Finally, here is a look at Jamie’s first year journal (you might remember me giving you a quick glimpse of it here). I have to say from the outset that I really love this keepsake – it is so precious to me (and Rick), and I hope that when Jamie grows up, it will be precious to him too. We did something similar for Pete as well, and there is no doubt we will create a similar journal for our this little one in utero – affectionately dubbed Newbie by Rick for now. (I did something rather different for Angus’ first year, and though I now much prefer this journal, I’ll share it further down the track.)
I know I mentioned this in the other post, but the journal I used is a custom handmade one from Badger & Chirp. Their journals are beautiful and I love the quality of their products. For Jamie’s journal, I chose orange lambskin for the wraparound cover and plain white fabric for the cover lining. I also went with their tied binding option, which was less expensive but still allowed all the journal to open up flat. The journal size I requested was 6 x 8 inches, and I asked for 370 pages to be included in the journal, so that there would be one page for each day of the year, with a few extra ones for title pages and end pages.
For the title page, I simply chose one of my favourite photos from Jamie’s first year, and stuck it in, centred on the page. It’s a photo of him holding a Christmas ornament on Christmas eve, only a few days after we moved into our new home. I just love the way his chubby little fingers are holding the ornament so carefully, and how his face is actually reflected in the ornament itself.
Setting up this first year journal was simple: I numbered each page Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, etc. in the top left hand corner for the left hand side pages and on the top right hand corner I wrote the date that corresponded with the day (for right hand side pages, I swapped the positions around). So Day 1 was the day Jamie was born, Day 2 was the day after that, and so on and so forth, which meant that Day 365 would be the day before Jamie’s 1st birthday.
Thereafter, my approach was just as simple: On any given day, if we had the time and energy, either Rick or I would write something to Jamie 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! Don’t look back.
In terms of what we wrote about, it would be either something Jamie 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 him how much we loved him, and how important he was to our family.
Then every three to four months, I would go through all the photos of Jamie in Aperture, and select the ones I wanted to go into the journal. As much as possible, I would select at least one photo from every day (since the whole idea is that it’s a 365 day journal after all). The quality of the photo was not important, since I knew I would be making a proper photo book for his first year as well. As a result, lots of funny photos that were captured on the iPhone, which weren’t necessarily great photos, made it into the journal. This didn’t mean that I excluded photos that I took on our Canon EOS – it just meant I had the freedom to choose the photos which I felt were most meaningful to each day.
Using Aperture, I would print the photos as 3 x 6 contact sheets so that I end up with 18 miniature photos on just one A4 photo paper – this is the same as what I did for Peter’s scrapbook. Again, I would number the photos chronologically on the back before cutting them. Then, using the photos’ metadata information in Aperture as a reference, I would stick the photos in on the corresponding date in the journal. I was flexible in terms of layout, but stuck to a simple grid layout as much as possible.
Once the photos were all stuck in, I would go back with a black ballpoint pen and write either a simple heading above the photo(s), or a few sentences under or next to the photo(s). Other times when I felt the photo(s) told the whole story, I would leave it alone with no text. As with all of my memory-keeping projects, I didn’t use any embellishments, and I tried to keep each page as simple as possible.
If the photos for a particular day didn’t all fit onto the page, or if that page was already filled with writing, I would simply find the nearest empty page (as inevitably there would be days when we didn’t write anything and I hadn’t taken any photos), stick the photos there and simply reference them to the actual date they were taken on. This gave the journal extra flexibility which I was very happy with.
Again, the key was not to let my usual perfectionism get in the way – it was way more important to get it done and to be able to include photos that were meaningful and special.
The end result is a first year journal that’s relatively low maintenance. More importantly, it’s a wonderful keepsake (more than 3 inches thick, might I add!) that not only shows how Jamie grew and changed throughout his first year, but that contains heartfelt words written by both his parents for him to read when he’s older.
(Linking up with Kootoyoo.)
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