For the past several days I've been working on my older daughter's Tot to Teen photo album. I've been a scrapbooker for about 16 years and I am current on our family albums, but not my daughters' personal albums: baby album, school albums.
I'm going to say something about scrapbooking for those of you who don't do it: you either like it or you don't, you either do it or you don't. Probably the only middle ground on this hobby is being organized enough to put pictures in a photo album with pockets you can just slide them into.
And for those of you who are scrapbookers and are jealous that I'm current on our family albums, take heart: I started scrapbooking when my oldest was around two years old, then my youngest was born and three years later I was behind.
I struggled for a couple years to catch up by constantly going back to the place I left off, not allowing myself to scrap current photos until I caught up. Then one day I paid attention to the scrapbooker’s rule of staying current, then going back and catching up when you have time. If you don't keep up on current events, you're spending time forgetting the present while the past is still the past.
So I started to stay current and delighted in the joy of scrapbooking my little girls' lives as they unfolded. Suddenly, I had time to catch up. I caught up five years in one and a half years' time. This was about twelve years ago and I've stayed current ever since.
But, like I mentioned in the first paragraph, I have not kept up on my daughters' personal albums, one of them being the Tot to Teen albums I created for each of them about 12 years ago. They are meant for the child to have a memory book they can take with them when they leave home for the first time. Each page-spread has a theme: Family, Trips, Easter, etc. You're supposed to put one picture for each year in each page spread until they are 18-years old; my oldest is graduating in June, time is of the essence.
This exercise is frustrating because I've realized my photography skills sucked in the early years of my children's lives. My goal is not to sink more money into the project by duplicating pictures or dismantling finished albums, but I tell you, it is very painful to figure out one picture for each event when the pictures just aren’t there. I’ve had to scan a couple because there is no substitute for a child dressed in their Halloween costume. I only had one picture of them together and since there are two of them, I had to scan the one before I used it.
Not only am I having issue with the volume of pictures, but my skills left a lot to be desired. There are photos with partial blackouts; some are so dark I don’t even know why I bothered keeping them because I can’t tell who’s in the photos.
Plus my aptitude for capturing Kodak moments was nil: there are no pictures of the four of us together in 1999 or 2000, and there is only one in 2001; 365 days and I only took one photo with all four of us and my mother probably thought of it.
You have to also remember this was in the day before digital cameras. Everything was on film and you never knew what it was you had. But really, why take a million pictures of one stupid pose and not get a family picture?
My skills started to smooth out around 2003-2004 and the going will be easier when I get to those years; not to mention the entry of the digital era. But if one of my daughters wonders why her sister went on a family trip to the beach one year and she only went to a park, I’ll just tell her to add it to my growing tab of their future counseling sessions.
Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to writing about the humor amidst the chaos of a family. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com. Her column is available every week at maplevalleyreporter.com under the Lifestyles section. “Like” Living with Gleigh on Facebook.