As a pre-teen and adolescent, I went back and forth between journal writing and creating elaborate scrapbook photo pages. As a visual person, I like having photos to tell a story but I also enjoy the record keeping of small details which journaling allows for. I had a hard time finding a happy medium between the two so I would often start out enthusiastic with a new journal only to have it peter out in a few months. Or with the scrapbooking, I would end up months behind and shell out a lot of money.
In 2008 though, I found the perfect balance: blogging! I could tell the story while still attaching pictures for the visual part of me. As a major bonus, it could be done fairly quickly and it kept it all sorted by date for me. I loved this idea and I started my first blog in May of 2008 just as we had moved to Alberta and away from all of our family and friends.
This model worked really well for me until my children got older. I realized that I had a major problem when the kids started wanting to see pictures of themselves. Unlike all of the photo albums I had to look through when I was a child my children didn’t have that. The computer and blog layout didn’t really work anymore. So I decided to try something new and actually print my blog out.
I did some research and settled on a company called Blurb because, at the time, they had a program where they could ‘slurp’ the blog posts right into a book format. All I had to do was edit the extra spaces and photos down and voila! it was ready to print. (Okay, that’s totally an exaggeration. It would take HOURS to edit each book down and sometimes even many days.) The first books which I printed were white and had no picture on the front. Each page in the book had the same layout and I had to limit some of my photos because I didn’t know how to add more. Over the years I have learned how to make them more beautiful and I place a professional picture of our family on the cover now.
I had to decide how I wanted to divide up the years of posts I had done up until that point so doing them by the calendar year made the most sense. Hence, our family yearbooks came about! After each year has concluded I would work on formatting a book for that year and then print it. My children absolutely loved these books and often pull them out to look at. Doing this has brought about some of my absolute favourite keepsakes.
Unfortunately, in 2016 Blurb changed their process and no long ‘slurp’ blogs over into book format (why Blurb, why?!). With 2016 being such a difficult year for our family I was unable to manually re-copy and enter the pictures. Now that 2017 is here I have started a new book which I write in each time I share a blog post. This way once next January hits I will have the entire book formatted and ready to be printed right away. I am slowly working on 2015 and will eventually get to 2016 as well.
Why do I still write in a blog if I can no longer just ‘slurp’ it over?
Mainly, because it allows the family who does not live near us to see what we have been up to. But, it is also a great back-up. I often refer back to my blog in order to look up a detail or find a piece of information. My husband and I were trying to remember exactly which dates we had gone camping in 2014 and 2015 because we had been rained out twice and wanted to avoid that this summer. I just typed in camping in the search box and boom! There was the information and dates which we were looking for. We also use this when the kids want to compare how much they all weighed at 12 months or what their first words were.
Deeper than that though this method is is an extra backup. Last month I tragically deleted 6 months worth of our family photos from our backup drive. I had already deleted them from our computer so our blog posts during that time are now our only copy. Thankfully, once I get that year into a book we will have two copies. If I had not been blogging however, those pictures would have been lost for good.
I also like how blogging includes the little things. My typical routine is to try and update our blog every Sunday. If I only made a book I would likely include only larger events like birthdays or special accomplishments. Instead, I also include funny things the kids have said, what the weather was like and random tidbits. The way I do it now I includes things like the rough day I had, the kids’ favourite book which they made me read over and over and over again one day. I also do what I call a ‘random’ photo entry at the end of each month. This is where I share photos which I want to remember but they don’t necessarily require a post unto themselves.
Why Do I Continue to use Blurb?
Despite my sadness with the changes Blurb made the company makes beautiful books. The books are affordable (see below) and well made. Their book making software called BookWright which is free is user pretty user-friendly and their books offer great sharpness and clarity to them. Blurb now offers you the opportunity to buy your book in PDF format as well. This makes it easy to have an extra backup or to easily share your book with others. I should note that Blurb does have another importing option however, it did not work for me.
How Do I keep these books affordable?
Blurb is fantastic at regularly having sales. You can routinely find coupon codes for anywhere from 20% to 40% off your order. Sometimes they will even offer up to 50% off. In the past, I have also found the company offer vouchers via Groupon so always check there too.
Check out the video below to see what the books look like on the inside:
Hopefully, this gives you some ideas on how to make your own yearbooks! These would work for homeschooling journals as well as blog books too.
Do you make family yearbooks? What format do you use?