Tag Archive | "christmas"

Rosas Family Christmas 2013- The Video

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Since 2010 I have made a video of our Christmas mornings as a family.  If you read the blog regularly you know that I take on the role of “historian” for our family, doing most of the photography and video.  Since most people don’t go back to watch the long footage of their videos I make sure to compile the best moments into one shorter video for our family and friends.

This year I tried something new- I set up the camera on a tripod and used my remote to take photos, hoping I would actually “be in the picture.”  Instead, my camera kept resetting itself so I only got a few photos from that morning.  And my idea to leave the video camera on another table and using the remote to take footage so that I could also be “in the video” was unsuccessful so I ended up holding it to capture video.

For everyone who may be wondering, I used Final Cut Pro X to put together this video, however in years past I’ve used regular ol’ iMovie with great success. And if you have Windows, they have a free editing program called Windows Movie Maker. You don’t have to be a professional to make a movie. I have an iMovie tutorial and some tips on how to make a kick-butt home movie if you’d like to try making one with your family videos. Even though this tutorial is geared towards making a yearly slideshow it can also help with creating a Christmas video. And making a movie from a day of footage is easier than tackling one year’s worth.

I hope you enjoy this glimpse into our home and of our family. I’ve been fortunate enough to share moments like these for many years on this blog and hope that by doing so, inspire a few people to try their hand at learning the basics of video editing in order to have a few special videos to cherish down the line.

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The Christmas card that almost wasn’t- featuring my son the axe murderer

I tend to go to extremes when doing certain things.  Christmas is one of those things!  I go way overboard for the Elf on the Shelf, I deck the halls as much as I can afford to, and I make sure my Christmas Card is awesome even though our list is rather short.

When thinking of ideas I decided the ’57 Chevy Bel Air that was in our possession, temporarily, would be perfect!  My head was swimming with amazing ideas, like putting the tree in the ginormous trunk and having the family in vintage attire next to the car.  Or posing next to the car with tons of shopping bags, wearing one of the vintage hats I found at an estate sale.  Or one shot IN the car with the kids’ heads sticking out of the amazing window.  All of the ideas involved trying to create a “period” photo from the 50′s and using the car.  Then… poof.  Car was already being shipped out to my Father-in-Law by my husband while I was attending ABC Kids Expo 2 months ago.

kidsincar

I still had my heart set on something with vintage flair and since I would see the car again, I was going to try for a second time.  I found the perfect outfits from a thrift shop to wear and had Instagram vote on which to wear.  Then, when we were in NC for Thanksgiving, the car was in the shop.  We had hours to come up with a new plan- the next few days were all rainy and by the time it cleared up we would be back in Florida.  I was loving the cold weather opportunity to take photos and didn’t want to take them in Florida.

The next idea was to head out to a tree farm, pretend to cut a tree (since we didn’t actually need a tree!) and use them as a background.  I was going to buy a wreath there in order to not feel guilty.  Closest farm was 45 minutes from our location and we only had maaaaybe 2 hours of light left for photos.  Had we left earlier we would have been OK but someone (I won’t name names) didn’t get home when he said he would.

Hormonal me (it was THAT time) started breaking down in tears.  All of my plans were ruined.  I take these things very seriously.  My Father-in-Law promised to drive around to look for a spot to take photos but I was not thrilled.  It wasn’t the theme I wanted, we would look so silly wearing our “period” style outfits in a random place.   I was definitely, definitely hormonal and irrational.

We packed into the car and first went to a park.  It wasn’t suitable and there were no evergreens that made for a nice backdrop.  So… we made due because there was NO time.

Next hurdle?  The kid.  The 5 year old kid to be exact.  He had cried the entire 5 minute drive, and insisted he would not be participating.  Yeah right.  ”Taking pictures is SO BORING!  I don’t want to take pictures.  I want to go to Chuck E Cheese.”  I’m not above bribery when it comes to photo taking.  I know it sucks when you are a kid to be dressed and asked to sit still or not look goofy.  The bribe?  A donut.  He favorite thing in the world.  Still, he was not happy… so… we let him hold the ax we brought in case we could find a place to pretend to cut trees because it was the only thing that stopped his crying.

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I set the camera manually and made sure the aperture was wide open (This is why learning to use a manual DSLR is so, so handy!)  My Father-in-Law, a former photographer in his own right, took our photos.  The thing is… my son wouldn’t put the ax down… so we have dozens of family photos with my son the ax murderer in them.  Eventually we got a few without.  I was satisfied with the outcome, but still sad that they were just normal family photos.

On the way to eat donuts my husband redeemed himself.  ”What if we go downtown and do a few street photography shots?”  OK!  We went to downtown Pineville, found an empty street, and took about 10 photos of the family walking together up the sidewalk.  There were no modern cars parked so it has the illusion that it would have been from any time.  I still wish we had the Bel Air parked on the street but it was not available.

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With the street photos and the family shots in the park we had a card.

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It wasn’t until Facebook got involved that the card got more interesting.  After the family session on the park I took some photos of the boys, then a few of my son posing with the ax for giggles.  I posted the ax shot and friends were commenting on it.  One friend, Marisa, said “Have a Merry AxMas!”  Another friend, Maria from Change-Diapers, said “You received my list, right Santa?”  These were too good not to steal for my card!  I added this photo to the back right before ordering and used both of their ideas.  They get total credit, they’re both genius ideas.

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This is the first year we had someone else to take photos for us.  Our last 3 Christmas Cards were all taken with a tripod and a remote.  If you’d like to look back at other cards, here are the 2012 and 2011 versions.  We used Minted.com for our cards this year and I’m annoyed that they include their logo on the back but oh well.  They turned out very nice.

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Elf on the Shelf Idea- Photo with Friends from the North Pole {Download}

We’ve been lazy Elf on the Shelfers this year, and even without the extravagant costume changes and scenes our boys, especially my 5 year old, have loved having Wyatt here.  His excitement each morning as he searches for the new location keeps me motivated.  Some days I forget and wake in the middle of the night (usually due to a crying 3 year old) and move Wyatt from Shelf A. to Shelf B.  I’m OK with that.

Then a few nights ago my son did the CUTEST thing ever.  He grabbed paper and wrote a note to his elf.  It is pictured but unless you speak 5 year old you will need a translator.

“Dear Wyatt,

I love you, so all the elves get together and take a picture.”

Then he went into the wrapping paper that we had out from earlier, and seeing the potential disaster, I helped him wrap the gift.  He added a tag, wrote the names, and aded a bow.  Then he went to where Wyatt was hanging from our fan that day and told him he had a gift for him to open when he could.

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Being the photoshopping/photographing mom that I am I knew I could get off my lazy good for nothing elf butt and make this one happen for my son.  While the kids slept I took my elf to my “studio” with my green screen still up.  I used my elf and posed him a few ways that I thought might work together as a group.   I even added a tissue skirt to Wyatt and had him cross dress for a moment for a bit of gender diversity.  He has seen the movie and knows there are girl elves too!

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The resulting photo was printed and put into a spare frame I had.  Wyatt set up shop next to my vintage Super 8 and my husband’s old camera from high school for a fitting background.

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That morning I followed my son around the house as he searched.  It took him a while to spot Wyatt in the corner.  I had to nudge him to get close enough to even see the 4×6 photo since he is so afraid of touching Wyatt.

“Oh look mom!  It is Wyatt and his family!”  Then he thought a minute and went to our living room.  There, he found the remnants of the gift wrapping.  ”He got my letter mom!”  And it clicked.  Whew.

Was the extra effort worth it?  This time, YES!  Doing that every single night, NO.  Not everyone has a mini photo studio or Photoshop so I tell ya what.  You can totally download this photo.  Of course, there are different elves with different skin tones and hair/eyes.  Not to mention that my elf is from 3 years ago and the new ones look totally different.  If your elf doesn’t match this won’t exactly work, but just in case, here it is.  I changed the text to a generic version, or you can download the blank and write in your child(ren)’s name(s) on the note.  Tomorrow, Wyatt will be on a bookshelf somewhere but today I was Mom of the Year in elf world.

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Download Elf Friends with Text

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Download Elf Friends with Blank

If you haven’t hacked your elf yet by adding wires to make him bendable here is my tutorial- Make your Elf on the Shelf Bendable and Grippy. It is the reason my elf is able to achieve those poses and not look like a lump.

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Nothing says “Happy New Year” like a Christmas Video. Right?!

I had really hoped to have my Christmas Morning video edited and published before 2013 but that just wasn’t meant to be. I finished editing it last night and got it uploaded but by then it was too close to midnight to publish here. I was already in “party” mode and by that I mean I was in my pajamas laying in bed eating a bowl of chex mix while watching a movie with my husband. You wish your night was that exciting.

One of my traditions is to make a video of our Christmas together. I love looking back at these and as always these videos are my way of preserving the memories for my children who will hopefully cherish these mementos. Our 2011 video is also viewable on YouTube.

I hope by sharing my person videos that it can inspire others to take a stab at making their own. Last year I posted a tutorial on how to make a “Kick Butt” home movie for anyone wishing to start their own family tradition of video making.

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Getting in the holiday spirit {even if it kills me}

Moving to Florida has been the best thing for our family and we are feeling so lucky to be where we are.  Of course one of the drawbacks of the amazing winter weather is that it doesn’t exactly put me in the Christmas Spirit when I’m going to a WinterFest in a sleeveless tank top and shorts.

December 3 at SeaWorld.

Things as simple as decorating the tree, decking the halls, and even the chore of taking a Christmas photo and designing the Christmas card all seem out of place.

To combat this and ensure that my family and I make the most of this holiday I’ve been laying it on a little thick around here.  My children need to have this holiday in their life.  I know that most of my fondest childhood memories revolve around the holiday season and just because it is currently 80 degrees outside it doesn’t mean that Christmas isn’t coming in 2o days!  Starting a few days after Thanksgiving I started decking the halls.  This year nearly every decoration was utilized including the extra artificial trees.  We have 4 trees in our home.  You read that right…  Everett has a mini tree that used to he his father’s and that has tiny little german wooden ornaments.  Fletcher has a leftover tree from our apartment days that is really by design an ornament tree.  He got to pick his favorite ornaments from our lot and hang them up.  This was incredibly exciting for a little boy and I’m sure we will let him have his own tree every year now; he really does love it!  The third tree is in the entryway and is the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree that I bought from Urban Outfitters when I was in college.   The fourth is out artificial 7.5 foot tree next to the fireplace.  We considered a real tree this year but again talked ourselves out of it even though we could definitely fit a taller tree here.

For heaven’s sake, I even decorated my mailbox and dressed my lions up in doggy Christmas sweaters.  Yes.  I.  Did.

The rest of house got the holiday treatment while I enjoyed the sounds of Christmas carols, because nothing gets me in the spirit like Christmas music.

We are also fully in the swing of our Elf on the Shelf adventures already and this is the first year Fletcher is “getting” the story behind it so I have to be very careful!  I had to hide my computer and photos of butchering the poor elf for his “hacks” to spare Fletcher the truth.  Despite being an atheist family we do enjoy the traditions that come with Christmas such as Elf on the Shelf and I think it drives me even more towards the deep-end to make sure the kids have pleasant memories of this time in their lives.

Oh boy… then there is the Christmas card photo.  My husband and I were near divorce over this, as it seems to happen every year that I want an elaborate set-up.  With no family or friends to take our photo we have to DIY with a tripod and a wireless remote (such a necessity that is more than worth the minimal cost.  We have used ours dozens of times).  This year I had an entire scene to create complete with props.  Since my cards haven’t been mailed out I won’t share the final image but here is a sneak peek:

 

Update:  Here is our Christmas Card.  I can share it now that they are mostly in the hands of our family and friends.  I’m entering it in The Paper Mama’s card contest.  There are so many fun entries and lots of inspiration.  It might be too late for this year’s card but next year go back and check it out.

Christmas Card "Not a Creature Was Stirring"

Christmas Card “Not a Creature Was Stirring”

Even my husband got on board and put out the Christmas Lights on our house over the weekend. We are nearly dead but it seems like Christmas is coming and by going the extra mile hopefully it will actually feel like Christmas when the time comes. The boys are getting a very large gift so I am hoping we won’t go overboard on the presents like we did last year. I read somewhere that when you grow up poor you tend to overbuy gifts for others and that rings true for me.

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DDL’s Holiday Gift Ideas 2012

Looking for inspiration for gifts this year?  Lucky for you I have collected a few ideas to share with you.  If you are looking for tips on the year’s “hottest” toys (and by “hottest I mean- the toys you will get trampled for on Black Friday at Target for) then skip this post.

For your friends, family, neighbors….

Personalized Ornaments from PersonalizedFree.com have over 1,800 customizable ornaments and an easy shopping interface.  Browse by theme to match the recipient’s interests and then add their name(s).  The best part?  PersonalizedFree.com will be donating 10% of your purchases to my favorite cloth diaper charity- Giving Diapers, Giving Hope.  Use code GDGH at checkout to have your purchase count!

 

For the New Baby…

Really babies need very little except milk, snuggles, sleep, and clean diapers.  Considering only one of these things can be purchased you know where I’m going with this!  One of my favorite brands also makes the most adorable cloth diapers for newborns.  Orange Diaper Co. has squishy soft, gorgeously crafted newborn cloth diapers in to die for prints.  Sometimes I reconsider not having another baby when I see diapers this cute.  Fluff under the Christmas Tree?  Yes!

 

For the Non-Walker…

The box from whatever gift you thought was a good idea….just kidding…kind of.  But really and truly this age group is a hard one.  Not yet toddler, yet not baby enough to just sleep all day.  Crinkly paper, boxes, and noise making devices suit these little guys just fine.  But since you are going to buy them gifts regardless consider sturdy and colorful board books.  One of our favorite series is by Leslie Patricelli- author of “No No Yes Yes,” Quiet Loud” and “Yummy Yucky.”  Simple, colorful, and actually somewhat helpful, these books have been a favorite in our home for years.

For the Busy Toddler…

The Wheely Bug is a Rosas Family staple and a toy I suggest to everyone I meet.  Unlike traditional ride on toys, the wheely bug by Prince Lionheart has caster wheels that move in all directions so that the child can turn the toy.  How frustrating are ride-on’s that only go straight?!  These ride-ons aren’t hideous to look at either.  We have 3- the Cow, Bee, and Lady Bug, and they all meander through the home yet I never try to hide them like the other toys.  Fun for toddlers and preschoolers too.  Even I ride them once in a while…

 

For the Impossible Pre-Schooler…

It is ALL about imagination and pretend play!  For Christmas your precocious pre-schooler might love indulging in some imaginary fun dressed as a super hero, a doctor, or even a bear.  Whatever you choose there are so many stores and WAHM’s making costumes.

 

For the Moms…

I recently stumbled upon an artist on Etsy with some beautiful paintings depicting breastfeeding, bed sharing, and motherly love.  Perhaps the mom in your life would love to hang one of these in her home?  They are stunning.  Find her work here: Katie M. Berggren

 

For The Dads…

I am always clueless for gifts to buy the men in my life.  Considering time is the most precious thing in our home I like to do gifts that let my husband spend time doing things he enjoys.  Last year I took a trip to the movie theater and purchased a ticket for him and gifted it tied up with a box of theater candy (they sell them at KMart for cheap!).  It is an inexpensive gift that lets him have some alone time.  Since I never watch action movies at home I made sure he got to see the newest one that year.

 

I have to admit that I am pretty lost myself when it comes to Christmas Shopping!  Still, I wanted to share some personal ideas that have been popular with my family and a special way to help a cause close to my heart when you are looking to buy an ornament for your exchance or for family.  As a bonus you can enter a giveaway sponsored by PersonalizedFree.com and hosted along with other bloggers for a custom ormanent.  Enter via the Rafflecopter below.  Remember, if you order from their website they will donate 10% to Giving Diapers, Giving Hope- an organization that send cloth diapers to families who can’t afford them.  Every baby deserves a clean diaper.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Happy Holidays from DDL and Family!

I hope everyone reading has a joyous holiday, no matter what the celebration, and enjoys time with good friends and family.  For us, Christmas is all about spending time together as a family, beginning wonderful traditions. and making memories.  I can’t wait to open that one gift on Christmas Eve, leave the cookies, milk, and reindeer food for Santa, and break out the NORAD Santa tracker to coax Fletcher into bed before the big guy arrives.  I think part of my enthusiasm for “Elf on the Shelf” is an attempt at creating a tradition for our family that is magical and fun, but that has no ties to religion.  Even though my family is atheist, we choose to celebrate Christmas and remember that it is still a holiday for giving.

In my online life I continue to be amazed by the joy that Dirty Diaper Laundry readers bring to me. I am thankful for all of you and for the advertisers and sponsors who keep it going. I am truly fortunate that I am able to stay home with my boys and do what I love.

2012 is going to be another great year for DDL and I can’t wait to bring you along for the ride.

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Create a Unique Holiday Card: Family Portrait in Ornament Reflection that Hangs on the Tree!

You know… I wasn’t quite sure how to title this post!  Thanks to Pinterest I found a great idea for our Holiday card.  It was a photo of a family but reflected in a Christmas Ornament.  I wanted to make it a little more interesting so I thought up a way that the ornament could then become an ornament to hang on the tree!

Supplies and Skills needed: A shiny ornament, a little Photoshop Knowledge, a Tripod, and preferably a remote controlled Camera.  For the printed card and you will need a Sewing Machine.

First- Take your Family Photo!

Set your ornament up (you can either hold it or hang from something.  We chose our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree) and get your family together in front of it.  Do some practicing to decide what position will work best, and get your camera set up in the background.  The farther away- with a zoom lens- will work the best.  The smaller the camera in the background the easier it will be to photoshop out.  

We used a remote to snap photos which was immensely helpful.  If you don’t have one you could use a timer but I have a feeling you might get a different kind of picture than you hoped for!

After about 20-30 takes (I kept getting my head in the POV of the camera, which resulted in beautiful photos of the back of my hair!) and a lot of photos of the boys grabbing for the ornament, we had a decent shot.

Next Step: Photoshop out the Camera

My husband took the reigns on this one.  Although I can Clone Stamp with the best of them, he does most of our editing.  He used the clone stamp to remove the camera and the tripod out of the photo.  We used a photo umbrella and strobe light to help with lighting and that was visible in the photo as well, so he clone stamped out the umbrella lines to make it look more like a reflection of light.  He also lightened up the image from what you see below to the finished product, and added snowflakes with a PS Texture he downloaded.

Making The Card:

I cropped the photo to a post card size to upload to a photo printing site.  I am a big fan and user of Zazzle.com.  From past experience I have noticed that when I just photoshop a card that the text isn’t as crisp as I like, so I ended up relying on the text in Zazzle.  I spent DAYS agonizing over a little poem and just couldn’t get the darn thing to say what I wanted, stay in rythym, and ryhme.  I am NOT a poet.  So instead I settled on the epic phrase “Happy Holidays.”

I LOVE sending post cards in lieu of traditional cards or photo cards in an envelope.  It saves time, and trees when you realize you won’t have to use a seperate envelope!  I also think it is kinda cool that your address is on the back.  If they save it they will always have that little reminder of where you were when the card was sent, and a postage stamp date.  Zazzle does have the option and a preformatted back.  I chose to also pre-address each postcard each recipient’s address.  I have atrocious penmanship so this extra step was more for me than anyone else.  Tip: keep a Google Doc of Card Addresses so you can copy/paste them anytime you need them.  

Now you are ready to order your prints!  I also went ahead and used Zazzle to buy my postcard stamps (which are only .29 cents versus regular letter stamps at .44 cents) and had them customized with a special message from our family!

Optional: Make it a real ornament!

I decided to also make the ornament “punch” out to be hung from the Christmas Tree for our family and friends.  I thought this was a nice way to be present in their lives over the holiday season since we would be spending it away from them.

I practiced on a few extra postcards I had leftover from my wedding announcements almost 5 years ago!  I found out that you can use a sewing machine to perforate paper by leaving out the thread.  Brilliant!

With my machine, a 2.0 length stitch with the needle for heavy weight cloth worked best for a POST CARD.  If you would like to use this trick for anything else you will want a closer stitch, the punched out item will look smoother and be easier.  Since my cards will go unprotected in the mail I needed a wider perforation.  I tried the smallest stitch and it worked perfectly and punched out easily…. too easy to make it in one piece via USPS and no envelope.  Also, every machine is different so experiment, experiment, experiment!

Stitch around your ornament.  I chose only to stitch the circle and not the knobby top portion.  Easier, faster, and easier for punching out on the receiving end.

You might notice your needle getting dull after many post cards.  I was able to make it through 25+ before noticing.   I could have used a new needle but I only had 30 total so I kept trucking.  You will want a new needle before stitching your fabrics again.

Next, punch a hole at the top for your friends and family to insert an ornament hook or ribbon.  If you are sending this in an envelope consider including one.  If you have a tiny punch you can use that, or just use a sharp nail or anything that can make a hole.  We are being ghetto with the sewing machine, why stop now? (I actually rushed myself to finish these before the mail truck came so I completely forgot this step on the ones I sent… Oops!)

Add your stamp, put in the mailbox, and wait for your recipients to call and compliment you on such a cool idea! (Or write on your Facebook Wall)  Your ornament can go on the tree, or they can keep the card as is.

If I had to do it all over again I would use a different color ornament because the bronze really blended in with the background and made finding the edge when stitching difficult.  Plus a brighter color would POP more on the card.

I would also be more aware of the placement of the addresses on the back.  The stitching went over it but none were made unreadable by it.  Plus, the stamp went over the perforation.  I wish the stamp were smaller…

Happy Holidays!

I think there are a lot of fun ways you could improve on this card, let me know in the comments!

PS: The extra cool factor is that our card looks a lot like the album cover for Gish by the Smashing Pumpkins.  You all know I am a BIG fan right?

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Elf on the Shelf Ideas: Week 2

December 5: Jewel Theif Elf

December 6: Weight Lifting Elf

December 7: Piggy Break Robber Elf

December 8: Bad Sharpie Elf

December 9: Doggie Saving Fireman Elf

December 10: Tampon Nunchuck Ninja Elf

December 11: Trapped in the Castle and Watching you Sleep Elf

This week Wyatt has been VERY busy! He also channeled his darker sidewith his Dexter Morgan Scene (notseen by my kids of course) and started a Twitter Account. Follow him as @WyattTheElf to learn what it is really like being an Elf on the Shelf. Next week I will be back with more Elf on the Shelf Ideas!
PS: If you want to make your Elf pose-able like Wyatt I have a tutorial for that!

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Elf on The Shelf Ideas- Week 1

December 1: Robo Elf

December 2: Hider of the Stop Sign, Destroyer Elf

December 3: Circus Act Elf

December 4: Chalkboard Note Writing Elf

In case you missed it, yesterday I posted a tutorial on how to make your Elf bendable and grippy using wire and velcro. It really helps to make him less of a doll and more of an action figure.

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