Documenting a Changing Smile with Project Life + the Tooth Fairy Goes into Retirement

Documenting a Changing Smile with Project Life + the Tooth Fairy Goes into Retirement | Nicole Reaves

This past summer, we visited Morgan’s orthodontist to discuss her future dental needs + braces + all of that fun stuff. They took several X-rays and while the doctor was explaining to us what he’d like to do, I noticed one of her molars that was previously loose was gone.

“When did it fall out?” I asked her.

“A couple weeks ago.” She said quietly, looking down.

I looked at her, sort of perplexed, like, “Dang, how did I forget to ask her about that?” And, “Why didn’t she tell me it fell out?”

While making lunch that afternoon, I asked her why she didn’t say anything about her missing tooth. Thanks to the tooth fairy, losing teeth is still a pretty big deal around here. Even at 10 years old.

“I wanted to do an experiment,” she explained. “I told Parker (her 8-year-old brother) that when the tooth falls out, I’m not going to tell you. Instead, I’m just going to put it in my tooth box and see if the tooth fairy comes. And she didn’t!

Oh dear.

She told me she figured it out. And while Morgan was pretty bummed to discover that I am the tooth fairy, she wasn’t terribly upset by it. She said, “I think I should get more money because I know.” I laughed. I might have entertained that if she hadn’t spoiled it for her brother.


In this post, I want to share Morgan’s completed tooth fairy spread I started a few years ago, as well as share some changes I’ve made to the way I’m documenting my kids childhood years.

I posted the idea for this spread (shown above) several years ago and it’s continued to evolve a bit since then. I still keep these tooth fairy pages in my kids respective school albums in the Kindergarten section since that’s when they both lost their first tooth. The main reason it has evolved is because I changed the way I’m documenting my kid’s school years.

Back when Morgan was in preschool, I started a school album for her to document her first year of school. While I love how those pages turned out, sometime after completing her Kindergarten pages I realized that it was not going to be sustainable if I wanted to scrapbook the following 12 years at the same pace. Typically, if I start a long-term project like this, I want to follow-through in the same fashion until it’s “done.”

To me, “not sustainable” has a couple of meanings. I don’t have room for a series of albums just for her school years, especially if I were to do the same for Parker. It was also more time-intensive than I liked and I realized I wanted something more concise.

So a couple of years ago, I revamped the way I’m documenting their school years and aim to maintain just one album for each of them that I update annually with photos from the year and all of their best work. I know - one album for 13 years! I talk all about my plans to achieve that in my School Days classes at Big Picture Classes.

Since that last post, you’ll see the main change I made was going from a 12x12 album to a 9x12 album. The divided page protectors are still a hugely important piece, but for this tooth fairy page, I lost space for 3 photos. So I went from 10 photos down to 7. Now that Morgan has lost all of her front teeth, I think that’s perfectly fine. I can’t see a huge difference in her smile (other than her just getting older in general) after she lost those first 8 anyways.

Note : you can find the free tooth chart printable and Silhouette tooth cut file at the end of this post.

Documenting a Changing Smile with Project Life + the Tooth Fairy Goes into Retirement | Nicole Reaves
Documenting a Changing Smile with Project Life + the Tooth Fairy Goes into Retirement | Nicole Reaves

TIPS FOR MAINTAINING CONSISTENCY IN A LONG-TERM MEMORY-KEEPING PROJECT :

  1. If at all possible, use the same background and shoot from the same location.

  2. Use the same camera, lens and settings to maintain consistent colors and background noise. I can see those differences in my own photos because I went from using my dSLR to a few different iPhones over the last few years. In the end, while I’m definitely more aware of the changes (and how I could have kept the photos more consistent) they aren’t a huge deal to me. Lesson learned.
    Another related tip : You may even want to keep a sticky note on that page or project with those details so when it comes time to add another photograph, you know exactly what you’ve been using. Factors like natural lighting due to the time of day and season changes can often be out of our control as well - but is something to be mindful of too.

  3. Correct inconsistencies and soften busy backgrounds by converting your photos to black and white. I did that for Parker’s spread above and am really happy with how those look as a collection. Just one more tooth to lose and his page will be full too!

  4. Avoid the "When was this photo taken?” question and add the date somewhere on the photo. Even if it’s just on the back.

  5. Make sure you have plenty of supplies to last the entire period of the project. I typically like to keep it simple and uncluttered, like in 2015 when I photographed our house every month to document the changing seasons. For that spread, I only used some month tab stickers in the corner. Easy and done.
    Some other examples here would be - making sure your date stamp goes to the date / year you will be using it through. Keep track of the corner rounder if you like to use that on your photos. Check your labels, paper, journaling cards, stamp ink pads, even your favorite pens, to ensure you have enough. With the constant changes and popularity in scrapbooking product, you never know what will be available two years (or more) from now.

  6. Embrace the world of “good enough.” I’m a firm believer that done is better than perfect. I could pick apart and rant on the shoulda, woulda, coulda’s for this particular project - but instead - I know it is very meaningful just the way it is, and that’s all the really matters to me.

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Looking back, all of my favorite projects I share and classes I teach are the ones where I’ve solved one of my own problems first. Documenting our kids childhood and school years can be really overwhelming, even for the most organized, memory-keeping mama. Once I had a solid process in place for myself, I knew I had to share it with you!

If you’re interested in learning how I’m documenting my kids school years, and how you can develop a similar system for yourself (including conquering those paper and artwork piles!), check out the two courses I created for you at Big Picture Classes - School Days and Catching Up with School Days.

You can also read more about why I simplified the way I’m scrapbooking these very special years, as well as details on each class and how they’re different here.

And finally, if you’re interested in the 4x6 tooth chart card or the Silhouette tooth cut file shown in the photo below, click the buttons at the end of this post to download them for free!