Memories Across Time

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


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Doggy Love

I love my dogs. I mean, I realllllllllllllly love my dogs.

The year I turned 11, I opened one of my Hanukkah presents from my parents. It was a stuffed poodle. I looked at them with a confused expression – why would an 11 year old want a stuffed poodle? Then I read the card. It said something along the lines of “this was a substitute until we got a real one next summer.” I was ecstatic! We were getting a dog!!!

The following summer, my mom brought home a six month old cocker spaniel named Lady. The first day I met her I was terrified. I tried to hold her but she was squirming around in my arms so much that I ended up dropping her on her back. I was so upset that I ran into the house and wouldn’t come out.

Over the years though, Lady and I became best buds. My siblings and I would dressher up as an astronaut by putting tinfoil over her paws. We’d take her rollerblading (she ran while we held onto the leash and she pulled us) and, we’d sneak her animal crackers when my parents weren’t looking.

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My beloved Lady.

We lost Lady when she was just shy of 13 years. I had never felt a loss like this before.

It took five years before I was ready to get another dog. I was dating Ben, who would later become my husband. After a year of dating, he took a job opportunity in New Jersey with the plan that I’d move there six months later. Before he moved, we went looking for a dog, another cocker spaniel of course, and a few hours later I was on the phone with my mom shedding tears of joy and shouting “We got a puppy!!! We named him Jasper!!!”

I documented Jasper’s every move much like a new mom would her newborn. I took photos of his first bath, his first time walking up the stairs by himself, his first trip to the vet, the first time he lost one of his teeth, his first birthday, and the first time he

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Jasper, the night I brought him home.

played with his ball. I was hopelessly in love. Jasper and I moved to New Jersey six months later where we were happily reunited with Ben.

Then came Frou (pronounced “Froo”), a companion for Jasper. I was taking Jasper over to our new pet sitter who, unbeknownst to me, was fostering a beautiful female cocker spaniel. I never thought about getting a second dog but when I saw how Jasper and Frou interacted together, it was like they were dog soulmates. I bounced back home and begged Ben to get a second dog. He was hesitant, saying it would be a lot of work and expense but in the end, he agreed to let Frou come over on a trial basis. Eight years later she’s still a part of our family and we now refer to our dogs simply as “Frousper”.

Jasper and Frou have helped make our home joyful. However, since our kids were born, Jasper and Frou’s outside playtime has been shorter and they often get shushed when they are barking while the baby is sleeping. There are moments though, in the middle of the night when I’ve just put Cameron back to sleep and I’m the only one awake, that I’ll sit on the couch and Jasper will jump up, curl on my lap, and we snuggle, taking me back to the days when it was just the two of us.

If we are fortunate enough, Frousper will be with us for many years. I often think about how we will all cope the day we lose them. I know I will be heartbroken, but I also know there will be so many happy memories to reflect upon. Hopefully, my children will have wonderful memories of them too, regardless of how old they are.

To preserve my memories of them, I created a dedicated photo journal of our moments together. I also took one of my favorite photos of each of them and after two months, and 10,000 stitches per photo, turned them into decorative pillows that grace our couch today.

If you have pets, how do your preserve your moments and memories of them?


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Meeting Little Brother

“Mommy, you have a baby in your belly,” my 3-yr old son told me one day when I picked him up from school. I laughed and told him how cute he was. A few days later, I found out we were expecting our second child.

Logan was so excited at the thought of being a big brother. He couldn’t wait to meet the new baby, share his toys, and have someone at home to play with. I told him how awesome it was to have siblings, sharing growing up stories with him about my sisters and brothers. I couldn’t wait to see the memories they would build throughout the years.

Honestly though, I wasn’t sure how he would transition once his new brother arrived. I’d read and heard about regression that might happen when you bring home a new baby and new feelings of confusion, jealousy, and even anger that may arise. So I did what I could to prepare him to meet this new person who would soon be filling our home with laughter, cries, screams and smiles. We read books about being a big brother, sorted through old clothes that were once his that now his brother would soon wear, and talked about what it would be like to have a brother.

Shortly before my due date, I took Logan shopping to choose a toy to give his new brother when he arrived. He chose a small car rattle that made noises when shaken. We found a little bag, placed the toy inside, and then put the bag in the car to have at the hospital when the time came.

I also wanted to do something special for Logan for after the baby arrived. I researched the Internet for ideas about ways to introduce new babies to their siblings and found a great one for a ‘Big Brother Bag’ – a bag that the new baby “gives” to their sibling after they are born.

I filled this bag with lots of goodies – a coloring book, new cars, a book about being a big brother, snacks, a puzzle, and a small art kit I’d sewn – all things to keep him busy at the hospital. I hid the bag in our closet for a few weeks hoping Logan wouldn’t find it before it was time. Fortunately, he didn’t!

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All the goodies in the bag!

Once Cameron arrived, Logan was the first one (after Daddy of course) tomeet him. He quietly walked into the hospital room, unsure of what was going on or why he was there. He curled in my lap and seemed to finally make the connection that the little baby that used to be in my belly was now sleeping in a tiny little bed next to mine. A few minutes later,he leaned over to see the baby and I could see excitement and love shine through his eyes and in his smile. He took the bag with the little car toy in it and showed it to Cameron and then tucked it away for when Cameron got a little bigger and could play with it. I told him Cameron also brought him a little gift and handed him the bag. He quickly ripped everything open and busily occupied himself with all the fun gifts his new little brother had brought him.

What a fun way this was to make an older sibling feel special during this very memorable family moment. If you have more than one child, what are some things you did that made your older child(ren) feel special when you had a baby?

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Logan meeting little brother, Cameron.

 


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What Will YOU Remember?

I’ve been pondering the idea of starting this blog for several years now but something always got in the way…..family commitments, holiday planning, arts and craft projects, work, batch cooking, trips to the playground…..you name it. I’ve always been the kind of person who needs to be working on multiple projects at once – both in my professional and personal life. It keeps me motivated, keeps me inspired and keeps my creative yearnings satisfied. It wasn’t until recently, after the birth of my second son, and after a sad loss to our family, that something clicked in my mind that this was the time to follow-through with what I’ve desired to do for many years. So here I am…reaching out to you with what I hope will allow you a look into one of my many passions – creating experiences, traditions and keepsakes to preserve special memories and people in our lives.

Imagine yourself sitting around the dinner table at the holidays…your kids are older, you’re older, some of your beloved pets or family members may have passed….and you find yourself talking about memories that make you laugh, cry and smile. Are these memories made up of family vacations or celebrations? The birth of your children? Your wedding? That time that your toddler threw himself on the floor in the middle of Target throwing a tantrum over that $2 toy that he just HAD to have that second? Memories are cherished gifts in your mind, meant to last a lifetime and to bring a sense of bonding and connection to those you share them with. Memories can never replace a thing, a person, a pet or an experience. But they can awaken our senses and bring us back to that person or moment in time…the smell of a passed loved one’s shirt, a song on the radio that reminds you of your 7th grade dance when you had your first kiss, the poster on your child’s wall displaying snapshots of him that you worked so hard to create to showcase at his 1st birthday party.

The way we create experiences and preserve our memories can be key to opening up the emotions that bring you back to those places in years to come. I often find myself looking at my young children and hoping that they will remember certain things we’ve done when they get older. How can I help them do that? Pictures and videos do the trick nowadays but what do you do with those pictures? What do you do with that jewelry passed down from your great, great grandmother, or those old t-shirts of your children that are sitting in a box in the attic that you just couldn’t part with because they hold a special memory in your heart? How about that big stack of artwork that they bring home that you want to keep and toss all at the same time? How will you create traditions during the holidays that your family and kids will look forward to each year and then possibly repeat in generations to come? If you have family living long distance, how do you create a connection with them to help build and capture memories from afar? There’s so much we can do in our lives to keepsake these experiences, items, events, feelings and people ….. and I truly believe that by creating and preserving what we can of these, our memories can live on past our time.

I hope that by sharing the ways I create experiences and traditions with my family, and the ways I preserve our memories or turn them into cherished keepsakes, that it might inspire you to do the same. As we all have heard so many times before, it’s not how much money you had or spent on your family or that super fancy birthday party you threw for them…but rather it’s the simple things that last the longest – those unplanned moments, rituals, special traditions and cherished keepsakes that you remember the most.

What will YOU remember? I look forward to sharing with you, and hope you’ll do the same.

Written: May 30, 2017

 


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The Importance of Traditions

What are traditions?

Traditions are activities you do over and over again, at the same time of month or year, or centered around certain repetitive events. A tradition can be as simple as saying Grace before dinner, giving a special handshake with your teammates before each game, taking an evening walk after dinner each night with your family, reading a bedtime story to your child each night in a special place, and even cooking a certain food or meal for a holiday or birthday celebration. Most often, traditions create a special expectation and feeling that accompanies the gesture and creates a lasting memory that is repeated over the years. An example of a tradition in my family is that I make a special themed cake for each of my children on their birthdays. This is a tradition that my mother began and which I’ve continued today.

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My mom decorating a doll cake for one of my birthdays; circa 1980s.

Why traditions are important. 

Building traditions with family and friends is important for a number of reasons:

  1. They strengthen the core of your family unity.
  2. They remind and honor your family’s traditions of past generations.
  3. They provide stability in times of instability, bringing a sense of security and comfort in times of stress, change or sadness.
  4. They provide an identity or sense of belonging to a group, giving one a feeling of connection among those who share the same tradition with you (i.e. your teammates wearing special socks on the night of “the big game” or a family dressing up in matching t-shirts each year for a holiday gathering.)
  5. They elicit excitement and anticipation of the upcoming expected events.
  6. They awaken buried memories of people, stories, and traditions past, while also build new memories of tradition being created

The beauty of continuing a tradition of the past, recent or old, is that you can decide how to carry on the tradition. Will you keep it the same or add your own touch to it? Or will you let it go, replacing it with a completely new one?

Traditions shouldn’t be forced nor should they feel like a chore. If you find this to be the case, consider finding different ways to create new memories that can hold meaning and significance. Not everyone will respond the same way, appreciate the intention you have, nor hold a memory of it with the same feeling or experience. Don’t be disappointed if your well thought out and well intended holiday meal comprised of all of gramma’s favorite dishes is as well received as you’d thought it would. For example, build on this tradition by taking the dishes that were enjoyed and make them again, year after year thereby building a new tradition. And remember again, traditions aren’t only built around food, holidays, and special events.

If you are struggling with coming up with ideas of what you can do with your family that might start a tradition, consider starting small, with a weekly or monthly activity or meal first. Try taking a nightly walk before bed, having a ‘Sunday board game night’, planting a new tree in your yard every year, or having a favorite meal the same day each week.

In future posts, I’ll be sharing more about easy and fun ways to build family traditions that can create lasting and loving memories for years to come.