Summer in a Binder: A Serious Alternative to Scrapbooking

Summer Binder-001As soon as I typed this post’s title, I immediately started singing it to the tune of “Girlfriend in a Coma” by the Smiths: “Summer in a binder, I know, I know, it’s serious…” {Oh, I miss the ‘80s…If you’re nostalgic for some UK alternative 80’s rock, or you have no idea what song I am talking about, go watch this video on YouTube, and then come back. I’ll wait. Warning: it’s catchy. And a bit creepy at times.}

Got your 80’s fix? Good.

I know scrapbooking has become a serious business in the last few years. I confess I have several scrapbooks from my travels (pre-children), and even a scrapbook all about my dog (obviously pre-children) on the shelves in my basement. I’ve even been invited to some cult meetings parties for scrapbooking.

But I was never a very good scrapbooker ~ I just don’t have the patience to spend an hour on ONE page, and peeling tiny little numbers and punctuation marks and placing them just so, and choosing between 10 different types of scissors, picking the right cardstock for matting,  finding the matching sticker collection… it’s exhausting! Strange, because you’d think that kind of deliberate activity would be right up my alley. I think it’s because “scrapbooking” just sounds so creative. I’m not creative. {See blog title}.

But binders? I love binders. I can totally get behind a summer binder.

So last week my kids and I created summer binders. I’m sure I’m not the first mother to come up with this idea. In fact, I’m shocked I hadn’t thought of this before. I was inspired to do this when the kids came home from Track and Field last week with several ribbons. Normally, these ribbons would get set on a counter, then played with, then destroyed, and then thrown away. Shouldn’t we be saving these things?

But scrapbooking is messy. Just the name sounds messy – scrap-booking. The glue makes the pages stick together.

Binders, however, exude organization – and sheet protectors contain the glue and mess.

Summer in a Binder
Ahhh…. Organized Binders!!

Scrapbooking is stressful. Summer has to fit into exactly 40 pre-inserted pages in this $40 ($40!!) book from Archivers. Is this memory scrapbook-worthy? I don’t know! “Mommy, should we put this in our scrapbook?” “Well, do you think it will be one of the 40 most memorable things you do this summer?” Stressful! Save everything and organize it at the end of summer, in between back-to-school shopping and teacher workshops? Overwhelming! Come to the end of summer and the book is half blank? Wasteful! Why would I put such pressure on myself?

Binders are relaxing and cheap. $2.24 at Target. Need more pages? Just add more! No pressure to complete exactly 40 amazing summer moments. We add to our binders a little bit each day.

These binders are becoming an important part of our mindfulness practice. We are documenting the fun, the adventures, what we liked, what we thought, and our moments of gratitude. In just one week of summer, we’ve created quite a few pages to treasure our summer memories.

Just like Forrest Gump, Liam reached the finish line and “just. kept. run-ning.”

As I explained this project to my daughter, her eyes lit up. “And then I will make one with my daughter when I am a mommy!” she exclaimed. I smiled ~ clearly she’s learning the importance of treasuring and documenting the amazing moments in our lives. {But then she also told me she plans to name her daughter Panera. Note to self: eat more lunches at home.}

Abby loved making this page about her soccer team

We’re having a blast making our binders. Each morning they ask to work on them. I ask them questions like, “What did you like about your swimming lessons?” We have great conversations. I even went to Michael’s and bought scrapbooking binder stickers!

{In case you didn’t believe me about my lack of artistic talent!}
A place to save the kids’ art!

photo-18This summer project is even making me feel … {dare I say it?} creative. I was inspired to color! And I made this Inspiration Board {now sitting on my desk} from the stickers I dug up from my old scrapbooking bin. Though I’ve never considered myself artistic, I’m realizing that creativity can take many forms ~ it’s not about drawing, or painting, but simply creating. And I am loving discovering this new part of myself and nurturing it in my children.

It delights me to think that at the end of the summer, we will have organized binders full of summer fun, memories, and gratitude.

Our summer binders…

“I’d hate anything to happen to [them]…

Summer in a binder, I know, I know, it’s really serious…..”

How are YOU documenting your summer? Are you a scrapbook or a binder person?

Sarah Rudell Beach
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Sarah Rudell Beach

Sarah is a writer, teacher, and mother. At Left Brain Buddha, she writes about her journey to live and parent mindfully, joyfully, and thought-fully in her left-brain analytical life. When not working, she enjoys dancing, reading, and hanging out with her little Buddhas.
Sarah Rudell Beach
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  1. says

    Sarah you have no idea how very much I needed this post. Scrap booking is overwhelming to me too – there is such pressure for the themes/events to be “worthy”. But who am I to make that decision for my kids anyway? What is most meaningful to THEM is what should be documented. Going out to get binders and sheet protectors this weekend <3
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  2. Sarah says

    Yay! We have had so much fun doing this, and somehow doing it in a binder makes it sooooo less stressful. Have fun ~ and I’m sure you’ll have AMAZING photos to add to it! :)

  3. Holly says

    This is great!! No, I mean now Girlfriend in a Coma is going to go through my head for the next week until I can locate the album and put it on my ipod. Wait. I can’t listen to that with my 6 year old around. Now I remember why that’s not on my ipod. Wait until she hears Unhappy Birthday…her birthday is coming up. Oh my the memories! I still think this is a great idea, I am doing this with my daughter’s art as opposed to paying $20 a pop for photo books of it. I might have mentioned that on facebook…can’t remember. I’m not sure though to when I’d get around to actually printing out photo’s of trips but that’s so much better an idea than holding on to ticket stubs and barely decipherable squished pennies!

    • Sarah says

      I have had that song going through my head for a week now since starting the post!!! I am finding that now we actually are printing out pictures as opposed to just having them digitally, which is great. The kids love to look through old photo albums, and it’s fun for them to cut the pictures and glue them. Glad you got your Morrissey fix :)

      • Holly says

        Still haven’t gotten my fix, and have Death of a Disco Dancer going through my head! On a good note I’m getting crafts organized and will soon be able to go through the enormous bin we have full of our older daughter’s artwork to put into binders!! Meditating sure is helping me get things done :-)

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