I attended a 13-hour scrapbooking event last Saturday.
A friend was confused.
"What kind of scrapbooking event is 13 hours long?" she asked.
I explained: Instead of trying to catch up on our kids' scrapbooks and our family photo albums at home -- which means never catching up on our kids' scrapbooks and our family photo albums -- some moms wait to catch up on their albums at a scrapbooking retreat every few months.
I am one of those moms.
I invited another mom to join me at "Croptoberbest," the power crop event at my Creative Memories' Personal Scrapbook Consultant's home -- surprisingly, she declined.
" 'Retreat' and 'scrapbooking' don't belong together for me!" she said.
They do for me.
WHO IS BECKY HIGGINS?
I discovered scrapbooking as an art form a decade ago, after my first child was born. As I was shopping for albums and papers and stickers, I came upon a magazine about scrapbooking. The cover featured a crafter named Becky Higgins and her new baby son, Porter. Higgins wore glasses and looked like any suburban mom I might stand in line next to at the grocery store. However, as I recall, the accompanying text on the cover crowed that the magazine had the exclusive "first look" at this scrapbook celebrity's baby book pages.
Until then, I had no idea there were scrapbooking magazines; I had no idea there were scrapbooking "celebrities."
But I found myself reading that issue -- I believe it was the May 2003 edition of "Creating Keepsakes" -- from cover to cover. I learned things from this Becky Higgins person. I learned that I should have asked the doctor who attended my son's birth to pose for a picture with my baby before we left the hospital. Darn!
I also learned about how to use eyelets, die cuts and glue dots. I learned about a whole new world as I created that first scrapbook for my son.
When I was 17, I wanted to go to art school. I wanted to be a painter. I became a writer instead because it was more "practical."
It's been about 20 years now since I have picked up a paintbrush. I don't even remember that girl.
Mostly, I now supervise art projects of other girls, my little girls, who are 4 and 8. While the girls paint, I keep the clean water and paper towels coming in between checking emails or cleaning the kitchen. When one of them finishes a masterpiece, I am its caretaker, handling the damp paper as carefully as a museum curator might. After it dries, I hang it on the fridge to admire. Eventually, I transfer it to a box of treasures to be scrapbooked "later."
"Later" finally came last Saturday.
ART & FOOD
I no longer have time to fuss with accouterments such as eyelets, die cuts and glue dots. Not when I have three children, not when I am still plodding through the youngest child's baby book (she starts kindergarten in September).
Nowadays, I usually skip the ornate "Creating Keepsakes" magazine and opt for the simpler "Creative Memories" system of album making.
I recently interviewed Rhonda Kanning Anderson, co-founder of the Minnesota-based Creative Memories, about what's really important when it comes to creating scrapbooks.
"Do you know, never once have any of my children or my grandchildren said, 'Wow, I love that layout' or 'I love how that sticker goes with that paper,'" Anderson said. "What they respond to are the pictures and the stories."
I haven't been to a scrapbooking retreat in about three years. I debated going to this one. There were so many other things that needed to be done. Grocery shopping, for example. I'm glad I eventually remembered my priorities, though.
My priorities: Art over food. Always.
As I sat with the other moms for 13 hours, I found it meditative to choose which baby photos to mat on which card stock; to decorate the pages with floral card enclosures and other ephemera from my children's newborn days; to write down their stories; to hear the other women's stories.
I felt like an artist; I felt like myself again.
Molly Guthrey can be reached at 651-228-5505.