A Traveler’s Notebook Insert: Remembering the Babies

Over the last six months, I’ve been really stripping down what I use to keep organized in terms of journals and agendas. In an ideal world, I would have more time to spend lost in the pages of a notebook (or book), as I really enjoy the process of writing, but I’ve been working on finding a balance between what needs to get done and keeping sane.

However, one of the things I’ve been trying to prioritize is an insert for my Traveler’s Notebook just for the Caleb and Naomi. It’s where I write stories about the babies and include photos and tape in little things that I’d like to have. In many (most?) ways, this is for me, a way for me to remember all those tiny details that slip away, but I also hope this is for them, for Caleb and Naomi to look back on, and see how loved they were.

Because I’m not organized enough to do this on a regular basis – I would love to do this once a week, what a dream! – I often find myself catching up in a scattered way, sometimes writing a bit on one page, skipping a few and gluing something else in in a rough chronological order, hoping to go back later and fill in the blanks, or add more details. I look forward to finishing off this insert and going back and reading through it, but I also enjoy the slowing down, and the rituals of putting the pages together, finding the words for the stories and selecting supplies.

Most of the pages involve a photo of some kind, usual an Instax film photograph. I have a few small shoeboxes filled with these tiny, fuzzy photos, and I’m constantly harassing Jon to order me more film. These photos are absolutely my most valuable possessions, and the first thing I would rescue if my house was on fire. They’re mostly candid moments, although sometimes I’ll try to cajole some cooperation into posing, but they’re shots from whenever I think to grab a camera – sometimes I’ll take ten photos in a day, sometimes a month goes by without one. I say it’s mostly that shocking transformation of Caleb from tiny bean to boyhood, but it’s also a documentation of our shop’s growth and changes, our family, travels, life.

They’re terrible photos by any definition, shot on the fly by yours truly, often blurry, oddly lit, crooked, and yet one of my and Caleb’s favourite things to do is to sift through these photos and see Caleb as a baby, growing older, with the animals, at the shops, in the old apartment, and now Naomi. I read about this thing where people take photos on their phones, and then are so confident that the memory is forever captured there that they expend little energy remembering the moment, and in fact so rarely even look at the photo on their phone that the memory is all but lost. There is something about that that might be a little too close to home for me, but in any case, I love the familiarity Caleb already has with these stories, and “remembering” pouring tea for Chicken, or the old shop at night.

When I have time to sit down to work on this insert, I often begin by sorting through the photos to select which ones I want to include. Sometimes I’ll already have some set aside in the back of my TN, and when it really starts bulging, I know it’s time to catch up.

I use washi tape, glue things in to the background, try to keep track of those little bits, tickets, papers that come with life, and I also try to write things down. For me, I often think I’m going to remember this moment forever, but really when I read back to captions I’ve written beside photos, I love those reminders, those details that I had already forgotten.

And of course, when I run out of time, I try to remember that something is better than nothing.

Often there’s a joke among parents with multiple children about how for the first born child, everything is documented and all the big milestones are celebrated, and everything’s a big deal, but with the second and following children, things start to slip. For us, it was a little different: Caleb was born shortly after we opened the shop, and things were still a bit dicey – it was just me and Jon, and we were open seven days a week. We sure loved him as a baby, but he spent a good portion of his early life in a wrap on my back or toddling around being entertained by packaging material. I’m not sure small business owners ever really get a true maternity leave, but with Naomi, I now can really appreciate that our business is at a place where I can spend time with her as a baby.

There are many things I wish I had found the time to when Caleb was an infant, and one of them is creating a notebook like this for his early days. That being said, I love this season of life now, both the rush of the business and slowing down with the babies, trying to capture Caleb, taking his big brother role seriously until he’s tired of it and wants to bounce around, and Naomi, this bubbly, gurgling, peaceful baby.

 

I’m currently using a plain 003 insert, which might have been an extra one that came with one of my TNs, but my favourite insert is the kraft one, which I’ve used for travel notebooks and other writing. The Traveler’s Notebook is the Blue version.

In the top photo, the leather notebook is the Midori A5 leather notebook cover, and inside, though you can’t see, is a Stalogy A5 notebook – these two function as my daily journal, into which I sometimes tape photos, but I mostly just write. The three pens are the Lamy Safari All Black, Parker Sonnet in Brown Rubber, and the Pilot Custom 92.

The wooden box holding washi tapes is the Classiky Desk Tools Box.

I regularly use two Fujifilm Instax cameras, the Neo Classic (I think??) which produces the rectangular “mini” photos, and the Square, which produces the larger, square photos.

 

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