Got A Box of Photos? Three things to evaluate first.

Did you get handed a box of family photos?  Not sure what to do with that box? I can help. First, take a breath and let’s consider setting the boundaries of the project before you.

Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 11.50.37 AMFirst, evaluate what you have. Do you have a precious few images, meticulously annotated with dates and names?

Or (more likely) do you have  lots of random images, some unidentified? Does your collection include blurry images, unknown landscapes, and duplicates?  Those three categories may be options for what you may want to release from your collection.

Second, evaluate where they may go: Do you want to place them in a historical society or archive related to your background, community, or family? Will you keep them? Share them with family? Have copies stored in a high-level digital cloud for prosperity?

Third, consider what work you want to do: Last week I did a live video on extracting photos from adhesive albums. Can you get them out of these sticky situations? Do you feel compelled to research and annotate them? Add them to an online genealogy? Frame and display them? Digitize all of them yourself?

ONE MORE THING: who can help? Perhaps, like me, you hold them dear and want to keep this time capsule to pore over and love.  But that is not the answer for everyone.  Many hands do make light work. Can you share the project with someone else, say a sibling or a cousin? Perhaps you’d like to have a family reunion and get everyone involved, or a smaller luncheon and get the close crew together.

For more extensive instruction, be sure to get on the wait list for my fall course Triage: A Course on Family Photos. Just e-mail and let me know you’re interested –and let me know what you’re dealing with — angela[@] Or, you can get on my general mailing list.  Hop on over HERE, and you’ll immediately get two family history prompts: one to help Ask Your Elders, and one to help you Tell Your Youngsters about your family.  Then you’ll get a free 2-week mini-course: an email every other day with tips for considering and building your own family history.

Happy history!


Tools of the trade: eating in style

hand painted cutlery

Click this image to purchase these colorful wooden forks.

Kids love having and making choices.

They always want to have choices and to feel empowered.  Who doesn’t?

Sometimes, though, they don’t have choices about what they eat… like when they don’t want to eat the healthy meal you’ve made.

peas in the pod

Click this image to purchase these from Smileware — or check out her other cool cutlery.

It happens.

And when it does, offer your kids some fun alternative eating utensils.

I’ve shared some recipes that sneak in healthy food, and I’ve written about some grocery store games to engage your kids in the family’s food choices.  Add imaginative cutlery to your bag of tricks.

alternative cutlery

From left: yogurt foil lids are meant to be used as spoons; K’nex, popsicle sticks, pickle fork, decorative butter knives, a Nuk tool for our sensory defensive eater (our seeker also loves it, even without dipping it in food!), cob knobs, dixie cups, colorful cutlery, measuring spoon, toothbrush, chopsticks, and a medicine measuring device from the pharmacy. See what YOU have on hand.



Here are some items we’ve used over the years to coax and play with our defensive kid and satisfy a desire for input for our seeker kid!  🙂

Even at 7 & 11, if I just set down a plate of pineapple or cheese cubes with a toothpick in each one, they are far more likely to eat.

I’d love to hear about any crazy tools you come up with… please share them in the comments below, or join in over on Facebook!

The Perfect Kale Storm


They planted kale in the community garden. The hip young teacher loved kale, too. Photo by Angela Todd

It was an elementary-school phenomena!  The perfect kale storm.

The irresistibly hip young teacher loved kale.  Couldn’t get enough.

In the community garden they planted kale.

Later, the garden educators brought the kale to school for some sensory play, tossing kale in olive oil by hand, salting roasting and eating it!


Kale chips in the making at Kentucky Avenue School – photo by Angela Todd

The lunch lady had served it previous to all this, but she started to get requests!  For kale!

Some kids signed up for lunches just because of the kale chips, and would try to pass on the chicken, egg salad, or hummus wraps and ask for a mountain of kale chips.  That didn’t fly.

As the spring turned warm, putting the oven at 400 degrees farenheit got to be unmanageable and we cut back.  But we will all always remember the spring of regularity.


Summer Kale, photo by Thing 2.

The Things planted kale in our garden at home and we have a truckload! Our kale is gorgeous, calm, flat. Thing 2 and I made kale chips, even though it was HOT outside.  Olive oil, salt, heat.


The flat kale was too flat, and the kale didn’t crisp up with the oil, it steamed.  We had some crunchy pieces, but composted more than half of it.  But the foot print is there, the hipster, the gardeners, the lunch lady and my gardening Running Mate made sure of that.  And the more involved the kids get in planning, shopping, gardening and cooking, the wider their palates seem to be…  I’ve got another idea for the kale, don’t you worry.  It won’t go to waste (insert diabolical laugh here).

Though taking kids to the grocery store can be awful, it can also be a great sensory experience if you can engage them particularly in the produce areas.  We have Sensory Integration concerns in our family, and this article has a couple of good ideas for that.  At a quiet time, feel the veggies and name their colors (in English and Spanish).  Pick up something and make a fuss, feel it smell it buy it.  Then eat it the minute you get out of the store, relishing it with your kids.  Tell daddy about it, buy it again, this time make something out of it. Come on over and tell me all about it on my Facebook page.

Sign up for my weekly-ish E-zine for more ideas about work and play with the kids, including feeding!

Practice letting go

A  hockey game?  A playoff?  In Pittsburgh?  Are you insane?  What if Thing 1 has to sit near someone with horrible cologne that sends him into an asthma attack?  What if he gets hit with a puck?  What if a fight broke out, somebody snatched him, or the stadium collapsed?  What if he experienced a food allergy that we never knew he had, or heard bad words, or got bored?


Photo by ShawnStPeter. Click to purchase the image on Etsy.

We don’t get out much, and I have to practice.

What if he doesn’t see anything to eat when he sees the stadium food?  He has sensory processing issues, what if it’s too noisy, too crowded, too overwhelming?  What if it’s a mistake?

Running Mate tries to talk me down.  No recent asthma.  Statistics on getting hit with a puck, a fight breaking out, being snatched.  I know I have to listen to logic and I do.  I don’t believe it will be okay, but I listen.  We gave him an allergy pill and a snack before he left.  Rehearsed “help help this is not my parent” and were sure the friend’s parents had my cel number in their phone.  I will happily come get you.  He nods. Running mate drops him off on his way to work, leaving me home with Thing 2.


Three-color spiral table cover, afghan, or time out spot. Click to see it in my etsy shop.

Thing 2 asks to have a night of no tv.  I need a distraction!  We soak our feet, paint our nails, camp out in the living room.  The whole time, I am crocheting myself into a frenzy–a red yellow and white spiral that could be a table cover or a couch blanket.  I wait for my inevitable phone call to go get Thing 1.  I nod off.  My phone tinkles; I jump. A picture of Thing 1 cheering…  from the third row!  He’s alive, he’s healthy, and he’s happy.  I nod off again and when the phone rings, it’s to say he is in the driveway.

I did it!  I mean, he did it.  If you want to give your kids more independence, teach them safety and coping, join me on Facebook and stay tuned right here!

What’s your happy place?

Happy place

Happy Place from ArtPeaceCreation –

This spring is about self-care in our family.  The ‘for sale’ sign in the front yard, packed boxes sprinkled around, and the punctuation of routine with frenzied clean-ups for potential buyers has put strains on all of us.

Obvious and subterranean strains.

A few months ago, we started meditating at bedtime.  We spent a week thinking about our happy places, imagining what they’d be like.

light house

Happy Place from Fairyland2000 –

I admit, that was inspired by a pinterest board of “reading nooks” and I think we all do have books in our happy places.  If  you follow Funnermother on facebook, you know the kids’ mortifying addition to their happy places that left this leftie mom chagrined (happy servants to bring them happy snacks and clean the happy cat boxes!).

But we pushed on, and the happy place has become part of our nightly meditation.  It will eventually follow us to our new home, and it is always available if needed in the daytime.

Happy place

Happy place by HappyThursdayArt –

And you know what?

My legendary insomnia is not as severe, and the boy has stopped asking the old standard bedtime question, “Can you help me think happy thoughts?”

He can do it himself!  Ah, resilience.

Do you have a happy place?

Whether it’s the wide ocean, a cozy cottage in the woods, a treehouse, lighthouse, or tiny house, whether you want sun or candlelight or cats or tea or coffee, you need a happy place, and I’m sprinkling a few into this post.

happy place

Hammock from PrincipalStress –

Just click on one and you can purchase a print on Etsy, a handmade broker.

Or commit it to memory.

You deserve a happy place. Or two.


Photo backdrop from PeekPrints –

Other posts on sensory processing include:

Here, Feel This Fruit

Freestyle Recycling

DIY: Birthday Jarlights


Birthday Jarlights

You’ll need:  clean clear jars for everyone, poster paint, white glue, paintbrushes, shiny star stickers, colored paper and a tea light for each jar.  For younger kids, battery operated.  

Mix poster paint and glue to make the paint adhere to smooth surfaces like glass and plastic – about 1/3 glue and 2/3 paint.  

crafts for kids

Birthday Jarlights

Cut out football shapes to serve as lit candle wicks, glue them around the jar.




Paint over the shapes, then glue ‘candlesticks’  to the jar.  I used some flashy origami paper, but plain construction paper would work, too.

crafts for kids

Birthday Jarlights

Peel the football shapes off while the paint is still a little wet, then allow paint to dry.


Then, and this is my favorite part, put in a battery-operated tea light!

My crafters were 6 and used glass with close supervision; younger kids should use plastic but the paint/glue combo should work just as well.



Birthday Jarlights


This craft could be adapted for older kids, who could paint more elaborate scenes, more layers of paint, and use real tea lights.

We’ve done this for Halloween, Christmas/New Year, and birthdays.



Even the tiniest kids can paint a jar and the light will still shine through.


If you give jar painting a try, I’d love to see the results, just post them on Funnermother’s Facebook page!