Peek-A-Boo, I See You: look inside my life

Several years ago, my good friend and neighbor, Gary Petersen, told me that his journal contains everything, not just his words.  After he explained his concept to me, I took it to heart and have made my journal a combination scrapbook, memory book, keepsake album, and journal.  In fact, the only things that don’t go in my journal are pictures.  I knew long ago that there was not enough time in this life for me to keep cute little scrapbooks of all the memorabilia, so my yearly journals take care of it all!

A small sampling of my journal pages

I keep my journal in – OF COURSE, a binder!!!  I can usually squeeze the whole year into one binder, but there was one traumatic year in my life when I needed two!  I use sheet protectors so odd-sized items can just be slipped right in and so I can see both sides of the cards I save.  I start the year with an empty binder, fill it with sheet protectors, keep the binder right by my desk, then put things inside as they happen.  When the year is over, my life is in the binder chronologically – and it is so easy!

I began this new way of journal keeping in about 2000.

I began this new way of journal keeping in about 2000.

So I picked a random journal from my shelf (2004) and besides my written journal, here is a sampling of what was in it:

The printed monthly calendar from my computer with appointments, etc.

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal card memories scrapbook calendar

My goals for the year – interesting to read, as they are always variations on the same theme

A heartfelt note from my California daughter thanking me for Christmas

A weekly update of events when individual days were a little too boring to write about

Closeup of a scarf my daughter made for meconnie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal keepsake memories scrapbook

An email from a friend about growing old

A certificate of achievement for completing a Power Point class

Thank you note for a genealogy presentation I gave to a group

Artwork the grandkids left in the playroomconnie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal keepsake memories scrapbook artwork

A newsletter announcing our family reunion

The schedule from BYU Women’s Conference

Mother’s Day cards from my girls

A bridal shower invitation for a special young friend

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal keepsake memories scrapbook invitation

A map of Sun Valley, Idaho from a getaway weekend with my husband

Confirmation itinerary for a flight to California with a daughter and granddaughter

The lab results from my blood test confirming low thyroid

 

A list of 12 items my oldest granddaughter requested for her birthday dinner

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal card memories scrapbook note

The “to do” list for an especially hectic week

Notes for my husband’s talk at the funeral for our friend, Mavis

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal notes memories scrapbook

 

A thank you note and picture of the VISA card a coworker gave me for Christmas

 

The playbill and ticket for Wonderful Town seen in New York City with my cousin and my daughters

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal keepsake memories scrapbook playbill

A “sorry” note from 3 grandkids after they accidentally pulled a curtain rod off the wall

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal note memories scrapbook

 

 

 

 

A note entitled “Grandma’s Apron” that accompanied a Christmas gift from a friend

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal keepsake memories scrapbook gift

The top news stories of the year in Utah and another list for the nation

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history journal keepsake memories scrapbook news

 

 

 

 

Just looking through that one binder brought back a flood of memories, some good laughs, some tears, and several “ahhhs.”  But I still think the most important thing to put in a journal is your own word – your thoughts, feelings, joys, sorrows, what makes you YOU!  Your journal won’t be anything like mine because our personalities are not the same — and lucky for you!  But at least this gives you a hint of what’s possible.  Leave a record of your life so you won’t be forgotten in 50 years (or less)!

 

 

Advertisements

Peek-A-Boo, I See You: get a life

I heard a quote that within 50 years after a person dies, there is no more record of them.  I have thought about that a lot.  What will my great-grandkids know about me, if anything?  What will my grandkids remember about me?  What do I wish I knew about my great-grandmothers?  If everyone had left a record of their life, I wouldn’t have so many unanswered questions, right?

So assuming most of you are commoners like me, I am going to do some posts related to things we can do so we will be remembered, starting with journals.

Modern journals can be purchased for as little as $3

Modern journals can be purchased for as little as $3

When he was called to be President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1973, Spencer W. Kimball had 33 black binders on a shelf that contained his journals.  He promised that if we kept journals and records, they would be “a source of great inspiration to your families, to your children, your grandchildren, and others, on through the generations.”

I took his advice to heart and in 1976 started writing in a journal.  My journals have contained different things at different times in my life.  Sometimes they are a way for me to work out problems.  At other times they are spiritual records.  And sometimes they are just normal or unusual events of my everyday life.

I write my journal on the computer, then put the pages in binders

I write my journal on the computer, then put the pages in binders

I have had occasion to refer back to them to give someone inspiration, to settle an argument, or to recall a tender moment.  President Kimball said your journal is your biography.  “What could you do better for your children and your children’s children than to record the story of your life, your triumphs over adversity, your recovery after a fall, your progress when all seemed black, your rejoicing when you had finally achieved?”

And what do you write in your journal?  According to President Kimball, you should record “your goings and your comings, your deeper thoughts, your achievements, and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies.”

I keep my journals in binders of course!

I keep my journals in binders of course!

Can you even imagine if you had the journals of your grandfather who was born in 1757 in England, came here to fight in the Revolutionary War, and lived until 1839?  Or what if you could read the journal of your grandmother who lost her husband in 1883 and raised her eight children alone in the western wilderness?  Yes, some of those amazing stories do remain, but most are long lost, or have been retold so often that most of the facts are twisted.

Some old journals that I have inherited.

Some old journals that I have inherited.

So, genealogists especially should know better than to leave this earth without leaving a record.  And if you haven’t done it yet, it is never too late to start!  Now that you have had your pep talk, the next post will give you some ideas of what might go inside a journal.

Lookin’ Good: a place for everything, everything in its place

I just have to give one more organizational tip before I go back to the real important genealogy stuff!  I have so many little collectibles and books, etc., that it is hard to display it all without making the room look messy.  After moving to our new home, my husband and I built a new “old” shelving system for my office.  It takes up one whole side of the room and is about 10 feet long and from floor to ceiling.  We bought new angle iron and metal fence posts and “aged” them to look old.  The process took a few days of trial and error, but I love how it turned out.

DIY industrial shelving

DIY industrial shelving

 

Shelving all finished - ready to load

Shelving all finished – ready to load

connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history shelving unit metal aged industrial keepsakes archive mementos

Oh Give Me a Home: where loose papers can’t roam

It’s time to organize some more stuff!  This idea is extremely inexpensive and can be used in so many ways.  It’s a cardboard magazine file from Ikea!

FLYT magazine file from Ikea

FLYT magazine file from Ikea

I didn’t know these little boxes could make my life so easy.  I use them to store all of my piano music (organized by genre of course).

Piano music and scrapbook paper

Piano music and scrapbook paper

I use them to store magazines that I can’t bear to throw away (chronologically of course).  I use them to tidy up all those family histories my mother wrote (alphabetically by subject of course).

Family Histories

Family Histories

I use them to hold study guides and reference materials that I might or might never need again (labeled “General Reference” of course).  I use them to hold all my junior high and high school yearbooks (times 2 because my husband has a set also).

Yearbooks from Days Gone By

Yearbooks from Days Gone By

I use them to hold my 8.5 x 11 scrapbooking paper.

Scrapbook Papers

Scrapbook Papers

I use them to hold my printer paper, photo paper, and page protectors.  And I made my own larger ones to hold my 12 x 12 scrapbooking paper.  The boxes are plain white, but you can see that I dressed up some of them with scrapbook paper and fancy lettering, just for fun.

You can buy them at Ikea for $1.49 for a 5-pack or order them online, but beware that shipping charges can cost more than the product.  I ordered them from Amazon with free shipping, but had to pay a little more for the product.  It was still cheaper than driving to the nearest Ikea, which is now 70 miles away from my home.  Shop around, even on Amazon, and find the best deal.

And if you caught a glimpse of my newly painted, beautiful gray piano or my aged industrial shelves, stay tuned for a future post on those items!

Someone To Watch Over Me: hanging up the grandkids

I got so many compliments on my grandkid photo wall at our previous home that I wanted to duplicate it at the new house.  The project took longer than expected because I had to reprint and recrop and paint the walls first, but it was worth the time.

96 photos of 8 grandkids

96 photos of 8 grandkids

This is my step-by-step process:

  1. Crop photos, change them to grayscale, then print in grayscale mode on glossy photo paper (I use a Canon Pixma color printer that produces a great quality picture).  Sometimes the prints have a slight brown or purple tint to them, but they fade overnight to black and white.  I print them as large as the paper and crop later to be the size I want.

    My Canon Pixma MP510 color printer

    My Canon Pixma MP510 color printer

  2. Use spray glue to mount the photos to white foam core. spray glue
  3. Use a sharp Xacto knife to cut the foam core to the desired size, positioning the face where you want it to be on the finished product.  SONY DSCI found that when the kids were small children, their cute little faces were fun to crop in interesting ways. 
    connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history photo display grandchildren cropNow that they are older, it’s all about the hair! 
    connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history photo grandchildren cropSo I did less close cropping this time around.  I cut all of my foam core to a 7″ width, but varied the length to fit the photo.  You have to make sure your cuts are straight down and the blade has to be very sharp.
  4. I painted the walls a dark gray to make the photos pop.  I had some leftover gray and mixed it with some leftover black, so the paint didn’t cost me anything.  In retrospect, I wish I had painted all the white walls in the office this dark gray.  That’s another project for another day!
  5. I am a big fan of reusable poster tack and always have a supply in my desk drawer.  I am not sure which brand I use because it’s just in a big ball in a plastic bag!  I do know, however, that I only like the blue kind!  poster tack elmersA trick for removing it from the wall is to use a small ball of it to rub on the unwanted part and it comes right off.  Also, when removing photos from the wall, slide the photo so the tacky substance doesn’t pull off the paint (you can tell I’ve had a lot of experience!).  I put a dot of the tacky stuff about an inch from each corner in case I need to slide the photo a bit to reposition.
  6. When hanging the photos, if the space doesn’t work out just right, you can trim some of the length off and it all fits nicely.  Just make sure you leave the photos the same width so it doesn’t look like a big mess.connie ward girl with a past blog genealogy family history photo wall grandkids display grayscale black and whiteI love having my eight grandkids looking at me again while I work!  Each one got 12 pictures on the wall.  They are easy to change out because you just print a new photo and spray it on to the old one.

Now I just have to figure out what to put in the space above the window – I’m thinking 8 pictures of eyes only!

Diggin’ Up Roots: grandkids can dig too

I am always looking for ways to get my grandkids excited about my genealogy hobby.  I shove it down their throats whenever possible!  My granddaughter, Phebe, wrote a book about a grandmother named Phebe for a school project.  She did a great job and I was proud of her effort to be involved in the family history.

My granddaughter, Phebe, standing by the headstone of the grandma Phebe Zundel Ward

My granddaughter, Phebe, standing by the headstone of the grandma Phebe Zundel Ward

I did hear of a few new ways to involve the grandkids at RootsTech.

  • One of the ideas was said jokingly, but I actually thought it was a good idea:  make placemats of the family tree!  It would certainly start a great conversation at Sunday dinner, don’t you think?  I even found some examples at preservingheritage.blogspot.com.
  • Another idea came from a talk that referenced a study at Emory University involving the “Do You Know” test.  I googled it and am going to use it in the near future, again a Sunday dinner gem.
  • Someone mentioned having the family do a life map activity.  Each person would write down on a piece of paper as many “I remember” statements as possible within about 2-3 minutes.  Then they could draw a life map using those statements.  I want to do this and record the whole activity.
  • Also check out this cute Time Machine book at zap the grandmagap.com.

There are lots of ideas for involving those grandkids.  I will post more as I find them.  Am I alone in fearing that when I die no one will be interesting in furthering our family history?

Diggin’ Up Roots: the art of note taking

I am an Evernote lover.  If that word is foreign to you, stop reading this post and download Evernote to your computer, your laptop, your tablet, your smart phone now!  I guarantee you will wonder how you ever lived your life without Evernote!

The Evernote elephant remembers everything!

The Evernote elephant remembers everything!

There were several good RootsTech classes on using Evernote, and Lisa Louise Cooke has good webinars for it, as well as DottoTech.

Without giving you a whole Evernote tutorial (you can find lots of them on youtube), I will just say that you can use Evernote for everything from basic note taking to digital genealogy files.  When we “go to town” once a week for groceries, I am completely lost if I don’t have my phone with my list on Evernote.  If I have a brilliant thought, even in the middle of the night, I reach for my phone and click on Evernote to record that thought.  Anything I don’t want to forget becomes a note in Evernote.  When I find and scan an ancestor picture, it goes into Evernote.  When I take notes at RootsTech, they are stored in Evernote.  If a friend tells me how to make her scrumptious blond brownies, the recipe goes in Evernote.  You can save an entire web page with one click.  These are some examples of my genealogy notes/files on Evernote:

Salt Lake City Cemetery Map

Salt Lake City Cemetery Map

Ancestor Obituary from newspaper

Ancestor Obituary from newspaper

Postcard sent to my grandmother

Class notes

Class notes

Cemetery photo

Cemetery photo

And best of all, no matter where I am or what device I have or don’t have with me, I can access my Evernote files.  Your notes are stored in the cloud and you don’t have to worry about them.  You can organize them in any way using notebooks and you can search by word if you lose a note in your filing cabinet.  It’s like carrying my office around with me!  My genealogy is at my fingertips as well as the most mundane items of my life.

Evernote is free unless you use too much space, but even at that I only pay $5.00 per month for all this peace of mind.

Seriously, it would take many long blog posts to outline the benefits, so just give it a free try and I know you will love it for storing your genealogy.