While I’m celebrating the arrival of baby Max with my family, I’ve asked some friends to fill in for me on the blog. Our final guest blogger this week is Eden from The Road to the Good Life. Eden and I met virtually in an Alt Summit Facebook group shortly before our Salt Lake City adventure, and I had the pleasure of enjoying lunch with her before Alt officially began. I like Eden because her vintage style and calm demeanor give the impression of an old soul, yet she describes herself as thriving “in the intersection between technology and communication.” Please join me in welcoming Eden!
Growing up my mom sent weekly letters to her mom, my grandmother, and her sister, my aunt. There was something special about receiving one of my mom’s letters. It’s this tradition of regular letter writing that I turned to when coming up with a way to share Gates’ childhood with her great grandmothers, both of whom are not online.
With a little organization, you can share moments of your children’s lives with relatives that aren’t online as well as create priceless keepsakes for yourself. And face it, wouldn’t you like tangible mementos? I know I would.
I blog weekly about what my family is up to and close to the second of every month I take a portrait of Gates. These posts and photos are my letter. As Gates gets older and begins fingerpainting and drawing, I’ll also tuck some of her masterpieces into the packages.
Over the month, I use a mix of old school office supplies and the help of technology to keep my sanity and record those moments I don’t want to forget. The Sunday morning after I take and post Gates’ portrait, I sit down for about 30 minutes, address envelopes, write a short three sentence note, slip photos and a few blog posts into the envelopes, and then I’m done. In a day or two, both of Gates’ grandmothers who aren’t online, will know what she’s been up to.
Before you can get organized, you need to scope out your project. I recommend starting small to avoid setting expectations too high; you want a doable project that gets rave reviews that doesn’t make you pull out your hair.
Tips for Keeping Organized
Once you know the scope of your project here’s how I make assembly a snap.
- Set up a mobile project file, box, or drawer. You don’t want to have to search for supplies. I use a manila folder so that I can work on it anywhere. To the front, along with a checklist that I’ll talk about next, I secure a felt tip pen for labeling the back of photos. Inside it, paper clipped to the front are Forever stamps and two sizes of envelopes. To avoid losing any keepsakes, I have a clear sheet protector secured to the other side.
- Create a checklist. Be sure it covers all must have items, a monthly portrait of a toddler, at least one photo of everyone in the family, and so on, that you want to share. The checklist ensures that you don’t sit down and realize you don’t have any photos of the entire family. (We promised Nan a family photo and until I wrote it down, it didn’t happen. Ten months after our promise we’re finally sending her one.)
- Include a “photo” with details. When you take photos with your smartphone, make it easy to remember where and what you were doing. Open a note app, type the day, the location, and anything else that’s on your mind. Take a screenshot of the note. Now the details are stored with your photos. For those moments that don’t have photos, capture the memory the same way.
- Gather all photos in one place. Everyone should export their photos to a shared directory on your computer. This way you have access to all the photos (and the notes) and don’t have to wait for their phones. I recommend printing the photos out as you go and transferring the notes to the backs of the photos.
- Add special items as they happen. Over the week or the month, tuck photos, print outs of relevant blog posts, and so on, into your project file. Then, when you’re ready to send your package, all you have to do is assemble it. I’d suggest not going beyond a month as the more materials you have to sort through, print out, and label requires more assembly time. I’m thinking of switching from a monthly package to a shorter update each time I share family news on the blog, roughly every two weeks.
Wondering where your priceless keepsake is? Here. Print out an extra copy of each missive and bind them together into a yearly annual, a treasure for both your family and you to enjoy. If you’re more ambitious, organize everything digitally so that you can use it to create a coffee table book through Blurb.
Where did I get this idea? From my grandmother, Gates’ great grandmother. When I got married, she gave me two binders she had made with every letter, my mom or I had ever sent her. There were newspaper clippings of awards I had won, fabric swatches from dresses my mom and I had designed and sewn, and more. It was amazing. I was able to read in my mom’s words how proud she was of me. The experience really deepened my relationship with my mom, and I hope to give Gates the same.