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I have been interested in documenting my life since I was a young child. I believe it was my obsession with Laura Ingalls Wilder that made me want to preserve my memories for the future. I hoped that I could write about my childhood the way she wrote about hers.
I started my first diary when I was 8 years old for this reason. My only regret is that I did not write in it very often because I was saving it to record special days. I did not yet realize that part of what made the tales of the prairie so special was that we were learning about ordinary days long past.
I have recently learned about an idea for preserving intimate details of an ordinary week. Ali Edwards, well known in the scrapbooking industry, created the “Week in a Life” project in 2005. She chooses one week each year, and invites others to join her in documenting the details of family life.
This year, Edwards created a sheet to help make it easier to keep track of the things she wanted to record. For each day of the week, there was one page with a spot to document each hour in the day, and one sheet to write down snippets of conversation and observations.
I would love to know what a typical week was like when I was little, or when my grandma was raising her children. It would be fascinating to learn what routines my mother relied on or what my grandma considered essential in her daily life. I want my descendants to be able to learn what my life was like.
Even if I was not concerned with preserving my present for my future progeny to glimpse, I would still want to participate in this project. It will be interesting to see in the future how those things that I did not even think about because they were so commonplace have changed completely.
In addition to writing down the little things that went on each day, I also took pictures. I started taking pictures from the time I woke up in the morning – once even using the self-timer to photograph myself still in the bed – until I put my daughter to bed at night. I usually took over 100 digital photos each day. In my final project, I only used about 20 photos a day, but it was useful to take that many to decide how to preserve the week.
My finished project is housed in a 12x12 scrapbook. I put most of my photos in 12x12 page protectors divided to hold 4x6 prints. Instead of copying out the notes that I took all week, I just added 8 ½ x 11 page protectors to the album and included the sheets themselves.
I think when I do this project next year, I will instead do it as an 8x8 photo book on one of the online photo processing sites. It would be easier in some ways to just devote 4-6 pages to each day and type my notes in instead of just including the pages. However, part of the charm of the project is including handwriting from my family and myself.
I documented things like what we had for lunch, games we played, errands we ran and pumping gas. All of these things will probably be different in 10 years, and perhaps even in two.
Because I have only done this project once, I have decided to try doing it again during each season of this year. It is an intensive process but preserving the memories will be worth it through the years for both my family and me.