The Ripple Effect

Trinity asked for the camera when we sat down to dinner at Chipotle’s the other night. I handed it to her and made a face. I guess people liked it because the face caught on and took many dips and turns along the way.

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act . . . Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”
So true, Scott Adams. So very true.

Why We Don’t Pay Our Kids To Do Their Chores

My 12-year-old son, Blake, recently invested $150 in the development of skills that will enable him to be a professional graphic animator, possibly by the time he is sixteen. Part of this comes from the fact that we got rid of television in our home a few years ago, which leaves our kids a lot of time to develop artistically. Part of it, in my opinion, has to do with our philosophy on allowance and chores.

Izzy and I do things a bit different from how most other parents do them (no surprise there). We don’t pay our kids for doing their regular jobs:

  • 5 minutes minimum daily bedroom cleaning.
  • Daily bathroom cleaning.
  • Daily vacuuming of the living room.
  • Daily kitchen cleaning after dinner.
  • Dog mess clean-up

We also expect Blake to babysit the kids without pay while we run errands (although we pay him when we go out for fun).

Slave Labor?

I suppose that’s debatable.

We do pay our kids an allowance, but their allowance is in no way tied to their responsibilities around the house. It’s a philosophy I believe in. If they forget to do their jobs they either get a lucky break or they have more to do the next day. But we pay them their allowance.

My Philosophy

It was important to me that my kids never associate their responsibilities with getting paid. They clean because it is their responsibility as a member of the family and a resident of our home. If they ever get to a point where they refuse to clean, they will just lose all of their privileges, like:

  • computer use
  • friend dates
  • desserts or snacks, or any foods not necessary to sustain life
  • clothing that is not necessary to maintain modesty or health
  • toys or fun stuff
  • extra-curricular activities

So far the kids have never refused to clean, and complaints are fairly minimal. They forget a job here and there, but for the most part they just do them. If they forget and get on the computer, they run the risk of losing their computer privilege for the day. Blake often has his jobs done before we are even out of bed in the mornings. The kids understand that they have to do their part. Once their regular jobs are done, they are allowed to perform extra jobs for pay if we can use the help.

Allowance With No Strings Attached

We pay our kids allowance because we want to help them learn to use money. We refuse to pay them to do the things they should do. We have never, ever said they would lose their allowance for any reason. They don’t earn money for good grades or good behavior. They don’t lose their allowance for inappropriate behavior or poor grades.

  • We expect them to be decent human beings because their actions effect others.
  • We insist they get good grades because they are fully capable (or if they were not, we would expect them to get the kind of grades they could reasonably get), and because they will need to get scholarships.
  • We can see they are capable of scholarships, so if they want to go to college, we require them to live up to their abilities and earn one. We have told them a number of times that we will not pay for their college tuition.
  • We expect them to share most all of their belongings with each other. Having their own allowance enables them to buy some things that are truly their own that they do not have to share.

How They Can Spend Their Money

We have a collection jar for the purpose of donating to an organization called, Kiva. Kiva advances micro-loans to individuals in third-world countries who are trying to start or sustain a business. The kids are only allowed to donate a percentage of their money to this cause. We match their donations times 7.

We gave them a cap because:

  • Trinity would give away most of her money and feel guilty about any she kept for herself if we didn’t cap the amount.
  • We like the reverse psychology of telling them they’re limited in how much they can donate.

To help them learn to spend well, we have these rules for how they can spend their money:

  • They have to declare to us their intention of purchasing something. We have the right to tell them no. For example, Blake can only buy one or two video games in a row, and then he has to buy something else before he buys more games.
  • After declaring their intentions to us they have to post those intentions, along with the date, on the fridge.
  • They have to wait 2 weeks after “declaring” before they can actually buy their items. This is the part that gets the most resistance, but they have realized how quickly they change their minds about what they think they want. They’ve also learned from this how seductive advertising sways them to make unwise spontaneous buying decisions. The 2-week requirement forces them to be sure they’re not acting from the gut when it comes to money. Every time they change their mind they see how the two-week wait prevented a poor buying decision.

Once in a while, when there was no real way to plan, we let them make spontaneous purchases.

Responsible People

I love the messages we send our kids every day with our method. As they get older, we see them invest more and more of their time developing their talents and skills. In my (biased) opinion, they’re growing up to be pretty awesome, independent individuals who understand their place in the tribe, as well as how their choices effect themselves and others. They’re very cool people.

A Train Of Blunders

If I believed in fate or some powerful will outside of myself, I might have concluded that this Paperclipping episode was destined to never happen.

But I don’t. So it did.

I fully acknowledge that each blundered attempt to print and retrieve the photos for the above project sprung from my own spaciness. Here is why it took me 5 attempts to get the photos I needed . . .

Attempt #1

I brought my cd of photos to Costco. Because I print from tiff versions instead of jpeg, and the Costco computers can’t really handle tiff files (boo on them!), I waited 45 minutes for my photos to load. It was after that 45 minutes passed that I realized I had burned the wrong photos to my cd.

Attempt #2

I burned a new cd and returned to Costco. I waited the approximate 45 minutes for my files to upload to the computer (again), this time to learn that I forgot to convert my collage of pictures from a psd file to a tiff file. As a psd it was unprintable.

Attempt #3

I gave up on the tiff version and decided to upload it as a jpeg via the internet.

(Since then I discovered that you can upload tiff versions to their website, BUT the Costco computers rename the files as jpeg’s. My technician said she “thinks” they’re just renaming them but not actually changing the files themselves. I’m not sure I believe that).

When I got to Costco to pick them up, I realized I didn’t have my Costco card because I had taken it out of my wallet in order to upload my photos. It was sitting on the computer back at home, which meant I couldn’t get in.

Attempt #4

I went home, grabbed my card, and returned to Costco where my collage was finally waiting for me.

At this point I had missed my deadline for the scheduled video shoot of the project for which I needed the photos. Because we were leaving town that afternoon, Mother’s Day became our only available day to shoot the episode. Fortunately, my family gave me the most amazing Mother’s Day, which made it almost a complete pleasure to have to work a few hours on “my” day.

BUT . . .

. . . it wasn’t really that easy. I took my collage of photos out of town with me for a little prep work so I would be ready on Sunday.

Then I left them. In the hotel.

That’s right . . I did not have them when we returned home before the episode shoot on Sunday.

Attempt #5

. . . was a success. I ordered my collage print AGAIN on Saturday. I picked it up. It was done correctly. All of the photos were on the collage. We did the shoot on Sunday, and released the episode with a dramatic drag of the hand across my forehead on Monday.

But seriously? Five attempts?

The Story Of My Life? Well . . .

I guess I could conclude this post with a “story of my life” sob, but it wouldn’t be true. This many attempts with accompanying blunders for one simple task isn’t typical. Plus, I also commit singular blunders that result in odd experiences, like finally finding the ketchup bottle under the bathroom sink. Or where I can hear my cell phone ringing incessantly from the direction of the kitchen counter, though I can see it’s NOT ON the kitchen counter. And then, after almost convincing myself that I’m insane and only imagining the ringing, I find it inside in the dishwasher. Underneath the kitchen counter.

At which point I am still convinced that I’m insane, but for a different reason.

So my train of blunders, plus my singular crazy ones, all derive from the fact that I have extremely exciting activity going on in my brain that distracts me from the mundane acts of life. Fortunately, I did not fall for an understandable “the gods are against me” conclusion and give up. I just needed a big hug from my very supportive and unbelievably patient partner, and I worked it all out.
But may a train of that many errors never happen again . . .

A Week In The Life: What We Learn About Izzy

If you’re my friend on facebook then you might have seen the Week In The Life photos I’ve been posting. Last week I adopted the role of photojournalist for my family’s everyday life. Okay, to be truthful, when I looked back at my photos for the week to see what I could observe about each family member I realized that my documenting skewed toward my own everyday life, more than my family’s.

There’s not as much to learn about Trinity’s week, for instance, as there is to learn about my own. I did get a lot of Izzy’s day to day, though, and made some observations I thought interesting enough to share.

From my series of photos I proved that Izzy is almost always physically attached to technological devices, especially those involving video. Let me illustrate…
If you know Izzy at all, you already know that about him. What you may not know is that when his hands are not gripping technology, they are sometimes strumming a guitar…
And every few weeks his hands are buying me the most beautiful bouquets of flowers…
They cook dinner with me (and I confess his hands do more cooking these days than mine do)…
They take the kids to school every morning while my hands are lifting weights or supporting an alligator pose or plank or cutting through the air while I run on the treadmill…
…and pick the kids up with me after school ends.
They even keep the kids and the dogs busy so I can have a daily Me-Time…
What I failed to capture from the week is how you will truly find Izzy and me physically attached to each other even more often than you will find him attached to a piece of video equipment or computer or other device. I don’t mean to get graphic here. We’re just affectionate. I’m pretty sure that my kids’ memories of their mom and dad will involve a lot of the hugs, the piggy-back rides, the hand-holding, the kissing, the laughing and teasing about stuff we hope they don’t understand yet.

I know if the day eventually comes when my contact with Izzy will have to be through memories, it is the physical affection that I will remember. The kisses on the back of my neck that give me chills. The massages. His rock-hard biceps. The smooth nape of his neck that I like to feel while he’s driving. The warm spooning in bed. The dancing. Lots of dancing. The way he sweeps me up around his waist. How, if I’m wearing a mini-skirt when we arrive at the school to pick up the kids, he loves to offer me his back and ask, “Piggy-back ride?”

These are the types of physical contact images I failed to capture. Hmmm . . . maybe I have a new photo project to work on soon.

A Gap

In my teeth.

After years and years of painful and humiliating metal contraptions and wires. Five years, to be exact.

Exhibit A:

(Congratulations. You are now looking at the most embarrassing picture of me ever to appear on the internets).

After so many years of braces and weird retainers and a headgear, it was horrifying to get those braces off and find my teeth immediately separating back toward their original spots.

Exhibit B:

The Gap Before braces:
The Gap That Is There Now:
The black gap, post braces, started as just a slight narrow slit, but when it continued to grow and grow, I had no way of knowing if it would ever stop. Whenever I saw the gap I imagined an eventual inch-wide chasm, so I hated the gap in my teeth until last year when I realized my teeth seemed to have found the happy place they were looking for and haven’t marched ahead in their east and west treks in a few years.

So now that the nightmares of a huge hole into which a dentist tries to insert an extra fake tooth have stopped, I finally like the gap in my teeth. I think it’s kind of cute and it’s different. I like different. A lot. As long as it’s not hideous.

So it occurred to me the other day to also like the new jagged splotch-line in my forehead that stretches from the center of my hairline under my bangs and reaches down into my eye brow.

Exhibit C:

I guess it developed as a result of my living in the skin cancer capitol of the world: sunny Arizona. Or perhaps it’s because I was a teen of the 80’s when all that mattered to us was super tan skin and foundation makeup in a layer so thick you could scratch your name into it.

That jagged splotch-line? It’s now my Harry Potter lightening scar. It means I have special powers.

Now if I can just find some positive association to the other dark splotch that is surfacing above my lip.

Exhibit D:

Can you see it there? I’m thanking Mary Kay Cosmetics and their Even Complexion Essence for helping me to minimize this one because I’m having a bit of a harder time finding a reason to like a dark upper lip. Seriously. Of all places to get darker skin pigmentation as I age, did it really have to surface above my lip? Come on…

April 20, Then & Now

Some things just don’t change.

2 years ago Today in 2008

I got together with some friends in the scrapbook industry who I met online. One was my girlfriend, Dedra, who lives near me but who introduced herself to me on the scrapbooking website, TwoPeasInABucket. The other was Lain Ehmann who worked for Simple Scrapbooks Magazine and was visiting my hometown to teach classes at the Creating Keepsakes Convention.

Today, April 20, 2010

I got together remotely with other friends in the scrapbook industry via skype to record an episode of the Paperclipping Roundtable. Two were Cathy Zielske and Ali Edwards, who for years I admired in Creating Keepsakes and Simple Scrapbooks Magazine, who are now a regular part of my audio show, but who I have yet to meet in person.

Another was Nancy Nally, who we all know from her news coverage of the scrapbook industry and who I got to meet in person at the Craft & Hobby Association trade show last summer when I met up with her and Lain and others to record a Paperclipping Newsbreak episode.
The fourth person was Izzy, who helped me build a business out of my scrapbooking hobby, who I know in “real” life, in the “online” world, and in the biblical sense. 🙂

* * *

2 years ago Today in 2008

I talked about scrapbooking with Lain and Dedra — about our different methods and about the people we admire and learn from in the industry, both in the magazines and online.

Today, April 20, 2010

I talked about scrapbooking with Ali, Cathy, Nancy, and Izzy — about methods for integrating our personal internet content with our scrapbooking content.

* * *

2 years ago Today in 2008

I pulled out my camera. Dedra and Lain pulled out their cameras.
We found innovative ways to frame ourselves in the shots.
And we took lots of pictures being silly and having fun and bonding through this intersection of our online worlds, our “real” worlds, and the hobby we love of documenting our lives.

Today, April 20, 2010

I pulled out my camera and set it on a tripod.
Cathy and Ali had their cameras out and ready. And we took pictures of ourselves in headsets and in front of microphones, being silly and having fun and bonding while talking about the intersection of our online worlds and our real worlds and how we choose to (and in some cases, choose not to) document the parts of our lives that we share on the internet.

* * *

Later This Week

We will share the audio show with others like us who love to scrapbook and love to talk about scrapbooking. And they’ll have some very cool thoughts which they’ll share back with us on the Paperclipping blog. And some day I’ll get to meet some of those people as well.

Like I said, some things never change, except to grow bigger. Or maybe this is just what happens when you find a way to make a life doing the things you love.

* * *
Hugs to another online scrapbooky friend I’ve yet to meet in person — Stephanie Howell — from whom I learned to compare and contrast my past with my present by looking at my photos.


Ghost Aiden
Aiden makes me laugh all the time. But I’m his mom and he’s my baby. You might think he has extra powers when it comes to me.

Since he is Blake and Trinity’s little brother, he’s got major strikes against him when it comes to making them laugh. But I see all the time that Aiden amuses them, too.

Recently, after Aiden inspired a good laugh in Blake and Trinity, I said, “I love that you guys get such a kick out of Aiden.”

And Blake said to me, “I get at least one kick out of Aiden every single day.” (Blake has his own sense of humor, no?).

Sometimes Aiden entertains on purpose, like he is doing in this video here. . .

And sometimes he entertains by accident when he is just passing on important bits of wisdom, combined with his personal application of such wisdom. . .

A.D.D. Mom

There are some days when it’s best that I just stay out of the kitchen. Today was one of those. Cooking and baking are like hobbies to me that I get to do every day. Sometimes it’s a problem, though, that my family depends on edible results for their sustenance. When my brain is in malfunction mode, my inability to carry a single thought from the recipe book to the the mixing bowl can destroy my otherwise good cooking.

When we hear about A.D.D. we hear how it affects children in school, especially boys. What we rarely hear is how it affects mothers like me.

Even on days when my thoughts are clear and orderly I have to double or triple check the ingredients before I commit to the irreversible…

1) To see what the next ingredient is.

2) To see what the amount of the ingredient is, because I forgot to pay attention the first time I looked.

And sometimes…

3) To see if that amount was supposed to be in teaspoons or tablespoons. Or to make sure I didn’t jumble two ingredients at the second look, because I am good at mixing things up. And not just in a bowl.

Today’s Baking Catastrophe

Today I was baking ginger muffins. Unfortunately, I cooked the lemon zest into the sugar, instead of the ginger Izzy minced for me. No worries. I had another lemon and could grate more zest for when it was supposed to go in, so I trashed the unhappy concoction and started over with ginger and sugar. Too bad I forgot to perform Recipe Triple Check Steps #2 and #3 because I failed to actually measure out the portion of ginger I needed. Izzy had minced three different meal’s worth in the food processor and in my happy state I just put it all into the pan with the new, un-lemonized sugar. Ginger falls into the Less Is More category of life’s little luxuries.

My spirits were high, though. An area in which I excel is that I can always tell when I’ve done something wrong within minutes. My ineptitude rarely surprises at the moment of no-return when we actually sit down to eat my mistakes. So when I realized I had way too much ginger in my saucepan, I fished out what I actually needed from the melting sugar, threw the rest of the ginger away (oops, there goes two of the dinners on our menu for the week), and decided that the bit of sugar that was already mixed into my portion wouldn’t make a huge difference to the recipe. Through much experience, I’ve gotten good at figuring out when it’s okay to work with what I’ve got and when I should just start all over.

I continued with my baking, but by now I knew to send my two adorable helpers out of the kitchen. And they understood. They already know that seemingly insignificant distractions— like my handing a cup of flour to one of them — can really throw me off.

When My Usual Coping Strategies Fail Me

So here I was, alone in my kitchen with only my own wandering mind to distract me from my purpose, and I thought I was in the clear. But A.D.D. — at least my version of it — loves to twist the most basic information that I happen to be using at a given moment. It’s like April Fool’s Day every day of my life, but I’m the joker and the jokee.

Today the basic information that became my brain’s target was the amount of butter (or in my case, Earth Balance) in a stick. How long have I been baking with butter or butter substitutes? Let’s round to twenty years.

So, fast-forward to the moment of mixing where I’m looking at this crazy butter concoction, waiting for my beater to beat it into a recognizable form, and it just does not look normal. It was yellow puffs of clouds separated by narrow streams of brown sugar and ginger. One and a half hours after entering the kitchen to make muffins, I remembered (too late) that a stick of butter equals a half cup. Not a quarter cup.

I was out of ginger. I was out of lemon. I was out of the desire to do any more baking. Izzy took over the kitchen and we sipped smoothies instead of butter-muffins.

Some days are just worse than others. So why did I think my brain lapses would go away by dinner-time of the same day when I began the chili and cornbread for tonight’s dinner?