How to Make a Super Fun Summer Obstacle Course for Cheap!

DIY, Lifestyle, Mom Life, Motherhood

If this is your first time here, Welcome! I’m a mom of four girls who works night shift as a laboratory scientist. I homeschool my girls during the day, and I’m constantly trying to come up with new ideas to stay awake all day (while showing my girls the beauty in life). Corona has us all going a little crazy cooped up in the house, right? I planned to blow up the girls’ unicorn sprinkler and let them run around in the front yard, but it had a hole in it. It was way too hot to have a day outside without water so we improvised (which always does end up in the best day ever in my experience).

When we purchased our house, our realtor brought us over a moon bounce the next day!   There were five kids, infant to age 8 so to make this day fun for everyone would take a little work. Most of what I used were just items that we had in the garage. We had a smaller moon bounce/inflatable that served to keep the younger kids occupied while the older kids completed the course. The smaller inflatable was purchased second hand for super cheap.

While the moon bounce was a fun touch, it’s really not needed. This was the end of the course, and everything else leading up to it would have been enough. Here is what I used! Let’s get started!

Toys Used:

  • Two Peppa Pig Trikes (obviously don’t have to be peppa, but the trikes being small made it harder to peddle haha)
  • Hula Hoops
  • Kiddie Pool
  • Baseball and Bat
  • Pop up tent/tunnel
  • Bubbles
  • Water
  • DIY slip and slide (instructions provided)
  • Two Inflatables

Rundown of the Obstacle Course: First, the girls each had to peddle on the tiny trikes to the hula hoops. Once they picked up the hula hoops, they had to hula to the pineapple float (these fun floats were purchased from Target for about $3, I had a Flamingo also). Next, they had to slide down the slip and slide, crawl through the tunnel (pop up tent) and run to the kiddie pool. Once in the kiddie pool, they threw a ball in the air and hit it with the baseball bat. The final task was to run to the moon bounce, and climb to the top of the “wall” in the middle.

Tip: I added water, soap, and bubbles inside of the moon bounce so that it made it harder to get to the top at the end!

 

How I made the slip and slide: You can made this with any thick plastic. I used an old inflatable ball pit that had a hole. I cut it, spread it out, and we put two plastic stakes to hold the plastic in place. You can obviously make this bigger, but since it was just part of the obstacle course, it was the perfect size. You could use old pool floats and if you don’t have anything laying around, a hardware store sells rolls of thick plastic. Another tip to make it extra slippery would be to add dish soap.

Mom Tip: I like to make everything a “game” or “challenge” to keep my oldest interested. It didn’t really matter who finished the obstacle course first, but giving her tasks to complete is also a learning experience. Having ADHD myself, I know how engaging challenges can be and how I can let time slip away from me quickly without even realizing it. Escape Rooms and Obstacle Courses are along the same lines as video games and I have found this extremely effective when learning new topics.

Let me know if you found this helpful! Feel free to follow along for more DIY, life hacks, mom life, mental health, fitness tips and everything in between. 

-The Zombie Mom

 

 

 

Newborn Photography Tips for Beginners from a Mom of Four

DIY, Lifestyle, Mom Life, Motherhood, Newborn, Photography, Work

At 19, I was a full time college student with an infant. Not working wasn’t an option for me, but I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my baby while finishing my education. My first camera was nothing special, but to me it was a huge investment. At first, I really just wanted something better than my phone to capture photos of my baby and I justified the purchase with the fact that I wouldn’t have to pay to get professional photos quite as often. I had no idea the amount of work that went into planning, editing, responding to emails, and of course actually shooting sessions.

My photography business was successful and I have learned so much about posing, lighting, marketing, etc. One of the most important lessons that I learned as a mother (a frugal one at that) is that you don’t always have to purchase the most expensive props. While I definitely believe that investing in newborn props, camera equipment, fancy dresses for unicorn sessions, providing dresses for Well Dressed Wolf or tea party sessions, etc. is important…the greatest lesson that I learned is that you have to get started. The props and equipment will not magically create the perfect photo. You have to put in the work. You have to constantly produce new content and see what people respond to. I’ve found that most of the time the photo that I choose for a sneak peek, meaning that it is the photo I am the most excited about, is rarely the photo the family posts on social media once they receive their completed gallery.

I photograph everything from newborns to weddings. I even did a newborn puppy shoot for our dog, but it took YEARS to figure out what I really wanted to capture. It took time to feel confident in my work. I want to share a few tips with you and in this post I am going to talk about a few aspects of newborn photography.

First of all, as a mom I now understand how stressful it can be to reach out to a photographer in the first place. Photos are so important to me, and I always have a vision in mind. You want to establish a relationship with your client and let them know that although you know what you are doing, you want them to come out of the experience with the photos that they want. I let clients know that I have tons of props and outfits; all they need to bring is a baby; however, they are welcome to bring anything additional that they would like to incorporate. Another tip when planning is to either share a idea board or have them send you photos that they like. I do not try to replicate photos; however, it is good to have a sense of what they are looking for.

Honestly, the best time to book a newborn session is a couple of months into your pregnancy. Many photographers book months in advance and we can plan around your due date. Obviously, this isn’t always an option, but planning a newborn session takes time. After years, I do have several prop and outfit options but I try to personalize sessions as much as possible. Putting colors together, having outfits that will fit baby, and having backup options are all important. I don’t want to waste valuable time that could be spent posing trying to find something that I could have laid out before the client gets there.

When should you shoot a newborn session? Newborns are easiest to pose and at their sleepiest state during the first two weeks of life. Babies have a mind of their own, and I am well aware of pregnancy and postpartum complications after four babies. Sometimes this cannot happen, but be prepared to spend extra time with a baby that is older than two weeks. Certain poses really must be done within the first two weeks. Be patient. Have an idea of what shots you want to get before starting the session.

Must have props: From my experience, I use stretchy cheese cloth or jersey knit wraps almost every session. There are so many ways that you can wrap a baby and using different colors and materials can add variety to your photos without spending alot of money. Basket stuffers, posing pillows, headbands/bows, knit outfits, and flowers are also some go to props of mine. I use a bobby lounger for posing still even though I have posing pillows specifically for photos. This makes the baby feel as if they are being held and has worked wonders for me.

I usually have some type of background noise, and a small heater handy if the baby will be naked for a period of time during posing. 

Lighting: Natural lighting is a must for newborn photos. I do have studio lights that I use for many sessions, but with newborns I typically just use a good source of natural lighting. Keep in mind that newborn sessions can take hours when planning your session around daylight hours.

Make the parents feel comfortable. If mama is stressed, baby can feel that. Let the parents know that you have this under control and although it may take some time to get the images that you desire, there is no need to stress. Having a baby takes alot out of you, and I know that I was so upset right after having my daughter thinking about the fact that I may not get all of the photos that I dreamed of. Being able to relate to your client will set you apart and develop a relationship for years to come!

Thank you for reading! I hope you found these tips helpful! I will be posting more, so feel free to follow along and contact me with any questions you have and what you’d like to see next.

-The Zombie Mom

How One Year can Simultaneously be the Best and Worst Year of your Life

Mom Life

 

Just a few more hours to reflect on the last decade, so here goes. I guess I’ve reached all my “milestones”, so what now? Here’s a few things I’ve learned.

During this decade I’ve been a teen mom, a college student, a photographer, a business owner, I’ve experienced trauma, I’ve lost a baby, I’ve had four healthy babies. I graduated college and started my career. I accepted a promotion. I was room mom and I was homeschool mom. I drove kids to violin and dance and I’ve spent a week in the hospital with my baby who’d turned blue. I traveled to new places. I’ve had very little, and I’ve had what a lot of people would consider to be everything. I’ve experienced post partum depression, and I’ve been told that my endurance has inspired others. I’ve photographed and shared some of the most important moments of people’s lives. I’ve been awake for days at a time in an effort to be fully present with my children, and also work full time at night.

I’ve been evicted due to no fault of my own, I’ve moved more times than I can count. I’ve lived in an apartment, moved back into my childhood home, and I finally purchased my home with a big kitchen and fenced in backyard. I witnessed first steps and lots of baby snuggles. I’ve picked myself up more times than I can count, but I won’t leave this decade crying tears of pain. I’ve jumped off cliffs and I’ve kept up with The Bachelor. I saw a shooting star. I almost died during childbirth, when a concrete stair knocked me out, and in Mexico when I “lived a little” and had to be wheeled back onto the ship via wheelchair.

It’s hard to find your village. It’s hard to find people that “get you”. For most of my life I didn’t really have that. I had people I talked to occasionally, and even people I was quite fond of. But I didn’t have a person. In my twenties I found my “people” and I was perfectly content with that. I knew who to run to with questions and I knew who would show up at my kids’ birthday parties no questions asked. I knew who I could text to ask the gross mom questions and who would pray for my baby in the middle of the night.

This year was one of the most challenging years of my life. At the end of this year, I can see that God was staging my life to where I would lean only on him when it came to making life changing decisions. There’s something people just don’t tell you about losing someone that was extremely important to you, especially when they are still in your life. If someone you love is hurt, they can’t “clap for you when you win” because sometimes, there are no true winners.

But what do you do when someone chooses to walk away despite the memories or there not being a real “fall out”? The biggest take away I have from this is that everyone is different. Our differences can lead to misunderstanding, which can lead to pain. But that doesn’t mean that our differences don’t make us stronger...because they most certainly do. My advice is to never stop being open to the idea that people are good, but life is hardWe are all going through it, but not always at the same time. Be understanding and be intentional in everything that you do. Staying bitter will hurt you far more than it will hurt anyone else.

Sometimes we have to create a new normalSometimes we have to stop linking ourselves so closely with others so that we can have time to figure out who we are, how we feel, and what we truly want. I found my voice this year, but I know that without the space to make my own observations without the opinion of anyone else, I would have responded much differently. We naturally cling to relationships that make us feel comfortable, but sometimes the best things in life push you far out of your comfort zone.

It wasn’t a toxic person holding me back, it was my opinion of myself and the power I allowed a person to have over me. I don’t let a mean comment shake me to my core anymore and I don’t stay silent because I’m afraid of what someone else’s opinion of me may be. And I’ve realized that it’s okay to look back on the memories with tears in your eyes and simultaneously be proud of the person you’ve become. Instead of labeling people jealous or narcissistic, maybe we should just take a step back. We are all different.  The moment you feel free, the moment that you felt on top of the world…is the moment you realized that you don’t need validation from anyone else as long as you know you’re doing the right thing.

During the worst time of my life, I learned the best lessons. One of them being that true strength is discovered in the moments of life that make you question everything. There’s so much power in having confidence in yourself even in your worst moments, that finding yourself will never be easy. I would have never had the strength to speak out about an issue I was extremely passionate about without first backing away from someone who never truly had my best interest at heart. I didn’t see it at the time, but to become who I am, to find peace, and my new normal I had to redirect my focus.

I’ve been called a great mom, and I’ve had the nation question my parenting because of a choice I made to provide more security for my family. Intentions might not always be seen, but they mean a lot. You should give yourself grace when it comes to that. If you do anything different this year, do just that. Give yourself grace.

And also sleep…sleep is good

-The Zombie Mom

 

 

5 Reasons you Should Never Agree to be Room Mom

Mom Life, Uncategorized

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Last year my daughter was in kindergarten at a small private school. I cried dropping her off on the first day, and most days after that. When I was asked to be room mom, I didn’t hesitate to say YES YES YES!! I’ll have relationships with other moms, I’ll get to be involved, I can trick people into thinking I’m a stay at home super mom, steal some of the Capri suns I brought for class parties…It will be great, or so I thought.

Here are five reasons why you should never be Room Mom:

  1. Other moms are perfectly fine with you doing everything yourself. I didn’t understand the reality of dropping your kid off and going to the gym, but apparently it’s the most important thing in the world. So while other moms were at the gym losing their baby weight, I was stuffing my face with cosmic brownies at the class party
  2. Other moms don’t want to be friends with the Room Mom. If you think you will build long lasting friendships, that will result in play dates for your precious angel, think again. No one cares that you spent 3 hours making Oreo Balls and Reindeer Food with a cute little tag after working all night at the hospital the night before. No one. You get placed into a “those moms” category.
  3. Women can be judgemental as hell. They don’t actually want to be the ones making the Oreo balls, but I can garuantee you they will judge yours. I once had a mom loudly proclaim that she would gladly donate money to the next party because “she works” (after we just finished having a conversation about how we both worked night shift). Well, good for you honey, that didn’t sound hateful at all.
  4. Being room mom will help your party planning skills, thus giving you the false impression that you should now have parties for everything. If you already have a problem with the Target clearance section, being Room Mom is not for you. I’m pretty sure I have an entire closet in my house dedicated to storing items I thought I would use for parties. When someone needs to borrow ANYTHING, I have it. I plan on having a birthday party for both my dogs, and half birthdays for all three kids in the near future, because, why not? I can whip up a party in 15 minutes flat at this point.
  5. Last but certainly not least, You will spend an unreasonable amount of time on the phone with parents who have THE BEST excuses for why they can’t attend a single school event. I get it, you work. I, myself, have a job and I’m here. Oh, you have another child? Hmmm. Me too, I have two under two actually. Still here. Maybe I just don’t get it, but I thought when you chose to reproduce, you also decided that your child MATTERS. I understand not being present all the time but these tiny humans are still humans. They notice when you aren’t there. So, if you feel like nothing is more important that your sweet little shit head, being Room Mom is not for you.