Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Say Cheese!

Pictures are worth a thousand words! If you are a parent, they are worth more than that, but what about your kids? What do they think pictures are worth? My guys are head over heals with the idea of documenting all of their daily excitement. They love to look at past photos, take photos and play photographer. I'm not here to lecture about putting together baby books (partially because I'm still working on Gav's and he is 4), but I am here to advocate that you let your child experience the joy of capturing their loved ones on film. Nowadays, thanks to the camera phones, taking pictures has never been easier. My kids are better at working all of my electronics than I am and they haven't even entered grade school yet. Here's some of the best ways to have your child help capture special moments and they'll gain a new respect for how hard it is to get a great photograph.

Photography Opportunities:
1.) Let them take a picture of their birthday cake and guests.
2.) Pet Perks: Animals almost always look great and are always doing crazy stuff. Let them snap away as Fido runs through the sprinklers or snoozes in his favorite bed.
3.) Family: I give the camera to the kids and tell them to take pictures of each when they do things that they think are fun, that they love, or that are silly. Nothing says fun like a silly face contest...print them off and vote for a winner :)
4.) Vacation: Everything looks different from their point of view. Have them take some pics and you'll see. Example: I could not figure out what in the world Gavin was snapping away at the grass for...turns out it was a tiny little spider on a blade of grass...How he saw that while walking past I'm not sure, but it was the cutest thing I ever say (him talking to the spider telling it to hold still, not the actual spider)
5.) I Spy: Great for practicing how to use a camera and making sure the picture is in the viewer.
6.) I LOVE: This is my favorite game ever and I mean EVER! I gave the boys the camera and told them to take pics of things they love and they surprised me. Here are a few of the things the love...I hope you love them too!
"I love that our sissies love each other"

"I love my Gagey laughing"

"I love her cute little nose dots"

"I love my sissy in my hat"

"I love hiding in pillows"

"I love sharing with my baby"

Gage and Gavin's Hospital "We love the hospital that made Addy can come home!"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Behind every crafty woman....

Happy 1st Birthday Adalynn!!!

It's difficult for me to admit, but behind this crafty woman lies an even craftier husband! What can I say, he's got skills when it comes to all things handy! So for Addy's 1st birthday we wanted to make something special and I had my eye on this gorgeous wooden kitchen set. It was over $1200!!! That is an absolutely ridiculous amount to spend on a play kitchen. Fortunately, Jeff is always game for a new building project and Gavin and Gage are super helpers when it comes to playing with tools and sewing. Needless to say, after a few trial and errors we gifted Addy the most beautiful play kitchen I could imagine and the best part is that we as a family made it especially for her (and it cost less then $350)!

Wardrobe closet

Dress-up central...mirror on order

Vintage style Apron Front sink


Vintage style Refrigerator and Freezer

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Functional Photobooks

Our Wedding 2002
Most of the talented mom's that I know are marvelous at scrap booking, but I hate to admit that I have neither the desire nor the time to complete a project of that magnitude for my children. I know that sounds horrible, but maybe when they are older. I can't even fathom doing one book, let alone three (because you know that I would get a ton grief if I were to only do one). I on the other hand settle for online photo book creations because I can take as long as I'd like to and there's no mess to clean up. Here's a great site I found that isn't as extensive as shutterfly, but is much more economical. Right now they are have a sale. YES A SALE! Up to 100 pages for the price of 20 and the books start at $16.95. The site is Our family has made a few different photo books through this site and we haven't been disappointed. Hope you can relish the discount and go splurge on a little something for yourself.

Friday, April 8, 2011

LEMONADE!!! Enough said!

Image from
What better way to celebrate summer's rapid approach than LEMONADE!!! This is by far the best recipe I have tried. I hope you enjoy it! It also taste great using less sugar or sugar substitute instead.

2-2 1/2 c Sugar
5 c water, divided
1 Tbsp grated lemon peel
1-3/4 c lemon juice (about 6 lemons)

1. Combine sugar, 1 c. water and lemon zest in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved.
2. Remove from heat. Stir sugar mixture with remaining water and lemon juice. Store in pitcher and refrigerate until well chilled. Serve over ice.

This recipe for Old-Fashioned Lemonade is from Best of Taste of Home Spring 2009

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Art of Charts

Honestly, I get asked frequently how I manage to do it...manage three kids, two pets, a husband, a house and my sanity. The truth is I don't. I manage what I can, prioritize, consume large amounts of caffeine, learn to let things go and CHART! As ridiculous as it sounds my guys do great with charts! I had always used them in my classroom (they worked wonders), but never really thought to use them at home until about six months ago. Then again today I was thinking how chaotic life is...I decided that  need to revisit the land of peace and order. I have found that single day charts work the best (my guys are small). Having immediate results that are tangible are even better and one chart for multiple kids is an amazing way to make peer pressure positive not negative.That being said I hope this idea helps you too.

Chart I used for getting the kids to take family pictures

Microsoft Excel/Office (other word docs work too)
Uploaded photo of child
Clip Art

  1. Start by making a grid (# of rows for # of children AND # of columns for desired behavior+1). I have three kids and want them to work on seven things. My chart is 3x8. Set aside a row for each child (I kept mine in birth order to make it easier on me). 
  2. The first column is for their picture and the subsequent columns are for the desired chore or behavior. I have recently added phrases to my chart because my oldest wants to "read." It's not necessary, but is nice to have. Pair clip art with the desired task. Remember LESS IS MORE! This is especially true when starting out. 
  3. Repeat step 2 until all tasks have clip art to match.
  4. that you have that done do a quick print preview to make sure it fits on one page...Mine needed to be adjusted to landscape instead of portrait.
  5. If all looks great hit PRINT
  6. Discuss the chart with your child before using it. Have them help you decide an appropriate reward. It can be overwhelming so offer choices. Example: "I know you are going to do great. When you earn stars in every box would you like to walk to the park for bubbles or have a movie night?" Two options generally is enough. They might think of one on their own, but by beginning the conversation like this they will know what type of prize you are willing to give.
  7. Once you have decided on the reward start your chart. I like to have my guys draw their own happy faces or stars on the task that they completed. If they do not complete it, they don't earn a shape in the box. Without all of the shapes they don't get the reward. IMPORTANT: FOLLOW THROUGH!!! This only works if you hold your ground. Younger children may require more than one opportunity, so start simple.