My mother kept a baby book from when I was a child. I've looked at it over the years and felt so grateful to have a few photographs, a lock of hair from my first haircut and some handwritten dates of important milestones. These days, documenting our lives has become a lot easier. We can whip out our cameras at a moments notice. And, sharing all the special memories we've recorded is as easy as the push of a button. In the first week Kz was born, I think I had already accumulated about 1000 photos. Which sounds great (or crazy...whatever), right? But who's going to want to look back in 10, 20, 30 years and sift through thousands of disorganized digital photos?
One of the ways that I have documented Kz's first year is by creating these simple, monthly "newsletters." I know the word newsletter sounds a little involved but they are more like small summaries of the month's happenings. You can also create these without using text at all, but I find that while a picture is worth a thousand words, even a tiny caption provides context and adds endless sentiment to your newsletter. Here is an example of one of Kz's monthly newsletters...
This one has a little blurb as well as some captions at the top. It's simple, easy to make, and is great to share digitally. Each month, I draft a quick email to a list of contacts of family and close friends with the newsletter attached. It's great for my family who lives far away because it provides them with a little more than just a few cute photos.
I use a Mac, so these documents are made in the program Pages. You can also create similar docs in Word or if you are fancy, in Photoshop. Pages has lots of templates and is the most user friendly for this type of photo documentation so I highly recommend using it. Here's how to do it:
1. Create a folder on your desktop where you will drag the photos you want to use. Because they will be copies of the original photos, you can place them here temporarily and delete them when you've finished, or save them for further use and editing later.
2. Here's the fun part! Go through your photos and choose your favorites. I suggest doing monthly newsletters so that the amount of photos you have to go through isn't too overwhelming but if you take a lot more or a lot less, you can do a trimonthly newsletter or a weekly edition. Remember the purpose of these docs is to highlight the special moments and milestones of the month, so be picky! I typically choose between 7 and 12 photos. Now, drag the photos to the folder on your desktop.
3. Open Pages and decide whether you'd like to use a template or create your document from scratch. Sometimes I like to put in my own photos as the background and using a blank page allows me to do this. Other times, I don't want to be bothered with formatting so I go with a template. Switch it up so your newsletters have a different feel each month!
4. Open your new photo folder and begin dragging and placing your photos. Vary the size, put them in frames, play with the opacity and tilt them any way you like. Add text boxes to provide captions or to write a larger blurb about your photos.
5. Don't forget to add the date and your child's age!
6. I typically save these as pdf's. It makes it accessible to everyone regardless of the type of computer they have ( .pages files can only be opened by mac users). To do this, hit PRINT and then SAVE AS PDF. I save them all to a specific folder so that when I decide to print them, I will not have to go searching.
7. Your newsletter is ready to share! If your photos are taken with a good camera then chances are this newsletter is now a very large file. Reduce file size first to make emailing the document easier (and less annoying for your recipients to open). Do this simply by clicking FILE and then REDUCE FILE SIZE.
In addition to saving the newsletters in a folder on my desktop, I plan to print these in two ways. After Kz's first year, I will send all of them to a printer or online photo shop like Snapfish and have them made into a book for us to keep. A tangible copy is a more cherished keepsake in my opinion. I will also print these on the computer and slide them into plastic sheet protectors and bind them for Kz to have. Incorporating family photos can help create a great tool for your child to use on their first days of school when they may be feeling a little homesick.
How do you record your child's special moments?