March is National Craft Month and we're celebrating with an EXTRA 10% off everything! Use code CRAFT10
Current Promo Codes
Login | Create Account
Tuesday, July 25, 2006

When journaling gets away from you. 15 comments  
Pin It

deciding when it's ok to "cross the line."

Sometimes I wonder about the scrapbook pages I see. When I see pictures of kids crying because they've fallen down, screaming and bleeding and NO ONE is helping them, I think "dang, why is his mom taking a picture instead of comforting him?" Far be it from me to judge other people's parenting choices, but there are some things I personally draw the line at -- I don't take pictures of crying other than the tail-end of a tantrum that's been dealt with, I don't take the camera with us to the ER (although the doctors who set Jake's cast were CUTE and I'm kicking myself for that one), and I will NOT make a page about potty-training that includes my child sitting half-nekkid on the potty. Again, this is where MY personal comfort level happens to be.

But then I start thinking about the things I DO share with the world in my scrapbook pages -- through my journaling. And I think about the lines I might be crossing there. Because when a scrapbook page is posted in an online gallery AND on my blog, it's out there for ANYONE to see. Even safe inside my scrapbook at home, I never know who might come across what I've written. There are no rules about not reading scrapbooks like there are about diaries -- even though for all intents and purposes, scrapbooks ARE some people's diaries! And since I post my pages on my blog and use my blog entries for scrapbooking, my blog/scrapbooking/diary is really all one big world that feeds itself.

I have a Mom & Me album for Jake, full of pictures of just me and him, and of all sorts of journaling -- mostly from me to him. I like to tell him about our life and our relationship, talk to him about the things I think are important, give him advice for life . . . lots of random, very personal stuff. Lots of me rambling on and on. Lots of my very personal thoughts and opinions. With the paper layouts, this journaling is hidden -- I love just attaching one edge of a photo to the layout and making the photo a fold-out element. (Dude, this adds SO much space to your page! A 4x6 photo folded out adds 48 square inches! A 5x7 photo folded out creates 70 sqaure inches! Score!) A lot of times I will post the front of one of these pages online, but not the fold-outs. That saves a little privacy.

But with my digi-pages . . . well you can't exactly include fold-out elements with those. Your choices with digi are (1) no journling, just a title and date, (2) minimial, generic journaling, (3) journaling out there for the world to see, or (4) to get REALLY creative and figure out a way to work in some hidden journaling in a mix between a digital and paper page. (Dude, I SO don't have energy at this point to figure out #4.)

I have a lot of pages in Jake's albums -- both the Mom & Me and his chronological album -- about his quirks. And how they kind of make me crazy. There's a layout about him trying to load up my suitcase with toy trains before a trip out of town and refusing to let me take them out. And one about how he used to take all his diapers out of the diaper basket, scatter them on the floor, and lay on them. And one about how he cried and cried when we tried to have cupcakes at his 2nd birthday party. And one about how he likes to take every toy he has and put them in a big pile on the floor. And one about how he wouldn't stop jumping on (and off of) my best friend's couch. And one about how he won't eat purple Fruit Loops. And one about how he likes to line up his trains and vehicles.  And one about how he methodically fills cups with water and lines them up on the counter, saying he's having a party.   And one about how he needs very little sleep and still (at almost 4!) doesn't sleep through the night. With a lot of the pages, I'm trying to find the humor in the problems I've had with Jake. Instead of getting mad, I take a step back and think "huh. He's being odd again. Oh well - where's my camera?" Whenever possible, I'm trying to let Jake be himself and do the odd things he wants to do without intrusion -- it's cute, it's strange, it's interesting . . . how can I NOT make pages about that?

(click on any image to view the layout larger, then continue reading.)


We found out this summer that part of the reason for those quirks I've scrapped and written about are because of something called Sensory Processing Disorder -- Jake's brain isn't interpreting sensory information correctly, and it affects how he functions day to day. Thus the quirks, the obsessions, the meltdowns. OH. So that's what's up. Well then. That explains a lot.

Now a part of me is wondering if I should feel bad about making those pages.

And the other part of me thinks I should keep making them, as a celebration and affirmation of who Jake is.

I don't sugar coat or pretend things are a way that they're not. I like to scrapbook about Jake's day to day life. Jake is SO much more than a disorder, but his disorder affects our day to day life to a very extreme level. To NOT scrap about it in some form would be dishonest somehow.

I had started a page for Jake's Mom & Me book at the beginning of one week earlier this summer, but got stuck on how to finish it. So I closed Photoshop and left the saved file on my computer. Later that week, we had our initial evaluations with a speech therapist, and then an Occupational Therapist. I came back to work Monday a little stunned at the new information and diagnosis, a little unsure of myself, and a little worried about the path ahead of us. On my lunch hour, I opened up Photoshop and went to work on finishing the page. My feelings about everything that had happened got the best of me, and the journaling totally got away from me. I was GOING to just talk about how we were having a fun day together visiting our cousins in Indiana. Instead, I dove head-first into the fact that being different and being yourself is nothing to be ashamed of, that everyone is quirky in their own way -- and that trying every day to be a good person is all that matters, because ultimately your life is between you and God.

When I was done writing this, I sat back and thought "Whoah, where did THAT come from?" Sometimes when I write, words just come out and it's almost like I'm an observer to the process. So as I sat wondering what happened, I read my journaling again. And again. And then I cried. And I realized that the page said exactly what it needed to: that Jake and I are on a journey, we are struggling from day to day, but God is in control and no matter what, I love my little dude. And I know there will be days when Jake is older and comes across this page in his book, and he will be comforted and reassured. And there will be days when I come across this page and I am reminded of what's important.

I didn't hesitate at all to post this page to my blog and in an online gallery. I know that there are mothers who have the same struggles with their children. I know that there are people out there who need to hear that despite the quirks and imperfections, it's ok. The journaling here might be a little past my comfort zone . . . but in this case, sharing a part of me that is so hurt and raw and painfully honest doesn't embarass me. It gives me hope. And I know it will be ok.

P.S. We've been going to a social speech group every week and Occupational Therapy twice a month, and it's ALREADY working wonders! If you sense a delay in your child or notice a lot of quirks that add up to make you worried, don't be afraid to talk to your pediatrician about it or ask for a referral for a developmental assessment. Write down every single thing you've noticed, every quirk, every milestone whether early or late -- this way you won't forget anything in your appointment. Jake hit his physical milestones early, but a lot of cognitive ones late. It's better to get an assessment you don't need and be told your child is fine, than to miss out on the chance for early intervention if there IS something wrong with your child.

Posted by strangejen

Reader Comments ...
9/27/06 6:30 pm
Great article. Your little Jake is adorable!

9/7/06 1:31 pm
well, I've e-mailed Laura -- if anyone else has questions about this, please e-mail me at I'm just glad I checked back and found her message. I'm happy to try to help anyone and give you any information about Sensory Processing Disorder that I can, just e-mail me. -- Jen Strange

9/3/06 5:56 pm
Ok the whole thing about your son worries me because he sounds a LOT like my son.. if you're able to email me more about this disorder with info or links, please do!!!


8/9/06 4:39 pm
Fantastic article Jen! I hope you know how meaningful this will be to so many people :)

8/1/06 2:01 pm
What a great article!

7/30/06 8:59 pm
Jen, thanks for saying what should have been said a long time ago. I totally agree that some things should not be on public display. It seems that you are a fantastic mom and I will keep you and Jake in my thoughts and prayers.

7/29/06 3:20 am
Thank you for explaining perfectly what a scrapbook should be all about, explaining how I want my kids to feel when they read their scrapbooks, that they will be loved for who they are!!
Thank you Jen for an amazingly beautiful article...........

7/28/06 4:03 pm
WOW! The tears are rolling down my face. Keep celebrating the things that make Jake!

7/28/06 2:16 pm
What an AMAZING article Jen! TRULY!!!!!


CONGRATS on everything, all of your hard work is paying off and you deserve it!!!!

Love you,


PS AMEN to this quote from you,

"a celebration and affirmation of who Jake is"

Keep it up!!! It is all SO WONDERFUL JEN!!!!

7/28/06 2:04 pm
I feel the same way about those potting training pics! Not for me!

I need to start journaling more -- sometimes I am just lucky to get a page done, but I really do need to take the time to get some of the "real life" stuff recorded so Nora knows how much she is absolutely ADORED and every thing she does is so amazing to me :o)

I guess if some of your layouts aren't intensely personal, and maybe even a little embarrasingly so, then you aren't really preserving your memories and recording your life, you're just making a photo album...

7/28/06 1:01 pm
Wow! This article is wonderful, very powerful!

7/28/06 12:41 pm
Great article!

7/28/06 11:46 am
A very wonderful article. While I have done some of the things mentioned in the first part of your article I have a harder time including this kind of journaling on a layout that might be posted publicly. thanks for the insight.

7/28/06 10:31 am
jen, this is powerful, eloquent writing. you raise great questions about how we all "cross the line" in our own ways (and that may be a definition of art!), and i love how you push us to trust our mommy guts if somethings don't add up right. thanks.

7/28/06 9:55 am
Let me be one of the first to say - AWESOME ARTICLE!