With so many siblings growing up, how did your parents ensure that you and your siblings were close to one another? You and your siblings all seem to close and just have so much love for one another. How did your parents instill that in you all growing up? I want that so badly for all our children, but we have two daughters that are just the best of friends, which is wonderful. But I sure do hope that all our kids can have a close bond together like our two daughters do. 

I honestly think the biggest thing we did was travel a lot.  (see some examples HERE and HERE and HERE.)  The only people we had to hang out with were each other so we figured we better get along, but also there weren’t all the distractions hanging around like we have today: the constant social media, computer games, constant contact with the outside world.  We were a cocoon of a family and we actually talked to each other instead of texting all the time.  

Of course, times are different now.  

Most of us can’t take off to live somewhere else and like it or not, social media is part of life.  I often have goals of having one day to “unplug” each week, but we kind of do that with Family Home Evening (encouraged by our church and something I am forever grateful for…HUGE to help foster family relationships).  

I also think our “Tutor/Tutee” system helped (over HERE).  We were assigned a sibling to “watch over” each week, and we all know that when we are caring for someone else we fall more and more in love with them (motherhood is the perfect example).

I think your two daughters will set the trend for the rest of the family if you keep fostering that, and I think the biggest thing is that YOU are aware and you are looking for ways to keep that going.  THAT, in my mind is the biggest factor.  When a parent wants something to happen it is in the forefront of your mind and new ideas will come as you search and pray for them.  

Can you teach me about head shots too? 
(In response to my little lesson I gave Grace in the last post.)

Much more on photo tips back HERE and HERE…and a lot of other places on this blog, but my most important thing for head shots is find good lighting (talked about how in those posts), don’t do mug-shot-front-on shots, and always, always focus on the eyes.

I’m trying to figure out a good way to do journaling for my two girls and our family. . Do you print your blog into books or do you do online scrapbooking or anything in addition to your blog? I’m trying to figure out the best “system” where I can record pictures and journaling but would also like to print or have a hard copy. I’d love to know what has worked for you!

I’m so worried about this very thing!  I have nothing printed out from this blog!!  It just feels like such a huge undertaking it makes me too overwhelmed.  I know this question has come up before, and I know other people have had great advice but I’ve been too overwhelmed to act on it.  What I would love to do, at this point, is hire someone to put together some blog books for me.  My sis-in-law does it amazingly well and has a great system, but she’s too busy.  If anyone has any ideas send them right on over!

I love that you and Dave make date night a priority. What do you usually do for date night? Do you have any fun ideas other than going out to dinner? 

Lately we are boring and just go to dinner when we can sneak away.  We just want a chance to talk amidst the sea of activity that it going on around here.  When we can we like to drive into the city because the driving time is good talking time too.  Sometimes we’ll go out with friends, and very rarely we’ll go to movies (we like them but we can never seem to get there!)  Maybe after we move we can get creative again and go on a bike ride or hike here or there.  I think “dating” after your married can’t be underestimated, even if it is just a dinner get-away.  

Have you ever had kids make self loathing comments that really worry you? They try so hard to be so good, and if they have one small reprimand, say “i’m so horrible” or “I’m just not responsible” ? It breaks my heart, and I’m currently trying to combat that with extra love, encouragement, and complements, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to snap them out of it. two of my kids…it seems to be trickling down… 

That’s a tough one.  I think you’re right, that kind of stuff does trickle down so it’s great if you can stop it in it’s tracks.  I think the extra love and encouragement is perfect, but also maybe they just need to talk it out.  One of my favorite books is “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk”  I love it because it helps remind me that sometimes when kids say stuff like that they just need a listener.  It recommends to sometimes just give a one-word prompt to let your kids vent, like “Oh really?  You feel that way?” and just let them talk.  Sometimes I think we parents are so quick to jump in and say “oh of course you’re not!” or “You’re the best kid on the planet!” when maybe those kids just really want to talk something out that really is a deep concern.  They need to feel validated and come up with a concrete solution together with someone who loves them unconditionally (even little kids need this sometimes).

I don’t know if that helps or not but boy howdy that book has helped me think.  It is HERE
if you’re interested in checking it out.


  1. Concerning the question regarding blog printing/journaling:
    This thing has been on my mind a ton lately, and totally stressed me out. After a lot of research and thought, I'm trying something new this year. I work on my book (I use Mixbookcom) on the last day of every month and try to pull the most important journal entries and photos from that month to fit on a few pages. That way, I'm not scrambling to remember at the end of the year what happened clear back in February, and it can be done in just 10-20 minutes time. So far (January and February, ha) I'm liking this method. But I'd love to hear other people's ideas!

  2. For the blog books – I use Mixbook as well and love it. I like Kelsi's idea of dedicating a specific time each month to work on it. (Thanks, Kelsi! I'm SO doing this!)

    P.S. I am incapable of cutting any of the pics/journal entries, so end up copying over the entire post with all pics instead. It's more expensive, but worth it to me.

  3. I print my blog book at the end of every year. I use Blog2Print and it is easy-peasy!! You just have to select the dates you want printed, choose one of the color and design options for you book cover, choose a photo for the cover of your book and back of your book. You have the option to write a dedication at the front of the book. You get to select full color, or black and white. You choose if you want it to print as it appears in the blog, or if you want them to compile it to best fit space (saves some pages). I used the compilation option the first time and decided it is worth it to print it "as is" so my photos are actually in place with the descriptions written underneath or above them. You also get to choose if you want a hard bound book or a soft cover book. I always get the hard bound because I want these to be as protected as possible. This is our history.
    I blog regularly and I am a photo freak, so I have a lot of pages in my books. A hard bound, full color book with lay out as it appears on the blog is usually around $80-100.
    Obviously, black and white and soft bound are less expensive. It also does a Table of Contents at the beginning. I usually delete that to save a few bucks.
    Blog2Print does have discounts and coupons offered pretty regularly.
    I love my blog books. I will often find my teenagers looking through them with smiles and giggles.
    Anyway- I have been VERY happy with my blog books. They do a great job. It only takes about 20 min. to order a blog book. You type in your blog address and it pops up into a book for you to see. It's pretty fun. 🙂

  4. I love putting my journals and pictures together to tell our story. I use Heritage Makers to preserve our lives in storybooks. I love it so much! You can check into it here: http://www.pictureyourstories.net. I love Kelsi's idea and I actually do the same thing only at the beginning of each month. I add photos and journal for the previous month into a chosen HM storybook template (you can start from scratch, but I don't have time for that). I am trying to stay on top of this year so that I can get caught up on other years. By Jan. 2015 our 2014 Family Yearbook will be complete, published and sitting on our table to enjoy special memories. My kids love looking at books about our family and themselves. I hope this helps!

  5. I totally second Blog2Print!!! It's SOOOO easy. Just type in your blog address and the starting and ending dates that you want to print. And the site does the rest for you!! Oh, you do have to pick a picture for your cover, but that's not too hard. I print mine each year and they come in beautiful hardbound books. It seriously wouldn't take any time at all for you to do. And the price is fairly reasonable too. Check them out!!

    But I also love the idea of having your girls make them as a Personal Progress value project. That's brilliant!

  6. I have a blog for our missionary sons, they each have their own blog. I put letters and photos that they send us (I keep it private and edit anything private or personal). I printed our oldest sons using Blog2print for him for Christmas and it was so easy! He loves it. He has only been home for 7 months and I've caught him looking through it quite a few times. When our second son comes home in Nov. I'll print his out and then probably print a copy of them for us to keep.

  7. I've used blurb to print me blog the last several years and have been really happy with it. My kids love to look through and remember all of the fun thing we have done together.

  8. I don't typically comment, but I feel compelled because this has been such a source of concern for me as well. I only wanted books of my blog entries if the book was put together in a pretty and perfect package, but I finally realized that my blog could benefit my family more if it were printed in ANY format.

    I bit the bullet and ordered my blog books from blog2print (they offer 15% off deals all the time). Ordering a blog book from them literally takes minutes. The layout of the books looks exactly as it does on my blog, but my girls don't seem to care about that at all as they read our blog books regularly – I find our blog books on nightstands next to their beds, in the family room spread out on an end table, or sometimes they even bring them in the car.

    My girls constantly refer to our blog entires, which is something that wouldn't happen if they didn't have a book to read about them in. Our blog books remind us about things in our lives that we would forget without a record to read. Now that I see how valued these books are to my family, I am so glad I went ahead and printed them out even though they are not perfect. I have printed separate books for each year and now that I'm caught up, my plan is to order a new book at the end of each year.

    I am reminded of something "flylady" says – housework done incorrectly still blesses your family. And so it is also with blog books. Whether you have resources that will give you a perfect book or whether you have to settle for less than ideal, get your blog printed. It's not the layout of the book, but the messages from the heart that will bless your family. Let us know what you end up doing!

  9. I use blog2print to make a book for my blog each year. It automatically does the book for you, and there is minimal effort required to make sure it's put together the way you want.

  10. I use a company called "Blog2Print" to print my blog each year. It takes just a few minutes because they set it all up for you.
    You type in your blog address, the dates of the posts you want included, a few other preferences and then you can see a proof of your book before you purchase it. Depending on the size of your book, it can be a little pricey but this is my "journal" and I feel that it's so worth it!
    There are a couple of limitations to it but they are also worth it to me because I don't have to do so much work. The biggest thing I wish I could change is the size of the pictures. You choose one size for all of your pictures and that's that.

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