A few days ago, a friend I hadn't seen in awhile—a woman who has four young sons—smiled at my daughter Haley and then asked me a question no one has before. "Don't you simply love having a teenaged daughter?"
I really had to pause and think before I could answer her. I so clearly remember what I thought having a teenaged daughter would be like: the long, late-night conversations, the laughing together at the mall, the way she'd ask for my advice and I'd always have just the right bit of wisdom to give her. Of course, my idealistic imaginings are nearly nothing similar to what it's really like—the moodiness and the eye rolling and the fact that those long, late-night conversations mostly happen between her and her friends. (We do have a great time together at the mall, though!) I do love having a teenaged daughter, but it is much, much harder than I ever imagined.
I think we all have those idealistic views of what a certain experience will be like, and it's usually pretty different once we experience the reality of it. That's what today's LRN approach is all about: looking at similarities (comparisons) and differences (contrasts) between two different things. I'm hoping the "compare and contrast" idea doesn't conjure up ugly images of high-school English for anyone because really: this isn't a compare and contrast essay! Instead, it's a way of seeing your life (or your subject's) from a new perspective.
To write a compare-and-contrast-style piece of journaling for a LRN layout, you need a subject (yourself, a child, a friend, your spouse or pet or place you live or whatever you want to scrap about) and something else (another person, place, thing, or idea) to compare and contrast with. How, for example, are your cat and your husband the same, and how are they different? Or, here's another example.
In this layout, I compared and contrasted my son Jake with myself. At our house, since my oldest was about eight, everyone has been in a race: who can grow taller than Mom first? My son Jake is only about a half inch away from this long-longed for accomplishment (Haley's even closer), and I wanted to document what he's like right now, before he reaches the taller-than-mom height. The photo makes the visual point. The journaling—ways we are similar, ways we are different—illustrates the stuff the photo can't. (It also uses the classic Venn diagram way of organizing words.) In the "J" and the "A" boxes are the differences—he hates to mow the lawn, I love it; he does sit ups and push ups every day but I go running. In the "we" box are the similarities, little details like our shared obsession for mashed potatoes.
Here are a few more ways to compare and contrast on your LRN layouts:
- How is your subject's life right now different than you expected, say, five years ago? How is it exactly what you hoped for?
- How do you hope your subject's life will be different in the future? How do you hope it stays the same?
- Write about an old item and a new one. (I've got a layout bubbling around in my head right now, comparing and contrasting the quilt I am working on right now with the quilt that will be put away once the new one's finished.)
- Compare and contrast your subject with his/her favorite toy, character in a book or movie, or activity. (For example: how is your Harry-Potter crazed son just like Harry, and how is he different? How is hanging out with your new husband similar to taking a stroll along the beach?)
- Draw a connection between your subject and a person he/she never knew by writing down the similarities and differences. (Jake is so much like my grandpa Fuzz, who died decades before Jake was born.)
- Is there an object that you associate with your subject? How are they alike and different? My youngest, Kaleb, for example, has always reminded me of a puppy: he's rolly-polly and clumsy-footed in that endearing way that puppies have, and he's stubborn and ferocious and protective. He smells much better than a puppy, though. And he's housebroken!
- What is something stable in your life right now that you know will change soon?
- In your general, day-to-day life, what changes, what stays the same?
- Look at at how someone changes in a short period of time. Jody Dent-Pruks does that in this layout:
In just two hours, look how her son's body language has changed! (I am totally stealing this idea when Haley goes in for her driver's license!)
Admittedly, the compare and contrast approach will push you a little bit. The way to write the list and present it might be a challenge. But I think you'll find you love the results. Let me know if you try it!
Bonus Downloads and a Few More LRN Layout Ideas
I can't end the week without a few extras. First up: a quick list of other LRN approaches you can take:
Think small by recording just one life-right-now moment. Maybe the day you do your photo shoot is the day your toddler first says the word "flower." Maybe a new nickname is invented, or a family saying, or you have a funny conversation. Donna Jannuzzi recorded one for this sweet layout:
Write about an object that has a small but important role in your life right now (I’m planning a LRN layout about the water bottle I bought at the beginning of the summer, detailing its journeys with me through the hot months)
Take an inventory (of your fridge, pantry, closet, car trunk, purse, diaper bag, the space underneath your bed)
Focus on something specific, such as your pile of library books, the diet/exercise plan you are working on, your redecorating plans. Marnie focused on her favorite TV shows (both the ones still running and the ones that have been wrapped up or canceled):
Mix up more than one LRN approach. Make a two-page layout, for example, with rambling journaling on one side and, say, stats on the other.
Now for the bonus downloads. A couple of you wanted the summer survey pdfs. with the Australian spelling of "favourite." Here you go:
Download Summer survey cards black au (the Australian version in black)
Download Summer survey cards au (the Australian version in color)
Also, a couple of people have asked for the birthday survey I mentioned on Tuesday. I'm attaching the list of questions I use here:
Download Birthday surveys (the Word format)
Download Birthday surveys (the .pdf)
(the .pdf file is there in case you don't have Word. The formatting is nothing thrilling.)
The file contains five different birthday surveys. I've used at least one for nearly every birthday my kids have had. Sometimes I use two, and I've even done a few layouts with allof them. I always modify the questions just a little bit, so they apply better to the person being surveyed. (One-year-olds, for example, don't really care much about video games.)
OK then—until I host again! Thanks for playing along with me this week!