Finding Storybookland Elsa

Elsa, The Ice Queen

About two years ago, my sister-in-law called to say that she wanted to make Frozen costumes for the kids for Christmas and she wondered whether my daughter would like to be Elsa or Anna.

Only one of those people has ice powers, so, duh!

I’ve always wanted to do an Elsa photo shoot in the snow, because nothing says “I’m a responsible parent” like dragging your kindergartener out into the snow wearing a thin ball gown to belt out songs about how the cold doesn’t affect her, and taking pictures so you can impress all your mom friends who are waiting with bated breath on Pinterest whilst sipping their second glass of wine.

And by glass I mean bottle. Because toddlers. Ahem.

Elsa’s crown is kind of lame (haters gonna hate). There I said it. In my recent craft foam obsession, I’ve been doing all kinds of weird and wonderful things with the stuff, and super cool crowns were on my radar, right behind armor. So I designed the kind of crown *I* wanted Elsa to have, cut the pieces out of craft foam, wove them together, and finally, painted and bejeweled my masterpiece. I will be posting the pattern!

Finally, in March, after school, on a 38 degree day, it began to snow. Against all odds, it even began to stick to the ground in lovely layers. My daughter raced upstairs to grab her dress and her turquoise fleece-lined long underwear (because the cold actually does bother her). We found a nearby field, and there, in the absolute stillness of the snowfall, we belted out “Let it Go” together so she wouldn’t feel awkward singing alone while I took pictures.

Because I really am a good mom. I promise.

After five minutes she said her hands felt cold, so we hopped back in the car and went home. So… short, sweet, and memorable. Here are the pictures:

Finding Storybookland Elsa

Finding Storybookland Elsa

Finding Storybookland Elsa

Finding Storybookland Elsa

Outlander Findingstorybookland

Highland Laddie with Great Kilt Tutorial

We’re moving to Scotland this summer, and I’m getting really excited about it. The kids are all dying to learn “Scottish,” and Zach has promised to grow out his beard and buy a kilt (which is possibly the only thing more awesome than being married to a man who wears lederhosen). Stay tuned, because I’m sure we’ll have the whole family throwing logs and playing bagpipes before too long. Don’t worry, we’ll skip the Youtube videos of our practice sessions.

Last summer, we did a Braveheart cosplay-LARP-photo shoot thing….. with toddlers… In the process, I had to ask the internets for help with making a great kilt, but even after watching several Youtube videos, I felt rather confused, so I decided to make my own design, tailor it to small children, and videotape the process, because it really is that easy, and it really is that cute.

So I made the kilt last weekend, and the video is finally here, embedded below!

But– just like when you give a mouse a cookie– once I had a kilt, I remembered that I just happened to have a tiny set of red bagpipes, a sword we bought from some Czech blacksmiths, a Scottish shirt, a sporran, a Latvian cloak pin, and a log. No, really. I just happened to have All. Those. Things. The first step is admitting you have a problem, they say. I say it’s definitely not a problem.

We asked the three year old if he wanted to play dress up and play with a sword and blow on the bagpipes. He, being a smart negotiator (which he may have gotten from my side of the family), replied, “And then you will give me chocolate?” I decided that was a fair trade, so we shot a couple of pictures of our soon-to-be Highland Laddie.

Child Outlander Cosplay photography

Child Outlander Cosplay photography

Child Outlander Cosplay photography


Child Outlander Cosplay photography

Child Outlander Cosplay photography

Featured Image-1-51

The Violinist

When I was about eight years old, I began taking violin lessons because my mom had never yet heard the sound of ultimate suffering. How she braved it through the years, I will never understand, but her tenacity finally paid off when I received a violin scholarship all four years of college.

Here is a photo of my first recital. My bangs are… hairsprayed.1751874716_df0a7db74f_o

Apparently, our family has a gene strain called Not Learning From Your Parents Mistakes. My daughter begged to begin playing the violin about a year ago after my parents had shown her one of my early recital videos. Flattered– and concerned that if she liked that video enough to watch it 20-something times, she might actually be tone deaf– I went online and found the best quality instrument I could afford as a gift to my delicate ears and began her in lessons. This ritual involves me driving to the local music school once a week with all three children in tow. We trek up three flights of stairs because that’s where the only teacher who had room in his schedule has a studio. The daughter plays while the sons attempt as much mischief as is humanly possible in that half hour period. This is mostly comprised of the middle child trying to play the piano and/or play tag with the violin teacher, and the youngest child pulling things off the shelves and yelling, “Naked!”– which every parent appreciates a child adopting as his/her favorite word. In between lesson days, I practice with her at home and set raisins and almonds on her music stand and make her earn every single one by repeating scales and exercises over and over and over again, because my college scholarship might have been a little bigger if someone had given me treats instead of just setting an abacus in front of me to track my repetitions. Just saying.

Watching the development of a violinist makes my mommy (and musician) heart happy. Music is inspirational, thrilling, difficult, and worth it. So I wanted to take an early moment and capture the beauty of my tiny musician and also give her a tangible image of herself achieving a real skill. Thus this shoot.

The logistics just happened on their own. It had been snowing, but one day the sun came out and the temperature rose above freezing. The dress we chose was so long that my daughter could wear a couple of sets of thermal underclothes and snow boots and still put the dress on over. We went to a nearby forest path. She played “Twinkle Twinkle” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb” for about seven or eight minutes while I took pictures and my littles attempted to sled down the banks next to the path. I didn’t need a lot of photos or poses because this was just me trying to capture a moment in time. I’ll probably repeat this shoot again and again in different seasons and different places as she grows, and I hope to do a session with both of us at some point.

So here are my favorites from my little musician: