Joy in the Ordinary, the Every Day and Folding Clothes with Milk Stains

I find joy in a 4 x 6… a set of them actually.

A few weeks ago I captured A Week in My Life through pictures. What may be boring, mundane shots to others shout nothing but joy to me.

Because in between the vacations and the milestones and all those other BIG things hide thousands of seemingly insignificant moments. Moments that make up my life as a mother. My life as a wife. My life as Melissa.

These moments are the ones we forget to capture. The ones we don’t think to chronicle because they aren’t deemed momentous enough. Or happy enough. But the ins and outs of our every day lives are worth capturing just as much as that trip to Disney World.

And maybe even a bit more.

I think back to the pictures that MY parents took. My mom took lots of pictures so I have more than most. But dang, what I wouldn’t give to see a picture of my sisters and I greeting Dad at the door, excited by the silly rubber band he’d wear on his wrist to give one of us.

Or a picture of my mother making black beans and rice in the kitchen.

Or a picture of our morning routine as we get ready for school.

It’s the every day, the oh-so-very ordinary pictures that I crave from my childhood. I have the memories in my head and in my heart, but a picture… that can show someone a little sliver of your life. (If only I could print pictures from my mind. Get on that, okay Epson?)

As for MY life in 2010, here’s a glimpse of what I captured in a series of 4 x 6s:

Folding laundry. Boooor-ing. But wait…I step back and look. I look at the style of clothes I was folding, the design of our furniture, the type of toys we had. What nostalgia will this picture conjure up in 15 years? In 25?

A little moment out of our morning routine. The baby’s got a full tummy from our morning nursing session and Big Roo comes downstairs to love on his little bro. Maybe I’ll show them this picture in a few years when they’re fighting over Legos.

While pictures captivate me, trains captivate him.

Story time with Daddy. I’m not sure if I can even remember my Dad reading us books (though he’d assure me that he did).

Part of our evening routine – a walk around the block. It’s the time where we count bunnies, point out flowers and recite numbers off mailboxes.

I find so much joy in these pictures because each one offers hundreds of clues into my life AT THIS VERY MOMENT.

In 15, 25, even 35 years from now, they’ll remind me of more about my life in 2010 than a perfectly posed shot with matching clothes, slightly tilted heads and saccharine smiles.

Joy? It’s life chronicled piece by piece through a 4 x 6…

… to show my children when they are old enough to appreciate it.

… to show my grandchildren so they can giggle at the fact that their dads were kids once, too.

… to show anyone who’ll reminisce with an old woman about her life back in 2010.

My guess is that they’ll all see the joy in those 4 x 6s too.

This post is part of SOYJOY‘s What brings you joy contest. Learn more here.

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  1. says

    I still think you’re one awesome momma for doing this. I couldn’t agree more about wanting to look back on photos of the mundane in the future. I’ve got quite a collection – maybe I need to figure out a way to show them off!

  2. says

    I couldn’t agree more, that is why I thought that you chronicling your whole week in pictures was really cool! I have yet to do this but it is on my TO Do list! I have a random picture of my mom braiding my hair in the apartment we lived in at the time. I don’t remember living there but I have many memories of her french braiding my hair and the fact that I have a picture of her doing it is really cool so I so feel you on how sometimes the little things are the things we hold on to and cherish.
    Hannah recently posted..Thanksgiving Thursdays!

    • melissa says

      I bet that’s a lovely picture. My mom braided our hair often but I have no picture. She must have turned over the camera to someone else, which is awesome because us moms somehow forget to get ourselves in pictures at time!

  3. says

    I know it wasn’t as easy, but I wish my parents would have taken more pics of my childhood. So, like you, I try to take more than necessary to back up their memories!

  4. says

    Okay, that’s it, I need to take more pictures. Thanks for the inspiration. I know for me, having those snapshots in time from my childhood are wonderful to have. BTW, the picture of your son getting close and personal with his trains…that is my son! Looking at them from every angle, watching them go under his legs, back, forth, etc…SO cute!
    Melissa (Confessions of a Dr.Mom) recently posted..My Sleep Make Over

    • melissa says

      Oh yes, he’ll sit with the trains for hours and play with them. Unfortunately, we are also obsessed with the battery-powered trains getting slower. He’s always saying “this one needs a need battery!”

  5. says

    Great post!! And, it is so true that we often lose sight of the small, everyday moments in our lives because we seek to capture and make a record of what we assume (and are told to be) the “major” milestones. It’s wonderful that you now have the foresight to capture those seemingly mundane details in your day with your family. It is those moment, after all, that define and give meaning to our everyday lives!

    I wish you all the luck with the Soyjoy challenge!

  6. says

    What a great post…and so true. I often brought out the camera when we were celebrating something…forgetting all the in between. Since I started really blogging this year, I have started to change my mindset a wee bit. I tell myself, that the kids do not always have to be looking at me and smiling, they don’t even need to know that I have a camera!! Those are special pictures! Thanks for the gentle reminder to appreciate life!!

      • says

        Ha, Ha…just have to ask…did my original comment qualify as a true and sincere comment? {smile} I read you post today and about comments and then I got your response above… just had to be cute!!!

        • melissa says

          Haha! Oh yes it did. :-) I really don’t mind the “great pic” or “awesome post” comments from people who comment on a blog a lot; it’s more the first-time commenters that drive me nuts!

  7. says

    I love your photos. I need a new camera, my daughter is not going to be happy with me when she is older, I haven’t been very good at taking photos of her.

    I recently posted some old family photos on facebook that my mum and dad had taken and they were a big hit. Your right – it’s all the little details – the fashion, the furniture – my sister and I had such laughs looking back.

    • melissa says

      Yeah, my sisters and I love to do that too! If you’re looking for a good camera, I have a Nikon D40 which I just love!

  8. says

    Awesome! I love photos as well. I’ve been going through old photos from my grandparents. How awesome to see my great grandmother as a young mom! Thinking about what you posted has inspired me to grab the camera more often! Hubby got me a great new one for my birthday, so why not use it!

    • melissa says

      That’s exactly why I felt it was so important. How awesome that you have pictures of your great grandmother. Enjoy that camera!

  9. says

    What a great reminder to take more pictures, something I am terrible at. I wish I still had a 35 mm camera, I never get my digital ones printed.

    • melissa says

      I’m bad at printing mine too. But I usually print the ones I want to use in a scrapbook.

  10. says

    Why are you so brilliant? I just wrote my post for the contest but didn’t want to read yours until mine was done. So eloquent and the pictures so beautiful. FYI, when I look at pictures from my childhood, I focus more on the subtleties – like the mayonnaise jar on the counter or the old cookie jar we used to have. You are right on target.
    Fadra recently posted..Joy comes in the morning

    • melissa says

      Exactly! I love looking at the “old stuff.” Glad you enjoyed the post– yours was incredible!

  11. says

    Truly beautiful post, Melissa. I’m so with you on how these pictures would be so precious 15-20 even 50 years down the road when our kids had grown up.
    Those pictures are really lovely and your post reminds me that have plenty of pictures to develop.
    My family lost almost everything in a fire when I was in Junior High so we doesn’t have that many pictures from our childhood anymore, which is sad really but I wish to change that for my son.
    Maureen @Tatter Scoops recently posted..How Eat- Pray- Love Will Not Ruined Bali

    • melissa says

      Oh no, that’s terrible. That’s my greatest fear (losing my photos). Glad you’re taking lots of pics for the little guy!

  12. says

    It is indeed the “mundane” that moves us and shapes us. I’m going to chronicle more of life’s non-events. Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. says

    These are so great. Not only are the little things so very special, but slowing down to see all the details, especially with kids, is amazing, isn’t it? I’ve seen so many things for what feels like the first time by looking through the kids’ eyes.
    Heligirl recently posted..10 Tips from Bloggy Boot Camp 2010

  14. says

    Wow Melissa! I really loved reading this post – you are looking into the future and cherishing the present: how wonderful! You’ll get to enjoy these moments even more so because you are so aware; life goes by fast enough as it is.

    Thanks for “waking me up” to being a little more aware and thankful for the small and mundane.

    Hope you had a great weekend – we went for a 6 hour walk/hike yesterday!



  15. says

    Oh man! This was a sweet blog. Made me tear up for sure! You really have me thinking about a “week in the life project”. How amazing to have all this captured. Truly a beautiful post!

    • melissa says

      Thanks, girl! You should do it for your time in Korea. You could even do Monday one week, Tuesday the next, etc. if you want to break it out a little! Miss you!

  16. Jim Heaton says

    Beautiful idea – reminds me of “wintercount,” but just for a week. I sure enjoy your writing and hope you continue…