Documenting Life


documentinglifeAre you completely overwhelmed by the idea of documenting life, preserving memories, photographing your family, the plethora of scrapbooking options, Insta-what?, and printable Facebook pictures?

I know. Me too! And I document… everything. When my daughter was born, I snapped hundreds of pics with my massive digital SLR camera. I had no time to sort photos, no time to document, and let’s face it… there wasn’t much to document then.

I also found myself dwelling on missed moments. Then, a friend of mine, who is a regular scrapbooking mama said, “I once scrapbooked each week for an entire year of my daughter’s life. I missed some weeks, and it bothered me… but when we look at that album now, we don’t focus on the pages that are missing, because we’re too busy enjoying the moments I did document.”

Hearing this made it all okay. I would document what I could, when I could. In fact, sometimes I would put the camera down altogether and just BE in the moment. I also researched some very EASY ways to scrapbook and document my daughter’s life that weren’t demanding. These are still some of my favorites:


If you have a digital SLR or nice digital camera, that is GREAT. I still use mine for special occasions. However, I’ve found that my smart phone is my go-to for taking and sharing photos. The file sizes are smaller than my digital camera, the quality isn’t as good, but for quick sorting, sharing, downloading, and printing, it’s perfect!

I recommend the Afterlight App for editing photos for better light quality, and I share my photos via Instagram and Facebook. I use both these forms of social media, because 1– that’s where my friends and family are, 2– they have privacy settings that allow me to control who I share my photos with, and 3– you can order prints from Instagram, or print Facebook photos by logging into your Facebook account at a photo kiosk at most local drugstores.

Digital Documenting

If you want to move beyond social media, but still share photos or stories with friends and family via email, starting a free blog is a great option. Blogger is my favorite, using Gmail as a login, though I know many loyal WordPress fans. Blogs can be set to private or public, and they’re a wonderful way to post photos and write up little blurbs about your day-to-day lives. Mine is the only real “diary” I’ve ever kept.


Okay, so you’re the type who absolutely needs that hand-held photo album. I feel the need too! These are some of my favorite ways to scrapbook and preserve memories, and you can make them as simple or complex as you want!

One tip — before you start buying stickers, patterned paper, and printing 500 photos (been there), think about how you want to use your printed book. Documenting every week for every year of your child’s life is a wonderful thought (and I know some incredible moms who do it diligently!), but remember that it’s a huge long-term project to take on, and then you have to store 18+ scrapbooks somewhere. I was too overwhelmed with that idea. I find that, a great place to start is with your child’s first year, or a family vacation — a book to gift, or one you may want to keep on your coffee table for when grandparents visit or other friends who may not see photos on social media. Decide how many photos you’ll need, and print just enough for one project at a time. Then try:

A Photo Album

A good, old-fashioned, cute photo album! You can simply drop in photos or get more creative by decorating the cover or cutting out photo-sized cards to add to the album to compliment the photos. Adding journaling cards adds a story element.

Pre-Made Scrapbooking Kits

When my niece was born, I picked up a pre-made kit at the craft store. It had guides for how to set up the pages. Stickers, papers and all embellishments were included. I printed 20 photos from the day she was born, and glued it all together in an afternoon. It came in its own gift box, and no one knew it was pre-made!

Project Life Album* (video here)

This is one of my personal favorites. Project Life albums and kits come with pre-designed template papers and photo-album-like plastic sleeves to drop in pre-made journaling cards and photos. Your pages will look super artsy, but it’s as easy as dropping photos into an album! Project Life also has a digital option for designing pages. My album pages in this post were done digitally.


Creative Memories & Local Scrapbooking Groups

If you are really into the nitty-gritty, paper-cutting, page-designing, photo-printing scrapbooking scene, join a local group of scrapbooking mamas or find a local Creative Memories consultant. Make your social time scrap-booking time! I also suggest defining those reasonable goals, as mentioned in the tip above, or you might need a whole room for your scrapbooking supplies at some point. I write from experience!


Smash Books* (video here)

Smash Books may actually be my all-time favorite way of scrapbooking. It really appeals to my “Who cares, let’s just get this done!” side. You basically just glue on the page: journal cards, paper-keepsakes, and photos, in any random layout. It’s a very freeing way to scrapbook that takes little time. The books already have pre-designed themes and pages, so your book is guaranteed to have that artsy feel, like this page from the Two-Forty-Six Blog:


Sn@p Studio* (video here)

The Snap book process is like a combination of a Smash Book and a Project Life album. It has the more care-free “smash stuff on the page” feel, but the more organized, templated approach of a Project Life album. Their video shows more daily-life documentation, but I think this type of book would be perfect to document a family vacation.


Wreck This Journal & Art Collaborations*

If you’re leaning more toward simply having a creative experience, Keri Smith has a great line of books that ask you to destroy the pages, stick (sometimes even gross) things in the book, and encourage the creativity of destruction. This can be a really fun project to do with your kids, bringing your journal to the park, throwing it, stomping on it, filling it with leaves. When done, adding photos of your kids destroying the book adds a personal touch too.


Creating an art journal with your kids is a really nice way to collaborate and have a special keepsake. Any sketchbook can be filled with watercolor splashes, crayon drawings, stickers. As your child creates, feel free to add your own doodles, notes about what your child is sharing, what colors they like, funny quotes, or excerpts from your conversation.

*Once you learn the process for these types of albums, you can easily create your own or save money by customizing them using found scraps of paper, dollar-bin or clearance products, and household items.

All these products and their embellishment kits can be found at most Burlington craft stores. A.C. Moore isn’t currently carrying SmashBook products.

Have any questions, or is there another documenting process that you love? Please share in the comments below! Happy Memory-Making!



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