Why I Kicked My Baby Book to the Curb

September 4, 2012

I’m not a scrapbooker or journal-writer by nature. I have so many friends who are great at it, but I suuuuuuck. Same thing with baby books. Just didn’t get the gene.

I realized that part of my problem with the baby book was that it was a book. In a different room. While I am in my office almost all day at my computer. I just never could justify stopping my work and spending time entering thoughts into his baby book. But, I did very much want to chronicle the details of Jackson’s first year.

So, I simply started sending emails to a group of friends and family who wanted to get regular updates on how Jackson was doing. It turned out to be a hit with them, but, even more, it gave me an excuse to keep track of Jackson’s first year in a format that was easy for me.

Here’s how I do it:

1) At the beginning of each new month of Jackson’s life (his birthday is on the 16th, so his new month begins on the 17th), I start a “note” in my Apple Mail called, for example, 13 Things at 13 Months.

2) Over the course of that month, I just make quick notes about things that are on my mind regarding Jackson. Takes but a few seconds because the note is in my email program, which I’m in most hours of most days.

In addition, I also give myself a few categories of things I know I want to fill out every month. For me, that’s “favorite toys”, “firsts this month” and “how many teeth”, along with some notes on his vital stats and schedules, etc. I make notes on these items as the month progresses, too.

3) At the end of the month, I go through the “things” and edit them a bit for clarity, then I fill in the section at the bottom with his end-of-month details.

4) Finally, I go into iPhoto and grab a few photos from that month that I especially want to remember and add a comment or two about them. I make sure to include his “official” monthly photo. That’s the photo I take in the same chair I’ve photographed him in since month one. Just for perspective. You’ll notice that these are just iPhone camera photos. I’m not a professional photographer, I’m a mom with a phone in her pocket 99% of the time. You get what you get, right? Point is, I have lots of photos that document this first year.

5) I put that all together and then send it to the group. Sometimes the update ends up being kinda lengthy, but my audience knows that I don’t expect that they read all the text. That’s more for me. They just mostly look at the photos are get the general gist of things.

6) I print out a copy of the email and put it in a folder I’ve put in Jackson’s Baby Box, where I’ve also tucked the hat he wore home from the hospital and other special things.

Easy. Now, I have both a paper and digital (read: backed up) memory of his first year.

Here’s my full entry for his 12 Month email:

PS: You’ve “liked” Penelope on Facebook, right? It’s such a great way for us to be in touch more regularly.

Whew! A year old! No wonder they say “the days are long, but the years are short.” This year flew by. Here are a few highlights and photos from this month.

1) Jackson is finally starting to be a more engaged reader. He is looking at the pictures and pointing at things. He also has an easier time sitting still for the whole book.

2) I think it’s funny that I wrote that last item early in the month bc later in the month, reading became a real challenge. He just didn’t want to hold still enough to read a book.

3) And then, in another turnaround, as we end this month, he’s back to being an engaged reader. I think the “Mama Take Home” here is: whatever is currently happening is likely to change.

4) Jackson’s current favorite books include: Goodnight Moon, Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do you See?, Tuck Me In, Where is Baby’s Belly Button, Ten Little Ladybugs and a book on tractors.

5) He really doesn’t like Sandra Boynton books. Devon and Paxton loved them, so this surprises me.

6) Still not hearing “Mama” as much, though last month he was saying it regularly. He’s a “DaDa” pro, though. Also says “ball”, “door”, “ba ba” “voom voom” for motorcycle and some word for Cooper that may be “dog”. He also mimics words when you say them like “shoe”, “up” and “water”.

7) The overall volume of food he’s eating has really increased as we’ve weaned his bottles down. He eats like a real person now.

8) Our biggest challenge at mealtimes is to keep him from tossing food on the floor to feed Cooper.

9) Jack’s hunger is inversely proportional to mine. The hungrier I am, the more he wants to be done.

10) You can’t get this kid to wave or throw kisses on command (though he is more than capable), but he’ll always show you a cute “around” motion for the fan. He loves the fan.

11) Johnnie does a great beat box. Jackson loves it. He really gets his groove on when daddy lays down a beat.

12) His biggest discovery of the month? His penis! He thinks its absolutely the most hilarious thing.

Bonus thing: **For the purposes of this being a real documentation of Jackson’s first months and not just some “curated”, ever-rosy version of our lives, I want to add something that’s a challenge for me. Jackson really, really loves his Daddy, which is awesome. I’m so glad they are so bonded. But, lately I’ve been really feeling like “chopped liver”. When Johnnie drops him off at daycare, Jackson cries. When I do, which is most every day, he blithely goes to his caregiver with nary a look back. He really, honestly prefers Johnnie over me 99% of the time. And, to be honest, I’m struggling with that. Devon was very clingy to me, so this is a change. I know it’s normal, and to be expected, especially for boys, but I’m looking forward to a time where I hear “Mama” a bit more often.**

Firsts this month:
Puts shapes in his shape sorter
Took one step on 8/3/12. Not ready to call this “walking” yet, just a “step” in that direction.
By 8/15, I’d seen him take 1 step a few times, but still not more than that.
And then, on his actual birthday (8/16), just like his sister, he walked!! Devon and I both got to see him take 2+ steps. He did it when we were engaged with talking to each other, but we saw it happen. So exciting!

Favorite toys:
His new set of musical toys from his Aunt Missy. He loves to play them, but mostly to take them in and out of the drum they come in.
The shape sorter has been a big one this month, and he can even get a few shapes in himself.
His Little People Noah’s Ark, which he likes to empty of all the animals and fill up again
The V-Tech push toy. This one is great! He’s walking all over the living room with it and loves to play the music and push the buttons.

How many teeth?
As of 8/16, he has 10 fully in, with at least 1 more molar coming now. Kid’s got teeth!
Missing? That fourth tooth in the bottom front. I mention this bc Devon never got that tooth. It just didn’t exist in her mouth. Her orthodontist had to really adjust her braces treatment around that issue. It’ll be interesting to see if Jackson was born without that tooth, too. (Can we say “evolution”?)

:: 12 month stats ::
weight: approx 22 pounds (wild guess, he has a doc appt on 8/28, so we’ll know more then)
height: approx 30 inches
eating: a bottle of whole milk at 7:30a and 6:15p. Meals at 9, 12:30, 3 (snack), 6:30.
naps: 10-11:30a, 2-3p, 5:30-6p
clothes: some size 12, but mostly 18 month sizes. Shoe size 3.
diaper: size 3

Working with his shape sorter. I loved how hard he was concentrating.

At the store with Mom:

This is his “I see dead people” look.

Naptime-on-a-warm-day hair.

Enjoying some warm weather fun in the buff. Again, notice the shape sorter in the pool.

The official 12 month photo. We had to take the photo early in the morning, so the light is even worse than normal. He was in a great mood, though. And this is the most still I can get him for a photo at this point. At some point, his official monthly photo is just going to be a blurry flash of light.

PS: You’ve “liked” Penelope on Facebook, right? It’s such a great way for us to be in touch more regularly.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

NancyV908 September 4, 2012 at 1:34 pm

I soooo wish I had done something like this. What a great idea! I was never into the whole baby book/scrapbooking thing either. But now that my “baby” is 8, I’m so sad about how much I’ve forgotten about his–and his sisters’–younger days. You think you’ll remember things, but so many details slip away….This is just a perfect way to document the changes in his life. So nice for all of you!

Diane H September 4, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Your little man is so precious. Enjoy every minute that you can. Before you know it, he will be 31 years old with his own family. And even though he loves you, he won’t be “yours” anymore.

Lynn S September 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm

what a cute idea!! I wish I would have thought of that when my littlest was young. Now she is almost two!! What a perfect way to document the first year in the days of technology. :-)

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