I’m not really one to make scrapbooks, nor have I been good at keeping a paper journal for any period of time. However, I often wish that I was better at keeping a journal/scrapbook of my life. It is pretty cool to go back and see what I wrote when I was visiting Europe with my dad (one of the few times that I kept a journal). It is also fun to go back and dig through the box of pictures I took in the days before digital cameras. It is just difficult (at times) to remember the whole story behind the pictures.
I think the Internet can help. Or at least, I hope so. While Facebook, Instagram, and other social media can help us keep in touch with friends and families that spread across the globe, I don’t think they are that good from a perspective of a journal or scrapbook. I will admit that Facebook is trying when it brings up memories from years past in our feeds. But Facebook isn’t meant to be a journal nor a scrapbook. Of course there are services that allow you to take your Facebook feed and turn it into a printed book – and that may help.
But this is where, at least for me, a blog comes into play. I use this blog as a journal and scrapbook. And yes it is public, so that may limit what I put in it. But it is also available for me to add to and look back on from almost anywhere.
So, in early 2012 I decided to try the same approach with Will and Ben. I registered domain names for them (benjamincurtis.net and williamcurtis.net) and set them up their own blogs. Unlike this blog, theirs are password protected so only family and close friends can see what they post. I also figured that they could keep those domain names as theirs as they get older – as more people get domains it will be harder to get ones that are simple enough to remember.
They haven’t always loved writing, and most of the time I have to force/bribe them to write. But I try to get them to write a couple of times a month. But I think the result is well worth the effort. Since 2012, Will has written over 17,000 words in 300+ posts. Ben has written over 14,000 words in 250 posts. The posts don’t only cover what they do at this house (though it was mostly written here) and gives them a journal and scrapbook for over three years (and counting) of their childhood.
This month I’m trying something new. The blogs are mostly written by them, so it is their view of life. With a Isabella coming we decided that it would be good to allow us to write a private journal to the kids that they can read when they are an adult. So I set up email addresses for all three of them. Now the adults in their lives can send emails to the kids, and the emails will be held until they turn 18. When they turn 18, I will give them the passwords to the email accounts and they can read what we wrote to them over the years. I know it will only be a couple of years for Will and Ben – but hopefully they will find it interesting to see what we wrote to them as they are teenagers. With Isabella, she should get 18+ years of emails from her parents and grandparents (and maybe even Will and Ben).
So, how hard is this to set-up? It isn’t difficult. You could go the free route and get a free blog at WordPress or Blogspot. You can get a free email account from Google or other provider. But even deciding to go the route of a custom domain name isn’t too expensive. Registering a domain name is less than $20/year depending on what company you use. I am also able to host the sites and email accounts for less than $10/month – which includes multiple backups and a lot of space for pictures and email. The beauty of this approach is that when the boys grow up, I can hand them over their domain name, website and emails as one whole package.