A few weeks ago, I went running on the river trail in a canyon that's close to my house. There were still some piles of old, dirty snow, and the wind was bitingly chilly, but for the first time, it felt like spring: some of the naked branches on the mountain ash trees had started turning the palest shade of red and the big tooth maples had just the tiniest hints of new buds at their tips. More than that, though, the light was the color of spring (even though the temperature hadn't quite managed it).
The world reminded me on that run of how much I love spring. I'm almost as fond of it as I am of fall, but for entirely different reasons: spring is all about beauty coming back into the world, and about seing colors again, and rejuvenation.
It's about beginnings.
So I thought it would be a good topic to explore for April's Write Saturday: the beginnings we have in our lives. There are the large, noticeable beginnings—weddings and new babies, for example—that sometimes even warrant their very own albums. But there are also smaller starts, some that don't even feel like beginnings until you look back and see them in a different light. Looking at the start of something helps you see what you might've felt but couldn't see yet.
For nine angles to journal about some of the beginnings in your life, consider the start of:
1. a time period. The start of a new year. Or a new grade in school. But also think about how time structures your life in more specific ways: the start of a new goal or dream, a change in your daily routines, even a subtle shift in the way you live.
2. your day. OJ and oatmeal? The newspaper and some toast? A spin class and a smoothie? How do you start your day? In this layout, I wrote about both the rushed morning routines and the times we manage to fit in a warm cup of cocoa before school:
3. a habit. One of my sons is a whistler—when he's happy and engaged in a project, he whistles. And I still remember when he started this habit...sitting in the grass one summer afternoon when he was four, I taught him how to whistle. What habits do your kids have? How did they start? What connections can you draw between the start and how the habit continues? (I like to think that he whistles when he's happy because he was happy when he learned how to whistle!)
4. a responsibility. This could be something big like a new job. Or anything smaller, a task at work, or a school assignment, or a routine like homework. (Remember how it felt the first time your oldest child brought home homework?) For this layout, I wrote about the start of my son's snow-shoveling responsibilities:
5. connections to the things in your life. One night this week, my 16-year-old was looking through his baby scrapbook for a school project, and he came across a picture of our house, sixteen years ago—when our now-enormous sycamores were barely taller than me. He was astounded at the difference. We feel a connection to those trees—they are our trees, old friends. This made me think about the start of connections and I decided I need to make a layout about the beginning of ours with those trees. But we also make other connections to things in our lives. Our cars, for example. A favorite writer or TV show. And I confess: I have an inordinate fondness for my Bosch mixer. Document where the connections began.
6. a hobby or interest. I don't know about you, but I love scrapbooking! I've never made a layout, though, about how I discovered the hobby. I think I'll add that to my "to-be-scrapped" list. Our common hobby isn't my only interest and I bet it's not for you, either. Think about how you (or your subject) became interested in a hobby, then journal about it.
7. relationships. The most important things in our lives, of course! The stories of how our relationships start are foundations for everything. Write them down! In this layout, I journaled about how we told our kids we were expecting our fourth child...the very, very early beginning of the relationship!
8. your affection for a place. My family has a favorite little Mexican restaurant, where everyone has a favorite plate, the chips and salsa are perfect, and the waiters are friendly. It's become a once-a-month tradition, but we didn't even try it for years. The story of why we started going there is a good one I need to write down! The way that places become favorites is part of our life's story.
9. seasons. Right now, at the start of April, I'm in love with spring. But come the end of May, once my kids are barely hanging on to their scholarly ambitions and my spring flowers are just straggly greens, I'll be ready for summer to start! Our relationships to each season changes as the season progresses, so if you document how you feel at the beginning, you'll capture a unique perspective. Here, I wrote about the things we were anticipating at the beginning of the summer:
What beginnings have you journaled about? I hope you'll share with us!
I was fourteen, and we'd gone into the gas station for drinks, but the gas station attendent (remember those?) was still checking the oil and cleaning the windshield on our old Ford Torino, so my mom and I sat in the car. I'm not sure what sparked the conversation, but somehow we started talking about my dad, and my mother's choices, and the regrets she had. It was a disquieting conversation, and an illuminating one; I understood my mother a little bit better afterwards, but myself and where I stood in the world much less. Nearly three decades later, I can only remember verbatim one sentence of the conversation—but I am still puzzling and considering it.
Some conversations are like that. They change something, maybe: how we see the people we spoke with, or how we see ourselves. Some fundamental knowledge of the world is gained or altered. Or maybe we just remember how much we love that person, or why. We might not remember the actual, literal words for the rest of our lives—but we remember how the words made us feel.
And that's the topic I'm hoping you'll consider for this month's Write Saturday: important conversations.
I love layouts that record the things our people say. I just made one, in fact, with a collection of the funny, sweet, and ridiculously awww-inspiring things my 8-year-old has said in the last six months. The story that brought him to say "I don't want to grow up because grown-up movies are boring" is one of my favorites!
But I don't mean that kind of conversation-based journaling.
Instead, try remembering the way conversations have influenced you. Or influenced one of the people you scrapbook for. Maybe it was a conversation you never even heard—between your child and a teacher, maybe; your husband and a doctor, your mom and her friend.
Why write about conversations? I think quite often they are the things that change us. They can change the path of a relationship or our understanding of how the world works. They can help us see each other in a clearer light, or maybe they can do the opposite—leave us baffled. (That's memorable, too.) They are the way we connect with each other, but we can't ever rewind and listen to the words. We just know how they influence us.
This is the kind of layout that starts with a story instead of a picture or a supply. Maybe you don't even have a picture that connects, exactly, to the conversation. That's OK of course—find one that is sort-of close, or related somehow. Or just make a layout with the story and no photo at all! When you write about a conversation, you have to include some of the surrounding details—where it happened, who was involved, how the talk got started. That is how you tell a story about a conversation. All that's left to write is your words about the impact it had.
I made two layouts with journaling about conversations I'll always remember. The first one happened last year on Easter, when my family all gathered at my mom's. The little kids were playing (and eating the candy they'd hunted for!) while the adults and teenagers gathered around the desserts. We started talking—and a long time later (and plenty of cake!), we stopped. It was the first time my Bigs were listening to the grown-ups talk, and there were some surprises for them, and a few disclosed secrets. I think it was a conversation they'll remember, and I know I will, so it felt important to write it down:
The second is more about talking in general, with my teenage daughter who at the time of the picture was right in the middle of the "I talk to my mom the least amount possible" phase of adolescence. (I hope I'm not the only one who's experienced this!)
But while we were running on the beach together during a vacation, we talked. Not about anything big. But enough to reconnect. Enough for me to (hopefully) communicate my affection for her, and enough that I remembered it won't always be this hard.
When I finished this layout I wondered: is this about her? or about me? I guess it doesn't really matter though. Conversations are like that—about everyone involved.
Have you ever journaled about important conversations? Let me know!
Hello, and welcome to Write. Saturday! Today I come to you with words and ideas that have been said and written before, but that bear repeating every so often. At some point in our lives, some, if not all of us will be intimidated by the sight of a blank page, or the glare of an empty screen. We will be plagued by the dreaded phrase, "I don't know what to write!"
Now, I think I have mentioned this before, so please excuse my repetition, but I used to hate writing. Well into adulthood, whenever I had something to write for work or school, I'd sit, slightly panicked, in front of the computer screen, trying to formulate my thoughts. I generally would turn to my husband, Dave, and I'd tell him the long point that I was trying to make, and then I'd say, "So how do I put that into writing?" He would then say, "Just write down what you told me. You can always fix it after." I mumbled, "Thanks," under my breath, and went back to staring at the screen.
Then, one day, I got it. "Oh, I just write down whatever goes through my head, no matter how wordy or messy. I can just write like I talk." What an ingenious idea.When we sit down to write, there is a feeling that we have to compose sentences to sound a certain way, but when we talk, we just talk. And, usually, we make sense. So that is what I started to do.
I still hesitate before I sit down to write my journaling. I find myself procrastinating when it's time to type out the words for a scrapbook page. Cutting and pasting and playing with pretty and shiny bits is more exciting to the senses than typing (at least for me). And, just like there are times when I have a wonderful picture in my head of what a scrapbook layout might look like, and then when I sit down to make it, it doesn't quite work out the way I planned. Writing is like that too. Sometimes I have words floating around in my head, and they sound fabulous there. But when it's time to commit them to paper, it doesn't come together right away.
Still, when that happens, I remember the wise advice of my husband, and I just start to write something. Often, that something turns out to be enough.
If you are starting to feel like my husband must be some saintly genius, I just want to remind you that I am talking about this guy:
I think Neil Gaiman summed it up best (since he kind of has a way with words), and this quote inspired this post.
This is how you do it: You sit down at the keyboard and put one word after another until it is done. It is that easy and that hard.
It also inspired me to make this cute, little tableau that I keep above my desk.
Welcome to Write. Saturday! This year, on the first Saturday of every month at WCS, we’re going to be exploring different topics to journal about. There will be challenges and sometimes a little bit of edginess and maybe a few explorations of your softer side.
This month’s topic? Hope.
All of my kids have, in their baby albums, a layout that details the things I hope their lives bring them. A few weeks ago I flipped through their baby books (inspired by the two new babies that came to our family in the fall...I was feeling nostalgic for babies). When I got to those “I hope” layouts I thought, hmmmm. I should do that again.
After all, you hope for things for yourself, your family members, your friends throughout the entirety of a life—not just at the beginning. Plus, January, with its resolutions and its determination to start again, do better, be more, feels especially hopeful to me.
So that’s the challenge: write about what you hope for, either for yourself or for someone you love.
And to get your thoughts flowing, here are some hope-based journaling ideas:
1. Journal about what you hope the upcoming year will bring. I did that here, in this layout about my son Kaleb:
(The quote in the title is from a poem called “For Sophie Who Will Be in First Grade in 2000,”by Rita Dove. I forgot to put the notation on my layout and it will probably bug me until I add it!)
2. Fill in the blank: I hope you never stop ___________________.
3. Write about the hopes you have in connection with your child’s dreams, ambitions, talents, or skills.
4. Christopher Reeve said that “once you choose hope, anything's possible.” Write about how you choose to be hopeful in your life.
5. Journal about what you hope a change in your subject’s life might bring. In this layout, the change is a new school year, but it could be anything—a recent weight loss? A new job? A move, a new friend, a different perspective?
6. Hopes and wishes are connected. If you could grant your subject three wishes, what would they be?
7. Make a layout with journaling about a time when hope has sustained you.
8. Think big: what do you hope life will bring to your subject?
9. Think small: what do you hope a certain special day will bring, or a vacation, or a holiday?
10. What do you hope your children will learn from you?
The thing about writing about hope is that it forces you to think forward (instead of remembering back in time, like we usually do when we scrapbook). It gives you a different perspective. I hope you’ll take up the challenge—and then share your work with us!
I loved flipping through this month’s gallery and seeing how different each of our holiday traditions are—and how similar! From the nearly-universal to the wildly unique, holiday traditions shape our experiences in ways that influence our very perception of the events.
Which mean they are definitely worth documenting!
The go-to way for writing about traditions is the simple description: every Christmas Eve, we have the tradition of opening new pajamas. But there are so many other journaling possibilities! Here are 10 different ways to write about your holiday traditions beyond simply describing them.
1. Write about the origins of the tradition. When did it first start? Whose idea was it? How did family members initially respond to the idea?
2. Write about the small parts that make up the whole of the tradition. What things about the tradition do you hope are never forgotten? What qualities are unique to your family's interpretation of the tradition?
In this layout, I could've just written "we always open stockings first" and left it at that, but I also included some smaller details: where the stockings came from, what is usually in them, and where we put them. This creates a fuller picture of the stocking tradition:
3. Write about the foodie details. Food traditions are especially appealing because everyone loves eating! Where did the recipe come from? How have you altered it? What special ingredients do you buy?
4. Write about your behind-the-scenes efforts in carrying out the tradition. What methods do you use? How has it almost gone wrong? What people are involved in making it happen? For example, Santa traditionally leaves a new book under the tree for everyone. Picking these out takes much cross-referencing, Amazon surfing, and talking to other moms about books their kids like.
5. Write about how the tradition has changed over time. Take those Christmas-eve pajamas: for about five years, I always sewed them myself, but somehow I feel too busy lately! Even time-honored traditions change subtly over the years.
In her gallery layout, Aliza wrote about how her son's wish lists have evolved over the years:
6. Write about how people respond differently to the tradition. Another Christmas-Eve necessity in our house is reading aloud the nativity story from the Bible. One of my kids rolls his eyes when we do this, another (the one who is always moving) sits perfectly still, enraptured.
7. Write about occasional traditions. Some things are traditions, but only sometimes. Maybe your family grows out of them, or the tradition gets too small, or it only works some years. For example, some years at my house Santa writes a letter or two and leaves it in a stocking. Some years he’s just too darn tired!
8. Write about your childhood traditions. It’s easy to focus on your life right now, but part of what makes the holidays special is how they remind us of the past. What traditions were your favorite as a child? Have you implemented any of them in your grown-up life? Even if you don’t have a photograph from that time—write about them anyway!
Diane did just that in her gallery layout:
9. Write about your holiday music traditions. When do you start listening to holiday music? What are your favorites? How do you implement music traditions? How do they influence your holiday emotions?
10. Write about how you feel about the tradition. Do you ever begrudge doing it or wish you could stop? Does it connect you to a certain time or person from your past in ways no one might guess? Does the tradition make you feel a certain type of happiness?
I hope your December is filled with all the little joys the holidays bring!
Happy Saturday! Amy Sorensen here. I just returned from a ten-day trip to Italy, and one of the lingering thoughts I've had revolves around being inspired. Where do the ideas behind art come from? How are we influenced by the art that is already around us, and by the things we've learned both through education and through living? How does what we've previously created drive what we are working on now?
And while of course scrapbook journaling is almost nothing like, say, Michelangelo's Unfinished Slaves, there still is something similar, the spark for self-expression that is more permanent than a conversation. I came home from Italy, having seen some of the world's most famous paintings, sculptures, and architecture, brimming with inspiration for things to write about.
Art always inspires expression in the viewer, I believe.
So it is with scrapbooking, too.
One of my favorite things about looking through a new gallery here is the ideas all those layouts inspire in me. Not things I want to copy detail for detail, but starting spots. "I never thought about it quite that way," I'll realize, reading something someone has journaled about. And then, having the place to start, I'm off on my own exploration of the new idea.
In her notes about the layout, she wrote how she was dreaming about more than the weather. Not just a snowy Christmas, but a snowy one with family. The layout and her notes made me think: what do I dream about in relation to Christmas? This was a new thought for me, as so much of Christmas is me trying to fulfill other people's dreams (namely, of course, my kids'). I pondered a bit and realized that my attempts at holiday perfection (such as it is!) are motivated by a wish to give my kids strong and happy memories of their childhood Christmases because my own memories bring me so much happiness.
Then I wrote some journaling about what I was thinking.
I don't have a photo yet to go with this journaling. I'll be sure to have someone take it this year at Christmas—a picture of me and my mom on Christmas day. (Maybe holding a plate of divinity, if I'm lucky!) That's the thing with being inspired by others. You don't know exactly where it will take you, and sometimes it's to an incomplete (for now) place. But if you let it, the creativity of others will push you to write something you wouldn't have any other way. And that's another form of magic.
(In case you wanted to read it, here is the journaling that Cristina's layout inspired, in lieu of the actual layout:)
One of my strongest childhood memories: I was sitting in the front room reading a book, and my mom was in the kitchen talking to a friend on the phone, and she said something about how she was dreading the holidays. I don't think she said she hated Christmas, but it came as a huge revelation to me that my mom didn't love the holidays. I couldn't understand it at all, in fact. What was there not to love? Because I was a kid, all I saw about December were the things I loved: the anticipation, the decorations, the presents. (Also my own little ritual: the snooping!) And the divinity.
My mom made awesome divinity.
It wasn't until I was a grown up with kids and my own Santa Claus duties that I finally understood what my mom meant. And while playing Santa is one of my favorite parts of being a parent, let's just throw it out there: it's a ton of work. (I start having dreams, in fact, at the end of the summer, in which I realize Christmas is tomorrow and I haven't bought any gifts yet, and even Target is closed, and then I wake up with anxiety making adrenaline burn down my legs.) The shopping, wrapping, hiding, and worrying that go into the gifts are just one part—there's also the baking, and the neighbor gifts, and visiting Santa and taking family pictures and mailing cards, and trying to fit in sweet, special moments, and...everything else. I think I feel a little bit differently than Mom did, because while I know I'll be exhausted I never, ever dread it.
But I understand.
In fact, Mom's efforts are one of the reasons I work so hard to make Christmas magical for my kids. Because even after I knew who Santa was (at the far-too-young age of five) and even knowing how she felt about it, Christmas was always good. But even better, now, is remembering how Christmas felt—and that is why I do all the work. So that one day, Haley, Jake, Nathan, and Kaleb will be able to remember how Christmas felt, and draw happiness and goodness from those memories.
Hi! It's Aliza here. Welcome to the first Saturday in October! That means it's time to talk a little about writing, so let's get right to it. Today, I'd like to tackle some of the challenges of documenting in-jokes: the silly jokes and funny stories that leave you and a select few rolling on the floor laughing (ROFL, for some of you younger folks), and that leave everyone else, scratching their heads, and smiling awkwardly. (STHASA?)
The Challenge of Long Stories
All around my apartment, there hang several copies of this sign: (Luckily, we have not been affected by the government shut down.)
Now, I find these signs hysterically funny, as do my husband and children, because there is a long story surrounding why they came to be. But, the story never seems quite as funny to outsiders, and the main reason being that, "You had to be there." Some of life's funniest momenst are like that. So what is a scrapbooker to do? I wanted to document the origin story of The Deutsch National Park, but I had to accept that this story is just for me and my husband and children. Sure, I'll share it with you all, but it might not make sense to the greater scrapbooking community (sorry, folks), and it might leave future generations wondering about their crazy ancestors. And that is okay. Once I determined who my audience is, I felt free to tell the story the way it needed to be told. As long and rambling as it may be.
Which leads me to the next challenge. Long stories can be difficult to fit onto a scrapbook page, what with photos, pretty papers and embellishments. To solve that problem here, I wrote and printed my journaling first, and then designed the rest of the page around the text. It's not my usual MO, but it needed to happen here.
Make a Long Story Short(er)
A beautiful outcome of the size limit of a scrapbook page, is that it can help you trim down your story to the most essential details. This next layout tells a funny vacation SNAFU, that we tell each other over and over again without ever tiring. When I sat down to write the story, I ended up with almost a full typed page. I had already printed my pictures, and made my title, and I was feeling a little stuck. Essentially, I scrapped myself into a corner. So, I went back to the story, and the more I looked at it, the more I discovered which details were essential, and which ones could be left out. I don't feel like anything is missing, but I don't think I could have written this short paragraph first. I needed to write a long story and then strip it down. Process is important.
Look For Your Stories
So many of our funny, family anecdotes began during our two week long road trip. I suppose the combination of being in close quarters and away from home produced the perfect recipe for some good stories. Think about your travels, and some of the vacation stories you tell over and over again.
Sometimes a joke is not a long story, but a silly nickname given to a loved one:
Sometimes it's a made up song that no one else but you will ever sing:
Whatever it is that makes you laugh...write it down.
Yesterday a fairly amazing thing happened to me: I saw three different rainbows at three different times. OK, I guess that within the possibility of "amazing" that’s fairly unremarkable (three rainbows doesn’t change the world or save the whales or solve global warming), but still, there I was, out running errands, and everywhere I went there was a new rainbow. And they weren’t shy, half-formed things, but full arcs of brilliant color. One of them stretched from mountain peak to peak, across a craggy canyon; toss in the autumn colors on the hill and holy cow: is it possible to overdose on color?
I hope not, because I’m following up on Saturday's amazing color-based gallery with a Write. Saturday on using color in your journaling.
Color is an inherent part of how we experience the world; it’s nearly impossible to separate some objects, places, and experiences from their color. Autumn wouldn’t be autumn without red leaves and orange pumpkins and golden hayfields. So using color words in your journaling is one of the best ways to create an image in your reader’s mind. If you read, for example, the word "rose," what color of bloom do you picture? (My immediate response to "rose" is my mom’s Mr. Lincoln rosebush, which she is inordinately proud of.) But if you read "pink rose" your mental image might just change. Try getting even more specific; you’ll picture a magenta rose differently than a melon rose, even though they’re both pink hues. Trying to find the closest word to the color you’re describing helps you and your reader share the most similar image.
To answer my own hypothetical question, it is possible to overdose on color, specifically in writing. Some colors don’t need to be mentioned because they’re so closely related to the thing they’re describing: grass is nearly always green (brown grass would be worth the adjective), snow is almost always white (but if it isn’t, if it’s grey or yellow for example, that’s remarkable!), and generally sand is tan (until you look closely and see it’s really a blend of gold, silver, white, and rosy specks). Use color words to create images instead of reinforcing what is already known, and don’t describe every color. Just the important ones.
Describing color, though, is only one way to include color in your journaling. Here are some other colorful ideas:
Write about the color’s connotations
Green, for example, suggests growth and change. Purple has a regal quality, while blue can express sadness or depth. Try connection the emotional charge of a color to the topic you’re journaling about. I did that here, writing about pink:
Amy Kingsford also used color connotations, changing some words in her journaling to red to suggest the tension she felt about urging her son to discover his world:
Write about the colors in your life.
Why is your bedroom painted yellow? What do you love about your lavender bed spread? What is your favorite color of clothing to wear—and why? Color is woven throughout our lives. Which ones are important to you? In this layout, Celeste writes about the color grey:
I think I love this layout as much for its usual Celeste awesomeness as for its take on the subject, which I am also grappling with right now!
Write about color words or names.
Back when I was a college freshman, I took a fashion merchandising class, and one of our assignments was to create descriptive words for lipstick shades. I loved that assignment, but I’d forgotten about it until I saw Jenny’s layout:
Read a clothing catalog, a housewares website, or yes—even a row of lipstick colors—and you’re bound to find descriptive color words. How do these influence your shopping choices? What’s the name of the color on your kitchen walls? When did you start wearing your favorite lipstick? (Mine is currently called "curtain call." It’s a purple-toned pink in case you couldn’t guess.)
Write about the psychology of color.
The Hartman color code personality test is a way of describing a person’s personality traits (for example, I’m a nearly-equal mix of blue and white). I’d never thought of scrapbooking that part of color until I saw Carey’s layout, about a similar personality exam she took:
Integrate color into your journaling design.
Isn’t one of the most fun parts of scrapbooking all the colors we have to work with? Incorporate some of those right into your journaling by designing text with color. You don’t need to own a color printer to do this; just replace some of your typed or handwritten text with words spelled out in different supplies. (Little alphas are great for this!) In this layout, Sue blends stamped and embossed words into her journaling:
I also love this technique of mixing your title in with your journaling. And notice how the colors of the letters reinforce the colors in the photos?
Write about your favorite color (or your subject’s).
This one is hard for me, as my favorite color changes depending on the context. If it’s clothing, my favorite is black; for flowers it’s purple, for quilting it’s grey, for scrapbooking it’s orange. If I have to give an answer, I say my favorite color is green, although it really would be more truthful to say my least favorite is red.
Maybe I need to document that in a layout!
Jenny made this layout documenting her son’s favorite colors:
I love the addition of why he loves them!
So tell us: how do you use color in your journaling?
Last Monday, I got some devastating news: my vibrant, funny, irreverant, sweet, kind cheerful friend (and relay-running teammate) Sheila passed away. It was completely unexpected, and I've walked around this week in a sort of daze, that feeling of "how can she be gone when she was just here?" shaking me out of my usual groove.
And in that strange way that thoughts sometimes connect, her death has made me think about scrapbooking and journaling in a slightly different perspective.
I'm definitely a believer that we should all scrapbook about ourselves more than we do. We should be in more pictures, too! But there's also reality: life is busy, and sometimes it's tough to get the time to scrapbook about our kids, let alone ourselves. Still, though, as I thought about Sheila and the sense of goneness that her death filled me with, I was reminded of how important it is to leave something of ourselves behind as well.
Our stories matter!
And then I thought: why does it have to be separate anyway? Why my stories on my layouts and my kids' stories on theirs? Why not more of a mix. After all, our sense of design, the colors and embellishments we use, are small pieces of ourselves. Why not include it in the stories, too?
So with that idea as my inspiration—as well as life's busy reality—I've put together the following list of ways to include yourself in your kids' (or friend's or significant other's) layouts:
1. Start with "When I was a Kid." I flipped through the past fifty or so layout I've made, and I realized I do this quite a bit: tell a story about myself as a kid that relates to the kid or the event that I'm scrapbooking about. I did that in this recent layout:
The journaling goes like this:
When I was a kid we went to the Provo parade every single Independence Day. We'd walk from my grandparents apartment on 200 East to Center Street and sit in the shade of the old trees. Now that I'm the grown up, we don't go every year, but we made it this year! We saw the fighter-jet fly-by that starts the parade, and every single float & marching band & calvary horse. Plus we got Slurpees from the 7-11 down the street! I hope you'll remember, when you're the grown-up, going to parades with your grandparents.
Two memories, one layout, and a little bit of my own story mixed with my son Jake's.
2. Write about what you did for the event. Maybe you made the birthday cake from scratch using a frosting technique you found on Pinterest, or called everywhere on the Saturday of prom, looking for a boutineer because your daughter forgot to order one, or stayed up late finishing laundry the night before your son left on his first week-long summer camp.
3. Share an observation that only you have noticed. Maybe it's a personality trait, a change in a relationship, a new (or overcome) habit, a way your child has grown. You have a unique perspective on your children's lives and sharing it captures part of you as well as them.
4. Write about what you learned from your child's experience. Document how something important in her life changed something in you. I've gained insights about myself while watching my kids' sport events and musical performances, as well as while I've talked to them about their struggles.
5. Pair something from your past with your child's "now." Think about the everyday things your kids' lives entail, and then make a connection to your past. In this layout:
I wrote about my fourth-grade teacher, who taught me not to be afraid of snakes, and how I'm glad my daughter is also not afraid of them.
6. Write about what you wish you knew at your child's age. I find myself doing this more and more as my kids get older (and closer to adulthood). Sharing my knowledge feels like a way to help them be more successful.
7. Write about something you love that your child loves too. I've written journaling about my affection for dystopian novels and how my daughter and I share it; how both of my sons and I love hiking; and the way my youngest and I share a deep and abiding affection blankets. You can also try this from the opposite angle: what is something you can't stand that your kid loves? (Also, trust me, easier to do as they turn into teenagers!)
8.Write about the contrast of expectation. How did you imagine this phase of your life with your kids, and how does it really look?
9. Write about music. Is there a song you liked as a teenager that connects to your kid now? How did you feel about music when you where your son's age, or how do you feel about the music your daughter loves right now?
10. Write about similar goals. Try comparing bucket lists, for example. Or document a similar goal you are each trying to accomplish.
11. Write about connections between generations. My son Nathan sometimes reminds me so much of my grandpa Fuzz, even though the two of them never met. You are the pivot point between the past and the future—share some of those stories and connections!
12. Write what someone else said. A few weeks ago, a friend sent me an email to tell me about something sweet she'd see my son Jake do. A "my friend Jamie" approach lets you say some things that might otherwise be hard, complicated, or even scary to say.
Of course, these are just a handful of ideas. There are so many other ways you can include a piece of your stories within your kids'. I hope you'll share how you do this.
Hi all! Just as I promised, I am back with a post about the Fourth of July. Don't worry, if you're not from these parts, and this is not a holiday you celebrate. I still have some ideas for you all. Because wherever you're from, I bet there is some celebration of your home's history and culture.
Like any holiday, really, there are two aspects to record about Fourth of July. The first, is the sights, the sounds, the foods, the traditions, the people. All of which fit into the category of how we celebrate. These things make up the actual experience of the holiday, and they are, therefore, easier to capture and record. But still, how can we take those moments and turn them into part of the story of our lives? Sometimes, we can't. Sometimes the story simply is, we went here, we saw this, we ate that. But sometimes, if we give ourselves time, we can think of a context that makes the story more meaningful.
Here is my example: Last year, we went on a two week road trip. We watched the Fourth of July fireworks from a motel parking lot in Kentucky. I have had these photos for a year, but never scrapped them before. I took them out to scrap now, and I didn't plan on adding any story to the photos. They were to be my example of simply recording an event. But when my son saw the pictures, he said with a touch of nostalgia, "Oh, that was so fun." Now, I'm pretty sure when we saw the fireworks, we were tired, and though they were neat, they were not really a highlight of our trip. But that's where the story emerged--in the year since our road trip, all the bumps on that long, long road have been forgotten, and we just have fond memories of it all.
I challenge you to think about the context of where your holiday fits in to the larger picture of your life. Was it boring, stressful, more exciting, or less exciting than years passed? Are you celebrating with new people, or the usual mix? Just adding a sentence or two can change the nature of your journaling. If, like me, a story doesn't take shape for a long time, well, wait to scrap the photos, or scrap them twice!
Just like every holiday has the rituals, they also have their deeper meanings; what it all represents. That can be harder to capture, because it is more of an emotional response to a holiday. Those feelings are hard to capture on camera, difficult to express in words, and guess what else? Those feelings don't always show up on the day they are supposed to.
So what are we really celebrating, when it comes to any country's Independence Day? To me, it's primarily about a feeling of connection to a history, a culture, and a community. It's being part of something bigger than myself. What brings out those feelings in you? They can happen any time of year, in any place. You can feel the connection to your country, your city, or just some great neighbors.
For my examples, once again, I scrapped about last year's road trip, because I was so amazed by how ginormous this country is, and all that exists and has happened inside it. I included both serious events, and those that are simply part of our popular culture. They all make me feel part of something larger.
And here is a more traditionally patriotic experience from this week; A copy of the Declaration of Independence, handwritten by Thomas Jefferson, and an original copy of the Bill of Rights, were on display at the New York Public Library. Really, what more could a scrapbooker want to see more than a really old, piece of paper?! Unfortunately, photos were not allowed, so I needed to rely on words to describe the experience. Which again was the feeling of something big, and powerful, and awesome.
So wherever you are from, take note of those times you feel that little tug of pride, of connection, of loyalty. Try describing those moments with words; it could be a lot of words, or just a few. Any number will do, really.