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Starting a baby album with Project Life

starting a baby album with project life @ shimelle.com
Over the past few months, you may have seen pages from my ’40 weeks’ album documenting my pregnancy. It used a format of one 12×12 page opposite a divided page protector, and some weeks are completed and other weeks are works in progress. But Wonder Boy is getting bigger every day so it is high time I got started on a book all his own, and for that I’m using Project Life and an all-divided-page-protector format.

Several years ago I led a project called Document:2010 that was not far from the concept you often see in Project Life albums now – it was a way to document the everyday of life for a full year. It started brilliantly but went pear-shaped for me when 2010 proved to be a very challenging year. So many sad, earth-shattering-to-me things happened in 2010. If you ask me about the hardest parts of my life, I will tell you just surviving seventh grade and 2010 are in my biggest accomplishments. I wouldn’t want an album retelling the daily struggles of seventh grade and by midway through the year, I didn’t want a permanent record of 2010 either. It put me off the idea of any sort of year-long documentation project, because stopping that album in 2010 was good for my sanity but also made me feel like a failure. Making one page at a time let me pick the things I wanted to scrapbook without any obligation to a certain time. I could leave out the bad and the sad and focus on the happy, or I could come back and write extended entries working through those life challenges on the days when I felt it was helpful.

But all that said, the one thing that has always struck me in looking at Project Life albums from a variety of scrapbookers is how amazing that format would be for a baby book, when you feel like you can basically see them getting bigger if you concentrate on not blinking. So I knew I wanted that format, but the caveats I am setting myself are there is no obligation to be working on last week this week or anything sort of ‘on time’ or ‘caught up’ notion and that I can stop this album at any point that feels right. It does not need to be exactly one year of documentation. It can be more or less, and both are fine.

All that said, I am having to make some changes to how I work with a tiny baby in the house! Gone are the days when I could spend all day scrapping with no interruptions, so I’ve found a few things that are helping me with this project so far. I’m sure there will be more tricks I’ll find over the coming months, but these are the things that made a big difference to me from the beginning.

starting a baby album with project life @ shimelle.com
Finding a dedicated place to work on just this project. Aside from the video below, I am not working on this project in my usual space. I cleared a countertop that usually held tools like my die cutter and arranged it so I can leave the full 12×12 album open on the top all the time. This way there is no desk clearing or finding things to give me a road block. I can just walk there, add a few words, and walk away again without worry.

I don’t have a huge amount of space to work with, so this did take some compromise and I still have a few things I need to rearrange elsewhere to get it to its best. I am very lucky to have a room for all this, but it is not huge and it holds a great deal, and I try very hard to stick to our household rule of ‘scrapbooking stays in the scrapbooking room’ for all our sanity.

starting a baby album with project life @ shimelle.com
Labelling the weeks with dates on the page protectors. This was key to me because I’m working at a delay. When I print a photo, I want to put it straight into the right week, even if I’m not going to embellish that week just now. I’ve always found I’m better at getting my pages straight into albums if I put the page protectors in from the moment I take the plastic off the album. So this is filled with Project Life Design A page protectors, and then I added the dates and week numbers with post-it notes so everything is easy to find and I don’t need to repeat that job each time.

starting a baby album with project life @ shimelle.com
Keeping certain supplies within reach. I’ve selected a few things I’ll be using on every spread in the album, including the Pebbles rolling stamp, a date stamp, and a ‘currents’ stamp that is handy for journaling cards. Instead of putting them away, I’ve given them a spot on that counter top so I can work quickly. (Admittedly this tactic may work great now with a tiny baby and may be a terrible idea for a five year old. So it goes!) Other supplies I use often are here too, including having an extra set of scissors, adhesive roller, and journaling pens so I’m not transferring them from my main desk each time. Having fewer things nearby also helps me make decisions quicker, as I’m not all that tempted to dig in a basket for five minutes looking for something that’s perfect when I have something that will do just fine right in front of me. As a result, you’ll probably see less product variety in this album, but I think that will add to the consistency in style when it has plenty of pages with so much going on.

starting a baby album with project life @ shimelle.com
Making some design choices. I’ve selected the same page protectors for the whole album (though I may use smaller insert pages for particularly busy weeks). I’m printing many of the photos with a wireless Canon Selphy CP910 printer, which I must admit I am currently leaving on all the time so when Wonder Boy falls asleep in my lap, I can use my phone to select and print the images without moving. I also decided after the experience from the 40 Weeks album that I’m (gasp) not really all that keen on the rounded corners of the Project Life brand cards. I love the designs on the cards themselves, but I prefer the look in the pockets of everything with clean, square corners. I decided I would use patterned paper instead of the Project Life cards for the base layer of everything, and when I do use the Project Life cards, it will be as a layer, so you’ll see in this first example that the rounded corners exist within the card but the outside edges of each pocket have square corners. I also decided from the beginning that I will aim for four 4×6 landscape images with white borders on each double page spread and use an Amy Tangerine label stamp to caption each of those. That’s four pockets done straight away each week, and that helps!

project life scrapbook pages by shimelle laine @ shimelle.com
This is week two in Wonder Boy’s album, and I already had to confront the ‘do I scrapbook the sad stuff’ because the first couple weeks here were hard mentally and physically. (Every baby has something that just wrenches your heart, right?) But I actually found it quite helpful to write about in this case, and it let me see the bigger picture that all that heartache and time going back and forth to the hospital was worth it, and I’ll never forget the amazing feeling of finally being set free from all that and sent home knowing we didn’t have another day of tests when we woke up the next morning. Hence that ‘finally’ card there on the far right!


Viewing on a blog reader? Click through to the full post to watch the video!

Here’s a look at how this double page spread came together, including further notes on how I’m making this work by scrapping in just tiny amounts of time rather than doing everything at once!

(And yes, this video is on my own YouTube channel!)

Now… I know many of you have FAR more experience in making your albums work when your hands are full! I’d love to hear from you. What are your secrets to making projects like this work with your unique and overfilled schedule?

01 July 2014



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43 Comments for Starting a baby album with Project Life

  1. Barbara Says:

    Lovely pages! And a super idea for keeping up with the daily life with a baby. And awwwww, I spy our CAR mug, memories ;-)

  2. Donna Says:

    Thank you for the video. Love the new album look

  3. Liz Says:

    You are doing so well there to have a doable plan and have started working on the book! And doing so well to be coping right now- those early few months are just so exhausting! I have a just-over-two-year old and I still remember how exhausted I was for about a year- I’m astonished at how I coped given the lack of sleep! So cut yourself lots of slack- just enjoy the process.
    Advice- I think you’re doing a fabulous job so far, so not much; I agree with you on the straight corners but eventually decided I really didn’t care enough and so have rounded corners mixed in with straight! I do pick up a fair number of digital cards that I can print; One Little Bird does some beautiful ones and I pick up some from SC most months.
    In terms of something to put in the book, make a space somewhere to regularly note length, weight, clothing size, number of teeth, whatever other statistics you can come up with. I was doing it monthly, and found myself referring back to it way more often than I anticipated. Try not to focus on percentiles etc though- they all catch up around the 1 year to 18 month mark. My daughter’s best friend was in the bottom 10% and my daughter was in the top 10%; now they’re about the same height. :) Hope that’s not too much random advice- feel free to ignore as much as you like. :)

  4. Cathy Says:

    Love the video and never thought of layering and cutting away the excess parts of the cards in each pocket, I thought they all had to fit or go in the right direction! Love the colors!

  5. Jacky S Says:

    It sounds like you’ve found a great way for you to work on the album without it becoming stressful.
    It’s looking wonderful.

  6. Amy Says:

    Those are quite lovely pages. I very much hope you’ll show us more baby album pages as Wonder Boy continues to grow. My daughter is five (and adores your videos btw). I haven’t started on her baby album yet though I do have the baby girl kit from PL, the album, and the page protectors in it. There’s something about going through the thousands (I wish I was exaggerating!) of photos just from her first year that is overwhelming.

    As for advice, I’d don’t have much for this age. I lived in three different places for her first few months of life and got zero scrapping done between taking care of her, teaching, packing and unpacking over and over, and attempting to sleep. However, as he gets older and begins to move around we kept a baby doorknob safety thing (what are those called??) so she couldn’t get into my room on her own. When she was about two, she got her own drawer full of stuff in my room. It had paper and crayons mostly. I eventually added safety scissors (including some deco ones for kids!) so she could practice cutting. She was in love with my flowers and washi tape. I had those in containers so she could play with them but still make it easy for me to clean up. She made a mess in my room but never got into stuff she wasn’t supposed to because she had plenty of things of Mommy’s to play with that she was interested in. It let me get pages done here and there and let her spend time in a special room in our house. She’s now taken over a small second desk in there and scrapbooks herself.

    Thank you for the inspiration! I can’t wait to see more.

  7. Crystal Says:

    Your album looks lovely and Wonder Boy is adorable.
    I am so glad that you are posting videos on your channel. All these changes make it hard to find time to scrapbook, not to mention edit posts and videos for us. Thank you for taking the time!

  8. Maureen Says:

    I scrapbooked before I had my son, and then felt awkward scrapping about my “wild” university days so I took a break for a while. I had my son shortly after graduating and got right back into scrapbooking again. There were so many pictures of him and I wasn’t good at keeping the standard baby book with all the details it asks for. I kept leaving random lines blank! So pictures and journaling was better for me. It was hard, though- I didn’t feel like I had time to do anything for me. But the scrapbooking was stress-relieving, and caring for another person is VERY stressful! I’m sure you’ve realized this.

    What really really helped me was you, actually. I didn’t get excited about scrapbooking again until you taught me how to use some default or standard layout schemes (like your 2 4×6 layouts with something along the vertical.. you know what I mean)After seeing your sketch to scrapbook pages and your starting points and 4×6 love, I started finding I was making layouts I loved. They came together quicker and you showed me I could use different embellishments and photos and make completely different looking layouts. I loved it so much. I became pretty quick about making decisions and just going with the flow since I only had a little time before the next bottle or diaper change. So I guess my advice is to just be you and not stress out about coming up with something new every time.
    My sisters scrapbook and are mothers, too. They are envious at how fast I can bring a layout together. Whenever they mention it I let them know “you have to watch Shimelle. She’ll teach you design tricks that make it easy and you won’t be staring at one embellishment for 20 minutes trying to figure out where it goes on a page.”

  9. Melinda Sweetman Says:

    Gorgeous pages as always Shimelle!! Sorry to hear you hit a few bumps early on but glad that things are good now. I love hearing Wonder Boy in the background of your videos and am loving your process. Take it easy and enjoy every single second with your gorgeous family while he is still so tiny!! Can’t wait for your next video, you inspire me every time I watch one!! Xx

  10. Michelle Says:

    Your pages are beautiful, as is your new little bundle. He is just precious!!!

    It sounds like you found a system that works for you. I have always had a hobby. Before scrapbooking it was cross stitching. I have never had a problem with my kids messing with it except for my 26 yr old taking albums to show people and not telling me, or bringing them back. I started scrapbooking when my middle child was 2 (she’s now 16). She never got into my stuff. By the time she was 4, she was scrapbooking. :) My littlest is 7. When he was about 2-2.5, I gave him child scissors and paper and his own stickers. He had fun doing his thing while I was doing mine. I gave him my old deco scissors. Once he got a little older, he would use my punches and my very old guillotine sizzix and old dies. They had their own things and never got into mine. They have always been good and asked if they could use something.

  11. Jen Hart Says:

    Lovely pages Shimelle and I am glad you are finding time for it and the ‘urge’ to get it scrapped, I so wish I scrapbooked when my kids were little as they are some of my most treasured ‘things’ even from when I did start so if you can keep at even just that you will be so very, very glad.
    I do it pretty much the same as you, when I have the energy for organising the folder I do that, when I fancy printing photos I do that and then one evening I may select papers together and put in a polybag ready to do the 12×12 and accompanying pocket page, one evening I may do the journaling and then when I have creative energy I can have an hour doing that (recharging the batteries). I don’t have great swathes of time for it with the kids and work, at the moment you are on his time, but there will be a time when your together time will be more on your agenda and you can plan for it better. It doesn’t look as if you need too much advice but there it is :-) I am off to watch your video, thank you. Take care.

  12. Jo-Lee Kelly Says:

    I am so glad to see you doing pocket scrapping! You inspire me so much, and I love your ideas on layering in the pockets.

    I started using PL products when I had my first child. In the quiet moments I would browse through photos and put together journalling cards. I found this format very do-able during the early years, and I am so glad I was able to capture the day to day happenings. I would often put my baby on a blanket to play next to me, and when he was ready, I put him in an exersaucer. Once he became mobile, I could no longer spend time in my craft room when he was awake. So I often took a page out of my album, laid it on the kitchen table and worked on each pocket separately. That may not work so well with your rule of “scrapbooking stays in the scrapbooking room”.

  13. june2015 Says:

    I was SO happy to hear your voice and see a video today. “You” have become a very consistent mental/creative prompt for me. I’m so hoping that with all the changes in your life and from the two peas closing that you won’t disappear. We count on you and appreciate your efforts to inspire and educate us

  14. Laura Says:

    Sounds like you have a good system going tempered with realistic expectations, so I think you’ll do fine. For my PL album, it definitely helps to keep it out in a dedicated place so I can add things as I have a free minute or put in sticky notes to remind me of what I want to go where when I have a longer block of time to spend working on it.

  15. JRo Says:

    I have three little ones and for 9 months also took care of a friend’s baby. So at once I had a 6 year old and three littles under 3! Your little set up is basically how I managed to still scrap. I got a LOT done and I only worked on it in snippets of free time. I too use 6×6 paper pads. I have a rolling cart (not the raskog,it was actually too small) that holds all my scrapping supples. It tucks between a wall and the buffet where my album stays. That way there is only one side that all those tiny hands I have around here can get into! I would pull it out when I worked on the album and push it right back in when I was done. I don’t think there is much I would add. I keep scissors and my xacto knife in a cup on the back of my table. The kids that can reach know better and the littles haven’t figured out how to get there. Basically keep is simple, organized,cleaned up and in view…and you will be able to scrap even when you only have 30 seconds at a time!

  16. Zeffy Says:

    So glad to see you are still able to scrapbook….your advice was good and you seem to have everything running like clockwork….I take my hat off to young Moms that have time to craft…I have two grandchildren, that love close to me….and the hours in the day never seem to be enough for me to do all that I want to do!!!love hearing Wonder Boy in the background!*

  17. Zeffy Says:

    “So glad to see you are still able to scrapbook….your advice was good and you seem to have everything running like clockwork….I take my hat off to young Moms that have time to craft…I have two grandchildren, that love close to me….and the hours in the day never seem to be enough for me to do all that I want to do!!!love hearing Wonder Boy in the background!*

  18. Little nat Says:

    I think the biggest tip I have is to not beat yourself up if you don’t ‘keep up’ with the baby album. You must enjoy Wonder Boy first and foremost and if you don’t get to scrap everyone of his waking moments, then so be it! I’m still scrapping my own Wonder Boy’s first year album. I chose to do regular 12×12 pages – PL wasn’t really as big back when he was born and so 12×12 was the way to go for me.

    Funnily enough, I used some of the lessons from Cover to Cover to help me with that album. I would print photos from Photobox when I had 100 in my basket (and buy up credits when they went on sale!). Then I would sort through them during nap times and put them into page protectors with little notes about what would be a good story.

    I didn’t and still don’t have much time to scrap and certainly cannot do any while he is awake, and to be honest don’t always feel like it at the end of the day. On the other hand, I don’t want to forget the early days so I just have an A5 notebook that I scribble down stories in. I also started using the Momento app last year which I’ve found really useful for recording notes and a few photos from my phone.

    Don’t underestimate how many photos you will take in this first year – my son’s first year album currently stretches to four AC albums and there are still more photos and stories to scrap.

    Did you get a door on your scrapbook room yet? I remember in some of your videos and in the PRT episodes you mentioned that you didn’t have a door. Doors are your friends once Wonder Boy starts trying to move!

  19. CarolynE Says:

    Yay, a Shimelle video! This looks awesome!
    I’m working on more of a delay than you, my little one just turned three and I have yet to really start on his album. I have some pages done and started, but decided that I’m going to do a mix (which sounds like you did for your pregnancy album, going to look & check that out if I can) of traditional scrapbook pages and pocket pages.
    Thanks again for the video!

  20. Cal Says:

    Hi Shimelle, so great to see this video. Thank you for sharing with us. I have a question about the selphy printer. I’ve been using one for just over a year and the smaller print size can sometimes bug me! Did you matt your 6×4 photos on card stock or is that a printed border? If it’s printed what app did you use as my selphy prints a ludicrously large border! Thanks in advance!

  21. Melissa Vining Says:

    I love your pages , they’re gorgeous! I had my third baby on 15 April, and I’m doing her album like your pregnancy album with a mix of pocket and traditional pages. I also do project life (monthly) and I’m still working on my pregnancy album. Your sort up is the same for all of my scrapbooking, I have an area where I work away at small increments. Wonder Boy is beautiful, and I hope being a mum is bringing you as much joy as it brings me x

  22. Sandra Says:

    YES! Just yes to everything! Love it all. The End. :) x

  23. Wendy Says:

    Thanks for the video! Your pages are awesome and Wonder Boy is so cute!

  24. Laura Says:

    I love it all and admire you for even attempting to scrap with a newborn. Kudos to you!

  25. Martha Says:

    Talk about a delay…my sons were 28 and 34 when I decided to use the PL process on their photos that previously lived in boxes. They turned out wonderful!

    A new video was a wonderful surprise. Enjoyed seeing your process and your wonderful pages. :)

  26. rt in GA Says:

    Wonder Boy is adorable. Thank you, thank you, thank you for continuing to provide inspiration, even with your hands full. I also do not like rounded corners on the PL cards!

  27. Gela Says:

    I think I heard wonder boy trying to comment on your layout :) Great project. Congrats

  28. Julianna Says:

    This page is amazing! I love your PL-babybook plan – I am in the midst of something quite similar :) My little guy is 4mo old now and I am doing a PL album for his first year(ish), using the Neutral Baby Core Kit. One of the things I did to streamline my process was actually limit myself almost entirely to just the core kit. I have made a few extra cards here and there as needed (I find they don’t have enough 4×6 filler cards for me, for example). But I decided that a way to make it doable for me was to really restrict the supplies and then if I want to play with other papers/color schemes/etc I can do that in 12×12 format with some of my favorite photos of him and it can just go in my regular yearly albums.
    I absolutely leave my Selphy on round-the-clock and print photos from my phone with baby in my lap, too!
    It sounds like you have a good handle on a weekly format..I did weekly for my pregnancy album, using a 6×8 SC Handbook, but decided to take a more “month-by-month” approach to his baby book. That’s something that has really helped me fit it in to my schedule as I can do batches here and there as I feel motivated and not worry about any real sense of “falling behind”.
    In terms of embellishments for the baby book, I’m sticking to one or two types of letter stickers, a little elephant punch, some washi tape, and some wood veneer shapes.
    One interesting thing I’ve found over the past few months (your mileage may vary) is that I love working on his album but that it’s also been reallly good to get back to scrapbooking some 12×12 layouts too and specifically to do pages about travel and things that happened before little Arthur came along. It wasn’t something I could fit in until probably 8-10weeks in but once I did I realized how awesome “me time” felt when it was really all about me lol… Again, maybe that is partly because I had removed a lot of the “creative play” aspects from his baby album by sticking with just the one Core Kit, but I think also spending time with memories that didn’t involve the baby added a happy balance back in to my life, too (especially while I am home with him full time and our days overlap 100%; maybe when I go back to work in September I will feel differently and only want to scrapbook him. we’ll see!). I don’t know if that makes a ton of sense, but just thought I’d share since it surprised me when I realized how valuable both types of projects are to me right now.
    Congratulations again on your most-wonderous wonder boy!

  29. Sinead Says:

    Love seeing you scrapbooking Wonder Boy, Shimelle! This is a beautiful spread and I really enjoyed watching the video too. I agree completely about what had discouraged you from starting PL before. I always thought it would be challenging because I’d feel under pressure about scrapping (or not scrapping) the harder moments and big challenges in life – like unemployment and difficult times with those you love. However, those divided page protectors and PL supplies kept tempting me, and I now use them regularly throughout my regular albums (and LOVE the variety they provide from the 12×12 layouts I usually do). I think as a baby book, the PL format could not be more perfect!
    I’m so excited to see the progress of the album as Wonder Boy grows.
    Thank you for sharing and inspiring as always :) X

  30. Kristen Says:

    Shimelle- You are just such a genius. I dislike rounded corners so much that I avoided buying the systems with those types. I never really thought about layering them up like that and just cutting off the excess. Genius! And using those leftover bits with small punches to make your own accents. Again genius! I always learn something new from each of your videos. I hope you keep showing this album as your time permits. I would love to see more of it, for sure!

  31. Kelly Says:

    The most important thing is to jot down a few things. I kept a calendar in my daughter’s room and when would write down some of the things at the end of the day when I was rocking her before bed. This helped me tremendously…if I didn’t do it then, I wouldn’t do it at all because I was just too tired.

  32. Berta Says:

    Great video! Love hearing wonder boys coos in the back ground. My boys are 17, 29 & 31, I so wish digital photos were around when they were small. I was an epic fail at keeping up their “baby books”. This I could have done :)

  33. Gina Says:

    Shimelle, because you are using the design A page protectors, are you only taking horizontal photos or using any vertical ones as the smaller photos?

  34. Jodi Says:

    Thank you for sharing Shimelle! It’s so lovely to see your little family.

  35. caroline Says:

    I love the video Shimelle.
    I think what worked for me when I had a baby that slept is different from what works for me now that she is awake most of the day. I know that you will develop your own way of working.
    I record milestone moments rather than weekly progress, but I do record comparisons a lot. Every 18th of month I do a ‘now she can do this…’ type entry and I find that it encourages me to find progress from that month. Also, when I am down, if I look back over a 6 month period I can see that actually her progress is significant just slower than most. I think you would enjoy looking back on your progress too, I know I enjoy seeing my competence as a mother improve month on month.
    Enjoying your pragmatic approach to scrapping wonderboys album. hugs xx

  36. Gab Says:

    Such a great video. I love this album. And really loved hearing Wonder Boy in the background! I’m glad you’ve found a way to include some crafty time into your life!
    I’m sorry that you’ve already had some sad stuff to deal with … hopefully that will be over and done with now!
    Oh, and he is adorable!!

  37. Michele Says:

    wonderful layout—I certainly remember those moments with each of my baby.. and now I am having my fourth one due in Aug.. I just set up a time and place to scrap here and there just like you’re doing.. what line does that paper with houses on it come from? just perfect for my fourth baby book I’m in the planning stage of collecting lines to work with.

  38. Candy Says:

    ADORABLE baby!!!!! Congratulations!

  39. Gabrielle Says:

    I love your blog and am so excited to see how you are doing your PL-style baby book. I just started one this year when my second was born. I used the same idea – put the dates for each week on a post-it so as I go along, even if pictures aren’t ready, I can add notes or other “memorabilia” in the right week as I go. I’m about a month behind with the pictures. I do all of my journaling in a journal (one for my son and one for my daughter) so fill that in as I have time since I know I have the feelings and memories written down. I am excited to go back and start one for my older once I have some “extra” time on my hands. Love your ideas and am excited to see what’s next.

  40. Emily Says:

    All the tips on this post are seriously what I needed to ground my project life style pages. Always so wise, Shimelle!

  41. Davean Says:

    Great pages!! I have an almost 2 1/2 year old and I STILL haven’t gotten very far with his project life album. I will eventually… I saved tons of stuff to put in it from his hospital bracelet to the baby food labels when he started to eat. It is hard to get back to it and remember what I was doing, plus there are so many other pages to be scrapped! Congrats on your new little one! They are so much fun!

  42. Pepper Says:

    Wow shimelle, you are very detailed in the layout! Each card is so nicely decorated. so dedicate

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