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I can remember a conversation I had with an older woman at the grocery store. It was about three months after I had become a mother. My new daughter was slung in a baby carrier, her tiny face nestled close to my chest, when I shared with the woman how she always wanted to be held. With great wisdom that took me a few years to fully understand, the stranger told me to enjoy it because it wouldn’t last.

Right she was. That baby now rides a bike large enough for me, and she certainly wouldn’t want me to carry her while I shop. Many of us have heard similar advice from others. Children grow up fast, so treasure the little moments.

Toward that end, one of the most important things we can do to remember these early years is to take lots of pictures. Obvious, right? And in this day of instant communication, cell phones and digital cameras, it should be a breeze.

Sadly, my childhood can be leafed through in a few old shoe boxes of photographs and other items. I don’t hold a grudge. My parents divorced when I was nine, and mom led a largely non-traditional life as a pilot in the 80s. Scrapbooking was definitely not part of her nomenclature. But, hey, I loved being her sidekick, and I even learned how to “preflight” an airplane at age 10. Photos; Parents.com

But still being somewhat sensitive to my limited historical records, I’ve definitely put a large focus on capturing the everyday moments with my children—birthday celebrations, holidays, family trips and little milestones. And, of course, I have to keep solid proof of my daughters’ antics dressing up their little brother in sundresses and princess costumes.

So when I first decided to fully commit to the important role as our family’s historian, I had some lofty ideas. I bought scrapbooks, special stickers, colored pages and other tools to create masterpieces worthy of Martha Stewart’s praise. In reality, I found little time for such detailed projects, having three babies in four years and working full-time until our second child was born. I never strayed far from my camera, but I struggled with the next steps—actually putting pictures in albums. Instead, I procrastinated- choosing park outings and play dates, baking cookies and having tea parties with my children. After all, I wasn’t really that crafty, so the idea of scrapbooking sounded more like a chore to add to my growing lists: do laundry, clean baseboards, and make your children’s first years look worthy of a spread in American Baby Magazine.

Then I discovered how easy it was to become a digital scrap-booker using well-known, online services like Snapfish and Shutterfly. I could download photos straight from my camera to these sites and create albums to share with others, print (not to be stored in shoeboxes) or create my own little Sherwin family history books.

Now, without putting heaps of pressure on myself, I create a simple photo scrapbook after each child’s birthday celebration. We go big on birthdays in our household, throwing fun parties and taking lots of pictures, so creating personalized memory books makes sense. Each year, no matter how disorganized I sometimes feel, I know my children are guaranteed photos from their special day.

While I love to claim I’m still somewhat mysterious and unpredictable, those who know me well can always catch up on my family’s doings when I hand them one of these hard-backed shiny books. I’m proud to say I no longer feel like this is a chore in my life, and I love reaching into the bookshelf to grab a few books that each tell its own story about those little moments that will soon pass us by.

Julia Sherwin is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives in Chester County. She is a former college journalism instructor who enjoys running, biking, swimming, traveling and cooking.

Email her at jsherwin73@gmail.com  or follow her other parenting articles at juliasherwin.wordpress.com.

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Photo: parents.com