get your Chore on

Can I just say -- I LOVE being creative.  It energizes me.  It pumps me up.  It makes me happy!  And every time I get to do it, I'm surprised at the intensity of all these feelings!

I have waited nine months to use this idea!!!  Last April I read this post on The Creative Mama about a take on the chore chart idea for toddlers and preschoolers.  Get Your Chore On!  I just loved it (and the title!).  At the time, we weren't to this point in our family and I filed the idea away for later use.  Getting Nathan involved in household duties recently came up and I remembered the awesome idea!  Plus, we are wanting to start to incorporate the idea of money and earning money somehow into Nathan's life.  Target is his favorite place in the whole wide world... because they have toys there.  Particularly, airplanes.  I'd like for him to be able to earn some money and learn how to use it to get some of these things he so desperately wants.  (since we don't have that many airplanes in this house already... cough cough)

Also, just using stickers on a chart alone doesn't seem to motivate Nathan.  He is a boy... That seemed to do nothing during potty training.  Something physical, tangible as a reward worked much better.  That is part of why I like this idea.  I'll explain more after I show you!

Here is my take.  I am so utterly beyond pleased with how they turned out!

Here's how it will work, for us. 

I am going to get each of these prints hard-laminated (like your drivers license) and put an adhesive magnet strip on the back.  (Originally, I wanted to have each mounted on styrene, but that would be around $5 each and that is ridiculous for this project).  Each morning we'll put that day's tasks on the side of our fridge.  As he completes his responsibilities, he gets to take the card down and put it in the 'all-done-basket'.  At the end of the day, if he has finished all of his tasks, he gets to put a sticker on our chart.  Once he earns 'x' stickers, he'll get 'y' dollars.  The 'x' and 'y' will change as he figures out how this works, etc.  

So, for my just-plain-stickers non-motivated child, here is why I like this approach.  He can see the task he is responsible for.  There is an aspect of independence and self discipline here, because he can choose what to work on in his own timing (that's the goal anyway).  When he completes the task, he gets to physically take the card to the tangible all done basket.  All these pieces together I think will work very well for this child.  

I can not WAIT to get started.  This was so much fun.  I just love getting to mesh my creative side with my career as a mom!


(oops!  I somehow managed to miss one!  Added at the bottom now)

A new friend inspired me to get myself behind the camera and try to capture the connection between myself and my kids.  I've often wondered... will they believe I was even present for their childhood???  There are hardly ANY photos of ME with them!  So I enlisted the assistance of my trusty tripod and camera remote.  

Nathan LOVED doing this.  He asked for days afterward to do it more.  I only wish I had been able to successfully capture more.  It's a lot harder to get a good photo when you aren't behind the camera to take it!!!   At least I'll have some blurry proof that I was there!  It was such a wonderful creative experiment that benefitted me in many ways.

These are far from perfect.  I'm barely in the frame for most of them!  But they are priceless to me.  I am so very, very grateful for this idea and that I tried.

one year

Our amazing photographer friends were supposed to take 12 month photos of Cora (and a family session) (have I mentioned how awesome my photographer friends are?), but our session ended up getting rescheduled twice!  By the time we made it happen, she was 15 months.  In the end, I was really happy with how everything turned out and was glad we got her at 15 months instead.  However, when I knew we were going to miss the 12 month mark, I asked if I could borrow their studio space to try my own hand at capturing some of her one year essence.  They so generously agreed.

MAN!  It was hard!  It was this experience that made me decide that I was uncapable of being photographer and mommy at the same time.  I got so stressed, angry and frustrated.  Trying to get the shots I wanted (and in focus, by golly) while simultaneously making sure she didn't fall off the couch, or he had his goldfish and drink, or she wasn't pulling lamps off tables, and trying to get happy expressions.  The whole thing was one big crash and burn.  I was so very disappointed and discouraged.  Before we left, she somehow covered herself in a purple substance and smelled of grape.  I later learned she's gotten in the Scentsy warmer and the purple was wax!  I have no clue how she did it without me seeing it!  Thank goodness Scentsy is child safe!  I vowed after this that I wasn't going to try again without Shawn's help.  It just didn't work and I got way more upset about it than I should have.

Then I got home.  And I browsed through the images and my heart just sank.  Disappointed doesn't cover it.  Devastated, perhaps?  Not only was I upset in my photography abilities, but I had failed at preserving her 12 month essence.    I thought I got two images from the whole thing.   The closer up face shot and the one image of the two of them together (which by the way is STILL the ONLY good image I have of both of them together, six months later).  I thought the rest were trash.  They weren't in focus, I thought.  I didn't delete them, but I left that folder, and took a break.  A long break.

Fast forward nearly 6 months.  It was time to design our annual book that we give family as Christmas gifts.  I decided to open that folder one more time and see if I could salvage anything else to include in the book design.  I honestly don't know what I saw, or neglected to see, when I first browsed the shots.  They may not be award winning, but I'm still pleased!  The following are ALL of the shots that I got that  I was happy with.  The rest failed for some tangible reason or another.  Nevertheless, I did get some of her 12 month essence, myself, even if just a handful.  It's really hard to believe its been almost 7 months since these were taken!

And this last one? This is what I have spent way, way, way too much of the last 1.5 years of my life viewing and hearing!

fairyland at danbury lane

Have I mentioned how much I love the internet?  I sure do.  I could write a dissertation on the many reasons I love the internet.  I won't now, though.  I also have a love affair with ETSY.  Oh how I could get lost on ETSY.  Perhaps it is my own love of all things crafty that makes me truly appreciate what ETSY is and offers.  Alas, it is because of the internet and the wonderful ETSY that I found this melt your heart ensemble for the little munchkin.

I selected a purple ensemble, because we love her in purple so much.  She was about 15 months when we received it, and even then, she LOVED it.  We had several little photo sessions where I attempted to capture all her fairy loveliness.  (Do you think I'm reliving some missed feminine aspect of my own childhood through her here?  surely not!)

I hope this is the first of many of these.  I hope she loves to dress up.  I hope she loves to be captured by my camera so we can be forever captivated by her beauty.  I hope that she loves to twirl.  And twirl for us so we can admire her.  I hope she knows how much we love her.   And I hope that she will some day embrace all that it is to be a woman formed in the image of God.

I want to share where I found this amazingly beautiful and quality hand crafted piece artistry!  Danbury Lane on ETSY.   Rebekah is truly a master at creating her tutus, wings, wands, and hairpieces.  I can't speak enough of the quality of these pieces.  They are gorgeous, and well made.  I am crafty.  I can tie knots in tulle around a piece of elastic.  But I can guarantee you it wouldn't have turned out like this.  It is worth the investment, in my humble opinion.  There are many little touches that set this apart.  And let me add -- little munchkin put those wings through the ringer!  She bent them a little (which I fixed) by refusing to enter the little play car by the door, but insisting on climbing through the back window.  Over and over.  Not to mention the rest the little climber did while we were able to play outside!


Can I admit something really embarrassing?

Of course I knew what a snowflake was.  Of course I'd heard that no two snowflakes were the same.  But I suppose I'd never really dedicated any thought to the fact that snowflakes were actually real.

As snow started falling around the country, I began to see others post their macro shots of snowflakes.  And I sat there is a dumbfounded stupor while simultaneously drooling.  My confession:  I just recently had the cognitive realization that snowflakes are REAL.  They really, truly do form as those beautiful creations that we cut out of paper as children.  They are beautiful and captivating and intricate.  I so, so, so should have known that!  (There are some amazing people out there who take stunning macro shots of snowflakes.  Just do a search on Flickr and you'll see.)

Shawn gave me a reverse mount adapter ring for my lens for Christmas (read:  I bough it with some of his budgeted money for me for Christmas!), so I could play around with "poor man's macro".  My photography wish list is already a mile long, and although a macro is certainly on that list, it isn't as high of priority as some other things.  So this will have to do for now.  I had a blast playing around attempting to capture some of these little beauties.  Poor man's macro is a LOT harder than it looks!  And I discovered that I have a major case of the shakes (or perhaps it's just that I was outside in 10 degree weather in my sweatshirt and pajama pants...).  These don't hold the tiniest candle to those I've seen posted elsewhere, but they are my best and I'm proud of them for now.