Journal and Story-led Scrapbooking

Three of my favorite things:

1) My family, 2) Writing, and 3)Reminiscing by looking through old photos

This is why I love scrapbooking. I get to combine all 3 of those things.

Ethan turned 5 this last weekend and I wanted to see if I could get his scrapbook up to date by his birthday.  I had finished a couple of layouts, but I had not done much since his birthday last year. We keep all our photos in Picasa on our computer. I browsed through the months and started thinking about what really characterized Ethan this past year, how he liked to spend his time, what he was  excited about, and the big milestones. The main question I kept in mind was “What do I want to remember about Ethan from this year?” I picked photos based on the answers to that question. It was an incredibly freeing way to choose photos. We have hundreds of them and it can easily be overwhelming. Narrowing down the choices this way made it much more enjoyable. And, because we have the photos on our computer, I’m not losing the photos I didn’t print. They are still there.

Although, I prefer to put my scrapbooks together chronologically, this approach allows for more freedom than just scrapping one event after another. I did layouts on relationships between Ethan and his siblings. I did a page just about what he likes and doesn’t like. I did one page on his obsession with video games. The focus was on telling Ethan’s story and not just show-casing fancy paper, stickers or the latest scrapping technique. I love all of those things, but they can get in way of actually getting things done sometimes. I’m focusing on simplifying so the photos can spend less time in boxes or on the computer and more time in the kids’ albums. Even at the ages of 3 and 5, Audrey and Ethan ask me to read “their” books. I have a few pages to wrap up still, but here are some of the highlights:

Ethan got a brother!

I love this page of things about Ethan. They are the sort of things you think you’ll always remember when you’re living it, but are actually easy to forget as they grow.

2-page spread on Ethan as the first-born. I wrote about what it was like to see him become a big brother and how he often asks who I love the best!

A close/cropped shot of the journaling (I know it’s still hard to read- sorry).

Documenting a trip to Chetek.

The picture of this page isn’t as clear. It’s an entire page of photos of Ethan playing the Wii/PlayStation. I wish I could say all he did was look at books and build things, but this is our life. It’s something he loves and I thought I should document it.

This approach took the focus off of the paper and embellishments and put it on the story. The journaling became more important. You might not be able to read them all, but I did a considerable amount of writing on each page. As much as I have had to force myself to journal on the kids’ scrapbooks, I have to admit that has been Ethan and Audrey’s favorite parts when we look through their albums. It’s quickly becoming my favorite part too. Our blog archives have become a great resource as I think of what to write. Another awesome source of inspiration has been the book writing motherhood by Lisa Garrigues. It’s full of tips and writing prompts specifically geared toward helping mothers “mine their everyday lives for stories to preserve, publish, or pass on.”

Scrapbooking my Baby

I didn’t really do any scrapbooking before I became a mom. I put some basic albums together, but not many.

Then I had Ethan and I finally felt like I really wanted to dive in. Well, I didn’t exactly “dive”, but I dipped my little toe in and discovered that the water was “just fine” and soon found myself swimming in albums, idea books, tools, papers, stickers, . . . That was almost 5 years ago. My approach keeps changing, but my commitment to capturing these moments doesn’t.

For Ethan’s first year of life, I completed 20 front and back pages. That’s an entire album for one year. It was fun and I was never more than a few months “behind”. Then I had Audrey. My free time decreased a little and I now had 2 children to document. So, I started to think about my pace, what I could actually sustain, if I was going to keep these albums or give them to the kids when they got bigger and what my point was in doing this. Now, I have 3 children (and that’s all, thank you!) whose lives I want to record, but I want this to be fun and not a burden hanging over me.

This is how I decided to approach Isaac’s baby album-

  • I’m doing these scrapbooks with the idea that I’ll be giving them to each child when they graduate. With that in mind, I’m going to try to keep the number of albums down. Ethan is not going to want 18 photo albums. So….
  • I’m letting myself go a little crazy on the first year album. So many changes, growth and milestones happen that first year. It’s really fun to document all of that.
  • After the first year, I’m slowing the pace down a lot (more on that in a future post).
  • I’ve found that planning out what I want to include in the album ahead of time helps me select just the photos that I’ve already taken that serve that purpose and helps me to be more directed and mindful as I take photos in the future.
  • My page plan for Isaac’s baby album (which will include his first 2 years of life) looks like this (not necessarily in this order): collage of monthly photos, pregnancy photos, letter from me to Isaac, birth story and hospital  photos, early days at home, Christmas, Easter, Baby Dedication, first birthday, photos with siblings, photos with Daddy, photos with mommy, 2nd birthday, 2 page spreads for every 3 months that include favorite photos and journaling of milestones/routine/highlights.
  • I’m making a list of types of photos and moments that I want to capture and putting it somewhere as a visible reminder.
  • I’m making a renewed commitment to include lots of journaling- stories of what Isaac was like, what our life was like, how much we love him, what his siblings think of him and what they do with him. These are the things that Isaac is going to really appreciate as he gets older.

This is my progress so far. I’m about 9 months “behind”, but I’m happy with that!




I need to finish writing out Isaac’s birth story still.



Yesterday was a crazy day.

It all started on Monday night. I took off for a Scrapbooking evening at our church and left Nathan and the kids at home. Shortly after I left, Nathan notice Ethan was acting a little more tired and cuddly and he seemed warm.

He took his temp with our super cool temporal thermometer. Everyone should have one of these things if they have kids because the alternatives of getting a rectal, underarm or mouth temp aren’t fun. This thermometer works by rubbing it across the head. Easy-peasy.

104 degrees. That’s high. Nathan freaked and tried to call me. I didn’t have a cell phone with me. He called the church. We were downstairs so we didn’t hear the phone. Nathan gave Ethan some tylenol and Ethan puked it up. Nathan is still freaking out so he calls my friend Marie for some advice. She has 9 (due with 10 this fall) kids. She gave some advice and came over with some Motrin. Nathan put Ethan in the tub with cold water. You can imagine how much he liked that! And then he tucked him into bed and kept checking on him until I got home.

The rest of the night included at least 4 trips into Ethan’s room since he was throwing up. At 11:30 we called clinic so we could get the on-call doctor. Ethan’s temp was still pretty high and I couldn’t convert to according to the chart I had telling me when to call. We were happy to discover that it was our doctor who was on call and she called us back and told us what to watch for.

On Tuesday, Ethan basically laid on the couch all day and his temp stayed high. He complained of a tummy ache and only ate breakfast. He kept going to the bathroom often, but not a lot seemed to be coming out. So, between that, his temp and complaining about his tummy. I decided we should have the doctor look at him. Not an easy accomplishment being a 1 vehicle family. By the time Nathan came home, I had packed in over-night bag for Ethan and myself in case this was appendicitis. We took off at 3:00. Several times on the way, he said he felt like puking and he was crying because his tummy hurt.

As soon as Dr. Beulke looked at him, he felt better. Go figure. No tummy pain when she poked him. Temp was down to 100. She was a little concerned the the symptoms might indicate a bladder infection. That’s very uncommon in boys and ususally indicates something else is wrong. The initial lab work came back negative, but we will get more detailed results by Friday. We were releaved and a little perplexed that he got better so quickly. Today, he is still a little warm and lethargic. I hope it’s a bug that passes soon.

Then, last night, I went to a meeting for the Bible Study leaders that was at our church. On the way home, about a mile from the church, I was pulled over by a police officer. He told me that I wasn’t staying between the lines and that he had been following me for a little while. So, he checked my license and insurance and looked me up and all that stuff and then came back and told me to do him a “favor” and “keep between the lines”. Whatever. I had been between the lines. I personally think he targeted me because I was leaving the church and there is an AA meeting that meets there on Tuesday night. I was very upset.

That was my Tuesday. Crazy day.

Everyday Photo List and my new photo album

I found a really cool list on Shutterfly. It’s a whole page of ideas of everyday photos. Here are a few from the list:
Rooms in your house
What you eat for breakfast
Work desk
The backs of your kids(spouse) as they leave the house
The exterior of your house
Piles- paper, laundry, dishes, coats, DVD’s
Pieces of the whole- part of your coffee cup, a protion of your favorite chair, clothes hanging in your child’s closet
Your morning/evening drink
Here is the whole list.
I also wanted to show you a picture of my very cool new photo album. I realize that there isn’t really anything “new” about it. It’s like the photo albums that have been used for years and year, but I love it because it has 5- 4×6 slots on each page. Just enough to put a few picture in and use one or two slots for fancy paper and journaling.

Thoughts on scrapbooking

I finished this layout yesterday and thought I would post a picture of it. The lighting made the page look a little yellow. The background page is actually pale pink and white. But the point of the photo is to show you all the journalling.
I’ve been reading some different blogs on scrabooking and one that has been particularly interesting to me lately is this one. She has some really crazy ideas that might rock your world in regard to how you do your albums and sort your photos. She even suggests that you don’t have to do all your photos in chronological order! I mentioned this to the girls at our srapping getaway and I was almost kicked out of the house.
Here are some recent ideas that I’ve picked up from reading her blog. Some of these ideas are from a book that she wrote called Photo Freedom.
  1. Your kids may not be interested in books and books of photos just dedicated to them. If you do albums for them. They aren’t going to want 40 albums when they move out!
  2. Go ahead and print the photos that you’re “90 %” certain that you will want to include in an album and then put them in some sort of photo binder I can leaf through so I can see what photos I have as I think through what I feel inspired to work on. They will never end up in an album if they are stuck on your computer.
  3. Display current photos around the house so they can be enjoyed now.
  4. Put your albums somewhere your family and friends can enjoy them– even as you are adding pages to it. Don’t wait until you finish the last page. These are meant to be enjoyed now.
  5. One of the most powerful things about scrapbooking is the ability to add meaning to your photos. I’m all for a beautiful layout, but more important than that, you need to journal on your pages so you can remember specific thoughts, emotions, moments, milestones, funny stories. . . You get the idea. As I work on my pages from our first year of marriage, I want to remember what it was like to adjust to married life and some specific things about the process, and as I work on my kids albums I want to remember what it was like to be pregnant, give birth, adjust to being a new mom, and all the cute, funny, and challenging things Ethan and Audrey did. These are the things that will be most meaningful to anyone who looks at those scrapbooks down the line.

I don’t do all those things I just mentioned, but they are things that I’m thinking about and working on implementing into my process. I havn’t done enough journaling on my pages so that’s what I’m becoming more passionate about right now. The page I did last night is an example of journaling the things I wanted to remember about the first days and weeks of having Audrey home.

I hope you are all having a lovely Sunday! We’re getting ready to head over to Blakes for a moving party.


Here are some pictures of the scrapbooking area that Nathan set up for me for Mother’s Day. He also adapted the picture frame so that it’s magnetic. I love it! I can switch out pictures whenever I like! I’m getting ready for a weekend of srapbooking with some friends soon. I thought I would take some time to do a layout of Ethan during nap time. I think the last picture speaks for itself!


I’m 32 now. 2 years past 30! Nathan made waffles for breakfast and presented me with my birthday presents. Here are 2 that I’m really excited about:

I’ve been thinking of getting a heart rate monitor for a while and a friend of mine who is a trainer recommended the Polar brand. I’m using some birthday money for this. It’s the F6 model and it’s pink!

This is the coolest book. It has tons of layouts and and specifically maps out sizes of each page element. One of the neatest things is that it also includes a deck of laminated cards with a thumbnail of many of the sketches in the book.
To finish off the day, Nathan brought home sesame chicken for supper and he even took off from work a little early so he would have time to get it and still be home by regular supper time.