A foolproof way to solidify memories in our minds is to relive them. Talk about them. Look at them. Listen to them. Experience them over and over. It’s so powerful!
I’ve always felt a desire to document life’s events and life in general. By the time I was eighteen I had an entire cardboard box full of (boooorrrrring) journals. Now that I have a family I feel the value even more.
I use five tools to document our days, and four out of the five are FREE! Here they are.
1) The Notes app:
It’s the yellow “Notes” icon on your iPhone home screen. (I’m sure non-iPhones have a version of this, and I’m sure it works just as well!) I use this notepad as our running family journal, (as well as for grocery lists, and a thousand other things,) because it’s so convenient. I can talk at it or type, and I always have it with me, unlike a traditional journal, so I actually do WRITE in it whenever I have a free minute or two.
Another great thing about this notepad is that you can insert photos! This way when Brielle says something I never ever want to forget like: “mommy, my brain tellded me to swallow my gum but I didn’t listen..” (Hands me big glob of gum) I can take a picture of her little face and huge eyes and insert it with the above quote into our “family” notepad. There forever.
Or if I am writing about a life event of the family I can include a pic or two. Then I email said notepad to my gmail account about every two months and download it to my laptop to a specific folder. This way if I lose my phone I won’t lose everything I love so dearly IN my phone as well. I plan to print some of these entries out to put in her physical baby book as well.
(To insert a photo in your Notes app, press your finger on the page where you are writing and a horizontal bar menu will come up. “Insert Photo” will be in that menu.)
2) The Voice Memo App:
This is another iPhone app that is already on the home screen just waiting to be used.
This app is AMAZING at helping preserve memories. When we are in the car and Michael is doing his Star Wars theme song in the back (he’s unnaturally good at this tune,) I just click record and it’s saved forever. Or when Brielle is playing with her clip dolls on the couch and they are having a gentle princess disagreement about one not wanting to be the other’s sister anymore, I click record and the dialogue is saved forever. Because in two seconds these babies will be singing different songs, their voices will be different, their interests will be different! And I adore being able to look back and see who they were yesterday. And really FEEL it.
3) Our own private (AKA, would be incredibly annoying to anyone but us) Instagram Feed:
I created a private account, (I just went into settings and set it to Private.) And I switch back and forth between my private and public accounts. Instagram makes it nice and easy to have multiple accounts! While on vacation I would dump pictures and videos in there like a bull-dozer pushing dirt into the Grand Canyon. It will never run out of space. Now that we are home I upload pics to my private feed about once a week. Such low-maintence for a free photo album that will (hopefully) last forever? I’ll take it!
And it has so many perks: It has a beautiful feed that because I don’t follow anyone else on this specific account I see only MY pictures. Which is amazing when the kids want to look at my phone. Brenden is my only follower (poor thing) and I direct captions to him like its my j.o.b. This is a realitively new addition to my documentation arsenal. And I can’t recommend it enough. I can add videos, pics, text, anything. And everything. And for me the biggest benefit is the privacy. I love interacting with people SO MUCH and I get my energy and life from relationships with others. But there’s something so special about the private love and community of your own little family.
4) Baby books and photo books:
I do them the new-fashioned way: Shutterfly and/or MixBook. Both are amazing and Shutterfly seems to have deals every single day. No matter when I’m putting a photo book together I can google “Shutterfly coupons/discounts” and get tons of codes. I found a 50% off discount code for our Rhode Island trip book just randomly on the day I wanted to order the book! So I got three books, one for each of the grandmothers involved and one for us, at a significantly discounted price! I also use Shutterfly for other things too: Wall (photo) calendars, customized coffee mugs and fridge magnets.
But I love the photo books because they really get the most value out of the pictures we take daily. These big photo books can be placed throughout the house and enjoyed daily by everyone! Together! Brielle and I read hers all the time. I made one for my pregnancy with her, (I was on bedrest so I had the time) and one for her first year of life.
I haven’t done baby books for Michael yet but everything is ready to be compiled and I’ll get to it this Fall. Before now he wasn’t old enough to really appreciate it. But now I can’t wait to see his eyes when he has a physical book in front of him (one of his favorite things!) starring HIM.
Of course nothing can replace a good old fashioned baby book of the “my mom” variety, so I did one for Brielle and am working on Michael’s now. Growing up I always felt a direct correlation between how many pictures/hats/baby memorabilia my mom had in my baby book and how much she loved me. I kid. Sort of.
In reality I am one of seven kids and I’m amazed my mom even attempted to have a baby book for each of us. I would find pictures of my siblings in my baby book more often than I would find pictures of myself! It’s pretty bad when your mom says “I think this is your brother??” As she’s holding a picture of a baby from YOUR baby book.
5) We listen and watch and read often:
Brielle and I go through all her baby books weekly, laughing at how cute she was and the things she used to say. We open the Voice memos app and listen to how she used to pronounce words, and how Michael said “bubble” (his first word.) We look through my private Instagram feed and rejuvenate and flex our memory muscles. It’s amazing how much Brielle has remembered about our NYC trip last year just because we look at pictures and talk about it! She asked the other day if we could go to “Liliana’s coffee shop.” That was a sweet little local coffee shop right across the street from our apartment in NYC!
So that’s what I do! So far it hasn’t stopped them from growing, but it sure does help me sleep at night knowing that I have so many sweet sweet things to look back on and enjoy.
“Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.”
“Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.”
Corrie Ten Boom