Project Complete: Create a printed memory book for our first ten years of marriage

This month I am happy to cross off another project from my big list: Create a printed family photo book for our first ten years of marriage.

I have been debating for years how to best organize our family memories. I have photo albums from the first two years of our marriage, and a photo album/scrapbook for our wedding. I have family emails that serve as our written journal (which haven’t been printed since 2005, but they are saved on the computer–that’s a project for another day). I also update our family blog regularly with photos of family events and activities. My children love to get on the computer and look back through family photos and videos, but I wanted to have a book that they could hold in their hands to look at.

Last summer I was inspired by a book that my sister-in-law Eliza had created. She used an online publishing company (like Shutterfly or My Publisher) to create a hardbound printed book of their family photos for the first ten years of their marriage. It looked great, and I realized that format was just what I was looking for.

So in January I started going back through our photos and organizing them into a photobook. My plan was to complete the book before Baby#4 arrived in April, but a large belly and swollen feet eventually made it too difficult to sit and work at my computer, so the project got put on hold. With the motivation of a coupon for half off photo books at Shutterfly, I finally finished the book in July!

My book covers the first ten years our marriage. Since I already have a wedding scrapbook and photo albums from the first years of our marriage, I didn’t bother to overlap. Our engagement photo on the front cover, my favorite wedding photo for the inside title page, and a two-page spread covering 2002-2004.

After that each year got a two-page spread. That forced me to limit myself and just pick the very best photos and memories of the year. The years that we travelled to Utah and Disneyworld for family vacations got an extra two-page spread.

At the end of the book, each child got one page to show their growth over the years.

I am really happy with how the book turned out, and we have all enjoyed looking at it. There were lots of choices for page layouts, so each page is varied and interesting. This book will be a family treasure for us, and I have a few years before I need to make the next one!

Project Complete: Baby books for three children

It has taken me a little while to figure out the best format for our family when it comes to compiling a history/scrapbook for each child. My oldest child has had most of a first year scrapbook finished for a few years, my second child had two pages complete, and my third child only had a few photos saved in a folder. This past month I finally figured out what to do, and the process was pretty simple. The key was to keep it manageable to complete for each child.

Each child now has book for their first year. This is what it includes:

Cover page

Ultrasound pictures

Copy of Birth certificate and hospital certificate (including footprint stamp)

Birth story (as recorded in our family journal)

First photos at the hospital with parents and siblings

Birth announcement

Meaning of the name and why we chose it

Blessing Day: photos, notes from the blessing, photos with parents and siblings, certificate

Any professional photos that were taken

**Journal text (interspersed with a few favorite photos)

First Birthday: handprint, growth stats for the first year, messy cake photo, journal text on birthday celebrations

**Our family keeps a journal in the form of emails sent to family members. We send out an email on Sundays, not always every week but usually twice a month, in which we give updates on family members and activities. Those emails are eventually compiled, printed, and bound into a book (admittedly I am a few years behind in printing the books). For the children’s books I went back through all the emails from the first year of their life and pulled out anything that related to the baby. This is where we can find the details on how the baby is sleeping, when their first tooth appeared, what they smile at and play with, etc.

I didn’t print a ton of photos, just enough to give a good representation of the first year. The children have really enjoyed looking at their books, and we spent a few days at bedtime reading through the journal pages.

It is nice to finally have this project done , just before baby #4 appears and I will have another book to do!

What’s Next

I think having a first year/baby book for each child is a great accomplishment. For future years I think I will stick to keeping all of their important documents stored in their memory box. I think that digitally created photo books are the way to go in the future, so my plan is to create a nice hardbound photo book for each child that chronicles their life from birth through age 11 (to be presented on their 12th birthday). Then another book covering the years from 12-graduation. After that I think the kids can handle their own memory books!

I am toying with the idea of making a school days book for each child, which would hold all the significant school stuff in a binder: photos from the first day, first day interview and self-portrait, annual photo, and class photo. I know the kids would love to have a binder to look through and see all of that. But for now at least things are organized in their box.

How have you organized your child’s baby memories?

Project Complete: Child memory file boxes

Children accumulate a lot of papers and stuff, especially school-age children! There are lots of ideas online regarding organizing and storing their papers. After thinking about it (for a few years!) I felt that the best solution would be to keep everything in a plastic file box.1-DSC_0020

I purchased a set of two file boxes from Sam’s Club last June, but then summer happened and pregnancy nausea happened. But I finally got to work in January!

Each child will have their own box (right now they are sharing because they don’t have a lot of years yet and we are tight on storage space in our current home). Each box has labeled file folders, one for each school year (preschool, first grade, second grade, etc). Into each folder goes anything we deem worthy of saving: class photos, report cards, awards/certificates, favorite samples of writing and artwork, school journals, etc. 1-DSC_0021

Each folder also includes a back to school section: a self-portrait (template here), an annual interview, a photo, and notes from father’s blessings. We always complete this the first week of school, usually at FHE. There are lots of printables available online, but I have linked to the versions we use.

I also made folder labels for activities that my child may be involved in: Activity Girls/Cub Scouts, sports, talents, Young Men/Young Women.

The plan is that each child will have one box of school/paperwork to take with them when they  have grown up and settled in their own home. This way the paperwork is manageable, and you can only keep the very best.

Here are some of the posts that inspired this project: here, here, here and here.

It feels good to finally complete a project that I have been meaning to do for years! Now I know exactly where to file any school papers worth saving, and they can be found and looked at again. My children had a good time looking back through their papers and journals as I worked on this project.

What’s Next

It seems that finishing one project often inspires a few more projects. A few things I would still like to do:

-Add a cover sheet for each year. Something that includes the year, school, grade, teachers name, and a photo. There are a few templates online, but I haven’t quite settled on the version I like best.

-Cards and letters that the children receive: I haven’t figured out what to do with these yet. Just throw them away? Keep a folder for them in the box? They are currently all stored in a shoebox size document box, but they are growing out of that space.

-Why stop at boxes just for the children? I would like to go through my husbands multiple boxes from his growing up years and see if it can be compiled into one nice neat box. My growing up stuff is already pretty well organized, but it wouldn’t hurt to take another look.

-Family memory papers: I like this file box idea so much, I want to make a box to store family papers (ticket stubs, certificates, photos, etc). Probably a file folder for each year.

How do you manage paperwork and memorabilia for your family? What do you do with birthday cards? I would love to hear what works for you!

Project Complete: Organize piano teaching supplies and music

This week I crossed off one project on my big list: Organize piano teaching supplies and music

I teach a few piano lessons each week as a little side job. I have found many great teaching aids online (worksheets, games, flashcards, etc) and I had previously stored them in a binder and a box. Well, that binder grew to three binders and a junky box, and things were out of control.

So I transferred everything to one file box. Games and worksheets can be quickly found now that they are organized by type (beginner finger numbers, rhythm, note naming, etc), and there is room at the front of the box to hold my flashcard sets and other game supplies.3-DSC_0045

This cute little box will now sit on the piano to keep pencils/pens, stickers, and dry erase markers in easy reach without rolling around the piano.4-DSC_0046

This basket sits next to the piano to corral my children current lesson materials. With three children taking lessons, their books need to be easy to reach and put away. 2-DSC_0044

In the fall I started work on organizing our music collection. The biggest issue was organizing sheet music, so I added a few labeled binders (our collection of Christmas music grows a lot every year since my husband I both end up accompanying various ensembles every season). I finished this up over the Christmas break. Now I have two shelves dedicated to music and it is all easy to find!1-DSC_0043Phew! It feels good to cross all of that off my list!

The Project List

The start of a new year is always a time to reflect and ponder on what needs to be done in my life. Today I am sharing my “Project List” with you. Most of the things on this list are things that have been on my list for years (sadly) and are related to organizing our family history. But with two children in school full-time, and 1 child in preschool part-time, (meaning I have some hours to myself each week) I think that this is the time for me to really make some headway on my list. I am posting it on this blog for a little accountability.

The first item on the list is…grow a baby! Baby boy is due sometime the middle of April. I actually made this list back in August when the kids started to school, but then week eight of pregnancy hit and so did the nausea and fatigue. Consequently, I didn’t get as much done in the fall as I would like.Right now I am in the feel-good period of the second trimester so I am raring to go with projects, but making sure that I am taking care of myself physically is a priority. If in a few months I haven’t accomplished as much as I like, at least I can say that I grew a baby!!!!

(Also, realistically I know that I won’t do everything on this list. But at least it is a place to start!)

Grow a baby!

Organize piano teaching activities/games/worksheets in file box

Create a pretty home charging station (like this)

Anwyn’s memory file box (similar to this idea)

Lily’s memory file box

Zach’s memory file box

Compile family emails for 2013 and 2014

Print and bind family email books

Family memory file box

Anwyn’s baby book

Lily’s baby book

Zach’s baby book

Create a printed family photo book for our first 10 years of marriage

Organize Christmas cards

Organize and purge photos on the computer

Organize and purge computer files

Update menu planning/organize 30 meals we like to eat

Plan a menu of after-school snack ideas

Update 72hr kits for each person

Update emergency documents binder

What projects are you working on this year?