Friday, September 16, 2011


I was asked if I would do a post about what works for record keeping in my family.  I have a bad memory, so I have a fear of forgetting my life as it floats by.  It is also disappointing to think that my children (ages 1 and 3) are going to remember almost nothing of the grand adventures we have together.  As a result, I write.  There are a few places I record things:
  • We keep a little colorful journal in the living area of our house where we write funny things the boys (husband included) say.  This week's favorite: "Daddy-o, you are a human.  I am a human.  Mommy-o is a humlady."
  • Each of my boys has a journal.  They start out with an entry telling about why we chose to name them what we did.  We recorded their baby blessings, and little early milestones, "You got your first tooth today!" etc.  As convenient, we also ask grandparents and aunts and uncles if they would like to write anything to the boys in their journals.  Abe (3) is also getting old enough to dictate entries, while Ben (1) is just learning to draw, so we've captured a few early pictures in his journal.  I don't try to keep these journals updated on a schedule, just whenever I have a moment to sit down for a minute to express a love for them I'll whip out the journal.
  • We also keep a family journal.  If I were to drop all of my other journals, this would be the one I would keep.  Every Sunday evening everyone in the family gets a blank page to write (or draw) about the week.  I slip each entry into a page protector and into a three ring binder!  Easy as pie!  (Thanks Amy and Erin for the idea!)
  • I keep my own handwritten journal.  Andrew and I have this conversation all the time, but I think that writing something out is more permanent than typing.  Whether it is or not, you engage different parts of your brain when you're writing, and it helps you to remember more.  Personally, it's a more complete "decompression" of the day if I can do it longhand and away from a computer.
  • I also have a "computer journal" where I drag and paste emails and blog entries that I think are journal worthy.
My three words of advice are:
  1. Find a medium you like that works for you.  If you haven't filled up your last journal, but you don't like writing in it for whatever reason, it's okay to start something new.
  2. Schedule it in.  Sunday after dinner, we know it's family journal time.
  3. Squeeze it in.  If you're on the go a lot, get some of those little moleskine journals and keep one in your purse.  Keep them where you decompress, by your bed, couch or chocolate stash.   



  1. I, for one, am grateful for an organized, diligent wife who makes this all happen. We've already enjoyed looking back on the boys' journals and the family journ-journ. I also consider blogging, video taping, and picture taking to be critical and fun forms of journaling. That's more my job.

  2. Ariel, you are incredible! I think documenting is so important, but I don't have a system in place for it. Thanks you for these great ideas! One of those sweet little moleskin journals would fit nicely in my purse next to my occasional chocolate stash. ;) I have so many ideas swarming around my mind... it would be such a relief just to get them down when they come. It is frustrating to have ideas that stay just ideas. How dull and uninspiring and lifeless.

    Also love the family journal idea. I mentioned to Keenan the other week that I'd like to have something like that. The binder idea is super! Aside from being a great journal, it's also an opportunity to wax publicly positive about family members. Love it.

  3. COMMENT FROM ANOTHER READER, whose comment wouldn't post (??):

    A thought about those little moleskin journals and your many ideas, Nonie:

    Louise Plummer has taught writing mini-seminars in which she just has people make lists. She believes that lists are valid writing product and that they can lead to other great writing, but only if you write them down in the first place. So, just write down your many ideas in lists, Nonie. And every so often, put those lists on your blog post. Lists are cool! Hooray for lists!

    Second comment: I tried on and off for years (ever since I was given a diary in elementary school) to keep a diary/journal. And they always fizzled out.

    But then my oldest daughter was called on a mission. (I am the mother of three girls, one of whom was privileged to be a companion to you on her mission.) I knew the only way I would have something to write to her about each week (and I was determined to write to her each week) was if I kept a record of each day in a journal.

    When she came home, I kept writing (it had become a habit after 18 months), and then I had things to write each week to her sister on her mission, and when she came back, I kept writing. And when the third one went on her mission, she joked with her sisters about the "novels" I sent each week, and they agreed, remembering from their missions.

    And now she's home and married and the mother of a darling little boy, and I am still writing.

    Sometimes, it just takes the right reason to get you in the habit. More power to you, Ariel, may the habits you are staring continue on through your posterity. And may anyone else who is trying to follow suit, find a way to do it that works for them.