Friday, December 2, 2011

Memory Keeper

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**Oh, I loved Thanksgiving. What's not to love about low-key day with parades, treats, family and gratitude? I'm stuffed with the goodness of it all.**

As the year winds down, I start to feel nesting instincts. I spent last week organizing random corners of my house and purging our piles of paper and to-do lists. I know this is off season, but I can’t fight the urge to have all of our i’s dotted and t’s crossed so we can start the new year fresh and organized. I like to know that all of the memories from 2011 are taken care of, so I have nothing hanging over my head as we move forward. Sometimes it feels like an overwhelming job to figure out the best way to organize, store and keep track of all the photos, papers and memories we constantly create as a family. And undoubtedly I don’t do the best job in the world. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with all the cute home videos I’ve shot of the kids on my iphone (ideas anyone…do you just burn them to a disc?). But there are a few things that I’ve figured out that help me feel like I’m storing our memories without overwhelming myself. Here are the ways I approach memory-keeping.

1)What/When/Where Binder:

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My mom gets credit for this simple and effective idea, and boy do I think It’s genius. The gist of it is this: Each year gets its own three-ring binder. You print out a sheet that says, “What/When/Where _________ Family 2011” or what have you for the front cover. You can make it fancy if you’re so inclined, but I am not. Then you visit a website like printfree.com and you print a monthly calendar for each month. Put those in the binder with a few clear plastic holder sheets in between, and then you're ready to go. As the year goes on, jot down a one-liner on the calendar when something notable happens or when you do something as a family. I always note vacations, movies, dinners out, birthday parties, etc.,

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What do I do when I get a mothers day card or thank you note that is particularly meaningful, and I want to keep? Three hole punch it and stick it in the binder.

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A program for a recital? Same thing. Ticket stubs? Tape it to the back of the calendar. Random printed photos? A cute kid drawing? You get the idea. I absolutely love this. It allows me to keep a few sentimental things, but do so in a chronological way that makes more sense than just sticking it in a pile or a box. Plus, I love how flipping me through the calendars gives me a general sense for the year; what we did and who we hung out with. So easy, so useful.


2)Photo Books—

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**My birthday was last month, and boy did this man spoil me rotten. For an entire week, the surprises kept coming (good surprises are my love language). He's a gift--the best one of all, for sure.**

I think most of us are probably doing something like this. I don’t do fancy digital scrapbooking, mainly because I have so many photos, I feel like they’d be 1000 pages long if I made room for anything decorative. I just can’t rest knowing that all my digital photos are languishing on my harddrive, but I don’t have time for complicated. I use simple layouts, a few captions, and lots and lots of pictures. I’ve let go of perfect. Each kid gets their own digital baby book for their first year of life, otherwise, there’s just a family book for each year. The first time I did one, I used Blurb. I was impressed with the pricing and the ability to print the picture directly onto the cover. Plus, I could use as many pages as I wanted to and the final product was nice. The one thing I HATED was the software. Everytime I dragged a picture into the book, the program had to ‘think’ for a million years. That first book took an eternity to make. Blurb has probably fixed this by now, but in the meantime, I tried My Publisher. My Publisher’s program is a dream to use. I drop a photo on the page, and BAM! No thinking. My second book took a fraction of the time that the first one did. Plus, they also now offer the photo printed right onto the book cover and unlimited pages. I think this is a great way to keep memories for busy mom’s who aren’t into scrapbooking. I can complete one in a day if I have several hours to focus.

3)Child Diaries:

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**I'll save this picture for Drummer's future fiancee. In our house we have a saying: Real Men Wear Aprons.**

This is also something I adapted from my mom. She had books for each of us that she would write cute sayings in and record recent happenings. My book is pretty sparse because she didn’t think of this until I was in HS, but my little brother’s books are hilarious. I bought one of these nice notebooks from container store for each of the kids. When Tiny was a baby, I’d record all of her milestones and cute baby happenings. I write letters to her in that book, jot down some of her dramatics, etc., I could handle this even as a busy resident because it was just a quick note whenever I thought of it. Now I have one for Drummer as well. I keep them in my nightstand and try to update them on a regular basis. But I don’t let myself feel guilty about it when I slack for awhile, because I love even the few pages I have from my mom. I figure my kids will appreciate what I manage to get down, and won’t know what else they’re missing!

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**Maybe I should note in her book how she was super excited about ordering this parfait until she realized they were using plain, sour yogurt to keep it french.**

A friend of mine also directed me to these calendars from Hallmark while I was pregnant with Drummer. It's a similar idea as the what/when/where calendars, but just for that baby's first year. I used one during Drummer's first year, and it worked out wonderfully. Quick, easy, not overwhelming. We're sensing a theme, no?

Those are the main three ways I keep track of our personal family history (aside from personal journal keeping, which I am TERRIBLE at). The minor ways?
*Blog books: I am in the process of printing my old blog via blog2print. I know a lot of you do blog books, but they always seemed to take me forever to re-format in Blurb, etc., Blog2print just does everything for you, and I think that’s hard to put a price on. My blog has never primarily been about keeping my family’s history, but I still like having a printed copy.
*Photo Calendars:I also do yearly photo calendars as Christmas gifts, and those are also sort of a fun visual record of the passage of time.

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**Another visual reminder of the passage of time--drummer's first locks hitting the ground. You know where Tiny's first curls are? In my what/when/where binder!**

**So now I’m curious to hear from you. How do you keep track of your family’s memories?**

Happy Weekend! Our Holiday Schedule starts off with a bang tomorrow, and I just have this to say:

Bring it, Holidays. I'm so ready to make this month sparkle.

13 comments:

  1. Way to go Kate. Here's a clarification of what I have done for our family. I keep a skinny binder that is the Who, What, When, Where binder for all the years. All it has in it is a one page summary of each year, by month. You could copy your calendars and put all of them together in one binder. Then, when the years pile up, and you want to find out when Ben was in 3rd Grade or when M. graduated from high school, it's all in one place. When someone starts a new job, or moves, or has a baby, or takes a trip, I always put it in this skinny little black binder, where ever else I may record the moment. Love that you're keeping the tradition going!
    Mom

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  2. I've gotta say this is the first time I've ever felt overwhelmed after reading one of your blog posts. It's funny, I keep telling myself I'll catch up in January. You just had to talk about starting the year fresh! :)

    What do we do? First, my blog is my personal journal. Thanks for the recommendation about printing it out. When it comes to pictures, my blog seems to be my ultimate scrapbook weapon as well. The boys have baby books, and I was really great at photo albums (nothing fancy) until Adam turned one, but then... Honestly, except for when I have to for an occasion, I haven't developed film. The digital world... I was reminded how important it was once again, as our computer crashed this week. Luckily the photos were saved.

    But honestly, for us, I think our calendar is our tell all. For us, it seems life is measured by things scheduled on that calendar-vacations, appointments, visitations, new arrivals, children leaving and court dates.

    Other than that, the only other thing I've made a point of doing is really emphasizing those special moments in pictures around the house. I rotate them out by season.

    Thanks for your ideas though. The last family scrapbook I finished was before Owen was born. So sad. Again, perhaps January.

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  3. love these ideas. perfect for someone like me who is not into scrapbooking but wants to make sure i have at least some sort of record of what's going on in the family. i'm totally doing this.

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  4. Love all these ideas! So easy to implement even with a busy mom schedule. No frills and even I can do this once a quarter. loves!!

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  5. super great ideas and traditions!

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  6. These are so cool and you're way on top of the game. For your blurb books do you print out one for each year or multiple ones of the same books so when your kids grow up they can take those books with them? I'm going to try the mypublisher thing!

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  7. Thanks, guys!
    Mom--that's so funny. Mary and I didn't realized you'd changed up how you did what/when/where, but I like that idea, too. We both do it the way you did when we were in HS.
    Susie--great question. With Tiny's book, I printed an extra copy for her to have someday (and one for the grandparents as a gift). I haven't done that with the yearly family books, though I've thought about it!

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  8. Awesome ideas Kate - love them! I think I might have to try something new in 2012. We love my publishers too - every year we do a family book for my parents for Christmas, it's so fun to look back at the past few years.

    Anyway - you are Brilliant as always!

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  9. Genius! I love all of your ideas. :)

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  10. What where when books are a great idea. I have a memory drawer that would benefit from a lot more organization and this is just easy enough I might actually do it! Love that the whole fam is in one book.

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  11. Kate, I still have "year books." I just keep the skinny black binder with a page for each year in addition. Months are printed down the side of each page. These are a synopsis or extract. It provides a kind of index too, because you can see easily when things happened, and then go to that year book for all the pictures.
    Mom

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  12. I found the same thing with printing blog books. blog2print is my favorite! I have a book for each kid, with writing about what they're up to, and including funny sayings, etc. Love the ideas!

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  13. Seriously loved this post -- such great ideas. I am still trying to figure out my way of doing things, so this was really helpful!

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