On Friday, Ben spent the day with his grandparents, leaving me with a very rare afternoon to myself near where I grew up. I took care of some errands that were way easier to handle without Ben, and then took my camera to the beach. When I lived near the beach, I used to do this all the time. Any time I felt sad or lonely, or needed some inspiration, I’d head down to the boardwalk in Asbury Park and listen to the waves, feel the ocean breeze on my cheeks, and breathe in the salty air. I have gone only once or twice since I moved west, and that bums me out more than I realized. Visiting the ocean was on my 33 Before 33 list, and got carried forward to my 34 Before 34 list, and until Friday, I’d only been once (in Cape Cod when we were there this past August). Taking my camera out and taking pictures just for fun was just so good. I really need to do this again, soon.
This kid has so many expressions, but his impish grin is one of my favorites. This has been the scene for so much of this week – working on his floor routine (this week he figured out how to army crawl and sit up on his own from his belly!), feeling his two brand new teeth with his tongue all. day. long.
In 2015, I’m taking a photo of Ben each week with my real camera.
When I came back here a few weeks ago to see how far I got when it came to posting my Project Life 2014 pages, I was really surprised to realize that I only ever posted my January pages. And then I remembered that while I stayed current until the beginning of February, I didn’t make a single page from early February until I began my maternity leave in May. I got myself all caught up, and then didn’t touch it again until Ben was two months old… and that pattern continued until December. December was amazing, because the instant photos meant I could stay caught up, which felt SO GOOD after being epicly behind all year long. I’m determined to keep this momentum with 2015, but we’ll see how that goes. I’m switching to 9×12 albums, but they aren’t available yet. Ah well. Anyway! Here are some of my favorite pages from 2014!
Many of my winter pages look like this, all snow and ice and blue.
Here, I was documenting my maternity outfits each day, figuring I’d want to remember that some day. I also included this blog post, and the paper with my extended family’s guesses for Ben’s arrival and size.
I don’t use a lot of green, but in 2015 in general, I was really trying to stick to color schemes with each spread. This is also a good example of the method that made it so possible to catch up – I made these 3×4 cards with the Collect app on my phone, and then uploaded them directly to Persnickety Prints. In 2014, I finally started ordering 3×4 prints, rather than printing two on 4×6 paper; not having to trim them really saves so much time.
I had to share this page, because I stared at that left side for months; I made that page just before Ben was born, and then my album was open to that page until I caught up again. I included some 8×10 inserts, with one of our first photos of Ben, which is one of my absolute favorites still.
This is the rest of Ben’s birth day spread; on the left you can see the 8×10 inserts, which include a really detailed version of his birth story, and some photos Dan took in the hospital. The right side has our bracelets, a quote I found on Pinterest while I was in labor that was SO perfect, and some photos I took in the hospital.
This spread also includes some cards from the Collect app, plus one of Benjamin’s teeny tiny newborn-sized onesies (this one was my absolute favorite, so it’s fitting that it has a place of honor here). I’m fairly sure I saw this in Elise‘s Project Life album when her daughter was born, and it stuck in my head because it really reminds me just how tiny he was.
Here’s a page from the end of the summer. I like it because I printed images of some of our summer favorites (the beer we couldn’t stop buying, and those frozen pizzas that I’m still addicted to.)
On the left here is one of my VERY favorite photos of Ben; it was just begging to be printed full size. (And printing full page photos is absolutely a secret trick to catching up when you’re super behind.) On the right are a bunch of photos from one day with Ben; I had been planning to do a day in the life but I never got around to writing out what we did.
This is my first page from December; you can see how I incorporated the daily instant photos, plus some cards writing out what we did each day.
I love the color scheme here; I had a 6×6 paper pad with holiday paper, and it made it really easy to make things look cohesive. On the right, I used a 2×2 coin protector page to include a Day in the Life. Dan and I both did Day in the Life in March, and I’ve been wanting to do another now that Ben is here and we’re in the thick of it. It was a regular day at home together, and I took photos and wrote the journaling as the day went on, which was really fun.
And here’s the last page of the year, with our last few instant photos, and the before and after of my epic haircut (and yes, I did totally cut all my hair off on New Year’s Eve. What better way to start the new year totally fresh?)
So that’s it! I’m really glad I started Project Life a few years ago; it’s such a wonderful creative outlet, and knowing my photos have a home and aren’t just lingering on a hard drive somewhere is SO gratifying. I’m so excited to keep going with this project in 2015!
I have been trying to write something to introduce and explain this new photo project I’m undertaking this year, and I keep typing and deleting everything I’ve written. I feel this need to explain why I want to do this, when I spent much of the last few months trying to let myself OFF of the hook of formal projects. And I really, really didn’t want to have anything serious for 2015, other than Project Life and Ben’s baby album, just because there’s only so much creative time around here these days.
But then a few more of my internet friends (blogging friends and flickr friends alike!) have started new 52 weeks projects, and the more I think about it, the more it feels like what I really should be doing. I have stopped using my dSLR almost entirely, with the exception of Ben’s monthly photos, and that’s just not okay with me. I don’t want a project that’s going to stress me out, but I really should be taking more photos of my son with something other than my dumb phone. (And look at that, I tried to be concise and simple and I just went and wrote 200 words. Sigh.)
And so! In 2015, I’ll be taking a photo of Ben each week with my real camera.
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
- Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
- Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
- Dance upon the Air by Nora Roberts
- Heaven and Earth by Nora Roberts
- The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
- Face the Fire by Nora Roberts
- Great with Child by Beth Ann Fennelly
- City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
- Breastfeeding Made Simple by Nancy Mohrbacher
- The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp
- The Giver by Lois Lowry
- The Search by Nora Roberts
- Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
- Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
- Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
- Coincidence by J.W. Ironmonger
I’m not sure whether to say that I read more or less than I expected I would in 2014. I certainly didn’t make my original goal of reading 30 books (although even when I chose that I knew it was totally arbitrary and quite possibly unattainable). I was keeping up a pretty standard pace of consumption before Ben was born, with audiobooks on my commute and regular books at lunch and at home. Once he showed up, of course, I pretty much stopped reading entirely for a while there. I don’t really understand how people read during middle of the night baby wakeups; I found I was too tired to concentrate on an actual book, but that if I could stay awake enough to read, then I’d be TOO awake to fall back asleep once Ben was asleep again. And now, I’m trying to read before bed like I used to, and after a few nights of reading until 1am and still having to be up with Ben at 5 or 6, really regretting it. But I feel like I’m back in a reading phase (and over the years of documenting what I’ve read, I know that I definitely go through phases in which I just don’t read at all for months), and I’m glad for that.
My favorite books in 2014 were definitely Attachments (omg I ADORED this book. I loved Eleanor and Park, which I read last year, but I was legitimately sad when Attachments was over. I just loved it.), Coincidence (which I finished on New Years Eve; very interesting and different. I really enjoy books whose timelines jump forward and back through time), and the Coldest Girl in Coldtown (which, based on my goodreads friends’ reviews, I expected not to like much, but I listened to this on audio and was pleasantly surprised).
I’m not sure how to approach a reading goal for 2015, to be honest. I’d like to think I’ll be back up to my average of 40 or so books, but life with Ben changes every time I feel like I’ve got things under control, so I really have no idea. But I’d really like to read more (and god knows I sure could use a little less mindless internet scrolling on my phone and a little less daytime tv). I’ve set a goal to read every day, even if it’s just a few lines or pages, or a book with Ben. I’d like to get to all those ebooks I bought just before we went to the hospital to have Ben (seriously, I loaded up the iPad thinking I’d read during labor. Isn’t that adorable? Reading during contractions. Haaaaaaaaa). Overall, I’m setting my reading goal at 30 books. I’m hoping I’ll beat it, but we’ll see.
So! It’s been a while. I admit I didn’t really write about my creative slump intending to stop blogging for a while, but letting myself off the hook in that regard seems to have helped quite a lot. But the year is drawing to a close, and that always makes me reflective (and itching to start new projects. There’s nothing like 01/01 when it comes to beginnings!).
Last year, I wrote that 2013 was the biggest year of my life, and I mean… I got married, became a homeowner, adopted a cat, and got pregnant, all in one year. But 2014, man, it was huge, too. I grew a baby. I dealt with the diabeetus. I left my job. I lived through labor and major surgery. I became a mother. I learned how to be Benjamin’s mom. I began to learn how to stay at home. I had a few identity crises. Everything totally changed.
I knew at the start of 2014 that I would need to be brave and flexible. I knew enough to know that I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. And here at the end, all of that was so true. Pregnancy can be so hard. Making huge life decisions like the one to stay at home is so intimidating. Figuring out how to keep a teeny tiny little baby happy and healthy and thriving is not simple. I was tired. I felt lonely. I cried. I whined about how I don’t even know who I am anymore.
But of course, I wouldn’t trade any of it. Even the parts where my hair looks shitty and even grocery shopping feels like a success some weeks and I am constantly covered in spit up and drool and I may or may not still be wearing my maternity jeans.
When I see people I haven’t seen in a while, they say I look happy. That motherhood suits me. And you guys, it feels so good to hear that, because that’s how I feel, truly. Sure, some of this is hard, and I feel like I should have more figured out. But I’m GOOD at being Ben’s mom. He’s such a happy little guy, and that makes my heart so full. When things start to get to me, like how I should fit into smaller jeans by now, or have a cleaning schedule, or have more time to do things for myself, half the time I just want to go sit in his room because he makes me feel better. Sometimes it feels like he’s the only thing I’m good at anymore. (A friend told me the other day that I’m too hard on myself, and that he is still so little, and that I have more figured out than I give myself credit for. It felt like I got hit in the head, in a really good way.)
There’s always a lot of talk at this time of year in the scrapbooking world about One Little Word, in which you choose a word to keep in the back of your mind, to inspire you throughout the year. I have chosen words for the past two years (in 2013 it was moment and in 2014 it was brave), although I haven’t really done too much more than spend an inordinate amount of time in the last weeks of December stressing about having to find a word before January 1. (Have I mentioned how the 1st of the new year makes me panic and flail to find all the new projects to start neatly and perfectly on January 1?) I have been trying to find a word for myself for 2015, and finding a word that fits what I have in mind has been tough.
For me, 2014 was about being brave as I faced down some big, huge changes, ones that I couldn’t control or know much about ahead of time. But in 2015, I want to start to redefine and reclaim my life. I have a bit of an idea of what motherhood means to me, now, and I feel like the time for basic survival mode, figuring-it-out mode, head-above-water mode is ending. In 2015 I want to take charge, force myself out of some comfort zones, and create some space for myself. I want to embrace who this new Elizabeth is.
So in 2015? I want to just start. (Inspired by Elise’s limited edition stamps because that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to get at.) Stop thinking and planning and intending and just TRY. Stop waiting for the perfect moment or the elusive, magical unicorn long nap. I want to stop saying I’m going to send that email to the local Moms’ Club. It’s time to exercise, to raise that daily FitBit step goal. I want to find some clothes that feel good (something other than my Rutgers hoodie). I want to chop off my scraggly ponytail and feel pretty again. I want to savor every snuggle with my little dude and help him learn as much as possible. I want to keep going to library story time. I want to sit at a bar and drink a beer. And maybe most of all, I want to carve out some time for myself, to write or read a book or take pictures or learn weaving or brush script. I don’t know if these are lofty goals or not. If Ben starts crawling as soon as I fear he will, or never grows out of his 30 minute naps, maybe they are SUPER lofty. I really don’t know. But I’d really like to try. I have to start somewhere, right?