Before I begin today's post, I wanted to take a moment to thank Marnie for her amazing post on Saturday. Even though she never brags, Marnie keeps this place going. She is the one who posts the weekly giveaway posts and monthly debuts and she always makes a point to add personality to each and every post. Her pages are the perfect combination of humor and soul. She is witty, kind, caring, and loving. We are very lucky to have her as our leader and I wanted to make sure she knows how cherished she is and how thankful we are for her. Thank you for all you do, Marnie.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program:
In 2008, I started taking daily photos of my then 3-year-old son, David. At that age, kids change quickly and I wanted to capture all of his moments and his spirit as much as I could. This was the same year the 7Gypsies ATC card holder was becoming popular. At the time, I was taking mixed media classes, and when I received a holder as a gift, I decided to create a project combining my photos, art, and the holder.
Each day, I printed my daily photo and painted and stamped an ATC card before I attached the photo to it. My goal was to fill the spinner with a year's worth of photos. I made it to week 24 before I gave up. (Here's a link to see them all.) That's 168 ATC cards. I am not one to give up on a project. In fact, I think that's one of the very very few I've ever walked away from and having it sit on my table was a regular reminder of my "failure." So when we moved to our current house, the holder ended up in a pile in the garage and I tried to forget about it.
I know some people display their layouts in their studio or even frame them around the house. For example, Kelly has this wonderful basket so her kids can grab and look through their favorite albums anytime.
Not me. My layouts sit in their albums above the shelf that stores my supplies. They are organized and I take them down anytime my son asks me to look at some, but in general, they are not accessible to him in that he can't just grab one on his own and look at it.
I will, from time to time, display some of our recent minibooks and guests, or even sometimes David, will thumb through those, but they sit on a high up shelf where David, now six, has to ask me to reach it for him. And, more often than not, they are there cause they look pretty and not because I try to encourage him to revisit all the wonderful memories and stories in them.
For the last year, I've been working out daily on the treadmill in our garage. The little boy, who is only two, hangs out with me in the pack and play but David is free to color or play with legos in the living room if he chooses to do so. Every now and then he will wander into the garage and hang out with us. During one of these days in mid-May, he grabbed the ATC holder (which he knows he can touch) and started looking through the pictures in it.
As I started the short running portion of my exercise, I put my headphones on and when I saw he was talking to me, I asked if he could wait a few minutes. When I was done, he said "I have two things to tell you. One, can we play with this toy again?" (He was pointing at a broken cardbord box he had in one of the photos.) When I told him I wasn't sure we still had the toy, he said, "Ok and the second thing is, looking through this makes me think good thoughts."
His words took my breath away. He had recently been telling me about how he sometimes feels lonely when he's in his room (or at school) and that makes him think sad thoughts and I was telling him that he can always come hug me and that when I feel sad, I try to think good thoughts that make me happy. After our conversation, I'd been worried about him feeling sad and trying to think of ways to work on it with him, and hearing him tell me that my "failed" project was making him happy brought tears to my eyes.
I asked him why it made him happy and he said that he liked seeing pictures of him and his daddy and the pretty art. Not that this should come as a surprise, but I realized yet again that my boy doesn't care about the quality of the photos or the design principles I might or might not have followed in my cards. He didn't care about color theory. He didn't care if I thought it was well balanced. He didn't care that I hadn't finished all 52 weeks. He cared that it had pictures of him and pictures of us and that it had happy colors. And that it was about him.
I asked him if he'd like to take it to his room so that anytime he felt sad, he could look at it as much as he wanted and he nodded. He took it to his room and put it inside the drawer so that his little brother couldn't rip it. It now sits next to his legos and other toys.
The next morning, he said, "you know what mommy, last night I was feeling sad but then I looked at the pictures and they made me happy."
I can't think of a better reason to scrapbook or create art.
This experience made me think about how I wanted to make an effort to make my art more accessible to my kids on a regular basis. I know my two year old is a little too young and will likely want to pull the embellishments off. So for him I could do a photo book or a digital layout. Both of these have no moving pieces and they can easily be reprinted if he rips them. This way, he gets to enjoy them and I don't have to worry about him "ruining it."
For David, I can choose which ones he has more independant access to so that the more fragile pages are still on the higher shelves, but the simpler pages can be accessible to him on a regular basis so he doesn't need my permission to look through them. His words made me remember that these pages I make are for my kids. They are for them to enjoy and remember. And that these albums/projects are not just for "someday." They are also for right now. One of the greatest gifts I can give my children is the appreciation of life as it happens.
Many of us tend to look back and remember the "good old days." What if we could treasure and celebrate the days as we live them? That, to me, is the true gift of scrapbooking the daily life.
So, if you're like me, and put your projects out of reach for fear that they might get "destroyed" or hide projects that you might consider a "failure," I hope that you take the time to sort through them and see if your kids might want to touch, feel, experience some of these on their own. See if you can make your art more accessible to them.
This is not just for your kids, by the way, it's also true for guests, friends, roommates, significant others, or whomever is in your daily life. Making the projects accessible means more people get to experience your photos, stories, and art. And they get to do so right now: while you're still around and can see the joy it brings into their life.