Last weekend our family attended a funeral service where we said our final goodbyes to my husband's grandmother and laid her to rest. As we entered the small chapel inside the funeral home, I spotted several picture frames filled with photos that depicted her life - from toddlerhood until age 85. Though there was a slideshow of images playing too, we were all gathered around these printed photographs, some as old as 1935. Some of the pictures, specially those from her childhood, had never been seen by the grandkids before. Everyone tried to identify the people in them and told the anecdotes behind each photograph. Granny's (as my children called her) vast collection of family photos told so many stories. Not just her own, but four generation's worth! As my children stood there pointing at the photos of themselves with their great-grandmother, I gained an even deeper appreciation for printed photos.
In the digital era we live in, it's now easier than ever to capture special moments. The camera rolls on our phones are filled with snapshots of our everyday life, but how often do we print them? While digital photos are convenient, they aren't forever. The average life expectancy of a digital file is only 10 years. Hard drives crash and servers fail, but printed photos can last over 100 years when cared for and stored properly. Above all that, printed photographs give us a physically tangible capture of our memories.
Remember the days when you and your parents would flip through family albums and they would tell you all about each photo. Or you'd sift through a box full of old pictures with handwritten inscriptions on the back. You'd hear stories of your childhood, how your parents met, or even learn about ancestors you never got to meet. I don't know about you, but I don't often go back to look at digital photos with my family the way we do albums or prints. When you can touch them in your hands, you are instantly transported to the time when those photos where taken. That is exactly why I encourage every client to print or better yet, to order a custom designed album from me, so they can revisit those memories over and over again and eventually pass them down to their kids.
My takeaway from all this is: Have your photos taken with your spouse, with your children, your parents, and all those you hold dear, to print and display. In the end, when we are gone, these reminders of us is what our loved ones are left with. Photographs are a recollection of our existence here on earth. They are a legacy to those we leave behind when we part. They tell our story and keep our memory alive. They become treasured heirlooms to those who loved us most.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small compensation for your purchase. This compensation comes at no additional cost to you, and as always I only recommend products I love and trust!
The countdown to Christmas is on and the gift hunt is in full force. Stores are filled with shoppers in a frenzy searching for the perfect gift. The majority of them are parents hoping to fill their baskets with the hottest toys of the year for their little ones. Until I became pregnant with my third child, I was one of those parents too. But it was around that time that I discovered minimalism and with it, a desire to declutter my life was born. My focus shifted to living more with less and seeking joy that lasts, rather than instant gratification in "pretty things." Over the last five years, I have really gotten the hang of meaningful gift-giving. Below are some of my favorite gifts for children, most are available on Amazon with Prime shipping, which means it's not too late to purchase. The best part is that not a single one is a toy.
1. The gift of record keeping
With the New Year starting just a few days later, Christmas is the perfect time to introduce a child to journaling or keeping a personal diary. For younger kids, a fill-in-the-blank journal like this one is best. Older kids who are new to journaling will find this five minute journal easy to do, so they will keep up with the habit year round. A mother/child journal is not only a lovely way to document life together, but will also help you get to know each other better.
2. The gift of personalization
Who doesn't love something that was custom made just for them? Kids are not the exception. My daughter loved receiving this dainty personalized necklace for her birthday this year. It's one of her favorite accessories to wear and has become one of her most priced possessions. Due to demand, this particular necklace may arrive after Christmas, but this engraved gold plated name bar is guaranteed to arrive on time. Other ideas for personalized gifts are blankets and pillow cases, an embroidered bag, or even an engraved sports ball for young athletes.
3. The gift of craftsmanship
Teaching your child one of your own skills like sewing, carpentry, or pottery is a gift that keeps on giving. You will bond with your child while they learn to create something out of raw materials, and maybe one day they will even pass it down to their own children. This year I taught my son to crochet and he has been using his new skill to make Christmas gifts for family members.
4. The gift of adventure
In today's culture of instant gratification, there is something special about the anticipation that comes with planning an adventure. My favorite thing about gifting experiences is that they create no clutter. The only space they take up is the one in your heart. An adventure can be as simple as a day at the zoo, a visit to the museum, a weekend camping trip, or it can require a bit more planning like a Disney vacation or a family cruise to the Caribbean. No matter the type of adventure, one thing is for certain... you cannot put a price on experiences. The memories created exceed any monetary value spent amd that makes them an absolutely perfect gift in my book.
5. The gift of literacy
There is no denying that children today are surrounded by technology and busy schedules. Being able to slow down enough to enjoy a good book, is becoming more rare. Cultivating a love for reading at a young age opens the door to a world of magic, discovery, and exploration. My recommendation is to gift a full set of chapter books for avid/advanced readers or a collection of picture books by the same author for younger readers. A gift card to a bookstore is also a great idea.
6. The gift of sustainability
Kids love to be outdoors and play in dirt. Why not turn this desire to get messy into a new hobby that can benefit your child and the earth? Whether your little one grows herbs, flowers, or vegetables; gardening teaches many lessons, including responsibility and patience. In the end, seeing that little seed grow will make all their hard work so worth it! Winter is the perfect time to plant a pollinator garden that will attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees to your yard!
7. The gift of song
You may have heard me say this before, but music is my love language. I strongly believe that music has the power to transcend cultures, borders, and language barriers. It is the one universal language that can be understood by everyone and can often communicate what spoken words cannot. Raising a young musician is now easier than ever. While in person lessons are always the best way to go, it is possible to be self-taught by learning through online courses. My oldest has been learning to play the ukulele through YouTube tutorials, while my daughter is learning piano from me.
8. The gift of History
Compiling our children's history is (in my opinion) one of the best gifts we can give them. Even if your child is older and you didn't keep track from day one, it's never too late to start. Write down the details about their life, milestones, and important events like their first vacation or losing their first tooth, etc. Make it extra special by finally printing all those photos you have stored on your computer or your phone. As your child gets older, these personal storybooks will become a cherished heirloom that they will be able to look back on. It will give them a sense of belonging as they learn where they come from and where they've been. I recommend using a fill-in book like this Childhood History book or Blossom & Pear's Hello Little Love book.
I hope you found these ideas helpful and that they inspired you to come up with your own special gifts to give the little ones in your lives. Hooray for a Christmas with more purpose and less toy clutter!
Motherhood is the most demanding job ever. It's like riding a roller coaster that never stops. It is filled with ups and downs. On the one hand we have the awful lows that make us feel completely inadequate and unfit for the job. Those moments of exhaustion, of losing our freaking minds, that make us doubt everything we thought we knew about mothering our children. Those moments when we just have to leave the room to keep it together. The moments when we hide in the bathroom as tears run down our face. Motherhood sounds like a lot doesn't it? Some may even say it's too much for them and that they have no interest in ever getting on this wild crazy ride that some of us are on.
So then, why do we do it? Why do we put ourselves through something so incredibly hard?
Because on the other hand we have the amazing, incredible highs. Those moments of growth and learning, of knowing we're doing it right. Those moments when our babies look at us with a big smile on their face. Those moments when they kiss us dearly as we tuck them into bed. Those moments when their sweet and tender gestures of love melt our hearts. It's those moments that feel like heaven on earth, which make all the sleepless nights and meltdowns worthwhile. Because as demanding a job as it may be, there is none more rewarding than this.
So keep at it, mama and know that you were meant for this. You were born with the inherent ability to love and to nurture. I'll be here to capture those wonderdul highs when you are ready!
Hey there! I'm Anel. Houston photographer, wife to my high school sweetheart, and mama to four wild kids who I homeschool. I love nature, capturing motherhood, and living a slow simple life. I also blog over at Tender Nest Blog
New on my Insta Feed