15 October 2023

When Your Kids Won't Take Their Stuff: Make a Book

Three years ago, my husband and I decided to downsize from our Battle Creek home of forty years and move  twenty-five miles away to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Our plan was to sell the house and rent an apartment for a year and look for a condo to buy. We thought we could get to know the Kalamazoo area before we bought. Interest rates doubled and housing prices skyrocketed, and we decided we would stay where we are for the time being. 

The downsizing led to going through a lot of papers, photographs, ephemera, and art projects from our children's life. I had saved most of the children's artwork. Kirsten and Travis had great art teachers who did wonderful projects. 


Kirsten's Art Box
Travis's Art Box

I saved the art projects in boxes made for artwork. I saved by age or grade level. I had quite a few projects saved, and I wasn't going to move them. Kirsten and Travis didn't want them, and I couldn't throw them out. I took photographs of every project I had saved. I even had a few saved in my Halloween, Easter, and Christmas decoration tubs. 

Kirsten, 2nd Grade, 1991-1992

Travis, 1st grade, 1993-1994

Then, I could throw them away. Each photograph I took was a trip down memory lane. There were Mother's Day cards, May Day baskets I remember answering the door and finding them, silhouettes, handprints, and more. I kept the Mother’s Day cards, silhouettes, and handprint art. Eventually, I wanted to make photo books to give to Kirsten and Travis. 

Three years later, I made those books. I didn't tell Kirsten and Travis that I was making them and once created I had the books sent to them.

I used Shutterfly to help make the books. I chose a bright color scheme and laid the photos out by grade. I had projects I made with the children before preschool, preschool through elementary (6th grade). Kirsten took art in junior high and high school, so her book included that. It was interesting when comparing projects for the kids, that Kirsten had more projects. I have a feeling many of Travis's sixth grade projects got lost on the way home from school. 

I like Shutterfly because of the variety of book templates you can choose. Each book comes with its own template where you can customize the pages. Text, stickers, frames, and other embellishments can be added.

I was happy with what I created. I think Travis and Kirsten enjoyed receiving the surprise book in the mail. 

If you have art projects, class assignments, or other ephemera type items that your adult children don't want, photograph them, and make a book.


  1. What a clever way of dealing with the unwanted work. I hope to do this, too. I'm also creating a book of the artifacts and treasures we have so I can document where they came from. Then my children can make sound decisions whether or not to keep any of the items. I love how simple and customizable Shutterfly is.

  2. I like your idea of doing this for heirlooms. I have written cards about each one. A photobook would be better.