| Written by Ronnie |
Today, I'm here to share some photos of Edward's first year journal and to talk a bit about the back story to this precious keepsake of ours. As some of you will know, completing this journal was on my list memory keeping goals for 2015, so I'm kind of over the moon that I finally finished it off properly in the last couple of weeks.
The back story
My idea for this keepsake was planted about six years ago. We were living in a small community with other college students at the time, and I remember chatting to one of our neighbours, Kylie, about journaling and memory keeping. At the time, Angus was a couple of months old and Kylie had a baby daughter who was just a few weeks younger. Over cups of tea, we swapped our random ideas with each other but there was one thing she said that has stuck in my head to this day:
"I want to be able to write something as it happens and be able to just stick it into a book without having to over think it."
That, I think, is an apt snapshot of what the first year with a baby is like. You want to bottle up and document every precious little moment, but the reality is that you're also sleep-deprived, exhausted, and time-poor.
Fast forward about thirteen months - I'd fallen pregnant again and I was sporting a 36 week baby bump which would soon become our Peter Butter. With Kylie's words in the back of my mind, I was frantically browsing Kikki K one day, searching for a way of documenting Pete's first year that wouldn't require too much thought and planning. When I stumbled upon their 365 day journal, I knew immediately that it was the perfect solution for me.
I bought the black one, took it home, and drew up a plan of action. I stuck to the plan and we ended up with the most precious keepsake documenting Pete's first year. Rick and I both loved it so much we did the same thing again for Jamie and again, of course, for Edward.
Most of my memory keeping is done on the computer - whether it's our life albums or the story books that I like to make for our family. No doubt this has to do with the fact that I'm a graphic designer - I am naturally drawn to fonts, typesetting, clean lines, white space (lots of it, in fact), and photos laid out in grids. I like my words neatly lined up in a row, and I like being able to align and justify text to my heart's content at the stroke of a button.
But, there is something to undeniably special about handwriting your words.
Your handwriting is personal.
Your handwriting is unique.
Your handwriting is part of who you are.
Which is why I'm stoked that these journals are full of our handwriting - both Rick's and mine.
Our journaling approach was very simple: On any given day, if we had the time and energy, either Rick or I would write something to Pete/Jamie/Edward on the page that corresponded with that day.
Some days we would write a whole page. Some days we would write just a few sentences. Some days our handwriting would be nice. Some days it would be messy.
The important thing was not to stress about how often we wrote or even how neatly we wrote. The important thing was simply to write when we could, and not to feel bad when we didn’t. This is so crucial when it comes to memory keeping for little ones, because the reality is that when you have a young family to look after, there will be so many days when you simply want to fall into bed and crash. And that’s okay. The key is not to let the blank pages get you down – just keep going, and be thankful for all the things you have managed to document and write down.
In terms of what we wrote about, it would be either something Pete/Jamie/Edward did that day, or something we did together as a family, or something special/funny that happened, or a reflection about the way he’d been changing and growing. Sometimes we would just tell our boy how much we loved him, and how important he was to our family. That sort of stuff never gets old, right?
I tell you what - I love that these journals are filled with both my handwriting and Rick's handwriting. In fact, Rick has always been (and continues to be) amazing when it comes to documenting and writing down things for the boys and our family - something I'll write about in another post. But suffice it to say that I have a feeling the boys are going to treasure these when they are older.
In addition to our words, the journal is also filled with tiny photos of the boys from their first year. Every few months, I would use Aperture to:
1) View all the photos of that Peter/Jamie/Edward using a smart album
2) Select my favourite photos to include in their journal.
With the journal in front of me, I would then go through and cull the number of photos. If a page was filled with journaling, then I wouldn't worry about a photo for that day. For days which we didn't journal at all, I would up to six photos for that day since I knew I could fit six on an empty page.
My photo selection criteria for this journal was simple. I didn't care whether the photo a 'good' photo from a quality perspective, because I knew that I would also be making a first year photo book for each of the boys, which would showcase all of the 'best-looking' photos. As long as a photo captured a special moment, I was happy to include it in the journal.
Using Aperture, I would print the photos as contact sheets, which meant that I could fit 18 photos on one A4 page. Not only did this save ink and paper, but the miniature size meant I could fit more photos into the journal.
As much as possible, I would stick the photos down on the day that they were taken. Once the photos were in, I would then go through and write photo captions where I thought it was necessary to do so.
And all this with just a black felt tip pen to keep things as simple as possible.
For Pete's journal, I used the Kikki K one. Whilst I loved the convenience of having all the pages already pre-marked with Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, etc. I found that the binding didn't cope very well once the journal was filled with photos. (So much so that I actually considered taking Pete's journal apart and having it re-binded.
So for both Jamie and Edward's journals, I ordered a custom made one from Badger and Chirp. I chose an orange/brown leather cover for Jamie's and a teal leather cover for Edward's. For both, I requested 370 pages to allow for a title page and a few extra pages at the back. Not only are the journals beautiful, but the hand-stitched binding means that the journal copes even well with lots of photos stuck inside.
Once the journals arrived, the only thing I needed to do was go through and write Day 1, Day 2, etc. It doesn't actually take all that long, and you can always just do one month at a time.
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Honestly, these journals are amongst our most precious keepsakes.
If you're looking for a way to document your child's first year, something like this is simple, beautiful, and totally doable.
It is memory keeping stripped down to the bare essentials: heartfelt words and unedited photos.