I’m going to start today—the fourth and final day of teen scrapping week—with a hope. I really, really hope the ideas have been helpful to you, because, you know? All this thinking about teenagers has made me realize something: I’m thoroughly enjoying this phase of my life. That’s a huge realization for me, because I love babies. Love them. And I used to dread this day, when I’d be on the other side of motherhood, the side without any babies. But this side isn’t so bad. Sure, there are no delicious baby snuggles—but there are tradeoffs. I get to sleep all night, I can go anywhere I want without packing a diaper bag, and when the stomach flu makes its yearly visit to our house, everyone can throw up in the toilet. (Trust me, with four kids, that’s huge.) But what’s truly great about this phase of life is this: you know how, when you have babies, you look at them and you wonder “who will this child be when he grows up?”
Being a mom to teenagers means I get to see who they are becoming. I get to interact with them on a far more adult level. They might make me a little bit crazy sometimes, but they also make me deeply happy. What else can a mom want?
So, thanks. Thanks for taking this trip with me into teenageland. Care for four more ideas?
1. Document the small, everyday details
Think about the things that happen every day—are you getting those details down? They are priceless. Take the weekly drama of the bedroom cleaning. Really. When else in life are people such endearing slobs as when they’re teenagers? Perhaps instead of getting annoyed, take some photos. Document the stuff that’s hanging on the walls. Ask your teen how she or he feels about the bedroom mess. (Haley calls her room a “floordrobe” when it’s particularly messy.) What do your teens keep on their nightstand or dresser? What music plays when their alarm clock go off? What’s under the bed?
And that’s just one little corner of their world. Maybe you could document the unfathomable depths of your son’s backpack. What is a typical weekend like, or Friday night? What is your teen’s morning or after-school routine? How does he get to and from school, what TV show does she make sure never to miss?
There really are countless small details to scrap about!
In this layout, Lisa O. journals about the daily experience of having a teenager in the house:
I love that—the awkward questions themselves are priceless!
Idea Take Away Actually, there are two for this layout! First. Notice the big pennant Lisa uses as an anchor for her journaling space? I love that and am totally going to steal her idea. I’m a firm believer that journaling spaces are too often overlooked as a design element. We slap down the journaling and get it over with! But if you add some embellishment, shape, detail, color, or texture, your journaling becomes more visually important—and more likely to be read!
The second idea take away is Lisa’s photo choice. Teenager’s lives now are so dominated by easy accessibility to technology! (I don’t know about you, but I didn’t own my own camera until my twenties.) Raid your teen’s memory card or cell phone pics for some images. Their perspective on the world is so unique and revealing.
Do you have any daily rituals you share with your teen? My daughter, for example, asks me almost every day which shoes she should wear with her outfit. She almost never wears the ones I suggest, which always makes me laugh!
Idea Take Away The botanical square in the bottom left corner is actually a dingbat font that I cut out with my Silhouette. It’s called Melany Lane Patterns and I got it here, at myfonts.com. This is a recent find for me, but I can’t tell you how much I love it! There are lines, dots, zigzags, swirls. . . and endless possibilities.
Daily schedules are also fun to get down on a layout:
When you are writing about the things that happen during the day, let yourself use a casual voice. In this journaling I was trying to sound lighthearted and straightforward; I wanted to get down the more unusual details (like Nathan’s habit of sleeping in a hat because he thinks it will make his cowlicks go away), as well as the more common ones (favorite dinner). Also—it’s ok to write about the non-favorite parts of the day. Remember: real is good!
Idea Take Away Don’t let yourself be controlled by the thematic stylings of your scrapping supplies. The alphabet stickers I used on this (very fallish) layout came from Basic Grey’s Kissing Booth line, which is designed with Valentine’s Day in mind. Try to look at your supplies from a color or a style perspective and you’ll stretch their application.
2. Document the Big Moments
I loved reading all the comments yesterday about your favorite teenage memories. There were lots of small, intimate experiences (I am always impressed by the fact that some of you married your high school sweethearts!), but the big moments are pretty memorable too. Dances and football games and choir tours and getting your driver’s license. They’re big and so they deserve some big documentation, too.
Think about the important things in your teen’s life, the things he or she looks forward to for weeks. The sports they compete in, or the awards they win. What about the day the report card arrives in the mail? or the day of the ACT? Scrapping about the things they love will help them remember them better.
Of course, this begs the question: what if you aren’t there for the big events? I know that, for me, I try to be at everything. But sometimes I have to work, or another kid is sick, or life intervenes in the myriad ways it does. Here’s where it pays off to talk to your kids! You can ask them face to face, of course. I’ve found, though, that the answers to questions like “what happened at the dance?” tend to be of the one-word variety, three or four at most. “Nothing,” or “just the usual stuff,” or “we danced a lot” or there’s my perennial favorite, “fine”: none of these make for very good journaling. (Although it would be sort of funny to make a layout with just the word “fine” in the journaling space. Hmmmm.)
This is where you have to push a little bit. Look at their Facebook pages. Look at their friends’ and date’s Facebook pages. Send them an email asking for details, or even a series of texts. I’ve often just been straightforward with what I need; I simply say “I want to make a layout with these photos, can you tell me some details?” Or, ask one of the adults who was at the event. Even though you really have to dig to get the story, it will be worth it.
And! if your teen is particularly reticent, journal about your perspective on the big event. Maybe you stayed up until 1:35 in the morning doing laundry so his football uniform would be clean? Think about what your involvement in the event is, and journal about that if that is all you can do.
One of the highlight’s of Jake’s eighth grade year was the day he won the state track meet in high jump. (It was the highlight of my year, too, to be honest!) Documenting successes is particularly important because it lets them know you haven’t forgotten and that you still value it. Here’s the layout I made about Jake’s big win:
Idea Take Away I’ve always thought that layouts for boys are harder than those for girls, partly because of the embellishment issue. You can always stick a flower down for a girly layout. . . but it’s more complicated for boyish ones. (Note: I am not afraid to use flowers on boy layouts. But it still has to have the right “feel,” you know?) My solution: lots of words. I love using long titles with big letters. They grab your eye and give a powerful feel to the layout that makes it easier to leave the white space alone.
Confession: I haven’t scrapped Haley’s first prom yet. I might never scrap it, because she didn’t have a great time and I haven’t decided, yet, what to do with that. But her next big date dance, this fall’s homecoming, was an entirely different story and I couldn’t wait to make a layout!
Notice how the details about the actual dance are kind of sparse? That’s because her details were sketchy. “We had fun” and “it was great!” was about all I could get out of her. So the bulk of the story is about buying her dress. I can only tell a story I know, so that’s what I did!
Idea Take Away Lately, I am in love with 3.5”x5” photos. They might be the best size ever, big enough to not get lost amid embellishments, small enough that you can fit more than a handful. My photo printer will add the black Keyline borders I used on this layout for no extra charge, and I find myself clicking that “add borders” button with any photos that feel more formal. The border adds an elegance—and it makes assembling your layout much faster because nothing needs a mat.
3. Look to the Future
“I can’t wait until…” are words that teens say often. Until they’re sixteen, until they can start dating, until they can drive—or even until Friday or the end of math class. Anticipating the future is a huge thing for teens, because let’s face it, the future is knocking on their door.
When my kids go off to college, I’m keeping their scrapbooks. But I am sending them each with two things (well, and all the knowledge, love, learning, and skill I can teach them): the first is a denim quilt made from their old jeans (which I have been saving since they first wore jeans). The second is a scrapbook made up of highlights of their childhood. I’ve been planning this album for years now by keeping track of the photos I want to include, so that when I’m ready to make it I’ve already got most of the photos printed and waiting.
But I do look to the future in different ways, too. In this layout:
I used some pictures that came from a photo shoot Haley did for our local university’s concurrent enrollment program. In the journaling, I wrote about the intersection of present with future and what I hope hers brings her. Think about how your teen's current efforts will affect her future. What do you hope her future holds for her? How are you helping him develop his future right now?
Idea Take Away To make the journaling space on this layout, I had to improvise a little bit. I wanted to print it all on that pink patterned paper, but after my Silhouette ate a big chunk of it (I used a too-narrow font for my first attempt at the word “go” in the title) my plan was foiled. My compromise: I printed just part of the journaling on the paper and the rest on cardstock. To do this I: 1. print a test page after formatting the journaling space. 2. Layer the cardstock on top of the test page with a light source underneath it. (I used my light box, but a sunny window works just as well!) 3. Adhere the patterned paper scraps on top of the cardstock in the exact position I want them. 4. Run this doctored piece of patterned paper through my printer.
If you try this, make sure you know which direction your printer feeds the paper!
Emily and I are wearing fairly similar shoes these days. I’ve had the same worry about my kids' future that she expresses in this layout:
The worry is over the possibility of her daughter feeling like she’s being shoved out of the nest. It is good to let her know: it’s not that we want you to leave, just that we want to make sure your leaving is as successful as possible. I am going to make a similar page soon!
Idea Take Away Journaling spots are one of my favorite scrapbooking products—to buy! I have a hard time using them for actual journaling, though because (as this week has no doubt made obvious) I tend to write a lot of journaling. So I love the way Emily used the kraft journaling card as an impromptu photo mat. Sometimes it’s good to push yourself with a supply—instead of thinking “this won’t work” try asking “how could I make this work?”
4. Document Yourself!
I said this up there somewhere: the only story we can ever really tell is the story we know. You know your story, so what about making a layout that details your experiences as the mom of teenagers? I think that whatever happens to one family member happens to the entire family because we all experience it, one way or the other. Your kids becoming teenagers isn’t only their story—it’s yours, too.
In my layout:
I journaled about how my kids’ teenage experiences have helped me put to rest some of my own. During my days of dreading having teenagers, I had no idea that would happen. Peace comes from strange places sometimes! What have you learned from having teenagers? How has it changed you?
Idea Take Away Every once in awhile I like to format my journaling spaces like this one, with the paragraphs indented in random places and the widths inconsistent. I like how it loosens up the feel of the space and gives the layout a more unstructured feel.
And, one more plug for this: Get yourself in front of the camera with your kids! I detest having my picture taken. But somehow, I started a tradition of asking someone at every birthday party to take a photo of me and my birthday kid. I did this as a way of reconnecting myself to the day each child was born (delivery days? totally one of my life’s favorites!), reminding myself of that first moment of seeing those newborn faces. (All of the photos on this layout came from the most recent birthdays.) Like cake and balloons and presents, the photo-with-mom thing has become second nature, which makes it easier to turn the camera over.