Before my daughter was born I went out and searched for a baby book so I could record every little move, sneeze and step she made. I finally settled on a simple William Wegman baby book with hilarious pictures of dogs dressed as children or parents. Oh, I had plans — serious plans — of keeping this baby book up-to-date, having a scrapbook to hold hundreds of pictures and cards from loved ones. I convinced myself that once she arrived I was going to experience an amazing metamorphosis and become the Asian Martha Stewart.
The other day my daughter, now age 5, wanted to bring one of her baby pictures to school for show-and-tell. I took the step-ladder out and scrounged around the top shelves of our closet. Underneath essays from college, old greeting cards and files that should have been tossed years ago, I found her baby book. Finally. She and I sat on the bed, excited to see what we would find. What we found was an embarrassing amount of blank pages, a few doctor scribbles about her height and weight and some pictures from the ultrasound. My daughter thought it was cool and didn’t quite grasp that I had not updated this book as I had promised myself six years ago. I, on the other hand, was irritated that I hadn’t taken the time to organize photos and other bits of memorabilia from her birth and baby years.
Her little brother has met the same fate. At least I didn’t kid myself when I was pregnant with him — I didn’t even bother buying a baby book.
Although there are pictures of them scattered throughout the house, and we have endless video of them dancing to Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summertime” and other hilarious kid moments, I feel guilty that they are growing every day and I haven’t done anything to document it. I would have liked to see how big they were when they were one and compare it their height now.
Don’t let your kid’s childhood pass you by. Using things around the house, you can easily and quickly document your child’s growth.
Using a growth chart, mark how tall your child is. Then take a picture of him, glue it to the growth chart where you marked it and write the date either on the picture or on the chart itself. Do this every month; you’ll see just how much he’s matured in a year.
My next door neighbor started documenting her daughter’s growth through pictures. When her daughter was a baby, she took her own swimsuit and put on her little girl. Every few months, she would take a photo of her daughter in that swim suit. There are now over a dozen pictures that show the steady growth of her child. It doesn’t have to be a swimsuit. If you have a little boy, take pictures of him with one your husband’s dress shirts and tie on.
As he’s laying on top of butcher paper, draw an outline of your child’s body. Six months later, do another outline directly on top of the previous outline in a different color, each time marking the date. The result is awe-inspiring.
I ran to Pottery Barn to buy these footprint and handprint molds that I wanted to use for my daughter. I used them and they were on our dresser for quite a while, but with two major moves they have retreated to some Rubbermaid container that sits in some closet. You don’t need clay or plaster to do this. Make it easier on yourself and spend less money — take finger paint and brush it over the palms of your child’s hands and quickly press them onto heavy construction paper or even card stock. This can be a messy endeavor, especially if you are working with a baby or toddler. Make sure the finger paints are non-toxic and washable. Don’t forget to wash your child’s hands afterward. You can even use stamping ink instead. Go to Michael’s or your local scrapbooking store and they will be able to help you find the right ink and paint for this project.
Have your child stand next to a tree and take a picture. Take a picture every six months (or whatever time frame you prefer), having him use the same pose as before and the same clothes, if possible. Label the picture on the back with the date. In a few years you’ll have a wonderful sequence of pictures. It’s really fun to take a pile of these pictures, sorted from oldest to youngest (oldest being on top), secure them on a flip book (a bunch of pages of paper bound with a binder clip or whatever you have available in the house) — one picture per page — and flip through them quickly. Voila! You’ve got your very own animated keepsake.
It’s easy to make your own keepsakes and memories of your child’s childhood and growth — it just takes a small amount of your time to do it.