Friday, July 27, 2012

Photographic Memories

Sometimes it seems like my life is flying by.  I can't believe that I am about to have two of my three children attending grade school.  I'll have a Kindergartener and a First Grader (plus a wild 3 year old)!  From the minute I had my daughter I felt like I wanted to remember every single moment.  I wanted to soak her up and never forget a single second. I felt that way about all of my kids.  I knew I had to find a way to recall as much as possible; a way to remember as much of their childhoods as I possibly could.  

I originally thought I'd use baby books to keep a record of my kiddos' childhoods.  It was overwhelming though.  I had to print photos out and glue them in the baby book, remember to get the baby book out and find the right page when a "milestone" took place, and remember to watch for specific milestones that were already mentioned in the book (otherwise that particular section would remain blank). 

I needed a solution; a way to chronicle their childhood through words as well as photos.  After all,  I had about a million pictures stored on my computer that were just sitting there!  That's when I made the decision to make photo books.  It's one of the best things I've ever done.  I'm not saying it hasn't been hard work and extremely time consuming.  And I will even admit to the occasional typo.  But I honestly can't imagine not having these books to look through, to see what amazing little people my children are, and to watch them grow before my eyes as I turn through the pages.

I love taking photos of my kids.  I take a ton!  My kids love looking at them and remembering all of the  things they've done.  I started off making each of my kids a "birth book" which tells them all about the days leading up to their births as well as the story of their actual birthday.  There are photos of my growing belly, their nurseries and the hospital where they were all born.  We have a special tradition too.  We always read their birth books on their birthdays.

I also have a page in the books that tell a little about their personalities; their likes and dislikes, what they were interested in and how much they had grown. 

It feels like I've made a ton of these books. Each kiddo has a "birth book", plus, two books a year for their first three years of life, and one book a year from their third birthday on.  My daughter already has 10 books!  When she has her 7th birthday I will make another.

To be honest, I was getting really behind and stressed out about doing two books a year for each of my kids.  So, I made the decision to only make one book a year once they turned three years old.  

I am really glad I did two books a year when they were super little because they changed so much.  Once they hit three it seems like they grew taller and were able do more activities but overall the physical changes seemed less drastic.

Each of their books are labeled with their names and their ages.  I have also started adding the year to the binding.

Their first few books have all of their milestones listed at the back.  I couldn't keep up with the store bought baby books so I ended up keeping a regular calendar in the kitchen.  When one of my babies did something I wanted to remember, I jotted it down on the calendar.  I was able to keep up on all of their "firsts" this way.  When it was time to make the photo book I just copied the date from the calendar along with whatever it was I wanted to remember.

Besides listing milestones at the back of the book, I also typed in some quick captions under the photos.    I'm so glad that I have my daughter's first attempts at crawling right here in a book so I can remember them forever.  Seeing these photos really transports me back to being in her nursery at our old house, watching her rock back and forth and lift herself up on her toes.  I'm afraid that if I didn't have these photo books to remind me, these are memories that I wouldn't be able to recall.  And that thought makes me sad. 

When I watch my kids play I try to soak up every detail of the moment.  Sometimes I catch myself watching them eat breakfast or playing with their toys because I want to always remember these little moments.  I never want to forget how they look in their jammies, how they cross their little legs when they sit and what cute little faces they make when they wink.  I am so happy and relieved to have these things all saved in one place.  I am so glad I committed to this project.  Every time I pull out one of the books I am surprised by how much my kids have grown.  The photos and captions help me clearly remember the exact moment the photo was snapped.  If making a book for each of your kids seems like too much of a commitment, maybe you can make a yearly book about your entire family.  One book a year seems do-able, right?

No matter how much work these books have been, I'd do them over again in a heartbeat.  Over time I have developed a system that works for me (which I'll explain in my next post).  My children will receive a copy of all of these books when they are grown.  I hope they will share them with their own children someday.  I always joke with my husband that these photo books are going to trick my kids into thinking they had a really great childhood.  The really awesome part is I think they really have had awesome lives so far.  I'm thrilled that they will have the chance to always remember this part of their lives.  And I hope they can feel how much love went into making them.

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