Life Books~ {Memories Forever}

Sunday, December 31, 2017

For me, the week between Christmas and New Year’s is when I want to throw myself into lots of projects. Many projects I have put off all year and I feel this huge push to get them done. This year two of those involved printing my blog into a book and creating Calla’s Lifebook.

I have always been a memory keeper whether it be writing in a journal, saving boxes of letters and photos, or making scrapbooks. Keeping stories has been very important to me. When the big girls were young, I became a Creative Memories consultant in an effort to create their books at cost and help others catch my passion to be memory keepers too. I made each of the big girls baby books and books with all the photos of their childhood. I have shelves of beautiful scrapbooks to prove it.

Then life happened and seven little ones came home to their forever family. Creating scrapbooks from scratch fell by the wayside. I could not print all those photos, collect all the supplies, and keep the mess out all the time. I began writing my blog and scrapbook as I knew it came to an end. The stories of our family fell into blog posts and I began printing my blog each year as books. They became my scrapbooks of memories.

As our children came home I wanted to create Lifebooks as a way for them to remember ‘their China’. Their lifebooks have done exactly that. They have bridged a gap between their lives in China and now home. They are their all time favorite books too. Not many days go by that one of them doesn’t pull it off the shelf and want me to tell them THEIR story. Now they are getting old enough to read for themselves or sit with a sibling to read. It is fun for them to compare stories and see how the miracle of adoption has made us a family.

Giving them back a part of their China story was very important to me and now one of their most precious possessions.

5 Steps to Make a Lifebook:
{Photos of pages in Calla's book shown throughout the steps}

Make up your mind to do it: This might seem like a no brainer but certainly makes a difference in the time set aside to do so. Calla had been home a year and a half and I am just getting around to making her book. She kept asking me where her book was so I knew I had to make it a priority. 

Gather all photos into one place: It is more doable when you spend some time getting organized. Locate all photos, videos, and memorabilia  needed for the book into one folder on your computer. I actually had a slideshow of photos made for Calla by a foster agency and no way to get the photos off CD. I popped it into my computer and as it played, I stopped on every slide to take a photo with my phone. They will not be top quality but the photos will be in the book and we can always watch the slideshow too.

Create an account in Shutterfly: Create an account that will save the book and can be used through future projects.

Work on the book in stages: If your photos need editing, it is a good idea to do that first. I like adding all the photos to the book first. I include most all the photos of life in China before their adoption, the time we were in country adopting, and some of the first weeks newly home. Once all the photos are placed, I start adding the stories. I want to encourage you that it’s not necessary for you to write every single detail in the book. I write generally and add details as we read it together. I have thought lately about going through their books and adding handwritten thoughts as well.

Tell the story as if speaking to your child: This story is for them and telling it as if speaking to them will make reading it special and personal. Reading together when they are young will strengthen attachment and when older it will build confidence of their story.

Video Tutorial to Make a Life Book at Shutterfly:
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I sure hope this helps you decide to take the plunge and get publishing! I promise your kids will feel so very loved because of it!!! And who knows... they might just want to take it wherever they go!

The Week Between Holidays

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Most people use the week between Christmas and New Year's to rest up, clean up, and get ready for a new year.

Savannah sent pics of the boys and I wanted to put them here to remember~

As soon as Christmas was done and everyone was gone, I took down every single decoration that night and was able to organize the next day~

The kids loved playing in their rooms with all their new stuff~

The boys built their K'Nex guns~

Everyone loved helping C dress up~

Mimi asked to take the little 3 to lunch and just look at the smiles!
This was the first time I EVER let Calla go away from me and she LOVED it~
 What a wonderful memory!!!

They also got new dolls for Christmas so we decided to make new clothes~
 Didn't they turn out cute?
It was a wonderful week Between the Holidays!

Christmas Day 2017~

Monday, December 25, 2017

Everyone woke up about 6:30 for a fun morning~
 So much excitement opening gifts~
 Ek & SJ got Eno hammocks and Breyer horse stuff.
The little girls got American Girl dolls, legos, and a medical cart.
The boys got legos and Knex gun kits~
 Rosie's surprises were clothes, perfume, and pearl earrings~

 Everyone went to work right away building~

 We stayed home all day and everyone played their hearts out~
 Even Macy was excited for her gigantic braided candycane bone~

We had mama, daddy, Amelia, and Logan for dinner and Amelia helped the girls hang their Enos on the breezeway~
 While Logan and Hayden helped the boys build their K'Nex guns~
I also gave my very first afghan to my mom for Christmas~
LOVED surprising her!!!
It was a VERY Merry Christmas for sure!!!

Christmas Eve~

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Our day began with traditional Santa pancakes and bacon~
 Then we were off to Savannah and Josh's for the day!
We made beautiful photos on the front porch~

 Ate Chinese for lunch, watched the Falcons lose, and opened more gifts~
 It is SO fun to watch children open gifts and gasp at the surprise~

 They played games, with slime, and built lego structures
and decorated cookies for Santa~

We got home about 6 and made hot chocolate to drink while we watched The Polar Express~
 Look at my poor Christmas tree.
And here is the scene as we wait for the kids to wake up for Christmas morning~
Merry Christmas!!!

Christmas with the Martin's~

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Sissy and family came home for Christmas so everyone came for dinner~
 Nothing sweeter than family gathered at home~
 LOVE getting photos of grandboys with Sissy and their greatgrandparents~
A really fun time with great food and precious people!!!

A Surprise for Rosie~

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Rosie was called into work @ Epiphany~
 So we decided to drive over the Athens to surprise her and that we did~
 We loved the store and all the people we met~
They even had the kids post for an IG post with these cute hats on!!!
Love your store Rose and so proud of you!!!

Holiday Schooling~

December was a fun month of learning with writing~
 Singing and ringing bells~
 Spelling with Bananagrams~
 Our new Advent tree study~ (thanks Memommy!!!)
 Lots of Christmas stories and art projects~
 Baking yummy snacks~
 St Nicholas Day~
 and new lego bags to enjoy~
It was the best month together ever!!!