Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Empty Nest and Scrapbooking

Soon after the reality of an empty nest hit me, there was the issue of what things I would work on by myself, while hubby was at work.  Little thought was actually needed before the list became quite lengthy so the issue soon became, where to start.  I decided to begin by really focusing on the inside of the house.  It only too a few weeks or so to do the things I knew needed to be done- the mundane, cleaning type chores that had been neglected while I was busy with child oriented tasks.  The house ended up being so cleaned it nearly sparkled including the floors, windows, and underneath every single piece of furniture.  My next chore was a biggie: organize our pictures and the scrapbooking conglomeration that had been collected and ignored for 25 years.  Talk about a chore!  This little project took the first three months after the baby deserted us--uh, I mean left for college.  Our daughters were very excited about the project and made it clear that they couldn't wait until Christmas to see the end result.  Right.  I will say, however, that I was able to get some semblance of order to the chaos within a couple of weeks.  The hardest part ended up being picture selection, putting pages together, and finding the type of scrapbook I wanted to use.  Thanks to Michael's craft store, I found exactly the type of books I wanted (they are the American Crafts cloth, 12x12 D ring, perfect) plus some beautiful paper, stickers, and other embellishments (not that I needed that stuff but who can resist?!)  What about decorating the pages, you ask?  Let's just say that the photos are attached to scrapbook paper, the pages are in page protectors and contained in a scrapbook and leave it at that.  The decorations will come...eventually.  They will.  I think.  I hope.  Especially since I have so many to choose from now AND about one hundred skirt! magazines to go through and cut up (I do this after reading their wonderful magazine because there are so many great sayings, quotes, pictures, etc. that are PERFECT decorations when scrapbooking for daughters! If you are not familiar with the magazine, visit them at

One thing I had not expected were the emotions that would be stirred up from all this organizing and assemblage.  One day I was angry with hubby (and I'm sure he's thinking, "ONE day?") but while going through pictures, I thought about how wonderful he had been through it all, enabling me to stay home with the girls for 25 years.  I thought how it was because of him that we had the time to nurture such a lasting and open relationship with all four of our daughters.  It was because of him that I was able to be a full time volunteer at their schools and have a hands-on connection with their education.  It was because of him that I was able to help the girls develop our family traditions, especially during holidays.  It was because of him that I was around when their friends were here and that I was able to pull all-nighters for talks or school work help.  All of the priceless times I spent with our daughters were due to his willingness to be the sole provider for our family.  It's funny how scrapbooking can put things in perspective for you.   

I suppose I should have expected the bittersweet feelings that erupted while putting together the pages of our life together.  Memories from what seemed a lifetime ago came flooding back causing a longing to go back which turned into thoughts of 'what-would-you-do-differently'?  Upon reflection, I probably would not change much if anything.  Hubby and I went into this whole parenting privilege with an honest, aware intent to do it as best we could with our eyes wide open.  Our girls grew up to be independent thinkers (which has only bitten us a couple of times), self sufficient, caring, honest, intelligent, creative, driven, loyal, kind, compassionate, energetic, supportive, encouraging, able to stand on their own two feet and stand up for what they believe in young women, each of whom we simply could not be prouder.  I am not saying that we were perfect parents nor that the girls are perfect people, but who wants perfect?  Perfect is boring.  Perfect means nothing more to learn; nothing more to wonder about; nothing more to do.

The girls with Santa in 2003
So, as it turns out, the scrapbooking wasn't just about organizing the pictures and putting them in books.  It was a walk down memory lane which ended up being a path that spanned back to when hubby and I were children to the present.  Each book starts out with pictures of hubby and me as babies and progresses from there.  I have filled four books so far- four undecorated books, that is.  My favorite is the Christmas book.  These pictures were so plentiful that they needed a book of their own.  Just looking at the pictures brought back sounds, smells, sights and feelings of Christmas's past.  I spent time thinking about and missing those who have passed on from this life and reminisced about our Christmas activities like decorating the tree, wrapping presents, baking cookies and decorating them (and what a mess we would make with those Christmas cookies!  Flour and icing all over the kitchen, the table, the kids and me--which was half the fun!), going to see Santa, singing carols, making homemade goodies for the family Christmas Eve gatherings,etc.

Headed out to Capers with family and friends
I put together another book that houses all other holiday activities through the years- Halloween (oh goodness the costumes--handmade by my mother, Mimi), Thanksgiving, 4th of July, wonder I miss the girls being little.  We had so much fun!  The birthday book is also overflowing with family fun in the form of parties in the park, parties in the yard with sprinklers and cookouts, parties with pinatas that we practically had to use a chainsaw to split open, parties at the skating rink, including a man-made, outside ice skating rink, parties at the movie theater, parties on Caper's Island (this one was seriously FUN!  It is an excellent way to explore and enjoy nature in the lowcountry of SC.  If you're ever here and want to experience this please visit their website  and request Robert Hopkins as your guide.  You won't be sorry!), parties of the tea variety, parties at Chucky Cheese, parties at the retirement home (our youngest loves elderly folks) name it, we probably had a party like it.  They were noisy and messy and crowded and just plain FUN!

Lastly, there's the book that houses individual sections...each daughter from birth to most recent photos.  Birth, school pictures, friends, camps, proms, graduations, and daughter M's wedding.  Did I cry?  Do you really have to ask?  Oh what amazing memories!  AND I get to go through it all again when I start decorating the pages. Which will be soon.  Pretty soon.  Eventually...      


1 comment:

  1. This is really a good idea. I have boxes of pictures and since digital came around even more on disc. I'm not a scrapbooker so really haven't a clue but when the time comes maybe you can help me.
    More reading. I'm so enjoying myself. Take care and God Bless!!


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