Creative ways to preserve your family photos and history
Most women fantasize about carefully keeping track of each new development during pregnancy and every detail of their child's early life, from first cry to kindergarten. However, daily demands inevitably take precedence, and journals and baby books often get neglected. But it doesn't have to be that way. Here are some suggestions, both traditional and high-tech, for fun and easy ways to keep those precious family memories alive to share for years to come.
Make like a journal-ist
Does the scent of your husband's shampoo make you want to toss the bottle? Quirky pregnancy moments like these are soon forgotten, so take just a few minutes every day or so to jot down your thoughts. Instead of a standard notebook, consider a pregnancy-specific journal, such as Fit Pregnancy Week-by-Week Journal, $18, shape boutique.com; The Belly Book, $17, clarksonpotter.com; or Tummy Talk Pregnancy Book, $75, tummy-talk.com. Later, a good baby book provides prompts to help you fill in the memories. Several styles are available at baby-memory-books.com.
Become A Calendar Girl
If the prospect of filling a journal is too daunting, make notes on your calendar and then, on January 1 each year, save it instead of tossing it. Events such as the day you went shopping for that tiny "take me home" outfit, heard your baby's heartbeat for the first time or finally saw that first smile are too precious to forget. Saved calendar pages can also make beloved additions to traditional scrapbooks.
Take A Photo A Day
Having a Polaroid handy makes it easy to snap a weekly or monthly shot of your growing belly; once your baby is born, taking a photo every day will document events that would otherwise be quickly forgotten. Keep a permanent marker close at hand to note the dates. Also stash disposable cameras in unlikely places—your diaper bag, the bathroom closet—to get the best candid shots.
Blog For Baby
A blog is an online journal meant for sharing. It's great for the time-pressed parent, and posting photos with your entries is easy. Choose a template to give your blog its own look, then upload photos and text. Your page gets posted to a private site for family and friends to visit. Many services are free, and your blog will live on indefinitely. Try www.babababies.com and babyblogs.com.
Make A (Online) Connection
With grandparents in one state and siblings in another, maintaining family ties can become a chore. Creating a special website lets you announce your baby's arrival, keep everyone up-to-date, chat online and post photos. Some posting services offer free trial periods followed by a monthly fee; your site will remain active until you stop subscribing. Do-it-yourself sites include mygreatbigfamily.com, thefamilypost.com and yourfamilywebsite.com.
Turn Photos Into Videos
Onetruemedia.com lets you create your own video montages by uploading digital photos onto your computer—and even set them to music. You can then send them to family and friends who subscribe to TiVo (2 free shares, then $10 for 10), or you can have the montage—up to 60 minutes—saved onto a personalized DVD; $25 and up. Another service, rememberthatmoment.com, can turn your photographs or up to five hours of video footage into a DVD with personalized packaging; $350 and up, with an average DVD costing approximately $1,000.
Start A Scrapbook
Whether your idea of scrapbooking involves creating photo collages by hand or with your computer, you can create a truly personal record of your child's life. Arts-and-crafts stores including Michaels and A.C. Moore (as well as smaller local shops) regularly offer traditional scrapbooking classes. These stores and others, such as Target, sell a large selection of materials, such as themed stickers, numbers and fancy letters.
If high-tech is more your speed, consider Scrapbook MAX!, a digital scrapbooking program that enhances your photographs with frames, text and even background music. You can store your creation on a CD, post it on a website or turn it into a screensaver. scrapbookmax.com; $40.
Discover Your Roots
The Story of a Lifetime (Triangel) memoir book can help you chronicle your ancestry and treasured stories. A family tree section and more than 500 questions (such as "What was a typical family meal?" and "What was your marriage proposal like?") guide you in recording your personal history. redenvelope.com; $48 (leather-bound edition, $80).
Create Original Portraits
There's nothing as unique as your baby's first in utero photo. Now that image can be enhanced with color, thanks to artist Heather Tapia, who transforms ultrasounds into one-of-a-kind, custom oil paintings. ultrasoundpaintings.com; $300 and up, depending on size.
And after your baby's birth, turn your favorite digital photo of her into a digital painting. Simply upload the file, select a frame, and artists will enhance the image, then print it on a canvas and frame it. brilliantimage.com; $69-$500, prices vary by size and frame.
For an even more personal memoir, New York-based DNA Art Forms will produce a custom painting of your family's DNA in the colors, texture and size of your choosing. An initial consult is free; painting prices vary based on your creative choices. dna-art.com.