Archive for February, 2011

Finding balance link

My friend, Christina, mother to 8 amazing children, has written a series of three posts about finding balance. The series is well-written and very wise. I suggest that you check it out.

Part 1:  http://handsfullmom.blogspot.com/2011/02/finding-balance-part-1-priorities.html

Part 2: http://handsfullmom.blogspot.com/2011/02/finding-balance-part-2-time-management.html

Part 3: http://handsfullmom.blogspot.com/2011/02/finding-balance-part-3-patience-and.html


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Again, another boring post about scrapbooking. I’m mainly writing it to clarify my process about organizing my photos and preparing them to scrapbook.

Two facts that drive my process:

1. I scrapbook chronologically.

2. I function best when I am organized and efficient. For some reason, this creates an environment where I can be highly creative.

Photo Organization

Film Camera

Pre-digital camera days I had a film camera. I printed doubles and organized the photos chronologically in photo books. I saved my negatives chronologically in a box. I dated and labeled the negatives so I can easily retrieve them if needed.

Digital Camera

Organizing Photos on my computer:

I first make a folder on my computer labeled with the year.

I have folders on my computer labeled: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Within each year, I label 12 sub folders labeled: 1-January, 2-February and so forth.

Within in the month sub-folders, I organize my photos by date and activity or person. So for example: 1-1 Jan 2011 Ringing in the New Year,  2-3 Jan 2011 The baby plays with his toys, etc.

Downloading photos:

I try and download my pictures once a week, usually on Sunday. I use my Microsoft program because it keeps the folders organized the way I like it. I usually write an update and include pictures from the week.

I’ve started to edit my photos on Sunday. I use Picasa, Google’s free photo-editing software. I usually run a batch edit and then crop individual photos as needed. Picasa has a text feature that I’ve started to use. I usually just write a few words about the picture.

I use Picasa because it is free and easy to use. I know that Adobe Photoshop Elements is probably a much better product, but it requires more time than I am willing to give it to learn the program. Picasa is just at my level and still allows me to quite a bit. It’s also very easy to uploads pictures to email, blog or buy.

Organizing Photos to Scrapbook

This part takes two steps.

First, I go through the photos I want to print and make copies of them in a separate folder. I group them in groups of 50 or 100 so I can take advantage of photo printing specials I receive.

Then I make an Excel Spreadsheet. I give a title or them for a group of pictures, date of the pictures, number of pictures, and how many pages I think I will make. I also include a box for marking the page done. This way I can quickly see what I’ve done and what I have left to do.

Why the spreadsheet? Well, I am extremely frugal and often use double-sided cardstock. I hate not using the other side of the paper. So I have to plan spacing and themes. Doing this helps me make the maximum use of my supplies. I also have found that it keeps me focused and on task.

Case in point: I’ve been working on my 2006 album for a few years now. I made random pages and had created quite a few. But I didn’t have a cohesive plan or structure for the album. When I finally sat down, analyzed what I had and what I needed, I was able to print the pictures I needed and pull the album together very quickly. In fact, I was able to make almost 50 pages in a month.

I also find that this process helps me take pictures and supplies to a crop. I can easily pull out enough pictures to do a few pages and not bring everything I have.

If you scrapbook, what is your organization process? Do you work best with a free-form style or are you highly organized? Do you use a similar process that I do?

I suppose the whole process seems a little bit rigid, but it works for me. I function best with organization and purpose. It’s hard to make goals and meet them when you don’t know where you stand or how much you have to do. I’ve floated along for too long and now feel like I need to maximize my time. Ironically, all this organization and structure has opened the floodgates for ideas and creativity. I will streamline the process as I see fit.

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As a kid and then teenager, I filled journals with my thoughts and experiences. Writing was theraputic and meaningful to me. Then I went to BYU. There was a contingent of scrapbookers in one of my wards. And immediately my streak of perversity struck. How were scrapbooks better than my journals, filled with my words and a few photos?

Then I got married and a year and half later found myself expecting my first baby. Suddenly, the camera I never used became important. And my journals–occasionally written in. Life was so busy for me. So when my first son was born, I began to scrapbook, somewhat haphazardly. I enjoyed the process of finding pretty paper, writing and adding my bad photos.

Then we moved to Sweden. And suddenly, I felt very pressed to scrapbook. I wanted to document every single detail about our experiences. I snapped photos at the supermarket, took pictures of the bus we rode and our bikes, snapped endless pictures of Lund with all its amazing and varied architecture. My children were little and I knew that memories are fleeting. So I wanted to create a body of memories that my family could refer to and trigger their own memories.

And so I began to scrapbook in earnest. Somehow in the process of documenting those details I began to process and assign meaning to  our experiences. When I felt discouraged about parenting or frustrated with my kids, I could turn to cute pictures of them and feel better about what I was doing. When I felt the wanderlust bug bite me, I could turn to pictures about our adventures and relive those experiences.

When we moved to New York and embarked on a quieter phase of our lives, I found the process of creating rejuvenating and uplifting. I could create something that would be finished and never undone.

And finally, I scrapbook so that the pictures I take don’t become meaningless piles for my kids to wade through. My mother has boxes of photos. Sometimes we can place the photos and other times we can’t. It makes me sad that those photos aren’t arranged and organized. I met my great-aunt this summer and spent a day with her going through her scrapbooks and family heritage photos. She had given her photos context and meaning with her words. She had included bits from her mother’s notebooks and recipes written in her mother’s own hand. It was a veritable treasure trove for me. As she shared her stories and experiences I felt linked to my great-grandparents and past in a tangible and powerful way.

 My great-aunt told me that her parents had stacks of photos that they loved going through and looking at. Sadly, they hadn’t written dates or names on the back. After their deaths, there were some people and places in photos that couldn’t be identified by any living descendent of my great-grandparents. I don’t want to do that to my children or grandchildren. I want them to feel connected to our family history and heritage.

And so I scrapbook. When my daughter asks me to tell her a story about when she was little, we pull out the 2006 scrapbook and I show her pictures of her birth and the many pictures of her, looking like a tiny porcelain doll dressed in pink. When we start wonder when an event happened, we pull out the scrapbooks and find details that we had forgotten.

I may never be a famous scrapbook designer. My pages will never be published in a national scrapbook magazine. But my family loves and treasures the scrapbooks I’ve made. I’ve given my experiences and life meaning and context in books that will last a lifetime.

I realize that not everyone has the same drive I have to scrapbook. But if you take pictures, please at least put names and dates on the backs of the photos or tag them digitally, so that your families will have context and meaning when they inherit boxes of photos or disks.

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Sorry guys, I have a few boring posts to publish. They are mostly for

clarifying my own thoughts about scrapbooking. Feel free to skip!

I’ve made quite a few scrapbooks and photobooks. I find the process for creating both enjoyable. Both have pros and cons that I would like to discuss.



1. Reasonably-priced: Traditional scrapbooks can be a hefty investment. You have to pay for the album, picture printing, page protectors (if the album is larger than the 20 pages included with the album), scrapbook paper, adhesive, and embellishments. When you make a photobook, the cost is significantly reduced. I recently made a 12 x12 photobook of a vacation we took. I did have a coupon, so it was $36.00 total for the book. I could not have printed the photos in the varying sizes used in the book or the album for that price. Both Snapfish and Shutterfly seem to have frequent sales on photobooks.

2. Efficient to make: It took me a few hours to create my vacation book with 28 pages. My text was already written as I just copied posts from my blog.  A similar traditional scrapbook would have taken me at least a month to make, if not longer.

3. Less bulky: Traditional scrapbooks are just plain bulky and heavy. It is difficult haul around the big books. Photobooks are sleek and compact. Yet you still get a high quality product.

4. Easy to make copies: I love that you can print several copies of one book. That is efficient. I recently made a photobook compiling some family heritage photos I had digital copies of. It was so easy to share the digital version of the book with my family and they could order copies easily. I have made books in the past for my parents and in-laws for Christmas presents. It really saves a lot of time. Eventually I want to scan my traditional scrapbooks and print them as photobooks for my children.

Good for people who don’t scrapbook but want to compile their pictures in a meaningful way: If you aren’t super crafty or have a hard time creating pages, I think photobooks are a really excellent option. The designs are nice, simple and easy to use.


Limited designs: I have frequently felt frustrated by the templates or the inability to manipulate the page I want. When you choose a pattern, that is what you get for the entire book. While I appreciate a cohesive design, I want more variety within that design. Photo sites could really benefit from some good paper designers.

Text: I’ve used both Snapfish and Shutterfly and I find both text features slow, laborious, and difficult to use. In fact, entering the text in the books takes the most time for me, even when I’ve already got it written. I find the spellcheck feature to be faulty, highlighting words that aren’t misspelled. When you are editing, you can’t see the entire body of the text so you can’t really check for grammar mistakes or problems in the text. If your text doesn’t fit in the space provided, its hard to see how to cut the text down. The text feature has often shut my computer down.

Project versus page focus: While I love being able to complete an entire project in a few hours, I also really enjoy the process of creating individual pages. I miss that joy when I create an entire book.

Lack of embellishments: While you can put your own extra embellishments in the book after it is printed, I never do this, but sometimes I would like a digital feature added.

I feel hampered in my creativity by the templates and designs because I’ve scrapbooked so much.


Pros: I guess I’ve already covered some of these in my discussion about photobooks.

Variety of design and theme: I’m only hampered by imagination in what I create. There are endless designs available from the internet and stores. I have a large stash and feel like I have a multitude of designs at my disposal.

Ability to manipulate to my liking: I’m in control of the creative process, not a computer template or program.

Creative process: I love taking the time to slow down and create something meaningful. As I work with pictures about my experiences and family, I process those experiences, adding meaning and richness to my life. Much of my life involves endless mundane tasks. It is rejuvenating to sit down and make a page that will never be undone or tracked with mud or splashed with juice.

Fun to shop for: I love paper and pens. I love being able to shop for pretty things that I can use to create. I’m not a shopper, but I do enjoy shopping for scrapbook supplies and books.

Scrapbooking is a serious hobby for people who want to create meaningful books about their lives and experiences. If you enjoy the creative process, beautiful papers, pens and embellishments, then traditional scrapbooking is for you.


Cost: While I shop sales and stretch my supplies, it is an expensive hobby. Printing photos costs money, whether you print at home where you pay for ink and paper or buy it online where you pay for shipping costs as well as printing costs. I tend to print 4 x6 photos online because the larger sizes costs more. I have a small photo printer where I can print up to four photos on one 4 x6 sheet.

Bulky books: I don’t do 3D embellishments and tend to avoid metal embellishments as well, but my books are still heavy and large. They take up a lot of space and are hard for my kids to look at because of the size. I worry that I would lose my precious books in a fire.

Time: It takes a lot of time to create my scrapbooks. I don’t begrudge that time, but I know that many people simply don’t have the same amount of time at their disposal.

While the cons of traditional scrapbooking are prohibitive, I think it is important to point out that many hobbies cost money. It’s just up to you and what you value.

I tend to make traditional scrapbooks because I enjoy the creative process. It makes me happy. But I am not above making photobooks to help me save time, money or energy. I think the bottom line is using what works best for your life and needs.

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Family Home Evening Idea

Every year I try to incorporate the primary songs that my children are learning for the program into our Family Home Evenings. But I always fail to do it. I also like to have my kids memorize scriptures and the Articles of Faith.

This year, I hit on the idea of filling those clear presentation folders with the songs, scriptures, and article of Faith. Last month, I made the folders, labeling the front with each child’s name. Then I put in 4 pages: lyrics to the song, The First and Second Articles of Faith songs, and the scripture for the month. The words were enlarged for all sheets so the kids could read them easier.

 I just added February’s songs and scripture. We use the song for the opening song and then for the scripture portion of FHE, we recite the primary monthly scripture and then sing an Article of Faith song. Each child has a folder so we don’t have any arguments.

I made picture guides for my daughter who doesn’t read yet. She loves having those.

I hope to incorporate the folders into scripture study to make it more of a devotional. But that will come in time!

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January just flew by. It has been a good month for me, filled with energy, attainable goals and happiness.

Where am I at with my resolutions?


I finished all my creating goals. I completed my 2006 scrapbook, bound the quilt and hung it, and finished the December 2010 scrapbook. I also wrote weekly email updates with pictures for my family and friends. Sometimes I really don’t feel like writing, but I’ve made the effort anyway. I’ve got some nice responses back, especially from my family. So I know the effort is appreciated. And the bonus is that the emails serve as journal entries that I can compile and refer to when I scrapbook our adventures.

Everytime I completed a page or finished a section on my quilt, I felt a boost of excitement and energy. The creative energy spurred me to work harder so I finished sooner. I learned to make time daily for my projects. Creating is no longer on my list as something to do, if I got my work done, but a priority. I get a daily boost of happiness when I work on my creative projects.  Writing about our weekly events has given me the opportunity to really look at what we are doing as a family and make room for improvements or to enjoy where we are at.

New Goals:

By Febrary 28, 2011 I want to:

1. organize and print pictures needed to complete 2009 album

2. organize pictures and plan scrapbook for Israel trip

3. organize pictures and plan scrapbook for our 2007 Europe trip

4. organize pictures and plan scrapbook for the rest of 2007

5. organize pictures and plan scrapbook for the rest of 2010

6. choose January 2011 pictures to print and plan pages

This will entail a lot of time on the computer, but until I get it done, I can’t proceed with the actual scrapbooking projects. I’ve already learned that organization is so important to my scrapbooking process. I also want to have batches of pictures ready to print so when there are sales with online photo printers, I can utilize those without having to scramble getting pictures ready.


I am not exercising the way I should. I want to be stronger and have more flexibility. I’ve played out in the snow with my kids and shoveled the snow, which is good exercise. I need to improve on this.

I also finally got all my prescriptions ordered and so my medications are all current.

New Goals:

1. Exercise 2 times a week on Tuesday and Thursday. Spend at least 15 minutes stretching. Spend 5 minutes using my barbells.

2. Wear my retainer once a week on Wednesday.

3. Make an appointment with my GP about my migraines and blurred vision that comes with the migraines. I need to make sure the vision problems aren’t related to the medication I take. (Cross both fingers that it isn’t related. )


I’ve been consistent in my scripture study. I’m making good progress in the Doctrine and Covenants. I am on track to finish by March 31, 2011. I enjoy keeping a journal of my thoughts about what I read. Sometimes I don’t write much, but the act of writing focuses my study and forces me to look for meaning in what I read, instead of letting the words just go beyond me. I don’t need to make new goals, because I’m on track.


My family routines are going really well. I’ve already written quite a bit about them. I’ll continue with the routines because they really work. We’ve successfully introduced piano practice into the mix and we’ll continue with that.

New Goals

1. Institute DS dollars as a  means to improve the tooth brushing routine.

My kids have Nintendo DS game systems. I don’t buy games for them and so they have to earn money for new games or get them as gifts from others. If they brush their teeth day and night for a week, I’ll give them a DS dollar good toward the purchase of a new game.

2. Use DS dollars to work on bedmaking.

3. Step up reading practice with Josef. Get things set up for his tutoring sessions.

4. Meticulously track expenses and money spent this month so I can set up a good workable budget next month.


This is a new area, but I want to put it on my list because I’m always making plans to read new books, but I don’t always follow through.

1. Finish American Grace by February 5, 2011.

2. Finish How I Killed Pluto and Why it had it Coming by February 10, 2011.

3. Read The Age of Innocence by February 17, 2011.

4. Read The Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel Pie Society by February 18, 2011 for book group.

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 Remember my creative goals? Well, I finished my last goal on Wednesday:  my 2006 scrapbook album. I had about 40 or so layouts to complete and was able to do so in record time for myself.

Now what am I going to do with myself??? Well, I’m still so “behind” in my albums, that there is plenty to do.

Just for my record-keeping purposes here are some things that helped me finish this project.

1. Clearly define what needed to be done.

I organized all the photos, labeled, and divided them. That helped me realize that I could really finish the project in a reasonable amount of time. It was not vague and undefined but clear and organized.

2. Keep the project visible.

I kept my photo box out in plain sight on my desk. Everytime I looked at it, I knew that I needed to make time to work on it.

3. Work on the project bit by bit.

By working on the project in some little way everyday, I made rapid progress.

The best part of the project was reliving memories from 2006. It was a great year because my daughter was born that summer. We took three very interesting trips to London, Legoland in Denmark, and Stockholm. We did a lot of fun things as a family. My boys started school at IPSL and ISLK, the international preschool and school in Lund. Both places were very special to our family.

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