Saturday, February 25, 2012

Project Life - January - Part 1

My 2012 Project Life album is coming together quite well. This year I've stuck with my approach of working month by month, rather than using the "Photo a Day" approach, or doing a spread for each week. These are popular ways to use Project Life, but they don't really work for me.

What I do is make several pages of random things that I've taken photos of throughout the month - so usually some pages of Juniordwarf doing his stuff, one or two 'random' pages and then layouts that cover an event or a place that we went to - either a double spread or singe page, depending on how many photos I took.

At the end of last year I started adding in different sized page protectors so I could include things that are bigger than photos in the album as well. Mostly these are A4 and A5 sheet protectors.

For the first page each month I'm using the new Design F page protectors to include some small photos of random things, places and events that I might not otherwise have included. Most of these are from my Instagram photos that I have resized to 2" x 2".

January title page (R)

Instead of using the physical journal cards, I purchased the digital collection from Jessica Sprague. I simply add the photo to the card in Photoshop Elements, include any of the extra elements that I want (usually just the day sticker), and type in my journalling. I wanted to use the same fonts that are used in the Cobalt collection, but couldn't find out what they are. The closest I found for plain text was American Typewriter, which I really like.

Once I'm happy with the psd files I open up a new 6x4 blank file, paste in two of the 3x4 journal cards and then print them as a normal 6x4 photo.

For each month's title card, I'm using one of the digital 6x4 cards and typing in the title and again printing it as a 6x4 photo.

The reverse of the title is one of the digital bi-fold journal cards that I've resized to 6x4 (the bifold cards are slightly narrower than 6" so they can fit into the 3x4 slots). I've then typed in the "month in review", included the digital numbers to represent the dates of the most significant things we did during the month and then hand-written some journalling about those events directly onto the photo.

Reverse of January title page (L)

Then for the rest of the month, I continue the same approach I used last year.

January page 3 (R)

Pages 3 and 4 are a combination of digital and paper. Page 3 includes a lot more journalling than photos. I wanted to include the baked beans recipe and the story behind cooking them. This was another one where I used one of the resized bifold journal cards and added pictures and journalling.

January page 4 (L)

I love the new page protector designs, as they provide a lot more flexibility in terms of the photo sizes and orientations that I can include. Design D, with four portrait 6x4 photos and four horizontal 3x4 journal spots is one I think I'll use a lot.

January page 5 (R)

January page 6 (L)

For the journalling in pages 5 and 6 I used the 3x4 cards and turned them sideways. There are a few designs that have the grid pattern rather than ruled lines, so can be used either way.

A4 and A5 page protectors between pages 6 and 7

January page 7 (R)

I'm also mixing up whether the photos have white borders or no borders because I think it breaks the pages up nicely.

Where I include more than one photo on a 6x4 picture, as in page 7 (above) sometimes I will break the photos up (bottom left) and sometimes I'll keep them all together (top right).

January page 8 (L)

January page 9 (R)

Page 9 is an example of Design B, which I like because I can use one 6x4 portrait and one 3x4 landscape photo plus a journalling card to tell the story. I used it quite a bit last year and I'm glad it's included again this year.

So that's it for Part 1 of January, and my new approach to Project Life. Part 2 will show some layouts that cover specific events, rather than random photos over the course of the month.

Do you use Project Life? What approach are you using? 

Monday, February 6, 2012

another end - and a new beginning

Today was Juniordwarf’s last day of daycare.

He’s been very excited about it, and had counting down the days to his last day since before school finished last year.

On the other hand, I’m feeling a little bit sad and nostalgic about it all. I shed a few tears when we dropped him off this morning – and a few more on the way home after we picked him up. I think his educators at the child care centre were also a little sad that Juniordwarf – and some of the other older children too – would be leaving this week. Apparently one of his friends was in tears last Monday because she thought that was going to be his last day and she wouldn’t see him any more. I think she was pretty upset today too.

Juniordwarf has been going to daycare ever since he was about nine months old. When he was a baby, I stayed at home with him full time for six months, and Slabs was a stay at home dad for the next six months. After Juniordwarf turned one, we both started working part time, three days a week, so we needed to put him into daycare for one day a week.

In preparation for Slabs going back to work, we started taking him in to daycare for an hour at a time, to get him used to being there and not being with one of us. Over the next three months, we gradually built up the time he was there until he was happy to spend a full day there. When Slabs changed his hours, Juniordwarf started doing two days a week in daycare, and last year, once he started 3 day kinder, he dropped back to one day. 

I say happy because, despite the fact that for at least the first two years he used to cry almost every single time we dropped him off, he has seemed to enjoy himself there, he’s done some things he never would have got the chance to do at home and has made some friends. His educators have all been fantastic with him, and he’s been attached to all of them, especially the people who have been his main carers during the time he’s been in their particular rooms.

Now Juniordwarf is ready to start full-time school, and his time at daycare has come to an end. He agreed to give one of his favourite toys to the little kids’ room as a farewell gift – he’s finally outgrown it and it’s time to pass it on to some kids who we hope will get as much enjoyment out of it as he has.

Daycare has been such a big part of his life for the past four and half years, it’s strange to think of him not going there any more. He’s leaving part of his childhood behind and moving on to the next stage of his life as a fully fledged schoolboy.

So while this time last year I was feeling sad that he was taking his first steps into formal education, and into the bigger ‘system’ that is our lives, there was still a lot of his life as a little kid in our lives – daycare, my Tuesdays off as a tryhard mum-at-home, kids under 5 get in free to most places, participating in the various preschool kids activities around the place and that sort of thing.

In just over a week that will all be over and he will be a full-time school kid. Kinder is over and real school begins. It’s an exciting time for Juniordwarf. I know he’s looking forward to it. I asked if he was feeling sad because he wouldn’t have his Tuesdays at home with me any more, and he said, ‘No.’ I asked him why, and he said, ‘because I like school.’ I’m hoping that attitude will stick around for as long as possible!

Several parents have told me it’s a big jump from Kinder to Prep, because of both the increase in the time he’ll spend at school and the more formal atmosphere of the prep classroom compared to the kinder one. It will be interesting to see how he copes.

And it will be interesting to see how I cope too, because with the end of Juniordwarf’s ‘little kid’ days, I feel like part of my identity – that of mum-at-home, which has been part of my make-up since 2006 – will go with it. So in a way I am losing two things at once. It is an emotional time for me, and I want to acknowledge this as a significant milestone in my life. Not as significant as the transformation to ‘mum-at-home’ in the first place (and wasn’t that a shock to the system!), but still an event to be marked and reflected on.

I feel OK about being sad about it, and recognising it as an end, because too often I don’t take the time to properly process things and to recognise and acknowledge my feelings. The result is that those things have a habit of coming back and upsetting me all over again. And again. And, um, again.

Writing it down is part of acknowledging how I feel and celebrating the fact that I’ve had five years as a full time and part time mum-at-home. And it’s been the hardest role I’ve ever had to fulfil. Over the years it’s been challenging, frustrating, difficult, stressful, irritating, boring, aggravating. It’s made me cry, question myself, doubt myself, dislike myself and want to run away and never come back.

It’s also been fun, relaxing (occasionally), and enjoyable, has made me smile and laugh, and has given me the most wonderful moments I never want to forget.

Of course, I know all of this will continue as I continue my journey as Juniordwarf’s mum – and I would have had all of those feelings no matter what type of motherhood role I’d played up until now. It’s all part of being a mum – well a parent really I guess.

But despite it feeling like a loss now, saying goodbye to mum-at-home is not so much a loss as it is another change in my role as Mum.  That role has already changed and evolved many times as Juniordwarf has grown and changed, and it will continue to do so as he continues to grow, reach milestones and face the many challenges that are before him. But perhaps this feels different to the more subtle changes that have already happened, because, unlike the gradual changes, it will be a sudden stopping – much like the end of breastfeeding was for us. I guess it’s like the feeling that some mothers have when their children start high school. It must be a similar sudden and clear-cut change.

I really don’t know, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to spend as much time at home with Juniordwarf as I have over the past five and a half years. Despite how hard it’s been juggling work and home, I don’t think I would have done things differently. It worked for us. Mostly. So as well as farewell to mum-at-home, this is a time to celebrate everything she has done over the past five and a half years.


Juniordwarf’s educator very kindly took some photos for us today of his last day at daycare. Thank you K. They are great, and are a wonderful memory of his last day.

Thank you to all of the wonderful people who have worked with Juniordwarf both at the centre and through Family Day Care. We will miss you.

Walking out the gate for the last time.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

the xmas 2011 scrapbooking challenge

Before Xmas last year, I knew Slabs and Juniordwarf had bought me something from the local scrapbooking shop, because Juniordwarf told me they’d been in there. He was supposed to keep it a secret . . . but as there was a 12” square parcel for me under the tree, I think I might have worked it out for myself anyway.

What they got me was a pack of cardstock, some embellishments, a title and some alphabet stickers, together with a note that said:

“When deciding to give you scrapbooking supplies as an Xmas gift we decided we needed to separate ourselves from the rest of the herd/pack. Giving scrapbooking supplies alone, although we were certain they would be used, was not the most exciting or original of ideas. Hence, the challenge concept was born! Juniordwarf and I chose our favourite colours [the cardstock] and Juniordwarf chose yours as well and we went from there. But it wouldn’t be a challenge without rules now would it? 
1.    A page must be created using only the items supplied for the challenge (ink, paint, cutting and adhesive products excepted). 
2.    The page must depict all three members of your immediate family (including yourself). 
3.    There is a time limit of 37 days to complete the challenge i.e. by 1 February 2012.”

Two things about this freaked me out: first, that a picture of me had to be on the page and second, that I had a time limit.

Those people who know me and scrapbooking know that I can take hours fussing about with a layout and then put it away in the too hard basket work in progress file, sometimes for months (possibly years) at a time, occasionally pulling it out, moving things around, not being happy and putting it back in the file.

It took me several weeks to decide which photos I wanted to use, and then I had to convince Lil Sis to alter one of them to match the other one as her Photoshop skills are far superior to mine.

I printed the photos last week, then on Monday decided not to use them and went to the photo lab to print a different one. The photo lab machine had a hissy fit and refused to read my USB drive, so I had no photos and two days to complete the challenge.

I finally got the new photo printed yesterday. I said to Slabs that since there was no time specified in the rules, that meant I had until midnight on 1 February. He agreed, and so I set to work last night to start (and finish) the challenge.

In the end I decided to go with the photos I’d originally planned to use, because I didn't like the new ones after all, and the whole layout came together quite quickly and easily, which surprised me. I ended up having an hour and a half to spare.

I didn’t use all of the products, which Slabs said was the intention – the idea was to give me a choice – but I used all three pieces of cardstock, as well as one packet of pearls, one packet of rhinestones, one of the title words and some of the alphabet stickers. I think being restricted to those products helped in a way, because I wasn’t able to agonise over which letters to use, or where to find the perfect matching paper or stickers, and all I had to do was put the stuff on the page.

I’m really pleased with it, and I think Slabs and Junoriordwarf were too.

Thanks Slabs and Juniordwarf, it was fun. Maybe next time I want to do a layout quickly, you guys can pick out the stuff for me to use and make me stick to it!