Photography: How to Style Your Family for Photo Sessions

Photo credit: Synthia Therese Photography

Let me start by saying that I am not a style blogger and don’t consider myself a fashion icon.

Most of my outfits come straight from the sale racks at stores like Nordstrom, Zara, and H&M. (Out of principle, I won’t pay full price for something.)

There have been many mornings before work where I’ve worried whether my outfit looked alright and resorted to asking for advice from my husband and two kids.

However, I’ve done a ton of family photo sessions over the years and understand the struggle and stress involved with getting out of the house looking presentable and keeping everyone in a good mood so we are happy in front of the camera. Or at least look happy in front of the camera.

I’ve blogged about the suckiness of family photo sessions here.

Spoiler alert: it ain’t for the faint of heart. On the same token, it gets a lot easier as your kids get older, so moms of really young kids, you’ll be out of the woods soon!


    Divorce: The Unobvious, Dirty Truth

    Things people need to expect when they are divorcing with children that most people won't tell you | The Champagne Supernova

    First comes love, then comes marriage… and sometimes comes divorce.

    I was recently reminded of this unfortunate truth when one of my favorite bloggers publicly and bravely announced that she and her husband were divorcing. They were high school sweethearts and share two young children.

    I have several friends and acquaintances who are either separated or divorced from their spouses. My own parents got divorced when I was in law school and while their maturity and religious faith enabled them to be good friends who get along well (thanks, Mom and Dad!), I witnessed the more difficult parts of their post-marriage journey as it was happening and while the wound was fresh.

    Divorce should be a judgment free zone, although it doesn’t usually happen that way. Nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors or truly understands the complexities of a relationship. Nobody appreciates how the intricate details of a childhood, career, and the very nature of our own idiosyncrasies play into a marriage.


      How to Prevent a Hangover

      Foolproof way to prevent a hangover | The Champagne Supernova

      I recently attended a wedding just north of Atlanta the Saturday before Mother’s Day.

      The bride is a close friend and I was excited to get outta dodge for 36 hours to see her get hitched. I had plans of waking up early on Sunday to get the first flight back to Tampa so I could spend Mother’s Day with my family.

      My Mother-in-Law, Leslie, has a house near the wedding venue and was my “date” for the event, as my husband was also out of town on a marketing trip for business. (I know many reading this are shocked, but I hit the MIL jackpot. She’s young, not annoying, and doesn’t tell me how to raise my kids. We good.)

      As Leslie and I were getting ready for the wedding, I told her I was going to limit my alcohol intake to two glasses of wine the entire night.

      Famous last words.

      The wedding was truly spectacular. Gorgeous flowers. Beautiful scenery. Good company. A great song playlist. Delicious food.

      The party was rocking and the wine was flowing.

      And flowing.

      And flowing.

      I was over-served somewhere between Sweet Child O’ Mine and Summer of 69.


        Your Kids Don’t Care About Your Imperfect Body: They Care About You

        Stop body shaming yourself. Don't let your insecurities about your body prevent you from having fun with your kids. They don't care how you look- they care about YOU! | The Champagne Supernova

        Body shaming.

        We hear about this all the time. About how we need to stop body shaming other women and nurturing an environment that creates unreasonable expectations about how we should look and sets a bad example for young women.

        But what about when we body shame ourselves?

        I was scrolling through my camera of photos from a recent family vacation when it caught my eye.

        The hotel where we were staying on this vacation had a duck pond near the pool area. The kids and I had a blast feeding the ducks, swimming, and playing pool games. One of the pictures, which my husband must have taken, was of the kids squatting along the edge of the pond tossing food pellets to one of the ducks.

        In the background of that picture was an elderly woman wearing a one-piece swimsuit. She was also bent over feeding the ducks, with her aged, flat booty facing the camera.

        Then I looked closer.

        It wasn’t an old lady.

        It was me.


          How to Talk to God

          MC Hammer A wise philosopher famously sang:

          We got to pray
          Just to make it today
          I said we pray(pray) ah, yeah, pray(pray)
          We got to pray
          Just to make it to pray
          That’s word, we pray.

          Yet so many people don’t want anything to do with prayers. They think they are foreign and reserved for religious fanatics.

          I can see where it’s hard asking for help in the midst of our shame and guilt.

          I’ll go first.

          I’m not perfect. Sometimes (lots of times) I cuss. I have regrets from the past and sometimes wonder if I’m fulfilling my life’s purpose. I might beat myself up over a flabby stomach or eating too much junk food. Or maybe I get snippy with a co-worker who didn’t deserve it. Perhaps I took a bad day at the office out on my husband when I got home. Or I feel like I’m screwing up my kids when I’m not in the mood to read them a book before bedtime. It may be that I lazily slipped Cool Ranch Doritos in their lunchbox instead of an organic, gluten-free granola bar.

          Don’t we all have our days where we are feeling “less-than”?


            Saving Money: Why Ting Mobile Makes Perfect Sense

            How Ting Mobile is a great way to save on your cell phone bill | The Champagne Supernova

            This blog post is proudly sponsored by Ting Mobile. However, all opinions are the real deal. 

            I like saving money.

            As a working parent, I work hard for my earnings and see them dwindle away so quickly each month.

            Dance recitals. Tennis lessons. Gymnastics. Birthday parties. School uniforms. Doctor co-pays.

            Sometimes I feel like The Bank of Mom.

            As my monthly cell phone bill with my current provider is $150.00, I was excited about the opportunity to work with Ting Mobile and learn about their (extremely) low cost cellular services.

            Low. Very low.

            In fact, the base cost for Ting is $6 per month (you read that correctly!) for a phone line. Usage is shared across all devices. The more phones on a Ting account, the less you pay per phone.

            Ting is pay-per-use, so you don’t have to sign up for any type of plan. Your usage during the month (phone minutes, text messages, and data) is what you pay for at the end of the month. What’s great is that minutes, messages, and data are all billed separately.

            There are no contracts, overage fees, or other hidden B.S. (Pardon-a my French). You can try Ting for one month and leave the next month if you aren’t happy.

            The vast majority (80%) of all phones manufactured in the last few years will work with Ting, so it’s likely the phone you already own is one of them. All you need is a Ting SIM card to get started. You can buy the phone from the Ting shop here (they are a verified seller of Apple iPhones!) or bring your own phone, based on your preference.

            Ting has an easy-to-use phone compatibility checker you can use here so you can check RIGHT THIS MOMENT whether your phone will work with Ting.

            Another great quality of Ting is that you don’t have to worry about having bad service. This is because Ting uses both Sprint and T-Mobile towers- you can choose the network that has better coverage in your area. In other words, Ting clients have identical network experience as people who are signed up directly with these carriers.

            I can vouch firsthand this is completely accurate, as I used my Ting phone in a rural area of Georgia (along the Appalachian trial) earlier this month with zero coverage issues and complete service. High five, Ting!

            How to save money using Ting Mobile | The Champagne Supernova

            My littlest homey loves Ting!

            Ting has also created an eBook on how to lower your data usage, which helps Ting customers save money on their monthly bills. Read it here.

            One of my favorite things about Ting is their customer support involves calls that are actually answered by real, live people. No more having to press a series of numbers to get to the right department. Gone are the days of waiting on hold for twenty minutes to have your questions answered. Say adios to fruitlessly having to communicate with a computer.

            I witnessed this personally when I called Ting last week after I was having (minor) issues setting up the Wifi on the iPhone 6 they sent to me. I was greeted by a friendly woman named Melissa on the second ring (!!) Melissa walked me through a couple steps to help troubleshoot the issue. She even called me back five minutes later to ensure there were still no issues.

            You read that correctly. She called me back.

            How is that amazing customer support for you? 

            (Check out Ting Mobile’s Youtube channel highlighting their bar-none customer service here.)

            Another thing I love about trying Ting? When switching over from your carrier, you can keep your existing phone number.

            You don’t need permission from your provider to keep the number. You just keep it.

            That means you don’t have to waste precious time sending mass texts to all of your contacts notifying them that you have a new number.

            (And nobody wants to be held hostage on a mass text, anyway.)

            Setting up my Ting took five minutes. I got the new iPhone directly from Ting, activated the SIM card online, and set up the iPhone. Boom. Done.

            Give it a try and find out why Ting is the mobile that makes sense.

            Use the promotion code of and receive $25 off your bill. So you’re getting a month for free as the average bill is just $23 a month per phone.

            Cheers to saving money! Cheers to Ting!

              Life and Focusing on What Matters: The Give a Damn List

              Create a Give a Damn List to help you balance the things and people that really matter | The Champagne Supernova

              We have a limited number of damns in our lives.

              Yet, we somehow end up giving them away on the dumbest, most insignificant things.


              I can be a compulsive damn giver-outer.

              Doling out the damns like Oprah gives away cars.

              You get a damn!

              That other person gets a damn!

              Everyone’s getting a damn!

              People who don’t really matter.

              Things that are stupid.

              Stuff that happened in the past that I can’t control.

              I’ve had it.


                Educators Weigh In: How to Raise Successful Children

                Teachers give advice on how to raise successful children | The Champagne Supernova

                Is there a magic formula for how to raise successful children?

                What are the common denominators for children who flourish versus those who fail?

                In my life, I’ve witnessed some children grow into successful, contributing adults and others  fall into the trenches and never seem to recover.

                In this post here, I wrote about an adolescent friend who came from a background of abuse, neglect, and poverty. While unfortunate, it was no surprise she grew into an adult who couldn’t overcome her rough upbringing and has already taken steps to repeat the sad cycle with her own children.

                On the other hand, we also know children who seemingly came from loving and supportive homes (while not knowing what goes on behind closed doors) who also managed to fall off track.

                We’ve also heard of the kids who, despite terrible upbringings, beat the odds and manage to become adults who are financially secure leaders.

                As the working mother of two very young girls, I often wonder “what gives?”

                And while my children will ultimately make their own decisions, I want to arm them with the best resources and emotional support possible to ensure those decisions are good ones.

                Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do?


                  Life: The Playing Field is Not Equal

                  Life is not always fair and we are not always on equal playing fields | The Champagne Supernova

                  We are not all on equal playing fields.

                  Life isn’t always fair and, for some, it will never be fair.

                  I observed this pretty early.

                  The summer between 7th and 8th grade, my parents moved me and my younger sister from private to public school in my hometown of DeLand, Florida.

                  Speaking from experience, the middle school years can be especially tough for adolescent girls. Probably tougher than high school. Already trying to figure out who I was and navigate my way through the world, I was now faced with starting from scratch at a new school where I didn’t know a soul.

                  I was terrified and didn’t want to be “The New Girl.”

                  The week before school started, I had my parents take me to the local mall so I could find a trendy Yaga t-shirt (which was actually too big) and Vans shoes (that looked ridiculous on my skinny legs) so I had something to wear on the first day that screamed, “I’M COOL. BE MY FRIEND.”

                  The first day of eighth grade was a success, mainly because I met a girl named Michelle in homeroom.

                  Introduced herself, acquainted me to other classmates, and made me feel at home. By lunchtime, we were already exchanging notes in class (we had three together!) and talking about which boys we thought were cute and how we hope we didn’t have to “dress out” in P.E. since it was just the first day.

                  Michelle and I instantly became best friends. We would even sign our notes “BFFLAENMW” which is middle school shorthand for “Best Friends For Life and Eternity No Matter What.”

                  It was the beginning of a serious friendship.


                    Crying Uncle: Showing Up and Asking for Help

                    How to Have the Courage to Ask for Help and Seek Therapy | The Champagne Supernova

                    Have you ever had a secret you were ashamed of and didn’t want anyone to ever know?

                    I have.

                    But I don’t care about the secret anymore. It needs to be out in the open. I want it to be okay and for others to do the same thing I did and feel good about it.

                    No more shame.

                    As background, I went through a rough bout with the baby blues following the birth of my oldest daughter in 2012.

                    Crying all the time. Hot flashes. Feeling lonely. Wondering if I was crazy. Becoming a person I didn’t recognize.

                    I called my baby blues The Gremlins and wrote about them here.

                    Once they became a distant memory, I never wanted to see The Gremlins again. Not ever.

                    My second pregnancy started out rough. While I didn’t have the morning sickness that I experienced with my first daughter, I became an insomniac as soon as I  discovered a positive pregnancy test.

                    I never had trouble sleeping before, but I saw a pink “plus” sign and suddenly had to learn to survive on 4-5 hours of sleep.

                    This was on top of caring for a toddler, managing a household, and having a stressful career as an attorney.


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