videos with clips and pictures set to music (here’s a post about how we make ours). Is anyone else sending out birth announcements? Is it weird that I keep them? I have dozens of them, from every friend and relative who has ever sent them to us, and I keep them in a big stack next to the cookbooks in a kitchen cabinet.



Take A Seat

The combination of all this nice weather and hosting Clara’s party outside have us back on The Outdoor Update Train. Chugga chugga, baby. Just picture me wearing spit-up-stained overalls with a striped hat to shade my mom-to-an-adorable-baby-who-wakes-up-all-night eyes. It’s particularly exciting because we worked for a few months last year to renovate the sunroom by ripping up the old carpet, removing the old broken doors, lofting the ceiling, getting some electrical work done, installing a plank ceiling, hanging two fans, and tiling the floor. There’s currently a daybed out there (an indoor daybed from West Elm, which has no long-term business being outside) along with an ancient Ikea coffee table. And two of our dining room chairs haven’t made it back inside since the birthday party.

We stole those two chairs, plus four of their brethren from the dining room for extra party seating (they’re outdoor chairs from Target) – and seeing the space filled up with all that temporary/borrowed/mismatched furniture really got us craving some more permanent pieces out there. And so the hunt for an outdoor sofa began.

We figured that buying the biggest piece first would help us determine what other items we’ll need to fill things out. And since we already have a dining table with an umbrella on the deck, we thought a cushy lounge area in the shade of the sunroom-turned-veranda was in order. We knew we wanted that woven wicker look over something wooden or metal (we both fell hard for the Arhaus furniture at the showhouse, but it was more than we wanted to spend). We also wanted Sunbrella fabric, which we hear is super durable and long-lasting, so here are a few of the things we checked out:

1.  We liked the look of this sofa from Crate & Barrel, but we heard from a few friends with similar sofas that two-piece or three-piece bases can drift apart, so we’d rather have a sofa that’s all one piece. We did like that it came with Sunbrella fabric, and we appreciated that it was on sale, although it was still $2,222.

2. This Pottery Barn couch looked amazing to us. So luxe and cushy. When we first saw it, it was selling for around $2,000 I think – but it was $399 more to upgrade to Sunbrella fabric – and now it’s no longer available. Womp.

3. This is another Pottery Barn option that’s still available, but the $1,400 version (pictured above) is more of a loveseat. Our space would need the larger $1,800 option, but neither of them came with Sunbrella fabric, which was an additional upcharge of $300+.

4. We saw this one on Amazon for $489 (so much cheaper than the others!) with a really promising 4.5 star rating. I excitedly read about how much people loved it… but then I discovered the one star reviews from people who had theirs for more than one season. Apparently the wicker fell apart after one summer of use for a number of people. Another womp.

5. We’ve seen this baby from Restoration Hardware in the showroom and it’s gorgeous! But the fact that it’s sold without any cushions (it’s $1500 for the wicker part and an additional $555 for the Sunbrella cushions) was kind of a bummer.

6. We had also been eying this one from Home Depot since hearing awesome things about the brand (Brown Jordan) having a really well made product. It comes with a 15 year frame warranty, a 5 year fabric warranty, and free white-glove shipping (they carry it wherever you want it and unwrap it/place it for you). We also appreciated the $1,399 price tag and the fact that it comes standard with Sunbrella fabric.

While on our little sofa hunt, we also checked places like Craigslist, Joss & Main, Overstock, Hayneedle, and Wayfair but didn’t see anything we liked as much. We really appreciated being able to see as many of our options in person as we could – just to make sure they were comfortable, not too low to the ground, and the fabric wasn’t scratchy. In fact, when we stumbled upon a floor model of the Home Depot/Brown Jordan option (technically it was the chair from that set) it pushed us over the edge. It was comfortable and it looked great in person. Boom, this guy was on his way to our house:

Although the price is nothing to sneeze at, we hope that it’ll be a nice long-lasting choice for us, which is the goal with the sunroom (there’s no Phase 2 out there). Its arrival should be the kick-start to some other updates that we’ve meaning to get going on back there, like making a coffee table, installing some sconces for lighting/ambiance, adding an outdoor-friendly table to fill out the other side of the space, and introducing some finishing touches (potted plants, side tables, etc).

Until then, you can find me standing in the driveway holding an adorable baby and waiting for the delivery truck. Really, I need to calm down.