Thursday, November 17, 2016

How to get the BEST Santa Photo!

Santa has already started making his appearance in shopping centres around the country.  In Christmases past, I have been a photographer at one of the busiest Santa sets in SE QLD.  This means I have seen it all.

From over the top outfits, to spur of the moment photos.  Adult children having a photo to give to their parents, to mates having a laugh and workmates celebrating the holidays.

I love Santa photos.  For many reasons.  The main reason is it is a Tradition.  And you all know what I am like with traditions.

We have a "Santa" album exclusive for the Santa photos.

I have seen more tears and tantrums that you could imagine, but it doesn't have to be that way. 

Here are my tips to getting a picture perfect Santa photo!

1:  Prepare, prepare and prepare some more.  Some little children are not fond of Santa.  If I had a dollar for every parent that says "Well, we have taught them to not talk to strangers".  ::sigh::  Santa doesn't have to be a stranger.  At our set, we welcome children and parents to visit as many times as they like.  As soon as the silly season starts, everytime you walk past Santa, go in for a visit.

2003 - 21st December - Hayden's "First" Christmas photo - on his 1st birthday.
We were still in hospital on Christmas day for his "real" first Christmas!

When Joshua was about 2.5, he was quite frightened.  We walked past a number of times over the course of a couple of weeks and he wouldn't have a bar of it.  Finally, after a few "over the fence" high fives with Santa, one day he decided he wanted to line up for a visit.  When it was our turn, he walked in, turned around and walked straight back out again.  The next time, he was happy enough to approach Santa and give him a highfive.  The next time, a hand shake.  A few more times and we got a wonderful photo.

Don't give up.

2:  Do NOT make it a negative experience.  DO NOT under ANY circumstances force your child onto Santa.  Be prepared for your child to not like it.  Don't get disheartened or angry at your child because they don't want to do it.  It breaks my heart when I start hearing parents telling their child off for not siting with Santa, and it makes me very angry when they are smacking or abusing their child in front of me.  Try again another time.
3:  Make sure you choose the best time for your child.  It's a no-brainer to not go when your child is due for a nap or is in a bad mood.

4:  Take your time.  If you feel like you are being rushed by the set staff, ask politely if there is a quiet time that they recommend to come back.  During peak periods you obviously won't have the luxury of being able to ease your child in.  Even a very busy set has down times.  Come back when the staff have plenty of time to play and talk to your child to get them comfortable.

2008 - 23rd December (Oliver 4 days old!)

2008 - 14th December

5:  Suggest a different pose.  For some children, they are happy to sit in the chair without Santa.  At our set, I would suggest a "hide" photo.  We get the children to close their eyes (or distract them with toys) while Santa disappears.  They are then free to sit in Santa's chair while we take the photo.  They have no idea that Santa is actually "Peeking" from behind the chair on cue for the photo.    Some children are frightened of siting in his knee - so suggest they stand next to Santa, or maybe they would prefer to sit on the floor at Santa's feet.  As the staff if they have any suggestions suitable for their set.

6: Make it a family photo.  If you still haven't been able to manage to get one with the kids on their own, I suggest you frock up and have a lovely family photo.  Make it your tradition every year.  :)


7:  Go for a "Dump and Snap".  Sometimes, the ones with a crying baby are part of the "tradition".  If you are really set on getting a photo, but your child is not, ask the photographer to be ready... dump your child... snap a photo and quickly pick them up.  Be happy with whatever the photo looks like.  Crying?  Screaming?  Mid-air jumping off Santa?  Line them up in your album and remember how much they protested that year.  That said, know when to draw the line.  Don't make it terrifying.  A tear or a scream is one thing, but having a child shaking in absolute terror is not something you want to remember (or will they!)

8:  Finally - and my most passionate point is to remember that it is ONLY a Santa photo.  If after a few weeks of visits and high-fives and test runs your child is still totally terrified, please please do not force them.  It just isn't worth it.  It is just a Santa photo!

Do you get Santa photos?  How do you prep your Children?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Purple Tree

Today is my birthday.  

I don't enjoy my birthday anymore.  I keep it very quiet and hate the fanfare of people wishing me the best and handing me cards and little presents.  I hate the flood of messages on my Facebook page, and I just dislike the attention in general.

A far cry to the woman I used to be.  Just 5 years ago, I would have made the biggest deal about my birthday and made sure the world knew it was MY day.

But as the years have gone by, I have started having anxiety about it.  This year has been no different and I have been dreading it since one of the Reasons first told me it was fast approaching.

Yes, my kids remember.  Every. Single. Year.

Without a reminder from an adult.

You see, I once told them a story.  Many many years ago.

I was born under a tree.  A great big beautiful old tree that didn't have leaves.  It was in fact, a purple tree.  Soft bell shaped purple flowers delicately covered the tree.   And every year, the purple tree blooms to mark the day of my birth.

As soon as the Five Little Reasons see the first hint of the blooming Jacaranda trees, they will remember and whisper, "It is your birthday soon Mama".  And I smile.  I cherish the joy that my birth has given them.

So today, I am having a quiet reflection day.  I was born.  And that means so much.

I don't need the attention.  I don't need to be showered with gifts.  I am one very blessed woman... who is very grateful.

Grateful for so many things.

Grateful for my birth.   

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Start writing again Danielle!

I have been thinking about my dormant blog a lot recently.  The past year or two, this blog has popped into my mind every now and again... but with some pretty hard things happening in our life, the thoughts leave as quickly as they entered.

Recently however,  I have been thinking about it a lot.  Even talking about it more.  Sharing my address to random people and sharing some posts with friends.

I've also been reading my blog.  Yep, reading my own blog.  Is that weird?  I wonder if Britany Spears listens to her own albums on a Saturday night.  Random thought?  Moving on...

I remember the day my feelings towards my blog changed.  It was a combination of "hate mail", "blank brain" and "what if's".

The hate mail was easy to fix - I blocked anyone and everyone before even reading their message.  As soon as I received a message/email/text that made me question anything or change my mood in a negative way, I would stop reading and delete as fast as I could.  And then block.  I ain't got time for that.

However, I didn't realise that it did have an impact.  I started questioning my blog.  Questioning my writing.  Questioning my readers.

And then asking "what if".  A lot.  What if someone takes this the wrong way... again.  What if someone doesn't agree with me.  What if someone doubts my intentions.  I had many people dislike the content of my writing.  Disliking me putting my family "out there".  I came to the conclusion that in the end, they just weren't listening.

All of this resulted in "blank brain".  I had forgotten how to write.  I had forgotten what I wanted to say.  I had forgotten my original intentions of this blog.

This is MY blog.  My story.  My words.  And no one can question that.  I won't let anyone question that.  I can write about anything I want.  THIS IS MY BLOG.

This is me.  

I forgot how happy writing makes me.  Like really happy.

If you don't like it, please delete me from your life.  It's that simple.  Press the delete button.  I won't be engaging in the petty crap anymore.

My mental health depends on it.

Gosh it feels good to be writing again....

Friday, July 1, 2016

Royal Essence Candles with a Surprise! {Sponsored}

Earlier this month, I was contacted to try a candle from Royal Essence.  I love candles and have one burning every single day, so I didn't hesitate in saying yes.

The Royal Essence Candles tick all the boxes I look for in a candle.  They are an Australian, family owned business.  They are 100% eco-friendly natural soy wax.  They look amazing - this is a must as I do actually sit and watch my candle, so it has to look good as well as smell amazing.  They are reasonably price and the best bit... Every single candle has a surprise piece of Jewellery inside them.

Choosing a fragrance was difficult.  There are so many to choose from including Champagne & Macarons, Green Apples, Lavender & Honey and the one I chose, Freshly Cut Roses.

After I ordered my Royal Essence Candle, it arrived via courier within a matter of days.  It comes beautifully boxed, and I have already planned to give these as gifts for Christmas this year, and it was exactly like Christmas unwrapping the ring.

I couldn't wait to start burning my candle and seeing what my surprise ring was.  The Freshly Cut Roses scent is divine.  It literally smells exactly like it's name.

The hardest part about receiving a Royal Essence Candle is waiting to find your ring.  Most rings are about 1/3 of the way down in the candle, so you should let it burn for 10-15 hours if you want to easily grab your gift, however I found it just too temping.  As soon as I saw the tip of the little package, I started digging in the soft wax.

The ring is protected inside a little plastic bag which is wrapped tightly in aluminium foil.  You will also find a slip with all the details of your ring.

I discovered an absolutely stunning ring, which I have been wearing every day.  Coincidentally, I already have matching earrings that I inherited from my Grandmother.  

If you would like to win one of these beautiful Royal Essence candles, you can enter their weekly giveaway at! There are quite a few prizes to be won, including Ring Candles, rings, and gift vouchers.
Have you tried the Royal Essence Ring Candles? What flavour would you choose? 
Sponsored by Royal Essence as per my Disclosure Policy

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Magic Of Childhood Will Live On.

I started the day by telling the Reasons a story.  A story of being a kid in the 80's.

Master 13 pipes up "Yeah, we know - you had to make your own fun - no devices or phones...we know mum - you played with sticks!"  He rolled his eyes and I laughed.  I am sure I had this same conversation with my parents about them growing up in the 60's.

For half of my childhood I grew up in a quiet north west Brisbane suburb.  A newly booming suburb.  "Nappy Village" it was affectionately called.  Brand new houses filled with new families that included children my age in every house.  A period in time when it was rare to move houses.  You were born in a neighbourhood and you left when you were grown up.  It's rare these days for people to live in a house for more than 5 years.  Well, it is in our area.  

We were the middle house in the last street.  Next door we had a very long steep driveway that lead to 2 houses behind us.  The only building of that kind in the neighbourhood.   And the long driveway was the "Hub".  In our 4 houses there was a total of 14-16 kids - the family next door was a "large" awesome family.

And we were tight.   Our parents were friends.  All the kids were friends.  We spent all weekend together.  It was awesome.

From my point of view, there was no "stranger danger".  My mother tells a different story, however I don't remember her knowing where we were at all times of the day.  I mean, she probably did, but I don't remember feeling my parents presence.  We explored the street, went in and out of the neighbourhood houses, walked up the adjoining cut-de-sac to find more friends and just rode our bikes aimlessly around.

When I was 10 years old we moved from one end of the city to the other.  New school, new neighbourhood to explore and new friends.  We, yet again, lived in a quiet street, this time with not as many children.  There was a small "bush creek" behind the houses across the road and that became our home away from home.  We were gone from sun up, to sun down.  Bikes were our main source of transportation and were well loved.

I remember the day my next door neighbour and I found a baby possum.  About the size of a rat.  We couldn't find it's mother anywhere and we feared she had been eaten by cats.  We took the possum home and made an "enclosure" out of a shoe box and one of her dad socks.  My friends mum called the RSPCA who came and collected it later, but not before we had fun playing "mum" to the tiny creature feeding it a sugar mix the RSPCA had advised her mum to feed it.

"Boundary's" were an unwritten rule -  they were probably set but I don't remember my parents sitting me down to tell me.  We just knew the creek, the bottom of our street and the street at the top of the hill were the "boundary line" of our existence.   It was actually quiet frightening to think about going any further.  We just didn't do it.

I remember venturing out a little further one day - finding a storm water tunnel and playing chicken with the neighbourhood kids as to who would go in the furtherest.  It was full of spider webs so I didn't get far.

The cyclone fences separating the backyards were only about a metre high, so "fence hopping" was a normal way to find your friends.   Bikes and fence hopping was a normal part of our day.  I have the scares on my legs as proof.  Skinned knees were a nonchalant event.  We just got up and soldiered on.  Ice packs and bandaids didn't exist.

These days, my kids are a lot more sheltered.  We know where the Reasons are at all times.  We even go as far as tracking their mobile devices.  They don't leave our property and never go exploring.

This week, however, Brett and I made a promise.  We were going to encourage each other and the Reasons to take more risks.  To stop saying "no, don't go too far away.".

So the conversation went...
  • The boundaries are....
  • The rules are...
  • You are not allowed to....
  • You can do...
  • You are expected to...
The world has changed.  There are more dangers for our children now, more than ever.  I get that.  I understand and respect the direction the world has gone.  With that in mind, we need to stop being so fearful.  Yes, there are very public cases of horrible things happening to our children, but it isn't the norm.  And I refuse to be frightened into an existence of not letting my children grow and explore the way I did as a child.

The Reasons had the most wonderful day.  Bikes got enthusiastically dirty and shoes disgracefully trashed.  The neighbourhood was explored.   Adventurous dreams were conceived and clubs were founded.  They protected each other and generally played extremely well.  No devices.

The magic of childhood lives on...

Friday, January 1, 2016

Acts of Volition.

I have never been one to embark on a new years resolution.  I mean, not an authentic resolution, that contains some substance.  Everyone vows to eat healthy or give something up, or do more of something... right?  But what about a commitment to something bigger?  Something soul searching? Something to define who you are?

I am unsure why, but for some reason, I think Twenty Sixteen is going to be a great year.  For myself and my family.  Because in the first time in my 30something years, I am...

searching for something.

I have no idea what I am looking for.  I have no idea what I really want.  All I know is that I will be looking.  And my family is going to be blessed with my efforts.

I rarely ask for anything for me.  Crikey, even when I AM given something, I am always thinking of how I can use it for someone else, or if someone else would get better use from it.  I received $250 for my birthday of which I spent $40 on me.  That is 16%.

This year, my resolution is ME.  I am going to invest more time in ME!!!  I am worth more than 16%.

I can tell you now, I am going to struggle with this.  I feel incredibly guilty when I don't have 100% of my thoughts on my kids and husband.  I am so very blessed to have the opportunity to be a full-time stay-at-home mum.  
This is my job.  My. Job.

However my babies are growing up.  The kids are alright.  They are blooming in their own ways.  Now it is my turn. 

This year I will attempt to explore ME.  I think she is a pretty awesome person.   I think she is taken for granted.  I think she is capable of more than she ever thinks possible.

I have written a personal goal list.  And I am keeping it a secret.  For a number of reasons.  Mainly because I just want to casually explore 2016 without anyone keeping track of me.  I will however,  blog about it along the way.

I am looking forward to exploring the opportunities that lie ahead.

This is the beginning of anything I want.  

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