Scrapblog: Inspiration, Even for People Like Me
By Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks
Some time ago, my husband and I were sitting in the orientation session of an adoption agency. The director was counseling the attendees on talking to our not-yet-born children about their adoptions. “A great way would be through the creation of a lifebook,” she said. “Make a scrapbook of your child’s life story – how he came to be a part of your family.”
I frowned: this wasn’t good news. While I have nothing against scrapbooking per se, I’m not particularly artistic. Also, my freakishly large hands give me the manual dexterity of the average cloven-hoofed animal. My kid’s gonna learn her story by my telling it to her, I remember thinking, ‘cause I ain’t makin’ no lifebook.
Famous last words. Years later, I found myself with 2,000 photographs haphazardly stored on my computer and no clue how to talk to my two-year-old daughter, Alex, about her story. I had no choice: it was time for a lifebook.
My attempts at “lifebooking” didn’t go well. Completely overwhelmed by phrases like “archival quality” and “scrapbook jewelry,” I spent almost $400 (!) on items from a reputable art supply store. I struggled with exotic papers and “neutral pH” adhesives, finally assembling something that barely resembled a scrapbook. Sadly, I fear the day rapidly approaches when the whole monstrosity will completely fall apart. I was so discouraged by my own ineptitude that despite my closetful of unused “scrapbook jewelry,” I haven’t had the heart to create any pages beyond her final adoption day.
Enter Scrapblog, a site which combines blogging, scrapbooking and photography. I admit I first greeted their promise that “everyone can tell their stories and create beautiful multimedia scrapbooks” with some skepticism (after all, clearly they’d never met me); nonetheless, curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to give it a try. With the ambitious goal of recreating Alex’s lifebook in digital format, I clicked the “Create a Scrapblog” button, and watched as the “scrapblog builder” started loading. I was concerned: even more than being non-scrapbooker, I am somewhat technophobic. This application would have to be seriously basic for me to find it of any value whatsoever.
Thankfully, it is. Scrapblog provides a beautifully simple way to create intricate “digital scrapbooks” – each unique to its creator, and each with the ability to receive comments from viewers. I did the first “page” of Alex’s lifebook in about 20 minutes, and by the time it was finished, I was completely charmed by the straightforward “click, drag and drop” facility of the application. Also – alleluia – photographs were easily uploaded directly from my Flickr account. Even Alex, who was watching what I was doing, became excited: “Mummy! Use a star!” she urged. “Okay, how about three?!!” I yelled back, triumphantly sprinkling stars all over the screen. Within an hour, I was a pro – not bad for someone who can’t even spell HTML.
Eventually, I sat back and smiled, happy with the result. Alex’s online lifebook looks far better than the frightening handmade one, and given the cost (free), it’s a heck of a lot cheaper. The application isn’t perfect – I found using the slideshow option mind-numbingly slow, and at one point the application lost one of my pages (I swear I saved!) – but hopefully these flaws will be fixed with the upcoming version. Also promised: a way to purchase a hard copy of your work, so you’ll be able to include those items you can’t upload onto your computer – a lock of hair, say, or a shell from a favourite beach.
Overall, I think it’s a great product. My cousin, who has been seriously scrapbooking for a number of years, agrees: “Scrapbookers everywhere will want to use this thing,” she gushed. Perhaps she’s right.
Frankly, I’m just happy I finally want to complete Alex’s lifebook through at least her first birthday.
For more information visit Scrapblog.
You can read more by Karen Walrond at her weblogs Chookooloonks (named one of the best adoption blogs by Adoptive Family Magazine) and Emerald Market, a green shopping blog.