When you become a parent, you realize there are a lot of weird children’s books out there. Books that don’t make sense, books that are too long, books that are obvious tear-jerkers (no thank you I Love You Forever, I do not wish to cry today), books that could use an editor (the picture is an orange, why does it say apple juice?), weird, weird books (hey there Dr. Seuss). You learn to love some of them (Good Night Moon is now in my top ten) and some you hide on the top shelf so you don’t have to read them ever again (go away Brown Bear, I don’t care what you see). Because the weirder they are, the longer they are, the more your kids want you to read it to them over and over again.
When Mila had just become a big sister to Marlowe, there was one book in particular I really loved reading to the two of them, I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak. A rhyming story of a toddler and his teddy bear, illustrating the ever so cute reasons why it is so easy to love a toddler, even on their off days. Soon, this book became our favourite to read out of the rotation of weird, weird books.
The story goes as follows: I love you through and through…I love your top side. I love your bottom side. I love your inside and outside. I love your happy side, your sad side, your silly side, your mad side. I love your fingers and toes, your ears and nose. I love your hair and eyes, your giggles and cries. I love you running and walking, silent and talking. I love you through and through… yesterday, today and tomorrow too.
After a few readings, I realized that I could easily make my girls their very own version of this simple book featuring photos of them. Using Albums on iPhoto, I picked from a variety of pictures I had taken over the past year that matched the descriptions of the text of I Love You Through and Through and made them their own personalized version of their favourite story.
I am drawn to this book because it summarizes the true emotional highs and lows of toddler life, and since I am the kind of parent that takes plenty of pictures, including flattering ones (see here: A (Half) Year of Mila and Marlowe), and not so flattering ones (tantrums, boogers, wedgies, you name it, I document it), I had more than enough material to work with. Plus it’s true, when they are yours, you simply love every aspect of them, all their features and all their quirks. You truly love them through and through.
I have made two versions of these books for the girls, using a year of their photos, mostly images captured on my iPhone. The highlight of the girls’ bedtime routine is reading these books, and pausing to reminisce about certain memories and laughing about others, all the while coming to realize the love and connection they share as sisters. Making this photo book has become a yearly tradition for me, and I consider it to be the main gift from us to the girls during the holidays. I am currently working on version number three to add to their collection at the end of the year. This version will look a little different, since Apple has changed their album design options.
In addition to making this book for my girls, I also made this book as a gift for a very special little girl. I used pictures I took while we were on a joint family vacation. Her mother, who had no idea what I was up to at the time, kept scolding me for taking unflattering pictures of her baby, even though her meltdowns were very adorable and very necessary to complete the book. Making personal photo books as gifts for my girls is a meaningful way of gifting to them. I hope that they carry on this tradition with their kids and maybe even make one for me one day…but, girls, no unflattering pictures of mommy please.
Update: Here is the third version of I Love You Through and Through with Mila and Marlowe, printed through Apple in square format. Let me tell you, reading these books never gets old.