Friday, February 17, 2012

Ben's Baby Book

Blog Peeps!

[Warning: This is a super, duper long post]

I am so excited to show you Benjamin's baby book. Actually, it's not just a baby book. 

It's a baby book, journal, and birthday book. 

Let me explain. But first I'll show you the cover:

The title comes from a blank journal that my friend Rebecca gave me on my 18th birthday. It's called The Book of Sonja. Here it is:

 It actually started out as a gardening log:

But then it became apparent that I was lousy at keeping a gardening journal and so for the last few years it has been home to the ever-expanding life list:

So that's where we got the Book of Benjamin title. 

Frankly, it's a bit of a weighty title, but hey, it is his life's book so a hefty title is perhaps a good thing, yes?

Anyway, back to the book. [Perhaps it should be capitalized: The Book]:

First up: I splurged a bit in some areas and cut corners in others. I ordered it through MyPublisher. They excel at high quality albums: heavy duty paper, excellent printing quality, and a thick cover.

Again, I am generally pleased with the finished product, with a few exceptions, which I'll explain later. 

And here was one of my splurges: a linen book case. If Benjamin is anything like Chris and his siblings, this book is going to be put through the wringer [both my husband and Megan have told me that they spent a lot of time looking through their childhood albums]. Thus, a little extra protection was deemed to be useful.

A second splurge: The size of the book: 11x15. This thing is a beast. Here is a pencil for a size comparison:

We saved money by waiting until they were running an online special. We got 100 pages and a free printed cover. Sign up for their newsletters and they’ll let you know when prices are discounted. 

This book has a few distinct 'chapters':
  • Formal Pictures (with both his Monthly Pictures and Weekly Pictures)
  • Baby Journal (including descriptions of Ben's birth, who was born on his same birthday, current world events, growth statistics, a list of 'firsts', and most importantly, a running journal that I kept of the first year. An example: Today you pulled Bailey's ears. The Beast is currently hiding from you under the bed). There are also a few pages for baby keepsakes: first lock of hair, cards, hospital bracelet etc
  • More Pictures. The first picture section was devoted to his weekly pictures. This section is mostly candid shots: birth, first smile, first vacation, sailing on Lake Washington, spending time with family, etc
  • The Birthday Book (more about this later)

Here are a few pages from Chapter 1: The Year in Pictures (these are his monthly photos)

And a few of his weekly photos:

 I tried to vary the formats. Some pages have only a single photo, others have significantly more. Fortunately, with a book measuring 15 inches long, even lots of photos on a page won't look too terribly cramped. But I'll admit, the photos with just one or two pictures tend to be my favorite. 

I have a few regrets: I included a couple pictures that had been taken with the camera on my phone. Bad idea. The quality sucks. Live and learn.

Here is Chapter 2: The Baby Journal

About his birth:

Some of the information that we included:

Thanks to Alex for helping us fill these out! One of my favorite sections was "The Price of: a gallon milk, a loaf of bread, a postage stamp, our first house, etc"

 World events:

We also included some pictures to go along with the text: first car ride, first walk, first bath, a picture of the nursery, etc

And these pages are where I'll paste some of the baby keepsakes: hair, hospital bracelet, cards, etc.

 Here is my second beef: Some of the text on the inside page is hard to read because it's too far to the left. That should say "Stats At A Glance", not "tats At A Glance". No good, peeps. I should have paid better attention to the spacing. [Update: I sent MyPublisher a very polite note about this and they replied by sending me an entirely new book, with the spacing fixed. I was dumbfounded. Incredible customer service.]

The Journal evolved organically. It's a google docs spreadsheet that I occasionally updated with little snippets and occurrences. It's varied: the time you rolled off the bed (bad), the time you gave us your first sloppy kisses (very sweet), to the mildly hilarious (the time we had to cut your onsie off because it was so soiled).

Surprisingly, a year's worth of little notes turned into several pages worth of information.

We also left room to fill in other happenings:

Chapter 3 is the casual picture section. These aren't the posed photos that we saw earlier in the book. These include family, pets, vacations, etc. I kept the captions short and sweet and let the pictures do the talking.

Here is one other tiny hiccup: On the whole, the print quality is great. Except for this blue line running through this single (favorite) picture:

And here is the final section: The Book of Birthdays. 

Many, many thanks to my friends Lindsay and Amy for providing the ideas and resources to compile this section. 

The book doesn't stop with Ben turning one. This section is devoted to the next 17 years, specifically around the time of each birthday.

 There is room to paste cards and pictures:

A description of the birthday, and the year in general:

 And my most favorite part of the entire book: the Interview section. I called it "Life According to Benjamin". Basically, we're going to sit down every year and conduct an interview. The subjects vary greatly in both complexity and content.

 I think this is from his 4-year interview:

And a few more:

 Obviously the questions change over time:

The last two parts are always the same though: What do you want to be when you grow up and then Ben will sign it (signature). Obviously the purpose of this isn't to hold him to a specific career path. Duh.  I think he might get a kick out of seeing what his 5-year-old self wanted to be, though. You know: Professional Cheerio Eater, or something.

Amy lent me this fabulous book, which is the basis for this part of Ben's journal. [Thanks Amy!]

Here is the last page. It reads: "18 - You are officially an adult [Although your mama still thinks of you as her sweet little babe]

And the questions are a bit heavier:

This is the back cover. One of my very favorite pictures. 

And that, my Dears, is the Book of Benjamin. 




  1. I can't wait to see it in person! What a treasure you've created.

  2. Thank you! I am so pleased with how it turned out.

  3. What a great twist on the baby book!

    I was such a slacker with our books. I guess after posting everything to the blog and facebook I didn't feel like doing one more thing. I should finish them up though.

    And I too am going to do the question thing. Only ours will be the same 20 questions every year so he can see how they change over time. (Saw it on Pinterest) :) And then each page will be accompanied by pictures from that year in his/her life. I guess this makes a combo with the baby book. :)

    Love yours!

  4. Hi Amanda!

    Let me guess: What it this post?!

    That's the one my friend Lindsay sent and it looks like a perfect pinterest sort of post.

    I incorporated several of her questions into our interviews but mostly for the early years as I felt that most of her questions (what is your favorite outfit, color, snack, tv show, what you take to bed with you at night etc) weren't questions that were really relevant to an 18 year old boy. [In fact, my mom was over last night and said: "huh, so you think you're going to get your teenage son to sit down and answer all these questions? Good luck!" Not the most promising start, right?!] I started out doing all the same questions but ultimately had a hard time coming up with questions that would span such a long period of time. That's just my own personal preference, though. I would love to hear which questions you settle on.

    Finding the time to do this sort of stuff is so difficult (especially you with two kids and quilting projects!) but I am so glad I did it. I really love this sort of stuff. Fortunately, with the digital age, there isn't really a reason to hurry as you can always go back and do it at a later date. No prints to get damaged, faded, or unorganized while waiting to be put into an album.

  5. Yep...that was one of them. There are several floating around out there. I especially love the pictures of the kids with the words of what they love around them. I'll e-mail one of those. :) Oh, and I like the pictures of the kids at the beginning of each school year with a chalkboard...grade and what they want to be when they grow up written on it.

    And your kid will TOTALLY sit down to do that! If it's an annual thing they'll grow to love it. Tradition and all that. Both my brother and I are big on if you implement it it will stick. :)

    I admire your love of photography. I always say I want to do better, but then I flake on it. I really love scrapbooking, but lack the time or space to really work on it. So it's on the back burner. Someday when my kids are in school, and I have a giant craft room, I'll get back to it. lol

  6. Anonymous12:12 PM

    What was the verdict on the naked shots? : )
    And so sad about the random blue line through the favorite photo - that sucks!

  7. Per everyone's excellent advice, we ditched the full-frontal nudity in favor of one bum bathtub shot. That one got the approval of the husband so I think it'll be ok - I don't think the kiddo will die of embarrassment when he shows it to his future-spouse :)

  8. Anonymous10:00 AM

    Gosh I am SO glad I wasn't the only one who said something. About a day later I felt really bad for chiming in about not putting full-frontal in the book. : )

  9. No way, jose. That's why I asked! I have a tendency to look before I leap, so heeding rational advice is always a good thing.

  10. Hi there!
    I am incredibly inspired by the book you created for you son. My newborn son is also named Benjamin and I would love, love, love it if you wouldn't mind sharing the "The Book of Birthdays" interview questions with me via email. Maybe you have them saved as a google doc or something. I love the questions I saw, but would like to see what else you and your friends came up with.

    If possible, I'd love to hear from you. My email is

    Thanks so much in advance for any help you can be :-)


  11. Hi Sarah,

    Thanks! We love it. Just getting around to pasting in the photos from his second birthday. I do, indeed, have all the questions online. They can be found here:

    They’re either in jpeg or pdf format - can’t remember. I think there are several pages worth. Let me know if you have trouble accessing them.