Each year starts out with grand plans.
Plans that change/ fizzle/ or get ditched all together.
This is the third (maybe fourth) year I have attempted some sort of photo a day project.
I am hoping that this is the year that I see it through with a few new tools and plans.
Easy tools.  Simple plans.  Small chunks of time.
The goal is simple: (two week in, at least it still seems so) take a picture a day.  
That's it.  
No structure.  No set parameters.
Just the small moments that paint of picture of what our life looks like.
Friends, meals, adventures, projects, celebrations, happy kids, crying kids...
A year in the life of the Carsons.
Our noisy, chaotic, ever moving, life.
The life that is moving too quickly, changing rapidly.
It is my feeble attempt to take back what the jerk time is trying to take from us.

I got this little journal to help.
Each night I jot down a highlight from the day.
Sometimes it might just be something as pathetic as
I started AND finished a load of laundry
Because those are the days that are intermingled with the big days.  Those are the days that I want to celebrate too.
It's not all making out in front of the Golden Gate bridge.
It's a whole lot of sweeping floors and changing diapers.
The crumbs and the diapers are part of our little story right now.  The story that slips away as we trudge forward in life.
Too many people much older and wiser than I, have told us over and over again that the day will come when we will miss the mess and noise.  When that day comes, I want something to flip through and reminisce.

There are so many great options to compile a years worth of photos out there.  Many that I wish I had the time and skill to tackle (ahem requiring overcoming my Photoshop fears, or total lack of printing out actual photos).  Taking into consideration the majority of photos I take these days are with my phone, and most are posted via Instagram, Shutterfly seemed the best choice.  I have made (and survived without crying) quite a few books through them, and they have the ability to pull photos directly from your Instagram feed.  Two birds.  One stone.
So far I threw together the beginnings of what will be weeks one and two in just a few minutes.  Now I just need to flip through my little journal, and type out bullet points that correspond to the pictures.  Part of me wants to be lazy, and just keep it clean and simple.  The smarter part of me knows better.  It knows that in years to come, I won't exactly remember why a particular Disney sunset was so bittersweet to our family (our season passes expired that day).  The extra time will be worth it.  So worth it.

So this is my plan.  Each day I will take a picture.  Each night I will jot something down.  Every two weeks I will brew a cup of tea, sit down at the computer, put my headphones on, and put together our small moments.  At the end of the year we will look back at the photos, the memories, the words, and be thankful for the hard days and the beautiful ones.

It's going to be rad.


  1. I've seen that journal online but ended up using my planner from Target instead. (Believe it or not, I have made almost an identical goal for myself) I still have the little boxes to write things on the calendar but I jot a sentence or 2 down about our day on the weekly pages that have more room.
    Amazingly I'm not behind as I don't feel any pressure...it's a wonderful exercise actually!!!! I love the layouts you've chosen. Isn't Instagram wonderful for a project like this?

    Instead of a photobook I will once a month transfer the information to a blog draft so when I make my blog into a book I can pull that post from my drafts right into my book (blurb.com is who I use for this type of book). I am excied to put more of the everyday moments in my books rather than only the ones that make it into a regular blog post.

  2. I have that same 5-year memory book. So glad to know that I'm not the only one who sometimes struggles with what to write in it. I have had several entries that say "made dinner at home" or "watched Full House with the kids." Sometimes I feel sad that that's all I have to say, but then other times I'm OK with it because I'm still capturing life-- even if making dinner was as about exciting as life got that day!

  3. love LOVE.
    i journal, and try to take photos every day.
    you've encouraged me to blend that and be more intentional.


  4. love your goals! i started writing a little bit down each night 3 years ago. warning - the first year is boring, the second year is fun, but now i'm on the year and i looove looking back on the past 2 years! one of my favorite things!

  5. I think you need a GG make-out seesh at least once a month. It's healthy. For your marriage. Come baaaaaa-ck. That's all.

  6. I think that starting AND finishing a load of laundry is NOT pathetic at all. In fact, I aspire to do this exact thing. Maybe.....one day....it will happen. (not likely).

    A girl can dream.


  7. There's an app called Project 365 that you insert a pic a day and it creates a calendar on your phone of a pic a day. I love it, and I love seeing the month in pics.

  8. like all of your ideas.... i want to copy this idea.
    it's brilliant.

  9. Love the idea! I've failed at my 365s and 52 before, I am hoping that THIS is the year! :)

  10. love love love this idea. as usual. :)

  11. I just got my 2011 Instagram book in the mail. It was more of an experiment really bc I had a free 8x8 book. I love how it turned out. It's not perfect but I don't spend much time. I like the text idea. And one per day does limit it. Now you have me thinking. I did my book on shutterfly too and I didn't know you could do it directly from your phone. Thanks for the tip.

  12. What a great way to be intentional about our photo taking, journaling, and overall keepsaking. I love, love, love this idea!!!!!!

  13. It **is** going to be rad!!! And you are going to be SO glad you did it!

    I finally did a year project beginning on my 36th birthday and ending on my 37th. I knew I needed it to be really open ended... too many parameters and I stress and quit! So, I just told myself to take pictures of the everyday... of really mundane stuff and really fun stuff, too. I averaged about 35-45 "keeper" photos a month... not necessarily one each day, but it all wound up pretty representative.

    Anyway... looking back now... I am so, so thankful for those photos. My youngest is just two months younger than Shane. So, much of that year was her 1st year. So huge.

    Do it! Do it while they're still little! Go, Julie, go! :)

  14. Help.....I love your idea but AS USUAL....i have no idea how to get my instagram pics into shutterfly. i have googled for tutorials and don't seem to find any guidance. can you offer any resources???

    1. When I have the book open, down on the bottom right there is a place that says Add Pictures. Click that. Then it will take you to a new screen where you pick where you will get your pictures from. On the top right of that screen will be an Instagram button. From there it makes you give permission to access your Instagram account. Grant it permission and pick which ones you want it to upload. I haven't had good success at getting it to do more than 20-50 at a time though... So I do it pretty regularly, to keep it up to date.

  15. I love this little journal. I'm on my second year, and as trivial as it seemed when I wrote it, I am happy to read of what I had cooked for dinner on this night last year. Gives my life a rhythmm. Hope you enjoy yours as much as I do mine. I keep it here at the computer and I pick it up after I sign off for the night.

  16. First off, can I just say I'm so relieved to hear that someone else has had a hard time with follow-thru on awesome projects such as these? I have Amazon one-click on my smartphone (which really can be dangerous), and bought this book - it will be here soon. Thanks for the idea! I have already tried the index card per day for the entire year - that one never picked up off the ground. Just a heads up to another great idea I pinned on Pinterest - a jar of good thoughts from 2013 - you fill it up with little notes and read it on New Year's Eve. So far, so good - it helps that it's clear - so we can see the notes filling up (colorful paper is also rad). Everyone knows about it - even my five year old twins, so we can help fill it up together.

  17. I got the same book & started it last January, but I'll admit I fizzled out around October. There were days when things happened that I knew I wanted to write down, but I got so behind that it was frustrating. Finally after the holidays I knew I wanted to start it again, so I went back through pictures, Facebooks, texts, everything I could think of & managed to fill in the rest of the year. Now that I'm at a point where I'm on the second year, it's a lot more fun since I have things to look back on from last year. It's especially funny since my son is about the same age as Shane, and I can hardly believe the difference in all his "firsts" from last year & where he is now. It's tough, but stick with it, it's totally worth it!