Library Experiences in a COVID World
The Blazing Purple F on My Back: Thoughts on Feminism, The Handmaid's Tale, and the Barrett Confirmation

Scrapbooking is a Way I Tell the World I Loved It

I had the opportunity to record an episode of The Scrap Gals podcast. (It will be downloadable next week!) The topic: Your favorite scrapbook layout you’ve ever made.

When Tracie told me the topic, two layouts immediately sprang to my mind. But then I thought…well, I’ve made a lot of layouts. What if I’ve forgotten some? So I pulled out an album, thinking I’d thumb through and see.

A pleasant hour or so later, with my crafty space even messier than it was before (I am in the middle of a quilting storm!), I had found a few other “favorite layout ever”s, but I kept going back to the same two I originally thought of, so these are the layouts I talked about in the podcast.

Here is the first one, and it was, literally, the first layout that came to my mind in connection with the word “favorite.”

2000 10 xx Nathan Cascade Springs

Why is it a favorite? Partly for that photo. (The enlarged one on the left side. Remember when you had to take your negative back to the photo developing place, after having figured out with your lightbox exactly which frame you wanted to enlarge, and then wait for even longer to get the big print back?) That is Nathan at 11 months. That autumn day we went to Cascade Springs, which is a spot in the mountains here with gentle paths and wooden bridges over the springs. The other pictures are cute, but that one of Nathan? One of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. (It makes me more determined to figure out a digital camera option, because if I had taken this with a cell phone yesterday, it would not be this lovely.)

So…that photo.

But I also love what I did on the layout. The colors in the patterned paper (I wrote on the back that it was made by “OAR” but damned if I can remember now what company that was) are perfect, and that gold crinkly paper behind the big photo, and how well it goes with the quote. (I realized looking at this that there’s a typo…can you spot it?) Like the gold paper is the shook foil.

What’s funny to me about this layout being a favorite, though, is that there is almost NO journaling. At least, on the front. On the back, I wrote about Kendell being grumpy that day, and kind of ruining the experience for me a little bit, and how we forgot Nathan’s shoes (probably what made Kendell grumpy). As I talked about it on the podcast, I realized that these photos are from a transitional time in our lives, when Kendell was out of work and we didn’t know what would happen, and this little moment was (mostly) a reprieve from that fear, when we were just this family of three in the woods. I wrote that all on the back because I didn’t really feel then, like I do now, that it is OK to have the more difficult details included with the good ones.

The second layout that came to mind was this one, which I made in 2016:

1972 12 25 Amy Christmas photo at Grandma Elsie's house

When I first saw that photo, which is from my first Christmas in 1972, I started to cry. Everyone in it is so young and hopeful, and I was just little and innocent and not yet damaged at all. This layout is probably not the best when you look at it from a design perspective…it is a lot of journaling to balance with the 6x6 photo (which is also not the best if you are looking at it from a composition perspective) and the title. But I love the patterned paper, the gold script “love,” and the fact that I used Basic Grey stickers for part of the title.

Really, though, this is another very-most-favorite layout because of the journaling. In it, I wrote about how the photograph forms a connection between me and my grandma Elsie, who I wasn’t very close with. And how that connection is also why I take photographs as much as I do, and why I make scrapbook layouts, so that I am also connected to the future.

I’m sharing a few other layouts that I didn’t talk about in the podcast, layouts that, when I saw them as I flipped through my albums, made me pause because they feel authentic to me. Like I made them not only as a reason to use pretty paper and cute embellishments, but as a method of drawing more of those connections between past, present, and future. 2006 05 20 kaleb six impossible things

Sometimes I look around my crafty space and just have to laugh. It’s amazing: I have an entire room stuffed to the brim with the supplies of my chosen crafts. I think when I first started scrapbooking, I did it partly out of…the concept of being virtuous, I guess, in relationship to my photos. Not just leaving them in an album no one looked at or on a computer file where they don’t even really exist. Writing down stories so my kids would have them accessible and know things about themselves they might not otherwise seemed like a…almost like a noble thing to do. Or maybe I just told myself that to justify the time and expense.

2001 06 xx Jake Still Waters

But as I have continued making layouts (I have been scrapbooking since 1995, when Haley was born), I have discovered something deeper.

If I am honest, I don’t even really know how to exist without scrapbooking. Even when I haven’t been actively scrapbooking for months at a time, I still think like a scrapbooker. I still write down stories and take lots of pictures and buy supplies. Not every layout I have ever made has been authentic in the ways that these layouts feel. Some have just been cute layouts or fun supplies. But even on those layouts—like the first one, with the 8x10 of Nathan sitting in the autumn leaves—they aren’t only frivolous. They say something about my personality, the things I find important, the way I choose to live my life.

2012 08 05 Haley Still Here

Thinking about what my favorite layout might be pushed me to think about the deeper reasons behind my scrapbooking. It is OK that it is sometimes only about the craft of it, the color & patterns & puffy stickers. Because that is a part of me. And trying to get more than one layer into the same space—a story and a photo—is also a part of me.


2001 12 xx Jake tender is the real tough

Once I am gone, I don’t imagine that the kids will keep all the layouts I ever made. I mean…I hope they do, but if they don’t I won’t haunt them from my grave or anything. I understand that what is important to me isn’t necessarily important to them.


2005 02 11 Nathan Kaycis Wedding how lucky I am to have you

But I do hope that some of them will speak to each one. That they will discover things they didn’t know about their own lives and about their mom. That the layouts will help them see me as a whole person, someone who happened to also be their mother. That the layouts will be proof that they are loved.

2012 09 03 Kaleb fall love you as much as


Does it mean that the reason I scrapbook is to leave a tangible record of my love for my kids, my husband, and my life?

2010 09 03 Kaleb be still my heart bicuspid valve

I suppose it might. I really like that thought, in fact. I mean, I do hope my relationships themselves show them that I love them. But a second form of proof isn’t a bad thing.

Scrapbooking is a way to tell the world you loved the world. It is my way (it doesn’t have to be yours), and, when push comes to shove, I will likely never stop doing it completely.

2001 03 21 letter to Haley


Cindy deRosier

I can see why these are your favorites! Could OAR be October Afternoon? Not sure what the R would be.


Such lovely layouts and beautiful journaling. Lucky kids!


The way you spoke about your scrapbooking on the podcast, particularly about the way it can create (or illuminate) connections between family members . . . I was tearing up listening to you. (It's 2020 -- my emotions are pretty close to the surface -- but it was also worthy of emotion.) Thanks for sharing all these pages and your heart.

The comments to this entry are closed.