Memories Across Time

Helping to preserve and keepsake special people & moments in your life.


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To Sleep or Not to Sleep?

When my oldest son was born I had lots of ideas in my head of how parenthood was going to be. I thought it would be easy to breastfeed. I thought he would be happy unless he was hungry, tired or wet. I thought he’d sleep in his crib from Day 1. I thought he’d sleep through the night after a couple of months. I thought it would be amazing, emotional, tiring and overwhelming all at the same time.

I was right about some of these. Wrong about others. Especially the sleeping. Boy was I wrong.

Logan was never a good sleeper from the day he was born. I heard parents talking about how their babies would sleep long naps throughout the day and then as they got older, started sleeping longer stretches through the night. I would look at them with a confused look on my face having no idea what they were talking about. Sleep was not something that came easily to Logan. He would fight his naps, and then sleep for 20 minutes. And we’d repeat this cycle all day long. At night, he’d fight his sleep, wake up several times during the night and then be up for the day at 6am. I can count on one hand the number of times he slept through the night, or even for more than 6 hours straight, during his first year. We were exhausted.

The one way I knew Logan would sleep long stretches is when he was laying next to us. I could get 8-10 hour stretches out of him this way, but I didn’t want to get in the habit of co-sleeping. However, when you are desperate for sleep, you forget about the expectations you once had.

Fast forward to today – Logan is almost four years old now and guess what? We still co-sleep. There are two groups of people who react when I tell them we co-sleep. The first group nods, emphasizes and tell us “you do what works for your family and what allows you all to get some sleep.” Then the other group constantly asks when he’s going to sleep in his own bed and if we are worried about him never sleeping on his own.

The truth is, I never imagined that we would ever co-sleep when we had Logan. But now, having co-slept for a few years, I’ve found that these are the most special times him and I have together. When we’re not too tired, Logan and I will find ourselves making shadow animals on the walls and ceilings in the bedroom. We’ll play ‘This Little Piggy’ over and over and over again. He’ll talk about his day, who got in trouble at school, and what his favorite thing was that happened. These are often the times he’ll open up to me about things that almost 4-year-olds need to talk about (i.e. the elephants that hide under his bed, how much he loves his little brother, if I’ll make him sausage for breakfast in the morning). He’ll snuggle right up next to me, get under my blanket, head on my pillow, drape his arm around me, give me a big hug and an Eskimo kiss goodnight.  I cherish these moments and rituals with him because I know one day, sometime very soon, he’ll want to sleep in his big boy bed and it won’t ever be the same.

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We’re going to need a bigger bed!

I hope one day, when Logan gets a little older, he’ll remember our nightly rituals and still ask to do them as I tuck him into his own bed, give him an Eskimo kiss goodnight, turn the light off and return to my room. For now though, I’ll hold on tight to these moments – even the ones that involve feet in my face or a kick to my back. Or that one horrible night I was awoken by him projectile vomiting all over our bed and me, but that’s a story for another day.

What nighttime rituals do you share with your kids? Or do you remember your parents doing with you?


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Memory Preservation: Tying Together the Past, Present and Future

Memory preservation is a way of telling and saving our stories, and leaving our marks in the world – with our family, friends, even the people at our places of work and in our social lives.  What and how we preserve our stories become placeholders in time, weaving and bridging together moments of our lives with the the lives of others. These moments can even become part of the larger history of our community and even world history. They can even become part of a larger sociological and archaeological history. Can you imagine one of your photos or stories being unearthed generations from now? What would the person who discovered this ‘artifact’ be able to learn from these? What would they want to know about you, your life or the microcosm and macrocosm of the larger community life?

Memory preservation is about remembering, documenting and putting into form the people and events that have occurred in your life. It provides the means by which to tell and share life stories, and can be done in a variety of ways:

  • Autobiographical writing (life story writing, life story books, scrapbooks/journals)
  • Photo preservation (scrapbooks memory books, photo albums, digitized photos, memory calendars, and quilts)
  • Heirloom and letter preservation
  • Oral histories
  • Video biographies
  • Genealogy

When we think of the importance of memory preservation, we think about how we’d like to be remembered and about the legacy we wish to leave behind.

Many people who write life stories like to write about the places they’ve been, the people they’ve met and the things that have happened to them…funny, sad and everything in between. They like to write about family, hoping their children will know how much they’re thought about and loved, and how important they are in their parent’s lives. Grandparents often write life stores to remember the events in their lives and leave a legacy for their children and grandchildren.

People often want to contribute to their larger world in this lifetime and for the next. Life stories can give context to one’s life. The can provide details not previously known. And maybe, just maybe, a life story, even a thread of one can send a reader/viewer on a search for more information, for greater pieces of your life or perhaps an entire generation or time in history. A personal story or photo can be interesting enough to search out greater pieces of your life and try to connect a photo to a story… a reunion of sorts. Personal story preservation can even create reunions between people, known and unknown.

Memory preservation is about the past, present, and future. Our lives are important, our individual stories unique. Consider how you might want to preserve your stories. It’s never too late to start.


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Writing Your Life Story – Where to Begin

Some people decide they want to write their entire life story without thinking about what this might entail. While this can be an overwhelming and challenging undertaking, it can also be one of your proudest moments as you hold the finished product in your hand – a document of your life, on paper.

Determining where and how to start can be overwhelming. After all, the mere thought of documenting decades of your memories, events, challenges and joys is enough to make anyone put down their pen and give up. “Do not despair! For those of you wishing to document your life across the decades, here are a few easy tips to help simplify the process of getting started:

  1. Consider why you are writing your story. Is it for your children? Your grandchildren? Do you want to give them a look at who you were or who currently are? Do you want to document some great, significant life accomplishments or events from your life? Or are you writing this for your own sense of self-satisfaction?
  2. Think about what and when you want to focus on. Do you want your story to start from your earliest memory, or perhaps a specific time period in your life – perhaps one of challenge or a fork in the road that brought you to where you are today? There is no set rule to what span of time or events you should focus on. The choice is up to you.
  3. Get organized. Before sitting down to write, make a list of what you want to write about. You might even create an outline to help you along. Spark your memory for story prompts. Look through photos, saved greeting cards, children’s drawings – any papers you might have at home, or at relative’s homes, that will generate a memory for a story you might like to write.
  4. Think about if you will follow a theme through your story. Do you want to focus on your accomplishments? Your family? Community? Most likely your story or stories will revolve around a main theme however, you might find that as you compile your stories, a major theme unfolds, one that your memoir can wrap itself around as the theme, or even title, of your book.  Remember, your life story can focus on just one part of your life or be a comprehensive book that spans your lifetime. Regardless of what you decide upon, choosing a central theme for your story is a way to maintain cohesiveness throughout your storytelling.
  5. Consider how you want to be remembered. As you write your stories, consider how you want to be known and remembered. After all, these stories are about you, good and well, or perhaps not so good! Think about how you want your readers to know and remember you and be sure to let them know this in the stories you write. Show some emotion. Let the reader connect with you on a personal level. Often, some of the best life stories are those where the reader feels he is living your life with you, complete with good times and challenging ones.

And most importantly, write, and keep writing. Don’t be afraid to start or think you don’t have enough stories to start writing. Just write. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling right away. The important thing is to get your thoughts on paper. Editing can come later. And if you don’t feel like writing one day, not to worry. Write when the mood strikes. Writing your stories should come from your heart rather than a place of “I must” or “I should”.

We’ll talk more about details with writing your lifestory, writing other lifestories, and how to publish your stories, in future posts. In the meantime, you might want to read this article which gives a great way to organize and think more about your life story when you are just starting out:

10 Themes of Legacy Writing

Happy writing!


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7 Simple Ways to Create Memories

Many memories are created when you least expect it. They’re not forced nor are they planned. They come from the experience and feeling of the event. They can be made at large family events, or during the smallest moments – like baking cookies with your kids, taking a walk with your parents, playing a board game with your family, the laughter of a moment, or the tears of another. They can be based on traditions, rituals, or every day life, and often happen when we find ourselves breaking out of our daily routines and experiencing something new.

If the idea of breaking your routine sends chills down your spine, I, too, know this feeling. And the more I think of it, the harder it becomes. What I’ve learned is that breaking out of a routine doesn’t have to be challenging.  The simpler you keep it, the easier it is, both to do AND to experience.

Here are 7 simple, low stress ways to break out of your routine and hopefully create new memories:

  1. Try something new. We all have hobbies and things we love to do. Most likely, we don’t share all our same interests with our kids, our spouse or our friends and families. Why not try something you’ve never done before and see what happens? If your spouse loves playing video games to relax, try playing one with him. If your kids play soccer every evening in your yard, try joining them one night for some family fun. If one of your friends loves hosting parties and cooking new foods, offer to host and cook for a future party. You might find you enjoy these new experiences so much that they start to become part of your ‘new’ routine.
  2. Take a walk. Being in nature can refresh your mind, body and spirit. Taking a walk and getting fresh air can turn a bad mood into a good one. A walk by yourself can allow you to be more present in your life.  You can also walk with others. For those of you with children, a short walk can be the perfect time to hunt for treasures, identify different types of cars, flowers and trees along your stroll. With your partner, it can be some quiet ‘we’ time.
  3. Go on a trip. Whether it be a three hour or weekend get away, taking a trip can be a good way to get out of your routine and have new experiences. Even a one hour trip to a new playground, park, beach, or even shopping mall or thrift store – being in a new environment can open you up to new experiences to take home as new memories.
  4. Be creative. When my oldest son was three years old, he was painting on some paper. He decided to take it a step further and see what would happen if he painted himself. The next thing I knew, his entire arm was painted red and blue.  He told me he was Spiderman! Despite my anxiety at the thought of cleaning him up, I couldn’t help but laugh at his imagination and creativity. You don’t have to be an artist or a crafty person to create. All you need is imagination. Whether it’s colored pencils, paint, stickers or a sheet of paper, you have easy tools at your fingertips. Sit down by yourself and give yourself permission to have fun. No masterpieces allowed! Just the feeling of freedom and experience that comes from the simple act of creating that allows for a new memory.
  5. Find a cause and volunteer. Do you have time on your hands and are feeling bored? Consider volunteering for an event. There are plenty of options as organizations are always looking for volunteers.  Take part in a charity walk, write letters to soldiers, sick children or adults in the hospital, or walk dogs at your local animal shelter. If you have children, enlist them in volunteering as well.
  6. Be spontaneous! As a planner, I love and need routine. Oftentimes, it’s hard from me to stray from what I’ve planned out in my mind, and my written planner. But, I’m learning to be more spontaneous, if only for a half hour or an hour … even a day. I’m learning to take one day a week to just go with the flow of the day. I guarantee you, you’ll have new experiences and from this and new feelings and memories to consider. And finally….
  7. Let your kids make the plans…and be present with them. If you have children, why not let them plan the day? Let them take the reigns on how to spend a few hours or even an entire day. Maybe they want to play with Legos, color, bake cookies, or just watch movies all day.  Or maybe they want to do a variety of things, inside and outside. Whatever the day brings, document it with photos. You might even want to capture some of their comments in writing for future use. Be present with your children, play with them – experiencing and helping to make memories with them, for them and for you, but also give them their own alone time, time that also assists them in memory making.

 

Getting our of our daily routine can open new doors to create and welcome fresh memories for yourself and loved ones. What could be more wonderful than this?


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Catch a Memory, Pass It On

Memories fade, traditions change, people grow apart, and once we’ve passed on, our memories pass on too. But words and photos can live on, if well preserved.

So often people tell me they wished they’d taken a picture of an event, a person, or a celebration. They say this because they regret not having a visual image of a moment in time they wished they had captured. Today, in the days of Smart phones with built-in instant camera access, it’s not hard to take photos of daily life or special events. But to some, taking photos, or jotting down notes to capture these moments doesn’t come naturally.

I’ve always had an instinctual passion to preserve my memories. Whether it’s been through photo books, quote books, journals, or keepsakes, it’s been important for me to physically record people and events in my life so that it’s captured for the future. Certainly it’s easy to take thousands of pictures over a span of time but when you look back at these pictures what will you remember about them? Will you remember why you were crying in one, or why you saved a photo of a cardinal on the tree in your backyard? What about the photo of your child laughing so hysterically he had tears running down his cheeks or a smile on his face? What was happening that prompted you to take that picture? For some, they want to capture the moment in photos and words. They want others who see the photo and written memory to feel as though they are living the moment itself.

Capturing photos and written memories is key in being able to memorialize a moment for future reflection. A photo memory can remind one of how things were and how they’ve changed. They can elicit an emotion of the past or current. This blog is one way I can preserve the stories of my life and the people in it. One day I’ll gather all these stories together and preserve them in printed book form for each of my children. Hopefully through this type of memoir they’ll get to know me more deeply and perhaps more meaningfully.

If you’re interested in preserving some of your memories but don’t know where to start, the best thing I can tell you to do is start simple and small. Take pictures, print them and put them in a small photo album with a scribbled note about what you wish to remember. Be sure to date the photo and note or identify any people in the photo as there’s nothing worse than looking at a picture sometime in the future and not knowing who the people are or when the photo was taken. For you digital people reading this, you might want to keep a Word document with your notes and photo insertion, saving the document as you finish a page. I’ll be writing future blog posts about ways to preserve memories but for now, I hope you find this a good start.

It really doesn’t matter how you choose to preserve your memories. The important part is that you do so in a way that keeps these memories from fading over time. We have the opportunity to tell our stories such that they stand the span of time. When and how will you begin?


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Importance of Memory Preservation

What is family memory preservation and why is it important?

Memory preservation is a way of telling our stories, saving our stories and leaving our marks in the world – with our family, our friends, even the people at our places of work and in our social lives.  What we preserve of our stories becomes placeholders in time, knitting and bridging the memories and tines of our lives with the lives of others.

We and the events in our lives take their place in the larger history of our community…even world history!  Our stories can even become part of a larger sociological and archaeological history.  Can you imagine one of your photos or stories, a torn page of a photo album or journal being unearthed generations from now? What would the person who discovered this think? What would they want to know about you, your life, and what this shard of history meant in the microcosm and macrocosm of life?

Memory preservation is about remembering, documenting and putting into form the people and events that have occurred in your life.  Memory preservation provides the means by which to tell and share life stories, in a variety of ways:

  • Autobiographical writing (life story writing, life story books, scrapbooks/journals)
  • Photo preservation, scrapbooks memory books, photo albums, digitized photos, memory calendars, and quilts
  • Heirloom and letter preservation
  • Oral histories
  • Video biographies
  • Genealogy

When we think of the importance of memory preservation, we think about how we’d like to be remembered.  We think about the legacy we want to leave behind.

Many people who write life stories like to write them about the places they’ve been, the people they’ve met and the things that have happened to them … funny, sad and everything in between. They like to write about family, hoping their children will know how much they’re thought about and loved, and how important they are in their parent’s lives.  Grandparents often write life stores to remember the events in their lives and leave a legacy for their children and grandchildren.

People often want to contribute to their larger world in this lifetime and the next. Our life stories can give context to our lives as they were. Perhaps too, whomever finds this part of you will be interested enough to search out greater pieces of your life and try to connect a photo to a story … a reunion of sorts.

Memory preservation is about the future as much as it is about the present and the past. Our lives are important; our stories are unique.  Consider how you can contribute to making memory preservation a part of your life.


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C is for Cookie

Food seems to spark a lot of memories for people. It can bring back emotions and memories of holiday meals, bonding over cooking campfire food, and special family “secret recipe” dishes. For me, one of my earliest memories involving food was going to my gramma’s house.

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My brothers and me after a breakfast of lumpy cream of wheat.

I remember always looking forward to trips to her house. Once we got through the VERY long hour and a half car ride to her house, I knew a lot of fun times were waiting for me. My gramma and I had a lot of fun together. I’d hide under this tiny little table in her living room and wait for her to find me. We’d play Old Maid together and watch tv shows before falling asleep. She’d cook me “lumpy” cream of wheat for breakfast every morning and we’d hang out in her basement playing ping pong. But the best thing I remember about going to gramma’s house is the chocolate chip cookies she baked for my brothers and me. These were not just any chocolate chip cookie. These were chocolate chip cookies times 10!

Gramma’s chocolate chip cookies were so big that we needed two hands to carry them. And, they took us a couple of days to finish. AND, they had the initial of our first name spelled out in the middle of them with these tiny, delicious, chocolate chips. But, the very best thing about them was before we could eat them, we had to find them as they were hidden in her house!

Gramma would hide them anywhere they would fit. My brothers and I would run around the house searching for the cookie with our initial on it. And no, if you found someone else’s you couldn’t tell them! I remember finding one in the bathtub, under the bed, and in the closet.

It’s been 13 years since we lost my gramma but the memory of her and the chocolate chip cookie lives on. I have yet to make a giant cookie for my boys but I will soon. Hopefully, it will become one of our traditions and a wonderful memory for each of them. My oldest son already loves baking with me, especially licking the spoon. I’m sure he’ll enjoy running through the house looking for his cookie (with his initial on it?) and I might have to make some dog cookies for our two little food snatchers to keep them away from the real ones. Maybe too, I’ll even change the game into a scavenger hunt or plant clues in various places in order to find the hidden cookies.So many possibilities to start OUR new tradition!

Tell me, what is your earliest and most happy memory involving food?

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My gramma, Ruth.