Feeling Scrappy

One big reason why I started this blog is because the thought of scrapbooking totally overwhelmed me. It seemed like a mysterious world filled with adhesive letters and specialty scissors and decorative papers, a world that demanded countless hours of cropping photos and executing themes and writing captions. In bubble letters, no less.

So in order to escape the feeling that I was failing Alex miserably in terms of documenting his childhood, I decided that a blog was a fine idea. And listen – I took to blogging like a Southern girl takes to fried catfish. I wrote about our days, I kept a record of funny things the then-toddler was saying, and I even had pictures (that I could crop in seconds, mind you) to accompany the posts. The blog became – and has remained – my handy little digital scrapbook, and that suited me just fine. I’ve never once regretted my inexperience with paper trimmers and punch boards.


A couple of weeks ago Alex went with his class to Washington, DC. I have known since he was in about 2nd grade that he’d have to complete a gigantic scrapbook after the trip. And since David actually went to DC and chaperoned and helped get all the necessary pictures and walked who knows how many miles across our nation’s capital and etc., I have known for some time that any scrapbook supervision was going to be my responsibility. I think that’s oh-so-fair.

But none of that changes my my personal challenges with craftiness – and those challenges are precisely why the prospect of helping with this scrapbook has filled me with some small degree of fear and trembling.

Honestly, I’ve felt flat-out intimidated. Because do you know what crafty people have that I do not? SKILLS.

This past Friday, however, I decided that it was time to face the music (or the memories, as it were) and make a trip to Hobby Lobby for our supplies. I mentioned to my friend Heather that I could no longer put off purchasing all the much-needed papers and stickers and whatnot, and since Heather is a bit of a scrapbooking mastermind and dare I say enthusiast, she offered to accompany us on our trip to the HL. I was so thankful for her kindness that I may have cried.

No kidding. When Alex and I pulled into the HL parking lot right behind Heather and her daughter, I thought of that verse from Proverbs that says “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.” Granted, if we were getting all technical I’d need the verse to say “sister,” but that is sort of missing the point because GRATEFUL.

Now here is where I want to be clear. I am all for helping a kid with his or her homework, but doing a kid’s project is nowhere on my parental priority list. So while yes, I am absolutely going to supervise and help with the scrapbook, I am also super aware that I completed 5th grade and all of its assignments back when Ronald Reagan was president. That is why I have tried to be exceedingly clear with Alex that he is the person in charge of writing recaps, selecting pictures, and assembling scrapbook pages. I’m mainly along for the ride to supervise the process, assist with organization, and make sure he meets his deadline.

All that to say: I know full well that the pressure isn’t on me. Even still, I walked in that Hobby Lobby and almost instantly felt like I was starting to sweat. Like, starting to sweat out of the top of my head. Hobby Lobby is a lot of seasonal merchandise and crafting supplies for a person who typically doesn’t dabble in either, so after grabbing a shopping cart and then stopping in my tracks right next to some Easter baskets, I sheepishly looked over at Heather and said, “Um. You want to tell us where to go?”

“Back there,” she pointed. “Just follow us.”

You know those times in your life when you really need for someone to take control and boss you around a little bit? THAT.

We walked to the back of the store as Heather and C talked about some craft they wanted to try (this is a discussion that I have had approximately zero multiplied by never times in my life), and when we finally arrived at the back of the store, I know for certain that my jaw dropped when I saw the TWO AISLES full of stickers that were waiting on us.

Seriously. I didn’t even know that many sticker themes were possible.

The first thing we did was get Alex to pick out a scrapbook. Heather advised that I buy an extra set of scrapbook inserts (is that even the correct term? the words have lost all meaning), so I threw those on top of the navy blue scrapbook like a wide receiver spiking a football in the end zone. Giddy with productivity, I was. But then we wheeled over to the paper aisle, and after a quick look-around, I promptly waved a white flag of surrender.

I was somewhat overwhelmed.

Eventually Alex picked out a big book of patriotic-type scrapbook papers (WHO KNEW such a thing existed? I for one did not.), and Heather and C suggested a few of the individual papers that might come in handy. By the time we got to the end of the aisle, I felt like the worst part was probably over.

But then I remembered that we still had to pick out stickers, and the top of my head started to sweat again.

(Listen, all you cute 20- and 30-somethings. I just want you to know that SWEATING OUT OF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD is totally a thing. AND IT IS YOUR FUTURE.)

(Also, be really good to your eyelids.)

(One day you will wake up and realize that they have betrayed you, and try though you may, you cannot convince them to be loyal again.)

(Insert perfunctory platitudes about the good part of the 40s being wisdom, perspective, blah blah blah blahblahtedy blah.)

When we first turned down the sticker aisle, my first reaction was to flee (lo, and quickly) because there were quite literally thousands of options and I can barely make a decision when confronted with two kinds of salad dressing. So once again I let Heather lead the way. “The Stickabilities brand is really good,” she began, “and you’ll probably…”


This was more than I could comprehend.

“Oh, yes ma’am,” Heather replied. “And I’m telling you. The Stickabilities are good.”

Needless to say, I loaded up our cart with every Stickabilities flag and eagle and USA-emblazoned medal I could find. I’m not exactly sure how many stickers I bought, but I can say without hesitation that WE HAVE US SOME STICKER OPTIONS.

At that point I assumed we were finished, but Heather said, “Hold on. You’ve got to have tape.”

“Oh, I have tape at home,” I answered.

“No – you need this tape,” Heather replied, and then she held up a package of some plastic containers that apparently dispense tape in dots. Apparently this is better for securing pictures to scrapbook pages. And suffice it to say that I was incredulous to find so many tape-dispensing options. All this time – all these years – and I’ve actually been using my hands to tear off tape strips of varying lengths. LIKE A SAVAGE.

But once the tape dots were in the cart, we were done. All finished. Fully outfitted and supplied.

By the time we made it to the cash registers, I had mentally thanked Heather and C approximately 37 times before I thanked them for real and they set off in search of other crafty items. There’s not a doubt in my mind that without their help I would have walked out of Hobby Lobby with a scrapbook, some construction paper, and about four bottles of Elmer’s glue. Their assistance really was huge. And if that weren’t enough, the scrapbook and the scrapbook paper were 50% off. I KNOW. Stickers were 50% off, too – but only the Stickabilities brand. I’m so glad we picked those. I hear they’re the best.

A few days have passed since our Hobby Lobby excursion, and while I don’t want to speak too soon, I think we’re making progress. Friday night Alex sorted all of his pictures. Saturday he wrote all of his reactions and opinions and whatnot. And Sunday he started putting everything together, which is why I looked at this pile for a very long time before it dawned on me that maybe he should pick out scrapbook paper for each page.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.47.45 PM

I believe the phrase you’re looking for is “outside of her comfort zone.”

But Alex? He is a trooper. He has really worked hard the last couple of days, and while there’s still a ways to go, by diggity we’re organized. Not to mention that we have more patriotic-themed scrapbook supplies than I even knew existed this time last week.

We’re broadening our creative horizons, y’all.

And my nerves may just live to tell the tale.

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  1. Dee Cochran says:

    RIGHT there with ya!! I have just learned of Bible Art Journal . Even though I have nary a drop of artistic ability AT ALL, I can buy stickers , Washi tape …and that’s all I know right now. Was so overwhelmed (no friend with me ), I bought two rolls of Washi tape and walked out. Gonna try again soon !!

  2. The mere thought of scrapbooking makes me break out in hives. So, solidarity on that front, sister.

    Also, I’m about to turn 30 and I’m afraid to say that my forehead has betrayed me. No longer can I raise my brows in a bemused expression without my forehead doing its best impersonation of a folding fan. And you mean to tell me that the eyelids are next?

    Say it ain’t so!

  3. Oh, Sophie! If your head was sweating in Hobby Lobby I can only imagine what would happen if you went with me to The Great American Scrapbook Convention this summer! Yes, that’s a real thing. Three days, hundreds of vendors, classes, crop parties! And, lots of stickers!

    Seriously, Hobby Lobby has more and more ready made decor these days. Lindsay Letters has some framed prints there, even. It’s a great place to find accessories. And all you have to do is remove the price sticker; no crafting involved!

  4. Just imagine, some folks feel the same way about the cracker aisle! Or Steinmarts!

    Good for you, for facing it … and for letting your son do the project the way he likes .

  5. Pitch perfect as always! I had my own HL ineptitude when I researched felt options for sheep costumes for 4 year old choir. Imagine my joy when a parent brought in a prototype she whipped up and offered to make. Bless the hands of our paper and cloth craft friends. :)

  6. First off – my favorite line above is about you tearing tape strips of various lengths”LIKE A SAVAGE.” You slay me!

    I’ve always had huge scrapbook inadequacy issues; my sister and S-I-L created beautiful books for their children, because they were high quality moms, while I stored another 50 envelopes of photos in a shoebox in the basement. I was almost in tears with gratitude when I discovered photo books by Shutterfly and Snapfish, etc., where you can lay out pages, crop photos and do all that business online. And the books take up a tenth of the space of those big books. Hallelujah!! Thanks so much for the morning smile!

    • Natalie N says:

      Sara, yes! “I’ve actually been using my hands to tear off tape strips of varying lengths. LIKE A SAVAGE.” was my favorite line too.

      And, Sophie, thank you. Your blog, back in about 2006, was instrumental in liberating me from scrapbooking mommy-guilt. That was such a good thing …because I was already about seven years behind at that point! I am forever indebted.

  7. True confession time: I have a cabinet filled with scrap booking supplies – but zero scrapbook pages actually made. My best friend and her girls are scrap booking fiends and, yes, I feel GUILTY that I have not documented every second of my daughter’s life on paper! I’m a teacher and every summer I say, ” this is the year we get it done” but don’t bet money on it. Just not in my genes…..

  8. Becky in 'Bama says:

    Yikes…I got a knotted up stomach just reading about crafting and particularly ‘scrapbooking.’ Stuff like that turns my hands to lobster claws and my brain freezes like I’ve eaten an entire carton of Breyers in 5 minutes. Like you, I enjoy writing – ’cause I can erase (aka backspace these days) and move on with no one ever knowing what I might have said that was truly dumb…

  9. Libby Gordon says:

    I’ve been scrapbooking since 1996 when my first boy was six months old and two kids, 18 years later, I am still at it. I totally get your feelings of being overwhelmed because there is so much out there. I’m a pretty experienced scrapper (yes that’s a term) and Hobby Lobby’s “paper crafting” area spins me into semi panic attacks. I order most of my stuff online and I don’t use a lot of stickers. I’m so impressed that you’re letting Mr. Alex do his scrapbook on his own. Mamas that are kinda crafty have a hard time doing this… I generally have to leave town when there’s some project that requires paper and pictures due. I will take that project out of my babies ‘ hands and do it myself (and I’m a former elementary teacher that hated when parents did their kids homework !) . Please share his finished project with us!

  10. Jeannette says:

    I can so relate. I observed a friend crocheting at church the other day. And after a brief conversation she said she would make a baby blanket for me, for a gift. I proclaimed I would buy all the materials needed.
    I went to the local HL the very next day. I found the sewing material aisles. Then some other fabricy aisle and then a small portion of hell opened up. Two whole aisles of nothing but yarn.
    I left Hobby Lobby forty-five minutes later with five bundle of yarn. (I had never sweated so hard trying to make those decisions).

    By the way, just finished your book. I laughed so hard. I might need to check into a hospital next time. I laughed so hard I nearly passed out three or four times. “redneck riding it on icy roads with bald tires” or something like that nearly killed me. I just remember the room spinning and then quickly getting dark.

  11. I.Feel.Your.Pain….however….have gone ahead over the years and purchased enough supplies that I could open my own craft store. And ordered tons of pictures. And yet not one scrapbook has emerged…sigh…God bless you for putting it in perspective….

  12. Nancy w. says:

    Thanks for the morning dose of “laugh out loud!” I too am uncrafty but organized and had 25 photo books on my shelf to prove it. Nothing creative–just organized! Well….as someone mentioned above Shutterfly, Snapfish, and the one we like is MyPublisher! Eureka!! Digital scrap booking!! Hubby & I bought a scanner, scanned the pictures in all those books onto flash drives, threw away said photo albums AND pictures and together started making albums! We’ve done three so far, and enjoy doing it together. Pictures of the kids and family life thru age three of the youngest (she’s 39 now) so obviously we have a ways to go. But no more lugging around 25 albums!

  13. HL and H*LL are close in my world. I am not crafty but we all have gifts. You need a great pair of black shoes? a cute outfit for Friday night? A good recipe for something? I am your girl. Crafts? Not.Gonna.Happen. But I will watch you be crafty and drink wine with you.

  14. The thought of walking into any craft store makes my chest tight. It’s all so big and bright and there is so much stuff. Instant stimulation overwhelm. You were lucky to have your wing man there for you. She’s a peach.

  15. “Like a savage”. I almost spit out my coffee! Love you!!!

  16. Ya done good! I will tell you that like your friend, I love scrapbooking. I’ve made many albums and enjoy that challenge of matching paper and stickers and pictures. But I now, finally, have enough supplies at home, so I can do it in comfort.

    I get nervous and anxious when I have to go to the craft store because it is all so overwhelming to me. I feel, for some weird reason, that I must make my decisions quickly! So I do feel your pain! Last year, I made a scrapbook style guestbook for son’s wedding. I had almost all the supplies I needed at home. But spent way to many agonizing afternoons at the store trying to pick a few wedding themed papers and embellishments. I finally gave in and worked with a lot of what I already had so that I could get it done in time for the wedding………Love your writing and your new book!

  17. Scrapbooking?? I haven’t even filled in my youngest’s son’s name in his baby book yet…he’s 4 years old. I’m thinking scrapbooking may not be a good activity for me!

  18. Becky in Waxahachie says:

    We are all blessed with gifts and you certainly found yours. I am a relatively new fan of your blog and I love your wit and humor and your Southerness. I am a Midwestern yankee transplanted to Texas by way of New Mexico where I lived for 42 years until finding my way to the Lonestar state four years ago and I am a huge fan of all things Southern. You have brought that all to life for me in your blog and books. I am currently reading your first book and belly laughing at your Southernisms. I have loved all things Southern since I saw Gone With the Wind as a young girl. When I left home (Iowa) in 1969 to join the Navy I was drawn to the girls from the South. In 1970 I married a Marine who lived a few miles from the Texas/New Mexico border. His people came from Oklahoma during the depression so I was surrounded with Southern people but until we moved to Waxahachie in 2010 I have not enjoyed this level of southern ways before and I love it. Wait! Wasn’t this blog about scrapbooking?!!! I wanted to say that I envy your gift for writing and making people laugh. I can sew, paint, crochet, etc but I would love to write like you.

    • There’s a great scrapbook store in Waxahachie!! And a great gift shop and tea room too, The Dove’s Nest, that’s been featured in Southern Living!

  19. I am a new follower, and want you to know how much I am enjoying your first book “A Little Salty…”. Love it.

    As a person who would never, ever, get into scrap-booking I wanted to just mention that the next best way to document a year, or a trip, or even to make up a cookbook, is through Shutterfly. So darn easy to do it all digitally. My daughter-in-love got me started. She does an annual book each year, and then does special editions (graduations, for instance). With Groupon coupons and the special deals Shutterfly sends to you, the cost is minimal, especially compared to buying scrapbook supplies. Just wanted to mention it….

  20. I’m with you on the scrapping/crafting. The worst punishment anyone could give me would be to send me to a scrapbook convention and make me participate.

  21. I am in your boat, and have not a scrap booking bone in my body. Ask me how to solve a derivative, and I am all over it. What I have decided is that I can spend time cropping, sticking, bubble lettering, etc., or I can spend time making those memories with my girls.

  22. What a great post. I am JUST LIKE YOU in the anti-craftiness. My niece mentioned to my sister that she never hears me talk about crafting. My sister just laughed. I sent them a link to some DIY Fails and told them that’s why I’m not into crafting.

  23. Melissa Nagle says:

    i absolutely love reading your blog!!! Thank you for sharing!!!

  24. Roxanne says:

    Loved this! I too am so not a crafter and Hobby Lobby overwhelms me with their choices.

  25. Me toooooo! Just seeing friends’ pictures of scrapbooking on FB makes me hyperventilate. We had a blowout for my dad’s 80th birthday last week which included memories sent to him by friends and family. My job was simply to attach the memories to decorative paper. I was in tears. FYI, I way over-bought (on purpose), and Hobby Lobby and Michael’s will take everything back – even single sheets of paper! All the extra was returned yesterday.

  26. Adrienne says:

    I made the (fatal) mistake of reading this post at work…. My co-workers now think I am seriously deranged. It must have been when I laughed so hard I snorted; that’s just hard to hide in cubicle-land.

    I actually LOVE scrapbooking, but am woefully behind. My daughter is 18, and her scrapbook currently ends at her 4th birthday party. My son is 16, and I think his scrap book ends with him “in utero”. One of these days, I’ll get it caught up.

    Would love to see the finished project!

  27. Jennifer says:

    You know, every time I contemplate the placing of things into a scrapbook, I think, “There’s NO WAY that book will close once it’s full, and it will be all bulgy and weird and wonky on the bookshelf and the pages will pull out and stickers will fall off,” and then shortly after I collapse from thinking about the cluttery mess of it all. I say photo books are the way to go. Clean. Neat. Bound! With captions! And, most importantly, no glue. I hope the project works out well, and I hope for your sake that glue is the kind you can sniff. ;)

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  1. […] One big reason why I started this blog is because the thought of scrapbooking totally overwhelmed me. It seemed like …read more       […]

  2. SterlingCPA says:


    Feeling Scrappy