Storytelling Game for Kids: Interviewer

Create memory making moments and build storytelling skills for kids this summer. Breaks from routines give us more time together, and what better way to use that time than by encouraging our kids to tell and share stories - their own, ours, and our families.

Try this games on road trips, around the campfire, back at the house after a long day at the beach, or during an afternoon at home when you start to hear the murmur of “I’m bored.”

Interviewer

Kids of all ages love to hear what the adults in their lives were like when they were their age. Gather around (or sit down with your kiddo if it’s just the two of you) and have your child ask the adults some interview questions about what life was like for them.

Questions to Ask

When you were my age, what was your favorite song?

What was your favorite thing to do when you were my age?

When you were my age, what did you do on summer vacation?

What was the hottest topic in the news the summer you were my age?

If you could choose to be a kid now or when you were growing up, what would you choose? Why?

Document Stories

Encourage your kids to record the answers. Write them down or set up the phone to record audio like a “real” interviewer.

Consider turning the interview into a project. Your kids could write up an article, prepare a presentation, or come up with other creative ways to document the stories family members share with them.

This shouldn’t feel like a have-to-do homework assignment. There are so many fun ways to get excited about documenting family history and family life. You will all be surprised to see the kind of connections, excitement and ideas a simple game like this can create.

Happy storytelling, friends. And happy story sharing, too!

Lucky Summer

I wonder if it’s because the moments in summer tend to be a bit longer, that we want to hold onto them even more. The rush to get out the door slows down. If we’re lucky enough to get some time off with our families, the destination becomes the beach, the pool, or a treasured family home, rather than work and school.

Photo E Eames

Photo E Eames

The days are longer and brighter this time of year. And it seems as if our eyes bend a bit to that lens. We look for the brighter, longer moments. We feel the need to hold onto this time of year because it feels at once apart from our daily lives and essential to the lives we are working so hard every day to build for ourselves and our children.

Summer is the time, too, when (again, if we are lucky) we get to reconnect with extended family and not-often-seen friends. We share meals, and drinks, and adventures with the people who make us who we are, make us glad to have this life to celebrate. Even though, often, these are not the people with whom we share the bulk of our lives. We share the bright days with them. The memory making days.

Photo by E Eames

Photo by E Eames

All of this makes summer a unique time for us at Portraits that Move. So much of our mission is to celebrate the every day. The moments between these milestone days. All the days and days worth of moments that got your son or daughter to this summer day when their great aunt marvels, as if on cue, at how much they have grown.

For us, as we continue our mission of celebrating our shared moments and documenting our mundane and marvelous lives, we look at this season of milestone moments - the family trips, the camp letters home, the plans for the coming school year and Mitzvah season - and we recognize that nature is helping us do our work in a pointed and beautiful way. It is brightening the light. It is setting the stage. It is giving us all a little extra time to recognize and celebrate the moments that we create and the moments that find us, if we are lucky enough.

Celebrating a Couple's Love and a Family's Story

Recently, we made a Portrait Video to celebrate the tenth wedding anniversary of a longtime Portraits that Move family.

Creating an Anniversary Portrait video for Michelle Roos and her family was as amazing an experience for us as it was for them. It was a joy to see the love that they share and to reflect back to them the story Michelle and her husband Danny have created over the last 10 years.

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When Michelle came to us to ask us to create this anniversary film, we were thrilled to continue to celebrate the story of a family that means so much to us. The first video we created for the family was the Generations Video we made to honor the 100th birthday of Michelle’s grandfather.

It means so much to us to be able to document and honor the milestones of Michelle’s family and so many others.

And we are not the only ones who were moved by the experience of creating and watching the film. According to Michelle, Gavi, the couple’s just turned 9 year old, had “the best reaction ever.”

every moment matters portraits that move siblings playing basketball.jpg

Michelle tells this story about watching the film with Gavi and the rest of the family. “The whole time he was watching he kept coming over and hugging and kissing us. He just loved it and was filled with warm feelings about our family. Danny thought it was very sweet and when it was done he said, ‘I guess I have to make you a card.’”

For our part, we are so happy to have made this film for them. We wish Michelle, Danny and their family continued health and happiness. And we thank them from the bottom of our hearts for including us in the milestone moments of their lives.





Break Out of Busy

The end of the school year comes with a rush of concerts, recitals, championship games, school events and graduations. It is an exciting time to celebrate your child’s accomplishments and the friendships you have made over the course of the school year. It can also be insanely busy. Like, makes the holiday season look restful busy.

So, how do you enjoy this busy season instead of getting overwhelmed by it?

Listen to Your Child

Make time to talk with your children. Ask them questions and remember to take the time to listen to the answers they give you. Do they need a break?

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If there is a party they want to skip and they can skip it, let them. Sometimes less really is more, so let your children lead you and give them the space to rest if they feel like they need to tap out and take time to restore their energy.

Stay Present in the Moment

Put down your camera. Set aside your To Do List, and engage all of your senses in the moment that you are experiencing. If your child is performing a song she has written, listen to it, look at her. Take in the moment for what it is.

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These moments are short, even though they represent so much preparation and progress. Do everything you can to recognize and appreciate them for what they are - and to encourage your children to do the same - rather than racing from one calendar alert to the next.

Celebrate Each Other

There is a reason why celebrate is our Word of the Year. It is so important to celebrate each other and the wonderful things we do together and on our own. Your children feel proud and happy when you celebrate them and the work they have done.

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As a parent, when you take the time to celebrate, you are also taking the time to slow down and savor the moment. You are giving yourself permission to enjoy things for what they are and to enjoy each other for who you are.

You may still feel exhausted at the end of the school year, but you certainly won’t feel like it was wasted time.

Change is the Constant, and So is Gratitude

My son has decided to grow out his hair- that is after we briefly dyed it purple. He is experimenting with his appearance even while he is still losing teeth. He likes to ask questions and then make jokes about sexuality which seems so grown up but then he  still sometimes wants a favorite stuffed animal to snuggle with.

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He wants to make pillow forts with me and then wants only to talk to his friends. One minute, he is doing impressions of Donald Trump at the family dinner table and the next he is moody and wants to be left alone with the dreaded video games.

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It is a changeable time and one that is uncertain for both of us. And with each new stage of parenting, I am trying to ride the wave, to take it as it comes and to sit with the moments of joy. I am deeply aware that the time is flying, soon he will not want to be with me and that will be appropriate. Soon, he will choose friends over movie nights at home. So, I cherish it all (even the moodiness.) And, I remain grateful, to have this experience, this human, this love in my life.

 And I am grateful to have documented him when I did, because when I miss that six year old smile, I can always look back, remember and celebrate him then and now.

A Month for Moms

At Portraits that Move, we celebrate moms and the moments they make with their kids every day. So when Mother’s Day rolls around we get really excited.

In honor of the first day of May, we are kicking off our celebration of Mother’s Day today with a roundup of some of our Mother’s Day posts. Today, we’re sharing everything from creative Mother’s Day project ideas for kids (spoiler alert: they require no parental assistance!) to how to cope when Mother’s Day just feels too hard.

Let the Kids Take the Lead

Find new ways to celebrate Mother’s Day with family and friends! Talk to your kids about the women in your circle – your family, friends and neighbors, – and ask them how they want to connect with and celebrate the women who help to shape their lives.

As is so often the case when we take the extra time to have conversations like this with our children, the answers may surprise you.  The list could include grandmothers, neighbors, godparents or teachers. It is always a moment of discovery when you let your children lead conversations about what means the most to them. 

By engaging with your children in this way, you learn who is important to them and what they are observing about their family and community.  You also come to learn how your children are practicing empathy and gratitude as they grow and change.


Mother’s Day Message

We love looking back at this video of a Portraits that Move family - watch to the end to hear how “my mom is special to me.”

If you’re thinking about scheduling a video shoot or gifting a Portraits that Move film for Mother’s Day, let us know!

When Mother’s Day is Hard

As much as we love celebrating our fellow moms, we understand all too well that Mother's Day can be a painful holiday for many.  Many of us have experienced a complicated journey to motherhood, or have found that our motherhood experiences are in sharp contrast with our expectations.  We know that Mother’s Day, more often than not, can be a reminder of our losses more than a celebration of our lives.

For these reasons and so many more, as Mother’s Day approaches, we are working hard to pause, to create space for feeling, working through, and sharing all of our emotions surrounding this holiday that ends up being much more than a Hallmark moment, whether or not we had planned for that.

How Do You Celebrate?

Head over to Facebook and tell us how you are planning to celebrate Mother’s Day this year. Whether it is a quite day of reflection or a loud, messy celebration, know that we are holding space for you and for your loved ones on this day and always.

3 Questions to Ask Your Kids to Connect to Nature and Each Other

The weather is beautiful in NYC today! Take a moment when you can (or even when it’s so busy you feel like you can’t) to ask your kids these three questions. They’ll help you connect to the beauty around you, and to each other.

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So power down those screens, and encourage your kids (littles and bigs) to look up, down, and around. They’ll discover the beauty, the simplicity, and the power of the natural world around them. And you are very likely to be reminded of the beauty, simplicity, and power of the children you are raising. It’s all about those small moments that matter, friends, as we head into Earth Day, and EVERY DAY.

Look Up - What shapes do you see in the clouds?

This one never gets old, but how many times do we stop and ask it? Finding shapes in the clouds is the first step to creating and sharing stories. '

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Before you know it, your kids will be scanning the sky for characters to add to their tales. And you will be joining right along with them. Suddenly, the walk home from school, or the trip to run errands won’t have you feeling so sluggish. You, and your kids start to feel energized by the stories you are creating, the world you are discovering, and the nature all around you that provides an endless source of inspiration.

Look Down - How many sprouts do you see?

Have no fear, city moms, this question is just as much for you as it is for our friends in the suburbs and out in the country. Get your kids to look down at the base of trees as they’re walking along the sidewalk. Ask them to peek in people’s front yards (no matter how small), and even the cracks in the concrete.

How many sprouts can your kids see? Are some of them crocus plants, are others grass? Have them guess what is growing, how big it will get, what color it will be.

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Let their imaginations run wild! Is that little weed you see growing between the sidewalk cracks going to grow up to be a tree? If it did, and we climbed it, where would it go, what would we find? How many birds would call it their home?

With a mix of imagination play and nature learning, you will be amazed by how much creativity and joy you awaken - for your kids and for you!

Look Around - How does this street look different today than it did yesterday?

The world around us is always changing, especially during springtime. Try to catch as many of those moments as you can by taking stock of the space around you and recognizing all the little changes that happen in such a short time.

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This exercise is a great way to get conversations going with your kids, and to challenge them, and you, to really LOOK at everything around you. At first, you may not notice that there are more blooms on the tree, or that the petals are starting to give way to summer style leaves, or that the buds have started to turn into flowers. But when you ask about it, and start to look for changes, and talk about what you see, you and your children will realize everything that happens in a day, and just how lucky we are to be able to experience it.

And that, friends, is a moment that matters.







3 Things for Busy Moms to Do this Spring

Spring is almost here, in spite of the chill in the air here in NYC. So we’re sharing a new approach to Spring Cleaning, tailored for busy moms like us.

This spring, we’re finding ways of celebrating the every day, because “every moment matters” is more than how we describe our work, it is how we live our lives.

Stop asking "how was your day"

Avoid this question if you really want answers!

To really connect with your kids, and to get the conversation going, try some of our tips from the start of the school year.

Are these strategies working for you? What are you doing to start quality conversations with your kids? And how are you finding the time?

Choose one simple way to connect with your kids

You don’t have to be Mary Poppins to create special moments for your kids. And you don’t have to plan elaborate vacations or custom play spaces to enjoy some time together.

In fact, even small interactions like cooking a meal together, sitting around the table (it doesn’t have to be a holiday!), watching their favorite TV show with them, or listening to them describe something that they love - a hobby, sport, art project or video game) - can go a long way.

Take some time for self-care

Remember the advice they give on planes to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others when things get hectic.

Photo by  Becca Tapert  on  Unsplash

The spring season is often full of family events and major milestones (Mitzvahs, graduations, weddings). In all that excitement, and during all that preparation, the small moments that matter can get lost, especially if you’re not finding little ways to remind yourself that you matter. Practice self-care when you’re busy, not just when you feel like you have the space to carve out “me time.”

2019 Word of the Year - Celebrate!

Do you choose a word of the year every new year? We are big fans of this practice. It helps us focus on a guiding principle that leads to our goals and reminds us to stay grounded in what matters as we start the new year.

Looking at all the opportunities and adventures that lie ahead in 2019, we know that this year at Portraits that Move, what we want to do most, is celebrate!

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Celebrate Moments

Every moment matters, and every moment is worth celebrating. We don't know how many years we get in this life, or what may come our way. What we do know is that every year, and every day, is made up of moments small and large that connect us to each other, that are filled with joy, that remind us of gratitude.

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This year will be filled with moments that make us smile and moments that lead to discoveries, for our children and for ourselves. We’ll have unexpected moments with our children that we look back on and realize were some of the most treasured experiences of our lives, even if those moments are small and simple.

All of this is worth celebrating. It's why we create our films for families, so that the can see and celebrate who they are right now. And so they have something to look back on to celebrate how they became who they are.

Celebrate Milestones

There is nothing like a milestone to ignite celebration, and the joy that parents feel watching their children grow, change, and thrive in the world. That's one of the reasons we love creating Mitzvah videos for families.

Our Mitzvah videos allow families to add a truly special element to a milestone day filled with joy, enthusiasm, and not a small amount of nostalgia (how often we hear from Mitzvah moms and dads that they can't believe how fast the time goes!).

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The thing about celebrating is that it is so much more than the exuberance of a party, just like your child's Bar/Bat Mitzvah is about so much more than all of the perfect party details and exciting extras you have planned for your child and their friends. To truly celebrate our families, ourselves, our lives, is to look at life in all of its dimensions, the small moments and the milestone moments, and to realize how grateful we are for the life we have, for the joy and the challenges that fill our days.

Because time really does go too fast, and if we don't stop to celebrate who we are, where we have been, and where we are going, we will have missed out on the chance to celebrate how sweet and beautiful all of this is.

Celebrate Every Day

Clients, friends, family, that's our wish for you this new year. Find a way to celebrate each other, to celebrate with each other, every day.

We guarantee you will have better days because of it. And we can't wait to celebrate them with you!

Holiday Gift Guide 2018

We are so excited to share our first ever Portraits that Move Holiday Gift Guide! To celebrate the season, we have put together a list of gifts that reflect the beauty and joy of documenting family life and the small moments that make it so special.

We are featuring these products because we love how they connect with what is important to us and we think that you will, too. None of these products have paid for placement on our site, and we do not receive any compensation for linking to third party products.

Grandparent and Grandchild Keepsake Letter Book Set

Image via  Uncommon Goods

Image via Uncommon Goods

Created by Knoxville, Tennessee based artist Whitney Biggs, this letter book set gives children and grandparents the chance to connect with each other through storytelling.

Using storytelling to connect across generations is something we love! It’s part of what inspired us to create our Generations Videos, and it is just the kind of thing that keeps the magic of the holidays going well beyond the end of the season.

Letters to My Future Self

Image via  Amazon

Image via Amazon

Document your own story through letter writing with the Letters to My Future Self kit. This is a wonderful gift for a friend or family member who loves to write, to document, and to build their own story.

Conversations with My Father and Mother

Image via  Uncommon Goods

Image via Uncommon Goods

These lovely books are a perfect place for your family to write down the conversations that make up the history of our lives. We are huge believers in the power of conversation, especially conversations with kids, in documenting family life and preserving our memories for ourselves and for future generations.

Comic Book Pop Art from Photos

Image via  MyDaVinci

Image via MyDaVinci

Give your loved ones a totally unique gift, in the style of Roy Lichtenstein pop art from MyDaVinci. Submit your photo and they create a pop art version of the image for display in your home. You can choose from a variety of size and framing options, and you can even add a talk bubble!

Illustory

Image via  Amazon

Image via Amazon

Give kids the chance to tell their story in their own words inside a book they design and create themselves. This is a gift many times over, from an activity to keep kids entertained over holiday break, to a keepsake that your family will enjoy for years to come.

In our experience creating videos for families, you are guaranteed for a treat when you give kids the chance - and the space - to share their stories in any form.

Custom Family Video

Give your loved ones the gift of a Portraits that Move Gift Card. Available in any denomination, up to the full price of a Signature Portrait Video, our gift card makes it easier for families to get their own custom heirloom quality video that documents the treasured moments of their lives right now.


Kid Quotes Memory Book

Image via  Uncommon Goods

Image via Uncommon Goods

Oh, the things kids say! Write down the funniest and most poignant quotes from your kids in the new year in this adorable Kid Quotes Memory Book created by Colorado-based graphic designer Amy Taylor.

We love celebrating the things kids say, and we know better than anyone that you absolutely will forget what you don’t document. This is the perfect gift for yourself or for another parent who will appreciate a place to store their kids’ comments, from the whimsical, to the witty, to the wise.

My Family Cookbook

Image via  Uncommon Goods

Image via Uncommon Goods

Preserve your family’s precious recipes - and the memories that go along with them - in My Family Cookbook. This book give you a place to gather all your favorite recipes, along with the photos and stories that go with them.

Invite family members to contribute, or use it as a chance to gather your family and work on creating the cookbook together. This is the perfect gift for new couples, or for young adults heading off to college or starting out in new cities.

Mixtiles

Image via  Mixtiles

Image via Mixtiles

We love this affordable way to turn your family photos into gallery walls! This is a great project to enjoy putting together as a family. Involve your kids in choosing the photos to print and in creating the gallery wall in your home.

Tiles can be moved around easily so it’s a fun, interactive way to tell your family’s story through photography you create.

Parenting Misadventures Journal

Image via  Uncommon Goods

Image via Uncommon Goods

Know a new mom or dad with a good sense of humor about the parenting journey? This book is for them!

Write down everything from the crazy advice you got before baby arrived to the epic tantrums in Target because, believe it or not, you don’t want to forget those moments either. It’s all part of your history, and it will make you laugh… eventually.

Rememory Game

Image via  Uncommon Goods .

Image via Uncommon Goods.

This holiday gift combines two things we love - family games and family memories. The Rememory Game is a fun way to recall family stories and memories and to introduce the next generation to your family’s treasured stories and moments.

Thanksgiving Conversation Starters

We are big fans of Thanksgiving at Portraits that Move because it brings together our favorite things - family and gratitude (and food!).

There is nothing like gathering together around a table to share stories and relish in the small moments that make our lives, especially our family lives, rich and memorable. But, as natural as it is to have conversations with our loved ones, the conversation doesn’t always flow naturally.

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Don’t worry. We’re here to help you get the conversation started and keep it going this year at your Thanksgiving table. Try these tips for a fun, stress-free Thanksgiving for families of all ages and sizes. Our conversation starters and Thanksgiving table games are guaranteed to bring joy to your table, and to teach you things about your family that you never knew.

Make the Alphabet Game the Gratitude Game

I’m thinking of something that begins with the letter…

We all know the popular road trip game, where you work your way through the alphabet, guessing something that begins with each letter of the alphabet while the person who is “it” provides clues to the guessers.

Customize this game for your Thanksgiving table. Take turns going clockwise around the table (or starting youngest to oldest). The first person who is “it” says “I’m grateful for something that begins with the letter A.” Each person around the table guesses what that is based on hints.

This is a fun, easy, and interactive way to share what you are thankful for. It is also a natural way to start a conversation around gratitude, and to teach you what little things matter to your loved ones.

Popsicle Stick Conversation Starters

Craft stick conversation starters are one of our favorites! We have a complete DIY guide to creating these fun, reusable conversation starters that are perfect for Thanksgiving table games and throughout the year.

DIY Popsicle Stick Conversation Starters for Kids and Tweens
What you need:
2 mason jars
1 pack of large craft sticks
markers (we chose brightly colored and metallic Sharpies to make it extra fun)
a list of creative questions for kids

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See more suggestions and tips for creating your own craft stick conversation starters. For Thanksgiving, you can customize the colors, add festive stickers and coordinate your sticks to go with your table and decor themes. It’s a great way to get the kids involved in holiday prep and to keep their hands busy while you are finishing up your last minute cooking and decorating!

Favorite Things and Follow-Ups

After everyone is seated at the table, instruct them to put their place cards in a hat (or a pumpkin, cornucopia or Thanksgiving themed cup!). The person at the head of the table pulls out one name at a time and asks that person to name one of their favorite things.

After that person shares a favorite thing, encourage everyone else around the table to ask questions about it so they can learn more. Questions can include “has that always been one of your favorites?” “What makes you like that so much…”

Other favorite things follow-ups should include things like “That’s a great book! When I was your age, my favorite book was…”

This is an easy way to learn more about each other. Favorites and follow-ups is a particularly good game if you have tweens and teens at your table who want to share but don’t always know how, and who sometimes feel too on the spot when they are barraged with questions. The key to getting kids to talk honestly and openly is to create space in which they feel comfortable, rather than exposed.

Cheers to comfortable spaces, laughter around tables, and conversations that create memories well beyond the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

3 Ways to Create Memorable Moments that Build Confidence and Communication Skills

Every moment matters, and during the summer, we (ideally) have a little more time to share moments and make memories together.  To celebrate the official start of summer in New York City, we are sharing three ways to create moments that foster conversation, engage creativity and create space for your children to connect with you and with others, and to share their stories and ideas with confidence.

Write to a Summer Pen Pal

Sit down with your child to choose a pen pal to write to throughout the summer.  Your child might opt to write to a friend from school who is away at camp or on vacation, a grandparent, a cousin, or someone special in their lives.

Writing to a pen pal, whether it is through snail mail or email, gives your children the opportunity to express themselves, to share their stories and relay their observations.  Receiving mail (especially traditional mail) is exciting for kids.  It gives them something to look forward to, teaches them about delayed gratification, and shows that someone took time to listen to, care about, engage with and respond to their words.  This is a powerful gift that builds confidence and helps your children develop their voices.

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Make sure that you know and trust the person with whom your child is communicating before embarking on a pen pal project.  If your child is corresponding by email, review cyber safety rules before logging on, and confirm that your child has the correct address for his/her pen pal.

Start a Family Book Club

A family book club is an ideal way for kids to connect with parents and siblings.  It gives you a shared activity to do together that revolves around observation and communication – key elements of meaningful moments shared through stories (both those you read and those you tell).

Take turns selecting a book for the family to read and discuss.  Let your kids pick the books first so that they can share something they love with you, and can lead the initial book club discussions.  A family book club helps with skill building during the summer (we see you, Summer Slide) but even more, it creates a pathway to conversation.  Book clubs are safe spaces to connect over ideas and events that you read about.  Inevitably, this gives your children the comfort and the confidence to talk about issues or concerns they face in their own lives in a way that feels more natural, and more open, than direct questioning about how they are doing or what they are feeling on a given school day afternoon.

Consider holding each of your book club meetings in a different location – the living room, in the backyard or out in a park, in one of your children’s bedroom to allow them to play host.  Changing your environment helps to set different tones for conversations and can make those conversations flow more energetically.

Put a New Spin on Old Games

Reinvent Game Night in your home by kicking up the creativity and re-imaging favorite games based on your child’s or your family’s favorite hobbies, characters or teams.  Our list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a great place to start!

Minecraft Charades

Played like traditional charades, but with categories unique to Minecraft, this serves as the perfect way to bring your kid’s screen life into real life.  Your kids will be happy to take the lead on this one, sharing their insight on their favorite game.  You will learn more about something they love and why they love it.

Giving children the opportunity to be experts on something creates memorable, enjoyable moments for your family.  It also gives them the chance to flex their leadership skills, to build confidence, and to realize that they have things to teach you and that you are willing and open to learn from them.  That is the hallmark of open dialogue and good conversation in families.

Character Tic-Tac-Toe

Create a tic-tac-toe game that replaces the Xs and Os with your child’s favorite storybook characters.  To make the pieces, your kids can draw or print out images.

tic tac toe storybook portraits that move summer.jpg

During the making and playing process, you will be amazed to see how your child begins to talk about the characters and the stories, why they like them, what happens in the stories, and how they connect to their own lives.  Children are natural sharers and they love to welcome us parents into their world.  The busy pace of life often makes that difficult, but slowing down even for a moment to share a simple project and play a simple game like this can be the missing piece of meaningful, simple connection that we often struggle to find.

Build Your Own Chess Set

Ideal for older children or larger families, building and playing with a customized chess set can be a fun, creative summer long activity full of moments for the whole family to enjoy.  Using items found around the house, from the recycling bin to the craft closet, build a chess set around a theme your family enjoys.

You might make a set based on rival baseball teams, characters from favorite TV shows or movies, or places that are special in your family history.  Once again, the act of making the pieces and the game board is full of opportunities for communication and connection.  Working on a creative project together forges your bond as a family and builds your child’s leadership, listening and teamwork skills.

This summer, take as many moments as you can to try activities like these to give your children the space they need to connect and share with you, and to give yourself the gift of time well spent.

- Elizabeth Eames, June 2018

Brooklyn Family Photographer Raquel Frechette Features Susannah Ludwig in Mornings with Series

I met Raquel Frechette a few years ago and have been inspired by her and her work ever since. When she mentioned her new photo project to me and we discussed our participating, it was an easy yes. 

Image by Raquel Frechette,   Mornings with Series  , 2018 

Image by Raquel Frechette, Mornings with Series, 2018 

I think Raquel has an exquisite, intuitive eye and working with her was easy and filled with fun. It was moving and interesting to experience being on the opposite side of the camera, but she made it comfortable and fun for me and for my son. I didn't feel self conscious - and as you can see in the images, neither did Jack.

I had the feeling that my son and I were given the opportunity to learn from a master. And I feel grateful to have had that. Raquel and I share the same professional/life philosophy, namely that these small, everyday moments of our lives are the ones to cherish.  I am so thankful that Raquel took the time to cherish our moments. These photos are a gift - one that I will hang onto always and that I feel privileged to share with you. 

When Mother's Day is Hard

If you know one thing about Portraits that Move, it is that we love to celebrate life's moments of all sizes.  Our love of celebration most most certainly includes holidays, and Mother's Day holds a special place in our hearts.

As much as we love celebrating our fellow moms, we understand all too well that Mother's Day can be a painful holiday for many.  Many of us have experienced a complicated journey to motherhood, or have found that our motherhood experiences are in sharp contrast with our expectations.  We know that Mother’s Day, more often than not, can be a reminder of our losses more than a celebration of our lives.

For these reasons and so many more, as Mother’s Day approaches, we are working hard to pause, to create space for feeling, working through, and sharing all of our emotions surrounding this holiday that ends up being much more than a Hallmark moment, whether or not we had planned for that.

Our message to you this week is simple.  As you prepare for Mother's Day weekend, we invite you to look to your children for lessons and to let them take the lead in celebrating the holiday.  It is inspiring – and so impressive – to see what children are able to do when we create space for them to be heard, to share their emotions, their enthusiasm, and their ideas.

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This weekend, remember to flex those muscles that motherhood hones so well: patience, gratitude, openness.  Acknowledge and honor your losses privately and with those you love.  Release your expectations for the perfect day (it doesn’t exist!).  Resist the temptation to compare your day, and the feelings you have about Mother’s Day, to your Instagram feed.  Remember to celebrate your family, your motherhood journey, and your experiences, however imperfect you may think they are.

Happy Mother's Day,

The Portraits that Move Team

Our Mother's Day Gift to You

Schedule a Portraits that Move Signature Portrait consultation by the end of the month (May 31, 2018) and get 25% off, with code #HAPPYMOMDAY

My Portraits that Move Moment: Confessions of a Mom with too Much

No more stuff!  I must not be alone in this mantra, as we emerge from the holiday madness and our mailboxes, physical and digital, start filling up with Valentine's Day announcements: Sales!  Gift ideas!  Don't forget gifts for your pets!  Buy one, get one!  More, more, more.  

It has never been so clear to me that my family is at odds with our lifestyle.  We truly do have an abundance, but we are not living abundantly, not even close.  And it feels like we are moving farther and farther away from gratitude.  We are well past taking the advice to do more with less.  Now, it is time to have less - and to do less - in order to appreciate more.

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Looking around at all of this stuff, I realize that what I really want is three minutes.  I want three minutes of peace and calm.  Three minutes to give myself permission to do nothing but enjoy my daughter, to awaken gratitude, to replace the stress of excess with an awareness of abundance and a real appreciation for it.

I don't want tokens scattered across every empty surface to gather dust.  I don't want more photo albums I have to file.  I want three minutes that I can call up whenever I need to remind myself that underneath all of this mess, there is a beautiful, vibrant life and that there is a way to slow it down, to steady it, to bask in it. 

This is why I love working with Portraits that Move, because the filmmakers on this team use their professional experience and their artistry to hand deliver much needed moments to parents like me.

Elizabeth Eames, February 2018

Gratitude and Transitions

This time of year is always an emotional one for me. This week, my son, will have his 10th birthday. A whole decade - wow - the time has flown.

His birthday this year is on Thanksgiving. What an incredible gift to have a day meant for gratitude, family time and closeness also be the day we get to celebrate the joy of having him in our lives.

The age of ten for a New York City kid is an intense one. They are still kids, playful and curious, but in this urban world, they are just on the edge of being teenagers. They are pushing for independence and yet asking for closeness. It is a time that is overwhelming for him and for me. I wonder how do we shift into this next decade together. What will it look like?

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I find grounding in gratitude. If I stay in touch with all the reasons I am grateful for him - the way he winks at me, the joy in his belly laugh, his power of observation, the kindness he shows with younger kids, his comedic impersonations - the gratitude keeps me present and enjoying today. And then, once I am there, I have ease in knowing the rest will come as it may, in its own time.

I think this is what we are offering to parents with our work. A time for them to be present and then to look back and enjoy that presence fully. Our videos capture these moments for them so they have them to keep and to hold close.

It’s a beautiful time of year to create a Portraits That Move video, a holiday card, an annual portrait or even if you are celebrating a special occasion.

I am grateful to be able to do the the work we do, for this holiday season and for the gift of getting to be mother to my son. Here’s to the next year and next decade!

Happy Thanksgiving!

xo,

Susannah

Modern Answer to the Snailmail Family Newsletter

Do you remember your mom writing holiday newsletters every year?  Do you remember reading the letters from her college roommates, following the lives of families you may never have met but felt you knew?

Fewer and fewer of those beloved newsletters arrive in the mail, thanks to social media, our busy lives, and the picture-perfect cards that so many of our friends and family seem to favor.

With that, some of the magic has been lost.  We've lost the chance to make a special connection around the holidays, to celebrate along with family and friends, and to share the accomplishments, changes and milestones that make up a year in the life of every family.

Our Portraits that Move team has come up with the answer.  Our Holiday Video Card lets you and your children talk about what happened over the whole year in your own words.

We're using modern ways to recapture traditional experiences of family, love, celebration and connection.  And our clients and their friends and families are loving it.

At the end of the day, the beauty of new technologies are that they offer us new ways to tell our stories.  The Portraits that Move Video Holiday Card is our cool, modern answer to snailmail family newsletter.  It is also a beautiful way to celebrate and remember a year in the life of your family.

Create your Portraits that Move Video Holiday Card

There is no better time to create your family's video holiday card.  The fall weather is gorgeous, and we are sure you have much news to share!  

Schedule your 90 minute holiday video film shoot on one of our two remaining days: Saturday, November 4, or Sunday, November 19.
 

Maybe the fact that we can't slow down time is not a bad thing

Often as my son heads back to school, I am reminded of the "what I learned on my summer vacation" assignment.  Since I am always looking for new ways to tell stories and learn lessons from my experiences and the experiences of those around me, I explored the question for myself.

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The answer might be a bit surprising, and I am excited to share it with you and to hear your thoughts.

What I learned on my summer vacation is this: maybe the fact that we can't slow down time is not a bad thing.

The speed at which time moves, which seems to feel even faster for parents, as we all can attest, reminds us that these moments are worth preserving, remembering and returning to for glimpses at what was and clues into what is to come.

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On our annual trip to Cape Cod, it struck me how much my son has grown over the year since we last visited our favorite place.  His observations, insights and interests have changed so much.  It made me nostalgic for the moments we have shared - the times when he needed to hold my hand on our hikes, the times before he was able to swim on his own.  At the same time, I felt proud to share this life with him, proud of who he is and who he is becoming. 

I can picture him now bringing his own family here, telling me stories and making me laugh, as he has always done so brilliantly.

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This is why, for me, documenting moments so that we are able to return to those stories, those jokes, those moving images of our lives up to this point is such a unique and beautiful gift.  All of those moments have led us to the here and now and they pave the way for the future.

As I celebrate change and look ahead to growth and opportunities for my family, I am all the more grateful to have small, treasured moments in time that I am able to view and to share.  I see now so clearly that our story is woven with what was, what is, and what will be, and I can’t imagine what it would be like to leave even one chapter of that story undocumented and uncelebrated.

Road Trip Tips for Great Conversations with Kids

Now that we have kicked off the unofficial start of summer, we are planning ahead for road trips, vacations, and summer travel with kids.  Travel with kids can be the perfect time to reconnect with them and to start meaningful, fun, creative conversations.

Our Portraits that Move Team put together three easy and fun road trip games that get the kids - and you - talking, sharing, and laughing.  We know that every moment matters, and we are here to help you enjoy and document yours.  Here's to good times, good talks, and a great summer!

I Spy a Story

Try this new take on a familiar game.  Have each person in your car take a turn describing something they see.  

The next step is where it gets really fun.  In addition to describing it, have your child invent a story about it.  When it is the next person's turn, have that person do the same, using the thing they spy as a new character in the story that you are creating together.

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If I were...

This is another game that involves taking turns, using imagination and telling stories.  Go around the car, to the right, starting with the driver.  

Have the first person say to the second, "If you were a..." and pick a person, place or thing.  The person whose turn it is then has to answer a series of questions from that point of view.  Ask three or four questions to each player.

Example:
Mom: "If you were a monkey, what would your favorite food be."
Sam: "Banana ice cream!"
Mom: "If you were a monkey, what would your favorite color be, and why?"
Sam: "Brown, because it matches everything and it makes it hard to play hide and seek."
Mom: "If you were a monkey, what would your favorite song be?"
Sam: "Hmmm...."

Twenty Questions

This old favorite is a good way to build communication skills and to learn how your child understands the world around her.

Each person takes a turn thinking of something.  The other players ask questions (up to twenty) to determine what that person is thinking of.

All of these activities do more than pass the time while you are traveling with kids.  They help to connect you to each other by strengthening the bonds of communication.  You are sure to laugh, to go on some wacky tangents, and to discover new things about each other.  And isn't that what time away with family should be all about?

Let Kids Take the Lead: New Ways to Celebrate Mother's Day with Family and Friends

Make this Mother’s Day special by brainstorming with your kids about how to celebrate the day in new and more inclusive ways.  Talk to your kids about the women in your circle – your family, friends and neighbors, – and ask them how they want to connect with and celebrate the women who help to shape their lives.

As is so often the case when we take the extra time to have conversations like this with our children, the answers may surprise you.  The list could include grandmothers, neighbors, godparents or teachers. It is always a moment of discovery when you let your children lead conversations about what means the most to them. 

By engaging with your children in this way, you learn who is important to them and what they are observing about their family and community.  You also come to learn how your children are practicing empathy and gratitude as they grow and change.

5 Ways to Celebrate Mother's Day through Storytelling and Sharing

Schedule Facetime or Skype calls with special women in your child's life

Seeing and hearing each other is a wonderful way for your children – and for you – to connect with the important people in your lives.  We are fortunate to have technology at our fingertips that allows us to do that.

 

Ask your children who they would like to connect with and schedule a time for a call the same way you would schedule an in-person meeting.  Make it an event, make it special, and most of all, let your children take the lead.  Far away friends and family will be delighted to connect one-on-one with your kids.  Your kids will feel proud to share and to celebrate these special women on Mother’s Day.

Share their Artwork

For younger children, look through art work and classroom projects and select some favorites to send to the family members on your list.  Encourage your children to share the story of why they love this piece of art, what inspired them to create it, and why they chose it for the recipient.

Sharing artwork and allowing children to talk about it helps to build their confidence, and reminds them that they have the power to bring happiness to the people they love on holidays like Mother’s Day and throughout the year.

Create Unique, Special Messages

For older children, ask them to create a unique, special message for each person on the list.  This could include writing, drawing, making jewelry or other small gifts.  This encourages your children to share their stories and their observations to help connect them with their loved one.  It gives them the chance to use their creativity and talents to let someone know that they care about them, and why.

Share a Mother's Day Video Message

Our clients love sharing Portrait Videos and Video Cards with their loved ones for Mother’s Day and other holidays.  Especially for families that do not get to see each other as much as they would like (which is all of us, really!) our videos help to give the gift of more time with the ones you love.

Plan a New Kind of Mother's Day Get Together

This year, let your children take the lead in planning a Mother’s Day get together for your whole tribe.  Include all the women your child loves.  For us moms, this new approach does mean sharing our day, but what a gift it is to know that we are able to also share the joy and love of our children – and the joy and love we have for those who care about our children and contribute to their happiness.

Mother's Day Special 

Book a Portrait between now and the end of May 2017 and save 20% when you mention the code MOM2017