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Books have a unique way of stopping time in a particular moment and saying: Let’s not forget this. ― Dave Eggers

Let me first begin by noting, that for all of the images I share (a lot!), I’m terrible about printing. I have crested 3000 images shared on IG just this last week, and easily have a thousand more here. Readers have on occasion asked how I print or keep the images (aside from my back-up hard drive), and the quick answer is I don’t. I have a few individually printed, but having 3000 individual prints around the house can feel equally as cumbersome. Still, I’ve realized in recent years as my children scroll through our computer’s photo library or my camera roll or IG feed, I need to print more. In our digital age, there’s something remarkable, almost sacred, about holding something concrete. In teaching my children to handwrite letters, I’ve learned that a different function occurs in the brain when you write a word in pencil on paper than when you type that same word on a screen. It wedges itself just a little deeper into your memory faculty. I’d like to think a printed image, or even a book of them can do the same.

It is common for young parents to hear how quickly the years go by and how we’ll miss them when they do. “Soak up the days,” older parents admonish. Although I have done my best to do exactly that, it wasn’t until the end of 2013 that I actually felt the slipperiness of time. Our youngest, Olive, would turn five a few months into 2014, and suddenly I felt the weight of a changing season for our home. No more nursing or potty-training. No more nap-time or strollers. No more jibber-ish talk or sink baths. 2014 would be an official sign-off to the baby/toddler/early-preschool years, and I wanted to document it, to store up what little bits I could. A form of closure? Possibly. Inspired by my online friend Jodi, I began a personal 52 Project in our home in 2014 and 2015. It was far more challenging than I expected, but it caused me to see our days in a new way, to see my children in a new way. I’m so grateful for these small recorded bits of their childhood. And although there are umpteen other images and stories to print, I wanted to make sure these were hardbound in a book.

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PRINTING THE 52 PROJECT BOOKS

There are of course a variety of ways to design and print this sort of project. Price and time is always a factor, and perhaps the trickiest part of this one is incorporating text with the images. Earlier this year, Ronnie of life: captured and I worked together to create a template for my 52 project book, and I’m so excited to share the template will be available for you through their site in early October! You can follow them here to find out when it releases. I printed the book through Artifact Uprising, which I highly recommend for high-quality printing. I simply waited for one of their sales (typically around a seasonal holiday) for a discount. They also have page templates that are easy to click-and-drag, but the text may take a bit to type out and organize if you go that route.

PRINTING INSTAGRAM BOOKS

If you have not signed up with Chatbooks, do it now. While the printing is not the best on the market, it is wonderful for the $8 price-point. I subscribed early last year, which simply means every time I post an image to IG, it automatically fills another page in my Chatbooks. When I have reached 60 pages, it gives me three days to preview and make any changes and then auto-ships directly to my house. Eight dollars. It’s a way to simplify one part of my life, and the kids adore them. I’m considering ordering a back up of each one to keep away in a safe place. If you’re interested in trying one for free, use the code CLOIS678. But I promise, if you consistently share images on either Instagram or Facebook, you’ll love them.

CLASSES FOR PHOTO ORGANIZATION AND DESIGN

I’m quite interested in transforming the archives of this space into book/booklets for our home (and possibly others someday). Over the last two years, I’ve taken two courses with life:captured and I cannot recommend either enough. The Photo Organization class was life-changing for my work flow and photo storage, and the InDesign for Beginners class gave me so much vision and help to design my own storybooks and other personal project books (you can read more of my thoughts on the class here). Although I am still quite slow with the layout, I appreciate the skills I’m learning and now sharing with my children, too. I’m mentioning both classes today––even though they’re indirectly related to printing––because the fall sessions for these courses are beginning again next week, and registration ends on Monday (Sept. 26). To all of you who have oodles of images clouding your virtual space, or who are interested and yet unfamiliar with layout design, or who want to learn more about how to capture a story with your camera (phone or otherwise), give yourself an early Christmas gift. Wink. Wink.

And if you’re interested (and still reading) in reading more of how I keep memories, you can also find my “Storytellers” interview from the summer here. Happy new week to you all. Keep a bit of time to hold your story, whether by your heart or a book.

 

 

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Childhood art is magnificent, isn’t it? Children have a way of seeing and coloring the world in the early years without the constraints of reality, without the pressure of perfection. I’m not exactly sure why or when the majority of us quit producing personal art, and I’m sure the response will vary. Although I imagine for many of us, we simply decided we were not good enough. This is the primary reason during our academic year, I aim to have the kids paint or draw a little something everyday––not that they become famous artists, but that they develop a habit of making time for creative work.

In those early years, I dreamed of creating keepsake books for each child with their childhood art, and so I kept an archival box for each of them and stored my favorite pieces, labeled with their name, the date, and the title if it had one. But nearing a decade later since beginning this endeavor, I have yet to scan or print one book. Which begs the question: when exactly do busy mothers find the time for scanning, organizing, and printing? Is it after children are grown or is it in the odd hours of the day, wedged between work and meals and books and errands? It’s hard to know sometimes.

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My children have always kept notebooks of some sort during their school years, often in partially lined composition notebooks, where they could easily write and illustrate what we’ve read through the practice of narration or copywork. But they grew frustrated with how paints would bleed through pages, and alternatively when they painted on thicker paper, I grew frustrated trying to keep random pieces of their work together in a cohesive way and off the floor and countertops. So last year, I moved to keeping their notebooks in page protectors in binders. Life. Changing. And I knew at the beginning of the year, I wanted to create a book for each of them of their work. Throughout the year, when they seemed sloppy or disconnected from their art or something they had written, I would remind them, “I’m going to print this at the end of the year, so do your best!” It was a simple way to encourage quality both in their writing and artwork.

In the spring, I began looking for printing options, when I discovered Plum Print, a company that would scan, design, and print for me. I knew I could scan everything and design a book on my own, but I returned to the time factor again and the fact that we already DIY most everything else in our life. For this project to actually happen, I needed to delegate a bit of it, even if it cost a bit more to do so. I wanted my children to see their work as valuable and to inspire them to have a different view of their work for the future. I also love having a simple way for them to share it with friends or family. More practically, I cleared the clutter that these sort of papers create in the home and made room for the new school year. Hello, empty notebooks.

The process was delightful. Since I was ordering four books, I received four different boxes on my doorstep, one for each child. From there, the instructions were simple:

  1. Load the art into the included bag (with the option to include 3-D art and photos)
  2. Fill out the brief instruction card: title for the book, instructions for pagination or selecting the cover, option for captions, etc.
  3. Close and seal the box with enclosed strips.
  4. Place the included pre-paid FedEx label on the box.
  5. Drop off at a FedEx location.

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I did not include every piece my children created this year in their books, but again selected their best work, including at least one sample from each book or person they studied––a practical choice for sticking to a budget, as the price varies on the size of the book and the amount of pages. I also chose to have my kids’ books assembled in a specific order, since I wanted their nature studies together and their scientists together and so on. This took a bit more time but was as simple as deciding the order and then paginating each piece on the back in pencil. I should note, you also have the option to have your child’s artwork returned to you for an additional fee. I didn’t opt for this, but that might be helpful for parents who aren’t quite ready to part with the original pieces. You can also include images within the book, ad I selected one image from the school year of each for their title page. The rest of the book I reserved just for the written and illustrated work.

Plum Print sent me an email when they received my boxes and then another one when each book design was ready for preview. I tweaked a few things, like fonts, background design, and a couple of pages that were in the wrong books. They promptly made the changes and the books went to print, arriving at our door a couple of weeks later.

The kids LOVE them! I wish I had had my camera ready when they first flipped through them, with bright eyes and giddy expressions. Olive squealed “this is the first book I’ve ever made!” And I can relate. There’s something about seeing my own work printed onto a page and bound professionally that makes my heart soar, too. It feels weightier, and somehow more precious.  I love how they flip through one another’s books, too; one reading the other’s words or admiring their sibling’s artwork. As we begin notebook-ing again next month, I hope this will inspire them.


This post is in partnership with Plum Print, a small business encouraging parents to make beautiful archives of their children’s creativity. Cloistered Away readers can enjoy $15 OFF of each order until September 30 suing the code ‘CA15’. As always, all thoughts and images are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep this space afloat. 

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Every year, around this time, I grow a bit heart-sick. While I scroll through images on my phone of apple orchards, cozy sweaters, and brightly colored leaves, our air remains warmly humid and summer foliage endures. I love our small town because of the people we are connected with here, but it is not in itself a beautiful place. It is our home and that is what makes it beautiful. Everyday friends stroll by with their children in wagons or walking their dog and simply pop in to say hello. Although not all of our friends live on our street, many live within two miles, and I realize there’s something special about our small town living that has little to do with foliage or weather. Still I do love the outdoors. My children and husband love the outdoors, and we live in a somewhat forgotten neighborhood, with no immediate wild parts to roam. This is the season where I learn to look a little deeper to find beauty right where I am.

It’s easy to look view online lives on my little hand-held screen with a sense of longing, whether it is over a dreamy home, a style of living, or the natural beauty of mountains, woods, and ocean. Any amount of my own discontentment can cause my heart to ache a bit. Without realizing it, I can find myself with thoughts, “if only. . .” and left unregulated those thoughts can quickly send me spinning. While online connections can be in so many ways a large sense of encouragement and inspiration, they can also distract me, keep me from taking a deeper look at our life, at my heart.  I’m sharing this so you know no one is invincible to distraction, to heart-ache, to longing for something other than what we have. Even here, I am learning to let go, to put down my phone more often, to live and enjoy right where I am.

I’m often up before the sunrise, and right now, as it’s the coolest part of our day, I am enjoying these first moments of dark passing to light right on my front porch with my morning coffee. It doesn’t matter where you live, the warm, hazy glow of morning light will always reveal beauty, even the most obscure. For thousands of years, people have written about the miraculous newness of morning, even simply that it happens every day. In my opinion, a morning walk is the best cure for a longing heart. It gently revives the soul. It reminds me to pay attention. It cultivates gratitude.

A couple of weeks ago at first light, I went for a walk with my camera. The girls, still in their PJs, joined me on their bikes, and the boys not long after. Here are a few snippets of morning from our humble street, a gentle reminder for all of us: beauty is found everywhere.

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I’ve been quietly working through the photography boot camp, Unravel Your Photos, with Life:Captured and Artifact Uprising the past few weeks. These lessons are a sort of retreat for myself–efforts I know will pay enormous dividends in my own workflow, but also as my own children begin taking and editing their own photos, too. For those of you unfamiliar, the online course is designed to help organize photos in Adobe Lightroom, a photo software I’ve used for over two years now (and highly recommend). You can read more about why I’m taking it and what I learned after lesson one here. Unsurprisingly, I am shocked by how little I knew about Lightroom and am so impressed with how direct and clear Ronnie’s lessons are. (I also adore hearing her Australian accent on the videos.)

The second lesson of the course is entitled “See the Big Picture,” which tackles the more confusing topics surrounding the Lightroom catalogue, such as how to label and organize folders in one system. Do you remember how I likened my computer’s photo storage to a closet? Well, this class turned on the lights so I could see exactly how messy and disorganized my hard drive “closet” really is. My phone images were separate of my DSLR camera photos. I had photos in multiple places, labeled by date but also by writing topic. Basically, I had photos everywhere. Ugh.

In “The Big Picture,” Ronnie demystifies the Lightroom catalogue by showing exactly how to find where the master files are stored on the computer’s hard drive and what happens to the photos when you edit in Lightroom. She uses step-by-step video tutorials to teach how to create a new master folder for all of your images, clearly labeled by date down to the second. This is SO helpful! Still, perhaps the best new habit I’m establishing as a result of this class is the weekly or bi-weekly importing and backing up of my photos. Clearing my phone and camera of photo clutter and keeping all the images in one place makes the task of sorting and processing feel far less daunting. As with any area of my life, bringing order to this mess is bringing a new simplicity to my work flow and time. If this class might be helpful for you, Ronnie and Trish have opened registration for the same class beginning in January. I’ll be back with lesson three sooner this time. Wink.

 

 

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Dearest children,

We are now several weeks into our school year and have been reading oodles of fables together lately, samples from the more familiar Aesop’s Fables to India’s Jataka Tales to West African Folklore, and while the characters and cultures these tales represent dramatically shift, the themes within them often do not. Each in its own manner offers a simple lesson on how one ought to live or possibly in some instances, such as the devious Anansi or other foolish characters, how one ought not live at all. Perhaps one day we will think on your childhood summers in a similar manner, unique versions of the same narrative, personal tales and images that become a tonic when life demands us to be more focused and diligent.

Naturally, as you each grow older, life will require more diligence of you. It is the mark of maturity, the preface to adulthood. While you are young, I hope to store enough adventure and courage in your thoughts and heart so that you learn to seek it on your own someday, a tonic for the harder parts of adult living. You are children now, and while I can’t imagine it differently, you will not always be. It is the nature of every living thing to change and grow, and so it is with you. Part of this portrait project has been a catalogue of this change, a small way to bottle your childhood for all of us to enjoy when it is gone. Maybe one day, like the simple fables, you will sift through them and discover lessons tucked beneath our play, travel, and silly stories. At the very least, I hope as adults, they will remind you to leave space for frivolity, room to cast off form and simply play or explore possibilities when necessary. Wisdom and discipline require the balance of a wild, courageous heart. These too are lessons for us in how one ought to live.

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You will soon discover that some seasons in life will force you to create or make something with very little. You may feel overwhelmed by possibility and endless choices. Perhaps then you might remember the feel of our paper roadmap in your hands, not a smooth, glass computer, but paper, bound and wrinkled with use. You might recall the way you traced your small fingers over red and blue and green lines, each one overlapping and leading some place distinct. Like that map, your life also will one day freely spread across veins of unknowns. It will require courage, as doing anything new or unknown often does. I hope then you will also remember your toes in the cold Pacific Ocean or climbing the red rocks in Southern Utah or picking fresh blueberries on the mountainside of North Carolina or even random no wheres on the road in between. All paths lead to distinct, unknown places, and you will need courage and wisdom to get there. Like our own summer travels, you’ll discover in life also, the longer, harder journeys often have the sweetest rewards.

As a mother, I am learning my own lessons of sorts, the hardest being how to slowly release you. My maternal instinct naturally cringes at watching you climb or slide down boulders, walk across waterfalls, or coast down rapids, but right now we are with you and have the privilege to participate with you. It’s exhilarating to see how you come alive with accomplishment and how you manage unknowns. These moments, too, are a gift, ones I will return to when you are older and off on your own adventure without us. I am grateful it’s not time for that quite yet. Travel has been one of my favorite experiences with you all. While I know most lessons from your childhood will come through our everyday living. I expect our summer adventures will always hold a special place in each of our hearts. I’m so proud of you.

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Although the American West has my heart, this summer we traveled East, leaving Georgia and South Carolina as the only states we haven’t visited in the Southern half of the U.S. While your father and I were in Taos, you all were at grandparent camp with Nina and Papa and your cousins. They make that time so special for you with night swims, library trips, art projects, and fun excursions. You each look forward to this week all throughout the year. And of course, I don’t have a portraits of you that week since I wasn’t there. At the back end of summer we visited PoPo and JoJo, who took you to a trampoline park and introduced you to eating crab legs. Olive, I had to sit there and crack every one for you, to which you’d turn and say, “can I have some more of that white meat?” as though it were just that easy. On the other hand, Liam and Burke, you loved having a meal that required tools in order to eat.

In July, we spent a week in Asheville with good friends in a beautiful cabin generously lent to us. There the older three white-water rafted, while Olive and I enjoyed our own time together playing with friends, reading together, and picking blueberries for dinner. Blythe, Dad says you giggled the entire time on the rapids, and I can’t wait to do it again when Olive is a bit bigger. Blueberries grew right off the back porch, and each day before meals you all would take bowls and fill them. Liam, you often led the initiative knowing it might amount to blueberry pie or pancakes, which it did.  We hiked beautiful trails, although Burke, you informed me you prefer the Rocky Mountains in the West, to the dense forests of the East. I appreciated having this little inlet into your thoughts. We only briefly strolled the downtown area, visiting the general hardware store and listening to the rotating musicians play outside its doors. We also ducked into a small art gallery before it began to rain and we headed home. We rode bikes through the incredible Biltmore Estate and walked through the warm house, if you can even call it a house. On our way home, we visited Dave and Kara in Alabama, where we again hiked gorgeous green woods, played with new friends, went to the science museum and walked around large space rockets. As they prepared for work one day, Olive asked them, “you have to work during the summer?” and I realized how special this warm season really is for us. We have chosen a smaller life in effort to have time, and I don’t regret it one bit.

We went to Houston with your father, and while he attended meetings at Rice, we cruised through both the Fine Art and Natural Science Museums and swam in the hotel pool–a rare luxury.  At one point we attempted a midday walk around Hermann Park and nearly melted, and opted to go back to the room and watch episodes of Shark Week instead. When we finally returned home, you all attended a local drama camp, where you made your own costumes and participated in a small musical. Liam you sort of despised the singing and dancing parts but loved making costumes and developing the set. Burke, you were the laugh of the show playing the giant with an over-sized head. Girls, you both adore singing and dancing and felt right in your element. What a great finale to summer’s end (and a helpful way for me to get a few projects in order before the school year began). I’m so grateful for every bit of it. And for you.

With all my heart,

Mom

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Although I have spent much time during the last 18 months discovering ways to simplify, de-clutter, and organize our daily living and home, I admit I am a complete mess in terms of digital photo archives. The hard drive on my computer is currently full, as is the memory on my phone. I know. Don’t judge me. Although everything is already backed up, I have yet to empty my hard drive for fear of losing something, and that mostly because my files are chaos. My hard drive is much like staring at a closet heaped with disorder–a large shoe pile, clothes on hangers, clothes not on hangers, shoeboxes, piles, and so on. I know I need things in the closet, now or at some point in the future, but the disorder keeps me from using it properly or at all. A back-up drive gives me the luxury of copying it, so technically I know every file is there. Only now I have TWO messy closets–and, honestly, am I likely to go fishing through the back-up drive for those files either? Honesty is the most important part in de-cluttering any aspect of our lives, and truthfully I am a digital hoarder. 

As some of you remember, I took an inspiring online class last year with life:captured–a school for modern memory keeping which I entirely adore. Through that class, I previewed a bit of Ronnie’s very organized files and was utterly inspired by her. If my online files are like a hoarder’s closet, hers are like a dream with clothing and accessories neatly aligned by color, style, and season. It is the sort of closet I enjoy in reality, where I knows exactly what I need, when I need it, and also when it’s time to get rid of it. Sigh. In terms of finding and creating files on a computer, doesn’t that sound peaceful? While I’ve made several adjustments to my file labels since that class last year, I am really needing a larger tutorial on file organization. In short, it is time for me to learn how NOT to be a digital hoarder.

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When Ronnie asked me to join a group of bloggers working with life:captured and artifact uprising for the project “Unravel Your Photos”, how could I refuse? These are the exact lessons I need–and an opportunity to put this more abstract part of my life in order, too! Over the weekend, I completed my first lesson, “No File Left Behind,” an overview of the benefits and basic principles of file organization in Lightroom (my favorite photo editing software–bonus). Again, Ronnie has such a gentle manner of organizing her class materials that makes large, intimidating endeavors feel manageable. Still this could get messy, folks, and you know I’m going to take you along for the ride. Wink.

Since I have a full hard drive, I needed to clear space to work. Now thanks to my sexy date night purchase, I have two fresh external hard drives and am currently emptying my cluttered hard drive onto the first. At my brother-in-law’s encouragement, I’ll tuck that aside in a safe place for the peace of knowing I DO actually have all of my files. This week, I will be clearing my computer hard-drive and starting fresh. In short, I am emptying contents, so that I can clean and create fresh order. As I learn to organize my files in a new way, I won’t feel distracted by what already exists, by the filing mistakes I’ve made in the past. The second hard-drive will be used to back-up files from this point on and as I have time or need to retrieve old, disorganized files, I will catalogue them according to the new system. I’m expecting I’ll learn some tricks over the following weeks concerning that, too. As Ronnie encouraged us in the lesson this week, “start with your current photos.” The best way NOT to become a digital hoarder begins with what I do right now. I like that.

 

 

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I think all mothers sense the fleeting nature of childhood at some point. We grow a longing to pause life just long enough to breathe it a little deeper, laugh a little longer, and enjoy right where we are with our children in that moment. Some mothers might feel that way in the first days and months following birth–the quiet moments nursing, the series of firsts as they unfurl from womb to infant. Other mothers enjoy the early childhood years more, when their babies can move freely and express and interact–or even later, as their children bridge into adult years, straddling two worlds at once. Regardless, a mother’s heart always rubs up against time.

We all respond a little differently to time’s slipperiness. I met an older woman last week who saved all of her daughter’s hair clippings. “I literally have bags of it,” she told me. I honestly couldn’t imagine bags of anyone’s hair around my home, but I am forever trying to store time with words and photos. This in itself can sometimes feel like catching the tide. For many of us, parenting can feel overwhelming mundane and rote. Childhood is a collection of routine nothings that we know we’ll one day miss (at least some of them). Today we went to the park. Today you played in bubbles. Today you swam underwater. Today you carried your bag to school. How do we find the moments that matter to us, the ones we’ll really want to savor in future years? I’m not always sure myself, but I keep trying through this space, Instagram, and my own portrait project. As my children grow older, and we’ve closed the door on early years, I want to see and enjoy them more in our daily living together and somehow bottle up a bit of time in the process.

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Ginger Unzueta, a homeschooling mother and professional photographer, helps parents discover the lovely bits of their days–and makes us crave summertime, too. In her online workshop, Everyday Beauty, via the Bloom Forum, she leads parents to find the beauty in our routines, in the nothings. She helps her online students understand how light and composition and detail come together to create your story, but she also covers practical topics like taking photos in public or even getting in the photo yourself. (Shock.) Her next three-week online workshop in May is currently sold out, but she is offering one lucky Cloistered Away reader a spot in the class. You can read more about her workshop here, and enter to win a spot below. Make sure to check back, since some of the options are available for daily entries.

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This post was sponsored by Ginger Unzueta, a homeschooling mother and business owner who loves helping other parents find the beauty in their messy days. All images are courtesy of Ginger Unzueta. Thank you for supporting businesses that help keep this space alive. All thoughts are my own. 

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My husband and I recently watched an old episode of Friends, one where Monica passes around recent pictures she’s taken, nervously saying, “don’t touch the photos! It will leave fingerprints.” My husband looked at me and said, “it’s such a different world now.” And it’s true. Like so many of you, I rarely have images to pass around to my children or friends. Instead, I simple pull out my phone to pass around or email images from my computer. A few months ago, I wrote a bit about the art of memory keeping and my goals to combine my writing and images about our life into a printed journal. This is something I’m aiming to change in 2015.

Sometime early last year, I discovered life:captured inc., a modern school for memory keeping run by two very talented women in Australia, Trish and Ronnie.  Through workshops and, more recently, online classes, they teach everything from storytelling with your images to organizing your files and printing life books or story books. They were creating exactly what I had always envisioned and offering me tools to learn the same! indesign_class-14

In November, they offered their first round of online classes–a more realistic option for me, seeing that their workshops are hosted in Australia. I chose the six-week course, “InDesign for Beginners,” with Ronnie because I had no experience with this Adobe graphic design software and I wanted to learn how to create templates for my own family storybooks. It was incredible! Each week, Ronnie would release a new lesson including video guidance, notes (the transcript of the videos), and lesson assignments to practice for the week.  Enrollment to the class also included a private class forum to dialogue with Ronnie and other students about things that were challenging or not working well. Most lessons could be completed in 30 minutes, a reasonable time commitment, I think. And you could review previous lessons at any time. I had to do this after the holidays, since I had missed a couple with all the family happenings.   I ended up watching each lesson twice over the course and used the printed notes to underline shortcuts or parts I kept forgetting for quick reference.

I certainly recommend having an iPad or tablet to watch the videos. It’s not impossible without, but you’ll end up watching, pausing, and flipping to your own InDesign screen back and forth often, which could easily become frustrating and cumbersome. I did this the first lesson. With the iPad (or some other device), I could play the videos beside me and follow along simultaneously on my own screen. Here’s a couple of screenshots from one of the projects I developed while in the class. I chose writing, quotes, and DSLR images from our afternoon at the beach last summer.

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One of my personal goals this year is to print more photos and family journals this year. (It was last year, too, but I feel more equipped this time.–wink.) One of the most helpful parts of the class was hearing and seeing how Ronnie organizes all of her online files throughout the year. Some images she prints weekly, others seasonally, and others annually. Isn’t she incredible? I am so inspired to keep these files in order and print them this year!

Maybe you’re like me and have a goal to print more photos or photo books of your children, or maybe you’re just learning how to use a camera and want to learn take better pictures and tell stories through them. Either way, I highly recommend any of life:captured’s online classes. I should also note, the deadline for their next group of classes is this Saturday, January 31–so jump in quickly!

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This post is in partnership with life:captured inc., a small business devoted to helping others with modern memory keeping. As always, all thoughts and opinions I write are my own. Thank you for supporting businesses that help keep this space alive. 

 

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If you’ve followed along here for any length of time, you know I have always used this space as a sort of visual and written journal, sharing a bit of everything from soulful lessons and family milestones to favorite foods and finds. I’ve used Instagram in a similar way, a micro visual journal cataloguing smaller, quicker pieces and thoughts. Over the years, I’ve written millions of words and taken thousands of images, but almost all of them still live online or on my hard drive. Some are edited and neatly filed, waiting to be printed, others simply exist there. Depressing, I know.

As my children are growing, they love coming here and reading funny quotes or things they did when they were little. They love scrolling through my Instagram feed and seeing how much they’ve grown and changed and remembering fun adventures or simple daily moments. Since I first discovered Artifact Uprising a couple of years ago, I have brainstormed large family journals that would collaborate the two places and provide them something tangible to flip through and enjoy. It sounds noble, yes? I’ve done a few small things, photo books and prints, but nothing that incorporated my writing, their silly words, and the images in one place. Then I found Ronnie, an Australian graphic designer, mother, writer, and the beautiful memory keeper behind The Shoemakers Daughter (formerly Pink Ronnie), also the co-founder of life:captured inc. Ronnie’s aesthetic is simple and alluring, and somehow she manages to seamlessly transform her beautiful online content into even lovelier family books. She isn’t just wanting to do it like me–she is actually doing it–creating beautiful keepsakes in the midst of marriage and work and mothering four young boys. I wanted to–needed to–learn from her.

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Fortunately, Ronnie and her co-founder, Trish, began offering online courses via life:captured, sharing some of their skill sets in modern memory keeping (for those of us who may have a difficult time making it to Australia for one of their local workshops). Each of these classes offers something a little different that compliments the next, but most importantly, they help equip anyone interested in translating digital memory keeping into something we can touch and hold and pass on to someone else.

Since I am the most excited about creating family books, this month, I began taking life:captured’s Intro to Adobe InDesign, a course teaching the basics of a new-to-me graphic design software. I know our family life is busier than ever. I know I have a million other things to do (including sleeping more). But I also know some element of that busyness won’t give way for several years. I also know technology can be temperamental. Hard drives crash, programs glitch, accounts get deleted, and back-up hard drives sit in the closet loaded with unused/un-enjoyed files. Life is happening, but I want to create in the midst of it. I want for my children to enjoy our memories now, not only in ten years. While I know my limitations and that I won’t be able to accomplish everything I want, I am loving this class and feeling empowered to move in the right direction.

The InDesign course includes several brief, easy to follow videos, complimenting printable notes, and a class forum for questions and sharing among other “classmates.” Plus, I can work on each lesson as I can and in the time-frame that works for me–something I love. I’ll be sure to share my progress and of course our first family book when I complete it.

All images by the life:captured inc, used with permission.