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The Important Pages :: a scrapbook page to capture a childhood memory

scrapbook page by shimelle laine @
Although I’ve never been the type of scrapbooker who could focus and work through twenty pages at a crop (I’m afraid I spend way too much time talking and snacking to make that happen!) I would still consider myself pretty prolific. Prolific scrapping combined with fifteen years of scrapbooking makes for a great deal of pages and a great deal of albums. I have nearly seventy 12×12 albums, and I treasure them – I don’t mind how much space they take up at all, and they live in my craft space, so no one else really gets to comment on the space they take up. But I would never feel like there should be some sort of obligation for anyone to take seventy albums when my time here is up, much less the many more I hope to make in the future! It’s something I’ve discussed with a few scrappers over the past year or so, when some crafters said this was the biggest reason they were walking away from the hobby: that the albums had become a burden.

Please forgive the slightly morbid tone of this thought, but in this house, we’ve discussed the scenario of what I would want to happen, and my answer was that I would just appreciate it if, whenever the timing felt right, that The Boy and whomever else felt compelled to do so would flip through my albums and have one look through everything (which I realise is asking a lot when it’s so many books) and then select whatever they feel are the highlights they want to keep and to feel zero guilt in letting the rest go. I imagine that would take things down to one or two albums of the absolute highlights, and we’ve also talked about a couple albums that might stay intact, like our wedding album and the books of our epic backpacking trip, because these really focus on telling our story in a different way from the page-by-page randomness of any given annual album.

Something that came up in this conversation was but which pages would you feel were the most important? and that was something I hadn’t really devoted much thought to in the past. With a bit of distance from the conversation, it started to feel like a real challenge for this year of focusing on why I scrapbook, so my goal is to identify about fifty Important Pages that would create some sort of story of my life. I haven’t sat down and figured out all fifty at once. That means they may not go in any sort of order as I write about them. Some are relatively new, some are old, some will truly document the evolution of my creative style, and I’m fine with all that. And so, on to the first page I’ve picked to get that capital letter treatment: one of The Important Pages.

scrapbook page by shimelle laine @
Originally created in May 2011 and shared in this post that marked my first effort at raising funds for girls through the charity Plan. I think that gives this page two levels of meaning to my heart – one about the photo and the memory itself and another about what making the page symbolised and all the thoughts that went through my mind while making it that were so far removed from the memory of exactly what was in that photo, and the sheer thrill of that first big donation I was able to make combined with knowing that I’ve continued to be able to work for that cause through a love of craft. But it’s the photo and the memories that I want to focus on here.

This photo was taken, as far as I know, in the back yard of the first house I remember. I believe there was an apartment when I was a teeny baby, if I’ve pieced the stories together correctly, but by the time I was old enough to remember the visuals, we lived here, and there was grass in the front and the back, and the back yard was fenced to keep the dogs in, in theory, though there was one who had a habit of following us to the post office. There was at least one big whisky barrel style dog house that I loved to climb until the day I took a tumble from the top. I still have a funny white scar on my knee from that day. I have no idea if the fall actually made me stop climbing, and I’m inclined to believe it didn’t, as in elementary school I had developed an obsession with another female super hero – She-Ra, Princess of Power – and would climb to the top of the jungle gym to fly off the top, if only I believed I could. Of course, gravity had other thoughts, and I would go plummeting to the ground every time, only to dust myself off and think that I would have to believe harder the next time. It is seriously a miracle that I didn’t break every bone in my body during recess that year.

But back to the time of this exact photo… I remember what I think is this particular summer that the temperatures soared and the paddling pool actually melted past a point of all recognition. I remember being this age and loving to eat Ruffles potato chips from the bag, having meals on an Incredible Hulk melamine plate, and watching Hart to Hart and the Muppet Show in the living room from a tiny brown arm chair. My Anglophile stage wouldn’t begin for another few years, so these early memories are some of the things I truly remember in an American nomenclature, which would slowly fade away over the years.

Then there is also how this page starts to capture the influence of superhero culture and how I grew up. There is a little confusion you might pick up between the photo and the title here: that swimming attire is most certainly Supergirl influenced, not Wonder Woman. I promise it all makes sense in my head: too little to read at this time, so my superhero influences came almost entirely from TV. I watched Wonder Woman and thought she was amazing. Again, a female superhero who could fly! (Seriously, I am still searching eBay for an invisible plane, because that would just be useful, assuming it stays in good repair.) I didn’t really know who Supergirl was until the movie came out and that was a few years after this picture. To my untrained eye, this outfit was very much Wonder Woman and I don’t remember anyone correcting me. If they did, I might have been a brat about it and told them they were wrong. I’m not too sure, but I can believe it. I remember more correcting adults as a child than I really care to admit, but thankfully there weren’t too many people in my little world who believed in the ‘children should be seen and not heard’ school of thought, so I managed to survive to adulthood unscathed, and probably learned more about keeping my mouth shut when one can’t win an argument during university lectures with those kinds of professors who have been teaching the same class every term for longer than you’ve been alive. The Wonder Woman obsession stayed around for a long time, and there is another page in my album that documents how I only wanted a Wonder Woman birthday cake at least three years running, despite my wonderfully-meaning grandmother thinking I would surely be bored of that by now and want something else. I think she still has the cake pan. If I ever end up in Kansas around my birthday again, well… it would never surprise me. And I would probably cry a lot of happy tears about it.

(By the way, when Supergirl did finally hit my radar, the fact that her first name was the same as my cousin may have made me think she was the coolest person on the planet. Frankly we should have been invincible and able to leap tall buildings, but we mostly have epic skills in eating black olives off our fingers and finishing off the potatoes at family gathering, and let me tell you, I do not think these are super powers that should be underestimated, because they are ridiculously rewarding. If you disagree, you are eating the wrong potatoes.)

Even the silly ball in this photo reminds me of other things, and it’s just one of those dime a dozen bouncing balls that would be in a big cage at the end of the aisle at K-Mart or TG&Y. (I could probably also write an entire paragraph on why I miss TG&Y, which was the best bargain hunt of a store in my youth, but I fear it is really one of those ‘you had to be there’ things and there isn’t a true way to explain an appreciation of the five and dime.) From this photo, I clearly had at least one as a little girl. But as a teenager, there was another – with the same exact print and from another metal cage – that my high school speech team carried to forensics tournaments, and at the end of each weekend we would take a Sharpie to the ball and record any wins from the week. The rest of the time it served as distraction during the down time of a tournament, waiting for postings and results, and had a hand in a few warm up games we would do to start the day. More than once, I had to cram it in my locker quickly when someone would throw it to me in the hall from the classroom. I often skated a very fine line with being a bit too ‘lively in the halls’ when speech team stuff was concerned and there was one member of staff who always seemed to turn up at just the moment. We never really did get along. But I am thankful for the teacher who actually led that team and how he would give those little troubles a bit of a wink and move on, because when I was my most disheartened with all things academic and truly wanted to throw in the towel, he would throw me something that would keep me there. He also made me fall in love with Shakespeare after another teacher had made me truly believe that old texts were the most lifeless words thrown together in a blender of boring. After he made me perform a few monologues, I returned to the dusty copy of the complete works on my shelf at home and I read them all, in order, usually in whispers in the middle of the night, which is all a little Dead Poets Society without the boarding school, but still: that was the truth, and I get all that rushing back just from that silly bouncy ball in the back yard, aged three.

And all that makes this a pretty important page indeed.

Admittedly, I feel this series of posts is going to lead to a stack of journaling that isn’t included in my album. I’m thinking I may add these posts to my albums next to the highlighted pages in a smaller page protector (like 6×12), but if I don’t get that bit of added writing into my albums, I am happy that it at least exists here.

02 February 2014

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20 Comments for The Important Pages :: a scrapbook page to capture a childhood memory

  1. Mel Says:

    I remember TG&Y! :) The one in the town I grew up in was across the street from Safeway. While Mom shopped for groceries, I’d walk over and browse the bargains.

    I love your post because it reminds me that spending a bit of time looking at photos can generate so many memories as our minds take leaps.

  2. Jill Wroblewski Says:

    love the theme of this post, my adult children (33 & 28) are constantly fighting over who is going to get “stuck” hauling my albums to the dump when I kick the bucket. That’s okay, I do them for me, I enjoy the process and if no one else does that’s fine (although I do hold out hope that my grandchildren might have some interest). With that said I love the realestate that is located on the back of each layout. Printing out this blog post and attaching to the back of your layout would expand on the treasures one may discover. what a joy that would be!!

  3. Maureen Says:

    I love this concept. I have no idea what my son and future kids will want to keep. Now I want to mark off my most important!

    Also, this picture is so sweet.

  4. Barb S Says:

    Such good things to think about. I don’t know what my children will keep but it is comforting to know that I won’t know…or care! This craft has been such a literal lifesaver for me that it will have served it’s purpose. Thanks for the illustration of the chain of memories that result from one small photo.

  5. Donna Bolen Says:

    Loved this post, I remember those cakes very well. I’m close to the time when my things will be left to others. I am just enjoying them now and it doesn’t bother me if anyone else wants them when the Lord calls me home. I just think everyone should love each day with all our special things and if no one wants them, that’s ok.

  6. madeline Says:

    I sometimes expound a bit more on the back of a layout, especially when dealing with older photos of people long gone, since my memories are all we have left of them.

    With 5 kids, I always joke about the fight that will go on about my scrapbooks when I’m gone…“you take them…no, YOU take them”! lol! At least with five kids, the burden will be dispersed.

  7. youngmi Says:

    i really like this idea. my albums are starting to take over the apartment. i’ve stored them in every nook and cranny. i don’t plan on having children so i figured that when i left this world, they would eventually get thrown away. i know certain people would be interested in keeping certain pages so i like the idea of of my family and friends going through my albums and picking the stories and photos that mean the most to them. thanks for the great (and yes, a little morbid but that’s okay) idea!

  8. Deborah Says:

    Love this post Shimelle. It has certainly given me a lot to think about. Thank you.

  9. jane Says:

    When I look through my albums I see many lovely pages, pages that are meaningful to me but pages devoid of much meaningful journaling for others. I so need to marry the pretty pages with some expanded equally pretty wording.

  10. Christine Says:

    I have done just that. Told the longer, broader story on a 6×12. Love it.

  11. Andrea Says:

    Oh my goodness, I thought I was the only one who had a Wonder Woman cake as a little girl! I even dressed up as her for Halloween one year. I also remember doing extra chores to get a She-ra doll. Thanks for reminding me of these things, on top of he usual scrappy inspiration. :)

  12. Berta Says:

    Wonderful post! I love how one simple photo led to all those memories. We had a, few TG&Y’ s in our area, but mostly Sprouse Reitz stores. I loved them so, toys, fabrics, crafts, house hold items, gifts and treats all under one roof. But not so big as a Target or Wal-Mart now. Much smaller and more personal. I miss those stores.

  13. Elizabeth Says:

    Love the idea of The Important Pages. Also love how many different memories can be triggered by the same little photo: white scars, bouncy balls, superheroes and Shakespeare.

  14. KateT Says:

    This is the 2nd thought provoking blog entry I’ve read today. I feel like a chrysalis, I may shake off an outer layer and re-emerge.

  15. Connie Says:

    Oh Shimelle…I can so relate to this post. I have had this same conversation in my house also giving explicit instructions that if I were to die and I am still scrapbooking with my friends, that my husband is to make sure he gives all my supplies to my friends and not just throw them all away. I had a friend that died young and it broke my heart when I went to her house and found that her husband had thrown all of her stamping supplies in the garbage. I can only hope that my family will cherish the scrapbooks I have made journaling about our journey through life. I don’t feel so bad either knowing that you have almost 70 12×12 albums..I myself am at 64. Thank you for saying that…I don’t feel crazy anymore.

  16. maria Says:

    Shimelle, thank you for reminding us of the magic that photos hold. All those lovely thoughts and memories from one sweet photo of a cute little girl in a superhero outfit! And yes, you need to include your post in one of your albums – it has so many “heart tugs” in it. Maria

  17. Lisa-Jane Says:

    That’s a lot of albums and a LOT of pretty pages and stories. I can’t imagine inheriting something like that but I’d like to think I’d want to keep anything that made me feel close to that person, at least for a good while. I loved this page first time and now I’m pinning it. I remember tying string around my waist and tying on a pen and a key and other random objects such as Wonder Woman might use sigh happy days with little else to care about x

  18. marsha. Says:

    Thank you Shimelle, I needed to read this. Thank you!

  19. Denise P Says:

    The details you can remember are astonishing! I can’t remember much of anything before age 7 and even then, it’s all over the place. My memories are sort of like still pictures. As far as my older years…I did my best just to survive through school so I could move on and feel like there isn’t much actually worth remembering. Reading all of that may be nothing extraordinary to you, but it’s pretty awesome in context because it’s memories like these that really add complexity to a person. No doubt little things like this exist in all of our lives that while small, explain so much of who we are.

  20. Amber Says:

    I’m late to this conversation but I thought I’d chime in since I have had to go through mass amounts if scrapbooks left to us. My husband and I ended up having to care for his grandpa due to his father’s sudden and early death. It was a shock to us and we were his only family. So most of the stuff we just stored for a while when we moved him here. Too overwhelmed to deal with it all. A few years after grandpa passed away we finally went through the scrapbooks. There were 12 bankers boxes full. And they were all decaying in the old style albums so just keeping them was not a choice. We pulled photos that we wanted to save and had them scanned. Unfortunately the journaling was lacking. I see these picture of great parties, military deployments, and childhood friends, but have no idea what is going on, minus a few “great party” or “Tim and John at the lake”. It’s certainly changed how I journal! I would encourage you to print out the journaling as you said you might do. I would have loved to know more. In the end most of the scrapbooks went to the dump. It was quite strange as a scrapbooker to stand at the edge and throw the boxes in. I think it was a weight lifted off my husbands shoulders though. I don’t know what will happen to my books. I scrap big picture style and project life. The project life books are extremely popular with my family. The others not quite as much. And some lack a story (for example a layout with the just words “love this”). I definitely scrapbook for myself. If my kids or husband wants them when I’m gone that’s a bonus! And I would love to get the nine (!!) years of my blog printed out. Just not sure how/when I’ll do that.

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