Tag Archives: nephews

Super Spring Break

If you couldn’t tell from my overgramming last week, my nephews (and my sister) came to visit us to celebrate their spring break. Unfortunately I spent most of the week at work, but I’m grateful for the afternoons and evenings I spent brushing up on my toilet humor, identifying fire ant hills and avoiding getting jinxed.

Days were spent punching water spouts at the splash park and evenings cheating at mini golf. We even managed a second attempt at the beach since the first time was ‘too boring.’

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On Thursday, we celebrated Jake’s 5th birthday the only way Jake prefers to celebrate, with superhero masks and store-bought cookie cake.

IMG_4663IMG_4664IMG_4669IMG_4670IMG_4671Friday we had a picnic at the beach and then spent the afternoon drop-kicking waves to cap off the trip. And is it just me or did we do so right next to a Nana lookalike? IMG_9943

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We miss them already but we’re soaking up the quiet and resting up the busy months ahead.

Awkward Family Photos

Every year around this time, my sister off-handily asks me to bring my camera home to “take a couple of pictures of the boys for a Christmas card.” Seems easy enough, right? Well it used to be. Back before said boys knew what capturing a decent photograph entailed. Things like real clothes, real smiles and real hugs that don’t end in punches, pinches or pokes.

Before we get into this year’s crop, let’s revisit the good ol’ days when the boys were oblivious and the photos were plentiful.

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photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog

 

After a 6-hour flight delay heading home, I arrived to a snowy Springfield just in time to head over to Champaign the next day for Thanksgiving. We made the most of the weekend, booking a wedding photographer, finding a wedding dress and catching up with a few friends and family in the process. If you’ve read any of my posts you probably know I’m horrible with big decisions. It wasn’t without some forethought that we decided to plan a wedding in 6 months. If you want to see a procrastinator change her tune, tell her it takes 6 months for a wedding dress to be made.

Anywho, we managed to squeeze in a little photo shoot a few hours before my flight back home and I will admit I was a little doubtful we would end up with anything useful. The boys had been in the car all day, Jake was willing to do just about anything aside from putting clothes on and they were well-aware that the next 20 minutes would involve more patience and participation than they were willing to give.

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

That’s what I love about photographs. They pause a single moment in time. Between the paparazzi-shielding hands, the cold wind complaints (it was 55) and the school photo smiles.

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

 

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

 

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys family photographs, children, photography, springfield, illinois, old state capital, christmas cards, holiday, boys

 

Photographs allow you to get a snapshot of someone looking exactly the way you love them most. Just being them.

 

Approaching 30

Do you know how hard it is to write a recap of a weekend you aren’t ready to let go of yet?

Hard.

Chicago had everything going for it this weekend. Great food, perfect weather, a music festival that keeps hundreds of thousands in Grant Park so you can enjoy the rest of the city crowd-free and a surprise birthday party with nearly all of my friends and family.

Wait, what?

chicago skyline, north avenue, summer, Chicago, city, reflection

I flew back to Chicago this weekend to celebrate one of my best friends and former roommate at her baby shower.

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I was expecting to cuddle a few babies, hoping to catch up with my Chicago friends and planning on eating as much ethnic food as I could to get me through until the next visit. I love your sunshine Florida but nothing compares to Chicago for food.

cafe creme, bucktown, wicker park, breakfast, brunch, maccarons, Chicago, dining

We decided on a small get-together Saturday evening to make it easy on the new parents in the group, not much changing from our parties of the past except an inverse ratio of sip cups and flip cups and a universal awareness of the potential of finger pinches and stair falls.

surprise 30th birthday party, kids, toddlers, babies, Chicago

I was thrilled that all of my friends made the effort to come over with their kids, especially considering bedtimes might be off and meltdowns might occur. And I was pleased yet confused to see each of them show up with a dish to share, while I the out-of-towner had nothing to contribute to the cause. If you know me well you know how much something like this troubles me.

babies, photography, toddlers, summer, surprise party, Chicago

I was completely content and happy, enjoying a perfect summer night with some of my favorite people when my mom walked onto the deck, followed by my sister, Owen and Jake. Dad would show up a few minutes later in typical Murf fashion as I tried to quell my tears and perspiration from the shock.

I flashed back to my 15th birthday when after finishing a family dinner at home, I was told I had a present in the basement that I should go “check out.” I embarrassingly descended the stairs to be greeted by my closest Freshman guy and girlfriends who were waiting to surprise me, each adorned with a different color plastic lei. I was equal parts mortified and excited. Mortified that they had been waiting in my wood-paneled basement throughout dinner and excited to jam out to some TLC and BSB songs for the rest of the night. 

family, surprise party, birthday, chicago, summer

The good news about approaching 30 is that selfless acts of kindness no longer embarrass you.

The bad news is they make you sob uncontrollably.

friends, surprise party, birthday, chicago, summer

A good friend is someone who lets you believe you are celebrating her all weekend and then goes and throws a surprise party for you along the way. Or someone who with her own family in town and a 4-week-old baby, coordinates cake and fruit platters to celebrate. The one who sits in traffic longer than the party probably lasted to be there. The one you’ve known since you were 10 who was in attendance for the wood-paneled basement surprise and just hours ago returned from a cross-country flight back from California with a toddler.

Note: the husbands, too. Even though I didn’t get any photos of any of them, they deserve a little credit as well. 

babies, photography, toddlers, summer, surprise party, Chicago

And a great family. A great family will detour their way through the northern part of the state and back, spend the better part of the day at LegoLand and then trek all the way into the city just to be there to celebrate with you and your friends. On Lollapalooza weekend no less.

These people and that city make it hard for a girl to recap a weekend she wishes she was still in the middle of.

Nonetheless, I’m feeling pretty good about this whole 30 thing.

Photographic ramblings

Today, instead of my normal ramblings, I’m going to pretend to be a photographer and share with you a “client post.” You know, kind of like this one. Just kidding. Can you tell I spent incessant amounts of time swooning over her yummy light skillz? Can you believe a daughter of writers would allow skillz to be written in her blog? Yeah me neither.

I’m no photographer. I have a camera with a decent lens that I use for pretty much everything (i.e. cookies and pumpkin muffins). I’ve taken a few photography classes so I am at least confident enough to have avoided my auto setting for a few years now, but I still have a long way to go. All those things considered, my sister still asks me to get a few shots of my nephews each year for her Christmas cards.

Let me tell you how it goes down.

Can you bring your camera home this weekend?

Sure. What for?

I need a picture of the boys. 

A picture. Just one. No pressure right? Wrong.

Nearly every year we get stuck with crappy weather. Combine that with my amateur photog status and some very impatient boys and you’re in for a real treat. Photographers don’t get paid enough. Come to think of it neither do I. They may make those shots look easy but chances are they had to reference farts, poop and butts at least 50 times in order to get a good smile.

simply social blog, photography, nephews

I wonder what kind of faces you would get if you used this tactic on girls? 

The moral of the story is that even though we had less than ideal settings last year, my favorite images were the ones where I could see the boys’ personalities come out. And that’s something that I think shines through even without yummy light.

simply social blog, photography, nephews

So this year I was excited to wake up to warm sunshine on Sunday morning. I immediately text my sister and said that we were coming over before church to take advantage of the good light and the not-yet-sleepy-or-hungry-or-cranky boys.

Wouldn’t you know just as we pull into the driveway the rain starts. You can read more about the storm we had this weekend here.

Believe it or not in just about 10 minutes, I managed to get the boys to agree to 4 locations, all of which were surrounding my sister’s house. Here’s a tip for parents who want a good shot of your kids. Don’t make it too difficult. Take pictures of them where they live, where they play. They will be more likely to agree with you if they don’t have to work as hard. If that doesn’t work, bribe them with candy.

We started on the porch swing but I wasn’t loving the shadows and I didn’t have much time to manipulate my camera for fear I would lose them forever.

photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog

So we quickly moved over to the side of the house to get a few shots along the brick wall. My sister had originally wanted to go downtown to get a similar shot, but I was hoping we could capture the same effect just a few steps away.

photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog

The little one is best when you catch him off-guard…and before he runs away. Don’t ask him to smile. Just patiently wait for him to let his guard down and he’ll give you the sweetest look ever.

photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog
There were a lot of what I like to call “the lookaway” photos in the bunch. But here’s a tip. If you snap fast enough, the lookaway can lead to a lookrightatcha.

photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog

So now we are on the side of the house walking to the backyard. Knowing how much the older one likes to pose with his hands in his pockets I decided to have them stand against the fence.

photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog

This is how it started.

photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog

Serious pose. #nailedit. I’m nearly 30 and I still just look constipated whenever I try it. I’d love to show you the next in the series but I don’t want to ruin the surprise for those of you getting this year’s Christmas card. Hint-they both smile and look at the camera. I love surprises. Sue me.

We’ll end with my favorite photo of the bunch. If I could go back I would have taken the 10 seconds I needed to adjust my focus so Owen isn’t blurry. But had I done that I might have missed out on my favorite Jake face.

photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog

So there you have it. 4 locations in one. 10 minutes. HOHOHO Merry Christmas.

photography, children, nephews, springfield illinois, simply social blog

Hope you are having a great week. Be sure to hug your photographer the next time you have a session.