Monday, March 29, 2010

The Blue Chair

When Payton was born she had a lot of hand-me downs from Morgan to use. A pack-n-play, a baby tub, toys, and clothes.

But we did buy her one thing. We bought her a chair.

From day one, she slept in this chair, she sat in this chair, when she was a little bit older she ate while sitting in this chair. They didn't have Bumbo's (or at least, I didn't know there were Bumbo's).

Last fall when she was 3 1/2, still often sitting in this chair, I decided it really was time for it to go. She didn't really fit in it anymore. It didn't match the decor of our house and we didn't need the clutter. So I took photos of it one day and then donated it to Goodwill. I keep a lot of the baby things, but I just figured this dingy blue chair would never get used by the grandkids, and that it was better if I didn't take up the space.

I've been wanting to do a layout about this chair for a while, and decided the time was finally right with the Joyland kit.

After the fact, I decided to go back through my digital files and pick out any photos that had the blue chair in it, and then go through those to choose what photos I wanted to use for my layout.

I knew it in advance, but what I discovered through this process has changed me as a record keeper in my family.

What I discovered was Payton's history. What I discovered were random family moments that make her who she is.

This chair was there for every moment. All of them. We brought her home from the hospital, and if someone wasn't holding her, she was in this chair. I have a photo of her sleeping in this chair with an Easter egg that Steve had decorated with her name on it. She was only about a week old.

Her first smile was in this chair. She ate rice cereal for the first time in this chair. On her first birthday, you can see this chair in the background of a photo of Payton opening presents.

This chair sat in our living room for 3.5 years. And that's what we called it too. The blue chair.

I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to head to Goodwill since that day in the hopes that my chair is still there, but I know it's not.

I wish I had taken one last photo of Payton in it before I donated it. At the time, I knew I should do a layout about the chair, but I had no idea how much that process was going to touch me.

I wish I had hugged that chair and had a good talk with that chair before I sent it on to take care of the next baby.

In the end, I came up with 20 photos of this chair. I wish there were more. I can't tell you how many times she got out of the chair for the photo, or I moved the chair out of the way to take away from the "distracting background" or because we had a ton of family over and it was in the way.

I wish I had left it in the way.

I've seen discussions before about how our modern focus on photography and "filling the frame" is taking away from the nostalgia of our photographs. How many times have you looked through an old album from your childhood and laughed at the orange couch, the avocado countertops, the random extras in the photos that make up your history? Imagine if those photos only focused on your freckled face. Would you still be able to "see" your story?

Any photo with that chair in it went on this layout. I have several photos with her in it, but I also have photos of her near it, like the random photo Steve took one day with her in a firefighter hat, or a photo I took of her gazing at herself in the mirror, with the blur of the red chair legs in the background. I used them all.

I was going to pick and choose with this layout, but in the end, I didn't want my photos to be too small, I really wanted to be able to look at them, and I couldn't exclude any photos of that chair, so I made a 3 page layout. Yes I did.
I made all the small photos 2.5 x 2.5 and layered them in a collage, leaving a few blank spaces for patterned paper and flowers. I then enlarged a photo of the chair, and also included a photo of Payton taken around the day the chair was donated.
As for the details in the design, the flowers were created by layering a few punched circles, and adding some chipboard pieces from Crate Paper in the middle. I also used some Prima leaves from the Tilt-a-Whirl add-on for more detail.
The jillibean corrugated alphas started out green. I first tried to mist them blue, but it didn't take very well, so I used some turquoise paint from MM that I had in my stash first, and then misted over that. I like the marbled look they got from the mist settling into the cracks.

I finished it off with just a wee bit of hand stitching and some of my scallop sentiment border punch, that you know I love.

To be honest with you, I could just about bawl my eyes out every time I look at the finished product, lol. Some of these moments are so random and I wonder why I even had the camera out.
THAT is what scrapbooking is all about, should be all about. The documentation of it all. If I take 200 photos of Halloween, I already know what I did that day. The story is obvious. But through this layout I learned that I need to document the non-obvious, every day moments better. I'm taking the photos, but I need to do better about writing the story.
THAT is why I am SO excited about Project 12. I can already tell how valuable those layouts are going to be to me, 3 years down the road. I have been doing this since 2009 so I'm already in the game, but I am going to do better. More journaling. The first couple of months I just used labels. Lucky for me, Becky's sketches include lots of room for journaling, and I'm going to make sure I fill them up in 2010.
So there. Payton's story is here. You can see her first three years in one layout. But you know what?
Tomorrow she's 4. 4 years old. My baby, the youngest, is 4.
I'm not sure I can take it, lol. Can't time stand still for just a moment so I can take it all in? It's moving far too fast for me. I just had an epiphany, a pivotal moment, and "aha moment" here, lol.
The design wasn't the best. But at this point this layout is my most treasured. Ever. I'm so glad I made it. (and if you are wondering, I'm going to put that last page first in my scrapbook, and then have the remaining two pages together, so you see all the photos, and then hear the story about the chair).


  1. This is just the best. I am all choked up! I was getting misty just reading the post!
    You have to print this entire post, too, and put in on the back of the 3rd page.. It captures 'you' too!

    Oh my.
    Love this!

  2. Anonymous7:42 PM

    Dav, I know exactly what you are talking about.
    We had a chair (we call it a bouncer cause it bounces lol) and it looks the same as that, the exact shade of blue. I would always move it out of the way for photos because it was very distracting in the background, she ate her first food in it and even laughed for the first time in it.
    It makes me sad when they grow up and no longer need the things that was so important to us when they were babies.
    And now she's 4. *sigh* Some days I get so nostalgic and very sentimental, it's almost too painful some days.
    You did a great job Dav!

  3. What a sweet story - wow. Love the memories and how you captured it all on the layouts :)

  4. What a sweet story, and I love that you made it into a three-page layout! It's beautiful!

  5. Anonymous7:58 PM

    That is so beautiful! And you are right - that is the epitome of what scrapbooking is all about. Many hugs. the blue chair lives on in what you have done here.

  6. Your post made me a little teary. We, too, had a blue chair, and it went through all those things that you talked about. What a great reminder of the reason we scrapbook! Thanks for sharing this!

  7. I love this post. You hit it right on the nail. While it's great to have those *perfect* photos, the ones we really love to look back at are the ones that show how we lived. And I love how you created a layout about something that seemed so, well, whatever, but in the end, turned out to be something you and your daughter will truly treasure. Thanks for this great inspiration.

  8. We too also have the exact same chair. My daughter is 3.5 and still sits in it when we have it in the living room. In fact this post jogged my memory about a post on my own blog back in 2006, just a couple of weeks after we brought her home. There are pictures of her in that chair and me talking about how it had become her favorite place to sleep. You've inspired me to look for other pictures with it over the last 3 years.
    Great 3 pager! :)

  9. I love love love reading about your blue chair! That is just so on the money about what scrapbooking should be :) And I agree with Andi, you need to print the words in this post to add to the pages.

  10. Oh this brought tears to my eyes. I actually bought that exact same blue chair as a present for my nephew that just turned 4. I bought it in San Diego and brought it home to Sweden with me just in time for his birth:-) Isak also spent a lot of time in that chair, maybe I should do a "blue chair layout" as well :-)

  11. Anonymous6:09 AM

    Love this story! I think it is a fabulous page, probably one of my favorites of all time from you! I can totally relate ... I to, have this same distracting little chair :)

  12. Anonymous6:11 AM

    And happy birthday Payton! (this chair must have been very popular 4 years ago because my daughter will be 4 in April :)

  13. well put, my sweet your moment. 100% perfection. xoxo

  14. What a wonderful tribute to such an important piece of your family history. Thanks for sharing.

  15. oh that's so sweet!! I know, isn't it hard to give that stuff away...even outfits that I loved, I really hated giving to someone else. Time flies like crazy. this is what scrapping is all about! thanks for the reminder!

  16. What a great page and blue chair! :)

  17. We too had (actually, still have) a blue chair. We got it at my eldest daughter's baby shower. She is now 6. We called it the Magic Chair because it vibrated and was the only thing that would put our eldest to sleep for awhile. We have MANY pictures of her in it or near it and I had the same thoughts of it being "a poor background". Our younger two daughters also spent much time in it but the vibration motor didn't work anymore so the love just wasn't there for it like it was for Marley. I'm glad you did such a beautiful layout for such a utilitarian piece of your daughter's childhood. Way to go!

  18. It's a sweet story and a fantastic layout

  19. Awww! I loved this post, Dav! So totally sweet. It encourages me to scrap more of these moments. :-)

    And Happy Birthday to Payton!

  20. Dav I adore the story you told with this layout - it's what scrapbooking is all about.

  21. i always love your work but i love this post so much because you are SO right - it is those little things that make life so special and memorable. long live the blue chair!

  22. I think that is the best story I've read in a long time. And I love the resulting layout!