Monday, January 20, 2014

Looking forward is great, but slow down, there will be a last time for everything

Last night I had the pleasure of giving a Time Capsule Event for a lovely group of mommies. During my educational presentation while I was talking about milestones and looking forward to the next ones our babies will accomplish, I started to think about the converse...things he's doing now won't last forever, there will be a last time for everything.  Although slightly off topic from my usual posts, I thought I'd share some of these things with you in the hopes that you'll cherish each and everything just a little bit more.

Of course I'm looking forward to when my son can put himself to sleep and finally sleep through the night, but that means he'll no longer need me to nurse him back to sleep. There already was a last time we co-slept in his swaddle. Soon there will be a last time he latches on and falls asleep on me.

I am looking forward to when my son can bathe himself. But that means I'll no longer get to watch him experience the simple joy in playing the water after his bath has finished.  There already was a last time he bathed in the little bathtub sitting over the sink. Soon there will be a last time he sticks his head under the running water and giggles at how it feels.

It will be nice when my son will be able to feed himself, but that means we'll no longer be able to make him do "tricks" for food. Right now he makes the cutest impression of a monkey when he wants to eat his baked peas from Trader Joe's.  He already doesn't need me to make all of his food pureed, but pretty soon there will be a last time when he will no use his chubby little finger to point to the different things he wants to eat off of my plate.

It sure will be less worrisome when my son stops tripping and falling almost every time he gets excited and runs, but that means he'll no longer need me to pick him back up again and kiss his boo-boos. He already walks ahead of me at the park and goes to the different equipment he wants to play on.  Pretty soon he won't look for my hand to grab to help him go up steps, and there will be a last time when he will want to sit on my lap to go down the big kid slide.

There will be a last time when he will allow me to kiss him in public, there will be a last time when he signs "Momma" or "Dadda" with such a sparkle in his eyes, there will come a time when he will no longer think of my husband and I as his entire universe. I know that we gave him life so that he will have a life. But I really want to look at all of the things he's doing right now, both difficult and wonderful, and cherish them just a little bit more, because there will be a last time for everything.

Take the time to capture everything.  For more ideas go to or check out previous posts in my blog.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Capturing Important Moments Past the First Year

If you take a look at any Baby Book that is supposed to help you to document the first three to five years of life, you'll notice that the majority of the book is dedicated to the first year, about three quarters in fact.  Of course there is quite a bit of space dedicated to thoughts about baby before the arrival, and the birth story is pretty significant, but from that perspective, it's easy to assume that the milestones in the first year are actually the most important: smiling, laughing, rolling over, sitting up, waving, standing, and possibly walking.  However, our children actually change significantly in the first couple of years and it is just as important to track that progress as well, not just for you to reminisce, but for your pediatrician to track progress, and for your children to look back on in the future.

My earliest memories are probably from around the time I was four or five.  At this point, I'm not really sure if they are actual memories, or if my head is just filling in blanks between the stories I have been told about that time.  Regardless, anything between birth and three years old just does not exist for me, except in faded pictures in dusty albums.  But my second and third years of life were a very special time: I got better with walking, I learned to run and climb, I got a mouth full of teeth, I learned to talk, I further developed my personality, I learned to process thoughts and express my emotions, I made friends, I gained independence, and overall became a very big communicator.

Just because the milestones during this time are not as obvious on the surface, they are just as important when it comes to remembering your little toddler who all too soon will be attending kindergarten.  They are also important for your pediatrician to track your toddler's progress.  Most of the milestones are more mental than physical, although getting better with fine motor skills is part of the growing process after the first year.  You should still track basic physical growth, ie height, weight, and head circumference, but more importantly, you need to pay attention to the more subtle changes your little one is going through. Keep in mind that these milestones come at less specific times, there are ranges of a few months that dictate when certain developments should occur by.

So how does one go about capturing these important and less than obvious milestones? Be ready to capture seemingly mundane moments at any time. Most of use are attached to our cell phones anyway, take advantage of it.  When you notice your little one focusing on something very intently that they seemed to overlook just yesterday, discretely grab your phone and film.  But make sure you film them from their perspective--that means getting down on their level physically. When your little guy or girl starts to get fussy because he or she wants to do something themselves that they once needed your help for, try to capture it on film. In the early stages of communicating, you'll notice that random sounds start to come together like a conversation, even though the sounds do not make any sense. Continue this conversation with your little one as your start to film.  Your toddler will start to follow simple directions and these "tricks" will be wonderful memories when caught on film.  Another important milestone to capture at this time is your little one interacting with other toddlers or kids. These precious moments truly will be priceless.  And just as important, when you and your child are having a special moment that just melts your heart, get it on film. Try to make sure you include your voice in the interaction and if you can include yourself visually, all the better.

Overall, don't be too concerned about capturing the milestones the very first time that they happen. The second, third, or fourth time will probably look and sound just the same. The very best way to keep track of changes is to make it a point to jot down notes somewhere (I prefer my notes app on my phone) of what your toddler is up to every month on their birth date.  That way, before you start to write, you can remind yourself of the new developments the previous month and know just what is new the current month.  I try to divide my observations into physical changes and developments, eating habits, communication developments, sleeping habits, and just cute events I will want him to know happened during that past month.  Once you've reminded yourself of that months developments, you can make it a point to film some or all of them the next time your see your little guy or girl showcase that new skill or part of his or her personality.

Most parents like to make it a point to get photos of their child every year on their birthday. I recommend capturing video of your child at least once a month and do your best to alternate who takes the video so the same person isn't always behind the camera.  Or hire a family videographer to help out. For more ideas and examples, you can go to my website at:

Friday, January 3, 2014

Editing Tips for Home Movies

Happy New Year! I hope you captured some wonderful footage of your little one(s) over the holidays with family and friends.  If you've been keeping up with my posts thus far, you should have an abundance of videos of photos of your little one.  Unless your little one has yet to arrive, then you probably have a very long list of photos and videos you will want to create.  Nevertheless, at a certain point you're going to have to do something with those videos, because you're phone can only hold so much data. As much as it kills me to delete photos and videos of my little guy off of my phone, I know that I have to from time to time in order to make room for MORE photos and videos of my little guy.  Make sure you back everything up before deleting anything. I would recommend on-site and off-site back-up.  Considering our house caught on fire when I was in the hospital giving birth (thankfully there was mainly just smoke damage), you would think I would take my own advice on that, but I digress.

Editing is actually when the storytelling happens in unscripted material.  Just watch the credits at the end of your favorite reality show, there are actually "writers."  They don't necessarily tell the "actors" what to say, but they go through all of the footage and create a story out of the hours and hours of chatter.  This may seem like a daunting task for your home videos, and that's when you can hire someone else to step in and create the story for you and your family, but it actually can be pretty fun once you get started.

The first thing you will probably need to do will be to find a program to edit your footage in.  There are a number of online editing programs that are rather user-friendly as well as simple editing software options for Macs and PCs.  There are tons of online tutorials that can make you a sufficient editor without too much time and hassle.  Make sure that you know at least how to pick in and out points of the clips you want to use, how to add in simple transitions and titles, and how to export a final file that you can either display online or use to create a DVD.

Once you have chosen the program, you may have to convert your footage into a recognizable file format for your editing software.  If you don't know what format your footage is already in, do a quick Google search of the camera (or phone) you're filming with and the word "codec" and you'll be able to find out. Then you can put that codec into Google and the name of the software you'll be editing with to see if they are compatible.  If not, again you can search for online tutorials on how to convert the footage into a useable format.  In my case, I had to run all of my iPhone videos and my husband's Galaxy videos through Compressor before I could bring them into Final Cut Pro.

Okay, so now you've got footage ready to edit and a program to edit it in, congratulations, now the real fun begins. Watch all of the footage...a few times. You'll start to see that some clips are more useful than others when it comes to telling the story.  Really ask yourself if that clip shows a new milestone, is just too cute not to include, or shows the same thing in a different outfit.  Or perhaps the video may include your little one interacting someone else that isn't around very often or may not be around for very long, then you'll want to include it to show to your child in the future.

Now that you've figured out which clips are the most important to include to tell your story, now it's time to really pick out those important moments in each clip. Each clip should be at least ten seconds, but really not longer than twenty when creating a montage for others to enjoy.  If you find a clip that you definitely want to use more than twenty seconds of, see if you can divide it into two or more different clips and cut out some footage in between and then connect them with transitions.  This way you'll really keep the story moving and your viewers interested.

Depending upon the software you're using to edit, you may be able to add in titles and drop in photos to fill in the gaps in the story when you weren't able to capture video footage, as well as add in a music track.  Definitely put in dates and age in months when the footage or photo depict a milestone, especially if you are not keeping a traditional baby book as well. Transitions, such as cross dissolves and fade out/fade in are a nice touch to move from clip to clip.  Try to stay away from some of the "cheesier" transitions that will cheapen your story. Remember, the video you are making is about the subjects in the video, not your editing.  A rule of thumb to remember, if the editing calls attention to itself, then you're doing something wrong. Cuts should feel motivated and have a nice flow to them.

If you want more specific tips on cutting clips, I will include those in a future blog post. In the meantime, feel free to see some of my storytelling in the video baby book samples on my website.