When people tell you,” it goes so fast,” I’d always rolls my eyes. It’s such a generic thing to say. Especially when you’re a new mom and you’re so sleep deprived and overwhelmed you’re almost wishing the days away. Then, all of a sudden, two weeks have gone by. Then it’s a month. And six months. And then you’re counting down to their first birthday. And even though I’ve had two other children, I forgot how quickly time passes.

Olivia’s first two weeks weren’t without a little drama. She was having so many tummy troubles and we finally decided to call the doctor. They told us to bring in a poopy diaper so that they could test for a milk allergy. My how things have changed. When my older two were little, they recommended soy formula and never asked about poop diapers. Now soy is a no no and all you need is a quick test to show there’s an allergy.

She tested positive and then the search was on for a formula that worked for her. We started with Nutramigen, but she would throw up. The worst part is the waiting. We were told to wait two weeks to make sure the other formula was out of her system, but when your brand new baby is uncomfortable, two weeks is an eternity.

I ended up switching to another formula on my own and probably set us back a week because that one was even worse. She threw up every single bottle.

Finally we settled on Elecare and that was the magic ingredient. Paired with Dr. Brown’s bottles, she was finally getting some relief. And so were we!

The day we found out Olivia had a milk allergy, she and I also had a photo shoot scheduled. I took my own pictures at the hospital, but I didn’t get in any of them so I booked a session with Bridget Laudien Photography. I love her natural, unposed style and she did such a fantastic job. I have to admit, I thought about canceling. I wasn’t feeling great and Liv was a fussy baby so I wasn’t sure how it was going to work. Bridget was so wonderful and easy to work with. I just kind of let her do her thing and it was awesome. And I got these amazing images that I will cherish forever!! Here are some of my faves.

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If you’re just joining me for the first time, you’ll notice these posts are a little out of order. Miss Olivia Sky is currently 9 months old, but I’m going backwards to record all of the wonderful moments and milestones so far. You can read more about why it’s taken me so long to get back to blogging here.

Today I’m sharing images from when Olivia first came home. My two older girls were not able to visit her in the hospital because she was born during a particularly bad flu season. Visitors were banned for a few months. It absolutely broke my heart to not have them there. In hindsight, it wasn’t that terrible because I was really only there a day and a half since Liv was born so late at night. I did have to let go of the dream I had of them walking in to the hospital room to see their baby sister. I imagined a picture of them leaning over the bassinet staring at her. Another one of the the four of us snuggled up on my hospital bed too. It was hard to let go of those moments I had pictured for so long, but I didn’t have time to wallow. I had to get ready for them to meet her at home.

First, I made sure my camera was ready to go. I asked my husband if I could go in and see them all first. My mom was at my house waiting with the girls and I was worried about how the dog would react too. I wasn’t prepared to see Jaime and Julianna waiting at the window for us to pull in to the driveway. When I saw that I started crying. It was so cute! I wish I had taken a picture of them waiting at the window, but it’s something I’ll always remember.

After a few minutes he came in with the car seat and I snapped some pictures while they checked her out. It was such a sweet time. They were so in love … and still are!

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I have a private Facebook group just for clients of my family photography business and over the holidays I asked everyone what their biggest struggle is photographing their own children. One of the most popular answers was getting good shots of their kids together. I totally get it! You’ve got one who isn’t looking, the other one isn’t smiling or, they just won’t sit still! It’s enough to make any mama put down the camera and say ‘why bother?’. What if I told you that you’re going about it the wrong way?

I think we’ve become obsessed with perfection. The perfectly posed, everyone-looking-at-the-camera photo. But what does that even say about your family? There’s no connection. If those are the only photos you’re taking, you’re missing out on so many images that show off what makes your children special and unique. Most of the photos I love of my own children are ones that capture some part of their personality or their relationship.

Still, I know you crave those genuine smiles. I do too! I’m just not willing to have it end in tears. Once I changed the way I approach my kids with my camera, things got a lot easier.

The very first thing I think you can do to get better sibling photos is to cultivate a positive attitude about pictures.

Talk to your kids about why they’re important to you. Pictures are a way to tell stories. They connect us to our past and help us remember what it was like growing up. Let them know that you’re going to be taking more pictures, but that they don’t have to stop playing or look at the camera. If you leave the camera out and snap pictures regularly while they’re playing, eating, or even sleeping; pretty soon they won’t even hear you click the shutter.

So how will this help? Like I said before, if you’re only taking your camera out for big events like the annual Christmas card photo, they’re going to associate picture taking with stress and frustration. Come on, you know what I’m talking about. Getting everyone all dressed up and praying that they behave for just.one.photo so you can send a perfect card is not always easy or fun. By bringing the camera out more often and making it a fun experience, they’ll be more likely to cooperate when it comes time to get everyone smiling.

Be patient.

Easier said than done when it comes to our own children, but the more you sit back and observe, the easier it gets to anticipate moments that are frame worthy. Plus, you’re not forcing a moment to happen. You’re just waiting for it to come naturally and that’s when you get the best photos. Look for a physical or emotional connection. A physical connection is when they’re close. Maybe playing together, reading a book, walking together, hugging, etc. An emotional connection is all about the bond that they share. Maybe big brother is teaching little brother how to throw a football or sisters are playing dress up. Olivia loves to pull Jaime’s hair and I knew I wanted to capture that memory. All I had to do was wait for it to happen 🙂

Make it fun!

If you want to capture genuine smiles, you’re going to have to do a little work. And by that I mean, play games, act silly, make fat noises, anything that will get them laughing and not thinking about the camera. If your kids are little a great game to play is Simon Says. This way you can line everyone up and they’ll all be together in the frame. Also, give everyone a turn to be Simon so it holds their interest a little longer. Ring Around the Rosie is another good one. A fun shot is to wait until they ‘all fall down’ to take the picture. For this shot of Olivia, we played ‘so big’. She loves to show off her new tricks! And it kept her from crawling towards me and off the bed!

Get help!

If you really want a nice picture of all of your kids smiling, have someone help you. Your husband, partner, friend, or family member can be the one to act silly so you can click away and pray for a keeper! My niece and nephew were with my while I took this picture at my mom’s house on Thanksgiving.

And there you have it. I hope these help a little! I’d love to connect with you on Instagram and see your photos. Come find me and say hello!

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Check out my last post to see my first shoot with Jaime and the baby. This time I stole my older daughter, Julianna, away for a few minutes to snap some pictures. She’s a little more nervous with the baby. Not as comfortable as Jaime, but she gets better and better as the days go by.

She loves coming home from school to snuggle with her baby sister though and is a much more calming influence. I will treasure both of these shoots and can’t wait to do more!

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The greatest blessing of this whole adventure has been watching my older two interact with their baby sister. I made sure to do a photo shoot with each one not long after the baby was born so that I could remember how little she was compared to them.

Here is Olivia with Jaime, my soon-to-be 12 year old. She continues to surprise me. She is such a little mommy. She loves to help change diapers and always asks if she can put Olivia down for a nap. She will dress her, bathe her, and feed her too. Sometimes I feel bad because we call on her a lot, but I think she enjoys it.

She was the first one to make Olivia laugh and the baby loves how silly she is. I’m excited to see how their relationship grows.

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