Favorite things

These are just a few of our favorite things.

Photography

1. Canon Rebel XSi, a great starter camera.  I used this body and lens for over 2 years when I decided to get my first DSLR.  It’s ease of use coupled with manual settings that allow you to get some great shots really helped me get started.  The price was great too.

2.  Canon Rebel T3, another wonderful starter camera.  This is the one that I wish I had started with – low price point, amazing quality.

3.  Canon 5D Mark III, the camera I now shoot with.  Well, actually I have the Canon 5D Mark II, which is the previous model of the Mark III, but if I was to go buy a camera now, this is what I would go for.  The first rule of thumb when you want to upgrade is to upgrade your lens.  However, with time and experience, you’ll find that the Rebel body might not offer you everything that you want.  Many jump to the Canon 60D, but with a lot of research and more than a handful recommendations, I decided that I would skip the 60D and go straight for the 5D.  Honestly – I don’t think I’ll ever look back.  I love my camera so much.  But please be prepared for the weight…it’s a pretty significant difference from a Rebel.

4.  Canon EF 50mm f/1.4.  Ever look at a photo and can’t get over the way the subject pops right out while everything around said subject seems to be blurred in the background?  That effect is called bokeh and this lens is among my very favorites to achieve that affect.  The low aperture allows you to separate your subject from the background, while also giving you a ton of flexibility for lower light situations.  If you’re ok with losing just a bit of that and saving $200, you can go for the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8.

5.  Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, love of my life.  Okay, so yeah my husband and kids come first, but this is a very close second.  After years of going back and forth I finally bit the bullet and bought this lens (I got it used on amazon) and since that day it barely ever leaves my camera, or my sight.  I love the versatility, the quality of the images, the way I can be up close or just a little further away from my subject and get a number of different shots without moving.  Add the speed, full-frame capabilities and I can’t think of a better lens.  There is also a new version available.

6.  32GB Compact Flash card.  The thing about upgrading from a camera body like a Rebel to a 5D is that you have to change almost everything (the 50mm lens and the 24-70mm lenses mentioned above fit both).  I initially purchased a CF card at WalMart so I could take my new camera out for a spin.  It wasn’t cheap but it was cheaper than the one I’m showing you here.  Within a week or two I ended up upgrading to this one.  Trust me when I say the speed on the card, as well as how many pictures it holds, can make a huge difference.  This isn’t the fastest, but I find that it suits my needs.

7.  Tripod.  If you’re a pro and you use the tripod a lot, you may want to go for a slightly more upgraded version.  But to be honest with you, I’ve had this lightweight tripod with me for years and I haven’t looked back.  I don’t find it to be cheap or poorly made.  It stands the weight of my camera body with the 24-70mm lens (that’s a TON of weight).  Plus it’s lightweight enough for me to just grab it and bring it places (I even bring it with me on our family vacations so I can have photos with my family).

8.  CF card reader.  I’ve gone a couple of different routes by using a cord to load directly from my camera as well as purchasing a different card reader.  The cord is annoying because (1) you have your camera sitting there taking up way too much space and (2) if your driver doesn’t support you deleting the photos from the camera afterwards it could drive you mad (this is me).  The other readers I bought all broke within a month or two.  This one’s great in price and quality.

9.  Canon RC-6 Wireless Remote Controller.  With a $20 price tag I don’t know how you wouldn’t buy this!  I can’t tell you how much I use this little guy – to take pictures of me with my kiddoes as well as to make sure that I don’t get the camera shake in those lower light situations.  This remote has a 2 second delay option which is just enough time to hide it in the palm of your hand so no one can tell that you used a remote.  Seriously, just get one.

10.  Canon Speedlight 430EX, my flash.  I used to use a 200 series older flash that I got as a hand-me-down but between the delay and the fact that it only went off every 5th or 6th time drove me bonkers.  About a year ago I finally upgraded to this flash and I love it.  I’m not big on shooting in the dark or indoors so I usually use it to offset the harsh effects of the sun.  It also helps to catch those funny moments at home in the evening when the light isn’t great but your tot is being hilarious.

(I’m obviously a Canon girl and there are probably all these products available in Nikon but since I haven’t used it, I can’t recommend it). 

Baby must-haves

1.  Halo sleepsack swaddle.   We bought and borrowed a few different kinds of swaddle sleepsacks for Peanut when she was born.  I think there were at least 5 different kinds that we tried and without a doubt the Halo swaddlers are our favorites.  This time around we’re buying a couple of them at our local consignment shop and sticking to just those.

2.  Arm’s Reach mini co-sleeper.  Peanut spent the first 2-3 months of her life sleeping in the co-sleeper by our bed and I’m hopeful that baby #2 won’t mind it either.  It was also our travel crib until P was able to stand up in the crib.

3.  Bouncer.  Peanut absolutely loved the bouncer when she was a baby.  It was a savior when I wanted to take a shower, cook dinner, or switch out the laundry in the basement.  Easy to carry and set just about anywhere, it quickly became our favorite modern-day convenience.  It was also the only thing that would calm her down during her weeks of colic.  We borrowed my bff’s last time around and are doing the same this time unless a nice, cheap one jumps out at us at a tag sale.

4.  Sleep sheep.  Or a white noise machine, although we loved the sheep.  Honestly, I think we loved it more as much as the baby did.

5.  Ergo baby carrier.  I love being able to do things around the house, like vacuum or wash dishes while the baby happily hangs out or sleeps in the carrier.  We are also not planning on purchasing a double stroller (we live in the suburbs and rarely take the stroller out as it is) so I’ll be carrier baby #2 in a carrier when we go out for walks.  The first time around we had a Baby Bjorn but it gave me such back-aches and was incredibly hard to manage putting the baby in on your own, so this time I am looking for an Ergo carrier.  I have heard amazing things about it and how well it balances the weight of the baby.  I’ve been stalking my local consignment shop for the perfect one.

6.  A good nursing bra.  I plan to nurse baby #2 just as I did with Peanut and I cannot begin to explain to you what a difference a good nursing bra can make.   I purchased one last time with P and would like to get just one more this time instead of the cheapies I used.

7.  A car seat.  Obviously.  Especially if you live in the suburbs like we do and take your car everywhere.  We have the Graco SnugRide from baby #1 and plan to use it again.  If you’re a family that has 2+ cars, I would recommend buying a second base – it was so much easier to plug the car seat into a different car when my husband and I switched pick-up/drop-off duties at daycare.

8.  Mamaroo swing.  The first time around we borrowed a swing from my bff and although we are borrowing it again this time, we bought a mamaroo!  Our local consignment shop (read: where apparently I live these days) called me last week to tell me that they got a Mamaroo in and we got it at less than half of the price!  We’re so excited to try it out and hope that baby #2 loves it.  So far Peanut seems to be rather fond of it – and since she’s still under the weight limit she even tested out its motion.

9.  Medela Freestyle Pump.  Again, this is for those of us/you who plan to nurse/pump.  I am a working mom so a good pump is an absolute must for me and I love love love love love my Medela Freestyle pump.  Not only does it get the job done efficiently, it has rechargeable batteries that last for weeks!  I recommend this pump to any mom that plans to pump.

10.  Summer video monitor.  The first time around we purchased a Summer monitor and loved it.  We’ve talked to friends who have gone with other versions and many of them seemed to break within a year or so, while ours lasted over 2.  This time I am looking to upgrade to this 2-camera monitor.  Ours is on its last leg (the battery doesn’t last, the image is starting to freeze, etc) and I’m hopeful that going with another Summer monitor will bring as much luck to us as the first one.

{Note: some of the links used are part of an affiliate program and I will receive commission on your purchase.  I promise to never recommend anything that I don’t own and love.}