Scrapbook Your Way Through Army Deployments

As submitted by a website visitor: 

My friends and I stay busy by a method listed on your list….. SCRAPBOOKING!

We have pictures from before the deployment, from the going away ceremony, the day they leave… and then our guys send us their pictures from where they are. (Mine just posts his on his blog, makes it faster and easier to just print them off)

We have a SCRAPBOOKING Saturday, every Saturday. All the kids come over and get to watch movies and have popcorn and soda, which is a treat for them. They get to play and us moms and wives, we SCRAPBOOK!

Luckily, I have a crafting room, so we can pretty much leave stuff out for the next week. It is a good time for us, we get to spend time together, the creative juices get to flowing, and we keep ourselves connected to our Soldiers by making them a scrapbook of their year. We use their pictures and pictures we take of the kids. We take pictures of normal daily life everyday, and then we use the pictures they took on a certain day, and make a page of it, and then the next page is pictures from the home front on that same day! That way, even though they only have pictures, they know what was going on at home at a specific point in time.

Life can get crazy, and with them gone, things go on, because they have to. But us having this one day a week, not only keeps us from losing our sanity, it gives the kids a play date, the wives a time to talk and hang out, and it keeps us focused on what is important in our lives, OUR SOLDIERS!

Do you have a tip of your own to share? Email me!

Check out this article in the Salt Lake Tribune about scrapbooking military families. The original article has been archived on the Salt Lake Tribune website so the link is no longer valid.

Keeping the home fires burning

By Rebecca Walsh
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Launched: 02/05/2007 12:00:00 AM MST

Grommets and ribbon are familiar tools for Terese Johnston.

The mother of two is a seasoned scrapbooker. She grouses about the cost of supplies – 80 cents a page! Like all of us, she wishes she had a room somewhere, a place to organize all her paper and doodads.

Mostly these days, she worries about her husband, Russ.

In peacetime, Russ is an insurance agent and a one-weekend-a-month Air Force Reserve officer. But during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Russ ships cargo for the military – everything from supplies to bodies. In 2003, he was stationed with Hill Air Force Base’s 419th Fighter Wing in Iraq for a year.

This year, his name came up on the rotation again. He leaves for Afghanistan in April. This post is more nerve-racking for Terese; security is more patchy.

Scrapbooking has become her refuge – a creative vent for pent-up emotions and worry and a way to stay in touch with her husband.

“It takes my mind off it, gives me time to process it,” says Johnston, one of 100 scrapbookers who entered The Salt Lake Tribune’s Valentine’s Day card contest. “Scrapbooking is my outlet.”

With the United States involved in drawn-out military conflicts in the Middle East, more military wives are turning to hinges and pop dots as a hobby. And scrapbookers who never really thought of themselves as military wives have become them. In the same way Friday night classes bring civilian women together, the simple work of collectively cutting and gluing and pasting connects the wives of soldiers, who share an elemental bond.

The phenomenon makes sense. The often-chronological storytelling of scrapbooking is a natural fit with the hierarchy and history of the military.

Military wives can track a soldier’s different posts and changes in rank. On her Web site (www.marriedtothearmy.com), Stacey Abler, an Army wife from Georgia, recommends scrapping as a diversion and a way to stay in touch with an absent soldier. Some send whole copies of scrapbooks to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Abler says many wives create “A Year in the Life” scrapbooks for husbands who miss out on soccer games and school plays and book reports.

“I know many who do scrapbooks when their husband’s deployed as a way to help time go by faster,” says Abler.

Although scrapbooking companies like K & Co. and Karen Foster Designs have introduced new lines of paper and embellishments targeted at military families, supplies can be hard to find, Abler says.

“Even when a store has a selection, it tends to be limited,” she says.

Web companies have stepped into the void. Creating Military Memories sells paper designed around the war in Iraq, featuring tanks unique to the conflict and the mission names, “Operation Enduring Freedom” and “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” And American Croppers sells albums with embossed military logos.

As the wars continue, more suppliers undoubtedly will try to capitalize on the phenomenon.

Johnston has chronicled her husband’s time in the Air Force with scrapbooks.

But for now, she prefers to focus on the Valentine’s Day before he leaves. Her card features a picture with her husband and a note:

“This year is going to bring us together in so many ways! We will make it and our family will grow stronger through it,” Johnston wrote.

author avatar
Stacey Abler
Stacey's husband joined the Army in 2003 and was medically retired after four deployments. She enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise around Army life while continuing to support Army spouses and families in their military journey.

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