Personal Memory Keeping

We have a lot of photographs displayed around our home.  Even still, my littles never tire of looking at themselves in pictures. One of their favourite things to do is look through our photo albums. I love this quote from Brene Brown in the Gifts of Imperfection where she was talking about interviewing people who had suffered a loss.

“The memories that they held most sacred were the ordinary, everyday moments. It was clear that their most precious memories were forged from a collection of ordinary moments, and their hope for others is that they would stop long enough to be grateful for those moments and the joy they bring.”

I’ve been actively printing our personal photos since July 2011. Before your eyes glaze over at the thought of scrapbooks and the amount of time this is going to take you, hear me out. My method of personal memory keeping is quick and easy and totally worth the effort.

Enter Project Life.

In it’s infancy, Project Life was basically a set of page projectors with photo sized pockets that you slipped each picture into. There are people out there that do beautifully designed things with their photo pockets. I’m not one of them. For me, it really is just an easy spot to hold our photos.

I start with a black 3 ring binder link and a set of the Project Life Design A photo pockets.

They now make tons of different page projector options but I don’t like having to think about what sizes I’m going to have to print depending on the week.  I also purchase a Project Life design kit each year so I have a card ready to go to fill in with dates. Some of the designs are very scrapbook-y but there are some more clean & contemporary ones available, like the one I work with.

With all the extra stuff I put in the albums, I can fit 6 months of photos into each album. So at the beginning of January, and then again at the beginning of July, I put 6 months of page protectors into an album and put a date card in the top left pocket of each 2 page spread.

Each week I have 8 horizontal 4”x6” and 8 vertical 3”x4” pockets to fill. The date card takes up one of those horizontal pockets and I use one of the vertical pockets for a week in review.

For me it’s really important to get those date cards in there ahead of time so I know which week is which. Because I don’t print photos every week, having the date card allows me to keep track of the weeks so as soon as I get a ticket stub or report card or whatever ephemera I want to include in the album, I know just which week to slip it into. Meaning I don’t have time to lose it before I figure out what to do with it.

Having somewhere to keep the ephemera of our life is by far my favourite thing about this project. I no longer have piles of memory stuff  and kids artwork everywhere that I don’t know what to do with. I either slip it into a pocket (if it’s small) or add a regular 8-1/2”x11” page protector in the middle of the two page spread (if it’s big) to hold whatever it is. Now the swimming report card (in the top photo) lives with photographs of the swimming lessons and not tucked away in a file cabinet never to be seen again.

It also means I don’t need to keep every single piece of artwork my littles make. Blasphemy, I know.

The kids are free to create as much as they want, and create they do. Some of those creations get taped to our wall for us to enjoy for a few weeks and the ‘special’ ones (their determination, not mine) go in a page protector in the album. It also means that I have every handprint turkey and every special Mother’s Day craft in the album right alongside photographs of what they looked like and who they were at that age. It makes those crafts even more special as we look back at them.

I wish I was better at journaling about my kids but I’m just not, one week in review card is all I can manage. It’s nothing in-depth, just a quick rundown of what we did that week – a weekend birthday party, a playdate, an evening out. I love knowing just what we did and it helps us remember what was happening in the photographs as well.  I also used it as a place to record ‘firsts’ when my littles were babes along with weights from doctors visits and such.

The rest of the pockets I fill up with photos from the week. And if it seems like that’s a lot of photos, it’s not really. I have 14 pockets left to fill which is just 2 photos per day, less if something ‘big’ happens that week where we take lots of photos like someone’s birthday or a trip to the pumpkin patch or a Christmas concert.

Now that you know how I manage our personal memory keeping, next week I’ll share how I keep this project simple, print photos one a month and keep everything organized.


  1. I love that you do project life. some days i wish i did it too but i can barely keep up with my photo-a-day project. when do you work on it? after the kids are in bed? would love to know your system.

  2. I love project life and like you I have been doing it since 2011 and I’m so glad I found it! My husband and I take tons of photos and it’s nice to have them off the computer! I have switched to digital and it’s even easier for me with two littles 🙂

    1. I feel the exact same way! I think I started in July 2011 and I’m so glad I did. I’ve seriously contemplated switching to digital – I’m working on album 6 and they’re awfully big – but my favourite part is all the little pieces of paper and souvenirs that go along with it. What do you do with that sort of stuff?

      1. Hi Jenn! I use the scanner for getting them into the page and then I also print through shutterfly and they offer clear plastic envelopes that you can put stuff in. I don’t save a ton of stuff anyway but small things I want to save I just put in that envelope. My daughters first movie ticket stubs for example are scanned and incorporated into the page, but then they are also in the envelope as well. Try digital you will love it! This is my second year with digital and it is so much quicker and I can scrap anywhere I can take my laptop to. (Usually in bed after the little ones go to sleep 🙂

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