The Only Scrapbook Album You Need
No matter where you stand on the scrapbooking spectrum—chronological, theme-based, pocket-style, traditional, digital, or just figuring out your memory-keeping approach—I think you'll love the idea behind my favorite album, which is quite possibly the one album I'd grab in the event of a fire.
If you're new to scrapbooking, this type of album is a great place to start. If you're experienced in the craft, then you already know that a scrapbooker's work is never done, and this is just one more wonderful addition to your album library.
It's called "Our Best Days."
This is one of my few albums that is chronological, instead of organized randomly in order of page completion. I like the free-flowing, hodgepodge nature of the rest of my albums. But this one has a narrow focus and tends to progress in date order.
It serves as a simple timeline for the major events and milestones in my life, including:
our wedding day
religious ceremonies and milestones
the arrival of my daughter
the finalization of Keira's adoption
the day she was blessed and sealed to us
my stepson's high school graduation
These pages don't always include a lot of journaling. For events like these, there's just too much to say, and those in-depth stories are probably captured elsewhere. Plus, it's fairly obvious why these days would be special to me.
It is also a place I gather pages about particularly magical in-between days, like:
the day my premature nephew came home from the hospital
the day a beloved pet came home after a near-death experience
the day we completed a 25-mile bike race as a family
an idyllic anniversary trip to Midway, Utah
These pages tend to include more journaling and longer stories, because it wouldn't be obvious at a glance why these days would make it into a "best days" album.
Why I Love This Album
The album helped me solve a dilemma I've been facing. There were certain events and moments that I wanted to make sure never get lost in my standard ongoing albums, and I know if I were to ever look for these layouts in the future, I'd search for them based on date the event happened. So, I decided I should also organize them by date.
In so doing, I created a specific gathering place for layouts about my family's very best days—the highlights of our life. (This album could also be called "Favorite Days," as it follows the concept of my "Favorite Photos" album, where I gather those one-in-a-thousand shots that capture an emotion, relationship, or scene with perfect clarity—those that hold the biggest emotional impact for me.)
I call these types of albums—both Favorite Photos and Our Best Days—"ongoing theme albums," because they each have a specific purpose, and all the layouts within each of them share a common theme. They're not planned out or created in one sitting or even over the course of a couple of weeks. They are simply gathering places for all the layouts I create that suit the topic, whenever and however they get created. I'll continue adding to both albums as new page ideas come to mind.
My typical scrapbooking process is to create pages in random order, based on whatever inspires me at the time (see "About My Process" below). And it's usually only after a layout is done that I decide which of my albums should be its home.
But "Our Best Days" is one exception to that rule. If I'm scrapbooking about a momentous event, huge celebration, important milestone, or even just a fabulous regular day, I save it for Our Best Days—slipping it into its chronological space in the lineup. This album is my one chronologically organized haven in all the creative randomness that rules the roost most of the time.
Embrace Design Randomness
For this album, I don't try to coordinate products or designs from page to page—all layouts stand on their own. But most of these pages do have one design trait in common. I include the date prominently, and usually on a tab that sticks up off the top of the page. The size, shape, and style of the tab certainly evolves, but I like that subtle, common motif to repeat throughout the album.
About My Process
Generally, I complete scrapbook pages and leave them in piles for months. Every so often, I'll go through and sort them into thematic albums. I have albums for:
All About Us (pages about relationships between my immediate family)
Things We Do (pages about vacations, events and outings)
People We Love (pages about extended family and friends)
I have plenty of small, single-topic theme albums as well. But these are the overarching themes for my larger 12 x 12 and 8.5x11 pages. The album themes are subject to change, and sometimes pages get shuffled between them.
The system is loosely inspired by Stacy Julian's system, outlined years ago in Simple Scrapbooks magazine and her Big Picture Scrapbooking and Photo Freedom books. The system is so intuitive that I like to think I would arrived at this approach on my own eventually. But the truth is, it didn't occur to me that I could make pages in any other way than chronologically before I encountered Stacy's work.
Note about the bookshelf picture: I'm continuing to embrace imperfection, which is why I shared a picture of my scrapbook albums as they currently sit on my bookshelf. No, they are not perfectly coordinated. And my plans to add coordinating labels to their spines has yet to materialize. The little green circles, punched from sticky-back cardstock and written on with a Sharpie, are serving as my temporary labelling system. (Temporary for about 2.5 years now.) But I'm not going to let it keep me from sharing my ideas. Too many of us are held back by impossible standards of beauty and perfection. I'm working on letting go of my own hesitations and inhibitions day by day.