Modern*Simplicity

Creating a Life Free From Chaos

Make Your Traditions Into Memories You Can Share

Years ago, a friend told me about her Halloween tradition. Every year since her oldest son was born, they went to the local Pumpkin Patch in their Halloween costumes to take photos. She has an entire collection of her boys playing in their costumes among the pumpkins, from babyhood on up. I told her I’d love it if she’d bring her pictures in to share. She looked at me blankly — they were all stored in boxes and it’d take a few days to round them up. A week later, she brought a smattering in, frustrated that she couldn’t find more but knowing she had them “somewhere.”

When my son was born, I decided I wanted to have a Pumpkin Patch tradition. So at two months old, we dressed him up (as a pumpkin no less!) and headed to the Halloween Pumpkin Patch for pictures. Last year, again we dressed up and headed to the patch for pictures, this time as Tigger. This past Saturday, we loaded up and played at the patch dressed as a froggie.

Yesterday a coworker asked to see my Pumpkin Patch pictures. Uh oh. I’ve got them online easily accessible…but finding the prints could take a few days. It hit me — is this the way I want my tradition’s memories to be, the same way my friend’s had been, buried in boxes or on disks never to be seen again?

Now I’m putting together a Halloween Book. I picked up a simple black photo album with a picture hole in the cover and made a little Halloween Pumpkin graphic to slide in the cover. I’m grabbing a couple of photos from each of the past Halloweens to start the book, and then in coming years, I can just add the new photos in after the older ones.

This is an easy project to start now since my son is only on his third Halloween, and it’ll be simple to add in the new pictures each year. Next year when someone asks to see the photos — and I know they will since my son will have a little brother to take to the patch — I’ll have my book ready to go. And more importantly, my boys will be able to easily look through the book every year and remember our fun outings to the Pumpkin Patch and laugh about their costumes.

Do you have a holiday tradition? It doesn’t have to be Halloween — a Thanksgiving book or a Valentine book or a Fourth of July book could be just as special and just as easy to update. The important part is finding a simple way for you to record and remember your traditions that doesn’t take more time than the celebrating!

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.