While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On being called out for bad-mouthing:
Many years ago, while staying with my mother-in-law and brother-in-law, I overheard them saying negative things about something I had done. Later in the afternoon, I told my mother-in-law that I had heard them. I was close to tears, but explained myself. I also said I didn't want this to come between us, so I thought I should tell her that I had heard her.
Who knows, there may have been truth in what they said, but the part of the story that's important was my mother-in-law's answer: "Please forgive me." No excuses, no snarky remarks, just that.
We went on from there, and I will always remember how classy that remark was and that she took my hand and looked me right in the eye when she said it.
I'm a lot older now and I have had the opportunity, with a sister-in-law, to use this woman's wise answer for a hurtful thing I said. I think it was the only appropriate response.
On recording the hectic years when children are young:
We created a large chalkboard in our kitchen, and it is usually full of random scribbles about the day's events, special occasions, drawings, even my niece and nephew learning to write their names, etc. Once the chalkboard can hold no more, every four to six weeks, I take a picture of it, then erase everything. Then I always make sure to write the "start" date on the clean chalkboard. The idea is to take all of the pictures over the years of the chalkboard and put them into an album or scrapbook one day so we can follow the time line of what was written when. We have only done this for about 1 1/2 years, but already enjoy looking at the digital photos of months-ago doodles.