Strategy Readjusting - The Art of Being a Mom & Documenting it Along the Way

"Dear Mom,
You sometimes get frustrated at us for not acting our age, and then start crying because we're growing up too fast.
Pick One!"

I feel like this quote pretty much sums up everything in my life right now with these three chicks. As I mentioned before, this Summer was a bit hard. Don't get me wrong, it was really fun too!... but also hard. My girls are 7, 7 and 5; going on 17, 17 and 15.
Persnickety Prints photos - Printing images from Instagram feed - thehouseofsmiths.com

We receive compliments almost daily about how polite, independent and well-behaved our kids are, but I wonder at times if all of those "social awareness" talks - ex: "Don't run around in stores/others homes", "Whisper observations about others you want to know/talk about into Mommy or Daddy's ears, instead of blurting them out loud", "Don't whine if you can't have your way", "Keep your hands to yourself" and learned skills we've taught them - Making their own breakfast, picking their own clothes cleaning up messes, walking the dog and practicing piano daily - have made my girls grow up too quickly (?)

I noticed this year especially, that my kids were MORE than ready to head off for their first day of school. No tears, no hesitation, just smiles, kisses & hugs, waves and joyful goodbyes!
Isn't this how I WANT it to be? What lots of parents dream of for their child's first day in an unfamiliar situation?
Project Life Album Assembly - Instagram Friendly kit/pages - first day of school - thehouseofsmiths.com

The easy answer... Yes!
The more complicated, emotional one... Not really. ha!

I can't believe how MUCH I miss these little people during the day. How much I've struggled with being away from THEM, more than they have with being away from ME. I fear that they are growing up too fast, and I just want to freeze time, so that I can capture and cherish every funny conversation and happy memory that comes my way!

That being said, it's no surprise that I'm a picture-takin' fool. Between Instagram and the blog, something is always being documented around here... and I love it.
Truth be told, I have the worst memory. Short term stuff is easy for me, but trying to remember little moments and the way I felt years and even months ago, is a totally different story. For this reason, I rely heavily on blogging, journaling and most of all, picture taking.
Pictures waiting to be journaled - thehouseofsmiths.com
"THE BAG" of pictures that are awaiting journaling

Last year I started an InstaLife album with Project Life, and it fueled the fire within me to get going on photo journaling, and actually PRINTING the memories that I have stored on my computer and in my phone, so that me AND my family can enjoy them. Since then, I've been keeping my cute friend Chari at Persnickety Prints busier than ever. I especially love being able to assemble photos on my PicFrame iPhone app, email them to myself and then upload them to Persnickety to get them blown up into a big 12x12 size. Can you say Insta-collage!?
Persnickety Prints 12x12 photo page from iPhone - thehouseofsmiths.com

Of course, right alongside this goes Project Life. It's been my go-to journaling system this year, because it just works for me really well when I'm documenting a lot of photos at once.
Project Life Instagram-Friendly project bundle - thehouseofsmiths.com

I'm not sure if you've heard already, or are just seeing it here for the first time, but Becky Higgins has come out with new Instagram-friendly, square formated page protectors and a Core Kit. There are slots for 2x2, 4x4 and even the good ol' 4x6 photos and journaling cards.
 I was ecstatic when I found out that I could try a few samples of each of these pages, along with the new Just Add Color Core Kit, and share them with you guys before the big release happens on HSN, Tuesday, Sept. 17.
The special discounted HSN bundle will include an album, the Just Add Color Core Kit (complete with 60 4x6 title cards, 20 4x6 journaling cards, 80 4x4 journaling cards, 400 2x2 filler cards, 80 basic cards, 20 sticker sheets) photo pocket pages and stickers.

When I found out about this new collection I think my exact words were: "YES! Finally, sheesh!" haha! SO MANY of my photos are now in this square format, because more and more I'm relying on my phone for picture taking, and Instagram for in-the-moment-journaling, that sometimes it's been hard trying to find page protectors for my physical layouts that work just right.

Well... that problem is no more! whoohoo!
First Day of School Photo idea - project life album - thehouseofsmiths.com
First Day of School Photo idea - persnickety Prints 12x12 photo sheet - thehouseofsmiths.com

It just so happens that these pages were perfectly put together for documenting our back to school photo shoot this year, and I even added a little section with each of the girls' prior photoshoots from the years before in those mini 2x2 sections.
Yup... I cried while putting the whole thing together; I won't lie. lol
First Day of School Photo idea - project life album - thehouseofsmiths.com

The reality is, our girls ARE getting bigger, older, smarter, more independant and self-sufficient.
Their individual personalities are shining through, their feelings and emotions aren't as irrational, but instead more real and adult-like than I sometimes know what to do with.
First Day of School Photo idea - project life album - thehouseofsmiths.com

Just when I think I've got this Mothering stuff all figured out and running smoothly, I turn around and realize that the whole game has changed, and I have to readjust my strategy.
One minute I'm sitting in spit-up soaked PJ's all day, thinking to myself that I'll never make it through basically having three tiny babies all at once... 

to finding myself forgetting what that life was even like back then, as I now drop off those 'grown babies' to school each morning.

My point:
Regardless of  how great your memory may or may not be, don't let the little or big moments in your life pass you by without taking a photo of them first. You never know what your outlook may be like 2, 5 or 10 years from now. Document the not-so-hot times, and also the best moments as well. Print and display physical photos for your kids to create with, handle, share and enjoy. You will NOT regret it, I promise.
Creating memories with photo documenting - thehouseofsmiths.com

“ Which of my photographs is my favorite?
The one I’m going to take tomorrow." – Imogen Cunningham

American Crafts provided me with product and compensation for this post. Regardless, I only post about products or companies I love. All ideas and opinions are 100% my own.


  1. I agree completely! I have the worst memory and since using Project Life to document our everyday life, I will sometimes say "I forget when that happened, but let me look it up in my book!". I make a book that is of our entire family and then one specifically about my son. I figure when he's older he can take that with him. While right now the two books are very similar (as a 10 month old consumes my life), one day when he's older like your kids, the family's book will include more than just his personal growth and achievements! Boy do they grow up so fast!!!

  2. Great and easy way to keep up with all the pictures! I have one grown daughter and three grown sons and I hear more from my daughter than all three boys together. Sometimes I don't answer my daughter's call because I just don't want to listen to one more phone convo with her that day. You have girls so they will keep in touch with you even when they grow up and leave the nest.

  3. Your photos are wonderful! There's no perfect way to be...honestly we just all do the best we can. My boys are 21 and 24 and I miss the little people days very much. You do want them to grow up to be polite and responsible though, and that's what you are achieving. They will be better for it.

  4. I used to scrapbook, but haven't in years. This seems like a better alternative - less stuff to drag out. Thanks for sharing! And, your girls are precious :)

  5. That is so neat! I love how you put everything together! I've had different friends gush over Project Life for years but haven't "jumped on the train" yet. I think I'm hesitant because I have SO MANY supplies for traditional scrapbooking that I'd hate to 'waste'. Plus, I think my hubby would kill me if I bought more scrapbooking stuff. Ha ha!

  6. Wonderful post...I've been doing PL now for two years and love all the ordinary moments and memories that I've been able to capture and record. Just wish that I had had this wonderful method when my two boys were younger!

  7. Do you make an album for each child or one family album? I have three kids and started when they were little to make each child one, but got lost the in the sheer work and time of coordinating three that I dropped off. Now they are in high school and I don't know if I'll ever catch up, but I'd like to pick it back up for this school year. I need a workable plan.

  8. This is an awesome post - but seriously, how do you all have time? I only work part time, and from HOME to boot! And I can't even find the time to put together a photo book that I bought on groupon a while back. With trying to have a little time to myself, work, workout, and housework all while my two are in school - when do I do this? I really want to do it, because, as another commenter said "I have the worst memory" (yikes!) but I would love any feedback as to when to accomplish this!


  9. I totally agree with you. I've become an Insta-addict. Our son gives me a hard time about it, but secretly likes the pictures. We have our son who is a sophomore in college, and boy did we cry like babies we when left him in the Fall of 2012. This fall was a little easier, but we still miss him like crazy after being home for the summer. Our daughter is a sophomore in HS, and I have to say I think these are the fastest 4 years. There is so much going on between school extra curricular activities, social butterfly stuff, getting the learners permit then license, driving and developing their own independence, and then it's college. Sometimes it's just more than this momma's heart wants to deal with. At least this Instagram stuff is big while your kids are small, because I have a ton of photos I had to get developed from film back when they were small. It's so much easier now.

  10. Darn you for sharing this. I've been obsessively thinking about it and just snagged my set from HSN this morning. I cannot WAIT for it to arrive and get started! I have boxes of scrapbooking stuff stored in the attic right now because I gave up on having the time. LOVE the slide-in pocket pages and precut cards. I wanted to cry when I saw you adding IG prints. I have 3 & 6 year old girls that I'm going to rope into helping me keep on top of this project. Heck, this looks so easy I might even put the 6 year old completely in charge! :)

    Though my bank account is a little lighter, so is my heart. Thanks for sharing this.

  11. Over here from Capturing Joy - I love this post. I think you said it best that we want the best of both. We want our kids to stay little, but relish in their growing independence and sense of self. I have been following Project Life for a couple of years, but still haven't purchased it (I use the shutterfly option, however). I love the product, and your pages are awesome!


Thank you for taking the time to leave your thoughts and comments. We truly love and appreciate each one!