Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ways to Remember

During this time of year, we often reflect on traditions and memories. In a moment of nostalgia, I decided to blog about some of the ways that memories can be preserved...especially in case my kids inherit my fleeting memory.

First of all, my mom made scrapbooks before scrapbooking was cool. She had the box of keepsakes like so many do, and she even kept some of the letters that I wrote to her and my dad throughout the years. My parents' house still holds many recital costumes, toys, and keepsakes that I haven't even attempted to go through or bring them to my own home. She also had a blank journal that she filled with short and long notes that she would jot down periodically to capture her thoughts about my childhood activities, college years, wedding, pregnancies, etc. Each of my children also have a journal. She began writing to them before they were born. She would jot down things I'd tell her about them on a post-it note near the phone when I would call after a pediatrician's appointment or outing. She also captured the funny little quotes that I didn't have the energy or follow-through to write down myself. Man, do I miss that. Her final entries to each of us was only weeks before her passing. It took me a long time to open those books but now I love being able to see her handwriting and to touch the pages. I laugh at the little things that I had already forgotten yet she captured in writing. What a blessing! I write in their books now, however, much less frequently and I am sure that I capture less but I hope the kids enjoy reading them someday.

As for pictures, I took a lot of time to make the first scrapbook or two....then I realized that I just can't keep up and I have never liked having a lot of developed pictured around anyways. I have transitioned to digital scrapbooks. I make them online and have them shipped to my house. My favorite site is http://www.shutterfly.com/. I can upload pictures, work on a few pages, and just click "save" and walk away without a mess when I need to, which we all know is frequent when kids are around. I make each child one for the first 1-2 years and then a family album each year. (Disclaimer: I still haven't gotten around to actually buying a few of them yet.) I jot down little notes in my calendar and then transpose them into captions onto the digital pages and save the last page where I write a letter to re-cap the year or bullet points of things I want to remember. I was also able to scan in very old photos of my husband's family and make a book for him and each of his siblings as a gift. I have also considered buying one family album each year for each of the kids. Then someday I could give them all of them as a gift for but the sticker shock has given me pause for now.

Then there is music. On the side of my fridge, I keep a sheet of paper where I jot down songs that I sing with the kids or songs that make me think of them. Some are sappy and some are silly. My plan is to burn each of them a CD with his or her own songs.

As for keepsakes, artwork, school papers, and school pictures....I am much less nostalgic. I really don't like to keep very much around the house. We hang some artwork or schoolwork on the fridge and when a stack builds up, I ask them which ones they want to keep and which should go into the recycling bin. After all, our daughter keeps harping at us to recycle more...really we are just saving the environment when we purge these things, right? I have a bin under my bed where the keepers go after I write a name or a note on it, if necessary. Someday, I'll sort it into each child's own bin...hopefully. Then eventually, I'd like to get the initiative to scan the keepers into the computer and turn them into a digital scrapbook which would take up less room. As for some holiday artwork, I may store it with the decorations and hang it up when that season comes.

Our school sends home a form from "Art to Remember" where you can have your child's artwork turned into various products such as bookmarks, magnet, canvas, totebags, etc. Due to the cost, we get a magnet and hang it on the fridge. I don't really have a good system for school pictures yet but I have seen a lot of different ideas. There's the 3-ring binder with page protectors in it. My mom used to do this for my cousin's kids and she filled clear page protectors with school pictures, artwork, and greeting cards. I like the frames that have a picture spot for each grade but I can't stand having so many empty spots for so long since my kids are still young. I have also heard of people purchasing a art portfolio from an art supply store and keeping things in there.

Finally onto technology, we now have Facebook, My Space, email, video cameras, web cams, text messaging, camera phones, and of course, blogging. This is a way to share these memories with others. Honestly, I just can't keep up and am far from technologically gifted. Just yesterday, I found myself at the playground trying to take a picture of my son, who spontaneously decided to sit down, cross his legs, close his eyes, and meditate at the top of the climber. I couldn't get it to work but I posted it on Facebook. I am sure that posts like that don't matter to most people but to his grandparents and family, it was just another way to stay connected with the day-to-day happenings in their little lives.

There are so many ways to remember. What is your system?

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