Friday, December 2, 2011
**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.
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.,
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.
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.
**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.
**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!
**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.
**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.