Layout Share: In the Blink of an Eye

Cathy ZielskeScrapbooking53 Comments


Last weekend, Dan undertook the Herculean task of cleaning out our garage. Many things that we'd thought were lost magically reappeared, and many of those things were things that well, honestly, we just didn't really need.

He dug out a few old bags of clothes that were slated for the Goodwill circa 2004. Somehow they got buried in our muck and never found their way out. Dan suggested I wash the clothes and then send them on their merry way. (To clarify: he did say "I'm not trying to say that you can do laundry and I can't." See, that's what high priced therapy does for you, people. It removes the issues surrounding laundry.)

Anyhoo… in the stash of freshly laundered toddler clothes was this old shirt/dress of Aidan's, from around 2000.


I swear to you, my heart skipped a beat down in my basement standing next to my Kenmore dryer, as I crumpled the dress to my nose and inhaled, imagining that I could drink in the smell of my then four-year-old girl.

I was instantly seeing pictures of her in the dress in my mind's eye—dance performances in our family room wearing her little white heeled shoes and trips to the Chelsea Heights playground. Any and every opportunity to have that dress on she'd take, even long after her growing frame made it far more of a shirt than a dress.

I hit the photo albums, knowing I had to have tons of photos of her in the dress. I knew I had video of her dancing in it, but I really wanted to find a photo. 

And I did. 

Then I just had a stop, drop, design and write kind of moment. And this is the page that resulted:


The journaling reads: Dan was cleaning out the garage and came across an ancient paper bag, full of baby and toddler clothes slated at some point, years ago, for a trip  to Goodwill. He suggested we give them a quick wash, as they were covered in leaves and assorted mucky muck, and when I pulled everything out of the dryer, there it was: Aidan’s little red velvet dress. It’s funny how stuff comes rushing back to you; stuff you thought you’d forgotten. Like how she would wear that dress, put on her little white high heeled shoes, and dance around the family room the the sounds of Madonna singing, “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” from the Evita sound track. How, in that dress, she’d perfected her patented heel spin move. How she wore that dress long after it had outgrown her 4-year-old frame. I’m usually not overly sentimental about clothes. Maybe that’s because my baby girl is moving so surprisingly fast towards independence. Maybe the sentimentality grows with every passing year that she nears the time where she’s going to fly our little coop for a life beyond Sheldon Street. Whatever the case, I ended up digging out the DVDs of our early home videos, and watching my little girlie spin on her heel, and wishing I had found a way to be more present, more engaged and more connected back then. Funny how a piece of clothing can do something like that, isn’t it?

A trace of bittersweet worked its way in, as I spent the morning reflecting on the mother I'd been and the mother I am today. I'm glad that became part of this journaled story. I always want my children to know that I am a work in progress, and that it matters that I get better as I go. That there is always time to reflect and time to change. Always.


I took the photo of her on the swing and scanned it into Photoshop so I could preserve the original shot, then I designed a simple template and filled in the blanks. In true hybrid fashion, I printed the journaling elements onto white cardstock (turning off the photo layers before doing this) and then I dragged the photos into a new doc where I printed them onto photo paper.

Trim and assemble. And done.

This template is available for purchase at Designer Digitals. Click here. Just wanted to share a little burst of inspiration from a worn old piece of clothing.

There really are stories everywhere waiting to be told.

Cathy ZielskeLayout Share: In the Blink of an Eye

53 Comments on “Layout Share: In the Blink of an Eye”

  1. #2

    Oh Cathy… I love this layout. So glad you’re sharing the template.
    It’s funny how clothing can whisk you back to another era. I have an adorable photo of my girls at ages 2&4, when they used to play dress up (they are now 26&28)… sigh. But I also have one of my grand-daughter in similar clothing (now 3)… thinking there’s a story to be told. 🙂

  2. #3

    oh Cathy, thanks for starting my day with this sweet story. It reminds me it’s never too late to capture a memory. Well done!

  3. #7
    Jill B

    You were very present!! You have pictures, video, and special stories to tell. That says present to me. You watched her spin and dance, you didn’t miss the white shoes. Now was the right time to put it on paper. Be easier on yourself, recognize the beauty in all the “motherhood” we do. You are beautiful. Have a great day!! Loved the page.

  4. #9
    Lee Currie

    Wow! Another fabulous page 🙂 I think it takes us time to become more present, more engaged and more connected and we all manage to get there – when we can be less busy, less overwhelmed, less self conscious. I guess less really is more 🙂 As always LOVE your honesty and perspective.

  5. #18

    I had lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I read this post. The years pass way too quickly. I, too, wish I had been more present when my kids were younger, but we can’t go back in time. Right now, I’m trying my best to stay in the now and enjoy their teen years as much as I can. I even started journaling a few simple lines every day that start with “I want to remember…”

  6. #20

    That you then, apparently, still donated the piece of clothing is the miracle to me! No way would I have been able to let it go … even with the item and sentiment preserved in a page.
    But then, as the ecard says, “I’m just one sack of sh!t away from being a hoarder!”

  7. #21

    Oh Cathy I could write a dozen pages like this. Just finished a boot camp assignment with pictures from 25 years of my baby girl and the clothes evoked the same response. In fact both 3rd and 4th birthday she is wearing the same dress, and the outfit at 12 said she thought she was hot stuff. Also noticed when they stopped wearing dresses to their birthday parties and then when they started again. Clothes really do bring back memories.

  8. #23

    Oh, no… I kept it! ha~! Everything else is packed in the car and ready to be dropped off. But the dress? Oh thats a keeper!

  9. #24
    Rebecca Hoot

    This literally brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat.I have a daughter that is 6 and I want to remember the moments of the high heels and twirly dress. Thank you for sharing and inspiring me to be the best that I can be, to cature these everyday moments… now I can’t wait for school to be out so I can hug her and kiss her and tell her how much I love her!

  10. #25

    Love, love, love this. I have boxes of my daughter’s old clothes stashed away for this very reason…I can’t part with all the memories they evoke. Thanks for sharing with us!

  11. #26

    The first 18 months of my son’s life are a complete black hole to me. I had such bad post-pardum that I know I was physically present, but not emotionally. Only by looking at photos my Mum took can I recall anything of his early life. I thank goodness she was there because literally he’d have nothing from those early days.

  12. #27

    Cathy I feel the same way about kids growing up. Through the last 12 years of buying & keeping the C.K. & S.S. magazines, I have watched several of the scrappers children grow up in beautiful layouts. I can only imagine how that feels in real time; the closest I get is that one of my nephews is now a Grandfather & I use to babysit him – now where did that time go?!

  13. #28
    Shari Rohde

    OK, crying in my coffee here. This really touched me. So glad that little dress was lost in the back of your garage. Otherwise your memories of them would maybe not have resurfaced and this gorgeous page would not exist. Isnt it funny how these things take place? Thanks CZ.

  14. #30

    This struck a chord because I’m about to get rid of my twin daughters’ car seats and I’m crying just thinking about it! I’ll never forget the day that we took them home from the NICU in those seats (that was 3 1/2 years ago).
    Cathy, what font(s) did you use on this page?

  15. #31
    laura g.

    this is why i love your blog! getting down to the real issue…scrapping and TELLING the stories we want to pass down…and taking the ‘crap’ out of scrapbooking!!

  16. #32

    So thankful you shared this story and page. Sitting here with tears and a wish to take my babies(17,14,12, and 5) and just hold them. You really have a way of sharing the reality of life and that is why I love your blog!

  17. #34
    Cele Schaffer

    Just loved this layout and especially the journaling. I can so relate to wanting a redo some days… My “children” are 22 and 17,one getting ready to go off to college this next fall and one living at home(wondering if he will ever fly the coup!). I have tried to believe “we do the best we can at parenting with what we have at the time” philosophy. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. But you know we learn alot on the way (and especially on the first child!)and I think that must be the way God intended. We can only go forward.When I read your blog it is VERY APPARENT that you are and have been a present,loving,involved wonderful parent! It may be awhile before mwe actually hear those words out of their mouths but just look at the marvelous people they are becoming.Give yourself a big pat on the back today or maybe a big glass of wine and a piece of pie- LOL!

  18. #37
    Melanie L.

    Oh man, this really hits home right now. My oldest is a senior in high school, and I’m going to be a mess when he leaves us next year. I was a working up to 80 hours a week at the time he was born (in training as a medical resident). I still feel like I missed so much. At least I was able to make up for that (at least I think so) with the next three kids and I’ll still have the five-year-old to hold and cherish for a little while longer. Thanks so much for being such an inspiration, Cathy! What a fabulous page! (I also love your templates, BTW.)

  19. #38
    Michelle Mounts

    This brought tears to my eyes! I love this story and how you captured it. My oldest daughter is a senior this year so this made me think about her and how I am feeling as she begins the process of starting a life independent of me. Thank you for sharing this! 🙂

  20. #39

    I live for those lightning-bolt moments of inspiration! They are the reason I scrapbook in the first place. Beautiful page, Cathy.

  21. #40
    Tammy B

    Isn’t it amazing what a little piece of clothing can do! I have two bins of clothes from when my boys were very little. I won’t part with them until they have little boys of their own. Sometimes I like to just go through those bins and remember what they were like at that age! This was a great page Cathy! Thanks!!

  22. #41

    Thanks for sharing Cathy… This story really reminded me of how important it is to TREASURE every minute with my kiddos– ages 1 & 3– even the crazy crying/screaming rushing out the door mornings like today!!! 🙂

  23. #42
    Marge J

    …ugh…you just ripped my heart from my chest!!!
    That is so BEAUTIFUL!!! I have a “Forever” box for each of
    my children and there are certain articles of clothing that are
    stored in them….hand made sweaters and hats, dresses, etc.
    I only open them to add to them at the moment! But one day,
    those boxes will be gifted to them(they’ve each had a say in
    what stays and what goes!). *deep sigh* again, this is just so

  24. #43
    Carmel Keane

    This is a great idea for a page. Love that my wee girl (now 14 years) was not the only one to wear a treasured piece of clothing long beyoond what it was designed for. My daughter took a shine to a particular pair of leggings and although the label said “2 years” she wore them until she was at least six and up to here knees instead of her ankles. I think I will have to hunt out some photos through teh years and create a page about that. Thanks for the idea!

  25. #44
    janis m

    well that made me cry. you are a good egg, Mrs. Zielske. thank you for sharing and for the reminder that we are all works in progress. 🙂

  26. #47
    Marge J

    me too….nice easy to read format!! No “crap”!!! Keep up the good work Cathy!!
    We appreciate it!!

  27. #48

    ok so everytime I say I’m not going to buy another template you come up with something great again!! I would love a video on this now I know how to put a template together but you do a few interesting things here. I love how the small photo sits on the background. Is that because you added feathering?? is that what its called when it pops up like that? Just love. it.

  28. #49

    The photo is actually mounted on pop dots. : ) I thought about doing a step by step. Ill keep that in mind for next time!

  29. #52
    Margy Eastman

    I love this story, Cathy. I just parted with Jack’s little Packer hoodie – the one that appears in 40% of photos over the last three years. I need to make a layout like this. I passed it on to my sister so my newly-adopted nephew Zeke can wear it. Kind of takes the sting away – Jack gets big and the Packer hoodie lives on. I’m off to spring for the template. Have a good weekend, Cathy!

  30. #53

    Call me a sap, but I cried reading your journaling of Aidan’s little red dress. I have so many memories of my kids in their favorite outfits. Just like you said… “Don’t blink.” Wishing I was as saavy as you to whip together a hybrid page or two of their special duds…then I could pass the outfit on to goodwill – and declutter my attic in the process!

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