A weekend journaling challenge

Cathy ZielskeScrapbooking47 Comments

Do you love to journal?

Some of you do, I know you do, and you know who you are.

Some of you don't, I know you don't, and you know who you are, too.

Me? I like to journal. Always have, always will. In fact, I'd rather do that than find a way to heat emboss a leprechaun sticker for a St. Paddy's Day layout. (By saying this, I mean absolutely no disrespect to those of leprechaun or Irish descent, or to those who own heat embossing tools. I also wish not to offend those who celebrate St. Paddy's Day and partake of the green beer. Likewise, no ill will is wished upon those who celebrate and honor stickers, beer and leprechauns simultaneously…but I digress.)

I took a few shots of Aidan last week that were adorable. (Remember? If not, click here.)

Because they were so adorable, I wanted to make a layout with them, using a template I designed last month for Designer Digitals.

I had some cute digital products lined up, and I started to make the page. The only problem was, I didn't have a story ready to go.

Now for me, it doesn't usually work this way. I usually start with a story. That's been my scrapbooking M.O. since back in the days of scrapbook yore.

So there I sat, thinking, "What do I want to remember about this girl?"

I didn't want something like, "She's cute. She's photogenic. She's got a touch of the goth." The whole broad, generalized, sweeping thing is undeniably easier to do. But when you sweep, what happens? All the little crumbs get brushed away and as we all know, crumbs are details, and details make something that is nice enough transform into something that is truly memorable and authentic. (Crumbs also attract mice, but that, dear blog readers, is for another day and another metaphor.)

Aidan says and does so many memorable things that sometimes I feel like I've become immune to them. I don't like that feeling. I like being a bit more hungry for story-telling opportunities. So I put my thinking cap on, and recalled a great exchange from an ordinary day while driving her home from school.


Journaling reads: Drive time is talk time. Somewhere in the world of parental advice for teens, I’ve heard that the time spent driving in a car—to and from school, social events, the grocery store, you name it—is the time that you can really talk with  your teenager. I’m not one to miss an opportunity, so I use this time wisely, especially to discuss all things as they relate to boys and life. The other day, I was using my time wisely, discussing girls, their choices and how it affects their reputation, and you simply said, “Yeah, um Mom, have you noticed you try to tell me something important every single time we’re in the car?” I think you’re either on to me, or you’ve been paying attention to parental advice for teens. 

It took a little mental work, but when I stopped to recall the very specific story told above, it came fairly quickly. I simply acted like a good reporter relaying a news event.

This layout will remind me of how I'm trying to stay connected and impart my worldly wisdom on boys and life and girls and reputations, and how she might just be paying attention after all.

My challenge to you this weekend is to try and find a very specific story to pair with an adorable photo of your own. Scan your memory, find a story, and simply report it.

Journaling doesn't have to be hard. Just let life do the telling.

Have a great weekend!

Software: Photoshop CS4, Avenir font
Template: Layered Template No. 32
Michelle Martin Just Linens No. 01, Jasmine Paper Pack
Katie Pertiet Classic Foundation Natural Beauty, Loosely Labeled Dates
Ali Edwards Outline Days/Months/Years
Patti Knox Have a Heart No. 4
Anna Aspnes Stitched by Anna No. 1 White

Cathy ZielskeA weekend journaling challenge

47 Comments on “A weekend journaling challenge”

  1. #1
    Grammar Hurts

    oops, Cathy! i see one spelling mistake (thier instead of their) and one syntax error (“have you noticed try to tell me something important every single time we’re in the car?” seems to be missing a ‘you’ after noticed)… proof read, dear Cathy!

  2. #2

    That’s the joy of digital scrapping, I guess! Really easy to go back and tweak (fix) things. 🙂

  3. #3
    judy in huntsville [al]

    I love it even with the little error – and I didn’t read the layouts itself – just the jouranl underneath – but if it were me and on paper page – I’d leave it just to show my kids that nobody’s perfect. Anyhooooo – love the layout! And it’s simply the truth isn’t it? The mom taxi is undivided time with our teens during the time they are trying so hard to be independent – great layout that depicts a listening girlie – but also a mom who truly cares…[our boys are 20 and 23 – and that’s the one thing I DO MISS – undivided time with them…]

  4. #10

    Oh goodness, so glad I don’t have any Mistake Hunters on my blog! Really!

    Cathy, I think my parents read the same page of that “Parenting Teens” book… I can recall soooooo many “important” conversations in the family vehicles! 🙂

    [And yes, I realize I put too many “o”s in so.]

  5. #11

    love this and you know any grammar errors, etc. make it special to you and make it, dare I say, human?! I enjoyed the story and will take you up on the challenge as I am getting more and more comfortable with my writing. Have a fantastic Friday!

  6. #12
    margie scherschligt

    “just let life do the telling” should be your tagline. That is awesome! Love it.

  7. #13
    Cynthia Friese-Hassanein

    Grammar smammar:) I think it is perfect:) Heck I would be in a whole lot trouble with “Grammar hurts”. Especially with my obscene use of sideway smiley faces:)
    So, will taking up the journaling prompt this weekend! And I am finally in DYL class. Wow, I am just so excited. Seriously a dream class. Have a great weekend.

  8. #14
    Nathalie (famille1999)

    I have to remember that parenting tip so I can applying it while driving around my two “very near to teenage years” daughters. And I’ll ditto Cameron, good thing I don’t have one of those grammar hurt people coming to my blog! But that might be because the journaling on my pages is in French. LOL I love the design of this page and I might very well take you up on this challenge over the weekend. 🙂

  9. #15
    Leora Henkin

    That story is so funny! I do cherish and appreciate the car time with the kids. It is funny though. I have a very distinct memory that the only conversation my mother every had with me about S_E_X was in the car. I am pretty sure that she didn’t want to be looking directly at me at the time. With that memory in mind, I make myself have the serious talks with my now 16 year old face-to-face. Someday, I will have to explain all that to him. That, I could probably do driving in the car. Sadly, he is driving now, so we get much less car time…but still some.

  10. #17

    My middle daughter and I had “drive” time nearly everyday when she was in high school; we didn’t buy her a car, she was a 3 sport athlete and I just swung by and picked her up on my way home from work. They were great times!! The spring of her senior year she said to me “Mom what are you going to do next year when I’m at college? You’re going to have to get a life” Oh yeah, that is a conversation that is scrapped and in her book! During her freshman year of college she said to me that she was glad we hadn’t bought her a car. . . she said we would have missed out on some great talks. aahh, love her!

  11. #18

    Cathy — I’ve spent the past several days reading your book Clean & Simple: The Sequel and have thoroughly enjoyed the insight into your scrapbooking methods as I try to decide how to approach my scrapbooks for the next decade. And of course it helps that you made several Minnesota references since I’m mourning my move from Rochester to Birmingham, AL – (still…2 1/2 years later). Oh to be able to visit the MOA on a rainy day. Freeze a little for me. I miss it.

  12. #19
    Sebnem Curley

    You’re completely right, and yet time and agin I find myself starting at my page, trying to figure out what to write, I think the trick is jsut to start sometimes and it just flows (plus, now I keep a journal, to he p me along). Thanks for the great advice as always!

  13. #21

    Thanks Cathy for remind us to dig a bit deeper. You reminded me instantly of something funny that happened with our own 13 year old and I will be looking for your template during my next DD shopping spree..

  14. #22

    Oh good! you’re in!

    I went ahead and changed the grammar on the layout! I don’t mind. I hate it when i mess up like that!

  15. #26
    Kathleen Loughran

    A great story Cathy. It is a shame though that someone would prefer to “getcha” than enjoy the story or the art. Oh well we all can’t be copy editors.

    Thank you for sharing your stories and your life with us.

  16. #27
    Sue O

    The other great thing about driving teenagers, or at least boys….I didn’t have a girl….is that they tend to forget you are even in the car. So I used to hear and find out ALL sorts of things just by listening to their conversations! I will say that my son and I have had some great conversations in the car. Especially when he went away to college and it could take anywhere from 3-4 hours or more to get there. I loved those driving times and miss them now that he is grown up.

  17. #28
    lynne moore

    oh man, i so agree with the drive and teen talk time. it’s my favorite part of the day, even tho i dislike the driving in general. I have inside jokes and conversations that my husband doesn’t get to have as often. i have one of each – boy and girl, with different personalities – and it’s very different confidential info i get.

  18. #30
    Deena Tamashiro

    This is total blog fodder. It cracks me up to see how our kids see right through us sometimes without us even knowing.

  19. #31

    Tip: have your kids go to college in driving distance & don’t let them have a car! The great conversations will continue that way. My daughter is an hour away, and we have some of the best catch-up times when it’s just the two of us together in the car. She’s usually excited to share her latest music finds along with talking opportunities. A learning experience still for both of us! + she usually drives one way ;).

  20. #32

    They always can tell when you’re trying to teach a life lesson! I love to journal – my problem is trying to keep from going on and on and on and on …..

  21. #33

    Love this layout! As I am a DYL alumni and we’re on repetition this week, I’m admiring the subtle transparency of the tag, the date, and stitching where it runs off the coloured background onto the white. Always an inspiration.

  22. #34
    Marg NZ

    You’re layout’s BRILL – thanks Cathy. I check out DD almost daily to see you’ve put anything new there, then eagerly await a ‘finished’ article in your blog. PLEASE keep the ‘finished examples’ coming – they give me inspiration on how to use the templates. You got me started with your A Sweet Little Story and I haven’t looked back since. Thanks!

  23. #36

    Thank you for the inspiration. I love what my kids says. I do not always get time to write it down though. By the way – Did you hear that we should be planning a trip to NYC? http://www.petergabriel.com/live/ I think it would be very cool. I have not seen him in so many years.

  24. #37

    Thanks for the reminder Cathy,
    I AM going to journal this weekend and then take a picture of my son’s funky and wild shoe collection. He’s 18, just got his own apartment and I am struggling with the letting go. I found out he just spent $180 on two pairs of shoes and was trying to make the point about blowing his limited resources when he has other responsibilities. “What, for instance, will you do if your car breaks down?”
    “Well, Mom, I guess I’ll have a great pair of shoes to walk home in.” Cracked. Me. Up. Enjoy those teen years, in and out of the car. It all went by way too fast …

  25. #38

    LOVE the story, love that you could recall it. That is one reason I scrap broadly-I can’t remember a thing past two days ago. I love the pictures of Aidan and think this LO is not fully CZ. Those hearts are so sweet. Are you sure you didn’t use a heat embossing tool?

  26. #40

    I did. I know. Did you know you can donate to Haiti relief and there’s a song from the forthcoming album on it? A cover of Heroes by David Bowie.

  27. #41
    Jamie Danford

    I’m so glad I clicked on today… you’ve inspired me, and now I’m going to my scrap room to find the right photo for a specific story I’ve been meaning to tell. 😉 THANK you!

  28. #42
    Margy Eastman

    I love the story, Cathy. Reminds me of the drives with my mom back in the day. It’s funny how, even at four, I think I’m telling Jack something important and deep and new, and I get in reply, “I know, Mom. You already told me that!”

    Don’t worry about the typo. Ever since I turned 40 my eyes have gone to hell and I can’t see diddly. I even had a typo on a gift tag this Christmas that I didn’t notice until the cakes had left the building. I need glasses and a larger monitor. Besides, no one complained about my goof as they shoveled rum cake into their faces.

    Now, I’m off to journal a conversation with Jack. Thanks for the prompt!

  29. #43

    Oh I remember these conversations in the car and sometimes they turned on me. I’ll never forget when my dd asked me a question I wasn’t prepared to answer! Thanks Judy Blume! Love this one Cathy with or without the grammar corrections. It’s the story that counts!

  30. #44


    I love your page about Aiden! It is touching, and I am going to totally scraplift that if I can (I dont have PE, so I cant buy it from the digi store). I especially love the stitching. I don’t believe I have ever seen stitching on one of your pages. I love what it adds. Nice work.


  31. #45

    Thanks – Bought it. Now would that not be incredible. A concert with Gabriel and Bowie. Funny he did that song. I got an I Touch for Christmas and have just downloaded a bunch of songs and one of them is Heroes by Bowie. Such a throwback I am. BTW I did type a long response about new music when you asked the question but it disappeared when I tried to post. I have been listening to Company of Thieves ever since I heard them on Live at Daryl’s House with Daryl Hall.(Pressure and Even in the Dark) I just love that he puts on a free online concert every month to view a different artist playing at his house. Wish you could download the songs. (Especially when he had Todd Rundgren on – my fave)

  32. #46

    Thanks for the journalling inspiration. It’s was a great reminder that every picture does have a story that needs to be told.

  33. #47

    I rarely comment but wanted to simply thank you for the inspiration: after giving some though to your challenge, I finally scrapped a photo of my two boys just because I had a story (totally unrelated) to tell. You rock 😀

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