Category Archives: The Wider Angle

13 Crafts + 4 kids = summer fun!

A break from our regularly scheduled programming (The Wider Angle), I thought I would share some details from my recent excursion to Michaels on the hunt for some summer crafts.  Allyson and I decided to share a babysitter for a few days during the summer.  It gives our kids a chance to play together, and gives everyone a little break.  Well, everyone except our babysitter!  After the first day (and listening to some of the drama here at my house), I thought it might be a good idea to have some focused activities for them to do, in addition to free play and outside time.  Allyson had a 20% off coupon for Michaels, so off I went!

Here’s the loot, which cost us $5 per kid per day.  Hey, even with the babysitter, it’s way cheaper than summer camp!!  ;)

  1. Red T-Shirts and Fabric Paint (for July 4th)
  2. Visors w/stickers to decorate
  3. Design-a-mug (these were only $1, so I won’t feel too bad when I throw it away *gasp*!)
  4. Paint your own Canvas (each one has it’s own palette, brush, and paint attached to the back) – only $3 each
  5. Creatology box of materials to create animal puppets (then maybe they can put on a show)
  6. Fingerpaint Kits (each box had it’s own paint and paper, so each kid can have their own)
  7. Twine and beads (for making necklaces, belts, key chains, maybe even a jumprope?? )
  8. Bear Masks to decorate and play with
  9. Small wooden coloring pieces
  10. Make your own bookmark set
  11. Highlights BIG BOX of activities (on clearance for $4.99)
  12. Some silly foam animals that grow in the water (don’t laugh, they were only $.75)
  13. Jumbo Activity book and a pack of white craft paper

Please share any of your great summer craft/activity ideas, I can use all the help I can get!  :)
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The Wider Angle / Putting your life in pictures

This seems to be a hot topic for most of us — printing and organizing our family pictures.  So, I asked Liz if she would share her “creative process” this week, just so we can get a glimpse of how someone else manages to keep up with this daunting task.  :)  I think the key to get started is to NOT WORRY about all the catching up – just start now!  It will be a lot easier to catch up on the last few years than it will be to catch up on 18 years because we never got started – right??

Putting Your Life in Pictures

It appears that my last piece about my family photo albums struck a bit of a nerve. Many of you expressed guilt, regret, even longing regarding your own lack of photo albums. That was certainly unintentional, and let me assure you that the rest of my life is not nearly as organized! I do encourage you, though, to give your photos a chance. It doesn’t have to be daunting, and will definitely be rewarding. In case it helps, here is how I go about keeping on top of the picture clutter.

1. I don’t stockpile images on my camera. Primarily because neither my parents nor in-laws would allow it. After a major event, or even after I’ve snapped a particularly cute shot, I upload them to my computer. This naturally leads me to step 2.

2. I do my best to remember to upload them to Snapfish soon thereafter. This way I can both share the images with the family and friends, and I can also order prints for the album. (As a side note, I would likely choose Shutterfly or a different site next time around. But after eight years, I have far too much invested with Snapfish to bother changing. It’s the same reason I still use Hotmail.)

3. Within a few days, my envelope of photos arrives in the mail. From here they will often spend up to a couple of weeks on top of my desk. But that bright green envelope is hard to ignore, so I usually get them slapped into the album in an effort to clean off my desk. It never takes more than 10-15 minutes, either. I keep up with events so that I usually only have to file one at a time. This is also an important time to edit: you don’t need six pictures of your child eating his or her birthday cake!

Your photo albums themselves can help you stay organized, too. Several years ago, I decided I wanted matching albums that would look sleek on my shelves. I found some nice black leather ones at Target that provide pockets to slide in the photos as well as lines to write a quick caption next to them. I purchased five at the time, and wish I had bought more. Fortunately, I recently found some at Costco that are very similar.

If you’re still overwhelmed at the thought of starting albums after several years, I suggest working backwards chronologically. The most recent will be the quickest for you to organize, which will build your enthusiasm for the task and the confidence that you can eventually finish!

Here are a couple quick snapshots of my albums – simple and clean.

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The Wider Angle / The Family Corporation

Here’s another edition of the Wider Angle with Jeff James (my hubby).  Now, don’t be disillusioned into thinking that we are so ultra-organized over here, but hey, we can dream!  :)

The Family Corporation

Boy, life is complicated with two small children. Now that summertime has officially begun here in Georgia, I have seen a huge shift in the day-to-day responsibilities of taking care of our children. It’s as if they received an injection of ‘crazy juice’ on their last day of ‘school.’ Now, mind you, our children have not yet begun elementary school, but I can just imagine this ‘shift’ being more pronounced as they move in and out of the daily routine of grade school and into summertime each year.

To manage this craziness, we need a plan. Actually, we need more than a plan; we need a full-fledged corporate structure with roles, responsibilities and standard SLAs. I have mapped out our family corporate structure below:

Chief Parental Officer – this is highest ranking parent who is responsible for most care-taking responsibilities (whether they like it or not). This belongs to Crystal.

Chief Financial Officer – this is the person who coordinates all bill payments and sets global strategy for retirement planning and investing. This is not to be confused with the person who writes the most checks, or logs the most credit card transactions!

Chief Scheduling Officer – my wife manages a complex calendar via MobileMe/iCal – it has 5 distinct colors on it to differentiate Kylie, Jake, Crystal, Jeff and THS. This role is very under-appreciated – so here’s a shout-out to Crystal – woo hooo!! CSO’s rock.

Director, Food & Beverage – meal planning, grocery shopping, and keeping all the cupboards stocked is NOT my specialty – this is Crystal for sure. Although I’m happy to say that I am heavily consulted during the requirements gathering phase each week.

Director, Information Technology – this particular role is also under estimated and under-appreciated. I’m currently managing between 8 and 10 unique devices on our home network, sharing over 200 GB in iTunes objects across 5 devices and managing over 4 Terabytes of data storage capacity. And I love every minute of it!

Snack Manager – Kylie owns this one for sure. She’s constantly monitoring the snack storage and distribution and often introduces new snack concepts to the family.

Crying & Whining Coordinator – Jake currently holds this position but sometimes asks Kylie to fill in for him.  We plan to eliminate this position in 2012.

Director of FUN – I’m happy to report that this is an active committee at the James Corporation – this committee meets daily to ensure the CSO has ample time allocated for FUN each week!!

Now add this to your ‘real’ job of earning money to keep a roof over your head, food on the table, and a car in the garage – it’s a lot stuff folks. Whew – I think I need a nap!

Just for giggles – here’s a very entertaining video of Kylie!

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by Crystal

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The Wider Angle / Our Life in Pictures

We’ve all heard the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  So completely true.  Seriously.  I have come to realize that there are many memories that are etched in my brain simply because I have pictures to remind me of them.  Even on my BIO page there is an example of an old picture that is filled with so many memories.  I have my mother to thank.  She took the pictures (rarely was she in them), and she printed them and neatly tucked them into albums.  We didn’t have money for a lot of things – but pictures were worth every penny spent, even back then.  This post from Elizabeth Seymour brought all those memories rushing back to me — along with the guilt I have for not printing MORE pictures for my kids to enjoy.  ** Putting that on my to-do list right now! **

Our Life in Pictures

You probably think Crystal put me up to this post, but I swear she didn’t. It started when Danny was grumbling about something yet again. This time it had to do with our upcoming vacation in Florida, and specifically the fact that it was not going to include a trip to Disney World. I suppose that over the course of several weeks’ worth of conversation and countdown regarding this trip to “Florida,” it was easy for him to assume that this meant Disney. But instead I was just frustrated that he wasn’t appreciating the upcoming week of the five of us being together, without Daddy heading to work or anyone tied to a schedule. When I attempted to remind him of the fun things we do when we go to Grandma and Grandpa’s condo in Sarasota, he had a pretty blank look on his face. It was then that I remembered that we haven’t been there since he was three, so why would he remember? Lucky for him, I have it all documented in our photo albums.

Now, I joke about Clare’s OCD tendencies (she will pause reading a book mid-sentence in order to throw away a piece of trash), but I know exactly where she got them: from me. If there is one item on the kitchen counter ready for the recyling bin in the garage, I take it. Immediately. The new shoe baskets underneath the console behind our couch are a constant source of irritation for me, because they won’t stay perfectly aligned. And if more than a month’s worth of photos accumulates, awaiting storage in the albums, I definitely get twitchy.

I know that in this day and age we all store our pictures on our computers, and I could just park the kids in front of ours and pull up photo after photo after photo. For me, though, the ability to turn to our bookcase and pull out albums is a much more intimate act. The kids love to pore over these books, often in search of the pictures of their birthday cakes over the years. When Laura was first born, it was a real treasure to sit down and look at Clare’s and Danny’s baby pictures with them, reminding them that they, too, experienced this special time with mommy.

So when Danny couldn’t recall Adventure Island, or the golf course by the condo, instead of trying to jog his memory with a lot verbal prompters (“You know…remember??”), we sat down together and looked. And then he did remember.

Which reminds me that I haven’t stowed the pictures from his fifth birthday yet. Gotta go.


And just for kicks – hey Liz – remember these kids?  When did they grow up???  ;)

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The Wider Angle / CONTEST!

A break from our normal routine…..  Instead of a column, I am having a contest!  I’m thinking of offering these adorable frames in my studio.  They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  I would love to know what you think of them.

Now for the contest….

You could win your choice of one of the following frames (pink or blue), with your favorite 8×10 image professionally printed and mounted inside (over $100 value!).  All you have to do is leave a comment here on my blog or on facebook letting me know what you think about the frames and EMAIL me a picture that you think would look good inside your new frame.  Send a .jpg file to:  crystal (AT) tinyheartstudios (dot) com.  I am going to post a couple finalists and pick a winner next week to get the FREE FRAME, then I will print and mount your image inside the frame for you.  So, get the word out!  Share with your friends!  We need at least 10 entries for the contest to be valid.  :)

Any cute picture will do, but it must be a picture that you took yourself.  The frames can be vertical or horizontal.  Cute right???

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by Crystal

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