Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Picaboo Yearbooks

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I have a new favorite thing ever at my house.  Picaboo Yearbooks has simply made my summer.  I cannot even begin to explain to you just how excited I was when my newest creation arrived via UPS last week.  I guess I was like a little kid at Christmas.  I had been tracking its journey and couldn't wait for it to get here.  And when it arrived, I was giddy.  I carefully opened the box, removed my new "yearbook" from the plastic covering, and quickly flipped through the pages to see if my online creation looked as good in person as I had hoped it would when I was putting it together on the computer screen.  It did indeed.  Actually it looked MUCH NICER than I had even dreamed and I was excited to share it with my friends and family.  {Okay, to be even more honest . . . whenever someone new comes over my daughter laughs and says "Did mom ask you to look at her book yet?  Get ready, she's going to."  She's right, too.  I LOVE my new Picaboo Yearbook and I want to share it with everyone.}

When the opportunity to review a 20-Page Softcover Picaboo Yearbook of my very own became available, I jumped at the chance.  You see, my oldest child was born in the days when cameras didn't put a date on pictures.   It was crazy trying to keep up with what pictures were taken on which day.  I actually kept a little journal for that first year of her life.  It listed the photo that I had tried to take and the date that I had taken it on so that I could always figure out what was going on in her life for scrapbooking purposes later.   {Do you remember the days of film cameras when you only took one shot of each picture and hoped they'd turn out when you developed the file?}  Then I got a camera that put the date on pictures and thought I had it made.

The birth of each of my children started me on a scrapbook frenzy.  I always thought I would be a wonderful scrapbooker.  I tried hard to create personal little books that shared our stories, but . . . 19 years (and 4 children) later, I have four partially completed baby book scrapbooks -- and countless other books started that were supposed to be family treasures to help us remember birthdays, Christmas celebrations, and vacations.   Oh, yes, I own lots of cute paper and stickers.  I also STILL have four baby books to finish one day -- and my "baby" is 12.  That said, I must admit -- I am a scrapbooking failure.

Or I WAS a scrapbooking failure until Picaboo Yearbooks came along.  The picture below gives you an example of how fantastic YOUR yearbook can be {but I can't wait for you to see pictures of MINE}.

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For my review, I was able to make one softcover 8 1/2 x 11 book with 20 pages of pictures and memories.  The basic cost of a 20-page book like mine is only $8.49.  If 20 pages is not enough for you to capture all that you want to include, you can add additional pages for only 22 cents each.  Shipping for one softcover book is $8.99 and you are guaranteed to have your book in hand in 15 business days from the moment you submit your order.  {Mine didn't even take that long.}  For less than $20, you can create a WONDERFUL memory keeper for your family.  And just thinking about all of the personalized Christmas presents I can create makes me smile big.

The hardest part of my Picaboo review was deciding just WHAT I wanted to include in my yearbook.  I couldn't decide if it would be best to do a "year in review" of our homeschool year OR if I wanted to focus on one MAJOR activity within the year.  After much thought {and LOTS of time looking through pictures}, I decided that a yearbook focusing on our F.I.R.S.T. LEGO League Blue Crew year would be a fun way to start my Picaboo journey.  And I'm SO VERY GLAD I did.  I began with a blank canvas and have created a beautiful piece of artwork.  A MASTERPIECE, if you will.

Each and every Picaboo Yearbook that you create can be as unique as your story.  Because you begin by setting how many pages you want to fill and naming each section, it is a fairly easy process to follow.  Once you set up your account and log in, you are ready to begin uploading pictures and designing your perfect book.   The only limits to your yearbook are the limits to your imagination.

For the cover of my LEGO Robotics yearbook, I chose to use a picture that begins to tell the story of the Blue Crew.  At one of our very first field trips this year, team members were asked to wear a Blue Crew shirt from any previous year.  I snapped this picture of four of the team members -- each in a different year's competition shirt.  I love how the shirts show the history of the Blue Crew and share the legacy of the adventure.  This photo made for the perfect wraparound cover photo.  I was even able to enhance the colors to give the cover an edgy look.

Once I was satisfied with my cover photo, I was ready to begin putting the inside of my yearbook together.  For this particular book, I found it best to include events in a chronological order.  I was able to start with our very first team meeting, include pictures from our State Competition, and conclude with the team's trip to CALIFORNIA for the International Competition.  These pictures give you a small taste of the inside of my book.  I LOVE being able to choose backgrounds and different fonts to enhance my pictures and further tell the story of the LEGO year. 

Our team colors are royal blue and bright yellow, so I did patterns of yellow and blue as the backgrounds throughout the book.  BUT for the pictures of the team in California, I used backgrounds of sand and ocean and beach towel.  It truly was the trip of a lifetime and I've worked to capture it all within the pages of my Picaboo Yearbook.  

I really was waiting anxiously for UPS to drop off my completed book and I couldn't wait to share it with others.  Once it arrived, I drove to my sweet friend's house to share it with her family, too.  I had to forewarn her that although it IS a book about our LEGO year, it did have quite a few pictures of my children in it.  She loved it anyway -- almost as much I do -- and said she'd like to have one for her family as well.  The quality of the yearbook is exceptional.  We've looked through it and passed it around for others to see and the cover is none the worse for wear.  I chose the glossy finish (you can choose either glossy or matte) and I couldn't be more pleased.  Fingerprints wipe off easily and the smiles from my children as they look through and remember the year light up the room.  

I am SO VERY GLAD that I had the opportunity to review Picaboo Yearbooks and can't wait to finish my next book.  This will make a wonderful keepsake for my Senior's school year, don't you think?  The possibilities are endless.   I've got Scouting careers and church events to commemorate, family outings, sports seasons, and birthday parties to document.  As easy as click and upload, this is THE way to re-live our fun days together.   Go on . . . give it a try.  You're going to be thrilled that you did.  Just be careful and don't let your kids see you having all the fun creating -- they'll be trying to take over.  The good news though is that you can turn your yearbook compilation into a family activity and everyone can get in on the fun.  This is definitely a family-friendly adventure. 

So, what are you waiting on?  Get started today.

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 I was given the opportunity to read and review the 20-Page Softcover Yearbook by Picaboo Yearbooks as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)

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