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One Little Word Vision Board

One Little Word Vision Board | The Nerd Nest 1

Today I’m sharing my take on the February prompt for Ali Edwards’s One Little Word, which is all about making a vision board / collage. You can read about why I chose my word for this year, Elastic, here.

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I chose images that represent the things I’m struggling with, things I’d like to work on, goals, and how I’m feeling.

It actually took me a long time to come up with an amount of images I was satisfied with. The magazines I subscribe to either aren’t very heavy on the visuals (The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poets & Writers) or have mostly fashion imagery that doesn’t resonate with me (Vanity Fair, Teen Vogue). The magazine that probably has the most things I’d want to cut out, Wired, is one I’m unwilling to cut into. We’ve been collecting them for years.

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I loved the process of doing this prompt, even though I messed up a bit on the end result. I glued underneath with scrapbooking wet glue, then went over the top with ModPodge. This created a lot of wrinkles: I should have glued the bottom with ModPodge, then gone over the top, so everything would have moved more forgivingly until it dried. Lesson learned.

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Eliza (12) also did one with me, and she asked me to share hers too. It’s mostly cats: her dream is to open up a cat cafe.

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I’m planning on printing an 8.5 x 11 photo of the board to include in my album, along with a bit about the “one thing” I picked to accomplish this month: starting a more formal preschool routine with Ava at home.

Next month the prompt is to do something daily, and I’m planning on doing creative writing. I’ll oscillate between poetry and fiction word count goals.

Did you do a OLW vision board? Leave a link so I can see if you did! If you are doing OLW this year, what’s your plan for March?

February 1-3 | Pocket Scrapbooking 2018

February 1-3 Pocket Scrapbooking | The Nerd Nest 1

This is the third spread I made for the February Nerd Nest Challenge Start in the Middle to get myself jumpstarted on 2018 pocket scrapbooking during the construction zone disaster that is currently my office.

I picked this spread because it covers only three days, so I knew that choosing photos for it and figuring out my pocket arrangement would be pretty simple.

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I kept the spread super easy: just photos and two journaling cards. My printer was running out of ink and a few of my photos printed kind of muddy before I noticed, but I decided to roll with them anyway. I’m in get-it-done mode, not craft-and-create mode right now.

Selected products:

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Going on here: Going to A Modern Night at the Folly by City in Motion (modern dance) with my mother-in-law and Eliza, my father-in-law and Jake installing a humidifier to our heater, cleaning the basement, and a sewing fix it blitz.

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Going on here: Eliza and Jonas doing light cosplay for casual day at school (Harley Quinn and Indiana Jones), my Thursday 3 photo with frozen custard and a note about how tired I’ve been, getting the kids’ homework organized, and some of the new recipes I’d tried that week for 52 Recipes.

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Starting in the middle helped me to get going: now I’m off to fill in the gaps!

Friday Favorites

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1. One of our most used toys is the Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Activity Set. It stays in our downstairs bathroom (which is science themed) so the kids can whip up “experiments” at the sink (I have to clean up a lot of soap scum). Yesterday the kids and I had fun doing “science” to teach Ava primary and secondary colors. We mixed primary colors from the test tubes into the beakers and it made the lesson way more fun because they could pretend to be chemists.

2. Magic Erasers are one of the most powerful tools in the toddler parent arsenal (wall coloring, fingerprints everywhere), but I’m also a fan for things like build-up around drains, grime on trim (which I’m cleaning a lot of this week to prep for painting), and grease build-up on the top of kitchen cabinets. My favorite kind is the Mr. Clean EXTRA POWER Magic Eraser.

3. I’ve been a big fan of JT Daniels’s artwork for a long time–I know him as a friend of a friend. I’ve been so excited to see his murals popping up all over Kansas City and am blown away by his recent addition to 18th and Vine. Follow him on Instagram to see the cool stuff he’s doing (like taking over Brisk Iced Tea packaging!!!) and check out his store too (of course the coffee print lives in my kitchen).

4. I am beyond excited that, after 5 years, Janelle Monáe is releasing another album. Dirty Computer won’t be released until April 27, but two new music videos give a taste of what to come: Make Me Feel and Django Jane. If it’s even possible to be more in love with her, I am (and you will be) after reading this interview.

5. I’m on the lookout for a vintage school desk. I have lots of school tables and chairs scattered throughout my home (Jake jokes that my decorating style is 8th grade classroom and he’s not wrong). I’m looking for this kind as an end table–it’ll be perfect for stashing magazines and books inside and I’ll be excited to move the stool we’re currently using somewhere else.

6. One of our most useful fix-it and gadget making tools is this Magnetic Project Mat Screw Keeper Chart. It’s magnetic so screws won’t roll around and is a whiteboard so you can label them. If someone in your household is a fan of taking things apart and putting them back together, then this is a big help. It’s especially important for tiny things, like phone repairs. Jake replaced a part in his iPhone last night and I don’t know how he’d keep track of those teeny tiny screws otherwise. We also bought one recently for Eliza’s nurf gun mod loving friend.

What are you loving lately?

January Reads

January 2018 Reads | The Nerd Nest 1

For years I’ve been documenting the books I read each month by having Jake take a photo with them in a stack. Books are a big part of my life, so I absolutely love having this record (and being the subject of photos every month has helped me become more comfortable getting in front of the camera.)

Last year, I took a break from blogging my monthly reads and instead shared them on my Instagram with the hashtag #weeklyreadsfriday. I’m still sharing reads weekly (those include magazines too), but I’m going to start the monthly posts back up again!

Here are the books I read in January 2018:

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Red Clocks (2018) by Leni Zumas

In a near-future America showing how a repeal of Roe v. Wade, embryo personhood laws, and two-parents-only adoption laws (plus plain old expectations women face + motherhood) impact different women.

I chose this as my January selection for Book of the Month. I thought this novel was an excellent way to walk in the shoes of connected women who are very different and most desperately want very different things. I loved the characters and their raw thoughts, but I wasn’t a fan of the author giving them each a title instead of a name for their respective perspective chapters (though I understand that it was part of showing how women are dehumanized and only considered worthy by their roles).

Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It (2014) by Ian Leslie

Leslie investigates the topic of curiosity from multiple disciplines, including psychology, education, history, and popular culture. This book shows why curiosity is important, some of the ways we stifle it or misunderstand how it works and teach in ways that are counterproductive, and how being wired for easy answers can suppress curiosity.

I read this book for my local book club. This one was really interesting and I’m going to need to go through again and highlight things. There were things I disagreed with and I think were skewed to support the author’s central claim (a limitation almost inevitable in this type of short, single topic nonfiction), but it definitely gave me a lot to think about, especially as a parent in the uncharted parenting waters of the smart phone age. Good for creatives as well as academics.

Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America (2015) by Jill Leovy

This book focuses on one murder case specifically, homicide in Watts in LA County more generally, and draws conclusions about high rates of violence that plague black men in America, who are 20 times more likely to be murdered than peers of other races. The premise is that a lack of what sociologist Weber termed “the state monopoly on violence” in segregated black communities.

I chose this as an extra Book of the Month pick (you can pick up to two extra titles, either from the current month’s selections or past months). It seems counterintuitive that over-policed communities are under-policed where it matters, but that argument was very compelling. The book does a great job busting myths about black communities and “black on black violence,” shows how resources are diverted from where they are truly needed, and makes a case study of the kind of policing and political policies that can make a difference.

The Nightingale (2015) by Kristin Hannah

In Nazi occupied France, two sisters have to figure out how to survive–and resist–under oppressive conditions during a time of shifting roles for women.

My brother-in-law gave me this for Christmas and it was excellent! The historical background of the novel was amazing and so well researched. I loved the theme of the often untold ways women are heroes during wars. I was bawling at the end.

The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation’s Call to Greatness (2009) by Harlow Giles Unger

I’m slowly working my way through US presidential biographies, branching off to read about other people and topics I find interesting as I go. I was not a big fan of this one; it was even more blindly hero worshiping than these presidential biographies usually are. I was shocked to find the book was written so recently with the way the author wrote about slavery and Native Americans: it read more like something written decades ago. Sometimes I feel like I’m just reading these because I need to argue with them (and by extension the way America teaches its history).

Priestdaddy: A Memoir (2017) by Patricia Lockwood

A memoir by the daughter of a married Catholic priest: something the church allows on a case-by-case basis for priests converting from other denominations. The author reflects on her childhood and her observations as an adult after having to move back in with her parents with her husband after financial hardship.

A poetic and funny memoir. It’s very interesting to see the “insider view” of the Catholic church from an atheist perspective. Her father is also fascinating: a stereotypical Midwest far-right Republican in priest’s robes. I chose this one as an extra for Book of the Month.

Fierce Kingdom: A Novel (2017) by Gin Phillips

A mother and her young son are trapped in a zoo with an active shooters.

I was a little scared to read this one, knowing it involved an active shooter, but I’m glad I did. I skipped over it when it was selected for Book of the Month, but went back and added it as an extra after reading a few reviews. It’s billed as a thriller, and I felt kind of icky going into the subject matter for entertainment. But it was an excellent look at motherhood in the face of danger and it was honestly helpful to force myself to think about something that scares me so much in reality. What would you do? What would you do? Joan provides and excellent example.

Lumberjanes Vol. 4: Out Of Time (2016) written by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Shannon Watters; illustrated by Brooke Allen

There’s no hope of a normal day at camp with the Lumberjanes. Something supernatural is always lurking!

This is one of my favorite all ages comics series to read with the kids. They (especially Jonas) love the spunky characters and the cool supernatural scenarios. The art is SO FUN. It doesn’t hurt that they name drop famous ladies throughout history instead of cursing, which makes the kids want to look up those figures. Bonus points.

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Hostile Hospital (8), The Carnivorous Carnival (9), and The Slippery Slope (10) (2001, 2002, 2003) by Lemony Snicket; illustrated by Brett Helquist

I love reading just-for-fun easier things like graphic novels and children’s literature as a sort of palette cleanser in-between heavier books or as something to read when my brain isn’t exactly firing on all pistons. I’m working my way through A Series of Unfortunate Events now and they are fantastically witty and empathetic. I can’t wait to start reading this series to the kids.

I also read two audiobooks this month. I listen to audiobooks through Audible. If you are interested in giving Audible a test run, you can try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks.

The Malazan Book of the Fallen: Gardens of the Moon (1) (1999) by Steven Erikson

The Malazan Empire is undergoing wars and bloody infighting, but the scale might tip when the gods begin to get involved.

I’m in a sort of audiobook epic fantasy book club with my brother-in-law and this is the next series we’re starting. It took a loooong time to get into this one and it’s a difficult epic fantasy series to be introduced to in audiobook format. But I never judge epic fantasy by book 1: they tend to be just laying the groundwork and things don’t really heat up until book 2 (or even 3, for longer series). I’m sure I missed a lot and will do much better keeping track of characters and places when I read it in print.

The Great Gatsby (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This classic is one of my favorites for the writing style and I usually re-read it about once a year. I love that it has become a different book to me as I become a different person and a better reader. I love having the books I re-read often on audiobook so I can re-read while I clean and save my eyeballs for more new books. Classics like these come up often during big sales! Jake Gyllenhaal did an excellent job on the narration.

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That’s a wrap! I’m reading a crazy amount right now as the cold shutters me inside more. I read while I feed the baby I watch during the day, while the kids are doing extracurriculars, and I’ve been too tired to do much else between the time the kids go to bed and I do.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Make sure to put a big SPOILERS warning in your comment to warn others if you have ‘em.

Reading anything good lately?

Affiliate and referral links in this post help support The Nerd Nest.

January Day in the Life | Pocket Scrapbooking 2018

January Day in the Life | The Nerd Nest

For this month’s Nerd Nest Challenge Start in the Middle, I made three pocket pages that jumped around chronologically based on what was “easy” for me to make. This helped me get over an overwhelm hurdle and get going. Today I’m sharing one of those three spreads, for my January Day in the Life.

Day in the Life is a memory keeping project by Ali Edwards. Since 2013, I’ve been recording a day in the life monthly, changing the date that I record each year. For 2018, thanks to a random number generator, I’m recording on the 10th of each month.

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Like my other “get started” spreads, I kept this one very simple.

Selected products:

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Going on here: Jake’s day to wake up early and get the big kids out the door (we take turns), Ava playing with a cool learning magnet set, me working on my 2016 December Daily album, feeding baby E., Ava and I after her bath while T. eats lunch, and Jonas digging into a toy basket after school.

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I was planning on keeping this spread to just photos + journaling cards, but I accidentally started writing “February” instead of “January” on the title card. Label stickers to the rescue.

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I like including 4×6 journaling cards and most kits have more filler cards than I’d use. Adding journaling spots to filler cards is a good fix for me.

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Going on here: Jake and the little kids all snuggled up on the couch, Plated buffalo chicken meatball sliders for dinner, Jonas building a cool car, Eliza video chatting with a friend for homework help, Jake with a little math homework assistance for Eliza, brownie for Eliza with candles, since she didn’t get to blow out any on her actual birthday, and the kids all snuggled up in my bed while I read Harry Potter to them before bedtime.

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I love this project and I’m excited to keep it up for my sixth year!

Planet Comicon 2018

Planet Comicon 2018 | The Nerd Nest 1

Last weekend we went to Planet Comicon and I thought it would be fun to share a recap!

(In case you are also a fan, here’s my Captain Marvel jacket from Her Universe.)

Here were our favorite things this year:

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Jake really loved the amazing creations by the expert Lego builders at KC Brick Lab. Just look at some of this Rodger Rabbit set-up!

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The scale is mind boggling.

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Minifigs were a big pull for us on the sales floor too. Ava picked out some princesses, Jonas picked a few that could go well with sets he has, and Jake found some cool pieces that the sellers made up from existing pieces, like the Night’s King from Game of Thrones. It’s really interesting watching the kids make decisions when they have a set amount of money to spend.

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Eliza, Harley Quinn for the day, usually likes the panels the best, but unfortunately the ones we were interested in didn’t line up with when we went this year. Which made it feel a bit like we were spending a lot of money to go in and shop, but we’ll have to plan better next time instead of just assuming Saturday will be best for us.

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She was happy to find crafting stations and contests.

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Indiana Jonas was all about the robots. He’s definitely a future member of the Kansas City R2D2 Builder’s Club.

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He watched these guys move around the floor for so long. He was REALLY impressed with the Lego one and kept guessing how many bricks went into it. One of them had a lot of cool attachments–it even blew steam!

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And of course fandom mash-ups are always welcome.

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Ava decided to be Bumblebee for the day to go with Eliza dressed up as Harley and her friend Harley who was dressed up as Wonder Woman (that was a confusing sentence). Pro parenting tip: I go shop right after Halloween for super on sale costumes to use as Christmas presents for play clothes.

She was VERY into the cosplayers. She was a baby the last time we went, so she didn’t know what to expect.

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She stopped on the street and gasped when she saw Merida. She was ridiculously excited and after she took a photo with her, we heard Merida talking to her friend about how heartwarming Ava was. She’s really just contagious with her joy.

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She kind of turned into a stalker inside–hah! She’d be too shy to say something when the cosplayers she liked were near us, and then would follow them until they noticed her. She loved that Rapunzel answered all of her questions in character.

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We also met the best Harley Quinn cosplayer we’ve ever seen: her cartoon-era Harley accent was perfect, she was walking around completely in character with spot-on movements and skipping. Ava chased her down (literally) and she played with her and talked to her for a long time. She was amazing.

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We kept things low stress this year. The streetcar made finding parking much easier since we didn’t have to get close.

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The kid play area gave us a much needed break when Jake and I were loosing stream and Ava and Jonas just REALLY needed to be able to touch things after a lot of time needing to be on their best behavior.

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We went with friends but split up for most of the time. But really quick–my friend Megan has the best pregnancy announcement ever.

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Here’s to fun family nerd adventures.

Start in the Middle | Nerd Nest Challenge

Start in the Middle | February Nerd Nest Challenge 1

The February Nerd Nest Challenge is to Start in the Middle.

Sometimes starting a bigger memory keeping project can seem daunting. Starting a weekly pocket scrapbooking / project life a few weeks into the year, documenting a big event like a wedding or vacation, beginning a mini album or themed book—it can be hard to know where to begin.

Sometimes it’s useful to have a plan and start at the beginning and follow through until the end. But if you are stuck and overwhelmed and those tactics aren’t working for you, try starting in the middle.

Edit just the photos that are exciting you, print them out, and get to work. Pick a story in the middle that is a little simpler and might be a good place to start. Just go! Don’t worry about having a color scheme, style, or products consistent throughout your project. Work on a part that you can finish, then continue to jump around from there OR work backwards or forwards from your middle position.

Giving yourself this freedom can get you past your block and can help you to finish your whole project! It’s amazing how less overwhelming things seem once you finish something, even if it’s just a small part.

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For my take on the challenge, I started on a few pocket pages that covered weeks that were a little “easier” (had fewer photos / events I wanted to document) for my pocket scrapbooking albums. I spent January working on holiday albums and 2017 pocket pages and I don’t have access to my craft space right now as my husband and I work on home improvement projects in there. So halfway into February, my 2018 albums were empty.

That’s okay! That’s why my memory keeping motto is Document Now, Make Later. It doesn’t matter when I make pages, as long as I have access to the photos and some journaling / tools to jog my memory.

Instead of beginning at the beginning–we started off the year on a weekend trip and I’m not ready to choose photos from it yet–I picked three spreads that had fewer photos and batch printed the photos for all three. I have trouble getting to my supplies in my construction zone office, so I grabbed a few kits to work with and kept the spreads very simple. I’ll share the spread for my January Day in the Life and the first week of February later, but for now, here’s the spread for January 7-13.

Selected products:

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Going on here: Ava and I after her dance class and my stretch & strength class, Eliza on her birthday with chicken pot pie (her favorite) and going out for dessert donuts, Ava “picking up her floor” by putting everything on her bed, Jonas and Paul playing video games, snuggling my friends’ baby E. (she’s Internet free, so there will be blurs) and my cat Lily, a before picture of the mold in the kids’ bathroom, Jake reading up on Nikola Tesla.

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I kept it to just photos and journaling cards for this spread and I like the result! Not that I won’t get back to embellishing more when I have my scrapbooking desk back–but I’ll probably be sticking to mostly very simple pages meanwhile.

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Going on here: Ava in the too small knit hat I made, Ava and Jonas snuggled up with their Star Wars gear, watching double babies (E. and my niece Tierney), Ava playing on the floor with real and pretend babies, knitting during Jonas’s tap class, new recipes I made for the week for my 52 recipes project, Kristin’s book launch party.

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I used three photo collages on this page, but on one of them I added white space in between the photos (the ones of Ava in the hat). I think the line looks really nice with the white borders around my photos–I might start doing it for more of my collages!

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Starting in the middle got me going with my pocket scrapbooking for the year, and now I can get on a roll. What project can you start in the middle to help you get going?

I want to see your take on the challenge! Share a link in the comments or use the hashtag #nerdnestchallenge on social media!

Friday Favorites

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1. Despite the alarmist title, the article Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? has some really interesting insights into the effects of smartphone use on youth, using generational statistics. There’s a lot of things to consider in there for my fellow tween (and teen) parents.

2. Jake and I went to see The Greatest Showman last weekend and now I can’t stop listening to the soundtrack. It’s so good. Also, the movie is in the #2 spot behind “Up” for movie that made me cry the fastest. And even though I needed a little feminist rant on the ride home afterwords, I loved it. I love musicals. Can my life just be a musical? Can someone trade vocal chords with me?

3. We stopped our subscription for a year because the boxes were taking over our house, but we started up a Tinker Crate subscription again for Eliza and Jonas last Christmas. They are loving it. Building things + crafts + learning about science is the perfect combination of things for them. I also love that getting to mess around with things like circuits and motors in these kits will help these concepts seem less scary to them if they want to pursue their own projects using them later.

4. As for a thing that everyone in the family enjoys, we’re really into this Pattern Play wood puzzle. The kids’ dance studio has one in the waiting room, so we picked one up because they love it so much. There are lots of cards with different configurations on them, so you can make a lot of different patterns on the wood blocks. And Ava just likes playing with them: talking about the colors, stacking them, pretending they are people. So there’s something for all ages.

5. My tiny baker is really into The Cupcake Deck. It’s a cookbook that’s not a book: it’s a box full of cards with cupcake recipes. Ava loves shifting through to pick ones to make. We’ve made two so far and they were delicious. I’m excited to make more! I’m definitely more of a cook than a baker, but baking with small children is an awesome time waster / introduction to fractions / fun way to make a mess and pour things / good way to practice instructions (with a delicious reward at the end), so I put it down as a fun activity even if things don’t always turn out well.

6. My mom took Jake, Eliza, and I to the Harry Potter Film Concert Series with the Kansas City Symphony and it was phenomenal. It’s so fantastic to see all of the hard work and talent that goes into making movie magic with a score! The movie plays behind the symphony. See if there’s something similar in your area–they do it with all different movies!

What are your favorites right now?

January One Little Word

January One Little Word | The Nerd Nest 1

Today I’m sharing my take on the January prompt for Ali Edwards’s One Little Word! You can read about why I chose my word for this year, Elastic, here.

My office is currently not functional as we work on some home repair projects, so I went for a super simple layout–just cards from the digital One Little Word kit with a single photo. I used an 8.5 x 11-inch pocket page for the cards and a 6×8 protector for the larger sheets.

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I’m not going to type out everything I wrote because it’s mostly repeated from the post where I shared my word. I’m glad to have this record in the books: I made it all about the words, because this is something I’ll refer back to throughout the year.

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Instead of having a separate album for One Little Word, I include it in my regular chronological albums. This works out really well for me.

For this one, I’ll probably put another One Little Word-related page on the back of the pocket page. I like Ali’s idea of choosing one thing to do each month relating to your word, and for January that was starting a stretch and strength class. That will be the perfect place to document that!

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(I just realized I never finished the last sentence on this one. I probably got distracted, because I was working on this while helping Ava with an art project. It should read “Seeing the kids grow and change.”)

I’ll be sharing some of my takes throughout the year, but I expect some of them will be too personal.

Have you chosen a word for the year? How are you documenting?

Kids’ Artwork Scanned for DIY Valentines

Kids' Artwork Scanned for DIY Valentines | The Nerd Nest 1

In 2014, Eliza decided she’d rather have valentines with her art (and her fandoms) than store bought ones. Rather than hand-make 30 odd valentines (we’re way too procrastinatey for that), I scanned her art, added words, and printed them in school valentine sizes.

Jonas jumped in on the tradition last year and this year Ava made some too.

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For Ava’s valentines, we made a tiger out of construction paper hearts and I scanned that. She said she wanted a mama and a baby tiger, so I shrunk a copy and added “You’re Puuuurfect Valentine!”

Tigers are her favorite animal right now, so these really are puuurfect.

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Jonas went for a more abstract design with hearts and a fist with the number 1 in them so his friends know they’re #1.

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Eliza made a bunch of cat drawings for hers. To transform her pencil drawings, I used the magic wand in photoshop to select the lines she drew and fill them with black. The snorkeling cat required a bit of digital coloring-in as well.

I’m so glad the kids get to give out little works of their art and have this form of self-expression. I love seeing what they choose to make from year to year.

The kids’ past valentines: Jonas’s 2017 Robot Valentines / Eliza’s 2017 Hamilton Valentines / Eliza’s 2016 Harley Quinn Valentines / Eliza’s 2015 Spooky Valentines / Eliza’s 2014 Doctor Who Valentines

Each year it’s my goal to complete 52 projects. Projects can be art, crafts, home improvement, tech, gardening, or whatever else my brain ventures into. The point is to MAKE. This is project 4 of 52 for 2018! If you want to join in, share your projects at #52Projects2018.