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.