The "have other people write your journaling for you" strategy was so easy that we followed the same approach to create an album for Grandma Neva, who turned 80 on February 6. Again, we simply picked out a standard photo album with 4 x 6 sleeves, created 85 journaling cards, and mailed them out to all the relatives, asking everyone to contribute a memory and a photo to the album. With no family reunion to help kick off this project, I spent a Sunday afternoon assembling journaling cards with my mom and sister-in-law. We used a coordinated product line and a repeating design to make the process simple.
Create a title page. This is my grandma as a little girl, pictured with her brothers Jay and Glenn. I created a quick title card to serve as the introduction to the album. It says, "Words of love and gratitude for our beloved Neva Turner Nielsen, on the occasion of her 80th birthday. February 6, 2009"
Write whatever you want. My cousin Becca shared a treasured childhood memory, while my stepson Jeremy wrote a little note of thanks. Tip: Alternate the placement of the journaling cards, especially if they contain bulky items like brads or dimensional stickers. This will help the album close properly.
Get creative with the format. My cousin Traca and her kids decided to combine their photos and notes into mini scrapbook pages. This is a fantastic way to use up extra wallet photos from school-picture packages.
Involve the kids. Let your little ones scribble or place stickers on their cards, as my sister-in-law Suzanne did here. Tip: You can transcribe a note from a 3- or 4-year old (like Brock) who can speak clearly but not quite write. For a toddler (like Derek), just make up a sentiment that fits your child's relationship with his or her grandma. Examples: "Thank you for letting me give you big, wet kisses," "My eyes light up whenever I hear your voice on the phone," or "You always send me the best presents."
Accept a variety of photos. Allow each relative to send in the picture of his or her choice, whether it's a family photo, a favorite picture of just grandma, or a portrait of the person who wrote on the card.
And now for a super-duper magic trick!
Here's just one of the reasons it's so great to be married to a graphic designer: you always have access to the latest digital design tools (CS4 Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, etc.) Plus, you have a built-in coach who offers helpful Photoshop tips as he passes by and notices you making a horrible mess of things. Over the years, thanks to bits of advice from my live-in design consultant, I know my way around Photoshop's Clone tool. This came in especially handy for this project. Here's a little before-and-after example for your viewing pleasure.
I know that Grandma dislikes seeing pictures of herself with the oxygen apparatus strapped to her face, so I sat down at the computer, turned on a favorite iTunes playlist, and spent 45 minutes cloning the tubes out. (What's cloning? You basically zoom in really, really close. Then you sample a few pixels next to what you want to remove, and you "stamp" the pixels on top of the unwanted item, blending it into the background. You do this over and over and over again.)
How about a drawing? Just leave me a comment (any ol' comment) and I'll draw one random winner who will receive the leftovers pictured below. You could win the 14 double-sided papers left in the Designer Paper pack, plus brand new packages of fabric-covered brads, paper-flower brads, felt ribbon, and die-cut labels. It's all from K&Company's Classic K "Margo" and "Charlotte" lines. Let's hear it!