A new lovely for me!

Look what I got in the mail yesterday!  It’s she a beauty?

I love her!  She is meant to hold a cell phone.  See the inside how it has two pockets?  I could throw a debit card and my phone in there and be ready to go.  I just LOVE this little beauty.  If you want one, you can order a custom one here at Aubrey Plays on etsy.  She does the BEST work.  I’ve ordered multiple things here and I’ve been pleased with everything.

Life at Grandma’s

While we were visiting my in-laws this weekend, it struck me that my boys love to pull out the same toys each time they visit. I thought about how these toys are part of their history and my husband’s history as well. So, I thought they deserved a place in my family album. It likely won’t mean much of anything to them right now, but someday when they are men, it might.

This is a Lego set my husband had as a boy that he stored in a old shoe box that had once belonged to his sister.

I love how the box itself has evolved.  It must have once been hers – then theirs – then his exclusively.

Such a small detail but so precious all the same.

You can expect to see this in my Project Life album sometime.  Speaking of which, I’ve fallen terribly “behind” this year.  I don’t really believe in “behind” but you know what I mean.  Anyway, that February Funk that I get each year hit me particularly hard this year.  I recently realized that I took no pictures of my children (other than phone camera snaps) during the month of March.  You know I’m in a funk if I don’t even pick up my camera.  It was a hard season for me.  Harder than usual.  But I’m back to happy and that’s all that matters now.


Before and After

I was going through some of my older pictures and found a picture of my son from January 2008 that made my heart sigh.  Do you do that?  Find pictures of your babies that make you stop and stare at them and remember how precious they are?  This was one of those moments for me.

Anyway, I decided to pull the image into Photoshop (I’m still working in CS3) for a little edit session.  I used an action I created from watching Erin Cobb’s Clean Color (levels, curves, etc.) and then I tweaked it with my Totally Rad Actions.  I.  Love.  Totally Rad Actions.  Just so you know.  I think they are the best thing to happen to Photoshop since Photoshop.  Here is my before and after for you.

Math Monday – Password

Over the weekend I was blessed to attend a workshop with some other local moms to prepare for our children’s participation in Classical Conversations Essentials this fall.  It was a video series by the Institute for Excellence in Writing.  What does that have to do with math?  Not much really.  But!  Andrew Pudewa mentioned the idea of using a password for teachers.  A password to reflect that the student had studied the information assigned in order to maybe gain a hall pass to go to the bathroom or perhaps re-enter the classroom after lunch.  I thought, “hey, I could use that at my house!”

I’m not sure how this will work entirely, but my plan is to have the password of the day.  For example, tomorrow’s password will be 3×3=9.  My children will have to say that to me each time they get a snack, are allowed in the car, or are granted access to a privilege.  My hope is that by focusing on one fact a day, by the end of the year they will have a better grasp on their material.  Obviously, this tip could be used with any subject that you are working with.  At my house, my current main focus is math.

On another fun note, we have a new member of our family!  This is Bogey, our three month old Morkie (Maltese/Yorkie mix).


It has been a busy, busy month at my house. I have so much to share but right now the most exciting news is that my new computer is due to arrive in a week! I am so stinkin’ excited about this. It will be so much faster to edit pictures and share them on the blog with you. I can barely contain myself!

In the meantime, here is a picture of my son who thought it was a good idea to taunt Daddy at the pool over the weekend.

The Token System

If you are my personal friend or knew me at my old blog, you can skip this post. However, I’m going to re-write it for my new friends who might find it useful. Today, I’m going to talk about the token system we use at my house.

Every childhood/parenting expert I’ve ever heard has spoken about “currency” when motivating a child. “Find their currency,” they will say. Is it video games? Clothes? Treats at the store? Whatever it is that is most dear to your child is your bargaining chip in parenting. That is the basic theme in their advice. At my house, I had to come up with a system that incorporated all of that but was easy for me to deal with and administer. For me, it’s my token system.

Basically, I “pay” my children in tokens. It is their allowance. When they do their chores. When I’m trying to motivate them. When I catch them being good. Whatever. Anytime I want to give them a little something, I make it uniform by giving them a token (or more) for it.

The tokens had to be something that was cheap and unique to each kid. I landed on popsicle sticks. I painted them in three different colors. Why? So that no kid would ever be tempted to claim a popsicle stick from a sibling’s collection. The problem with actually giving them money is that a) when it’s sitting on the coffee table and child 1 and 2 both claim it’s theirs, I don’t know who to believe and b) if it’s an amount that is significant and they lose it, I’d be really mad. I know I shouldn’t be because it’s “their” money but I know myself well enough to know that I would be mad. If you decide to implement this system at your house, I’d recommend looking around for whatever is cheap and on hand. Poker chips would work too. The actual tokens aren’t that important.

The tokens can be valued at any amount that makes sense to you in your family. At my house, a token is worth about .25 – .33 cents because that’s about how much a silly band costs and those are about the lowest price item I have as a reward.

This system is also a lovely thing to have in place because when you’re at the store and your child has a case of the I-want-itis, you can buy that item they say they want so much. Then you put the token value on it and put it in your “store.” If they lose interest in it and don’t earn it, you can either return it or give it away at the next birthday party they are invited to.

At my house, our “store” opens up about once a week. Usually on Saturdays. Sometimes less if no one has done anything to collect tokens lately. On that day, I open up the store (a big trunk) and the kids count their tokens and go shopping for the items in the store. Everything from silly bands, to individual packs of fruit chews (my kids go crazy for those things), to Bakugan or Zhu Zhu pets. The token amount on each item corresponds to the amount of money I paid for it. $1 = 3 tokens. My favorite thing to put in the store is consumable or intangible items. Fruit chews (which they don’t get in my house unless they buy it in the store) or tickets for an hour on the Wii. Creative things that don’t actually cost me money. For those, I just make up a token value. Enough to make it special but not so much that it’s unattainable to a young kid.

Here is my favorite part of the system. When I ask a child to pick up the family room one time and they don’t do it, I have to do it. Every time I have to do something that they should have taken care of, they have to pay me. If it’s toys in the family room, I pick them up and put them in the store. They have to buy them back. Eureka! It was so beautiful when that occurred to me. Why is it so wonderful? Well, for one, I don’t have to nag them about it. And the other reason is because once something has gone unclaimed in the store for long enough, I can get rid of it because I know it’s not really that important to them after all. Another way they have to pay me for doing their chore is to physically hand me back a token. Since it’s our currency, they have to pay me when they forget to clear their plate at the dinner table and I have to do it for them. As I am clearing the plate, I call the child away from what they are doing to go get a token out of their bucket and pay me with it. That also serves two purposes. The child is interrupted from what they are doing to go get me the token and it’s a little painful if they are saving up for that Bakugan item.

It has been a wonderful addition to my house. It’s suited to all three of my age levels. It allows them to learn about money management in a suitable manner. I recommend you consider it! Tweak it and make it work for your family.


Steve Jobs

I’ve read this in written form before but this is the first time I’ve seen it. I want my children to watch it every year and I want to watch it often. It’s so good.

A little sick.

Remember the barn I showed you last week? The one that is historic and I took the picture of the “coming soon” sign with it? (

They began tearing it down today. They weren’t supposed to do that. It was legally supposed to be moved and incorporated into the design of the new development. The barn is an historic structure but at this point, it appears to be destroyed. It was a legal requirement that the barn, silo and house be restored and incorporated. I simply do not see how it can be recovered. Demolition of the barn would have required approval from the council and I don’t think they had it, despite the appearance that they were in the process of tearing the structure down prior to the town ordering a halt to the project earlier today.

This is not going to sit well with the residents of my small town.

You can find the statement of our mayor here. (

I’m thankful I took my picture of the barn when I did. Who knew it would look like this less than two weeks later.

The above images are not mine. They were taken by my friend and neighbor.


It’s been almost a week since I spent any time with you.  I went to a scrapbook retreat last weekend with some of my besties so that’s what has had me all distracted.  You know how it is, you get a little crazy in the lead up to time away from home and then you come home to all manner of things that need your attention that had to wait until you got there.  So, that puts me here with you on this fine Wednesday.

I want to talk to you today about Project Life.  It’s like a hybrid that is just right for those of us who like to “scrapbook” but also are just too dang busy to make every page some elaborate masterpiece.

It really isn’t rocket science, but it is a huge step forward and a total relief to me.  The meat of the system is a series of pages that you drop your 4×6 horizontal photos into along with 2×3 slots for journaling cards.  Sounds pretty mundane, actually.  But there is beauty in the mundane!  (That, too, is a theme for Project Life but you’ll have to discover that part on your own.)

I began scrapbooking somewhere around 1997.  I have scads of traditional scrapbook albums with many beautiful layouts in them.  I was super pleased that when I became a mother, I was able to remain pretty up-to-date in my chronological scrapbooking method.  I was routinely scrapbooking and my current page was pictures taken within the last three months.  Until… 2004 when we moved.  With the move, all the supplies went into boxes and they just were not the priority when it came to settling my little family of four into our new home.  Eventually they did get unpacked but I also got pregnant and had a third child.  With the move, the pregnancy, some knock-me-down illness and a new baby I just couldn’t keep it up.

As of this writing, my “traditional” scrapbooks are up to December 2005.  My youngest child is about six months old in those albums.  He needs to be able to see the pictures of his role in our family too, don’t you think?  This was reinforced to me recently when a friend who has 7 children told me about her youngest child.  She too is up to 2005 in her chronological family albums.  Problem is, her youngest child hadn’t been born yet.  That sweet little girl recently asked her why there are no pictures of her!

Enter Project Life.  I heard about this method in December and I ordered it up for our family.  The premise is that you would take a picture every day and journal the highlight of the day.  The problem for me is that I simply don’t want to commit to a 365 picture-a-day project.  I have enough commitments, thankyouverymuch.  For me, I use the album to highlight the 7 most important images of my family that week.  At some point, I’ll show you my actual album week-by-week.  But not today.  It’s the end of March at this writing and the album for 2011 is virtually up-to-date.  Each week consists of some pictures of what we did that week along with the journaling about what happened.

There are 8 slots for each two-page spread for both pictures and journaling cards.  One of the 4×6 slots is used to note the week’s date.  The other seven 4×6 slots are for your pictures.  The kit comes with the 4×6 date cards for you that coordinate with the journaling cards and some decorative 2×3 cards. (7 cards to journal the 7 days of the week and one extra just to look pretty.)

I love that I can use the kit and add to or subtract from it to make it fit perfectly for our family.  Recently, we had two rather dull weeks.  I don’t think I took 7 pictures total in either week!  For that situation, I simply had the two page spread represent two weeks.  It is totally adaptable.  For someone like me who can sometimes fail to start something simply because I don’t know that it’s going to work out perfectly, that makes Project Life very attractive.

Another key reason – and probably one of my absolute favorite reasons – I love Project Life is that when one of my children says or does something that I want to remember, I run right over to my little desk in the kitchen and jot it down directly on one of the journaling cards.  I date it and slip it into one of the slots for the week we are currently in.  No longer do I have a journal where I record the funny things they say and do and hope that I can find it when it comes time to “scrapbook” that time in their lives.  It is right there where is should be – in the album.

If you are still reading this, I commend you.  As you can see, I can go on and on about Project Life.  I will likely do just that in the weeks ahead.  But if you are thinking you might want to try it – don’t think for a second that you have to wait until January to begin.  You can start at any month.  Just do it.  I highly recommend it.

All of this chatter about documenting our lives via scrapbooks is the prompt for my picture of the post. Last week we had a lovely sunny day. I decided it was time to document some of the changes that are happening in our town. Someday, it won’t look anything like it does right now. I always love seeing those old pictures of what a town looked like before progress came and made it what it looks like today. So, I thought I’d do my part for my little piece of history.

Wordless Wednesday

I don’t know why we call them Wordless Wednesdays.  I’m sure I’ll always have something to say.

I’ll be so happy to see spring and summer arrive!  In addition to all the other normal glorious reasons, I’ll be able to drop my ISO again.  I’m pretty tired of 1600 ISO.  Just sayin’.

This past weekend we went to my niece’s bridal shower.  This is all the girls in her immediate family – up and down the family tree.  (not including aunts, cousins, etc.)