Picture This

I love keeping a journal and creating interesting photo albums for our family, including each of our children. Combining my two interests into a hobby called photo journaling allows me to record my thoughts and show what I’m writing about at the same time. Following are some of my favorite photo journaling ideas:

Family Albums

Your home’s interior and exterior. I have pictures and journal thoughts for every home my husband and I have lived in. I’ve also recorded a few memories about the rooms in the home where I grew up. It’s also helpful to draw a simple house plan so that years later your posterity will know how the home’s layout was when you lived there.

Special heirlooms. I’ve written a brief history of each item shown in the photos, listing the original owner and any other interesting information.

Vehicles. Any special memories about the vehicles we have owned are written next to the picture, and I have also recorded how much each cost—a bit of information that becomes more interesting over the years.

Children’s Albums

Chores and other jobs. Take unposed pictures showing your children dusting, vacuuming, and doing other household tasks. As our children have earned money through paper routes, mowing lawns, and other jobs, I’ve remembered to take the camera and record those events too.

Lessons. When my daughter took sewing lessons one year, I snapped photos of her and her instructor as they sewed together and later when my daughter modeled the finished products. I’ve also taken pictures of my son during his art and band lessons.

Favorite toys and pets. These photos and recorded memories are some of the most treasured pages in my children’s photo albums. Since it’s impossible to store every favorite toy over the years, this is a great way to preserve the memories. And long after beloved pets have passed away, we still enjoy seeing them in our album pages.

Family home evenings. We once invited a couple who had studied abroad at the BYU Jerusalem Center to tell us about their experience. They wore costumes native to the area, and we have pictures of them sharing family night with us. Regular family home evening activities are also good to record, with nonposed pictures showing the family singing, listening to a lesson, or playing games.

Members of our family, especially the children, love to look through our albums. It not only boosts our children’s self-confidence to see that the events in their lives are important enough to put in a special book, but it also helps us record their personal histories, starting with their early years.

Marlene Cameron Thomas, Pellissippi Ward, Knoxville Tennessee Stake

[illustration] Illustration by Joe Flores

Planning to Play

Since our family members had full-time jobs or activities Monday through Friday, we spent Saturday doing yard work and household tasks. That meant we seldom had a work-free day when we could enjoy recreational activities. To avoid the Saturday “chore crunch,” we held a family council to discuss ways to more efficiently use our time during the week.

During our discussion we read, “Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today” (D&C 64:25). Though the word today here refers to the time between now and the coming of the Savior (see D&C 64:23), we found that this scripture had an everyday application for us.

We agreed that each of us wasted some time each day and that if we used our time more efficiently Monday through Friday, we could ordinarily do all the household chores and yard work throughout the week instead of leaving them undone until Saturday. To accomplish this goal, each family member committed to do chores during the week and to do them as they saw the need, without being assigned.

What a marvelous change our family experienced! Not only did the chores get done by Friday evening, but we strengthened our family unity as we helped each other. Except for the occasional unforeseen need, we then enjoyed work-free Saturdays, participating in many recreational activities together or letting family members enjoy individual interests. Perhaps the greatest benefit of enjoying work-free Saturdays was that our desire to keep the Sabbath day holy increased. Having enjoyed our recreation on Saturday, we were content to do appropriate Sabbath activities on the Lord’s day of rest.

LaVerd and Flora John, North Ogden Fifth Ward, North Ogden Utah Stake

Inviting Extended Family

More than 50 years ago, my grandparents began holding family home evening with their 12 children and their families. My grandparents gathered everyone together once a month for a combined family home evening, with each child taking a turn to be in charge.

This tradition continues today as an even larger extended family meets monthly. At times, well over 100 family members have gathered in Grandmother’s large living room to have family prayer, hear faith-promoting stories, share family news and humor, perform musical numbers, and celebrate holidays. Other times, we have met at a local building to accommodate our growing extended family. The 12 siblings still take turns planning each monthly home evening. The person in charge contacts the other siblings, who then contact family members living in their area.

Initially, Grandma and Grandpa did not know how their faithfulness would strengthen family ties for their posterity. Years later a spirit of togetherness and a sense of belonging still pervade at our extended family home evenings. I am thankful that half a century ago my grandparents realized the importance of family home evening and started a tradition that continues to teach us of the eternal importance of our family.

Regina Williams Klitgaard, Rosewood Ward, Layton Utah Holmes Creek Stake

[illustration] Illustration by Beth Whittaker