Monthly Archives: February 2013


8 Tips for Creating Picture Perfect Memories!

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17 ESV

Guest Post By: Kalyn Cavalier

My love for photography began a long time ago.

It wasn’t until the birth of our son that my dream sprouted wings.

He is my little inspiration…

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Over the last year (we only had our first “real” session a year ago!!) we have learned and grown so much. Writing about a profession I have only been in a year seems SO daunting to me.

Nevertheless, I feel like since I have learned so many of these lessons recently, I can share with you some really great tips to help you see an immediate difference in the memories you capture of your family.

My biggest passion with photography is capturing moments. I’m learning to let go of the session, and let a family’s personality peep through. It is the same concept with our kiddos. Capture their personalities and the moments, not just poses and smiles.

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I promise, we’ll look back on the photos of our kiddos playing with SO much more joy than a photo of them sitting and putting on a fake “cheese” smile.

You don’t need a big fancy camera though to take perfect photos of your family! Here are a few tips to help you on your way to capturing your moments…


1.    Change the perspective.          

When I first began shooting my son, I always seemed to end up with “Variations on a Connor” all within the same perspective.  Explore the rule of thirds and experiment with different angles, Don’t always place your kiddos directly in the center of your photo. Get down on their level and shoot away!! You’ll have fun rolling around on the ground, and it’s sure to make them laugh.

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2.    Get a little closer…

Sometimes, just moving towards your subject will increase the intensity and interest of a photo! When you focus too much on the backdrop for your kiddos, (they) the subject gets lost. The best backdrops are sometimes the most unlikely!  Clean spaces and lines make for aesthetically pleasing backdrop and they usually don’t distract from your main, and most awesome subject.

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3.    Be Engaging! (and don’t say cheese!)

Our kids usually don’t want to sit in front of a camera, so joke around with them.. make them laugh! Boys respond really well to obnoxiously obscene statements like “grosssss” or “boooooogers!!” Ask them questions! Have a conversation… you will get unique and genuine smiles if you make a genuine connection with your subject!

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4.    Live in the moment

I LOVE capturing my son on a daily basis. The most treasured shots in my house are the ones where he didn’t know I was watching, or ones of his cute stubby little feet walking barefoot in the grass, and his dirty fingers from playing in the mud.

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5.    Turn off the flash.

It may take a Pinterest tutorial, or  asking your favorite photog buddy, but leave the flash behind. It may take some practice, but after you figure it out, you’ll never go back! See #6 for natural light tips!!

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6.    Work with your natural light!

  • The “Golden Hour”! Typically this time is right after sunrise, or an hour before sunset. The light is the softest during these times and leads to less harsh shadows. Take a walk, or head out for an ice cream date around this time and bring along the camera!
  • Overcast= awesome! The clouds become a natural light filter!
  • Look for open shade: under a tree, a porch, a covered gazebo. Keeping the sun out of the eyes reduces squinting.
  • Backlight. Sometimes bright open light is what you want in your photos. To achieve a backlit effect, place the sun behind your subject. This also helps reduce “squinting a la sun in the eyes.”

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7.    Don’t forget the details

Let go of the big picture. When baking cookies with your kids, don’t forget to get up close and personal with the little things. Their chubby fingers scraping the side of the bowl, and the flour covered counter top aftermath. Sometimes, the little details will spark the most vivid memories.

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8.    Most of all, know when to put down the camera and join in on the fun.

The best moments are the ones we are in… so enjoy them. Remember that your photos don’t have to be perfect. Capture them being THEM! Sometimes life is messy, and crazy, and hectic, and generally disheveled. Let your photos reflect that.

Even if a mess stresses you out *ahem*, capture it… because I know that when my kiddos leave the nest someday, I’m going to miss their grubby paw prints all over my stove and glass doors.

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*To read more from Kalyn check out her blog at and check out her photography business at

Be a Champion for Grace: Butterflies and Blooms

“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:3-4 ESV

SavingGraceLogo-LARGEIn the past we have teamed up with Becky Shaffer, Executive Director of Saving Grace Inc. of NWA. During our Focus on Foster Care Series last May, she contributed two amazing pieces about her experiences growing up in the foster system: For the Love of a Mother; Safe in the Arms of The Father and 10 Things I Forgot About Life with Strangers.

Mosaic of Moms is teaming up again with Becky to find individuals to be champions for Saving Grace. See her request below:



Dear Mosaic of Moms Readers,

Would you be willing to be a champion for Saving Grace?

Each year we hold a luncheon called Butterflies and Blooms to bring awareness to the needs of young women who age out of the foster system and to fund raise for our program, Saving Grace, that supports such women in NWA.

We are looking for individuals who would be willing to be a table hostess…not sponsor (so NO cost to you) at this event.  At this time we have our luncheon covered through our generous sponsors…praise God!

As a table hostess we ask that you invite your friends to this luncheon who maybe have not heard of Saving Grace. We want to continue to spread the word about what God is doing through this ministry in the lives of these girls, and we need your help to accomplish that.

The luncheon will be on Tuesday, April 9th at the John Q. Hammons in Rogers from 11:30-1:00 pm. Our guest speaker will be Jenny Broughton.

Below you will find two attachments to better explain your role as a hostess. Let me know your thoughts and if you are interested. Thank you for considering! We appreciate the support you give to Saving Grace!

God’s grateful girl,

Becky Shaffer, Executive Director SGI

Butterflies and Blooms Flyer

Table Hostess Packet (Butterflies Blooms)-2013 SGI

To contact Becky click here.

*If you are interested in attending this fundraiser event but are not up for hosting a table, contact us via FB Mosaic of Moms.  We can arrange for you to sit with us. In two weeks we will have a featured post from a young woman who has been through the program and since graduated.


Bluff Dweller’s Cavern Review

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:40

By: Kerri Young

IMG_8883I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for fun, family-friendly places to take our kids that might also provide an opportunity to learn or take in some of God’s magnificent creation. So, in the fall I purchased some discounted tickets on Living Social to Bluff Dweller’s Cavern in Noel, Missouri because it sounded like it might be a great homeschool field trip.

We had the opportunity to go check out Bluff Dweller’s Cavern today with some sweet friends who also homeschool. And, I am here to say that if you live anywhere near Northwest Arkansas or Southwest Missouri you should definitely go experience this spectacular cave for yourself.

All of our kids, even my extremely busy toddler who was confined to me in the moby wrap because I didn’t trust him to walk by himself and not get into trouble, ooohed and IMG_8882aaahed over the incredible formations and mineral deposits throughout the cavern.


The tour, led by an extremely friendly and knowledgeable guide, took about 45 minutes and there weren’t any times during the trip through the cavern that our kids whined or complained about being bored or wanting to be done.


IMG_8890IMG_8885IMG_8902As a matter of fact, after leaving, my four year old repeated all afternoon that he wanted to go back to the cave tomorrow.

We got to see a few critters, like salamanders and hibernating bats (that were tiny and IMG_8892adorable and hanging in random places…sorry we couldn’t take any pictures of them with a flash, but trust me, even my 7 year old daughter thought they were cute and not scary) up close and personal.

IMG_8889At the end of the tour there is a museum and gift shop that are always free to the public and I would say the collection of rocks, fossils and antiques in there are almost worth the drive themselves.

IMG_8908It was a memorable way to spend the morning and I would say that even without the living social vouchers it would be worth the price of admission (which is $12 for adults, $6 for kids 4-11, and free for 3 and under). They do have a group discount and said they love it when homeschool groups come to visit.

March – October, Bluff Dweller’s Cavern is open daily from 9am to 5pm. November – February it’s open daily from 9am to 4pm.

Road-Map-to-CaveGo check it out and tell them Mosaic of Moms sent you!



Have I Told You Today That I Love You?

By: Kerri Young

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

I’m a little short on words today. Yesterday at the university where my husband and I work a young girl was found dead in her dorm room. I won’t go into the particulars of how she died, but I will say that when her parents sent her back to school in January for the second semester they had no idea she would never return home or that they wouldn’t get to hug their sweet girl one more time.

As a coach of young people her age, it makes me want to call each of them and tell them how special they are and how much I care about them. But more than anything, as a mother of young kids still blessedly untouched by the harsh world we live in, it makes me want to hold them a little closer today.

Tomorrow is not promised, friends. I want to challenge you today, just for a few moments throughout the day, to forget about the household duties that are beckoning you. Forget about the clothes that need to be put away, the dishes in the sink, the piles of paper on the counter that need to be sorted, and even the dinner that needs to be made. All of these things can be dealt with later.

Go love on your kids.

Go give them hugs and kisses and engage in what they are doing. Sit and watch “Dinosaur Train” with them snuggled in your lap and actually talk to them about the show. Plop down on the floor with them and make believe with their dolls or build a train track. Curl up on the couch with a good book and read it out loud together. Take the time to sing and pray with them before they go down for a nap or bedtime and be sure to kiss their foreheads and whisper in their ears that you love them.

When your bigger kids get home from school, take time to really see them and interact about their day. Ask them questions and listen to their answers with undivided attention, even just for five minutes. Hug those big kids, even if they say they don’t like it. Pray with them and for them as many times during the day as they’ll let you.

Above all, just be sure your children know how much you love them…through your actions and your words. If tomorrow doesn’t come for you or your kids, may there be no question how much their mommy/momma/mom/mother loved them.

Praying the giver of all good things will fill you to overflowing with the grace, patience, and energy you need to love your kiddos the best you can today!

And would you please join me in praying for peace that surpasses all understanding for the grieving mom of this sweet girl who passed away yesterday? God knows her name.

Valentine’s Day Wreath Tutorial (designed for even the most “bah humbug” Valentine decorator)

“We love because he first loved us.” I John 4:19

By: Dana Baran

I’ve never been much of a fan of Valentine’s Day. First, it falls in February, which is my least favorite month of the year (I am not a winter person). Second, when you’re single (which I was for many years before I met and married my sweetheart) it’s the most depressing holiday of the year. Third, I’ve always thought of it as a made-up holiday, manufactured by greeting card companies and florists to boost sales. Fourth, decorating with hearts is just not my cup of tea.

I do, however, love to craft, and as I browsed Pinterest this month I found so many adorable Valentine’s Day projects I decided to go ahead and stick my toe into the waters of decorating for “love day.” I didn’t want to buy anything (I’m not about to go that far) so, armed with several Valentine’s Day door wreath pins for inspiration I looked through my craft closet to see what I could come up with. I found a straw wreath form that I had bought on sale last fall at Wally World and dug out some scraps of felt I had left over from my DIY Christmas gift making frenzy, added some gray yarn (also from Walmart) and I was off. Here’s what I came up with:

I was worried the bright pink felt and “love” banner would look too girly and cutesy, but since it’s paired with “manly gray” I think it works. Here’s how I did it:


  • Wreath form (you can find these at any craft store. If you use a straw form be sure to leave the plastic on or else you will have a real mess on your hands. A Styrofoam form would work too).
  • Yarn (I bought a jumbo bundle and had tons left over, but my wreath was small. If you’re using a big wreath you may need two bundles of yarn).
  • Felt (also available at any craft store)
  • Glue gun
  • Sharp scissors
  • Sharpie marker
  • Ruler
  • Floral pins (You can find these in with the floral supplies at, you guessed it, your local craft store…can you tell I keep Hobby Lobby in business? :))

Step 1: Tie the end of your yarn tightly around the wreath form, and start wrapping. This is definitely the most time consuming part of the project. I suggest turning on your favorite show or listening to a podcast while you do this part. Make sure to wrap the yarn tightly together, since you don’t want the form to show through. If you’re too engrossed in Downton to notice that you left some space, you can always go back over with more yarn if you need to.

Step 2: Trace different size circles onto your felt. I used a couple different measuring cups…bowls and mugs work well too.

Step 3: Cut out the circles, then cut each circle into a spiraling strip. Start at the edge and cut inward, trying to keep the strip the same width if you can. Leave a little circle at the end (this will become the base of your flower).Step 4: Starting at the end of the spiral strip of felt, wrap it tightly around itself to form the flower. When you get to the end, put a glob of hot glue on the bottom and stick the circle end on. Taa-daa! A lovely felt rose!You can make as many felt flowers as you want. I think I ended up making twelve. You can also cut some felt leaves to add to your wreath. I was going to, but got so excited about finishing it that I forgot.Step 5: For the pennant banner, I cut out eight triangles (mine were two inches at the widest part). You could also cut four diamond shapes and just fold them over to make your pennants. That’s actually what I would recommend, but I didn’t have a big enough piece of felt. I spelled out L-O-V-E with black sharpie.Step 6: Cut a piece of yarn however long you want your banner to be (use your wreath to help you decide). Mine was twelve inches. Lay the yarn along a ruler to help with spacing, and hot glue the triangles (or diamonds) to the yarn. Make sure you put the letters in the right order :).Step 7: Time to put it all together! Arrange your flowers first along your wreath. It may take several tries before you like the layout. I decided to do two groups of roses, but you could also just fill in one whole side or the bottom. Once you’re happy with the look, pin each rose to the wreath using a florist pin. The pearl heads add a touch of elegance, don’t you think? 🙂 Decide how you want your banner to hang, then pin that on too (I tied a knot on either end so the pin had something to hold on to).Voila! A bright and happy Valentine’s Day wreath, with not a heart in sight. I plan on taking the banner off and leaving the wreath on my door even after the fourteenth…at least until I get my spring wreath inspiration.

Whether you love Valentine’s Day or not, I hope this project inspires you to do a bit of love day decorating yourself.

Feel free to Pin these ideas.  You can follow Mosaic of Moms on Pinterest by clicking this link. 

Related Article: Happy Valentine’s Day- A fun scavenger hunt for your kids.