I haven’t posted about Project Lifebook in a while, and I’ve made a whole bunch of progress on it recently, so here’s an update.
The book is 90% done and the simple binder format (the one I picked so I would focus on actually working on the project rather than obsessing endlessly over design) is the cat’s meow. It’s cool because I can change things easily and also because as soon as it was “good enough” I could print it out and let the girls start manhandling it. TubaDad and I have read it to Ro and Ree over and over again (at their request) and each time they ask for different things to be added (usually more pictures). I also keep seeing areas that I want to add to, and it’s simple to just write a new page and slip it in the binder. And the girls really enjoy seeing new pages pop up.
Anyhow, they both love it and want to bring it to school for sharing day. I think it helps them to ask questions that wouldn’t otherwise come up and to feel more secure about their beginnings, which were two of our main reasons for wanting a lifebook for Ro and Ree. The other reason was to help TubaDad and I get comfortable with their story, the words we wanted to use, and how to communicate tougher concepts. (Concepts like birthparents, which, I’m happy to say, I can now talk about without stammering and stuttering and sounding like a nervous idiot. So practice really does make perfect in this area.)
I ended up with this outline, and included simple titles that the girls can read. They’re already adept at scrolling through this table of contents to find what they want and then turning to the right page. The titles in the table of contents are also repeated as page titles inside the book for easy skimming:
The items in red in the TOC (and throughout the book) are pieces I’m still working on. And all of the information and writing is geared toward five-year-olds, specifically OUR five-year-olds.
They like the pages with interactive details, or things that they can do, like the world map page, the 2005 calendar page, or naming who’s who in this page:
And they quickly notice the areas I’ve left in red saying “scan from original referral doc” and the like. Oops. Ro likes to point out how long the red sentences have been there (she’s counting) and suggest that I really need to just get it done.
They like to hear minute information – details about the country they were born in or what they did when we met. They never tire of repeating the tiny details that I’ve tried to capture like favorite foods, funny things they did, etc. Here’s the first page of the Family Day section:
They think it’s hilarious to point to this picture below and say that we couldn’t believe they didn’t nap until landing time on the monstrously long trip home from China. And it makes TubaDad and I laugh to point to the “Welcome to the United States” picture that my dad snapped illegally in the airport when we all landed. Hm, I’m noticing a typo or two in the below page – good thing I can just rip that one page out of the binder and replace it! Heh.
Anyhow, if you want to do a lifebook for your sweet kiddo, but are overwhelmed thinking about where to begin, you’re not alone. It’s a hard project to get your arms around. The only advice I have is to just start writing, whichever part you feel most comfortable with. And you’ll be surprised at how it just comes together. It really is worth the time and effort. Ours isn’t going to win any design or writing awards, but you know what? It’s just fine. And, most importantly, in Ro and Ree’s words:
Ree: I like that it has mostly all the stuff that’s true about us.
Ro: I like that it shows everything that we did in life.
Ree (when asked why other kids would want lifebooks): Maybe it’s because they want to know how their family became.
Wow. That last sentence? Well I really couldn’t say it any better than that.
* PS: I originally planned to write two completely separate lifebooks, but almost all of the initial information, pictures, etc was identical, so it didn’t make sense. Once completed, I’ll make two copies (with some personalization).