Saturday, August 30, 2014

Family Albums-My Simple Approach

I've been getting a lot of questions lately about how I capture my families memories and put them into books. I thought I would take some time to write it all down so people can see pictures of what I do as well as the details of how I make my books. 

But first a disclaimer. Some of you are going to read this and feel discouraged because you don't take a lot of photos of your family or you are years behind in getting them into albums. Please don't let this post do that to you. Here is the thing....we all do things for our families and children that other don't. For example, I don't plan big themed birthday parties for my kids, I don't have a garden, heck I hardly can keep any plant alive. I don't do amazing crafts with my kids, or make cards, or any crafts like that. This is pretty much my thing. The thing I've decided that I'm going to try to prioritize. Partly because it is life giving to me and I really enjoy it, and partly because it is something I really value and want to make a priority. So as you read this keep in mind that there are a lot of things I don't do in order to make this a priority. Some of the things I don't do are probably some of the things you do. So are we agreed, no feeling discouraged reading this post. Grace abounds my dear friends and we are all just doing the best we can to love our families and live in this crazy world!

Ok, so now that that is agreed upon here is how I make my albums. It didn't take me long in motherhood to figure out that I need to find a simple system for capturing our memories and putting them into some sort of album. Now, after having 3 babies in 4 years I'm even more aware of needing to simplify as I go. This is by no means a the "right" or only way to do this but it is what I've decided works for me.

Baby Books
I've decided that each of my kids will get a an album of their first year of life. After that everything will go into our family albums. I may decide later to do something for each kid but for now I'm just making a family album for each year. I use Blurb for both kinds of albums.

For their baby books I keep things pretty simple. The first part of the book has a few maternity pictures, pictures of their birth and their birth stories. I then do pages of their first few weeks of life. You will see that most of my layouts have just one or two pictures on them, except for the month pages I do. Then for each month I try to have a picture of Adam and I with the baby and then I try to take 8 pictures each month or pick my favorite 8 pictures. You can see an example below. I also write a few highlights for each month. I keep track of those using the Day One app on my iPhone. More on that in a few minutes.

So, I have this layout for each month of their first year and then I also pick my two favorite photos and do full size layouts of those. See Below. Isn't he so precious?

I will also do a layout for special events like their first haircut, 6 month pictures, their dedication, first birthday party etc. 

When I was doing Lyla's album a few years ago, I wasn't sure what to do with all of the pictures I had of her with our extended family so I decided at the back of the book to just randomly place all of the photos of her with our family in the back of the book.

And then I always end their album with a letter from both Adam and I telling them about their first year and how much we love them.

Now that I have this system I have the layouts saved in Blurb (I'll share more about Blurb at the bottom of this post) and now with Lucy I try at the end of each month to just put the pictures write into her album. So I already have the first three months of her album done. It usually only takes a few minutes if I already have the pictures edited.

And that is how I do our baby albums.

Family Albums
Now onto family albums. At first the thought of doing a whole year album completely overwhelmed me but now I again have a simple system and it has made doing each year much easier. 

I'm trying to get in the habit at the end of the month doing 4 things. 

1. Upload all my photos from that month and ideally edit them
2. Upload both Adam and my pictures of of our phone and back up to Thislife
3. Write our happenings for the month in my DayOne app
4. Back up my computer

If I do these things making my albums is really easy. Here is how I do it.

For each month I have a title page with the Month. I will then go to my DayOne app and look up everything that happened for the month. I'll include funny things the kids did, milestones, and just an over view of our month.

Then I just add our photos. I do not journal anything besides the title page for each month. I know that probably makes some of you cringe but if I'm going to do this every month for every year, I have to keep it simple. I do write my kids letters on each of their birthdays I write down other things in my DayOne app that I can look at later for memories, but for albums this is it. I will also do one page for each kids birthday that recaps them at each age. I will include funny things they say or do, their favorite things to do or favorite books etc. This way I have one page for each kid each year that is a little more personal.

Otherwise, I again only put a few pictures on each page. I like my layouts very simple. White background and only a few pictures. I try to take pictures that tell the story of our family. I should have taken pictures of a few examples of that but I oh well. Maybe a different post for a different day. 

I'm not sure if I will do this every year but in 2012 I added a page of our instagram pictures at the end of each month.

And that is it. I know it is looks very involved but now that I have a system it really doesn't take me long. 

Questions and Information:

I use Blurb for my albums and have been so impressed with everything about them. Some people have asked why Blurb over Shutterfly or something similiar? I started seeing several professional photographers mentioning Blurb so I checked it out. I thought it would be really expensive but it really isn't. Here is what I like:

  • I can download the program onto my computer and don't have to be on the internet to work on my albums. 
  • I can save my templates and even import former templates of whole books so I don't have to reinvent the wheel every time.
  • The quality is so good. For my baby albums I upgrade to their proline paper.  I like the uncoated one but you can order a swatch kit of their different papers to be sure you get what you like. Our family albums are too long to use a thicker paper but even their standard paper is great. 
  • For the quality the price is really good. Our 2012 family album was just over 300 pages and with a 20% off coupon the book was $80. If you sign up for their emails they send out coupon codes often.
  • Their customer support is amazing. For Lyla's one year album I didn't like the paper and wrote them and they printed me a new one for free. For Lucas' one year album somehow I got the dust jacket format instead of the image wrap and they again printed me a new one. Amazing!
  • I like to use the standard landscape book with the hardcover image wrap.

Other Information

I have mentioned the iPhone app DayOne and it has been the easiest way for me to keep track of our family memories. Since it is on my phone I just try to write things in their often. Funny things the kids say or do, something that happened that I don't want to forget. I mentioned above I write a recap of the month and then use that when I make my albums. I also have the app on my iPad and have used it for my own personal journaling.

We also use the app ThisLife. It was just bought by Shutterfly and it is a place you can backup your photos from all of your devices so your pictures are always safe. You can also have your Instagram photos automatically backed up there. It has been a great way to make sure all of the photos and videos on our phones get backed up.

Ok, I think that is it. Let me know in the comments if you have more specific questions and I'll try to answer them. Remember the best place to start is right where you are. If you have no system yet or have years of photos you want to put in albums don't start 10 years ago. Start right now with this summer. I am pretty behind right now but when I had some time I started with Lucy's album because it was motivating to be up to date on something. Now go make some memories.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Review of Bread and Wine-My New Favorite Book

Today I'm excited to share my review of my new favorite book, Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. I have been a long time fan of Shauna and her writing style. When I first read her book Cold Tangerines, I could not put it down. It made me laugh and cry, like all three of her books have done, and I always feel like I am connecting with a friend when I read her work. She is honest and genuine and doesn't shy away from sharing her heart. It's hard for me to pick a favorite of her three books, but I might have to pick this one, just because of the fabulous recipes that are included and because of how she connects the sacredness of sharing a meal with the people you love.

Let me just start by saying that I read this book in two days, and I have two children under two. Every free moment I had, I found myself running to pick up this book. And when I finished it, I was so sad it was over. I quickly found myself in the kitchen making several of her recipes, reenergized to cook good food for my friends and family. The week after I finished her book, I hosted a gathering for a friend who is going through very difficult circumstances and a golden birthday Oscar party for my sister, all in the same weekend. It was fun to quickly incorporate some of her ideas and recipes.

Reading Bread and Wine,  put a deep desire inside of me to create the community around the table that Shauna writes about. What I love about the book is she makes it easy and points out that it doesn't matter if you make the food or serve a frozen pizza and a salad. What matters is that you invite people into your home, and your heart.

"If you don't cook, begin by inviting people over. Order pizza and serve it with a green salad and a bottled salad dressing. Get comfortable with people in your home, with the mess and the chaos. Focus on making people comfortable, on creating a space protected from the rush and chaos of daily life, a space full of laughter and safety and soul. Then next time or the time after that, try grilled flatbread pizzas and make your own vinaigrette for the salad. The next time, try a dessert and an appetizer, and little by little, build a sense of muscle memory, a body of knowledge, a set of patterns for how your home and your heart open and expand when the people you love are gathered around your table."

What I love about this book is it covers not just the practical parts of eating and serving food, but the heart parts as well. She discusses everything from her body image and struggle with food, to how to host a simple and fancy dinner party.

"That's how this is for me. I've been catastrophizing about my weight since I was six. I've lost pounds and gained them, made and abandoned plans and promises, cried tears of frustration, pinched the backs of my upper arms with hatred that scares me. And through all that, I've made friends and fallen in love, gotten married and become a mother. I've written and traveled and stayed up late with people I love. I've walked on the beach and on glittering city streets. I've kissed my baby's cheeks and danced with my husband and laughed till I cried with my best friends, and through all that it didn't matter that I was heavier than I wanted to be. The extra pounds didn't matter, as I look back, but the shame that came with those extra pounds was like an infectious disease. That's what I remember. And so these days, my mind and my heart are focused less on the pounds and more on what it means to live without shame, to exchange the heavy and corrosive self-loathing for courage and freedom and gratitude. Some days I do just that, and some days I don't, and that seems to be just exactly how life is."

As someone who has also struggled with my weight most of my life and the shame associated with it, There was something freeing for me reading this book. She put words to thoughts I've had and feelings I've felt. And I too want to live a braver more free existence, especially around the topic of food and my weight.

One of the best parts about this book, is the recipes that go along with the chapters. Her blueberry crisp and flour less chocolate brownies have become staples in our home already, especially because they are gluten free. I was so surprised how so many of the recipes are gluten free or can easily be adapted to gluten free. As a family who has recently moved to a gluten free lifestyle, it was a huge blessing.

This review is not doing the book justice. Really, you just need to go out and buy it, like when you finish reading this post, just hop on over to amazon and order a copy for yourself, and while you are at, order a few for some friends. Here is the link. I promise you will not regret it.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lauren Zoe

I had the privilege of meeting my good friend Amy's newest baby Lauren last weekend. She is the sweetest little thing and was the easiest baby I've had so far to photograph. She just slept away and let me move her however I wanted for the most part. She definitely has her own look but also looks like her sister Hadley. We are so glad you are here Lauren! Let's hope for your parent's sake that you are easy to parent as you are to photograph.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Little Lincoln

I was able to meet another adorable little newborn, only a week old. Little Lincoln was a trooper as we tried to capture the newness of this little guy. His parents are on our staff team so it was fun to capture this beautiful little family. Welcome to the world Lincoln. We are so glad you are here.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Snapshots of Our Day

Today was one of those days that started off with somewhat of a plan but for the life of me I couldn't get it executed. My goal was simply to get the house picked up and a little clean before the weekend. However, my little guy was having a tough day and didn't want mama to put him down. I think we may be going through some separation anxiety. And this mama was tired after a long week of having daddy gone a lot. So, we didn't get a lot done but I did pick up my camera and capture these sweet little ones today.

This girl is finally let me take her picture again and she has been mighty silly at meal times lately. Just look at that smile!

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Thanks to the dollar section at Target these window gels kept her busy for quite a while.

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More silliness and little Lucas enjoying his train and animals

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One of his many short naps today. He just wanted his mama today.

Love this sweet girl and her love for all her babies.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Lyla And Her Lovies

Lately I've had a strong need to try to document the stage my children are at right now. I think part of it is realizing how many little things I've forgotten about Lyla's first year as we try to remember now that Lucas is at some similar stages. Of course there is so much I do remember but this feeling is making me be intentional about remembering the little things about my little ones.

Lyla has four, wait, five things she has to take to bed with her for every nap and bedtime. When we are getting ready for bed she says, "I need my baby, dolly, blankie, other one, and cake". Let me explain.

She has always had a blankie and last year for Christmas we gave her this doll for Christmas and she started sleeping with it. Then, when Lucas was born, my mom bought her an Itty Bitty Baby from the American girl store and that quickly became her baby and she forgot about her other doll. But then one day she found her other one and started saying it was her "dolly" and it got added to the things we had to have for bedtime.

Then, my mom was wanting to make her another blankie to match the one she had, so one day she brought a piece of fabric home to see how we liked it. Lyla grabbed on to it right away and wouldn't give it up, so now she carries around her blankie and a piece of fabric. She calls it her "other one".

She just received a Strawberry Shortcake doll as an early Christmas present from her cousin and she calls it her "cake". She too has been added to the list of lovies we round up for every nap and bedtime.

One of my favorite things is when you go in to get her from her nap she says, "I need my dolly, baby, blankie, the other one, cake. All'em!" She often says it really fast.  As you can see from the pictures below, her hands are quite full. I just was able to get her saying all of it on video today to go with these pictures. Maybe I'll have to post it soon.

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