Reflections on documenting a week in the life

Cathy ZielskeScrapbooking69 Comments


Thank God for cameras, tripods, digital templates and willing family members.


I'm still gathering my photos, writing my journaling cards, and reflecting on the process of documenting one week of my life.


It was harder than I thought it would be, and more fun that I thought I would be.


Having never done this before, I couldn't help but wonder how this would have compared to 10 years ago, or 15 years ago. How different is the rhythm of life with teens and tweens, versus toddlers and babies?


I have loved looking at Ali's pictures for her week, thinking of where she is at in this cycle of momhood and family, and where I am at. Different stages, different ages to be sure, but how everyday life really does have a rhythm of its own, specifically tailored for each family and their unique flow.


I plan to share some more of my album as it comes together, hopefully later this week. For now, I want to post this video that was sent to be my a former student of mine, Melissa. I Tweeted this out over the weekend, with tears streaming down my cheeks (yes, you may want to have a few handy), but I wanted to post it again today in light of reflecting on a week just passed, in which very little happened, but most of what I'm thankful for in my life took place every single day. Just our ordinary lives.

Thanks to my friend, Ali, for such an inspired and inspiring project.

Cathy ZielskeReflections on documenting a week in the life

69 Comments on “Reflections on documenting a week in the life”

  1. #1

    Okay, I cried like a baby from about the 3 minute mark. Good thing I’m at home watching this. πŸ˜‰

    And yes, I’d like to add my thanks to Ali for inspiring me to celebrate the everyday. I haven’t taken so many everyday life pictures since I finished up my 365 last year, and it was lovely to document all those routines again. Things have certainly changed in my life since December 31, 2009, and I love how this project really brought those changes to light.

  2. #2

    That was a very touching video, so well written and the photos of her family through the years really brought the meaning home. It makes what we do as scrapbookers and photographers seem so worthwhile, that we do record some of our everyday, ordinary lives. I am so thankful that I have just taken the last 7 years to fully record a week in our life and thank you for sharing the video. x

  3. #3
    Jennifer Larson

    I can’t watch it now–have to go teach very soon, and I don’t want to mess with my focus, but I plan on watching it later. I just wanted to let you know that I too discovered a particular rhythm to my days doing a week in the life. And also, you have skinny arms, verified in picture 2. Good job.

  4. #4
    Madeline St Onge

    Good thing I had my tissues with me. TFS that Cathy and I am so happy that it didn’t end the way I thought it was going to.

  5. #7
    Mary H.

    On 9/9/09 my son (who has a seizure disorder) had a seizure at school during his second week of kindergarten. We ending up life-flighting him to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He had to be intubated so that they could knock him out with the anti-seizure medication. It was scary and horrifying. And on those five days when we were at Children’s, I prayed for an ordinary day. I wanted to wake up at home with my two kids and husband instead of in a hospital. Back in Sept, I understood the importance and gift of an ordinary day. I find myself forgetting it now, though. The ordinary days all run together and I find myself worrying more about the “I have to do next” than what I’m doing now. After watching this video, I was reminded of those scary Sept days my cries for “ordinary”. I vow that as my life gets busier in the next few weeks with softball for my daughter and husband and baseball for my son, that I will enjoy the ordinary moments of having dinner as a family and watching the ones I love play ball.

  6. #10

    You are looking sooooo good in that cute white blouse. Go YOU! And yes I’d like to thank Ali for inspiring me and thank you for the extra inspiration.

  7. #11
    Courtney Walsh

    I’m going to wait to watch the video until a later date when I don’t have things to do. lol I am not good with emotion! Just wanted to tell you, this week in the life project is completely inspiring. I am hoping to dive into mine this week! πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing it!

  8. #12

    Wow – great photos, Cathy!
    As for the video, I’m crying at my desk right now… I have to remember all this when I get around to having kids! For now, I think I’ll take some pictures of my husband doing what he does on any ordinary day: sitting on the couch, enjoying a good sitcom, criticizing Dancing with the Stars along with me, and making dinner. πŸ™‚

  9. #13
    Katie Pegher

    Yep. Totally sobbing. What made that video all the more amazing was my 20 month old little Macho Man wiggling all over me my in my bed as I watched it. During, and after, I got to squeeze him tight as he looked at me strangely and wiped away my tears. Thanks for sharing this Cathy!

  10. #16
    Juli Jones

    bawling like a baby over here! my boys are 9, 7 and 4 and to think i only have 3 years left before i have an alien eating cereal at my table freaks me out! i want to freeze time but i’m so glad through wonderful blogs such as yours and ali’s and video’s like you shared that i am reminded to live in the moment and to cherish the ordinary days. my mom has always told me this season of life with your kids at home is so short and when my boys were babies it sure didn’t seem like that, even now at the ages they are i find myself longing for those days back. anyway, i have thoroughly enjoyed seeing your photos this week. you and ali both are such an inspiration to me. thanks for sharing. i have a 4 year old who is currently in my bed watching cartoons and i think i’m gonna go join him! have a great day:)

  11. #17
    Noreen Smith

    I love this video…and her book is equally as wonderful. I have been reading it over hte last few weeks and it had caused me to slow down and take in all the little things. The Week in the Life project fit in so perfectly with this – living in the moment and taking it all in because it will be gone too fast!

  12. #18
    Mary Mitchell

    I’m one of those that wishes I could have conceived this project when my kids were little. They are now all in their 20’s….so I’ve been trying to document as much as I can about their current stage of life. It’s just so much more difficult. They don’t want their pics taken !!!

  13. #19

    What a wonderful video, thanks for sharing. After seeing this I will totally slow down today and enjoy each and every moment.

  14. #20

    First…I’ve been following both you and Ali all week. You are both sooo inspirational. Just capturing the simplest things can really be the spring-board to so many stories. Thank you for doing what you do.

    Second…that video! Tissues for sure. I’m a single mom of two boys. The youngest is going to be 8 tomorrow, the countdown to this big day started over a week ago. The oldest will be 10 at the end of May. I’ve been on my own (with no father assistance)for a better part of his young 8 years. Living day by day…getting them to school…getting me to work…getting the homework done…dinner done…showers/bed done AND then it all starts over the next day. As Mary H. mentioned earlier, these are my ordinary days running together. But watching that video, listening to her story and seeing those images has really hit home. I need to stop living life as a “big picture” and start looking at all the simple, loving little things that make up the big picture. Thank you Cathy for posting the video. Change is happening today. πŸ˜‰

  15. #21
    Jennifer Bond

    Cathy Z–you are looking good! I’ve been following your quest to exercise and eat right this year, all the while continuing to have my mocha frappes and occasional trips to Sonic. But I can tell it’s working for you! And with my summer break coming up soon (I’m a teacher) I’m thinking there may be something to this healthy living stuff that I need to try. I may just blow the dust off my 30-day Shred DVD and take the extra clothes off the treadmill. It’s all your fault, girl!

  16. #22

    Get her book – I cried at the first paragraph. She has 2 books. I want the first one – about younger kids. The thought of these things that will happen to my 9 & 7 yo DD’s makes me long for their slobbery I wub you kisses.

  17. #24
    Anne T.

    I can totally relate to Katie Pegher’s comment. I watched the video with my 11 week old son wiggling and squirming on my shoulder and started to cry. I already feel like he is growing so fast- he’s not a teeny, tiny baby anymore. It’s hard to even imagine him as a teenager right now, but I know it will be here before I know it. Savoring every moment of every day with him. So glad I participated in this project. Thanks to you and Ali for your inspiration every day.

  18. #26

    Cathy, thanks so much for sharing this video with us. I didn’t get the “crying” gene in my family (both of my sisters got my share), but even I shed a little tear. My kids are 16 & 14 and I am amazed at how fast the years have flown by. I try to treasure every day (even the not-so-good ones) and I try not to wish the time away. I remind myself: “be aware, always and at every moment…that the miracle is in the here & now” (Marcel Proust)

  19. #27

    Kelly’s new book LIFT is wonderful as well. It reads as if she is talking.It is a gem and a treasure. Thanks again for sharing that the ordinary days are the special days.

  20. #28

    Thanks for the video. I have a 17 year old who will graduate from high school in one month, so it’s very real for me. It seems like the years have flown by. Thankfully I also have a 14 year old who will keep me busy for a few more years!

  21. #29

    Wow, thank you for sharing the video. Let me start by saying we have 4 kids, 13, 11, 3, and 2. I have been struggling with my split personality parenting of toddles and teens, you think that I would get that things change quicker than you can think but I just said to my hubby days ago that I would be happy to skip the teen years (13 yr is driving me completely nuts morning, noon and night) and have this boy at about 25 or so! Thank you for reminding me that I would surely miss the transformation of seeing him blossom into a responsible man instead of the sour, grumpy, “you don’t get it” teen I live with now.
    I will embrace this time with him for the chapter that it is and pray the girls are easier when they get this age:)

  22. #30

    Thanks for posting that video, Cathy. Like everyone else, it made me cry. I am definitely in the middle of the teen years. i decided last night that adolescence happens to the ENTIRE FAMILY, not just the teenagers! I am trying to just watch for the good moments and savor them, and try to let the rest go. At any rate…thanks.

    also, completely unrelated sidenote: what do you think of the new Peter Gabriel CD? The reviews are all so mixed i can’t decide if I should buy it or not…

  23. #31

    Cathy –

    Part of my ordinary day (great book by the way)is trying to figure out how to get my daughter to try new foods.

    Last week I printed out the discernible palate worksheet, pitched it to my 8 year old and we’ve already made some progress. She’s now eating raw broccoli and last night at the grocery store willingly chose raw carrots, blueberries and an orange to try this week. In our house – this is BIG news. πŸ™‚

    Thank you for organizing and sharing this template – it’s really making a difference for us!


  24. #33

    As my oldest is becoming quietter, reading by himself more. As my middle one is not quite so active and trouble as in the past. As my little baby girl (or shall I say little lady) is coming into her own. Finding their own independence everyday. I am so wishing the time wouldn’t go by so fast. There are many days when I think that freezing time would be a good thing right about now. I came across this video on your blog here and say WOW. Tears were running down my face from the beginning. And who comes up to me and offers her hand in a high five and makes a kissy face with her lips. My 16 month old little lady. Those are one of the ordinary moments. One that somoene else may not thing is a big deal. But, ME, I think it’s wonderful!!

  25. #35

    Thanks to you Cathy and to Ali for inspiring us to scrapbook/record/document the everyday moments in our lives. Thank you for sharing the video. I’ve seen it before–cried the first time and again this morning when watching it. My three year old son is potty training right now and I’m so excited and happy because we thought he’d *never* go pee-pee on the potty yet I’m very sad at the same time because I know that he’s growing up and doesn’t need me quite as much. I’ll miss our time together when I would change his diaper. Lots of hugs and kisses will be given out today!

  26. #36

    I write this with mascara streaks running down my face! With my daughter ending 7th grade and my son, my baby, to be a 5th grader next year, it is all going so fast.

    When I had little kids, a wise woman told me, “Some days are very, very long, but the years go by so fast.”

    And Cathy, you look fabulous!

  27. #37

    Thanks for posting this and while I’m well aware that time is slipping through my fingers, (can’t event type this I’m so emotional) it is the little every day moments I treasure the most more than ever. I wish I would have considered this more when they were little. But all I have is right now so I’m doing my best to focus on that. I have one of those aliens in my house now, he’s almost 15, and one well on her way to becoming one, at 11. I have been reminded recently, that while they have become almost “alien” somewhere deep inside there is the little child you loved so dearly and occasionally they come out to play. πŸ™‚

  28. #40

    Diane, just reading your post made me a little weepy. All those single parents out there, like you, my God… you are doing the work of two people all in one.

    Just wanted to tell you i think that takes a strength that many of us will never know. : )

  29. #42

    Don’t feel bad. So did I. Like, the ugly cry. Especially when she says her son says, “Hey Mom” and she replies, “Hey.”

    That’s when i lost it.

  30. #46

    Okay, this is making me weepy too, as i sit here, taking a break from a freelance design job, in my house, all alone, with kids now in elementary and middle school…


    : )

  31. #50
    Beth Sutton

    Loved the video, loved the “stocking the fridge”, my daughter is turning 12 next month, and when she was young, she was the kind of child who never wanted anything for birthday or Christmas. Last night she presented a VERY long list of items desired, and prices next to the item (so helpful). Who is this child?

    BTW, I was also thinking you were looking very svelte, and I see I’m not the only one who noticed!

  32. #51
    C@rol W

    Cried and cried… because I have a teen turning 20 this year. So totally hit me with perfect timing. That was wonderful Cathy. Super happy you posted that.

  33. #52
    Colleen Sheehy

    Oh Cathy… I am never letting my baby grow up! I already miss yesterday with her and she’s only 19mths old. I did the week in a life project and although I’m not planning on doing it every year, I do think it would be fun every 5 years or so. I just know I will cherish this week’s album when my baby is all grown up. I think she’ll enjoy it someday when she has a child of her own too. I know I’d love to see how my Mom handled motherhood. If you’d like to see my Week In a Life check out my blog. πŸ™‚
    I love your layouts you posted last week and wrote about you on it a few days ago. Thanks for all of your inspiration.

  34. #54
    Erika Drummond

    I previously had no desire to make a “Week in the Life” album; it seemed too contrived, felt too forced

    Now I’m inspired. Now I not only want to, I have to. Thanks.

  35. #55

    I’ve documented, photographed, journalled, scrapped and have one more day left to finish. In looking back at the days, I’m SO happy to have done this. I find myself wishing like crazy that I had something like this from my mom from the 70s when I was growing up. She has said that she would give anything to have those days back when her kids were little and underfoot. So I offer this gift to my daughter, whose 10 years so far have been well documented.

  36. #56

    The ordinary moments are what makes life worth living as a mother. Every moment is cherished…every hug…accepted with glee…every fuzzy cheek kiss…enjoyed for what it is….every movie marathon in pajamas relished…even when they boys have to turn off the lights and the DVD player and tuck their mom in. And as they all leave (year after year in this house) these things will be cherished even more.

    Thanks for the opportunity to remember that the grunts and heys and minimal communication does not mean that they don’t want to be around….that is just their way of communicating! Unless they are asking for money….then you get the whole sordid story. LOL!!

  37. #57
    Diane M.

    Thank you for sharing your week in a life experience with your blog readers. Some day I plan to give this idea a try.

    As for sharing the video, your timing was perfect. My daughter (our youngest child) is a high school senior this year and will be graduating in a few short weeks. It’s an exciting time in our lives but also very bittersweet. When she goes off to college this fall we will be “empty-nesters”. And so a new chapter in our lives will begin, and I’ll often reflect back on all those ordinary days, knowing how precious they were. I plan on sharing this youtube link with all my friends. Thanks Cathy — as always, you rock!

  38. #58
    Judy Sanza

    I had four kids of my own and we are raising two of our grandchildren (had them since they were babies) and they are now 15 and 16. The video reminded me that they are not weird or alien they are just teens. God is good and allows you to forget the bad times as the years go by. I don’t remember any of that with my own kids lol. My son is always saying, “mom, don’t you remember when we did….this and that.” I gasp and go on. When they get older they return and become your best friends.

    Thank you for the inspiration (and tears)!

  39. #59

    I know I should have listened and grabbed tissues before I started watching!!! I am one of those moms who is always worried about what are we going to have for dinner tomorrow, what homework is due next week, at what time is the next game…. you get the idea… This is a big life lesson. Thank you, Cathy, for the rude awakening…

  40. #60
    Emily Turkalj

    I love reading your blog Cathy. It has been a new discovery for me this week. I have watched Ali and yourself document their week in the life and it has inspired me to do my own. I started on Sunday (I think it was Friday for you when I decided – I’m in Australia) just in time for Anzac day and I’m really pleased with what I have so far (today is Tuesday for me). Unfortunately my husband, while tolerating the photos I have been taking, has found it hard to get on board. I’m hoping that this time next year he will be sold on it and will be a more willing participant. I have a question for you, I am a teacher and can’t obviously go around willy nilly taking photos of my students, however they are a huge part of my day. How can I get around not having them in the picture but also manage to document my day?? Anyone else reading who has a suggestion I would really appreciate the help. It currently has me flumoxed…

    Your 2010 weight loss blogging has been amazing to go back and read as well. A few months ago my husband and I joined the local gym while they had a special deal on. I seriously want to budge the weight but have not been keeping a record…bad scrapbooker bad!!! Your posts have inspired me to start taking some real pictures of myself like you have been in your mirror. The transformation in you is incredible. Congratulations and thanks for the inspiration!
    Best wishes from Australia!!

  41. #61
    Emily Turkalj

    p.s. I didn’t get to watch the vid yet as my stupid computer doesn’t have sound…I so need a new one! Oh well.. Anyway I plan on watch it soon, thanks.

  42. #62

    Aww…dangit! I’m just bawling right now after watching the video. I couldn’t have kids of my own, but love my niece & nephew to pieces! They grew so fast…he’s now 25 and she’s 16. I still consider them “my babies” I wish I’d documented more of the times we spent together when they were younger – I know my sister (who isn’t into scrapping or taking pics much) would treasure it too.

    Okay…lots more I could say, but just can’t even typre more right now. Need to go outside and get some happy sunshine therapy to get my mind off this and dry my tears. Thanks for sharing this!

  43. #63

    Well I already have a cold. And now the massive snot bubble that resulted from that video has outdone anything my sick four year old has done this week. I’d say thank you, but I need a bigger box of kleenex first.

  44. #64

    Thank you so much for the link to the video. Sobbed through the entire thing…and I’m still crying a day later just thinking about. yikes. Delighting in the ordinary is a powerful lesson, worthy of meditating on daily. the days when the laundry, dishes, school lessons and sibling fights seem overwhelming, I will remind myself that one day I will ache for “ordinary-ness” of it all. THANK YOU!

  45. #65

    Cathy, thanks so much for sharing this. It really hit home for me as my oldest is 17 and is definitely sprouting wings. Sigh…

    And, you look wonderful. Congrats on your success.

  46. #66

    This is so ironic… I just finished reading that book AND I LOVED IT. I love her message about keeping it simple and staying in the moment. When I heard her reading I started wondering – those book “sound” familiar. Thanks for sharing. The book is great.

  47. #67
    Beth Smith

    Thank you beyond words for sharing this. These thoughts have been on my mind for every minute of the last twelve hours. I teach high school, and last night we found out that one of our students committed suicide. I went to bed last night thinking about his parents, and all the small things that we take for granted that are too soon gone. Way too soon in some cases. I watched my baby sleep for a while, as yesterday was his third birthday, wanting so badly to freeze that moment in time.

    Yes, this made me cry. Sob actually. But it strengthened my resolve to tell our stories and get those moments down because we just never know when we won’t have stories to tell. Thank you.

  48. #68
    gypsy chaos

    It’s now October 24; I’ve been wandering among blogs with Project Life or P365 posts and decided to check out A Week in the Life…

    My daughter is 23; my twin sons just turned 18. For over 23 years, I have tucked away each stage’s memories while welcoming the next stage’s adventures without much fanfare.

    Not this year. It’s been heart-wrenching as my sons live their last year of high school. I was really struggling – until I decided to buy Becky Higgins’ Project Life.

    I started with the Sunday before school started. After just a few weeks, I felt at peace with this enormous transition. Simply documenting each “last time for this” and each milestone on the road to graduation has made all the difference.

    I’m thankful that you shared Katrina’s reading. She’s captured in crystalline detail how I feel during these moments of my life.

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