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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website, PlantingDandelions.com

Acid-free



This morning, for no discernable reason, I remembered two funny things that came out of the mouths of my babes before I had a blog in which to quote them:

  • My firstborn, wincing, after having his nails clipped (he must have been two or three): "Mommy, you put my nails on too tight."

  • On the morning of his eagerly anticipated fourth birthday, my middle son looked down at himself in surprise and dismay, and exclaimed, "But I'm still three!"

I don't really know where they belong in this narrative. But I'm tucking them in here for safekeeping, before I lose them again. There are so many memories like these I've already lost, faded as if printed on cheap paper. Occasionally, an image or phrase falls out of the manila folder in my brain stamped "FORGOTTEN" and slips back into consciousness. They are uncaptioned snapshots, outtakes from Notes to Self: The Missing Years.

I used to tell my husband that in between the last child starting kindergarten, and me returning to full time paid work, I would need a "gap" year, just to put scrapbooks together.

I started one for my firstborn, eight years ago. I bought all kinds of colored paper, stickers, markers, and some pretty silly looking scissors. I made sure everything was labelled acid-free, archival quality, so things would be in good shape when my son's presidential library director came knocking, fifty years hence.

I got about six pages laid out before I had to choose between documenting the baby, or taking care of the baby. I let newly developed photo prints (remember those days?) pile up on my desk, and when they began to overtake my desktop, I got a couple of acid-free photo boxes as a temporary holding bin. When those were stuffed to overflowing, I just started tossing everything in a 10-gallon plastic bin. At the rate the memorabilia was growing, and I was lagging, I figured that when he graduated from college, I would hand him the key to a storage shed, and say, "Here's your scrapbook." It could double as living quarters while he looked for a job.

Of course, the 10-gallon bin never exceeded capacity, because I had a second baby, and anyone who is the second child themselves can tell you what that means. It means there was a media blackout for the next three years. My husband was the second child, and there are perhaps three photographs of him as a baby. And don't get my little sister started. She has systematically hung photographs of herself all over our mother's house, in an attempt to redress the visual inequality.

Shortly after the birth of our third child, two things happened that have been instrumental in the preservation of our family record: we got a digital camera, and I started this blog. No more desktop avalanches of slippery photographs and negatives. My approach to photography is based wholly on the law of averages, so I take literally hundreds of pictures each month. The best and most beloved of these get uploaded as illustrations for the blog, or added to my flickr sets, or to my kodak gallery for mom, or lately, get published in magazines. The entire internet would have to blow up for me to lose all my photos. And even then, I could just send the kids to the library's periodical section to read and see the highlights of their childhood.

It's so much better than a scrapbook. Because even more precious and more perishable than the photographs are the moments that no camera can capture, but writing can. Writing lets me crop and paste the things they say and do, and frame them with my own thoughts and feelings. Writing gives context. If my boys do read through this record someday (yes, I back it up all over the place, too), I hope it will give them a sense of not just the way they were, but the way we all were.


Thanks to the inimitable Schmutzie for the Rockin' Girl Blogger award. If you read her award post, you will see that I am in some rockin' good company. This is my second time to receive the RGB and though it is cliche to say this in an acceptance speech, I am undeserving of the honor, as the best I could do in paying it forward last time was to award one to Dutch. Truly, I have tarnished my crown.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Amy U. said...

I have started printing photographs again and it is a refreshing change to the world of digital photos.

6:27 PM  
Blogger jenB said...

I am intrigued by that scrapblog that was at blogher. or just tossing every kids crap in a nice box and say, you kept everything because you loved them SO MUCH.

and Dutch pretty much rules, as does Wood. AS DO YOU!

7:08 PM  
Blogger jenB said...

OH! you do rock and you are real pretty! which in the scheme of the universe isn't really fair, but since you are awesome, I will let it go.

7:12 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

That's hysterical about your sister hanging photos of herself all over your mom's house. If I ever discover some hidden artistic talent (other than writing) I will definitely start postering my mother's fridge and walls with my own art, taking my talented sister's down and shouting, "I KNEW I was artistic. See?"

5:44 PM  
Blogger laurie said...

this:

I would hand him the key to a storage shed, and say, "Here's your scrapbook." It could double as living quarters while he looked for a job.

is perfection in written form.

you ARE a rockstar.

10:14 PM  

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