LEGO + Stationery= Boredom Buster

Summer break means road trips, long days outdoors, swimming, family vacation, running through the sprinkler, grilling, flip flops, Slip N Slide, popsicles, sidewalk chalk, chasing fireflies, s’mores, etc. And let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be summer break without the occasional vocal complaint, “I’m bored”. So I am on the hunt for fun toys, trinkets, educational items, etc. to help them combat their boredom (more info coming soon…two words, Busy Bags!) and I came across LEGO Stationary!


Santoki, LLC introduced LEGO Stationery! #LEGOStationery

This one-of-a-kind product consists of an assortment of buildable school supplies that use LEGO elements and all work together as a system.


The collection includes a colorful assortment of pencils, erasers, pens, markers, journals, organizers and buildable rulers. What’s so cool about the product is that kiddos can build on the products and create something while learning!


These look so cool, I can’t reisist, and I think my kiddos will totally have their boredom busted by this! I will keep y’all posted and share my thoughts once it arrives.


FYI- If anyone happens to be attending LEGO KidsFest in Louisville, you’ll also be able to try them out at the show: Santoki has an activity area devoted to playing and coloring with the product line.

LEGO Stationery is available at Barnes & Noble, LEGOLAND California Resort, Legoland Florida Resort, all LEGO Discovery Centers, Amazon, and Boxed Lunch!

Get more details here



3 Tips Every Mom Should Know To Get Awesome Photos of their Kids

Have you ever tried to capture a moment for your family on camera and it just wasn’t working? The sun was in everyone’s eyes or there were just too many people around? It was after I had my second child that I grew tired of constant blurry photos and missed moments of my kids because I was fumbling with my camera. I was determined that I would learn how to take better images of them. After years of determination and practice, I can say I have accomplished that! If you are getting frustrated with your snapshots too, here are 3 tips that can help you to take better photos of your kids on your next adventure outing.

1. Look for light.

Light has the power to transform an image and can turn everyday moments in something more extraordinary. The light around you is constantly changing based on a number of things like your location and time of day. Harsh and bright mid day sun is usually super difficult to photograph people in, while light in the morning and evening will be softer. A lot of the fun activities we do with my kids happens at times of day that are not ideal to photograph in, but finding spots of shade or making sure the sun is behind them can help yield a better image. Also, if you can’t escape harsh light, have your kiddo put on sunglasses. They will look like a mini rock star and you won’t get tons of images of them squinting at the camera.

(1) Toledo Photographer Light

A few different lighting situations. In the top two images, the light was super bright. Having my daughter wear sunglasses and focusing on the shadows instead allowed me to still capture the moment while working with the light that was available. The soft, diffused light in the aquarium gave that image a more magical feeling. 

2. Clean up the background.

We don’t have much control of what is happening around us in public but you can decide what you include in your photos. Cars, random strangers and ugly buildings are just some things to look out for while capturing your family’s memories. Really taking a minute to scan the background can save you some frustration later wishing that adorable photo you took of your kid smiling from ear to ear wasn’t overshadowed by all the people in the background. One of my favorite ways to minimize the background of an image is to come in closer to my subject. You can also try to shoot your subject from above (think standing on your tippy toes while they are sitting on the ground) or having your image vertical instead of horizontal. Paying more attention to the backgrounds around you and shooting around any distracting elements really allows your children to be the focus of your photos.

(2) Family Photographer Toledo Background

(3) Toledo Family Photographer Background

These were both taken in relatively crowded areas. Shooting slightly above my subject allowed the focus of the image to be more about them and less about the other people that were there. 

3. Tell the Story

Did you know we read photographs much the same way we read written words? Our minds like to fill in the narrative points of “who”, “what”, “when”, “where” and “how”. You can include these elements in photos to give them a strong story too. While you are taking your images, think of these points and then capture them. Focusing on the big picture with a wide shot will give you the “where” and coming in close for a shot of the details will fill in the “what”. Also, be sure to include natural moments when your kid is truly being themselves. Showcasing their personality will really bring out the “who”. Not every element will be in every photo but making a conscience effort to include more specifics about what is going on will be a great reminder later when years have passed and you can jump right back into that moment with your kids while reminiscing through your photo albums.

(4) Lifestyle Photography Toeldo Ohio



(5) Toledo Family Photography

These images can answer multiple elements of a story. They tell us the “who”, “what”, “where”, “how” or “why” while focusing on natural moments of my kids.

So next time you are out playing momaraizzi with your kiddos, be sure to remember these 3 tips to help you rock your snapshots! Want more help? Sign up for my newsletter  for even more photography tips, including information on an upcoming momaraizzi 101 photo class.

Bio and Links

Cynthia Dawson is a Toledo Ohio Newborn and Family Photographer specializing in lifestyle and emotive storytelling portraiture. She strives to capture the nostalgia of childhood with her photographs. Her style is storied, sentimental and emotionally intimate while still retaining the technical prowess and artistic originality of gallery quality images. Simply put, she transforms lifestyle photography into fine art for your family.

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10 Reasons Why Maumee Bay State Park Lodge is the Perfect Family Getaway (Stays for A’s)

Whether you are looking for a fun family vacation, the perfect destination for a reunion with family and/or friends, or simply a day away from the mundane Maumee Bay State Park Lodge has all the amenities necessary to provide a custom-catered experience. There is literally something for everyone, the fitness gurus, naturalists, the bookworm; those looking to jam-pack their day with activities, and those who prefer a more leisure experience. Here is a list of the

10 Reasons Why Maumee Bay State Park Lodge is the Perfect Family Getaway

Ribbet collageMAUMEE

  1. Boardwalk– This is hands down my children’s (ages 5-10) favorite activity! They enjoy exploring, investigating, and observing all the swamp and marsh has to offer from the comforts of the boardwalk including, snakes, frogs, fish, birds, deer, raccoons, different habitats, butterflies etc. maumeebay 062 This is one nature walk that involves a lot of observing to keep your eyes peeled! maumeebay 076The easy, two-mile Interpretive Boardwalk trail traverses swamp and marsh wetlands and has interpretive signs, an observation blind and tower. MaumeeBay8The boardwalk is wheelchair accessible. maumeebay 094Additionally, the park offers two multi-use trails for walking, jogging, or biking: Trail – 6 Miles – Easy & Mouse Trail – 3 Miles – Easy
  2. Nature CenterTrautman Nature Center is equipped with inter-active displays, a programming auditorium, research laboratory and viewing windows. It is a state-of-the-art nature center staffed by a year-round naturalist. maumeebay 047The boardwalk trail is adjacent to the nature center. maumeebay 049Stop in for a visit before heading to the boardwalk so that you can learn about some of the habitats and wildlife that you will see on your boardwalk adventure!maumeebay 059
  3. Swimming– Maumee Bay State Park Lodge & Resort offers your family the opportunity to swim year round! MaumeeBay3There is something absolutely breathtaking about looking outdoors and seeing inches of snow & large flakes falling while enjoying the warmth comfort, and pure fun the indoor pool offers. MaumeeBay2The indoor pool area also features kid-friendly splash park fixtures & whirlpools. You can also enjoy the seasonal swimming areas…outdoor pool & 2 beaches.MaumeeBay6668
  4. Seasonal fun– Fishing, golfing, boating (rent a paddleboat or canoe), biking (no room for your bikes, no worries, you can rent bikes at the Bay), maumeebay 102skiing (rentals available for cross-country skiing), sledding down the top-rated big hill, ice skating (rentals available), maumeebay 044swimming in the outdoor pool, you name and Maumee Bay State Park probably offers it! (Hunting is permitted in adjacent Mallard Club Marsh Wildlife Area. A valid Ohio hunting license is required).
  5. Little Kid Space & Arcade– looking for some additional family fun or perhaps an opportunity to give mom & dad a break? maumeebay 037(Mom & dad hit up the kiosk near the Water’s Edge Restaurant for a caffeinated beverage to enjoy while watching the little ones run off that excess energy) The little ones can enjoy the soft play area (for children 42” or shorter) with a pirate ship, they will have a whale of a tail of fun! MaumeeBay4While the big kids will enjoy all the fun to be had in the games & arcade area…also fun for the kids at heart.MaumeeBay509
  6. Courts– Game on! Enjoy a little friendly competition with your family/friends or invite other guest to join in the fun at one of the courts, volleyball, wallyball, racket ball, horseshoe, shuffleboard, lighted tennis, and/or basketball.
  7. Food– Pack Picnic- picnic areas with tables and grills can be found adjacent to the beach areas. Water’s Edge Restaurant, take in a breathtaking wraparound view of Lake Erie while enjoying a delicious culinary cuisine (Beer & Wine list is available). maumeebay 015The menu offers something for everyone and kid friendly options too. Allow all your senses to be enveloped by the experience. (And their Sunday Brunch is AH-mazing!)maumeebay 018  Icebreaker Lounge– provides a relaxing nautical theme while you enjoy your favorite drink or a lighter meal with the family…fun atmosphere, music, pool table, and kids menu available. Bayside Snack Shop (seasonal)-perfect place to grab a quick bite to eat before or after a day spent in the great outdoors, includes a delicious menu featuring juicy burgers, hot French fries, tempting frozen treats and thirst-quenching beverages, the Bayside Snack Shop is a popular stop for families. Pro-shop Concessions– Whether you’re preparing to tee off, making the turn, or ready for the 19th hole, the concession stand at the Maumee Bay Pro Shop has you covered. Hot dogs, chips, ice-cold beverages and beer are waiting for you when you’re ready for a break.
  8. Fireplaces– wind down an unbelievable day with the beckoning crackle, warmth, and relaxation from one of Maumee Bay Lodge’s beautiful fireplaces. maumeebay 0222Enjoy the company of family and friends, share stories, play board games (several family-friendly games are available for complimentary use from the front desk), or cozy up to a great book (there is a free lending library in the main lobby).maumeebay 025
  9. Entertainment- On selected dates from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the park’s Amphitheater features Saturday night entertainment. These events are free to the public and can include musical groups, magicians and more. All events start at 7:00PM. There are also movies running periodically in the lobby area, all rooms have cable, and be sure to check out the list of events going on when you arrive!
  10. Gift Shop & the amazing people who work at Maumee Bay Lodge– The kiddos absolutely adore the gift shop, there is such a lovely variety of items for children at various price points (so they can spend all $5 dollars they saved up) adults, birders, naturalist, wine aficionados, etc. And the Lodge would not be the amazing place it is without the AWESOME people who work there! maumeebay 031Do stop at the front desk, ask your questions, inquire about activities going on, etc. It is the kind, compassionate, welcoming, and enthusiastic individuals who work at the Lodge; from the front desk, landscaping, the naturalist, housekeeping, waitresses, gift shop employees, etc. that make you feel like an extension of the Maumee Bay Lodge family that will make it hard to leave and in anticipation for your return.

And there is so much more…geocaching, massages, NEW playground, birdwatching, Storybook Trail, etc. Plan your adventure today!!!



Stays for A’s 

Congratulations on a job well done! For every “A” a student receives on his or her report card, Maumee Bay Lodge will discount $10* off the Best Available room rate for up to five (5) A’s.

Stays for A’s book HERE