trovvit

photograph your kid’s 3-D artwork in 5 easy steps

So a clay horse and a dragon walk into a bar  . . . 

Or, more likely, sit in a box under the bed . . . 

Step One: (Minutes)

Unpack the artwork.  Admire it in all its lumpy glory.  Ask about the project - what was fun, what was hard.   (If you’re feeling super organize-y make some notes about what they say).

Step Two: (Seconds)

Set up the light shed.  So, here’s where a piece of photo equipment really makes the difference.  I have an Impact Medium Light ShedIt costs $45, is collapsible, sets up in seconds and hangs in my closet.  It makes a world of difference.  I am not a photographer and not technical, but this thing is super easy to use. This is my setup - it looks silly, but works.

Step Three: (Minutes) 

Take pictures of the art. Using your camera phone, take 3-4 pictures of each of the pieces.  

The black velvety background generally reads best.  I use a lint brush to take off little bits of stuff on the black.  Play around with your lamps to get the best light.  Get the black as dark as you can and the art as true to its colors, but again, don’t stress, you’re going to be editing the picture on your phone later.

Step Four: (Whenever)

Edit the pictures. 

This is super easy.  Use the edit screen in your camera or download Snapseed from the app store.  Play around with the brightness, contrast, color and shadows, until it looks super sharp.  You can make the black background really deep if you go under Light and play around with Shadow and Black Point. (You can do this while waiting on hold with the airline). 

Step Five: (Minutes)

Create a Record in trovvit.  Download the trovvit app from the App Store (it’s free!). Set up an account in your kid’s name.  Follow the instructions to create a Record, and save it to your kid's trove under Art


You're done!  A whole year's worth of sculpts, puppets and papermache recorded in trovvit!  

You can share the artwork PRIVATELY with family members - they’ll see it in a fun feed and get email notifications when you post something new!  You can also pull all your records together in a trovvit portfolio - Hello, art school!

trovvit is not just for artwork - stay tuned for more trovvit tricks on how to record kids’ games, performances, projects (model boat building, vegetable garden), travels and milestones.  

Psst! Tell your friends and family about trovvit and please give us a super review in the App Store. (We all like stars on our work!)

  • Join us on Facebook for regular updates and related articles
  • Check us out on Instagram to get ideas of what to save to trovvit.
  • Or share this post with others by pinning on Pinterest!

remaster your record

When we were designing trovvit we thought hard about the name of the thing we were asking people to create to help organize their learning.  “Post” seemed impermanent - like a Facebook post - a missive that disappeared into one’s feed.  History? Intimidating.  Log Entry? A little Star Trek-y. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that).  Card? Postcard? Too cute.

We liked “record.”  As a noun, and as a verb. Noun: She set a personal record.  He has a fine record. Verb: Record your memories.  

Are we the sum of our records?  So much of our life seems subject to records from institutions - which may or may not fairly reflect anything about us.   I think that my public record - grades, addresses, tax record, voting record, job record - gives only a rough outline of who I am.  

I would prefer to set my own record - choosing what is important to me to recordwhat makes a fine record.  A grade from a school might reflect how hard I worked in a class - but it  won’t reflect what I pursue with passion - a record of books read, mountains hiked, gardens planted.  A record of failures and successes.  I want to record what I have learned, why I learned it, how I changed in response to failure.  My track record.

I am interested in mushrooms.  I bought a book.  Skye’s math teacher, Nick Fiori, and his wife Kristin, are amateur mycologists.  They spent a day with us in the woods, collecting.  We powered up the microscope, we poured over images in the books, we sorted, looked, talked.  With a little wine and butter, Nick cooked the chanterelles and the boletes.   In trovvit, I have a mushroom hunting record.  Photos of the mushrooms we identified, a description of where we found them, how we identified them, what they tasted like.  The next time we go, I'll create another trovvit record.  And so on.

 In this internet age it is common wisdom that, increasingly, people will learn outside traditional schools - in MOOCS, online language courses, certification courses in coding or designing.  I think that is probably true.  

But I think that another kind of “extra-curricular” learning - acquiring knowledge through experience and study -- on a hike, in church, at a public lecture, sailing across the bay, painting a picture -- is not revolutionary but actually pre-dates traditional schooling.  

PX0A7775.JPG

We designed trovvit to encourage people to recognize that these pursuits are a valuable form of learning.   The Oxford English Dictionary defines “learning” as: Noun: The acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught (emphasis added).  trovvit encourages you to record what you choose to experience and study - your track record - and fill in that rough outline . . .

30 second pitch?

We owe a huge thanks to Sheknows The Pitch, who gave us the opportunity to make this terrific piece.   

In October, Sheknows, a media platform for women, invited us to make a video about trovvit for their new program, The Pitch.  The Pitch supports women entrepreneurs by giving them the opportunity to put together a 30 second video pitch about their business and then publishes the videos on their platform.

At SheKnows, Jen Denton and Julia Cannon helped us refine our ideas and language and director Melissa cajoled, kidded and conned me into a lightning performance.  We owe them (and Sam Skey) a huge thanks times two, because they filmed us not once, but TWICE!

We think The Pitch rocks!  To check out our fellow entrepreneurs go to: http:// www.sheknows.com/special-series/the-pitch

 

 

advice for new parents ...

Start as you mean to go on.
118-1809_IMG.JPG

I think this was the single most valuable piece of advice I got when I became a parent.  Parenting is a series of choices made in chaos and the more that you can nail down healthy habits that you think will serve you in the long term, oddly, the more flexibility you have for the fun and silliness of kids.  For example, if you think your kid (and you) will be happier if they nap everyday, then choose a time, commit, and put them in their room everyday.  If you cook for your kids and want to prepare one meal per seating, then resist the temptation to cater to tastes, and prepare one meal.  This advice also applies to the dreaded babybook . . . .

When Skye and Charlie were born and throughout their babyhoods, I wanted to keep all the wonderful mementos - wrist I.D.’s, birth announcements, baby footprints, notes from friends, and records of their first foods, words, steps.

123-2304_IMG.JPG

But it was chaos, so I did my best and threw everything in a 3-ring binder.  It didn’t get any less busy as they headed into preschool - so into the binder went first stories, drawings, letters from my parents, class pictures.  It looked nothing like the classy babybook someone had given me, but it was saved (kind of ) somewhere at least.

If I were having a baby today, I’d start as I meant to go on - and save it all to trovvit.  I’d start with sonograms and share it with family and a few friends (Facebook is nice, but do all those folks really want to see pictures of your sonogram?).  A photo of Skye in that beautiful blanket shared with the aunt who gave it.

That video of Charlie climbing out of the crib onto the mantel (yikes!).  The email my mom wrote when she looked after Skye for a weekend.  And then trovvit would also be there for first school days, poems, t-ball.  

What is the purpose of putting these things into trovvit?  Nostalgia?  Yes.  

But it is also a record of an evolution.  Skye and Charlie love to flip through their binders - messy and odd tho’ they are.  “Who wrote this note?  Were my feet really that small?  How old was I when I drew that?”   

But much of Skye and Charlie’s special moments are buried deep in a photo library somewhere.  (Just finding the images for this post took FOREVER)  

I’m slowly digging them out - birthday parties, halloween costumes -- and loading them into trovvit.  It’s fun for me to have a record of them - birth to teen - and important for them to be able to see how far they’ve come . . .

And now I’ve started as I mean to go on with trovvit - all of their sports, music, adventures, artwork is collected and shared - sometimes once a week - sometimes multiple times a day- through trovvit.

 

 

remember filofaxes?

The world is so full of a number of things
I’m sure we should be as happy as kings”
— Happy Thought - Robert Louis Stevenson
    Filofaxes?  Remember them?  I did, the other day, sitting in a cafe while it rained outside, and I smiled.  I had a British boyfriend in the late ‘80’s who was very stylish and I was super impressed by his Filofax - all those tabs and receipts and tickets and contacts.   Evidence of his super busy but super organized life.

 

Filofaxes?  Remember them?  I did, the other day, sitting in a cafe while it rained outside, and I smiled.  I had a British boyfriend in the late ‘80’s who was very stylish and I was super impressed by his Filofax - all those tabs and receipts and tickets and contacts. Evidence of his super busy but super organized life.

    And CD towers?  When I was first dating Torrance in the late ‘90’s, he had one.

 

And CD towers?  When I was first dating Torrance in the late ‘90’s, he had one.

And photo albums?  After our 2001 wedding Torrance and I received a binder full of 4X6 photographs - proofs from which we were to choose images for our wedding album.  They are still in that binder.    All the “things” that were in those Filofaxes are now tucked away in our phones - easily accessed, shared, backed up.  We still own those CD’s, but we saved them into our iTunes/hard drive and we can (and do!) easily listen to any track, any time on any device.  No dusting.  Our wedding photos?  Torrance scanned them in and made several books we shared with our families.     Saving our kids stuff to trovvit is just a natural progression.  Yes, in the moment it feels a little overwhelming - where do I start?  But just like we loaded our contacts into our phone for the first time, we upload a photo of the first bike ride, scan in a poem, share a video of the kindergarten graduation on trovvit. With trovvit we can "play" the records of our kid's moments, anywhere on any device.  Like the wedding album, our parents have a "copy" of what our kids make and learn and do.  And though we keep some hard copies of their work - we don't have to worry about losing Charlie's National Parks Junior Ranger Badge.  It's in trovvit!    Over the next few weeks, as kids bring home work from their first semester, we will post how-to videos about saving your kids “things” to trovvit.  And then we will be "as happy as kings!"    I promise you will look back at the folders, boxes and portfolios and think, Remember that?

And photo albums?  After our 2001 wedding Torrance and I received a binder full of 4X6 photographs - proofs from which we were to choose images for our wedding album.  They are still in that binder.

All the “things” that were in those Filofaxes are now tucked away in our phones - easily accessed, shared, backed up.  We still own those CD’s, but we saved them into our iTunes/hard drive and we can (and do!) easily listen to any track, any time on any device.  No dusting.  Our wedding photos?  Torrance scanned them in and made several books we shared with our families.


Saving our kids stuff to trovvit is just a natural progression.  Yes, in the moment it feels a little overwhelming - where do I start?  But just like we loaded our contacts into our phone for the first time, we upload a photo of the first bike ride, scan in a poem, share a video of the kindergarten graduation on trovvit. With trovvit we can "play" the records of our kid's moments, anywhere on any device.  Like the wedding album, our parents have a "copy" of what our kids make and learn and do.  And though we keep some hard copies of their work - we don't have to worry about losing Charlie's National Parks Junior Ranger Badge.  It's in trovvit!

Over the next few weeks, as kids bring home work from their first semester, we will post how-to videos about saving your kids “things” to trovvit.  And then we will be "as happy as kings!"

I promise you will look back at the folders, boxes and portfolios and think, Remember that?

What trovvit is teaching me . . .

By Laurel Watts

Is trovvit just for recording my kids’ passions?  Using trovvit, I discovered something about myself . . .

In early September, I was walking down Clinton Street after drop off and ran into my friend Alison.  Direct as always, she asked how I was, and reported that she was feeling antsy. “Everyone else in my family is headed back to school – what am I doing new?  What am I learning?”  By chance, that week, I came across a blurb in a parenting magazine, “It’s back-to-school season!  What do you want to learn next?”  Editors from the magazine had answered, “I want to learn to be a strong swimmer” and “Archery!” and “I’d love to start playing the piano again.”

When I first set up my trovvit account, it defaulted to my (empty) feed and a bummer of a notice that said, “Your story has not yet started!  Post an achievement here!”  I would quickly click off this page into Charlie and Skye’s feed, which I had begun to populate with photos of their art work, travel, riding, cycling, LEARNING.  

My feed remained . . . empty.

“Here goes!” I thought.  Since I was cleaning all the old photos off my phone and into trovvit, I began to look for photos I could put in my feed. Lumped in amongst hundreds of other pictures, I found shots I had taken of things I cooked. Organized in my bin I could see a pattern:

 

“Aha!”  I thought.  “Apparently, I make sweet things – I pick blueberries and make pies, strawberries and make jam, apples and make sauce.”  I photograph them so I can learn what I liked, what I did well, how I would do it better next time.   So I do have a passion I pursue!  It took organizing them in trovvit to see what I was learning.   I wonder what else I do . . .

What makes your child tick?

by Ashley Goodale

On October 20, The Washington Post published an interesting Opinion piece by Phyllis Fagell, entitled Not just high schoolers anymore: my middle school students are feeling the pressure to succeed.   The author, a middle school counselor in Bethesda, Md. observes that,

"as a community, we are not making it easy for kids to take the risks that lead to self-discovery. The stress level among my 13 and 14-year-old students approximates what I saw several years ago when I counseled high school seniors. There is a sense that they need to follow a prescribed path, to perform well in every discipline. Parents and students fear that even middle school choices might have an impact on college admissions. As a result, when students earn a low grade or don’t like their math placement or get cut from a team, they can become unmoored."

Ms. Fagell encourages parents to,

"give students permission to be brave explorers. We can emphasize that the highs and lows are both useful because they reveal what makes them tick — what sparks their intellectual curiosity and brings them joy. At the dinner table, we can ask them about their favorite (and most detested) subjects. We can gently inquire whether they actually like playing travel soccer four days a week. Maybe they have been thinking they might like to try cooking or painting.”

Finally, Ms. Fagell argues that in order to lower our children’s stress levels, we need to “honor what makes them unique and help them develop self-awareness.”  

Here at trovvit, we think fostering your child’s passions is key to their future happiness.  We can honor what makes them unique by keeping track of what is engaging our children – uploading a picture of their drawing of a ball gown, a trip to the local Science museum, a certificate from a coding class.  We can help them develop self awareness by showing them what is collected in their trovvit account, and encouraging them to add to it.  And what trovvit can do is help create a visual history of “what makes them tick - what sparks their intellectual curiosity and brings them joy.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2015/10/20/not-just-high-schoolers-anymore-my-middle-school-students-are-feeling-the-pressure-to-succeed/

What I learned at the New York Times Symposium on College Admissions and Preparation

NYTIMES logo.png

By Laurel Watts

I spent Saturday in a packed auditorium at the New York Times Building and heard from five panels about the best way to go about applying to college.   The panel participants gave thoughtful, detailed advice to an audience that appeared to be 75% parents and 25% students

Know thyself

The overall takeaway was “know thyself.”  Or, as Sarah Meyers McGinty said, ask yourself, “How do I roll?”

In order to choose a college that is a good “fit,” you need to know who you are and what you are interested in.  Amy Jarich, Admissions, Berkeley

To write a compelling college essay in your authentic voice, you need to reflect on yourself -- what personality trait you would like to convey and what story in your life reveals that trait.  Sarah Myers McGinty, Education researcher and author.

Or conversely, what interesting story do you have to tell and how does that story reveal your thinking, writing skill, personality?  Bruce Weber, New York Times.

College rankings are meaningless, unless the criteria by which they are ranked are important criteria to you.  Jordan Goldman, founder of Unigo.

Finally, “College is a transformative experience, so ask “How do I want to be different?”  Alexander McCormick, Director, Nat’l Survey on Student Engagement.

All good.  But, at 15 or 16 years old, how do you know yourself?  Where do you start?  

Sarah Myers McGinty suggested that students begin in ninth grade to stockpile potential material -- a list of things done in the community, in their context.  She suggested that students keep a file on the computer “where you can throw stuff.  Look into your life, if you understand this moment or commitment, you can understand me.” Evan Cranston, a recent Brown graduate said, “I wish I had the advice of keeping a list of the really cool things I did in my life.”

As my kids, Skye and Charlie, add materials to their trovvit accounts, a story emerges.  Actually, several possible stories emerge from their trovvit records organized into narratives.  A record of an award won.  A record of a weekly practice, an annual puppet parade, a game lost, a tough hike, a poetry collection.   Their “stockpile” on trovvit will serve them well in only a few years . . .