Got Boxes? How to Turn a Spare Box into a New Toy for Your Kids

Spare boxes can be so much more than a pile of cardboard to go out to the recycling bin. With a bit of creativity, you can create all sorts of new toys for your kids. What you make with a cardboard box may be their new favorite toy.

Shape Sorter

You can get creative by using a small box as a shape sorting toy. There are a number of benefits for toddlers to play with these toys, including teaching cause-and-effect and establishing motor skills. Simply create a bunch of shapes all over the box, such as stars, hearts, and triangles. Then, cut them out using a sharp knife. Your kids can, then, work on getting the shapes into the correct cutouts over the box. If you want to get fancy, consider coloring the different cutouts. This way, you can add some more learning by having them name the colors as well as the shapes.

Puppet Theater

Think about how much fun it would be to give sock puppets, string puppets, or even dolls their own theater to perform in. Old moving boxes are great for this project because they tend to be larger than your average Amazon box. Appliance boxes can work well for this, too. You can go as fancy as you want, cutting out certain aspects of the box out to create a stage. Then, you can hang fabric at the openings in order to form a curtain. It will make it a fun place for your kids to exercise their imagination. Plus, it can be used over and over again.


Robots have always been cool because of what they promise to be able to do for you. While you won’t be able to create the electronic components, cardboard box robots can provide fun for hours on end. Whether you create a cereal box robot or you use shoeboxes or other robots, you can decide what they’ll look like. Stack multiple boxes on top of each other and glue or tape them together. Use other household items like cups to create arms and legs. Then, let your kids go wild by adding some personalization using markers.

Roll up your sleeves and get a little creative. Find as many boxes as you can, in various sizes, so that you have more to work with. It can create hours of fun for you and your kids.

Your kids won’t be kids forever, so it’s important to get photos of them while you can. Book a session with Panos Productions Photography today!

3 Tips for Feeling Great During Your Pregnancy

Being pregnant is an extremely exciting and meaningful time in life. To achieve that proverbial pregnancy glow, it is important to take steps to care for your own body and its changing needs. Here are three proven tips to help you feel great during your entire pregnancy:

Exercise How You Can

Medical News Today explains that engaging in appropriate exercise can help you to feel better during all stages of the pregnancy. During the first and second trimester, you should be able to continue the majority of the exercise that you were performing before getting pregnant. Some women find that they need to slow down more as the pregnancy enters the third trimester. Walking, yoga, and swimming are ideal ways to get in physical activity as you nurture your growing baby. A regular exercise routine during pregnancy will also enable your body to bounce better more quickly after the baby is born. As always, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine.

Pamper Yourself

Pregnancy is a significant physical change, putting the body through a myriad of challenges. As you go through this process, it is important to always listen to your body if you are feeling aches and pains. Do not be hesitant to seek outside help in alleviating some of the most common pregnancy ailments. Congruent Life Chiropractic says that chiropractic has been known to keep expecting moms feeling great physically during your pregnancy by utilizing a three prong approach (bone, ligament, muscle) to allow for optimal alignment and stability to the pelvis and uterus.

Nourish Your Body

There is no season in life where good nutrition is more important than when you are pregnant. According to What to Expect, while most expecting women focus on how the proper nourishment will positively affect the baby, solid nutrition choices are also important to keep the mother healthy and ready to face the rigors of pregnancy. Be sure to be intentional about consuming extra protein and calcium. The body will take calcium from your existing stores to nourish the growing baby, making it especially important to make sure that you replenish adequately. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids will also keep both you and the baby functioning at optimal levels.

The most important rule to remember is to put your needs first. Taking the time to rest and nourish your body will give your baby the best start in life while also taking care of your own personal needs.

Want to capture the memories of your pregnancy? Contact Panos Production Photography to schedule a photography session that you will treasure for years to come.

3 Reasons Moms Should Exercise with Their Kids

After having a child, it is easy for moms to put their own health on the back burner as the time to eat well or exercise seems to melt away. Maintaining personal health should continue to be a priority, however. One way to do this is by making exercise a family activity. Here are three reasons why it is beneficial for families to work out together.

It Encourages the Formation of Positive Habits

Parents are the primary educators of children and children are more likely to carry habits they learn in their childhood into their adult lives. Consequently, by exercising with their children, moms can demonstrate how important physical activity is and encourage that positive habit to continue. This concept has been supported by a recent study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics where it was found that the activity level of mothers had a direct correlation with the activity level of their preschool-aged children. As exercise was a larger priority for mothers, their children participated in more physical activity. This effect can be heightened by working out together with children.

It Increases Communication

It's not a secret that schools today are violent, so it's important for moms to have a lot of opportunity to talk with their children and learn about what’s really going on in their lives when they’re out of your sight. Exercising together gives families a structured environment to talk before, during, and after the workout. Participating in physical activity together is also a bonding exercise that can make communication between moms and children easier and more effective. It's clear that spending more time together makes the bond between mother and child stronger.

It's Just Plain Fun

Spending time doing physical activities with your children is simply a fun activity that can bring moms and children together and build a stronger relationship. For the biggest benefits of working out together, you should invite them into physical hobbies you have. Playing sports like soccer or frisbee may be obvious activities to enjoy, but more structured workout routines, like yoga, are extremely beneficial as well. While you might not think about it, there are actually many positives of yoga for children. Yoga is known to improve posture and flexibility, both important factors for growing children. Yoga also improves mental health and gives children the tools they need to understand themselves and have a stronger mind-body connection.

With these reasons in mind, it is clear that making exercise a family activity is beneficial for everyone, in more ways than just physically. Seek to incorporate exercise for the recommended 150 minutes a week.

Here are a couple more articles we think you’ll like!

5 Tips to Help You Prepare for Future Children

When you're expecting additional children, there are all kinds of things that you need to keep in mind for preparation. Your previous experience can help you grow your confidence. While there's no way that you'll be able to prepare for every possible scenario, you can definitely start off on a strong note. These tips can be useful for helping you prepare for your future children.

Store the Baby Items from Your First Child

Having a second baby can be difficult, particularly if your firstborn is still toddler age or younger. However, it can be easier in many regards. One advantage is that you can save money by reusing items from your firstborn. You should only keep things that you know are worth holding onto. All Storage Online explains, get rid of damaged items, like toys with broken or missing parts, books with tears, and clothing with stains. You may be able to donate or recycle some of these. You'll want to keep the best quality items.” Store your baby items in a secure location that won't cause any sorts of damage. If necessary, you might consider renting out a storage unit.

Figure out Childcare

If you work full-time, you'll be able to at least get a few weeks of maternity leave. However, you will need to factor in childcare options. If you're already using the services of a trusted daycare for another child, you can continue doing so. However, you might consider looking elsewhere. Ask around for as much advice as possible. Happy You Happy Family explains that there are several options for people who are flexible. A daycare should be staffed by professionals who are passionate about childcare. Find one close to your home that is affordable and trustworthy.

Assemble Your Postpartum Kit

From pads to numbing spray to peri bottles, there are many things you will need. It’s a lot easier to have all that put together and ready to go before your second baby is born. Amazon has almost everything you need. You can read another experienced mom’s ideas on what she had in her recovery kit. Be sure to talk to your doctor about what to expect, again, for postpartum healing. You can also see the ultimate list of everything you will need for your recovery here. You will be so much happier if you do not have to drag yourself around CVS just hours after you get home.

Talk to Your Toddler

Be sure to spend time talking to your first baby about what is about to happen. They may seem fine, but it is good to see what kinds of questions they ask you. It is important to let them lead the discussion to a point. The questions they ask will tell you what they are ready to begin processing. If major changes in room assignment or babysitting are going to happen right away, it is good to explain that to them. Reading books can help too. Of course, nothing will become totally real to them until the baby is actually here. You can try to foreshadow all the phone calls, pictures, gifts for the new baby, people visiting, emails and the myriad of activity that will happen when the baby is born. Be sure to explain to your toddler that these same things happened when they were born. Creating a secret word, or handshake that only you two know can be soothing. Then, when it is crazy busy, you can use it to connect with your toddler so they know they are loved.

Plan a Photoshoot

Ushering in the arrival of a new baby with a photoshoot is something seriously worth considering. Even if you're not yet pregnant, it can still be good to keep this in mind so that you can reserve a desirable photographer as soon as possible. There are all kinds of shoots you can consider, like one of your newborn and their older sibling, one of the whole family together, or one of the baby by themselves. While professional photoshoots might be more expensive than just snapping photos with your smartphone, the investment can be absolutely worth it when you see the finished product. Order extra copies from the photographer so that you can send them to friends and relatives.

Being a parent is all about showing how responsible you can be. This happens over time, and it starts with making good decisions today. Use these tips to help smooth the process. There's no scenario that can't be improved by preparation, and you can enjoy parenthood all the more this way.

Family Fun at the Huntington Library

The Huntington Library in San Marino, CA is a fantastic place to take your kids. The trick is to become a member. Members gain entrance to the facilities free. This place is truly amazing. It has several themed gardens, including a children’s garden. There will be a lot of walking, so if you have kids who are not in a stroller anymore, it is a great way to get exercise in a safe environment. There are several lakes and ponds, wildlife to enjoy and wonderful statues and architecture everywhere you look.


Beautiful, clean, safe, full of learning opportunities, kid friendly high tea service


No picnics allowed, pricey if you are not a member.

When I visited recently, I kept in mind activities that families could do while they visit the grounds.

  1. “Book” a Garden: There are 16 gardens to choose from. Each is spectacular. For toddlers, you may want to give special preference to the Children’s Garden, The Chinese Garden and the Jungle Garden. Bring a book that you read to your child often and matches a garden theme. Then, as you visit, you can look in the book and try to find examples of some of the plants. Kids can imagine dinosaurs or other characters as they amble along.

  2. Count Your Steps: It is very easy to trek over 2 miles in a leisurely walk around one garden. This is a great way to help kids get generate healthy habits. I recommend using the Chinese Garden for this. You can walk around a stunning lake, look at Koi fish and other wildlife. The architecture there transports you into another world. It is so rich and vibrant, no one will realize they have walked 2 miles! There is also a Chinese food place there to grab a bite. It’s convenient and has outside seating.

  3. Portrait Extravaganza: The collection of portraits in the museum is mesmerizing. There are so many to see, it probably can’t be done in one or even two days. The collection has several portraits of older kids, so that makes it more relevant and easy to start a discussion with your own kids about what they see in the painting.

  4. Find a Hobby: One of the best things a parent can do for kids is to help them find a hobby; something they can do throughout their schooling years. This teaches coping strategies and skills that so many of us lack. The Japanese Garden has the most extensive Bonsai display around. These are world class examples of how beautiful they are and how it is possible to make a 50 foot Oak tree grow into a 1 foot miniature.

    The Rose Garden, when in bloom, is a great way to introduce kids to the art of rose care and development. There must be 100 different rose varieties there.

    The Rose Garden Tea room offers an experience in high tea. Older kids can see how food can be taken to an art form in detail and presentation. Finger sandwiches and small baked sweets are things kids can learn to make at home.

  5. Geocaches: If you geocache as a family, there may be one or two that are hidden around with the permission of the owners. That can add to your days of fun too.

Panos Productions Photography: We create showpiece images for modern moms who want to remember everything they love about their kids, forever. See our packages for Maternity, baby, kids, teens.

Why Isn't My Child Talking Yet?

As a parent, it can be frustrating and scary to realize that your child is not hitting their speech development milestones. Before you start to panic, it is important to understand some of the reasons why your child is not talking yet and what you can do to encourage this development. Here are three of the most common reasons why your child might not be talking yet:

Not Being Talked to Enough

This source recommends, “although many parents might feel silly constantly talking to a person who cannot yet talk back, the regular and persistent verbal communication that you share with your infant is imperative to their speech development. Infants respond to any kind of verbal communication, regardless of whether it is baby talk or more adult vocabulary and inflections.” Young impressionable brains are wired to soak up all of the sounds, tones, and words so that they are able to process those into a vocabulary. By being intentional about speaking with your infant from its first days of life, you will be encouraging it to develop its own language skills when the time comes.

Hearing Issues

This source explains, “one baby in a thousand is born profoundly deaf. Another two to three are born with partial hearing loss. Hearing loss is the No. 1 birth defect in America. Many studies have shown that early diagnosis of hearing loss is crucial to the development of speech, language, cognitive, and psychosocial abilities. Treatment is most successful if hearing loss is identified early, preferably within the first month of life. That's why 39 states require some type of hearing test before the baby leaves the hospital.” Common hearing problems can be negated with proper intervention, making it important to ensure that your child is tested.

Older Siblings

Oftentimes, children with older siblings are delayed in their speech capabilities. This source reports, “babies and toddlers with siblings are more likely to let the older kids speak for them, rather than talking for themselves. After a while, they will start to become dependent on the sibling to speak for them out of habit.” If your baby appears to be delayed in speech acquisition, it is a good idea to instruct any older siblings to encourage their younger brother or sister to speak up for themselves.

Take care to remove any obstacles out of your child's way when it comes to language development. By doing so, you can do your part to encourage normal patterns of speech development from a young age.

Life with children just seems to go by so fast. They may be dealing with these challenges now, but it could feel like this is only a passing second. That’s why it’s so important to take photos of your children, especially in their first couple years of life!

4 Biggest Hidden Dangers to a Child's Health

As a parent, you want your child to have the best possible upbringing. This means protecting your son or daughter from hazards that your son or daughter might encounter both at home and in the outside world. Let's take a look at a few of these potential hazards and the steps that you can take to mitigate them.

Peanuts and Seafood

Many children develop allergies at a young age, and you don’t find out until they are exposed to the allergens and they get sick. In some cases, your child could suffer negative health consequences from merely touching a surface that is contaminated by peanuts. The same could be true if your child eats, smells or touches fish or other seafood. If your child shows any signs of an allergy, take your son or daughter to the doctor immediately. It can also be a good idea to have medication handy in case of an emergency.


According to Behind the Scenes Home Inspections, mold most often affects children, pregnant women, and people with breathing problems. The most common kinds of mold form in damp conditions usually present in a basement, attic or bathroom. If you see black mold, be sure to call a professional right away. It can have an adverse impact on your child's life, and it can also put your own life in danger.

Falling Objects

A blow to the head can cause significant injury to a small child because its skull and brain are not fully developed. This can be true even if the object falls from a relatively low height. To prevent your child from being hit by a falling object at home, keep items on shelves secured with zip ties or similar objects. You can also keep potentially dangerous objects in a shed or other space the child won't occupy.

The Family Pet

You should never leave your child unsupervised when feeding, playing with or otherwise interacting with a cat or dog. This is because even a friendly animal can get scared or angry in an instant, and it could lead to your child being bitten or experiencing other injuries in an attack. According to American Family Physician, dog bites account for 1% of all injury-related emergency department visits in the United States and more than $50 million in inpatient costs per year. Immediate treatment will be necessary to stop the spread of bacteria throughout the child's body.

Children are often curious about the world around them and can be oblivious to the potential consequences of their actions. Therefore, it is important that they are properly supervised to ensure that they don't get hurt. Taking proactive steps to mitigate hazards can also make it easier to keep your kids safe when you can't watch them.

Panos Productions creates showpiece images for modern moms who want to remember everything they love about their kids forever. Book a beautiful photo session with us today.

What If You Didn't Have Kids? What Would Your Life Look Like?

I am one of the few women in Los Angeles who chose not to have kids. I am now 50-ish. For me, it was an easy choice; at the time anyway. I had a career as a special education teacher and I saw first hand how hard it is to have kids; how hard it is to be a parent. It scared me. And I honestly did not think I could do a good job teaching a child all those things you have to. Since I have a unique life, in many ways, I thought I would share with you what it’s like. I think you will see that as parents, you actually got the better end of the stick. In my view anyway.

D.I.N.K. (Double Income No Kids)

Yep. I am part one of a Dink lifestyle. I own a maternity, newborn and child photography business that is successful. All that money I earn is mine. All of it. There is no tuition, no kids’ clothes, no summer camp fees, no club sports, no candy sales, no Scouts, none of it. Of course, the business has expenses, (you would be stunned at how expensive it is to run a small solopreneur business), and then basic living expenses. But after that, I am able to be as irresponsible as I want to be. There is no one depending on me to save money for college, or for a rainy day. Spontaneous trips to Vegas, weekends at Santa Anita, a quick flight to Chicago to see the Cubs, it’s all there.

So far this all sounds spectacular right? It’s like being a college student with a never ending expense account from your parents. I will admit, that at first, in my 20s and even into my 30s, it was great. In fact, it was amazing. Especially when a large portion of your peers are not married yet with kids. But it gets tiresome. And after a while sporting events are not that amazing anymore, and quick weekend jaunts take their toll. They also lose their sense of taboo. You start to realize that every thing you do is all about, well, you. It’s a bit selfish. How many images can you post on social media of you gallivanting hither and yon while everyone else you knew in college became adults and has responsibilities? Whether that is good or bad, I’m not sure. But there it is.

Tenured College Dorm Life

While I did grow up enough to have a career and do all those responsible things, I never did grow up in other ways. Take domestic stuff, for example. I think most people, when they have kids, they try to keep a relatively organized house. They cook balanced meals. They clean, do laundry, take care of the yard. They do all these things with some kind of order and regularity. For me, that never happened. Now it could be, that even if I had had kids, I would still be a terrible homemaker. But I think that not being a parent allows you to live in utter disorganization. I think this promotes bad habits and fosters selfishness.

They only thing that has changed for me since college, is that I can’t take my laundry to mom’s house anymore. So what happens is, I pay to have other people do the things I probably should be doing….cleaning, cooking, yard work, basic upkeep on the property etc. I can’t be sure, but I do not think I would have developed such laziness with kids. Having kids keeps you sharper, more alert and self-sufficient; as I see things, anyway.

The-Who-Will-Take-Care-Of-Me-When-I’m-Old Question

There is an urban myth that says most people have kids so they will have someone to care for them as they age. As a newborn photographer, I see new moms all the time. I don’t see aging by themselves as their motivation for having kids. But still, it is a question most of us have to face. And since I am farther along the path than most of you reading this, I can tell you: Don’t worry about it. If your kids care for you when you are old, great. But if they can’t or won’t, it’s OK. There are competent professionals all over the place who will step in when the time comes. So the fact that I did not have kids does not make aging or getting older any harder. So I would say that on the aging issue, it’s a draw. Kids or not, getting old is tough.

The Mother-Child Relationship

Here is where not having kids loses big-time. There is one relationship that is so critical, so meaningful, so profound, and so important. It is the subject of countless paintings, books and photographs; and that is the mother-child connection. It is so raw and inspiring that my studio offers an entire portrait package just for Mother-Child. Not having kids means you miss this. It means you miss the single most awe inspiring interaction on earth. You miss the basic “why” of the human condition. You miss all those times your child calls for you, and not dad. You miss the way your child holds your hand, or sits in your lap. You miss how they look at you when they see you are proud of them. You miss how safe they feel with you after a bad day. You miss the most basic life event. You could say, you miss Life altogether. (That may be too dramatic, but you get the idea). Of course, there are lots of elements to Life, but having kids is a big one. Not having kids takes you out of a major experience.

I don’t think there are too many moms out there who regret having kids. I really don’t. But you may wonder what it may have been like if you did not have them. And I can tell you, it has some advantages. It does. But at the end of the day, the most fundamental thing is not on your Life’s resume. To my mind, you are definitely at an advantage as a parent.

Katie is a maternity, newborn and child photographer in Los Angeles, 91042

How to Create Better Cell Phone Images


     Composition and the skills related to creating compelling composition in photographs are something photographers spend a lifetime honing and improving. It is composition that plays a large part in setting one’s own style or signature ‘look’ in photographs and makes an image go from a snapshot to a thought provoking experience. You can spend years journaling, reading and studying composition. But, overall, a photograph with good composition has four basic elements all working together:

·         A clearly defined subject and background

·         Balance

·         A point of view

·         Simplicity

     To begin, let’s look an amateur photo I took some years ago in Paris. At the time, I thought I was taking a great image. But when we evaluate it according to the standards of composition, it turns out to be nothing more than a mediocre snapshot. Why is this? First, there is no clear subject and background. One could argue that the trees are the subject, or that the building is the subject. Is it the red or green parts of the building? For the viewer, the question arises, “What am I supposed to be looking at?” And if this happens, your image has failed. Second, the image is not balanced. It is just one big blob of “stuff” going on. There is virtually no negative space, and no breathing room for the eyes. It’s busy and unfocused. Third, while this image has a point of view (that if a tourist looking upward from the street), it is not an unusual or compelling point of view. It is that which any of us see most of the time on any given day. Had I climbed to the rooftop across the street, or climbed one of the trees and taken a photograph, the point of view would at least be different. Finally, as we have said, this image is not simple. It’s crazy busy.

     With a poorly composed photograph as a backdrop, let’s look at a much better one.  And as we go through it, I will bring in a couple of other elements that you can be thinking about as you start to intentionally compose your own images. Looking at this image there is no question that the crow is the subject. So, immediate, this second image is a million times better than the first. Just this simple “detail” is powerful.

     An additional element that adds interest to the subject is that the crow is at one side of the image. In this image, the eye travels from the crow, over to the tree and back again.  the eye travels around the image in a natural way. In the Paris image, the eye does not “travel” at all. Instead it rests in one spot, unsure what to do or what to look at.

     The crow mage is balanced in at least 2 ways (1) by the use of lines and (2) by another object the tree, to the left. And of you look carefully, you will notice that some vignetting has either been applied around the edges in post-production, or as a result of the lens (some lenses have a bit of a fall off that can be a good thing).

     The point of view of this image is subtlety different. It is not from the bird’s perspective. But it is not from your average adult’s perspective either. It looks like the photographer either knelt down or placed the camera on a tripod about 3-4 feet high. The result is a point of view that is one not commonly seen. This makes the viewer spend more ‘time’ on the image and make the photograph more interesting. The other strong element in this image is that it has a clear foreground, middle ground (the tree trunk)  and background (the other trees and buildings).

     The simplicity of this image is obvious. A bird on a fence.  With not much else going on, it allows the mind of the view to begin to create a story for the image. Why is the crow there? What is it doing? And so on.  The gap between the bird and the tree trunk  is essentially good use of negative space. Negative space is one of those “issues” in photography. Some say to not have too much, others have mostly negative space in their images. But an image, like the Paris one above, with no negative space is unlikely to work.

     Making images that contain strong compositional elements is mostly a matter of awareness. Take your time and try to address these 4 basics, and you will see a major improvement in your images.

Paris building.jpg
Paris Crow.jpg