When Josh and I got married I didn't have our wedding photos put in an album--I planned to make some sort of gorgeous scrapbook wedding album. I got a decent start on it. We were married a full 16 months when Marissa joined the family. I then pushed aside the wedding album and began a "Marissa the First Year" album. Followed by a "Marissa Ages 1-4" album and then got going on an "Isabella the First Year" . . . Well, you can see how quickly this whole thing got out of control. I was trying to write each child's history and sometimes that meant doing the same pictures/same story times three. It was wearisome. And so sometime around Jackson's first birthday, I kind of gave up. I had created a monster and it was overwhelming me.
When Emmett was born in 2007 I had intentions of starting an album for him. But a few months after he was born we finally converted to a digital camera. I had held out super long on going digital because I knew I would be terrible about getting pictures developed. (I was right). But I loved having a digital camera! I was taking more pictures than ever and storing them in my handy-dandy computer. Ultimately, aside for a special picture here or there (like for a frame) I didn't develop a single one. In fact, five years later I am finally getting around to developing pictures.
Now, I've been blogging since 2008. Josh has always encouraged me in this area because even though I was not recording our stories in a tangible and hands-on way, I was still getting things down. I love going back through my blog and reading stuff from a few years ago because it is scary how much I have already forgotten. But I still had the "mommy guilt"--I would see the kids look through old albums and notice how much they enjoyed it (especially the girls, now that they are old enough to read all the journaling). I wanted EVERYTHING in albums that they could pull out whenever they wanted.
Here is where Project Life comes in. I kept hearing about it out in the blogosphere, but it wasn't until the end of last year that I started to seriously check it out. And it is SO AWESOME!!! It makes memory keeping simple and virtually pain-free. I think in the long run, it's pretty affordable too. If I've managed to get you even the littlest bit curious, then you need to go here and watch some of the videos--I think actually seeing it in action will explain it a whole lot better than I can.
Here's my process--
Right now I have three of these black albums, one for 2012, one for 2011, one for 2010 (I'm working my way backwards). They also have white albums and albums that actually match the core kits. I'm just sticking with black to keep it all matchy/matchy.
I've got my plastic sheet protectors (if you were to take a photo a day for a year a box of 60 would last you a year). They come in all different shapes and sizes. I started out with this variety pack:
In previous years, I have had a mix of vertical and horizontal pictures. This year I'm trying to make sure my "pic of the day" is horizontal just to keep things simple (and for the most part, that has been pretty easy). I just invested in a pack of smaller size "inserts" so that if I have extra photos in a week I can put them there. Here is the insert I use:
And lastly, the pictures. I've been using Snapfish to print mine. Every few months they run a "penny prints" deal. They are running one right now, 99 prints for $.99 (and you can use the code over and over). I have three new orders coming and with shipping they came to $7.33 (I think). However, I would love to use Persnickety Prints--they are "Project Life" friendly, rounding corners for you, having 3x4 sizes to print pictures. Unfortunately, they cost a bit more than a cent . . . ;o)
That is how I'm tackling the picture monster. I use my blog to fill in the stories I don't remember. I check back over my facebook page for any funny tidbit I might have missed. I always keep my yearly wall calendars and there is a lot that can be found on them too. This year I've started writing little bits of information down in my planner (got the idea from my mom!) using the calendar pages as a sort of journal like this:
What I want these albums to do is accurately represent life where we are at. That's why I take pictures of things I'm cooking or projects I'm working on as well as the "big" events (you know Christmas, or learning to ride a bike, or loosing a tooth). It is amazing how much changes. Back when Marissa was about 2.5 years old she would come out of her room every night asking Josh for a "mouse ride." This eventually morphed into "gibbon rides" and "camel rides." She only did this for a brief season, yet it was a nightly routine. Had I not written that down I would have forgotten, because it has been years since she came out of her room, "squeaking" for a ride. Things change fast. But the kids LOVELOVELOVE to know these stories about themselves.
If any of this sounds good to you, you need to check out the website. The creator, Becky Higgins, has a blog, and you can check out all the products as well as find inspiration from the creative team. While I am using the physical Project Life products there are also digital kits available for somebody inclined to scrapbook that way. She is also coming out with baby albums/kits (November) that are like a beautiful marriage of a baby book, scrapbook, and photo album. And school days albums/kits! Truly, I think she thinks of everything! Seeing as Emmett and Owen are still lacking a first year scrapbook I just might make good use of those new kits! Also, everything is available on Amazon--in fact that is the only place you can purchase the products.
Truly, I could not be happier or more excited about memory keeping. (Ask my mom and mother-in-law who have sat through my "demonstrations" as well as the people I keep emailing "Having a baby? You NEED this!!"). ;o) No, I'm not their spokesperson, or being reimbursed in any way, I'm just this enthusiastic because it is that awesome! So, ummm, if anybody has made it until the end of this incredibly long post, thanks for bearing with me. ;o)