January 22, 2015

organized art work: our system

After at least 5 years of saving every single piece of paper that my oldest two boys brought home from school or even scribbled on at home, Tyler convinced me that our house couldn't hold all the boxes of paper that I was keeping?!?!?!  I had no idea where to start – and wasn’t ready to throw out any of their drawings without a perfect plan!  After lots of attempts, I think we're almost there . . .


After a lof of procrastination and online searching (which always led to the photo books - which just wasn't going to work for me!  I had to keep some of the actual art), I found these artbooks at Michaels and finally have a system that works.  Now, when the folders come home from school, I’m able to throw away most of the math tests, handwriting samples, etc. that I know don’t have a shot of making the final cut!

Our System:

Each boy gets only one book per year (no matter what!)  I combined all artwork from birth (those first finger paintings where I slathered their hands in paint and pushed their hands on the page) until they started their first real 3 year old preschool.  So far, the 48 page books (with a  few extras jammed in the front folder) seem to be the perfect amount of artwork memories to save for a year.  I worry that as they get older and their school days become filled with more math and less art, we may have to think about merging more than one year into a folder.  Until then, this the our system.

Twice a year: (1) over Christmas break and (2) at the end of the school year, the boys and I pull out the over flowing file folders and get ready to sort!  It always surprises (and thrills me) to see how excited they are to sit down and sort through all their work from the year.  It must be genetic, because Tyler can’t believe they enjoy sorting and making the books!  Fingers crossed I get at least a few more years of this before they get bored with it.

This is what our May 2014 piles looked like – one the smallest to date!  As I get more confident that this is the right system for us, I more quickly toss the papers I know will never make the "Top 48" pages in the final book.
I’ve finally learned that this is best done one boy at a time!  I send the other two with Dad or let them play video games. It gives me the precious one-on-one time that is so rare between work and just having three boys!
I use the 9 x 12 portfolio books and usually buy them at Michaels or from Amazon.


Once Drew's papers were all sorted, we got to the fun part of adding the winners to the book . . .
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Sweet Drew was so proud of his new book . . . one more step closet to being one of "the boys"!
A completed book, ready to file away in their closet:

All done and on their bo
okshelves . . . ready to be pulled out for bedtime stories (which they actually do sometimes!)
Proof they make it off the shelf . . . this little guy is particularly excited to now have his own “art books”!
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And sometimes they even sneak in and take their brother’s artbook off the shelf . . . for reference purposes only!!! (that’s Ben’s 1st grade art book in the background – Nick wanted to make sure he was doing his puppet book report right!)
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Linked @ BakinginPyjamas

January 19, 2015

skylander elements

I FINALLY found time to make cookies (well, I probably didn't really have time, but I just really had to make them for my sweet almost 7 year old)!  He’s been asking for Skylander Element cookies for over a year now!

In theory, these should have been fairly simple to make.  I just really didn’t think through how long it would take to mix up 9 separate colors (really 10 – I had two different consistencies of white).  I guess I need more large icing bottles if I’m going to keep this level of color going.
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Icing Colors (something tell me I will be making these again soon!)  We have some serious Skylander fans right now.
  • Earth = Chocolate Brown
  • Tech = Electric Orange
  • Magic = Violet
  • Undead = Black
  • Life  = Leaf Green
  • Water = Electric Blue + White
  • Fire = Red
  • Air = 1:1 Regal Purple:Electric Blue
This last color made me nervous, but I think it came out OK!  The boys have requested minor color tweeks next time.  When did they get so particular?!!?!?  Apparently one blue was suppose to be brighter or dark??? 
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Here’s the Skylander handbook Nick left me when he went to stay at Grandma’s house, so I didn’t mess up any colors!  With 3 boys, I'm definitely getting the hang of being a "boy mom", but it doesn't hurt to get a little help once in while.  They are all aware that I'm not exactly a video game fan!  And now I'm trying not to get too lost in the new Star Wars obsession.  Thankfully Tyler is taking over as the expert in this area!  We had a Star Wars tutorial last night so I could accurately plan their birthday party without to many mistakes!  
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Drying (with the help of a fan) since I didn’t have much time before bagging them up!
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A cardstock insert to help keep the cookies from being totally destroyed by the boys in their goodie bags!  Hope it worked . . .
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The party . . .
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Love this happy (almost) 7 year old smile . . .
Happy Birthday to my sweet almost 7 year old “middle boy”!

January 16, 2015

birthday flashback: our very hungry caterpillar

Still no time to actually bake, as this week has been super busy at work, with all of our free time at home spent getting ready for the Pinewood Derby race and planning the boys upcoming birthdays!  But I did find a little time to go back through my baby's 1st birthday party pictures!
At least this party had cookies . . .  these were my first attempt at ice cream cones!  To go with the theme of what the caterpillar ate on Saturday!
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Here’s evidence that you do get better with practice.  February 2012 vs. August 2014.
I really loved this birthday theme, but my absolute favorite part were these little pictures of Drew with Hungry Caterpillar quotes . . .
Then I added these food placecards to match (with themed food of course)!  I can’t believe I forgot to take pictures of the food!?!?!?!?
By the plates and silverware . . .
There were deviled eggs laying on a plate of lettuce . . .
Chocolate covered strawberries . . .
The chocolate cakes (Mini-oreo cheesecakes) . . .
A veggie tray with pickles . . .
There were more, but you get the picture!   This one had him eating “cupcakes” and “suckers” . . .
And then the smash cake – I had been waiting forever to use this giant cupcake pan!
Our first kid that wasn’t the least bit shy when it came to cake . . . clearly the little brother in the family!
I was a little too excited to find a cupcake pinata to go with the general theme of “Caterpillar Food”!
And of course we hung it from our new pinata spot – out of a second floor window!  The boys find this hilarious!
And on picture of my sweet baby who is now almost 4 . . . I have no idea where the time went.

Linked @ Bumblebreeblog
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