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When my grandfather passed away, my mom gave me a few old photos that belonged to him. Most were of him and my grandmother, but there was one photo in the pile that really stuck out:

I have absolutely no idea why my grandfather had this photo. It’s very clearly of a high school football team, but my grandfather didn’t play football and even if he had, he graduated several years before this photo was taken. As far as anyone in my family knows, he didn’t coach, either. So, it’s a mystery!

This is why it’s so important to write down the details behind your photos. Someday your grandchildren will be looking through your scrapbooks and they’ll want to know who is in the photos and why they were taken. You are the only person who knows the stories and memories behind your photos, so it’s up to you to make sure those details never get lost or forgotten!

Don’t know where to start? Here are a few tips:

1. Start with the basics–who, what, where, when, why. Write down who is in the photo, what the photo is of, where it was taken, when it was taken, and why it was taken. At the very least, make sure you cover the who and the when!

2. If there is a special story to accompany your photos, write it down! Without the story, the photo doesn’t have the same meaning and no one would ever know the reason it was taken. Don’t rely on your memory, either, because that can fade over time. I graduated from high school 12 years ago, and when I look through my photos from that time, already there are some details I’m forgetting! Write down the story now, while it’s still fresh in your mind.

3. Include your handwriting! I know that most people don’t like their own handwriting, but I think it’s important to include at least a little bit of it in your scrapbooks–it makes them so much more personal. Your grandkids will think it’s cool to see someday, too! If you don’t want to hand-write all of your journaling, use your home computer to type out the details and print onto acid-free cardstock.

4. Use an archival-safe pen. Don’t just write with any pen–use a pen that’s specially designed to stand the test of time, without fading. Archiver’s has a bunch of styles to choose from, both in stores and online at the Annex.

5. If you’re organizing your photos in photo albums, or using pocket pages along with your scrapbook pages, write the story down on a 4″ x 6″ piece of cardstock and slide that into one of the pockets.

I promise you, spending a few minutes to record the stories behind your photos is worth it. Your kids, your grandkids, and your grandkids’ kids will thank you for it!

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This is one of my favorite pictures.  The quality isn’t that great – you can’t even see the faces of the subjects, but the memory attached to it is priceless to me.  My grandpa was an avid golfer.  He spent literally half of his life on the golf course.  This was taken the last time Grandpa was able to go out to a course.  He was dying of leukemia that summer and got this one last chance to go out while my mom, aunts and uncles (who played in this golf  tournament with him every year) were playing.  Read the rest of this entry »

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I have always enjoyed crafting.  My mom painted, quilted, sewed…you name it.  So, my sister and I grew up collecting pamphlets and postcards when we were on vacation and cutting and rubber cementing them into spiral bound albums to make our first scrapbooks.

While times have changed, I still look back on those albums and love to go through them.  Sometimes I laugh (New Kids on the Block fanatic in Jr. High), sometimes I get misty (trips with Grandparents not here anymore) but I love to look at them.  I mention this because essentially, it is why I make time to scrapbook now.  I want my kids and grandchildren to look back someday and remember loved ones, fun times and know a little more about their lives.  It would be easy for me to say that I don’t have time (because with two little ones, I don’t) but I really feel that there are few things more important for me to do for them…and me….so I make the time.

Mainly I try to go to mania with friends every now and then or go to an overnight scrapbook weekend to keep up.  Since my “creative sessions” are few and far between I keep organized in a few simple ways that I can keep up with – and am ready to rock when I can.

  1. Keep notes– I would say journal, but that seems to be a dirty word most of the time and difficult to keep up with.  Kids say the darndest things and I keep notes on the funniest or sweetest little things they say – then later, I pick a favorite photo and add the story to the page.  Write them in a notebook by your bed, on a calendar or on Post It notes by the phone.  I actually enjoy reading the stories that I have forgotten from when they were young more than the photos.  It is easy to forget the stories behind life’s little moments.  These notes are among my most precious belongings now.
  2. Print Photos – You can’t scrapbook what you don’t have.  Develop a system you can follow to download your photos and get them printed, so they are waiting for you when you can carve out some time, not the other way around.
  3. Focus on the Memories – It is overwhelming (even in the age of “delete the digital photos that don’t look good”) to scrapbook everything.  However, I find I can’t throw photos of my kids no matter how poor they are.  Thinking about the memory, rather than the photo helps me prioritize what I am trying to put on a page.  Do I want all 12 photos I took at soccer – or just the one of him scoring the goal and the big smile when he looked over at the sidelines?  That is the story I want to remember.
  4. Enjoy the Process –I am a taskmaster – so sometimes I forget to sit back and enjoy being creative.  I am so focused on the end product that I don’t make time to enjoy my social time with girlfriends (or still with my mom and my sister).  I also have to remind myself that I am not getting a grade on my scrapbooks.  They will be treasures to my kids regardless of my creative ability.  Just like life, scrapbooking is about enjoying the ride as much as getting to the end….make sure you make time to do this, and that you are enjoying the ride in the process.

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