That’s the number of photos I have in my camera roll right now. It starts with our amazing engagement weekend in 2011 and ends with my kids’ dinner antics last night. Six years of big and little moments that make up the life I share with my husband, our three kids, and two dogs, all stored in the cloud.
It’s great to scroll through all 4,600+ of these memories, but I’m a little more old-fashioned – I like being able to actually touch them. In case I lose my phone, or the kids accidentally delete my cloud storage, the most special moments deserve to be printed and kept somewhere special. (And if you’re sitting there saying there is no way children could delete cloud storage – you have not met my kids!)
What’s the best way to preserve those priceless memories so you can share them with family and friends for years to come?
For us, it’s family yearbooks.
Yearbooks bring up feelings of nostalgia for me. Do you remember getting your yearbook at the end of each school year and flipping through those thick pages? Scanning to see yourself and friends, frozen in time throughout the year. Passing it around for everyone to sign. Thinking about how everyone has changed so much in just two semesters.
Of course, I finished high school when everyone was still on AOL Instant Messenger. When I graduated from college, Facebook was only open to people with .edu email addresses, and every moment of my life hadn’t been posted online. I know things have changed so much with Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms, but I hope I can raise my kids to appreciate cataloguing real, genuine moments with physical photos and albums – not just images in the cloud.
It almost goes without saying that our kids grow up so quickly. Just compare your kids today to a photo from January. Is there a little less baby fat? Have they grown about 10 inches since then? Mastered new skills or left familiar habits behind? Are they one day closer to college and adulthood? I know mine are.
Motherhood is this crazy paradox of wanting your kids to grow up and stay little, all at the same time. Compiling your priceless memories in a family yearbook allows you to do just that – freeze the adorable early years, and flip a few pages to watch them grow in the blink of an eye.
Every November I spend hours at our computer, reviewing the memories we’ve made as a family that year. Sometimes I pick a theme for our family yearbook. For 2016, the theme was “adventures” and every spread featured exciting moments from the year, organized by month. In March, my in-laws came to visit and we did fun stuff with the kids around Houston. In August, we adopted our Golden Retriever and took him to parks around The Woodlands. I included scenes from family trips and the kids’ milestone moments.
Other times, the purpose of the yearbook is to simply showcase how the kids have grown. One year I organized the book by month, featuring one photo of each child on a page. We only had two kids then, so they were side-by-side in each spread. From January to November, the changes in their little faces are incredible. Our youngest goes from being an infant to being a toddler by just turning a few pages.
Family yearbooks take some time to create, but it’s so worth it. I used to keep mine on our coffee table and occasionally spend a few quiet moments looking through them after the kids went down. With my second child in the midst of her “destroy everything” phase, those memories are stacked safely on the bookshelf for now!
For my clients, I offer several family heirloom album options following a session, which is similar to a family yearbook since it captures special memories all in one place. Clients who select The Bump to Crib Story, which includes maternity, Fresh 48 and newborn sessions all in one package, receive a gorgeous album of photos from each session. What a beautiful way to show your child where their story began – tucked safely in your tummy, and then snuggled in your arms in the hospital and at home.
Whether you create family yearbooks yourself each year or have your photos professionally preserved after a photo session, it’s the best way to share your story with family for years to come. Keep those gorgeous books stacked on your coffee table to show off to friends – and then pass them down to your children someday. That’s my plan for our family yearbooks.
Someday, when my husband and I are older and our kids are grown, raising their own families and having their own adventures, Jordan and I can relive these years – the best years – one book at a time. When we’re gone, our girls and their families will know what life looked like in August of 2017, when our oldest was 3.5, our middle daughter turned two, and our youngest was eight months old. It’s our way of passing on our legacy to the next generation, of leaving our mark on this family.
What’s your system for preserving your family’s precious moments?