How do we keep memories? It is absolutely one of my top passions! Probably because Alzheimer’s runs in my family so I am doing what I can to document!
Do we take pictures? Videos? Write in journals? Post on social media? Paint, Draw, Craft, Cook, or other?
Because documenting my family life is so important to me, every January I try to review and take stock of what is working and not working so I can make changes accordingly. Currently my favorite forms of memory-keeping are: photo books, weekly digital-to-print pages in albums, preserving family histories, baking special recipes, and a couple of specific digital scrapbooking projects. I am trying to take more videos but I am struggling a bit.
One hugely helpful step was putting ALL my photo albums and photo books in one place, one home. Looking at what we’ve already DONE is so helpful! It shows us what we naturally prioritize and takes away overwhelm. It helps us hone in and focus of what is truly important to us. It may help us begin with the end in mind.
I decided to put everything in this set of bookshelves. The 12×12 albums are so big and bulky so I have them behind closed doors. The printed photo books are varied in size and color but they all kind of coordinate and don’t take up much space at all so they are on the open shelves.
I have always wanted to document and preserve and have the important things printed out. So when I put everything in one place, I could breathe a sigh of relief. I almost have TOO MUCH! Are either of my kids going to want all this STUFF? Probably not. Honestly it made me relax; I don’t have to do any more memory-keeping if I don’t want to.
For me, however, this practice (and hobby) keeps me focused on love and gratitude so I can’t imagine quitting. I just feel less “pressure.”
What I document:
Everyday Life- 1-2 pages weekly // photos // people // places // things// funny things we say // relevant quotes or memes // books we’re reading // shows we’re watching. I screenshot funny text messages and also use the free Day One app to jot down funny things we say or things I want to remember that don’t necessarily have a photo to jog a memory.
Each Monday, I use the free Project Life App to easily create 12×12 pages of photos and words that are uploaded and (later) printed, slipped into clear page protectors, and kept by year in 12×12 navy 3-ring albums. I label them by year. I started doing this in 2013 and have continued because I love the process and and ease. I also love looking through the printed pages although the large size and weight of the albums is not ideal. Binders are so nice because you can move everything around; it is not bound like a photo book. Prior to 2013 I would do annual family yearbooks but I found it overwhelming to sum up a whole year at the end. In the future I may try making annual yearbooks month-by-month and then printing at the end but for now I’m enjoying week-to-week.
Travel Photo books- For me, making these is almost more fun than the trip itself! I love the finite time frame. I love re-living the fun. It’s like taking the trip twice! Beach vacations are so easy with the pretty photos and maybe less journaling. For more involved trips like our trips to Europe I usually make daily notes in my phone using the Notes app of things I want to remember: places, historical dates, interesting tidbits. Then when I get home, I can add those notes to the photos and put it all together in a photobook. I have used different companies but usually I just use Shutterfly. I make the photo book and then wait for their “unlimited pages sale” to order. I try to order copies for each family on the trip. These are my favorite Christmas presents to give!!
Tribute Books- When Adam’s father died I put together a tribute photo book and had multiple copies printed for family. These are another passion of mine. EVERYONE should have some kind of tribute book and even better if they’re still living! Then when my aunt Mary Ann (who was more like a grandmother to us) died, I did a book for her and also gave multiple copies to family. When Mary Fowler graduated high school, I took advice from a class I took with Becky Higgins and made a tribute book for her. It was comprised of notes from family and friends they sent me (usually via text or email) and I matched them to a photo of her and this person together. I thought it would be nice for her to take to college and be reminded of all who love her. It was my favorite graduation gift and she loved it and was touched by it WAY more than I expected!
I tried Chatbooks. I absolutely loved how easy the process is. For me, though, the end result just doesn’t quite do it for me? I would love to hear more about how others use it and love it because maybe I’m missing something?
Videos- I have videos I have paid to digitize from my childhood as well as videos from when my kids were little. And then I have videos from the beginning of smart phones. I have never known what the end result of videos is so I still have a lot to learn but that is on my to-do list in 2022. To figure out how I want to incorporate the video part to documenting. Right now I am thinking I will compile by time frame and then upload to you tube so I can make a QR code to print in a photo book. That way the person looking at the photo book can use their phone to scan the code and watch the video compilation. It just seems that DVDs are already outdated so I’m just not sure what finished product is best?
Family History projects- I am so passionate about this and I have been given most of our family’s heritage “stuff” but that is another whole beast 🙂
This is one of my favorite topics to talk about so please let me know your thoughts!