For the love of the 12×12 scrapbook page

[View larger version of the layout above.]

If you pay much attention to scrapbookers on sites like Instagram and Facebook (group pages), you have noticed the trend: Fewer people are making entire albums of 12″ x 12″ layouts for their scrapbooks, and more are making smaller sizes, including travelers’ notebooks, 6″ x 12″ pages, binders of pages of various sizes all mixed together, custom mini albums and more.

In some ways, I get it.

  • The albums are adorable.
  • The pages come together more quickly the smaller they are.
  • With the mixed-size approach, I have heard people say that by flipping through an album and stumbling upon a page that doesn’t match the size of the other pages, they are instantly drawn to that page; it’s an appealing distraction.

I have also heard people lament that 12×12 binders and albums are too big and heavy to manage easily, especially for kids’ small hands. On the flip side, smaller albums are easy to grab off the shelf, no matter who plans to flip through them.

Here’s an example of a traveler’s notebook. It’s cute, right?

And here is a super-cute mini album. Again, it’s adorable! I love the look!

But …

I just can’t get there. For me, the 12×12 is the gold standard, and I’m not willing to let go of it just yet.

Why? There are two main reasons:

My brain likes things to be neat and orderly, and storing a bunch of small albums is actually kind of a pain, in my opinion. I have made mini albums in the past, and, while I do love the finished products, the non-standard sizes mean that they don’t line up together neatly on a shelf. In fact, they all are in a basket stored on my shelf — a basket that keeps things tidy but doesn’t catch my eye or invite me to come and grab a book to stroll down memory lane. They’re hidden behind the confines of the basket’s walls. I completely forget about those books!

On the flip side, my 12x12s fill the vertical space on the shelf and stack together nicely. They’re eye-catching, and my type-A, everything-organized mindset prefers this setup a thousand times more than the tiny albums.

The real estate of mini albums doesn’t fit my style. I LOVE to journal and include lots of pictures on my pages, generally speaking, and small layouts mean I have to both reduce the numbers of photos I scrap of a certain memory and write less about it. That just doesn’t work for me!

I love having large page canvases (read: 24″ x 12″ for a two-page layout) on which to work with my photos and journaling. I can use some photos nice and large and others small, which is a design practice that directs the viewer’s eye throughout the story. I also have the freedom to choose whether I want to use just per layout or many. I can write a tiny bit or paragraphs upon paragraphs. The freedom to do whatever I want on a layout — without the limits of a tiny canvas — is part of what I love about this hobby. And keeping most stories to a single layout each, rather than several small layouts, works well for my desire to take in a story all at once.

So, will I create a small album occasionally? Of course! But will you find me creating travelers’ notebooks as my go-to, standard, everything album? Heck no. Give me the 12×12, and I’m a happy scrapper.

So, what about you? 

(Win a free month of Story Squad membership!)

How do you feel about 12×12 paper foundations (or 24″ x 12″ two-page spreads)? How do you feel about the smaller sizes? And the mixed-size approach? Tell me what you think, and you could win a free month of Story Squad membership when we launch!* I’ll give away up to five free months — one per commenter — so tell me what you think, whether you’re with me or against me. I’d be curious to know why you love, hate or are indifferent to the smaller sizes — or the 12x12s!

*If fewer than five people comment, you will all win a free month! If more than five people comment, you’ll all be entered into a random drawing to receive one of five, one-month-free memberships. You’ll receive your discount via coupon code. Be sure to include a valid email address when prompted while posting your comment, so that we can email you if you win. Also, check the comments on this post Jan. 2 for winners!

Journaling from above layout:


Thanksgiving 2020 was shaping up to be a bummer. With COVID-19 running rampant around the country, and health officials urging people to not gather in groups indoors for fear of spreading the virus, our traditions were in limbo. We had canceled our Thanksgiving Day get-together with Chad’s side of the family two weeks ahead of time, and Gabe was away in the military. Still, we celebrated the day with a feast of our own — just Chad, Ella, Joshua and me. And it was nice, actually! Different, but nice in its own way. We had set a place setting where Gabe would “sit” — a laptop computer on the tabletop a poor substitute for his in-person attendance. We were hoping to catch him on FaceTime while we ate, but that didn’t work out. So the four of us made a point of enjoying our lunch together. We went around the table and talked about the things for which we were thankful, which was my favorite part. We had never done that as part of our traditional Thanksgiving meals with our extended families, and it was an addition I hope we keep for the future! It warmed my heart to hear what these people I love so much had on their own hearts, the things that brought them joy and happiness.

We finally got to talk to Gabe around 3 p.m. that afternoon. It had been a whirlwind week for him, and this was his first day at his final duty station (FDS). He had graduated from AIT (advanced individualized training) at Fort Lee, Virginia, on Tuesday, found out later that day that he would fly out the next morning for his FDS, arrived at [base name redacted due to Army recommendations], Wednesday night and was getting settled in on Thursday. After sleeping in and getting a feel for what was happening over the next couple of days, he was able to call us. He told us he had come to realize that his roommate (at the time, he thought there were two) had not been in the room at all since Gabe arrived on Wednesday night. Finding that curious, he did a little digging and realized he was on weekend leave. It dawned on us as we talked: If his roommate — in the reception barracks, where new-arrival soldiers only stay for a couple of weeks of reception — was on leave, and he was presumably in reception, as Gabe was, maybe Gabe would be able to take a weekend leave! “Go find out!” I said, maybe a little too eagerly. “I will!” Gabe said, and he was off.

Sure enough, an hour later, at about 4 p.m., Gabe calls and says, “Pack your bags! I need to be out of here tonight.” As it turns out, because of the four-day holiday weekend, he could travel up to 250 miles off base. Our house is 261 miles, but the man administering the leave agreed to let him go. Hallelujah! We were going to see Gabe that very same day! We hadn’t seen him since June 15, when he left for boot camp, so this was a MAJOR — and unexpected — treat! I almost couldn’t believe it!

Due to COVID, only two people per soldier were allowed on base, and Joshua was officially on quarantine for another day, due to a COVID case on his school bus. Additionally, the base was several hours away by car, which meant driving nearly 9 hours round trip in a single day, most of it at night. Chad is a morning person and doesn’t like road trips, and I am a night owl and love road trips, so we decided I would be the one to drive down to get Gabe. I was in the car about 10 minutes after I hung up the phone with him! I was sooooo excited!

A little over four hours later, I checked in at the visitors’ center on base, went through a background check and was cleared to enter the gates. As I walked outside, Gabe and a fellow soldier were walking up to the building. It was dark, and he was a fair distance away, but I recognized his silhouette right away. I wanted to run toward him, but I was kind of frozen at the same time, just watching him walk toward me and realizing that I was finally seeing my son after nearly six months of being apart! Gabe’s not normally a hugger, but he gave me a huge, long hug, and I had a smile on my face that felt like it stretched from ear to ear.

We talked in the car the entire way home. We also made a stop at a gas station so he could change into his uniform. He wanted to walk into the house in uniform, which, I must say, was pretty awesome. We arrived around 2 a.m., and Chad and Ella were waiting for him. (Joshua was asleep, and we didn’t wake him at the time.) Getting a hug from his dad and sister while finally standing inside the home he’d been missing for months must have been a fantastic feeling for Gabe. Our dog Mavis was super-excited to see him! She’s old and didn’t jump around much, but her tail was wagging a mile a minute, and she kept pacing in small circles at his feet. Our cat Jack, if I remember correctly, was a little indifferent to the commotion the humans were causing, as good cats always are. Mags and Maya, our other dogs, who have been scaredy-cats their entire lives (2.5 years), naturally hesitated at the sight of Gabe. Mags even growled a little at him, and she tucked around the corner for a bit to watch him from afar. But it didn’t take long for them to realize it was Gabe and welcome him home. Our family was complete, under one roof, for the first time in months.

(Page 2) These photos were all taken during Gabe’s short trip home. He arrived home on Friday morning, technically, Nov. 27, and had to go back to base on Sunday, Nov. 29. The time went waaaaayyyyy too quickly! He had a lot of friends he wanted to see, of course, so we didn’t get ALL of his time. But the time we did get was time we will treasure for a long while. We don’t know how long he will be in the military, but we know that he is bound to be pulled in many directions while he’s active duty. In fact, he’s already lived in three different states in the six months he’s been in! Of course, he should now be less likely to move for awhile, since he’s at his “final” duty station. Then again, there is a possibility that they will move him in a year! So we’ll take the time we can get and we will enjoy every minute of it!

Don’t forget…

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Thoughts? Agree? Disagree? What do you think?

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