Monday, December 3, 2007

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

I haven't added any journal prompts in such a long time (hangs head guiltily). However, Thomas and Jasia put their heads together and came up with an Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories for other genealogy bloggers that is just perfect for journaling your own Christmas memories. I invite you to click on either link above (it's the same list) to read the list of 24 blogging prompts which can be used for your journal. There's one for each day from December 1st through the 24th. It's not too late to start; I haven't blogged anything so far, but will jump in as time allows.

If you'd like to read others' memories, click here to see Thomas' introduction to each day's theme with links to bloggers' posts. I've noticed that by reading these posts, I've been reminded in more detail of some of my own Christmas memories.

P.S. If you don't celebrate Christmas, you can alter these prompts to reflect your own religion's winter holiday memories.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Week Twenty-Five: Your First Job

I'm again looking to recent events in my daughter's life for ideas for writing prompts. She just started working at Cinnabon at a nearby mall, and normally is a fairly unorganized person. However, this new job has forced her to stay on track with homework, appointments, and deadlines, which has been an unexpected bonus!

Here some prompts to get you thinking about your first job...whether it was actual employment, or work around your home or neighborhood as a child or teen:

1. Describe your first job. Where and for whom did you work? How did you hear about this job, and what was the hiring process?

2. What were your expected duties? How often did you work? What were your hours?

3. What were your wages or salary? How often were you paid? Was it in cash or by check? Did you receive any benefits, and if so, what were they? Did you ever get a raise?

4. What did you do with the money you earned? Was it saved for a particular reason, or was it used for living expenses or freely spent? Did you have a bank account? Did you pay taxes?

5. Did you have to wear a uniform or working clothes? If so, write a description. If you have a photo of yourself in the uniform or working clothes, add it to your journal.

6. Did you like your job? Why or why not? Was it difficult or easy? Were there particular duties you enjoyed or especially disliked? Why? Would you do that sort of work again?

7. Write about your supervisor. What was it like to work for him or her? Did you get along? Explain.

8. Write about your co-workers. How did you get along with them? Did you make new friends at work? Are you still in touch today?

9. Do you have any funny stories or experiences to share from your working experience at your first job? What about any sad or thoughtful ones? Did anything unfair happen to you while you worked there?

9. How long did you work at this job? Why did you leave? Where did you go for your next job?

You could continue this writing prompt for several weeks by writing about each subsequent job you had. You could also write about any times of unemployment or gaps in your work history (such as a woman staying home to raise a family).

You could also write about the employment history of your parents, or even your grandparents. If they are still alive, interview them about it. If not, write what you recall. Either way, you will be leaving a written record for their descendants.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Week Twenty-Four: Learning to Drive

My daughter took driver's ed this summer, bringing back a flood of memories for me. A perfect topic for a journal entry! I thought.

*How old were you when you learned to drive? What year was this?

*How did you learn? Was in it driver's ed (school or private) or with family or friends? Who taught you? If you took a class, what do you remember about the teacher, your classmates, and the course? Do you remember how much it cost? Did you use simulators?

*What kind of car or cars did you use in your training, either in class or with your family or friends? Do you remember the year, make and model? Stick shift or automatic?

*Where did you practice? Was there a certain road or a certain place that everyone in your community would go to learn to drive?

*What were the requirements at that time to earn a license? How old did you have to be to get a permit and to get a license? How much did it cost?

*Tell about your experience getting your license: the written exam and the driving test. Did you past the first time? Do you remember how well you did? Were there skills you struggled with or had to re-do? How old were you when you got your license?

*What was your worst driver's license photo? What was your best?

*Did you have your own car, or did you drive a family member's? What was the year, make and model? Did you love it, or were you embarrassed by it? What was your dream car (or truck)?

*Write about the different vehicles you've owned over the years: the years, makes and models; the color; what you liked or didn't like about them; how you came to purchase them and how much they cost at that time; why you got rid of them. What were your favorites and the ones you liked least, and why?

*How many years have you been driving? Have you ever gotten a parking ticket or a moving violation? Have you been in any collisions or other accidents? What is your driving record like? Write about those experiences.

Include photos of you and your vehicles, and/or find photos of the models you owned on the Internet to download and include in your journal.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Week Twenty-Three: Remembering 9/11

As I write this, it is already September 11th on the East Coast of the United States; the sixth anniversary of 9/11. This was an event that affected every American, whether we knew someone who was killed that day, or not. Our world shattered, and we felt vulnerable. We have all experienced tragedy on a national level at more than one point in our lives: JFK's assassination, for example, or the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. Most of us have never recorded the events as we remembered them on those days, nor the feelings that accompanied them. There aren't many of the generation left that remembers Pearl Harbor, and even less who can recall the day World War I ended. The memories of those Big Events in our nation's history are being lost to time.

For your journal prompt to help you remember September 11, 2001, I invite you to go here to read and listen to the lyrics of Alan Jackson's "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?"

*How did you hear about the attacks of 9/11?

*What did you do that day? Did you go to work or school, or stay home?

*What were your feelings?

*How has what happened that day changed your life in some way?

*What are your hopes for the future, in connection with this tragedy?

I have posted my journal response here.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Week Twenty-Two: Your Recipes

Do you have a favorite recipe that you are famous for? Is there a favorite recipe that's been handed down through the generations? This week, take some time to write about a recipe (or several) that has significance in your household or family. Here are some things to consider:

*If there is a history to this recipe, write about it. Did it come from the Old Country, or was it printed in a favorite cookbook or local newspaper?

*Is there a funny (or sad) story that relates to this recipe, either in preparing it or eating it?

*What sort of memories does preparing or eating this particular food bring out? Are there particular cooking utensils, mixing bowls, serving dishes, aprons, hot pads, furniture (kitchen table), appliances (old cooking stoves, porcelain sinks) that come to mind when you remember this recipe?

*Do you have any photos of your family eating this, or someone preparing it? Do any particular conversations come to mind?

*How has the recipe changed over the years? What sorts of alternate ingredients or preparations have been made? Why?

*Does anyone still make this recipe? Why or why not?

These questions can pertain to a whole group of family recipes or just one in particular. Here are some recent blog posts that inspired this post:
Besides what I wrote for the Carnival of Genealogy, I have posted a couple of recipes, for my famous spaghetti and Peach Dessert, at my personal blog, &Etc.

Consider creating a family cookbook with favorite recipes and ancestral or family photographs. They make great Christmas gifts or fundraisers at family reunions. Many can be self published for a low cost using your own printer, or a printing business such as Kinko's, Office Depot, Staples, Costco, etc.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Week Twenty-One: Your National Holiday

This week marks national holidays for two major countries: Canada, which celebrates Canada Day normally on July 1st, but officially on the 2nd, since the First falls on a Sunday; and the United States, which celebrates Independence Day on July 4th. Here are some prompts for letting your descendants know how you celebrate your national holiday:

*What was tradition in your childhood family for celebrating your national holiday? Did you dress in a national costume or in your national colors? Did you display your national flag? Was your national holiday a one-day celebration, or longer?

*Were there any programs on the radio or television that you listened to/watched as part of this observance? Was there a church or other religious ceremony you attended?

*Were there neighborhood or community events in which you participated? Did they include games, dancing, feasting, fireworks, or music? Was the national anthem sung or played? Was it a festive or somber affair? Were there celebrities, local government officials, or national leaders in attendance?

*Did you have an indoor feast, or a picnic or barbecue outside? What foods were traditionally served?

*How did your childhood celebrations differ from the way you celebrate as an adult? How are they the same?

*What does it mean to you to be a/an ____________ (insert your nationality here)? Do you consider yourself patriotic? What freedoms or privileges do you most cherish? If you are an immigrant, you may wish to write about your immigration experience (when, where and why), how life in your new country compares with your old, and your feelings about your motherland and adopted country.

Here are some great websites to educate you further, or to use to enhance your online journal:
  • Fourth of July Celebrations Database
  • Celebrate Canada!
  • A list of National Holidays
  • To find more online information about your specific national holiday, enter the name of your country and "national holiday" in quotation marks at Google.
  • 3D Flags has animated national flags you can download and use on your website or blog. They have three sizes and three background colors to choose from. They also have U.S. state flags.
  • If your national colors are red and white, or red, white, and blue, there are some backgrounds and graphics on my pixel graphics site here, which you can use free-of-charge.
  • Sites to download free midi (audio) files of your national anthem can be found here and here, while lyrics can be found here.
My journal about my childhood celebrations can be found here.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Week Twenty: Your Reads

I've been feeling a bit in a rut, so I decided to do some random prompts, instead of staying on what might be more obvious topics. Today's prompt is "Your Reads."

*When you were growing up, what magazines, newsletters, or newspapers were in your home on a regular basis, either purchased from a newstand, or subscribed to by mail? Were any of them children's publications?

*What are your memories about those publications? Were they interesting, entertaining or boring? Was there a magazine you didn't get that you wished you did? Why?

*As an adult, what publications did you subscribe to or purchase regularly in the past? Why did you choose them? Why did you stop purchasing them?

*What magazines, newsletters, or newspapers do you currently read, and why? What other ones would you read if you could?

*What publications do others in your household read? What have the others read or subscribed to in the past?

*Have you ever had your writings (or art) published in a magazine or newsletter? If so, write about that/those experience(s).

*Have you ever wondered what your ancestors read? Do you ever wonder what (and how) your descendants will read? Blogging has changed the world!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Week Nineteen: Your Community

It's been two weeks since I've posted a prompt. "Your Community" is the focus this time. You can choose the current community you live in or any of the past communites in which you've resided. Perhaps you will want to write about all the communities of your life. Here are some things to consider:

*Describe your community: the location, including county and state; its size, and if a small one, its relation to a larger community; how long you lived there.

*What do you know about the history of your community? Who were its founders? What were major events of its past?

*What indigenous peoples lived there, and what ethnic groups immigrated to it?

*Why did you settle in this community?

*What do you like about it? Dislike? What would you change? What do you hope will never change?

*List some of the physical features and structures of the community...its parks, community centers, churches, and businesses, especially the ones you frequent.

*List events and celebrations that make this community unique, especially ones you have participated in.

*Write about your neighbors, friends and any family that live in this community, and describe your relationship with them through the community perspective.

*If you are active as a volunteer, committee or board member of your community, write about your experiences and responsiblities.

*What is the economy like? What is the economic makeup of its citizens? What is the rate of unemployment? What is the housing market like?

*What major political leanings does the community have? Major religous denominations? Are you in the majority or minority as a citizen in the political and religious areas? How does that shape your everyday life?

*What do you see as the future of this community, and why?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Week Eighteen: Your Neighborhood

Most people have fond memories of the neighborhood in which they grew up: the hangouts, the haunted houses, the secret hideouts. Rural or urban, every location has something unique and attractive to children. In this busy day and age, most children's lives are very over-scheduled and with the dangers of sexual predators, gangs, and drug dealers, as well as the electronic attractions of computer/video games, cell phones, and instant messaging/MySpace/FaceBook, kids don't roam free as they once did. Leave a record of some great memories for your descendants!

*Describe the neighborhood of your childhood. Was it rural or urban? If urban, what stores, parks, and businesses do you remember? If rural, describe the woods or plains, streams or lakes/ponds that you explored. Or perhaps you lived in a small town or the suburbs, which were a combination of the great outdoors and the community services.

*What was your favorite place to go hang out with your friends? Why? What were some of the things you did there?

*Who were your friends and where did they live? Describe old they were, how you ended up becoming friends, what was special about them?

*Are you still in touch with your childhood friends? Why or why not? Where do they live now?

*What was your favorite place to go to be by yourself? Why? What were some of the things you did there?

*Was there a haunted house or cemetery or some other scary place in your neighborhood? Did you ever go exploring there? What happened?

*Was there a place from which your parents told you to stay away? What was it and why were you supposed to stay away from it? Did you ever visit it anyway? What happened?

*Where did you learn to swim? What was your favorite "swimming hole?"

*Where did you ride your bicycle?

*Where did you go to the movies? or shoot pool? or play video games (before they were available for home use)?

*Where did you go bowling? or rollerskating? or skateboarding? or sledding? or ice skating?

*What kinds of outdoor games did you play with your friends? Hopscotch? Marbles? Cowboys and Indians? Capture the flag? Tag? Jump rope?

*What kinds of mischief did you and your friends get into? Were you ever caught? If so, what were the consequences?

*Was there a house in the neighborhood that everyone gravitated to? You know, the one whose mom didn't care if you hung out there all day, as long as you cleaned up after yourselves? Was it your house, or someone else's? Describe what you used to do there.

*Was there a convenience store, malt shop, Mom and Pop store, candy store, or some other place that all the kids loved to go to get their treats? What kinds of treats were your favorite? Was there an ice cream truck that you used to frequent?

*Did you ever have a lemonade stand? Write about your successes or failures with that.

*If you lived in the country, where did you like to go fishing, hunting, hiking, or ORVing? Tell your stories.

*Did you ever run into wild animals (bears, snakes, etc.) or fierce farm animals (bulls, roosters, etc.) while playing out in the country? Tell about your adventures!

*Did you ever run away from home? Why? Where did you go and how long were you there?

*Did you have a tree house or clubhouse? Was it secret, or did everyone hang out there? Who built it?

Instead of writing down your responses, you could make an audio recording and transcribe it later. I can think of so many stories about running around as a kid, that writing them down would take a very long time! A recording would be simpler and faster. Find some photos of you and your friends hanging out, or of the places you used to frequent to illustrate your written journal.

Next week,we'll expand a bit and on focus on "Your Community."

(P.S. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!)

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Week Seventeen: Your Pets

Please take a moment to read my post "May is Here Already!" over at my main blog, AnceStories: Stories of My Ancestors. Life is incredibly busy for me until June 15th, when school gets out. I can't promise to publish posts at this blog every week until my summer break, so I appreciate your patience with me! :-)

The topic for this week is Your Pets. Here are some prompts to ponder:

* Have you ever had pets? What kind were they? What were their names? Why did you name them those names?

*Were they family pets, or did you have a pet of your own? How about your siblings, spouse or children: Did they have their own pets?

*How did you acquire your pets? Were they given to you, bought, or did you adopt a stray? What was your parents' (or spouse's) reactions to having a pet?

*If you had a pet as a child, what were some of the responsibilities that you had in caring for your pet? Were you pretty good in caring for your pet, or did you need a lot of reminding?

*Describe the personality of your pet. Did he or she have any tricks they could perform or special qualities? Do you remember any funny stories about your pets?

*Did you have to housebreak or leash-train your pet?

*Have you ever entered a pet in a fair, show or contest? Did you win any prizes?

*Did your pet ever have any bad behaviors (biting people, getting into fights with other animals, digging, getting into the garbage, etc)? How were those issues dealt with?

*Have you ever taken your pet to a pet therapist?

*Did you ever have a pet run/fly away or get lost? Share their story.

*Did any of your pets reproduce? Tell about your pet's pregnancy and the birth of the baby animals. How many survived? What became of the babies?

*Were any of your pets neutered or spayed?

*Were any of your pets injured or become ill? Did they ever need veterinary services (other than check-ups and immunizations)?

*Who was/is your veterinarian? How did you choose that particular one? What is your relationship with your vet like?

*Did any of your pets die from old age, illness, injury, or by being put down? Write about that experience.

*Was your pet buried? Where?

*If you never had a pet, tell why. Did you or a family member have allergies? Were there pet restrictions where you lived? Did you, your parents, or other family members simply not want to have a pet around?

*Have you ever had a professional portrait taken of your pet? These and/or snapshots of your pet will add to your journal.

*Even if you never had a pet of your own, perhaps you have some sort of animal experience to share. Perhaps you always felt like your neighbor's dog was your own, or perhaps you had a bad experience with a relative's bird or an alley cat. Or maybe you'd like to share what your ideal pet would be if you could have one.

*You can also write journal entries for any pets you remember family members (grandparents, etc.) having. There may even be old photos of them sitting around in family collections! I always enjoy looking at very old family snapshots and seeing pets, wondering about their relationship to the people in the photo.

You can create a free memorial page for any and all of your pets at FindAGrave. You will have to register to be a member (don't worry, it's free and you won't receive spam e-mail). On this site, you can write your pet's story, list the body's disposal (burial, etc.), post photographs and leave virtual notes, icons and musical messages to honor your pet.

To use this site, go to and click on "Add burial records" in the right-hand menu. On the next page, click on "Add Family and Friends." You'll be prompted to set up a free account. Then you can create your page. If you have any difficulty or questions, feel free to e-mail me (see "View my complete profile" in the right-hand menu).

Next time, our topic will be "My Neighborhood." Be prepared to write about the neighborhood hangouts you enjoyed while growing up, whether it was a park, eatery, clubhouse, etc.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Week Sixteen: Your Children

Your Child or Your Children is the topic of this week's prompts. Is there anything more amazing than becoming a parent? The responsibilities, the joys, the trials...probably few things create more significance--for better or worse--in our lives than that of the parent-child relationship, whether it is the one with our own parents or the one with our children.

If you are not a parent, you may wish to choose a person in your life that you may look upon as a surrogate child, whether a step-child, niece, nephew, cousin, or family friend. You may also wish to share about the choice--or lack of choice--involved in not having children and how that affects your life.

*How many children did you want to have? How many do you have?

*Did you have gender preferences (one boy and one girl, or all girls, etc.), and if so, why? What did you get?

*What are the names of your children? Who were they named for and why?

*When and where were each of them born?

*Did you adopt? Write about your adoption experience: how long you had to wait, which country you adopted from, open or closed adoption, etc.

*If you had biological children, was it difficult to conceive? If so, write about that experience.

*Share any stories you remember from the pregnancies of each child.

*Share the story of each child's birth.

*Write about anything significant that you remember from the different stages each child has gone through, such as infancy, toddlerhood, the first day of Kindergarten, elementary, middle or high school, college, marriage, being a parent themselves.

*Describe each child's personality, interests, and talents.

*Describe each child's features and build.

*Describe the relationship of each of your children to each other and to your spouse.

*Write down the wish you have for each child's future.

Add favorite photos of each of your children to your journal.

Our topic next week will be Your Pets.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Week Fifteen: Your Anniversaries

This is Part Three in a three-part marriage-based set of journal prompts. Everyone who has been married at least a year has an anniversary story to share. Even unmarried people in relationships celebrate anniversaries--and why not?! Obviously, some anniversaries are more memorable than others. Hopefully, your anniversaries have been joyful, but occasionally, the memories of one may be sad or even painful. Life has its ups and downs, and anniversaries are often reflective of that. If you've been married more than once, you may wish to do separate journal exercises for anniversaries for each of your marriages. Here are some questions and statements to ponder as you journal this week:

* Your first anniverary is often one of the more memorable. When, where and how did you celebrate yours? Did you share a piece of cake frozen from your wedding the previous year?

* Have you exchanged traditional anniversary gifts over the years? For example, a gift made of paper was the traditional first-year anniversary gift, while the modern one is clocks. A table of both traditional and modern gifts can be viewed here.

* Some people celebrate a delayed honeymoon on an anniversary; have you?

* Have you ever gone somewhere special for an anniversary, like a cruise, a trip to a special destination, or a return to your honeymoon location?

* Have you ever been separated from your spouse on an anniversary due to work, military service, illness, etc.? How did the two of you deal with that?

* Have you or your spouse ever forgotten an anniversary? What was the outcome?

* Do you have any funny anniversary memories to share?

* Which anniversary was the hardest? Why?

* What was the most memorable or favorite anniversary, and why?

* Are your children or extended family members included in anniversary celebrations, or are they private?

* If your 25th, 50th, or another significant anniversary is in the near future, do you have special hopes or plans for it? Or if you've recently celebrated one, write about it.

* Share any special anniversary celebrations your parents or parents-in-law have celebrated. Perhaps you remember your grandparents' special anniversaries. What was your role in those?

Photos and mementos of your anniversary celebrations would make nice accompaniments to your journal. Next week, we will be writing about Your Children. Have fun with your memories this week!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Taking a Break

Happy Easter! I'm spending time with my family today and will be back next weekend with our new prompt. Meanwhile, if you're not busy with your own family, you may wish to catch up in your journaling, subscribe to this blog via e-mail (see right-hand menu), or read my other blogs (access by looking at my profile in right-hand menu).

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Week Fourteen: Your Wedding

This is the second part of a topic that began last week with "The Significant Other in Your Life." Not everyone who is following these journal prompts is married, and this is not meant to exclude anyone. So if it doesn't pertain to you, just skip this prompt!

*When were you married? Why did you pick that date?

*Where were you married? Be specific, and include the building (house of worship, courthouse, wedding chapel, etc.), not just the town or city. Explain why you chose that particular location.

*Did you have a wedding planner (a professional, or a friend or relative that helped out)?

*How formal or informal was the wedding?

*Who married you? Was it your family priest, pastor, or rabbi? A justice of the peace? Captain of the ship? ;-)

*When you obtained your marriage license, what were the qualifications (if you remember)? For instance, did you have to take a blood test or get your parents' permission (if underage)? Do you remember what the fee was?

*If there was a wedding rehearsal, where and when did it take place? Was there a rehearsal dinner? Who attended or who was unable to attend? Were there gifts exchanged then?

*Who were the members of the wedding party, and how were they related or connected to you? Who was the maid/matron of honor and the best man?

*Describe the bride's dress. Was it a family heirloom, purchased or made for this wedding, rented or borrowed? Did she/you wear "something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue"? What were they?

*Describe the bride's bouquet.

*Describe the bridesmaids' outfits. Was there a color theme?

*Describe the groom and the groomsmen's outfits.

*Was the building decorated? If so, how?

*Where did the parties prepare and dress for the wedding? Who helped with the dressing, hair and makeup, if applicable?

*Were there ushers who weren't part of the regular wedding party? Who were they, and how were they related or connected?

*Was someone in charge of a guestbook and/or receiving gifts? Who were some of the special guests that attended? Who traveled the furthest to attend?

*What music was played and/or sung, and by whom? Why these music choices?

*Was the bride walked down the aisle, and if so, by whom? If not the father of the bride, then whom and why?

*Did you use traditional vows, write your own, or "borrow" some you liked?

*Describe the ceremony: the sequence of events, the prayers, music, exchanging of rings, lighting of candles, communion or drinking of wine, stepping on wine glass, etc.

*Describe the wedding rings: were they family heirlooms, or purchased? Where were they purchased? Were they a matching set?

*Did anything interesting, tragic or funny happen during the ceremony (i.e., at my cousin's wedding, the flowers on the candelabra caught on fire during the prayer!)?

*Who was/were the photographer(s)? Were the photos taken before or after the ceremony? Why?

*Describe the reception: the receiving line, the cake and champagne, toasts, dancing, etc. Where did it take place? Was it directly after the wedding, or at another time and location altogether? Why?

*Did you open the gifts at the reception, or later? Did someone open them and record them for you?

*Describe the bride and groom's going-away clothing. What vehicle was the "getaway" car? Was it decorated traditionally (soaped-up windows, tin cans, streamers, etc.)?

*Did you go away on a honeymoon? When and where (this could probably be a whole other journal entry!)? If you did not go on a honeymoon, explain why.

*Did you enjoy your special day, or was it stressful? What would you change and why? What worked out especially well, and why?

Most brides have a bride's book or wedding book with photos, invitations, programs, engagement announcements, etc. If for some reason you don't have one, you could create your own and put in your writings, along with the photos and ephemera. It would be interesting for a man to write his perspective of his wedding (which, of course, would vary from the woman's). A divorced man may not have access to photos or ephemera from his wedding, as often it's the woman who retains the wedding book after a divorce. It could be a special gift to his children to write about his wedding for them, as sometimes it is not a topic that's brought up with the father by the children.

Some people have been married more than once. Although it would take time, it would be interesting for your descendants to have journal entries about more than one wedding, not just the marriage that produced children. You could compare and contrast the weddings, too; especially the details of each that worked best for you.

Part three on this particular topic (marriage) will be "Your Anniversaries," coming next week.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Week Thirteen: The Significant Other in Your Life

Yes, I'm late again (hangs head). This was a busy weekend with lots of errands and necessary shopping, plus I hosted Scanfest. I apologize for my tardiness, as we head into the next topic, the Significant Other in Your Life. This could be your Husband/Wife or the love of your life.

*How did you meet him/her?

*Were you attracted to him/her right away, or much later?

*Write about your first date. Who asked who out? What did you do? Where did you go? Was it terrific or a disaster?!

*Tell about some of your other memorable dates.

*When did you know that he/she was "the one"?

*Tell about how you got engaged, if applicable. Was it a surprise proposal, or expected?

*Write about any bridal showers or bachelor(ette) parties you might have had.

*Did you receive any pre-marital counseling, or go on a retreat?

*If you never married the love of your life, what were/are your reasons?

*How long have you been together?

We'll finish this topic next week with "Your Wedding." I promise I will get back on track and have the next prompt ready Sunday morning!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Week Twelve: Your Daily Life

After reading some ancestral diaries that others have posted on their genealogy blogs, I thought it would be interesting to provide our descendants with a narrative of our daily lives. In other words, on a typical weekday, what happens? Here are some things to consider:

*What time do you get up?

*What do you do first?

*How do you get to work or school (or do you work at home)?

*What ordinary, perhaps even boring (to you) things to you do at each hour of the day?

*What people do you interact with on a daily basis (co-workers, friends, neighbors, family, community workers such as the mail carrier, etc.)?

*What do usually eat, and where?

*At the end of the workday, what things do you do at home?

*What do you do to relax in the evening? List television or radio shows you watch, music you listen to, websites you visit, etc.

*When do you go to bed?

Now spend some time journaling about your typical weekend day:

*What sorts of things do you normally do on Saturday?

*Where do you go?

*Do you attend worship services on Sunday, sleep in, or regularly participate in some other activity?

*How do you prepare for the coming workweek?

If you have regular activities that happen on certain days of the week, you could add those. For instance, I like to visit my Family History Center nearly every Thursday evening to do research, and I could write about what I do and the volunteers I have gotten to know there.

If you like, you could list this in an hour-by-hour procedure, such as "6:00 a.m. - wake, get dressed; 6:15 - work out on treadmill; 6:45 - eat breakfast: yogurt and a cup of coffee," etc.

It would be interesting to bring your camera to work and take pictures of your workplace and co-workers to add to your journal; or even the commute, if you're sitting, stuck in traffic. If you work at home, you could use the auto-timer or arrange to have someone taking photos of you.

It's often the ordinary days that are overlooked; and I think our descendants would love to know what a typical day was like for us...after all, wouldn't we want to know the same about OUR ancestors?

Next week, we'll be talking about marriage, significant others, or the loves of our lives.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Week Eleven: Your Father's Life

Last week's prompt was to write all about your mother. This week you'll be writing about your father's life.

Besides the basic details of his life (birth, marriage(s), death (if deceased), parents, siblings, etc.) write about the things that no future genealogist will probably be able to discover: his personality, his traits, strengths, weaknesses. What were his aspirations? Was he happy and fulfilled in his occupation? What was your relationship with him like? Was he cold and aloof, warm and affectionate, or somewhere in between? What sorts of things did you do together? What was his relationship with your mother like? Again, you may be one of the few people on this earth that know/knew your father well, and you have the ability to share this information with future generations!

Include photos of different stages of your father's life, especially those of the two of you together.

Next week's prompt will be "Your Daily Life."

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Week Ten: Your Mother's Life

I'm late and I'm's been a stressful week at work, followed by a busy weekend. Nevertheless, here we are!

The topic is "Your Mother's Life." Did you know that March is Women's History Month, and March 8 is International Woman's Day (widely celebrated in Europe)? So in this prompt, I'm encouraging to spend time writing about your mother. Write about the events of her life, her accomplishments, personality, hobbies, and your relationship with her. Those parent-child relationships can be complicated, so if yours isn't all you wish(ed) it could be, be frank. Maybe you were one of the lucky ones, and had an absolutely wonderful mother. Or perhaps yours was somewhere in the middle between terrific and not-so-great. Chances are, you're one of the few people who know/knew your mother well, and your memories of her are definitely worth sharing with your descendants!

Include photos of different stages of your mother's life, especially those of the two of you together.

Next week: You guessed it! "Your Father's Life."

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Week Nine: Letters to Your Siblings' Descendants

The prompt for Week Nine is an expansion of some of the prompts from Week Three: Your Immediate Family. Week Nine focuses on your siblings, but we're going to take a slightly different approach from the question-and-answer format. For each of your siblings, write a letter to their future descendants of 50 years from now. Imagine that you are the only one left to describe the lives of your siblings to their descendants (and for some of you, this may be so). Incorporate the important events, locations, and people of your siblings' lives, but most importantly, describe the things that make them "real," which are difficult for the family historian to discover: their personalities, their flaws and strengths, their passions and dislikes, their relationship with you.

Obviously, if you have many siblings, this assignment will take a while. You may choose to write one letter a day, or to write one now and each of the others around the time of your siblings' birthdays, as a way to honor them. Don't forget half- and step-siblings.

If you are an only child, you can adapt this for favorite cousins or even close friends.

You can include photos of your siblings at different ages of their lives, and photos that include both of you. Make copies of these letters and share them with your siblings (cousins, friends) and/or their descendants. They would make nice gifts at birthdays, anniversaries, or reunions.

Week Ten will focus on your mother and her life.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Week Eight: Your Oldest Living Ancestor

Who was your oldest living ancestor (grandparent, great-grandparent, even possibly a great-great-grandparent!) at the time you were born? Perhaps you didn't have a direct ancestor living, but a collateral one, i.e. a sibling or cousin of a grandparent or great-grandparent. You can choose to write about this person instead, especially if your grandparents weren't living when you were born or didn't live nearby while you were growing up. Just to make it a bit easier for me, I'm going to refer to this person in my prompts as "she."

*What was the relationship (grandparent, great-aunt, etc.) of the oldest living ancestor you had at the time of your birth?

*What was her full maiden name? What was/were her married name(s)?

*When and where was she born? Who was president when she was born? Go here to find out.

*How old was she when you were born?

*Did you get to know this ancestor/relative personally? What was your relationship like? Were they a favorite, or were you neutral towards this person? Perhaps the relationship was even strained. How did that affect you?

*Describe this ancestor's personality, likes/dislikes, strengths/weaknesses. How are you similar to this ancestor? How are you different?

*Describe this ancestor's physical features, including complexion, hair and eye color, build, height, and any possible disabilities that she had. How are you alike or different from her in your appearance?

*Did you inherit anything of sentimental value from this ancestor? Describe the item(s) and include a photograph in your blog or journal.

*Did this person ever talk about her ancestors? Tell about the oldest ancestor she may have mentioned, following the same prompts that this blog has.

*Write a short biography of her life from birth to death. Include her parents' and siblings' names, her spouse(s) and child(ren), the places she lived, her occupation(s), military service, etc. Make sure to include full dates and locations of major life events. Also include photographs, especially any that has the both of you in them.

Next week, we'll return closer to home and go in-depth about your siblings. Are you an only child? We can journal about that, too!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Week Seven: Your Religious Life

Were you raised in a household where religion/faith was a major part of every day living? Was your family only nominally religious, or somewhere in between? These questions are the basis for our weekly prompt, Your Religious Life.

*What religion/faith/denomination/sect were you raised in, if any?

*What do you know about the history of your faith or particular religious organization?

*For how many generations was your family involved in this particular faith or denomination?

*Who would you characterize as the religious leader in your childhood household or extended family? How involved with your local house of worship were the adults in your household?

*How often did you attend your house of worship? Was your attendance on major religious days only, several times a year, once a month, once a week, or every time the doors were open?

*What religious leaders were important to you, and how did they make a difference in your life?

*As an infant, were you baptized, dedicated, christened or accepted into your faith in a ceremonial way? Tell about this event.

*As a child, did you participate in Sunday School, Children's Church, Vacation Bible School, Hebrew School, or any other faith-based children's program on a regular basis?

*Were you involved in any club-like group as a child that was organized through your house of worship (Awanas, Boy or Girl Scouts, Royal Rangers, Missionettes, etc.)? Tell about any awards or badges you received.

*Did you ever attend retreats or camps for children or youth, sponsored by your religious organization?

*As a youth, were you involved in a youth group? Tell about some of the activities you participated in, whether service-oriented or just for fun.

*Did you participate in any ceremonies in your childhood or youth that demonstrated your commitment to your faith (first communion or confirmation, becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, etc.)? Tell about that event: what was the ceremony like, who attended, what gifts did you receive?

*As a youth or adult, did you become an official member of your particular faith? Did you make a public commitment or profession of faith (baptism, etc.) or participate in a ritual or ceremony to celebrate it?

*As an adult, do you still remain involved in the faith of your youth? Have you changed denominations or even religions? Are you no longer involved in faith-based organizations? What has caused you to remain with or change from the faith of your youth? If you were not involved with a faith as a child, but now are as an adult, how did that change occur, and why?

*Are you currently involved in any service to or activities within your house of worship, and if so, in what capacities?

*If you are married, did you marry someone within your faith, and was the ceremony conducted by a religious leader of your faith?

*If you have children, did you raise--or are you raising--your children in the same faith? Why or why not?

*Have you had what some call a religious experience or life-changing moment?

*If you could write a statement of your personal faith, what would it be? Include your own personal philosophies and beliefs, whether or not they are generally accepted by your official faith. Things to consider can include the meaning of life and suffering, your beliefs about God and holy leaders, and your beliefs about the after-life.

*Do you have a special scripture from your holy book that has particular meaning for you, or that you use for a personal statement of your faith?

*Do you have any favorite hymns, songs, and/or prayers? Why are they significant to you?

Photos from major religious events in your life, of the house(s) of worship you attended, of religious leaders, and of religious activities in which you participated would be great illustrations for this topic. You could also add ephemera (certificates, awards, church newsletters, Sunday bulletins, etc.) to your journal.

Next week, we will change our focus from our own lives to the life of the oldest ancestor that was alive at the time of your birth. Start thinking now about what you know about this person. We will return to more prompts about our own lives at a later date. Mixing it up a bit will help us be more creative in our thinking, and thus our writing!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Week Six: Your College (or Post-High School) Life

This week's topic focuses on your college (or post-high school) life. The prompts for college life are listed first; prompts for post-high school life are listed after.

*What college(s) or university/ies did you attend? Where and when?

*Why did you choose that/those particular college(s)?

*What was your college's colors and mascot?

*Do you know the history of your college? You can do a search at Google to find your college's website to learn more.

*Has the college's name been changed, or has it merged with another institution? Is it still operating?

*Were you offered a scholarship? How did you pay for your tuition, books, and other expenses (savings, scholarships, loans, work-study, job)? Do you remember how much tuition cost per year?

*Where did you live during college? Home, dormitory, apartment, etc.?

*If you lived off campus, how did you travel to school?

*If you lived away from home, when did you go home for visits, and how?

*What was your major (or majors)? How did you become interested in this? Did you switch majors? What was your minor, if you had one?

*Did you complete college with a degree? If so, which one(s)?

*What classes/courses did you take?

*Which were your favorite or worst classes, and why?

*Do you remember any of your professors/instructors? What memories do you have?

*Do you remember any other staff (administrators, deans, counselors, secretaries, custodians, etc.)?

*What kinds of grades did you get? Were you ever on the dean's list? What was your GPA and/or class ranking at graduation, or when you left college?

*Did you ever win any awards?

*Did you ever get disciplined?

*Did you participate in college sports, leadership, music, clubs, or other activities? Write about those experiences.

*Did you ever attend games, dances, concerts, parties, or other activities?

*Were you accepted into a fraternity or sorority?

*Did you ever stay up all night to finish a term paper or cram for finals?

*What was your dating life like during college?

*Who were the friends you hung out with?

*Share your graduation experience.

*Were you able to find a job in the field in which you earned a degree? Why or why not?

*If you attended a trade or vocational school, answer the questions above that relate to the type of school you attended.

*What degree(s) or certificate(s) did you obtain from your trade or vocational school?

*If you did not attend school post-high school, write about why you choose the direction you did. Answer any of the above questions that pertain to your post-high school life.

*What kind of job or career did you work at after high school? How did you obtain or choose that particular career? How long did you work at that? Did you like working there? Why or why not?

*Describe some of the experiences you remember with supervisors, co-workers, and customers.

*Do you know the history of the business(es) your worked at, post-high school? Is that/those business(es) still in operation?

*What was your social life like in the four or five years after high school?

*Where did you live, and what was your transportation?

*Did you ever go back to finish a degree or certificate at college or trade/vocational school? How difficult/easy was it to go back to (or start) school after being away for a number of years?

*No matter what direction you took after high school, as you reflect over those first few years of adulthood, what life lessons did you learn? What regrets do you have? If you could do it again, what would you change, and what would you keep the same?

Don't forget to add photos of your college, trade/vocational school, or career days to your journal, as well as copies of your diplomas, certificates, awards, etc. Remember to caption all photos.

Next week's prompt will be about your religious/church/faith life.

Thank you to all who have let me know that they are following the weekly prompts! Everyone I've heard from so far is journaling off-Internet, which is fine, as many of the topics have been very personal, and may not be appropriate for online publication. See you next weekend!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Week Five: Your High School Life

This week's journaling prompt is very similar to last week's, with a few additions and changes to fit the topic of high school life. As in all journals, you may wish to filter any information you place on the Internet.

*What was/were the name(s) of the high school(s) you attended, and where was it/were they located?

*What grade(s) did you attend at each school? During which years?

*Did you graduate from high school? Why or why not? In what year did you graduate?

*What were the names of your teachers? Who were your favorites and why? Who were your least favorites and why?

*Do you remember any other staff members (custodians, cooks, bus drivers, administrators, secretaries, etc.)?

*Were your classes focused in a certain direction (Vocational Training, College Prep/AP, etc.)?

*What were your favorite and worst subjects at school, and why?

*What electives did you take, and why?

*Did you take Driver's Ed at school? If so, tell about your early driving days. What kind of car did you have?

*What kind of grades did you make? What was your GPA and/or class ranking at graduation?

*Did you walk, ride (bike or auto), drive, or take a bus to school? What memories do you have of going to and from school?

*What field trips do you remember?

*What do you remember about certain projects or essays you had to do?

*Tell about some guests (musicians, performers, authors, etc.) that visited your school.

*What kinds of assemblies do you remember having?

*What sports, clubs, musical groups, and/or activities were you involved in? Did you ever run for class/ASB leadership positions? Tell about some of the memories you have of these activities. For instance, if you were in band, what parades or concerts did you perform in? If you participated in sports, do you have special memories of a certain game or did your team go to championships?

*What awards did you earn?

*Were you ever punished? Why?

*Who were some of your best school friends? Share some special memories about them.

*Did you have a boyfriend/girlfriend during high school? Tell about him/her, and some of the dates you had.

*Were you ever bullied, or did you ever bully anyone? How was that resolved, or was it ever?

*Did you go to dances, formal or informal? Share your memories of homecoming, Sadie Hawkins, prom, and any other dances you remember. Were you ever elected prom/homecoming king/queen?

*Did you earn any scholarships for college?

*Did you participate in any end-of-year senior parties or activities (grad night, etc.), school-sponsored or not?

*Tell about your baccalaureate and graduation ceremonies. Do you remember any of the motivational speech that was given at your graduation?

*Did you have a family graduation party and/or receive gifts?

*Did you have any idea of what you wanted to do after high school? How did those plans come into fruition (or not)?

*What is your general overall perspective on your high school years?

School and graduation photos would make a nice addition to your journal, as well as photos of activities and copies of awards and your diploma. Don't forget to write captions for your photos...just because YOU know who everyone is doesn't mean your descendants will!

Next week's prompt will be on the topic of college life, or life after high school, for those who may not have attended college. And the following week's prompt will be about your religious/church life.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Week Four: Your Elementary School Life

Preschool, Head-start, Kindergarten, grammar school, elementary school, middle school, junior high...whatever you call the education you had before high school, this is the topic at hand.

*What were the names of the schools you attended, and where were they located?

*What grade(s) did you attend at each school? During which years (you may wish to filter this information if you place it online)?

*What were the names of your teachers? Who were your favorites and why? Who were your least favorites and why?

*Do you remember any other staff members (custodians, cooks, bus drivers, administrators, secretaries, etc.)?

*What were your favorite and worst subjects at school, and why?

*What kind of grades did you make?

*Did you walk, ride (bike or auto), or take a bus to school? What memories do you have of going to and from school?

*What field trips do you remember?

*Tell about some guests (musicians, performers, authors, etc.) that visited your school.

*What sports, clubs, musical groups, and/or activities were you involved in?

*What awards did you earn?

*Were you ever punished (demerits, detention, principal's office, ruler, etc.)? Why?

*Who were some of your best school friends? Share some special memories about them.

*Were you ever bullied, or did you ever bully anyone? How was that resolved, or was it ever?

*Tell about any graduation ceremonies you participated in during this time. Did you have a graduation party and/or receive gifts?

School and class photos would make a nice addition to your journal. Don't forget to write captions...just because YOU know who everyone is doesn't mean your descendants will!

Next week, we will naturally talk about high school life. If you are following these journal prompts, by blog, computer, or by hand, please drop me a line at

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Week Three: Your Immediate Family

This week's topic is the structure of the immediate family you were raised in. Later prompts will ask for more details on certain members of this family; this one is simply a general overview. Remember to respect the privacy of living people by editing any personal information that you place online.

*Who were the adults that lived in your household growing up? Were they your parents, step-parents, uncles and/or aunts, grandparents, or friends/significant others of your parents?

*Who were the children that lived in your household growing up? Were they your siblings, half- or step-siblings, cousins, or others?

*If you were a child of divorced or separated parents, how did you share your time between the two households?

*Are you an adopted child (either adopted by a couple or by a step-parent)? What are your thoughts and feelings about your adoption? What are your thoughts and feelings about your birth parent(s)? How did your adoption impact you? If you have siblings (biological or adoptive), how did your adoption impact your relationship with them? (This set of questions could be a separate blog.)

*Were you an only child? If so, do you prefer your only child status, or do you wish you had siblings? Why or why not? If you have siblings, where were you in the birth order? After reading this, do you feel like you are a typical person for your birth order? (A fun survey to take is the Birth Order Predictor...does it fit you?)

*Did you have to share a bedroom? How did that work out?

*Which adult did you feel closest to, and why? Did this relationship change as you became an adult?

*Which sibling/other child did you feel closest to, and why? Did this relationship change as you became an adult?

Find a group shot or two of your family and add them to your journal. Don't forget to label it!

Next week's prompt topics will be about your elementary school life. Happy Journaling!

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Week Two: Your Birth

This week's topic is Your Birth. Please use common sense when posting personal information about yourself on the Internet. You may wish to have a complete posting in a written journal or in a document on your desktop, and only post a filtered version online. For instance, I will be writing more about my birthplace than the birth date itself (a fact that I wish to keep private, not for vanity's sake, but for security from identity theft). Here are your prompts:

*When were you born?

*What day of the week did your birthday fall on? (If you don't know, use this perpetual calendar.)

*Do you think that the old nursery rhyme about being born on a certain day of the week accurately reflects your personality? Why or why not?

*Were you born on a holiday? If so, which one?

*Which famous person do you share your birthday with? What is your opinion of these people?

*What saint day were you born on? If Catholic, do you pray to this saint? Do you feel he or she has helped you in any special way?

*Do you share a birthday with any of your ancestors or relatives? Or is your birthday the same date as an ancestor's or relative's date of marriage or death?

*What is your astrological sign? Do you think your sign fits you? What about your Chinese sign? Do you believe in astrology?

*What major events happened on the day you were born? What happened the year you were born?

*Where were you born?

*Were you born in a hospital, at home, or somewhere else?

*Why were you born where you were? Were your parents living in that town, or somewhere else?

*Who was in attendance at your birth?

*Is there an interesting story related to your birth?

*What do you know about the history of the place where you were born?

*Do you still live in the place where you were born? Why or why not?

See if you have a copy of the earliest photo taken of you, and add it to your journal.

Our topic next week will be Your Family. See you then!