Wednesday, January 28, 2009

52 pictures are worth a thousand words, and a zillion bucks

I recently received a very special package in the mail. It was enough to make a mama weep.
The idea came to me via my brilliant cousin in the form of a shower gift, some eight or so years ago before my first child was born. After opening package after package of pink sleepers, bibs, and diaper pins, I was surprised to see two disposable cameras in the box.
Actually, I was kind of like, “huh? I am having a baby here. I need stuff. Baby stuff. Not cameras.” Of course, I didn’t say this out loud, although given the girth of my belly, no one would have or could have stopped me.
Instead I smiled and thanked my cousin who obviously recognized the look on my face. She then went on to explain this odd gift.
“These cameras each have 26 pictures on them. Take one picture every week of your child’s entire first year. Set her in the same chair every week, and don’t develop the cameras until her first birthday.”
“OK,” I thought. My cousin is a fairly fabulous mom, so I took her word for it, not knowing what sort of excitement lay in store.
And so, for the first year of my oldest daughter’s life, I snapped a picture of her in our rocking chair. On her birthday I took the last photo and turned in the film. And what developed was more than just pictures. It was an amazing week-to-week memory of how she went from a 6 pound lump of baby to a running and smiling toddler.
It was so amazing, in fact, that I did the exact same thing with my son, taking the pictures every week in the same rocking chair. Those 52 pictures cataloged his growth and advances like none other, watching his red hair and his personality grow.
It went without saying that with my third and last child I would do the same thing. By now, the advancements in digital photography allowed me to go beyond the wind-up camera and actually design the weekly pictures into a digital scrapbook.
Week after week I took her picture in the rocking chair, and after her birthday organized them on my computer, chose a snappy little butterfly background and a yellow hardback cover, and hit “BUY NOW!”
Even though this is the third time I have gone through this photographing and developing project, I am still completely awed by how very special it is.
Flipping through the pages I can see how little my daughter was, and how at around 11 weeks old, she finally figured the eating thing out and went from the little pistachio to a full blown pecan. Then, when she was around 21 weeks, she developed an allergy to milk and her pictures show her with a not-so-lovely rash until we figured out the problem. By 31 weeks, she was clear and smiling again which was good because at 33 weeks I had to take the photo at a hotel chair. We were at a family wedding in Indiana.
Her teeth make a full-fledged debut at 42 weeks, and when she was 43 weeks old, someone spilled something on the rocking chair. The stain remains through the end of the book.
By 52 weeks I could barely get her to sit still to have her photo taken. She had other things to do, other siblings to chase. In fact, she’s probably getting warmed up to chase her new cousin that is scheduled to make his grand entrance in a few weeks.
His mommy is all ready for him, too. She got a lovely shower gift from Auntie Karrie.

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