I love memory keeping! I have always loved to take photos for fun and I like to document our memories by writing them down somewhere. Now, thanks to my lovely iPhone, I take pictures of literally everything! It can be overwhelming to think about what to do with all of these photos and how to record the thoughts that go with them. I have to admit, I’m a bit of a fanatic about memory keeping, but I thought I would share my system for documenting with you. Maybe it will inspire you to start your own memory keeping or you can get an idea of a method that might work best for you.
I can say, after I was diagnosed with cancer last year I was so grateful that I had so many memories documented for our family. If something were to happen to me, my girls would have many pictures I had taken and thoughts I had written for them. I had always felt this need to record and document happenings in our life and I felt like being dealt this diagnosis just really validated the importance of memory keeping for me. Our future is always uncertain and one way to make sure we continue to live on in the lives of our loved ones is through memory keeping. These memories kept in scrapbooks, photo books, posted on a blog or written in journals are what my girls can cherish and look back on forever.
My system is a little crazy, but memory keeping is such a priority for me that I want to have all of my bases covered. Here’s a breakdown of my system, this is just what works best for me:
When I was a new mom, I found peace and purpose in scrapbooking about my new baby. I’ve always been crafty so I really enjoyed putting different papers and embellishments together with my photos and journaling to create a pretty memory book. And with a hubby who worked crazy long shift-work hours it was a great hobby to have and something I could do while she napped. Here’s what one of her baby books looks like:
I loved the calendar scrapbook idea for her first year because then I could write on the dates when all of her “firsts” happened. Now this scrapbook seems so old school to me, but I still love it! I have a few scrapbooks that I’ve done, but honestly, as my daughter got older and then we added more children to our family, I just didn’t have a lot of extra time or money to make scrapbooks.
When my oldest was about a year old I discovered the world of blogging. I decided to start a family blog to record our pictures and memories. I still write on that blog today and use it as my journal. I write the good, the bad and the ugly of what is going on in our life. I also use it as a place to share our favorite family recipes, family traditions and even to put some family history information. What I love about having a blog as a journal is that everything is kept online. If there were to be a fire or some other disaster happened to our house, I know that I could still access my blog and the pictures and memories from any computer. And I love that when my girls are older they can get to it online as well and have access to everything that’s on it. I do print our blog into book form every year as well though. I told you I’m kind of a fanatic about memory keeping! My girls love having a tangible memory book that they can look through. I have been using Blog2Print for the past few years and I have been happy with them.
I print one blog book for each year. It’s just easiest for me to have things organized that way. Here’s the cover of our 2016 blog book:
And we keep them on a bookshelf in the family room so that anyone can grab them and read through them whenever they want to:
I want to show you the inside of the blog book too so you can see how simple it is:
This is definitely not a fancy scrapbook! But it serves the purpose that I want. Blog2Print will print your blog in chronological order of the date range that you choose. The writing and the pictures are kept in the same order so your captions don’t get mixed up. There’s a table of contents with the blog post titles and page numbers on it as well. There’s not a lot of customization that you can do with Blog2Print which I like because I literally just want my blog printed out into a book. You can choose from a few different cover options, I just use black because I like the simple uniformity of it, and you can choose the cover photo and the title for your book. Depending on how many blog posts you want printed into your book at once, this can get a little pricey. But Blog2Print often has deals and I’ve even seen them do 40% off at times. Since I’m not in a rush to have these printed once the year is over, I just wait until a good deal comes up.
I came across Project Life a few years back and it is a game changer! Project Life was created by Becky Higgins as a way to simplify scrapbooking into a manageable system for documenting life’s moments. This was just what a busy mom like myself was looking for! All you need is an album, the pocket pages, your own photos and the card kit. You don’t need any scissors, adhesives or embellishments. You save time and money by not needing all of that extra fluff and your books look amazing because everything coordinates and has a very simple, cohesive look. I love Project Life because I still get the chance to be creative and make scrapbooks but I don’t have to put too much time or effort into it. Does that make me sound lazy? Ha ha! No, I’m just a busy mom!
When I was going through radiation and chemo I finished both of the Project Life baby books of my younger daughters. I was sick, I was in pain and I couldn’t focus on anything for too long at once. But I left the album, photos and design cards out on my desk and whenever I felt up to it I would make a few pages. It was so nice to have something to do while I was feeling so crummy. It was a great distraction! And going through cancer treatment really gave me more of a sense of urgency to make memory keeping a priority and to get their baby books done.
Here are some of my favorite pages from my youngest’s baby book:
Now I know that printing your photos can be pricey as well. I usually just wait for a deal for 4×6 prints and then order a bunch. Shutterfly has a free 100 prints deal pretty regularly so that’s a good way to print out your photos, you usually just have to pay for shipping. There is also a digital version of Project Life, but I haven’t used it. I would imagine that it’s pretty awesome as well though!
Project Life App
A while back I decided to start using the Project Life App. Yes, an app on your phone where you can create beautiful scrapbook pages like the ones above! Insert high-five! Since these days all of my photos are on my phone anyway, this seemed like a great option for me. And I am so happy with this app that it’s all I use now! You may be wondering why I make scrapbooks still even though I print out our family blog into a book every year. As I mentioned above, the blog is my journal. It has a lot of writing to go along with the photos and some posts are just journaling without any photos at all. I don’t want to print out a blog book for each of my girls every year, but I do want them to have some memory books from their childhood that they can take with them when they are older and move out on their own. I use the Project Life App to make pages that are more customized to each girl and they each have their own album that the pages go into.
To explain this a little bit better, I will make pages for my oldest of volleyball pictures and print them out for her book, I’ll make some pages of my middle daughter with gymnastics pictures, my youngest will have a page of her first day of kindergarten…you get the idea. Now I will also make pages of something that we do as a family such as taking a trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Then I will just print out 3 copies of those pages that pertain to all of the girls and just slip one copy into each of their albums. When creating pages in the Project Life App, I only document the bigger moments and save all of the smaller, everyday moments or thoughts for the family blog book. I basically do this as a way to save a little money since you will have to somehow print the completed pages from the app out to put in the albums.
What I like about the app is that I basically always have my phone with me. This means that I always have the photos and the app with me ready to create pages whenever I have a spare minute. I will make pages while in the waiting room at the doctor, while waiting in the car for my girls to get out of school or even while I’m laying in bed at night before I go to sleep. When I was going through chemo, I would be at the hospital basically all day between doing lab work, waiting for the results and then receiving my infusion. This app was a great distraction for me and I still felt like I was getting stuff done by using some of my time to create pages for my girls’ albums. The Project Life App is super easy to use too, you can read all of the details about it if you click here. Obviously I could go on forever about this awesome memory keeping app! But I want to show you some of my completed pages so you can see how great they look.
Our middle daughter was just baptized in August so here is one of the pages from that:
Here’s a page from when we went kayaking on a recent trip to Grandma & Grandpa’s house in Arizona:
And here’s a page with a lot of photos from a summer vacation to Bear Lake in Utah:
I love that you can buy different kits through the app that have a ton of different coordinating title cards, journaling cards and decorative cards. The kits are so cute too! And they are really inexpensive too, ranging from $0.99-$1.99, and once you buy them you have them to use over and over again (there are a few kits included in the original purchase price of the app too). There are also different page layouts and fonts you can choose from and you can even do some photo editing through the app. You can export your finished pages and share them too-text, email, or post them on your Instagram page even. And ordering prints through the app is super easy as well! I order my pages in 12×12 size, but you can also order in 10×10 or 8×8 now. It seems pricey at $1.99 per 12×12 page through the app, but I print a lot of photos through Costco and they charge $3.99 each for that size. I am super impressed with the quality too!
Here are some pages that I created and then printed through the app that are in my daughter’s album:
Don’t they look great! My girls really love looking back through their albums too!
Now that I’m almost a year out from completing cancer treatment, I have been wanting to document that part of my life’s journey more. (Hence the new blog here too!) And guess what? There are Project Life kits for that!
I made this page in the app about beginning radiation using the “Brave Patient” theme kit:
I made this page about being newly diagnosed using the “Documenting Disasters” kit:
This is a new kit that is FREE that was created after the recent natural disasters happened. I think it easily works for documenting illnesses or other trials as well. I wasn’t sure that going through cancer is something that I wanted to scrapbook, but it has been a huge, life-changing event for me and for our family. Life isn’t always just fun, happy times, there are times of struggle and hardship too. My girls, luckily, are too young to really remember a lot of what I went through during treatment but they will be able to read these pages when they are older if they want to.
If you stuck with me through this super long post about memory keeping-you rock! I hope this wasn’t too overwhelming. Documenting life’s moments doesn’t have to be complex or take a lot of time or money. But it really is so important to record your memories somewhere. Do it for your family and loved ones. And you don’t have to go back and record your entire life, but start today with things that are happening now. Something is better than nothing. If you are looking to journal, try starting a blog. You can make them private so it’s just for you to read or those you allow. Then you can always print it out into a book too through a company like Blog2Print. If you are looking for a more creative way to document or for really simple, beautiful scrapbook pages check out Project Life or the Project Life App. As you can see, memory keeping is something I am very passionate about. If you have any questions please ask me, or if you have any tips to share I would love to hear those too!
*If you would like to read more about my cancer journey, click here.