Tuesday, January 27, 2015

March in Instagram

Last year I started doing monthly pages using nothing but a bunch of Instagram photos and liquid fun.  Or, patterned paper, cardstock and embellishments.  Either way...  

And then I stopped.  Because all good things must come to a grinding halt. :P

You know how some people are like "I just have so many ideas! I wish I had more time!" ??

Yeah. I don't say that. Ever.  I'm more likely to say "Hey, look at this tired old horse of an idea that I've already done.  Look! I recycled it!"  And then I'll sit back and act like I'm saving the planet or something.  

Well, hey! Look at this old horse of an idea that I've already done! Look! I recycled it!  Yay me!  :P

One of the things that I mention in the process video is that these layouts are a nice monthly overview, but as far as actual memory keeping go, they are totally, 100% inconsequential.  And it's funny, in that mindset, I have a lot of fun just throwing embellishments on the page without feeling like they each have to have some kind of relevance or deeper meaning.  So ultimately, these pages are a little more fun to scrapbook.  

Also, I'm clearly not killing myself to come up with a clever title.  Just sayin'.

I also mention in the video two liquid adhesive solutions.  The first are these bottles available at Amazon:

The picture makes it look like you're getting two different sized tips, but you're not.  Two bottles, same tiny tip on both.  I think I'd like to have a leeeetle bit fatter nozzle, but I'm still okay with the fine gauge that I have.  And it's so much better than the enormous hole in the Scotch Quick Dry bottle. 

The second thing I said that I'd link to is this video:

The lady in this video replaces her liquid adhesive tops with silicone baby bottle nipples.  The glue doesn't clog in the nipple because of the nature of the silicone.  Also, the tiny hole in the newborn nipples allows for a perfectly consistent, fine bead of glue.  

Also, when she says "...and grab my nipple....(pause) my baby bottle nipple"?  Priceless.

Okay, it is waaaay past m'bedtime!  Thank you for stopping by! I've loved having you!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The process video that wasn't...

I started doing process videos in the summer time, when I had some time off.  I enjoyed making them and got very encouraging comments from fellow scrapbookers, which of course, always feels great.  So I made some more. :)  (Positive reinforcement is a powerful motivator, no??)

Then things got really hectic with tutoring and my crazy 2am shifts at work and I just didn't have any energy to scrapbook for a while.  Funny thing was, even though I hadn't put up a process video in a while, I was still getting subscribers and encouraging comments.  They really made me want to get back to scrapbooking, and I'm grateful for that motivation.  I made a video and coincidentally got invited on the Paperclipping Roundtable.  I felt like I was back in the swing of things.

So this week, powered by my recent "success", I made another layout and video....sort of.  It's one thing to record the process of making a layout.  It's a whole other thing to make those recordings into a video.  The video part involves wrestling the computer into submission, loading the clips, rotating them, speeding them up, connecting all the short clips into one coherent video and doing the voice over.  Loading the clips and making them into one video takes some time - roughly about 3 times as long as the final video.  The voice over only takes as long as the final video, assuming you get it done on the first take.  Normally I do two takes that I throw away before I settle in on the one I'm going to use.  Next, you save the movie - this takes at least a half hour.  Then, uploading to YouTube takes almost an hour.

Now...multiply all that time by 6, because that's how many flipping times I tried to do this video before finally giving up.  Every time I tried to save the video it would error out and I'd have to start again.

Finally it occurred to me that nothing that I do for free is worth this much effort. :P

Especially not this:

Okay, it's not that bad, but there's nothing about that says "This is so earth shatteringly good, you must spend the better part of your weekend trying to share it!!"  That said, I do like it.  I love the big blue/gray mat.  I sprayed blue and gray mists onto wax paper and then mushed my cardstock into it.  At first, I thought it came out a little overwhelming, but ultimately it conveys the storminess that I wanted it to.  Plus, I do like the way the white words pop off of it without it being too strong.

The other thing that I really ended up digging are the clouds:

They're from Ashley Horton's The Cut Shoppe on etsy.  They're adorable.  And affordable!  A buck 69 for three different styles of clouds.  I think they're super fresh!

One of the things that I'm not happy with about the layout is the lack of journaling. I suppose the long title sort of counts, but it doesn't really reveal what I'm talking about.

So, on the day that I took this photo, we were out and about running errands.  Mid-January, and the temperature had jumped into the 50s after a 2 week cold snap that had the temperatures dipping below zero.  Lake Erie (the white expanse on the right side of the photo) had started to freeze, and with the wind, the lake sloshed up  and formed icicles on a fence.  Only, the wind caused the icicles to bow to the east.

Kerig takes photos.  The kind of photos that I love: he captures light and texture and pattern in things that most people walk right past without giving a second thought to.  It's one of the things that I admire most in him.

So I have a picture of him, taking a picture of the sunset (not exactly a subject that others fail to notice), but I'm referencing  his photo of the icicles (and so many others, but on this day, that's the photo.)  Unfortunately, I can't link it, but if you're so inclined, his Instagram is kerigmt, and it was posted on January 17th.  There are two, and I like the one with the sunset best, but the other one shows have massive the icicles are, too.

Thank you so much for stopping by!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Too long and boring for a Facebook post....

So burying it on my blog seems like the appropriate thing to do!  Warning: this has absolutely nothing to do with scrapbooking.

The interview process that I went through in December got me thinking about WHO I want to educate, as well as what problems and challenges different families face.  As I mentioned in my "soft underbelly" post, the school that I interviewed with was religious, and it was catering to students whose only other option were the failing public schools in the area.  Something like 70% of the students at the school met the federal guidelines for poverty. "But surely, since these parents care enough to seek out better schools, they'll take a more active role...?"  I'm not even certain I got the whole question out before they gave me a sheepish half smile and said, "They're not seeking us out.  WE'RE seeking them.  We literally knock on doors.  Make phone calls.  It actually takes a lot of convincing that there's a better way.  We meet a lot of resistance."

A couple of years ago I read a very enlightening book called "A Framework for Understanding Poverty" by Ruby K. Payne. It talks about the mindsets of different classes and how they approach just about everything from family to money, to discipline and authority and more.  And I think that a lot of us assume that many of these mindsets are a race thing, when in fact, these issues are far more universal within economic boundaries than just within any given race.

During the interview process, I thought about that book a lot.  Reading it had been eye opening.  So what else didn't I know?  Well, that's a classic conundrum, right?  But I did some spelunking around and decided to borrow a book from the library called Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race and Family Life.  I managed to request the book-on-CD version, which is probably a good thing...when the CD version turned out to be FIFTEEN CDs, I looked at the paperback version: I just don't think I have the stick-to-it-tive-ness to power through 480 pages.  But with my short 20 minute commute, sure, I could listen to the book for...oh, you know...like, 45 days. :P  Okay, that's an exaggeration, but I really have been listening for the better part of a month.

The book is an ethnographic study of 12 families: 4 middle class, 4 working class, and 4 poor families, both white and African American, and how they approach raising their children.  In the book, there is a lot of talk about "concerted cultivation" and "natural growth" and very clear divisions between the classes.  Concerted cultivation - and this is my very rough impression - seems to be the idea of embracing teachable moments, talking to develop language skills, negotiating rather than giving concise directives, and enrolling children in organized activities (sports teams, music lessons, religion classes, etc).  Whereas natural growth is a more relaxed approach: fewer activities, less adult-child interaction, more free-play time for children with extended family and neighborhood children.

It's interesting to listen to (or read, if you're so inclined) the similarities among the classes, regardless of race.  In the middle class, families were booked with activities: soccer, gymnastics, piano lessons, church activities and of course school.  Families often had multiple activities a day, meals were rarely spent with every family member at the kitchen table, and when issues arose at school, the middle class parents were quick to intervene and negotiate better outcomes for their children.  There were fewer differences between the working class and poor families, again, regardless of race.  In these families, children spent considerable amounts of time hanging out with cousins, playing with neighborhood kids, watching t.v.  Their parents would give concise directions, and would rarely get whining or back talk in return.  In the working class and poor families, children rarely complained of being bored, whereas in the middle class families children complained of boredom when they weren't fully booked with activities.  With regard to school, the working class and poor families seemed to regard educators as experts - on the same level and doctors - and rarely questioned their authority or pressed the schools to do what they wanted.  Even if their children had severe issues in school that weren't being adequately addressed, parents trusted that the schools and teachers were doing everything they could.

One detail that I've failed to mention is that the study focused on families with a 9 or 10 year old at one of two elementary schools at an undisclosed northeast city.  While the children were the focus of the study, the family was an integral part of each child's life.  The study was done in the mid-90s and the book was originally published in 2003.  I feel lucky to have only stumbled on the book now, because the 2nd edition had the added benefit of following up with the kids 10 years later.

In many regards, the middle class families seemed to be...well...exhausted.  Both parents worked full time, traveled, and the activities they enrolled their children in had them running in multiple directions on a daily basis.  Frequently, family events (birthday and graduation parties) were missed in favor of not missing sports tournaments.  By the same token, parents had deeper conversations with their children, asked probing questions, encouraged their children to interact confidently with the outside world, coached them to make eye contact and shake hands, and negotiate for what's in their best interest.

By contrast, the children of the working class and poor seemed energetic and imaginative, well behaved (in the sense that they followed directions without back talk) and were unspoiled, rarely asking for material things and truly appreciating what came their way.

At the end of the end of the study, it was clear that each family loved their children and wanted only the best for them.  Each set of parents was doing what they knew how to do and while it was clear that the middle class families knew how to negotiate with schools to get what they wanted for their children, it never seemed as though the working class and poor weren't doing their best.

Going into the 10 year follow up I had great hope that the children of the working class and poor would be doing well.  Their parents, after all, cared and loved them deeply, they weren't neglected, school wasn't de-emphasized, they were raised to know right from wrong...  I had no doubt that the middle class children would be fine, and for the most part they were.  There were minor setbacks (not getting into their first choice school, a less than perfect grade in an important class, broken hearts, etc), but for the most part they were right where I'd imagined they'd be: in good colleges working towards degrees, working during the summer at "better" jobs, including internships to help further their intended careers.  The working class and poor, on the other hand, had...harder lives.  Some went to community college for a semester or two, one dropped out but received a GED, they were in unions, some where married, a couple had children (at the time of the follow up, the kids were 19-21), and some had lost a number of friends to violence.

I realize that I've essentially written a book report, and maybe it looks like I miss my time in school, but ultimately, writing is a way to process my thoughts.  And this book was both interesting (sort of, I did find the author to be frequently redundant) and depressing.  The author gives her thoughts for 'fixing' the problems, but they lean toward socialistic.  While I know first hand how difficult life can be for the working class (for example, there is no room in my* budget to enroll my children in extracurricular activities, even thought I'm fully well aware of the benefits: working on a team, time management, learning to deal with disappointment, feeling comfortable in public settings, understanding rules and their consequences, etc), I also know that it's unrealistic to expect society to shoulder the bill for others.

It's also depressing because it further solidifies the adage that "the rich get richer".  Yes, the families studied were middle class (not rich), but they had the economic wherewithal to say yes to opportunities for their children, whether it be playing travel league sports, enrolling their children in summer school to boost knowledge (and confidence), sign their children up for SAT prep classes, and visit a number of colleges to help their children make informed decisions.  By contrast, because the working class and poor had not navigated the college course themselves, they lacked the knowledge to help their children in that regard.  They didn't see the need for SAT prep courses, didn't understand the college application and acceptance process, and some didn't really grasp the difference a GED and a high school diploma.

Ultimately, it seems that we are a product of our environments, and it is exceptionally difficult to break free from the place where we begin life.  Obviously, there is much work that needs to be done in our society to figure out a way to give equal footing to children of all classes.  I will have a lot to think about for a long time.

Every blog post needs a picture.  This one was taken inside the classroom where I did my student teaching.  Why a flag? Well, this is America, and we are problem solvers and don't run from difficult things.  This issue seems difficult, but it's totally worth our attention.

* There is no room in my budget for extracurricular activities for my children.  Thank goodness, my ex-husband is able and committed to providing these experiencing these important benefits for them.  And while I am "working class" currently, my middle class background allows me to provide other important benefits for my children.   

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hello Beautiful

Back in October Molly cut off all her long hair into a punk pixie.  I don't know about the rest of the world, but this is not a common thing for 8th graders here in lovely Cleveland-ish Ohio.

I took the before and after shots the day of the haircut, and printed them out that same day, and started a layout the next day.  It's been 2½ months, so the details are fuzzy, but it was pretty atrocious, so I ditched the start of that layout and "started" fresh.  Startin fresh consisted of taking out a new sheet of white cardstock, putting the photos and the words "short" and "long" cut from the Silhouette on the cardstock and walking away.

I only meant to walk away until I had some more free time, but it ended up being longer than that.  I just didn't feel like scrapbooking.  I didn't have time, but more than that I didn't have any mojo.  And I sort of wanted to have mojo, but at the same time I was sort of okay with just focusing on other things for a while.  Well, the craziness of Christmas in retail seems to be over, and I have two weeks off from tutoring.  Yes, there was Christmas, and company, and other craziness, but finally, finally I had time and mojo.  Yay!

I decided to dump the original "the long and short of it" title and go with "hello Beautiful" instead.  I used a heart background from the Silhouette store, 2Peas flair and Bella Blvd paper.

LOL.  I just noticed that the glare on the flair makes it look like it says "hell Beautiful."  Oops.

Some details:

I sort of wish everyone flipping through my album saw this layout in harsh sunlight, just so those shadows would be there. :P

I was an assistant manager at Archiver's for about 16 months and (at least when I was there) rhinestones were pretty much mandatory on every layout.  Here, I'm just trying to correct a mistake, but every mistake is fixed even better with bling. Right?

The Theresa Collins letters end up looking okay, but I'm still not pleased with them. (Insert grumpy noise here)  And the messiness here is more due to the fact that I had to pry them up and shift them to right to make room for the picture.  If I weren't so lazy I'd run it through my sewing machine, because it doesn't exactly look permanent...but...yeah...that's so much work.  :P

So, I mentioned in the process video that I had a "thing" I need to work on that might keep me from scrapbooking for a while and hinted that I'd talk about here, so I feel obligated to address that.  If you visit my blog, you might have seen the last post about my interviewing for a teaching position recently.  I didn't get it, but the whole process reminded me that I do want to be a teacher.  I'm not certain what snapped in me when I finished my student teaching experience, but I basically dug in my heals and said (in so many words) "I'm not going to teach."  Which is pretty silly, since it's something that I've wanted and worked towards for a long time.  But no is the time for me to get serious.  That interview fell into my lap, and as a private school they were willing and able to take me without my having passed The Exam.  But that was a one time occurrence: schools will not contact me, and they won't even look twice at me without being fully certified.  So I really have to buckle down and take my exams.

There are two: one in my subject (7-12th grade math) and the other in pedagogy (the theories and methods of teaching).  I have every confidence that I will ace the math exam on my first try.  However, the pedagogy test is scary - I took those classes first and have had plenty of time to forget which theorists thought what.  I sort of half-heartedly started studying in October, Now I really need to hunker down and make a steady go it.

I hope to take the tests in late February or early March.  So in the meantime I'll be spending my spare time taking notes, making flash cards and quizzing myself.  Doesn't that sound like fun??

Today is New Years Day.  The first day of 2015!  I hope that we all (me included!) have a healthy, prosperous and creative year!  Thank you for visiting!