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February 28, 2015

Cuddle Monster: Boys Can Wear Pink!

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Today I have an awesome opportunity to be part of the Boys Can Wear Pink put together by Kelly of Handmade Boy. Kelly is so crazy talented I am sure you have seen her work around (big thank you to her for patiently waiting an extra day for me to post). She really put together an amazing line up and all of the creations of the series have given me great ideas for pushing the envelope of boys sewing in creative ways.

Even though February has been very busy for my family I couldn't help but join her worthy cause. Ridiculous gender roles stereotypes really get my blood a political science grad mind a boiling. It is crazy how indoctrinated we have let our society become on such silly issue. I felt like though I am a stay at home mom and my husband is the sole bread winner, but who we are would safe guard our kids against prosperous gender inequality. But two recent instances have helped me realize how much we needed something like this to be able to talk about gender roles.

The first was the battle over the fuchsia spoon. A few months back I purchased a single set of kids plastic silverware and bowl set from IKEA. I loved the bright colors and figured it would be fun for the kids to eat in. A few weeks in I began to notice that Boston expected to get the purple and fuchsia stuff because she was a girl, This was even with me mindfully switching up colors for the kids every time. We had to talk about sharing and how everyone should have a chance to try each color.

The other was when Ryder told Boston that she couldn't be Spiderman because girls can't be as good at hanging as boys could be. This declaration nearly made me loose control. This is the first industry I have worked in that is an typical of women's industry (before this I have worked in tech support, landscaping and custodial work). I barked back that men and women can both do what ever they wanted and had a passion for, and the important part is to work hard. It seems like that day we have had multiple discussions on what jobs both girls and boys can do. Since then the only jobs we have come up with that are not jobs for both men and women are women being pregnant and men growing beards.
This outfit really became my representation of that lesson. Boys are told to be tough and strong from the beginning. But Ryder's strongest personality attribute in his momma's eyes his compassion and love for the people around him. His affection is the type that just melts over you and his intuition for others emotions makes him highly compassionate and aware at even the smallest plight of others. He often is found with his sweet smile to say, "Do you want to cuddle?" as he snuggles into his love ones. I don't want to loose this buttery warmness to gender role expectations, this makes him a great older brother. I know this will also make him a great friend, husband and father. I see this same genuine love for others in his dad, Slim Jim.
When I told Ryder about this series and I would be making him a "pink outft" he immediately worried that people would think he was a girl. I reassured them it would be fine and I would make sure that though it had pink no one would confuse him for a girl. I went to work planning the outfit knowing that the Moto Maxx would be the perfect pattern for a boy look. The next morning I showed him my design and he excited confirmed with one small changes I needed a different monster.

Kelly clued me in on Urban Threads which is where I picked up this monster used. I do not own an embroidery machine so each layer of the design was achieved by stacking and applique. This process took me so much longer by days than I thought (yes I said by days, yes I am slow and a bit picky). I love the texture the layering gives it. After making all the layers I stitched and then roughly appliqued around the perimeter and reinforced the back with knit interfacing.

The attention to detail of the Moto Maxx from Love Notions (affiliate link) made it the perfect base for a strong boy look. The only other alterations that I did was taking in the arm cuffs until it was my desired tightness. I sewed a 8 on top and a 7 on bottom according to where he fell on the sizing chart.

Result: He loves it! He doesn't think that it looks like A girl. Boston wants a monster shirt so she can match her brother.
PS. Would you like a chance to win some fun prizes?
The prize package includes:
One yard of Stenzo Pit Stop Poplin in pink from Mabel Madison
$25 gift certificate, plus a surprise fat quarter from Phat Quarter Shop
One yard of solid cotton/lycra & one yard of coordinating fabric from Purple Seamstress
One pattern of choice from Paisley Roots
$20 store credit from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop
One pattern of choice from Patterns for Pirates
One pattern of choice from Mouse House Creations
Bottoms Up Pants Pattern from If Only They Would Nap
One Pattern of choice from Titchy Threads
Giveaway rules:
By entering into the giveaway, you are agreeing to the following rules:
International entries welcome, but winners outside of the US will be responsible for shipping of physical prizes.
You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be notified via email within 24 hours of the end of the giveaway. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

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February 20, 2015

Extraordinary Girl the Pattern for the Girl on Move

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Thanks for all the kind words, we are finally on the mend. Today, we are joining in the Extraordinary Girl top (which is on sale right now $7 instead of the regular $9.95 or $13 for the girls/women bundle) pattern tour. From the moment I first spotted this pattern, about a year ago, I knew it would be such a fun pattern to sew. I love how it is such a great base for color blocking. I couldn't help myself in my fabric choices, now that we are finally coming out of our cold fog and the 50-60s days sunny days. I had to make something bright and sunny to match the way we are feeling. I was able to reach into my stash and find some bright fabrics to accent the stripe fabric. The back is a piece out of a men's tee shirt. I love how this pattern allows you to use your knit scraps.
As soon as Boston saw it she told me it was a shirt for running and jumping. Honestly she wouldn't stop moving all day in this top. As much as I love the frilly sewing it is really rewarding when we both love it and it can be the perfect top for playing (not that she has ever let a dress or skirt slow her down). Her competitive spirit reminds me of her brother and now she is getting tall enough that she is a physical match for him.
Let me tell you real quick tell you about the features of this pattern:
1. Clear step by step color illustrations that are easy to understand
2. PRINT BY SIZE option (I put this in caps because I cannot love this feature enough)
3. Sizes marked by colors and dashes
4. Long and 3/4 sleeves
5. Sizes 12M to 14 (I love when patterns have a large range and after that you can always pick up the Women's version which goes from 0 to 20)
6.  Fabric requirements & cutting layouts for both 1 color and 2 color blocking option
The only change I made to the pattern was accidental, the kids were using my computer when I was stitching it up so I didn't think to look it up. I did my pocket different than it had on the instructions so it is a bit smaller. I also eyeballed my pocket placement putting it where I wanted with the stripes. Honestly it is a straight forward sew that goes together like a dream.

What is on your sewing table right now? Are you sewing for winter still or is your sewing heading into spring? (Just a hint there are more spring sews that coordinate with this look coming up very soon, I really can't wait for you to see).

PS. Before you go, why don't you put in to win some free patterns.

Bundle #1:
  • Filles a Maman 2 patterns winner's choice
  • Sofilantjes - 1 pattern winner's choice
  • Julie pattern by Muffin Head
  • AimeLea & Finn - 1 pattern winner's choice
  • FABulous Home Sewn -1 pattern winner's choice
  • Fancy Schmancy - 1 pattern winner's choice
  • E+M Patterns - 1 pattern winner's choice 

Bundle #2:
  • Filles a Maman 2 patterns winner's choice
  • Sofilantjes - 1 pattern winner's choice
  • Fancy Schmancy - 1 pattern winner's choice
  • MCM Studio Designs - 1 pattern winner's choice
  • MandyK Designs -1 pattern winner's choice
  • Striped Swallow Designs - 1 pattern winner's choice
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To get some great inspiration check out the other bloggers on the tour.

Monday Feb. 16th

Tuesday Feb. 17th

Wednesday Feb. 18th

Thursday Feb. 19th

Friday Feb, 20th

February 13, 2015

Sew in Tune: Peter Hollens & Lindsey Stirling Inspired

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I am very tickled to be a part of Sew in Tune, a series hosted by Melly Sews and Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy. I have watched the series for years but didn't really know how to get involved. After a sewing/YouTube music marathon I decided to e-mail Melissa & Stacy to desperately beg and plead ask them if they had any openings. They were so kind to make a spot for me.
I have to own up to something before we get started it took 3 photo shoots to finally get the photos I was looking for. I am so grateful for my kids and their patience with their mom. As I mentioned yesterday we have been dealing with full cold-pocalypse for weeks this all was happening when I desperately needed to take the pictures for Sew in Tune. (Luckily a large majority of the sewing was done weeks before cold-pocalypse.) It was a little stressful and I was really wanting to be respectful of how the kids were feeling. I really let them decided what level they wanted to take things to. Honestly even though they felt like crud they were really excited to pretend to be their favorite YouTube stars.

This means that we had 1 inside photo shoot inspired by Shadows by Lindsey Stirling. This was really born out of necessity because both the kids were not able to go outside. I am glad that we were able to do it though they aren't my most frame worthy photos, I realized afterwards the kids really enjoyed that photo shoot. That song is one of their favorites. Every time it is on they are always trying to arrange mirrors and lights so that they can make their shadow do something different than what they are doing. I would love to set this sort of scene for them again in the future, all the ones that turned out are great at featuring their personalities because shadows are way cooler than whatever mom is doing with the camera. The only problem I had is they kept shifting the "spotlight"  so not all of them did turn out. This is also the only day I could convince Boston to do Lindsey peacock hair.

Lindsey Stirling
I knew with Lindsey Stirling as my muse I could take it any number of directions since she often does cosplay for her video game covers, but also beautiful feminine looks. After watching days of YouTube videos I decided doing a more casual, layered every day look that shown in Minimal Beat and I loved the flowiness of the directions of stripes on Come with Us. I noticed in most of her videos she frequently wears red, gray and black; Boston doesn't prefer red so the pink in her hair and shoes is a replacement for the red.

For the top: Light weight tissue sweater knit, Banyan Tunic from Figgy's
For the hoodie: 2 Upcycled tees, Bimaa Hoodie from LouBee Clothing (Previously Blogged here)
For the leggings: Scuba knit, Basic version of Dressage Leggings (affiliate link) from Jennuine Designs

Peter Hollens
Ryder couldn't have been more excited to be getting a mommy made shirt. With me testing the Haven Acres collection for the last several weeks he was understandingly feeling like he was getting the short end of the mommy sewn stick. He was pretty stoked when I told him about this sewing project because he likes that Peter Hollens is a Good Daddy (this is a very important characteristic for this sweet boy who's biggest fear for the future is that he won't be a good daddy and his kids won't like him). He thinks it is cool that he likes both Star Wars and Playing X-box.

When ever I put Peter Hollen's playlist on he will settle right down and listen to all the songs. I planned on making him some pants from Slim Jim's old pants using Patterns for Pirates Cpt. Comfort Jeans. I plum ran out of time so instead I matched it with a pair of jeans from Gymboree which have a similar ribbed knit waistband.
I noticed after several Hollen marathons that Peter Hollen wears a gray Raglan sleeve top in a lot of the videos. For the shirt I used the Jolley Rodger Raglan sized up 1 size because this sweater knit had little to no stretch. When Ryder saw the neck band he told me that I needed to make the waistband to match.  I forgot that in sizing it up that I needed to take to take a bit off the bottom. As it currently stands it is a long but he will probably catch up to it in a couple months. The contrasting ribbing is a light gray ribbing. The only modification I made to the pattern was to make the neckband a little less wide, not really on purpose but when I was getting ready to cut Ryder started playing the "what happens if....." game which caused me to loose focus and cut it 1/2" less wide. I like how this looks. I think it really sells the whole sweater look. I purposely cut my ribbing one size smaller because I was using actual ribbing and not just a jersey or interlock. The only thing I would have changed was making the bottom waist band a bit smaller so it would suck in the shirt a bit more. As soon as he put it on he said that is comfy. I was so happy to oblige him!

I love how both these artists have made a name for themselves even though they have been told time in and out that they would never be successful. I really think the reason they have done this is that they work crazy hard and really enjoy their work no matter what. I also love that I can be on their pages and never ever have to worry about profanity or inappropriate videos.  They are example of high standards and hard work gets you where you want to be. All the while they are making great music.

Here are Peter Hollens & Lindsey Stirling collaborations together:  Fields of Gold, Skyrim, Game of Thrones, Star Wars (kids personal favorite)

Thank you so much to Melissa and Stacy for having me. Happy Sew in Tune.

February 12, 2015

Brindille & Twig Hooded Raglan: Flip this Free Pattern

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Today, I am so excited to be participating in the Flip this Free Pattern blog tour from Frances Suzanne. When they offered a spot to us, we already had a lot on the chopping block for February, really we hummed and hawed but then I knew I had to say YES! Even though we were so busy we couldn't miss the opportunity to join in the free for all (sorry I couldn't help myself :). I really am so grateful for the free patterns/tutorials out there, really that is where we got jump started back into sewing. I also find free patterns a great way to try out new designers without any risk, as such is the case with the pattern I decided to sew.

As a beginning sewist or sewist who needs a refresher, free patterns are such a great way to sharpen the saw. Especially if you can upcycle your supplies, Frances Suzanne have a great list developing on their site of free patterns. Some of them I was completely unaware of and will be sewing up in the near future.
Even though I had a lot on my plate I had ever intention of doing an amazing baby boy layette flip, for our little guy that will be joining our family early May. All those plans happened before cold-pocalypse took over my life and now the life of my children. We have been sick for weeks which means instead of being at my sewing machine I have been laying in bed, trying to get out a yell out for the kids to settle down. Which I thought was bad until they got sick and then I had two fevering kids that have alternated waking me up in the middle of the night with their aliments. My usually supportive husband is no physical help as he broke his foot the week before we got sick and is on crutches. We are on the long road to recovery and I look forward to the day tissues, mucus and decongestants are not a part of our everyday life.
The pattern I used for this sew is the Hooded Raglan from Brindille & Twig (sizes 0-3M to 5-6). Brindille & Twig have some really darling designs that have attracted me for the last several months. In my opinion they have the greatest selection of unique unisex baby designs I have seen out there, but I was having a hard time biting the bullet after this free pattern I am hooked. Now just to decide which one of their designs to sew up next.
With all the craziness instead an amazing baby boy layette flip you get a simple sew it by the free tutorial and change hardly anything sew. I did end up sewing 3/8" seam allowance on the size 0-3M instead of the 1/4" called on by the pattern because my machine wanted to eat the fabric and I had no patience for the knots it was tying in it. I really don't see this making too much of a difference especially since I am hoping to use it when he is a newborn and just getting used to normal temperatures.
I think I would have been happier with my results if I wouldn't have tried to stretch the limits in fabric choices. Recently I was gifted this vintage terry cloth and couldn't help but sew it up. I have no experience with terry before this and with my vintage light weight sweatshirt fabric (navy) I was in for an adventure, but not the good kind. The kind of adventure that you don't get to seam rip your mistakes without ruining your article clothing. So forgive the mistakes I made and don't fault the free pattern.
I saved the pattern in my stash for him and hope to sew a more successful one before he comes. I love that the pattern includes raglan sleeves, kangaroo pocket and the hood & pocket are fully lined for ultimate comfort. We will just have to wait one trimester more to see how it fits the little guy.

Some other great baby boy patterns I found but didn't get to sew up were: 
Crafting Zuzzy: Baby Suspender Shorts Tutorial and Pattern Size 3M
(the designer has the full pattern available here, 0-3M to 18-24M)
this mama makes stuff: rocking baby nightgown (I have used this one before for baby gifts and totally forgot about it until a month and half ago)
Homemade Toast: Baby Toms
(the designer has the full pattern available here, newborn to 18-24 M and another pattern here, for sizes 3-10)
Go to Patterns: Baby Booties
I thought it would be fun to make these without the heart punch outs and maybe applique a car or other simple graphic on the toe. 
Go to Patterns: Baby Go to Leggings Sizes 3-6M to 9-12M
I think the fit for these leggings seem pretty unisex safe, I am sure that any sweet baby boy could pull them off with the right fabrics.
Titchy Threads: Little Kid Kimono Set 0-3M
When Boston was a baby in the hospital she kept breaking out from the high levels of bleach used in the hospital laundry. I would send her to the nursery in a mommy brought outfit and she would come back in a hospital outfit this time I am going to be prepared with a decent amount of momma brought clothing so this little guy doesn't have to worry about a rash. The top especially reminds me of the ease of the hospital clothing for dressing but it will be nice not to have all the chemicals.

There are lots of great flips that have already happened and several more coming your way make sure and follow Frances Suzanne this month. You are sure to great inspiration on just what you can make with a free pattern.

February 09, 2015

Haven Acres Mini Collection and Photographing Kids & Animals Safely

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This post contains affiliate links. We only will affiliate with companies & products that we personally believe in and agree with their quality standards, click here to read more about that.

You those patterns that the moment you see them you know you must not only own but sew immediately? It is love at first sewing sight. The Haven Acres Mini Collection (20% off no coupon needed through 2/15) from Jennuine Design was such a pattern for me. Most animals Boston is pretty timid around, but horses are a different story entirely with them she is at total peace and relaxation. You might say she is a bit horse crazy, in her defense it is in her blood.
Recently, Boston celebrated her 3rd birthday and I wanted to do a photo shoot to celebrate her fun personality and this interest of hers. I choose to photograph her at my Grandma's & Grandpa's ranch, it is because of them we learned how to ride and always had horses to use.
PS. If you are wanting to jump to quick tips about Photographing Kids & Animals Safely please click here, scroll to the bottom of the page or you could look at all the cute pictures of Boston in her cute new outfit on your way down.
First up is the Haven Acres Blouse. I have to admit this one was probably the one I was least excited about because Boston is a bit of a knit top girl but then after stitching it up I really came to adore it. And Boston must have as well because she was very committed to leaving it on all day (something we rarely see around these parts any more). I love these sleeves they have great movement for busy little ones and the wrist is gathered but loose enough to be very comfortable. And as the weather continues to approach spring I can see adding at least one short sleeve version to Boston's wardrobe.
I really love the placket on the baby sizes. I am tempted to stitch one up for Silly Sally in the near future because they really are So Darling!
The neckline bias is explained well through very clear diagrams that would make it clear, and perfect for a confident beginner even if you had never used bias tape to finish a neckline before. The keyhole facing gives beautiful results each time. I love that the elastic waistband is completely enclosed so it won't rub on your little ones stomach. It is really a quick sew for those delicious light weight wovens you have in your stash. I think it would be a such a cute top to take to a baby shower, it really would stand out against all the traditional bodysuits.
For Boston's top I made the size 3T, I didn't add any additional height but I did do my hem at 1/2" instead of the 1" in the pattern. 
15 sizes on Haven Acres Blouse Pattern newborn-12Y (reg. price $.54 per size - sale price $.42 per size) = $8 reg./$6.40 sale until 2/15
She loves dressing up and playing pretend with her brother, the Sweet Pea Cap is darling without being too costumey. I am a rookie of hats I was so pleased with myself when I finished my final cap with how professional it looked. I used the facing piece in the rim of my hat and I love the stability this gives the hat. My hat is a size Medium, but I probably would have been safe with a Small. I just wanted to make sure that no matter how I did her hair it would fit without any fusing (she has a tendency to be a bit of a threenager from time to time). I knew it was a successful sew when her older girl cousins both already requested matching hats for their birthdays.
5 sizes on Sweet Pea Cap 3M-7Y+ (Head circ. from 17-21) (reg. price is $1 per size - $.80 per size)= $5 reg./$4 sale until 2/15
The Dressage Leggings are my personal favorite of the Haven Acres Collection. I have tried and owned other leggings patterns but after sewing several versions of the Dressage Leggings I can safely say not all leggings patterns are created equal. I love that Jenn has put in both a high rise on sizes newborn through 3T for cloth diapers & a regular rise for sizes 2T-12. In addition to the dressage style she has also added in a basic legging pattern. I am grateful for this additional pattern pieces because after making this pattern I would have a hard time using any other legging pattern. I love the use of flat felt seam on the dressage line. It makes it very comfortable for your little one to wear.
I loved watching Jenn's commitment to getting this pattern perfect as we as testers went through 10 versions of the leggings together (the other patterns had several versions but not even close to the amount of tweaking she had to do to get the perfect legging pattern, her patience and critiquing these pieces was astounding). For Boston's leggings I did a mix of a 2T width and 3T length, since her waist is in the 2T measurements and she is a 3T height. The way the pattern is nested this is not difficult to do even on the dressage version.
17 sizes on Dressage Leggings newborn-12Y (reg. price $.52 per size - sale price $.42 per size)=$9 reg. price/$7.20 sale until 2/15
Each one of these patterns comes with professional diagrams & print by size options (something that makes me want to jump up and down with glee each time I use a pattern that has this).

I spent a great deal of my youth on horses and around farm animals of all shapes or sizes. I thought it might be fun to come up with some quick tips for photographing kids & animals safely. I will mostly be directing my advice to specifically to horses but many of the tips can be used with other animals as well.
5 Quick tips for Photographing Kids & Animals Safely:
1. Know the personality of the animal you will be photographing.
Some animals are stunningly beautiful but due to personality or breading they might not make the best candidate for a photo shoot. If you don't know the animal personally you will want to ask these questions of the owner: Are they high spirited? Do they scare easily? Are their situations that make them uneasy?
An example of this is in my youth, I had a horse that was very good natured and a joy to ride she would run for hours, her gate was smooth and while on her you felt as though you were flying. She was very obedient and took commands easily. For all her strengths she was very afraid of arenas and shyed quite easily with loud noises or crowd; even though she was the fastest, prettiest horse I ever owned I was not able to use her in riding club or other public events. This was for both of our safety and enjoyment. You will want to get a feel for the spirit of the animal long before the photo shoot and if possible have the child spend time with the animal before the camera is going to make sure their personalities work well together.
The animal I used for this photo shoot is named Pet, she is a miniature horse not pony (I personally don't prefer the temperaments of ponies I find them much to stubborn). Pet has a very calm and easy disposition. I liked the idea of using her over a full sized horse because she is not large and she does not make large movements. Boston has been on full sized horses before and never had a problem but this has been with two adults on either side, I knew that I wanted my photo shoot to be more interactive and less scripted than what it would have had to been with a larger animal. With an older kid easily a larger horse would have worked with a similar photoshoot, again taking into account the disposition of the horse.
2. Clear your schedule on the day of the photo shoot. 
A popular quote in the horse world (but I feel like it applies to most small children as well) from Monty Roberts is, "If you act like you've only got fifteen minutes, it will take all day. Act like you've got all day, it will take fifteen minutes." You really need to keep a zen calmness to your photo shoot for everyone's safety. The animals and the children will be able to feel your tension if you are trying to push a deadline. This uneasiness at best could ruin your pictures but at worst could put the safety of the child or animal at risk.
This is an example of Pet and Boston getting to know each other. See how up in Boston's space Pet gets, she is getting a sense of weather she is friend or foe. While this was happening we were coaching Boston on what Pet was saying by sniffing her.
Don't worry if you have to take a few minutes to let the animal and the kid get acquainted, horses get their sense about people by smelling so have the child put their hand flat near the nose of horse, then let the horse be the one to come smell. After this you might encourage the child to blow softly into the nostrils of the horse (only do this if your child is comfortable with it), this gentle blowing is very similar to horse to horse to communication and is a great way to put the horse at ease. You will want to talk to the owner about this before doing it because some horses are a little nimbly and you don't want your little one getting nimbled at.
I really didn't stylize my pictures I just let the two of them do their thing with a little directed movement on locations in the pasture. I had my mom help me get them to the right position in the pasture so I could make the pictures. I don't think it took me more than 20 minutes to photograph this session and 15 minutes might be a better estimate.

3. Have a knowledgeable assistant(s) to help you keep everything calm. 
I am usually one to do photo shoots with just me and my kids while the hubby is at work, sometimes this is a little crazy. But I knew going into this photo shoot to be safe it was not one that I was going to do alone.
My mom has grown up around horses and without her help this photo shoot wouldn't have been possible. She helped me prepare the horse for photo shoot and was just outside of the frame (in the riding pictures she was the one hold the lead rope) whole time to keep Boston safe. If Boston held the rope wrong where Pet could have dragged her, Mom quickly corrected the problem. If for a second we would have noticed Pet get uneasy she would have been there to swoop her to safety. Jo helped watch Ryder so that he wasn't adding distraction to the session, which takes me to my next point.
4. Minimize distractions. 
Other animals or people could be distracting to the safety photo shoot. We moved Pet into an empty pasture with no other animals, often times animals can get each other rowdy (much like little kids at a play place). You are more likely to monitor their behavior if they are on their own. A good sign of how the horse is feeling is the direction their ears are facing. If they are frontward facing they are usually at ease, if there ears are pinned back they are very stressed and if they are moving front to back quickly they are uneasy. It would be very easy to miss these subtle signs if there were distractions.

5. Be mindful of weather conditions.
Animals moods are greatly effected by the weather. I have seen this especially true with horses and wind. Horses frequently will run with large gusts of wind. Your kid will probably apperciate nice weather as well!

Hope you enjoyed the Haven Acres Mini Collection pictures as much as Boston enjoyed doing this photo shoot. I would say it was her favorite location photo shoot ever!

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