Friday, April 24, 2015

Preserving Family Memories

      My love language is completely "quality time." Moments mean so much to me! And so, naturally, I enjoy taking lots of pictures to capture those moments. I always enjoy going back and looking over the photos of such wonderful times in life.
The two pages pictured above are from my high school album.
I once really enjoyed creating handmade scrapbook pages!

      I used to preserve those captured memories in scrapbooks. I started scrapbooking when I was a young teen, and spent quite a few years as an avid scrapbooker. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the creativity and organization aspects of the scrapbooking process, the activity eventually fell to the side. I no longer had the kind of time, finances, or storage space required to create such lovely albums. The same problems applied to even printing so many photos. I needed a better solution.

     I've recently begun working on creating photobooks online and then having them printed. I still can have my fun photo albums, but not the hassle! I simply drag and drop the photos that are already uploaded into our family's ShareSite (Shutterfly) onto pre-designed pages. I can then arrange them however I wish. The pre-designed layouts maximize the number of photos I can include while still keeping the pages attractive. I don't have to make any trips to stores to buy expensive specialty scrapbooking supplies. I don't have to deal with a mess  mess of supplies strewn all over the dining table. Or, rush to clear the table leaving unfinished page projects accumulating. I also don't have to find storage space to store all those supplies, which is especially important in a small living space. Another advantage is that I save a lot of time creating the pages at the computer. I might decide to spend 10-15 minutes or just complete a page or two on the book when I have a little bit of time in the day. If I need to come back to it, then I easily can by just a quick computer log-in.  I love it!
     Of course, there are some drawbacks to creating these less handmade photo albums. You really lose a lot of the creativity element with the pre-designed pages and embellishments. Although, the selection is expansive it is still rather limited. For instance, when creating our family yearbooks it would be nice to have some seasonally themed pages, but those aren't necessarily available in every book style. The books can also be very expensive. I never order a book without at least one coupon code applied (sometimes two!). I used a 50% off coupon plus a free shipping coupon to order our 2014 Family Yearbook, and it was still $84! This is quite the stretch for someone who prefers to be much more frugal with finances, but I know that it's something I'll absolutely cherish forever and worth the expense.
I've created photobooks for the following purposes:
Grandparents' Gifts
      Photobooks make fantastic gifts! Grandparents love photos of their grandchildren, and photobooks make perfect means of sharing such. I used the our budgeted gift amount for each set of grandparents ($50) to create albums of our family from the previous year. (In order to include Christmas photos, they actually receive their gifts a few weeks after Christmas). I customize the albums to be suitable for each set of grandparents. They really enjoyed their books, and I really enjoyed a more simplified approach to gifting! Photobooks for Christmas gifts will definitely become a gift tradition.

        Photobooks also make a great place to preserve journals and/or blog posts. I occasionally enjoy reading through my old journals. It's fascinating to see where I was at that time in life. One of my favorite journal keepsakes has become my pregnancy journals. I have written bi-weekly updates with photos and posted them on my blog(s) for each of my pregnancies. I recently created an entire photobook with each pregnancy update entry from my pregnancy with Tennyson. I absolutely love having this book! Pregnancy is such an incredible time, and one that I won't experience but a couple times in life. I'm so glad I will have the book! I'm working on creating a book of my pregnancy with Annelise as well. I think it will be so neat for them to one day read of how excited and over-joyed we were to be expecting them!

The main pages include a baby belly photo and journal. It's so neat to go back and read these entries!
I included pictures of everything related to the pregnancy- ultrasound pictures, baby belly photos, shower photos, his hospital picture etc.

Family Yearbooks
         I simply don't have the capacity to print and store the volume of photos I take, especially now that I have child(ren). I may have a couple hundred photos taken in one month alone! Instead, I've begun to create a family yearbook. The book is organized by month with approximately nine pages per month of photos. My favorite photos from each month are so wonderfully organized in a single slim album! In the back of each book I have a memorabilia pocket with DVDs of all the photos and videos taken during the year. A single flashdrive would have held everything as well, but I like that the DVDs are flat and won't distort the pages when the book is closed. My intention is for all photos and videos to be kept in one place. Because the yearbooks max out the number of pages allowed per book, they can be quite expensive. As a result, I especially only order yearbooks with a coupon (or two!). It's a worthy expense though.

A couple of pages from our most recent family yearbook:
(My husband is in the book as well. He's just not in these particular pages. ;) )

Creating Photobooks
     I create my photobooks through Shutterfly. We already use the ShareSite portion of the site to share photos with friends and family, and so by using them for albums as well I only have to upload photos once. I don't have time to upload to multiple places (which is one reason I don't use Facebook for sharing photos). I aim to upload photos at the end of each month. Sometimes it takes me a few days to upload everything, depending on how much time I have to be at the computer and how many photos there are to upload. I may then spend ten minutes here and there during the next month organizing those photos into pages. It's definitely much easier to upload and create pages one month at a time than all at once at the end of the year when you're read to print. (I've learned this tip from experience! It took me months to get a yearbook put together at one time).
      Photobooks are a fantastic way to save those wonderful memories without all the fuss of hands-on scrapbooking and added clutter to the home. Memories and stories are preserved beautifully! I imagine my children enjoying looking through the pages of each book in the future! 

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