Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

April 9, 2010

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


  • 1.
    Haley D. said…

    What a beautiful tribute to your son! Thanks for the inspiration. I am going to start now writing a letter to my girls about this school year.

  • 2.
    Corey Marie said…

    Cheers to Simon – “Finding a way to enjoy your work, whatever sort of work you’re doing” is a skill that a lot of grown adults I know could still work on. :D

  • 3.
    Melanie said…

    Yeah for Simon!

  • 4.

    Thank you again dear Ali. Wow. We have been struggling to get a diagnoses with my son Emery and it has been such a crazy process! These words of yours…”(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)” are so familiar to me. Emery also likes to get in other peoples faces and scream a lot. So far, one doctor wants to just say ADHD and medicate. We have found another doctor. There are so many things that just don’t fit that. The best thing right now is that he already has an IEP and the school seems to be moving along well without a diagnoses. Thanks again for being so open. Your words and story will and have helped so many including me! And, thank you also for helping me to know to keep it positive. It sure is a struggle sometimes! But, Emery sure is someone to celebrate as is Simon. Loves…

  • 5.
    Sarah said…

    …what an amazing idea for a layout. I focus so much on the “events” that i forget the “be yourself” moments and documenting what my children are like. Making a page about something as important as an IEP meeting for which you probably didn’t take any pictures but impacts your daily life. Yipee for Simon for making strides!

  • 6.
    Ashley said…

    Great page!! I too have started to document the challenges that my son faces and the huge strides that he has made. Including an IEP and letter is a great idea! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • 7.
    Jonnelle said…

    Such wonderful news about his IEP meeting! All that hard work is definitely to be celebrated daily – I love that he’ll be able to read all about it when he’s older!

  • 8.
    Diana said…

    Thank you Ali! I have so enjoyed watching Simon grow through your blog! It is so cool to see Simon today and all that he has accomplished … so far! Thanks for sharing this important part of your life – and his – with us!

  • 9.
    Joy Buss said…

    Great news for Simon and you!! Love this layout and have enjoyed posts and layouts this week from you Ali!I always enjoy your perspective. Very inspiring!

  • 10.
    dawn said…

    First of all I love the picture of you two together. Second love how how you did this page with the ruler on the side and the journaling. My son is 8 also and I love to see what Simon does and how my son Sam is at this age. Sam has struggled this year and has a “I don’t care attitude” at school this year for no apparant reason. The love of learning is already boring for him, his writing is very sloppy now, doesnt’ read chapter books anymore, plays to rough with boys at recess,etc. We have been trying to make improvements in these areas which are only slightly improving. I am worried what summer break will do to this situation and hoping he won’t continue this way into third grade. I’m happy for your family and for all the hard work Simon does and tries his hardest to do his best. I will need to do a layout like this for Sam. He has grown so much and I love reading about him. Have a good weekend.

  • 11.
    Kimb said…

    I can totally sense your pride in Simon’s accomplishments with this wonderful layout and journaling. Bravo Simon and thank you Ali for another inspirational layout. My 14 year old signed up to help out as an aid in her Jr. High’s SH class as her elective this year and I have been struggling with finding just the right to document it.. I think I have found it with your terrific pages…Simply done and devine!

  • 12.
    Jamie said…

    Ali….this is great news! I love the idea of celebrating all of the positives…thank you for that reminder. I also wanted to say thank you for continuing to share parts of your life that are on more of a personal level. I’ve noticed that several of my favorite blogs and authors have taken more of a business approach to their blogging, and it makes me sad. I love hearing about what’s going on in your life and relating to you as a person. You inspire us in the most beautiful ways. Thanks!

  • 13.
    Kirsten H said…

    love what you focused on, it’s the important stuff!

  • 14.
    Jacci Mulraney said…

    Congratulations Simon on your achievements and to Ali and Chris for the part you have played in his growth. I just loved the letter! I am a Prep/1 teacher in Victoria, Australia. I have a class of 23 children. 2 children have been diagnosed with Autism and 2 more are in the middle of assessments. We too have meetings each term to share the successes and challenges, set new goals etc, only we call them PSG meetings and we write ILP’s (Individual Learning Plans). It is a lovely affirming time for the parents, teachers, specialists etc but the children aren’t there. What a lovely way to pass on how proud you are of him.

  • 15.
    Diana said…

    This is beautiful, I love the journaling, I love writing letter’s to my kids, your is beautiful great picture and LO

  • 16.
    Erin M said…

    Ali–thank you so much for the inspiring ideas. I’m lucky to have an awesome 8-yr old boy too! Great way to document progress.

  • 17.
    Debbie Servantez said…

    Love it! The photo is so familiar, mom and kid on the blacktop at school…in the morning? And as usual, your color choices are great! Inspirational…

  • 18.
    Helen said…

    Wonderful LO, Ali – you know, you’re not just a wonderful scrapper but also an inspiration to many working Mums ;) Love the idea of so actively celebrating your son.

  • 19.
    noell said…

    So Ali, did you decide to abandon the idea of the second page with divided pockets? Or is it just not done yet.
    BTW, I love hearing the background of your layout. Thanks for sharing that part!

  • 20.
    Jennifer said…

    Yay for Simon!!
    {Heart} your LO!

  • 21.
    Ali Edwards said…


  • 22.
    Melanie K. said…

    I ditto what a lot of others have said … and I know you get tired of hearing it! … You are truly a wonderful scrapper – both the design of the layouts (how you make such beautiful layouts so flawlessly and simple I will never know!) but also on the emotion and honesty of them.
    Three cheers for Simon too. Way to go!

  • 23.
    Kristen said…

    Love the layout Ali and glad that Simon is doing so well. We have our son’s IEP transition meeting next month. He is in a SDC Preschool and has done remarkably well – so proud that he is able to mainstream into a regular kindergarten class. I may have to scraplift this layout to celebrate his success! Thanks! You always do such a fabulous job!

  • 24.
    Ainsley said…

    Too sweet. It’s so important to make a big deal about the good stuff. I also love that the layout was kept simple so that the focus is on the journaling.

  • 25.
    abbey said…

    I love this layout. The sentiments are so special and the visuals are great. Simple, and so complementary to the story… may need to scraplift a bit. Thanks for sharing and for being such an awesome parent as well as inspiration to us.

  • 26.
    Carrie said…

    Thanks for sharing! As a former education student, I am always fascinated about what goes on in IEP meetings. Sounds like he’s doing really well – and the letter is just too sweet! I know he’ll cherish that forever.

  • 27.
    LisaE said…

    As a speech therapist who’s attended LOTS of IEP meetings, I must say that I’m sure doing an IEP with you would be an utter joy! Simon is so blessed to have parents like you and your husband who celebrate what he CAN do, and help him with what he struggles with. Helping him be the best HE can be is what it’s all about. Even though I’m an utter stranger to you both, tell Simon I am proud of him, because I know lots of kids that don’t work as hard as he does! Blessings to you all~

  • 28.
    Patty said…

    Thanks for sharing, it’s a great inspiration!

  • 29.
    Lori said…

    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!

  • 30.
    Sarah Mullanix said…

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

  • 31.
    Diane said…

    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.

  • 32.
    christine h said…

    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.

  • 33.
    tchrtiff said…

    Ali, Thanks for sharing your layout and your life with us–so inspirational. I love your ‘everyday life’ philosphy.

  • 34.
    Olivia said…

    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.

  • 35.
    Susanne said…

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

  • 36.
    Wendy said…

    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!

  • 37.

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

  • 38.
    JanineBoyd said…

    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 :)

  • 39.
    Tracey said…

    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.

  • 40.
    Jill said…

    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!

  • 41.

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

  • 42.
    Linda said…

    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.

  • 43.
    kristen said…

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

  • 44.
    Laura said…

    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.

  • 45.
    Kari D said…

    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.

  • 46. said…

    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!

  • 47.
    Jamie said…

    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.

  • 48.
    Barb said…

    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

  • 49.
    Angi said…

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

  • 50.

    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!

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