Memory Keeping – How I Documented Jack’s First Year with Project Life

I used to love scrapbooking. When I was in high school, my mom and I would spend most of our Saturdays going to Walmart to get pictures from that week printed and then cutting, pasting, and covering pages with stickers as we documented our memories. I have some great scrapbooks from my senior year of high school because of that hobby.

Over the years, I have probably spent thousands of dollars and thousands of hours buying scrapbook supplies with great intentions of making some amazing scrapbooks, but at some point, life just got too busy to make traditional scrapbooking an option for me. It felt more like a chore than a fun pastime, and I stopped.

I knew when I was pregnant with Jack that I wanted to do a better job of documenting our family memories, especially for his baby book, but I also knew that traditional scrapbooking was not going to be the way I did it. I planned on collecting pictures and notes from the year and then making a photo book on Shutterfly, but I quickly realized that I was going to have way too many photos to fit into a Shutterfly book (I think they cut me off at 100 photos, which was nowhere near enough for an entire year with a baby). I also wanted more room for journaling than the baby book templates on Shutterfly offered.

I didn’t really know how I was going to create this epic baby book that was in my mind until I found the Project Life app. I have shared a little about this app before (here and here), but I decided to do a full post showing how I created Jack’s baby book using the app.

It’s important to note that the app itself is FREE, but there are purchases you can make within the app for fonts, stickers, and cards (this will make more sense when you see the layout of the pages). You can also pay extra for more layout options. I did make some in-app purchases (for card kits and layouts) totaling about $10 to make Jack’s book. I’ll detail the exact card collections and fonts I used as I show them to you on some sample pages. Making a book on Project Life could technically be a free process, but I enjoyed buying some themed cards to give my book a cohesive look. I also tried to sick with two primary fonts for my entire book for the same reason.

If you used to be a scrapbooker like me (and I was a hard-core one who even got a monthly scrapbooking magazine), then you’ve probably heard of Becky Higgins. She is a long-time scrapbook supply maker and the creator of Project Life and the Project Life app. Project Life is designed to be a simple way to document your everyday life. It started out with photo sleeves and journaling cards that you could buy at crafts stores and now has made its way to a digital format. When I found the app and realized that I could basically create a digital scrapbook on my phone from my bed (or couch, or the passenger seat of the car while on a road trip, of the bathroom during my five minutes of quiet – mamas, you know what I’m talking about), I was sold.

I played around with layouts and designs using the free parts of the app first, just to see if I liked it. The Project Life style of scrapbooking is very compartmentalized. Everything has a space and there are lots of squares and rectangles to fill in with pictures or journaling. While that’s not my typical style (I like a design that’s a little more organic, usually), for this project it just made sense.

After I played around and made a few practice pages, I decided to go ahead and purchase a set of journaling cards for my project. Since I was designing this book as Jack’s baby book, I chose two card kits to use for my project: the “Boy Themed Cards” kit and the “Baby Boy Edition” kit. These journaling cards were all similar in color scheme so they would tie together nicely and they included lots of baby book specific journaling prompts on the cards to help me document important milestones in Jack’s first year.

The card kits look like this, and I think I paid $1.99 for each card kit that I purchased. The app contains hundreds of different kits that you can buy depending on what kind of project you want to create. You can see that I purchased a few other kits for different projects, but for Jack’s baby book, I stuck to the first two kits.

I separated Jack’s book into four sections: his birth story, weekly photos, milestones and special occasions, and his first birthday.

I included a title page like the one below at the beginning of each section.

I started out with Jack’s birth story, which is pretty much the same as the one I included in my Pregnancy Journal Photo Book (you can see that here). I tried to make sure to include pictures of all our hospital visitors and our Fresh 48 photos in this section, as well as journaling to help me remember that special time.

I used the “Baby Boy Edition” card kit and the font “Becky” to make the pages above.

Next, I added my favorite section of the book – Jack’s weekly pictures. Before I had Jack, I saw a blogger who I followed on Instagram do a 52 week photo challenge with her baby and decided I wanted to do the same. I posted a picture of Jack every week with the hashtag #52weeksofjackcooper on my Facebook and Instagram pages, and while it was sometimes a pain to set up and take a picture every single week, I am so glad that I did. Putting all those pictures side by side with the journaling that I included on my Instagram page each week really helped me remember how much Jack grew in his first year and helped me remember lots of little things that wouldn’t normally make it into a baby book, like what book or toy Jack loved at a certain time, what food was his favorite when, and things like that. I know this is something that a lot of moms don’t feel is necessary, but I loved this process and am so happy with having the weekly pictures now that my baby is turning into a big boy.

I stuck to the “Baby Boy Edition” card kit and the same “Becky” font for these pages as well.

In the next section of the book, I included milestones like Jack’s first doctor’s appointment, meeting his great-grandparents, holidays, getting his first teeth, his first day of daycare, and things like that. I tried to put this section in chronological order from birth to one year, so it runs from July 2017 to July 2018. I also included all of our family trips and any family pictures we had made in this section.

For the pages above, I used the “Baby Boy Edition” card kit and the font “Becky.”

For the two pages above, I used cards from the “Boy Themed Cards” card kit and used the fonts “Becky” and “Mouse Memoirs.”

For the end of the book, I added a few pages documenting Jack’s first birthday and his birthday party, including his one year photo shoot. I used the “Baby Boy Edition” card kit and the font “Becky” for these pages.

For the last page of Jack’s book, I compiled all of Jack’s monthly pictures as a quick review of his first year.

All in all, the book ended up being 58 pages long. There are multiple options for printing pages made in the Project Life app. The creators of the app suggest saving all your pages to Dropbox or another location just in case your phone crashes or your app gets accidentally deleted (which is not hard with babies pushing buttons on your phone), so you can save them there and then upload them to Shutterfly or Mixbook and print them that way. I decided to get mine printed directly from the app. I chose the 12×12 inch book (which is actually a little big – I almost wish I had done the 10×10 size), so I knew it was going to be expensive, but for me this was justified because it was a one-time purchase and something that would have major sentimental value for my family for years to come. I ordered the hardcover book, which is designed to open and lay flat, which is super nice. With printing and shipping, the book was a total of $212.99 (it was my Christmas present from Jeff). It is a beautiful keepsake and the pages are thick and sturdy, so I feel like the price was good for the quality of the book.

While I don’t use Project Life for all my memory keeping (I still love Shutterfly for smaller projects), I will definitely use it again if Jeff and I have another baby. It was so easy to use and to keep up with everything right there in the app.


Do you have any questions about Project Life? How did you document your child’s first year? Let me know in the comments below!