Q of the Week : How do you record your kids' lives?

Fynn’s party over the weekend, where I’m betting he’ll remember the dueling Hex-bug gifts and the balloons longer than anything else. Perched on top of the highest possible point on a friend’s roof last night, carefully not stepping into the skylight and watching a myriad of fireworks, Fynn asked me if I’d brought the camera.  I’d left it at home, and told him he’d have to take mental pictures instead, hinting that those were the best kind.  Sometimes I just don’t want the bother of the camera, and as ours isn’t working well I deliberately left it behind.  One less thing to worry about, especially when climbing ladders to rooftops that were not really meant to be climbed on by anyone, let alone excited 5-year-olds. 

I’m not very consistent about preserving memories of my kids, or perhaps I should say for my kids.  I have baby books for them, which are mostly things shoved inside a photo album that only has a few pages filled in.  School pictures, locks of hair, plane ticket stubs, and a couple scribbled half-lists of things like first words and rolled-over dates.  Mostly the “firsts” are the subject of debate whenever it comes up, as I was too busy taking care of the kids to really write stuff down, and quite frankly it wasn’t a high enough priority for me to make the time to do it.  

I did/do take lots of pictures.  All digital mind you, the last time I printed out an album’s worth was just after Douglas turned one.  I do have them backed up, but still intend to print out a decent selection from trips and milestones, and get them in their albums.  Someday.  Some day that hasn’t arrived in the last 8 years apparently, so I’m not sure when it will turn up. 

I take a lot of mental pics too, where I freeze a moment in my head so I can savor it later.  Dangling my feet over the edge of the roof last night, with my arm around Fynn, I made a note in my head to remember what that felt and smelled and looked like.  A cool breeze, his warm slouch against my side, the gritty shingles scratching at my leg, swinging bare legs and a brightly lit cityscape all around us.  Can’t guarantee I’ll remember it 5 years from now, but it’s pretty likely.  (And in case you’re wondering at my utter lack of caution, it was the overhang to the terrace below, not the one that dropped 5 stories to the ground :).

I also keep a box of handmade cards, event stubs, programs, and all that jazz that I know they’ll want to pore over some day, triggering a host of memories.  This blog serves as a kind of a record too, as does my flickr account.  So I’m not very consistent in my records, but there are enough scattered about that I don’t think I’ll be in trouble when my boys are older and start to show some curiosity about their history.

So how do you keep track of memorabilia for your kids?  Stuffed shoebox, organized scrapbook, blog, photo archives, detailed diary, mental snapshot drawer … what’s your memory-keeper of choice?  Is it a source of frustration or joy?  For those of you in the organized side of things, any super easy tricks or products that can help those of us who are a bit challenged in this arena?  Ideas welcome!