Lost in the Past

When I was originally approached about being a brand ambassador for Live On I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to set up an account and start putting together the timeline of my children’s lives. I’ve been uploading photos, adding events, recording voice overs and narrating their stories. It’s almost like creating a living scrapbook for my kids, something I know they will treasure someday.

But Live On wants to do more than help you capture the present and the future. They want to help you document the past too.

Enter Live On Rewind. A service that lets you send in your non-digital media for digital conversion. They send you a box, you fill it with pictures or media, they scan and digitize it and send it all back. (Really, just pop over there and read a little about them and what they do, they explain it so well).

I’ve spent the last 4 days immersed in photo albums, picture boxes and scrapbooks. There were stacks and stacks of 4×6 prints, gobs of old Polaroids and even a handful of old black and whites.

My original intent had been to just grab a pile of pictures and fill the box to be sent off. Obviously the fact that it took me 4 days should clue you in as to how well that went.

Honestly, I just got so lost in the vast sea of memories. I spent at least one day with my college photo albums. Apparently for four years my camera only came out during parties. I laughed and laughed and sent lots of picture texts to my friends reliving our “glory” days. I relived my husband and I’s…courtship…if one could really call it that.

I went through an entire box of pictures from junior high and high school. I can’t wait to put together a montage of all of my horrendous hair and fashion choices. I’m almost ashamed of myself. I relived the horror of former boyfriends and crushes. I pulled out an envelope of tiny wallet sized photos of classmates and friends with handwritten notes on the back. (Did everyone do that? Write personalized notes on the back of the school photos you handed out to friends?)

I went through stacks of pictures of myself from infant to toddler and realized that my children DO actually look like me, more than just the blue eyes! I also realize that they get the majority of their attitude from me as well, my goodness I could scowl from quite an early age.

In all those stacks I found pictures that made me laugh and cry, I remembered things long forgotten. I whittled down my stacks and put some of my favorites into the Live On Rewind box and will send them off tomorrow. I absolutely cannot wait to be able to gaze at those pictures on my computer whenever the mood strikes me. Bonus points for all the sharing and blog fodder it will surely provide.

I can’t tell you enough how much I encourage you all to check out this company and try their services. It’s so easy, just order a package and they send you everything you need. Use the code “cgc64” to receive 30% off your order. Seriously, it’s SO worth it. Protect your memories.

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Thank you to LiveOn for sponsoring this blog post. Please LiveOn to learn more about sharing and preserving your most important memories. I was selected for this sponsorship by Clever Girls Collective. Although story ideas were provided, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

Imperfect Picture, Perfect Memory

Random fact about me: I have a pretty bad long term memory. I remember big events and some completely random ones but I’m definitely not one of those people who actually remembers her first trip to the zoo, or that really great Halloween party in my 4th grade classroom. I have several boxes of pictures from my childhood but for the most part the pictures are of the big moments. Birthday parties, graduations, high school dances, athletics.

I wish there were more pictures of the little moments, the day to day life. I wish that I could look through a few months of pictures and know what my favorite outfit was by the number of times it appears. I want to know what toys I was constantly playing with, what food I ate every day.

I think that’s why I save almost all the pictures I take of my kids even the ones that don’t turn out so well. See the evidence below. I tried to sit my kids down and take a picture of them in their new Christmas shirts. Apparently they had ants in their pants because sitting still was just not happening. In the midst of it, I was actually getting upset because all I wanted was just one picture. ONE. I could tell by looking at the camera that every picture was blurry. They were the kind of pictures that are often deleted right there on the spot. However, when I looked at the whole sequence on my computer, with all the pictures lined up side by side I couldn’t help but laugh.

I’m not sure there is a more accurate portrayal of my kids right now. Chase was trying so hard to follow my directions, he tried to “cheese” and put his arm around his sister. Katelyn was being her typical self, unable to sit still, refusing to let her brother hug her let alone kiss her on the cheek. While I didn’t get that one perfect-to-be-framed photo, I think the compliation of photos IS perfect.

I’m so glad I saved those photos and all the other imperfect shots of my kids. Someday those pictures will be the ones that tell the story of their day to day lives.

From the day I was born until I graduated college my life, in pictures, fits into exactly 4 photo boxes. I have over 12,000 photos since I’ve had kids. I think my kids will thank me some day.

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Thank you to LiveOn for sponsoring this blog post. Please LiveOn to learn more about sharing and preserving your most important memories. I was selected for this sponsorship by Clever Girls Collective. Although story ideas were provided, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

!IMPORTANT OFFER!

In addition to creating a space for you to upload, store and narrate your memories LiveOn also has a service to help you convert your older pictures to digital format. Visit LiveOnRewind to learn more about the process. It’s as easy as ordering a box and sending in your pictures, they handle the rest. Use the code HOLIDAYREWIND for 30% off your order. Enjoy and Happy Holidays to you all!

Organize Your Shopping Codes

Just the other day I was cleaning out my desk and I found a pile of cards from last year’s Blogher. For those of you who aren’t familiar Blogher is a conference that I attend that also has an expo center for all their sponsors. It’s very typical to get coupons and discount codes from the vendors. The pile that I found in my desk drawer contained a slew of discount codes for various products and services. I keep my regular coupons in my car but these were coupons and codes for shopping and services I would mainly do online. I missed out on a lot of great stuff by not having the information readily accessible.

I just got back from this year’s Blogher and again I came home with a handful of really great coupons and discount codes. There are a lot of great offers sitting in this pile, trust me.

I don’t want to miss out again so I decided to organize all my codes and discounts in one place. My go-to for digital organization is Google Documents. I know a lot of people use it for sharing spreadsheets and documents online but it’s also a really great organizational tool. The best part is you can access the information from anywhere. I routinely pull up Google documents on my phone when I’m out and about. It literally took me 15 minutes to set up a basic spreadsheet and enter all the information. Here’s what my spreadsheet looks like.

I kept it really simple listing the store/vendor name, the discount amount, expiration date if applicable, the code needed, the website and then a space for any extra notes. See the pink arrow up at the top? I wanted to point out that I marked this document as a favorite. Which is important for this next point.

This is a screenshot of my Gmail inbox, I have enabled the “Google Docs previews in mail” lab so I can easily access my favorite documents. If you aren’t using Gmail you could also just bookmark your document or place a shortcut in the bookmarks bar.

I think this system is going to work really nicely for keeping track of coupons, discounts and special offers for shopping that I do online. As soon as I get a flyer, coupon or even an email code I can quickly add it to my list and then shop when I have free time. A quick look at my spreadsheet will let me know which offers are about to expire so I’m sure (or at least more likely) to not miss out on any great deals.

Using Google Reader More Effectively

Google reader is by far the most popular feed subscription tool available. Make sure you are using it to it’s fullest potential. Below are several of my best tips and favorite features.

1. Subscribe to more than just blogs.
I currently have over 100 subscriptions and only half of them are blogging friends. I don’t get an actual newspaper at my house, instead I subscribe to several local and state RSS feeds. I also subscribe to shopping sites, for instance I have a feed that keeps track of all new additions to my favorite etsy shops. I also have a feed for certain categories in my area’s Craigslist. My point here is to not limit your subscriptions to just your friend’s blogs, look for an RSS feed from any site you check regularly.

2. Use a folder system to categorize your feeds.
Once you have your list of feeds it is essential to get them sorted. The image below shows how I have my folders set up. As with any filing system, use labels that work for you and your individual set of feeds. You can see from the image that I also subscribe to my own blogs, I do this as a quick way to see if my feeds are working correctly. I want to note that I subscribe to numerous feeds but that doesn’t mean I read every single entry. I keep subscriptions to several feeds in my “Funnies” folder that I only go to on days I need a little laugh or have some extra time, most of the time I just hit “mark all as read” and move on because I’m too busy. My point is, don’t feel like you can’t subscribe to a feed just because you don’t read every entry.

3. Use reader in conjunction with your bookmark bar.
This option can be found in the Google Reader settings under the “Goodies” tab. You can choose to put a generic “next” button in your bookmarks bar that will choose from all of your feeds OR you can specify a folder. I recommend putting in a button for your top 2-3 folders. Once the button is in your bookmarks bar you simply click it and you will be automatically redirected to the most recent unread item in that folder. The nice thing about this feature is that it takes you to the actual site. This solves the problem of having to click through to comment or clicking through for blogs with partial feeds.

Now you tell me, what are your favorite tips for using Google Reader? Is there a feature you absolutely love?