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More Than a Photo

When my son turned one, I purchased a small book used for journaling. Just a simple book, nothing much to it, but it has become one of the most valuable items in our home. It was my Grandma who unknowingly passed the idea down to me. One day we came across a tiny book of hers that had detailed descriptions of her first born (my father) when he was a toddler, what he got for Christmas and from whom, his reaction to his new baby brother and what he was saying at the time.

What a surprise to find and joy to read it over! My parents and I laughed at the entries, and our minds were in another time with this young family from years ago. Her stories created a scene much more vivid than any photograph could have done. Her words have put memories in me, which is exactly why I decided to have journal books for my kids too. I know that I don’t remember details all that well. If asked what kinds of things my kids were doing two years ago, I would give a general response. But now with my monthly journal entries, I can know specifically what they were doing.

I have one book per child. They are small books with nothing but lined pages. I put the month and year at the top of a page and write one page about them.

Here are 10 examples of what I write about:

1. What that child did that day.

2. Something funny they did within the last week.

3. The kinds of foods they currently like.

4. What they are learning in school.

5. Who their friends are.

6. Sayings they are repeating at this time in their life.

7. New developments - physically, mentally, spiritually, etc.

8. The clubs or lessons they are involved with.

9. Their routine at bedtime.

10. What their favorite songs or books are.

The only guidelines I have given myself are that firstly, whomever’s book I’m writing in is the star. Mention of other siblings is limited. And more importantly, all entries are positive. There are no judgments or criticisms laid on the child. I want to give these books to my children when they are adults so they can read them and even pass them down to their children. This is not the place to mention that your two-year-old will never do well in school because they just won’t listen!

There are some months that I forget to make an entry, which is okay. If I open up one of the kid’s books to see that it’s been a couple months since I’ve made an entry, I do not make something up for the previous month. I keep it real. Life gets busy. At the end of my day, I take five minutes and without putting a huge amount of thought into it, I just write. Surprisingly, I don’t make entries on birthdays or on Christmas day… just the regular/good days. And I don’t usually write in two children’s books on the same day - this creates even more distinction.

At the end of the year, I have spent maybe one hour per child’s book - about the same amount of time we would take at a photo shoot. But how much more rich the pictures will be when they have stories to go with them!

Julie is the Executive Director of the Progressive Group for Independent Business Women (PGIBW). For more information, visit and


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