Years ago, I had dreams of writing children’s books. Storybooks of whimsy intertwined with educational tidbits. Although that dream has not yet been realized, I have held on to my half-drafted ideas and write-ups waiting for a possible revival. While that may or may not still happen, I shifted gears a bit in that same vein to complete a project with my girls. It was a perfect marriage of creative thinking and enjoyment of photographs and editing. Follow along as we crafted our one-of-a-kind storybook. I hope you’ll be inspired to create one of your own!
I don’t know about you, but my inspiration can come from a variety of places. For this particular project, I was jump-started into action while my husband was away in training for 3 months. I wanted a way for my three girls to feel connected to him while he was away. That desire morphed into a mother-daughter(s) project. We worked together to write a story centered around them and their dad that we then crafted into a keepsake storybook. Trying to write a story with an 8, a 6, and 3-year-old could have been quite the task. To prevent utter madness, I provided my own structure by creating a base for the story. From there, I asked them questions about what they wanted for different components, like for their special power, the name of the dragon, the obstacles they would encounter, etc. I’d liken it to more of a mad-libs session than unbridled creativity. I’d learned my lesson after developing a previous story with my oldest that became a bit difficult to tie into pictures with the level of creativity in the storylines.
Planning makes the project
I drafted it in Microsoft Word to fit the pages and then made a list of photo options that could fit with the content on the page. Things like…
- girls excited to find dad in dungeon cell
- hugging dad
- telling dad about their adventure to save him
- walking back through woods with dragon
- handing dragon to fairy in woods
- returning to winster kingdom holding hands
This stage is all about proper planning.
Actresses at the Ready
After the story and plans were drafted, it was time to trek into the woods. This was by far the most difficult part of the whole project. My chosen locale was a heavily wooded spot that included some thorny patches leading to my go-to spot; a log spanning some shallow water. As any parent might imagine, there was whining about the walk, about the thorns, sisters being mean, tears, and pouting. It was all I could do to keep my sanity during the hour we were there. By the end of this outing, we had a solid set of photos ready for editing.
The second space was natural without the thorns or walking, so the second photo session was much easier. At the end of the day, it’s all about those lessons learned, isn’t it?!
After the story writing, planning, and picture taking, this storybook was ready for the photoshop fun. I’ve used a fair variety of photoshop programs from free to paid. My favorite has been Adobe Photoshop which was what I used for this project. I had to scour the internet for photos I pair with my photos for the extra fun factor. These searches included tree roots, a hoping bunny, fairies, dragons, and some backgrounds.
The girls’ chosen powers were the power of freezing objects, the power of water control, and powerful strength.
Shutterfly Storybook End
The final step was to put it together with Shutterfly. It’s my most frequently used photo product company. I live for good deals and Shutterfly constantly provides in that arena. It’s also user-friendly and allows manipulation of the templates, which is super important to me.
Pandemic Mental Health Check
The pandemic has had a variety of effects from physical to mental. I came across an article,
There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing
that defined a new feeling people have been experiencing since the start of the pandemic. If you’re feeling joyless and aimless, you may be experiencing languishing.
His research suggests that the people most likely to experience major depression and anxiety disorders in the next decade aren’t the ones with those symptoms today. They’re the people who are languishing right now. And new evidence from pandemic health care workers in Italy shows that those who were languishing in the spring of 2020 were three times more likely than their peers to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The good news is, “People who became more immersed in their projects managed to avoid languishing and maintained their pre-pandemic happiness.” So with that thought in mind, starting a project like this storybook today will definitely serve your mental health in the long run.
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