Creating a Life Free From Chaos

Simplifying Scrapbooking

I never intended to scrapbook. When my son was born, my mother-in-law had a beautiful scrapbook made for us with pictures from when my husband and I were dating, our wedding, my pregnancy, the birth and the first precious days at home. She also gave me extra pages, stickers, and supplies to continue the scrapbook, so I could make pages for his first holidays, etc. OK, I thought, I’ll document those precious firsts, finish the scrapbook and be done.

Then Christmas rolled around and I got a new scrapbook album as a gift. Hmm. Well, the other one is getting full, and it would be fun to make a few more pages. Now, two years later, I’m an actual scrapbooker. I don’t do it a lot, but I do make pages for birthdays, holidays, the still-happening “firsts” like our recent trip to the zoo, and the like. But how can I pursue this notoriously clutter-filled hobby while still striving toward a simpler and greener lifestyle?

Is it even possible to be a Green Scrapbooker? I think it might be. In the beginning, I bought “value packs” of scrapbooking supplies. Not anymore. I simplified my system to one 4-inch box that perfectly holds paper, stickers, scissors, and glue. I keep a large envelope in there to hold pictures or mementos for pages I’m working on. I also have a large envelope that is sized to hold the 12×12 page I’m working on with its stickers and photos, so I have my current project easily at hand. I don’t buy stickers or paper until I’m ready to work on a specific project, then I plan ahead and buy what I need.

Of course, I do still have a small stockpile of supplies, but I make sure to keep it to what will fit in the box, and I don’t buy more just because it’s on sale or it’s cute. All of my photos are digital, so I don’t print pictures until I’m ready to work on the page, then I plan the page ahead of time so I can print only what I need. My goal is simply to put together cute albums with the minimum of waste and supplies.

I use the scrap paper to within an inch of its life, then recycle the stuff I can’t use. Extra stickers and papers have been going to friends for their use. A while back, I even eBay’ed the rest of the value pack stuff I knew I wouldn’t use. When I do need to buy materials, I look for recycled options.

I know the greenest option would be not to scrapbook at all, but there are ways to do it while minimizing waste and consumption. My son loves looking at his scrapbooks, so I’ll continue adding to them as I have time. I’m always looking for new ways to streamline and “green up” everyday projects so we can enjoy ourselves while still living planet friendly.

Simple Blessings

You don’t know what you have until it’s gone — isn’t that the old saying?

We almost experienced that last week. Our beloved cat, Charlie, became suddenly ill a week ago Sunday. My husband rushed him to the vet — the kitty was experiencing kidney failure due to a tear in the old pipeline. We (well, mostly my husband) spent 5 days carting Charlie back and forth from our regular vet to the nighttime/weekend emergency vet.

On Friday, our vet told us that we should seriously consider giving up and putting him down. I was seeing improvement in him visually, even if the vet didn’t see it in his bloodwork, so I declined, hoping to give him just a little more time over the weekend to heal. We spent the weekend visiting him at the weekend clinic and praying for healing. By Sunday, his blood levels were finally reflecting the improvement I had seen in his demeanor a few days before.

Monday, after another day at his regular vet’s office, he was able to come home, with a catheter helping to bypass the tear and allow it to heal. Today, Wednesday, he went back to the vet to have the catheter removed, so we’re now hoping for a quick recovery from the dehydration, lack of food, and general illness that has accompanied his near-death experience. I think he’ll bounce back nicely once he’s home for good, with no tubes and not confined to a cage 24 hours a day.

It was a horrible, traumatic week, between the cat’s illness, me being pregnant and having constant morning sickness, a demanding toddler who also required a trip to the doctor and now daily breathing treatments, and a husband who is overworked and probably underappreciated. Add to that a never-ending to-do list and the often silly demands of everyday modern life, and I understand now how I got so jaded.

But now I have a renewed hope and thankfulness that I didn’t have a week and a half ago. I’m still busy as sin, but I’m trying to take time out each day to really enjoy the blessings I’ve been given, from a husband who worries about our pets and visits them at all hours in the 24-hour clinic, to our beautiful son who is growing into a little man before my eyes. I have a miracle cat, who cashed in one of his nine lives but came out kicking, and another beautiful kitty who is (knock on wood) healthy and happy.

I hope, in the future, it won’t take another week like that to get me to count my blessings.