Posts Tagged 'Memories'

The Keeper of Memories

“There is no childhood home to return to for holidays or long weekends. My mother long ago packed my bedroom items into a box marked,”Amy” ,and brought it to me in Birmingham. Letters from old boyfriends, photos from school dances, moody poems I wrote at 13-I keep them safe. I am the caretaker of my own past.”
Excerpt taken from “Going Home Again” By Amy Bickers Mercer,
Southern Living Magazine, April 2008

As another year of school comes to a close, memories of the past year are piling up. What are we to do with all the photographs, certificates and memorabilia each year?

Parents, you are the caretaker of your child’s past. How do you accomplish this without being overtaken and overwhelmed by mounds and mounds of memories, which when out of control, become clutter rather than keepsakes?

The answer really is simple: You save the BEST and the MOST special keepsakes, photos and memorabilia. If you save everything, it diminishes the value of those SPECIAL items. They will get lost in the shuffle, and you will be left with clutter, not keepsakes!

We tend to start out strong, with the first many pages of the baby book (for the 1st child, at least!) filled out completely. But then, life takes over and we might pile papers in the back of the book for a rainy day. The rainy day becomes the rainy years, and before we know it, our children are ready to launch out on their own, and if we are lucky, we have boxes of memories, which may or may not be clutter, to pass along to them.

So, how can we reign in the clutter and sort through the toys, books, clothes, artwork, school work, and photos? Will we, like Amy’s mother, be able to pass along a wonderful, handpicked history of our child’s development and memories?

First, think LONG TERM and SIMPLE.

Think through the categories or stages of your child’s life.

To document the life of a child, consider the following categories or stages; Baby, Preschool age, School Age, and High School. You will want to develop a system of saving memories for each category of your child’s life.

Finally, consider how YOU operate, and plan accordingly.

Next develop a system of saving memories for each category based on your own personality. Are you a detail oriented person who will actually fill in the blank spaces in the baby book, and the school memory keepsake? Lovely! Then simply set aside a few minutes each week or month, depending on your child’s age and rate of development, and do it! You know yourself and your life. If you are not someone who has time, energy or motivation to fill in those blank spaces in the memory books, then come up with a plan that will work for you. You can choose to use a calendar to record the milestones of your child’s development along with cute and funny sayings and incidents. You can hang the calendar in whatever room you spend a significant amount of time, so that it is often accessible and you can record your child’s milestones on the run, as they occur.

An alternative is to simply set aside a photo box, clearly labeled with your child’s name and, using dividers that come with the photo box, simply slip in the memories you jot down, photos and memorabilia in chronological order. Look how simple it can be!

The same system can be used to record the preschool years.

As your child approaches school age, consider purchasing a file box with 12 dividers or a banker’s box with 12 large envelopes. Then as each year slips by, keep a plastic or cardboard crate accessible and toss in all your child’s potential treasures……….., all the sweet cards, pictures, awards and brilliant writings. At the end of each school year, sort through and save the best and most meaningful. Then transfer them to the appropriate file or envelope. By the end of high school you’ll have a wonderful, handpicked history of your child’s life and development (with very little effort).

To borrow a phrase from Nike, “Just do it”! You’ll be glad you did (and so will your child)!

Happy Summer and Happy Memories!

Cheryl

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6 Simple Steps to Photo Organization

20 Years of Memories, Unorganized and Scattered Around My House!

Memories are on my mind (and on my to-do list!). In my previous post, “20 Years of memories, Organized and on My Desk“, I attempted to show you that it really can be a simple process to organize and enjoy memories, and specifically photographs.

On the other hand, I have worked with more than a handful of clients, who have 20+ years of photo’s and memories strewn throughout their homes. To them, and maybe to you, the process seems more than overwhelming, with no natural or logical starting point.

So, what if you are 20 years, or even a few years, behind in your organization of photographs? What if, in the midst of your crazy, busy life, your creation of those great memories have taken precedence over the organization of them, and they are now in piles, hit or miss, throughout your home?

It’s NEVER too late to Organize and Enjoy Your Memories!

Start with very simple goals. A realistic goal for overwhelming amounts of photographs is to organize them chronologically into clearly labeled, photo-safe boxes. Follow these 6 simple steps, and you will be well on your way to enjoying a lifetime of memories.

1. Gather ALL Your Photographs

Simple Photo Storage Boxes from The Container Store

Gather them from every corner, nook and cranny of your home, garage, attic and basement. Include any photo albums and books. This may be time-consuming, but it will save you from duplicating your efforts later in the process.

2. Put Your Photos and Photo Albums in Chronological Order

If you are MANY (say 30 or 40) years behind, begin by separating photographs by decade. Label photo-safe boxes by decade. Then simply separate all those piles of photos into these broad categories. Next sort each decade box into individual years. Label the outside of the box with the years and separate the inside of the box with dividers for each year.

Alternately, if you are only several years behind, just label each box by individual year.

Finally, within each year, you may want to consider separating into winter, spring, summer and fall. Photo boxes come with several dividers.Additional 5 x7 dividers can be purchased from Office Depot and other office supply stores.

At this point, you can confidently store the bulk of your photographs, while you organize one box at a time. The process will feel much more do-able and much less overwhelming.

A Simple Way to Organize Photos Chronologically

3. Purge

Now that you know what you have (and not before!), you can purge. As I always say, keep the best! If you hold on to EVERY picture, the volume becomes overwhelming and you won’t be able to enjoy any of them. The idea is to pick the best, organize those beautifully, and toss the rest. That way, you can actually access and enjoy your memories.

You need to be able to see what you actually have before you can decide what to keep.  If you are working on a photo box labeled 1970-1974, be sure to look through your photo albums (which you have already put in chronological order) for any albums with these corresponding years. Then compare your loose photos with those in the photo albums. You may find that the loose photo’s were “extra” from 30 years ago and can now be discarded.

If you are unsure of tossing any photos, consider putting them in a photo safe box labeled with the year and “extra photos’ for a year or so, until you feel more comfortable about tossing them. Then if you come across them in the future, you will have the assurance that you have these photographs in another location.

You may also consider passing extra photos to friends and family.

4. Label Each Photograph

Unless the date is already indicated on the photographs, label each photo or batch with an acid free, photo-safe pencil or pen with the date/person and/or event.

5. Determine to Keep up with Current Photographs

Follow these same simple steps as you receive new photos.

Sort into Chronological Order

Purge–Remember the goal is to pick the very best, organize those beautifully, and toss the rest

Label Each Photograph

Store in a Clearly Labeled Photo-Safe Box

6. Enjoy Your Photographs and Memories!

Now is the time to slip your photographs into photo safe photo albums or begin your scrapbook.

Remember, don’t start a system or project that is too overwhelming. Chances are, you won’t finish it and once again, your photo’s and precious memories will be shoved into a closet.

Enjoy those memories!

Happy (and Organized!) Days!

Cheryl





The Keeper of Memories

20 Years of Memories, Organized & On my Desk!

“There is no childhood home to return to for holidays or long weekends. My mother long ago packed my bedroom items into a box marked,”Amy” ,and brought it to me in Birmingham. Letters from old boyfriends, photos from school dances, moody poems I wrote at 13-I keep them safe. I am the caretaker of my own past.”
Excerpt taken from “Going Home Again” By Amy Bickers Mercer, Southern Living Magazine, April 2008

Parents, you are the caretaker of your child’s past. How do you accomplish this without being overtaken and overwhelmed by mounds and mounds of memories, which when out of control, become clutter rather than keepsakes?

The answer really is simple: You save the BEST and the MOST special keepsakes, photos and memorabilia. If you save everything, it diminishes the value of those SPECIAL items. They will get lost in the shuffle, and you will be left with clutter, not keepsakes!

We tend to start out strong, with the first many pages of the baby book (for the 1st child, at least!) filled out completely. But then, life takes over and we might pile papers in the back of the book for a rainy day. The rainy day becomes the rainy years, and before we know it, our children are ready to launch out on their own, and if we are lucky, we have boxes of memories, which may or may not be clutter, to pass along to them.

So, how can we reign in the clutter and sort through the toys, books, clothes, artwork, school work, and photos? Will we be able to pass along a wonderful, handpicked history of our child’s development, accomplishments and memories?

You certainly can, and quite easily, if you follow some simple steps:

1. First, think LONG TERM and SIMPLE.

20 Years of Memories

2. Think through the categories or stages of your child’s life.

To document the life of a child, consider the following categories or stages; Baby, Preschool age, School Age, and High School. You will want to develop a system of saving memories for each category of your child’s life.

My Daughter's Memory Box

This is my daughter’s memory box, in  which you will find a favorite baby blanket, a few special books, her baby book and photo album, precious outfits, her apron, cook book and tea set which we used often when she was little.

3. Consider how YOU operate, and plan accordingly.

Are you a detail oriented person who will actually fill in the blank spaces in the baby book? Lovely! Then simply set aside a few minutes each week or month, depending on your child’s age and rate of development, and do it! You know yourself and your life. If you are not someone who has time, energy or motivation to fill in those blank spaces in the baby book, then come up with a plan that will work for you. You can choose to use a calendar to record the milestones of your child’s development along with cute and funny sayings and incidents. You can then hang the calendar in whatever room you spend a significant amount of time, so that it is often accessible and you can record your child’s milestones on the run, as they occur. An alternative is to simply set aside a photo box or memory box, clearly labeled with your child’s name and, using dividers that come with the box, simply slip in the memories you jot down, photos, and memorabilia in chronological order. Look how simple it can be!

The same system can be used to record the preschool years, school age and high school years.

13 Years of School Treasures

4. Create a Simple System to Save Your Child’s School Work and Accomplishments

As your child approaches school age, consider purchasing a file box with 12 dividers or a banker’s box with 12 large envelopes. Then as each year slips by, keep a plastic or cardboard crate accessible and toss in all your child’s potential treasures……….., all the sweet cards, pictures, awards and brilliant writings. At the end of each school year, sort through and save the best and most meaningful. Then transfer them to the appropriate file or envelope. By the end of high school you’ll have a wonderful, handpicked history of your child’s life and development (with very little effort).

To borrow a phrase from Nike, “Just do it”! You’ll be glad you did (and so will your child)!

Happy (and Organized!) Memories!

Cheryl

The Inept Scrapbooker and 13 Years of Memories

My Daughter's Photo Gallery and Scrapbook

5 Simple Steps to Organize & Document Those Precious Memories….

Graduation Day is upon us, once again. Two of our 4 children graduated from high school 2 years ago, and this month our middle son will begin the next step of his journey. This is a bittersweet time in our lives. Sweet, as we look back over their accomplishments and individual growth through the years and see the fine young men and young woman they have become. And sweet, knowing we have done all that we could have to prepare them for this next stage of life. Life away from home. Bitter (actually not bitter, just a bit sad), as they will all 3 be in different parts of the country.

How quickly I forget how crazy busy the senior year of high school is! The last few weeks of the school year include prom, college prep, senior capstone service projects, end of year banquets and celebrations, wrapping up sports seasons, and of course, graduation.

In the midst of it all, I complete a memory book for each of our graduates, spanning their 13 years of school, along with a photo gallery frame with sweet memories of their high school years, to be on display at their graduation party, and to pass on as gifts for the graduates.

This task is a joy, not a burden, in large part because I have taken a few simple steps to collect and document their memories and accomplishments over the years.

Of all the organizing projects we might undertake, tackling photos and memories can be the most overwhelming. But, on the other hand, it can provide the biggest payoff in terms of joy, satisfaction and freedom. Our photos simplify life by providing memories without having to keep all the stuff associated with those memories.

It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process, if you follow these simple steps:

1. Keep only the best!

If you hold on to EVERY photo and piece of memorabilia, the volume becomes overwhelming and you won’t be able to enjoy any of them. The idea is to pick the most special, organize them beautifully, and toss the rest. That way, you can actually access and enjoy your memories.

2. Contain The MemoriesPurchase a scrapbook, photo album or memory box for each child

Be realistic. You know yourself. Don’t start something that you won’t keep up with. If you know you won’t finish a scrapbook, then don’t start it, as it will only bring you stress, not joy. If a scrapbook isn’t your thing, then purchase a simple photo album or memory box. Keep in mind that it will need to accommodate 13 years of photos and memories, but remember– only THE BEST!

When each of my children began kindergarten, I started a school age scrapbook for them. I intentionally purchased spiral bound scrapbooks, which limited the number of pages that I had to fill for each of their years of school. Basically, I had a bout 5 pages per year. Not so overwhelming for this inept scrapbooker!

3. Gather The Memories – Each year, place an envelope in the back of your photo album or scrapbook and begin to gather photos and memorabilia of that year.

As each school year began, I simply put a manila folder in the back of each of my child’s scrapbooks to gather pictures of that year. As I had pictures developed during the year, I would get an extra copy of the best that I had for each child, and simply slip them into their envelope.

4. Edit The Memories – At the end of each year sort through and pick out THE VERY BEST (toss the rest……yes, toss the rest- or give to Grandma!)

By the end of the school year, I had gathered highlights of each child’s year, which generally included their first day of school,  highlights of the year, special activities and sports, holidays and summer fun. I then choose the best, most memorable, and most meaningful to incorporate into their memory book.

5. Organize The Memories -Beautifully and Simply

Finally, I spent a few hours arranging the photos and memories that I had collected for each child into their scrapbook. Despite my ineptitude as a scrapbooker I enjoyed these hours. It was a time to reminisce and review each child’s year. I don’t try to tell a story on each page, as a seasoned scrapbooker may. Instead, I simply mount the best pictures that I had for that year, along with a a few colorful die cuts, photo-safe stickers, card-stock and a few captions or funny sayings.

Matt's Photo Gallery and Scrapbook

My Son's Photo Gallery and Scrapbook

As my children head off to college, this inept scrapbooker is thrilled to have a picture story to remember the past, as I look forward to their exciting years to come.

Times have changed, and over the years, so have my photo habits. Even this old girl has gone digital, ordering and storing pictures online. Many people now create their scrapbooks completely online. The entire process has been simplified, making it easier for us to be the keeper of memories.

Happy (and Organized!) Days!

Cheryl

P.S. Congratulations Graduates!

Precious Memories

Precious Memories………….Treasures or Clutter?

Chances are, if you watch any television, you have seen this sweet Mother’s Day commercial of a daughter, Jenny, giving her Mom a Mother’s Day card. Jenny gives Mom a card and a hug. Mom goes into her home, takes down a small wooden box from a shelf above her desk,  opens it and takes out all the Mother’s Day cards that her daughter has given her over the years. You see Jenny’s handwriting change from a primitive scribble, to an adolescent’s writing, to a young woman’s script. You notice both short and sweet, and longer, more sentimental notes from Jenny. Finally, you see the note that Jenny has written on this year’s card, “From one Mom to another”, along with a picture of Jenny and her baby.  A proud moment for Mom, indeed. Precious memories treasured.

As much as I love the commercial, as a professional organizer, what I love most is the fact that Mom can actually find, look through, and appreciate the cards that her sweet daughter has given her over the years.

Too often, in our sentimental fashion, and in our attempt to savor and appreciate our memories, we keep every card, letter, photograph and sentiment ever given to us. As our piles accumulate, they become overwhelming and, by the sheer volume alone, become our clutter instead of our precious memories.

It is not unusual to find a scene similar to this picture, with boxes and bins filled with memories, haphazardly stored in the garage, basement or attic, simply because they had taken over the living space.

So, how do we keep our keepsakes and precious memories from becoming clutter?

  • Keep the most precious (and be willing to toss the rest)! If you hold on to EVERY picture, note, card, and memorabilia, the volume becomes overwhelming and you won’t be able to enjoy any of them. The idea is to pick the most meaningful, organize those beautifully, and toss the rest. That way, you can actually find and enjoy your memories.
  • Dedicate a specific space and container for your memories. You might have a specific memory box in your bedroom for cards from your husband. A special box in the family room for saving notes, cards and art work given to you from your children or grandchildren.  A few beautiful, well placed, magazine holders  on a shelf might do the trick.
  • Remember that your decision to keep or throw out a card or piece of memorabilia does not reflect a corresponding sentiment for the person who gave it to you!
  • Ask yourself a few questions before storing away that card, note or picture…….
    • Does it bring me joy, make me smile, and bring specific memories of the person who gave it to me?
    • Does it show off the qualities or personality of the person who gave it to me?

Baroque Storage Boxes from The Container Store

Basic Magazine Holder by See Jane Work

Handcrafted Wood Memory Box

Find a storage box that matches your personality and style. Something that you want setting out in your home. There are 1,000’s of options! Then, save and enjoy those precious memories!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Cheryl

Organized for Success – How are YOUR Students Managing?

Organize the Student

An organized student is a more successful student. Give the students in your home every advantage by working with them in developing excellent organizational skills. Help your student(s) develop a plan to organize their time and their papers. Most students receive an agenda book. Hold your student(s) accountable to using it. Help them get into a good habit. It takes approximately 21 days of constant repetition to form a new habit. Offer them grace as you encourage them in forming this new habit. It will help them succeed as a student and they will learn valuable lessons of time management for the future. Teach them organizing skills as you work with them to set aside specific places in their binder, notebook, or folders for homework, current work and completed work. Many teachers will share their suggestions with you and your student. Take advantage of their teacher’s wisdom. Also, consider creating a file box at home to store completed work, filed by subject. When their binder begins to bulge, they will have an easy and convenient place to file their work away, while still having quick access to it for future needs.

Organize the Study Area

Next, prepare a study area and take stock of your school and office supplies.

Beadboard Basic Corner Desk from Pottery Barn Teen

Beadboard Basic Corner Desk from Pottery Barn Teen

Create an area in your home specifically for doing homework. This area should be well lit and quiet with a work area and a supportive chair. It is also helpful to have storage for basic study helps and school supplies.  This is the perfect time to inventory all your school and office supplies while reorganizing the area for ease of use. This is an easy process, which includes a few simple steps:

  • Think through how you want your space to look and function
  • Empty out any drawers, cabinets, bins or files that are storing office and/or school supplies
  • Group like things together. Create sub categories such as Art Supplies, Paper Supplies, Pens and Pencils, Notebooks and Binders, Office Supplies, Computer Supplies etc……..
  • Toss or donate any damaged or obsolete supplies
  • Return the “keep” pile to the space and think through what, if any, storage accessories or containers you may need
  • Store often used supplies close at hand, while utilizing harder to reach space for seldom used supplies

Organize a School Memory Box

The Bungalow File Holder from See Jane Work

The Bungalow File Holder from See Jane Work

If you haven’t done so already, consider creating a School Memory Box for each child. This can be as simple as a plastic file box or a cardboard banker’s box divided into 12 sections. During the school year file away any artwork, projects, special memories, creative writing and awards. Then, at the end of each school year, go through your file box of completed work and pull out the best and most meaningful of their creative writing, schoolwork and artwork. Finally,  simply file it away in their School Memory Box in the appropriate year. By the end of high school, you’ll have a wonderful, handpicked history of your child’s development and accomplishments, with very little effort.

Check out these stylish Bungalow File Holders from See Jane Work. They come in 5 different designs and hold standard hanging files. They are chic enough to set out on a bookshelf, desk top or kitchen shelf, adding flair to your home and organization to your life.

Organize the Room

This is also the perfect time to work with your child organizing his/her bedroom and clothing. Use the same basic steps outlined earlier:

  • Think through how you want your space to look and function
  • Empty out drawers, clothes and any bins that are storing clothing
  • Group like things together. Create sub categories such as Underclothes, Sports Clothes, Uniforms, School Clothes, Dress Clothes etc.
  • Toss old or worn clothes and donate outgrown, seldom worn, or out of style clothes. The biggest pitfall is keeping more clothes than you actually can use or have room for. Be realistic in what you are keeping.
  • Return the “keep” pile to the space and think through what, if any, storage accessories or containers you may need. Assign a specific space for each sub category of clothing.
  • Store often used clothing close at hand, while utilizing harder to reach space for seldom used items. Store off season clothes in a clearly labeled bin or under-the-bed container.
  • Be careful not to over-stuff drawers and closets. You will go a long way in helping your child stay organized by actually providing a space for all of their belongings and then making it both easy and accessible to put them away.
  • Make use of storage space, which is often overlooked, such as the backs of doors or inside of closets to mount hooks, racks, or pockets. Use hooks for storage of everyday items such as sweatshirts, pajamas, robes, and towels. If your child doesn’t have many hanging clothes, install shelves in half of their closet for additional folded clothes or for toy storage.

Now that you know what your child owns and what needs they may have, you may still be able to take advantage of summer clearance sales.

Have a Fantastic (and organized!) School Year!

Cheryl

inorderforlife small

The Keeper of Memories

“There is no childhood home to return to for holidays or long weekends. My mother long ago packed my bedroom items into a box marked,”Amy” ,and brought it to me in Birmingham. Letters from old boyfriends, photos from school dances, moody poems I wrote at 13-I keep them safe. I am the caretaker of my own past.”
Excerpt taken from “Going Home Again” By Amy Bickers Mercer,
Southern Living Magazine, April 2008

Parents, you are the caretaker of your child’s past. How do you accomplish this without being overtaken and overwhelmed by mounds and mounds of memories, which when out of control, become clutter rather than keepsakes?

The answer really is simple: You save the BEST and the MOST special keepsakes, photos and memorabilia. If you save everything, it diminishes the value of those SPECIAL items. They will get lost in the shuffle, and you will be left with clutter, not keepsakes!

We tend to start out strong, with the first many pages of the baby book (for the 1st child, at least!) filled out completely. But then, life takes over and we might pile papers in the back of the book for a rainy day. The “rainy day” becomes the “rainy years”, and before we know it, our children are ready to launch out on their own, and if we are lucky, we have boxes of “memories”, which may or may not be clutter, to pass along to them.

So, how can we reign in the clutter and sort through the toys, books, clothes, artwork, school work, and photos? Will we, like Amy’s mother, be able to pass along a wonderful, handpicked history of our children’s development and memories?

First, think LONG TERM and SIMPLE.

Think through the “categories” or stages of your children’s lives. Possible categories might be Baby, Pre-School, School Age and High School.

Secondly, think through how YOU operate.

Next develop a “system” of saving memories for each “category” based on your own personality. Are you a detail oriented person who will actually fill in the blank spaces in the baby book? Lovely! Then simply set aside a few minutes each week or month, depending on your child’s age and rate of development, and do it! You know yourself and your life. If you are not someone who has time, energy or motivation to fill in those blank spaces in the baby book, then come up with a plan that will work for you. You can choose to use a calendar to record the milestones of your child’s development along with cute and funny sayings and incidents. You can hang the calendar in whatever room you spend a significant amount of time, so that it is often accessible and you can record your child’s milestones “on the run”, as they occur. An alternative is to simply set aside a photo box, clearly labeled with your child’s name and, using dividers that come with the photo box, simply slip in the memories you jot down, photos and memorabilia in chronological order. Look how simple it can be!

The same system can be used to record the preschool years.

As your child approaches school age, consider purchasing a file box with 12 dividers or a banker’s box with 12 large envelopes. Then as each year slips by, keep a plastic or cardboard crate accessible and toss in all your child’s potential treasures……….., all the sweet cards, pictures, awards and brilliant writings. At the end of each school year, sort through and save the best and most meaningful. Then transfer them to the appropriate file or envelope. By the end of high school you’ll have a wonderful, handpicked history of your child’s life and development (with very little effort).

To borrow a phrase from Nike, “Just do it”! You’ll be glad you did (and so will your child)!


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