Back to School Photo Checklist

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #samsungtargettech #CollectiveBias

As all of you know, I love taking pictures. I love my camera, and I love capturing all of the little moments that make our days into our life story. Back to school season is such an exciting, iconic season in our kids lives, I wanted to share a list of back to school photo ideas that will help you capture all the moments that make going back to school memorable. I’m also sharing with you some of my tips for breaking away from the normal point and shoot mode and getting Instagram-worthy, beautiful photos, even just off of your camera phone. I love my big full size camera, but it’s not realistic to carry that around all of the time. I recently got the Samsung Galaxy S8 and I love that with it, I have a great quality camera on me all the time to capture all of those little moments that make life special. All of the pictures in this post, except for the ones of the phone itself, are taken with my GS8.Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Nowadays, all of us document most of out life with our cell phone camera. If you’re capturing things like your kids first steps or first day of school on your phone, you’re going to want the best camera possible right? The Galaxy S8 (and it’s larger friend, the GS8+) has a 12 megapixel rear camera, and an 8 megapixel front camera for super clear selfies. Selfies have gotten a bad rap, I love them because it means I can be in some of the pictures and have even more memories to pass down to my kids.2017-08-01 11.16.55 1

Taking great smiling pictures of our kids is fun, but I also love to capture the smaller details that we see but forget to document. When you get pictures of all the little details of back-to-school- their outfit, the morning prep, their favorite shoes, the walk to the school bus, you capture that morning forever, and for me, that means I can look back and make those moments last a little bit longer. Try taking pictures of their pencils, their handwriting, the way they brush their hair or tie their shoes, those take your photos from snapshots to a story. At the bottom of this post, I have a list of over 30 ideas for capturing the whole story of your back-to-school time.
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Another idea for taking your snapshots to the next level is to change up where you are standing. Instead of just standing in front of your child and quickly pressing the button, try changing your vantage point. If it’s a picture of their handwriting, try taking it from a birds-eye view like the photo above, or if it’s them boarding the school bus, try getting to the side so your eye travels down the line of the school bus. Another way to make your photo more interesting is to zoom in or out. Up close photos like the details I talked about in the last paragraph are easy to capture by simply walking closer. A picture of your child waving that is taken far away where they are small in the picture seems even more momentous and gives you a chance to show their whole school or your neighborhood in the background.

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One important tip when shooting with cell phones, or any camera, is to look for good lighting. If it is really bright outside, I try to look for shade, like under a tree to take my picture. If you can’t find shade, try to make sure you don’t lose your child’s face in shadows. My absolute favorite feature of the camera on the GS8 is that on the camera screen, there is slider to adjust the exposure right there. As someone who is used to shooting in manual and adjusting my lighting, I was so excited to see this. No more backlit-dark shots, or blown out snaps. If I see it’s too dark or too light, I can quickly fix it before I take the picture. The Samsung S8 and S8+ are also the first cell phones to have infinity screens, which means I have more screen to make sure I’m getting the shot right.

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Probably the best tip for taking cell phone pictures of all is to take lots! The GS8 has a microSD slot so you can have up to 256GB of storage for thousands and thousands of memories saved on your phone. That means you can snap away to make sure you capture your super fast grade schooler.

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Even if everything goes right when I’m taking the picture, I do edit many of my cell phone shots (I edit all of my SLR shots as well, nothing wrong with giving your photo a little extra contrast or brightness). VSCO is my favorite editing app, my favorite filters are S2 and M5. I like to try a filter and then turn it down a little so the changes aren’t so drastic. Most pictures can also benefit from a little brightening and a little more contrast to really make them pop.The GS8 can have multiple screens open at once, so I like to have VSCO open and have a youtube video open at the same time. Another cool feature is that it has the option of buying a wireless charger that you simply set it on to charge so it’s always ready for taking pictures!
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The GS8 is my favorite phone I’ve ever had. I have owned previous Galaxy’s and loved them so much that I am a loyal Samsung user. For a limited time, Target is offering a $200 gift card when you buy the GS8 or GS8+.

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You can always check back here to see what future promotions they have running on the GS8 and GS8+ and tag me @goodmorningloretta on your back to school photos so I can see your awesome cell phone pictures!

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Curse Words, Independence, and Sponge Bob

Welcoming Brandon home has made for the busiest, best month. I thought I was busy when I was parenting three kids by myself, but he got home from deployment just over a month ago and came right before my brother who lives in Utah came to visit for over a week, and we had a mini-family reunion to Florida. That was followed by 4th of July, a holiday which we love, then just a few days later another one of my brother’s from out of town came to visit with his family for a week, and then two days after they leave we will be on the road again out to sunny Utah for a family reunion on Brandon’s side which we are so excited about. We’ll come home from that trip just in time for Sawyer’s first meet the teacher. I can’t believe he’s starting Kindergarten this year. I can barely even think about it, better yet talk about it. Kinder (1)

While I was visiting with my Mom this evening she told me that when my oldest brother started Kindergarten, she had such a hard time dropping him off and cried for most of the day and just waited until it was time to go get him. It made me feel better that even my Mom, who is super woman (she raised 6 kids and handles everything like it’s no big deal. She’s amazing) had a hard time with seeing her kids go off to school for the first time. We have spent a lot of time wrestling with sending him off to Kindergarten this year. He has a few needs that can make school harder for him, and so I considered homeschooling, delaying Kindergarten, or sending him to a smaller school, but after a lot of prayer and talk we decided to go forward with sending him to our local public school. We live in an amazing school district, our elementary school feeds into one of the best high schools in the state, and he will have four cousins attending at the same school, lots of friends, and just to make it even more fun, it’s the same elementary school that I attended. When weighing in his needs though, we had heavily considered sending him to a new charter school that has opened in the area, which would have been a lot more work for me (it’s about a half hour drive with no buses), because I thought he might get more individualized attention there. However, after talking to a few of the teachers I know personally who have taught at our local public school and going through it all over and over in my head (hello late nights with no husband home and nothing else to distract my mind), we decided that we felt good about starting at the public school and if we felt like we need to move him in the future than we will. Kinder (2)

I am a big fan of supporting public schools and the one we have near us is so good, so so good. It would almost be silly of us not to put him there, and I’m so looking forward to seeing him learn and grow and enjoy school. As a kid, I always loved school and I adored back to school season- the excitement, the shopping for fresh new pencils and supplies, the new outfit, it was all so fun. I can’t wait to get started doing all of that with him, but I also want time to just slow down a little, especially since we do have so much going on before school starts (did I mention that a week after school starts we will have ten people staying at our house during Brandon’s cousin’s wedding week???? Fun and exciting but a lot of prep work!) I need time to just soak in my little guy before be grows up so much, and there are only three Saturdays left before he walks through those school doors. My goal is just to be able to take a step back and slow down while I enjoy my last few days without a school-aged kid who is still oblivious to curse words, independence, and Sponge Bob.

The Medical Card Every Mom Should Have





A few weeks ago ScriptSave® WellRx reached out with the opportunity to write a sponsored post for them and since I had just had this awesome experience, I wanted to share it with y’all. I had no idea there was an awesome app like this out there!

Just two more weeks left until school starts here and that precious little Sawyer of mine because a full-blown Kindergartener. We’ve been going through all of the back-to- school prep, and one of the first things I marked off of our checklist was getting his asthma prescription refilled so he could have an extra inhaler at school.

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Sawyer had his first asthma attack at 9 months old, and let me tell you, it was scary. We’ve learned so much since then and have learned what works best for him and how to avoid his asthma triggers but it’s also important, crucial really, for us to make sure we always have an inhaler available in case he needed it. A few weeks ago, I went in to get an extra inhaler and adaptor to be stored in the nurses office at school. His medicine is pricey and it adds up quickly, especially when I have to buy two sets, and so I was calling around to a few pharmacies to try and figure out where I could save the most money. I called my Mom to ask where she fills her prescriptions and she suggested I get a prescription savings card. She had been spending a lot of money on medicine until someone told her about getting one and now it only cost her a few dollars a month for her prescriptions. Honestly, when she said it was free and that you could just download the app, I was skeptical, because that seemed too good to be true, but I tried it, and was able to get his medicine way cheaper at our same pharmacy here in Peachtree City, GA just by showing them my ScriptSave WellRx card on the app. Surprisingly, many prescriptions are actually cheaper if you don’t use your insurance (insurance companies have deals with the pharmacist that often raise the price but the pharmacist can’t tell you it’s cheaper without it unless you ask. Crazy, I know.), and so when the pharmacy tells you the price but with insurance, you can show them the card and they will run it without our insurance and you pay the price the app showed you.

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The ScriptSave WellRx  app and website (jump to the end of the post to get the link and unique sign up code) give you two great tools for saving money on prescriptions of any kind. One way is they have a great pricing tool where you can put in the medicine you are buying and your zip code and it will show you the prices of all of the pharmacies in your area. I was really surprised when I saw the price differences between all of the stores, and when Ford got an ear infection last week, I checked out ScriptSave WellRx’s app and was able to compare prices in a snap. There’s no fees, you don’t have to enter any private information, it really is that easy.

The other way that you can save money is by showing your click here and go get the Scriptsave WellRx app card which you can pull up on the app. It’s similar to having a coupon off of many different medicines. When you go to pick up your medicine, you can show it and they will adjust the price accordingly. It doesn’t come off of all medicines, but it doesn’t hurt to try, and you won’t lose anything by trying.
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I love our local pharmacy because our crazy little town, Peachtree City, is a golf cart town (if you haven’t seen some of my Insta stories about it, you should follow me on Instagram) and we can do the drive-thru pharmacy on our golf cart. My kids love not having to get in the car and I love being able to be outside in the summer as much as possible.
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When you have kids, it seems like there are so many things to spend money on and saving on any prescriptions means we have more money for the fun things like sports, boating, or back to school clothes shopping, and when saving money is this easy, it’s a no brainer. I love that I can save time shopping around and head straight to where I know his medicine will be the best deal. Yall have got to click here and go get the Scriptsave WellRx app, when you do make sure you use the code “loretta” when you are signing up!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ScriptSave® WellRx.

Freshening Up Family Night with Moe’s

This post is sponsored by Moe’s Southwest Grill; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

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Once a week, we have a family night. On those nights, we try to not have anything planned like big DIY projects, or play dates with friends. We try to go out or find an activity where we can spend time together as a family and have fun. Last week for family night we drove on the golf cart over to our locally owned Moe’s Southwest Grill. I swear I could eat Southwestern food every day of the week, but between the five of us, everyone seems to like something different. It’s important to me that everyone can find something they want to eat when we go out and Moe’s is great because their menu is simple enough that it’s easy to choose what to get, but with 22 fresh ingredients, each of us can customize it to what we like, which is saying something since young kids aren’t exactly known for being the best eaters.

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We’re always greeted with “Welcome to Moe’s” when we walk in the door, and Brandon and I like to order different thing and try each others. This time I got the Homewrecker burrito. It’s always filling enough that I can save some for lunch the next day and taste so fresh and flavorful.Moes Fresh Menu (9)

Our kids love the kids menu items. They loved their burritos, plus they get a treat at the end, which always makes family nights out feel extra special.

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One thing I love being able to customize your meal is that Brandon is usually trying to eat high protein, filling meals, and I’m usually looking for something lean and low-calorie, and at Moe’s we can each get exactly what we want. He loves their meats, which are always being made fresh so their hot and ready as you order.

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Can I give a shout-out to the salsa and guacamole? All of the ingredients are chopped, diced, and mixed fresh every day. Good thing it’s unlimited salsa, because we love to sit at the tables outside and eat chips and salsa while the kids play in the trees. Did you know that they flash fry their chips everyday? That’s why they taste so fresh and crispy.

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Here’s some bonus points for all you Moe’s lovers out there. Did you know that MOE’s stands for something? Head over to their website here to find out and to find a Moe’s near you! (I’ll give you a hint: it’s part of why their menu items all have really cool names).

A Tooth

I’ve gotten a couple questions lately that made me realize we had a life event happen here that I completely skimmed over on the blog. It happened while Brandon was deployed, so there was a lot I missed. The questions I keep getting are all along the lines of- “Ford’s so cute, but what happened to his tooth?” or “I can’t believe your one year old hasn’t gotten his front tooth yet!”Carters (2)

He has.

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He got it. It was a good tooth. He chewed with it, smiled with it, and bit his brothers with it. The latter was his favorite use for it.

See Ford is my crazy child. The one who climbs everything, escapes when you’re not looking, and is generally just very active. Because he is little and gets into everything, I have to make sure he’s always within my sights, even if it’s just for a minute. Good Morning Loretta (5)

One day in November, after he’d turned a year old, I needed to use the bathroom. I figured I was only going to be gone about 30 seconds, our bathroom is about ten steps from the kitchen, where he was, and he usually follows me anyways, so I ran to the bathroom, and as soon as I was standing up to come out, I heard a loud bang followed by crying.

I immediately ran to the kitchen to find him laying on on our of dining room chairs which was now on the ground as well. Sawyer said Ford had climbed onto the chair and I’m assuming he tipped it over backwards reaching for something. When I picked him up I could see a little blood but he was crying so much it was hard to tell, so I grabbed a towel and held him for a minute. When I leaned away to evaluate the situation it took me all of .05 seconds to realize he was going to need stiches. I couldn’t get a good look but his chin and mouth were both covered in blood and it was still coming. Take a deep breath, call someone to watch the big boys if possible, and get ready to go.

Luckily my Aunt who lives very close was able to drop everything and be at my house within two minutes, which made going to the E.R. so much easier, and Ford even stopped crying on the way. We checked in, I sat down with him on my lap, and then he turned his head to look up at one of the TV’s in the waiting room, and when I looked at his face I could see inside his mouth. There on his sweet little chin was a gaping hole where his front teeth had gone through his skin. It was gross. Luckily while waiting, he fell asleep and they were able to glue it shut which was a miracle because he would not have done well with stitches. We were sent home with instructions to keep an eye on it and to go see a dentist that week to check on the teeth. We did the Dentist that week and even did a follow-up two weeks later to make sure the teeth weren’t loose or infected and I was so relieved that he wouldn’t have to lose his teeth. Good Morning Loretta (4)
This was a few weeks later; if you look close you can see some of the scar under his lip.

Christmas and New Years went by a few weeks later he smiled at me one day and his gums were all purple and swollen. Cue the phone call to the dentist. Cue the day spent at specialty dentist and the antibiotics and it all culminated with having surgery to have his left front tooth removed. Here he is the day before surgery:

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and after:
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My sweet little boy is bound to look like a hillbilly until he is about six or seven.
We can laugh about it now, but I’ll admit, I was sad to see that tooth gone and know he’d look like a goober for so long, but that’s life, right? I’m always grateful that my kids are healthy, and in the long run all we lost was one baby tooth and any hope at using the bathroom by myself in the near future. Here’s to looking forward to his tooth fairy days!

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