Do you use a flash when you are in the school or set your white balance to the overhead lights? looks great!

My camera actually does not have a flash. (I don’t like flashes much). I just use a really high ISO setting if I’m taking pictures at night or when I’m somewhere with no natural light (I’m lucky that my camera does really well at these settings and doesn’t get too grainy, love that). I don’t generally change my white balance because it’s so easily tweaked in Lightroom but I’ve realized customizing white balance is essential when I’m using the video (bad white balance is pretty apparent in this video, darn it, but I love it anyway:).

Will you please share the exact Canon camera and lenses you use — it would be so helpful!

My camera is a Canon 5D Mark II. (You can read all about how I agonized switching from Nikon to Canon here.) The lens that rarely comes off my camera is a 24-70mm 2.8, but I do have a telephoto lens for recitals (70-300mm 1:4-5.6) and a 55mm 1.4 fixed lens I sometimes pull out for portraits.

A year later – are you still glad you made the change? [From Nikon to Canon]

I still have a soft-spot for Nikon but I do love my Canon. The reason I changed was mostly for the video capabilities, and I’m sure Nikon has something very similar now. I think both companies make excellent products. I’m pleased to report that after a year I finally don’t have cramps in my hands after using this heavy set-up! I really do love my camera.

I have a canon Rebel XT but don’t know what kind of lens to get to take bright pictures like yours. when there is no good light my pictures looks awful.

The lower the aperture number on a lens the more light you will be able to get in your shots. The problem with that is that lenses with larger apertures (wider openings) are more expensive. But so worth the money if it’s something you can save for! Look for good light if you possibly can…my house doesn’t have the best light but certain areas do, so I always make my kids stand in them when I want to take a picture. (This is one of the spots in this post…poor kids, but they’re used to it by now 🙂 Also, a big part of bright, vibrant colors comes from upping the exposure and the “blacks” in post-processing in Lightroom. I really don’t do a bunch with pictures…not enough time…but those two little tweaks seem to do the trick a lot of the time.

Technology- all the screens-tv’s, computers, smart phones, ipads, wii games, etc. are starting to overwhelm me with raising my 5 kids. Taking it all away doesn’t feel like the right solution. What are some of your thoughts or ideas that you implement in your home in regards to screen time?

I think this is a battle so many moms struggle with. Technology is SO great and has so many wonderful uses but man alive sometimes it drives me nutty too. First of all, I am NOT a tv fan. Really, I know there are a bunch of great, educational things on there, but I didn’t grow up watching it so it doesn’t interest me at all. Dave used to be more into it, but he rarely watches it any more either. I think our kids just kind of follow suite on that one. They love the Disney Channel while they’re babysitting on the weekends, etc. (I can’t stand the Disney Channel…sorry to any fans…) but the television doesn’t get turned on on weekdays hardly ever. Sometimes we make plans to start watching American Idol or Survivor together…we hear of other families loving this as a family activity, but after one or two episodes we just plum forget.

Our kids aren’t really “gamers” either (hallelujah!). We used to have PlayStation and we have the Wii, but we just don’t think to get those things out much.

The computer, however is a big draw in our family. Max has a Facebook account and Grace loves to email people (complete with abundant smiley faces). Elle loves to blog-hop and I seem to be on here a bunch to post or pay bills or download photos. I heard of a family who has one day a week where they completely unplug everything. No technology. Maybe that’s a good idea. I think it’s good to set a great example on this. I’m not doing that great if I’m on the computer and my phone all the time. Working on that all the time.

Can I ask where your children do homework? Is it in another area of the house? I just see that their rooms are so neat and appear to be free of all the ‘clutter’ and ‘stuff’ that my kids seem to accumulate and then cover their desks and bedsides with. I would love to hear your way of doing the homework, room cleaning and toy/personal items storage thing at your place.

Our kids do their homework either at the kitchen bar or kitchen table. We have a homework desk at the top of the stairs but they like to do it right where I am so I can help if they need it. I like them to be close too. This does, however, leave a bunch of books and paper and clutter around and I’m a continual nagger for them to clean it up. I should take more pictures when they get home from school so you can see the “real deal.” They do have their own “cubbies” in the kitchen (that I talked about in the last Q&A post) where I stick some of their important papers and either I keep reminding them to put away the rest or Dave comes home and throws it all away.

Dave is the epitome of a non-clutter kind of guy and loves counters to be bare as possible so I really do try to keep the papers to a minimum in the kitchen. That means they’re all shifted to my “office” (the laundry room right off the kitchen) which is always piled high with “stuff” that drives me crazy.

Our kids each have “treasure chests” their Grandfather has made with them that they keep “treasures” in, and they each have a hanging-file box with hanging files for each year of school where they can keep special paper work. Anything else gets photographed and filed away…or thrown away.

It’s all a work in progress.

Where did you get all the pillows and that yellow chair!!!??? LOVE 🙂 [this question was from this post]

The pillows are from Target and the yellow chair I lucked out and found at Home Goods. We have been working hard on those bedrooms…almost ready to post more pictures 🙂


  1. We dedicate Sunday as our "Unplug day". I started after Elder Packer's conference talk about keeping the Sabbath Holy. He talked about how we should also rest from our day to day and since my day to day (and the kids day to day) involves a lot of technology I thought it was a perfect fit. I was surprised they didn't put up much of a fight about it and it has made the entire day a whole lot more peaceful.

  2. I got a good laugh out of my your husband coming home and throwing away papers. My husband is a no clutter guy and he also hates toys. Because of this we have a 10 toy limit per kid . . . which is wonderful for cleaning up! We don't ever buy toys with small parts or pieces becasue one set would take up their 10 toy count.

  3. Okay, I'm noticing that you got new carpet? (from the before and after pictures) Is it brown waffle like carpet? I can't quite tell? We are about to get new carpet, and I'm loving yours!

  4. Thanks for answering the tech question for me!
    That was so nice of you.

    I'm loving this Friday Q & A. It is so fun!
    Love it!

  5. Yes, I agree with "For the Love of Naps" about Photoshop vs. Lightroom. I've never even heard of Lightroom before? How do I go about learning either of them? How did you learn? Also, THANKS for this blog. I just started reading it recently (found out about it through your "Mothers Book of Secrets", which I also adore) and I'm just really impressed with all that you do and are. I am striving to be a good mother and it's so refreshing to read things from a lady trying to do the same thing! Keep up all the great work, you are a big inspiration to me!

  6. Hi Shawni! I love reading your blog… (I don't know if I've ever left a comment before), but I have to tell you that while I was out running this morning I saw your husband out running. I think I probably scared him to death by telling him, "You're Shawni's husband! I read her blog! I love your wife!!" 🙂 Anyway, just thought I would appologize. 🙂 Thank you so much for your all your inspiring posts!

  7. Here is another question for your Friday Q & A: Where do you buy most of your children's clothing? Do you use many hand-me down clothes from older siblings or just start from scratch? Do you have a system for buying and/or storing clothing? As I have gone from 1 to 3 children (because of twins) I am learning that clothing your children is a major project–especially with each changing season. Some of my friends by clothes on clearance at the end of the season but then you have to store them. I am storing clothes for now as they get too small, but is it worth? Any tips you have would be very helpful! Especially since your kids have the cutest little outfits. 🙂

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