Thursday, March 21, 2013

My First Attempt At Project Life: With A Bittersweet Twist

Hello everyone!  I'm sure you thought that I fell off the face of the earth!  Let me assure you that I am still here, still kickin'!  Sorry it has been so long since my last blog post, things have been a little busy here lately and I will tell you why.  Actually, this may get a little wordy so you may want to grab a cup of coffee *wink* 

This past October my nephew, Patrick, was tragically killed in a car accident.  It was one of the most terrible things that one could ever imagine.  Patrick was only 20 years old and the his death devastated everyone but especially his mother Jen.  Anyone that new Pat loved his laugh and beautiful smile!  We were privileged to see Pat grow up into a fine young man with a huge heart.

Shortly after the accident Pat's mom, Jen, asked me if I would make a scrapbook for her of Patrick's life.  I was extremely touched and at the same time a little nervous since I have never really scrapped anything!  Basically, I make cards and little things but never a scrapbook.  I of course said yes and right away thought of Project Life.

Since November was spent planning my daughter's birthday parties and then Thanksgiving and then with Christmas on the horizon I told Jen it would be sometime after the first of the year.  She was totally fine with that and dropped off all of the pictures she could find.  I tucked them safely away until I could get time to focus on this immense project.

I was almost paralyzed with fear just thinking about starting this project!  I know that the whole Project Life system is supposed to be super easy only that wasn't the problem.  The thing that was really weighing on me was I didn't want to screw up her precious pictures and ruin her memories.  To go through over 20 years of photos and put some kind of order to them was also a little scary.  The weekly format was not going to work in this case so I decided to just go from birth to the very end.  One of the most difficult things while scrapping this book was knowing it was going to end before we even got started.  Very bittersweet.

So February comes along and I thought "Okay, this is the moment, now is as good of time as any to start!"  So I asked Jen to come over to help me sort through the pictures and get some date ranges to work with.  Once we had made some piles of photos things started to take shape.  The next day I worked on it I started putting the photos in the protectors and quickly realized that if I didn't start cutting some photos up to fit in the 3x4 slots, I was going to go through a ton of page protectors!!  So my next fear, ruining the photos,  was quickly replaced with excitement as I realized that it didn't ruin them since the most important part, Pat, was in it!  I am not going to lie, going through 20 years of photos and putting them in the album was time consuming, especially with trimming them.  I kept saying to myself "The whole point of this album is to have as many photos and memorabilia of Pat in one place!"  My goal of this project was to get the pictures out of the envelopes and into the books.  They weren't doing anybody any good being tucked away.  I wanted Jen to have ONE PLACE that she could go to have all of her memories tucked neatly away.  She could look at it anytime.

Once all of the photos and Project Life cards were added I had Jen come over a few more times to help with the journaling and embellishing.  I wanted to make sure she was okay with me adding things to the photos like staples, washi tape, etc.  She was more than fine!  In fact, she was really having fun using the die cutting machine.  We also used various stamps and also my Silhouette Cameo.  When it was all said and done, we ended up with two books because there was just so much!  We added his football and baseball team photos, school photos, awards, etc.  I even scanned some of his drawings and awards from grade school into the computer and printed them out to add to the page protectors. 

I only have a few pictures to share and I apologize for the quality of the photos, but I was in a bit of a hurry.  I was trying to get it ready for the "Celebration of Life" birthday party that Jen was having on his birthday which was St. Patrick's Day.  That would have been Pat's 21st Birthday.

We used the Cobalt Edition
Sweet little label from Becky Higgins!

Now these are only a few of the many pages, but you get the idea.  It was really neat to see the growth and progression from year to year all in one place.

Below is a 3x4 card that I made to fit perfectly in the page protector.  

One of my favorite pics of Jen & Pat.

THE UPSIDE:  Now I know you are probably wondering what the upside to something like this is, well I'll tell ya.  During this process which was a very difficult one at times, I became closer to Pat's mom and although we have always been friends I feel we are even closer now.  The other great benefit is that now she wants to make a scrapbook for her two year old, Conner.  She has never, at least to my knowledge, made a card or scrapbook.  She learned how to use several crafting tools and is really excited about the prospect of documenting and memory keeping thanks to Project Life.  I am even excited to start my daughter's album.  I bought the Clementine kit a while back but felt overwhelmed to start at the beginning.  She is seven now!  I also bought the Childhood Mini-Mayfield Edition and Core Kit-Baby Edition for Her in hopes of incorporating them all into an album from birth to seven.  Once I get that caught up, I will try to start on the weekly if not monthly spreads.  It is actually pretty nice to have someone to scrap with so this will be a lot of fun for us.  Many more memories!

On Monday, March 25th, Becky will be on HSN for the First Time!!  There will be special bundle pricing which has not been announced yet but you can read all about it here.  Jen and I are both excited about the Jade Edition.  

Thank you for stopping by!


Marty said...

This is wonderful Amy! A real treasure! My daughter Laura started scrapbooks and albums for her 2 kids from pregnancy to the present. Now she just adds to them each year, which isn't as overwhelming as this project started out for you. I can't imagine trying to put together 20+ years all at once! I've always been so impressed with your creativity, whether it be your interior decorating or your craft projects. Thanks for posting. ~Marty

Amy Papale said...

Thank you so much Marty! That was so sweet of you. Your comment really made my day!!

Marlene said...

I check your blog often and have been waiting for a new was so worth the wait! My nephew played football with Pat and they went to school together. Also, he started working where my husband worked and the girls I bowl with. Your book is a beautiful tribute to a great young man.

Emily said...

This is beautiful. What a lovely way to remember someone.

Cerise Wade said...

Such an amazing tribute to his life. I cannot imagine working with 20 years of photos and the emotion you must have felt putting it together. I love it.

Jen said...

I found your post via Becky Higgins facebook page. Looking at your pages brought tears to my eyes. What an amazing gift you gave to your friend!

CA Scrapper said...

Amy, that is a tragic story of Patrick but you have created albums that the family will have forever. They can see Patrick any time and feel all the good memories they have of him. You are a good friend and I'm sure Jen appreciates these albums more than you will ever know. Thanks for sharing your story. I have started using Project Life and I just love it.


Camille said...

This gives me hope. I have over 25 years worth of pictures for 3 kids. I bought the Jade and Blush editions on HSN. You did a great job on Patrick's album.

Becki@Just The Three of Us said...

I saw a link to your blog on Becky Higgins Facebook. This is absolutely beautiful. What a treasure to his Mother. You did an amazing job!

rbbh704 said...

I came to your blog because Becky posted it and it came up on my Facebook page. It made me cry. Last October my sweet stepson decided to take his own life. I scrapbook, so I took it upon myself to make the boards for display at his wake. It was by FAR the hardest thing I have ever done in my 52 years. But they were beautiful-so I was told. I have been struggling on how to put all the pictures together.and all the new ones we seem to keep finding. Thank you for sharing this-I know I can get it done now. I showed it to my husband and he said he will help me organize the pictures. A MILLION thank yous!

Janine said...

I've come to your blog via Becky Higgins on Facebook and just wanted to say this an awesome job! I think it is an incredible thing to have documented a whole life, hard as it must have been. I have a Patrick and a Conor too (9 & 7) and am so glad I have started using project life to document the little things that mean so much a mum. Great job and so inspiring x

Ruth said...

Hi, I dropped by after seeing a link of Becky's FB page. I think what you have created is incredible and poignant and beautiful and so incredibly precious.
What an amazing gift for his mum.
From Ruth in London.

Kimberly said...

I am stopping by from Becky's FB page as well. This is such a wonderful gift that you gave his mom! All those memories documented for her in one place. Such a touching sentiment!

(BTW, I'm from Southeast PA - just north of Pittsburgh.)

Denise E said...

Saw Becky's post on your book and am totally amazed and inspired! What an amazing gift you have given to Pat's mom! And, you are inspiring others to continue documenting life, which is priceless! Thanks for sharing you awesome story and best wishes on continuing your story for your daughter also!

Valerie said...

Made me cry.... How wonderful you are to take the time to do something like that for someone. What a gift you have giving not only to the mom but the younger brother. WOW...Outstanding...

Cheryl Ipson said...

What an absolute treasure. You are so very brave to take on such a healing project.

Suzylutz said...

Five years ago my 18 year old son, Peter, took his life. I have been wanting to make a scrapbook of his life but haven't done it yet because I feel so much pressure to make it perfect. Your post and your example of what you did for Patrick has given me the impetus to do the same for my Peter! I do scrapbook but struggle with being creative so the idea of using Project Life is perfect for me. I bought the Jade edition and can hardly wait for it to arrive so I can begin to document my son's life.

Thank you again for the inspiration!

Tanya DeMillo said...

What a wonderful tribute to your nephew. and how nice that out of it comes a sronger relationship and scrapbooking new memories! You did an amazing job!

Paula Gale said...

Hello Amy

I also came by from the link on Becky's FB page - which I have only just joined!

I love the idea of project life and have been collecting things to do the electronic version, which I will print out for a hard copy for my two sons, just turned 20 and 17.

Having my son at the same age as your nephew made me realise how precious each and everyday is with our children. Your story has left me very emotional. We shouldn't really wait until something happens - we should document as we go on.

Becky has hit the nail on the head with this massive concept which will change all of our lives, and even how we go forward in documenting it.

Your project is a fitting tribute to your nephew - I'm just sorry that you found yourself putting it together under such, like you said; bittersweet circumstances.

Lets see Project Life as a celebration of life, of who we are and who we love.

I'm glad I came over to read your post. Thank you so very much.

Paula Gale.
Derbyshire, England.

Di said...

Yes, bitter sweet, and just the perfect memorial. I want to start some albums to commemorate our parents, and to keep their story for our kids. Thanks for sharing.

Jill Norwood said...

Amy your beautiful post brought tears to my eyes! What a loving thing to do and it turned out so beautiful! I lost my dear husband to cancer a little over a year ago now and I want to make something like this so that my son Tim, who was 6 when he got sick and 7 when he died, can better know his Father through its pages. You have inspired me to get started and I thank you!

Nadine said...

What an amazing, amazing gift you have given your friend. Not only the scrapbooks holding all of Patrick's pictures in one place but a new crafting adventure as well! You are a wonderful friend. Bless you!