Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Remembering the Fourth!

I can NOT believe that tomorrow is July 1. It seems like just last week we were wrapping up our school year and making plans for all the things that we wanted to do this summer.

Summer is officially 1/3 over. WAAAAAH!

I wanted an easy way to keep track of the disposable cups during our big holiday shin-dig. I've embarrassed my kids in the past by running around with a marker writing everyone's name on their cup. Now it'll be easy to remember which cup is mine. Whipping the plain Jane cups into a Martha creation was just an added bonus!

Of course, I had to share!

There are six sheets (that's 30 different labels). I hope to crank out another 30...I have no idea how many friends my kids have invited. Reality will sink in in another day or two and I'll probably just print duplicate labels and hope that the George Washington's don't put their drinks down next to each other!

All you need to do is download the .jpg file to your computer. Print the file to a sticker sheet. I used a standard shipping label (2 across, 3 down). I left a bit of white space around each design to make sure it would fit a variety of sticker sizes.

Print and stick. It's THAT EASY!

And finally, File 5:
There you have it. 30 faces that are worth remembering!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Telling Family Stories

Attended a class on preserving family history. The teacher shared an article entitled Forging Family Bonds through Storytelling.

Oooh, my ears perked up!

The author, a David Dollahite, was speakin' my language!

Here's part of his message:
"Storytelling is a very important and a very neglected part of family life. Storytelling is a vital part of family life that we should be more actively involved with, but we tend to be overwhelmed with other, more passive, forms of entertainment, such as television, the Internet, video games, and radio. There are many ways to weave storytelling in your own family..

...The stories our children crave are about life as it is lived. They have surprise twists, heroes, and action. Stories capture the essence of life. They often involve a change of heart. They give the best examples we have of how to change and why to change.

If you are at all reluctant about sharing your stories with your children, think about the greatest teachers you know or speakers you have heard. Your joy in their words probably comes, in large part, from their excellent storytelling. You, as a listener, remember stories more than you remember abstract ideas. "

He gave several excellent examples of meaningful ways to tell stories that guarantee a captured audience. I know that I paid attention!
"One story I often tell is about my father. He was a police officer for 17 years in our hometown during a time when there were a lot of problems with drugs, riots, and violence. And, somehow, our town was a kind of Mecca for these problems. I knew, as a boy, that he was out dealing with the “bad guys” and putting his life in danger, but one night that reality came home in a very powerful way. I was 12, and my best friend was over, having dinner with my family. Our house was on a busy street, and it was not uncommon to hear a car backfire. And, sure enough, while we were eating we heard what sounded like a car backfiring. But then we heard someone scream, “Help, I’ve been hit! I’ve been hit! Please help me!” Before my friend and I even realized someone had been shot, my father, who wasn’t on duty, ran into his bedroom, grabbed his gun, and ran out the door.

Of course, my friend and I thought this was really cool, so we ran to the front window to watch my dad go after the bad guys. My mom, however, had a different reaction, and she pulled us away from the window, pulled down the shade, locked the front door, and made us go into the back of the house. And then she just sat there and literally shook and shivered until my dad came home. That’s the first time I really realized that my dad was a hero. But I also realized, for the first time, what my mom had to live with every day, as her husband went off each day and put his life in danger.

My father now lives with us, and my telling this story helps my children appreciate the old guy who sits by them at the dinner table and gives them candy in a very different way than they would without that story. Now they think, “Wow, Papa was a real hero.” It is one way I turn the hearts of my children to my father."

Here's another story. Short and sweet, but NEVER to be forgotten!
"I often tell my children about their great grandfather Iver from Norway, who had a very exciting life. He escaped death numerous times; in fact, he came into the port of Birmingham about two weeks after the Titanic set sail, and was hired as a merchant marine on the next major ship to set sail from that port.

After he immigrated to the United States, he worked as a logger in Minnesota and lived in a small cabin in the woods. Each day, he would go home for lunch, and one of his coworkers started coming over everyday as well, which disturbed Grandpa Iver because he was, by nature, a private person. He wanted his coworker to stop coming, but he was uncomfortable with confronting the man directly, so he had to use his wits. So the next time this man came over, Grandpa Iver took the plates off the table after they had finished lunch, put them on the floor, and allowed his dog to lick them clean. Grandpa Iver then put the plates back into the cupboard, and the man never came back for lunch."
When's the best time for storytelling? All of the time, or any time you can! Try to tell share a story at your next family meal. Not only will this potentially prolong your time together around the table, but you might hear all sorts of 'never-before-heard' stories in this relaxed setting. Bedtime is another perfect opportunity for some undivided one-on-one time. Planning a summer vacation that includes long stretches of time in the car? Turn off the electronic distractions and add storytelling to your list of travel activities. You might be surprised how fast the time goes as you swap stories back and forth!

One piece of advice that the author gave that is quite prudent... Don't tell stories at the expense of other family members. If it's unkind, hurtful or embarrassing, skip it for another story. When you think about it, the list of potential stories is endless and there is no reason to squander the time on stories that are heartless. The goal is to turn hearts TOWARDS family members!

Want to read the entire article? Click here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Almost Perfect Door

A few months ago, I was inspired by a fellow crafter who refinished her kitchen table. It was GORGEOUS! I commented about how nice it turned out. She promised me that it was really, REALLY easy. That's all the encouragement that I needed. I have three boys. That should explain the reason why my house is FILLED with things that need to be refinished. The good news is that a couple of these same boys are desperate for some summer-time spending money. I offered each boy a 'job' of refinishing one of these TLC projects

Today's project (story) will focus on our front door.

My thirteen-year-old drew the short straw (er, I mean, was lucky enough to win the honor of refinishing the front door). His job entailed sanding away 5-6 years of brutal sun, rain and wind damage. It used to be a VERY pretty front door.

He's a slow worker. He's also easily sidetracked. Of course, sanding through the power cord cost us a day, too. He started on Tuesday. Finally, on Friday the door was ready for me to finish. Lovingly I rubbed not one, but two coats of Antique Walnut stain into the screamin clean wood grains. Keep in mind that all of this work is being done with the door laying flat, and the front of my house opened to the world.

First thing on my agenda today was to get the door finished and rehung. Coat one of the varnish was applied. Ooooh, it looked good. But since this door stares into the setting sun day after day, one coat wasn't good enough. I was going to do the job right...even if it took me the entire day to do it!

The winds started to pick up. I had been working in our garage but I didn't want to risk any dust or dirt blowing onto my pristine door. I took the extra time to clear out a spot in the kitchen where I could apply the second coat of varnish and the door could dry out of harms way.

What was I thinking?????

The second coat of varnish was applied. I stood back to admire my work. I made my husband come in and admire my work. We both agreed that the door was perfect.

Exactly ten minutes later, my hubby came out to find me relaxed in my garden. "I think the cat jumped onto your door."

"What?" OK, it was more like...."WHAT?!!!!!!!!!" I went to examine the damages. Funny thing. It didn't look like a cat print. It looked suspiciously like finger prints.

I called the boys in one at a time. The first two were clean. Third one... not so much. I will say that I was quite proud of him for telling the truth. He might have gotten away with letting the cat take the fall.

Did he think that I was just kidding when I said not to touch the door for four hours? Could he really have forgotten 10 minutes after I told him? He's 13. I'll never know what was going through his head. The real kicker is that this is the same kid who had just spent two days of his summer sanding that door!

My husband thinks he can fix the smudge. I don't know if I want him to. I'm content to have an ALMOST perfect front door. If he gets rid of the evidence, no one will believe my story.

Stay tuned. My other child is 1/2 way through his table refinishing project. Wonder what story we'll have to tell when he's done!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Letter Blocks for Dad

I can't believe that our Dad's Day gift is ready! Our family tradition for this holiday usually consists of two gifts. One is a family activity. The other gift comes from the heart {and on some occasions, the store!} Usually, we're giving Dad his tribute with wet paint or partially put together because we didn't quite get our act together. This year's hand-made gift turned out quite nice...AND, I might add, doesn't require him to wear it to church to show his kids how proud he is of it!

Project calls for 3 blocks. We used 3.25" blocks, but you can use whatever size you happen to get your hands on. You can create the D-A-D letters using a text editor. Just make sure the letters will fit your block. Print the letters to scrapbook paper. You can use the extra scraps for the covering the top and bottom of the project. Now you just need some pictures.

The hardest part is deciding which pictures to feature!

The kids did a version using memories that they have of their father. I did a second version using pictures of his dad and granddads. Both are equally meaningful tributes to the amazing man we call Dad.

{I happen to be a little sepia crazy, so many of my projects use pictures converted to black/white and brown tones. This project looks equally good with colored pictures!}

You can get your pictures ready using Photoshop or any other photo editor. Our Photo Wizard will get your pictures to the perfect size for our blocks. We just shipped this project (and several other fun block projects) to several local Deseret Book stores in our area.

Instructions for gluing your pictures to the blocks can be found here.

An easy gift with nine reasons why we call him Dad!

Friday, June 11, 2010

School's Out for Summer

On our last day of school before summer break, we will dig out our copy of Alice Cooper's School's Out for Summer and blast it (over and over) as we get ready for school. One of our kids even listed this activity as a top 10 favorite family tradition.

Typically, I like having my kids home for summer. It's nice having the relaxed schedule of June. By July, we're feeling a little less love and we slip into toleration mode. Come August, I'm more than ready to give them back to school! Problem is that this year, I'm ready to give 'em back already. And it's only Week One of summer!

My husband travels a LOT for his work. When the kids were little and I needed a break, I'd set all the clocks ahead by an hour and send them off to bed! (Yes, I really was that devious !) Unfortunately, the kids now stay awake later than I do. This means that I get to wake up to this...
{all of these pictures were shot today at 8:59 am}
Yup, 9:00 am and two of my three kids are fast asleep. The one that's awake is parked on the kitchen stool wondering what I'm serving for breakfast.

Sorry buddy. Kitchen's closed!

The beauty of preserving stories is that someday when my kids are in my role (as parents), I'll be able to share this story with their kids!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Updated Class Information

Just updated our classes page on the website. When you can, check it out and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A School Memory

My darling neighbor had a brilliant idea for an end-of-year appreciation gift that she created for her daughter's school teacher.

You'll need a bunch of crayons {new ones work best}. Get two embroidery hoops {12" and 8"} and a boatload of hot glue.

Once the crayons are set, you can decorate the wreath with school memories. Erica include pictures of each student. Of course she used our Photo Wizard to format the pictures. She also glued them to the Memory Tree buttons for durability and dimension.

Too, too cute Erica. Thanks for sharing!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Grandma's Teacups

The world of blogging is so amazing. Not so long ago, I was browsing a few craft blogs and stumbled upon a fabulous idea. I just had to give it a try.

{Teacup bird feeders.}

My first stop was to a local thrift store where I scoured the glassware section searching for the perfect teacup and saucer. This sparked memories of my great-grandmother's teacups.

Nannaw passed away years before I was born. I remembered boxes of teacups stashed away in my parent's basement. So I called my mom to have her dig them out. Through the years, Mom has helped me get to know my ancestors through their stories. Mom reminded me that Nannaw was in a bridge club with a group of ladies and that she remembered these ladies sitting around the table with their beautiful teacups drinking coffee. Even though they have sat in the basement for years, Mom couldn't bare the thought of me gluing these priceless memories together and put them in my garden!

Lucky for me, Mom also had a full set of dishes that were her mom's. And, the set included teacups! The more digging we did, the more teacups we found. We're not big on tea drinking, so Mom let me use them for this project. Each of the girls in my family got a treasured bird feeder for Mother's Day. A perfect way to remember our grandma!

Here's how to make your own backyard memory...
You'll need a cup and saucer. They don't have to match. Add a spoon for the perch. We used E6000 to hold everything together. The only other supplies you'll need is a 1/2 copper cap and copper tubing. Oh, and don't forget the birdseed! Since I was making these for my entire family, I bought in bulk which brought the final cost for these beauties down to around $6.00!

Be sure to check out Cap Creations for some extra details on gluing your creations together.

Once the glue has properly cured, place the copper pipe in an ideal viewing area and set the saucer on top. Fill the cup with water and the plate with bird seed. Now sit back and enjoy visits from the feathered community.

If you used your own family dishes be sure to share the memories that accompany them!