As I explained in this post about my memory-keeping framework for the boys, before I discovered Project Life, I kept more of a standard ‘scrapbook’ for Angus and Pete after their first year. (You can read about Pete’s 2nd year scrapbook here, as well as the process I followed for updating it.) After I discovered Project Life, I weighed up the pros and cons of switching, and in the end decided it would be the way to go. A year or so later, I’m still perfectly happy with my decision.
I switched Angus over to the Project Life album at the beginning of his fourth year, and I switched Pete at the beginning of his third year. Because I hadn’t yet started a scrapbook for Jamie, I simply started a Project Life album for him after I finished his first year journal, namely at the beginning of his second year. (If you are considering ‘switching’ yourself, I think it helps to a definitive ‘cut-off’ date, as it just helps to make the process simpler and more straightforward.)
Which brings me to the present day. Each of the three boys have their own Project Life album. This is where I document their everyday lives, store my favourite photos of them, record their funny quotes and sayings and document important milestones in their life such as their birthdays and their first day(s) at preschool. Our family PL album is about our journey and our life as a family, as told through my eyes. The boys’ PL albums are about them specifically – something which they can take away with them when they move out (if they wish). In their company, I refer to these albums “their books.” It is my hope that over the years, I will take the time with each boy to look through ‘his book’ and to reminisce, laugh and remember together.
(You can click on each of the images below for a larger version.)
As i’ve mentioned before, I update these albums on a monthly basis. Because there are three (and soon-to-be four) of them, I allocate one week each month to each of the boys’ albums. And by ‘one week,’ I really only mean a couple of hours on a Thursday morning when my parents are around at our place to play with the boys. I’ve learnt that if I have a time limit that I have to work within, I tend to work a lot faster and not waste time.
The images you see here are from Pete’s Project Life album. It begins with the layouts I put together to document his 2nd birthday. Similarly, Angus’ album begins with his 3rd birthday, and Jamie’s begins with his 1st birthday (since he never had a 2nd year scrapbook like the others). I figure their birthday parties are a great way to ‘kick off’ the albums, and it also means that I don’t need a title page. So for the first 12×12 page (shown immediately above), I simply dive straight into the photos from the rest of the birthday month.
The Becky Higgins 8×10 vertical page protectors are simply perfect for the birthday party layouts, in my opinion. Not only do they sit really well at the front of the album, they don’t droop and they are a great size – big enough to allow for lots of flexibility in design but small enough to be clearly distinguishable from the main page layouts. I’ll write more about my process and thinking behind their birthday party layouts in a further post.
Each month begins with a title card, much like the weekly title cards in our family album. The rest of the pockets in the layout are then filled with my favourite photos of that boy for the month. These are a combination of everyday moments, portraits, funny captures, events and special occasions. I’m quite flexible in terms of how many pages each month takes up – it doesn’t even need to be an even or odd number, since I can easily just start the next month on a new page, whether or not it is a left hand page or a right hand page.
As a general rule though, I try not to go over 8 pages (ie. 4 spreads) per month, and I’ve found that for most months, I’ve been able to cover a whole month in about 4-6 pages. This of course comes down to being very brutal with my photo selection. Like our family albums, I’ve only really used the Becky Higgins Design A page protectors so far for the boys’ albums. If I really want to include extra photos, I can easily add inserts.
Apart from photos, I also print out the journaling that Rick and I have done for that boy for that month. My system for journaling is very simple. In Simplenote, I have a separate note for each child named Jamie’s journal, Angus’ journal, etc. Throughout the month, we add to these notes using either my laptop or my iPhone with funny things the boys have said or things that they’ve done that we feel are worth writing down. Usually we do this at the end of the day on my MacBook Air as part of getting ready for bed, but sometimes, I will also record things during the day when it happens.
By sticking to this system, we’ve managed to document a decent amount of things in writing for all the boys so far. Of course, there are definitely months when we’ve been extra busy and journaling has fallen by the wayside, but the important thing is not to stress about what we fail to record, and be thankful for what we do manage to document. I also love the fact that both Rick and I contribute to the journalling. His writing voice is quite different to mine, and it’s awesome to have his perspective as their dad recorded in this way. I think the boys will really appreciate reading their dad’s words when they’re older. For all the journaling inserts, I use the Becky Higgins 6×12 vertical page protectors.
To mark the end of the year 2012, I added a special 6×4 journaling card to each of the boys’ albums (shown in the bottom left pocket above) in which I wrote a special message to each of them, mentioning highlights and how I’ve enjoyed and cherished watching them grow up and change that year. I also filled up the rest of the page with photos taken specifically on New Year’s Eve (and a couple the day before). This served somewhat as an ‘end page’ for the year, and I think this is a tradition I’ll continue for future years.
In terms of the actual binder itself, I’ve been using this Modern 12×12 binder from American Craft because I like it’s simplicity and the fact that I can choose to customise the cover down the track if I wanted to. (I’m also a big fan of the Kraft design.) The wonderful thing about the workflow and structure that I’ve adopted is that I don’t actually have to start a new binder for each year. My intention is to keep filling up each binder with the boys’ birthday parties layouts and all the subsequent months of that year and to keep doing this on repeat. When a binder runs out of space, I will buy a new one. By using this flexible approach, it means I can potentially document two years (or more) of, say, Pete’s life in the one binder.
I hope this was a helpful overview of my boys’ Project Life albums. I know it’s been a long time coming. Further down the track, I’ll write about my monthly process in a greater detail, and I’ll try to also zoom in on some of the smaller details of the layouts. From then on, I plan to share some of my favourite layouts from their albums each month.
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Other posts you might be interested in reading:
How I manage my time
How I manage my projects
My weekly Project Life process from beginning to end
Tips on taking photos for Project Life
What you need to get started with Project Life
You can read all my Project Life posts here.