I’m just going to go ahead and put it out there. I have been the absolute worst at documenting Stella’s first year of life. When we were expecting her, I was gifted the darling Louisiana baby book from Lil Squirts. I envisioned meticulously filling out each page with the perfect pictures and descriptive memories of each occasion. (In hindsight I call this first-time Mom syndrome!) While I would attempt to begin filling in the pages during naptime shortly after she was born, weeks would lapse and between my desire for the book to be “perfect,” and then going back to working full time, I was lucky if I could remember to schedule her well-baby appointments on time. (I’m pretty sure she was ten months at her “nine month” appointment…oops!)
When I would sit down to go back in and fill out her monthly stats and milestones, I found myself reaching for my phone and pulling up Instagram. “When was it that she sat up for the first time unassisted? Oh! I remember! Let me look up that picture I took of her by the Christmas tree. Sure enough, it was captioned ‘Merry Christmas Eve! Stella is sitting on her own yayyyy! Got it – 12/24/12.” The same thing goes for “first time in a swing at the park,” or “baby’s first Red Beans & Rice,” or just this week, “first snowball.” Cake batter of course, which is what I ate the majority of my pregnancy.
Instagram has been my little photo diary over the past year, capturing the simplest of photos from the lens of my iPhone. Stella’s baby toes as I was rocking her during our first days together at home. The time she fell asleep during “tummy time” in her Boppy…and now I can hardly remember when she was that small. Kisses from the dog. A quick family picture as we were running out the door (late, again) to meet the family for Thanksgiving. Christmas morning by the tree. On the parade route with Daddy. Bunny ears in her pajamas because she was too sick to attend the NOMB Easter Egg hunt. Tiny details as I was planning her first birthday. The quickest, easiest way to document the little things with the click of a smartphone camera.
I suppose it’s just the digital era we live in nowadays. Not that I don’t have iPhoto albums full of treasured memories from my trusty Nikon DSLR. It’s just not always practical to be lugging a camera around when your diaper bag is full of all of those seemingly necessary baby items each time you leave the house. There are plenty of fantastic sources for creating photo books like Shutterfly or Blurb. And I suppose I’ll get around to getting all of those photos produced into some sort of album one of these days.
But that’s when I came up with a brilliant idea. Instead of worrying about having the perfectly scrapbooked baby book on display for Stella’s birthday party, I’d do something different. I uploaded about a hundred pictures from Instagram to Social Print Studio and had 4×4 square photos printed. I strung together paper cutouts (a true labor of love) and created a photo garland, displaying images from the day Stella was born, up until just two weeks before her party. I hung it up about a week before the party, and multiple times a day, I could walk past our living room windows, and take a trip down memory lane. (I’m not going to lie, I teared up at least two or three times looking back on our journey over the last year.) On her birthday party day, our guests absolutely loved reliving the images with us. I couldn’t have been happier with the way it turned out.
Now that the party is over, I’m going to take all of my lovely Insta-photos, and along with all of the darling school projects, treasures, invitations and cards I have saved over the past year, I’ll put them to use in filling out her adorable baby book. It might take me months, and it might seem untraditional, but I love looking back on the most ordinary days, and I’m glad I have so many happy, candid reminders of her first year.