The Pleasure (or pressure) of a Scrapbook

At least 10 years ago, a friend introduced me to the idea of scrapbooking. It started with a recruiting album for my home based business. I wanted a way to tell my story to others; to share the business that I loved with my hostesses. This friend helped me cut out some pictures, add stickers and journal to tell the story. We worked on it a few nights together and I was really impressed with how it turned out. And apparently it was pretty good- I was the top recruiter in my group that year! It was fun too! Figuring out what pictures to use, what I wanted to say in a few sentences, how to “accessorize” my page.

Shortly after that I was invited to another scrapbooking party. I had a really hard time picking the 8-10 pictures of one subject that they recommended I bring. I settled on some pictures of our first trip to Phoenix to visit my brother and his family. That night we learned all kinds of things about scrapbooking. We learned to choose pictures to tell a story, how to incorporate colors, the importance of journaling and that the stickers come last. We also learned about cropping pictures. This was a new concept for me and frankly, I didn’t like it. I’m a photography buff, have been since high school. I had never thought about cutting up my pictures. I worked hard to get what I wanted in each shot, so the idea of cutting something out was foreign. But after a lot of coaxing I took the plunge and cropped a picture. And it didn’t kill me! In fact, it looked good. It was amazing how cutting the picture down actually made it better. {Interesting concept; trimming out the clutter helps you focus.} I was pretty much hooked at that point.

That’s not really surprising though. I love most creative things and have tried quite a few over the years. I’m a pretty good seamstress- made my prom dresses in high school – but once my boys out grew infancy that hobby kind of took a back seat. There are lots of things you can sew for little girls…boys, not so much. I did lots of cross-stitch back in the 80’s when it was popular. I don’t think my bifocal contacts could take that anymore. I remember doing macrame’ with my mom in the 70’s. When we were first married I did lots of arrangements and wall hangings with dried and silk flowers – even sold them at craft shows. But, I digress.

Scrapbooking felt like a creative hobby with a purpose. I could capture my children’s lives; all their firsts and special moments. I could share the albums with their wives and children. A beautiful token of my love for them.

Those who know me well know I like things to be in order. Things have to be organized; chronologically, alphabetically, by size, grouped by color. Whatever the trait, they just have to be organized. So of course, I started my scrapbooking adventure by organizing my photos. I put them in shoe boxes with index dividers I bought at a garage sale (see, I knew they’d come in handy for something!). Each box holds one year. Then within each box I put them in calendar order grouping the events or activities; winter/snow fun, Easter, spring, swimming in the summer, fall fun, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. That still wasn’t enough organization. When I thought about the fact that I have three kids so would need to do three albums, I realized I would need to separate each event into three groups of pics – one for each boy. So, I spent a lot of time organizing pictures – this was before digital cameras.

I’ve been scrapbooking for 10 years now. Not one of my children’s books has 10 years of pictures in it. Not even close! The first child’s (because it’s always this way) is done from birth to 2 1/2 years old. The second child’s book is done from birth to his first birthday (actually I ran out of tape runner tonight so his first birthday pics aren’t stuck down, but the layout is done). And the third child….well, I got tired of doing baby pages…so, he has some pages starting when he was a toddler and going through his 4th birthday. They all have random pages from elementary school. As my kids would say, EPIC FAIL!

I think my tendency to be a bit OCD might contribute to my challenges with getting the albums done. I have a few rules about my scrapbooking:

  1. It must be chronological
  2. It must not skip any events or get them out of order
  3. It must include all the people who were there
  4. It must be equally creative for each child
  5. It must include journaling the story that goes with the pictures
  6. It must tell the story of their life!

No pressure on myself or anything.

It should be easier now. I’ve transitioned from my scrapbooking stuff being packed up in boxes that were pulled out and spread all over the table while I worked on an album to a dedicated space in our home. I have everything laid out around my chair in the workspace; photo boxes (I upgraded to the real photo box kind) cutting tools, markers, accessories and the notebook I use to plan the layouts. I’m a lucky girl. Now it’s just a matter of making the time.

So tonight I come down stairs to scrapbook for a little while – it’s been months! I spend an hour figuring out where I left off. I can’t just pick up and go on (see rules1 and 2 above) or things will be out of order. I decide on the next page to do, a birthday. I’ve scrapbooked a lot of birthdays, how do I make this page unique (see rule 4 above)? Hmm…hmmm…ooh! I have an idea. I choose the pictures, crop them to fit, lay them out with the carefully chosen embellishments. Now I  just need to tell the story. There’s not picture of me at the party. I was there, that much I remember. I wonder if there is a picture in the box still. Come to think of it, there isn’t a picture of Grandpa and I know he was there. This isn’t good (see rule 3 above). I guess it is what it is. I can’t go back and recreate the moment. I’ll just have to include in the journaling who all was there. Even if there isn’t a picture at least there will be a record of who came. So, what did we do for that birthday? Um…we had cake, there were guests, um…he opened presents, what did he get. Oh there’s a picture of the presents. Wouldn’t it be fun to include what his favorites were? And maybe who he got them from? I should have filled out his baby book or kept a journal. I can’t remember anything other than what is in the pictures. This is bad (see rule 5 above).

And so, two hours have passed. And that one birthday party is not captured in the album.

My boys have had 42 birthdays between them. Math is not my strong suit, but if I average 2 hours per birthday that’s 84 hours of scrapbooking on birthdays alone! Not to mention holidays, play days, vacations, school, soccer, band, scouts…(see rule 6 above). I am completely overwhelmed.

The way I see it I have a few options. I can quit now knowing there’s little hope of ever catching up. I can throw the rules out the window and just throw together a scrapbook for each boy. Or, I can keep plugging away. Getting lost in the memories as I sort the pictures. Feeding my soul by using my creativity to make a special gift for my boys. Maybe its the experience of creating that is my gift to them. As I sit at my scrapbook table, one of them is inevitably watching TV or playing a video game in the same room. Each picture I come across conjures up another memory I feel compelled to share. We talk, we laugh, we share some special moments. And that is enough. One day their albums will be done. And I will start on my grandchildren’s albums. I will probably be behind on them too. But I will enjoy the experience.

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2 Comments

Filed under Family, Legacy, Organization, Scrapbooking

2 responses to “The Pleasure (or pressure) of a Scrapbook

  1. I love this Judy!! Keep going, don’t give up…go digital. I just opened three new 12×12 pages that arrived in the mail and I stood and stared at them for 10 minutes. I cherish them. Have a great day.

  2. Maria

    omg, yeah, hate scrapbooking, thanks for reminding me why! Love and miss you always!

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