Photo albums tell our story

Photo albums make me happy.  I’ve been doing them since my husband and I got married way back in 1999.  It was the dark ages before we even had a digital camera.  We took photos and would print them at Walmart to see what turned out.  I decided to start a photo album for each year we were married and caption each photo in the album.  I’ve always made the captions on the computer, because we weren’t that far back in the dark ages.  I used to change the colors and fonts for each event.  I now just use my favorite font, “Arial.”

Here is what they look like on the inside:

And I’ve found that we seldom have just one album per year.  In all our years of marriage, we have only had one or two where we only filled one album with photos.  The year our daughter was born, we filled two and a half.  And I still only printed the very best pictures that I thought we couldn’t live without.  Each album has a label on its spine identifying which year of marriage and the date range.  They are organized chronologically on a bookcase in our dining room.

This is the first photo in the first album. We were freshly back from our honeymoon and opening our wedding gifts.

Through the years, a few changes have taken place.  The obvious one is that we’ve gotten older.  We’re no longer than young, newlywed college kids we were when we started.  We’re no longer in a tiny apartment.  We’re no longer “just the two of us.”  We now include a house, a dog and a toddler.  Life has changed.

Another change is our photo albums are all now solid black.  The ones from the early days had different designs and patterns on them, but nowadays finding photo albums that take two 4×6-inch photos per page with a strip in the middle to insert a caption is a challenge.  Evidently, not a lot of people are into captioned albums like I am.  That’s OK.  That also means they’re cheaper.  Target keeps them on the shelf for $5.  Not too shabby!

This is about six years later (2005) when we were at an Indianapolis Indians' game for our anniversary.

When I started this way back in 1999, I wondered if I’d keep it up for the rest of our lives.  I wanted to.  I thought it would be cool.  I’d love to have albums to look back on my parents’ life and see what they were doing when they were younger.  As you get older, you get more interested in who your parents are as people.  I didn’t see them as people when I was a child.  They were mom and dad.  They are still mom and dad, but they are also Danny and Linda now.  I know that they didn’t start living just when my brother and I were born.  They have a whole history.  I thought it’d be cool to have these to pass on to our kids, should we ever have them.  Our family had their doubts it would happen, but 10 years into this marriage thing and we did.

And that’s when my albums got a bit derailed.  It’s not a surprise, I’m sure.  Babies are consuming.  They take lots of work and energy and time.  We took lots of photos.  I was good at keeping them organized by month and year in folders on my computer, but I was slacking at printing them and getting them into albums.  Sometimes it was the cost of printing the photos, I guess, but most of the time it was just the time and effort needed to do them.

A couple of weeks ago, though, something kicked into high gear.  And I started working on the albums again.  It’s taken more time than it used to back in the early days, but I’m now almost caught up to present day.  I’ve had a great time reminiscing and looking back over these last couple of years.  It’s hard to believe that chubby little baby is now a vivacious, talkative toddler.  I’m also amazed at what I remember.  I’ll look at photos and know who got her the sleeper or outfit she is wearing.  I’ll remember what we did that day.  I’ll remember how I felt. I’ll remember how tired I was by looking at my face and seeing the exhaustion there.

And then us on vacation about a year ago.

I love our photo albums.  They make me happy.  I’m not a crafty mom who can scrapbook.  While I am pretty technological, I really like the old school printed photos and albums.  They are fun to look through.  I find gems.  I remember good times.  Our photo albums tell our story from when we were newlyweds to new homeowners to new puppy owners to new parents.  They show vacation memories, family dinners, holidays and more.  I get teary when I see photos of my Grandma Houk having dinner at our house on New Year’s Day.  I smile when I see a photo of my dad and I with the first small mouth bass I caught on Dale Hollow Lake.  I laugh when I see photos of our friends being goofy.  It’s my life.  It’s shaped me into who I am.

One of these days, I hope Lexiana can look through the albums and understand her parents as Chris and Stacey, not just as dad and mom.  She’ll see us young and silly.  She’ll see her dad’s favorite sports car that he loved.  She’ll see her mom going fishing in old clothes and lipstick (because you’ve got to look good for the fish).

Some of our photo albums on the bookcase in our dining room.

One of these days, I hope that she can look through the albums and remember all the good times we’ve had together even before she could remember them herself.  She’ll see the smile on our faces when we were holding her in the hospital.  She’ll see the time she got tangled in her play mat once she started rolling everywhere.  She’ll see her first vacation to Tennessee.  She’ll see herself snuggled with us reading books.  She’ll see her daddy holding her up to put the angel atop the Christmas tree.

There are lots of good memories in these albums of ours.  I only hope and pray for many more albums and many more good memories to fill them with in the years to come.

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