The Only Book I Ever Wrote

Old Jules over at So Far From Heaven thought some of you might find it interesting to see some photos of a project I did for my granddaughter the first Christmas after she was born.

IMG_1867I took some upholstery fabric from some sample books and decided to make them into pages for a photo book describing the people in her family tree. I didn’t have information for anyone from her mom’s side,  and I left out her grandpa’s side, because I didn’t know all the stories, but I went back 3 generations on my own side.
IMG_1885I started with a photo of my dad’s family and described his growing up years and then went to my mom’s side, showing them both as young people when they met.
IMG_1886I used plastic envelopes for the photos and zig-zagged them onto the fabric pages. This took a lot of planning. Some of the photos are only sewn in on one edge, so they can be flipped over for another picture.

IMG_1888I tried to stick with subjects that would be understandable to a small child. The flip side of one of the pages shows Billy the horse  pulling the milk wagon for the dairy business my grandfather had. My dad used to talk a lot about Billy the horse, and his dog, Fluffy.

IMG_1890 - CopyI was fortunate in that I had a lot of photos to choose from. I chose some photos of my grandparents at Mt. Rainier and showed my dad with his walking stick ready to take a hike. The photo on the lower left is his bottle of soda and an apple he put to chill in a snowbank, something we always do.

IMG_1891 - CopyMoving along to my mom’s family, in Salem, Oregon…

IMG_1892 - CopyI inserted some newer photos, too, if it seemed appropriate to the story. The above left picture shows my mom many years later at Twin Rocks, which is where the church camp was where they met as teens. I also showed more recent photos of them at Mt. Rainier and a photo of where they got engaged.
I’m not going to show every page here, but I put in my parents’ wedding photo, me with my two brothers, then my wedding photo, my five kids, my oldest son and his wife, then the two of them with Hailey as a baby.

IMG_1893 - CopyMy parents and my family.

IMG_1874 That doll in the photo is at my house now, and the love seat is the same one we were sitting on when I read her this story last weekend. She also saw photos of my mom playing piano, and knows that it’s the same piano now at my daughter’s house. IMG_1897 - CopyMy five kids, and one of her dad as a baby.

IMG_1899 - CopyHer dad as a kid. She got a real kick out of seeing these.

IMG_1901 - CopyA Christmas picture with her mom, and the first photo of her after she got home from the hospital.

I finished it by inserting the photo card that her parents sent out for her first Christmas.

In the back I inserted an envelope with a three-page  account my dad had written of his family history, how his parents came from Norway and Switzerland, and how they met in Seattle.

I think I had in mind that they could read this to her every year at Christmas, but actually we all forgot about it until this year. She got a little bogged down with the first few pages of people she didn’t know, but was excited  seeing her dad and aunts and uncles as  little kids. Although it’s very simply written, she’ll get more out of it as she gets older and can make more connections.

Looking at it five years later, I have no idea how I had the patience to put this thing together. It still looks good though, and should last forever, which is what I had in mind. I couldn’t face doing another one, though!



13 responses to “The Only Book I Ever Wrote

  1. Looks like you made that perfect Christmas gift! Beautiful.

  2. I’m not sure you ever sent me photos of the finished product. Looks fine. Jack

  3. What a fabulous book, a generous gift, and a marvelous way to preserve and perpetuate the family history! Fantastic, Jeanne.

  4. A fantastic idea and a work of love. You KNOW that, right. No way would anyone with that kind of passion fashion such a wonderful work of art.

    One question for you: What did you use to write on the fabric on some pages? I am most intrigued. No, I’m not saying I am about to embark on this kind of journey. I already have started journals for my grandkids and am not up-to-date. Ugh.

  5. What a treasure you created for her. I love that it is in your handwriting, that makes it even more special.

    • You know, I never really thought about that, but you’re right. Putting this in digital format and printing it would have been easier, but that wasn’t the effect I was after, and handwriting is a part of that. (spoken like an old calligrapher!)

  6. What a wonderful idea! I wish I’d had family like you 🙂

  7. What an inspired thing to do, it’ll be a lovely keepsake for her. You have beautiful writing.

  8. Someday, when she’s older, she’ll show a best friend or an important love the book you made for her and she’ll feel proud and special to have a grandmother who made her such a unique and beautiful gift. Very NICE!

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