Wednesday, July 30, 2008

K.I.S.S.: Step Four of Four

We will take a rain check on Whack on the Side of the Head Wednesday.  von Oech will understand.

This is the last day of classes for the Claudia Beeny School of Keep-Saking and we have final details that need to be wrapped up.  Today I will introduce Step #4 and then, one last time, walk through how the system works together.  Posts today and Friday can be used to pose questions or seek clarification.

While I started with the big picture on Monday, I could very easily have started with today's step.  Today's step, after all, is the cornerstone to the system.  The fourth and final item you will need for this system is a calendar - not a blank journal - a calendar!  I'm so excited to share this part, I'm not even sure where to begin....

Here it is... Instead of focusing on filling scrapbooks with pictures, we fill a calendar with words that create pictures!  Basically take scrap booking and turn it on its head!  For the purposes of today, we'll call it Scrap Journaling.

Again... the focus of my approach is short, one or two lines sentences in a calendar describing notable events... ON THE DAY THEY OCCURRED.   Occasional pictures or scraps of paper can be glued inside help supplement the words.  This is an inversion of the typical scrap book which is filled with lots of pictures but very little narration (which in the end is probably what your kids care more about).  It is, in a sense, the difference between saying to your children... 

"Look, at this scrap book.  This is what you used to LOOK like." and 
"Look at this scrap journal.  This is what you used to BE like."

I don't know about you, but the older I get (and especially now that I have kids), I wonder more and more about what I was like as a kid (and by the way... so do my kids!  They love hearing stories about me when I was little).  I would LOVE to have an annual calendar I could flip through that told me things such as: my favorites - foods, colors, toys, t.v. shows, etc...; the names of my friends; stats on things like height and weight; how I spent my time; funny things I said; what I shared as my dreams and goals for the future; names of boyfriends and all the silly antics that go along with that; important current events; the cost of my favorite possessions, and the list goes on and on.  Pictures are good (and we have them built into our system), but they only tell a fraction of the story!   

I want to feel you feeling the coolness-factor of Scrap Journaling, so let me insert a couple of examples from Matthew's...

This was last October, while still living in Louisville.  Notice the short entries, with lines and arrows pointing from one thing to another.  Neatness is not important when Scrap-Journaling.  I find it is actually more fun to read when you have to hunt for the information.  Pictures and "scrap" items are added for the fun of it.  P.S. To better understand "Fun in a Box Friday" see February, 29

Pages at the back or between months can be used to hold items that wouldn't fit on a normal day.  The foot print and the leaf are art projects made at school that I want to keep (he might like to see the size of his foot at 3 years old).  Also, notice on the right page a picture of Matthew standing below the sign at his old preschool.  I can see him calling the number one day just to see if the school is still in business.
Other points of interest.  Bottom left page.  Sometimes I just note the temperature (82 degrees on Halloween!).  Middle of the page... a small drawing he made.  Bottom right page.  Black marker.  I let them color and scribble in the book.  Remember, neatness does not count.  He will get far more pleasure out of seeing his own handwriting than a perfectly pristine book.  Bottom right... a picture of Matthew helping to move things into our Texas home.  Also, bottom right page... a clipping from the newspaper informing us to "fall back," for day light savings time.  Clippings from newspapers are a GREAT way to remind them of what society and American culture was like when they were younger.

In the interest of time we'll keep on moving, though know I could do this with you all day.  A couple of final thoughts regarding Scrap Journaling...
  • A dear friend of mine has three children with the hope there might be another three sometime in the future.  Obviously six journals would be impossible to keep up with.  Instead how about one journal with a different color ink for each child?  Will they fight over it later in life?  Maybe, but better to bicker over who keeps the Annual Scrap Journals than to have no Scrap Journals at all.  That's just me.
  • Nothing of note to write?  So what!  I have whole weeks with nothing written.  It's o.k. Out of 6,750 potential days to Scrap-Journal, who cares if you miss weeks, even months, at a time.  Imagine how much fun it will be to look back on even just 10-12 entries a year!  That's 10-12 more than you would have had.
  • Sometimes I walk around the house taking pictures of their favorite toys or I bring it to school and take pictures of friends they talk about (or his favorite things on the playground).  Those pictures do not get one of the 60 coveted spots in a photo album.  Instead they are cut out and put into his Scrap-Journal (again, commemorating a particular point in time!).
Now a quick review of the whole system... only this time we'll talk about the items in reverse.
  • Step #1, Scrap-Journal:  The purpose of the Scrap-Journal is to capture fun facts and things your children talk about ON THE DAY THEY OCCUR.  No pressure to be neat.  Draw arrows.  Let them write in it and add pictures, mementos, and newspaper clippings to your heart's desire.  The key here is that a calendar only allows for a few sentences at best.
  • Step #2, Photo Album: Unlike the Scrap-Journal where we might include close up pictures of favorite toys, hiding spots, items of clothing, daily routines, etc..., our photo album is reserved for photos of your child and his siblings or friends.  I include pictures such as: first day of school, summer camp, each holiday, me and Richard, their brothers, cousins, and grandparents.  In the end they will have 18 albums to look through and to compare pictures from one year to the next.  That's over one thousand pictures.  How many do you have from your childhood? 
  • Step #3, Plastic Folder: At the end of the year (August to August), the photo album and Scrap Journal go in the folder, along with any other items you've decided to keep.  Examples of what we might store in a folder are things such as: pictures they've drawn; a letter to Santa; special cards they've received in the mail; class pictures; or a tooth that fell out... to name a few.  As Ricky has gotten older I've been able to include papers he's written; love notes he's received (found in pockets while doing laundry); certificates he's earned; DVDs of him running track; and his school agendas.
  • Step #4, Plastic Tub a.k.a. Treasure Box:  Once labeled with the year, the plastic folder is neatly tucked away in the plastic tub (referred to in our house as a Treasure Box).  My boxes get stored in the top of my closet until next year when I take them down to put in the next year's folders.
A final thought...  Where do I keep the folders, photo albums, and Scrap Journals during the year?  The key is easy access.  It must be easy for you to get your hands on them at the time of day when you are most apt to make an entry or store a photo.  For me, that's night time... right before I got to bed.  I have a dresser with four drawers....
  • Top Drawer: Pens, glue, and stickers, (the only real way to embellish your journal), and photo labels.
  • Drawer #2: Ricky's folder, photo album, and Scrap Journal
  • Drawer #3: Matthew's folder, photo album, and Scrap Journal
  • Drawer #4: Jack's folder, photo album, and Scrap Journal
This is important, because I can't always put things away immediately.  Each child has his own drawer, so I just stick the keepsakes in their respective drawers and go back to it when I have time.  No stacks.  Stacks are the kiss of death. 

That's it.  That's the process.  Hopefully you'll find it as useful and as stress-free as I have over the years.  We'll open the posts for comments or questions.  If you are currently using the system - or a part of it, as some of you are - please feel free to post your enhancements to the system.  I know of at least a few.

Signing off until tomorrow... 

No comments: