Archive by Scrapbooking and Creating Family Photo Cards

Capture Family Memories

Scrapbooking transforms a box full of photos into a memorable work of art.  If your time is limited or you are a beginner it can be convenient to purchase kits that have color coordinated paper, stickers, and accessories, usually on a specific theme, such as travel, childhood, a season, or holiday.

Dedicated creators collect the tools of their trade, such as a Cricket, a machine that cuts letters and pictures from scrapbook paper to use their time efficiently, so they can focus on what is the most important, the images they are showcasing. The owner purchases dies (the cutting templates) to match their desired designs.
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Reading Treasured Books Builds an Unbreakable Bond

When we look back on our childhood, most of us remember a treasured book that we either discovered on our own or read with someone special.  I remember sitting on the sofa with my mother reading The Little Engine that Could and Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel.  Time spent reading with your child says “I love you” and “you are special.”  Cuddling together and sharing a story stops time for a bit carving out a private moment just for the family.

It is often difficult to find the time to sit and read together, so parents get creative.  A friend of mine has her son sit on the kitchen counter and read to her, while she prepares dinner.  She pauses to look at the pictures and continues to cook while they discuss the story.  Her son loves the attention so much he is one of the top readers in his first grade class.
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Spending Time Creating Special Memories-Parents’ Expressions of Love

Spend Quality, Focused Time Together

One summer, we were particularly busy and my husband and I had opposing schedules, so we could not take a family vacation. We rented a limousine from for the day. We packed in food and beverages and drove all over scenic Bend, stopping to hike or eat.  We took the best family picture downtown next to a statue of a man sitting on a park bench.

We played games, like I-spy and 20 questions. Because we were not driving, my husband and I were able to give all our attention to the children. It was the perfect stay-cation.It is still possible to steal time in the day to make sure your child knows that he or she is special.

Children need to see that we are willing to disrupt our daily routine to spend precious time with them. The best way to show a child that you love him or her is to create an enjoyable eating experience.

Some families are fortunate enough to have time to cook together in the evening. Other families are more pressed for time with homework, sports activities and work obligations.

Impromptu Picnics or Tea Parties

When my children were young, we would stop by the deli on the way to the park for fruit, chicken and salads. I would bring a table cloth and tableware. We would create a small party/picnic at the park or playground, so we could eat and play together.
I purchased fine china tea cups at the thrift shop and kept them in my car, so that we could spontaneously have high tea at a local park, while we were doing our errands.
tea party

Pack a School Lunch with Love

Many mothers express their love through inventive lunches. Nothing says I love you, when a child is at school, like a beautiful cold lunch. A simple way to dress up a lunch is to collect interesting cookie cutters. They can be used to cut sandwiches and toast or form pancakes and jello.
cute lunch
Of course, choosing cute containers also makes lunchtime more enjoyable. These containers are adorable.
Cute lunch boxes
With a few crackers, some cheese, turkey and an apple, you could create this inventive lunch featuring Pinochio and Jiminey Cricket. Definitely, a big improvement over the popular lunchable.
bento box pinochio
When we take the time to do something unusual or disrupt our routine to create a moment for our children, it reminds them that we do cherish and value the time we are able to spend with them.

Here is a video explaining how to make a simple bento box for a school lunch or just for fun.


Making Time for Imaginative Free Play

Decline in Unstructured Play Time

Our neighbor is a plumber.  Last week when he was cleaning out his garage he made a pile of odds and ends of pvc pipe to take to the dump.  My kids were over there pestering him–of course.  They asked about the pile of pipes and much to my chagrin, began bringing all the pipes into the backyard.  Using the different sizes and shapes, they began to lay out patterns.  It was fascinating to watch.  My husband pulled out the glue he uses to fix our underground sprinkler system and the whole sculpture went 3-D.  I started wondering how play fits in with learning and child development.

When our children leave home for school, the whole dynamic changes. Now they are away from us for up to 40 hours a week, and when they are home, family time is often structured  to include homework and reading. With a stressful day behind both the children and the parents, relaxing for the rest of the evening by enjoying favorite TV shows feels like an ideal way to end the day.

This can leave little time for independent play time where students use their imagination to create the games, role play and meet up with other children.

Depression and Anxiety Rising Among Children

Rates of depression and anxiety among young people in America have been increasing steadily for the past 50 to 70 years. According to Psychology Today, children’s freedom to play and explore on their own, independent of direct adult guidance and direction, has declined greatly in recent decades.

Free play and exploration are, historically, the means by which children learn to solve their own problems, control their own lives, develop their own interests, and become competent in pursuit of their own interests.

When children do not have the opportunities to play on their own, away from direct adult supervision and control, they may be deprived them of opportunity to learn how to problem solve, how to negotiate, and how to innovate.

Structured and closely supervised play may not foster the pride in accomplishment and increase in confidence that the parents hope to encourage. Making their own discoveries can encourage children to learn and grow to satisfy their own curiosity, and prove to them that they are their own best teacher, if they are persistent.

Recent studies show that oral language and the diligence and persistence to stick with a challenging task are predictors of future academic success.

Despite research to the contrary, there is a movement in our country that penalizes parents for allowing children freedom of movement within ones neighborhood.  The days of Timmy and Lassie heading out the door in the morning to return by supper are over in many communities.

U.S.A. Today reported April 15, 2015 that Danielle and Sasha Meitiv have been accused of child neglect for allowing their children to play at the park alone. The park is eight residential blocks from their home, which is located in a safe suburban area.  They also occasionally walked home from their school, located a few blocks from home.  The parents have been convicted of parent neglect and stand to lose custody of their children, if they allow them to “wander” alone again.

Arts and Crafts as Elements of Free Play

Another way to create open learning experiences at home, in the evenings and on the weekends is to set up open ended art projects.  Working with found objects the they create unusual and amazing sculpture.

This helps the children develop logic, spatial awareness, and self-determination. Save up all the paper tubing, boxes, bottle tops, cartons and up-cycle them into a sculpture.

Using a hot glue gun or bottle glue, let the students make an shape or item they desire. When they are finished use a inexpensive can of golden spray paint and paint the final product. The final art piece will be amazing and one of a kind.

Take a photo of the children with their art, print it into a postcard and send it to loved ones. Upload it to Facebook, and let them see you post it. Move over some of your decor and feature the new art in a prominent location.

Next time the soccer ball goes permanently flat, take it partially apart and let them imagine something new. Throw some boxes, glue, tape, and/or markers into the backyard on a sunny day. Offer your cutting and spray painting talents, as they make a new house, neighborhood, kingdom or whatever else they may imagine.

Family and Play are Crucial to Child Development

On August 1, 1966, 25-year-old Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the University of Texas Tower on the Austin campus and shot 46 people. Whitman was the last person anyone expected to go on a killing spree.

Stuart Brown was assigned as the state’s consulting psychiatrist to investigate the incident and later, when he interviewed 26 convicted Texas murderers for a small pilot study, he discovered that most of the killers, including Whitman, shared two things in common: they were from abusive families, and they never played as kids.

Brown did not know which factor was more important. But in the 42 years since, he has interviewed some 6,000 people about their childhoods, and his data suggest that a lack of opportunities for unstructured, imaginative play can keep children from growing into happy, well-adjusted adults. “
kids playingBlocks and building toys are a wonderful way to spark the imagination.  You might enjoy the video from a play day with Keva blocks.



Small Moments – Lifelong Memories


6 Ways to Create a Moment of Play in Your Day

Every moment can be used to capture the joy of play. How many of us remember every time our parent hoisted us onto their shoulder or gave us a piggy back rider? It is so much fun to see the world from the eyes of our children.

1. Placing a child sized table near your kitchen and eating their occasionally can make a meal magical.

2. Allow them to use the same table for cooking, decorating cookies, kneading bread. Bringing our world into their world gives a different dimension to their experiences. Allowing whimsy to invade our every day routines keeps our days fresh and interesting.

3.Birthday candles in mashed potatoes.

4. Cleverly designed pancakes with bunny ears and blue berry eyes. Fanciful details show children that we still love and appreciate the magic of their childhood.

5. Let your children paint boiled eggs with diluted food coloring before storing them for lunch.

6. Use small pretty plates from the thrift shop or dollar store to create a beautiful luncheon or dinner on their small table and join them.

3 Science Adventures for Families

The sparkle of science invades every minute of the day. Use it to build a bond with your family each day.

1. When you cut the pumpkin at Halloween, have your children clean the seeds, oil them with olive oil and roast the in the oven. The cut portions--eyes, nose, mouth, etc. are perfect for making a small batch of pumpkin muffins. Microwave the pieces until they are soft and easily mashed. Mash them and add them with three tablespoons of sugar to your favorite muffin recipe.

2. Use the seeds, or any uncooked leftover seeds or beans, to tuck into a wet paper towel in a plastic baggie. Hang it in the window with a removable plastic hook or slip of tape. You and your children can enjoy watching the seed sprout. You can even try planting it. sprout

3. Use household ingredients to create a periscope. It does require a bit of preparation by the adult before beginning. Materials are a cereal box, a CD, a marker, shears or sharp scissors, a ruler, and tape. Using the ruler and marker mark the CD by lining the ruler up with edge of the hole in the center and marking all the way across the CD. Do this again in right angles. Cut the CD creating 4 small mirrors. When you cut, make sure you are using the inner part of the scissors as you cut. Open up the cereal box and use the cardstock to create this shape. As you draw the outline, adjust it to match the size of your "mirrors." periscope Tape the pattern to the cardboard. Cut around it and fold on the lines. Remove the pattern and tape the sides together. Cut out the second pattern, put it on the cardboard, cut out and fold, also. part of the periscope. Tape the mirrors to the long side of the resulting triangle. Tape one mirror on each end of the periscope. It may take some time to get it lined up. Look through the opening, and you should have a homemade periscope.


Creating a Meaningful Card with a Collage

Creating a collage is a simple technique that can create a lovely card. A collage is the art of combining items to produce an entirely different art piece.  I am going to discuss three ways you can design a meaningful card using collages.

1.  Use pieces of other papers to form your design.  Many of you will be familiar with Eric Carle’s books, such as The Very Quiet Cricket.  All of the illustrations were composed with bits of paper that he made by combining paints and found objects ending up with unique colors and looks.  He tore the resulting paper into small bit and used them to form his pictures.  You can design  your own paper by using higher quality craft paper and crayons (you can even melt them and use them as paint), paint, lacquer, etc.  Using found object such as keys, corn cobs, cut fruits, sponges, create a design over the entire paper.  When the paper has dried, you are ready to create by tearing the paper.  You can cut the paper, if you want a more precise look.  You can also use any paper you find interesting. One of my favorite cards was made with the roof from a picture of our first house over the pictures of each of us.

2.  Use bits of found objects to create a unique textured look.  Buttons, small bits of lace, interesting fabrics and feathers can form accents for our look. Using a piece of fabric cut to the shape of your paper will give you a great background for your designs.  Save pieces from broken jewelry, the small doll accessories, charms, game pieces and other items that would be the right size for a card.  Combined with the fabric and other collage pieces, the recycled pieces become a work of art.

3.  Save old greeting cards, visually interesting advertisements, or download photos or clip art.  Check out Freeimages or  they have a wide variety of images, including images of textures, light play and nature that would make great backgrounds for your art.  Carefully cut around the images that appeal to you.  Use them as the building blocks of your design.  Having a large stack that you collect will enable you to play with size, color, texture and meaning to create the perfect card.

Creating Meaningful Cards Using Photos

This blog is about creating cards for the people we love.  The type of card we will be creating today will use photos.  Here are six clever photo ideas you could use.

1.  Using either monochromatic or multicolored pieces of paper, lay out a short phrase or word.  When you are choosing the background for your photo, you will want to consider texture, color, and reflection.  If you lay the letters on an old wooden desk you will have a rich wood grain behind your picture.  You can use cloth to capture the play of color on the cloth.    You can also have your favorite people hold the words to make the phrase.  When everything is laid out, take a photo.  I will load a photo of a finished product soon.

2.  Take a photo of an landscape or item that is meaningful to your special person.  The more whimsical the better.  For example, a hot wheel for a car lover, a pack of lifesavers for the person who always listens to you, or a picture of the cover of a favorite album.  This creates a secret message between you and the recipient.  Take a photo of a piece of licorice shaped like a heart, make it into a card and slip both the licorice and the note in your child’s lunchbox.

3.  Use a beautiful picture from a free site like Unsplash and Freeimages.  They have an amazing library of photos that would be appropriate for many settings.  The crisp high quality images will make your card very high end.  Will use quite a bit of ink though.  Be sure and set the printer quality level to its highest.

4.  Take a selfie.  You have sent Instagram’s, Snapchat photos, and uploaded your best selfies to Facebook.  A selfie is perfect for a card.  It is easy to tailor the card to the occasion with outfits, signs, and of course different facial expressions.

5.  Use a photo from a shared past to bring back old memories and remind the recipient why you are both still together whether as friends, or something more.

Once you have your photo, go to the Start button and click on Programs.  Open the Accessories file and open the Paint program that comes with the computer.  I used a photo in front of Boise Valley Plumbing because we had a plumbing disaster that ended up being one of our family’s funniest stories.

Once Paint program is open, click on file and click on open.  This will open up your files.  Go to My Pictures and select your  picture and click open.  The photo will appear on the screen of the Paint program.  

Using the rotate tool at the top (under view), turn the photo upside down and save a copy of the newly composed photo.  Close Paint and open up a blank Word document.  

Cut and paste your upside down photo at the top of the document.  

Go to Page set up and set all the margins to zero.  Manipulate the picture until it fills the top half of the document.

 Print in the highest setting on some nice card stock or heavier craft paper.  Fold, write your sentiment and give to your loved one.  

If you want to have a smaller card, put the upside down photo in the top left corner–take up one-fourth of the paper. Keep the margins at zero.

The following video gives some specifics on using the Paint program.