8 Tips For Traveling to a Big City with young children.

Visiting big cities can be intimidating at times but so much fun with your kiddos. Here are some tips for parents traveling to big cities with preschool aged children. Hopefully, these tips will help you enjoy the journey more and allow you to venture past your comfort zone to places like New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, London, Paris, or whatever big city you might have on your family bucket list.

  1. Bring a lightweight foldable stroller: There are lots of reasons for this but the #1 reason is public transportation. If you plan on taking the Subway (and you should) you will need a stroller you can fold up quickly, and carry while carrying small children. Some people might skip the stroller, but I would not advise that since you will be doing a lot of walking. Baby carriers are nice but keeping a baby or toddler in one all day is close to impossible from my experience.
  2. Plan ahead: Make sure you plan what sites you are seeing upon arrival. Map out the mode of transportation you’ll be taking so you don’t waste time figuring it out when you get there.
  3. Use Uber Family: If you plan on taking a taxi or other car service consider Uber Family. They come with a car seat for toddlers and are safer than no car seat. Make sure you research the car seat laws as well before you go so you are prepared.
  4. Bring a good backpack: Bringing a good backpack is better than bringing a side bag or purse. It will fit more but also will be easier when carrying children or strollers. You can fit all the necessities like, diapers wipes, snacks, your wallet and a change of clothes.
  5. Be ready to wander: When traveling in general you need to be prepared to wander and get lost. Make sure you are set for the day when you leave your hotel because who knows where the day might lead you. Relax and go with the flow. If things don’t go as planned, then be ready to figure out something else to do.
  6. Bring a soft wearable baby carrier: If you have a soft baby carrier, like a Baby K’Tan, bring it to stuff in your backpack. This is in case you need to “wear” your baby or toddler around for a bit. It’s helpful on public transportation, or if baby needs to nap and viewing the city activity from her stroller is too distracting.
  7. Bring a mobile phone charger: This is for more than one reason. One, you will be taking lots more photos on your phone so the battery will likely go down quicker. Two, you might get lost or use google more than normal and don’t want to get caught with a dead battery in the city.
  8. Get a hotel in a more residential area: If visiting a city, finding a hotel away for the hustle and bustle can be better with small children. Less noise at night and more family-friendly dining nearby. There are also normally tons of parks in the city around residential areas and it is nice to have somewhere to take the kids to play nearby.

Safe travels, and don’t forget — traveling with kids is possible and fun! Take a deep breath and enjoy the special family time. You and your children will learn so much and the memories will last a lifetime.

Tips for traveling to a big city with toddlers

7 Ways to Ruin Your Family Photos in 2018

One thing I hear most from photography clients and friends alike this time of year is “I have no idea what to wear for our family photos!” I struggle myself finding the perfect combinations for my family, and I think we have all seen what a bad outfit can do to a family photo. However, with my 10+ years of family photography experience, I figured why not spread some my wisdom. It’s the busy family photography season, after all!

1. Patterns! Ugh, patterns …These can literally ruin some pictures so when in doubt just don’t do it! Stick with solid colors unless you have a color scheme and you are the only one in your family wearing a pattern. If you do want to wear a pattern, make sure your family is wearing solid colors WITH colors pulled from your top. Also, when wearing plaids make sure they match perfectly OR only one person is wearing plaid.

2. Too “matchy matchy” can definitely be a BAD thing … Depending on the backdrop or setting of your photos having the same colors on everyone can look strange. So make sure if you are going with the matching look that your venue is not busy. This works best in a park with open fields. Another tip for those who want everyone to match is to make sure the colors are the same, BUT let everyone wear a different top or dress, etc., that best fits their body and personality.

3. Not matching enough, just as bad …Okay, so yeah I’m contradicting myself a little bit BUT there is such a thing as not matching enough. Make sure you are all in the same color family and don’t have contrasting patterns or styles. If Mamma wants to be glitz and glam, make sure Daddy does not throw on jeans and white tee. You get the gist.

4. White wearers beware …So, lots of families like to wear white and yes, it can look good. BUT if you don’t have an experienced photographer it can go very wrong. White tends to get overblown and can absorb the natural colors around it, and sometimes this makes editing the right skin tones in a group photo very difficult.

5. DON’T forget to groom …This one seems self-explanatory but as a mom, sometimes things like having our nails painted or our hair trimmed can be hard to get done in time. Try your best to be camera ready when you arrive with hair, makeup and nails done the way you want to remember them forever. Make sure to bring a brush and hairspray with you, and some touchup makeup and lip-gloss to use throughout the shoot. Try to touch up as you move from spot to spot. Don’t be afraid to ask the photographer how your hair looks. Sometimes we get so caught up in getting the job done we need a reminder to make sure our clients are looking their best.

6. NO wrinkly shirts! …Things like half-tucked-in or wrinkled shirts can ruin a good image, so consider all that when pick out your outfits. If you know the material wrinkles quickly pick something else to wear. Photoshop can fix a wrinkle or two, but if you show up a hot mess there is not much we can do for you.

7. Don’t forget to consider your location …If you are shooting at a beach or in a city center, your wardrobe should reflect the setting. Don’t show up downtown with a beach vibe and don’t show up to a cotton field with your best urban threads — although glitz and glam in a corn or cotton field CAN be kind of fun. Also, when taking advantage of the outdoors, keep temperatures in mind — hard to smile when you are outside freezing in 28° weather wearing a sleeveless dress. Moral of the story: make sure you think about where you are taking the photos before deciding what to wear.

I could literally go on for days giving examples of mistakes I have seen over the years, but these seven should be a good start to making sure you are camera ready for your 2018 family photography session.

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Bring Your Kids​ to the College Football Hall of Fame!

When preparing to visit the Chick-Fil-A College Football Hall of Fame recently, I’ll be honest. As a mother of two girls and a moderate sports fan, I was not expecting much.

I couldn’t have been more wrong about what my experience would be like and I highly recommend anyone with preschoolers, or kids of any age for that matter, visit if you are in the Atlanta area.

The Museum itself sits right downtown off Centennial Park, next to all the well-known spots like the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coke. You can’t miss the entrance because it’s in the shape of a giant football and has a huge LED screen. The location is beautiful for a picnic after your time spent inside. There also are several playgrounds nearby for the kids to run off some energy before or after your visit. I recommend visiting on a day with good weather so you can take advantage of the parks and outside areas. Not to mention there are great views of the City of Atlanta, so it’s a great spot for photos!

Here is why the College Football Hall of Fame is GREAT for children (and adults) of all ages!

The Wall of Helmets: When you walk into the Museum there is a three-story wall of college football helmets! When you buy your ticket, they give each visitor a tag that is registered at the entrance. When you register your tag, you select your favorite college. As you do so, the helmet representing your college will light up on the wall. It is super cool and fun for the kiddos to find the helmet. Just the sheer visual of the giant wall of helmets is exciting and entertaining.

Indoor practice field: On the first floor of the museum, they have a fun interactive practice field set up. They also stream live games in there and have tailgates and a bar set up for the adults. You can practice your field goal kicks or show off your best touchdown dance. There is something for everybody in this space.

Interactive EVERYTHING: The exhibits are upstairs and when I say interactive, I mean interactive and personalized. Your team, the one you selected when you registered your bag, is connected to your bag so as you experience the museum, they pull the stats and info from your school throughout the experience. You can even sing your fight song and have it recorded and connected to your account so when you get home you can look back at all the fun stuff you did that day. Sensory Friendly.

Lots of things to see: The exhibits themselves are very visual and fun for kids to view. So, younger kids can still enjoy them even if they can’t read the information provided. Caroline thought the old-school tailgate set up was super cool!

Time spent: You can spend the day or just a few hours here and you will get something out of it! With younger kids you might only need 2-3 hours to get your money’s worth, but if you have a group of older kids or adults you could literally spend the entire day experiencing all the fun displays, and participating in the interactive things they have throughout the museum. We spent a few hours in the museum and afterward took a walk in the park to the playground.

Fun Photo Ops: Because it is so interactive it is also a super fun place to take photos of your kiddos! So, bring a camera (or your cell phone) and be ready to snap some cute pics of your “littles.”

The College Football Hall of Fame is a spot you want to visit if you are looking for things to do in Atlanta with kids. So add it to your list of things to do the next time you are planning a day downtown! We can’t wait to go back and bring Daddy; he will LOVE this place.

6 Tips for Making the Most of Your Holiday Family Photos in 2018

When I was a full-time photographer, this time of year was always my busiest season. All the family “mini” and full sessions filled my nights and weekends from November through early December. Since I have the perspective of mother and photographer, sharing some of my holiday family photography wisdom with you all may enhance your experiences and encourage you to document this 2018 holiday season.

  1. Consider a full session: Mini sessions are great and affordable, BUT they are limited and sometimes can be a little too “holiday themed.”So consider spending the extra time and money for a full session. This way you can have a variety of images to choose from and end up with canvas-worthy photos to decorate your home and others to choose for a fabulous Christmas 2018 card. You will not regret the decision, I promise. The other thing to consider is mini sessions with kids are sometimes not long enough to get a photo of your family with everyone happy and looking in the direction of the camera.
  2. Take your family photos while you’re traveling: If your family plans on taking a holiday trip or visiting family in a new city or town this November or December, consider hiring a local photographer and taking your family photos during your trip. This will be different from your typical family photos and at the same time help preserve the good memories you make on the trip. Read more about taking photos when you travel here: Take Your Family Photos When You Travel
  3. Book ASAP: This is kind of a no brainer but if you want to use the photos for Christmas cards, book a sitting as soon as you can so you are not waiting on pins and needles for your photos to be edited and returned to you. Photographers are busy this time of year and while we understand you need these photos, we also have 20+ other shoots we are trying to edit and get out the door in time for Christmas cards. Also, on a side note, just asking for one is never as easy as it seems, so book in advance, and wait for your photos to be finished and delivered to you in the time frame you and your photographer decide on.
  4. Be Prepared with bribes: Before you arrive tell your children what they will get for doing a good job at the photo shoot. This can be anything you want — big, small  — but be prepared! Even if you think it will go, well plan on rewarding them for their good behavior. Photo shoots are not easy and if they know good behavior once a year gets them a new toy or a meal at their favorite restaurant, why not do it? Make sure to tell the photographer what the reward will be so the photographer can play along with the game.
  5. Try to enjoy yourself: I know this can be hard believe me, but try to have fun with the process. The best images I ever capture are the fun moments in between. Same goes for my own family photos, I always love the candid moments versus the posed images. Not many people are comfortable in front of the camera but know that if you just relax and be yourself it will show in the images.
  6. Make sure to take holiday photos every year: If you can swing a mini and full session of family members, make sure to take photos every year. You will be able to look back at how your family changes from year to year, and have those precious memories documented for a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

So get out there are schedule your 2018 sessions, and if you are in the Atlanta area consider contacting me LHM Photography via email.

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How to Survive Hosting the Holidays- Eight Tips

Hosting for any holiday can be stressful, but we all must do it every now and then, especially if you have small children. My husband and I prefer to host so we don’t have to worry about travel plans for a family of four with two under five years old. Holiday travel is hard enough and adding little ones to the mix doesn’t make it any easier! Since we have hosted our fair share of holidays at our home, I figured I would share some of my wisdom and tips for surviving as a host for the 2018 holiday season. So here we go:

Tip One: Ask someone to help document the day for you. As a photographer, this one was hard at first because I always assumed I would take pictures, but the reality of hosting always gets in the way so make sure you have one or two designated documenters to help take pictures of everyone throughout the day. Don’t forget to tell them to snap a few photos of the details and the host, too! 

Tip Two: Get disposable everything! There is nothing worse than a full house and no clean dishes. Make sure to have disposable options so there is less clean up at the end of the day. For you environmentally friendly people, there are lots of great earth-friendly disposable options.

Tip Three: Popup garbage cans are a godsend! I got one for my baby’s first birthday party and will never host a party or holiday in my home without one again. They are so easy to use and dispose of at the end of the day. We have all been there when you have 10-plus people in your home and you can’t seem to keep the garbage can empty, or you have to tell someone every five minutes where to find a garbage can. This will help with all that!

Tip Four: Take deep breaths and have lots of wine on hand! This seems like a no brainer but it is hard to breathe and relax in the moment, so take a few deep breaths throughout the holiday, and take a sip of wine or whatever type of beverage that helps put you in your happy place. Better yet get a Winc subscription! Use the promo code ihustleforher to get $22 off your first box of wine!

Tip Five: Excuse yourself for some personal space. This helps if tip four is not enough. If you need a break or are starting to feel anxious, sneak up to your room or onto the back porch for some fresh air. This will help center you and calm you back down if you are starting to feel overwhelmed with a full house.

Tip Six: Eat as you go! This one is easy, sometimes as the host there is not much time to eat so snack and test as you are putting it all out. That way you are fed and you get to try everything while it is still hot — a novelty for most mothers!

Tip Seven: When people ask if they can bring anything, be prepared with an answer. This seems kind of silly but how many times do family members ask what they can bring and you say “nothing” or “yourself”? When the reality is you are forking the bill for dinner and drinks so why not let them bring something! Make sure it is something you need and something that will save you some time and money in the end, like wine and dessert or a side dish.

Tip eight: Try to enjoy yourself. This is an obvious one but make sure to have fun and enjoy the time with your family. You don’t get to see them all together very often, so have fun and make memories with your family and help your kids make memories and start new traditions!

I hope these tips help add some sanity into your holiday hosting. Hopefully, everyone reading this has a wonderful 2018 holiday season. Happy Hosting, everyone!

13 Must Haves for Baby: 10-13 Months​

  1. Push Walker: These stand-up walkers are great for two things; one, stationary play and two, helping them learn how to walk or assisting them in walking with confidence. Fisher Price makes a good one that has activities on it set in three stages, so it grows with your toddler.
  2. Robeez (shoes): These things are awesome! They are made of leather and slide on as easy as a sock. Unlike socks, they provide more protection and traction for tiny toddler feet as they crawl and toddle around. Not only are they easy to put on and take off but they also come in all kinds of fun designs. 
  3. Convertible Car Seat: Your baby is growing now and it is less convenient to carry around the infant car seat. Time for an upgrade! Find a good convertible car seat that can grow with your baby from rear facing until booster if possible.                                                             
  4. One-Year Photo Session: Don’t skip the fun photos of your little one turning a year old! There are so many options these days: cake smash, studio, or fun candid photos. Pick what fits your family’s personality best and go with it! I did some fun themed shots and saved the cake photos for her birthday party. It was fun to compare my oldest daughter’s one-year shoot with her little sister’s.IW5A7011
  5. Nonslip Socks: My youngest has chubby feet, so I always need to have socks or shoes on her so she does not rub the tops raw when crawling around. She is learning to walk at this age so making sure her socks are nonslip is important.
  6. Umbrella Stroller: Now that you are taking baby out of the car seat more often, having a good umbrella stroller on hand is ideal. We love our Summer 3D umbrella stroller. It’s light, sturdy, folds up, and is easy to use.
  7. Ride on Vehicle: We got this as a gift for our first daughter when she was one and it is one of those toys that lasts forever! Babies love pushing it around and will eventually learn how to ride it around. My four-year-old and her friends also love playing on it still!
  8. Foam Picture Books: These are good for introducing baby to colors, shapes animals and other first words. Both my girls love these types of books and it is great for their mental and dexterity development, so it is a win-win.                                                      
  9. Sorting and Nesting Toys: Toddlers love to sort, stack, unsort, and un-stack. Sorting and nesting toys are perfect for working on their early problem-solving skills.                            
  10. Transitional Sippy Cups: The time has come to ditch the bottles and start the transition to big girl or boy cups. It is hard to recommend just one because all kids are different. I recommend just trying out a few and go with what they take to, and stick with it.                                        
  11. Wooden Puzzles: These are great for little ones learning how to use their hands. You can get them in all kinds of shapes and sizes. They love picking up the pieces and moving them around. Eventually, they will put them in their right spots and if you get animals, shapes or letters it is a good way to teach them what those are, too.            
  12. Play Kitchen: These are great for toddlers and preschoolers, male and female. They can move things around and start to learn how to play pretend, especially if they have an older sibling. Unfortunately, they take up a lot of room so make sure you have a good place for it.
  13. Little People Farm or House: These are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers; they are sturdy and will last through preschool.                                                                                       

Links provided will take you directly to Amazon Affiliate links*

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12 Atlanta Events to Kick off the 2018 Holiday Season!

Looking for family-friendly events around the Atlanta area to kick off your holiday season? Here is a list of twelve events and holiday tree lightings going on around town that are guaranteed to put you in a holly jolly mood.

1. Light the Station 2018 — Atlantic Station– Nov. 17, 1- 8 p.m.; lighting at 7:45 p.m.

Don’t miss the season’s biggest event as we officially kick off the holidays with Light the Station!  This year’s event will be held in a new location on WINTER WONDER LANE – just off Market Street and adjacent to Dillard’s. Enjoy the Atlanta Christkindl Market also opening on Nov. 17!

For more info: Light the Station

2. The Lighting of Avalon —Nov. 18, from 1-8 p.m. Tree Lighting at 7 p.m.

A celebration for the season you won’t want to miss! Get in the holiday spirit with festive music and free activities for the whole family. From the annual opening of Avalon on Ice to the magnificent tree lighting, and an appearance from Jolly Old Saint Nick himself, there’s something exciting for all to enjoy.

For more info: Lighting of Avalon

3. Avalon On Ice —Nov. 18– Dec. 21

‘Tis the season to lace up your skates and glide into the holiday spirit at Avalon on Ice.  The Rockefeller-inspired ice skating rink is open Nov. 18, 2018 through Jan. 21, 2019.

For more info:Avlon On Ice

4. Marietta Square Christmas Tree Lighting —Nov. 30, 4-8 p.m.; Tree Lighting at 6 p.m.

Join Santa and Mrs. Claus for the kick-off to the holiday season in charming Marietta Square. Festivities start at 4:00 pm in Glover Park in Historic Marietta Square. Local choruses will perform Christmas carols on the main stage. Santa will light the giant Christmas tree at 6 pm.

For more info: Marietta Square Tree Lighting 

5. Children’s Christmas Parade —Dec. 1, Peachtree & 11th Street at 10:30 a.m.

The Children’s Christmas Parade will step off at Peachtree Street and 16th Street and end at Peachtree Street and 5th Street. Watch as Midtown Atlanta is transformed into Santa Claus Lane with the sights and sounds of the season. Your kids will love this Atlanta tradition and enjoy the large floats and performances in the parade. It is the largest of its kind in the Southeast! Can’t make it to Peachtree Street? You can tune in to WSB-TV Channel 2 to view the Children’s Christmas Parade live.

For more info: Atlanta Children’s Christmas Parade

6. Season of Celebration – Light the Night City of Alpharetta —Dec. 1, 4-8 p.m.

Enjoy the charm of the holiday season at the lighting of the Christmas tree and other holiday festivities in Alpharetta.

For more info: Season of Celebration 

7. Rudolph and the Center for Puppetry Arts —Nov. 15 through Dec. 30.

Enjoy a classic story told a classic way at the Center for Puppetry Arts.  Your ticket will include the performance of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer™, a Create-A-Puppet Workshop™ your children can build and perform with their very own King Moonracer™ Rod Puppet, and admission to the Worlds of Puppetry Museum.

For more info: Putter Show Rudolf

8. Candlelight Nights at the Atlanta History Center —Dec. 15 and Dec. 22, from 5:30-8 p.m.

Santa Claus will welcome kids, and families can enjoy the Holiday Market filled with local crafts and artists’ creations. Visit each of the three historic houses to experience how Southerners celebrated Christmas during the Civil War era (Smith Family Farm), the 1930’s (Swan House) and pioneer days (Wood Family Cabin). Timeless holiday music will resonate, and interpreters will bring characters from the pages of history to life at these historic abodes, each handsomely dressed in period holiday decorations and featuring activities of the season.

For more info: Candlelight Nights

9. Winter Wonderland at the Fernbank —Nov. 16 through Jan. 6

Visit the Fernbank Museum and enjoy holiday décor, sparkling trees showcasing celebrations around the world in the enchanting Winter Wonderland exhibition. Their displays recognize the diversity of celebrations, holidays, traditions and events from around the world. So, come to enjoy the Museum, the decorations, and the holiday cheer!

For more info: Winter Wonderland 

10. Garden Lights and Holiday Nights at the Atlanta Botanical Garden —Nov. 17- Jan. 6

Each year the Garden adds something new to its botanical-inspired light display. The wonderland goes throughout the 20-acre Midtown attraction. Enjoy the always beautiful Atlanta Botanical Garden adorned in holiday cheer.

For more info: Atlanta Botanical

11. Christmas at Callanwolde —Nov. 23 to Dec. 9. Daily from 12-8 p.m. (Closed Nov. 29 for the Callanwolde Holiday Gala.)

Christmas at Callanwolde has been an Atlanta holiday tradition for 40 years, and begins with the Christmas at Callanwolde Designer Show House, a 27,000-square-foot historic mansion decorated by Atlanta’s top interior and floral designers. Visitors of all ages can enjoy a self-guided tour of the mansion and enjoy elaborately decorated holiday displays, an artists’ market, and other holiday themed activities for the entire family. See the website for daily activities and events and bring a new toy for donation to Toys for Tots.

For more info: Callanwolde

12. Holiday Lights of Hope 2018 – Woodstock —Dec. 7-23, 6-9 p.m.

Family light show that befits the Anna Crawford Children’s Center. The event includes an awesome walk-through light display featuring more than TWO MILLION LIGHTS, along with entertainment for families with kids of all ages. I’ve also heard the Santa there is great for pictures!

For more info: Holiday Lights

There are so many great events going on in the Atlanta area for the 2018 Christmas Holiday season! Make sure to check back for more Atlanta family friend holiday events on the blog!

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