I began Chookooloonks a little over 10 years ago, so that my family in Trinidad and Marcus' family in England would be able to keep up with our new lives as parents to Alex. My idea was that close family and friends would be able to check in on how we were doing, and feel like they were getting to know their granddaughter/niece in a personal way. Back then, there was really no such thing as Facebook or any other way to stay as connected over the miles, so Chookooloonks was a real blessing for my family. And of course, as a new mom, I was absolutely captivated by everything Alex did: I recorded every funny episode, every cute little saying or action that I witnessed daily with Alex on Chookooloonks. While I've always been mindful of what I've put online, especially when it comes to Alex, her life was a pretty open book here on the site.
Unexpectedly, Chookooloonks began to gain an audience, and I started to realize that far more people than I knew in real life were watching my daughter grow up. At first it was pretty exhilarating, but after a couple of years, I realized that I was sharing my daughter's life to many people I didn't know -- and it occurred to me that perhaps some of what I was sharing wasn't my story to tell, it was Alex's. So quite abruptly, when Alex was about 2-1/2 years old, I transitioned my site to purely a photoblog: sharing only photographs of what I saw during my day, with a caption (sort of like old-school Instagramming). In that way, I continued to share the beauty that I saw around me, but I was able to better protect Alex's privacy.
Eventually, my words found me again, but I never really returned to writing about my parenting life or Alex's life -- and if anything, my concern for her privacy has only increased as she's gotten older. Of course, she still makes the occasional appearance on Chookooloonks, but I'm careful, for example, not to share any images of her school, or where she does any extra-curricular activities. Whenever her friends or any other children appear here on the site (or anywhere online), I'm extremely careful to get their parents' permission first (or at the very least, hide their faces). And unfortunately, until very recently, I've been very lax in printing out any photographs, so any pictures that I've taken of Alex before 2014 are all over the place, on various social media sites, my current desktop computer, or now-defunct laptops. Any written thoughts on parenting or private experiences that we've had as a family are similarly distributed around my house in various diaries and notepads. So if Alex wanted to sit with a single album to go through her life, I'm afraid she couldn't do it.
All of this is why when I was approached to check out the new site LegacyBuilder, I was intrigued.
LegacyBuilder is sort of like creating a very private time-capsule (although you can certainly share the contents with close friends) -- using a simple timeline, you can upload major events, adding detailed descriptions, messages, photographs and even videos to help tell each event's story. I've only just begun using it, and it seems pretty intuitive to manage (thankfully) -- but one of my favourite parts so far is the fact that I can put whatever I want into a "vault," to be opened at a later date: in other words, going forward I can privately collect images and stories about Alex's life, and when she turns 21, she can open the "vault" to see everything that has been collected about some of the most awesome events of her childhood, and then continue to add to it as she goes off into adulthood.
I love the fact that I can do this with just our family.
So, if you're a blogger who struggles with what to share about your life (but still wants to have an online place to record private moments), or if you're not a blogger, but are negligent about printing photos or creating hardcopy books and are looking for a way to do this online (I feel you, my friend), you might want to give LegacyBuilder a look. Right now it's absolutely free (and if you use invitation code CHOOKOO1 when you sign up, you'll end up with a lifetime premium account -- but this is a limited-time offer, so sign up soon!).
And now, perhaps I'll be better at creating a true, 21st-century baby book that goes beyond Alex's 6-month-birthday.
Many thanks to LegacyBuilder for sponsoring this post and introducing me to their product.