Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turning Pics to Video with Animoto

This morning, the husband and I took Little m to Chicago's Thanksgiving day parade, and like usual I took a bunch of photos to commemorate the bebe's first parade.. well her second technically, but this was the first parade she was actually interested in and paid attention to! 

I take so many photos and videos on my iPhone these days, which is great, but I rarely have a chance to do anything with them - especially now that the business of the holiday season is upon us. I feel like I have a full calendar from now till January and definitely don't have the time to sit down and create a video. Well, that's what I thought until I heard about Animoto

If you've never heard of it, Animoto is a service that helps you make videos from photos that you upload from your computer, Facebook, Twitter, or photo sharing sites like Picasa. You can even download the Animoto iPhone or Android app to create videos with your phone's photos. This is something I'm definitely going to try in the future! Once your photos are uploaded, Animoto does the work in making the video. The video is fully customizable and you can choose to add your own music, text, and background style. Then you're free to share your video however you like.

Some things that I like about Animoto: 
- you can upload any song to set your video to
- there are tons of choices in background styles
- you end up with a cool video with very little effort

Some things that could be improved on: 
- the quality of the free video I received is not the best so it might be worth paying extra for HD
- my photos took longer than I thought to upload, about 10 minutes

But without further ado, take a look for yourself. Here's the video I made of Family Fun Day! Haha, that title's a bit of a joke with the hubs and I. He spent the last three months preparing for an exam and now that it's done we're free to have family fun days and it's awesome.

Overall, I really enjoyed trying out Animoto and can see myself using it again in the future. I am all for getting maximum output with minimum input! I love that I've found an easy way to actually do something with my pictures. If you're looking for other tips and tricks on taking awesome family holiday pics take a look at this Busy Parents' Guide video

Like my video? Make your own and enter to win a prize!

Animoto has graciously offered the code busyparents to my readers, which is good for a free video download. And that's not all! When you use that code to download a video between now and December 15, you'll automatically be entered to win a copy of "Capturing Life Through Better Photography" (MSRP $70) by Tamara Lackey, the woman featured in this episode of "Busy Parent' Guide: Photo & Video Tips for Parents for the Holidays." Additionally, you can use the code clever until December 15 to receive 20% off a year of Animoto service. All rules and requirements regarding this sweepstakes can be found here

I was selected for participation in this campaign as a member of Clever Girls Collective. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Method of my Madness

I'm really super duper excited because guess what? I've started exercising again. It's only been a week and a half, but I feel so proud for scheduling the time to take care of myself. It all started when one of the mom groups I belong to offered a free class at The Bar Method studio that's close to my house. I figured, why not?
Um, yes please.
Well, the class was super challenging but I really enjoyed it, so when they offered a huge discount on their 30 day unlimited pass, I said hells yes. And the kicker - they offer child care too! 

I feel like the studio has a great schedule and so far I've tried the 6am, 8:30am, 9:30am, and 6:30pm classes. There are pros and cons about each time - 6am comes early but at least M is at home to take care of Little m when she wakes up. The 8:30am class is a rush to get to because I always have things planned afterwards and have to be prepared with snacks, lunch, diapers, stroller, etc. The 9:30am class is more doable, but still, getting out of the house that early takes a lot of planning. And the evening class requires M to put the baby to bed, which is turning out to be just fine, but still requires planning and being certain that M can leave work at a decent hour. There are tons of excuses I could use (and have in the past) about why getting out to exercise is difficult but the point is, I'm doing it guys, I'm doing it! I haven't been excited about exercise.. ever.. so this feels really good! 

It's been nine days since I joined and I've made it to the studio seven of those days. Man oh man, I was feeling it today! It's probably a good idea that I'm taking an involuntary rest day tomorrow since the studio is closed for Thanksgiving. 

Now my only problem is figuring out to do once my 30 day pass is done. This regularly costs something like $180 and there's no way I can afford to pay that since I'm not working. Hmm, what to do, what to do. I guess I'll tackle that when the time comes and for now I'm going to ride the wave. Wish me luck and perseverance! 

Friday, November 2, 2012


Halloween has always been my least favourite holiday. My least favourite until this year, that is. I've had a change of heart because of this little one. 

This year I decorated the house, carved three pumpkins, attended numerous Halloween parties, bought candy to pass out, and even took Little m trick-or-treating around our block. Even though she's just over a year old and doesn't really understand what the heck is happening, Little m loved it all.   

During our daily dog walks, she would squeal with happiness and point at every pumpkin we passed by. I knew she would get a kick out of carving our own  and I was right. This girl was not afraid to get her hands dirty! Her dad took a break from his studying and came upstairs to find us with gooey hands and the table covered with seeds and guts. Messes are easy to clean up and seeing this cutie scoop out the inside of a pumpkin for the first time is a special memory that will not soon be forgetten. Afterwards, she even liked eating the roasted pumpkin seeds! Now the pumpkins are sitting on our patio, where Little m can see them from her highchair and she spends every meal time pointing and laughing. 
One of the parks nearby had a spectacular event the weekend before Halloween that I'm already looking forward to attending again next year. There were about twenty tables from local businesses offering special treats, crafts, candy, balloons, toys, etc., etc. There was a costume parade, a spooky maze, live entertainment, tons of games, and even a pumpkin patch! 

Yesterday, on actual Halloween night, I took Little m to a children's store nearby that was hosting a musician to play during their party. So much fun. Princess Leia had a blast dancing and clapping to the beats. Afterwards, we stole her daddy away from his books so that he could come trick-or-treating with us around the block. We met tons of our neighbours but the most delicious part, by far, was eating all the chocolate from Little m's treat bag. Shhh, don't tell.

In total, we had maybe 30 or 40 kids come to our door, which was good enough for me! While we were waiting for our visitors, Little m found a piece of green laffy taffy and happily chewed through the plastic to get to the goods. What a kid. All in all, it was the absolute best Halloween I've ever had. Remembering to see things through a child's eyes is sometimes the best reminder in life.  I can't wait for next year!