Photo by: iStock

Memories and Photo Books

Photo by: iStock

One thing I do well is catalog the lives of my children. I take plenty of pictures, keep the family calendar each year and store precious pieces of artwork and school work.

Now, I am really good at collecting the information and just a bit slow at organizing it into a scrapbook-like compendium.

A little background to help all understand the reality I’m living in as a parent. My son is a couple of months away from turning 20 years old. My twin girls will be eight years old soon. Yes, I’ve almost 12 years in between my children. What does that mean when it comes to photos and memories?

It means my son lived before online photo sites existed where you can upload digital pictures, crop them and cleverly label them. I had a digital camera back then, but we printed off the photos. And, those photos sat in a plastic bin for years and years. At least I popped all the pictures I had in there. All together, all out of order. Luckily, I took care of placing them in photo albums. I have a bookshelf row full of them. There’s no words written next to the pictures, but they are in order and not in a plastic bin.

When my son went to college, we cleared out years of schoolwork. (I had kept most every math test he took kindergarten through high school that had an A). We sorted and tossed and cried (ok, that was just me) and ended up keeping only that which would fit into an accordion file.

I have taken a different approach with my girls. We only keep a little bit of art and even less schoolwork. I have samples of their handwriting from each school year, a couple of stories they’ve written and some really well done pieces of art – so much more manageable and less to contend with in the clutter, paper arena.

Then, there are the pictures. Family vacations are put into a photo book, with just a few printed for framing. And, each year of school is organized in a book. I also make photo books of their birthday parties.

Oh, and by the way, I’m caught up – with the girls.

I’ve not done my son’s senior year from high school and his six years of playing year-round, select basketball. I recently started uploading those pictures, and I’m at 1,000 right now. The book didn’t allow anymore. Uh oh. That isn’t good. That’s going to keep me busy this summer – along with finishing his sophomore year in college (which doesn’t have many pictures) and his senior year (for which I remember very few of his athletic stats).

Here’s the twist. He likes these books. Since I had to play catch up with his memories over the last few years – knocking out a photo book a month it seemed – he’s enjoyed seeing a new one from time to time end up in his room.

He’s not very sentimental with things. He has no problem throwing items away. If he would, he would toss his letter jacket. The very letter jacket I paid $20 each time a patch was sewn on to a sleeve. There were a lot of patches.

But maybe, just maybe, as a big brother, as a college student, as the son of a woman who has the diaries from her childhood, every scrapbook she made throughout elementary school and each and every journal she wrote in through college, he’ll begin to treasure those memories because they are so neatly packaged in a slim book he can tuck away on a shelf.

Just like I tuck those sweet memories of him in my heart.

Jill Petri lives in San Antonio and is the wife of a high school coach and the mom of three children. Her son is a sophomore in college and her twin seven-year-old girls are in the second grade. Petri works full-time as a sales coach, change leader and facilitator for a Texas-based financial institution. With a degree in Journalism from Baylor University, Petri started her career as a reporter but has always been and remains a writer with the countless diaries and journals to prove it.

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