The weekend.

We packed up our little house monkeys and traveled to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area to participate in the annual Walk for Williams Syndrome Awareness in Shoreview, Minnesota. It was particularly chilly for May, even in Minnesota standards, but at least there wasn’t snow.

IMG_0030The boys got a little restless so we found a place for them to run and climb.

IMG_0035They ran up and down this hill and I swear that just gave them more energy.

IMG_0028Mackie isn’t so sure about this one. Slight face of concern.

IMG_0059Mom’s fatal attempt at a group photo with a nice hilly background. Mackie’s angry cheese, refusing to smile… For those of you photo enthusiasts. I hill is an awesome green background, assuming your kiddos will cooperate.

IMG_6941However, I will smile if you give me a cheeseburger. Cheese-burger… – Mac                      No, it’s not a Big Mac.

IMG_6490-2We made it to the walk in time. This is the logo symbol for the Williams Syndrome Association (WSA).

IMG_0080Carter was a happy guy. Each year on this day, he feels very special and celebrated, as he should. He’s an incredible little person.

IMG_0103Once the walk was over, the boys played at the park. They were happy about this adventure.

IMG_0117He was real proud he climbed the chain ladder.

IMG_0120Hey ladies, look what I can do.

IMG_0133We decided to play ‘Hide and Seek’ and Mac told me where to hide. Somehow, he was still THIS shocked to find me.

IMG_0151Happy to run and play.

IMG_0156They got so dirty running up the hill at the first park by the time we got to the walk we probably should have changed them, but we just rolled with it. Dirty pants, kids don’t care.

IMG_0208Face painting! Make me a puppy! He was so inpatient waiting for Mac to get his face painted that I never thought he would settle down for his to be done. But once he was in the seat, he was happy as a clam. He knows what he wants and he fights for it. That’s not such a bad thing. Maybe he’ll be President someday.

IMG_0214Marshall and Chase from Paw Patrol made an appearance.

IMG_7057Paw Patrol is on a patrol!

IMG_6979Tongue and everything. You’re welcome.IMG_7063Before they put the hat part on he looks like a little brown bear.

IMG_0387We made it to our hotel, which I would not stay at again, so it remains nameless, but the pool was fun (when it was open).

IMG_0265It opened at 9 a.m. the next day, what hotel does that?

IMG_0347The house monkeys (err hotel monkeys) were going wild by 6 a.m. Finally – they are let out of their hotel room cage.

IMG_0397Even this one was chomping at the bit to get out of the room. I think we’re growing out of the one room hotel rooms.

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IMG_0460Mackie is definitely braver than the rest. That’s probably why he’s already had a broken bone before the age of 3. He didn’t want dad to catch him. He says that he’s a big boy.

IMG_0524On Sunday, after some much needed food and energy release, we made our way to Elaina’s house. Together, with the rest of the WSA Regional Committee Members, we discussed upcoming events and activities for individuals living with WS and family members who live with someone who has WS. Someone had spent a great deal of time chalking their driveway. It was quite impressive.

IMG_9374We enjoyed some pizza and Carter found Elaina’s stash of bouncy balls. He never fails to find the bouncy balls. He has over 700 himself.

IMG_3494Elaina’s mom, Andrea, had this neat antique Schwinn bike in front of their home. It looks like it is missing some flowers, which she will no doubt have time for now that the 2018 WS Walk is behind her.

IMG_2290Now, full of pizza and all played out. The house monkey’s found some rest. After I took this photo, I too, may have drifted off for a few minutes. Luckily, Paul stayed awake for the drive home. Yes, that green thing in the photo is a portable potty chair. The boys are not above a van poo if necessary!

IMG_7350Did she really just say van poo? You bet I did. Mom’s deal with a whole lot of poo, literally and figuratively. Real poo, fake poo, stories about poo, questions about poo, shapes of poo, poo that should never be seen by the human eye ever and the most dreaded, poo that got on a finger somehow. I’ve seen it all, at least I think I have. (Insert a nervous face here)

It’s just one of those things. We try not to sweat it. Just like the candy necklaces we bought for the boys on the way home. I helped Mac put his on, no problem. Coopers’s necklace wouldn’t stretch over his sweet watermelon head. We bought him another one, Oh yes we did, don’t judge us until you’ve met Cooper’s strong will personality! Remember, President!

Since I’m a planner, I bought a backup. Two more broken candy necklaces later, I have come to the conclusion that Coopers head is too big for candy necklaces. Either that, or they don’t make them as big as they used to.

Regardless, there was no shortage of candy. They enjoyed some Curious George the whole way home, the house monkey they truly aspire to become. Another great weekend in the books.

If you’re interested in learning more about Williams Syndrome, please visit: http://www.williams-syndrome.org

If you have any questions for me, please contact Kerri Kava at 1MinnesotaMom@gmail.com or on social media at:

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10 Tips for Taking Amazing Photos of Your Kids

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I’m no perfect mom, but one of things I have had plenty of practice at is photographing my kids. I love it. Not only because I selfishly want to freeze time and lock these memories away to remember them forever, but also because I love the creativity of capturing emotion and storytelling through photography.

I’ve been interested in and enhancing my photography skills for over 10 years now, but it honestly, it doesn’t take much to learn. But like any interest, it takes practice. So a few tips along the way can be quite helpful.

Assuming you’re ready to get started, here are a few tips to help you out:

  1. Invest in a quality, but affordable camera. You don’t need a top of the line cameras to obtain great results. A basic DSLR (or mirrorless if you prefer) will do. Whatever you choose, it should be a quality camera that you are committed to learning how to use. The camera is simply a tool to bring out your vision. If you’re looking for a recommendation for a camera. This is a great starter Canon DSLR and affordable for most. If you prefer Nikon, this would be it’s counterpart. I don’t plan to get involved in the Canon and Nikon debate because in my opinion they are both equally as great in quality, however in my opinion Canon is just easier to learn to use. Some people fall in love with the idea of owning a Nikon, without really understanding the first thing about them.                                                                                 IMG_1536
  2. Learn to shoot in manual mode. You can learn photography on your own, after all the camera comes with a manual. You can learn from YouTube or even in college. I’m mostly self-taught, but after years of persistence, I finally became a lifetime member to ClickinMoms. This was the best decision in enhancing my photography skills. They have a basic course on understanding the exposure triangle. This is when photography finally really ‘clicked’ for me (pun intended). I cannot recommend it enough.                                                                                                                     IMG_1259-2
  3. Keep the camera handy. A lot of people keep them hidden away and are afraid of damaging them so away it sits (gathering dust albeit). Here’s the thing, the camera only produces amazing quality photos if you exercise it!                                                       IMG_2947
  4. Get down to their level. Stop hovering over your kiddos and asking them to look up at you. Get down to where they are and be a goofball.                                                     IMG_3220-2
  5. Be ready. Keep the camera on. Saving battery is something you need to do on a long day trip or if you’re already low on batteries, but typically, just keep it on so you’re ready to go for a funny moment. Many cameras will have an auto shut off too, so don’t stress it.                                                                                                                                    IMG_0292
  6. Plan to wait. Your kids will do something silly and funny. It’s just a matter of time. Wait for them. Listen to them. Heck encourage them. Talk about farting or (gasp) even poo maybe! Hey, whatever works! I have boys – so this works for me!                       IMG_8201-2.jpg
  7. Use the viewfinder. Some of the best photos come from keeping my eye up to the shutter. Most cameras have the bigger screen to look at, but I’m old school because looking up to the shutter gives me a better view of the shot. It closes me out to the shot around it. I feel, I receive better results by looking directly into the viewfinder.   IMG_8627-2.jpg
  8. Overshoot. You can always delete photos you don’t like. Typically when I’m editing pictures, 90% of the time I wish I had more.                                                                                IMG_0298-2.jpg
  9. Make shooting a priority. Eventually your family will get on board. My kids actually enjoy it now. Certainly, there may be a day that they don’t, but right now cheese it up and I’ll take it! Talk to your family how important it is to you to have these memories captured.                                                                                                              IMG_5152
  10. Find the color. Bright outdoor spaces, colorful clothes and/or color can even come in the form of props or activities. (A red wagon, sidewalk chalk, finger paint, bubble sticks, books and even food. Watermelon anyone?                                                                                          IMG_4387

xoxo

Kerri

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The weekend [Mothers Day]

This was a mother’s day for the books, er blog. Excited to share our weekend through photos. It started with a picnic of hot dogs and pineapple. My kids can eat an entire pineapple. No, I didn’t let them, but it was amazing so I can understand why they wanted to.

 

IMG_9240As an NDSU Bison Alum, we love to ‘Go Bison’ with our fingers.

IMG_9290Cooper is still having a hard time with it, so instead he’s spreading world peace.

IMG_9279And sharing his beautiful smile with his mom all weekend.

IMG_9283I hope they’re best friends forever.

IMG_9286My liquid gold, (ahem) energy.

IMG_9395No, puppy you can’t eat my cookie!

IMG_9426Best fur friend cousins.

IMG_9380This is Murphy’s dog show pose. Just don’t ask him to do it again.

IMG_9370Because nature.

IMG_9449 Chubby slimy phalanges.

IMG_9455A green blob.

IMG_9461I only like blue…. ‘Bwooo’ as Coop says.

IMG_9468Give me all the chalk!

IMG_9486Our Mom art.

IMG_9326Sometimes, life knocks you down… Sometimes it’s a little tiny white doggie that drags you to the ground. You’re tool cool to stay down, Coop.

IMG_9532I met this beautiful gentle giant on Saturday afternoon. Sybil, Sadie is a teddy bear.

IMG_9512My first visit to the water this year. Oh how I missed you so.

IMG_9582On Mother’s Day, the kids just might consider a mini photo session on the sidewalk before church.

IMG_9613Let’s jump and be nuts.

IMG_9603Let’s be cute.

IMG_9619Let’s run again.

IMG_9611Starting to get sick of it. It’s been a full 2 minutes.

IMG_9629Tickle him, Cooper. (It didn’t work. 3 minutes later, it’s time to go.) Mom needs coffee.

IMG_9637But first, smile!

IMG_9644Cheese!

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Time to play.

IMG_9704Family get together.

IMG_9669Let’s play house!

IMG_9670Coop says he’s calling, ‘Pa Pa’. He’ll probably never actually use a phone like that in his life, honestly.

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Great-Grandma turned 85. Let’s celebrate.

IMG_9729Like most kids, frosting first.

IMG_9759They even had a chance to meet their cousins prize bunnies.

It was an awesome weekend of outdoor adventure with my boys.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to be their mom and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Someday’s I question if I’m doing it right. After all, you don’t really know until it’s all over, right?

Overall, my efforts are focused on attention. They don’t have the nicest clothes. They aren’t in expensive activities. They ride in a minivan. But what they do receive is a lot of love and a concerted effort to give them my time. They are worth my time and attention and so much more. They are lifted up when I’m proud of them and see what they have accomplished. They aren’t afraid to talk to me because I choose to listen. And they even say cheese when I bribe them with fruit snacks. No, I am not above that. That’s just smart parenting.

Happy Mothers Day, friends!

xoxo

Kerri

If you have any questions for me, please contact Kerri Kava at 1MinnesotaMom@gmail.com or on social media at:

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Minnesota Mondays

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It’s not difficult find the beauty in Minnesota. I believe, one of the best things about Minnesota are the seasons. It’s also one of the most challenging… ahem, winter. However, each season lends itself something just as beautiful as the last.

Spring is finally here. It arrived later than normal this year, approximately a month late. If you live in a climate where you experience winter with temps that dip far below zero (seriously -20) you expect, no you need spring to arrive on time. The soft amber light after-work that extends its warmth when you need it most, the smell of spring that makes you run out and buy charcoal to grill… anything, just to once again appreciate the outdoors the way God intended. A little vitamin D will go a long way to lift up a community of hard-working, enthusiastic and energetic Minnesotans.

Minnesota is known for being the land of 10,000 lakes. Most of us love the lakes and relaxing on the pontoon. I am no exception to this rule. The water can be still or wavy, it doesn’t matter. As long as I can hear it and put my toes in the water, I’m happy. If you’ve never visited Minnesota, I highly encourage it. The lakes are just one of the beauties to explore while you’re here, after all there are 10,000 of them.

Throughout this Minnesota Monday series we will explore the treasures of Minnesota. From restaurants, shopping and exploring. If you have an idea to share about Minnesota or are interested in collaborating, please email me at 1MinnesotaMom@gmail.com or learn more here.

If you have any questions for me, please contact Kerri Kava at 1MinnesotaMom@gmail.com or on social media at:

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The weekend.

Oh my friend. My beloved, weekend. It was warm, relaxing and full of giggles.

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We had a simple weekend at home. A small home improvement project. A hot dog picnic.

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Bubble mowing the lawn. You know the important stuff. Just getting work done (Cooper)

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First sprinkler sesh of the year. This one is always excited about life.

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And this one is always going. He has more energy than anyone I know and the softest heart. Must handle with care.

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This one is like a little bulldozer. He stubborn, strong-willed and beautiful. Free Advice: Never touch his food.

Goodnight Sunday. See you next weekend.

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It’s Snot So Bad.

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The beauty of motherhood often rests on our shoulders in the form of snot. This is true. If you ever doubt it, just check out a mom on her way into work. Seriously, that mess on her shoulder is full of great intentions and compromise. We make an effort, a solid effort,  to appear presentable and even fashionable, if you will. But snot is rarely, if ever, a desirable fashion statement, yet it flows from my littles noses like the nile. There are rarely enough tissue in the world to stop the snot train, but not to worry my snuggle hug goodbye will do.

Joking aside, the snot train is real. The hugs create the oxytocin I need. The daycare is expensive, but worth every penny. And last, but not least, I’m ever so grateful that spring has finally arrived in Minnesota. This winter was long. Longer than most. With three little boys a.k.a. ‘the house monkeys’ tearing my house apart from corner to corner on long winter weekends, I’m ready for worm digging, long walks to anywhere but preferably Dairy Queen and quiet time to myself.

Torn daily between loving my mom life and wanting time to myself, I know that someday I’ll miss this. My wiser and more mature mom friends remind me often. And while I believe them whole-heartedly, I still miss my me time. I selfishly need to find more of it. I usually find it at about 9 p.m. when I want to stay up and watch romcoms and create beautiful things. The artist in me is screaming all day, but I know it can come out at night. And I know my future is full of big kids and that I need to push these littles on the swings right now, wipe some tushies (as nasty as that sounds) cut their pizza and even find snot on my shirt when I get to work, because after all… isn’t that the proud mark of a hard-working, tired, proud and full of love momma? A life many women dream of experiencing. I’m blessed. Truly blessed. I get that. It’s not a blessing (or three) that I take lightly. Every stinky butt, and mommy scream is worth it.

The witching hours (dinner and bath) inspire me to have that alone time at 9 p.m. (the golden hour). Sometimes there’s wine. Sometimes it’s just water. But whatever the night brings, it’s always appreciated.

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This is me.

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If you haven’t seen The Greatest Showman yet, what are you waiting for? This movie is practically the perfect family movie. Perfect for my family anyway. From the inspirational motives to the moment-after-moment of great musical performances, it’s a must-see.

Each and every song is catchy and you’ll likely attempt to sing it in the car later because the songs will inescapably be in your head. Not to deter you from watching, as this is most definitely the lesser evil.

My favorite moment of the movie is when the ‘freaks’ as the ‘greatest showman’ refers to them are not invited to a party celebrating the success of Mr. Barnum. But instead of hiding behind the door, they reveal themselves as they are and they own their personal characteristics. Shouting, ‘This is me. I’m glorious.’

Considering the millions of people in the world that think of themselves as an outcast… a freak… an embarrassment… this song gives those unique and differently-abled individuals some feet to stand on. It’s a boost of confidence. A push in the right direction. The direction of hope. The direction of love for themselves. Of knowing they aren’t alone in this world.

Too much hair? Not the right color hair? Too tall? Too small? Sound funny?

Define funny… Define what’s ‘right’? Define too tall and too small.

We should all strive for acceptance, while accepting others for who they are. And if you know someone that doesn’t accept you, own it anyway. Own who you are. You are beautiful, brilliant and just like the song says – exactly who you were meant to be.

“Be you. Be strong. Be who you were meant to be!” – The Greatest Showman

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Someone like me.

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I don’t really know anyone like me. God says we’re all unique. I believe this to be true, and I’m not saying I’m extra unique, but I often feel alone. Not because I’m ‘unique’ or depressed or because I actually am alone, in fact far from it, but because I just don’t know anyone like me.

I’m the creative type. It is a type. I believe everyone is creative. Most creative types do believe that. The difference between someone who is creative and someone who says they aren’t is they don’t enjoy or appreciate the journey of creativity. It’s okay. We can’t all enjoy the same things. But I don’t believe others when they say they aren’t creative. No, you just aren’t trying to be. It’s a lack of thinking. It’s a lack of reviewing the work of others and applying those techniques, those strategies and your ideas into your own work, your own task, your own mission. Whatever that may be.

Be creative. Choose creative. It’s in you. It comes out easier for others, like writing or math, but we all have it. Apply what you have. Practice it. Believe in yourself.

But what I mean by, I don’t know anyone like me. I know plenty of other creative people. But I don’t have any other mom friends who are the creative type, like me. The ones who  are constantly creating; photographing, writing, organizing, painting, drawing, generating ideas and freely giving them away, always helping out and enjoying helping others, appreciating well-written promotional messages, reading, inspiring, giving and relating to each other.

I love the friends I have. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. This post has no intent to diminish my friends. They know who they are and they know I love them. Instead, I write this for me.

My best friend is my husband. He ‘gets’ me more than anyone in the world does. And, truly that is how it should be, but I know I can’t completely rely on him to be my husband and my friend at all times. That’s not realistic or healthy.

Since becoming a mom (10 years ago) my relationships with my friends evolved. It went from seeing each other every weekend to once a month. Then maybe every six weeks. Then like most moms, I created relationships with the people I see everyday, my colleagues. I’m bound to have commonalities with them, after all we work in the same field, are likely to both be parents and married.

But it’s the creative brain, the innovative thinking, the energy and enthusiasm, the entrepreneurialism and need to create that whispers inside me.

That is what I mean by alone. I don’t really have anyone to whisper my ideas to. Someone who understands and can relate. Or someone that says, let’s do that, together! While also asking about the kids, and never ‘how are the kids’, no that person will know them better than that. They’ll ask if the IEP meeting went alright last week, if the new Paw Patrol shoes I ordered the twins fit okay, or how potty training is going because they will already know those are the things we’re going through right now. Not the surface level small talk. I hate small talk.

Much of what my creative brain is thinking about is much more profound than small talk. I have ideas and dreams on top of concepts I haven’t refined. A process that takes time. Choosing one though, is difficult. A challenge a creative type struggles with. It’s not for lack of ideas or enthusiasm, it’s lack of focus on which idea to focus on first.

If you have any questions for me, please contact Kerri Kava at 1MinnesotaMom@gmail.com or on social media at:

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