Thursday 29 December 2011

Visual family journal

On Mother's Day this year, I sat down with a blank journal and a new pack of pencil crayons to record the day's events. It wasn't anything extravagant - the boy and I had completed a dragon puzzle together, I had done some sewing for an upcoming birthday, and I had reflected on both those who were mothers to me and those who had made me a mother - but I put it to paper anyway.

(All names removed from all photos.)

The year is ending and I look fondly through the pages. I am amazed at how strongly the recorded memories stick, no matter how little and unremarkable they seemed at the time. Some weeks I recorded daily, while busier weeks were summarized on a page; it is the detailed daily entries that best capture those ordinary moments. If I don't write it down, I will forget.

Our trip to the farm, where the boy sheared a sheep.

An unexpected soak in the local splash park.

A friend's fifth birthday party.

But it's not just my journal; it's our family's journal. Often the boy joins in, drawing his own memories of the day. Sometimes he labels them, asking me for help with the spelling; other times I record his descriptions and commentary.

"It's smaller because it's far away."

The day's fort.

Our trip to Playland, including riding the helicopters and the log water ride.

Sometimes even the husband can be persuaded to lend his artistic talent to our journal;
my dinosaur would have been far less impressive than his.

Collages of family vacations record our favourite memories of our time together. Little things, like a shared conversation over a cup of coffee raspberry dark chocolate latte, are recorded alongside the big things, like trips to the amusement park, as they are equally treasured in our hearts.

Thanksgiving with the in-laws.

A week with my mother-in-law, including some mountain climbing.

Summer vacation with the in-laws.

Summer vacation with my parents and sisters.

But as valued as those times together are, the silence upon our return can be just as golden.

Sometimes the unexpected happens, and the entries become even more precious than I initially imagined they would. Only hindsight reveals the true importance of an enjoyable yet seemingly unremarkable day.

Our last visit with Granddad, only a week before he passed away.

New favourite recipes are occasionally featured, memories of not only the ingredients and steps, but the time spent together making and then eating them.

Delicious pretzels, along with the boys' collaborative city.

Some days, Mommy just needs chocolate.

The most precious entries to me are reminders of the lessons these boys of mine have taught me. I seek to raise them in the knowledge and love of God, but it is they who teach me, opening my eyes to wonder and beauty and oh, freedom.

Quotes, verses, and summarized blog posts remind us of the things that had been on our hearts and minds.

"...what he most needs from me then is...strength and clarity..."

"He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake."

"...proclaim the excellencies of him who called you..."

"Seek peace and pursue it."

I am no artist, but the memories remain anyway.

Truly, the boy wasn't leaning precariously off the edge of the stool,
nor does he have a hunchback, nor are our countertops bright purple.
But he sure was proud of himself for making breakfast for the family on his own that day.

Pictures and words, hopes and prayers, achievements and gratitude, menus and quotes, tragedy and comedy, daily celebrations of our life together - this family journal of ours is our place to get it all down. We collect these bits of our lives between the white pages, seeking, as always, to find the extraordinary in the most ordinary of moments.

I would love for you to share: How do you record your family's most precious memories?


  1. Wow- I just love your family journal- what precious memories you have captured that may have otherwise been forgotten. I wish I could draw so I could do something like this too but I am a TERRIBLE artist :O I guess I could alter the journal a little for the non-artist and put a scrapbook kind feel to it and put momentos or photos into the entries...and leave the drawing to my kiddies :)

  2. I really like this idea! Do you do this every day? x

  3. I aim to do it every day, but if I don't get around to it, then I'll summarize a group of days on one page or just skip the day altogether. I do it most days though, yes.

  4. Aww I love this! I love the attachment parenting reflections page; I linked to it on fb actually! I feel like you and I are kindred souls! eg, it's an ongoing source of prayer and wonder for me. I've just started following you. yay! :)

  5. You are an inspiration! :)

  6. what a lovely idea! we've been doing family drawings of our dreams/hopes/desires and hanging them on our window wire, but I can see how that would really work well as a journal or scrapbook too.