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    A Scrapbooking Philosophy

    May 3, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    I’ve mentioned before that one of my positions here at the house is Family Historian. This means that I organize our photos and journals into neat little scrapbooks that tell the story of our family. I think I mentioned before that I am consistently one-year to one-and-a-half-years behind, which I consider a Good Thing. I remember things well enough, so it isn’t a problem, and the distance from events allows me to cultivate a sense of gratitude for what we have been given.

    I try to scrapbook as cheaply as possible, and it also helps that folks have learned that this is a hobby of mine and tend to give me supplies as gifts {which I love}. But I must confess that I have a weakness for Creative Memories. I really haven’t found a system that works quite as well, nor proves itself as well over time.

    Now, Creative Memories is one of those Multi-Level Marketing organizations, which means I don’t go to a store, but rather to my “consultant” to purchase albums, pages, and page protectors {that’s pretty much all I buy from CM}. Anyhow, all of these details are simply to explain that I have a consultant in the first place.

    My consultant knows that I have children, and she is constantly encouraging me to do separate albums for them. She shows me examples of albums others have done {with themes like “Ashley’s 01-02 School Year” or “Bart in 2005,” etc.}. I always remind her that I only do family albums. This seems to bother her, so I also remind her that I do have individual baby books that detail the first year {mainly in words–first tooth, first step, that sort of thing}. Of course, then I have to explain that I buy those at Hallmark. But I digress…

    The point is that I have a different scrapbooking philosophy than my consultant. One of the reasons is purely practical. If I do an album for E. and an album for A., I will spend more money, and have practically the same photos in both of them anyhow because they are always together and most of my photos are picturing them both.

    But really this isn’t the reason. The real reason is that I greatly value context. We are a family, and we exist in the context of each other. I don’t want a scrapbook that tells me about E.’s third and fourth years of life without explaining how that fits with A.’s first and second years. In fact, I couldn’t rightly understand much about those years in E.’s life without mentioning the introduction of A. into our family, because those years have been, for him, all about giving up his only-child throne and learning to be a good big brother.

    Along with this is the idea that I think the family rightly exists as a unit and I think that individual scrapbooks could encourage my children to be separatists. I don’t want E. to have a book that is all about him. I want to turn a page and remember how we all cheered for E. when he had his Underwear Party, and then turn it again and cheer for A. learning to crawl. I want our family to have a book that celebrates the whole family.

    Esentially, in my mind the individual scrapbooks leave the impression that the individual is the end product of the family, rather than the family being the end product of the individuals. My children are different from each other, and I’m sure they will be different from any future children we have as well. And I love and celebrate those differences. But I do it in such a way that they understand that they are unique individuals who belong to a whole — to a family.


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  • Reply Rahime May 4, 2006 at 6:28 am

    Wow, I do wish I weren’t 7 years behind on my scrapbooks. I doubt I’ll ever catch up.

    I also wish I had a scrapbooking philosophy. Maybe then I’d actually sit down and do it.


  • Reply Brandy May 3, 2006 at 6:20 pm

    Wow…I feel so affirmed today. πŸ™‚

    Kris, I’m excited for you! And I will say that even with cute little ones to take pictures of, I still cram a good 1.5-2 years into each one! I’m just too cheap to pay for a new scrapbook when I can make more pages fit into one I’m already working on. πŸ™‚

    Anonymous, I am convinced you are my father because you are so funny. πŸ™‚

    Gina, Glad to see you come out from hiding. πŸ™‚

    Grace, Sorry to put so much pressure on you like this. Heehee. And yes, you can see the updated one when you come! But I will tell you now that all I have to show for myself are huge stacks of loose pages. The pages are so much cheaper than the albums, so I keep buying the pages and assume that someday I’ll buy the album. It’s strange the way someday never comes… πŸ™‚

  • Reply Grace May 3, 2006 at 5:32 pm

    I would have to agree as well. Peer pressure you know. =) Anyway, I love looking at scrapbooks. It tells the story without having a narrator. I love looking through your scrapbook whenever you make progress. So, will I see the most update version when I come at the end of May? =)

  • Reply Gina May 3, 2006 at 4:41 pm

    I like your philosophy!!

  • Reply Anonymous May 3, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    I thought Bart’s sister’s mame was Lisa!

  • Reply kristie May 3, 2006 at 4:00 pm

    I think I have the same philosophy. It is fueled also by the practical fact that I don’t think I would ever keep up with the multi-tasking involved in individual books. I get overwhelmed just thinking about it! In fact, I just started scrapbooking about a month ago, and my first book will cover our entire Notre Dame experience–roughly 5 years! I just don’t have enough pictures to cover a shorter time span in one book. Perhaps I’ll feel differently when I have darling cherubs to snap…. =)

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