21 June 2011

Q+A session / managing photos & memorabilia


i would love to know how you organize your memorabilia and keep record. Do you scrapbook, use photo albums, journals (what format), yearly photo books? 

wow. this is a mighty good question. one that motivates me to get back on the saddle, so to speak. it's no secret that i am a firm believer in documenting life. i feel that it's not only therapeutic and fun but necessary for generations to come. my dad is a historian. personal stories keep his business humming. i really love that.

i've kept a diary ever since i could write. since high school i've preferred nicely bound books with blank pages. i also think spiral-bound sketch books are handy to have for letting my thoughts slide recklessly and collaging bits of memorabilia and magazine clippings. i love sketch-books with thick cotton paper (black or white), sturdy enough to get the job done. i have dozens of these sketch books that illustrate my passions from certain eras of my life. in fact, my cousin whitney (her blog, her pins) and i used to create collage books for each other on our birthdays, filled with favorite quotes and inside jokes. they are among my treasured possessions and always inspire me when i need a lift.

however, i must admit that my journal writing ebbs and flows. i've been a very bad diary-writer since last year. i am so grateful i felt the urgency to type out my experience with my miscarriage on this blog as i had no energy whatsoever to write it out in my journal. i regret that i didn't pour myself into writing at that time. though, i can't beat myself up about it now. when you are sad, you are just sad and sometimes that takes precedence over other things. sometimes healing (getting through it, surviving it, moving forward) is more important.

still, i am so glad i have at least one post from the perspective of that event while it was so raw. there is nothing like reading something from the recent moments of a life-altering event. which is why i wrote like a real writer when i got married and later, when i had a baby. i knew i wanted to capture my fresh thoughts up in those special moments. i love that quote that no one likes to write, but everyone loves to have written. i couldn't agree more. i love re-reading diary entries wherein my thoughts are all tumbling around uncertainties and i am tangled up in wondering where my life will lead. it's like a sigh of relief now knowing how some of those issues solved themselves; how those tough spots really were defining events.

and yet i love re-reading the seemingly insignificant entries too. those hold the best gems. my first graphic design job in california (the terrifying, the good, the bad and the ugly), the boys i liked in high school, our family vacations, life when dan was in law school, making ends meet (barely) as a newlywed, oh and all the christmas presents i received from the time i was six to eleven years old (for a period of my life the only thing i ever wrote down was where i went on field trips, who i sat by in class, and what i received for christmas and birthdays... you know, the super important stuff of life).

another confession. i was a big scrapper when i was in high school, when pages were filled with stickers and homemade cut out block letters. i had no fancy machines assisting me; just a pack of markers, photos, scissors, double stick tape and a long dining room table. i loved scrapbooking and am happy all my awesome prom pictures are pasted in for viewing (and ridiculing) for generations to come. later i would work at a scrapbooking store and start to despise the craft. this exposes how narrow minded i can be. once all the options (oh the options) like eyelet setters hit the scene, my love for scrapbooking petered out. i felt like i couldn't keep up. like my style didn't fit in. and when it comes to scrapbooking, if i can't do it right, i'm not going to do it at all. now that i'm older and wiser and over-myself, i am working up the guts to put together a simple scrapbook of benji's life, with narrowed-down favorite photos and memorabilia from his baby-hood.

for now, i keep yearly photo albums. i like the albums with blank space to jot the details in next to the slide-in photo insert. once benji came along the one album a year morphed into two albums a year (with extra photos stashed in my closet). mainly, my goal is simple. get digital pictures printed in small batches. i like keeping my expectations low in this area of life. if it's too complicated, i know i'll give up. i have a folder on my desktop labeled Pics to Print and i throw my favorites into the folder when i am uploading files into my iphoto albums. i upload them to wal-mart or costco's website, order a few extras for grandparents, and feel like i've accomplished something! for special occasions i like to create mini photo albums. (kolo brand has exceptional products.) i'm also delighted that my family started a christmas family scrapbook, wherein every family designs one page (front and back) summing up the bests of their year and sends out copies (with page protectors) to the siblings every christmas. flipping through it is a quick trip down memory lane. i love it and highly recommend it for large families.

when it comes to documenting my two year old, i have a lidded box that i found at michael's. it has rope handles and is decorated with sweet illustrations of tricycles and wagons and is very little boy. i think it's important that you love the album, book or box that you choose, as it will become even more special to you over the years. i put everything meaningful (that i plan on scrapbooking some day) into it. (knowing full well that it may never get put anywhere but the box.) i have saved baby shower cards, hospital bracelets, finger painted masterpieces, his newborn hat, little shoes and more. i love diving into it and knowing these precious items are in a safe place. keeping it on a shelf in his closet (with no stacks, clothes or books leaning on top of it) is the easiest way to preserve his little things. when he was only one month old i created a hard bound album all about waiting for him to come and his birthday from shutterfly and loved the results. (pictured in this post.) i also keep special treasures of mine in a hope chest that my grandma gave to me before she died. smaller items are saved in a music box. and stuff i can't seem to part with (notebooks from college, yearbooks, notes stuffed in high school lockers) are in a box somewhere in someone's basement.

and of course, the blog. i love that the blog is not only good writing practice for me, but is a daily documentation of the thoughts i am thinking, things we are doing, places we are going, roads we have traveled, photos i have taken, things i am making, ways we are living. because of that, blogging (even the most random of posts) is never a waste of time. reading other blogs inspires me in new ways of how to fold together the pages of my life; how to better my documentation. now your turn, i'd love to know, how do you document your life? what methods are you using to bottle up your best moments?

11 comments:

Marisa said...

I used to keep annual scrapbooks. I loved the documentation and journaling, but not the process. It was expensive, messy, and time consuming. Then I learned about Blurb and started blogging. I love that I can upload pictures, type a few notes (or more) about those pictures, and get things documented quickly. Then at the end of each year, I use Blurb to "slurp" my family blog into a hardcover book. It takes a while to get the layout the way I like it, but the end product is SO worth it.

Hannah said...

I have a private journal that I write in. Now that I am not blogging, I have a feeling that it will get a lot more use. I'm excited to get back to my old way of jotting down memories on paper.

I am not a scrapbooker either. (Don't tell. I should be with my job.) I just want my books to be about pictures and words. I keep a private family blog detailing every little happening. I plan on printing on for each year for each child through on online service like blurb. Still trying to decide on which one has the best printing.

Nessa said...

Loved reading this.... I always wanted to keep a journal/diary. Perfection always stopped me when I was younger. And then when I was older I only wrote when I was upset for some reason... really upset. When I tried to scrapbook... I worked 2 days on the first two pages - and then glued them together! I love your simpler is better approach. It is a wonderful way to go.

Ariel said...

Thanks so much for this post, Marta! I have been having a hard time journaling and this has motivated me to get back into it while I'm in such a unique time of life.

Carrie said...

Love these ideas!

I really really need to get back to journaling. My blog has become much like that...although there is something so intimate about holding that hard journal and pen in your hands that I miss.

2 years ago I sat in my husband's grandma's house and I suddenly felt really strongly that I wanted to photography that exact moment in that room...not the people..but the room. So I went around the house and documented THINGS. I did the same with a radio from my dad and a rock collection that he made me. I now have a picture solidifying the memory of my surroundings, and every time I look at them it makes me emotional;)

http://rowdystroudy.blogspot.com/2009/07/nostalgic.html

http://rowdystroudy.blogspot.com/2009/07/memories-with-dad.html

Tiffany said...

I do a "A Year in Review" scrapbook for every year. I cover all the major events and just fun times I want to remember. If we go a "BIG" vacation I make it into its own scrapbook. I take a ton of photos and dont like to edit them down very much. Also mini books are fun just to write little things down and to do something with those random photos I printed at Target thinking I would use them all in the big scrapbook! lol

Ali said...

as a 25 year old 'scrapbooker' i find i generally don't fit the mould here in australia...

I too like you marta keep a folder on my desktop (pics to print) - and print off my favourites. these get stored in a box to scrapbook at a later time. i don't scrapbook everything/every photo and wouldn't want to (i dont even have children)...

as for thoughts/daily happenings I've kept a diary since highschool. a diary I TRY to write in most days with thoughts and the days events.

my blog is another journal as such.

I also want to try digital albums to get some of my trips (3 of them to the USA) documented. I've create a mini scrapbook album of my trip to thailand in october last year - and still need to complete it!!

i agree with you - there's always a struggle between trying to find to 'document' and 'celebrate' life. its often those bigger more celebratory moments that we get caught up in, that we don't document enough. :(

i love elise (blaha's) take on a yearly 'scrapbook' for this year. I'm going to DO IT next year for sure!

Anonymous said...

I have a large stack of fat scrapbooks starting back when my son was born (he's 23 now) but they are heavy and unwieldy. Last year I used Shutterfly.com to create a beautiful hardbound 12x12 book of my daughter's high school trip to Europe. I Love It! I just made another hardbound book of her first year at college, a book of my son's 4 years at college, and I will never go back to scrapbooks again. This past weekend I showed my brother how to use shutterfly to create a book of his 2 week trip in Alaska (he took 2300 photos), now he's hooked. And he can create multiple books for his teenage sons someday if they want their own. The software (all free to use) is very flexible and easy to use, it does just about everything you could want (use the Custom Path selection). Check out Shutterfly!!! I highly recommend it. Sandy in Georgia

Stephanie said...

Thank you for your insights on this particularly overwhelming topic. I used to keep amazing scrapbooks, but that all went out the window when my fourth baby was born. Sometimes something just has to give and that was one of the things.

I do try to recognize my blog as a very serious journal for me. I've always been a dedicated journal writer, but blogging has sort of taken over that outlet.

My biggest struggle is in the organization of photos. I take so many and struggle to keep them situated!

Elaine said...

As an avid follower of your blog I just wanted to say that I love your posts and to mention that I've just started my own blog. Please check it out if interested - visualmeringue.blogspot.com
Thanks!
Elaine.

Ashley said...

I really enjoyed this post as I am also passionate about record keeping / family history. Have you heard about Becky Higgins' Project Life? It is not at all like traditional scrapbooking. The focus is on the pictures and the journaling - just recording life, plain and simple. I really like it. She has great baby kits too, which I am using for my son.

I also keep personal journals (I have 64!), although not as faithfully since I started blogging. I printed some of my blog into a book (volume 1) and also keep a gratitude journal. I document a lot with photography. I keep a private blog with letters to my son, entitled Letters to My Little Friend. I am then printing them and inserting them into his baby book.

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