One of the main reasons I love photography is it’s ability to capture a moment in time that you can then go back and re-live later. After your memory has failed.  Sure, you may know that your children had pudgy little baby legs, or adorable toes, but SEEING them again, in the form of a picture, is so much better. Sadly, I only have about 10 pictures of my childhood.  Only one of them is a baby picture. And it’s a scanned image, at that.  My aunt, in Mexico, scanned it for me, but wanted to keep the original because it’s the only image SHE has that includes both of her parents. Here’s a scan of the scan…

I’m sad to say that this photo does not hold a place of honor in my home. I just dug it out of a box in my office.  And I kind of can’t stop staring at it…my grandfather doesn’t look very thrilled. But according to stories my aunt has told me, I was the apple of his eye.  He died in an automobile accident right before I turned three.  His car stalled on some train tracks on his way into the big city and, well…you can guess the rest.  I almost went with him that day.  I used to go EVERYWHERE with him.  My place in the car was right next to him, usually standing up (there were no car seats back then), and apparently, I loved it. I know this because of the stories my aunt tells me.  Listening to these stories is a highlight for me because I don’t know much about my childhood.  I’m not in touch with my mother and there are no pictures for me to look back through.

Enter my dilemma. My battle for the past seven years.

I made a decision long ago that my children would have pictures of their lives. And not just let’s-all-get-dressed-up-and-look-our-best-while-the-nice-lady-takes-our-picture-don’t-forget-to-smile! pictures.  But pictures of their everyday life. Those are the stories I wish I had of my childhood. Did I have a sleeping buddy? Or a favorite blankie? Was I a chubby baby? What were my favorite toys?

I’m happy with the amount of pictures I’ve taken of my kiddos (except for that 2-month stretch in 2007 after my second was born and I lost my mind a bit, oops). I’ve been a dedicated documenter of our every day. But you’d never know it by looking around my home. Sure, we have a wall gallery of a few favorites, but that’s it. There are no albums. No scrapbooks. No framed pictures in any of the bedrooms. Even though I’ve documented my kids’ lives up to this point, there is no visible evidence of that anywhere. All of my shots are on my computer (don’t worry, I have backups).

Over the last seven years, I’ve tried to come up with a way to get my pictures out of my computer.  But my perfectionism got in the way. I couldn’t just have photo albums with pictures slid into photo sleeves, no! I had to have beautiful scrapbooks! With beautiful embellishments and perfect placement of everything on a page. The problem was that I couldn’t glue anything down (too permanent!). This was before I had jumped on the digital photography bandwagon and the ease of printing at home. So my pictures sat in a box, on a shelf somewhere. Then I discovered digital scrapbooking and I was in heaven! I didn’t have to decide what size to print m photos before I knew what I was going to do with them! I could resize to my heart’s content! I could use the same letter “stickers” and digital “paper” over and over and never run out! But that perfectionism stuck with me.  The possibilities were endless, and I couldn’t decide what to do. Where to put things. What size to make my picture. What paper to use. And the cost of printing 12×12 pages was a bit on the steep side. Sigh…

I’ve tried various things over the past couple years, but nothing has stuck. And so my images have stayed on my computer. Occasionally, my kids will come in and see them as I’m editing. “Can we see more, mommy?”, they ask. So we sit there for a while, looking back at their lives. Their baby pictures make them giggle.  They can’t believe they were ever that little. Neither can I…

So this is the year. The year where all of that will change. I’ve been reminded too many times over the last year how important it is to HOLD your pictures. To see yourself in a tangible way. I’ve decided to participate in Project Life.

First, I was embarrassed to admit it. After all, it’s a form of scrapbooking, and some photographers look down on it, think it’s all MWAC’s playing with paper and glue. Heck, I’ve even been ashamed to admit to my photography friends that I was a scrapbooker in the past. And my track record with scrapbooking is pretty dismal. But who cares? I’m a different person now. I have different priorities and could (couldn’t?) give a rat’s ass what people think of me (most days…I’m still working on that one). This isn’t high school. It’s LIFE. And I value it. It’s time for me to start walking the walk. In whatever format makes the most sense to me.

I finished my first week today.  And I don’t love how it looks. But I have all year to get into a rhythm and improve. What matters most is that I got the stories and pictures documented. And printed. And in that respect, I love it. It’s not as pretty as some of the other weeks I’ve seen people post, but I’m over it.

You can see the little hands in the second image above…already looking at it and curious of it. I love that I can include ephemera, like the Nestlé bag from our cookies/ice cream and the Aleve I had to take due to my headache at the Aquarium. I also included a couple of 8.5 x 11 page protectors in the middle where I added some colored pages of the Eiffel Tower my 4-yo colored for me. Like I said, I don’t love it as much as I’d like, but that isn’t the point. I’m a newbie at this.  Things will change over time.

I feel like I’ve finally found something I can do that fills my need to get our pictures out of the computer and tell our story. I’m really looking forward to having a completed album of our year come 2013.

What about you? What are your memory keeping methods?

Linking up with PL Tuesdays over at The Mom Creative:

The Mom Creative

Project Life is a product created by Becky Higgins. It is a back-to-basics approach to memory keeping.