Archive of ‘Kid Stuff’ category

Apples and Cinema – Your Pittsburgh Family Photographers – Family Portrait Session Tips

My husband and I own Popinvasion. We started Popinvasion as a media company that provides services to businesses such as photography and videography, but having a growing family, we decided to also use our gear to capture Pittsburgh Family Photos and Weddings, too. With it being family photo season, we figured we’d write a blog about it!

1) What do we wear? It’s tempting to go with fun, colorful prints and patterns when picking outfits for fun family photos, but we promise, your family is already as beautiful and colorful as it is, so we suggest muted colors so that your personalities and beautiful faces pop!

2) When and Where should we go? We usually pick locations that are going to be less crowded, over ones that would be maybe more picturesque. Or, we pick times that we know aren’t going to be as crowded at popular places. Less crowded locations make the session more relaxed for families, especially if the kids aren’t cooperating, and less distracting for the kiddos. We like to leave the location entirely up to your taste, and convenience, but we’ll weigh in if you want suggestions! And as far as the time of day planned, we should absolutely pick the time that you find your kids to be in the best moods.

3) How do we make our kids cooperate? Any parent knows, that even though we plan sessions around naps, make sure the little ones are well fed, and pick a place that’s fun for everyone, sometimes we’re still not catching the best moods. So, we now offer prizes from the prize bags for good behavior. We’ll tell the kiddos that if they listen to mom and dad throughout the session, mom and dad get to decide at the end whether they can pick a prize from our prize bag! It’s usually simple things like costume jewelry, or puzzles, or stickers, or whatever we may think your kiddos are into! And please, know that we have little ones of our own, and totally understand when kids just aren’t into it, so no need at all to stress. If we see the kids just don’t wanna pose, we’ll roll with it and turn the session more into photojournalism and try to catch the action as it happens!

4) Keep everybody involved. After we have the family photo of the whole group, we try to mix and match combinations, by taking pictures of just the kids, just the sisters, just the parents, just a parents with the kids, etc…we try to keep everyone involved the whole time. So, when Family sessions are one of our favorite things to do. We love playing with the kiddos, and trying to make the family portrait experience into a fun family outing, rather than a forced portrait session. Often parents ask us for tips and tricks on making the session as fruitful as possible, and the kiddos as cooperative as possible, so we figured we’d blog about it!

1) What do we wear? It’s tempting to go with fun, colorful prints and patterns when picking outfits for fun family photos, but we promise, your family is already as beautiful and colorful as it is, so we suggest muted colors so that your personalities and beautiful faces pop!

2) When and Where should we go? We usually pick locations that are going to be less crowded, over ones that would be maybe more picturesque. Or, we pick times that we know aren’t going to be as crowded at popular places. Less crowded locations make the session more relaxed for families, especially if the kids aren’t cooperating, and less distracting for the kiddos. We like to leave the location entirely up to your taste, and convenience, but we’ll weigh in if you want suggestions! And as far as the time of day planned, we should absolutely pick the time that you find your kids to be in the best moods.

3) How do we make our kids cooperate? Any parent knows, that even though we plan sessions around naps, make sure the little ones are well fed, and pick a place that’s fun for everyone, sometimes we’re still not catching the best moods. So, we now offer prizes from the prize bags for good behavior. We’ll tell the kiddos that if they listen to mom and dad throughout the session, mom and dad get to decide at the end whether they can pick a prize from our prize bag! It’s usually simple things like costume jewelry, or puzzles, or stickers, or whatever we may think your kiddos are into! And please, know that we have little ones of our own, and totally understand when kids just aren’t into it, so no need at all to stress. If we see the kids just don’t wanna pose, we’ll roll with it and turn the session more into photojournalism and try to catch the action as it happens!

4) Keep everybody involved. After we have the family photo of the whole group, we try to mix and match combinations, by taking pictures of just the kids, just the sisters, just the parents, just a parents with the kids, etc…we try to keep everyone involved the whole time. So, when we take pictures of the just the kids, we enlist the parents to be directly behind our heads when trying to get the kids to look at the lens. Or, if the kids are old enough for us to take a picture of just the parents, we have them be the clowns behind us to make the moms and dads laugh.

5) Do you have props and poses? We started Popinvasion by providing our photography and videography to businesses, which we very much love doing also. But with having three kids, and going through a few nightmare indoor portrait sessions in mall studios with backdrops, feeling on the verge of stress attacks at times, we looked at each other, and realized we had all the gear to offer family portraits as a fun alternative. Therefore, we absolutely will come along with props and pose ideas and suggest them, and the goal is to get those happening, but we always want to remind mom and dad that props are more special if it’s something that is special to you, and that although we do have ample pose and prop ideas, by all means if they do not feel natural to you, or if the kids just don’t want to do them, we will move and groove with whatever actually represents your family. And by all means, if you have prop and pose ideas from your Pinterest boards, count us in!

And now, with all of that said, we do like to remind you that we usually provide family portraits back to you pretty quickly, so you are absolutely still in time for family portraits for your Holiday cards! Now check out some of our favorites. Can you guess which ones were posed, and which ones are candids? Also if you plan on getting married in puerto rico click here to see the best puerto rico wedding photographer.; – )

Hold it! A Few Words on Potty training an unwilling toddler.


When we decided to get rid of his diapers, Toddler boy was the first to say, ” I don’t wanna go potty!” Making us think that he would not be ready for potty training for quite some time. So we kind of tip-toed around the idea, giving him stickers here, maybe an m&m there, but the potty training just didn’t seem to be successful because he was simply unwilling.

Then, as his third birthday rolled around, we decided it would be best for the stimulation of his mind to enroll him into preschool. And it started in two weeks! Problem was, he had to be potty trained! There was no more playing around. We didn’t even entertain the idea of pull-up diapers, training pants, or whatever. As a friend and preschool teacher advised, the best way to do it, was just to take off the diaper, and train him cold-turkey-style. There was no more buying diapers for us (Especially because Baby Girl had started on her cloth diaper adventure).

So that’s what we did. We took his diaper completely off, and put little boy underwear with his favorite characters on him. And I kid you not, within a couple of days, Toddler Boy was potty trained. Sure, there were accidents in his pants,  multiple car seat cover washings, etc. But it was the quickest, best way to do it if you ask me. And after they are potty trained you wont have to hold on to that diaper pail anymore.


We didn’t even have to use a sticker chart, candy rewards, cheerios, or whatever you want to call it. We just used good old-fashioned praise, hugs and kisses when he went in the potty – both number one AND two.

Even at night his accidents in the bed seemed to stop within a week. The trick is to cut out excessive juice and milk drinking, because that’s what he would drink over and over again because he would crave the taste and sugar (Even when he was in his diapers, he had leaks in the bed at night because he drank so much juice and milk). Therefore, I’ve completely cut out juice drinking, and limited milk drinking to only at Breakfast, and directly after dinner. The rest of the day if he’s thirsty, he gets water, and even that is limited after bath time. That way, he has time to process, digest, and dispose of any liquid before falling asleep.

So, you want to potty train your toddler? Here’s a review of what worked for us.

  1. Made sure that we had a potty that Toddler Boy felt comfortable with in size (He’s a little guy).
  2. Said good bye to the diaper, and did not use pull-up diaper products.
  3. Kept him home as much as possible so the accidents weren’t that big of a deal, and I could simply toss his clothes in the laundry, or even let him run around naked throughout the day to make it easier on him.
  4. If we did go out, I brought 2-3 changes of clothes, plenty of wipes, and paper towels.
  5. Praised him like crazy any time he pooped and peed in the potty by himself.
  6. Paid extra attention to any signs or language telling me that he had to go.
  7. Had him wear fleece diaper covers and diaper liners (As suggested by author of All About Cloth) at night just in case, and bought a mattress cover as a precaution.
  8. Cut out as much liquid intake as possible after dinner.
  9. Ta da! He was potty trained within a week!

diaper


Kid Friendly Recipes – easy tips to sneaking fruits and veggies into your kids’ tummies


vegetablesAt times it can seem like kids are programmed to automatically hate fruits and veggies, and love things like candy and cookies. But there’s ways for you to change that. Here’s 10 easy tips for kid friendly recipes with fruits and vegetables. And trust me, they actually work. Take it from the mommy of a toddler that usually craves cookies and candy. I’ve been able to follow the tips below to get him to demand the good stuff instead!


  1. Get rid of the junk – Seems like a no-brainer, but it’s actually harder for moms to do. It’s easy for us to buy things like cookies and potato chips if that’s what we crave. If you stop buying junk food and start buying things like craisins, apples, and mini carrots, your kids will have no choice but to eat them. And for moms-to-be, if you stop having the junk food around now, your kids won’t be introduced to it, therefore won’t crave it. But if you really have a sweet tooth like me, just hide your stash away from tiny prying hands!
  2. Add cheese – This used to be a technique of mine before I started to suspect that my toddler was lactose intolerant. I would top broccoli with lots of Parmesan cheese and mix it. He would see me mix it, and would end up eating pieces of the broccoli to get to the cheese.
  3. Veggies First – Don’t present them a plate with the chicken fingers and side vegetables  next to them. Serve them a small plate of veggies first, that way they think that’s their meal, and they’ll eat it rather than going for the chicken first and then demanding more chicken rather than eating their vegetables.
  4. Peanut Butter and Caramel Galore –Serve things like celery, carrots, apples with a side of natural peanut butter or hydrogenated-free  caramel. Show them how to dip the vegetables and then bit off the dipped part. They’ll love it.
  5. Special Sauce – Make some steamed vegetables, and then pure’ them into a food processor. Add your favorite spaghetti sauce, and mix that all together. Use that as your spaghetti sauce, and your kids will never know the difference!





  6. Apple Crisp – My husband sneaks apples into my toddler by baking them into an apple crisp. The Food Network’s web site is full of great recipes.
  7. Smoothies – My toddler and now even my baby girl love love love smoothies. I have a couple great recipes in one of my blog entries. And the great thing is, you’ll love them too!
  8. Local Farmer’s Market – My local farmer’s market has fruit and veggie picking events from their own fields. Call your local market to see if they’ll let you do that. That way, your child makes an activity out of it. They’ll pick their own fruit and be proud of it, so it’ll be fun for them to eat it, too.
  9. For the Love of Ice Cream – Your kids love ice cream, but you don’t like the fat. A healthier alternative to it is making gelato. Here’s some great recipes. And it is absolutely delicious.
  10. Layer it up – My toddler loves yogurt. I let him watch while I layer strawberries and berries with his favorite yogurt. I put the fruit on top, so he has to dig through it to get to the yogurt. Using a clear glass helps too, because your child can see through it and it’s kind of a cool visual for them to see what their spoon is doing as they mix things up.
  11. Sneak veggies into a frittata – Beat some eggs in a bowl – about two eggs per person. Then, in an oven-safe non-stick pan, fry up some veggies – broccoli, onions, mushrooms, spinach, etc. Once the veggies are done, pour the eggs onto the frying pan on top of the veggies. Put it in the oven at 350 for about 10 mins. Once it’s done and out of the over, sprinkle on some cheddar cheese. Voila, you have a delicious frittata, and if your kids like eggs and cheese, they’ll never notice the difference!

I’ve used all these tips, and they have worked successfully to make  fruits and veggies kid friendly, but always remember the number one tip. Get that junk out of your house, and stock your pantry with fruits and veggies! But to stay sane, feel free to have a secret box of cookies stashed in your closet! ; – )

Reading for a Cause – Childrens Book Danny the Dragon raises awareness of obstacles for the Hearing Impaired and raises funds for Celiac Disease Studies

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The past 90 days have been spent exploring a gluten free and dairy free diet because of the recent discovery of my husband and possibly my toddler having Celiac Disease, which you may have already read about here. So I was happy to get the chance to review the Danny the Dragon CD, who’s proceeds go to studying Celiac Disease. This also gave me the chance to get my hands on the original Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy children’s book by Tina Turbin, and also the Danny the Dragon DVD.

The Book I’ll talk about the book first, since that seems to be where it all started. First of all, let me just say that I am in love with the character Skipper. He’s so cute, and tiny, yet there’s something kind of wise about him, hence Danny calling him his “guide.” What does Danny need a guide for, you ask? Well, the book is about Jimmy, a little boy, who finds a shell on the beach, and it speaks to him. So Jimmy takes the shell home, and out pops Danny the Dragon and his guide, Skipper, who tell Jimmy and his family about their travels in the shell. Not only did this book’s illustrations entice a sense of comforting nostalgia in me, but it also captured the attention of both my Toddler Boy and Baby Girl. Captivating enough for me to read to my Toddler Boy and Baby Girl during breakfast, and they listened and watched attentively rather than A) Baby girl crying for her mommy to get her out of the high chair and hold her, B) Toddler Boy getting distracted and attempting to get me prepare five million different types of breakfast foods for him (He never succeeds, by the way). And all throughout the book, there’s hidden details that teach kids proper behavior, sibling bonding, and good manners: some of the main concerns I have for my children, especially during the toddler stage when their determination can turn into unfavorable behaviors. This is definitely a book that I will be reading to Toddler Boy and Baby Girl time and time again as a perfect bed time story…if anything else for my own comfort and pleasure haha.

The Audio Book Playing the audio version of the CD while showing your child the award-winning illustrations of Danny the Dragon can be a great thing to do before bed time or nap time. That is because the audio version of the book is followed by ten soothing tracks of classical music, setting the perfect white noise for calming hours of sleep. I acutally also like to play the CD at the end of the day, when we’re driving home towards the hours of bed time. The kids fall fast asleep in the car, and I continue to drive around just to enjoy the music and get some quiet meditation time. Definitely full thumbs up on this one.


The DVD Since by the time I got my hands on these great items, it was after a long day, and time for Toddler Boy to go to sleep, Toddler Boy and I popped the DVd in while we cuddled up in bed before sleepy time. As soon as I put Danny the Dragon on, the voice telling the story is so soothing, that it seemed to catch his attention. And that is even though the DVD starts with a brief, informative intro to raise awareness about the illiteracy and communication boundaries that deaf children face in America. The DVD then moves on to a reading of Danny the Dragon the book, with sign language interpretation on the side. Toddler boy’s attention was captured, and when the DVD was over, he said “Mommy? What happened cah-toon?” He wanted me to play it again! So we played it a few more times until Toddler Boy and myself were fast asleep with the assistance of the soothing voice of the DVD, and the cozy images on the screen.

I can honestly say that the DVD and the CD will be staying in my players as a permanent part of my daily routine for a pretty extended period of time! And Danny the Dragon and my new favorite children’s character, Skipper! will continue to be implemented into my children’s lives as they grow to learn important values. And best of all, these Danny the Dragon items go towards raising money and awareness to important issues such as deaf awareness, Celiac Disease, and excellent childhood behavior! Kudos, Tina Turbin!


Laptops for Kids Will Get You Through the Winter Stretch

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Both play and real laptops for Kids can be a great way to keep your kids occupied and educated while you work on your own lap top. Whether it’s a fake one they can pretend on, or a real one to fulfill your child or teenager’s scholastic needs.

Luckily there are a bunch of kid lap tops available with games that are actually great lessons incognito. They are so great, I remember I even had one when I was a kid that I loved, and it kept me busy for hours. I have nostalgia just thinking about it. Took that thing anywhere and everywhere, and when I turned it on, any adult around was able to have a few moments of peace.

My toddler is just getting into the Thomas & Friends Laptop, and even though at two-years-old he can’t quite understand it, it still sucks him in with the buttons and mouse and keeps him busy for a surprising stretch of time. He also has a Diego lap top, and a Leap Frog lap top with a mouse that has a chord on it, making it even more realistic to him.

Even my baby girl is drawn to it and will crawl across the room just to get her hands on it. I just keep moving it around different areas of the perimeter of the rug to keep her occupied. And now that she can sit up and stand up, I will put the lap top on the couch and let her reach up to grasp it. Actually as we speak, I had one sitting on top of the toy chest, and she just stood up and reached for it. That one is the Vtech learning lap top. As you can see my kids love them so much, laptop_computer-otherwe have tons of them. We also have a Diego one.

Right now since it’s the slow time of retail, it’s a great time to get some on sale. Toys R Us and Babys R Us have tons available: My First Bilangual Learning Laptop, Barbie’s B-Smart Laptop, VTech’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Super Why! Touch and Learn Super Duper Computer, Transformers Growing Smart Lap Top, and VTech’s Baby’s Pink Lap Top. All of these range from only $19.99 to$39.99 depending on where you buy them. But this is definitely one toy that will be worth splurging for because it truly does educate your child and good for you, keeps them busy, too.

So if you’re a relative or a mom who’s thinking that the baby or toddler they need to buy for already has everything, a laptop for kids or for babies could be a very good use of your money. Especially if it’s a lap top that features their favorite cartoon character. I am on the hunt for a Caillou or Blue’s Clue laptop for kids, so if you come across one, just jot me a line on here!

Now, if you’re looking for an actual lap top to buy for your child or teenager, then I wouldn’t spend more than $400 on one, but buy them an actual lap top and not a net book. That’s because your son or daughter is probably into downloading music and transferring it onto a CD, which a net book does not have a CD/DVD drive. Also they would need the CD/DVD drive for a long car ride or airplane ride to watch a movie, so that you can maintain both their sanity and yours. The only thing that they might run into memory-wise, is teenagers love to take their digital pics everywhere they go, and may slow up their computer with tons of picture files, but it would still take a ridiculous amount of pictures for them to get to that point with even the cheapest computer. And that’s where the CD drive comes in handy as well – they can burn their photo drives onto a CD. Other than that, they’re probably writing papers that are no longer than 10 pages long, and those do not take up much memory. PowerPoints take up a bit more memory, but they probably aren’t doing more than five a year, which can usually be deleted when they are done with them, unless they’re sensational. Toshiba and Asus have pretty reliable inexpensive models.


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