Tales From the Mama Trenches | Being THAT Mom

Today I was THAT mom at the grocery store. I was late bringing a new mom her dinner, I was so late that I couldn't go home and get her meal so I stopped at Safeway to pick something up. Weston was overtired and getting hungry - he'd been crying in the truck for 20 minutes already and continued to cry in the Ergo as we entered the store. In some random baby, toddler, cart shuffle I somehow accidentally poked Paisley in the eye - really hard. Soon I had two of my sweet babies screaming and crying hysterically just inside the entrance of the store. I was cradling them both feeling terribly helpless and guilty as I couldn't console either of them, I created the problems and I really needed to get this new mama her dinner.

I apologetically smiled to strangers as they walked by feeling like the worst mom and praying somehow my soothing and distraction techniques would work soon as we huddled by the soup cart.

A whole lot of people avoided eye contact and kept going.

One person walked by, looked at me, rolled their eyes and grumbled, "meltdown!".

One person, Safeway employee, stopped, asked if we were ok and asked if we needed some water or any else and seemed genuinely concerned.

How I hope to be that type of person. I want to lift people up. I want to offer kindness even when I don't know the situation and whys. I want to be a little bit of light when someone's moment is very dark.

Today I am thankful for kind words from a stranger and fruit snacks that solve almost any three year old's problems...even if their mom did almost blind them.

Mama Monday | Bellingham Family Photographer

Happy Monday everyone!  It is way past time for another Mama Monday post so I hope you are happy to see one!  I have a challenge for you on today.  How many times have you found yourself looking through your family photographs and you've found not one image with you in it?  Almost every time?  Is it because you are "always behind the camera?"  Or perhaps you don't want to be in the pictures because haven't met that goal weight yet, you don't like what you are wearing or you are having a bad hair day.  I've been there.  I have those insecurities and excuses too - all the time.  But do you know what?  Those things aren't important.  Not one little bit. Do you know what is important?  Moments between children and their mamas that only happen once.  A silly tickle from mom that makes her child laugh like no other time.  A little squeeze in mama's arms that tells her child I love you now and forever.  All those little moments captured in the camera that your children will cherish now but more importantly years from now.  Those photographs of the relationship between parents and children are what documents your legacy of love for them.  They are what your children will cling to to bring their memories to life down the road.  So absolutely pick out your favorite outfit and loose a few pounds for your professional photo session...but don't forget to document your love for them every other day of the year too.

How can you get in the picture?  Here are some ideas:

  • Timer!  Nothing is more fun and silly than using the 10 second timer on your camera to get some pictures of you with your children!  Trust me...they will love watching mama dart back and forth between the camera and them at break neck speed.  And forget those stiff smiles - go as fast as you can run giving your kids kisses and tickles during each shot.  You will get your exercise in for the day too!
  • Self portrait!  Squeeze your cheeks together and stretch out that arm to take a picture of your beautiful face with all your kiddos.  Mix it up - as you snap the picture turn your face and give your little one a lick on the cheek!  I bet you will capture an awesome surprised expression!!  Keep snapping as they react and laugh!!
  • Hand the camera over!  Give it to a child, friend or spouse.  I know for a fact that most people are flattered and happy to take a few snaps of you with your children.  You could even make it a fun assignment for all your children to photograph you with their siblings.  Plan a fun photo shoot idea together and let them take turns being the rockstar photographer.

And to make it easier, a little Mama & Me Photo Challenge Printable!

Here is a picture taken of me and Paisley at her birthday dinner last week.  Am I at my goal weight?  Nope...still working on a few stubborn pounds.  Am I wearing my best outfit?  Nope...I was hot from getting ready so I am wearing a brown tank top and jeans.  Is my hair perfect?  Oh no...in fact I flew home from Florida early that morning and hadn't even got a shower yet (yikes!).  But what I do know is that someday Paisley is going to look at this picture and know that her mama loved her.  And that to me makes this the perfect photograph.

Here is your challenge.  Get in photographs with your children!  Make a goal and make it happen! Once a week?  Once a month?  I don't care what your goal is, but be sure you are capturing your love for your children even when you don't feel like a supermodel.  And don't forget to get those images off your camera and computer!  Get them printed!!  I'd love to see some of your images of the moments captured with you and your children!  You can email them to me at stephanie@stephaniestremler.com and I will feature them from time to time.  Happy shooting!

Monday Mama - Whatcom Families | Lynden Family Photographer

I hope you are enjoying these Monday Mama posts!  I have been having a blast thinking up post ideas, doing research and sharing my thoughts.  This week I have just found a new website and I cannot wait to share it with you!!  I had started a couple other posts to use but once I found this website I realized I couldn't withhold this info from you any longer!! As a mom, sometimes I just need to get out of the house!  Can you relate?  I love my home, but there is only so long you and your family can stare at eachother and the same walls.  We usually end up wandering local shops, parks or roads but sometimes we want to mix it up!  We want to celebrate!  We want to do something exciting!  Are you with me?  I know about a few local festivals and activities that we love to go to but what else is out there?  Enter...my new favorite family website - www.whatcomfamilies.com!  They also have a facebook page so be sure to check that out too for the most up-to-date info!


Play. Learn. Grow. Explore. Connect. Look. Laugh. Love.

This awesome resource is packed full of Whatcom County and Bellingham events for families.  Festivals, bike rides, playdates, competitions, fundraisers, reading times...SO many activities to keep your families busy and having fun.  The site provides detailed info about the event - all the why, what, when, where, cost etc as well as pictures and history in some cases.

Here is some info straight from the website:

"Whatcom County and Bellingham are fantastic places to raise families. As fabulous as our communities are, we need a place to connect and share resources and information. Whatcom Families strives to provide a home base from which you can plan adventures, be inspired, get support, and find connections. We hope you’ll be an active participant and help make this place valuable as a hangout, and find it a springboard to nurturing and enjoying your family and this community. " www.whatcomfamilies.com

The site is maintained by a busy mama donating her time to make our lives more awesome - isn't that fantastic!?  In talking to her she mentioned that she would love to hear your feedback on what types of events you'd like featured on the site so be sure to leave some of your favorite types of events in the comments below or any other feedback you have for her.

Check out the site, like it on FB and get those kids out of the house this summer!  You will be the coolest mama on the block!

Here are a few snapshots from my recent adventure to Woodland Park Zoo a week ago with my sister and six kids ages 1-5!  We had a lot of fun and came home with the same number of kids we started with - which I think is a great accomplishment!  :)  Looking forward to heading to some more local adventures in the next few months.

Want a couple "how do I attend a crowded place with lots of kids" tips?  Well...I am no expert as I usually only go places with one baby but here is what we came up with for this adventure:

  • We attached straps (dog leashes...but don't tell the kids that!) to the strollers that the older kids held on to while we walked along.  This gave them boundaries and ensured they stayed close but also gave them a little freedom.
  • Us adults did a lot of counting and math...all day long.  Everytime we left an exhibit or the kids switched positions in the strollers/walking order we would call out how many kids each of us had and always made sure the numbers added up to 6 kids.  I've never been more competent in adding up to six in my live.
  • When all else fails, bribe with a treat.  Sometimes kids just need to up that blood suger a bit to get a smile back on their face!

What do you do to make family outings fun and less daunting?  I would LOVE to hear about it in the comments below and I'm sure other mamas would be grateful too!!

Here is my little butterfly Paisley!

 All six kids!

 Paisley and me taking a break from the stroller!

 Little Angel, downing her ice cream!

 Mmmm, ice cream cone crazy!

 Daniel loves his ice cream too!

 Paisley's no-nap melt down was cured with a little ice cream...thank goodness.  :)


Monday Mama

Happy Memorial Day everybody!  I hope you are all enjoying your long weekend and finding some time to think about the amazing service men and women both past and present that have made our country safe and free! On today's Monday Mama I'm going to share with you one book that I think every new parent should own.  Actually, I think every new parent-to-be should own it so they have all these awesome facts in their heads before that little one arrives and hey don't have time to read all those parenting books they thought they would.

I'm going to start with a little story...

There once was a mama who was so overjoyed about having a baby, as she had been waiting many years for the time to be "right" and the stork to deliver a beautiful baby girl in her arms.  This mama's baby was the fairest in the land with big blue eyes and dark, swirly hair.  On her sunny "birth" day the little princess only made a tiny whimper upon her arrival and then laid content on her mama's chest for the rest of the afternoon - what a precious, happy, little baby, her mama thought.  As the next few days rolled by in a bit of a fog, the little princess' contentedness began to fade away.  Soon it was discovered that this little peanut needed soothing...constant, loving, soothing.  And while the princess' mama was happy to oblige and devote every waking minute of her day to soothing her perfect little baby she was VERY thankful she had read one very important book before her arrival!

Here is hoping that every new parent is blessed with the most peaceful, easy baby on the planet, but on the off chance that you need a few soothing tools in your pocket (and lets face it, even the happiest baby needs to be soothed sometimes, right?), please go find yourself a copy of this book (or DVD that came out just this year).  This book has simple, super effective ideas for creating calm in your new baby's life.  Not everything worked for Paisley but the handful of things that did, really did!

Learn the best ways to soothe and how to use them most effectively, including:

  • Shushing
  • Swaddling
  • Swinging
  • And more...

I spent the first several months of Paisley's life implementing these techniques and they were lifesavers!  Even Paisley's little cousins are onboard with how to soothe babies - you should see them shushing and swinging their dollies (I've never seen more content baby dolls in my life!).

So if you are an expectant mama, you might just save your sanity down the road by picking yourself up a copy of this book.  Nothing is more intimidating than a crying baby and not knowing how to soothe him or her, but with the tools in this book you will at least have an idea on how to get them to be the happiest baby on the block!  :)

*Please note that I have not been paid or compensated in any way for this recommendation, in fact, I'm certain the lovely people responsible for this book have no idea I even exist.  I just LOVE it!*

And who can resist a some little baby pictures!

I told you she was born very content...although I certainly was a hot mess!

Here she is loosing her sweet contentedness...the girl LOVES to suck, but she wouldn't take a binky so...she sucked on my finger.  I don't miss those days of trying not to touch anything in public with my pointer finger or pinky finger because she would be sucking on them at anytime.


I do miss those swaddle baby days though!



Monday Mama

I'm starting something new here on the blog!  As a mama myself and a photographer who LOVES to shoot babies and children I thought it would be fun share some info, insights, product loves etc every once in awhile for all my fellow mamas and mamas-to-be who read the blog.  So to start things off this week, I wanted to share with you the most amazing website I've found lately.  I've really been trying to get my act together lately, be more intentional about life and get organized so that I have more time to be mama and spend less time in chaos.  As Paisley is now 13 months old I finally feel like I am kinda getting the hang of this mama/wife/business owner lifestyle (and I thought just wife/business owner was challenging, that was a cake walk!). Anybody struggle with meals?  I love to bake and like to cook but as a mama I don't feel like investing a lot of time in either of those on a daily basis.  I struggle with what to make and I am lazy when it comes to meal plans.   Some nights I wish we could just get some takeout from somewhere, not because I'm craving the food but because I just don't have the energy or time to make a decent meal.

In comes my new best friend...Once a Month Mom.  Freezer cooking menu plans, recipes, grocery lists - all in one place!  The best thing about it is that there are different types of menus!! I just love that!

  • Traditional (typicall American family type food)
  • Whole foods
  • Gluten/dairy free
  • Diet
  • Vegetarian
  • BABY/TODDLER meals

Wahoo!  Seriously, not only are there recipes for any family out there but there are also ones for babies and toddlers!  This discovery came at the perfect time for me as I was starting to struggle with what to feed Paisley...I was so bored with making her meals, I can only imagine she was bored with eating them.

Not only is there every type of food but there are breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes!!  Even better!  I can usually find something to eat during the week for lunch for Paisley and myself but on weekends when Brandon is home I am usually at a loss for lunch when he seems to think a normal meal would be nice and not just a scavenger hunt through the fridge, freezer and pantry.

So check out their site - it is all free, how amazing is that (although donations do help keep them going)?  If you are a little intimidated like me about devoting so much time at once to make a lot of meals, it is easy to pick just a couple recipes and try them out (I've been doing this!) or use one of their mini-menu plans that has about half the normal amount of meals included.


I'd love to hear if you struggle with meals too and if you have any good tips!  Have you used this site before?  You can share your thoughts in the comments below -  I'd love to hear them!

And because a post without a picture is so sad...here is my little kitchen helper being incredibly helpful and adorable!

I would just like to say that since taking this picture below I did manage to clean out and scrub down the fridge so it is currently not the disaster it is below.  And I have moved the eggs a little higher up, wow, that was risky!