Just get it done!

Just get it done! January 11, 2012

10 years ago, when my first child was a baby, I was introduced to Creative Memories scrapbooking, and I had a wonderful time putting together his baby album, one or two pages a month throughout his first two years.  I was able to keep up the creative work for my second child, and she too has gorgeous, personal albums to chronicle her early days.  After the twins were born, I hit a wall, I didn’t have time, and the process became something I had to do, or planned to do, rather than a relaxing way to spend an evening.  I got far behind, overwhelmed by paper and sticker choices, and I finally just sort of gave up.

My twins have albums which begin when they are born and go up to their trip home from the hospital, two days later.  When I cleaned out my closet last month I finally threw away the rest of the matching papers and stickers for those albums — that seven year old project is just not going to happen, it is taking up mental and physical space in my life, and I need to find another way to get it done.

As I have mentioned before, Leo has asked about his baby book (or rather, lack thereof).  My pictures are all stored in Picasa, so I thought that making an album using that software would make sense, until I realized that I really don’t have the time or patience to learn another process.  After some quick online research about print quality, I decided to do a super easy album with Shutterfly.  I spent three evenings sorting pictures (my Picasa albums are by year, so I just pulled “best of Leo” from each year.  I loaded the pictures to shutterfly and over the last two nights I have created the album.  I used some of the “custom” features, but mostly I just plugged in pictures to pre-existing baby boy layouts, forcing myself to keep it simple and to stop at a reasonable time each night to go to bed.

The first year, from Leo’s birth to his first birthday (when he was already a big brother!) is complete, and this morning I proofread, entered some coupon codes and ordered it.

The key, for me, was that anytime I started to agonize about which picture or background to use, or get sad when just one picture of his baptism didn’t fit on the layout, I remembered that he would never see the work in progress, never know about the cute embellishments I didn’t add or the special font I didn’t upload.  For Leo, the book will arrive complete and perfect as it is.

Since a computer printed book seems a bit impersonal to me, I also plan to write Leo a letter to put in the last page of his book, telling some things about his first year, the sorts of things that I chronicled in scrabook journaling for the other children.

Now that I know that this process can be simplified, I hope to do another album for Leo’s toddler years and also do Jimmy’s baby album over the next few months.  After that, I will start over with John and Mary and do digital albums for them.  This seems like a perfect playoff-football activity for me.

The point of these albums is not that they be perfect works of art or graphic design, it is the time that I will spend sitting on the couch with a child, telling them stories of their childhood and letting them see and feel how much I treasure each of them individually.  Years from now, it is that same time that they will spend showing these same pictures to their spouses and children.  I remember being engaged when Len showed me old Christmas pictures of his family, how I treasured that as I was trying to get to know and understand everything about him.

Those pictures are in 1980’s velveteen albums with browning adhesive, but they are perfect snapshots in time, they inspire conversation and draw happy memories to the surface, and I hope that my simple albums will do the same.

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  • Jen E Andrews

    Thank you for this. I have 4 beautiful empty baby albums. I had high hopes after my first was done and then got ‘busy’ (in quotes because now that I have 4, I don’t know how I was so ‘busy’ with one!). Before I knew it, I was having my 3rd baby girl in 3 years and had collected 3 empty albums. I also have all my pictures in Picasa and as much as it saddens me to let go of the dreams of the pretty albums, I think it is time to make some photo books and put it to rest (before I forget any more of the details!). Thank you for reminding me what’s important – that they have something to look back on to see how much we enjoyed them and treasured their entrance into the world!

  • JMB

    I think less is more with the photo albums.u00a0 Look at yourself as an “editor” and edit out the stuff that is not important.u00a0 Our lives are so full of visual stimulants and if there are too many pictures, or videos or whatever, they lose their meaning.u00a0 I know with myself, if someone throws up a few pictures on FB, I’ll look at them.u00a0 But if it has more than a dozen, I don’t.u00a0 I remember my mom standing over the garbage with a newly developed package of photos, throwing out the ones that were unfocused, bad, red eye, etc.u00a0 That maybe left her with 3 or 4 that were good out of 36, but it was enough to record the moment.u00a0 You’re doing your child a favor by parsing out the superfluous and uninteresting pictures.

  • Right Said Red

    I followed the just get it done philosophy with Gus’ album and it made a huge difference in my attitude.u00a0 Gus’ book arrived and he could have cared less about all the extra embellishments and the layout.u00a0 He really only cared about the photos and my own descriptions of what was happening in each one.u00a0 I did write up his birth story and other “stats” so that he would have it later.u00a0 The older two kids (who both have beautiful creative memories scrapbooks with extensive writing by mom) were both jealous of all the great photos and how Gus’ book looked like a real professional book.u00a0 Go figure!u00a0 nnThe thing to keep in mind about young children–they tend to remember their childhood based on what you tell them/show them about their childhood.u00a0 If you put together a book with photos and tell them about all the positive things they did/said, they will remember that and think they were cherished and loved.u00a0 Embellishments in the book really don’t matter, and even having the best baptism photo doesn’t matter.u00a0 They want to see their life cherished and documented, and it doesn’t take that much time to just do it!nnWhen a big project is looming, the perfect so often becomes the enemy of the good.u00a0 Thanks for reminding us all that we need to get over the perfectionism and JUST DO IT!

  • Mary Alice

    Red, you make such a good point that they will remember this story however we tell it, and that I part of what I love about the album, especially the pictures of all of the siblings holding the new baby!u00a0 There are no pictures of mom crying in the middle of the night, everyone having strep throat, a huge pile of diapers!u00a0 Over time, I remember things with this rosy lens, too, which is just better for everyone!

  • Kat

    Photo albums have been perpetually on my “to-do” list for over 5 years now – I can’t wait to just be caught up, but life keeps getting in the way! :)nMA, I like your tactic of doing the most “urgent” photo book first, rather than requiring yourself to go in chronological order. When I think about starting 5 years ago, I get totally overwhelmed. I think I would be better served to start more recently, and then to work backwards. It is interesting how many fewer pictures I will use from each time period with the benefit of hindsight – the pictures that seemed so crucial just a few years ago now don’t seem as important. One of the benefits of procrastinating, I suppose!

  • ontheroad

    Great idea. These books (smaller and more current -u00a0″best of 2011″)u00a0make nice gifts for grandparents and some aunts and uncles who are far away.nAnother idea for the scrapbooking-that-never-happens foru00a0over the years is to use 3-ring binders (1/child and 1 family) w/ plastic sleeves. Children’s drawings, love notes, special party invitations, etc. go in a sleeve and can be easily edited and easily saved. Later, if mom or child really wants to scrapbook, the materials (in a manageable fashion) are there. If not, they’re still there to look back on.

  • Kat

    Does anyone have experience using Mixbook?nnAny pros and cons of using Shutterfly vs. Mixbook vs. any other sites?

  • Mary Alice

    We opened our shutterfly album today and I am extremely pleased.u00a0 I am pretty picky about print quality, and the book is beautiful, even the full page prints are not grainy at all.u00a0 It feels like a real professional book.u00a0 I did a 12×12 hardbound book, which retails for about $60, but it was 40% off and I had a gift card that came with a recent amazon purchase, so I paid about $25.u00a0 nnPros for shutterfly:u00a0 nn-it interacts directly with Picasa, so it was easy and fast to upload my picturesn-There were cute, scrapbook like backgrounds to choose from, so each page is a little bit differentn-it alerts you if a photo does not have the quality to be printed at the size you have selected (some of my pictures could not go up to the 12×12 full page size, maybe I had saved them at a lower file size back in the day)n-they are always having sales, so you can save your projects and wait to order until there is a salen-the quality exceeded my expectationsn-there are predesigned layouts, or you can choose “customize this page” and put things wherever you want.u00a0 I loved this latter option, it felt like real scrapbooking!n-The front and back cover can be a huge picture, which is just awesome looking.u00a0 You can also do a picture as the background of a page if you want.nnCons for shutterfly:n-when my pictures loaded, they did not stay in order, so I had to resort them.u00a0 Thankfully, I had loaded each year as a separate album, so I only had to sort within the year.u00a0 Next time I will just skip putting them in order in picasa so I don’t waste that step.n-you are working on the internet, not on software you have downloaded, so you are dependent on your connection speed.u00a0 Mine at home is fast, but this weekend I plan to work in the country, where the internet is super slow.u00a0 On the other hand, if you save your project, you always have it on any computer and you don’t have to back it up or use file space, and you dont’ have to install any software to get startedn-the process is not entirely intuitive — I spent about the first half hour just doing two pages, but after that it went much more quickly.u00a0 I consider that time an investment now that I know that I am happy with the book and will stick with that company, my future books will go faster or I will have more time to experiment with embellishmentsnnu00a0

  • Jada

    I started doing a photobook for each of our kids every year around their birthday.u00a0 They love getting their book in the mail and looking back over the past year.u00a0 I also use shutterfly and have been pleased with each book that I have made.u00a0 We also do a book for our parents with our siblings each year for Christmas.u00a0 My mom has said that she doesn’t want anything else except the photobook.