Be Yourself : Scrapbook Layout

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Today I wanted to share a layout with you that has been sitting on my table for weeks.

Actually it's the photo with the ruler ribbon that has been on my table for weeks. Originally I planned to do a second page with a divided page protector (for slides) and I had been collecting bits of scrapbook supplies and other pieces of life I had come across recently to do a layout celebrating Simon right now.

And then yesterday we had Simon's annual IEP meeting at school. An IEP is an Individualized Education Program. Lots of kids have them for a variety of different reasons who meet certain criteria for special education. Each year we meet with a group of people at his school, including teachers and his aide, to assess his progress, see where he's at with his goals for this year, and set new goals for next year.

He's got a variety of different goals written into his IEP - everything from asking for help, to weekly time with a speech therapist, to encouraging more social time with kids at recess, to specific goals for reading comprehension, writing, math, etc. It's always interesting to go in and chat with everyone and see how he's doing at school vs. what's happening at home. We catch up on conversations we've had on the phone or email and just generally talk about how he's doing in lots of different areas of development. 

It was a good meeting.

One of my favorite parts of the meeting was hearing his second grade teacher & his aide talk about how hard he has been working.

For this layout I ended up writing a note to Simon from Chris and I telling him how proud we are of him and the work he is doing in school. I consciously decided to keep this note focused on the positive parts of the meeting. There's lots of areas where he's facing challenges; areas where we are all working to help him navigate the best possible route, and to make better choices (wanting to be first in line all the time, making his mean face to other kids & other social issues, being open to new seats in different situations, general attitude).

The point is, there's lots to celebrate about Simon every single day. And we do.

He is awesome.


Here's a close-up on that second page with the journaling. I used some of the very cute Dear Lizzy rub ons on top of an American Crafts chipboard tag to create the main accent.


My dear Simon, I wanted to take some time today to let you know that Daddy & I are very proud of you. We had a meeting with your teachers yesterday and they had such great things to say about how hard you are working in class. Lately when I ask you “What was your favorite part about school today?” you reply, “Working.” From what they tell us, you have been really trying hard. They also have lots of praise for your lovely, meticulous handwriting. Finding a way to enjoy your work, whatever sort of work you are doing, is an important part of growing up. At home you have also been working really hard on your homework and reading as well. It’s awesome to see you “connecting the dots” in math and spelling and starting to enjoy some chapter books. We have been proud of the ways you transition between homework, play, and back to homework again if needed. Your teachers said you are definitely ready for third grade! We are all going to do our best to help you enjoy and thrive in your classroom next year.
Keep up the great work Simon! Love, Mom & Dad

Basic Grey
from the Max & Whiskers collection
RUB ON : Dear Lizzy
CHIPBOARD TAG : American Crafts

53 thoughts

  1. Lori

    2010-04-09 07:01:59 -0400

    You are such a wonderful mother, Ali! No matter a child's circumstances, it can be easy to focus on the wrong things, but you always seem to focus on the positive, and every child deserves that.
    I was a 2nd grade teacher (most awesome year of school) so I have also been in IEP meetings (on the other side of the table, so to speak). Now that I have 2 children of my own, I feel like I've grown as a teacher too; feeling even more compassion for parents attending IEP meetings on behalf of their child.
    We all want the best for our children and Simon certainly has the best in you!

  2. Sarah Mullanix

    2010-04-09 07:04:47 -0400

    Fabulous...I LOVE that the journaling is an actual letter to Simon!! TFS

  3. Diane

    2010-04-09 07:16:36 -0400

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. It's been a really tough week for my son and school. He has an IEP but it's just not good enough. He's about to go through reevaluation testing. It breaks my heart to see how he struggles and to see how focus he is on his own downfalls. This is exactly what I need to do to lift him up...put something in writing for him to have and realize what an amazing son and student he is.

  4. christine h

    2010-04-09 07:25:09 -0400

    Isn't it great to see it all start coming together? To know all the hard work in the early years is starting to pay off? I have a 14 yr old son who is doing so well in 8th grade. K-3 were rough years. We too are proud parents. Great job to the Edwards crew as well.

  5. tchrtiff

    2010-04-09 07:52:47 -0400

    Ali, Thanks for sharing your layout and your life with us--so inspirational. I love your 'everyday life' philosphy.

  6. Olivia

    2010-04-09 08:00:03 -0400

    Ali, thank you so much for sharing your life with us. I have two sons, one who is now 21 years old and a music education student at my alma mater, and the second who will 17 in a few short weeks. The younger son has had his share of struggles with school since middle school. When he was in 7th or 8th grade, I finally took him to our doctor who diagnosed ADD, something I suspected for several years. We tried the medication route and it failed for a lot of different reasons. When he went to high school, he really struggled academically. No amount of nagging, arguing, grounding, restrictions--nothing--worked to make him do better. I finally had to "let go." He ended up failing one core subject (science) and barely passing the rest. The next year, though, was a different story! He passed every class, although there were still some struggles and a couple of Ds on the report cards. He is a high school junior now, and his last report card was outstanding--As, Bs, and only one C--no Ds and no Fs all year. I can only celebrate his accomplishments, although there are still struggles. We have not gone the route of IEPs or 504 plans for him. I am a high school teacher (English and English to Speakers of Other Languages), and I have tried to teach him ways to cope. I am so glad that your school system and you as parents are working together to help Simon learn to cope with the situations he faces at school and at home. I pray that you will continue to inspire us and share with us Simon's story, his successes as well as his struggles. Your story encouraged me during those rough years with Aaron. Thank you so much.

  7. Susanne

    2010-04-09 08:33:28 -0400

    Dear Ali,
    always, when I come to your blog, I feel inspired - not only creatively, but inspired for a positive life!
    Thanks so much.

  8. Wendy

    2010-04-09 09:23:03 -0400

    Awesome....We have the same kinds of things in our house and it is SOOOO important to recognize all the positives that happen everyday. As you know, while you have to try to address the negative things that happen it is so important to stay focused on the plus side. What you focus on grows so we always try to do the same! Love to see all the progress Simon has had! (and of course the great layouts!) Thanks so much for sharing!


    2010-04-09 09:24:25 -0400

    I love it when you share layouts on your blog--
    My son always wants to be first in line too and he's 10.

  10. JanineBoyd

    2010-04-09 09:52:41 -0400

    I absolutely love this layout. And especially the sentiment behind it. I'd love to do one just like it about how proud we are of our 6 year old son :)

  11. Tracey

    2010-04-09 10:56:26 -0400

    Hi Ali, absolutely love your words - "Be Yourself." And for Simon, isn't that a wonderful thing? He's a dear little boy and you and your family do a great job at celebrating life - good and bad. Nothing's ever perfect. I have to say, I work in the IT Industry and there are grown men in that business who always want to be first in line for everything, never thinking of anyone else. I'm sure Simon is always thinking of others. He is just delightful.
    Have a great weekend and thanks so much for sharing your days with us - love it.

  12. Jill

    2010-04-09 11:09:23 -0400

    Simon and Anna are so lucky you're capturing their lives - the realness of their lives to boot!
    And thank you for sharing your lay outs sit on your desk for long stretches of time. Mine do too. Sometimes it makes me antsy, but most of the time, they're still figuring out who they need to be, and I'm pleased in the end with what they end up becoming :)
    I'm not a twitter-er, but I noticed your post asking for the top three things to document for WITL. Since M-F are about 90% the same for me in terms of activities, I thought I'd select five words, like see, taste, feel, create and go, assign one to each day, and let that drive my documenting.
    Can't wait for April 19!

  13. Scrapbook Society

    2010-04-09 11:12:11 -0400

    What a great layout! {Thanks} for sharing ;)

  14. Linda

    2010-04-09 12:01:17 -0400

    As an inclusion teacher, I was so touched by your layout! It is once again a reminder to me of how important it is that we rejoice in a child's strengths rather than solely focusing on their needs. Thanks so much for sharing this idea---I look forward to sharing it with other parents.

  15. kristen

    2010-04-09 12:08:44 -0400

    Love it! Congrats on a positive IEP...we know how that feels too! :)

  16. Laura

    2010-04-09 13:38:42 -0400

    Congrats to Simon and the whole Edwards family! We are celebrating some positive news on the school front, too, after a very rough first 6 months of first grade. I've been trying to figure out how to document the roller coaster year we've had. Thank you for the inspiration.

  17. Kari D

    2010-04-09 15:02:26 -0400

    I think it is amazing, this "sisterhood" that is created when someone blogs about their life, their art, their story. We follow along, providing comment on occasion, sharing joys and sorrows, sending congratulations and encouragement, and more than anything feeling as though we are friends of sorts despite the fact that we have never met. Yours is one of those blogs that I review as often as I am able; inspired by your artistry; your creativity; your ability to be Mom and wife and working woman; and your ability to include us in and make us feel a part of your life. I have shared your link with friends (who are now as addicted as I am), and most recently with my sister who recently found out one of her sons had autism. Today's post touched my heart and I just wanted to let you know. Thank you.

  18. [email protected]

    2010-04-09 15:52:34 -0400

    Congratulations to all of you for Simon's achievements. You seem to surround with good energy daily. It's a testimony to your committment to him as a parent, and your own belief in your job as a parent. It isn't always easy. Thanks for sharing with us!

  19. Jamie

    2010-04-09 17:07:57 -0400

    WTG Simon!!!
    I really need to get busy and do some more of these 'real life' pages!
    I have one on an IEP, I cried at the last meeting a couple of weeks ago, it wasn't a very good one.

  20. Barb

    2010-04-10 00:17:55 -0400

    What a delightful photo of the two of you, Ali! And the journalling is amazing. I tend to do the same... focus on the positive stuff on my pages about Thomas, and any struggles end up being documented on pages about me and my journey in trying to help him navigate the often tricky waters of playing outside at recess when there's no organized activity or breaking a HUGE homework assignment down to doable chunks. Simon sounds a lot like my guy a couple of years ago... I'm sure third grade will be an amazing experience for him, and hopefully, he will continue to have these a-ha moments and the stuff that he finds challenging now will become second nature in due time.
    xoxo Barb

  21. Angi

    2010-04-10 02:39:07 -0400

    Lovely LO! You can certainly feel the love you have for Simon. What a beautiful family!

  22. [email protected]

    2010-04-10 07:04:19 -0400

    So love your posts! What great goodies today. How do I ever decide which website to visit first. Thanks for taking the time to enlighten our lives and remind us of the things that matter most. Thank you and have a great weekend!

  23. Mary C. Anderson

    2010-04-10 18:53:48 -0400

    Your page is awesome and I love that you added A letter to your son in it.

  24. kerith

    2010-04-10 19:12:17 -0400

    Love this layout! My eyes must be playing tricks on me though, as it looks to me like the tag is punched out of the patterned paper, not added on top of it. I keep trying to see it as chipboard added, but my eyes won't let me, no matter how long I stare at it. It really gives it that "Wow, how did she do that?" quality.
    As always, thanks for sharing. :)

  25. Karen G

    2010-04-15 04:15:57 -0400

    Your post, layout, and letter to Simon really touch me and all sounds very familiar. While the annual IEP meeting was completed a couple of months ago, we're gearing up for the transition meeting next month as my son's elementary are split into two campuses and third grade is in a whole other location next year. "Be Yourself" is such a wonderful concept to teach all of our children, but I think even more so for our kidlets who are a bit different. My son has been recognizing that he's different this year and it has been challenging for him. We, of course, never want him to think of himself as less, but that being himself is a really good thing. Thanks for sharing how you celebrate Simon's triumphs and challenges in life! :>

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