Back to School Lunches: Make them Fun and Germ-Free

I will be honest, as the school year draws to a close, one of the things I MOST look forward to are the days with little to no schedule…those that allow me the flexibility of a few extra minutes in the morning, that don’t find me harassing my small people to ‘hurry up’, to ‘find their shoes’, to ‘pack their backpacks’ and to rush out the door…and yes, I definitely don’t miss making and packing their lunches.

But as Summer drifts by and then eventually winds down, my entire mindset changes. I crave order. I begin to be excited about the new beginning. I cannot wait to buy school supplies, get down to business and yes, find a way to make lunch time healthy and creative again.

By that time, we have sunned and swam, stayed up late, slept in a little too often, played outside until the sun set and done every single thing a kid (and an adult) could possibly do during the lazy days of Summer. And we have loved every second.

The kiddos don’t want to admit it….and I remember the days of longing for Summer to continue forever, but all good things wind down – at least for a season. As I prepare, both mentally and in our home for the truth of that first day of school, I know I don’t want to fall in to a routine of doing the ‘same old thing’ for lunch every day AND I know a huge priority will be to keep those small people of mine as healthy and germ-free as possible all year long. Am I thinking ahead? You bet am I. Every once in a while I do that.

To get me in the spirit, I partnered with Pepperidge Farm® Goldfish Crackers and Wet Ones to plan healthy, germ-free, creative lunches. Here is what I do:

Ask for my kids’ input: the truth is….they are at school, out of my sight and if they hate what I pack for them, they would rather go hungry than eat it. That is a loss for everyone.

WetOnesGoldfish2

Make them Germ-Free: Have you thought about this? Include a Wet Ones Single pack in your kid’s lunch. Genius. Little hands. Lots of germs. It makes sense, right? You provide the Wet Ones for them to do a quick clean right before they dig in and you know that everything they have touched in the classroom and even in the lunchroom up to that point is wiped from their hands. This is good.

WetOnesGoldfish

Include a variety: I always aim for protein…like turkey or chicken, their favorite fruits and something sweet – I want to feed their brains and offer them a treat to give them something to look forward to. My kiddos have always loved Goldfish crackers. I almost feel as though we have grown up with them. As there are so many options, we can mix the Pretzel and Cheddar crackers and pair them with hummus for dipping or combine the Vanilla Cupcake and Honey as a ‘dessert’ option.

WetOnesGoldfish5

Be an Enabler: This if for those of us with bigger kids. When your small people start to turn the corner in to ‘bigger people’ territory, invite your kids to start helping with the creative process. Instead of asking them what they want YOU to make them for lunch…begin to oversee THEM making their own. I think you will find not only that you are raising intelligent kids with a variety of tastes, but that they, too, can be quite creative.

How do YOU tackle back to school lunches creatively? I’d love to hear your suggestions! And don’t forget to head to Wish I Had Wet Ones to enter for a chance to win a year’s supply of Wet Ones® for your home and your little one’s school (make sure they can accept donations!) PLUS $1000 in cash!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Wet Ones®. The opinions and text are, as always, all mine.

Heat-Friendly Hair Styles

If you’re anything like me, then the hot weather does a number on your hair. Humidity brings out the frizz and sweat causes uncomfortable stickiness. So in the Summer, wearing my hair down just doesn’t happen all that often. But pulling it up doesn’t mean you have to be stuck with the same old ponytail. You’ll love these heat-friendly hairstyles that will keep you cool and chic!

five heat-friendly hairstyles for summer

1. French braid ponytail

summer hair: french braid ponytail

A simple french braid is always a classic. To mix it up, french braid the top half of your hair and pull the rest into a ponytail! Need a french braid tutorial? Check out Real Simple’s guide.

2. Double braid ponytail 

summer hair ideas: side dutch braid ponytail

This has to be one of my all-time favorites. Side part your hair and create two braids at your crown. Pull the rest of your hair into a pony! (If you want to save a few minutes, just braid one side and pull into a pony!) This look works with french braids, dutch braids or even fishtail! Want tips for side braids? Try Missy Sue’s tutorial.

3. Twisted Pony

summer hair ideas: twisted pony

Twists are a great alternative to a braid and super, super easy if braiding seems to allude you. I learned this style last Summer from Abby of Twist Me Pretty, and it remains a quick, easy favorite!

4. Side braid

summer hair ideas: side braid

You just can’t beat the classic braid. Sweep your hair to the side to keep it casual, laid-back, and off your neck. You can go with the classic braid or try a fishtail! Want a great tip for fattening up your braid? Check out Danielle’s tutorial (plus a bonus double-braid)!

5. Folded Braid Updo

summer hair ideas: fold over braided  updo

This look is so cute, and much quicker than it looks. Depending on the length of your hair, you may have to increase the number of braids. (For longer hair, just braid pigtails. For shorter hair, increase to up to four braids.) Then weave and pin for a fancy-looking ‘do that only took five minutes to create!

On Fatherhood, Selflessness and Heroes #ShareYourHero

This past weekend, we found ourselves on a baseball diamond. I know, I know, pick your jaw up from the floor….it is hard not to be shocked to think that we, our little family of four, had ventured to yet another field to watch one of our children play.

But this weekend had a touch of the ‘unique’ to it…. Cooper was to play in his very first out-of-town tournament and his Daddy, the Coach was a bundle of nervous excitement and energy. Sure, it was but two hours away, and yet, to a nine year old…his team of Rookies, and yes, his coach – they may as well have been stepping right in to their own version of the Field of Dreams.

The practicing, the planning, the dreaming (‘here’s the pitch!’) and the pep talks from even his big-sister made this one a special one.

DelaneyCooper PepTalk

We arrived early as we always do. Coach Dad likes to be uber-prepared. But you can’t prepare for your son to develop a debilitating headache within minutes of your arrival. You can’t prepare for that headache to turn in to vomiting and a 102 degree fever out of the clear blue. You can’t prepare for having to rearrange your lineup at the very last minute.

You simply can’t prepare for the planning, practicing and dreaming that DID include watching your son play a game you both love to slip through your fingers like the dirt from the pitcher’s mound.

This is a man who gets up at 4:30 in the morning to go to the gym not because he is obsessed with morning workouts, but so he doesn’t miss a moment of the day when his children are around. He is there for breakfast before school during the school year and now, during the Summer, before camps.

This is a father who coaches baseball, softball, soccer and even some basketball when he can. He doesn’t do it because he has to, but because he loves it – it allows him to do a series of things he adores: coach kids, be involved in sports and spend time with his small people.

This is a dad who would rather spend time with his family than do ANYTHING else on the planet. Vacation with me to the Greek Isles or to Disney with the four of us? Disney all day long. Night out with his friends or home with the kids playing baseball and softball in the yard and watching the Cardinals on TV? Home, every time.

Cardinal Baseball Jeff Cooper: Goodbye to Oscar Taveras

We divide and conquer in every area of our family – from sports to school to our crazy-definitely-too-messy home. He is a partner, a friend, a coach, a teacher, a goofy-make-you-laugh kind of guy.

Jeff Coach

Last weekend’s tournament didn’t turn out as he wished…and though I could see a bit of the sad in the slouch of his shoulders as he stood for a few moments by himself – he desperately missed his buddy, his shortstop – he was still so proud of his TEAM, he was still so excited to be their coach, to be taking to the diamond and playing this game of baseball with the Rookies.

In addition to everything else, he’s a chin up kind of guy even when it isn’t easy.

And that makes him the hero in our family.

MrsFields ShareYourHero

Knowing that heroes come in all shapes and sizes, Mrs. Fields® is on the hunt for America’s hometown heroes and they asked me to share ours and hopefully inspire you to do the same. You can nominate your hero for a chance to appear on future boxes of Mrs. Fields® cookies AND win a year’s supply of cookies for both you and your hero.  Entering is simple – hop on over here.

MrsFields ShareYourHero2

As a proud supporter of the USO, Mrs. Fields® is donating 25,000 cookies to our heroes in uniform.

MrsFields ShareYourHero

I would love to know….who is your hero? Someone in your family? A teacher? A neighbor down the street? Your son or daughter? DO tell!

Disclosure: I’m proud to be working with Mrs. Fields® to have the conversation with you. As always, all thoughts and opinions shared are mine and mine alone.

 

 

 

 

The Magic and Beauty of GOOD

GoodNews

One of the things I love most about Danielle, and the community that she has pulled together in this space, is her ability to look for the good in everything. In a world that feels like it might be spinning out of control, how necessary it is to stop for a moment and tuck away the good news.

We need to hold onto that good like a firefly, delicately and sweetly so that we can marvel in the light it produces. So today, I’d like to share with you 5 Good News Stories happening right now. And perhaps we could link arms, and continue to share the joy that accompanies a story that simply brings a smile to your face.

5 Good News Stories From Around the World

1.) A Boy and His Best Friend

My first born was obsessed with trucks. Like this little boy, he stood at the window of our first home, and he waited for the garbage truck to pull around the corner. He’d fly out the door and down the driveway to give our trash collector a high five.

That little boy is almost 12, and so when I saw this story today, I teared up. It’s been a long time since my guy toddled down the driveway on unsteady feet, and it was nice to remember the joy that comes with the delightful innocence of youth.

2.) The Heart of an Officer

It’s been a tumultuous year for police officers, and in the midst of the confusion and anger, the questions, and the many stories, it’s been easy to lose sight of what these men and women do for us. They’re the first line of defense, yes. But they’re also the deliverers of news that forever altars lives.

This story about Officer Eric Ellison reminds us that police officers are not only brave in the line of duty. They’re also empathetic, gracious, and quick to offer solace to hurting souls. This is a good news story that requires Kleenex.

3.) The Bare Foot Artists

In 2004, Lily Yeh stepped into a slum in Korogocho, near Nairobi, Kenya, and she grew so overwhelmed with the situation that she turned her face to the sky and asked, “What should I do?” The answer? Bring color.

As one who believes in the healing power of creativity, I love this story. Yeh’s group, The Barefoot Artists, brings hope and healing to some of the most impoverished areas of the world through painting. In her own words:

“I have come to realize that broken communities are my canvases, people’s stories the pigments and their talents, the tools that shape the art we create. Making art in forlorn places is like making a fire in a frozen winter night. It brings light, warmth and hope.” Lily Yeh.

4.) Wedding in the Rain

Most brides spend years dreaming of their wedding day, and more often than not, those dreams include blooming flowers, chirping birds, and the full cooperation of Mother Nature.

This is the opposite of how it went down for Stephanie Pepin and Max Santiago. Instead of perfect weather, they had torrential downpours…and it produced some of the happiest, most carefree wedding pictures ever. With smiles stretching from ear to ear, Stephanie and Max splashed their way through the streets.

“All we have ever wanted was to be together and married,” the bride said. “Not only did we get what we wanted, but we also got a fantastic, hilarious, unexpected adventure and story to cherish with our friends and family,” Stephanie said later.

We wish this happy, adventurous couple all the best in their years together.

5.) Love First, Ask Questions Later

As ISIS storms through the Middle East, it’s easy to get lost in the hopelessness of it all. But there is one organization that refuses to give up hope.

Preemptive Love serves the children of Iraq by working “to eradicate the backlog of children needing heart surgery.” The help to train and equip Iraqi doctors so that the thousands of children in Iraq born with life threatening heart defects can receive the best care possible.

Two weeks ago, Preemptive Love, along with blogger Ann Voskamp, stood up in the face of terror and placed a stake in the sand: We will not abandon the people of Iraq.

In three days time, they raised $500,000 as the world united with them. Terror doesn’t win. Evil doesn’t win.

Love wins.

Now, that’s some good news if I’ve ever heard it.

Tell us about you today, friends? What is happening in your lives? Tell us something GOOD!

 

Living a Life of Adventure

I stepped off the double decker greyhound bus, and my heart leapt into my throat. Blinking back tears, I took it all in – the sights, the sounds, the smells. It was an assault to my senses, but a good one. I wanted to remember the moment in its entirety.

Two weeks ago, my husband took me to Germany. Then he left me there alone.

Salz9

This was all planned, of course. He had to work in Heidelberg, and I wanted to see my dad who is working in Munich. During the day, while both of my favorite men worked, I was on my own to explore.

On this particular day, I decided to take the bus to Salzburg.

It was rainy and chilly, but I didn’t care, because Julie Andrews didn’t lie when she sang “The Hills Are Alive.” Austria is my favorite place in all the earth. If my husband could find a way to work from there, I’d go and never come back.

Salz12

But this was a different experience, seeing Salzburg all on my own. The bus dropped us off several miles from the old town, and it was on me to navigate my way there, then make my way back to the bus station that evening to catch my ride back to Munich.

I loved the adventure of it all. I loved getting lost and turned around, and figuring my way back to the path. I loved the freedom to duck into whatever shop I wanted, to sit at a cafe at the top of the Castle and imagine what life must have been like hundreds of years ago from the same vantage point.

I felt alive in that moment of adventure – even at the end of the day when I couldn’t find my return bus, and I almost missed my ride to Munich. It was a problem that I had to solve, and I did it! This was the thrill my mom-heart needed.

There is sometimes a sense that when we become mothers, our adventures are tucked away and replaced with parenting. Sure we might have little adventures with the children, but those broad, vast adventures that we had as youth? We turn our backs on them.

I don’t think this is healthy, though. There’s a sense of freedom that comes with adventure, and sometimes that freedom needs to be separate from the children. So how do we do this? How do we live a life of adventure amidst the every day needs of our bustling families?

I have three suggestions.

NeuSchwansteinn

1.) Make yourself try something new, without the kids.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be separate from your spouse, but it should be separate from the children. Even if you just hop in your car without a plan, and flip a coin to decide whether you should drive north or south. The point is, you can have an adventure without the children now and then. And it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money.

2.) Use Your Imagination

The sky’s the limit when it comes to being adventurous. Maybe you take off one day while the kids are at school (or at summer camp!) and you try an exotic food you’ve never tried before.

Maybe you begin saving for an overseas trip in which you purchase nothing but your plane tickets and your rental car, and plan on exploring once you arrive in country.

Maybe you simply do something spontaneous. Instead of planning date night ahead of time, you have four choices printed on slips of paper and put them in an envelope, and after you get in the car, you pull one out and see where you’re going.

Have fun with your adventures!

3.) Be Brave

You have to be willing to take some risk. Maybe you’ll get lost, or maybe you won’t like the food you try. Maybe it will be fun, but maybe it won’t. The point is you won’t know unless you try! And the trying is part of the fun.

Living a life of adventure doesn’t have to come to an end when children enter the picture. In fact, if we’re willing to live adventurous lives with our children, then we just might raise a few adventurous risk takers!

And what an adventure that would be, yes?

Tell about the last time you had an adventure? What was the experience like?

How to Get the Easiest, Loose Summer Curls

I’ve been growing my hair out for more than fifteen years now. Yes, fifteen. The moment I left television news and wasn’t required to have that old-school ‘anchor bob’ that women were supposed to have in order to be taken seriously when I was doing news way-back-when? I started to let it grow, and grow.

My stylist…a magician if ever there was one, knows that my goal is to cut as little as possible each time I visit – even though I don’t have the chance to see her very often.

The truth is, I’m my own stylist most of the time (read: virtually every day)- and I like it that way. It gives me a chance to experiment, learn new tricks, twists and curls, make a few mistakes a long the way, but definitely perfect my favorites.

It is my favorite-favorite-FAVORITE (And one of the easiest and longest lasting styles I do) that I want to share with you today:

I’m excited to tell you Suave Professionals® invited me to partner with them to share the one that I love the most and, quite honestly DO the most….this style is one that I (and you) can do in three easy steps.

Loose Summer Curls…

Suave Easiest Loose Summer Curls (s)Working with the Suave Professionals® Sea Mineral Infusion line – I’m addicted to the sea-inspired scent (I’m confident I have salt-water in my veins, so using these products is like being at home) – makes the styling fun and seamless. First the Moisturizing Buoyant Body Shampoo and conditioner set the stage making my hair soft, easy to brush and prepare for the initial drying.

Suave Professionals® Sea Mineral Infusion Line

My hair is thick and, clearly long, so, full-disclosure, I always choose styles that will last a few days – otherwise my family stands outside the door tapping their feet and rolling their eyes impatiently waiting for me to complete my rituals. The Sea Mineral Infusion products do two things I love – add body and softness without compromising my ability to still be able to STYLE my hair – since I have so much of it  – this is important.

While my hair is still wet (and again as I separate and curl), I use the third product in the Sea Mineral Infusion line – the Texturizing Sea Salt Spray which helps to create natural texture in my hair and enhance the curls as I begin styling.

Suave Loose Summer Curls Prep 1

So….assuming your hair is dry – let’s head in to your three basic and easy! steps.

Step 1

Start at the back of your head, Separate your hair in to sections as you see here in the picture, re-spray your hair  with Suave Professionals® Sea Mineral Texturizing Sea Salt Spray for the added texture, curls and  hold (and sea-salt-infused smell – delicious!).

Suave Loose Summer Curls Step 1

Step 2

Here’s the key to the ‘loose’ part of the curl – what makes it look wavy as it falls….you aren’t curling like your mom used to do it for you when you were a little girl….don’t put the curling iron on your hair, drag it ALL THE WAY TO THE END and start to curl back towards your head. Nope.

Listen carefully.

Here’s what you do: Take a section of your hair (preferably a small to medium size section (look at the photo for reference), start in the MIDDLE of that section with the curling iron, loosen your grip ever so slightly a little at a time on your hair as you start to curl (imagine ‘pumping the grip you have on the handle softly to loosen the curling iron’s hold on your hair without fully releasing) and move the curling iron towards the end of your hair as you roll it, until you have an inch to an inch and a half still hanging free (see photo again), THEN start to curl the iron back towards your scalp until you have that strand rolled completely. You DO want to leave a section hanging loose – as this will help you to achieve the messy look when you are done. Work your way through each section, releasing from the clip as you go, until you have curled all of your hair. I promise you can do it. I do my entire head in 10-15 minutes.

Suave Loose Summer Curls Step 2

Step 3

Allow your hair to fall as it may. In this photo below, I haven’t touched my hair since I completed each section of curls. I have two options, I can run my fingers through it to blend it all together, making it even more loose and wavy….or allow the curls to naturally fall as they may throughout the day, knowing that two days from now I will have more sea-inspired waves, but still a look I love. (Can you see how the ‘tails’ of my hair aren’t curled and add to the loose look of the style?)

Suave Loose Summer Curls Step 3

I would love to know, not only what you think, but if there are specific styles you love and DEFINITELY if you have any questions. I’m always happy to help if I can. My goal is for this style to last 3-4 days.

Suave Loose Summer Curls Final

As always, I’m always grateful you stopped by.

Discover the Beauty of the Sea with NEW Suave Professionals® Sea Mineral Infusion products.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Suave Professionals® . The opinions and text are all mine.

 

Top Bathing Suit Trends

Now that it’s summertime, pool days and beach vacations are right around the corner. Do you have your swim suit picked out? I’m bringing you the top trends in bathing suits from feminine, flirty high waisted styles to peekaboo cut outs!

Cut Outs

swimsuit trends - cutout

Mara Hoffman / Bikini Lab / Jets by Jessika AllenVictoria’s Secret / Jessica Simpson

Tribal Prints

swimsuit trends - tribal prints

Trina Turk / Tommy Bahama / Victoria’s Secret / Mara Hoffman / La Blanca

High Waisted

swimsuit trends - high waisted bikini

Roxy / Kore / Shan / Volcom / Kate Spade

Strappy Details

swimsuit trends - strappy details

Seafolly / Seafolly / Lucky BrandVixVictoria’s Secret

Do tell….there are so many options to choose from….do you have a favorite?

The Extraordinary Mommy Myth

I received a voicemail message the other day mockingly calling me an ‘extraordinary mommy’. The caller went on and on… ‘what kind of an extraordinary mommy does this or that….‘? the words spat in to the phone with such venom, it occurred to me that maybe this, right here, is the conversation you and I need to have.

Maybe you and this caller have the same misconception. If this is the case, please allow me to correct it.

You see… I didn’t create this website nearly eight years ago because I thought I was extraordinary, that I was out to prove to the world that I was taking motherhood by storm and doing something exceptional one diaper, one toddler, one nap time, one homework assignment, one mom-fashion-beauty moment, one sporting event at a time, but rather because I think you are doing something extraordinary simply by raising your small people and loving them.

This site was never intended to be about me being extraordinary, but instead, I hoped that we might share a little solidarity…. That you would remember, even on your worst days, your toughest days…the days when the kids fight, or don’t eat their vegetables, or you lose your temper and tell them to shut up (like I have), that you have a friend here…someone who gets it….that YOU can can crawl under the covers at night confident that you aren’t failing.

I hoped we could talk about the every day…what to do about eczema, or share ideas about the misery that is cleaning white baseball pants, or how I so believe it is important to tell your kids that you love to watch them play, that showing them how to be good citizens is more important than telling them, that you don’t ever have to feel bad about having the crying baby on the airplane around me and every now and then I just might cook a little something I’m proud of and want to tell you about.

I don’t believe I AM extraordinary. I DO believe I am DOING something extraordinary. And I know you are too.

CoopDelaneybirthdaycard.jpg

I make parenting mistakes. In fact, I make them every day. I lose my temper, I fail miserably at this crazy family-work-parenting-life juggle. My house constantly feels like a disaster zone, I start laundry and promptly forget about it. I have stared in to my children’s eyes as they asked why I am disappointing them. Again. I cry. I stay up too late and worry that I’m doing it all wrong. I constantly feel less-than-extraordinary.

But, you know what? I hug my kids. We have silly little traditions. We make time to play. I TRY. It has taken me years to understand that I must believe I am enough.

I believe I am just what my kids need and THAT is extraordinary, right?

Make no mistake… I’m the furthest thing from perfect.

I’m a work in progress as a mom. I’ve already made six mistakes today, my home is a hot-mess, I guarantee I’ll make another series of wrong turns tomorrow (and my kids will be first in line to point out my flaws).

A piece of my heart may have died a little when I heard that message, but not because my goal is to be extraordinary….or because I want YOU to believe that I am….but rather because I would, in fact, hate for you to think that I aspire to anything close to perfection.

My goal has always been to give you a safe place to believe YOU are enough and to remind you that you are DOING something worthy.

Much love to you, friends….I will continue to be here, virtually fist-bumping your every less than perfect moment because you ARE enough…ok?

Need Fun Summer Plans for Your Kids? Here you go!

We are merely weeks in to Summer vacation and I love every minute of it….except the ‘Mom, I’m bored…’ moments. Since we have banned those words in our home, I require my small people to offer solutions, not simply contribute to their own frustration.

When I was a kid, I lived for this time of year – in fact, I probably feel even more adamant about it living in the Midwest as I’m required to battle (yes, battle – I consider anything sub-30 degrees a battle)the elements for the Fall, Winter and part of Spring. I’m so excited for the opportunity to get outside, to wear flip-flops and to simply play (yes, I play too!)

So, the small people and I compiled a list of some of our very favorite Summertime activities – ones you can do as a family OR give your kiddos the freedom to do on their own.

You know it includes getting wet. Tell me this picture doesn’t spell Summer J-O-Y!

Cooper Summer Slip n Slide

And (since I expect you know us just a little) playing at least one or two sports – either the traditional way or adding their own creativity.

But there is so much EXTRA fun to be had – from exploring your own city to taking the time to volunteer as a family.

I’ve shared our list of favorites over on SheKnows Experts and would LOVE for you to add to the list. Do you hike, go old school with tag and hide-and-seek, huddle inside to avoid the heat – opting for movies and board games or go for broke on an adventure? There are plenty of days left in this crazy break from school, so I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Disclosure: I’m grateful to SheKnows Experts and Crocs for inspiring this conversation.

7 Tips for Great Smartphone Photography

My phone is never far from my fingertips and not simply because the ‘smartphone’ has become an extension of my world, allowing me to stay connected, to work from home and to both work and play on the go, but because I am obsessed with taking photographs – especially of my small people – and documenting life around me. I’d like to think the accessibility and ease of use of my smartphone camera is helping to teach me to be a better photographer. As I’m so excited about this topic, I’ve partnered with AT&T to offer you some tips for using your smartphone camera. In this post, you’ll see pictures I’ve taken with the brand new LG G4 and I’m excited to tell you about a giveaway you are going to love – the LG G4 4K Seconds Sweepstakes. In celebration of the LG G4’s 4K capture capability and 2TB of storage, AT&T is giving away one of these phones every 4K seconds (66 minutes!) through June 20th (more details below).

I spent the weekend at my daughter’s first out-of-town softball tournament. It was the ideal opportunity for me to take photos not only for me, but for the team.  It was such a great test of this camera and its capabilities (keep reading for more tidbits about the phone) as I was taking one action shot after another, spent the weekend outside and often had to adjust for moments that were not as close as I would have liked.

7 Tips for Great Smartphone Photgraphy

These are my Tips for Great Smartphone Photography:

Remember photography basics – Let’s be clear….just because you can carry this camera in your pocket, you can use it to check your emails, text a friend and find the closest restaurant, doesn’t mean you should skip all of the basics of photography including balancing the composition or items in the picture, keeping the Rule of Thirds in mind as well as considering the amount of lighting you have available.

Avoid Flash – Use Natural Light – as long as we are talking about light, I suggest you take advantage of all the natural light you can and avoid using the flash. The very best pictures you see taken with a smartphone utilize the light available, rather than shooting in a dark area or opting for the flash. The flash often blows out the picture leaving you with subjects with red eyes and a poorly lit image that is both too bright (the subject)and too dark (the background). The good news with the LG G4? Its exclusive Color Spectrum Sensor uses white balance detection to determine accurate colors….and the front facing camera allows for dynamite selfies (how else would I be in the photos with my small people?) :)

ATTPhotoTipsLight

Skip the Zoom – Virtually all smartphone cameras offer you the option to zoom, but skip it if at all possible. You are better off cropping an image after you take it than zooming in to see moments in the distance as the closer you ‘zoom’ the more quality you will lose for the final image….leaving it blurred and pixilated.

ATTPhotoTipsZoomOriginal

ATTPhotoTipsZoom2

Close in – Getting close to your subjects not only gives you a beautiful perspective but allows the macro portion of your lens to take over. The closer you get, the more instant focus you will see on the ‘close up subject’ along with that lovely blur in the background. The 16 megapixel rear-facing camera on this smartphone with a 1.8 aperture lens AND optical image stabilization allows you to capture great moments.

ATT Smartphone Photography Tips

Focus – Moving even a touch as you snap your photo will leave you with a blurry image. Touching the screen of the LG G4 as you prepare to take the picture will allow you to keep your image in focus AND choose one person, one flower, one portion of the photo to be your main point of interest.

Keep your lens clean – Sounds fairly basic, yes? Except the LG G4 will be in and out of your pocket or purse so often, it is likely you won’t even think about it. Keeping your lens clean with a soft cloth will keep your photos from adopting a hazy look you won’t be able to fix.

Edit – there are certainly numerous photo apps available for editing and adding filters, but Lg G4 allows you to edit each individual picture with ease. You can crop, adjust the color of the image, and add your own filters without jumping to another app. With this picture of my daughter, it took me seconds to crop and adjust the photo.

AttPhoto Tips Edit Delaney

Att Photo Tips Edit Crop DelaneyAtt Photo Tips Edit Collage Delaney

Have fun! Ok – so maybe this isn’t an official tip, but it stands to reason that the more fun you are having TAKING pictures, the more open you are to learning, to adjusting and to ending up documenting some of the most memorable moments – for me there were just as many OFF the diamond as there were as the girls played.

What tips would you add? I’d love to continue to improve as I grab shots….the small people are growing so fast, I’m so grateful to be able to document it all so easily.

It is hard to imagine that we have such incredible photo taking devices available to us on our smartphones, and yet… I love it. If you’d like to learn more about ALL the details of the LG G4 – hop right over here to read or here for a dynamite and quick video.

AT&T LG G4 4K Sweepstakes

I promised you more information about the LG G4 4K Seconds Sweepstakes, so here goes: Starting on May 29th and continuing through June 20th, AT&T is giving away one of these lovelies ever 4K seconds (66 minutes!) – for a total of 500 phones. Entering is simple. You shoot a picture you love, head to the site, upload it (from your mobile phone, a tablet or computer) and enter to win.

As a bonus, there is an even greater prize at stake – and for this, your picture itself will be judged. All photos submitted (deemed eligible by the Official Rules) will also be housed on a gallery on the sweepstakes website. These will be judged by the public to determine a ‘public appeal score’. Additionally, a panel of judges will determine their favorites. The combination of these two scores will determine a Grand Prize Winner .

  • Grand Prize Winner receives a 55” Class Smart Curved 4K OLED 3D TV with webOS 2.0 and a 3D-Blu-Ray Disc Home Theatre System with Smart TV and Wireless Speakers.
  • First and Second Prize Winners (these are the 2nd and 3rd highest ranked photos) will receive a 65” Class IPS 4K UHD Smart LED TV with webOS 2.0 and 3D-Capable Blu-ray Disc Home Theatre System with Smart TV and Wireless Speakers.

The winners will be announced upon completion of the Judging Period, which ends July 9th.

Disclosure: Huge thanks to AT&T for partnering with me to share these tips and tell you about the giveaway. So hope you win!