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What Do You Do When Your Memories Are Gone? - Part II


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In Part I of the series, I talked about the kinds of situations you may find yourself in, if faced with a natural disaster. In terms of your memories, your pictures and your mementos, it's hard to recover those if you have lost all or some of your possessions due to flooding, fires, hurricanes or tornadoes.

In Part II, I will talk about ideas you can implement after your family is safe, and you are at a point in the recovery process when you can begin to put the pieces of your past life together - when you have lost prized family photos, mementos and memorabilia - and you are looking for a way to rebuild that part of your family's history. That's exactly what scrapbooking will help you do. Through brainstorming, timelines and other mechanisms, you and your children can take proactive steps, at a time when you may feel unsure of where to start.


The first step to recovering mementos and memories is to get organized. Always have index cards on-hand - I recommend the large cards such as 5" x 8". Keep them in an index card box, at your fingertips. Use these cards to record every detail you can recall about past events. Lost all of the photos of your kid's birthdays? Lost mementos from vacations and sports seasons? While you can never replace those photos and mementos, you can record your family's memories of those events on index cards, which you can then transfer to beautiful scrapbook pages that will help you pass on your family's history to future generations.

And here is where you can get your family, and especially your kids involved.

Get out a calendar and look at each month, starting with the most recent, and ask your kids to help you remember the events before the flood. Record every detail, big and small, that your family can remember. And be sure to keep track of which child remembered which details, because each person's impressions of the events will be as important to the character of your scrapbook pages as the dates and places themselves.

Here are some brainstorming ideas to get you started:

  • What happened the week and month before the flood?
  • Did you go on a road trip? Vacation? Theme Park? Did you travel to see relatives?
  • Did you have an event (such as a summer bar-b-que) at your house?
  • What can you remember about birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and holidays?
  • Did you get a new pet?
  • Did you attend community or church events? Did your kids participate in Boy Scout or Girl Scout events?
  • Did you attend their sports team practices. . . soccer, football, baseball, basketball? What about recitals. . . piano, ballet, tap, etc. ?
  • If you have young children, can you remember their milestones. . . when did they first walk, talk and run? Go back as far as you can in your life.

Once you have the who, what, where, when and how of each event, try to remember the details that made the events unique for your family.

Ask your children and yourself the following questions about each of these events:

  • How did you feel before the event?
  • What were you wearing?
  • Were there people at the event that you liked or disliked?
  • What was your favorite part of the event or day?
  • What happened during the event? What were some funny moments you remember?
  • How did you feel after the event?
  • Did you learn anything from your experience?

You'll also want to scrapbook about your day-to-day life. Favorite blankies, toys and dishes may be gone, but you should consider recording the memories of your things as well. Especially if you do not plan to, or cannot, buy the same items to replenish your household.

Here are some items and routines you may want to record for scrapbooking:

  • Children's favorite toys, bedtime companions such as blankies or stuffed animals, and books.
  • Morning and evening routines when your children were younger.
  • Schools your children attended and other houses you may have lived in.
  • What were your kids’ rooms like? Painted? White walls? Lots of toys or no toys at all?
  • Favorite park your child played at? Best Friends they played with? Favorite outfits? Favorite foods and board games?
  • How did you decorate your house? Modern or country? Did you have any collections. . . Precious Moments, Boyds Bears, Roosters or Cats?
  • Did you have special dishes or crystal you received when you were married?
  • Favorite family recipes? (Hopefully these will be recoverable. . . ask your family members for help here!)

Use a separate index card for each event, memory, trip or subject that you can remember. If you have a large family, consider buying index cards in different colors and assign a color to each child, so that his or her memories and thoughts about each event are easily organized.

As you are in the process of creating this “Memory Bank", be sure to ask relatives, friends, church groups, scout troops and others about pictures of you and your kids. You will probably be able to make duplicates of pictures that others have taken of your family. . . it won't replace all of your pictures, but it will certainly help to replenish your photo box and the pictures may even help jog your memory about places and times you had forgotten.


It is critical to remember as many details as you can, as quickly as you can. But if you take a few weeks and even months to complete this part of your project, do not wait to begin scrapbooking these recorded memories. It will be important for you, and your kids, to begin the scrapbooking process as soon as you are finished with the bulk of your brainstorming. It will not only help you in the healing process, but it will also help to inspire you, and to remember more details and more events.

Part III of this series will help you actually create layouts without photos. . . tips for creating these layouts, for shopping on a budget, and lots of ideas for pages to fill your albums.

Read the rest of the articles in this series by visiting our blog .

Melissa co-owns Memories Across Miles, a one-stop shopping experience. . . find the hottest products, the best customer service and the biggest sales. Paper, stickers, rub-ons, chipboard, ribbon. Make your scrapbook album a masterpiece. . . future generations will thank you for it!

To get the latest on what's happening at MAM , sign up for our newsletter. . . product giveaways, blog postings, special deals, pre-orders and more.

Scrapbook For Love. Scrapbook For Family. Scrapbook For You.


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