Black Friday Deals for Large Families

When you have a big family you have to spend those Christmas dollars wisely! I’ve put together a list of what I think are the best Black Friday-Cyber Monday Deals for large families. I’ll be adding to this list as I see more pop up, so check back often!

1- Instant Pot- 8 quart

Oh Instant pot, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways… lol. Seriously though I use this thing at least 3 times a week, and sometimes every night. I can take chicken from frozen to shredded in about 25 minutes with just a simple dump and button push. Seriously my favorite kitchen appliance ever! Only $81.99 on Amazon.

2- FREE Paparazzi with $35 purchase

Paparazzi Accessories make AWESOME stocking stuffers at $5 a piece. They’ve got pieces for both men and women, boys and girls. If you need something for the holiday office party you can get some amazing pieces from the new Zi Collection for only $25! Now through Nov 30th you can get a free “Toast to Perfection” necklace and earring set with any purchase of $35+

3- 23 and Me DNA test

This could be a LOT of fun to do with the extended family. I got mine done and learned all sorts of interesting things about my genetics as well as my family history. Now 50% off on Amazon.

4- Kindle Fire 7

The Kindle Fire is the best money I’ve spent on homeschooling in AGES. The kiddos love them and at this price point I’m not terrified they’ll break them lol. They’re pretty darn sturdy too. Also a little tip for more money saving year round. Buy the app coins at a discount then use them to buy the apps and save! The basic 8GB Fire has been plenty for us, but pretty much EVERY Amazon device is on sale right now as well, so scroll around and see which version you love best.

5- Ergo Baby Cariers

I LOVE my Ergo Organic. Seriously could not survive without it. For Black Friday you can get 50%  off of all Adapt Baby Carriers using code ADAPT at checkout. Then on Cyber Monday use code 30off to get an additional 30% off all sale items.

6- Blurb Photo Books

Get high quality photo books of your family’s memories at a killer price. Save 50% with code FANTASTICFIFTY. Valid through Nov 29th.

7- Creative Live Education

We have already used CreativeLive a bunch in our homeschool and I know we will use it even more as my kiddos get older. They’ve got classes on music, photography, art, entrepreneurship and more! Anything that is streaming live is free to watch. You can buy past classes at very reasonable prices and right now they are all on sale up to 50% off!

 

8- Art Supplies

If your kiddos are anything like mine they burn through art supplies like CRAZY! There are tone of great deals on Amazon right now, too many to list, but you can peruse the section here. Dick Blick is also having a pretty great promotion right now. Their Cyber Weekend promo code is good all weekend long through midnight (CST) 11/27/17, is WKD2017. The offers are 15% off orders of $69 or more, or 20% off orders of $99 or more, or 25% off orders of $159 or more or 30% off orders of $239 or more, PLUS free shipping on orders of $25 or more!

9- Melissa and Doug Toys

I love how sturdy Melissa and Doug toys are. The quality can’t be beat, and Amazon has a ton of them on sale right now!

A Year in My Life- July

Oops, I did it again. I forgot to share my “A Year in my Life Photos”. I was about to start writing Augusts post, when it dawned on me that I had completely skipped over July! I guess it will be July today and August tomorrow.

As can be expected the beginning of July was filled with parades and fireworks. We had a lot of fun going to a few different performances of the Army National guard that Cameron plays in. The kids always holler and scream when Daddy marches by. They’re his biggest fans.

A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic
We were lucky to run into some friends at the local fireworks show.
A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic
I’d rather take pictures of these cuties than the fireworks
A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic
Army National Guard Band playing the National Anthem
A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic
Maddy loves her baby
A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic | LuLaRoe Julia
Rocking my LuLaRoe Americana Julia as a long shirt
A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic
Daddy marching in the smallest parade we’ve ever seen.

July was also great because we had a visit from Cameron’s brother and his cute little family. My kids absolutely adore their little cousin. We got a bit of rain while at the park, but that didn’t slow anyone down!

Get out of the way!
Get out of the way!
You can definitely tell these two are related.
You can definitely tell these two are related.
"just singing in the rain!"
“just singing in the rain!”
ok, maybe they don't ALL like each other.
ok, maybe they don’t ALL like each other.
Cheese!
Cheese!

It was a pretty fun low key month. The most exciting thing happened on July 23rd when I submitted my application to become a LuLARoe Fashion Consultant! MY call to purchase my initial inventory should come any day now. I can’t wait to get started in this business. I love their clothes and I know I’m going to rock it! If you haven’t gotten in on my LuLaRoe presale yet check it out. Pre-sale deals end on the day my inventory ships, which will be in about 10-14 days. Also make sure to join me in my Facebook group to get in on some fun giveaways leading up to my big launch party in a few weeks.

Are you doing a photo challenge this year? I’d love to see your work. Drop a link in the comments so I can check it out. 

Watercolor and Oil Pet Portrait Paintings Now Available

I am excited to announce that I am now offering pet portraits in my Etsy shop. These portraits will be offered at $65, but right now are being offered at the special introductory price of only $45! Get yours now, because this deal won’t last long.

Watercolor pet portrait| Smithsquad.com | Digital Painting | Digital art | Watercolor art
Watercolor style

This beautiful digitally hand painted art is the perfect way to display portraits of your pet in your home. It can also be used as a spectacularly unique holiday card, birthday gift, anniversary gift or to celebrate any other special occasion.

Each pet portrait is hand painted by me using Corel Painter and Photoshop. Using your reference photo I carefully choose my colors, brush types, and strokes to create a traditional painting with digital media. Your portrait is then sent to you as a high resolution JPEG with a full release for printing with your favorite company. These are beautiful as framed prints or gallery wrapped canvases. They can also be very stunning on the new metal style prints.

Watercolor pet portrait| Smithsquad.com | Digital Painting | Digital art | Watercolor art
Oil Style

The price listed is for up to two subjects. Additional subjects can be added at a rate of $25 per subject. If you would like to add subjects please message me so that I can create a custom listing for you.

This item is made to order – Please allow for a turnaround time of 2-4 weeks.
If you need it sooner, contact me first about rush order availability and I will see what I can do to help you!!

Watercolor pet portrait| Smithsquad.com | Digital Painting | Digital art | Watercolor art
Oil Style

~~~How This Works~~~

Step 1: Purchase the listing on Etsy or email/message me directly

Step 2: Upon purchase, send your desired reference photo to emily@Smithsquad.com. Clear photos with good lighting are important.

Step 3: I begin painting! You will receive a small reference file to approve before finalizing the image and I will do up to 2 rounds of revisions. Additional rounds of revisions can be requested at a rate of $25 per round.

Step 4: After I get your final approval, I will send the image to you as a high resolution JPEG along with a full print release.

Watercolor pet portrait| Smithsquad.com | Digital Painting | Digital art | Watercolor art
Oil Style

Are you ready to get started? Check out my Etsy shop now or send me a message!

Would you like to win a free pet portrait? comment below with your pets name(s) and why you love them. I will choose a winner on Tuesday August 16. 

Senior Pictures at Little Mulberry Park in Dacula, GA

At the beginning of the year a new family started attending our church. The Penningtons had just moved from Colorado. I bet you can imagine my excitement when I discovered they were fellow homeschoolers who LOVED “A Thomas Jefferson Education” as I do. It is so refreshing to be around people who don’t think you’re weird for not worrying about your 7-year-old who doesn’t read well yet or tell you that your 6-year-old wouldn’t be shy if she just went to public school. They scored some bonus points for also being much further along the path than me, I REALLY love have some real life mentors to help me as I figure out this homeschooling journey. The biggest bonus points, however, come from the fact that their kids are amazing! They love my kiddos so much and have become excellent friends and babysitters. I can tell that these kids/teens will be my lifelong friends every bit as much as their parents will.

DSC06049

A few months ago They asked if I could take their oldest daughter’s senior pictures. Abbe was the perfect subject. We had a ton of fun wandering around Little Mulberry Park in Dacula, GA. We made sure to feature her guitar as well, because Abbe is an amazing musician. We even had an older gentleman ask if he should be getting her autograph because she looked like a star!

I am looking forward to taking pictures of the entire family soon!

A Year in the Life June- Documentary Photography at the Pet Store

Once again I completely forgot to post my A Year in the Life pictures from last month. As usual the littlest ones were the stars of the show! I must admit right around 1.5 is my favorite age. Learning to walk and talk, but not quite into the temper tantrum stage yet. Even with a new baby around Wally once again was the main subject of my camera lens this month.  DSC06481   DSC06493 DSC06496

The best shot of the month is this one of Wally with Hannah. Wally is absolutely IN LOVE with his sock monkey. He is also over the moon for his new baby sister. When Grandma sent Hannah a sock monkey outfit I knew I needed a picture of him holding the both of them. As you can see Hannah wasn’t too fond of the idea. Wally was unperturbed. He just shoved that paci in her mouth, positive that losing it was the only reason she was sad. Poor girl didn’t stop crying till mommy rescued her, after getting the picture first of course lol. DSC06491

The older kids managed to sneak into a few pictures by holding the very photogenic new baby. Maddy especially loves to help take care of Hannah. I have  feeling these two are going to be best buds.

DSC06426

DSC06537

Ben likes to love on her too, but not quite as much as Maddy. He gets bored pretty fast adn is ready to pass her on.

One fun thing I did this month was take the camera with me when we went to the pet store. I’ve always been a little too self conscious to bust out the camera in an unusual spot like that before. This time I just went for it. I had a TON of fun. I love that I was able to capture so much of my kids personalities in an everyday situation. I even remembered to hand the camera off to the hubs and get in the pictures myself!

Would you like to preserve these types of memories as well? I can teach you how. Stay tuned for my workshop announcement, coming soon! If you’d like to hire me for a documentary session please contact me for more details and to schedule your date.

CreativeLive Mid-Year Sale: Save up to 50%!

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It’s no secret that I love CreativeLive. Since I first discovered them a few years ago I’ve watched hundreds of classes while they were streaming, purchased many, and even attended two as part of the studio audience. It has been such an amazing educational resource for me. Right now CreativeLive is having their mid-year sale where all classes are up to 50% off!! No coupon code needed, simply go to their catalog and choose the classes you want.

Shop Creative Live Classes

When CreativeLive first started they were really focused on photographers. No w they have five different channels; Photo & Video, Art & Design, Music & Audio, Craft & Maker, and Money & Life. They have classes on everything a creative entrepreneur needs. Whether you need help with business, marketing, or actual artistic techniques you are sure to find something useful. If you aren’t sure where to get started here are a few of my favorite classes:

Kickstarter for Photographers and Film Makers

This is one of the classes that I attended in the creativeLive studio. In this class Clay Hebert walked us through the steps to take before and during a Kickstarter campaign to ensure its success. He showed us some case studies on a few successful projects that he had worked with and showed us why they succeeded.

The Creative Newborn Photography Studio

This was the second class that I attended in studio and it was a life changer for me! Julia Kelleher is an amazing teacher and I absolutely loved her passion for teaching. Julia encouraged each of us to find a way to be creative and put our own hearts into our work. She encouraged us to try new things and find a personal project to work on. We got to watch her photograph a few different newborns as well as work on her own personal project exploring motherhood. She showed us the basics of creating a painting in Corel Painter as well as how she mounts her art prints. It was because of this class that I first tried digital painting which I LOVE and is now one of the staples of my business.

Photoshop Classes by Ben Willmore

There are TONS of classes a on Photoshop on CreativeLive and it can be hard to choose which one to purchase! I would highly recommend anything by Ben Willmore. I have watched several of his classes. He has an easy to follow teaching style. He explains things in a simple manner so that anyone can follow along. He doesn’t stop there though, he also goes into more advanced concepts and ideas. I have never failed to learn something new from every call of his that I have watched.

Brush Lettering Bundle

This bundle includes three excellent classes by Laura Worthington. Watching and participating in this class was probably the most fun I’ve had with a CreativeLive class outside of the studio. Laura started with the very basics of how to use the brush to create lines and shapes before moving on to letter forms. She then discussed how to think through and add flourishes and other ornamentation. From there the third class of this bundle discusses how to take a piece form idea through sketching to a finished piece.

These are just a few of my very favorite classes, but there are hundreds more that I have watched and enjoyed. Go check them out now while everything is on sale! You won’t regret it.

Have you watched any classes on CreativeLive? What were your favorites? What types of classes are you searching for? Please share and ask for recommendations in the comments. Let’s help everyone get their perfect class! 

Brush Lettering on CreativeLive-Class Review

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Yesterday I had the chance to watch three brush lettering classes by Laura Worthington on CreativeLive. Laura is a font designer and expert hand letterer. The classes were Brush Lettering Basics, Flourishes and Ornamentation, and Putting Together a Final Piece. Each of these classes can be purchased individually or you can buy the bundle that includes all three at a discount. I really enjoyed following along and doing the exercises along with the class, at least as much of the exercises as Miss Hannah would allow in between nursing and snuggling.

Brush Lettering Basics

Brush Lettering Class on CreativeLive| Smithsquad.com| Online educational resources| Class review
Practicing basic letters with my name.

In the first class Laura discussed the basic tools she uses as well as how to practice the basic strokes and letter forms. The brush that Laura used during the class and that she gave to the seven studio audience members was a Pentel Color Brush pen which can be purchased from Amazon or Blick Art. On Amazon there was also an option for a set of 18 different colors. She also had both regular and tracing paper as well as scissors and tape. When at home she also uses digital tools to refine and vectorize her artwork. I personally was using the Sakura Koi watercolor brush pens and look forward to also trying out drawing directly in Corel Painter, Photoshop, and Illustrator with my Wacom tablet.

After showing us her supplies she started doing simple strokes and shapes to help us get used to the was the brush feels. She showed the proper grip for both right and left handed artists as well as discussing how the motions were different from traditional writing. As a free download with the class she provided a paper with different lines indicating where the different parts of a letter should fall. She had us focus on light pressure on the upstrokes and heavy pressure on the downstrokes. After doing the basic practice strokes we moved on to doing letter forms, both lowercase and uppercase. The final project for this first class was to practice writing your name.

Brush Lettering Flourishes and Ornamentation

Brush Lettering Class on CreativeLive| Smithsquad.com| Online educational resources| Class review
Flourishing my name

After a short break we moved on to the second class on flourishes and ornamentation. When you purchase the class there is a free download of several sample flourishes that you can practice tracing to get the feel for them. After practicing some of these flourishes Laura had us work on adding flourishes to our own name. As a demonstration she did my name! First she drew the name and added some flourishes in pencil then when she was happy with the shape she went over it with the brush. My own attempts aren’t nearly as nice as hers, but it was definitely fun.

Brush Lettering Putting Together a Final Piece

Brush Lettering Class on CreativeLive| Smithsquad.com| Online educational resources| Class review
My work in progress, still have a long way to go.

The third class focused on how to create a complete piece of artwork with a short phrase. She had each of the students choose a phrase to work on and talked through each one with them pointing out which words to draw focus to and a few suggestions on how to do that. She then had each person to several thumbnail sketches of their chosen phrase. From there they chose a thumbnail and started drawing a larger version of their final choice. She cautioned that it often takes MANY tries to get to the final product. This is where she pulled out the scissors and tape and showed us how she would take the best parts from each attempt and pull them together to then trace over for her final piece. I decided to practice with the phrase “let your faith be bigger than your fear” which will become the focal point of one of the pages in my Pregnancy and Birth Coloring Book.

I have been trying to teach myself lettering from the book “Modern Calligraphy” as well as a few worksheets form “The Postman’s Knock“. They have both been EXCELLENT resources, but it was completely different to actually watch Laura doing the lettering and talking through her thought process. I think that my books and worksheets will be even more useful now as I am better able to apply what they teach. I am excited to continue to hone my skills with lettering and be able to offer it as a service to my clients soon.

Are you an expert or do you want to learn brush lettering? What are your favorite resources? I’d love to see some links to your work in the comments!

Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World CreativeLive Class Review

Yesterday I watched the class “Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World” on CreativeLive by Karen Alsop. It was AMAZING!! I had to share today to make sure that anyone who was interested could catch the second day of broadcasting which will be happening starting at 9am PST. If you are reading this after June 3rd you’ve missed the live broadcast, thankfully all CreativeLive classes are available for purchase for unlimited download, streaming, watching, etc. also as a special bonus if you buy this class Karen has included her custom brush set that she created just for compositing (a $45 value) as a free download.

Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World - CreativeLive class review| Smithsquad.com

The class started with Karen telling us a bit about herself and her work. She then showed a few time lapse videos of her process. She then quickly got into the meat of the class, how to create a composite. She gave some great insight into how to plan a composite and shoot images that would work together. In this class she is creating an Alice in Wonderland scene to teach the process. Before the class began she went to a garden local to her and shot tons of images of trees, bushes, hedges, paths, etc. She showed a time lapse video, and talked us through it, of how she  put these images together to create a fantastic background.

Now it was time to start shooting. Karen brought in a live rabbit and an adorable little girl to play Alice. She talked to us about how to choose a background to shoot on and how to light the scene to match the lighting in your finished composite. We then got to watch her shoot both subjects. As she was shooting she was quickly placing shots roughly into the scene to make sure that the photographs would work well together. She had to ensure that they faced the right way, looked the right direction, were shot from the correct angle etc. This part was a lot of fun. Karen was shooting with her camera tethered to her Wacom Cintiq Companion 2. This allowed her to instantly pull any image into her composite and play with it. The companion has definitely inched it’s way to the top of my wants list after watching her use it. If you are interested in learning more about the Cintiq read my post about Wacom tablets.

After Karen chose her favorite images she began to discuss different tips and tricks for extracting a subject from their background. One of the things I had never thought of before was using a textured brush to create the masking, using a leaf brush for foliage or a hair brush for a furry animal. I have always struggled with getting clean extractions around hair, fur, or trees, so I am really excited to try this tip.

The day ended on that point. For the second day of Class Karen has told us we will be working on completing our extractions and putting together the different elements she will be using from the photos of Alice. After that she is going to discuss how to create light, shadows, and other editing techniques to ensure that the piece looks like it was shot all as one image as well as add a fun fantasy vibe to it. I am really excited to watch the live stream today and I hope you will be joining me. This is also a class I will be adding to my favorites in my digital library along with Watercolors 101 and Photoshop for Photographers. I’m also excited to combine composite creation in Photoshop with Corel Painter to create more images like this one of my daughter.

Digital composite created in Photoshop then painted in Corel Painter | Smithsquad.com

What have been your favorite CreativeLive classes or which ones are you looking forward to? Do you have any awesome compositing tips or tutorials to share? I love seeing new links to explore in the comments. 

Unslumping Myself- A Day of Art

I’ve been in a major creative slump lately. I think more than anything it’s just pure exhaustion! The uncomfortableness of the third trimester of pregnancy and now having a newborn means sleep is a rare commodity. Thankfully last night I slept like a rock in between baby wakings. I have decided to dedicate today to being artistic.

I have three things I’m hoping to work on today. First I want to get some practice in on my Calligraphy. I have a coloring page all ready to go except for the words at the top. I want to write them in my calligraphy, but I need to practice the phrase a few times first to get it right.

Learn for a Latte Worksheet |SmithSquad.com | I got this awesome practice worksheet from The Postman's Knock |Learning modern calligraphy
One of my Learn for a Latte worksheets from “The Postman’s Knock”

The second thing I want to work on is creating at least one new coloring page for my motherhood coloring book. I told myself I’d have the whole book done by March 31st. Clearly that did not happen. I completely overestimated my ability to work on it. I didn’t really factor in the third trimester exhaustion and hormones when making my plans. Time to get back on the horse and get some new pages created.

mother and child colored pencil
The drawing that inspired the idea for my coloring book

Third I want to watch more of my Watercolor 101 class from CreativeLive and play around with the techniques presented. I have Derwent watercolor pencils, Sakura Koi watercolor brush markers and Simply Art watercolor cakes. I’ve enjoyed playing around with each of them, but frankly don’t really know what I’m doing. Watercolor is a new medium for me that I’m excited to get to know better.

watercolor-ballerina-and-bear-web
My first attempt coloring with the Sakura Koi brush markers

I’m hoping that by dedicating a day to being artistic, doing some things I’m familiar with as well as working on new techniques, I can get back into the flow of things where I spend at least an hour or two a day working on my art. I’ve got to get out of this slump!

What do you do when you are in a creative slump? Do you have any awesome calligraphy, coloring pages, or watercolor works to inspire me with? Share links in the comments so I can check them out!

A Year in My Life- April- Meet My Mentors

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Well would you look at me. It’s the BEGINNING of the month and I remembered to post my “A Year in my Life” photos! The April weather has been gorgeous, and as you can see we’ve spent a LOT of time outside. I hope you enjoy this little behind the scenes peek into our life.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Our new lady goat, Alice. She’s now pregnant and we are expecting kid(s) late summer/early fall.

This month I’d like to talk about some of my mentors that have really encouraged me and taught me as I have worked on perfecting my documentary images. First up is Kirsten Lewis Bethmann. I first “met” her while watching her class on CreativeLive “Family Photography: Modern Storytelling”.  Kirsten specializes in Day in the Life Family Photography. Rather than posed images she captures the real everyday story of the families that she photographs. Her class walked through things like how to see the moments, how to use the available light, and included a behind the scenes of her shooting a session.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Making faces at his reflection while watching the rain through the window.

After watching Kirsten’s class I was inspired to take more documentary images of my own family, and also felt the desire to provide this for clients. I was already moving away from super posed images and into more lifestyle images, but Kirsten made me want to go even further! I purchased her first class so that I could re-watch it as often as I wanted to refresh my mind on things I had already learned as well as hopefully learn something new each time. When she did her second class, “Family Photography: Photojournalism in the Home” I watched as much as I could live, and learned even more.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Poor baby was NOT feeling well at all. He was sick for almost a week!

My next big mentor I also discovered thanks to CreativeLive. I first saw Julia Kelleher when she presented the class “Family Photography: Capturing Connection“. I absolutely loved her passion for what she was doing, photographing newborns and their families, as well as her open honesty about her experiences with postpartum depression. I could also tell that she had a true love for teaching and really wanted her students to succeed.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
We had a lot of fun watching these little birdies grow up. Their parents are beautiful red Cardinals and we love having them in our yard.

Then I saw a call for studio audience members for her second class, “The Creative Newborn Photography Studio“, and I decided to apply. Boy am I glad I did! I was accepted and given the opportunity to attend her three-day class live in the CreativeLive studio in San Francisco. It was an AMAZING experience! I not only got to spend three days learning from Julia, but I was able to build relationships with the other photographers that were in the studio audience. Julia really helped me build my own passion for exploring my why. Why am I a photographer? Why am I an artist? What message do I have to share with the world? She really launched me into me journey of digging deeper and rediscovering my own identity outside that of wife and mother.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Check out how this guy is holding the pencil! Only 1.5, but has to be like the big kids. Maddy, is the best big sister and always willing to help him out and cheer him on.

While those two instructors have influenced me the most, CreativeLive has been such a wealth of knowledge and motivation for me. I’ve watched classes on pricing, photography, Photoshop editing, marketing, branding, watercolors and so much more. I try to check out their offerings each morning and tune in to the live classes whenever I can.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Picnicking on the front porch after a morning of working hard in the yard.

Last, but certainly not least, this list would not be complete without the amazing Christine Tremoulet! I first met her in Jeff Jochum’s Team-X Facebook group. Jeff Jochum is an amazing coach, who I have also worked with, and you should definitely check out his book “Work Happily Ever After” if you are a photographer. Jeff really helped me start digging into who I am and why, but Christine is the one who really cracked the nut wide open for me and helped me become clearly focused in my business goals and direction.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Hard work, when done with the family, is fun. Stay tuned for a future blog post on how we use family work instead of chores to build relationship and teach good habits.

After talking with Christine on Facebook quite a bit I signed up for her email list “Blogging Brilliantly” which is now an amazing book. Blogging Brilliantly give daily actionable steps that you can take to improve your message, attract your target audience, and blog with more clarity. I have to admit, that while the advice was amazing, I failed to implement most of it. I think more than anything I was unclear in the direction I wanted my blog and business to go. I desperately want to be a full-time birth/newborn/family life photographer. Unfortunately with baby #8 due in just a few days it really isn’t a season of my life where I can focus as much time, energy, and money, into that business as I would like. I was pretty lost and floundering trying to figure out how to be true to myself and my needs while still honoring the responsibilities that come with being the mom of a large family.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
The kids all love working together to help Dad out. This time shoveling up wood chips to be placed under the fence where the neighbor’s dog keeps getting into our yard.

Christine then invited me to be a part of her first group coaching class “Business Brilliantly“, and I jumped at the opportunity. I knew I needed help and I knew that I trusted her knowledge and mentorship. I was not disappointed! Through her class I was able to really focus on what I wanted out of my life. I was able to weed out the distractions and create a clear message of who I am as a person and a business. I was able to create a sense of peace with the direction I am going with my businesses and excitement about where they will take me in the future.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Getting a ride in the wheelbarrow as a reward for hard work well done

Thanks to these three mentors I am in a really good place right now with my work life balance. I have given myself permission to step back from the photography and art without completely giving it up. I have come to a place where I truly enjoy and look forward to writing in my blog. I have a clear message of what I stand for, who I am talking to, and am able to focus more time on my children in the process. It’s been quite the journey, and taken several years, but I am eternally thankful to the mentors who have gotten me to where I am.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Hector really is a butthead, but Leah is the animal whisperer and can be buddies with even the most ornery of animals. I love how this image captures her sweet, sensitive personality juxtaposed with his look of devilishness.

I love sharing these everyday moments with my readers each month. I hope they not only give you a peek into my behind the scenes life, but somehow the experiences and knowledge I share in each post can also help you to find the same sense of purpose and clarity that I have been privileged to enjoy!

If you would like to have documentary images of your family I would love to help you out! While I am not full timing the photography business I am still taking on a few clients each month for birth, newborn, and family life sessions. If you are interested in scheduling a session within ~1 hour of Winder Georgia please contact me!

Who are your mentors either in personal life or business? What have they taught you?

Are you doing a 52/365 project this year? I’d love to see your images so please share your links in the comments and I’ll come visit.