Documenting Milestones, Growth and the Mundane

Obviously this blog is the most thorough way I'm documenting the boys. I know my readership is pretty low (I'm pretty sure Linda, Dave, Ashley, Annie, Jenn and Megan are reading though :) and that's totally fine. This is hardly a baby blog to garner thousands of followers (like one of my favorites Little Baby Garvin), it's much too detailed about the ins and outs of our fairly boring life. But to me, that's exactly what it's for. It's so fun to read an old post and be transported to that exact time period -- there's no way I'd remember what they were like or what they were doing at 11 weeks, or how I was feeling, but this blog gives me a snapshot of that.

I hope it's fun for those who live far away to feel like they know what me and the boys are up to. Phone conversations capture the highlights, but this blog covers our daily life.

The beginning months meant huge changes every week. While the boys are still growing by leaps and bounds each week, we've fallen into a nice routine so I'm going to *try* to focus on more of the highlights of the month with sporadic blog posts instead of the weekly play-by-play. I say *try* because it's still a bit hard for me to step away from the weekly journal aspect of the blog, but then again, conciseness has never been my strong suit when it comes to writing :)

The blog has been so helpful when talking to new moms, especially through the twin moms group I'm facilitating. The first months are such a blur, it's nice to be able to look back and see what they were up to at different points.

Probably my favorite part is the monthly letters I write to them at the end of the Month posts. Though at first I didn't have much to say -- they hadn't revealed much of their personalities yet -- it's so fun to look back and hear how I was relating to them, what they were doing and how their temperaments were developing.

Baby Books
The next big project on my list will be to make their Year One photo book. Despite all the options out there, I may use Shutterfly as Amber from one of my favorite blogs, 3 Ladies and Their Gent, did an amazing step-by-step post on putting together an awesome book. I have gotten so many great ideas from Amber and her blog and am so grateful to all the moms who take the time to blog and share their fun ideas.

When considering how I wanted to document the boys' milestones, the first year, and keep track of all the photos, I knew, despite my love of scrapbooks, that I would not be continuing that tradition. They're a ton of work and I felt like boys probably wouldn't appreciate all the crafty details, plus, I was ready to move a bit more digital. As far as photos, Dave is in charge of that. Any photos I take of the boys during the week, I post throughout the day to our iCloud. Dave likes to look through our adventures on his train ride home. So all videos and photos from either of our iphones are shared that way. On the weekends, or special events, we use an actual camera. Every week or so, Dave will go through all the photos from the iCloud and the camera and edit them down to the good ones, then edit the actual photos and save to flickr so our family can access them. Though I pull a lot of photos for the blog from the edited ones, there are tons I'm too impatient to wait for and just post straight from my computer.

So I plan on making a Year One book for each boy, and the great part is, much of it is already done for me thanks to this blog. All the big moments are highlighted and I'll include the monthly letters on one of the pages for each month. We'll see when I actually finish, or start, these books...

I knew I wanted a physical book with some fill in the blanks of 'who was president the year you were born', 'when did your first tooth come in', etc. I found a fun, non-traditional version created by a dad, This is Your Book. It's been super easy to keep up, in fact, a lot of it I filled out before they arrived, and it will be fun for them to look back on and see how much gas was and what names we considered for them.

I also found some really cute ideas on pinterest and have been pretty diligent in doing them. I found it works best to try to do them around major month milestones (3-, 6-, 9-, 12-), but I always set reminders in my calendar for a week after just to make sure.

Footprint imprints
I did their first salt dough imprints at 4 months and then again at 12 months. Cheap and easy (you just have to have salt, not cement like a lot of the other recipes called for). The idea is that you do them several times their first year, then on their birthday each year. Eventually you turn into a stepping stone path in your backyard. I alternate the foot used each time and always label using a toothpick with 'G' or 'W' and then the age. I put them in a plastic bin with plenty of room for future footprints and I figure if we ever do turn them into something more permanent, I'll set in cement and seal then. Currently I use a plate when pressing the dough out so at least they're all the same size.

Hand Tracings
Along the lines of the footprints, especially the first year, it's so incredible to see how fast they grow. I definitely wanted to keep track of this, but my overall theme of all the documentation was minimalist. So here's another great pinterest find: get nice paper, I got a pad of watercolor paper, and trace their hand in pencil. Then every few months for the first year, line the hand up over the old hand tracing and trace again, noting the age over the thumb. Continue for 5 years, 10 years, whatever, and then you can frame, or if you're like Dave, we'll probably just take a photo of it and throw the original away ;)

Growth Charts
I hadn't thought about documenting their height, they're now just getting the point where I guess I'd start to keep track, but luckily for their first birthday, my aunt gave them growth charts. Though I won't keep these hanging permanently -- we don't have room in their room to do so -- we stuck a pin in the wall behind our bedroom door so that after their routine doctors appointments, it will be easy to hang them up and mark off where they stand.

Index Card Journal
My favorite, and in a way, the most time-consuming, is another pinterest idea. First I had to cut a bunch of index cards in half. Then I got one of those date stampers and stamped out the consecutive dates (x2)... this takes a lot longer than you think it will. Then I found some cute postcards, cut them in half to serve as the monthly dividers. Put all the cards in these berry containers purchased from Sur la Table. Label names with paint pens and we're ready to go!

So the idea here is that every day, from the day they're born, you write down one memory from the day. Obviously the days when something big happens, like below for George, 'you took a step, but then fell down', it's easy. But there are many days in between, especially in the beginning, where it would be more about what we did that day... 'went for a walk to the Ferry Building', 'took a nap in Dedee's arms', etc.

What's fun now, is that I can capture funny things that happened, beyond the firsts or our 'what we did today' routine. I think this will be really fun as they start to say things and interact with each other even more. Sometimes (mostly in the beginning), their cards would say the same thing, but now they rarely do.

So each year, you write down one memory from the day on the card, and then when they're 5 years old, 8 years old, we pull out the cards and can look at what happened on this day for all the years of their life.

I've kept up with these daily memories by setting a daily reminder for 9pm. I used to physically write on the card, but now I find it easier to keep a running note in Evernote, mark it down there, and then on the first day of every month, I have another reminder that goes off for me to transfer all the notes to the cards. I'm a few months behind on doing that... but having the actually memories are much more important. I'll get to transferring them, which is actually more exciting now because it will be the second memory on the card!

Here are some of my favorites from the cards:
Jan 18 'We both love pickles and can hold them ourselves!'
Jan 21 'Made a huge mess, but had a blast eating honeybells and watermelon on the kitchen floor'

Feb 4, G, 'You climbed in the toy basket and got stuck'
Feb 6, G, 'Crawled across room at music class and stole a boy's paci right out of his mouth!'
Feb 13, W, 'Played piano at music class'
Mar 3, W 'Played peek-a-boo with your beanie'

Apr 1, G 'Saw a baguette in the stroller basket and started crying when you couldn't get to it'
Apr 17, W, 'You sneezed while eating breakfast and two long green snots were hanging down, before I could clean you up, you stuffed more food in, eating the snot'

As the cards are now noting more moments instead of just the activity of the day, when the reminder goes off at 9pm, I now put a note in my calendar for the day listing what we did - 'Bay Area Discovery Museum with Ashley', 'Lunch at the Ferry Building and playing at the park', etc. It's amazing how quickly I forget what we did just a few days earlier. 

There are so many fun ideas out there, but I think choosing just a few, especially if any of them are time-consuming, is a great way to go. I highly recommend setting reminders so that baby books, or whatever you choose, are updated every few months while the memories and dates are still fresh.

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