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Ethan’s Baby Book — Something I Actually Accomplished

2015 January 13
by Becky


At a time when it seems as though the days fly by with me accomplishing nothing but getting kids dressed, fed, and where they need to be (be it nap or school), I can actually say I finished something kind of important.  Well, important to us…

Ethans Baby Book - DIY Baby Book - Cover

Ethan’s baby book.

Just four short years after he entered the world! After years of pushing it aside, not happy with the available options, I decided I could not possibly have another child without finishing the first one’s baby book. After all, won’t he cherish it forever? Keep it in a safe to show to his kids some day?  (I realized this is ridiculous being that I have two boys. Girls, maybe, boys, could care less.)

Well anyway, I wanted it done. I didn’t want to forget anything because, as I’m now remembering, the first year flies by. If it weren’t for this blog, I would remember exactly nothing. It would be a blur.

This blog was almost an excuse to dawdle. Knowing it was all here, written down in detail, shared with the world, edited and complete with pictures, helped in my complete procrastination in compiling a printed piece.

Ethans Baby Book - DIY Baby Book - Title Page

So when the belly began to appear and time was a tickin’, I started right here on the blog. I probably went through every post written in Ethan’s first year to grab pieces and details and images to lay out a book. I searched for templates or examples, even found a cute pre-printed book at a children’s shop, but realized the only way to go was digital and from-scratch.

Pasting pictures into a pre-printed book? Not feasible these days. Who has printed pictures anyway??! (If you do, you rock. Seriously. I need to print more pictures!!)

I started laying out pages and moving things around.

Ethans Baby Book - DIY Baby Book - Before Baby

Then I’d change my mind and rearrange/redesign everything. Like seven times. And spend two hours looking at fonts.

It begins with a “Before Baby” section…just in case Ethan is interested in us as non-parents. How we met, our wedding, our first home, the animals. Though that pre-baby stage lasted seven long years, the book progresses quickly…ultrasounds, nursery prep, showers, belly shots, the works.

Ethans Baby Book - DIY Baby Book - Ultrasounds

Ethans Baby Book - DIY Baby Book - Baby Showers

Being able to tell stories in addition to displaying pictures and even scans of invitations was awesome. Including pictures of friends and family who helped us get ready for The Peanut’s arrival is something I know we will look back on fondly, happy we will never forget.

Then the big day. Room for the whole story.

Ethans Baby Book - DIY Baby Book - Birth Day

Ethans Baby Book - DIY Baby Book - NICU

So, software. After fiddling with several other options, I ended up using Blurb‘s InDesign plugin, which gave me maximum creative freedom. Freedom is usually a risk, meaning the project could literally go on forever, never actually getting finished, instead being redesigned every three days for years, especially for someone like me who doesn’t really know what I’m doing design-wise. I just wing it and know when I see something I like.

For instance, large photos.

Ethans Baby Book - DIY Baby Book - Large Photos

While some of the sections have a similar flow, I took the liberty of creating layouts that fit our story to a T. Like the NICU spread. Six and half weeks summed up in 24 little pictures. Perfect.

The monthly spreads are all the same, I found a look I liked (after 17 iterations) and stuck with it. I have a little “timeline” thing happening at the bottom left of each month, highlighting main events and “firsts”. Each month has a list of changes, developments, and events—all from the monthly blog posts.

Oh the blog…worth every second.

Ethans Baby Book - DIY Baby Book - Monthly Layout


Ethans Baby Book - DIY Baby Book - Monthly Layout Timeline

Going through the months, figuring out what happened when was tricky sometimes. Normally I’d let a couple weeks slide here or there but Ethan’s first year was a big one. He spent those two months in the NICU, then we moved to DC. There were trips and holidays mixed in there too. So it was really important to me that I figure out exactly when things happened, to really show how the whole year panned out.

Because how on earth would Ethan survive not knowing when in his seventh month he went to the beach for the first time?

Ethans Baby Book - DIY Baby Book - Monthly Layout

And of course there was his birthday to feature. I tell a little story about it and included the invitation artwork (still my favorite invitation…look at that smile). There was plenty of room for pictures of all the family and friends who helped celebrate.

Only thing not documented—how many times I cried over our baby turning one. That was by far the most emotional milestone.

I still can’t believe he wore that crown. Heart = melted.

Ethans Baby Book - DIY Baby Book - Birthday Party

I couldn’t figure out a place to put some of his firsts, wanting them to stand out. So I filled up the last page with nothing but “First Times” and the dates they happened. The last few date-less firsts like “First Best Buddies” and “First Favorite Song”.

Ethans Baby Book - DIY Baby Book - Firsts
Whew!!!!! It’s done! And printed! And in my possession!! I made my deadline (Finn’s birth) with just days to spare.

We’ve actually referenced it several times already to compare the different stages of Ethan to the current stages of Finn. And I’m very excited about the prospect of using this same template to do Finn’s book in record time. (Until I open this in a year and realize I hate everything and decide to redesign it.)

This book was a little pricey compared to our typical photo albums. I went with the larger format book with the full image cover, including around 50 pages, and the total was just shy of $100 for printing and shipping. It’s been a while since I’ve used Blurb but was no less impressed with the print quality of this book, it’s beautiful. Too bad they don’t have kick-ass coupons that reduce the bill by 2/3 like MyPublisher and Shutterfly.

Still worth it.

This book will not only be something for Ethan to show his kids (sob!!) in the future, but something I’m proud to share now. Seeing it in our dining room hutch gives me a little flutter of joy…just having it done, the way I always wanted, is pretty exhilarating.

Ok, yes. I get a little too excited about family photo albums. It’s no secret I’m a complete dork for this stuff.

How did you document your kid’s first year? I’m dying to know because the options–good options—are limited. 

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Turning 34

2015 January 8
by Becky

Even Ethan understood why I’d want to skip my 34th birthday, but, alas, it arrived anyway.

Most people make new year plans, resolution, whatever, on Jan 1. Me? I don’t think about the new year until after Jan. 7. Might as well lump everything together—Christmas, Ethan’s birthday, and my birthday—before starting fresh. A year older, maybe wiser? Certainly less stressful. Back to a schedule, back to normal, every day life.

Just a year older.

My gifts?

Mom’s beef stew.
Ethan singing me Happy Birthday.
My dad, on his last morning here, taking Ethan to school in the ice-cold, 11 degree weather.
Book club with amazing girlfriends.
Finn sleeping almost 8 hours.

And a home run gift from Stu.

SlateMobileLapdeskI’ve worn this shirt for two days in a row. Don’t judge. I love it.

It’s a Slate Mobile Lapdesk I saw a while back and thought, Genius!! For the nights I opt for the couch (every night) I’m usually piling pillows under the laptop and using a book for my mouse—a necessary tool to edit photos and video or move text boxes around in InDesign.

This stylish board looked so cool, Stu clearly thought so too.


Those holes are to make sure your computer doesn’t start anything on fire. The mousepad so you don’t dislocate a shoulder. And that little top slot makes a perfect holding pen for the phone or iPad (in my case a phone). It’s sleek and light and very comfy. Can be tucked away in a corner and used every single night.

At 24 I’m sure I wanted clothes or a night out or concert tickets.
At 34 I want something to help me be more comfortable on my couch.

Funny how things change.

Kuddos to The Hubs for surprising me with the perfect gift.

Now I’m off to apply some eye cream.

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