Monthly Archives: May 2013

Saving your child’s artwork … for life

One dilemma that every parent goes through is what to do with their kids’ artwork. After a while it leaves the fridge and starts to clutter up the house, but still, that moment where its hovering over a trash can, waiting to go in, is pretty much impossible to go through with. This is even more true when your kids themselves are attached to their little works of creation (and rightfully so!).

While many of us boring grown-ups may not have the benefit of uncovering our Picasso pasts, it definitely doesn’t have to be that way for kids today, who have the magic of the Internet to turn to.

When determining how to best go about saving artwork – which depending on the age and enthusiasm of your child for art can amount to an arduous undertaking – it’s best to keep some of these tips and tricks in mind:

   Tip #1: Take pictures of course! This is obvious, but parents can think about creative ways to go about it. You can have some with your child posing along with the art, some juxtaposed with whatever inspired your child in the first place. And what’s the best way to photograph them? We found this great blog entry from mom blogger Kate of Picklebums.com on her quick, easy tips for getting great pictures of your kids artwork

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   Tip #2: Take some notes. Years from now, it will be fantastic for your child to know the context of their creations. What were they drawing? Whose idea was it? You can add answers as a description to the posting on lifecake.

– Tip #3: Tag them. If you’re saving these moments to lifecake with a photo from your iPhone or our Website, be sure to add the tag ‘artwork’ when adding them, So you’ll be able to easily find them all in the future.

Tip #4: Make photo books. We will soon be introducing on lifecake the ability to turn your artwork into photobooks. Whether you want to give a beautiful and unique gift to family, or file them away in hard copy to bring out on holidays and birthdays, a photobook is a great way to preserve the little artists’ memories.

– Tip #5: Share instantly. By saving your kids artwork online, you can also easily share with friends, family, grandparents, whomever, across the globe. You can also read out loud or show your kids their comments for them to revel in the praise for their work.

If you want to go a step beyond the smartphone photos, check out PC Magazine’s list of these great, easy-to-use scanners for high quality images that you can save for life and bring out years down the road for not just your kids, but grandkids too.

And if nothing else, hopefully this will clear some space on your fridge!

Create Stories with Wordshots

This week’s guest blog is from Villu Arak, a communication strategist, creative consultant and writer who helps ambitious organisations find their voice and create understanding with those who count. He’s the founder of General Specifics.

Writing good stories is easier than you think. You’ve written your life in a series of moments and choices. Millions of them. Yet when you look back, they’ve melted into a journey that makes sense. One that created the person you are, and led you to the right now.

Moment by moment. Layer by thin layer. That’s how nothing becomes something. Stalagmites and 3D printers know it. That’s also how writing works. Look at the world that now includes your little one. And when a moment feels like a memory you’d like to keep, take wordshots. They’re akin to snapshots on your phone, but instead of pixels, you’re using words. And unlike pixels, the fewer words the better.

“A snowflake fell and it felt like a kiss,” Glasvegas said. An entire world of emotion distilled into one breath. Once again, less is more. Or take this screenshot sent in by a Lifecake customer. She doesn’t load her post with ballast, but picks the fewest details for the most impact. She sets the scene and shares Leo’s whisper.

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You can almost hear a snowflake fall in the silence. A little slice of life that says quite a bit about quite a lot.

Your own wordshots may be bulky at first. But as they say, films are made in the cutting room. So grab a cursor and remove, slice, and hack away until you’re satisfied. And mix it up: fun, doubt, beauty, sadness all add variety, depth, and meaning to the long string of moments that will self-organise into a story full of colour and insight.

16-year-old Stephen Fry wrote a letter to his future self. Then, 35 years later, he wrote one back. A thing of beauty and tenderness. If you decide to write one to your child, I applaud you. My parents didn’t write such a letter, and I’ll never know what went on in their inner world when mine was still a primordial mess.

Wordshots or letters, they capture the present and send it to the future. One day, they’ll be opened like a time capsule. And the second your words are read, the long-gone now will come to life again. It is a Holodeck moment of privilege and magic.

So who do you write for? Your child, that drooling bundle of nappy joy (and future academic heading the Cyclical Universe Research Project at Fermilab)? Your future self, aged 78? Your parents? Curious great-grandkids in the 22nd century?

Pick one. Or all of the above. Speak to historians from planet Zpork. If responsibility to future readers feels paralysing, screw ‘em. You shouldn’t market-research your writing to death. Just do your thing, be yourself, and let the people of the future deal with coded references, inside jokes, and ancient slang.

For others, keeping future readers in mind may boost performance. Today’s newborn will yearn for your thoughts from all those years ago. Myself, I hope to share experiences, lessons, and encouragement without sounding old-fart-like. (Then again, a vintage patina of schoolmasterly grump may get some laughs in 2054.)

Speaking of old farts, under your beautifully moisturised skin hides a stowaway. A patient pensioner who will get out one day. When you write as a new parent, give your future self an occasional wink. That’ll bring a few warm smiles when the time comes.

But your life pulsates in the right now. Live it. Write it. Pen to paper, tap to screen. One wordshot at a time. Be honest, emotionally and intellectually. Let it all out. Embarrass yourself, if necessary. It’s all good.

You won’t have to do it all on your own, either. “Before the child speaks the author is the voice,” says Nick the Lifecake co-founder. “After the child speaks the child is the voice.”

You’re all storytellers.

(As I said, it’s easier than you think.)