For many years I’ve had the idea of making my mom a scrapbook. Since I wanted it to be a surprise, the first requirement was that I wait until I was living in my own place. I haven’t been at my craftiness peak since college, but I caught the bug again this fall. The time had finally come to embark on Project Mom.
I usually start projects like this with a great deal of planning, probably knowing how many photos will be included before buying paper and an album. This time I more or less made myself dive right in. If I wanted this scrapbook done by Christmas, I wasn’t going to leave it until the last minute. The lack of planning led to a few missteps, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed.
I started out with a stack of printed photos, a standard photo album, and a 6×6 paper pad by Echo Park. Collecting photos was a challenge because in order to keep my project secret, I couldn’t go digging through our old albums while I was visiting. Thankfully, I scanned some family photos when I was a senior in high school and saved them on a disc. Of course, the last eight years or so are digital photos, and I also had a few copies made from my own photo albums. I later found more digital files, so it took a few tries to get all the photos printed.
Once I sorted the photos into chronological order, some large gaps in time became obvious. I assume that since eighteen-year-old Courtney was choosing which photos to scan, I skipped anything from my awkward early teens. Still, I thought it would be distracting if the scrapbook suddenly skipped ahead for years in time. Besides that, I wanted the book to feel more cohesive than my random assortment of photos seemed to imply.
Instead of being strictly chronological, I decided to divide the book into sections based on the different roles my mom plays. First is the “mom” section, which is photos of just the two of us. Second is the “daughter” section, which includes pictures of my grandparents and other extended family. There’s also a “wife” section for my stepfamily and, of course, a “grandma” section for my nephews. The organization makes it easier to see the different relationships growing over the years. It also conveniently masks the time gaps.
I worked on the “mom” section first. Once I figured out a few page layouts that I liked, I could pretty much repeat them throughout the book. Assembling pages is always the most fun part; it just feels good to make something with my hands. The colors and general vibe of the paper pad were exactly what I wanted for the album. The final challenge came when I realized that my pages only filled a small portion of the photo album, leaving a bunch of blank pages at the back. Instead I bought a Project Life album and page protectors for a cleaner look.
Despite a few hiccups, this project was really enjoyable. It helped that I knew my mom would appreciate the effort that went into it. Around the same time, I started using Project Life for my personal scrapbooking, so I was able to have crafty talks with my mom without spoiling the surprise. But that’s another post.