What’s on Your 2009 Calendar?

Now is the time to think about goals for the new year and to consider your 2009 calendar. I’d like to offer a few things to think about.

  • Be realistic when setting goals.
  • Don’t overfill the calendar – leave time for spontaneity.
  • Remember -you have a family.
  • When scheduling family activities, check the your church calendar. There might be something already on their schedule  that you wouldn’t want your family to miss.
  • Plan vacations as soon as possible and get it on the your work calendar early to ensure less conflict later.
  • Go ahead, mark off dates and times that are current weekly routines. Examples: soccer practice, civic organization meetings, Wednesday evening prayer services etc.
  • When setting goals, leave weekly markers on your calendar to check your progress.
  • If you already know about an upcoming wedding, anniversary, baby shower etc place those on the calendar asap.
  • If you’ve already signed up to receive electronic bills in your email instead of paper bills in the mailbox, enter the name of the credit card company, utility company or other recipient on the calender under the correct due date. Do this for every month.
  • Consider a book style calendar as back-up to your electronic calendar.  Keep your monthly paper bills with your calendar in order to keep-up with what is due and when it is due.

By working on your 2009 calendar now, when things come to your attention to add to the calendar later, it won’t seem so overwhelming. Besides, you now have a heads up on what your new year is going to look like.


My Christmas Wish

My wish for you – friend
Is for you to find peace

That the whole world and
All you desire
Be at your feet

That all the people could see
The friend you have
Become to me.

That the love you feel today
Will be here to stay.

That the sorrow and sadness
You have felt
Has finally gotten up and left

That your heart will be filled with a
Song – lasting the whole year long

That the birth of the Christ child will
Give you faith, and the
Love of Jesus bring you grace

That the magic of Christmas
You feel today will never go away.

Merry Christmas My Friend!


By: Darlene G. Snyder

copyright 1994

Preserving Memories – What to Ask

So, now you decide you do want to take the steps toward preserving memories of family members.  Now what? If you have been reading my previous posts, you already have all the information you need to get you started.  If you haven’t read the previous blogs, you might want to check them out before reading this one. You know how to begin, what choices you have regarding recording and choosing the right location to record. All you need now are a few questions to get you started.

Before looking at my list of questions, have pen and paper nearby. When you read from my list, you might think of a few things to ask of your own. Write them down as you go so you won’t forget later.

Below are thirty questions to get you started.


Interview Questions


This is in no way a complete list of questions.  Once you begin talking to the interviewee, you may want to delve into something he or she brings up during the interview. Your family history isn’t like mine.  You certainly have the freedom to include questions that may be unique to your family.




  1. List as many of the names of your parents, grandparents and great grandparents as you can recall.  Include any of their siblings or pertinent family members. Include your siblings and their birth dates (if known).
  2. Expound on the earliest childhood memories you have.
  3. What was school life like for you?  How did you travel to school? What is your favorite and least favorite school memory?
  4. Recall Friends and classmates. What activities did you do with them?
  5. Who were some of your teachers? Mention any memories of them that you can recall.
  6. Did you graduate from high school? If so, describe what your graduation was like.
  7. List addresses, streets, towns or states that you have lived in.
  8. What was life like growing up in your household?  What types of disciplinary actions did your parents use against you?
  9. Describe the home you lived in as a child.  Walk through the house in your mind, and describe the smells, what you see and the sounds.
  10. Were there any family member who divorced? What were the circumstances surrounding the divorce?
  11. What do you remember most about your parents? Describe your mother – her appearance, mannerism and memories of her. Describe your father – his appearance, mannerism and memories of him.
  12. Did you go to church as a child?  If so, what was church life like?  Do you have favorite or least favorite memories of church when you were growing up?
  13. What denomination or religious upbringing did you and your family observe? Are you still observing the same religion? Why or why not?
  14. If you accepted Christ as your personal Savior, what age were you when you did so, and mention anything you recall about your conversion and baptism.
  15. Did you have any pets at home when you were a child?  Expound on memories of your pets.
  16. What was Christmas like when you were a child?  Did you receive many gifts?  What kind of gifts did you receive?
  17. What was life like growing up in your town, on your farm, in your city?
  18. What age did you begin to work outside the home? What jobs did you hold?
  19. How old were you when you began to date?  Who was your first boy or girl friend? 
  20. When did you learn to drive an automobile?  Are there any funny or not so funny stories to go along with the memory of learning to drive?
  21. How did you meet your mate?  What year did you marry? Who married you, preacher or judge? What kind of wedding did you have?  Did you go on a honeymoon?  If so, where?  If not, why?
  22. What was life like the early years of your marriage?  What age were you when you had your first child? Where were your children born? In a hospital or at home?
  23. List all of your children and their birthdays. 
  24. Do you have any funny stories you can share about raising your children?  Anything sad you care to mention. 
  25. Do you have advice for current day family members? 
  26. Is there anything else you can think to share about your past?
  27. Do have any stories about my father, mother etc you can share?
  28. Describe a defining moment in your life. The birth of your first child, a moment in time that changed you and your way of thinking, or something so dramatic or traumatic that it changed you.
  29. Describe hobbies, list favorite books or movies.
  30. When did you leave home? Describe you feelings of leaving as well as how your parents responded.


Other questions  you might consider may include criminal background, step family and health issues.


If there is no other information they can share, you may want to insert your questions here.  If at anytime during the interview you think of a question, feel free to ask it.  




Listening and transcribing



If your recorder is battery operated, make sure to replace or recharge the batteries.    When you are ready to transcribe, find a nice quite location to play back the tapes.  If your recorder has earphones, you will probably be able to transcribe sitting in front of your flat screen. 


Type word for word everything the interviewee said.  Don’t worry about sentence structure, correcting their English or punctuation.  The important thing is to get the words on paper the rest will come later.  If you took notes during the interview, this step may not be necessary.


You now should determine which direction you want to go.  You may choose to use this guide and simply fill in the blank on the Memoir sections.  When I transcribed my father’s memories, I made myself a word for word history. Later, when I organized it, I wrote from my voice telling what  my father relayed to me in the interview.


I hope you enjoyed these posts about preserving family memories. Let me know if you need any help and I’ll do what I can to guide you

I’d  enjoy reading your finished compilation when you complete it. Don’t worry about how long the process is – the thing you should remember is how precious the finished product will be when completed.






Part Two – Preserving Family Memories

Here are the next two tips concerning preserving family memories. If you missed the first tip, check the previous post for tip one.


Tip  2


Determine how you are going to record the memories.


When I chose to record my father, I chose to use a hand held mini cassette recorder.  It was small, easy to handle and not intimidating – not that my father would have been intimidated by a video camera. He would’ve performed rather that give me what I needed.  He enjoyed being in front of the camera and always acted silly. He liked to play too much – I would’ve been “chasing rabbits” if I video taped him.


  • I use a digital audio recorder now. With a digital recorder, if you have the right program, you can transfer the audio file to your computer for storage and future use. This works also work for a digital video recorder.


  • With video recording, you have another type of history preserved. You have how the person dressed, their mannerism and facial expressions to go along with their spoken words.


  • Whether audio or video, it doesn’t really matter.  What is important is just to record the memories of the person you chose to interview. Once you have the information recorded, you can transcribe them into written memories at your own pace and time.


  • Make sure to have extra batteries on hand and if using anything other than digital recording, have extra blank tapes with you.


Tip 3


Choose a location where the individual is comfortable and do your best to help them feel at ease.


  • Take care of preliminary matters before beginning the interview.  Make sure to have water, or soft drinks close by.  Once the interview begins, you or the interviewee may need something to wet a dry mouth. 


  • Help interviewee feel comfortable and at ease by starting out with small talk.


  • Once you are ready to begin, turn on recorder and start by using the questions ( I will provide sample questions with the next post). Since your hands will be free, you may wish to take notes.  This will help speed up the process of transcribing the audio tapes.


  • Take necessary breaks.  You want the interviewee to be comfortable.  Stretch your legs take bathroom breaks then get started on completing the interview.  Look for cues that your subject is getting tired or ready to stop.  If later you find you need more information, perhaps you can schedule a second interview.


I recorded my father in the family room of his house with the TV on and a nephew running through the house. My father was comfortable, didn’t mind talking and eagerly shared memories from his past. Whether it is done in your home, the person’s home or in a public location, it is important for them to be relaxed and comfortable.


Here is a portion of what I wrote when transcribing my father’s memories:


Daddy’s uncle Jessie had a team of mules that he loaned for the family to use when they moved to their farm. They were able to load everything they owned onto two wagons – corn, hay, furniture, chickens etc were loaded onto the wagons. When they arrived at the Madison/Garrard County line, they had to cross a wooden bridge. The horse that pulled the wagon was named “Old Jim.”  Old Jim wouldn’t cross the bridge because he could hear the wood creaking under the buggy and it scared him. He stopped and started backwards away from the bridge. My grandmother got off the buggy and took hold of  the mule’s bridle. My daddy and his brother Raymond took over driving Old Jim across the bridge while my grandmother pulled him. What a stubborn mule! Daddy recalled another time when Old Jim was so wild, bucking and kicking, that whoever was on the buggy had to jump off and run across the bridge while his mother held and pulled Old Jim.  


Let me know if you have any questions or comments.