My memory keeping framework, Part 3

We are getting there with my memory-keeping framework! In this third instalment, I will share what I do for our children in terms of memory-keeping. Many of you have asked me about this, so I do apologise for taking so long to get around to writing this post. Basically, the below is what I have done for our boys, and will continue to do for our boys. If you have any questions about any of this, feel free to leave it in the comments below.

The ‘official’ baby book

This is simply one of those store-bought baby books which has pre-determined fields for parents to complete about the pregnancy, the family, the grandparents, the godparents, the hospital, the birth day, the milestones, etc. Admittedly, I’ve found some of the fields rather mind-boggling (e.g. how am I meant to describe ‘the current fashion’ on the day that my baby is born?), and have more than once toyed with the idea of making my own custom baby book, but in the end, it is so much easier and simpler to just buy one that has been pre-made. With the exception of Pete (for whom I bought a Peter Rabbit baby book, because I just couldn’t resist), I’ve always just purchased the baby book that Kikki K had in stock at the time. This is the one that I’ve bought for Edward, and it’s all packed and ready to go in my hospital bag! (That’s right, memory keeping begins at the hospital…)

The first year journal

I originally came up with the idea for this journal when I bought this 365 day notebook from Kikki K to document Pete’s first year of life. However, the binding on that particular notebook meant that once it was filled with photos, the book couldn’t actually close properly. So I put in a custom order for this beautiful leather one for Jamie from Badger & Chirp, and I’ve done the same for Edward.

Basically, the idea is that whenever we can (usually before we got to sleep at nights), Rick or I will write something in the journal addressed to Pete/Jamie/Edward/etc. that corresponds with that particular day. If we miss a day or days (which is usually the case), we don’t stress about it. Then, every month or so, I choose photos to include in the journal, and I print them out in miniature size so that I can fit more to a page. These get stuck in on the corresponding date, and I caption them with either a few lines or just a few words. At the end of the year, we end up with a beautiful diary filled with hand-written journalling and notes/letters to that child, along with cute little photos showing their growth, development and all the special moments in between throughout the year. No embellishments, no decorations – just photos and heartfelt words.

For more information, read this post about Jamie’s first year journal.

The first year brag book

This is a simple slip-in photo album (for 6×4 photos), into which I’ve inserted my favourite photos for the boys from their first year of life. No writing, no journalling, no captioning – just photos. For the covers, I’ve used a black and white photo for all the boys to keep it consistent. Up till now, I’ve used this particular black cloth one from Kikki-K (shown above) for Angus, Pete and Jamie and it holds about 36 photos. However, I have a feeling they don’t sell them anymore, so I am on the lookout for an alternative for Edward. One option would be to use one of Becky Higgins’ mini albums in black which holds more photos and also includes pockets for 3×4 journalling cards. I haven’t decided yet, though, so watch this space.

The first year photo book

This is a coffee table style photo book showcasing the best photos from each of the boys’ first year. Whilst the first year journal includes photos taken on our iPhones and our Canon DSLR, I only use our DSLR photos for these photo books. The idea is that the photos featured here are actually good quality photos, and high enough resolution to be blown up to a full page. As a result, the first year journal captures more ‘moments’ while the first year photo books captures more ‘portraits’, and I’m perfectly happy with that. By only using my DSLR photos, it also keeps the style consistent throughout each of the books.

The photos for each of the boys’ first year photo books are laid out chronologically, as I feel this tells the story more effectively, and unlike the first year journals, there is very minimal text in the first year photo books. Each of the boys’ first year photo books have ended up being about 200 pages long. The printer I use is Photobook Australia.

For more information, read this post featuring Angus’ first year photo book.

The first birthday & baptism photo book

Back when I was working out my ‘system’ for the children, I decided that I would make a photo book to document each of the boys’ first birthdays. Traditionally, we have also baptised each of the boys at their first birthday celebration, so this photo book serves to document this important event as well. Again, only DSLR photos are used, and the story is (mostly) told chronologically.

The scrapbooks

Before discovering the Project Life system of memory-keeping, I documented Angus and Pete’s subsequent years in this scrapbook format. My process was very simple: every few months, I would go back and choose my favourite photos for the boys from that period. Using Aperture, I would print them out as contact sheets (which results in the miniature photos). Using simple grid layouts, I stuck the photos in with photo dots and then I would add the date and perhaps some simple captioning using a black pen. Like the first year journal, I didn’t add any embellishments.

As a general rule, I would only use the right hand page for the photos and captioning. This meant the left hand pages would be free to feature some ‘hero shots’ (ie. the best photos from a particular month). I also used the space to include any journalling that I had recorded on the computer.

For more information, read this post featuring Pete’s second year scrapbook.

The Project Life albums

Since discovering Project Life, I have ‘switched over’ the boy’s scrapbooks to Project Life albums. I have yet to write a detailed post about these (rest assured it’s on my ‘to do’ list), but the basic idea is that these Project Life albums pick up where the first year journals finish off (or in the case of Angus and Pete, where their third and second year scrapbooks finish off respectively). I update these albums monthly using a process similar to my weekly one for the family album. Documentation of the boys’ birthday celebrations are included in these albums as inserts. Not only do I love how flexible the Project Life system is, but I also know that down the track, I will be able to include certificates and school reports and other memorabilia from the boys’ school years in these albums. The binder that I use for these albums is a Kraft one by American Craft, and it’s shown in the first photo above. You can read more about my boys’ PL albums here.

Photo books for subsequent years

Although I’ve yet to make one, I’m planning to make a photo book for each boy that documents their 2nd to 5th years. And then potentially one for their 6th to 10th years. I’ll have to keep you posted on that one!

The memory box

Each of our boys have one of these A3 sized memory boxes from Kikki K (even Edward already has one with his name on it!). Inside this, I store all the ultrasound photos (usually in a Kraft envelope), the ‘official’ baby book, the first year brag book and the first year journal. In the case of Angus and Pete, their scrapbooks are also placed in here (they fit perfectly since they’re A4 in size and these boxes are A3 in size). This is also the place where I keep cards that we receive when the boys are born and for each of their subsequent birthdays. I usually tie these up with string to add a nice, personal touch.

For more information, read this post about Jamie’s memory box.

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I truly hope this has been helpful. I know that many of you are currently in the stages of figuring out what to do with your children’s memory-keeping and memorabilia. I totally understand how overwhelming it can be. I think the key is to step back from all the inspiration you see on Pinterest and the wider internet and take the time to work out a framework that works for you and your family. Factors you might want to take into account are: How many children do you have or are planning or having? Are you the type of person who takes lots of photos? Do you find it easy to journal? Do you like to do traditional scrapbook layouts? Do you prefer digital layouts? How much time do you have on a regular basis to keep up with memory-keeping? What do you have the budget for? And so on and so forth. The reality is that you do for your children and your family will look different to what others do, and that is okay. It is your story, and you can choose however it is that you want to tell it and document it.

My main tip would be this: Once you’ve worked out your ‘framework’ so to speak, start in the present. Once you’re in the rhythm of keeping up with your memory-keeping in the present, then slowly work backwards. Do it in stages, and don’t stress about how long it takes. The reality is that as mums, we all have very limited time in the day to actually work on memory-keeping. The key is to keep your big picture in mind, and to just work steadily towards your end goal, no matter how long it takes. Angus is almost four and a half, and it’s only now that I feel like I am actually ‘up to date’ on my memory keeping for the boys. It’s been a four year project, at least. It’s been worth it, though. And I’m sure it will be worth it for you and your children too.

As always, feel free to leave any questions in the comments section! (Sorry I accidentally closed off comments last night, but it’s fixed now.)

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Other posts you might be interested in reading:
My memory keeping framework, Part 2
My memory keeping framework, Part 1
How I manage my projects
How I manage my time

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How do you currently approach memory keeping for your child or children?

35 comments

eskimo*rose March 19, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Ronnie, I am absolutely astounded at your amazing organisation, and the time you must spend making all these beautiful memories, not only that but your imagery and layout style are so beautiful and understated. I take my hat off to you and wish I could be as good, all at the same time!!
sending you lots of love, and hope you and your little bun in the oven are keeping well xxx

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Pink Ronnie March 20, 2013 at 4:03 am

Thanks for your encouraging words, Emma. It’s a joy to work on these projects… sometimes it’s tiring, but it’s a joy nonetheless. :)
Only three and a half more weeks to go with the bun!
Ronnie xo

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Elizabeth March 19, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Love these ideas, particularly the first year journal! You make some lovely projects for your kiddos. I’ll have to tuck these ideas away for someday!

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Georgia March 20, 2013 at 1:59 am

Hi Ronnie,

I am so inspired by this. This year I want to put my photos into photo books. I am starting with 2011 and working forward (a big job, so doing step by step). I also have a memory box like you for my daughter. As she is a foster child we are in the process of adopting it’s even more important to do this for the court process. I try and write in her special book every so often. I admit it’s not terribly frequently. But your blog and posts have really given me some great ideas. I love it. I really want some beautiful memories and things to look back on.

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Pink Ronnie March 20, 2013 at 4:06 am

Hi Georgia,
Thanks so much for taking the time to leave such a lovely message. It’s so wonderful that you have a special book for your daughter. I try not to focus on what I don’t get around to writing or journalling but instead, on what I do manage to document and record. In my mind, there’s no way I can document everything single thing, but what we do have recorded is absolutely precious. I’m glad my blog can be of some inspiration to you. That is such an encouraging thing to read. :)
Ronnie xo

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erica @ expatria, baby March 20, 2013 at 5:49 am

This is a great idea! I could totally get behind doing this (I mean, provided my kid would go to sleep in a timely fashion at night time). I could see printing out Instagram pictures, or little snapshots. Maybe something to start for my girl’s upcoming birthday? Do you think a moleskin would work?

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erica @ expatria, baby March 20, 2013 at 5:50 am

duh, my last comment was so not clear. I mean, the first idea is totally a gem that I could get behind given my lifestyle. Do you think a moleskin notebook would work for that?

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Pink Ronnie March 20, 2013 at 6:03 am

Definitely! I love Moleskins. The only potential issue I foresee would be it might become hard to close once you’ve filled it up with photos, since the binding is so tight to begin with. But if you don’t mind that, then it shouldn’t be a worry. You could always tie it up with string or fashion your own ‘wraparound.’
Should be lovely, Erica.
Ronnie xo

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Milina March 20, 2013 at 9:19 am

Thank you for sharing this Ronnie. I’ve been putting the memory keeping off as, well, I sort of didn’t know where to start. Your help has been invaluable. Now I have a starting place and I can get those books and photos down from the wardrobe! xo

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EmilyClare March 20, 2013 at 9:32 am

Oh Ronnie, you are so inspiring! I love how you make such a concerted effort (with Rick) to capture the childhood of your boys – heartfelt words & photos need no embellishments I say! Your memory keeping is simple and beautiful…

I admit I am behind in my pen & paper journalling for Reu’s life so far… I have a sweet baby book but I often feel like my writing/words have to be perfect before I can write in it (and instead have it full of things written on scrap paper!) When we return to Sydney redeeming this is on my list…. along with finishing our honeymoon journal and making one of our time here in France xx

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eek! March 20, 2013 at 9:47 am

These are so amazing! You are amazing! I don’t even have kiddos and I want to document like you :)

Thanks for your kind comments. I think my photos seem richer this week because I actually used the dSLR for many of this pics as opposed to the iPhone ;)

Have a great week!

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simplypearl March 20, 2013 at 8:53 pm

wow ronnie. sooooooo inspirational. you’re an amazing woman and your kids are so lucky to have you as their mom. good luck with your delivery! looking forward to pictures of baby edward. lastly, thank you for sharing. xoxo, pearl

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Heather W March 21, 2013 at 2:15 am

I love that your boys will have so many ways to look back at their childhood, it’s just fantastic. I recently realized that I have completely forgotten to do a baby book for my 17 month old so I plan on getting the Project Life Baby Boy mini kit when it comes out in May and doing a mini album.

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Pink Ronnie March 21, 2013 at 10:30 am

That sounds like a wonderful idea Heather! Those mini albums look beautiful.
Thanks for stopping by too, and taking the time to leave such lovely words.
Ronnie xo

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Vic March 21, 2013 at 10:42 am

Thank you for this post! I think I have finally decided to try Project Life at least for one of our family annual albums (what I have settled on for our memory keeping), hoping I love it! Interesting you say to start in the present, as I’ve actually just decided to start with a holiday album from 2009 then skip to yearly albums starting back from 2010 working my way to 2013. Just how my mind works… Happy to be persuaded otherwise, keen to hear your thoughts with working backwards!

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Pink Ronnie March 21, 2013 at 11:04 am

Hi Vic,
So lovely to have you stop by! What I mean by ‘start in the present’ is actually to start recording and documenting your life in the present. If you do that, then even while you’re working on the past years, you’re not missing out on recording what’s happening now in your life. So in my case, I started Project Life in Week 14 last year and I just kept on top of it every week, and at the same time, I was working on memory keeping projects from past years that I was trying to catch up on….
Ronnie xo

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Stephanie@HenryHappened March 21, 2013 at 5:35 pm

What a beautiful way to collect memories. Thanks for sharing :)

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Carin March 29, 2013 at 6:49 am

Oh my gosh, I just found you when I googled memory-keeping and I sure hit the jackpot! Wow! You are so organised, and I love the way you do things. Have subscribed to your blog as well because it’s just beautiful.

I’m like you in that I like things chronologically. I have 25+ slip in photo albums that showcase my life up until the end of 2011. I haven’t updated them since because I have taken my time to work out a new system that will work for us. Now that we have two kids, the albums are taking over our precious space. I’m considering doing digital photo books instead.

I keep a lot of our other memories in file folders. I have a lever arch file for each kid and one for us as a couple. In those I keep things like certificates, out of date school photos, pregnancy and baby journals made in word documents on the PC (with photos inserted/ blank spaces for stuff I want to glue in later), letters I’ve written to my kids at various times, pages and pages of the funny things the kids have said and done, records of trips, etc. I use simple white folders with a plastic pocket on the front cover so they’re uniform and easy to get hold of, because I know I will have to get more soon.

Last year I also started sketchbooks for each of the kids where I do sketches of toys and similar that are important to them.

Sorry, this turned into a massive comment. I think I should write my own blog post on this.

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Pink Ronnie March 29, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Hi Carin,
So glad you found the blog via Google! Thanks for stopping by and reading. Sketchbooks for the kids is such a unique idea – never thought or heard of that before. Love it!
Ronnie xo

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Emma April 12, 2013 at 10:39 am

Hi, how do you print the small size photos… with the white border?
I am starting all my kids.. 4 of them.. soo many photos any ideas for me??

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Pink Ronnie May 8, 2013 at 5:16 am

Hi Emma,
Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. I must’ve missed your question somehow. I print the smaller sized photos by printing them in large batches as contact sheets (18 to one A4 page) using the Aperture software on my computer.
In terms of ideas for your four kids – can you tell me, are you starting from scratch? Are your photos already printed or all on your computer?
Ronnie xo

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Anthea May 4, 2013 at 8:20 am

Hi Ronnie,
I have just discovered your blog and I think I may just be obsessed with your design style and memory keeping!! Love. Thanks for sharing.
I have read your posts on your darling Cameron, my heart aches for you, I am so sorry for the loss of your precious little boy.
I have 3 little boys, 7, 3 and 9 months and you have inspired me to do more memory keeping. I feel disappointed that I have missed recording so many memories but I am determined not to dwell on what I have missed and just be glad for what I do. I bought some PL items a few months ago but I haven’t worked out my system / framework yet. Your posts are really helping me work this out.
Just one question if you don’t mind. (You may have already written about this but I haven’t seen anything yet.) What do you do for your children’s artwork? I keep a small selection out of the masses but I haven’t decided what to do with it yet. Some could possibly go into the boys individual PL albums?

Kind Regards Anthea

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Pink Ronnie May 8, 2013 at 5:19 am

Hi Anthea,
Thanks so much for stopping by and for your beautiful message. At the moment, I’m keeping a small selection of the boys’ artwork in my IKEA drawers (each drawer happens to be A3 in size so even the large paintings from preschool fit perfectly). I’m keeping them organised by term and by year. My plan is to photograph them once their drawer is full and to turn them into a photo book using this Shutterfly photo book design by Paislee Press: http://paisleepress.com/2012/04/mini-masterpieces-the-photobook/
I also considered storing them in their PL albums, but I don’t want their albums to get filled up that quickly and I know all too well how much space artwork takes up!
I hope that helps.
Ronnie xo

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Jo-Anne May 31, 2013 at 1:18 pm

WOW Ronnie, you just AMAZE me!!

I have one 2 year old baby boy and i am battling to keep up with his babybook (which i have not even finished yet). You have 4 baby boys and you are up to date.

You are truly an incredible Mommy and woman – and you have given me so many helpful tips in this blog that i don’t feel so overwhelmed by all the catching up i have to do.

THANK YOU!!

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gaby September 25, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Hi Ronnie! I’m just going through some of your archive as I try to figure out how best to approach my own memory keeping, and i noticed that the link for ‘how i organise my projects’ doesn’t work. Is that post still up on your blog somewhere? I’d love to read it! x

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Pink Ronnie September 25, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Hi Gaby,
Sorry, that got mucked up.
Here it is: http://pinkronnie.com/2013/02/dear-ronnie-on-project-management/
Ronnie xo

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Erin November 3, 2013 at 1:57 am

This is such a lovely post! I love all of your ideas and definitely will use some of them when I have kids. Love the coffee table book so much!

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monique September 19, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Hey Ronnie, Thanks so much for sharing. I’m keen to work on a similar project for my little guy, but I was hoping to achieve this digitally, as we live in a little unit, and extra photo books are not really an option, plus I’d love to add chronologically our phone video’s into the e-book. Have you worked in this medium before and if so what would you recommend?
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and projects, truly inspiring.
Cheers M

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Pink Ronnie September 27, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Hi Monique,
Thanks for dropping by. No, I always create tangible keepsakes because I know the chances of us opening up an ebook in the future is very low… I hope you find something that works well for you!
Ronnie xo

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I love hearing from you!

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