When Matt left on his mission to Seattle I started a little newsletter for just our family. By this time my oldest two were married and my daughter was expecting her first child. I didn't want Matt to feel that he was left out of all the 'goings' on in our family especially with his first niece on the way. By this time I had stopped publishing the 'extended family' newsletter.
As with the previous newsletter (you can find more on that by clicking here), I just used a program that was already set up on my computer that had ready-made fill in the blank templates (I use Microsoft Publisher...it's old but I know it well and it works great for me). I chose a template that I liked and just filled in the blanks every month and change the photo with something free on the internet (you could also upload a photo that you have taken but I didn't want to put yet another pressure on myself...call me lazy). Change the color scheme each month to coordinate with the photo.
Here are some of the articles that we included:
The Main Event
This was really the focus of our family newsletter and that's how I wanted it to be. This way Matt was able to hear from even those who weren't super great at writing letters. This was space for everyone to write what was going on in their lives. I didn't edit it at all...ok, not much, just corrected spelling. I would type everyone's name in a little gray box (siblings, mom and dad, and spouses - see photo below) and everyone would just type a bit of what had been going on that month. Everyone comes home every Sunday evening for dinner and our family Gospel Study so it wasn't a big deal for everyone to just take a minute or two on a given Sunday. If you decide to do it that way, just make sure that everyone hits the 'save' button when they're finished with their bit...otherwise you may have to start over and that's a pain in the patootie! These were never done in 'birth order' rather whomever was around and wanted to be next...
Special Points of Interest
Guess I could have come up with a more catchy title but it was already in the template and I just didn't change it. This is where I would list family items that were coming up or needed to be added to their own calendars. It was the next best thing to having an actual calendar printed in the newsletter like I put in our extended family calendar (click here for that post)
Baby, Oh Baby!
This was fun. Here is where we would put photos of my daughter along with ultrasound photos and count down the weeks to her pregnancy. We also sent out a fun gender reveal package when they found out they were having a girl. (click here for that package)
This is where I would include updates on our missionary (my missionary is the one on the far left in the left photo giving everyone the 'thumb's up'). Sometimes this section was short, sometimes long...depending on what information I was getting from him at the time. If he was transferred I would try and figure out where he was living and stalk his apartment on Google Earth and insert a photo...it was SO difficult to get an address for him though as he was worried I would send mail there and it was against the rules), or I would put a bit about his new area...whatever did we do prior to the internet and Google search?
Out of the Mouths of Babes
I swear this was everyone's favorite part of the newsletter. It was here that we would record all of the funny things that people say that you just know you'll never forget but you do. Remember, babes don't have to be just the young ones...I've got a few VERY funny kids and they aren't so young anymore.
I have a teenage son who just loves to share funny things that he stumbles upon on the internet. Jeff came up with the idea that he could be in charge of this article so every month Colin would look for just the perfect comic, or photo, or something that tickled his funny bone. He's a great kid!
Not really an article but a great space filler when someone's article wasn't quite long enough. I tried to find quotes that matched the month, for example: November = gratitude quotes/scriptures.
Another article that Jeff cam up with...he's a keeper. This article was always written by Maren, my youngest. She would come up with a question and then ask or call or text everyone for their responses. In this case her question was: "What is your favorite Christmas tradition?" It was always fun to find out everyone's memories. Making everyone's responses in alternating tones (in the above case: black and charcoal) made everyone's answers a little easier to differentiate.
Including photos is not really an article either but it was one of our favorite parts of the newsletter. Missionaries really feel like they are missing out on what's happening. If you keep them caught up on things at home it can really help.
Here's my opinion, for what it's worth (which is not much)...if a newsletter works for your family then do it! If it is just an added stress or is not accomplishing your goals, then don't. And even if you start a newsletter, it is not set in stone. If something stops working then stop doing it. You have my permission. I found great joy in creating our family newsletters and hope that it helped my missionaries to feel that they were still included in the going's on at home.