Monday, 30 May 2016

[Wedding] Vicki & Lee enjoy a sunshine filled day at Sitwell Arms

I first met Vicki when she came to see me at an Ice Sheffield Wedding Fayre and we were talking about her Wedding. Whilst that day seemed so long ago - it really wasn't and before we knew it her Wedding was here and ready.

It seems really strange that almost 7 years into running Blue Lights Photography, that I am still photographing new venues and Sitwell Arms was no different and one of the new ones!

I started with Vicki, her mum and bridesmaids getting ready at the venue - with a 3pm Ceremony I didn't start with Vicki until later which seemed strange to me!

Vicki and Lee were married in a civil ceremony including a reading of A Lovely Love Story By Edward Monkton.

The weather was absolutely beautiful for the photographs outside, down by the lake at Sitwell makes such a good place for photographs - a hidden haven you don't even see from the road!

Time came for Vicki & Lee to have photographs of them on their own - and knowing them this was one of the things that they were not looking forward to! I know how much they obviously enjoyed their pre-shoot! (Haha! No one enjoys their pre-shoots really!)

Everyone headed inside for Drinks, Food and Speeches before getting ready to boogie the night away which I know was one of the things Vicki was most looking forward to!

Massive Congratulations to Vicki & Lee, even if it was "about time" as people kept mentioning! 17 Years they have met - and they have a daughter Lily too - so yes the sentiment was echoed, it was "about time" - they just wanted to make sure! 

I also want to share with you this image, of how happy Vicki was on her Wedding Day. Vicki doesn't like her photographs taken (not many women do!) but wanted to do something special for Lee. She loved the image on the back of the camera so whilst working on the Evening Slideshow I edited the image too to show Vicki. Not only did she love it - she wanted to show it off to everyone too and it went on the slideshow with the rest of the images from this blog post. Well done Vicki, you look bloody gorgeous! xX

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Destination Wedding Etiquette

One of the most exciting things to happen in a person’s life is the Wedding. Planning for a Wedding that is either "out of town" or "abroad" can take a lot of work but the rewards can definitely be worth it. The first wedding etiquette is to consider who can attend the Wedding location.

One of the reasons that couples sometimes prefer "out of town" Weddings is that it is one way to lessen the number of guests. Sometimes, when the budget is concerned the etiquette is to set aside money for accommodations and transport for immediate members of the family or main entourage. 

For the couple:

  • Accessibility – the hotel and church or wedding location should be near the reception area. This is wedding etiquette in consideration for the family and guests who need to freshen up before the evening reception.
  • Package – there are hotels or resorts that offer wedding packages. These are discounted rates for group bookings on accommodation. Other may include the transportation. 
  • Price –  The destination wedding etiquette regarding the expenses are sorted out between the bride and groom.

The destination wedding requirements

Pushing through with an out of town wedding can be demanding on the part of the couple. The wedding etiquette is to make sure everything is in order prior to the wedding date itself. Here are a few reminders:

  • Check if your wedding location requires other legal documents to process the wedding. The destination wedding etiquette is to arrange the papers beforehand.
  • Do you need to be resident in town for a number of days before the ceremony? Also, check this for abroad too. Where do you need to file paper work.
  • Book everything in advance. Making the proper reservations for the hotel, flowers, gowns, music, etc is a sign of prudent planning and a destination wedding etiquette must.

For the guests

  • The wedding etiquette dictates that you must bring a gift for the newlyweds. A bridal registry is usually set-up for the convenience of the couple and the guests. 
  • If the couple asks for money instead of a gift, discretely give your envelope to the family of the bride or groom. The key word here is discrete.
  • Usually, the invitation allows for at least one companion to the wedding. In tagging along more than one companion, consider the wedding etiquette of informing the couple beforehand. This will make it easier for them to estimate the total number of plated for the reception.
  • Bringing along the children is fine for any destination wedding. But as much as possible, keep the event as civilized as possible. The kids will only add to the stress at a wedding and the wedding etiquette is to keep the number of children down to a minimum.
  • Guests can turn the out of town wedding into a mini-vacation just by spending their time together at the venue. However, it is essential wedding etiquette to put the couple’s day first before going off on your own romantic weekend.
  • If the destination wedding is unfamiliar to you it is wise to do some research. Not only will you be able to discover a new place but also you can really enjoy your mini-vacation by visiting the tourists’ spots. 

For the family

Both the bride and groom’s family are an important part of the wedding. It is a wedding etiquette that they all try to help make this event go as smoothly as possible.

The couple can delegate their wedding tasks to the family to lessen the pressure on the celebrants. It is only natural that the family steps forward and take in as much responsibility as the can.

When all the hard work pays off at the wedding, the newlyweds will appreciate everyone for making this the most memorable wedding of their lives.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Enjoy Your 2nd Trimester!

Congratulations! Your pregnancy now comes to the second trimester, which is within weeks 13 through 27. Your morning sickness has faded away gradually by now (hopefully!). This means you should be feeling better than before.

It’s actually the stage when you experience the most enjoying moment with your pregnancy. You’ll feel energetic and full of vitality. You can do a lot more than when you were in the first three months.

However, this does not mean you can do anything you want. You still need to be cautious about what you do and avoid doing too many activities.

Check out the points below to guide you in going through this phase:

1. Control your appetite. Compared to the previous trimester, it’s improving now. Try not to overeat. Get balanced nutritious food instead of quick and easy.
2. Handle leg cramps by straightening and lifting up your legs for several minutes. If you get cramp, move your toes upward and hold for a few seconds.
3. Carry out ‘low impact’ exercise. Getting pregnant does not mean you do not need exercises. They are even needed at this time. Swimming, yoga, and walking are good exercises for pregnant women. Ask your partner or friends to join you.
4. Perform Kegels to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. Simply squeeze the muscles for a few seconds and let them relax just like when you stop and start urine flow. Do it several times a day as trained muscles can make labour easier.

Besides you’ll be enjoying this second trimester, another incredible thing is coming up. In the 22nd week of your pregnancy, the tiny little creature in the womb is about to make a little move. Wow! You won’t believe it’s true ‘til you feel it by yourself

Enjoy your pregnancy.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Breast Feeding Tips

Breastfeeding has been given so much importance, many women have been made aware of it over the last few years. However, despite the awareness, many mothers still report of breast problems associated with lactation. These problems are most often than not, associated with improper breastfeeding techniques. In order to lower down the incidence of breast related problems due to lactation, it is important that mothers observe the proper techniques of breastfeeding. Ultimately, both the mother as well as the baby will benefit from the proper observance of these techniques.

First of all, you need to prepare your breast for milk-production. There are various nipple exercises to perform in order to prepare your nipple to deliver the breast milk to your baby. One of these exercises would involve routinely pinching the nipple. 

Second and what most mothers fail to realise is how to keep the nipple clean before the baby latches on to it for feeding. When you plan to breastfeed, you should avoid using soap on your nipple. If this cannot be avoided, your nipple should be wiped using a soft cloth soaked in clean water to make sure your nipple is clean before your baby feeds from it. 

Third and perhaps the most important step is to allow your baby to properly latch on to your nipple. You will know when your baby is latched on properly when your baby’s mouth covers the entire areola and not just the nipples. It is essential that your baby should latch on properly so that he or she can properly stimulate the “let-down reflex” of your breasts wherein the milk will go down the ducts and out your nipple.
To aid your baby in latching on properly, you should make use of their rooting reflex. This is manifested in the first few months of life. You stimulate your baby’s cheek, near their mouth using your nipple and their head will automatically turn towards the stimulation. Their mouth will open and be ready for receiving your nipple. Once you’re done, you can aid your baby to stop latching on by inserting a clean pinky finger into the side of their mouth and propping it slightly open. Your baby will stop sucking and you can remove your nipple.
To prevent sore nipples and breast engorgement you have to monitor the amount of time your baby sucks with each nipple. It is usually advisable to spend 10-15 minutes each breast to make sure that the breasts are completely emptied of milk. This will prevent breast engorgement. The next time your baby feeds on your breast, let your baby feed from the last breast he or she fed on. This will completely empty the milk on that breast before you move on to the other breast.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

[Wedding] Blue Skies for Alice & Michael's Wedding, Manor Golf Club

On Saturday 14th May I got to photograph the beautiful Wedding of Alice & Michael. This is not the first Wedding I have photographed for the family, I photographed Alice's sister's Wedding almost 3 years ago - and her other sisters beautiful baby boy. It is always lovely when I know the majority of the Wedding group well makes for a very relaxed family when it comes to photographing them.

I started with Alice at her parent's house where the bridesmaids, Alice, and her parents were getting ready a hive of hair and makeup. 

When everyone was ready we headed off to St Andrew's Church in Oakenshaw. The Bridesmaids and Mum were picked up via the gorgeous car that had been organised as a surprise for the Bride. Even I knew about the surprise, and so did the groom - Alice couldn't believe that people had managed to keep secrets from her about the Wedding but she was over the moon!

The service was lovely, there were no tears from either Alice or Michael - but - there were lots of laughs and definitely plenty of love!

After the ceremony, we headed outside to the lovely grounds of the church for Confetti, photographs on Grandad's Bench and of course under the beautiful Blossom Tree before we headed off to The Manor Golf Club for more photographs and to party!

Having been to the golf club before for her sister's Wedding, I was conscious to give Alice and Michael different images. What I love about the grounds at the golf club - is that there are so many different little nooks and crannies that make for great beautiful photographs.

Normally I work with the group shots first, however when we arrived at the golf club the golf buggies were already ready for us so we jumped on them first and did the group shots when we came back - including Parents, Bridesmaids and Groomsmen and much more. We did some additional shots after the Wedding Breakfast due to timing constraints. The best thing I love about photographing full day Weddings.

And not forgetting the Alice & Michael's gorgeous little boy Lucas!

Thank you for letting me share your day with you and capturing these memories for you to treasure forever. 

Saturday, 14 May 2016

5 Steps to a Balanced Monday Morning

Whilst its the weekend I know we try and not think of Monday morning, however before we know it, it will be back again.

Are your Monday morning's hectic, whilst trying to get ready for work, whilst getting the kids dressed and out of the door.

No-one said being a working mum would be easy, but here are 5 steps to help you achieve that delicate Monday morning balance:

Be prepared.  
If need be, pack your child’s lunch the night before - pack your lunch the night before. Do your washing and ironing on the weekend so that all clothes are hung and ready to go; prepare at least 5 outfits for each member of the family over the weekend and have your partner and children assist you in the process.

Set your alarm clock 10-15 minutes earlier.
Allow yourself more time in the morning.  If need be, go to bed 10-15 minutes earlier to make up for the time difference. Wake up before your kids to shower and dress (or try to!).  

Keep breakfast simple and healthy.  
If you feel that you just don’t have the time for breakfast, try keeping bananas (and other easy to eat fruit) and vitamin fortified cereal bars handy and ready to grab and go.  

Set a routine for you and your family and stick with it.  
Our bodies crave routine and that’s a fact.  Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.  Sticking with a schedule will make it easier to effectively manage that Monday morning balancing act.  

Divide your morning into phases.  
For example, phase 1:  Eat Breakfast, phase 2:  Get Dressed, etc.  Set the phases in 15-30 minute time increments (phasing increments can vary, depending on the overall time you give yourself).  Attempting to accomplish everything at once will only lead to chaos and confusion.  Help your family stay within the proper phase and ask them to also pitch in and help.  Encourage your family to stick to the morning phases to keep things running smoothly.

The key to achieving any balance, especially that Monday morning balance, is being prepared.  Try a more organized approach to your Monday mornings and you will find that they turn out to be a lot smoother and less stressful for everyone.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Baby's First Foods - A Guide To Starting Solids

Weaning your baby and introducing them to solid foods is an exciting time - but it can be difficult to know where to get started.

Your baby should be four months of age at the very least - before this, his immature digestive system will find it difficult to cope with solid food. Most medical professionals, however, will advise waiting until your baby is at least six months of age, to reduce the risk of food allergies.

Your baby's age is not the only consideration and there are other factors to take into account when determining whether or not the time is right for baby's first foods.

Look for signs of readiness in your baby - does he watch you with interest when you eat, following the progress of your food from plate to mouth? This increased interest in solid food can indicate that he's ready to try it for himself.

Does your baby seem dissatisfied after his usual milk feeds, or is he waking at night after previously sleeping through? Although these may be signs of an increase in his appetite, they can also be triggered by discomfort from teething. It is important to try to establish whether or not teething is the cause, to avoid introducing solid foods before your baby really needs them.

Your baby should have good head control and be able to sit well, as this makes swallowing easier. Younger babies may not be able to sit unsupported, however, so it is very important to provide the appropriate support if this is the case.
The decision to introduce solid foods to your baby must ultimately be made by you and whether you feel they are ready. You may feel pressured by other people - particularly the older generation - to give solid foods to your baby earlier than medical advice recommends. It is important to remember that a great deal of research has been carried out in order to provide this advice and such information simply wasn't available in the past.

So what is the best first food for baby?

You can start with Baby Rice, some people argue that it is not the best thing to start with - and some argue that there is no nutritional value - however it is your choice and that is what you have to remember. Some people miss the baby rice stage and go straight to puree's!

If your baby pushes the food you give them back out of their mouth then don't worry! Most babies do this instinctively at first and this "tongue-thrust" reflex will subside as he becomes accustomed to the new and unusual textures he is experiencing. If he does not seem interested, simply take the food away and try again the next day, or a few days later. You should not try to force him to eat, as this is traumatic for him and will only make things more difficult. After all, there is no rush - at this stage, breastmilk or formula is meeting all of his nutritional needs.

Try introducing pureed, fresh vegetables. Introduce only one new vegetable at a time, leaving four days between each new food. This will help you identify any foods that cause an allergic reaction or trigger digestive problems in your baby.
Some good vegetables to introduce as baby's first foods are butternut squash, sweet potato, carrots, swede and white potatoes. These can be boiled or steamed, then pureed. Alternatively, sweet potatoes can be baked in their skins, then the soft flesh scooped out, ready to serve - instant, healthy baby food!
You can try combining different vegetables for some delicious new flavours - examples include parsnips with green beans, sweet potato and squash and swede and carrots. The possibilities are endless!

Once your baby is enjoying vegetables, you can add fruits to the menu. Good choices include pureed banana, avocado and cooked, pureed apples and pears. Citrus fruits should be avoided for the first year, as they can trigger allergic reactions.

For something really different, try combining fruits and vegetables, such as apples with carrots, or bananas with sweet potato, for some unusual but tempting new flavours.

Follow your baby's lead and increase the amount and frequency of his meals as his appetite dictates. Always watch carefully for any signs of allergic reactions and discuss any concerns with a medical professional.

Above all, have fun introducing baby's first foods - by selecting and preparing these fresh and wholesome ingredients, you are getting him off to a wonderfully healthy start.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Children and Weddings

Most of the romantic and ideal wedding scenes we have seen in movies involve cute and huggable children. However, being the jolly, innocent and fun creatures that they are, most often, weddings, at least in the movies, involving children turn out to be hilarious and disastrously funny. 

We know that children are always seeking fun and will not stop to entertain themselves during boring hours. Children can not easily cope up and comprehend the fun adults have on weddings. The occasion can be very boring to them.

When children get bored, they usher in trouble to adults. They can roam around, throw cakes at people, fight with other kids or ruin things. These are fun to them, but can be nightmares to adults, especially to brides and grooms during weddings. 

Children and invitations

Admit it. The sad reality is that more and more brides, and grooms as well, do not like the idea that children will be coming over to their weddings.

Just the thought of crying children and children messing up with her gown and that of the bride’s maids make several brides throw up. Another sad fact is that some parents are not very sensitive to the issue. They could not think and understand how a bride could dislike cute and loveable kids in her wedding.
Wedding etiquette books and guides have it that the best way to exclude children to the occasion is to mention it in the invitations.

According to most wedding etiquette books, brides and grooms who dislike kids around their weddings can do two things: one, do not mention kids’ names in the invites; and two, spread the word that children are not wanted in the wedding.

The second option can be brutal, but it is nicer than having to control kids’ tantrums and annoying acts during weddings.

Because not all people understand and know wedding etiquettes, it is advisable that at some occasions, the couple should be straight forward to inform the guests before hand that the wedding would involve an ‘adult reception.’ 
Frankly telling parents-guests that kids will not be welcome in the wedding can also be a viable option.  For some, the gesture will not be that polite, but practicality will tell other wise. Every bride and groom wants solemnity for their much- awaited moments. Understand that.

Another tactic to exclude children in wedding invitations is to mention the number of seats reserved for a particular guest. For example, Mr and Mrs Winterburg are reserved only two seats at the reception. That means, that Mr and Mrs Winterburg’s five kids do not have places in the wedding. They should know that.

If the guests still fall clueless and insist on bringing along their children with them, call them before the wedding and explain why children should not be attending the wedding. Educate them a little about wedding etiquettes.

Wedding etiquettes for children’s parents

For parents, if it is not mentioned in the wedding invitation that children are not allowed to attend the wedding, and the couple and hosts did not call to emphasize the idea, then it is safe to assume that you could tag along your children.

However, be informed and bear in mind the simple wedding etiquettes for parents. You would not want to ruin the wedding just because your kid suddenly threw an act or suddenly threw a tantrum.

Assume the position of the bride and the groom. Think of how you would feel if you were on their shoes, and children are creating scenes at your wedding. It would not be pretty and cute, right?

Make the initiative to leave your kids at home, if you can help it, when you attend the wedding. They could play around the house or watch the television or do their stuff at home. They might get bored throughout the wedding ceremony and spoil everything.

For those helplessly take along children with them on weddings, wedding etiquette experts advise you to make the most of the opportunity. In other words, make the occasion a venue or time for teaching the kids of simple and practical wedding etiquettes.

Make the occasion a teachable moment by informing the kid that he or she should behave through out the occasion just like how to adult guests behave. 
This will be the best teaching occasion to shoe the kids how to act during weddings, or train them about some table and social manners.

Moreover, wedding etiquettes tell us to learn from each wedding. For the couple, on how to be good hosts. For guests, on how to be good guests and for parents to be good teachers to their kids who are incidentally also attending the wedding.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Are You Looking for Signs of Infertility?

Trying to conceive is a difficult process for many people. The reason is that there are many factors involved in conception. You cannot tell if you or your partner is infertile unless you visit a doctor. There are a number of medical tests that your doctor can perform to detect infertility. There are also methods and products that the doctor can prescribe to help in conceiving a child.

One procedure a doctor can perform is to test the cervical mucus. Cervical mucus plays an essential role in conception, as it enables the sperm to make it all the way to the egg. The sperm are unable to do this if there is little or no cervical mucus present. Another factor involving cervical mucus is that it could be too acidic. It is necessary for the mucus to be alkaline. If it is acidic, it will kill the sperm before they reach the egg.

When a doctor checks the cervical mucus, he/she will look at the whether it is clear or curdled. If it is curdled, there is little to no chance of conception. If the mucus is clear and somewhat sticky, chances of conception are good.

Before you start to think about the possibility that you or your partner might be infertile, make sure that you have been having unprotected (natural method) sex over a number of months, or up to a year. Conception can take a long time, even for couples who have no troubles with infertility. Often, a couple may have unprotected sex for 8 or 10 months before conception takes place.

Once you have given yourselves this waiting period, if conception still has not occurred, visit your doctor for what steps you should take next. Try not to worry - focus on the many tests and procedures available to help you and your partner become parents of a beautiful baby.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Baby Safety Tips

Keeping your baby safe is one of the biggest concerns for all parents. There are many things we take for granted but are hazards to your baby. Your home is not ready for the baby until you do some things to make it safe, especially if they are beginning to crawl or walk. Don’t find out what is dangerous the hard way. Here are some tips to remember. This list is incomplete as each home is different, but hopefully, these tips will get you started in the right direction.

Your Purse
Babies love to play with the things found in a purse, whether yours or guests.  Some of these things can be very dangerous to your baby, like medications, nail files, pens, cosmetics and other small objects.

Cleaning your home
Of course, you should make sure all cleaning products are out of reach of the baby when they are stored, but also, keep this in mind as you are using them. It’s very easy to get busy cleaning and turn your back, just long enough for them to get into something dangerous. Use the sink instead of a mop bucket. Your baby can drown in a small amount of water, not to mention what is in the water may be harmful to them.

Make sure none of your furniture lamps, or decorations are easily tipped over. Keep their high chair away from walls and other surfaces they can use for leverage to push it, possibly tipping it over. No furniture that has chipping or peeling paint should be allowed in the house with your baby. And if you do have furniture that should be anchored to a wall, please do so!

Check out the rooms of your house often and remember to check them from your baby’s point of view. Get down on the floor to look for possible hazards.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Breastfeeding Mums Need To Talk!

Breastfeeding can be an isolating experience for some new mums. First time breastfeeding parents can feel cut off from people if they are unsupportive - but not only that sometimes new mums feel like they are being judged and are on edge that they do not want to be around other people. 

Most mums choosing to breastfeed their babies do so because they have been made aware of the lifelong advantages of breastfeeding. But when it comes to the task itself, many feel they have no-one to turn to for information and advice when things are not going as planned. For that reason, a lot of breastfeeding mums give up breastfeeding earlier than they had originally planned.

I see a lot of new mums on the early struggles of breastfeeding a new baby and is one of the reasons I have signed up to host #TheBigBreastfeedingCafe on 18th May in part with Meleda UK to give a drop in session to let breastfeeding mums on all journies - some who have ended, some who have not yet started to come together and chat.

It is vital that breastfeeding mums have a supportive and informative network of people to ask for help.

And that is where Breastfeeding Support Groups come into their own. In Barnsley, you can find the Infant Feeding Service, with a list of all their local breastfeeding groups.

A well- organised breastfeeding support group will cater for a variety of women from varied backgrounds. It will educate women thinking about breastfeeding whilst they are pregnant and it will also cater for novice and more experienced breastfeeders.

Breastfeeding support groups allow women and their babies to come together in a relaxed atmosphere, to enjoy congenial conversation. Women are encouraged to discuss breastfeeding issues and, as a result, breastfeeding mums help one another to bypass barriers placed along the path.

Breastfeeding mums need to talk about breastfeeding in order to bring their experiences into the wider community. It is only by chatting about breastfeeding in an open and honest way with one another that it will become more acceptable. If more women are given the opportunity to access breastfeeding support groups then breastfeeding statistics will surely rise.

And who knows, maybe today’s breastfed babies will become confident breastfeeding mums of tomorrow, free of the hang-ups prevalent in today’s society regarding breastfeeding!

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