A few weeks ago, I devoted some time to getting Morgan and Parker’s school albums updated. I hadn’t worked on them at all during the past school year and it was kind of gnawing at me that these albums weren’t current. When I filled out the workbook section of the Start Fresh Planner in January, this was one of those projects that I deemed “important” (because man do we love looking at these completed albums – especially the kids) but it wasn’t one that I was “highly enthusiastic” about. I think that was because I was over a year behind and I didn’t have very many photos printed. The thought of having to go through 9 months of photos for two kids and pick out all of the school related ones was a bit overwhelming. Okay, a lot overwhelming.
I typically print my photos at home on my Epson, but since I had over 100 pictures to print (and a $10 gift card to Shutterfly), I went that route. The upload time was not my favorite, but it was a big sigh of relief when they showed up in my mailbox. The quality was pretty good, especially considering they were going in a divided page protector, and the money I had spent. My least favorite part of the project was done.
As I was going through the photos, I noted events each of the kids had during the school year. Morgan was in full-day kindergarten (hello piles of school work and art) and Parker was in half day 2 day a week preschool. I dated events, like fundraisers and field trips, and filled in the rest loosely based on month or season. Depending on how many photos I had, an event may take up a whole page, but sometimes I only had 1-2 so those spreads are a little more unstructured and I worried about filling those in later.
My first step was to just get the photos in the page protectors. I used mostly Design A, but mixed in a few others (and even trimmed some down later if I couldn’t fill the entire page) as needed. Once that step was complete (which took about 3 hours for each album while chatting with my sister), I started filling in with journaling cards with facts and short stories. Also, in Morgan’s album I left a few Design F page protectors empty to add photographed artwork, which I’ll explain in a bit.
Something I didn’t love about working on this album after the fact was that I felt like it was missing interesting details. I used Becky Higgins Childhood kits (Mayfield for Morgan and Bridgeport for Parker) which I love, but there are so many cute journaling cards that I didn’t use. Cards that they could have drawn / written / doodled on. Luckily I have plenty leftover to use when I make time to work on this school year (hopefully before it’s over). I am, however, very happy with what I do have and what I did keep – like artwork and endless handwriting samples – because it’s better than nothing.
What’s keeping me motivated to carry on with this project is thinking about what a treasure these albums will be in 10 years when they are both in high school. To have a collection of albums focused solely on each of them and their interests and friends. In the past, I’ve been so tempted to start adding these bits and pieces of their school life into our family album because I’m stressed with the thought of maintaining three separate albums, but then I look through the finished product. And I hear Morgan and Parker talk and point and laugh about things that happened just a year ago. Although it's very very simple, it's done. It’s worth the effort, mama. Keep going.
What I need to refine is creating a routine or process for keeping up with everything. I’ve done well with keeping all of the extra papers and projects in one place, and I’m pretty ruthless about what I keep and what I toss (after photographing it, if necessary), but I do want to create a new system for that. Also, as big of an initial hassle it was to get everything together, I’m not sure if it’s better to do a huge catch-up session like that again, or maybe try to work on it 2-3 times each school year. I’d like to entertain the latter mostly because the facts will still be fairly fresh on my mind.
Next to getting all of the photos printed and sorted, the next biggest project was going through all of the loose paperwork and pulling out the best of the best to photograph. I purchased the Project Life app and after playing with it for a bit, I decided this would be the best way to get all of these papers in their album without adding a ton of bulk. I grabbed a piece of white foamcore and set up next to our patio doors and photographed every single piece. Later, while dinner was in the oven, I created 4x6 collages so I had two pieces of work on one 4x6 (or one per 3x4). A few of the horizontal pieces I left at the full 4x6, but I only had a few of those for Morgan, and they ended up being great filler for Parker’s album where I didn’t have a ton of pictures within the Design A page protector.
I had some smooth white cardstock pre-trimmed to 4x6 and started printing them out on my Epson printer at home. All I had to do was trim them in half and slip them in the page protector – so easy. I totally could have used a combination of 6x8 and 4x6 collages on one letter size piece of paper and just trimmed them all down after printing too. I may try that next time. Regardless, I am beyond happy with how this part turned out. This alone will keep me motivated to continue updating these albums. As annoying as all of that paperwork that they bring home every day can be (I loathe paper clutter), there are so many great stories to be told.
As the years go on, I know so many things will change. The types of photos will change. The projects will change. I may only have a few pages for each school year compared to the dozen pages or so I will likely have in their early elementary years. But I am still hopeful to maintain a home for all of it. Whatever the content may be.
What will remain : professional school photos and class composites, notes from parent teacher conferences, progress reports, class schedules and daily routine.
What will change : less field trips and more extracurricular activities. Less in-classroom photos and more selfies with friends. Less mama filling out the journaling cards and more of them filling them out (I hope!)
It's a big relief to have last year done. Now I need to dedicate some time to this year.