Make a Page Monday: Dear University of Wisconsin

Cathy ZielskeScrapbooking41 Comments
STORY OF THE PAGE: I recently liked the UW-Madison Parent Program’s Facebook page. One day last week they shared a letter written by a parent of an incoming Freshman and I thought, “Hey! I wanna do one of those!” Ergo, a scrapbook page was thusly born. There should be more to this story but the fact is I am trying not to overthink it. I sat down to write a letter and I didn’t want to go back and edit the hell out of it. I just wanted to get a few thoughts down and committed to a scrapbook. So that’s what I did. Typos be damned.
DESIGN BREAKDOWN: This is a very symmetrical design. One column of text on the left. One column of text on the right. Even steven. Remember how symmetry creates a purposeful and stable feel to any design? Yes, that. I created a little bit of type contrast in the title by combining the Archer font with Stringfellows for the “of”. Did I need to do that? Well, I knew this was going to be a very stripped down page so a little bit of type whimsy couldn’t hurt it. I finished the layout with one wider cropped photo of me, Dan and our girl. A little bit of patterned paper on the bottom simply anchors the page, with a few little enamel dots and Aidan’s initial tossed in for a little more visual interest. I feel like this is not my most accomplished of designs but it saved the story I wanted to get out.

TECHNICAL SHIT: To create columns in Photoshop Elements, I used the Horizontal Text Tool, clicked and dragged the size I wanted the first column to be, then started typing. Once I figured out the font and size (Archer Medium, 9.5 point), I simply dragged a copy* of the text block and then continued typing in the new column.  Unfortunately, I know of know way to have your words flow from one column automatically into the next, so a little manual fudging is required.

*To drag a copy of any element in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, with your Move Tool selected, hold down the Option or Alt Key, click on the element until you see two overlapping arrows, one white, one black, then click and drag out to create a new copy. If you hold down your Shift Key while you do it, you’ll constrain the direction perfectly as you drag.
SENTIMENTAL SHIT: I hate to be all trendy and say it, but I’m going to do it anyway: This is happening. Of course, I’ll have more thoughts on this throughout the week as Wednesday is the day my girl moves into her dorm room.

Here we go.


Cathy ZielskeMake a Page Monday: Dear University of Wisconsin

41 Comments on “Make a Page Monday: Dear University of Wisconsin”

  1. #1

    Hi Cathy…what a lovely letter…I hope that the teaching staff read and understand the great hope of all families who are sending their kids away to college. My Mum can still remember that terrible feeling of leaving me at college and wondering how I would go – and that was over 30 years ago.

    And ….Good luck Aidan

    1. #1.1
      Jane T

      Love that it’s written from both of you and ‘we’ all the way through. Be thinking of you all tomorrow.

  2. #2
    Kim L.

    Beautiful and inspiring! Just what I needed, as I just watched my daughter drive away to her first day of senior year (high school). All I really want to do is curl up in a ball and eat chocolate and watch mindless reality TV all day, but maybe, just maybe, I’ll start her senior year scrapbook today. Thanks so much for the inspiration this morning!

  3. #5
    Karen S

    I love your approach to this, Cathy. Do you think if I bookmark it now, I will remember it six years from now when my one and only daughter will be heading off to college?!

  4. #6

    I love the simple design. But I can’t read that letter right now. Just seeing this page made big sloppy tears drip into my morning oatmeal. Oh, Cathy. So many mommas are walking with you this week.

  5. #7
    deb munn

    I love this one! The simplicity and little details drew me in and it’s perfect. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. #8

    Having just sent our 4th off 2 weeks ago for his first year of college, I can relate. It isn’t any easier no matter how often you go through it. A little of what we have learned…encourage them to join groups. Honours, sports, theatre, anything…GET INVOLVED IMMEDIATELY! Same for you mom. You have your job, and your family still home, but do something else just for you. Mine is reading a whole lot more. I already work out, but now I added the kindle to my treadmill, and have finished more books than ever. It’s simple, but it works for me.
    You and your husband have done an awesome job raising your children. You gave her the foundation, and she shall add the walls and roof. Feel Blessed

    1. #8.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Yes, Betcei, she is planning to do that. She’s going to try out for Madison’s ultimate team and she is looking into other groups as well! She knows it’s up to her to make the most of this experience.

  7. #9

    great page and great letter…I wish I had done a page like this last year as our oldest headed off to his first year of school. Aiden will have an amazing year I am sure. Yes, you will miss her like crazy but when she does come home, the visits will be wonderful!

  8. #10

    Hi Cathy,
    I, too, have been on the Badger Parent page, as I am dropping my first-born at his lakeshore dorm on Wednesday. I’ve been putting off the “letter to my son” and “letter to the UW” because I keep ending up in tears. Despite knowing that University has always been the goal, and Wisconsin was the closest school to us that he looked at, and the fact that my husband is an alum, this is still so hard on the parents! Thanks for posting your letter. I’m going to sit down and try again. Good luck to you and your family on Wednesday!

    1. #10.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Good luck to you! Us too, lakeshore dorm on Wednesday. If you see me crying be sure to wave! 😉

  9. #13

    Oh, how I wanted to write a letter like yours when I handed off my son to the United States Marine Corps. But that’s a different environment and they don’t take kindly to intro letters from teary moms. But after dear son’s swearing in, as I walked through the parking lot, another mom looked at me with her own red-rimmed eyes and we shared a flash of empathy. Isn’t it amazing how we as parents can support each other through these growing times, as we watch our kids transform into adults?

    1. #13.1
      Karen Peterson

      Oh, as a member of the military you should write that letter; and if he has already gone through basic and follow on training, you should still write that letter. Your son left as one person and is now a different version of the boy that left home. I bet one day he will treasure having that letter from his mom and his kids will appreciate it even more. It is the same experience, a child leaving home for the first time and the mom perspective is such a treasure to hold on to 😉 And thanks to your family for their service!

      1. #13.1.1

        Karen, just saw your reply – what a wonderful idea! Thank you for your kind words and gratitude. When people thank my son for his service, he always says the same thing …

        “It’s my pleasure.”

  10. #14

    My daughter just left for her first day of college and, even though it is in our hometown, it is still a bit overwhelming. She (my non-hugger) hugged me and we both had a few tears. I loved your letter. The hopes and the fears we have for our children are so universal, sometimes it amazes me. I wish you well this week.

  11. #15
    Sue Treiber

    Great letter, and great page. When most of us would be curled up in the fetal position, you turned it into a scrapbooking moment. Yet another reason why you rock!
    Good luck Aidan!

  12. #16
    Audrey V

    I took my first-born to college last week, and I thought I was ready. My husband and I spent two days on campus, attending parent programs. But when it was time to say good-bye and LEAVE, I was an emotional mess. I didn’t expect it to be so hard. After we returned home, the first two days were horrible, for both my husband and myself. Today is day 3 and I can say it is easier. Go easy on yourself, everybody reacts differently. My husband made himself really busy over the weekend with chores, so he didn’t have to dwell on how much he missed our son. I felt like doing absolutely nothing, other than reading a magazine in the bathtub and sleeping a lot. I know this is all a part of the big plan, kids to have to grow up and leave the nest, but right now I just want to rewind the clock about 10 years.

  13. #18
    Lisa Spiegel

    Cathy (((hugs)))..I know exactly how you feel…last year, when I left my oldest daughter at school, 515 miles away, I felt like I’d left a piece of my heart outside of my body. It does get easier, and better, and it is wonderful to watch our children grow into this new space of being a young adult. Especially when they are really cool people like I know Aidan is…because her momma is, too!

  14. #19

    Such a cool idea. And now for a strictly design question: Is it cleaner or more design friendly to not indent paragraphs on scrapbook pages? Without an indent it would definitely mean a space in between paragraphs – correct? Do you ever indent? If so, when and how do you decide? Thanks in advance.

    1. #19.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I prefer not to indent. Usually, there’s not so much copy that it requires indenting. But, it creates a cleaner line for sure. And usually, I will add a bit of space between the paragraphs to create a restful spot for the eye between graphs.

  15. #20

    Cathy – This post reminded me so much of this time last year when I dropped my son off at University for the very first time. The only way I could hold back the tears was to remember that I had played a part in giving him wings so that one day he could truly give them a stretch and fly. The fact that he didn’t look back as I left nearly broke my heart but I remember thinking that it was all part of him having extra strong wings and who could I blame for that! I know that Aidan will soar and so will you (and your heart).

  16. #21

    Love the simplicity of the page that lets your words shine. Love the idea! There was a similar one in my alumni magazine (Caltech) that was a letter from a mom to the university as her daughter was graduating that I loved so much and kept – all about how her daughter finally found her place and “her people” and her passions at school.

    Thanks as always, for sharing!

  17. #22

    Oh Cathy, what a great letter. I have tears in my eyes after reading it. My one and only is a 13-year old boy and has reached the stage of the exasperated “Oh Mom”. But the day I drop him to college is coming soon and I’m taking heart by reading all the comments your blog is generating. Thanks so much for the continual sharing. Great big virtual hugs to.

  18. #24


    I loved your letter and I am sending hugs to you this week! I have 2 seniors this year…one in high school and one in college. I actually think I will take your inspiration and write a letter like this for my college senior. Wow, how can this be happening?!!!

    Thanks for sharing yourself with us in this way.

    With great friendship,

  19. #25
    Jenny B.

    Lovely page! I really like the typeface combos. I also just realized why certain words in your posts have asterisks instead of the entire word. I thought you were censoring yourself, but then I remembered I installed a filter plug-in ages ago, and that’s what it does. 🙂 Or maybe you are censoring yourself? No idea. Ha! 🙂 Anyway… My husband and I have been re-watching all the episodes of Boy Meets World on Netflix, and last night was the one where their oldest son, Eric, leaves for college. It’s a silly 90’s sitcom, but I thought I was going to cry. I hope you have a marvelous time with your girl this week, and that her transition to college is just the best it could possibly be.

  20. #26

    Love the letter idea, wish I had done that last year when my daughter left for college. My daughter attends a small private Catholic college and as we drove away last year two of the priests were standing at the school entrance and leaned into each car window and said “thank you for entrusting us with your child, they are our children now and we will take good care of them for you”. It was so nice that this school recognized how hard it is to leave your baby. One thing that helped me last year was that my daughter texted me goodnight every night. I only asked her to do it the first week, but she did it every single night she was there. She leaves next week again and it still is hard! Good luck on Wed!

  21. #28
    Michelle t

    Very touching. Thank you for sharing this, it’s very meaningful. And the layout is stunning. Michelle t

  22. #29

    Cathy, First Go Badgers!! Many of my family went to Wisconsin it is such a great school!! Second your letter rocks!! I wish my Mom had done something like that when I left so long ago! She will have it forever and I admire your skills as a crafter and story teller!! Thanks so much for sharing your lives with us! Good luck Wed!!

  23. #30

    Cathy, what a wonderful letter and she will cherish it forever. Now, sit back and watch her growth unfold. (and of course, document it) You will never be more proud. Good luck, Aidan!

  24. #32

    Great picture of the three of you! Love it and the letter, too. You inspire me and I enjoy reading your blog. Aidan will do great because you raised her to be a fine young woman.

  25. #33

    What a great “find” for me this morning!! Today is the day we send our daughter off to Spain for her 6mo study abroad program!! I’ve never had her far enough away that she couldnt come home for dinner if she wanted! This will be a challenge. She’s a great kid with a super head on her shoulders so I know she will be just fine. She chose a Spanish speaking location so it is going to be tougher until she gets the hang of the language, (she’s a little rusty!) but we’ll be here if she needs us. Thanks for the stories…..its going to be a teary day but I’m ready!!

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