art party invitation

For Hudson's birthday we were originally thinking of having an art party theme. We didn't end up going that route but, I did create a fun painting party invitation and wanted to share.

You may download this invitation for free and use this design for personal use. Invitation size is 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" and will fit in a standard A2 (4 3/8" x 5 3/4") envelope. Please give credit to me, Kristen Fagan (Creative Stash) or link to my blog wherever possible. Enjoy!

In creating this invitation I used the Adobe Photoshop brush plug-in Room122 Brushes created by Nathan Brown www.room122.com. Thank you Nathan!


celebrating autumn

Fallen Leaves 2007
acrylic painting on wood

Autumn is my all time favorite season. Today, September 22nd marks the first day of Autumn. Living in the desert I get a wee bit sad that we miss out on the vibrant and mass amount of color changing going on in other parts of the country this time of year. We have the rich golds, reds and browns all year long but, they are more subtle. The massive amounts of foliage is hard to match up to. However, it is only a short drive away if we want to enjoy a fall day outing amidst the trees, so really we can have our cactus and changing leaves too...just have to go out and get it!

Autumn Song
Katherine Mansfield

Now's the time when children's noses
All become as red as roses
And the color of their faces
Makes me think of orchard places
Where the juicy apples grow,
And tomatoes in a row.

Come then, find your ball and racket,
Pop into your winter jacket,
With the lovely bear-skin lining.
While the sun is brightly shining,
Let us run and play together
And just love the autumn weather.

I sure do welcome the passing of our hot summer months and the cooler air can already be felt in the mornings. We desert dwellers are lucky to be able to enjoy nice weather for much of the year.

Today at Soft Flex Company we are celebrating the first day of Autumn with a ONE DAY SALE. If you are a jewelry designer, you may use coupon code AUTUMN at checkout and you will receive a 25% off discount on our single strands clasps. Make sure that you are signed up to receive our email newsletter for future sale coupons, project ideas and beading tips! You only have 24 hours to purchase, Tuesday 9/22.

This offer is not valid with any other discounts. If your purchase qualifies for two or more discounts, you will receive the best discount, but not a combination.


kids behavior plan ... keepin' it positive

This weekend I embarked on a quest to slow down, re-evaluate my parenting style and reflect on what is best for my children. I read this inspiring post by Serene Journey that was timed just perfectly: Show Your Kids You Love Them. Serene Journey is one of my favorite blogs to read and she has a sixth sense of posting inspiring blogs exactly when I need them!

Since school begun about month ago Ethan has began testing our limits at home. In kindergarten he is learning about rewards and consequences based on his behavior. So, I decided to look into behavior charts. Charts make sense to kids and they take pride in a page full of stars or stickers showing their good behavior.

After some research, here are the charts we put in place ...

Behavior Chart

Behavior Chart Reward Cards

Strike 3 Chart

Chore Chart

Here are blank charts I created for you to download and use for your personal use if you'd like:
  • Behavior Chart
  • Behavior Chart Reward Cards - These reward cards show activities they can choose based on the number of happy faces they receive for the week.
  • Strike 3 Chart - I felt it was important to also have a chart for behaviors that are just not letting up so, I created a Strike 3 Chart. After the 3rd strike a negative consequence will occur. the goal here is to help them recognize and change their bad behavior before it gets to 3 strikes.
  • Daily Chores Chart
    I found this article on About.com very helpful when working on my charts: Charts & Chips - Using A Behavior Modification System With Your Child.

    I know a big part of our kids behaviors are directly related to us as parents and how we behave and react. Being consistent with our discipline, keeping our cool, accentuating the positives and showing our kids we love them are important things to remember to do each and every day. It's so easy to fall back into a "No, No, No" routine and forget about giving positive re-enforcement, encouragement and the ability to make their own choices. I know this all to well.

    Our action plan: Throughout the day we give stars as chores are completed and every night before bed we review the behavior chart together and we reward happy faces for the day. I have already seen that the boys find these new behavior charts empowering and they help keep me and Bert on track with consistent, positive discipline.

    Do you have any tips that help keep you on track and your kids eager to behave?


    holiday weekend fun

    Although the holiday weekend started a little rocky with the boys behavior and my own parenting struggles, we ended up having a pretty busy family fun filled weekend when all was said and done. I got my act together with some behavior and chore charts and I'll go into that more in the next post. For now, I wanted to share some fun family time photo highlights:

    Saturday morning rain storm

    Sunday trip to the Natural History Museum

    Labor day picnic at the park and afternoon dance party


    parenting woes

    I am in need of some good old fashioned parenting advice and support right about now. I am day 1 into our 3 day weekend and the boys are making me nuts. Hudson is simply too loud. I have repeated "Hudson, please stop screaming!" all flippin day long. After 3 time outs, I'm still saying the same darn thing ... "Hudson, please stop screaming!" Ethan on the other hand has embarked on a whole new adventure with school; with that has come a new found independence (which is great) and a new found defiant attitude (not so great). My standard parenting "techniques" are falling flat and I need a pick me up. I guess I know what I'll be doing later this evening when everyone else is asleep ... I'll be arming myself with some new tricks to try out for the remainder of the weekend. My goal is to get my kids to "want" to do the right things without me getting loud, angry or frustrated. Sounds like a challenge for sure! Are you working on any challenges of your own right now?


    painting in progress, weeping willow

    Whoa. Looking back at the first post for this painting in progress, it is way different now. In the end, I believe the changes will be for the best but, right now it looks like I have a lot of work left to do. I think overall the feeling of the tree and leaves is much more reminiscent of a weeping willow now but, I miss the depth in colors in the last design. I need to gain that back by adding deeper blues and some yellows.