I’ve always been a memory keeper. Well, honestly, I used to think it was hoarding, but now that I actually do something with the stuff that I’ve kept – I can refer to it as memory keeping. 🙂

When I was growing up, we had a camera (when it worked) and loaded the flashcubes, wound the film, etc., to take a picture. It was a little bit of a hassle and a huge expense. You got your photos developed at the drug store … and after a week of waiting and finger-crossing, you hoped that all the pictures weren’t dark and turned out. Remember those days?

I have about 4 albums of photos from when I was a child. They start at birth and end when I was about 8 years old. I guess that’s when our camera broke. From 8 years old, it skips to Senior pictures! I’m not kidding … it’s kind-of funny.

Now, fast forward to 2003 – the birth of my first child. Don and I owned our first digital camera. It was enormous and weighed 4 tons. If the camera would have dropped in the crib, it would have seriously injured the baby. But, it was digital and it changed our lives. We knew immediately that we had, in fact, captured the first smile … we knew that the lighting was bad … we went from paying for 24 prints where 1 ended up good, to printing only the shots that we wanted. The resolution left something to be desired, but it was a step in the right direction.

It changed memory keeping for mothers (and others) around the world.

For my anniversary, the same year that Avery was born, Don bought out the scrapbook store for me. He knows that I value keeping things and telling the story of “us”. It was the perfect gift, but since I got pregnant again so quickly, I didn’t really get started in the hobby like I wanted.

I’m so thankful that I kept the “stuff” and continued to value the idea of memory keeping. I’m so thankful that I kept snapping my 10,000 pictures per year. I’m so thankful that I didn’t trash all my treasured momentos and moved them 1,500 miles across the country to another state (and ultimately, moved them again to yet another house!) I knew that once the kids got a little older and time was free-er, I would begin to put things in order.

That time in my life is now.

I began to realize this in 2009. There was a new product by Becky Higgins that was called Project Life. (Project Life, for me, is taking 1 photo each day of the year.) Just the mere mention of the name was intriguing to me. I wanted desperately to jump on the bandwagon, but the kits were sold out. I knew that if I was going to complete this project, I needed a kit. I couldn’t try to go it on my own. I would quit … and feel defeated … and it might take me a while to get the gusto up to start again, so I waited until 2010. The day the kits went on sale I bought one.

It’s been through the process of completing Project Life that I’ve seen how valuable memory keeping is. I can look back at my albums and honestly tell you that the details that I captured on the majority of days are things that I would have no recollection of otherwise. Sure, we document our vacations and the holidays and the birthdays … but it’s the every day stuff that makes up the whole of our life and THAT is 95% of what is contained in my albums.

Project Life has been the catalyst to get me going on the kids grade-level scrapbooks. I started out easy on myself and vowed to complete one grade this summer. I took on First Grade for Avery and Kindergarten for Piper. I got them done in about 4 weeks and I’m very happy with them. (In the coming weeks, I’m going to show you how I put them together. I think that I stumbled upon a good system that made it so easy and organized. I’m hoping it will help someone else!)

This month, many bloggers have committed to writing about a single topic for 31 days. My life is so scattered that I don’t think I could write on the same thing for 31 days. I’m not sure that I’m “expert” enough to do that … but thankfully there are people who are! One of those is Jessica Turner of The Mom Creative. There are two blogs that I read without fail every single day – Jessica’s is one of those. Jessica made a statement in this post that just absolutely resonated with me. It was a “YES!!!! That’s exactly why I’m doing this” moment for me … finally the words of my heart came out … on someone else’s page mind you, but it was nice to know that someone else also “gets it”!!! Jessica begins by writing …

“My mom demonstrated through memory keeping that our stories mattered and were worth telling.

As an adult and mother, I have clung to this truth: our stories matter.”

Now … this next line is the key phrase for me … this is THE ONE … THE VERY ONE that is my heartsong ….

Jessica continues with …

“I want my children to know that they were loved every minute of every day, and memory keeping is an outlet for communicating that message.”

That’s it for me. God forbid that something ever happen to me, but if it does – I want my children to know and be able to see through photos and albums and journaling that they were loved every minute of every single day. (This is not to say that you have to be a scrapbooker to show your love to your children, but to me and for me – it is the easiest, most natural, and most meaningful outlet.)

All of this is to say … keep things for your family. Organize them for a legacy – your legacy. Someone, someday will care and want to know – trust me. It doesn’t have to be a scrapbook. It certainly doesn’t have to be expensive. It just needs to be.

In the coming days and weeks, I will be talking about Project Life 2012. (To hear me speak about how I’m doing Project Life 2011 – check out video #1 and #2.) I will also take you through how I organized the kids grade-level scrapbooks so that you can get going on that task!