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I know that’s a funny title for the story I’m about to tell, but at least now we can sort of laugh (a little) about what happened. And as you know, I’ve been scrapbooking my oldest son’s adventures and experiences at Riverside during his junior and senior years of high school – and these pages definitely document one of his adventures.

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Based on one of Ali Edward’s design sketches, this page tells the story of T leaving RMA’s campus – a huge transgression in their eyes. And one that had multiple consequences. On this particular Friday night, the family was out having dinner when we received this phone call from the school: “Sir. Did you or your wife come to pick up Tanner? He’s missing.” What?????

Well, T had left. We tried to reach him by phone and text and called all his friends. Nothing. RMA was going to issue a missing Cadet report if we hadn’t located him by 11:30pm. We surely didn’t want that. And luckily, around 9:30 Tanner texted us that he was okay. We still didn’t know where he was, but at least we knew he was fine and the state patrol wouldn’t have to be involved.

Turns out he went with friends to a concert at the Tabernacle in Atlanta. Wow. The photo used in the layout gives you an idea. You can read the details in the layout. Very stressful evening for us.

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The metal embellishments are from Tim Holtz (Idea-ology Sprocket Gears) and the letter stickers are from Rusty Pickle. Very simple layout – it really was the story that needed to be shared.

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This layout memorializes the fallout from T’s AWOL excursion. He was dismissed from RMA and had to attend a hearing to appeal for re-admission. Of course this all happened in the middle of a north Georgia ice storm. The hearing was super intimidating. But T’s company officers vouched for him and his appeal was granted. But not without punishment. Either 1 week in-school suspension and the requirement that he play baseball for RMA (T is a really good pitcher) or 1 week out-of-school suspension. Plus restriction to campus for 8 weeks. Which meant no visits home for 2 months. The template I used for this layout is from Cathy Zielske, and the chipboard phrase is from one of Ali’s Story Kits.

Well – T chose 1 week of out of school suspension. So out for a week and 8 weeks restriction to campus. Then came Easter and his spring break.

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Ali’s “Gather” Story Kit was perfect for this little Easter layout. I used a 6 x 8 piece of card stock and cut down a 6 x 12 page protector. I actually like having different sizes in the album. Didn’t think I would – but I’ve found I’m doing this more and more. And I really love the white plastic words that come in each of the Story Kits. They’re so much fun to use and they bring design consistency to the different layouts in the album.

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For spring break, we took Tanner and 2 of his friends to Hilton Head for the week. Lots of beach time, freedom, pizza and girls. Fishing also was on the agenda. Super fun. This layout idea is similar to one used by Ali. I added the captions under the photos using Photoshop, printed the photos out on photo paper and just trimmed them to include the captions. The type was added to a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 card stock and the chipboard and embellishments are from the Story Kits.

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One of the best things about Tanner being at Riverside was the weekends he came home. And the weekends his friends came with him. Sometimes there was just one. Sometimes there were four. Sometimes there were lots more. And I usually remembered to take photos. In the midst of doing laundry and making huge breakfasts – bacon, eggs, sausage, pancakes, donuts, toast. For some, our house was their home away from home. We got to know lots about each other. And then we got to know their families. These boys will forever have a special bond.

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Ali’s “Click” Story Kit was perfect for documenting these special times. This is a hybrid scrapbook page. When using the Story Kits, I mostly create hybrid layouts. I like the simplicity and clean lines of digital, but I love the texture and dimension of traditional scrapbooking. I used to be completely 100% a traditional scrapbooker. In a future post, I’ll share some of my earlier layouts. There’s a huge difference between where I was, and where I am now. I also now create mostly 8 1/2 x 11 pages versus the standard 12 x 12. It’s interesting to see how my style has evolved.

For this layout, I started with an 8 1/2 x 11 template from Cathy Zielske – which you can find on Designer Digitals.  In Photoshop, I added my journaling around the edge and then printed it on white card stock. Next I printed out my photos. For the smaller photos, I use the Epson Picturemate Show (I have an earlier version that only prints 4×6 photos). For larger photos, I have the Epson Styus R2880 Photo inkjet printer. It’s been discontinued, but you can find its replacement at B&H. I then added several word phrases from the Click kit. The wooden “Us” is from another one of Ali’s Story Kits.

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This layout was very simple to create. Again I started with a basic template and added embellishments.  The chipboard arrow is from one of Ali’s Story Kits. The letter stickers are from Rusty Pickle (I was on the Rusty Pickle design team before they closed and still have lots of really cool product). Even though this layout is not complicated, it’s perfect for this story. Every RMA parent will tell you they had (or have) a love-hate relationship with the West Portal. Happiness when a cadet is picked up. Sadness when they are dropped off. I used a photo of the West Portal that I took on a cloudy (and somewhat rainy) day. Trying to capture the emotion that I felt every time I pulled in. Or drove away.

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The story told in this layout deserves a 2-page spread. It’s a story involving Tanner and his roommate Khalil. I used Ali’s “Story” silkscreen and some acrylic paint. Printed my journaling out on white card stock in Photoshop and my photos separately on the Picturemate Show. I have to thank Ali for this one. After taking a number of Ali’s storytelling classes and participating in December Daily and Week in the Life, I am finally comfortable enough to let words play a large part in my layouts. Before: I was convinced that the photos should tell the story and that any words were only there to support the photos. Now: I have learned that unless the words are there, the story only exists in my head. Just because I know what the story is that I want to connect to a particular photo and share with others, doesn’t mean that anyone else who looks at that photo will be remembering that same story. Unless the words are there. Thank you Ali!

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This layout is based on another one of Cathy Zielske’s templates. I love the simplicity. Even though there are 6 different photos and 6 different short stories, it all works in this 8 1/2 x 11 space. Who knew? This is an idea I’ll definitely be using again. The wooden “We” and chipboard heart are Ali’s.

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This is one of my favorite layouts. And one of my favorite stories. Lol. The “Little Things” Story Kit was perfect for its telling. Apparently an unmade bed at Riverside equals bed goes missing. But what great parallels to Adm. McRaven’s commencement speech at The University of Texas (Austin). You can read/view the complete speech {HERE}. It really is the little things.

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Yippee! I made it – with just hours to spare. But my 2013 December Daily album is done. And I love it. And that little nagging voice is finally quiet! Hah. I won.

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My previous post (Christmas in September – Part 2) left off on Day 25. Christmas Day. My 3 boys sitting on the stairs for a photo before coming down to see what the morning has brought.

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I have a number of photos for this day, so we’re good in that department. Here’s Hunter with his new Leatherman (horrors – present from Daddy). I used the wooden 25 for this page – it fit perfectly and I didn’t want anything to take away from his smile.

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For my next page, I used Ali’s Peace Love and Joy transparency inserted into a 3×4 pocket and 3 other photos. I used Photoshop to add the words (the type is called His Name is Honey). A gold clip, a label with a stamp from the 2013 December Daily stamp set and other embellishments complete this page.

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I went black and white for 2 of the photos on this page. All the colors in the photos were beginning to compete with each other. These photos were converted using RadLab’s Sterling BW. I used a stamp from a previous December Daily kit and the Merry Christmas button for balance. The Christmas tree “Love” stamp on the top left photo is a digital stamp from one of Ali’s stamp sets.

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As I was looking back through the album at what I’d already completed, I decided I wanted a little more craftiness. Not much – I’m still aiming for a very clean look. So I used a few of the 6×8 pieces of patterned paper, glued back to back, to make additional pages that would exist outside of page protectors. I used the gold foil letters to spell “Good Cheer” and added a tab from one of last year’s December Daily mini kits. I liked this simple look so much, I added several more pages like this in other places.

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This certainly wasn’t difficult to do. And not super creative. But it’s simple and it works.

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Besides – I really wanted to use the gold foil letters and the black wood letters that were included in the December Daily kit.

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Picking back up again, I continued past the 25th. The boys and I, along with 3 other families, went out to Angel Fire, New Mexico to go skiing between Christmas and New Year’s. All total, there were 9 kids (8 boys and my niece) and 4 moms. We were so outnumbered. LOL.

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Again – I didn’t have photos for every single day of our vacation, but just continued to use what I had. If they were super blurry or off color, I converted them to black and white. I am a firm believer that black and white can make anything look better. I kept using the Date Stamp templates for consistency and to show that my album continues through to the end of the year. I also used a few additional embellishments.

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I used the red candy cane transparency frame for the top left photo, and the stamp on the top right is one of Ali’s. A label with a stamp from one of the Story Kits finishes off the page. And that’s the end of the photos I have for December. But if I left it now, the back of this 4-up page would be blank. Which could be okay. But I decided to do something with it.

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I used patterned paper, the Christmas postage stamps from the December Daily kit and some Washi tape.

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You can sort of tell – instead of adhering the postage stamps directly to the patterned paper, I popped them up with Pop Dots for a little dimension.

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I used one of the albums offered as part of last year’s December Daily kits, designed by Kelly Purkey. And then I added some of the gold clips to the front. They just seemed to fit.

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Here’s a close-up shot. I adhered the gold clips using redline tape. You really can’t tell, and so far they’re sticking really well.

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So my 2013 album has met my albums from 2014 and 2015. The albums from 2010 to 2012 are in a separate basket, packed away to be brought out in December. I only started using these 6×8 ring albums in 2013. And these are the ones that remain out on the shelves (along with my Week in the Life albums and about 23 others – both 8 1/2×11 and 12×12). My goal is to scan all of my albums and convert them into photo books. I love the photo books I’ve created using Blurb. Sigh. Another project.


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Back again with a little more Christmas to share. The little nagging voice has politely reminded me that there are only 5 more days left in the month. And that if my 2013 December Daily album is not complete by then, I’m going to have to change the titles of my posts. Sigh. A little Christmas in October  just isn’t as catchy. Plus Halloween is huge around here. More on that later.

For Day 15 I used another Date Stamp template from Ali Edwards and a label from the 2013 December Daily kit. This Story is stamped on the label with black Stazon Ink.

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This is one of my favorite photos from 2013. Our crazy elf tried his hand at baking. While it looks like snow (sort of) it’s really flour. A Date Stamp template, embellishments (I replicated what I had previously used on Day 7 but in red not blue) and the Snow button completed this page. I print all of my photos that are larger than 4×6 on an Epson Stylus Photo R2880. While Epson says its discontinued (replaced with a newer version) you can still find it online.

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Following the full page, I inserted a 3×4 card from the kit. I decided that I did want to use a few more embellishments so I added the red trim and a gold clip. I liked these so much I went back through the pages I’d already done and added them in various places. I’ll include photos later in this post.

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For this day, I put the Date Stamp on the card instead of a photo. Works for me. I also included another label stamped with black Stazon, a small quote from Ali and a few stars.

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Day 18 only turned up one photo. And it’s one that I aged using RadLab. So simple to do. I included a Date Stamp and a 3×4 card from the December Daily kit. I used a circle punch to cut out the word Blessing, and a gold clip to make it look like an ornament. The circle and clip are adhered with Pop Dots.

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No photos for Day 19. And rather than listening to that little nagging voice saying “Fake it! No one will know” I just skipped that day. And I’m okay with that. Here I used one of the chipboard banners from the December Daily kit, a Date Stamp and another quote from one of Ali’s sets. Notice the little gold clip I sneaked in. Cute huh?

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Wow. No photos for Day 21. The week must have been a pretty busy one, as I’ve also realized I have no photos for Days 23 or 24 either. (Little annoying voice is laughing). But what do you do – even if I wanted to use other photos and endure the guilt of having those photos associated with the wrong day – I have no other photos. Voice just said “Too bad. So sad”. Need to start ignoring that voice. Lol. The black and white photo was created with RadLab’s Sterling BW. I happen to love black and white photos – but it really helps when your photo’s color is off.

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Next I inserted another 3×4 card. I used the red trim (love) and some washi tape on the front. On the back I used a red dot to identify that there were only 3 days left ’til Christmas.

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Day 25. Yay! I have photos for this day. Here’s the first one. Tradition: photo of boys on stairs before they come down to see what Santa has brought. Now the boys are 15, 13 and 12 (barely) in this photo. Currently, they are 18, 16 and almost 14. And  yes. I still make them sit on the stairs for a photo on Christmas morning. A Date Stamp and button from the December Daily kit finish off this layout.

Now I promised to show you what changed when I went back and added more embellishments. Specifically, the red trim and the gold clips. So here are photos of the 3×4 insert cards again with these additions.

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On the back of this card, I added another “ornament” created from a circle punch and gold clip.

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And this card is new. I used a wooden word circle from last year’s December Daily kit and a 4×3 card from one of the mini kits. Added the red trim and wash tape. Voila!

None of the pages of this album are super difficult or ornate. None have tons of embellishments. None have a lot of stories. But I have a memory. A record of our family’s 2013 December. That’s what’s important. And I will cherish this album forever.

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Here are a few more layouts from the albums I’ve started using Ali Edward’s Story Kits. T had been at RMA for about 3 months.

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The Veteran’s Day Parade is a big deal for the Riverside Corps of Cadets. The Corp travels an hour to Atlanta and then marches in one of the largest Veteran’s Day parades in the nation. The the cork Number 1 embellishment from Ali Edward’s First Story Kit was perfect for this layout.

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Here’s a close up so you can see how really cool this is.

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The next story I wanted to tell was about the care packages that family and friends could send to the RMA Cadets. And all the food they seemed to consume – even though they got 3 really good meals each day. So you could fax your care package request in to the Publix just around the corner from the school. This is a great service! And super easy – or so I thought. Of course I wanted to send T Poptarts (the ultimate comfort food when you’re a teenager). As I’m sure you know, Poptarts come in small boxes with 6 packages or larger boxes that have 12 packages. I figured I’d send 3 of the larger boxes. 3 boxes x 12 packages in each box = 36 packages. Easy math right? Wrong. T ended up getting 36 boxes of Poptarts! Guess I should have been more specific. . .

I used the am/pm plastic word and a couple of chipboard pieces from the AM/PM Story Kit. The layout is based on a digital template from Cathy Zielske.

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The next layout in the album is a double page spread. The left is 8 1/2 x 11 and the right is 8 1/2 x 5. The chipboard pieces are from the Gatherings Story Kit. Since it was Thanksgiving weekend, this Story Kit was perfect.

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So the way I use the Story Kits is that I hoard them for a few months. Then, when I have a little stockpile, I go to the list of layouts that I want to create and then look at what Story Kits might lend themselves to the story I want to tell. I haven’t been disappointed yet! And since I’m using the Story Kits exclusively right now for my son’s albums (which tell the story of his junior and senior years in high school), this approach seems to be working for me.

I want to share one more layout with you. The photo is Tanner during his junior year. The journaling is in a letter format. Thoughts I wanted to share with him. Thoughts I wanted to put down in writing. On paper. To remember how it felt to not have him home with us, but know that he was safe and well looked after. I reached for the Go Story Kit and used the plastic word as part of the title. I love these plastic words!

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You can see that I’m not using a lot of embellishments and the layouts are pretty clean. I’m taking Ali’s approach of telling the story first. And then letting the photos and the embellishments follow. This is different for me. I used to scrap around the photos. Now I’m journaling a lot more.  Even though it might not seem like a lot – it’s a lot for me! But I love having the stories down on paper. The stories are why the photos exist. One supports the other. But if you have a story with no photo, you can imagine the characters or place or feeling. If you have a photo with no story, you can imagine the story – but you may or may not even be close. Here’s to the stories!

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