A few months ago, as I was wandering through our local Officeworks stocking up on photo paper and printer cartridges, I came across some hard bound A3 art journals. The quality of the pages and the cover was great, and they even came complete with an elastic band to hold the book together. I must’ve stood there in the aisle for almost fifteen minutes debating whether or not it would be wise to make such a purchase (they were almost twenty dollars each), but in the end, I went with my gut.
I bought three.
I brought them home and told the three big boys I had a surprise for them. After they’d finished packing away their toys for the day, we sat down on the floor of the family room together, their faces twitching with curiosity.
I opened my shopping bag and showed them the three journals.
“These are your scrapbooks!” I told them.
“We’re going to stick your drawings, photos and other things into these books. See? I even bought each of you a new glue stick!”
Happy faces! (Very happy faces.)
I got out my set of alphabet stamps, and the boys each stamped his own name onto the first page of his scrapbook. We even wrote their names in black marker on each of their glue sticks. They were all pretty keen to start sticking things in straight away but, alas, it was dinnertime, so I stowed the books safely away with a promise to take them out again on the Saturday.
I spent the rest of the week collecting bits and pieces of things that they’d done into three Kraft folders, and I labelled each one with their names.
That first Saturday, the three boys and I sat around the dining table and we spread out all our materials. One by one, I helped each of them cut this and that, and stick things into their scrapbooks. I asked them to give names to their drawings, and as I wrote them down and dated each picture, and the first few pages filled up with their creations, I could almost feel their sense of self grow before my very eyes.
For those of you who read my memory keeping posts, you might wonder how these scrapbooks fit into my overall framework for memory keeping. In my mind, these are their scrapbooks. For them to work on, for them to fill with things that they want to include.
I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought of this earlier. As a young girl, I remember mum buying me my first scrapbook and how I loved putting all sorts of paraphernalia. To anyone else, it would’ve been a junk book. But to me, it was precious, because it was mine.
Prior to these scrapbooks, I had been keeping the A3 paintings that Angus and Pete did at preschool (with the view to scanning and compiling them into a photo book) but I was pretty much throwing out everything else because I didn’t think it was feasible for me to keep, scan and print out every single scribble or drawing that the three boys did. It was always bothered me a bit, though, as if somehow I was discarding part of their childhood.
I love these scrapbooks for several reasons:
- It’s something that the boys and I can do together on a Saturday. It’s a chance for me to spend a bit of focused one-on-one time with each of them.
- They get to practise cutting and gluing. I’m not a naturally craft type of mama, so at the very least, if no other craft happens during the week, there’s this.
- We’re filling the books up with their creations, which makes it a wonderful record of their creativity and imagination.
- Finally, there’s a place for all those random scribbles and drawings which I would otherwise discard.
- If they make something awesome during the week (e.g. out of blocks or Lego), I can easily snap a photo with my iPhone, send it to my Pixma for printing and then pop that into the Kraft folder as well, to be included into these books.
- It’s something that belongs to the boys. It’s something that they can look at whenever they want. (It’s not something that I have to worry about getting damaged.)
The other thing that we put into these scrapbooks are photos that the boys take. Some of the photos that Angus has snapped on our IXUS are quite impressive in terms of composition and lighting, and I love having an easy (and logical) place to showcase them.
Even though the art journals I bought were a little on the expensive side, I knew after that first weekend that it was the right choice. The sturdy hard bound covers make the scrapbooks feel solid and that much less likely to fall apart, while the thick pages have proven quite tough when it comes to withstanding vigorous gluing! And yes, I will admit that the minimalist in me likes the classic look of the plain black cover. After all, I would love for the boys to want to hold on to these, even when they’re all grown up.
The A3 size seemed too big at first (I almost died laughing watching our two and a half year old drag it behind him like a surfboard), but again, it proved to be the wise choice. The bigger size means that we can fit a lot of things onto the one page, and by cutting away some of the negative space around their drawings (an extra activity for the boys to take part in), we can fit even more! (Sometimes if they’ve accumulated an excessive amount of random scribbles, I might cull some the night before, but this doesn’t happen very often.) The whole point is that I don’t want to keep buying new scrapbooks, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these ones last us at least a couple of years.
Most of the time I try to monitor their gluing and help the younger two decide where to put things. Other times, I just let them go wild and stick things wherever their heart desires, as I know we can always go back and fill in the empty spaces later.
Those of you who do Project Life are probably wondering how these tie in with the boys’ Project Life albums. Up till now, I haven’t actually included any of the boys’ artwork into their PL albums, so for now, they’re mutually exclusive. It will be interesting to see what happens when they each start school, but for now, I’m trying not to over-think it.
Do you do something similar with your child(ren)? I would love to hear your ideas!