PHOTOGRAPHING MY GIRLS

PHOTOGRAPHING MY GIRLS

Many of you have asked, “How do you get such great photos of your kids?” Trial and Error. I’ve always loved photography, but learning a DSLR takes lots of time and lots of practice. Especially with moving objects such as young children.

What camera do I shoot with?

I have a Canon T6i. I’m obsessed with its ease of use, and the wifi capability is a game-changer! Using the Canon app, I’m able to upload photos directly to my iPhone. This feature is especially helpful on vacations or special events when I need that instant gratification and the ability to share with others quickly.

Previously, I had a Canon XTi, which I loved, but wanted some updated features and capabilities that the T6i offered.

While I do think the camera is important, the lens is equally, if not more, important. I do not shoot with the included kit lens; they just don’t give me the photos my heart desires. Good lenses are investments. But keep in mind that your lenses can be used with future cameras. I suggest investing in a lens that stays open at 2.8 when zoomed in. It’s pricey, but that’s what it takes to achieve the results you want.  Continue reading “PHOTOGRAPHING MY GIRLS”

SPOTLIGHT: MACK + RO ILLUSTRATIONS

SPOTLIGHT: MACK + RO ILLUSTRATIONS

Mother’s Day seems like the most appropriate day to introduce all you mamas to Mack + Ro Illustrations. As a mama, precious artwork that reminds me of my girls gives me all the feels! Thanks to Instagram, I stumbled upon her artwork, and it was love at first sight! She is super talented, y’all.

Artist Jen is mother to two boys – Macklin and Ronan. She says, “Creativity has always been my life source. It motivates me, gives me energy, and fills my heart and soul. My hope is that these illustrations bring you as much joy as they brought me while painting them!”

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How does it work?

Before placing your order, you’ll need to pick out a photo of “your people”.

Some tips when it comes to your photo:

  • It is helpful to have a “full length” photo where everyone’s whole body is included (head to toe).
  • The picture should have people dressed in the clothes you want painted.
  • Don’t worry about the setting – it will not be included in the painting.
  • If you’d like to send Jen your photo before placing your order to make sure it works, please send to: mackandroshop@gmail.com. She is able to complete everything over email, which is super helpful for busy mamas!

All paintings are on professional watercolor paper sized 5.5 x 8.5″.

Jen has created a special code for all Mama etc. readers! Use code MAMAETC for 10% off your purchase. 

I absolutely adore the two portraits she did of my girls (You may recognize their suits from my sister, sister post). Thank you so much, Jen! And Happy Mother’s Day!

SUMMERTIME, AND THE LIVIN IS EASY

SUMMERTIME, AND THE LIVIN IS EASY

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“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high”

With Spring Break in the past, that means Summer is right around the corner. In one month my alarm will no longer be set, and I couldn’t be more excited! We will be footloose and fancy free. While I love the structure and routine the school year gives us, there’s something to be said for the ease of the summer.

What do your kids look forward to in the summer? Is it summer camp? Is it sleeping in? I know mine enjoy the slow pace of our summer mornings. Waking up, staying in pjs, and not rushing to be anywhere. We live without a schedule for the months of June and July. While I may register each of the girls for one summer camp, camps don’t fill our calendar.

I much prefer being noncommittal. I love spontaneity. I much prefer things happening on a whim in the summertime. the pool. the movies. two-hour lunches. sprinklers. sno cones. shopping. day trips to New Orleans. popsicles. sleepovers. books. picnics. visiting friends and family. ice cream. bicycle rides. walks. lemonade. museums. etc.

Outfit Details: Surf Bazaar Lounge Tunic // Ray-Ban Round Fleck sunglasses // Le Papier Studio custom silhouette charm necklace // Nellystella Ava Dress // Nellystella Wren Dress // Las Bayadas La Lucia Beach Blanket // Friendship bracelets (made by Eloise)

Photography by Stefanie Cascio Photography.

WE ARE A BASKETBALL FAMILY

WE ARE A BASKETBALL FAMILY

As I continue to unveil who Mama etc., you should know …

We are a basketball family. My husband, Mark, coaches high school basketball so we eat, live, and breathe basketball … nearly year-round. During the season, my girls and I look forward to games. They have cheerleader and Bruinette costumes, and it’s always a debate over which one to wear. All three of us (Eloise, Charlotte Cate, and I) are at every home game; and we attend most away games. On occasion, I’m known to get a babysitter for the girls on school nights so I can catch a game solo. So much is invested into these teams being a coach’s wife, that I care too much not to go. Being a coach’s family is a way of life. It’s hard work; we share our Papa with a basketball team full of high school boys and their families, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world! It’s a life we absolutely love.

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As you can see, the girls love the excitement and entertainment of game nights. I’m often asked, do y’all really go to every home game? Yes. Even on school nights? Yes. It’s important to realize different things work for different families. Bedtime isn’t an issue, at least not yet, on game nights. The girls go to the games having already finished homework, eaten dinner, and taken baths. While running on the court is always a favorite after the game, it’s a privilege reserved for Friday nights. The girls change into pajamas for the car ride home. And if I’m lucky, they fall asleep in the car.

As mamas, we need to remember balance. It’s okay to let the day-to-day rules slide from time-to-time. Learn to let things go, take time to relax, and have fun!

Outfit DetailsTwo Sisters Bows // Custom cheerleader uniforms

RAISING STRONG GIRLS

RAISING STRONG GIRLS

Raising girls might be one of the hardest jobs there is in the world. Especially in a society where we’re taught to be a certain size or have a certain shape. A society where appearance matters. A society where if you’re not pretty enough, you’re not good enough.

It’s important, as mamas (and papas), that we instill confidence in our girls. That we show them how important they are. That we teach them to break through barriers. That they know they can do anything. That it’s important to be themselves. We must instill in them to be funny, strong, fierce, courageous, adventurous, silly, creative, assertive, proud, wild, stubborn. Instill in them to be powerful. Let them know we love whoever they are, and that they change for no one!

Charlotte Cate is an example of one of these strong girls of today. She’s spunky and strong-willed. She loves superheroes, but also loves princesses. She loves Nike shorts and messy hair, but also loves fairy princess costumes and bows. She loves wrestling, but also loves snuggling. She’s not afraid of anyone, and will put you in your place if you deserve it. While she’s challenging to parent as a young child, I hope she never changes. I hope her strong will and confidence push her through times of hesitation or uncertainty in her life. The world needs more Charlotte Cates, for the future is female!

Charlotte Cate’s teacher recommended the book, Strong is the New Pretty by Kate T. Parker. It became a fast favorite in our home. It showcases more than 175 photographs of girls ages 5 to 18. It shows the the strength and spirit of girls being 100% themselves.

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Outfit Details: Two Sisters Bows crystal bow // Fairy Princess dress (super comfortable and not itchy) // Hunter boots 

THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE

THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE

If you know me, then you know birthdays and any celebrations for that matter don’t go unnoticed. I’ve always loved a good party, but unlike most people, it’s behind the scenes where I have the most fun. It’s in the details!

Event planning began at a young age for me when I first planned Barbie’s dream wedding – complete with a custom wedding gown, tiled dance floor, and of course, a “diamond” hot glued to Barbie’s left ring finger. The planning continued throughout high school, college, and I even dabbled in a birthday party-planning business for a short while before time took me away from my young children.

While party-planning as a business is no longer in the cards for me, I still enjoy paper-design in the form of invitations, announcements and holiday cards. It’s again, in the details, were I feel my creative energy come alive.

How to plan the party details:

  1. Choose a theme or color scheme. Themes don’t have to be a cheesy. Inspiration can come from the time of year, location of the party, or an interest of the child.
  2. Invitation design. Call me old fashioned, but I still love a paper invitation. If you prefer an Evite, choose one that coordinates with your theme or color scheme.
  3. Party goods and create homemade decorations. If creativity is not your thing, check out Etsy.com. One of my favorite Etsy-finds lately has been the shop, Shoppe3130, which sells DIY tissue paper tassel kits. The kits are easy and give you the same tissue paper tassel look for quite a bargain! I always love the party headbands from Shop Bracket; they are such an easy way to set the stage for any party.
  4. Party entertainment. This depends a lot on the age of your party-goers. For Eloise’s 6th birthday, a face-painter and coloring sheet was perfect. For her 5th birthday, we had a couple LSU Golden Girls to teach cheers and dances. For Charlotte Cate’s 4th birthday, Santa Claus himself made a special visit and read Twas the Night Before Christmas.
  5. Food and drinks. Again, this depends a lot on the age of your party-goers and the time of day of your party. Will you need to serve a meal? drinks? cake or cupcakes? etc. Eloise’s first birthday was in the morning, and we celebrated with a champagne brunch. Her fifth birthday was a “tailgate” theme complete with finger foods you may find on game day.
  6. Favors. Party favors should match the theme of the celebration. For Eloise’s first birthday, a Mardi Gras-themed celebration, we chose feathered masks as the favor. Tassel necklaces with an ice-cream charm were the favors for her sixth birthday at Dearman’s Soda Shop. Twas the Night Before Christmas books were the favor for Charlotte Cate’s Breakfast with Santa-themed party.

Charlotte Cate’s Baptismal Celebration

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Charlotte Cate’s first birthday party // The Nutcracker with touches of pink 

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Charlotte Cate’s fourth birthday party // Breakfast with Santa  IMG_3563IMG_3559IMG_3558

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Eloise’s fifth birthday party // LSU Tailgate complete with Golden Girls    IMG_3528

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Eloise’s sixth birthday party // Ice cream social at Dearman’s Soda Shop  

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Eloise’s seventh birthday party // “Flipping Out” Gymnastics IMG_0216 IMG_0205

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WHO’S BEHIND MAMA ET CETERA?

My name is Kristen Cascio. I’m a thirtysomething, preschool teacher in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a passion for creativity. My husband, Mark and, I have been together for 15 years and married for 8 years. We’re high school sweethearts and basically grew up together! We have two precious girls.

Eloise is our sweet, reserved child with a quirky sense of humor. She loves off-the-shoulder tops, high heels, and makeup. She’s smart, somewhat-sassy, and confident. You can usually find her with a book in her hands.

Charlotte Cate is our fun-loving, free-spirited, affectionate baby doll. She loves superheroes and wrestling. Snuggling is her favorite. You can usually hear her asking, “Can I have some chocolate?”

Life with two is definitely life-changing. We never stop, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Eloise is 7 and Charlotte Cate is 4.