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I'm excited to announce that tomorrow we will be launching a brand new collection for kids + kids at heart called My Story

My Story is created with kids between the ages of 8 + 12 in mind, with the goal of creating products to encourage storytelling and documentation through the process of play. 

The idea of this collection is something we've been talking about behind the scenes for a long time. With five kids between the ages of 10 and 17 I'm always looking for creative, fun, and meaningful projects that don't involve a phone or other screen. 

All products will be available here on my site on Thursday, July 18th at 9am Pacific. Links will be active when products go live. 

Here's a video overview by Anna + Audrey that walks you through what will be available tomorrow: 

Here are still images of the new My Story collection

Starter Kit : $39.99 | Includes 3x8 navy cloth album with page protectors, adhesive backed wood veneer people, storage pouch, circle puffy stickers, paper stickers, chipboard stickers, 3x8 prompt pages, 2x3 cards, 3x6 journal cards. 

Along with the Starter Kit we've got some additional fun things to play with: 

My Stories 4x6 Stamp Set : $15.99

My Story Rubber Shapes : $9.99

My Story Clickable Pen : $2.99

My Story Washi Tape Bundle

My Story Pocket Bundle : $12.99 | Plastic pocket, transparent "Stay Magical," and paper pocket

My Story Patch Pack : $9.99 | Adhesive backed

My Story "Yes You Can" Charm : $5.99 | This is awesome hooked onto the outside of the album. 

My Story Pie Chart Charm : $5.99 | This is awesome hooked onto the outside of the album.

My Story Transparent Dividers + Labels : $11.99 

PLAYING WITH MY STORY

Audrey + Anna had an awesome time testing out the products and starting their own My Story projects. 

A couple things I learned (or was reminded about) while watching and filming these two last week: 

  • I love how kids just play. They aren't worried how it's all going to turn out, they are just enjoying the process. This project is an awesome opportunity to continue to encourage that kind of play. 
  • I love seeing what they chose to write in response to the prompts. 
  • I love the discussion between the two that happened while they worked side by side. This is an awesome project to work on with a friend or a group of friends or to work on alongside an adult (it would be super cool for a kid + a grandparent to play with this togheter). Conversation seems to come naturally while working on responding to the prompts. 
  • I love seeing how they decided to add their family structures to the front of their album. I didn't give them any direction - just gave them the products and let them start playing. You'll hear Anna talk about it in the video below - which is totally funny and an awesome way to own this piece of her story. 
  • I love the opportunity to simply start talking about how their own stories matter. 

While they were working on their albums I turned on my camera and asked them a few questions about writing their story:

So fun. 

As with all my projects, there's no right or wrong here. 

I'm so excited to see what they end up adding to their albums over time. We've got additional products planned for future releases that continue to encourage this kind of storytelling. 

Thank you so much for checking out this new My Story collection. 

Let me know if you have any questions below!

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Hi everyone! We are delighted to bring you another round of creative inspiration from our awesome Creative Team! This week we are sharing the projects they created using the August 2019 Stories By The Month™ Physical Kit.

Jess Forster

Amy Gretchen 

Laura Wonsik

Jenny Theriault

Lisa Varshine

Brandi Kincaid

Kelly Ishmael

Jen Whittemore

Jen Schow

Morgan Beal

As always we are so grateful to our Creative Team for sharing their projects and the stories of their lives.

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Ali Edwards by Aliedwards - 2d ago

Today I'm sharing how I brought together my words and photos in my Project Life® 2019 album for June. 

This month I decided to incorporate a few 6x8 page protectors as inserts and play around with some transparent embellishments in a few of the pockets. I also knew I wanted to end this month with a sheet of pattern paper I love from  Crate Paper that celebrates summer

I started the process by simply viewing what photos I took in June and printed out a bunch sized to 3 inch x 3 inch to fit into the back of the page protector I used  last month

I'm loving the process of revisiting my photos at the end of the month for the specific purpose of deciding which ones to incorporate into this project. This time I printed out 17, 3x3 photos and figured I would make them work. 

You can download the "From My Camera Roll" freebie word art here

As I mentioned above, the other thing I wanted to play around with this month was incorporating 6x8 inserts to hold journaling, photos and embellishments (mainly from the  June Stories By The Month™ kit). I also recently purchased this pack of plastic hearts + stars and was excited to incorporate them as well. Check your stash because you might already have a fun collection of plastic hearts and stars that you could use if you like this concept. 

For the pockets with the stars I ended up adding a few other smaller star embellishments from my stash and then stitched across the top of the pockets to keep those in place. 

Avery Index tabswere added along the outside edge of all the inserts. On the front of them I used stickers from the June Stories By The Month™ kit and on the back I used phrases from this roller stamp

I love how it feels like I've included a little summer story booklet in between the two larger 9x12 page protectors. 

Journaling was added to the "things I love about June" card and on the "June Details" card below. 

I also added fun circle puffy stickers that were a recent kit add on option on the outside and inside of the page protectors in a couple places. 

You can also see above that I cut down one of the 9x12 page protectors (this one) to hold the remaining photos I wanted to include and cut up some of the journal cards from the kit as well. 

Totally love the see-through and layering happening this month with the page protectors. 

Here's an overview video of my process of putting this together: 

Project Life® 2019 | June - YouTube
SUPPLIES
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In the Story Classroom this month we are focusing on stories related to the theme of Journey.  

Here are a few thoughts about this particular theme: 

We are all currently on our own life journey, taking it one day at a time. There are ups and downs and boring parts and exciting side roads. This month we are taking a closer look at our own personal journey to excavate stories. You might also use these prompts as jumping off points for travel documentation.

Initial story ideas for the Journey theme include: 

  1. Where are you at on your own personal journey at this point in time?

  2. What is your favorite journey that you’ve embarked on with family or friends in the course of your life?

  3. Is there a story you can tell that begins by thanking someone for being a part of your journey?

If you are new to the Story Subscription program, check out all the details  here

If you are already a subscriber the content in the classroom will be available to you on the 15th.

STORY KIT™

Here's a look at the Story Kit™ contents for Journey:

Here's a video overview of the  Story Kit™ and Add-On options this month:

STORY STAMP™

The Journey Stamp Set:

Here's a video overview of the  Story Stamp™ and Add-On options this month: 

DIGITAL STORY KIT™ (Included with the STORY CLASS)

Your digital kit and the classroom and any Add-Ons purchased will be available to you on the 15th once your card has been charged for the month. 

Here's a look at what's included in the Digital Story Kit™ for Journey: 

And a couple peeks at the layouts I created with the kits this month in addition to the one featured at the top of this post ( full details, including process videos and how-to handout, are included with subscription):

Again, thanks so much for subscribing and/or considering my Story Subscription program! If you have any questions about this program please let me know below in the comments. 

STORIES BY THE MONTH™

Stories By The Month™ kits include 4x6 chipboard, 3x4 and 4x6 cards, a 3x4 stamp, a sticker sheet, and an embellishment (wood veneer, cork, etc). Stories By The Month™ Kits are all based on the designs we offered digitally each month throughout 2018. 

Here is a full look at the kit for August: 

And a video overview: 

This subscription is a great option for those who are looking to tell more calendar/everyday life sorts of stories. 

ADD ON OPTIONS 

This month the Add On options include a set of 3x8 tags, wood veneer travel icons, puffy geotag stickers (2 sheets), and a set of rubber triangles. 

Add On options are available to all Story Kit™, Story Stamp™, and Stories By The Month™ subscribers  (this excludes Digital Story Kit/Story Class subscribers since you don't have any part of your subscription shipped already). Please note that the Crafters Ink pad option will only be available to Story Stamp™ subscribers. 

Current and new subscribers can select + purchase Add-On's via your new drop-down menu access under your user name in the top right corner of the site. If you subscribe to more than one you will have a Box for each subscription and the ability to purchase Add-On's for each one. Depending on product availability subscribers may be able to purchase the Add-On's after the Add-On period has ended and regular shop shipping rates will apply because they will ship separately from the kit.

Check out this post for more information about this new subscription, including differences between the subscription options offered. 

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Hello friends! Today we are delighted to share with you some creative inspiration with projects made by our Creative Team using the MOVE Story Kit™. And just as a reminder, today, Friday, July 12th, is the last day to subscribe to the Story Kit™ and receive the MOVE theme.


Ingunn Markiewicz

Brandi Kincaid

Jen Schow

Amy Gretchen 

Laura Wonsik

Jenny Theriault

Jess Forster

Kelly Ishmael

Morgan Beal

Theresa Doan

As always, we are so grateful to our awesome team for sharing their stories and creative inspiration with all of us! 

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Today I wanted to share a quick look at the completed first half of my 2018 Project Life® album

One of the things I try to keep in mind related to memory keeping: our stories don't expire. 

In this video I'm sharing a walkthrough of the fist half of my 2018 Project Life® album. In 2018 I was doing weekly documentation as I'd done each year since I started back in 2010 (this is different than my approach for 2019 which is monthly - working on my spread for June right now). Many of the spreads you'll see in this video were created using products from my monthly scrapbook subscription: Story Kits™. Each month of that subscription I include a process video showing how I used the products to complete a Project Life® spread. 

Project Life® 2018 | First Half Album Overview - YouTube

If you'd like to learn more about my approach to Project Life® generally over the years check out my Storytelling With Project Life® workshop

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Having a getaway in June helped me get through a few more books this month. Here's a list of what I read in June: 

  • The Sound Of Gravel by Ruth Wariner | This is a tough book, along the same lines as Educated and The Glass Castle. I actually thought I had read this one already but I think I was confusing it with The Glass Castle. Definitely worth reading if you are a fan of memoir. 
  • Things You Save In A Fire by Katherine Center | I got this book as advance reader copy from Katherine (you can get this one via Book Of The Month before it releases to the public here). I loved this story of forgiveness and empathy and compassion and love and strength through struggle. Totally enjoyable. 
  • In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware | Read this one super quick on the beach. I didn't find it to be scary at all but that might have been because I was reading it on the beach during the day. It was a like not love for me. 
  • Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah | I've read The Nightingale and The Great Alone (one of my favorite books in the last few years) so I decided to pick up one of Kristen Hannah's earlier books. I liked it - a good friendship filled beach read that definitely had me crying at the end. If you have to pick one of her books I highly recommend The Great Alone or The Nightingale

For my  Book Of The Month picks for July I went with the following: 

COMPLETE LIST OF WHAT I'VE READ IN 2019

JANUARY

  • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (BOTM / Amazon) | Totally enjoyed this super-fast-to-read thriller. A great way to start out the new year.
  • There There by Tommy Orange (local book club book for January) | This was a brutal book but an important read in terms of exposing ourselves to different voices - in this case Native Americans. There were lots of places I wished I would have underlined and I might just go back in and read it again for those words. It was a little confusing to follow the characters as it went back and forth - I definitely found myself flipping back to previous chapters to make sure I remembered whose perspective I was reading. Read it.
  • Verity by Colleen Hoover | Super satisfying thriller. Started it one evening and finished the next morning. Just read it.
  • The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith | Finally had a chance to start this series (written by JK Rowling under a pen name) and I totally enjoyed it. Detective mystery that kept me interested.

FEBRUARY

  • I’m Still Here: Black Dignity In A World Made For Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown | 5 stars. There is nothing else to say besides this: this is an important book that should be read by everyone. Stories matter, especially of those who have been and continue to be marginalized in our society.
  • The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai | 5 stars. I loved this book. I loved the weaving of the two different time periods (1980's during the AIDS crisis in Chicago + 2015) and I loved how the author posed questions about love, friendship, memories, stories (and who gets to tell them), imperfect people (everyone), and the passage of time. It was heartbreaking and rich and beautifully written.
  • The Winter Sister by Megan Collins (BOTM) | 3 stars. A fast ready but one that was really just "okay" for me. The characters, the story, the whole thing - it was just not quite there. I've read so many better thrillers over the last few years. 
  • A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum (BOTM) | 5 stars. Loved it. Go read it. Three generations of Palestinian-American women's stories of daily life, courage, family, expectations, faith, etc. Really enjoyed the storytelling and how it all unfolded. So many times as I turned the page I kept thinking to myself how the stories of these women continue today here in the US and around the world. So, so different than my life experience. This is why I read.
  • The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani | 3.5 stars // Picked it up because it was included in the New York Time's 10 best books of 2018 (others I've read from that list included "There, There" and "The Great Believers" which were both really good). This book was a super quick read - read it over the course of one day - and it was interesting but not awesome. Some pieces felt disjointed - I kept waiting for the author to go deeper into the story.
  • Maid by Stephanie Land | 3.5 stars. As an advocate for telling your story, I generally appreciate memoirs like this that detail how lives are lived because I believe there are always things to be learned from people's experiences. While reading her story I had a wide variety of thoughts running through my head regarding poverty, single-parenthood (a piece I have lived + was thankful every single day that I had a job to support myself and my children), the way the "system" works, as well as thoughts about people I have interacted with throughout my life. From that standpoint, I'm glad I read it (and it was a super quick read).

MARCH

  • Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson (BOTM) | 3 stars. I found this to be a satisfying thriller. It's totally possible that I wasn't paying close enough attention while I was reading it (meaning I wasn't trying to figure out what was going to happen) but I definitely enjoyed it. Aaron read this on our vacation and also enjoyed it. Definitely good for a beach read. 
  • Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens | 4 stars. Beautiful writing that I definitely think will stay with me for awhile. My local book club read this last month and I missed the meeting because I wanted to read it myself before having a conversation and the early part of my month was just too full to make time. 
  • Daisy Jones + The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid | 4 stars. I initially resisted this title as I was thinking I wasn’t interested in a story about rock & roll but people kept talking about it and then my book club picked it and down the path I went. I am so glad I went down that path! I definitely had a hard time remembering that it was fiction. I kept wanting to look up the band online to listen to their music and see their faces and read what had been written about them. That’s basically how well written and clever this book is. Beyond that, I loved the entire format for how she told the story and I loved the themes of love and loss and addiction and honesty and passion. So good. Highly recommended.
  • Next Year In Havana by Chanel Cleeton | 4 stars. Read this on vacation and loved the imagery. I'll definitely consider reading the new book she's coming out with that tells the story of Beatriz Perez: When We Left Cuba
  • The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith | 3 stars. This is the second book in the Cormoran Strike series and I didn't like it as much as the first one but it's a solid mystery with characters returning and their stories continuing. I like reading these ones on my Kindle on vacation. I'll definitely keep reading the series. 

APRIL

  • Miracle Creek by Angie Kim (BOTM) | 3 stars. I really struggled with this book and I think it's probably just a personal problem with some of the subject matter surrounding autism. It's hard for me to articulate but I generally don't select books talking about Mom's + kids on the spectrum because it's already part of my daily life (and has been ever since my son was 2.5 years old). With this book I just kept having mixed feelings - about the characters, about the plot, about people trying to "fix" autistic people, etc. I'd be interested in hearing what other parents with kids on the spectrum felt about this one.
  • All The You Leave Behind by Erin Lee Carr (BOTM) | 4 stars. I really, really liked this one. It shouldn’t be a surprise that I appreciate real life stories, but this one has really struck me for a particular reason: we live in an era where content/source material for our personal stories are able to be gathered via email and text and social media messages. Voices live on in their own words - similar to written letters of the past but also different (more immediate I guess). In this book I love reading David Carr’s words of encouragement to his daughter as she navigates early adulthood and addiction - he had a way with words that has me underlining and nodding and reflecting on my own life and relationships. So good.
  • Lost And Wanted by Nell Fredenberger (BOTM) | 3.5 stars. I read this one while traveling and actually enjoyed the science mixed in with the story. I feel like I learned a little something about physics that is totally foreign to me and I liked the weaving through the story. I wanted to know how it was going to resolve itself and there were definitely parts that will stick with me. 
  • Wolfpack by Abby Wambach | 5 stars. This is a super quick read based on a commencement address and I loved it. Can't wait to share it with my girls. 

MAY 

  • The Valedictorian Of Being Dead by Heather B. Armstrong | 5 stars. I'm going with 5 stars on this one because I think it's such an important read about depression + hope + life. It's Heather's own experience - not a prescription - showing a path she took to get out of a significant depressive episode. It's also a lot about understanding and kindness and asking for help and showing up for people. Really important read.
  • Boss Up: This Ain't Your Mama's Business Book by Lindsay Teague Moreno | I got to read an advance copy of this one (it's available for preorder now) and it's a fantastic, straight-talking roadmap for getting started and for continuing to evolve and thrive as a woman entrepreneur. Lindsay takes the lessons she’s learned through her own experience and shares them in an honest, humorous, and inspiring way. Boss Up will make you want to dive right in and take the next steps forward no matter where you are in the process.
  • Clean Mama's Guide To A Healthy Home by Becky Rapinchuk | As part of my personal wellness journey (more to come in a later post with an update about this) I'm working on reducing toxins in my house and this book and her site have been so, so helpful to me. It's easy to read and it was super inspiring me - I literally went around my house and got rid of just about everything I could that was a toxic cleaning product/personal care item. 

You can see my 2018 Reading Recap post here and what I read in 2017 here

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Happy Wednesday! Today we are delighted to share the awesome projects created by our Creative Team using the June 2019 Stories By the Month™ Digital Kit.

Ingunn Markiewicz

Jess Forster

Amy Gretchen 

Laura Wonsik

Jen Schow

Brandi Kincaid

Jenny Theriault

Lisa Varshine

Kelly Ishmael

Jen Whittmore 

Morgan Beal

Stories of summer, stories of fun, this kit is perfect for all of your June memories. As always, a huge thanks to our awesome team for sharing their creative inspiration with all of us!

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Ali Edwards by Aliedwards - 3w ago

I love my local book club, big time. 

I've gotten some questions recently about our set up and wanted to share some information in case you might want to start you own within your own community. 

A friend of mine from college (we have kids at the same school now) started this book club in April 2018 and sent me a text message asking me if I wanted to join. 

My response to her was "Yes yes yes!" followed by "Thank you, and honestly I could use the friend time too." Because that was the truth. 

Here are the basics about our Book Club: 

  • JOINING: I was invited to join this group by one of my friends from college. We all have kids that go to the same school and most of the women have kids in the same grade. Our group has eight women and we all feel like that amount has been just right for us and we are happy with our current set up. My friend did an awesome job when she picked people to invite because we are all avid readers and really did want to talk about books! 
  • MEETINGS : We meet once a month and rotate houses. Whoever is hosting has some kind of food/snacks/treats available (often it's a combo of cheese, crackers, fruit, chocolates, etc) and drinks. One time we had a sushi night where we made sushi before we talked about our book. We meet at 7pm so most of the time we've already had dinner. We usually end our evening sometime between 9-9:30. We've varied the days of the week depending on everyone's schedule but it often seems to be a Tuesday or Wednesday. Having a smaller group makes the scheduling logistics a little more manageable and we generally schedule a couple months out (we've already scheduled all our meetings for the summer + a little weekend getaway once school starts in September). I generally try to pick a time to host when the kids aren't here just to make it easier, but most of the time other family members just hang out in other parts of the house when we have a meeting. Last time it was here at my house Simon came home in the middle of our meeting and sang "You'll Be Back" from the Hamilton soundtrack so yeah, real life happens too. We also had a special meeting in December when we all wore PJ's and brought a "favorite thing" for a gift exchange. That was super fun. We actually like each other so much that we look for other opportunities to get together and usually have a birthday lunch once a month to celebrate any birthdays happening in a particular month. 
  • WHAT A MEETING LOOKS LIKE : Generally we all arrive right around 7 and have a drink. We usually chat about life stuff for a bit - catching up, sharing stories, etc - and then we get down to the business of talking about the book. We often begin with general impressions - like it, didn't like it, etc. The host usually has printed off questions from the internet (these are easy to find via a google search) that we use as a guide as we talk through the books. Those questions often lead us onto other tangents and we like having them to center us back on the book topic. We are all active participants in the discussion, even when we might not have finished the book. At the end we schedule our next meeting and a book to go along with it.
  • HOW WE CHOOSE BOOKS : So far we have read all fiction books (listed below). Usually the person hosting selects the book we are reading but other times someone has brought up a particular book and we are all on board with it. Most of the time what happens is we all leave the meeting with Amazon orders on their way to our houses (or downloading to our Kindle) that include books someone mentioned. This is a hazard of a good Book Club. We've read a variety of books and don't really stick to one particular fiction genre. 
  • COMMUNICATION : We have a group text chat which is an awesome way to share about other books we are reading, funny things we see online, life stuff, etc during the month. 

Here are some things I specifically love about our Book Club: 

1. We respect each other's opinions and experiences. I think we all really value learning from each other and that comes across when we talk about the stories we read. Some of the best discussions we've had have been about books that stretched all of us and opened our eyes to new ways of thinking (love that this can happen via fiction books). This Is How It Always Is was one of those books for our group. 

2. What unites us is really that we each individually just love reading. We all generally read multiple books each month and I leave each get together with more books on my list to read after hearing what else everyone is reading (that good Book Club hazard I mentioned above).

3. I am really, really thankful for this group of women. They are good humans. Having a deeper connection with them through reading has totally enriched my life.  

4. I also love that getting together is a priority. Stuff happens, of course, but for the most part it's something we all look forward to and something we all enjoy as a part of our lives. 

5. Yoga pants are always welcome. 

What we've read so far: 

Next up we are reading Katherine Center's new book: Things You Save In A Fire (currently available for preorder). Katherine is a friend of mine so I was able to reach out to her for some advance copies and we are going to have her Skype into our next meeting. 

We also all ready Verity on our own and talk about it all the time. Such a fun page turner. 

I'm happy to answer any questions you might have about creating/hosting your own local book club. 

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Happy Friday friends! Ali is delighted to welcome Creative Team member Laura Wonsik as she shares how she documented her recent NICU experience using one of Ali's layered templates.

Layered Templates are a great way to document and tell your stories. Not only do they serve as a foundation for your stories, but they take some of the additional thought out of the design process to allow you to focus more on the words and photos. As Laura says, these templates give you the gift of simplicity when your time and energy is limited.

Here's the layered template that Laura used for the photo portion of these pages: Slanted 8.5x11 Layered Templates

Here's Laura:

My daughter Isla was born unexpectedly and prematurely at 33 weeks while we were 2.5 hours from home. She spent 16 days in the NICU following her birth while my husband, 4 year old daughter and I navigated this unexpected transition as well as daily life from a distance. It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through but thankfully she came out of it strong and we are all home and settled now.

Like all parents with a new baby, we were taking lots of photos and they piled up quickly. It was a crazy scary whirlwind experience that soon became a blur.

As the days in the NICU wore on with no definite timeline of discharge, a haze of beeping monitors, medical terminology that went over our head, conversations with neonatologists, social workers, nurses and lactation consultants and frequent consumption of medium quality cafeteria food, I considered how to best document all of the photos, milestones and experiences we were having as parents of a preemie in an energy efficient way.

About a week into her stay, I decided to start a NICU log using a template for ease of design. Thankfully, all of the photos are time and date stamped in my phone so I was able to piece the days together relatively easily. I only had about 30 minutes to an hour of time (well...energy) every day so I knew I needed to streamline the process.

I decided that photos would tell most of the story and I would create a template for as much journaling as I needed or felt inspired to include for each day opposite the slanted photo design template.

I created the template for the journaling by making a color block that followed the angle of the slanted template and changed the color to match each day’s photo cluster. I used the font “Archer” for the title and journaling. (I also created a template similar to the slanted ones for more vertical photos.) I also changed the size to 6x8 because I knew there would be a lot to print when we came home.

These templates gave me the gift of simplicity. When your energy is limited, making decisions, even small ones, can be exhausting. By settling on a single design to repeat for each day, I was able to focus on the journaling and photos. The only other decision I made was what color to make the top of the journaling page.

My plan is to put these in an album with the story of her birth at the front and a few of my favorite photos of her from the NICU in 6x8 page protectors at the end.

I am so thankful that I took the time to document this experience, the achievements, the setbacks, the joys and the sorrows. As we have returned home those days feel more and more like a dream so I am thankful that I captured the details for her to see when she’s grown. I want her to know what a strong girl she is and what she overcame.

Thank you Laura for sharing your story and your experience with all of us!

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